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and the Progressive Era 

New American Nation Series 







191 O * 1917 





Copyright, 1954, by Harper & Brothers 
Printed in the United States of America 

All rights in this book are reserved. 
No part of the book may be vsed or reproduced 
in any manner whatsoever without written per- 
mission except in the case of brief quotations 
embodied in critical articles and ieineivs. I^or 
information addjess Harper & Brothers, 
49 East 33?d Street, New York, 16, N. Y. 


Library of Ctrngrt-tx cnlulo" ctnd riumhrr: ;1,V 

For My Mother and Father 










6. AMERICAN NEUTRALITY, 1914-15 145 


8. DEVIOUS DIPLOMACY, 1915-16 197 



INDEX 315 


Illustrations and 

These photographs, grouped in a separate section, 
will be found following page 140 







7. Wilson Being Inaugurated by Chief Justice Edward D. While, 

March 4, 1913. 

8. Wilson and His Cabinet, 1913 

9. Lours D. BRANDEIS 











20. "Horse Marines'* in Vera Grass 

21. Pershintf and UK; Staff of the Punitive Expedition 



22. SIR EDWARD GREY, British Foreign Secretary 



24. The Great Preparedness Parade, May 13, 1916 



27. Wilson on Campaign Tour, 1916 

28. Wilson Reads His War Message to Congress, April 2, 1917 


The United States and the Caribbean, 1913-1917 95 

The United States and Mexico, 1913-1916 no 

The Submarine Enters Modern War 258 

Editors' Introduction 

A HALF century ago the House of Harper launched the American 
Nation scries under the editorship of the distinguished historian,, 
Albert Bushnell Hart. There had been earlier co-operative works of this 
kind Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America comes 
to mind but none on the scale of the American Nation series, none as 
comprehensive, none as effectively designed for scholar and layman. 
The principle behind the original American Nation series,, which is 
now out of print, was simple enough: that the history of America was 
too large and complex for any one scholar to master and present, and 
that its adequate presentation must be, therefore, of necessity, a co- 
operative enterprise. 

The American Nation series, ultimately completed in twenty-seven 
volumes, established itself at once as an authoritative synthesis of the 
historical scholarship of that day. Affectionately known to two genera- 
tions of American students and scholars, it exercised a pervasive in- 
fluence on the study and teaching of American history. Some volumes^ 
by virtue of scholarly originality, philosophical insight, or literary 
charm, quickly became classics; others pioneered along now paths of 
historical discovery, stimulated new investigations, inspired new points 
of view. 

It is no criticism of the American Nation series to observe that it 
represented the scholarship and the point of view of the turn of the 
century rather than of the mid-twentieth century. The discovery and 
exploitation of new and rich mines of source rnatermL thr deepening 
and broadening of historical investigations, the importunate advance of 



new points of view, all these have operated to make most of the volumes 
of the older series inadequate to the needs of our generation. It is for 
this reason that the House of Harper is once again launching a compre- 
hensive co-operative survey of the history of the area now known as the 
United States from the days of discovery to the mid-twentieth century. 
It is hoped that this new series will perform for our generation the 
service that the original American Nation scries performed for two 
earlier generations. 

When, back in the days of Jackson, George Bancroft inaugurated his 
massive History of the United States, he could look forward with some 
confidence to mastering the events and the problems ho planned to 
describe and explain. Yet even in his own lifetime, and before he; had 
completed his Author's Last Revision, readers found his range of 
interest too narrow, his interpretation too partisan, his philosophi'/intf 
too simple, for the illumination of the past. Already before the turn of 
the century the age of specialization had set in, and with it th frag- 
mentation of the past, chronologically and topically. In recent years, us 
we have come to see not only how complex are the threads that make 
up the tapestry of the past, but how dependent each is on the others 
in making a recognizable pattern, there has developed a determined 
effort to overcome the evils of excessive specialization and fragmenta- 
tion. Our own generation has not only broadened the scope of imtoty 
to embrace such interests as science, technology, public administra- 
tion, religion, economics, and similar subjects, but has developed 
a new inter-disciplinary approach to the problems of historical inter- 
pretation and presentation. The time has now come for A judicious 
appraisal of the findings of the new history, a cautious application of 
the new techniques of investigation and presentation, and a large-scale 
effort to achieve a synthesis of the new findings with the traditional 
facts, and to present the whole in attractive literary form. 

To this task the New American Nation Series h dedicated* Each 
volume is part of a carefully planned whole, and co-ordinated with 
other volumes in the series; at the same time each volume i denigned 
to be complete in itself. Some overlapping is doubtless inevitable!, but 
it has seemed to the editors that overlapping is lest regrettable than 
omissions, and from time to time the same series of evuntu and iht 
same actors will be seen from different points of view. While for the 
xnost part the series follows a chronological organization, separata 


volumes or groups of volumes will be devoted to cultural history, 
constitutional history, and foreign affairs. 

It is in many ways appropriate that this first volume to appear in 
the new series should address itself to a period which was in part the 
subject of the final volume of the original American Nation series: 
Frederick Austin Ogg's National Progress, igoy-igi?. The difference 
in scope and even in title suggests something of the change in perspec- 
tive and in approach that the new scries reflects. Professor Link de- 
votes half again as much space to roughly half the period of years 
covered by Professor Ogg's book, and he is by no means as confident as 
was his predecessor that these years spell progress. An immense body of 
new evidence, and perhaps a more critical attitude toward that evi- 
dence, has enabled Professor Link to tell a more complete and better 
balanced story than it was possible to tell a generation ago. Into this 
volume Professor Link has distilled the results of years of research in 
the career of Woodrow Wilson and the prodigious events which make 
that career so significant. Based upon an impressive body of docu- 
mentation, this volume considers the dilemma which confronted pro- 
gressives in the first Wilson administration, and appraises the President's 
plans and achievements on both the domestic and the international 
scene. Professor Link's volume will be preceded in the scries by a study 
of Rooscveltian progressivism and the challenge which it evoked, and 
followed by a volume on the First World War and the collapse of Wil~ 
sonian idealism and internationalism in the twenties, while other 
volumes will tell the story of cultural and constitutional developments 
during these crucial years when the United States was emerging into 
world power, 



rTlHIS book represents an attempt to comprehend and re-create 
JL the political and diplomatic history of the United States from 
the beginning of the disruption of the Republican party in 1910 to the 
entrance of the United States into the First World War in 1917. 
Every scholar thinks the period he is studying is the most important 
interval in history, and I perhaps have an exaggerated notion of the 
significance of the events I relate. Even so, none can doubt that these 
were momentous and terrible years, not only for the American people, 
but for all mankind. In this country the great progressive movement 
found its first culmination in the formation of the Progressive party, 
the election of Woodrow Wilson to the presidency, and, above all, the 
enactment by Congress from 1913 to 1917 of a comprehensive reform 
program. How this came about and how progressives found an answer 
to the great dilemma that had divided their ranks and confounded 
some of their leaders this constitutes my first theme. At the same 
time Europeans attempted to solve the dilemmas created by rival im- 
perialisms and nationalisms by appealing to the God of battles. How 
the American people and government were eventually drawn into the 
vortex of this awful struggle is my second theme. 

In this volume I have attempted to synthesize the results of five 
years of research that I made for the next three volumes of my biog- 
raphy of Woodrow Wilson, which will cover Wilson's first administra- 
tion. The present book is, therefore, in the nature of an outline of my 
larger, more detailed, and more copiously documented study. As this 
volume is based almost exclusively upon research in the sources, I have 



included secondary works in my footnotes only when I was specifically 
indebted to them. The literature on this period, none the less, is already 
varied and rewarding; and in the bibliographical essay I have tried to 
present and describe it in a way that will prove useful to students and 

It is now my pleasant duty to acknowledge my deep obligation to 
the institutions whose financial assistance made it possible for me to do 
the research for this volume. The Princeton University Research Com- 
mittee extended several grants during the period 19-16-49, From 19f>0 
to 1951 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Col- 
lege of Liberal Arts of Northwestern University, and the Northwestern 
University Research Committee all co-operated to enable me to leave 
Evanston for fifteen months of sustained research. I can never fully 
express my gratitude to Mr. Henry Allen Moe of the Guggenheim 
Foundation, to Dean Simeon E. Leland of the College of Liberal Arts, 
and to Professor Gray C. Boycc, chairman of my Department, for their 
indispensable help and encouragement. 

In writing this book, moreover, I have leaned so heavily upon the 
counsel of my friends that I like to think it is a eo-operntive undertak- 
ing. From the beginning of my research Professor Kdxvard Mend Rarta 
of the Institute for Advanced Study has sustained my determination. 
Moreover, he read the manuscript and made many sun4*'stion$, I am 
indebted to the editors of this series, Professors Henry Strele (!omm:i*,;t % r 
and Richard B, Morris, for their help and Kmarrstiom. Every jtatjjr* of 
this book bears testimony to their contribution. Pwfmsor Morris also 
assumed the onerous tasks of cutting my overly copious footnotes and 
seeing the manuscript through the last stages before publication. My 
colleagues, Professors Richard W. Leopold and Ray A. Hillim*tr*n, 
both read the manuscript and saved me from many errors, as did 
Professor Charles Seymour* President Emeritus of Yah? University, 
Professor George E, Mowry of th University of California* LOH 
Angeles, Professor Edward li Buchrig of Indian* University, anrl Mr. 
John W. Davidson of the Manuscript* Division, Library of 
In addition, my former colteagms and now ht*ad of thft 
Atnerican Division of the Library of Gongix***, Dr. Howard K, Claw, 
read Chapters 4 and 5 with cart* and discrimination. He he!j>e<l we 
find my way through the mase of Mexican polities and revolution*. 

I gratefully acknowledge the pcnniftuon granted by the Yitle Uni- 
^, f ^A MV nh<*rl<m Suvmour to use Quotations from the 


diary and letters of Edward M. House and Frank L. Polk; by Mr. 
Allen W. Dulles to use quotations from the diary and letters of Robert 
Lansing and by the Yale University Library and Professor Sherman 
Kent to use quotations from the papers of William Kent. 

I must also thank Mr. Konrad G. Mueller, formerly of Harvard 
University, for his help in translating German documents and news- 
papers; three of my graduate students at North western, Messrs. Edward 
Lurie, David W. Hirst, and Gerald N. Grob for their assistance in 
checking proof, footnotes, and bibliography; as well as Dr, Marion 
McKenna of Hunter College and Mr. Cass Canfield and Mrs. Beulah 
W. Hagen of Harper & Brothers for their aid in preparing the manu- 
script for publication. 

Finally, to my wife, Margaret Douglas Link, I owe a debt I can 
never describe or repay. She has not only inspired my work at every 
stage but has also been my best collaborator. 

A, S. L. 

Evanston, Illinois 
February 2 


and the Progressive Era 



The New Nationalism 
Versus the New Freedom 

THE ELECTION of 1912 marked the culmination of more than 
twenty years of popular revolt against a state of affairs that seemed 
to guarantee perpetual political and economic control to the privileged 
few in city, state, and nation. The uprising that came so spectacularly 
to a head in the first years of the twentieth century the progressive 
movement was the natural consummation of historical processes long 
in the making. 

To begin with, the philosophy of laissez-faire individualism, upon 
which the exploitative and competitive system depended for ideological 
justification, had suffered steady erosion! by the writings of neodem- 
ocrats like Henry George, Lester F. Ward, and Henry Demarest Lloyd. 
By 1900 the ideal of an individualistic society had given way, at least in 
the minds of many intellectuals and political leaders, to the concept of 
a, society organized for collective action in the public interest. More- 
over, under the spur of economic adversity of the eighties and nineties, 
a large segment of the farmers had abandoned their traditional indi- 
vidualism and had organized politically to implement a comprehensive 
program for the control of the railroads, the large corporations, and 
the money supply. Finally, jfthere were numerous evidences during 
these years that the old impulse to doing good, which had been the 
wellspring of American humanitariamsm, was not entirely dead. This 
spirit manifested itself in an organized way mainly in the cities in 
efforts to make the churches more responsive to social and economic 


needs, in campaigns to clean up the slums and protect the weak and 
helpless, and in spasmodic drives to wrest control of city governments 
from grafters often allied with vested economic interests. 

Thus the progressive movement of the first part of the twentieth 
century was an outgrowth and a fulfillment, rather than a beginning. 
All during the years from 1900 to 1917 the reform crusade was in mo- 
tion on various levels and was moving in different directions. But there 
was some unity and a general chronological development in it. The 
first reform wave came in the cities, with a great drive to overturn the 
politicians allied with corporations, railroads, and utilities. Consider- 
able success in this endeavor led next to campaigns to capture the state 
governments, as the city crusaders invariably found that the city ma- 
chines were either adjuncts of or else the main cogs in the state ma- 

Inevitably, the reform^joapulse also affected the two great national 
parties and their leaders/By 1908 William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska 
and his progressive followers again dominated the Democratic party. 
The Democrats, however, were still a minority and were so badly rent 
by internal dissensions that they offered little immediate hope of ef- 
fective leadership for the liberal element of the countryXMuch more 
important a development before 1912 was the steady infiltration of 
progressive ideas among the Republican leadership and rank and file, 
especially in the Middle West. The leader of that party from 1901 to 
1909, Theodore Roosevelt, never managed and rarely attempted to 
dislodge the remarkable combination of conservatives who dominated 
it and determined its policies. Even so, Roosevelt held office during a 
time of transition, and there is no doubt that the service he rendered 
the reform movement was substantial He was a shrewd opportunist 
with an eye on the main political chance, it 5s true, and the sum of his 
legislative accomplishments was* small. Yet his constant sermonising 
about the malpractices of big business and high finance, and his 
successful and important struggle for the conservation of natural re- 
sources, stirred millions of citizens into a high state of righteous indig- 
nation, In brief, his chief contribution to the reform cause was the 
publicity he gave to it. 1 

Roosevelt, therefore, appreciated the meaning and significance of 
the progressive movement and dealt carefully with the rising RepubH- 

1 As George E. Mowry hat pointed out in Theodore Roouvelt and th* Pro- 
Movement (Madiion, Wit,, 194$), pp. 


can insurgents. The fact that he succeeded in keeping them in good 
humor while he worked closely with the Old Guard in Congress is 
testimony to his superb astuteness. His one great mistake, and it was 
an error of personal judgment, was in choosing William Howard Taft 
to succeed him^If Roosevelt had selected Charles Evans Hughes, the 
brilliant, crusading, and independent Governor of New York, the 
future history of the United States might have been considerably dif- 

But it was Taft whom Roosevelt put into the White House in 1909; 
and for all his superficial joviality and apparent progressivism, his in- 
telligence and integrity, Taft was ill equipped to play the role the polit- 
ical exigencies demanded. The job ahead would have taxed the 
resources of a Roosevelt, but Taft possessed neither Roosevelt's astute- 
ness nor his energy. In order to prevent the disruption of the Republi- 
can party, Taft had to facilitate the shift in party control from the Old 
Guard to the insurgents. Instead of boldly doing this, he vacillated at 
first, finally aligned himself with the reactionaries, and so completely 
alienated the progressives that a rupture was inevitable. 

A few examples will suffice to illustrate Taft's bungling leadership 
and to set the stage for the opening event in the election of 1912, the 
Democratic landslide in the Congressional and gubernatorial elections 
of November, 1910. 

When, at the beginning of the Taft administration in 1909, the in- 
surgents in the House of Representatives maneuvered to unhorse the 
reactionary Speaker, Joseph G. Cannon, Taft was forced to choose be- 
tween the rival factions. He supported Cannon, and the insurgents 
came out of the fight wondering how deep the President's progressivism 
went. Soon afterward occurred the revolt of the insurgent Republicans 
in the Senate against the Aldrich amendments to the Payne tariff bill, 
which the House had just adopted. Taft at first encouraged, then de- 
sertod the insurgents, and made one move after another that quickened 
their disaffection. First he made a thirteen-thousand-mile speaking tour 
of the Middle West in September, 1909, which, instead of assuaging 
the insurgent temper, further inflamed it* Then during the following 
autumn and winter he supported his Secretary of the Interior, Richard 
A. Ballinger, in a long and bitter controversy with Gifford Pinchot and 
other conservationists, Ballmger was officially exonerated by the Re- 
publican majority of a Congressional committee; but in the eyes of 


the country he stood convicted as a foe of conservation, and Taft was 
discredited. 2 

Finally 3 in the spring of 1910 the President took the last step in his 
devolution from progressivism to conservatism. He joined the Old 

Herbert Johnaon in tho I*hUmh<lphiu tfnrth American 

The tariff iwuu: Taft pleads with Aldrich> who wjoins: "Aw, hang 
the consumer!* 3 T. R?$ big stick gathers cobwebs. 

Guard in a well-planned and generously financed campaign to root in- 
surgency out of the party, by defeating progressive Republicans for 

id* t pp 7$-87. Alpheut T. Mason, Bureaucracy Cnmet$ Itstlf (Prince- 
ton, 194} ), b a definitive atudy of th Ballinger afT&ir. For a drfn <*f Taft 
and Ballingcr sec Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Tim** of William Ifaward 
Taft (2 vols., New York, 1939), 


renomination in the coming primaries in the Middle West. The insur- 
gents, in turn, were goaded by the administration's attacks into virtually 
declaring their independence from the party dominated by Aldrich, 
Cannon, and Taft The flames of Midwestern progressivism had now 
indeed become the raging prairie fire of insurgency, and the battle for 
the control of the G.O.P. that transpired during the spring of 1910 
promised to decide the fate of Republicanism in the nation as well as 
in the great Mississippi Valley. 

In spite of the ruthless use of the federal patronage, the sending of 
the best stand-pat orators into the Midwest, and the widespread use of 
money, Taft's campaign against the insurgents failed completely. In 
state after state Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Kansas 
the progressives triumphed* Nothing was more suggestive of the ad- 
ministration's impending doom than the refusal of the Midwestern 
rank and file to turn against their local leaders. Already by the summer 
of 1910 there was considerable talk of organizing a third party in 1912 
should Taft be renominated. Already progressives were turning to 
Roosevelt as their messiah. 

The estrangement between Roosevelt and Taft was one of the most 
important by-products of these two years of bitter party strife. Soon 
after Taft's inauguration, Roosevelt had obligingly gone off to Africa 
to hunt big game. By the time he returned to New York in June, 1910, 
he was definitely alienated from his one-time friend. What had hap- 
pened meantime to bring this about? 

The coolness that Roosevelt now felt toward Taft was born of a 
series of incidents, many of them petty and personal The event which, 
more than any other, convinced Roosevelt that Taft had betrayed his 
policies was the Ballinger affair. A few months before his return to the 
United States, Roosevelt had a long conference in Europe with Gifford 
Pinchot, leader of the anti-Ballinger group. We do not know what the 
two men said to each other, but we do know that Roosevelt never felt 
the same about Taft after that meeting* Pinchot, moreover, had taken 
with him a sheaf of letters to Roosevelt from Senator Jonathan P. 
DoIIiver of Iowa, Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana, William 
Allen White of Kansas, and other Midwestern progressive Republican 
leaden?, all presenting full bills of particulars against the President. 
From that day on, Roosevelt was convinced Taft had permitted the 


Old Guard to maneuver him into a position that made the revolt of 
the insurgents inevitable. 8 

Meanwhile, after Roosevelt's return to America the war within the 
Republican party increased in bitterness and intensity. In one Mid- 
western state convention after another, the Republicans greeted Taft's 
name with boos and catcalls and refused to endorse his administration* 
Important, also, was the fact that the revolt was spreading to all sec- 
tions of the country except the rotten boroughs of the South. In June, 
for example, Hiram W. Johnson and the progressives in California 
smashed the old ring that had long been dominated by the Southern 
Pacific Railroad and captured the Republican party lock, stock, and 
barrel. In New Hampshire., in Washington, and in numerous other 
states the insurgents were also triumphant. 

Although by this time Roosevelt had committed himself to the 
progressive cause, he tried hard to maintain an air of impartiality, and 
he labored sincerely during the fall of 1910 to bring the warring 
factions together. He knew the outcome of the disruption of his party 
would be to present the presidency and control of Congress to the 
Democrats in 1913, and he was still enough of a conventional Re- 
publican to believe this was about the worst thing that could happen to 
the country. But when he tried to take a hand in organizing tlu> state 
convention in New York, as a means of strengthening the national ad- 
ministration, Roosevelt found that Taft had come out against him and 
had aligned himself with the reactionary bosses in the state. Rebuffed 
and resentful, Roosevelt set out upon a great tour of the West where, 
amid wildly cheering crowds, he enunciated the advanced political and 
economic philosophy that he called the New Nationalism, 

The Democratic party, like its ancient rival, wax at a critical junc- 
ture in its career in 1910* It had been fourteen years since Bryan had 
captured leadership of the party, fourteen years without patronage? or 
national office, without real unity or effective purpose, Bryan had 
never been unfaithful to the progressive cause, had broadened his 
program since 1896, and still commanded the devotion of many of the 
rural Democrat* of the South and West* Yet even Bryant own spokes- 
men knew the party must have a new leader if it was ever to win a 
national election again, This was the conviction particularly of Ifie 

Mowry, Roostvttt, pp. 125-126* 


leaders of urban, middle-class progressive Democrats and was shared 
by The Commoner himself. 4 

Democratic hopes of profiting from the division in the Republican 
party were realized beyond the wildest expectations in the Congres- 
sional and gubernatorial elections in November, 1910. It was a virtual 
Democratic landslide throughout all sections except the Pacific Coast. 
The House of Representatives went Democratic for the first time since 
1892, by a large margin, 5 while enough new Democratic senators were 
elected to enable them and the insurgent Republicans to control the 
upper house. In addition, Democratic governors were elected in many 
traditionally Republican states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New 
York, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska, and Colorado, among 
others. So sweeping was the victory that the party was at once recon- 
stituted as a potent threat to Republican supremacy. It was not yet a 
united force, and the issues upon which it had been swept into office 
were hardly new, but it was evident that Bryan's day had passed. 

Bryan would remain the titular head of the party until 191 2, to be 
sure, but the great Democratic sweep was not a Bryan victory, except 
as it was a vindication of the principles for which he had long fought. 
Actually, Bryan had bolted the party ticket in Nebraska 6 and had 
played a minor role in the campaign* New leaders, among them 
Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, Governor Judson Harmon of Ohio, 
and Champ Clark of Missouri, had risen. Practically every Democratic 
newspaper in the country believed a reorganization of the party was 
in the offing and would culminate in the nomination of a new presi- 
dential candidate in 1912. "For the first time since Jackson's adminis- 
tration the Democratic party is emancipated and master of its own 
destiny,*' the leading eastern Democratic newspaper asserted. "All the 
shackles have been struck off. There is no load of sectional issues or 
dead issues or economic fallacies for [the party] to struggle under. As 
secession followed slavery to the grave . . , so the Bryan socialism has 
followed silver, and the Democratic slate is wiped clean. The party is 

4 B.g*, sec Josephus Daniels, The Wilson Era, Years of Peace 1910-1917 
(Chapel Hill, N,C., 1944), p. 16, and Mary B. Bryan (ed.), The Memoirs 
of William Jennings Bryan (Philadelphia, 1925), p, 158. 

*The Sixty-Second Congress, elected in November, 1910, was composed of 
the following: 227 Democrats, 162 Republicans, and 1 Socialist in the House 
of Representatives; 42 Democrats and 49 Republicans in the Senate. 

The New York Tim**, Sept 21, 1910. 


back to first principles again, under leadership that is fit to lead.*' 7 
Moreover, when Bryan announced he was not in the running for a 
fourth nomination, all observers agreed that events during the next 
eighteen months would determine not only the question of leadership 
but also the fate of the Democracy. 

Thus the Democratic preconvention campaign of 1911 and 1912 
was no ordinary pre-election contest. As it became an all-out struggle 
for control of the Democratic party, it would be well to know the 
leading contenders, the issues, and the progress of that contest. 

Woodrow Wilson, who had made an extraordinarily brilliant cam- 
paign for the governorship of New Jersey, quickly emerged as the most 
distinguished Democratic claimant. No man in the history of Ameri- 
can politics had such a spectacular and rapid rise to political promi- 
nence. Born in Staunton, Virginia, on December 28, 1856, he grew up 
in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction, After a brief 
attendance at Davidson College in North Carolina, he went to Prince- 
ton University in 1875 and was graduated in 1879. Next he studied 
law at the University of Virginia and during 1882-83 attempted a 
brief and impoverishing practice in Atlanta. Unhappy over his failure 
as a lawyer, Wilson went to the new Johns Hopkins University in 
Baltimore to study history and political science under the renownrd 
Herbert Baxter Adams. His PhJX thesis, Congressional Gowtnmrnt, 
published in 1885, was a brilliant analysis of the federal legislative* 
system, strongly influenced by Walter Bagohol. From I88f> to 1888 he: 
taught at Bryn Mawr College and from 1888 to 1890 at Wesleyan 
University. In the latter year IHJ returned to Princeton as pmfessor of 
jurisprudence and political economy and for the next twelve years won 
fame as a teacher and writer on political and historical subjects. 

Elected president of Princeton in 1902, Wilson inaugurated n series 
of bold innovations that revitalized the University and marked him as 
one of the outstanding educational statesmen of his thm*. H** tvviatrd 
the curriculum; he established the preceptorial system of guidt*d *tudy; 
and he brought to Princeton a large group of promising youtw trarhers 
and scholars. At the same times he became increasingly prominent 
throughout the country an a spokesman of Democratic comervativin 
as a foe of Bryanisrn, of governmental regulation, and of tlw* rtstrir- 

New York World, Nov. 1$, 1910; al*o Th* N*w York Timts, Mar, 9, I9U. 


tive practices of labor unions. 8 George Harvey, editor of the conser- 
vative Harper's Weekly, had begun a movement in 1906 and 1907 to 
make Wilson the Democratic presidential nominee in 1908 or 1912, 
but few persons took Harvey seriously until two events of profound 
importance in Wilson's own career occurred. 

The first was the defeat of Wilson's program at Princeton after the 

first years of brilliant success. In 1906 and 1907 he attempted almost 
singlehanded to abolish the undergraduate eating clubs and to sub- 
stitute in their stead quadrangles, or colleges, where undergraduates 
would live and eat together. He attacked the clubs on sound academic 
and intellectual grounds, not because they were allegedly centers of 
campus snobbery and exclusiveness; but the alumni and part of the 
faculty protested so violently that the trustees had to abandon Wilson 
in the fight. This was a humiliating defeat, and he contemplated re- 
signing. But the really crushing blow came during the bitter fight in 
1909 and 1910 over the establishment and control of a graduate col- 
lege. Wilson's chief antagonist, Andrew F. West, Dean of the Graduate 
School, insisted that the graduate college be set apart under his con- 
trol Wilson, on the other hand, demanded that the graduate college 
be made the center of the University's intellectual life and subject to 
his control. As the bitterness of the controversy mounted, Wilson in- 
jected the personal issue and claimed he was fighting for democracy 
at Princeton. West, however, obtained the money to build the kind of 
college he wanted and won in the end. 9 

These tragic and bitter controversies left a deep scar on the Univer- 
sity that did not heal for many years. They also highlighted grave de- 
fects in Wilson's character and quality of leadership for example, 
his unfailing habit of converting differences over issues into bitter 
personal quarrels, his proud and unyielding stubbornness, and his 
inability to work with the opposition. But more important for the 
future of American politics, Wilson's defeat at Princeton made him 
willing to launch forth on the uncertain sea of politics, 

The second decisive event that shaped Wilson's action at this im- 
portant juncture in his career was his nomination for governor of New 
Jersey on the Democratic ticket in September, 1910, This maneuver 

* Arthur S. Link, Wilson; The Road to the White House (Princeton, 1947), 
pp. 106-122, 126-127. 

* For an account of the quadrangle and graduate college controversies, set? 
ibid., pp. 45-9 L 


/vas executed chiefly by Wilson's old booster, George Harvey, who 
:onvinced the leading Democratic boss, James Smith, Jr., that Wilson 
zould be used to head off a growing progressive revolt within the party 
In the state. At the time of his nomination, Wilson was a political con- 
servative, almost totally ignorant of the issues agitating the people. His 
political convictions, however, were never as fixed as his ambition ; and 
as for the issues, he was a rapid learner. Gutting himself loose from the 
machine that nominated him, Wilson went over completely to the 
reform program that progressives of both parties had been pressing for 
a decade. His brilliant campaign swept him into the governorship by a 
fifty thousand majority and the Democrats into control of the lower 
house of the legislature. 

It is no exaggeration to say that Wilson's meteoric rise electrified the 
nation, 10 while events of the next six months convinced many thought- 
ful observers that he was the bright hope of the Democracy, A few 
weeks after the election, Wilson broke openly with the bosses when he 
refused to support Smith's ambition to return to the United States 
Senate. By assiduous work among the politicians and by another appeal 
to the people, Wilson not only prevented Smith's election but also 
firmly established his personal control over the Democratic party in the 
state. Then, during the winter and spring of 1911, he subdued the 
bosses once again and pushed through a reluctant legislature prac- 
tically the entire reform program a direct primary system, corrupt 
practices legislation, workmen's compensation, and strict state control 
of railroads and public utilities* It was no wonder that Democratic 
progressives throughout the country were bttgirmiru; to look upon 
Wilson, us one Texas editor later declared, as the "most hopeful figure 
in American politics*" u 

There is little doubt, also, that Wilson wanted the leadership of the 
Democratic party in the nation. A small tfroup of hopeful president* 
makra gathered around him and began an organised campaign for 
his nomination in the spring of 1911, u For his part, Wikwi cam- 
paigned strenuously in every section of the country before* the end of 

York World, Nov. 8, 1010; Outlook, XCVI (Nov. 5, 1910), 521; 
Baltimore Sun, Nov. 4, 1910; Philadelphia North American, Ort, 27, 1910. 
11 Galvfston Daily News, Jan, 11, 1912. 

18 It i* interesting that moit of them wrre, Hk<? Wilson, Southrrnm living in 

the North. The kadexi of the group were William F. McConibi , a voting lawyer 

from Arkansaa, who established Wilson headquarters at 42 Broadway, NVw 

York City, and who was general manager of the campaign ; William G, 

- - * * >- .,... ... T..IU... m 


the prenomination campaign. Up and down the country he went, 
pleading for support and setting forth his philosophy and program. 
JBy and large he talked in generalities, about returning the government 
to the people, the need for trust control and tariff and banking reforms, 
and the iniquity of special privilege legislation. Although few old-line 
politicians had committed themselves by the end of 1911, it seemed 
certain that Wilson would win the nomination without difficulty. No 
other serious contender seemed yet to be in sight. 

The superficial success of Wilson's early campaign, therefore, made 
the rise of Champ Clark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, as 
the leading contestant for the Democratic nomination all the more 
startling. Clark was an old-time war horse from Pike County, Missouri, 
who had served in the House since the 1890's. A politician of the 
Bryan type, he had accumulated a consistent progressive record over 
the years. He had never originated any legislation or taken leadership 
in any important movement, however; and he was narrow and pro- 
vincial in outlook, undistinguished by intellectual prowess, and tem- 
peramentally and for lack of experience in leadership unfitted for the 
presidency of a great nation. 18 There is, therefore, little reason to doubt 
that the New York World was justified when it warned that Clark's 
nomination would spell disaster for the Democratic party and, if he 
were elected, for the United States. 14 

As Speaker of the House after March, 1911, Clark made hardly any 
popular campaign for the nomination, except occasionally to recite his 
stock lecture, "The Signs of the Times/' In contrast, Wilson traveled 
tens of thousands of miles and made hundreds of speeches. Yet when 
the Democratic presidential primaries were held and the state con- 
ventions met in the spring of 1912, one after another of the states went 
for the Speaker. Clark had inherited most of Bryan's following in the 
Middle and Far West. He had the fervid support of William Randolph 
Hearst, 1 * and the influence of the Hearst newspapers in his behalf in 
states like Illinois, California, and Massachusetts was decisive* Finally, 

**For an excellent contemporary summary see Frank Parker Stockbridge, 
"Champ Clark, of Pike County," World's Work, XXIV (May, 1912), 27-36. 

"New York World, Apr. 25, 1912; Herbert A. Hilary to Richard Olney, 
Apr. 17, 1912, the Papers of Richard Olney, in the Library of Congress; Olney 
to Hilary, Apr. 18, 1912, ibid.; World's Work, XXIV (June, 1912), 130; 
Collier's W**kly> XLVIII (Mar. 9, 1912), 9; m, XLIX (June 22, 1912), 

*See Hcart*$ *tatementi in Chicago Examiner, Sept 26, 1911, and New 


Clark had the support of most of the time-serving Democratic poli- 
ticians and the state organizations, and their support was the critical 
factor in the success of his campaign. 

While Clark gathered some 436 delegates pledged to support his 
nomination at the national convention in Baltimore in June, Wilson 
could count at the most only 248. The best the Wilson managers could 
hope for was that the support of the uninstructed Wilson delegates 
would give him control of at least one-third of the total convention 
vote of 1088. Wilson had made an especially hard fight to win his 
native South, but had to divide the Southern delegations with Clark 
and Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama, chairman of the House Ways 
and Means Committee. 10 For Wilson and his friends the days pre- 
ceding the Baltimore convention were disheartening indeed. Wilson 
himself was ready to quit. Colonel Edward M. House, a quiet Texas 
politician who had joined the Wilson movement late in 1911, became 
discouraged and advised his friends to find another candidate to sup- 
port if it seemed Wilson could not be nominated. 17 

It was easily the most critical time in the history of the Democratic 
party since 1896 when the national convention opened at Baltimore on 
June 25, 1912, for nothing less than control of the parly and also of the 
federal government was at stake. From the very first day th< conven- 
tion was riotous and bitter. A member of the Nebraska delegation, 
Bryan led a revolt against the selection of the; conservative Jwi<*e Alton 
B. Parker of New York as keynote speaker. The Wilson ddt^atos sup- 
ported Bryan in the fight, but the Clark men voted for Parker and h 
made his address. Next Bryan introduced a resolution pledging thr 
party not to nominate any candidate subservient to "J. P, Morgan, 
Thomas Fortune Ryan, August Bclmont, or any other member of the 
privilege-hunting and favor-seeking class** and demanding the with- 
drawal of delegates representing Wall Street interests, A Ryan and 
Belrmmt were both delegates, the resolution hud considerable sting and 
evoked great controversy. It was adopted without the latter provision 
and Ryan and Belmont stayed on. 

Bryan's courageous fight to <jxpoe and neutralise the reactionary 

** Arthur S. Link, 4< Th Underwood Presidential Movement of 191 2, M /cur- 
nal of South* History, XI (May, 1945), 230-245, 

17 E. M, House to C. A. Cuibcrioa, Apr. 23, 1912, thcs Papcn of Edward M. 
House, in the Library of Yak* Univcnity; Houae to Mary B. Bryan, June 22, 
1912, ibid. Further ntfaienciit in thii chapter to the writing! of Colonel House 
have been drawn from this collection o! paper** 


element aroused the convention and the country, but it had little effect 
on the voting for a presidential candidate. In the early balloting Clark 
forged far in the lead. On the tenth ballot the boss of Tammany Hall, 
Charles F. Murphy, electrified the convention by delivering New 
York's ninety votes to Clark. It was the signal for a landslide, for the 
Speaker now had 556 votes, well over a majority. Under then existing 
rules he needed two-thirds for the nomination, to be sure, but not since 
1844 had a Democrat obtained a majority in a national convention 
and then failed to win the necessary two-thirds. 

The expected landslide did not materialize, however, because the 
Wilson delegates stood absolutely firm and because the Wilson and 
Underwood managers agreed to stand solidly together. Then began a 
long and grueling battle in which Wilson's managers undermined 
Clark's strength. On the fourteenth ballot Bryan came out against 
Clark and voted for Wilson, but his action was no great help to the 
Wilson leaders. They concentrated their efforts, not on the Bryan men, 
most of whom were fanatically loyal to Clark, but upon the boss- 
controlled delegations and upon the Underwood bloc. This strategy 
finally succeeded when Roger Sullivan, Illinois Democratic boss., de- 
livered his delegates to Wilson on the forty-second ballot, and the 
Underwood men came to Wilson on the forty-sixth, thus nominating 
him. What had seemed impossible only a few days before was now a 
reality: one of the miracles of modern American politics. 18 

Thus control of the Democratic party was given over to its progres- 
sive element, and without any open rupture or more than the usual 
dissension* The Republican party, however, did not resolve its dilemma 
so happily. It will be recalled that the elections of 1910 had amounted 
to a mass repudiation of Taft's leadership and that the insurgents had 
made it plain sodn afterward that they would not tolerate Taft's re- 
nomination. The Republican progressives now constituted a majority 
of the party in the Middle and Far Western states. They had a fairly 
coherent program of tariff and trust reform. All they lacked, therefore, 
was a dynamic leader of national standing to unite their ranks and 
lead their campaign. In 1910 and early 1911 many signs seemed to 
point to Senator RoterTM; ta Fdtette of Wisconsin as this leaden No 
Republican, not even Roosevelt, had carried the banner of progres- 
sxvism so courageously and so faithfully as La Toilette. He was, more- 

18 For th Baltimore convention, see Link, Wilson, pp. 431-465. 


over, far and away the ablest of the Midwestern insurgents. He had led 
the fight against the Aldrich tariff betrayal and Ballingerism in 1909 
and 1910; meanwhile, he had come forward with a comprehensive and 
rational program for financial and business control. 1 * 

It was Roosevelt and not La Follette, however, who dominated the 
progressive Republican situation, and until nearly the end of 1911 
Roosevelt was undecided. He made friendly gestures in La Follette's 
direction, but his friends told him, and he agreed, that the Wisconsin 
senator could never defeat Taft. Many leading progressives turned to 
Roosevelt himself and pleaded with him to come out boldly and give 
them the only leadership that could win. He did not stop thorn when 
they began a high-pressure campaign for his nomination. Finally, in 
response to a prearranged appeal from seven Republican governors, 
dated February 10, 1912, Roosevelt on February 24 announced his 
candidacy and began a tremendous campaign to win delegates to the 
Chicago convention. 20 

The Republican preconvention campaign that followed, from March 
through May, was probably the bitterest 5n the history of the* party, 
The Taft spokesmen searched Roosevelt's record and laid down a 
heavy barrage of personal abuse. Roosevelt replied in kind, giving 
more than he took. So enormous was the intraparty bittonim that 
some of the Republican state conventions were riotous brawls,, with 
fistfights common. During April, May, and early June Roosevelt made* 
a personal campaign that for strenuosity equaled Bryan'n of 1896, and 
there seemed to be no doubt that his appeal was succeeding. Hr swept 
most of the states that held presidential primaries and even won T aft's 
native Ohio after a campaign into which both aides had jxwred all 
their resources. In thirteen states where the Republican votm had un 
opportunity to express a preference, La Foltattc won 36 delegate*, Taft 
46, and Roosevelt 278,*' 

But it was not enough. Taft had used the patronage steam roller to 
obtain control of the Southern delegations. Ho had the support of moat 
of the delegates from boss-controlled states, like New York, Above all, 
he controlled the National Committee, which would organise th<* na- 

Alpheus T, Mason, &rand*u> A Frt Man's Lift (Ni*w York, 1H6), np, 

Tht Works of Thtodor* Rot>$ev*tt {20 vok, Nttw York. 1926), XVIL 

Mowry, Roostvtlt, pp. 220-236, ii the bt account of the Republican pro* 
convention campaign, 


tional convention and pass on the credentials of the delegates. Thus 
while the results of the preconvention campaign seemed confused, 
because one-fourth of the seats in the national convention were con- 
tested, actually the outcome was foregone before the convention met 
in Chicago on June 18. By the ruthless use of the same steam-roller 

K. K Knecht in the Evansvllle Courier 
Roosevelt and Taft 1908 and 2912 

tactics that Roosevelt had perfected in 1908, the Taft forces organized 
the convention and gave themselves 235 of the 254 contested scats. 
Roosevelt, who was then in Chicago directing his followers, gave the 
word and most of them walked out, whereupon the administration 
men proceeded to renominate Taft. 
Convinced he had been cheated out of the nomination by corrupt 


and reactionary politicians, Roosevelt was now angry as only he could 
be and more than ever determined to run for President, even if that 
meant destroying the Republican party. His motives were obviously 
complicated^ but prominent among them was his refusal to accept 
humiliation at the hands of the man he had put in the White House. 
Thus, in spite of the unwillingness of most of the insurgent leaders to 
follow him, Roosevelt went ahead relentlessly with his plans to or- 
ganize a third party. 

The outgrowth of his anger, the Progressive party, came into ex- 
istence in Chicago on August 6 in one of the most remarkable political 
conventions the country had ever witnessed. Distinguished social and 
economic reformers like Jane Addams of Hull House in Chicago and 
George L. Record, resourceful progressive of New Jersey, disappointed 
politicians like the notorious William' Flinn of Pittsburgh all these 
and more made up the crowd that sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers," 
adopted the most significant platform since the Populist platform of 
1892, 22 and nominated Roosevelt and Governor Hiram W. Johnson of 
California to head their ticket. Feeling, he said, like a bull moose, 
Roosevelt came to accept the nomination and delivered his "Confes- 
sion of Faith," a statement of social and economic principles that was a 
classic synthesis of the most advanced thought of the time:/-* 3 

The country witnessed during the summer and fall of 1912 the first 
serious three-cornered presidential contest since 1860. The, Socialists, 
under the leadership of Eugene V. Debs, adopted an advanced plat- 
form and were making their strongest bid for power; hut they were still 

22 The Progressive platform provided the basis for the futwrv tWelopntrnt of 
the progressive movement in the United States after 1912, just an thi? Populist 
platform of 1892 had earlier provided a foundation for the first phase of Amrri- 
can progrcssivism. 

The Progressive platform was most significant for the fart that the soda! 
justice group and other advanced progressives found approval for their objec- 
tives by a major, if ephemeral, party. Thus measures like the minimum wat?r 
for women, prohibition of child labor, workmen's compensation, and social in- 
surance were embodied in the platform. On the political fowl the. l'rot$rr*aive 

economic field the major demands were for a federal trade commission to 
exercise sweeping regulatory authority over business and industrial activity and 
a tariff commission that would set tariff rates on a seientifie basis ami g 
that benefits of protection accrued to workers as well its to employers, 
** Works, XVII, 254-299, 


a small minority of the voters. By the middle of August it was obvious 
that Taft simply was not in the running. He was in the race only to 
defeat Roosevelt anyway, and he could do this without strenuous 
effort. "I think I might as well give up so far as being a candidate is 

Denver Post 
T. R. vaults the anti-third-term hurdle in 1912 

concerned," he wrote as early as July 22. "There are so many people in 
the country who don't like me." 24 Except for his speech of acceptance, 
which he could not avoid making, the President refused to join in the 
specchmaking at all 

"Taft to Hdcn Taft, July 22, 1912, cited in Prinrfe, Taft, II, 817. 


Wilson and Roosevelt carried the burden of the campaign, there- 
fore, and deserve most of our attention. Ideologically speaking, the 
progressive movemenjp culminated and diverged in the philosophies 
and programs they #fet forth. Certain commentators, notably William 
Allen White, have -referred to Roosevelt and Wilson as Tweedledum 
and Tweedledee,, each in his own way setting forth an identical 
philosophy and program in 1912. 25 To say this is to miss a large part 
of the significance of the campaign, for Roosevelt's New Nationalism 
and what Wilson called the New Freedom mirrored a divergence in 
the progressive movement itself, a divergence far-reaching in its im- 
plications for the future development of governmental policies in the 
United States. As the campaign of 1912 became a full-dress debate 
over t\vo conflicting progressive theories of government, it would be 
well to know what these theories were. 

The New Nationalism was no mere campaign platform hastily con- 
trived for the purpose of catching votes. It was, rather, the consum- 
mation of a steady progression in the political thought of Roosevelt 
and a significant minority of progressive thinkers. During the last few 
years of his presidency Roosevelt had set forth his developing concept 
of the federal government as a dynamic force in the social and eco- 
nomic affairs of men. His Annual Message of 1908, for example, was a 
clarion call to progressives to re-examine the assumptions upon which 
their program rested. This, of course, was in the best Republican, 
nationalistic tradition. Although Roosevelt by 1909 had adopted a 
program demanding broad federal economic and .social regulation, he 
had not yet formulated a coherent political philosophy to justify such 
a program. This task fell to a then obscure New York journalist, 
Herbert Croly, who published in 1909 hi&JPromiw o^jMdfftnLifc. It 
was easily the best political treatise to cor3?Wffona^>rop'TOive fer- 
ment 2 * 

Croly's thesis not only summarized the most advanced progrmive 

2 * W, A White, Woodrow Wilson (Boston, 1924), p, 264. 

26 Born in New York City in 1869, Croly was educated at Harvard and was 
editor of the Architectural Record from 1900 to 1906, HP gained st pro- 
eminent position among intellectual progressive* with the publication of Th* 
Promise of American Life. With the backing of Willard Straight of th Morgan 
firm, Croly in 1914 founded the New Republic and gathered around him fomtt 
of the leading young thinkers In the country, including Walter Lippmann, 
Charles A. Beard, John Dcwev, Walter Wcyl, and Thomai N. Cnrwr, His 
Progressive Democracy, published in 1914, was a second significant commentary 
on the American progressive movement 


thought of the time but also became the rationale of the New National- 
ism and even of Wilsonian progressivism after 1915. It might, there- 
fore, be characterized as the philosophical underpinning of the modern 
progressive movement. In American thought, Groly said, there had 
been two divergent views of the role the federal government should 
play. The first was the Hamiltonian belief that government should 
intervene directly to alter existing economic relationships or to estab- 
lish new ones. The second was the Jeff ersonian view that government 
should pursue a policy of strict laissez faire with regard to economic 
activity. The important historical fact about these two conflicting 
philosophies, Croly continued, was that the Hamiltonian concept of 
government had become identified in the popular mind with aristocracy 
and special privilege, while the Jeffersonian dogma of weak govern- 
ment had all along been identified with democracy and with a pro- 
gram of equal rights and opportunities. Croly admitted that the Hamil- 
tonian philosophy had been used historically by the financial and in- 
dustrial groups to justify special interest legislation, but he called 
boldly for an entirely new orientation in progressive thinking. What he 
demanded was nothing less than that the progressives abandon their 
JefFersonian prejudices against strong government and adopt Hamil- 
tonian means to achieve Jeffersonian, or democratic, ends. 

It is impossible to measure the influence of The Promise of American 
Life on Roosevelt's developing progressivism. Roosevelt read the book 
with enthusiastic approval and it at least helped him systematize his 
own ideas. In any event, he at once began to translate Crol/s abstruse 
and heavy language into living political principles that the rank and 
file could comprehend. 37 In a famous speech at Osawatomie, Kansas* 
on August 31, 1910, Roosevelt sounded the keynote of his two years* 
campaign* The old nationalism, he said, had been used "by the sinis- 
ter ... special interests.** What he proposed was a new nationalism, 
a dynamfo ^emncrafly^ that would recojgnize the inevitability of con- 
centration in industry and bring the great corporations under complete 
federal control, that would protect and encourage the laboring man, 
that, in brief, would do many of the things usually associated with the 
modern concept of the welfare state. "We are face to face with new 
conceptions of the relations of property to human welfare/* he de- 
clared. ". . Property [is] subject to the general right of the com- 

8T Henry F. Prfngle, Thtodor* Roosevtlt, A Biography (New York, 1931), 
pp, 540-54L 


munity to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may 
require it." 28 

This, in general, was also the program and theme Roosevelt set forth 
during the campaign of 1912. Needless to say, it attracted a large fol- 
lowing, particularly among the social justice group and the social 
workers. As the campaign progressed, however, Roosevelt became 
increasingly radical and explicit. He began to place more emphasis 
upon the social justice objectives of his program a minimum wage for 
women workers, a federal child labor law, a federal workmen's com- 
pensation act, federal intervention in labor disputes, an expanded 
federal health and conservation program, use of tariff protection to 
insure fair wages to workers in industry, and the like. In turn, he 
scoffed at Wilson as representing "rural Toryism," the mossback, worn- 
out Jeflfersonian philosophy of laissez fairs* 

In contrast to his chief opponent, Wilson had no such well- 
defined program or philosophy when the campaign began. He was at 
another important crossroads in his career, but it was foregone in 
which direction he would travel. For, along with his general commit- 
ment to the ideal of social justice, he was still a progressive of the Jef- 
fersonian persuasion, undisturbed by Croly's challenge. Fundamentally 
a state rights Democrat, he believed the federal power should be used 
only to sweep away special privileges and artificial barriers to the de- 
velopment of individual energies, and to preserve and restore competi- 
tion in business. The idea of the federal government's moving directly 
into the economic field, by giving special protection to workers or 
farmers, was as abhorrent to Wilson in 1912 as the idea of class legis- 
lation in the interest of manufacturers or shipowners. 

At first it seemed Wilson would make his campaign mainly on the 
tariff, but it did not take him long to discover that this was a worn-out 
issue and would evoke no popular response. He seemed to be searching 
for an issue more appealing when he met Louis D. Brandeis for the 
first time on August 28 at Sea Girt, New Jersey, One of the? leading 
progressive lawyers in the country, Brandeis was also probably the 
chief spokesman of the philosophy of regulated competition, un- 
hampered enterprise, and economic freedom for the small business- 
man. And it was Brandeis who clarified Wilson's thought and led him 
to believe the most vital question confronting the American people was 
preservation of economic freedom in the United States. 3 * 

28 Works, XVII, 5-22. 

New York Timts, Aug. 29, 1912* Brandeis outlined his program for 


Brandeis taught, and Wilson agreed and reiterated in his speeches, 
that the main task ahead was to provide the means by which business 
could be set free from the shackles of monopoly and special privilege. 
Roosevelt claimed that the great corporations were often the most 
efficient units of industrial organization, and that all that was necessary 
was to bring them under strict public control, by close regulation of 
their activities by a powerful trade commission. Wilson replied: "As to 
the monopolies, which Mr. Roosevelt proposes to legalize and to wel- 
come, I know that they are so many cars of juggernaut, and I do not 
look forward with pleasure to the time when the juggernauts are 
licensed and driven by commissioners of the United States." Monopoly, 
he added, developed amid conditions of unregulated competition. "We 
can prevent these processes through remedial legislation, and so restrict 
the wrong use of competition that the right use of competition will 
destroy monopoly." 

The divergence in Wilson's and Roosevelt's views on the role gov- 
ernment should play in human affairs was more vividly revealed, how- 
ever, by Wilson's savage attacks on Roosevelt's proposals for social 
welfare legislation. He objected to Roosevelt's labor program because 
it was paternalistic, because it would inevitably mean that workingmen 
would become wards of the federal government. Perhaps Roosevelt's 
"new and all-conquering combination between money and govern- 
ment" would be benevolent to the people, he said; perhaps it would 
carry out "the noble programme of social betterment" which so many 
credulously expected; but he did not believe paternalism was the 
answer for free rnen. so 

And as the campaign progressed Wilson became more and more 
convinced that the struggle between the New Freedom and the New 
Nationalism was a struggle between two concepts of government so 
radically different that he prophesied slavery and enchainment for the 
people if Roosevelt were elected* "This is a second struggle for emanci- 
pation," he declared in a supreme outburst at Denver on October 7. 
** . * If America is not to have free enterprise, then she can have 
freedom of no sort whatever." 31 It was Wilson's discovery that he was 

trust control in a memorandum entitled "Suggestions for letter of Governor 
Wilson on Trusts," which he sent to Wilson on September 30, 1912. The memo- 
randum is in the Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the Library of Congress* 

*> Speech at Buffalo, N.Y., Sept 2, 1912, Th* N*w York Times, Sept. 3, 

11 Denver Rocky Mountain News, Oct. 8, 1912. 


battling for the old American way of life and his conviction that 
economic democracy was absolutely essential to political democracy 
that gave ultimate meaning to his slogan "The New Freedom." 

One of the most interesting developments of the campaign was the 
manner in which progressives reacted to Roosevelt's and Wilson's 
appeals. In the early weeks, before Wilson found himself and his great 
vital issue, progressives wondered whether he was a progressive after 
all. In contrast to Roosevelt's warm appeals for social justice, Wilson's 
early speeches seemed cold indeed. But as he gathered momentum, as 
he began to talk in glowing, if general, phrases of social righteousness 
and economic justice, many progressives claimed him as their new 
leader and hastened to his support. The significant development of the 
campaign was Roosevelt's failure to unite progressive Republicans and 
progressive Democrats. The Roosevelt that progressives knew had 
many sides, and a considerable portion of the progressives refused to 
believe he was now sincere. "I wish I could believe he intended to do 
a single honest thing," wrote Anna Howard Shaw, for example, "or 
that he would carry out a single plank in the platform if he were 
elected. ... I cannot." * 2 

By the middle of October there was not much doubt about the out- 
come of the contest. To be sure, Roosevelt had made a magnificent 
campaign and had won the support of most of the Republican progres- 
sives, especially in the Middle West. But he had failed to draw pro- 
gressive Democrats away from Wilson, and that fact alone signified his 
inevitable defeat. More important for the future of American Clitics 
was the fact that he had signally failed to establish the Progressive 
party on a firm and lasting basis. As the election statistics revealed, there 
was little more to the new party than Roosevelt himself. 

The results of the election, however, clearly demonstrated that the 
country was now overwhelmingly progressive in temper. Individuals 
might disagree over a definition for progressivism, but a largo majority 
of them were discontented with Old Guard policies and in a rebellious 
mood. Wilson polled 6,293,019 popular votes, Roosevelt 4,1 19,307, and 
the Socialist candidate, Eugene V, Debs, 901,873. Even Tuft, who 
received only 3,484,956 votes, would have denied he was a conserva- 
tive. Because of the multiple division of the votes, Wilson's victory in 
the electoral college was of landslide proportions. Tuft earnVcl only 

32 A, II. Shaw to Jane Addanw, Aug. 16, 1912, Jane Addarns Paper*, in the 
Swarthmorrj College Library. 


Vermont and Utah and received eight electoral votes; Roosevelt won 
eleven of California's votes and all of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsyl- 
vania, South Dakota, and Washington, for a total of eighty-eight votes. 
Wilson received all the rest, 435 electoral votes. The disruption of the 
G.O.P., however, gave control not only of the presidency but of Con- 
gress as well to the Democrats. At least for two years Wilson would be 
assured of a preponderant majority of seventy- three in the House of 
Representatives and a small but workable majority of six in the Senate. 

Sweeping though the victory was, the Democrats could dciivc small 
comfort from a cold analysis of the returns, Wilson had not polled as 
many popular votes as Bryan had received in 1908. With a little more 
than 42 per cent of the popular vote, moreover, Wilson had clearly 
failed to establish his party as the majority party of the country, for the 
national Democratic ticket received clear majorities only in the eleven 
former Confederate states. 

On the other hand, it is perhaps significant that neither Roosevelt 
nor Taft was responsible for the decrease in the Democratic vote in 
1912. The combined popular vote given Wilson's two chief opponents 
in 1912 was also slightly less than Taft's total vote in 1908. In short, all 
major parties suffered a relative and absolute decline in 1912, because 
about half a million disgruntled progressives voted for I )ebs. 

What was the meaning of Wilson's election, what did it signify for 
the future of the country? Certainly it was as much a political revolu- 
tion as Jefferson's election had been. As in 1800, the flection of 1912 
effected an important shift in the geographical control of the federal 
government. For one thing, Southern influence had barn decisive in 
nominating Wilson and directing his campaign, and Southerners would 
soon be given the same share in formulating national policies; that their 
grandfathers once enjoyed. But the most significant result of all the 
preceding three or four years of political ferment was the emergence 
of Woodrow Wilson as a national leader. It was an open question 
whether the Now .Freedom program would satisfy progressive demands, 
but there could be no doubt that the; Democratic party and the cmmtry 
now had a leader of resolution, ability, and boldness. Best of all, Wilson 
had made no binding commitments to any important economic inter- 
ests. He would be; embarrassed by no important political bargains. Few 
presidents have entered office so completely free to serve tht; general 


The New Freedom 

FEW months between the election and the inaugural afforded 
JL scant time to accomplish the gigantic task that lay ahead of 
Wilson and his advisers. They had to map the plans for a legislative 
program and to organize a government almost from the ground up. 
The prospect of a general housccleaning might warm the hearts of 
office-hungry worthies in Texas and Illinois^ but it was intolerably 
annoying to the President-elect. Even before the election returns were 
complete, William F. McCombs, the erratic and morose Democratic 
national chairman, handed Wilson one list of names for the Cabinet 
and another of the faithful who expected appropriate rewards. 1 Within 
a few days some fifteen thousand supplicating letters poured in on 
Wilson at his home in Princeton, and it seemed that almost as many 
politicians descended upon him. 

In tho face of mounting demands for office, Wilson announced he 
would make no appointments until after his inauguration. Then, on 
November 1 6, ho escaped with his family to his old refuge in Bermuda, 
in order, as he wrote, to get his head cleared for what was to follow. 
In this "lotus hind" for a month, he was "free to do . . . quiet think- 
ing and reflecting,'* to work out the program he had set his heart 
upon. 2 Meanwhile, he had commissioned his friend, Colonel Edward 
M. HOUKC, to find material for the Cabinet. 

Now York Wnrld* Nov. 7, 1912. 

-Wilson to W. J, Bryan, c. Nov. 15, 1912, Sworn Notebooks, Ray Stunnarcl 
Baker Collection, m the Library of Congress; Wilson to J. P. Tumulty, Nov. 
27, 1912,-ftoU 


The friendship between Wilson and House was already an intimate 
one, although the two men had known each other hardly a year and 
even though House had played a minor role in the campaign. "Almost 
from the first our association was intimate; almost from the first, our 
minds vibrated in unison," House later recalled. "When we had ex- 
changed thoughts with one another he translated our conclusions into 
action without delay. Nine times out of ten we reached the same con- 
clusions." 3 

It was one of the most important friendships in history, but not "one 
of the strangest." 4 Like all great public men, Wilson needed a friend 
to whom he could unburden his secret thoughts and turn for advice 
and spiritual support. A man of intellect and moral strength. House 
was perfectly equipped to meet Wilson's peculiar needs. Wilson de- 
manded the total loyalty of his friend, and House knew when to speak 
or be silent, when to agree or to demur. Yet in thus subordinating his 
will to Wilson's, House did not compromise his own integrity, judg- 
ment, or critical capacities. Because he understood the Wilsonian tem- 
perament and handled the President in a shrewdly calculated manner, 
House was able to retain Wilson's confidence and affection until new 
circumstances arose and a break came abruptly in 1919. From 1912 
until 1917, however, House's influence grew steadily; and that in- 
fluence by and large was salutary, for in times of crisis House proved a 
wise counselor and a stabilizing force. 

The Cabinet that Wilson finally appointed was mainly of House's 
choosing and, with one or two exceptions, was perhaps as good as 
could be constructed from the material available. Because of his com- 
manding influence in the party,, Bryan received the appointment as 
Secretary of State. The Nebraskan was no great authority on foreign 
affairs. So much a believer in party government that he stiemd almost 
a spoilsman, he made a number of appointments that did great damage 
to the foreign service.* In spite of his tenderness for "deserving Demo- 

a E. M. House, "Memoirs of Colonel House/* copy in the Papers of George 
Sylvester Vicrcck, in the Library of Yale University, 

*As George Sylvester Viereck called it in Tkt Strangest FrwnelMp in Uh- 
tcry (New York, 1932), 

* For example, W, W. Russdl, an old csirwr officer, wag mnnvrd a* Minister 
to Santo Domingo and replaced by Jame-s M. Sullivan, one of the -wont officer* 
in the history of the American diplomatic service. Or, sigain, I^wts Einstein, a 
brilliant young career diplomat, wa removed as Minister to Coata Rica and 
replaced by Edward J. Hale, editor of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who had 
supported Wilson in the predomination content* For further < i lnlx>ration sea 


crats/' however, Bryan did surprisingly well; and if the world had 
remained at peace he would probably have served out his term, happy 
at his post. The conservative press ridiculed him for refusing to serve 
wine at state dinners and accused him of neglecting his duties to lec- 
ture for profit. 6 The truth was that Bryan was an indefatigable worker 
who gave assiduous attention to the detailed work of the Department 
and had a large part in the development of foreign policy. Moreover, 
he completely sublimated his personal ambitions to work loyally and 
well for the success of the President, at home and abroad, until dif- 
ferences over a matter of principle drove them apart in June, 1915. 

Bryan was succeeded in the chief Cabinet post by Robert Lansing, 
who had served under him as Counselor for a little more than a year. 
In contrast to Bryan, Lansing was a professional at the practice of in- 
ternational law. A person of enormous reserve, he gave the superficial 
impression of a dignified law clerk; but the fire of strong conviction 
burned hot within him, even though his official statements rarely be- 
trayed his secret thoughts. He often disagreed with the President's 
foreign policies but loyally strove to implement them, or to change 
them, if he could, by indirection. 

The new Secretary of the Treasury, William G. McAdoo, was a 
Georgian transplanted to New York, who had played a prominent 
part in the preconvention campaign. In many respects McAdoo was 
the ablest and in some the most interesting member of the Cabinet. 
His restless, probing mind was unencumbered by economic or political 
theories, and during his tenure the Treasury Department launched 
new and interesting experiments for the benefit of businessmen and 
farmers. McAdoo was also the most ambitious, aggressive, and domi- 

The New York Times, July 9, 1913, and George Harvey, "The Diplomats of 
Democracy/* North American Review, CXCIX (Feb., 1914), 161-174. 

If Bryan had been given a free rein, he would have also turned all Re- 
publicans out of thft consular service, which President Theodore Roosevelt and 
Secretary of State EHhu Root had organized on a competitive and career basis. 
Sec the Diary of Edward M. House, in the Papers of Edward M. House, in the 
Library of Yale University, Apr. 18, 1913. 

* Bryan frankly admitted that he found it necessary to lecture for profit in 
order to supplansnt his salary, which, he said, was inadequate to meet his 
obligation* to church, charity, and education. See W. J. Bryan, "Making a 
Living,** The Commoner, Aug., 1913. See also "The Bryan Scandal," The 
Nation, XCVH (Sept. 18, 1913), 256-257, and George Harvey, "Mr. Bryan 
Rides Again," North American Review, CXCIX (Mar., 1914), 321-334. 


neering member of the Wilson circle. House thought, and probably 
correctly, that McAdoo was consumed by ambition to be President. 7 

For Attorney General, Wilson first thought of Louis D. Brandeis, 
the chief architect of the New Freedom. For a number of reasons 
House was opposed, and he finally persuaded Wilson that Brandeis 
was "not fit for that place." 8 Instead, Wilson allowed the Colonel to 
choose James G. McReynolds, a Kentuckian practicing law in New 
York, who had participated in the government's prosecution of the 
Tobacco Trust case and who was then thought to be a radical foe of 
monopoly. Although he was not yet as cynical, irascible, and reaction- 
ary as he later became on the Supreme Court, McReynolds did not 
get on well with his colleagues. There was general relief in the 
Cabinet in 1914 when Wilson elevated him to the Supreme Court 
and appointed to his post Thomas W. Gregory, a Texan of high prin- 
ciples and even temper. 

For Secretary of War, Wilson turned at the last moment to Lindlcy 
M. Garrison, a judge of the chancery court of New Jersey. Garrison 
vied with McAdoo for the reputation of the ablest Cabinet member, 
Utterly forthright, a superb administrator who quickly won the* ostcern 
of the military leaders, and loyal to the President, his was, however, 
inept in dealing with politicians, and Congressional leaders resented 
what they thought his overbearing manner. .During the great battle 
over preparedness he resigned rather than compromise and was sup- 
planted, early in 1916, by Newton 1). Baker, Mayor of Cleveland, 

Wilson rewarded his chief North Carolina supporter, Joseplnis 
Daniels, with the Secretaryship of the Navy. As editor of the Raleigh 
News and Observer, Daniels had been in the forefront of the progres- 
sive movement in his state, although he never allowed devotion to 
reform causes to stand in the way of his own advancement. The chief 
target of Republican ridicule, Daniels had nevertheless far more ability 
than his enemies admitted or his own benign countenance su^rstrd. 
As Secretary of the Navy, he improved th<; conditions and opportu- 
nities of the enlisted men, fought the armor-pinto monopoly to a stand- 
still, and helped get through Congress In If) 1 6 th<* ^n-atest naval 
building program in the nation's history to that time. His studied but 

''House Diary, July 7, Oct 20, 27, Nov. 4, 1914, Aug. 27, 1916, 
Ibid., Dec, 18, 1912, Jan, 30, 17, 23, 24, 1913, 

Sne, e.g., "J, C. M'Rcynokls, the Ntsw Preceptor for the Trust*/* The N*w 
York Times Magazine, Mar. 9, 1913. 


sincere adulation of Wilson won for him the President's affection and 
enabled him to ride out many a hard storm of popular criticism. 

Wilson and House went deliberately to Congress for a Postmaster 
General Albert S. Burleson, another Texas veteran of many Con- 
gressional battles. Though he called himself a progressive, he never 
allowed principle alone to determine his course of action. He was a 
superb professional politician, utterly loyal to Wilson, who used the 
patronage ruthlessly to compel adoption of administration measures. 
Wilson's friends expected him to employ the appointing power to build 
up progressive factions in the states. It was Burleson, however, who 
persuaded the President that friendly support in Congress, even from 
old-line reactionaries, was more to be desired than control of the party 
by men who called themselves progressives. Thus the administration's 
great power was used to strengthen the factions already in control of 
the state organizations. In states like Virginia, North Carolina, Ala- 
bama, or Kentucky, where conservative Democrats were dominant, 
Burleson's policy operated to discourage and weaken the progressive 
faction. 10 

Franklin K. Lane, a California Democrat, was elevated from the 
Interstate Commerce Commission to the post of Secretary of the In- 
terior. A brilliant conversationalist, letter writer, and wit, Lane was 
also the chief gossip of the Cabinet. Because Lane could not resist the 
temptation to divulge secrets to the newspapermen, Wilson had to 
stop saying anything important in the Cabinet meetings. 11 As Secre- 

10 Materials substantiating this generalization abound in the Wilson Papers. 
In Kentucky, for example, control of the patronage was turned over to Senator 
Ollie M. James and the congressmen, all identified with the liquor interests and 
all bitterly at odds with the antiltquor, Wilson-progressive faction. At the end 
of Wilson's first year as President, only one Wilson man had been named to 
federal oflire in the entire state. Sec Lexington Herald, Mar. 7, 1914, and 
Deshu Breekenridge to W. F. McCombs, Mar. 7 5 1914, the Woodrow Wilson 
Papers, in the Library of C3ongress, 

The same situation existed in Virginia. In that state a large and active group 
of yount* progressive Democrats had revolted against the conservative organiza- 
tion and tried to carry their state for Wilson before the Baltimore convention. 
Yet this group of ardent Wilson supporters were denied any federal patronage 
once Wilson catered the White House; in fact, the federal patronage after IS 1 3 
was used to build the strength of the old machine. See J. G. Pollard ct al. to 
Wilson, Jan. 5, 1914. ibid. 

For details of a similar situation in Alabama, see Horace Hood to W. J. 
Bryan, Oct. 11, 1913, the Papers of Willian Jennings Bryan, in the National 

R, S. Baker, interviews with N. D. Baker, Apr. 6, 1928; with T, W. 


tary of the Interior, Lane followed a middle course, although in the 
California oil lands controversy he supported the claims of private 
interests and became suspect among stanch conservationists. 12 

Lane's colleague in the Agriculture Department was David F. 
Houston, originally a North Carolinian but now a distinguished 
economist and president of Washington University in St. Louis. A close 
friend of House, Houston had met Wilson in December, 1911, and 
written a memorandum on the protective tariff for him. A classical 
economist and therefore a conservative, Houston presided over the 
Department during a time when the demands of farm groups for a 
larger measure of federal aid were growing irresistibly powerful. When 
the cotton market collapsed immediately after the beginning of the 
First World War, he successfully resisted the demands of the planters 
for far-reaching relief. He left his stamp upon the Federal Warehouse 
Act of 1914 and the Good Roads Act of 1916 in the large degree of 
federal control that these measures provided. Moreover, he opposed 
the rural credits bill, because it provided for governmental subvention 
to farmers, -and blocked passage of the measure until 1916. A conserva- 
tive in the field of federal economic policies, he none the loss was an 
extraordinarily able administrator and brought his Department to a 
new peak of efficiency. 

Wilson had given in to the pressure against making Brnndds At- 
torney General, but during February and early March, 1911), he seemed 
determined to bring the distinguished "people's lawyer' 1 into his 
official family, as Secretary of Commerce. Indeed, the question of 
Brandeis* appointment came to be regarded by many progressives as a 
test of Wilson's sincerity. 13 On the other hand, when news of Brandeis* 

Gregory, Mar. 14-15, 1927; with W. B. Wilson, Jan. 12-13, 1928, and with 
D. F. Houston, Dec. 1, 1928, Baker Collection. 

12 This was the longest and bitterest controversy that rent the administration 
before 1917. Presidents Roosevelt and Tuft had withdrawn certain California 
oil lands from the public domain and constituted them a naval oil reserve. 
Meanwhile, a number of private parties had entered claim* and protested th 
withdrawals. The Supremo Court in 1909 and 1915 denied the claims and up* 
held the withdrawals. In 1914 Lane drafted a General Leasing bill that would 
have provided relief by permitting private leasing of government oil lands, but 
not of such lands set aside for military or naval purposes. On the other hand, 
Daniels, Gregory, and conservation leaders like Giflford Pinchot and William 
Kent accused Lane of surrendering to private interests and bitterly opposed 
his leasing bill. In fact, this opposition was so vociferous that no leasing legis- 
lation was passed during the first administration. 

ls See, e.g., Norman Hapgood to House, Nov. 23, 1912, House Papers; alto 


probable appointment was published. Colonel House, the Irish poli- 
ticians of Boston, and spokesmen of the great financial interests all 
combined to warn Wilson against making such a disastrous mistake. 14 
Wilson wavered and then surrendered again. "The interests every- 
where . . . and the country will think Wfilson] showed the white 
feather," lamented Norman Hapgood when the Cabinet list was pub- 
lished. 15 

Instead of Brandeis, Wilson finally chose William C. Redfield, a 
second-rate congressman from Brooklyn. Never much aware of issues 
or political principles, Redfield worked only to make his department 
the servant and protector of the American businessman. He will be 
remembered chiefly because he was the last important public man to 
wear side whiskers. 

As for Secretary of Labor, there never seemed to be much doubt 
that the post should go to William B. Wilson^ Democratic congressman 
from Pennsylvania and chairman of the House Labor Committee. A 
man of heroic stature, Wilson had begun his career as a miner at the 
age of nine. His qualities of leadership soon won him recognition 
among his fellows, and he helped organize the United Mine Workers 
of America, of which he was secretary-treasurer from 1900 to 1908. 
Hounded by employers because of his union activities, Wilson was once 
imprisoned for defying an injunction. As the first Secretary of Labor 
his was the task of organizing a new department. His first assistant, 
Louis F, Post, was a distinguished single taxer and friend of organized 

No account of the Wilson circle would be complete without some 
notice of Joseph P, Tumulty, Wilson's secretary from 1911 through 
1921. Tumulty had joined the rising Democratic leader early in 1911 
and had boon his chief aide and adviser during the gubernatorial 
battles. Fiery, eloquent in an Irish way, and impulsive, Tumulty was 
passionate in his devotion to his chief. Wilson gave him a large share 

W. I Bryan to Wilson, Dec. 25, 1912; N. Hapgood to Wilson, Jan. 30, 1913; 
Felix Frankfurter to N. Hapgood, Fob, 12, 1913; Hamilton Holt to Wilson, 
Feb. 28, 1913, all in Wilson Papers. There arc also many interesting items re- 
lating to this matter in the Papers of Louis D. Brandeis, in the Law School 
Library of the; University of Louisville. 

1-1 On the grounds that Brandeis was not a Democrat, was too controversial 
a figure as House thoughtor else was so antagonistic to the business and 
financial interests that he could not be fair to them. House Diary, Jan. 23, 26, 
Feb. 13, 1913. 

* B Hapgood to L. D. Brandeis, Mar. 4, 1913, Brandeis Papers. 


in determining patronage policies in the Northeast and Tumulty gave 
in return frequent advice, some of it foolish, on public opinion, legis- 
lative matters, and foreign policies. Tumulty was never popular among 
the official circle. After the election of 1916, House and Mrs. Wilson 
persuaded the President to ease Tumulty out of his job. Tumulty 
appealed pathetically to Wilson's better nature, and Wilson let him 
remain; but their relations were on a different basis after that. 

Dominating the administration group. was of course Wilson himself. 
In so far as he gave full rein to his subordinates and stood loyally by 
them, he was an excellent administrator. This was usually the case, 
especially in matters involving the prestige of the administration, or 
matters in which Wilson himself was not particularly interested. More- 
over, he frequently took advice, and not a few of the administration's 
important policies were originated by Bryan, Lansing, McAdoo, and 
the others to a lesser degree. 

There was, however, a less happy side to the Wilsonian character. 
Except for Colonel House, the group did not always enjoy satisfactory 
personal relations with their chief. Several of them bitterly resented 
Wilson's aloofness, his social sang-froid.^ Worse still, practically all of 
them knew that when really vital questions were involved, Wilson did 
not want their advice unless it complemented his own thought or 
prejudices. Bryan, for example, realized this and resented Wilson's re- 
fusal to confide in him. Finally, Wilson's temperament put a heavy 
strain on his administrative talents. Because he valued loyalty and 
flattery over hardheaded frankness arid cold and sometimes unpleasant 
logic, he was an 'extraordinarily poor judge of men. 17 Because he re- 
sented criticisra r his advisers either told him what they thought he 
wanted to hear or else remained silent. 18 

16 The Diary of Walter H. Page, in Houghton Library, Harvard University, 
n.d., but fall of 1916. 

17 John Sharp Williams, senator from Mississippi and a friend of Wilson, 
declared: "He was the best judge of measures and the poorest of men I ever 
knew." R. S. Baker, interview with John Sharp Williams, Mar. 11, 1927, Baker 
Collection. See also House Diary, Nov. 22, 1915, Sept. 6, Nov. 4, 1913, Nov. 14, 
1914, Apr. 2, May 17, June 10, Aug. 27, 1916. 

ia The following description of Wilson's mental processes is the most illuminat- 
ing this writer has read: 

"When one comes to consider Mr, Wilson's mental processes, there is the 
feeling that intuition rather than reason played the chief part in the way in 
which he reached conclusions and judgments. In fact arguments, however 
soundly reasoned, did not appeal to him if they were opposed to his feeling of 
what was the right thing to do. Even established facts were ignored if they did 


Personally, Wilson had changed little over the past ten years, except 
that advancing age had sharpened his traits of personality. He was still 
as much as ever intrigued by ideas and bored by details. A scholar 
rather than an intellectual, fascinated by ideas that had practical uses 
but not given to speculative thinking, intensive but restricted in his 
reading, Wilson's absorption with public affairs after 1910 demanded 
all his time and meager physical resources. His one great function, 
however, was to assimilate and synthesize ideas and .proposals and then 
to use his incomparable power of leadership to translate them into 
statutory realities. Given favorable circumstances and a majority be- 
hind him, whether at Princeton, Trenton, or Washington, he usually 

Meanwhile, long before his inauguration, while he was in Bermuda 
and during the two and a half months after his return, Wilson worked 
intensively to lay the groundwork of his reform program. In Princeton 
and Trenton he conferred with Democratic leaders in Congress over 
the details of tariff and financial reform. He also made bold speeches 
in New York, Staunton, Virginia, Trenton, and Chicago, forecasting 
the realization of the New Freedom and warning; the masters of capital 
not to use their great power to obstruct the fulfillment, of that program. 
He did not believe, he said, that the businessman would use his power 
to start a panic in order to prevent the enactment of reform legislation. 
"If he does," Wilson warned, "I promise him, not for myself but -for 
my countrymen, a .gibbet as high as Haman." 19 There can be no doubt 
that he was imbued with high motives and a deep passion to set things 

Inaugural day dawned bright and clear a good augury, some men 
thought, for the future of the first Democratic administration since 
1897. In lofty and poetic phrases Wilson voiced his hopes of a new era 

not fit in with this intuitive sense, this semi-divine power to select the right. 
Such an attitude of mind is essentially feminine. In the case of Mr. Wilson, it 
explains many things in his public career, which are otherwise very perplexing. 

"In the first place it gave a superior place to his own judgment. With him it 
was a matter of conviction formed without weighing evidence and without 
going through the process of rational deduction. His judgments were always 
right in his own mind, because he knew that they were right. How did he know 
that they were right? Why he knew it and that was the best reason in the 
world. No other was necessary." "The Mentality of Woodrow Wilson/' the 
Diary of Robert Lansing, in the Library of Congress, Nov. 20, 1921. 

