Search This Blog

Monday, January 19, 2015

“plunged into bloody strife”
New York State and the Outbreak of War in 1914

By Robert G. Waite
©Copyright 2015. All rights reserved by the author.

                                                                                   
“All Europe Prepares for a Mighty War,” read the headline on the front page of New York City’s The Evening World on July 28, 1914, as tensions on the continent moved steadily from threats toward open combat. The same issue of the New York City daily announced that “Actual War Begun by Austria” when the Dual Monarchy rejected England’s call for a peace conference. A number of New York newspapers began publishing on their front page a “War Bulletins” or “War Crisis At Glance,” which offered its readers a capsule summary of the most recent developments, an aid to those eager for a quick over-view.[1] A few days later, on August 1, 1914, the German ambassador to Czarist Russia delivered the declaration of war to his Russian counterpart that set in motion the conflict that quickly spread from a squabble in the Balkans to a European wide war of attrition.[2] That same day a special “War Extra!” edition of The Evening World carried big front page headlines announcing: “Germany Declares War; All Europe in Arms.” Already more than 7.4 million men in the belligerent nations had already answered the call to arms and the newspaper told readers that the warring states could field 32.5 million soldiers. This threatened to be a war of unprecedented dimensions. “A huge European war staggers the imagination,” the editor of The Binghamton Press observed.[3] The entire front page of The New York Tribune was devoted to news of the war and the headline read “Germany Declares War on Russia.”[4]

Throughout the first months of the conflict the American public and especially readers throughout New York State followed closely the rapidly developing events through their major sources of information, local newspapers and magazines. And for good reasons did the press offer a continuous and comprehensive coverage. “Our interest in the European struggle has its broadest basis in the fact that we are a nation of European immigrants,” an editor of The Literary Digest observed in the August 15th issue as he explained the extensive press coverage.[5] New York’s Governor, Martin Henry Glynn, reminded an assembly of workers in late August that there was “not a single European nation involved in the present struggle which is not bound to this country by ties of blood and national esteem.”[6] This deep-seated interest was genuine, and New York’s press moved quickly to keep abreact of the breaking news. The New York Times had already stationed correspondents throughout Europe and the articles they submitted to their home papers were picked up and reprinted in small towns far and wide. Reporters for the Associated Press, United Press, Reuters, and the International News Service based in Europe sent back accounts daily and these too were transmitted to newspapers across the nation. Each day, many of the newspapers in the smaller, regional markets throughout the state carried up to several articles on the growing diplomatic crisis and the outbreak of war. The editors shared the mounting and widespread concern, plus news of war sold newspapers. Albany, New York’s newspaper the Times-Union, a daily that served the Capital District, a cluster of several mid- sized cities in upstate New York, ran front-page stories on the war throughout the summer of 1914, even a regular article entitled simply “The War News For Busy Readers.” It termed the conflict “appalling and disastrous” in an August 4th editorial. Local newspapers across the state that served a smaller readership and appeared only weekly carried “War Bulletins,” front page summaries of the events of the conflict.[7]

Over the next several months, the articles and reports from Europe were crucial in molding views across the Empire State on the war. Throughout the summer and fall of 1914 the public relied on newspapers for their information on events beyond their own community. The daily and weekly press as well as a number of magazines fed the widespread interest for news, and New York had a thriving press. The media had considerable influence over public opinion, for these publications not only provided the news, but also shaped how its readers viewed the events of the world. In 1914 there were no public opinion polls to sample and gauge sentiment, however. The response of the public in New York State, its commercial and political leaders to “this terrible European war,” “the most devastating war in European history,” can, therefore, best be assessed by a broad survey of the news media, namely a closer look at those vehicles that did so much to shape public views and opinions, the newspapers and magazines.[8]

During the initial months of the conflict the belligerents waged a vigorous publicity campaign in the United States targeting the press, the public and political leaders. Much of this was directed toward New York State with its large German immigrant population. The European powers strived to sway public opinion and to gain at least the tacit support of this major economic and political power which was closely linked with Europe economically but which chose to remain distant with its diplomatic connections.[9] Belgium sent an official commission to present its case before President Wilson, and this too gained widespread coverage. The French president called the White House and asserted that German troops had used the dreaded and banned dum-dum bullets. Kaiser Wilhelm sent a personal dispatch to Washington defending the conduct of his troops and their actions at Louvaine. German academics and German-Americans were especially active in this concerted effort to sway American public opinion.[10] The German chancellor issued a statement that he addressed directly to the American people. The president of the Reichstag and the leaders of other influential organizations released a pamphlet entitled “The Truth About Germany.” The German government distributed across America a pamphlet entitled “How the Franco German Conflict Could Have Been Avoided” which included a host of diplomatic cables and other relevant documents.[11]

How did the residents of New York State, its business and political leaders, react to the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914? How effective were the efforts of the belligerents to influence their views on the war? Can one speak of a consensus in public sentiment?[12] Did the media place the responsibility, the blame for launching a European wide war, on any one particular nation? Other questions need also to be addressed. How can public opinion best be measured and gauged? What did the leading figures in commerce and trade see as the war’s impact on New York and the United States?

When war broke out in Europe and spread rapidly across the European continent New Yorkers had already been following the diplomatic crises that had paved the way for a major conflagration. The frequent reports in the leading newspapers of New York City and the other major urban centers were reprinted often in the small, regional press, thereby reaching a much larger audience throughout the state and across the nation. Editors of local newspapers put their own spin on the unfolding war in Europe. Most of the media initially presented the system of European diplomatic relations as inherently unstable and troublesome, and therefore largely responsible for war. The weekly and monthly magazines carried thoughtful analyses. Among these journals some were decidedly pacifist, while others envisioned an active role for America in European affairs. Much of the discussion in the press reflected the editor’s view of America’s role in the world and how the conflict affected American national security. The outbreak of war in Europe also sparked a vigorous debate about militarism, power politics, preparedness, and national security in the United States, issues reflected in the press coverage.[13]

During the several years leading up to the outbreak of war, the press had often published accounts of political and diplomatic developments in Europe and the mounting threats to peace. On the range of American sentiment toward the European powers, James Davenport Whelpley, a prominent journalist, offered a thoughtful overview in his 1914 book American Public Opinion. He dealt with most European nations and a variety of issues. An original study and one of the few attempts to measure public sentiment, Whelpley’s book described the sentiment toward England as “amicable and understanding.” He, nevertheless, devoted a full chapter to the often uneasy relationship between the US and Great Britain. In contrast, he wrote that the “relations between Germany and the United States are excellent and always have been.” Whelpley went on to survey the public’s views of other European and Asian nations. Nowhere did he see hints of an impending crisis nor widespread alarm among the American public.[14]

During the months leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914 the coverage of affairs in Europe intensified in the media, in the newspapers and magazines that New Yorkers read most and often turned to. In April 1914, for example, Alexander Konta in a New York Times’ article described at length the recent increases in the size of the Russian army, its improved weaponry, and the massing of troops on its western border earlier that month. He described “the stupendous military preparations on the German and Austro-Hungarian frontiers.” But Konta was optimistic. “The resources of diplomacy prove ever richer as world politics grows more complicated,” he wrote. Still, he cautioned, “playing with fire in a powder magazine was never more dangerous than now.”[15]

In late July 1914, as tensions mounted, New Yorkers and their political leaders, were simply uncertain what would happen next in Europe. To be sure, newspapers throughout the state closely followed the unfolding diplomatic crisis. Many journalists were hopeful that a conflict crisis could be averted but no one ventured to predict what would come. A headline in Albany’s Times-Union announced “Financiers Serve Notice On Powers There Will Be No Money to Carry on General War,” and that offered a glimmer of hope.[16] As the threat of war came closer, most continental nations curbed over-sea’s telegram traffic so America’s media had only official statements and public announcements to provide its readers with information. Reporters, seeking any information, turned to tourists returning from Europe and eagerly published their observations, however inadequate or narrow the perspective.[17] The mood in the press began to darken. “A feeling of depression, of sadness, almost of bitterness, must possess every thinking person as Europe flames into war,” penned a reporter for the New York City’s The Sun newspaper.[18]

Once war broke out, widely circulated and influential periodicals voiced their deep despair over the events in Europe, as did the editors of local newspapers throughout New York State. “Forecasts as to what may happen, now that all Europe has decided to halt the progress of civilization by going in for wholesale murder on a more terrible scale than the world has witnessed, would be utterly futile,” cautioned The Nation, a view that reflected the cables from American diplomats in Europe.[19] “All Europe is in the swiftest and most desperate war in history,” telegrammed the U.S. ambassador from London.[20] The outbreak of war in Europe caught most by surprise and the press which had followed closely the escalation of events did little to clarify the situation. Coverage did intensify, as newspaper editors across the state reacted to the mounting preparations for military conflict. Already on July 30th, the front page of The Binghamton Press was filled with articles on the war. “Austria Bombards Servia,” ran a headline. Other front-page article read “France Makes Preparations For War” and “Kaiser Rushes to Mobilize German Army.” The Binghamton newspaper served the southern tier of the state and it carried quotes from a handful of New York City newspapers on Austria’s declaration of war. The next day, the newspaper announced simply: “Europe Is Ready to Plunge Into Abyss of War” and its editors devoted the entire front-page to news of the war. “Germany Rushes to Mobilize” was the headline on August 1st as tensions rose dramatically and the war in Europe spread.[21]

The front page of the Buffalo Courier carried photos from the Serbian front, and the biggest headline on the front page of the July 30th edition read: “Austrian Troops Take Belgrade.” Albany’s Times-Union told readers on July 31st “Not the Slightest Hope That a General Conflict Can Now be Averted,” as Russia announced mobilization of its armed forces and the German Kaiser “Announces State of War.” Furthermore, the newspaper announced on the front page, “England Prepares To Assist France,” as the nations prepared to expand the conflict rapidly across Europe. To aid its readers at the start of military action, the Times-Union published a summary of “How They’ll Compare in Soldiers,” a tally of each nation’s active army and the reserves.[22] “Reports of Ultimatum by Kaiser Offset Peace Hope,” read an August 1st headline on the front page of The New York Times, as the media struggled to stay abreast of the rapidly unfolding developments in Europe.[23] The editor of The Madrid Herald, a weekly serving St. Lawrence county, offered his view on the outbreak of war. “When men are miserable and at the mercy of forces they do not understand, they strike out blindly, like all creatures in torment, and set out in a red rage when the war drum sounds to kill men as unhappy and deluded as themselves,” he wrote. “This is the true meaning of war madness in Europe today.”[24]

As soon as the fighting started, the media jumped in to keep its readers informed. The New York Times began a regular series entitled “How the War Rages” and “Summary of War News” which carried abbreviated dispatches from reporters in the various theaters of war. Regional newspapers, such as Albany’s Times-Union, ran a front page column entitled “The War News for Busy Readers.” It also turned to the former European manager of the United Press news service to write a “Review of the War Developments,” a summation of war news for the newspaper’s front page. Initial reports described the gains made by Germany’s armed forces. Newspapers carried thorough accounts of the bloody battles the troops were engaged in.[25] Monthly journals, such as Current Opinion, offered in-depth analysis. Its September edition ran a long article headlined “The Greatest War of History Breaks Over Europe.” As an editor of The Atlantic Monthly wrote, “The sudden transformation of Europe from a peaceful continent to a great battle field is something that so bewilders American public opinion that denunciations of a war so ‘senseless,’ so ‘insane,’ so ‘utterly without cause,’ have been heard on every hand.”[26] Even local newspapers voiced despair. “Particularly appalling and disastrous as must be a war of such proportions,” observed an editor for the Times-Union newspaper in the August 4th issue as he described the expanding conflict in Europe.[27]

The press and the public throughout New York State struggled to make sense out of these events, of the rapidly escalating combat that the armed forces of the European powers were engaged in. “We have nothing in our common experience with which to measure it,” observed the editor of The Binghamton Press on August 1st. “Simply to compute the direct cost of supporting the armies in the field is almost impossible,” he wrote. The estimated expense was $54 million, and that “would be only the smallest part of the total loss.” Property would be destroyed, securities depreciated, and millions of men “removed from peaceful production.” Added to that was the cost of equipping the combat troops and sustaining them in the field. “And all this takes no account of the loss of life.” He added prophetically, “some of these nations not only will be reduced to the verge of bankruptcy, but many suffer a fatal loss of national energy through the crushing of the flower of their manhood.”[28]

During August and September reports and first-hand accounts from correspondents in Europe circulated widely and these confirmed the worst fears--the nature and extent of the conflict and the fighting was unprecedented. “The magnitude of the forces involved staggers the imagination; besides them the armies of the Napoleonic era fade into significance,” noted a journalist. A Times-Union editor called the conflict “appalling and disastrous.” The impact of the sheer numbers of the troops in arms, the resources mobilized to support them will, wrote an editor of The Nation, “in every country…enormously increase those economic factors which have so much to do with the outcome of any prolonged struggle.” In a frank assessment of the belligerents’ military strength, he concluded simply: these forces make “inevitable the greatest battles the world has yet seen.”[29] The New York media--the daily newspapers and the weekly/monthly magazines-- followed the events in Europe closely as the local conflict spread rapidly across the continent, a chain reaction of events seemingly set in motion by Austria’s ultimatum.[30] Most recognized the complexity of the situation, the intricacies of the diplomatic system that had developed in the late 19th century, and journalists attempted to explain them to their readers. “The war on Servia [sic]…supplied the spark which set in motion those irresistible forces which are dragging five of the greatest nations in the world into a war of annihilation,” commented a reporter for The New York Herald newspaper. Herbert Templin, the European manager of the International News Service concurred. “It had been smoldering for years, seeking an opportunity to break out, and it was bound to occur,” he wrote.[31]

Shortly after the declarations of war and the initial battles between the newly mobilized armed forces, the belligerents launched another campaign, one to gain the favor of the American public and their political leaders. They made concerted efforts to influence this powerful and neutral nation as they strived to get the United States to take their side or at least remain fully uninvolved. Here, New York State was of particular importance because of its position as a center of finance and the sheer size of the ethnic German population. The German Reich was especially active.[32] This eagerness on the part of Germany to show the American public how it conducted the war as well as the rightness of its decision to declare war in the first place was but an element of a broader effort to court public opinion. The American media, the newspapers and the weekly/monthly magazines that did much to shape public opinion were not persuaded. Already in mid-August, The Outlook magazine published an article entitled “The German Point of View of the War” which stated simply that Germany had “no friends or well-wishers” in Europe or America. Its author wrote that if the hostile feelings long shown Germany by France, Russia, and England, had been reported in the American press, “the American public might not have been so surprised at the rapid development of events in the last few days; it would understand that the Germans did not think it safe to wait until the Czar had finished his mobilization, and that the German people, including the Socialists, are ready to risk their all in what they consider their supreme struggle for existence.” Albany’s Times-Union newspaper ran a headline “Berlin Is Gone War Mad.” And one of its reporters wrote that “Patriotic mobs filled the streets during the night, shouting for war with both Russia and France.” An estimated “fifty thousand men and women” rallied in front of the Kaiser’s palace and “cheered repeatedly for Emperor William and the German empire.” The Kaiser appeared at the window and addressed the crowd with “a ringing appeal to the patriotic sentiment of the throng.”[33] New York newspapers reported that the Kaiser penned a long, personal letter to President Wilson, explaining and defending his nation’s position.[34]

Influential magazines commented on the outcry over the media coverage of Germany’s role in precipitating war and the conduct of its troops during the first weeks of the fighting. In its August 22, 1914, issue, the widely read The Literary Digest responded to what it termed “bitter protests” from German newspapers, German societies and prominent German-Americans over the alleged “unfair treatment,” the “anti-German editorials,” and the “abysmal ignorance concerning German conditions.”[35] The editors pulled together a selection of the comments from critics of the press coverage, in particularly the influential weeklies such as The Outlook, The Independent, and Harper’s Weekly. While many editorial writers made a distinction between the German people, whom they generally applauded, and the German government, which they held largely responsible for the war, most responses from Germany rejected the effort to distinguish between the people and the rulers. The Literary Digest’s editor quoted a number of different sources, including dozens of newspapers, particularly letters to the editor published in prominent newspapers, as well as official pronouncements from German spokesmen. These pro-German responses, the editor concluded, had a broad unanimity among them – the war was forced upon Germany and the military conflict was an epic fight between “the Slavic world and the German world.”[36] The New York Times put a satirical spin on this view. “As we understand the theory of the holy war, the Kaiser had a divine mission to rescue England, France and Belgium from the impending menace of Slav domination. They were pig-headed about it and refused to be rescued. So, with a heavy heart, the Kaiser was compelled to thrash them in order to save them.”[37]

Already in late August ethnic Germans in New York City rallied in support of their home country. “Mass Meeting Hears Hard Words for Kaiser’s Foes and Hate for Britain,” reported The New York Times. The “militant German mass meeting” was held at Terrace Garden and the speakers who addressed the crowd urged the press to halt its criticism of Germany. Alphonse G. Koelbe, President of the United German Societies, presided. He urged “fair play,” an even handed treatment of Germany. Those who followed were more vociferous. One denounced Great Britain as “the Pecksniff among nations” and called Russia “a barbarian and enslaver.” The tone of the rally turned even harsher and at its conclusion adopted resolutions condemning England and the American press.[38]

Backers of the German Reich kept up their public relations’ campaign. Magazines and newspapers throughout New York State and across the nation received “by every mail,” an editor of The Nation wrote in mid-October 1914, “masses of printed matter, specially marked, and prepared and intended to convince us of the correctness of Germany’s position, and of the cruel injustices that has been done her by the failure of American public opinion to support her cause.”[39] The press was not the only recipient of materials from Germany which attempted to shape American attitudes. Teachers of German were “bombarded” with letters and materials from individuals and societies in Germany, reams of information justifying their war stand. These were, The Nation reported in mid-October, sent to “every ascertainable address” in America. These materials identified what they termed “misrepresentations” and presented “their holy cause,” and often they came from one of the newly established “______ Society for the Spreading Abroad the Truth about Germany” which sprang up in many German cities and targeted communities in the United States. In addition, German newspapers published special issues that were handed to Americans leaving Berlin during the first weeks of the war “with the request that each copy be preserved and sent to an American newspaper.” What an editor of The New York Times termed “a wretched defense of Germany’s crime against international morality,” was a booklet entitled “The Truth About Germany. Facts About the War.” This was distributed widely by mail and even offered at newsstands in New York City. A city newspaper even published it in full. Early in the text which ran to 86 pages it was asserted: “We are soldiers, because we have to be soldiers, because otherwise Germany and German civilization would be swept away from the face of the earth.” The booklet included chapters on such topics as “How the War Came About,” “The Attitude of Germany’s Enemies,” and “Lies About Germany.” It concluded: “To know that we have American friendship in this struggle will mean a great deal moral support for us in the coming trying days, for we know that the country of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln places itself on the side of a just cause and one worth of humanity’s blessing,” as it attempted to rally support by the plea to America’s most revered leaders.[40] Hermann Ridder, the editor of New York City’s German language newspaper the Staats-Zeitung, added his voice to those contesting German responsibility for the outbreak of war. “The assertion that German wanted war [is] ridiculous and absurd,” he asserted.[41]

Another pro-German action, a so-called “war rally” at New York City’s Terrace Garden, took place in late September. Organized by the United German Societies of New York, a branch of the German-Alliance which boasted some three million members across the nation, the rally drew more than 10,000 to speeches and music. Those in attendance contributed $2,400 to aid widows and children of German and Austrian soldiers. This was, however, not simply a fund raising event. “The speakers flayed England in particular and extolled the work of the German army and navy,” reported The New York Times. Congressman Richard Bartholdt (Republican, Missouri) addressed the audience and the newspaper wrote that he called Germany “the victim of a conspiracy by Russia, France and England, and a victory by Germany would guarantee the peace of the world.” The Congressman criticized the US press for what he termed its “unneutrality.”[42] Pro-German sentiment took other forms. Newspapers and journals ran letters to the editor from German scholars and diplomats who vigorously defended their nation’s position. They urged Americans to view the justness of Germany’s actions in the war.[43] “The deluge of pro-German literature,” a magazine editor wrote, persisted because of the widely held belief “that the German side is not getting a hearing in the American press,” that this nation’s links to England and its willingness to accept what a German professor termed “the infamous lies of the British press” colored the news’ coverage.[44]

The widespread distribution of pro-German materials, the extensive coverage of Germany’s perception of the events leading to the military confrontation had little impact on American public opinion which from the outbreak of war was decidedly pro-British. As an editor of The Nation explained in mid-October, “The judgment of this country was based upon a calm consideration of the facts leading up to the war, and upon the invasion of Belgium as set forth by the Germans themselves. American good opinion was forfeited when the Kaiser rejected Sir Edward Grey’s two distinct offers to assure peace, when the ‘scrap of paper’ incident occurred, and the Chancellor admitted the flagrant violation of the law of nations.”[45] In the court of American public opinion the decision went clearly against Germany, against an autocratic state, and against its aggressive leadership. This sentiment marked the decided rejection of the archaic system of international relations that had placed so much emphasis on the balance of power which, it was now widely believed, had in fact fueled international tensions.[46]

How well informed was the public of New York State on the complex issues surrounding the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the spread of the military conflict across Europe? During these fateful months, from August through October, the major newspapers in New York City ran articles daily from correspondents based in Europe who had received regular briefings from government representatives or who had less formal but nevertheless meaningful contact with policy makers. Newspapers in the small cities and towns of the state reprinted many of these articles or relied on the news services, the United Press for example. They too carried daily accounts of the war. Leading magazines published in-depth and lengthy articles.[47] The intensive press coverage led an editor with the magazine The Living Age to assert in early November 1914 that “no people in the world are getting more information about the war than Americans.” He argued strongly in support of the soundness of the judgment of the American people and for the balanced and even handed coverage of the war in the media. “Public opinion in any country is a matter of delicate adjustment” and the repeated efforts of the belligerent nations to shape sentiment were bound to fail, he asserted. Not only did the European powers fail to weigh fully “the forces and counter-forces at work in a different nation than their own,” but such efforts “may turn the scales in an undesirable direction.” The journalist found already “signs that the strenuous efforts being made on all sides to prejudice this neutral people have excited a certain amount of amusement.” Furthermore, “to join in what threatens to become a scramble for American goodwill promises more harm than good.” He concluded simply: “Undue effort to influence public opinion” in America will certainly not have the desired effect.[48]

The consensus in the media was clear – the public, well informed through press reports, stood behind Great Britain and its allies who “are fighting on behalf of the civilized world to destroy a false and brutal idea,” wrote an editor for The Saturday Review in October 1914. “America is firmly united with Great Britain today in feeling that the Will to Power of a nation which has thrust honor and justice from the way of its ambition is a grave and instant menace to the whole world.”[49]

Already in the first months of the war magazines and newspapers turned to established scholars of European affairs for their views on the war, on the question of responsibility for launching the conflict, as the media strived to offer its readers thoughtful analyses. The number of these accounts, though difficult to accurately measure, was large. Most reflected the position of the editorial board of the respective publication. The historian Roland Usher placed the immediate responsibility for the outbreak of war upon Austria. Its ultimatums, he wrote in The Atlantic Monthly, the “language in which they were couched, the circumstances of their presentation, and of the receipt of the reply, render it improbable that Austria wished to force upon Servia [sic] the solution by war of an infinitely larger issue than that raised by the murder of the unfortunate Archduke and his wife.”[50] For Austria, “the war is literally a war of self-preservation,” crucial to ruler’s aim to hold together its vast and diverse population, Usher explained. Austria expected “great results” from these efforts and firmly believed these policies would “knit the various peoples together and give them a common object to strive for and a common victory to celebrate.” The conflict served other purposes. “It is none the less a war of ambition and aggression,” wrote Usher in August 1914, a means of guaranteeing Austria’s century long dream of “dominating southeastern Europe,” of ruling the Balkans.[51] Austria’s ambitions were, Usher asserted, well known “to every diplomat in Europe,” especially those states “whose interests would be much injured by the annihilation of Servia [sic].” Nonetheless, “the fears of general European war” would cause other nations on the continent to pause and to be slow to interfere, he added. The “domestic difficulties” of England, France, and Russia, Usher argued, would prevent each from acting decisively.[52]

While a number of the scholars quoted in the press placed much of the blame on Austria, “many an editorial finger points at William II of Germany, as he is admitted to be the one overshadowing personality of the opening days of the war.”[53] As an editor with the New York City’s Globe newspaper commented: “It is difficult to admit that German interests were menaced beyond reasonable tolerance, that Austria took a stand against her dominative neighbor which was arbitrary in the extreme without full sanction of the Kaiser, or that there was any doubt in Wilhelmstrasse that Austria’s attitude would compel Russia and France to intervene. It is for these reasons that American opinion is almost solidly arranged against Germany as the aggressor, ruthlessly plunging Europe into what looks like the bloodiest of wars to satisfy the overwhelming ambition of the Emperor.”[54]

The press of New York State almost universally laid the blame on Germany, the responsibility for war in August 1914 and its rapid expansion from a regional conflict to a European wide conflagration. The Outlook magazine published a survey of the press in mid-August and found widespread agreement on the issue of responsibility for the horrible conflict. “Monarchial cliques, absolutists, and those in Germany in particular, are held responsible,” it concluded and offered a number of examples.[55]

The German Reich still had its defenders. “The haste in which the powers of Europe have rushed to arms is exceeded only by the haste in which the anti-German press of America is seeking to place the blame for the commencement of hostilities,” wrote Karl F. Geiser, a professor at Oberlin College in an August 11th letter to The Nation. He presented a long argument in Germany’s defense, as he attempted to refute that journal’s editorial comments. [56] Geiser remained one of a handful of vigorous defenders of Germany. He was joined by, among others, Herman Ridder, the editor of New York City’s Staats-Zeitung.[57]

Newspapers throughout New York State carried hundreds of articles on the conflict during the first months of the war, covering every conceivable topic such as the sheer size of the armed forces involved, the novelty of the conflict, the unprecedented conditions, the brutality of the fighting, and the loss of life. Frequently, newspapers and magazines turned to experts on military affairs for their view points and opinions. There was among them one general point of agreement: “The resources of the world are not sufficient to maintain a conflict of such dimensions for a long period.” It would not be a long war; most experts estimated that the conflict would last from one month to a year at the most. While only a few, however, anticipated the “decisive blow” within the next six months, almost no one expected it to be a protracted and bloody struggle, going on for several years, costing the lives of so many.[58]

The rivalries, the imperial ambitions, economic pressure, domestic strains, growing military strength, had long been present in Europe. There was keen interest in what precipitated war in 1914, as journalists and scholars sought to identify who was responsible for the bloodshed and destruction. They also covered the unfolding conflict, the combat on the western and eastern fronts. By the fall of 1914 America’s views of the war in Europe had pretty much been shaped and determined, as the public read the daily accounts of the war and the debates on who was responsible for the terrible conflict. The American public was, an editor of The Living Age wrote in November 1914, well informed about the events on the battle field. “No people of the world are getting more information about the war than are the Americans,” James Whelpley asserted. “Their press is uncensored, scores of correspondents in England, France, Germany, and elsewhere are laboring night and day to fill American publications with news; thousands of returning travelers from all parts of Europe are daily contributing their stories to eager pressmen; and of all nationalities the American alone has been accorded facilities in Germany, and with the German army to see and judge for himself as to the real situation so far as the conduct of the war devastated region is concerned.”[59]

While the New York media, the press and magazines, followed closely the unfolding of the war, offering their readers daily accounts of the fighting and also analyses of the conflict, many readers felt securely distant, sheltered and protected by the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. That offered a broad sense of relief as well as a feeling of security. As an editor of The Literary Digest commented in the August 8, 1914, issue, “Our isolated position and freedom from entangling alliances inspire our press with the cheering assurance that we are in no peril of being drawn into the European quarrel.”[60] An editor for The Sun newspaper added, the United States “will inevitably to some extent benefit from the waste and destruction abroad, but it has permanent cause of gratitude in its insulation from the worst.”[61] This attitude was reflected in editorial writings in newspapers and magazines across the nation.

The New York media, namely the daily newspapers as well as financial and commercial publications, speculated on the economic impacts of the conflict on American trade, finance, manufactures and the agricultural sector. Initial reports were encouraging. On July 30th, a headline on page one of the Buffalo Courier announced: “Wall Street Not Alarmed At News of Europe’s War.”[62] New York City banks and the financial institutions continued to operate as their European counterparts suspended operations, but not for long. News of the close of the London Stock Exchange, “an unprecedented action,” was carried in the press. The mounting “strains upon credits” “made New York fearful” and it led to the closure of the New York Stock Exchange on July 31st. The official announcement, carried widely in the New York press, stated simply, “The governing committee decided that the exchange be closed until further notice, and that all deliveries be suspended until further notice.” The front page of Albany’s Times-Union carried the headline: “War Scare Suspends the World’s Business.” As an editor of the newspaper wrote, “New York, and with it the rest of the United States has stood the strain until now.”[63] Another journalist observed: “The closing of our stock exchanges, the exportation of gold to Europe, the rise in wheat and corn, the failure of business firms, help to remind our editors that a war which involved all Europe could not but have its effects among us.”[64]

A lengthy survey from mid-August of the press on the potential economic impact of the war began: “The price the United States pays for the madness of warring Europe is the upset of our money market and the blockade of our commerce.”[65] The war had the potential, observers commented and often discussed at length, to have far reaching and lasting ramifications for the economy of the United States. Trade with Europe was severely disrupted. Ports on the Atlantic seaboard halted operations as “The carrying ships of the world have been diverted into war activities and millions of tons of cotton, food stuffs and other articles destined for foreign markets must remain on the remain in storage while millions of tons of manufactured goods expected by merchants in this country from Europe must remain on the other side of the ocean,” wrote Gilson Gardner, a prominent journalist.[66]

The war affected not only the major trade and merchant marine companies of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, nor solely the financiers of Wall Street, Chicago and Pittsburgh, nor largely the manufacturer centers of the mid-West. The war impacted the farmers in the South who produced cotton that was sold abroad and the farmers of the Great Plains who grew corn and wheat for the world market. All were concerned with how the war in Europe would hit their bottom line. “We cannot get away from the hard fact that war is a destroyer,” observed a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in early September. “In the present case it would not be so bad if only two of the great powers were engaged. With all fighting – a condition deemed unthinkable a few weeks ago – the effects are incalculable.”[67] A host of questions and uncertainties faced America’s banking and commercial leaders as the financial markets were thrown into turmoil. Already on August 1st prominent New York City bankers met in the offices of J.P. Morgan “to discuss the financial situation and arrange for whatever precautionary steps might be considered necessary to protect the United States from the indirect effects of the European war,” The Evening World newspaper reported. The bankers decided to await further news before taking action.[68] The Dean of New York University’s School of Commerce, Joseph French Johnson, wrote disheartedly: “The war has blocked the wheels of industry in every country on the globe. It has turned back the hands of the clock of our material or industrial civilization.”[69]

Already in early August a few observers anticipated economic gains for the nation. New York’s Governor Martin Glynn saw in the war an opportunity but also a responsibility for this nation. “With Europe plunged into bloody strife, with its manhood removed from useful production, its intelligence devoted to destruction, and its farms and industries lying idle, the burden of human progress at this time rests upon the men and women of America,” he stated in an August 25th speech.[70] The President of New York’s Investment Bankers Association saw a decided advantage for American trade because at the end of the war “it will be extremely difficult for European countries to finance their oversea trade.” The surge in manufacturing after the war would favor American industry. “I believe that the future for this country is brighter today than it has ever been,” he concluded.[71] New York’s financial institutions acted quickly to reassure the American market and to protect this nation’s supply of gold.[72] A number of newspapers urged the US government and American business to “take up the world’s trade, which Europe has forsaken for the battlefront.” New York’s The Sun newspaper saw in the conflict the opportunity to vastly expand this nation’s merchant marine. Reports circulated that President Wilson had in mind a plan to bring much of the world’s shipping under the American flag, to the gain of American business, by offering registration to ships of other nations. The President discussed this with leaders of Congress already on July 31st who supported the idea and they agreed to investigate it further. By sailing under the flag of a neutral power, the vessels could not be pressed into service by a belligerent nor seized as war booty.[73]

