« AnteriorContinuar »
organization seeking to promote the cause of Germany in the United States by illegal acts, by counsels of violence, by contravention of law, or by any means whatever that could offend the American people in the pride of their own authority. . . I can only say, and do most emphatically declare to Germans abroad, to German-American citizens of the United States, to the American people all alike, that whoever is guilty of conduct tending to associate the German cause with lawlessness of thought, suggestion or deed against life, property, and order in the United States is, in fact, an enemy of that very cause and a source of embarrassment to the German Government, notwithstanding he or they may believe to the contrary."
The stimulus for this politic disavowal, and one must be sought, since German statements always had a genesis in antecedent events—was not apparently due to continued plot exposures, which were too frequent, but could reasonably be traced to a ringing address President Wilson had previously made to Congress on December 7, 1915. The President, amid the prolonged applause of both Houses, meeting in joint session, denounced the unpatriotism of many Americans of foreign descent. He warned Congress that the gravest threats against the nation's peace and safety came from within, not from without. Without naming German-Americans, he declared that many "had poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life," and called for the prompt exercise of the processes of law to purge the country "of the corrupt distempers brought on by these citizens."
"I am urging you," he said in solemn tones, "to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out."
Three days before this denunciation, the Administration had demanded from Germany the recall of Captains Boy-Ed and Von Papen, respectively the military aid and naval attaché of the German embassy. Unlike the procedure followed in requesting Dr. Dumba's recall, no reasons were given. None according to historic usage were necessary, and if reasons were given, they
could not be questioned. It was sufficient that a diplomatic officer was non persona grata by the fact that his withdrawal was demanded.
Germany, through her embassy, showed some obduracy in acting upon a request for these officials' recall without citing the cause of complaint. There was an anxiety that neither should be recalled with the imputation resting upon them that they were concerned, say, in the so-called Huerta-Mexican plot_if one really existed-or with the conspiracies to destroy munition plants and munition ships, or, in Captain Boy-Ed's case, in the HamburgAmerican line's chartered ships for provisioning of German cruisers, sailing with false manifests and clearance papers.
An informal note from Secretary Lansing to Count von Bernstorff so far acceded to the request for a bill of particulars, though not customary, that the German embassy professed to be satisfied. Secretary Lansing stated that Captains Boy-Ed and Von Papen had rendered themselves unacceptable by "their activities in connection with naval and military affairs.” This was intended to mean that such activities here indicated had brought the two officials in contact with private individuals in the United States who had been involved in violation of the law. The incidents and circumstances of this contact were of such a cumulative character that the two attachés could no longer be deemed as acceptable to the American Government. Here was an undoubted implication of complicity by association with wrongdoers, but not in deed. The unofficial statement of the cause of complaint satisfied the embassy in that it seemed to relieve the two officers from the imputation of themselves having violated American laws. The record stood, however, that the United States had officially refused to give any reasons for demanding their recall. Germany officially recalled them on December 10, 1915, and before the year was out they quitted American soil under safe conducts granted by the British Government.
Captain von Papen, however, was not permitted to escape the clutches of the British on the ocean passage. While respecting his person, they seized his papers. These, duly published, made his complicity in the German plots more pronounced than ever. His check counterfoils showed a payment of $500 to "Mr. de Caserta, Ottawa." De Caserta was described in British records as "a dangerous German spy, who takes great risks, has lots of ability, and wants lots of money." He was supposed to have been involved in conspiracies in Canada to destroy bridges, armories, and munition factories. He had offered his services to the British Government, but they were rejected. Later he was reported to have been shot or hanged in London as a spy.
Another check payment by Captain von Papen was to Werner Horn for $700. Horn, as before recorded, was the German who attempted to blow up a railroad bridge at Vanceboro, Maine. Other payments shown by the Von Papen check book were to Paul Koenig, of the Hamburg-American line. Koenig was arrested in New York in December, 1915, on a charge of conspiracy with others to set on foot a military expedition from the United States to destroy the locks of the Welland Canal for the purpose of cutting off traffic from the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence River.
The German consul at Seattle was shown to have received $500 rom Captain von Papen shortly before an explosion occurred nere in May, 1915, and $1,500 three months earlier. Another payment was to a German, who, while under arrest in England on a charge of being a spy, committed suicide.
GREAT BRITAIN'S DEFENSE
tration's attention, in the brief intervals when Germany's behavior was not doing so, to the exclusion of all other international controversies produced by the war. In endeavoring to balance the scales between the contending belligerents, the United States
had to weigh judicially the fact that their offenses differed greatly in degree. Germany's crimes were the wanton slaughter of American and other neutral noncombatants, Great Britain's the wholesale infringements of American and neutral property rights. Protests menacing a rupture of relations had to be made in Germany's case; but those directed to Great Britain, though not less forceful in tone, could not equitably be accompanied by a hint of the same alternative. Arbitration by an international court was the final recourse on the British issues. Arbitration could not be resorted to, in the American view, for adjusting the issues with Germany.
The Anglo-American trade dispute over freedom of maritime commerce by neutrals during a war occupied an interlude in the crisis with Germany. The dispatch of the third Lusitania note of July 21, 1915, promised a breathing spell in the arduous diplomatic labors of the Administration, pending Germany's response. But a few days later the Administration became immersed in Great Britain's further defense of her blockade methods, contained in a group of three communications, one dated July 24, and two July 31, 1915, in answer to the American protests of March 31, July 14, and July 15, 1915. The main document, dated July 24, 1915, showed both Governments to be professing and insisting upon a strict adherence to the same principles of international law, while sharply disagreeing on the question whether measures taken by Great Britain conformed to those principles.
The United States had objected to certain interferences with neutral trade Great Britain contemplated under her various Orders in Council. The legality of these orders the United States contested. Great Britain was notified by a caveat, sent July 14, 1915, that American rights assailed by these interferences with trade would be construed under accepted principles of international law. Hence prize-court proceedings based on British municipal legislation not in conformity with such principles would not be recognized as valid by the United States.
Great Britain defended her course by stating the premise that a blockade was an allowable expedient in war-which the United States did not question and upon that premise reared a structure of argument which emphasized the wide gap between British and American interpretations of international law. A blockade being allowable, Great Britain held that it was equally allowable to make it effective. If the only way to do so was to extend the blockade to enemy commerce passing through neutral ports, then such extension was warranted. As Germany could conduct her commerce through such ports, situated in contiguous countries, almost as effectively as through her own ports, a blockade of German ports alone would not be effective. Hence the Allies asserted the right to widen the blockade to the German commerce of neutral ports, but sought to distinguish between such commerce and the legitimate trade of neutrals for the use and benefit of their own nationals. Moreover, the Allies forebore to apply the rule, formerly invariable, that ships with cargoes running a blockade were condemnable.
On the chief point at issue Sir Edward Grey wrote:
“The contention which I understand the United States Government now puts forward is that if a belligerent is so circumstanced that his commerce can pass through adjacent neutral ports as easily as through ports in his own territory, his opponent has no right to interfere and must restrict his measure of blockade in such a manner as to leave such avenues of commerce still open to his adversary.
“This is a contention which his Majesty's Government feel unable to accept and which seems to them unsustained either in point of law or upon principles of international equity. They are unable to admit that a belligerent violates any fundamental principle of international law by applying a blockade in such a way as to cut out the enemy's commerce with foreign countries through neutral ports if the circumstances render such an application of the principles of blockade the only means of making it effective."
In this connection Sir Edward Grey recalled the position of the United States in the Civil War, when it was under the necessity of declaring a blockade of some 3,000 miles of coast line, a military operation for which the number of vessels available was at first very small: