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Mr. Secretary Bryan was at first incredulous; he believed a submarine campaign of this nature to be unthinkable, and my statements to be merely bluff. The American Government therefore resolved to take no measures of precaution, but to dispatch a Note to Berlin on February 12th, summarizing the two conflicting points of view, which remained irreconcilable throughout the whole controversy, on the subject of the submarine war. Germany, on the one hand, defended her course of action as a reprisal justified by the British blockade, which both parties to the discussion agreed to be contrary to the Law of Nations. The United States, for her part, maintained that as long as the blockade of Great Britain was not made effective, neutral shipping had the right to go where it wished unharmed, and that the German submarines were empowered only to hold up merchant ships for search purposes, unless these same ships offered resistance or endeavored to escape.

The chief germ of dissension lay in the fact that the British blockade, which was defended by its authors as being merely an extension of the rights of sea warfare to square with the progress of the modern military machine, was met on America's part only by paper protests, while our own extension of the same rights by means of submarine warfare was treated as a casus belli. At a later period of the war the Imperial Government made certain proposals to the United States, who might, by accepting them, have safeguarded all their commercial and shipping interests, not to mention the lives of their citizens, to the fullest possible extent, and yet have allowed us a free field for our submarine warfare. These proposals the United States rejected; thus she set herself to combat with all her strength any continuance of the blockade restrictions through our submarines, while conniving at the similar restrictions exercised by England, although these latter infringed far more seriously the rights of neutral Powers.

The following extract from the American Note of February 12th clearly presaged the conflict to come:

“This Government has carefully noted the explanatory statement issued by the Imperial German Government at the same time with the proclamation of the German Admiralty, and takes this occasion to remind the Imperial German Government very respectfully that the Government of the United States is open to none of the criticisms for unneutral action to which the German Government believe the governments of certain other neutral nations have laid themselves open; that the Government of the United States has not consented or acquiesced in any measures which may have been taken by the other belligerent nations in the present war which operate to restrain neutral trade, but has, on the contrary, taken in all such matters a position which warrants it in holding those governments responsible in the proper way for any untoward effects upon American shipping which the accepted principles of international law do not justify; and that it, therefore, regards itself as free in the present instance to take with a clear conscience and upon accepted principles the position indicated in this Note.

If the commanders of German vessels of war should act upon the presumption that the flag of the United States was not being used in good faith and should destroy on the high seas an American or the lives of American citizens, it would be difficult for the Government of the United States to view the act in any other light than as an indefensible violation of neutral rights which it would be very hard indeed to reconcile with the

friendly relations now so happily subsisting between the two Governments.

“If such a deplorable situation should arise, the Imperial German Government can readily appreciate that the Government of the United States would be constrained to hold the Imperial German Government to a strict accountability for such acts of their naval authorities, and to take any steps it might be necessary to take to safeguard the American lives and property and to secure to American citizens the full enjoyment of their acknowledged rights on the high seas.”

The Imperial Government reaffirmed its standpoint in a further Note, dated February 16th, the gist and conclusion of which was as under:

“If the American Government, by reason of that weight which it is able and entitled to cast into the balance which decides the fate of peoples, should succeed even now in removing those causes which make the present action of the German Government an imperious duty; if the American Government, in short, should succeed in inducing the Powers at war with Germany to abide by the terms of the Declaration of London, and to permit the free importation into Germany of foodstuffs and raw material, the Imperial Government would recognize in such action a service of inestimable value, tending to introduce a spirit of greater humanity into the conduct of the war, and would willingly draw its own conclusions from the resulting new situation."

This Note was effective, in that it induced the American Government to dispatch on February 22nd an identical Note to Great Britain and Germany, with the object of arriving at a modus vivendi in the matter. Their proposal was as follows: Submarines were not to be employed in any attack on merchant ships of whatever nationality, save in execution of the rights of detention or search; merchant ships, for their part, were not to make use of neutral flags, whether as a ruse de guerre or to avoid identification. Great Britain would give free passage to provisions and food supplies consigned to certain agents in Germany, to be named by the United States. These agents would receive all goods thus imported and dispatch them to specially licensed distributing firms, who were to be responsible that they were issued exclusively to the civilian population.

The above project was concurred in by the German Government in a Note of February 28th, which added that “The Imperial Government considered it right that other raw materials, essential to manufacture for peaceful purposes, and also fodder, should also be imported without interference."

The British Government, as was to be expected, rejected the American proposal on somewhat flimsy pretexts, for England's sea supremacy was at stake in this as in her previous wars. “Britannia rules the waves" was, and ever must be, the guiding principle of all her policy, while her world-Empire endures. On this vitally important question England could not be expected ever to yield an inch of her own free will.

Thus the American attempt at mediation died a natural death.

Our adoption of submarine warfare was to be regarded, according to our Note of February 16th, as a measure of reprisal in answer to the English blockade. From a tactical point of view, this contention was unfortunate, as it afforded America the opportunity of agreeing at once, and thus of conceding us a point which benefited us not at all, but merely gave the United States all the more right to renew its protests against the submarine war. It would have been wiser for us to have initiated the submarine campaign simply as a new weapon of war without reference to the English blockade; still better, to put it into operation without declaring a blockade of Great Britain and Ireland, which could never be really effective, and caused constant friction between ourselves and America. Our declaration that the territorial waters of Great Britain were to be regarded as a war area was a legal formality modelled on the earlier English proclamation of the barred zones, and at once antagonized public opinion in the United States. By adopting the point of view we did with regard to reprisals, we laid ourselves open to the charge of illegality, and added to the ill-feeling already excited by the submarine campaign. If the contention of certain naval authorities that the observance of the Declaration of London by our enemies would have brought us no important material advantage is correct, the issue of our Note of February 16th becomes even less comprehensible. Having admitted in this Note that the declaration of the barred zones was caused by the fact that all was not well with us, we could hardly expect England would fall in with the proposal made at our suggestion by Mr. Wilson, and thus allow us so easy a diplomatic triumph. The President, however, after his rebuff from England, was bound, in order to maintain his prestige, to bring all possible pressure to bear on us, in the hope of compensating by diplomatic success in Berlin for his failure in London. My subsequent attitude was laid down, but at the same time made more difficult, by this interchange of Notes; but, generally speaking, my personal action in the matter began with the Lusitania incident; previous to this the negotiations had been entirely in the hands of Berlin.

The Washington Government then for the present as

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