Another New York City newspaper termed the moment “a supreme opportunity for American manufacturers to gain world-wide markets.” In spite of the military conflict crippling Europe, “the needs of the world must be supplied.”[74] New York’s Journal of Commerce quoted an “authority” who asserted that the war “may mark the beginning of a new commercial and industrial era in the United States.” The amount of the economic boost would depend only upon “the alacrity with which the American business man will seize the opportunity, and upon the wisdom with which the American legislator will face the situation.”[75] Joseph French Johnson, a prominent economist, summarized “the chief items of profit and loss to the American people” in a 1914 article. According to Johnson, the conflict would drain gold from the nation, thereby restricting credits. This would, however, give America’s banks the opportunity to increase their prestige and connections in the world. The closure of the European market to American securities might permanently divert capital from this nation. Such would give American banks a greater opportunity to enter South American and Asian markets and to secure a larger percentage of this market. The war cut off raw materials, some essential to the manufacturing sector, and this would certainly affect profits. While the conflict interfered with this trade, the sale of foodstuffs and military supplies for high prices in the European markets would be a gain. “We know that Europe will come to us for our goods,” voiced Henry Lee Higginson, a noted American businessman, in a letter to President Wilson. Other experts offered a variety of points of view.[76]

Termed by The New York Times “one of the most distinguished economists of the country,” Joseph Johnson had mixed views on the war’s impact. “A striking feature of the situation is the uneven influence of the war on American industries,” he wrote. “We shall probably see, if the situation continues, certain industries and commercial organizations working at top speed and making enormous profits, while besides them will be the empty offices and deserted factories of other industries.”[77] Johnson foresaw significant gains for American agriculture, a major part of the economy. With the interruptions in shipping and the shift of vast amounts of manpower out of agriculture, American producers were well positioned to step forward, meet the heightened demand and reap, as a result, significant profits. Other sectors of the economy faced an uncertain future. The closure of the European market to American securities and the diversion of large amounts of foreign capital would adversely impact the financial centers, Johnson argued. He was especially concerned with the drain of gold from this country to Europe, a trend that began in 1913 which could lead to restriction on credit and inflation.[78]

Nations of Europe needed American products. Although the official neutrality of the United States restricted sales to the belligerents, export and sale of weapons to Great Britain continued; they were delivered through Canada. German Americans protested, but the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives permitted sales by American manufacturers to any government, “provided they do not discriminate between belligerents.” With the blockade of the Atlantic already in effect, that meant trade with Britain could continue.[79] Agriculture products from the American heartland would be welcome abroad as the war shut down the trade routes of traditional suppliers. But, economists cautioned, breaking into new markets would not come easily.[80]

The efforts made by the government and private enterprise were rewarded, and in October the President reported that business conditions were improving across the nation, that orders for goods from abroad were rising, as the initial impact of the war had passed. To facilitate foreign trade, Wilson made the bold announcement that “the United States is prepared to protect to the utmost the rights of shippers of American exports when such goods are being transported in vessels flying neutral flags.”[81] The press in New York City called this “an unexampled opportunity for American shipping,” The State Department followed quickly with guidelines for exports to belligerents, and these two efforts went far in boosting trade. The measures were intended to reassure traders that the government, with all its power and authority, stood firmly behind their right to trade freely with belligerent nations, something they were initially reluctant to do. “The president’s announcement on Monday and the state department’s memorandum are regarded as constituting the biggest boost given American foreign trade since the outbreak of the war,” observed Henning.[82] President Wilson’s statement and State Department announcement on free trade clearly favored Great Britain and led to German protests.

The economic dimensions of the war in Europe also impacted the domestic politics of the United States and especially New York State. President Wilson had early in 1914 predicted an industrial boom, which also meant electoral success for his party. The gains were interrupted by the outbreak of the conflict. Wilson was very concerned with the state of the American economy because “business revival meantime is vital to the chances of the democratic party in the next Presidential election,” commented The Wall Street Journal.[83] The war and its disruption of trade resulted in a drop in customs’ revenue of more than $10.6 million dollars when compared to the previous year. President Wilson went before Congress on September 4th to request a massive tax increase to offset the loss of custom duties from trade with Europe. The President asked for emergency legislation to raise $100 million of additional revenue. “We ought not to borrow. We ought to resort to taxation,” the President explained to Congress. “The occasion is not of our own making. We had no part it making it.” The legislation, the emergency Internal Revenue Tax Bill, passed quickly.[84]

The President moved quickly to reassure the American public that the administration would initiate immediate measures to guarantee the nation’s fiscal well-being. Already on July 31st, Wilson and his advisers adopted “peace measures” aimed to strengthen the “financial conditions in the United States to withstand the effects of the liquidation in Europe and the tremendous demand for gold in the countries on the brink of war.” These "strong steps to protect the United States against the tremendous financial and commercial pressure caused by the European war” were praised by the financial press.[85] Albany’s Times-Union carried front-page articles on the President’s measures to keep America’s financial system stable and in operation. The headlines stated “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks to Meet Any Crisis” as it reported the House of Representatives voted to make available to the nation’s banks “because of the European crisis practically unlimited millions of currency.” The House, furthermore, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to “issue further millions if he finds it necessary.” All this was good news for New York’s thriving financial market. Other measures were geared to safeguard the currency and the gold supply.[86]

The President next announced seven steps which included losing the restrictions on the amounts of currency banks must hold in reserve, depositing gold held by the Treasury in banks, the organization of a new banking system to better regulate currency and gold flows to Europe, proposed legislation to permit the registry in the US of foreign trading vessels, as the President moved quickly to gain the cooperation of the financial industry. He called a special meeting in Washington for leading bankers who assembled on August 2nd. Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo addressed the group and called for “intelligent co-operation on the part of the government and the banks” to guide the nation through the financial crisis sparked by the outbreak of war.[87] A day later Congress moved to stabilize the currency markets. By an overwhelming majority it passed a bill that made available to national banks “unlimited millions of currency.” The distribution of funds began immediately.[88]

The President faced other issues pressuring the economy. Already in early August “the swift advance in the prices of food-stuff, with the European situation as the pretext, has brought to the first place in American discussion the question of government interference in the interest of the consumer,” reported the Christian Science Monitor.[89] President Wilson directed the attorney general to investigate the rise in prices and to advise him on measures to combat this alarming trend. Congress followed the President’s lead and called upon both the Department of Justice and the Secretary of Commerce to determine the causes for the rapid rise in prices when exports had come to a virtual standstill.[90]

In addition to trade, banking, labor, and price issues, the President faced a major dip in revenue due to the loss of customs fees, a shortfall estimated at more than $2 million a week in early September.[91] Wilson prepared to address Congress and to call for a sharp rise in taxes to cover the anticipated shortfall. While the federal government had sufficient revenue to cover expenses, an increase in taxes was, Wilson asserted, necessary to prevent a deficit. He recommended that Congress raise taxes on such commodities as beer, whisky, tobacco, railway and theater tickets, and even soft drinks. The President called upon federal agencies to reduce their expenses.[92]

“In common with the rest of the country, Washington waits with breathless interest news from the warring nations of Europe,” wrote Charles S. Groves, a journalist, in mid-September. “But one will have to look far to discover an outward sign of excitement.” The various branches of government, including the White House, Congress, as well as the War, State and Treasury Departments “find new and important problems presented as a result of the conflict on the other side of the Atlantic,” but these have “all come to be part of the day’s work.”[93] Despite the importance of the war in Europe for America, its position in the world, its economy, and its status as a neutral, Congress devoted remarkably little attention to the war during these first months of fighting. After spending about two weeks on emergency legislation related to the European conflict, to international trade and shipping, the President turned to revenue. It was but a matter of time before President Wilson asked Congress for a war tax.[94] Still, the Congressional Record Index for 1914 identifies some 60 items as dealing directly with the war in Europe, and many of these were newspaper articles reprinted in the Congressional Record. Members of Congress introduced such materials into the record, and also added specific appeals, such as the “Antiwar Proclamation” from the Labor Council of Greater New York from August 25.[95] A member of the Senate moved to include in the Congressional Record President Wilson’s September 8th peace proclamation in which he called for a day of prayer for peace.[96]

A few members of Congress did occasionally make their own predictions on the outcome of the war. New York Congressman Herman Metz, who The New York Times described as having a “wide knowledge of Germany and things German,” told the press on September 23rd that “victory for Germany as the final outcome of the war is beyond all question.” He predicted that peace “would come soon” and that it would find German troops still on French soil in the west and Russian soil in the east.[97]

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1914, President Wilson followed closely the unfolding events in Europe, the New York press reported. He had, of course, been informed immediately by telegram of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The President responded with a telegram to the Austrian emperor expressing that he was “deeply shocked at the atrocious murder.”[98] When war did break out on the continent the American Ambassador to France, Myron Timothy Herrick, telegrammed the Secretary of State in Washington: “Situation in Europe is regarded here as the gravest in history. It is apprehended that civilization is threatened by demoralization which would follow a general conflagration.” Herrick urged the President to step forward and serve as an arbitrator.[99] At a July 27th press conference a reporter had asked the President: “Whether the United States is in a position to maintain to peace of Europe.” Wilson answered non-committedly, “Well that is a matter which it would be, perhaps, unwise for me to say anything about. I can only say that the United States has never attempted to interfere in European affairs.”[100]

American diplomats urged the President to take action, to use his influence and prestige to curb the drive toward war. Ambassador Herrick in Paris cabled Washington: “I believe that a strong plea for delay and moderation from the President of the United States would meet with the respect and approval of Europe.”[101] The U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Walter Hines Page, notified Wilson that he had immediately and on his own initiative gone to the Prime Minister and asked “if he saw any way in which the good offices of our Government cd. Be used and that, if he did or should see any way, I prayed that he wd. Inform me.” Page wrote the President that “It’s the Slav and the German. Each wants his day and neither has got beyond the stage of tooth and claw.” He added, “If they do have a general war they will so set back the march of progress in Europe as to set the day forward for American leadership.”[102] On July 31st the Chargé ďAffaires in Russia cabled Washington: “Situation becoming steadily more hopeless.”[103]

On July 30th President Wilson addressed a Press Conference in Washington. Asked if he had taken any action in to stem the likelihood of war in Europe, Wilson responded simply “No, sir…” and added that no request for his services had been received.[104] Even after war broke out, Wilson’s deep seated feelings toward the conflict, his views on responsibility and his immediate reactions to the events of the war, particularly those that most affected the United States, are exceedingly difficult to discern. As President, he notoriously resisted seeking advice and he left no body of private writings that might offer insight. His public utterances were guarded. His advisors complained about him being withdrawn and uncommunicative. Yet it is clear that Wilson held America’s neutrality, its impartiality in the conflict and the well-established right to unencumbered trade over the Atlantic, as fundamental principles that had to be recognized by the belligerents. Neutrality was of foremost importance to this country and central to his guidance of American foreign policy.[105] To a large degree, Wilson was also an isolationist, unwilling to become involved in the conflicts of Europe, his isolationism was based on the presumption that the western hemisphere was impregnable and that the consequences of a war in Europe would be limited. Those initial views were, however, soon challenged by events of the conflict. Wilson came to recognize that the nature of the war would go far in shaping the world order. The President had a distinct view of America as a bastion of freedom, and he viewed the US as an economic powerhouse whose presence could not easily be ignored by the European powers. American interests, especially trade by sea with Europe, had to be respected. Still, Wilson desired above all for the nation to remain neutral, a view he shared with most Americans. The President remained convinced that the nation’s trade, the ability of its merchant vessels to navigate the oceans, particularly the Atlantic, had to be respected by the European powers. This had long been a guiding element of American foreign policy. In the summer of 1914, America was in the position to have its expectations acknowledged and recognized by the European powers, for the nation had become the strongest economic power in the world, even though its military strength stood well behind that of Germany and England.[106]

President Wilson’s first public remarks on the European war came on August 3rd when he met with correspondents for his semi-weekly press conference. The outbreak of war in Europe clearly weighed heavily upon him. Furthermore, “The strain and the tremendous burden he has been carrying for the last week has drawn deep lines of care across his face,” wrote a correspondent for the Chicago Daily Tribune. Wilson began addressing the press corps as soon as they had assembled, without waiting for a question. He was clearly eager to reassure the nation and he urged calm.[107] In spite of the furor in Europe, the President told the press that “the excitement ought not spread to the United States.” Noting the magnitude of the situation, “perhaps the gravest…in modern times,” he stated that “it need not affect the United States unfavorably in the long run.”[108] Wilson went out of his way to reassure leaders of business and commerce that “there was no cause for alarm,” a statement he repeated to the press and to representatives from Congress who called upon him at the White House. “I know from my conferences with the secretary of the treasury there is no cause for alarm.” He added that the Treasury Department was closely monitoring the financial situation throughout the country. “The bankers and business men of the country are cooperating with the Government with a zeal, intelligence, and spirit which make the outcome secure.” “America is absolutely prepared to meet the financial situation and to straighten everything out without any material difficulty.” Wilson also took the opportunity to urge members of Congress not to delay “not to delay the pending trust legislation programme [sic]…until the next session of Congress.”[109]

Also on August 3rd, just several days after the initiation of hostilities, the press carried reports that the President was deeply engaged and closely following developments in Europe. The President did urge his fellow Americans to remain calm, insisting “there is no cause for excitement.”[110] New York’s governor, Martin Glynn, made a plea to workers “to play the part of a patriotic and loyal American in the great crisis now at hand.” In an editorial titled simply “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer” Albany’s Times-Union newspaper noted that “President Wilson’s good offices will be at the service of Europe.” The offer would, the editor added, “be given a prominent place on the desks of the European statesmen.” Furthermore, he wrote, as the conflict in Europe intensified “the greater will be the need of a clear, impartial auditor of the accounts that will have to be paid. “American ambassadors in the capital cities of Europe were “ordered to do everything possible to prevent general conflict,” read the headlines in other newspapers. “All hope not gone.”[111] Along with directing American diplomatic representative abroad to keep the State Department in Washington fully abreast of any opportunity for the US to mediate the conflict, Wilson took steps to insulate the economy from any blows. The President met with Congressional leaders and obtained their agreement to a proposal to permit foreign ships to sail under American registry in order to keep international trade and commerce operating.[112] Wilson also directed Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo, to New York City to confer with bankers and to reassure them.[113]

On August 4th, President Wilson made known to the U.S. and to the world that this nation stood “strictly neutral” in the conflict. The President meant neutral in sentiment and practice for the nation and its people. “Whereas a state of war unhappily exists between Austria-Hungary and Servia [sic] and between Germany and Russia and between Germany and France,” the President identified as illegal 11 acts, most involving enlistment or service in the armed forces or merchant marine of one of the belligerents. Along with this stern warning to nationals not to join one of the combatants’ armed forces, Wilson cautioned the belligerent powers to keep their naval vessels out of US waters. Such a move, he stated forcefully, “must be regarded as unfriendly and offensive.”[114] A day later, the President offered to mediate and “offered his good offices to all the European powers involved in the war,” The Times-Union reported in a front page article and it carried the short message sent by Wilson to the rulers of the belligerent nations. Clearly aware that this offer would likely be rejected, the Albany newspaper wrote that “The messages leave the way open in case of present refusal for negotiations in the future.” Still, the press hoped that Wilson’s offer might be accepted because the United States was “in no way party to the European dispute.”[115]

The President followed on August 5th with two Executive Orders, one to aid American citizens stranded in Europe by the outbreak of the war and the other to further ensure the neutrality of this nation by prohibiting radio stations from transmitting “messages of an unneutral nature” from any of the belligerents. At a press conference the very next day no member of the press asked the President about the assassination, a striking omission in light of the media’s otherwise extensive coverage of European affairs. The act that had launched the crisis was perceived as a regional incident.[116] President Wilson did receive requests to take a side in the conflict, much as the American public had been able to read in the press appeals from the belligerents. On August 6th, Charles William Eliot, the highly influential president of Harvard University wrote directly to Wilson urging him to take the lead and organize “an effective international police method, suited to the present crimes,” that “would overpower Austria-Hungary and Germany with all possible promptness and thoroughness.” Eliot envisioned a US led blockade of Germany and Austria-Hungary, “an alliance to rebuke and punish” the two nations “for the outrages they are now committing.” Wilson did not answer this letter.[117] Speakers at the pro-German rallies in New York City condemned the press coverage.[118]

Throughout these weeks Wilson faced a traumatic personal situation at the White House that certainly drew his attention and energy. The President’s wife of 29 years, Ellen Louise Axson, lay mortally ill with kidney disease. “Mrs. Wilson In Critical Condition” read a front-page headline in the August 5th edition of Albany’s Times-Union newspaper, as news of the seriousness of her illness spread across the state and the nation. “Every moment that could be spared from his office the President spent here, by her side who had been his constant coworker in the past,” wrote an editor for The Literary Digest. He added that “President Wilson’s tender to the warring nations of his good offices for peace in Europe was written while he was sitting at the bedside of Mrs. Wilson.” She died on August 6th. That same day a Times-Union editor called upon the nation to “stand by him,” now that the President was “passing through the greatest of trials.”[119] Wilson continued to remain focused on the unfolding war in Europe, although deeply affected by his wife’s death.[120]

On August 18th President Wilson addressed the American people and issued a forceful call for neutrality “in speech and conduct,” as he viewed with concern the energetic campaign of the belligerents to influence public opinion. His address was carried in a number of newspapers, and it began: “Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned.” Wilson stated that the country was made up of individuals from many nations, “chiefly from the nations now at war,” and this would invariably shape their views of the war. He argued against the divisive influence on the country and work against “the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace” to serve as a mediator. “The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name during these days that are to try men’s souls.”[121]

Efforts to mediate the conflict on behalf of the President continued at his urging, largely through close advisers to Wilson, particularly Edward Mandell House, who initiated The , a group that advised the President on peace strategy and war aims.[122] In early August, House presented Wilson with a letter he had received from Arthur Zimmermann, a ranking official in Germany’s Foreign Ministry. “I have a feeling that Germany will soon be glad to entertain suggestions of mediation, and that the outlook is more hopeful in that direction than elsewhere,” House commented. Wilson’s advisor then wrote to Zimmerman expressing the President’s “deep regret” that he had not been able “to bring about a better understand between the great Powers of Europe,” but added that the “offer of mediation was not an empty one.” House, who acted on the President’s behalf – Wilson termed him “my second personality” and stated “His thoughts and mine are one” – noted in the letter to Zimmermann, “Now that His Majesty has so brilliantly shown the power of His army, would it not be consistant [sic] with His life long endeavor to maintain peace, to consent to overtures being made in that direction?”[123] Later in August other developments followed. At a diplomatic conference in Washington the German ambassador, Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, was approached with an offer of American mediation. “Here everyone desires peace, for the United States suffers heavily because of the war,” the Ambassador wrote in a telegram to his superiors in Berlin. “I, therefore, did not reject the offer, since I wanted to leave the odium of rejection to our enemies.” Bernstorff urged serious consideration of the offer “because public opinion here, which has already been strongly influenced by England, will unquestionable turn against the belligerent whom they hold responsible for prolonging the war.”[124]

While diplomats strived to find some basis for peace in August, the German American Chamber of Commerce picked up its public assault on Britain. On August 21st the New York City based group released a statement by a “German military expert” who claimed that England had sent troops to Belgium even before it declared war. He added that there was a secret French-Belgium-England agreement which he asserted justified the German invasion that had spread the conflict. England’s entry in the conflict was, the expert wrote, “to rid herself, once for all of her hated rival,” namely Germany.[125] The German American Chamber stepped up its backing of Germany. On August 27th it issued a statement “intended to prove that the Kaiser was a man of peace, and that the ambition of his life had been to make Germany the foremost country of the world in the arts of peace,” wrote reporter for The New York Times. The Chamber issued the statement because it believed “that many persons in the United States were of the opinion that the Kaiser war responsible for the present war, and that it was his ambition to become the greatest warrior of all time.” The Chamber kept up its attack on Britain for the agreement with France and Russia not to make peace without their full consensus. This was, it asserted, “in keeping with the traditions of perfidious England.” Once again the Chamber insisted that Germany was a peace loving nation, that “the military machine of Germany…has never made an aggressive war, has never endangered international peace.” At fault for the present conflict were, the Chamber maintained, “the selfish interests of England, who wants to be the undisputed ruler of the shipping and commerce.” This was “the most dangerous proposition that the world has had to face.”[126]

While organized defenders of Germany increased the intensity of their public attacks on England, President Wilson sent his personal confidant Colonel House to Europe to speak directly with leaders of the belligerent nations. Upon his return to the America he met with President Wilson on August 30th. During a lengthy conversation with the President, House wrote later, he had “told of my experiences in Europe and gave him more of the details of my mission.” More than a mere advisor, House provided Wilson intelligence he had gathered, information that had shaped his own strongly held views. During these weeks efforts to mediate the conflict had intensified, but met with little favorable response. While House was on his way to meet the President, the Secretary of State relayed a message from the Czar regarding the “offer of mediation” and expressing his gratitude. However, the Czar explained, “Russia did not desire war and did everything to avoid it, but from the moment this war was imposed upon her she cannot fail to defend her rights by force of arms.” That was the fifth response received from belligerents and this led William Jennings Bryan to tell the President that “Each one declares he is opposed to war and anxious to avoid it and then lays the blame upon someone else.” In the end, “All the nations to whom President Wilson proposed mediation have now definitely refused the offer,” observed The Wall Street Journal.[127]

On September 8th, with little progress to show for the effort to persuade the belligerents to agree to American mediation, President Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a national day of prayer. A number of newspapers including The New York Times carried the full text of the President’s proclamation. Noting that the “great nations of the world have taken up arms” and “the counsel of statesmen have not been able to save [them] from the terrible sacrifice,” Wilson turned to “prayer and counsel” and designated Sunday, October 4th as “a day of prayer and supplication” and urged “all God-fearing persons to repair…to their places of worship there to unite their petitions to Almighty God that, overruling the counsel of men, setting straight the things they cannot govern or alter, taking pity on the nations now in the throes of conflict, in His mercy and goodness showing a way where men can see none.”[128]

On September 10th The New York Times and The Sun newspapers reported that the Kaiser had written personally to Wilson asserting that “Belgian civilians drove his generals to be severe.” Although the President and his staff were keeping the contents of the cable secret – “no one at the White House or state department would even admit officials that it had arrived,” the message was clearly timed to be there shortly before the arrival of an official commission from Belgium which the President did receive.[129] Wilson responded directly to the Kaiser on September 17th. “I received your Majesty’s important letter,” he wrote, “and perused it with great care.” The President used the opportunity to assert the neutrality of the US and that he foresaw a day of reckoning coming when the European powers would confer on “the evils committed in this war and [assign] the appropriate responsibility.”[130]

Through mid-September the belligerent nations and their supporters continued their attempts to sway American public opinion and to gain the sympathy of the President. They were most active in New York City. “More than 2,000 men and women of German blood who thronged Terrace Garden last night,” The New York Times reported on September 17, 1914, listened to a former German government official. He told them that “the position of Germans and their friends in the United States at the present time was difficult because Germany had not been fairly judged by a large part of the American people.” He added that “The German motives, and the German humanity are not fairly judged in this country.” [131] On September 19th, newspapers carried a report that Wilson refused to meet with a representative of several German-American associations “protesting the charges of atrocities made by the Belgian commission against the German army.” The President asserted that, in accordance with his strict stand on neutrality, he had consistently refused to meet with representatives of the nations at war. He was, newspapers reported, deeply upset by such efforts to influence American policy and to steer the nation away from its strict neutrality.[132]

To conclude, during the summer and early fall of 1914 those nations involved in “this terrible European war” scrambled to gain support abroad, in the United States, and especially in New York. This task proved challenging, to say the least, especially for Germany and its allies. Journalists, such as the editor of The Outlook who wrote in late September, “because under our free institutions public opinion has great facility both for formation and expression partly because we are remote from the conflict and our jury is less prejudiced,” proudly announced the objectivity of their coverage and the open minds of their readers. A similar sentiment applied to the fundamental question of who was responsible in the first place for the outbreak of war. Here, too, the American media came to a consensus. Asking “who brought on this war,” The Outlook’s editor concluded: “History will hold Austria-Hungry and Germany responsible for the terrible tragedy which is now spreading dissolution throughout Europe.”[133]

These two points of view sum up sentiment during the first months of the conflict. To a large degree, the coverage of the war by New York’s magazines and journals reflected the outlooks of their editors and their owners, their views on international relations, power politics, American national security, and militarism. These conflicting points of view fought their own battles within New York’s media as they sought public support, and aimed to affect the nation’s stand on the war. The success of each in shaping public opinion can at best be gauged by a thorough review of the media, the newspapers and magazines that American relied upon for information and points of view. Lacking public opinion polls which first were developed in the 1930s, a broad survey of the media offers the best view of American opinion. It is that public sentiment shifted over the course of the war. As a scholar wrote in 1937, when tensions were once more increasing on the continent, Americans had “lost interest” in the war by the winter of 1914-1915. “The truth is that the epic scale of the war was beyond popular comprehension. So, in the ensuing months, we informed ourselves indifferently of the progress of the conflict through dull communiqués,” he wrote.[134] This struggle for public opinion and support continued through 1917 and America’s entrance into the conflict. It persisted even through the peace settlement as the political leaders and the public strived to articulate America’s role in the world.[135]

Throughout these years, Woodrow Wilson strived to articulate not only his view on neutrality but to shape the nation’s as well. Already by late September 1914, the President had reached certain conclusions about the European conflict and these guided him through the American declaration of war in April 1917. Wilson came to believe that a German victory would seriously threaten America’s security; that it would spark the growth of domestic militarism; that the Allies would prove victorious because they had thwarted the German assault and were now in greater control of the war; and that the Allies showed interest in building a post-war world based on disarmament. These assumptions led Wilson to believe that the best way to build a world free of military arms race was to offer limited assistance to the Allies. Wilson had aimed to play the honest broker to the Allied and Central powers, a mediator who sought a fair peace, a true neutral party.[136] For Wilson and America central to this policy was strict neutrality. But that proved increasingly more difficult as his policies clearly favored Britain and as Germany became more desperate, more aggressive. Its declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare defied Wilson and widely held American principles. This action above all made continued neutrality improbable. By early April 1917, the President explained in an address to a joint session of Congress: “Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances.” The declaration of war followed.[137]


About the author: Robert G. Waite has a Ph.D. in modern European history from SUNY Binghamton and is a resident of Shushan, New York. Currently, he is a research historian at the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin.










[1]All Europe Prepares For A Mighty War;” “Actual War Begun By Austria. Czar and Kaiser Near Clash;” and “War Bulletins,” Evening World (July 28, 1914).  “War Crisis At Glance,” Times-Union (Albany). 
[2] “Russian and German Armies Called Out,” Evening World (July 31, 1914).  On the response of US diplomats to the declaration of war, see Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States.  1914 Supplement.  The World War (Washington, D.C.:  United States Government Printing Office, 1928), 16-48.
[3] “Germany Declares War;” and “7,474,000 Answer First Call,” Evening World (August 1, 1914).  “The Cost of War,” Binghamton Press (August 1, 1914).
[4] New York Tribune (August 2, 1914).
[5] “How the War Affects America,” Literary Digest LXIV(August 15, 1914),  256.
[6] “Address of Governor Glynn to the delegates of the fifty-first annual convention of the State Federation of Labor at Schnectady,” August 25, 1914, in Martin Henry Glynn Papers, 1913-1924, New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, Box 2, Folder 1.
[7] “The War News For Busy Readers,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).  “Some Aspects of War” Times-Union (August 4, 1914).   See, for example, “War Bulletins,” Madrid Herald (Madrid, New York) XI (August 6, 1914). 
[8] “Who Is Responsible?” The Outlook (September 30, 1914), 245.  There was some effort at the time to gauge public opinion; see, for example, “American Opinion on the War.  A Poll of the Press,” Outlook 107(15 August 1914), 907-908, which did just that, survey a range of newspapers and magazines.  Dale E. Zacher, The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18 (Urbana:  University of Illinois Press, 2008), 20-22, 26, 33-50. 
[9] “Europe’s War and America’s Sympathies,” Current Opinion LVII (October 1914), 221.  “The War in Europe.  An International Symposium,” Outlook 107(15 August 1914), 897-907.
[10] “Germany Interpreted By a German-American,” Outlook 107(22 August 1914), 954-956.  “Europe’s War and America’s Sympathies,” 221.  “Europe Appealing to America,” Literary Digest LXIX(September 19, 1914), 495-496.  “Ridder on War Situation,” Times-Union (September 13, 1914); Hermann Ridder was the editor of New York City’s German language newspaper, the Staats-Zeitung.
[11] “Europe’s War and America’s Sympathies,” 221.  Enclosure II, Telegram from the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Belgium Minister in Washington, in Arthur Link, editor, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, May 6-September 5,1914 (Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University Press, 1979), 458.  A Draft of a Reply to William II; Remarks to the Belgian Commissioner; and Poincaire’s Telegram, Enclosure (translation), September 10, 1914, in Arthur Link, editor, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31,  September 6 – December 31, 1914 (Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University Press, 1979), 32-33, 33-34, 38-39.  “Truth About Germany,” New York Times (September 7, 1914).
[12] See Fraser J. Harbutt, “War Peace, and Commerce.  The American Reacton to the Outbreak of World War I in Europe 1914,” in Holger Afflerbach & David Stevenson, An Improbable War.  The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (New York:  Berghahn Books, 2007), 320-334.  On the issue of public opinion, see James Davenport Whelpley, American Public Opinion (New York:  E.P. Dunton & Company, 1914), a contemporary collection of his essays on opinion on international issues.  Published in May 1914, before the outbreak of war, the book was an early effort to gauge public sentiment on international issues.
[13] For a fuller discussion of these issues, see Ross A. Kennedy, The Will to Believe.  Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and America’s Strategy for Peace and Security (Kent, Ohio:  Kent State University Press, 2009), 1-24.  Kennedy differentiates between what he identifies as the pacifists who saw the arms races and diplomatic issues that led to war as an European issue and who were convinced that America was largely insulated from the war by geography,  the liberal interventionists who feared a German victory, and the Atlanticists who viewed a German victory as posing a serious threat to America.  James Hay, “The War Terror,” Sunday Star (Washington D.C.) (January 10, 1915), reprinted in Congressional Record Appendix and Index, 63rd Congress, 3rd Session, Volume LII, Park VI, 103-105.  See the collection of newspaper articles written by former president Theodore Roosevelt, a vocal proponent of preparedness published as America and the World War (NY:  Scribner’s Sons, 1915). 
[14] Whelpley, American Public Opinion, 28-38, 260, 264.
[15] “Alexander Konta, “What Russia’s Trial Mobilization Really Means,” New York Times (April 12, 1914).
[16] “Financiers Serve Notice On Powers There Will Be No Money to Carry on General War,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914).
[17] “Albanians Who Are In Europe,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914).  “Our Brethren Abroad” and “30 thousand Americans to Return,” Times-Union (August 6, 1914).
[18] Quoted in “American Opinion of the War.  A Poll of the Press,” The Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 907.
[19] “The Military Preparedness,” The Nation 99(August 6, 1914), 150.  Samuel Taylor Moore, America and the World War (New York:  Greenberg Publishers, 1937), 2, 9.
[20] The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State, London, August 6, 1914, in Foreign Relations, 1914, Supplement, 46.
[21] “Austria Bombards Servia” and “France Makes Preparations For War,” Binghamton Press and Leader (July 29, 1914).  “Kaiser Rushes To Mobilize German Army;” “Austria’s Declaration of War;” Binghamton Press (July 30, 1914).  “Europe Is Ready To Plunge Into Abyss of War,” Binghamton Press (July 31, 1914).  “Germany Rushes to Mobilize,” Binghamton Press (August 1, 1914). 
[22] “Not the Slightest Hope That a General Conflict Can Now Be Averted,” and “When All Europe Lines up on the Battlefield,” Times-Union (July 31, 1914). 
[23] “Reports of Ultimatum By Kaiser Offset Peace Hope,” New York Times (August 1, 1914); and “All Military Eyes Fixed on War Stage,” New York Times (August 1, 1914).
[24] “Why People Shout for War,” Madrid Herald XI (August 6, 1914). 
[25] “The War Situation,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914).  “Summary of War News,” New York Times (September 2, 1914).  “The War News For Busy Readers,” Times-Union (August 3 and 4, 1914).  “Review of the War Developments,” Times-Union (August 6, 1914). 
[26] “Why Europe Is At War,” Atlantic Monthly XLIX(August 7, 1914), 253.  “The Germans in France,” Literary Digest XLIX(September 5, 1914), 400-401.
[27] “Some Aspects of the War,” Times-Union (August 4, 1914).
[28] “The Cost of War.”
[29] “Some Aspects of the War,” Times-Union (August 4, 1914).  “Military Preparedness,” 151-152.
[30] “Europe Now Aflame With Five Nations in Supreme Fight,” New York Tribune (August 5, 1914).  “The War in Belgium,” Literary Digest XLIX(August 22, 1914). 289-294.   “The Greatest War of History Breaks Over Europe,” Current Opinion LVII(September 1914), 149-153.  “How the War Wages,” Washington Post (September 2, 1914).  “Summary of War News,” New York Times (September 2, 1914).  “The Germans in France,” Literary Digest LXIX(September 5,1914), 399-406.
[31] Quoted in “Why Europe Is At War,” 253.  “Powers Looked for a War Excuse,” Times-Union (August 28, 1914).
[32] H.C.G. von Jagemann, “Germany’s Struggle for Existence,” Outlook 108(September 16, 1914), 144-145.  “Bavaria in War Time,” Outlook 108(September 30, 1914), 251-253.  “Germany’s Object in the War as Interpreted by a Prussian Military Officer,” Outlook 108(September 9, 1914), 68-71.  “With the Germans in Belgium,” Outlook 108(September 16, 1914), 139-143.  See, “Appeal of Warring Nations to American Sentiment” and “German Efforts to Influence American Opinion,” in Current Opinion LVII (October, 1914), 222ff.
[33] Ernst Richard, “The German Point of View of the War,” Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 903-904.  “Berlin Is Gone War Mad,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914).  See also “Germany Interpreted By a German-American,” Outlook 107(August 22, 1914), 954-956.
[34] “Kaiser Appeals to White House,” New York Tribune (August 19, 1914).
[35] “Blaming Germany for the War,” Literary Digest (August 22, 1914), 293.  “Mr. Ridder On War Situation,” Times-Union (September 19, 1914).
[36] “Blaming Germany for the War,” 293.  “Germany Ready To Fight the World To Protect Her Honor,” Times-Union (August 4, 191).
[37] Quoted in “American Sentiment and the German Viewpoint,” Current Opinion LVII (September 1914), 150.
[38] “Germans Denounce All But the Irish,” New York Times (August 21, 1914).
[39] “German Appeal to America,” Nation 99(October 15, 1914), 455.
[40] Ibid.  “The Truth About Germany,” New York Times (September 7, 1914).  “Truth About Germany.  Facts About the War,” emphasis in original, 6, 86.
[41] Quoted in “Mr. Ridder On War Situation,” Times-Union (September 19, 1914).
[42] “Germans to Celebrate,” New York Tribune (September 26, 1914).  “War Rally Here By German-Americans,” New York Times (September 28, 1914); and “Bartholdt Bids U.S. Press Beware,” New York Tribune (September 28, 1914).  See, “The ‘Anti-German’ Press,” Nation 99(August 20 1914), 221-222.
[43]; “Professor Darmstaedter Replies,” “England’s Violation of Neutral Territory,” and “Argument From Germany,” Nation 99(November 4, 1914), 548-549.
[44] “German Appeals to America,” 455.  “British Lies and American Sentiment,” Nation 99(November 26, 1914), 621.
[45] “German Appeals to America,” 455-456.
[46] Ross A. Kennedy, The Will to Believe.  Woodrow Wilson, World I, and America’s Strategy for Peace and Security (Kent, Ohio:  Kent State University Press, 2009), 12-14.
[47] See, for example, “The War in Belgium,” Literary Digest XLIX(August 22, 1914), 289-290.  “The War in Europe.  An International Symposium,” Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 896-907.
[48] Whelpley, “Courting of America,” 323-324.  “England Still Makes … Favorite Weapon, Says Staats-Zeitung,” Washington Post (September 28, 1914).
[49] “The American Attitude,” The Saturday Review, reprinted in Living Age 283(October 3, 1914), 52-53.
[50] Usher, “Reasons Behind the War,” 444-445.  See the editorial, “The War’s Motives,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).
[51] Usher, “Reasons Behind the War,” 444-445.  See also, “Why Europe Is At War,” Literary Digest XLIX(August 15, 1914), 254-262.  “The Quarrel Between Britain, Austria-Hungary, and Servia,” Nation 99(August 13, 1914), 186.
[52] Usher, “Reasons Behind the War,” 446-448.  For a differing view, see Constantin Theodor Dumba, Ambassador of Austria-Hungry, “The Austro-Servian Conflict,” Outlook 107(August 29, 1914), 1028.
[53] “Why Europe Is At War,” 253-254.  See also, “The Lust of Empire,” Nation 99(October 22, 1914), 493.  “The Responsibility For War,” Nation 99(August 6, 1914), 151.  “Blaming Germany for the War,” Literary Digest XLIX(August 21, 1914), 293-294.  “German Jingoism,” Outlook 97(April 22, 1911), 8-9.
[54] Quoted in “Why Europe Is At War” 254.
[55] “American Opinion on the War, 907.  See, “Germany Interpreted By a German-American,” Outlook 107(August 22, 1914), 954-956.
[56] Karl F. Geiser, letter, “The Anti-German Press,” Nation 99(August 20, 1914), 221-212.
[57] “Ridder on War Situation,” Times-Union (September 13, 1914).
[58] “Why Europe Is At War,” 255.  “Naval Experts See Small Chance For Germany in a Great Sea Fight,” Times-Union (August 5, 191).
[59] James Davenport Whelpley, “The Courting of America.”
[60] “How The War Affects America,” Literary Digest XLIX (August 15, 1914), 256.  Kennedy, Will to Believe, 26-29.
[61] Quoted in “How The War Affects America,” 25.
[62] “Wall Street Not Alarmed At News of Europe’s War,” Buffalo Courier (July 30, 1914).  “Profit and Loss of War,” Wall Street Journal (August 1, 1914).
[63] “War Scare Suspends the World’s Business,” and “The World’s Business Suspended,” Times-Union (July 31, 1914).
[64] “Europe’s Call to Arms,” Literary Digest XLIX (August 8, 1914), 215.  Roger W. Babson, “Why the New York Stock Exchange Should Reopen,” The Sun (September 13, 1914).
[65] “The Financial Side,” The Literary Digest XLIX (August 15, 1914), 257. 
[66] Gilson Gardner, “War Effects and Finance,” Times-Union (August 13, 1914).  See, “War and Our Merchant Marine,” Literary Digest LXIX (August 22, 1914), 290-293
[67] “Stock Exchange May Open in a Few Weeks, Says Adams,” Wall Street Journal (September 2, 1914).  Gilson Gardner, “War Effects and Finance,” Times-Union (August 13, 1914).
[68] “Bankers Confer to Keep American Gold at Home,” Evening World (August 1, 1914).  “Fear Premium for Gold Here,” New York Tribune (August 1, 1914).
[69] Alba B. Johnson, “America’s Industries as Affected by the European War,” American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (hereafter AAPSS) 61(September 1914), 1.  Joseph French Johnson, “The Probable Condition of the American Money Market After the War is Over,” AAPSS 60(1915), 133.
[70] “Address of Governor Glynn.”  See “How American Finance Faced the European War Panic,” New York Times (August 23, 1914) and “President to Call for $100,000,000,” New York Times (September 3, 1914).
[71] A.B. Leach, “The Effect of the European War on American Business,” AAPSS 60(1915), 143-144. 
[72] “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks to Meet Any Crisis” and “Gold Supply Fully Safeguarded,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).  “Further Gold Releaf,” Wall Street Journal (August 8, 1914).
[73] A News Report (August 1, 1914) New Shipping Bill Will be Pushed Through Monday, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 325-326.  “Wilson Gets More Business Ideas,” Binghamton Press (July 29, 1914).   “Bill to Save Our Sea Trade,” New York Times (August 1, 1914).  “Say We Can Plenty of Ships,” New York Times (August 3, 1914).  “How the War Affects America,” 256.   “Foreign Trade Council,” Wall Street Journal (August 4, 1914).
[74] Quoted in “How the War Affects America,” 256.  Gardner, “War Effects and Finance.”
[75] “American’s Loss and Gain in Europe’s War,” Literary Digest 49(August 29, 1914), 330.
[76] Joseph French Johnson quotes are from New York’s Evening Post newspaper and were cited in “America’s Loss and Gain in Europe’s War,” 330.  “How We Will Gain and Lose by War.  Dean Johnson Sees Opportunities for Us to Extend Our Financial Influence,” New York Times (September 6, 1914).  “Government to Investigate Advance in Foodstuffs,” Wall Street Journal (August 13, 1914).  From Henry Lee Higginson to Woodrow Wilson, August 20, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 420-421.
[77] Quoted in “America’s Loss and Gain.”
[78] “How We Will Gain and Lose by War.”  Johnson added his voice to the debate over responsibility for the war:  he wrote that Germany had increased its holdings of gold from $194 million in 1913 to $336 million in mid-July 1914, a “highly significant” measure from “one of the world’s powers [that] deliberately planned and promoted this war.” 
[79] “House Committee Will Ask Ruling On Sale of American War Supplies,” Washington Post (September 2, 1914).  “Foreign Trade,” Wall Street Journal (August 7, 1914).
[80] “Export Situation,” Wall Street Journal (August 11, 1914).  “How We Will Gain and Lose by War.”  “Expert Estimates Profit and Loss to U.S. by War,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 17, 1914). 
[81] “Chance for This Country to Create Merchant Marine,” Wall Street Journal (August 3, 1914).   Arthur Sears Henning, “U.S. To Protect Export Shippers, Wilson Assures,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 13, 1914). 
[82] Arthur Sears Henning, “Americans Free To Ship Supplies to Belligerents,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 15, 19114).
[83] “Stock Exchange May Open in a Few Weeks.”
[84]  From William Gibbs McAdoo, September 2, 1914; and An Address to a Joint Session of Congress, September 4, 1914 in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 467-468, 473-474.   “Pay War’s Toll, President Urges,” Washington Post (September 5, 1914).  “What We Pay to See Europe At War,” Literary Digest XLIX(September 19, 1914), 491-492.  The President’s call for additional tax revenue gained widespread coverage; see, for example, “Wilson Asks Congress For War Tax,” Times-Union (September 4, 1914).
[85] “Guard America From Losses By War in Europe.  Wilson and Congress Move to Prevent Money Shortage and Other Ills,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 1, 1914).  “President Takes Steps to Protect Country,” Wall Street Journal (August 1, 1914).
[86] “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks to Meet Any Crisis,” and “Will Issue Clearing House Certificates for Protection,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).
[87] Ibid.  “Bankers Arrange for More Currency,” New York Times (August 1, 1914).  “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks top Meet Any Crisis,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).  “New York Bankers See McAdoo,” Wall Street Journal (August 3, 1914).  “The Financial Situation in America and Europe,” New York Times (August 6, 1914).  “McAdoo Calls Conference,” Wall Street Journal (August 8, 1914).  “How American Finance Faced the European War Panic,” New York Times (August 23, 1914).
[88] “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks to Meet Any Crisis,” front page.  “Washington Alert to Aid Situation,” New York Times (August 1, 1914).
[89] “American Events in Review,” Christian Science Monitor (August 15, 1914).  “Government to Investigate Advance in Foodstuffs,” Wall Street Journal (August 13, 1914).
[90] “Government to Investigate Advance in Foodstuffs.”  “Guard America From Losses by War in Europe,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 1, 1914).
[91] “Plan for War Tax to Restore Revenue,” New York Times (August 8, 1914).   “The Financial Situation in America and Europe,” New York Times (August 24, 1914).
[92] Address to a Joint Session of Congress (September 4, 1914), in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 473-475.  “The Financial Situation in America and Europe,” New York Times (August 31, 1914).  “Cut in Revenue To Be Met With More Economy,” Christian Science Monitor (September 18, 1914).
[93] Charles S. Groves, “How Official Washington Views War in Europe,” Boston Daily Globe (September 13, 1914).  “Washington and Wall St. Work for Common Good,” Wall Street Journal (August 7, 1914).
[94] “Congress Proceeds With Work,” Christian Science Monitor (August 19, 1914).
[95] Congressional Record Index, Volume 51, 63-2, 137-138, 477.  These items were listed under the headings “Europe” and “War and Preparations for War.”  “Antiwar Proclamation,” Congressional Record-Senate, Volume 51, Part 14 (August 25, 1914), 14194.  Congressional Record-Senate, Volume 51, Part 15(September 16, 1914), 15192.  “A Good Example for Congress,” New York Times (August 11, 1914).
[96] “President’s Peace Proclamation,” Congressional Record-Senate, Volume 51, Part 15(September 8, 1914), 14803.
[97] “America Must Intervene to End War, Says Metz,” New York Times (September 23, 1914).
[98] The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary (Penfield) to the Secretary of state, Vienna, July 13, 1914, in Foreign Relations, 1914, Supplement, 22-23.  From Frederic Courtland Penfield, Vienna, June 28, 1914, and To Francis Joseph I, Washington, June 28, 1914, Remarks at a Press Conference, June 29, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 222-223.  Wilson’s own views can be discerned in his public papers and official correspondence, the only material available to historians; see, Kurt Wimer, “Woodrow Wilson and World Order,” in Arthur S. Link, editor, Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 1913-1921 (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 146-150.
[99] Myron Timothy Herrick to William Jennings Bryan, Paris.  July 28, 1914.  Rec’d 7:30 P.M., in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 313.  See the editorial, “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).
[100] Portions of Remarks at a News Conference, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 307.
[101] Cable, Paris, Myron Timothy Herrick to WJB, July 28, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 313.  The Ambassador in France (Herrick) to the Secretary of State, July 28, 1914, in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 18.
[102] From Walter Hines Page, Dear Mr. President, London July 29, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 314-316.
[103] The Chargé ďAffaires in Russia (Wilson) to the Secretary of State, July 31, 1914, in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 26.
[104] Remarks at a Press Conference, July 30, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 317. 
[105] Robert W. Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War.  Reconsidering America’s Neutrality 1914-1917 (Charlottesville:  University of Virginia Press, 2007), 19-24.
[106] Ibid., 3-6, 49-50.  Woodrow Wilson, Fourth of July address, July 4, 1917, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 248-255.  “President Wilson Advises All to be Calm,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).  “Bill to Save Our Sea Trade,” New York Times (August 2, 1914).
[107] “Wilson Pleads ‘Remain Calm’,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 4, 1914).  “Pres. Wilson Advises All To Be Calm.” 
[108] Quoted in “President Advises Nation to be Calm,” New York Times (August 4, 1914). 
[109] “Wilson Pleads ‘Remain Calm.’” “President Advises Nation to be Calm.”  “Pres. Wilson Advises All To Be Calm.”
[110] “Pres. Wilson Advises All To Be Calm,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).
[111] “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).  “U.S. Diplomats Work for Peace,” Atlanta Constitution (August 2, 1914).
[112] “U.S. Diplomats Work for Peace.”  “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer.”  See Wilson’s comments, Remarks at a Press Conference, August 3, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 331-335.  “U.S. Diplomats Work For Peace,” Atlanta Constitution (August 2, 1914).
[113] “Wilson Watches War in Europe,” Los Angeles Times (August 3, 1914).  “Pres. Wilson Advises All To Be Calm.”  “Address of Governor Glynn.”
[114] The proclamation was published in its entirety in the New York Times, see “President Wilson Proclaims Our Strict Neutrality; Bars All Aid to Belligerents and Defines the Law,” New York Times (August 5, 1914).
[115] “Pres. Wilson Offers to Mediate, and “President In His Proffer Leaves Way Open to Future Negotiations in Case of Present Refusal,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914). 
[116] “Our Diplomats Will Aid,” New York Times (August 2, 1914).  “To Send Gold to Tourists,” New York Times (August 4, 1914).  “Notes of Tourists Trapped in Europe,” New York Times (August 7, 1914).  “Executive Order 2011 – To Enforce Neutrality of Wireless Stations,” August 5, 1914.  Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.  http//www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=75364.  “Executive Order 2012 – For the Relief, Protection and Transportation Home of Americans in Europe at the Outbreak of the European War of 1914,” August 5, 1914.  Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.  http//www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=75365. 
[117] From Charles William Eliot.  Confidential. Dear President Wilson:  Asticou, Maine 6 August 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 353-354.
[118] “Germans Denounce All But the Irish.”
[119] “Mrs. Wilson In Critical Condition,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).  “Mrs. Wilson Dies in White House,” New York Times (August 7, 1914).  “Mrs Woodrow Wilson,” Literary Digest XLIX(August 15, 1914), 258.  “President Wilson’s Trial,” Times-Union (August 6, 1914).
[120] “The President’s Bereavement,” Times-Union (August 8, 1914).  See the letter the letter to Mary Allen Hulbert, September 6, 1914, in which he wrote with regard to the death of his wife:  “I am lamed and wounded more sorely than any words I have can describe,” in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 3.  “President Wilson’s Trial,” Times-Union (August 6, 1914).  “Mrs. Woodrow Wilson,” 258. 
[121] An Appeal to the American People.  My fellow countrymen:  [Aug. 18, 1914], in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 393-394.  “President Wilson Bids All His Countrymen be Neutral Both in Speech and Action,” Christian Science Monitor (August 18, 1914).  Wimer, “Woodrow Wilson and World Order,” 151-156. 
[122] From Edward Mandell House, with Enclosures, September 5, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 488.  On the importance of House in formulating America’s war aims and peace strategy, see Inga Floto, “Woodrow Wilson:  War Aims, Peace Strategy, and the European Left,” in Link, Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 129-130; Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War, 38-49; and Godfrey Hodgson, Woodrow Wilson’s Right Hand.  The Life of Colonel Edward M. House (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2006).
[123] Enclosure I, Edward Mandell House to Arthur Zimmerman (July 8, 1914); and Enclosure II, Edward Mandell House to William II (July 8, 1914), in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 265-267.  Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War, 38.  From Edward Manelll House, with Enclosures.  Dear Governor:  Prides Crossing, Mass. September 5th, 1914; and Enclosure I.  Edward Mandell House to Arthur Zimmermann.  My dear Herr Zimmermann:  Washington, September 5, 1941, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 488-489.
[124] “Russia Also Declines Mediation,” Wall Street Journal (August 29, 1914).  Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office.  Washington, den 7. September 1914; and Translation.  Washington, September 7, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 9-10.
[125] “Accuse the British of Double Dealing,” New York Times (August 22, 1914).
[126] “Attacks on England’s ‘All or None’ Pact. Chamber of German American Commerce Says It is Designed to Prolong War,” New York Times (September 7, 1914).  “Move to Suppress Belgian Pictures,” New York Times (September 16, 1914). 
[127] From William Jennings Bryan.  My Dear Mr. President:  Washington August 28, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 456-457.  The five responses came from the Czar, the governments of France, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, and Germany.  See also the Telegram from the Belgian Foreign Minister in Ibid., 458-461.  Secretary of State Bryan did not give up his plea for mediation and on December 1st he wrote to Wilson and urged the President to once more attempt to mediate; From William Jennings Bryan.  My dear Mr. President: 
Washington December 1, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 378-379.  “Russia Also Declines Mediation,” Wall Street Journal (August 29, 1914).
[128] A Proclamation.  [Sept. 8, 1914], in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 10-11.  “President Wilson Formally Proclaims Oct. 4 a Day of Prayer in America for European Peace,” New York Times (September 9, 1914).
[129]  “The Kaiser’s Message;” and “Peace Message From the Kaiser,” New York Times (September 10, 1914).  “Hints of Peace in the Kaiser’s Note to Wilson, The Sun (September 10, 1914).
[130] A Draft of a Reply to William II, September 15, 1914; and To Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, September 16, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, “President Wilson Sends Reply to Kaiser,” New York Times (September 17, 1914); and “President Wilson and the Kaiser,” Shanghai Times (October 2, 1914).  A Draft Reply to William II, September 15, 1914; and To Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, September 16, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 32-33, 34-35..
[131] “Germany Unfairly Judged – Dernburg,” New York Times (September 17, 1914).  Efforts to present a favorable picture of Germany persisted.  See, the full page of articles “The War Discussed from the German Side,” in The Sun (November 1, 1914 and November 15, 1914). 
[132] “German-Americans:  Wilson Refuses to See Delegation from Middle West on Alleged Cruelty Protest” Wall Street Journal (September 19, 1914).
[133] “Who Is Responsible?,” 245-249. 
[134] Moore, America and the World War, 12.
[135] Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War, 188-191.  Kennedy, Will to Believe, 163-167, 182-186.
[136] Kennedy, Will to Believe, 65.  Wilson, letter to House, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 34, 271. 
[137] Congress Lining Up With Wilson,” New York Times (April 1, 1917).  An Address to a Joint Session of Congress, April 2, 1917; and Enclosure, April 6, 1917, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 41, 519-527, 552; the quote is from page 523.  “President’s War Message Ready for Congress,” New York Times (April 1, 1917).  “President Calls for War Declaration,” and “The Text of the President’s Address,” New York Times (April 3, 1917).

No comments:

Post a Comment