1& This warning was given in his speech in New York Dec. 17, 1912 3 New 
York World, Dec. 18, 1912. 


of social righteousness and iterated the partial program that had taken 
shape in his mind. The tariff would be lowered; the banking system 
would be overhauled and made the servant, rather than the master, of 
business. Strangely, he said nothing about strengthening the antitrust 
laws. Then, in a passage movingly beautiful, he ended: 'This is not a 
day of triumph; it is a day of dedication. Here muster, not the forces 
of party, but the forces of humanity. Men's hearts wait upon us; men's 
lives hang in the balance; men's hopes call upon us to say what we will 
do. Who shall live up to the great trust? Who dares fail to try? I 
summon all honest men, all patriotic, all forward-looking men, to my 
side. God helping me, I will not fail them, if they will but counsel and 
sustain me!" * 

No one who had read Wilson's writings could have doubted that he 
would inaugurate a new system of presidential leadership. From his 
youth he had been impressed by the almost fatal lack of responsibility 
in the presidential-Congressional system. 21 Until the early years of the 
twentieth century he believed the only way to obtain responsible gov- 
ernment in the United States was adoption of the British Cabinet 
system. Roosevelt's success in arousing public opinion and bludgeoning 
Congress into action, however, apparently convinced Wilson that the 
President had all power sufficient for effective leadership, if only he 
called forth and used the power inherent in his office. The President, 
Wilson observed in 1907, "is ... the political leader of the nation, or 
has it in his choice to be. The nation as a whole has chosen him, and is 
conscious that it has no other political spokesman. His is the only 
national voice in affairs. Let him once win the admiration and con- 
fidence of the country, and no other single force can withstand him, no 
combination of forces will easily overpower him." 22 

Wilson's strengthening and extension of the presidential powers 
constituted perhaps his most lasting contribution to American political 
practice. A strong believer in party government, he decided to work 
through and with his party in Congress, rather than to govern by a 

*> Ray S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow 
Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New Democracy, I, 1-6. 

21 See, for example, his "Cabinet Government in the United States," Inter- 
national Review, VII (Aug., 1879), 146-163, or Congressional Government 
(Boston, 1885), the most famous of his earlier works. 

^ 2 Constitutional Government in the United States (New York, 1908), p. 68. 
Wilson's views of the presidential office are best expressed in his letter to A, 
Mitchell Palmer, dated Feb. 5, 1913, printed in The Public Papers, New De- 
mocracy, I, 21-26. 


coalition of progressives, as he might have done. Moreover, he con- 
ceived of himself as the responsible leader of his party, as the only 
leader who could speak for it and the country. Therefore, he felt him- 
self personally charged with the introduction and sponsorship of im- 
portant legislation; and for the first time in many years the Executive 
formulated a complete legislative program and worked closely with 
committee chairmen in giving body to it. 

Wilson's methods and practice of leadership were spectacularly suc- 
cessful, to be sure; but they succeeded in large measure because of the 
peculiar circumstances that prevailed during his first administration. 
To begin with, because of the Republican rupture, the Democrats had 
a majority of seventy-three in the House during the critical first two 
years of the administration. Moreover, many of the Democratic mem- 
bers were new and inexperienced 114 of the 290 had been elected for 
the first time in 1912 and Wilson easily dominated them. In addition, 
the old-line Democratic leaders like Oscar W. Underwood, William G. 
Adamson, or Henry D. Clayton realized that the fate of their party de- 
pended upon their performance, and they willingly co-operated with 
the President to prove that they were not, as Republicans often 
charged, "the organized incapacity of the country." Finally, most of 
the Democrats in the Senate were able, responsible, and progressive, as 
eager as Wilson himself to give the administration success. The young, 
progressive group constituted a virtual galaxy: Joseph T. Robinson of 
Arkansas, Henry F. Ashurst of Arizona, Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, 
William Hughes of New Jersey, Henry F. Hollis of New Hampshire, 
Robert L. Owen of Oklahoma, and Atlee Pomerene of Ohio. Even the 
older, more conservative leaders in the Senate, like Furnifold M. 
Simmons of North Carolina, Thomas S. Martin of Virginia, John H. 
Bankhead of Alabama, or William J, Stone of Missouri, signified then: 
readiness to follow the President. In these circumstances, Wilson's task 
was one mainly of uniting his forces and encouraging the strong 
Democratic determination to make good. 

The first item on Wilson's legislative agenda was the smashing of 
the system of privileged tariff protection that the Republican party 
had carefully erected since 1861. On the day of his inauguration, 
Wilson called a special session of Congress, and on April 8 he went 
dramatically in person and delivered a short message before the two 
houses. Not since John Adams had a President appeared personally 
before the legislative branch. He wanted the congressmen and senators 


to see for themselves, he said, that he was a real person, "not a mere 
department of the Government hailing Congress from some isolated 
island of jealous power." He wanted them to think of him as a col- 
league in the great work of tariff rejEorin.they were now about to under- 
take. The following day he went to the Capitol and held the first of 
many conferences with Democratic leaders. 28 Thus Wilson not only 
asserted his personal leadership but also focused the attention of the 
country on Congress. 

So largely has the tariff been eliminated from the politics of the 
present day that it would be easy to minimize the difficulties that 
Wilson and his supporters faced, or the critical character of this first 
struggle. Ever since the Civil War the high protective tariff had been 
to progressives one of the symbols of privilege. Cleveland had tried 
hard to lower the rates and had almost wrecked his party in the effort. 
Taft had promised tariff revision, and his failure had hastened the 
disruption of his party. 

The bill that Chairman Oscar W. Underwood 24 of the Ways and 
Means Committee presented to the House on April 22 had been writ- 
ten for the most part two years before, when Congress had passed 
three Democratic tariff bills and Taft had vetoed them. Before Con- 
gress convened in special session in 1913 there had been months of 
new hearings and investigations. Wilson conferred frequently with 
Underwood while the measure was being written, and in the writing of 
the critical wool and sugar schedules he intervened in a decisive 
manner. Two years earlier Underwood had insisted upon moderate 
protection for wool and sugar; Wilson had supported him then, in the 
face of Bryan's demand for free wool. As in 1911, so again in 1913 the 
controversy over these two important products of Democratic states 
threatened to destroy party harmony. In the Ways and Means Com- 
mittee the moderate protectionists had their way and voted a 15 per 
cent duty on raw wool. Then, for reasons that are not apparent, the 

23 The New York Times, Apr. 10, 1913. 

24 Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Majority Leader from 
1911 to 1915, Underwood was probably the foremost authority in the country 
on tariff matters and one of the leading advocates of tariff reduction. Elected 
to the Senate in 1915, he served in that body until 1927. See Burton J. Hen- 
drick, "Oscar W. Underwood, a New Leader from the New South," McClure** 
Magazine, XXXVIII (1912), 405-420, and Arthur S. Link, "The Underwood 
Presidential Movement of 1912," Journal of Southern History, XI (May. 
1945), 230-245. 


Nelson Harding in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle satirizes protectionist 
arguments during the 1912 campaign. 


President called Underwood to the White House and sent him back to 
his Committee with instructions to obtain the adoption of free wool. 
As for sugar, the most Wilson would agree to was retention of a duty 
of one cent a pound for three years, after which it, too, must go on the 
free list. After a minor skirmish in the Commitee Wilson easily won his 

When Chairman Underwood presented his bill to the House of 
Representatives, competent observers agreed it was the most honest 
tariff measure that had been proposed since 186 1. 25 By no means a free 
trade tariff, it aimed only at striking down the special advantages that 
the protectionist policy had conferred upon American manufacturers. 
T*he average ad : \3fi5?frGa rate of the Payne- Aldrich tariff of 1909 was a 
little over 40 per cent; the Underwood bill brought rates down to 
about an average of 29 per cent and placed a whole host of important 
products on the free list. In brief, the aim of the Underwood bill was 
moderate protection by placing domestic industries in a genuinely com- 
petitive position with regard to European manufacturers JThe duties 
were all ad valorem, with no devices to cover up exorbitant rates. In 
all cases where it could be shown that American products occupied a 
dominant position in the world market, rates were either abolished or 
drastically reduced. Agricultural machinery and most consumers' 
goods, such as food, clothing, and shoes, were put on the free list or 
given only incidental protection. All products manufactured by 'the so- 
called trusts, such as iron and steel and steel products, were also given 
free entry, thus satisfying the demands of the Midwestern insurgents. 

Anticipating a decrease in customs receipts of about $100,000,000 
because of the lower rates, the Ways and Means Committee added a 
provision for a graduated income tax that was drafted by Representa- 
tive Cordell Hull of Tennessee, a leader in the struggle for tax reform. 
It was the, first income J:ax under the Sixteenth Amendment, which 
had just been ratified on February 25, but exemptions were high and 
the graduated surtax was low. 28 Although the framers of the provision 

26 New York World, Apr. 8, 1913; Harper's Weekly, LVII (Apr. 19, 1913), 
4; Nation (London), XIII (Apr. 12, 1913), 43-44; Economist (London), 
LXXVI (Apr. 12, 1913), 867-868; World's Work, XXVI (June, 1913), 137- 
138. 4 

26 A flat 1 per cent tax was applied on all incomes, individual and corporate, 
over $4,000. In addition, a surtax of 1 per cent on incomes from $20,000 to 
$50,000, 2 per cent on incomes from $50,000 to $100,000, and 3 per cent on 
incomes over $100,000 was added. 


welcomed the opportunity to shift some of the tax burden from the 
poor to the wealthy, they had no intention of using the income tax to 
redistribute wealth or income. 

This cautious beginning of a democratic tax policy apparently satis- 
fied progressives in the House and was in time also approved by the 
Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee. When the in- 
come tax provision of the Underwood bill came up for debate on the 
Senate floor on August 28, however, the Republican insurgents and 
radical Democrats, led by La Follette, George W. Norris of Nebraska, 
James K. Vardaman of Mississippi, and James A. Reed of Missouri, 
launched a stirring attack against it. La Follette demanded a maxi- 
mum rate of 10 per cent, while Norris, in addition, proposed an in- 
heritance tax ranging from 1 to 75 per cent. The Democratic radicals 
claimed a majority of the Senate caucus and threatened to rewrite the 
income tax provision if the Finance Committee did not surrender to 
their demands. So serious was the threat that Chairman Furnifold M. 
Simmons at once proposed a compromise, increasing the surtax to a 
maximum of 6 per cent on incomes over $500,000. 27 When the radicals 
still objected, Simmons hurriedly appealed to Wilson and Bryan for 
aid. In order to prevent party dissension, Bryan concurred in the com- 
promise proposal, while the President agreed that it was wiser "to 
begin upon somewhat moderate lines." 2S In the face of this pressure, 
the Senate Democratic caucus approved the compromise on September 
5 and it was adopted as one of the provisions of the final Underwood 
Act. Thus was the cautious first effort of the Ways and Means Com- 
mittee transformed into the first serious attempt in the twentieth cen- " 
tury to democratize the American tax structure. 29 The author of the 
original provision, Representative Hull, viewed the changes forced by 
the Senate progressives with delight. "I myself felt," he later recalled, 
"that if I should live two lifetimes I probably would not be able to 

27 Under the compromise proposal the surtax was 1 per cent on incomes from 
$20,000 to $50,000, 2 per cent from $50,000 to $75,000, 3 per cent from 
$75,000 to $100,000, 4 per cent from $100,000 to $250,000, 5 per cent from 
$250,000 to $500,000, and 6 per cent on incomes over $500,000. 

28 J. P. Tumulty to Wilson, Sept. 2, 1913; Wilson to Simmons, Sept. 4, 1913, 
both in Wilson Papers. 

39 For a more detailed account see Sidney Ratner, American Taxation (New 
York, 1942), pp. 324-333. 


render public service equal to my part in the long fight for enactment 
of our income-tax system." 30 

The Underwood bill passed the House on May 8 by the resounding 
majority of 281 to 139. This, however, was as everyone thought it 
would be. Public attention now focused on the Senate. Would it betray 
party pledges as it had done during the passage of the Wilson-Gorman 
and Payne-Aldrich bills, by surrendering to the lobbyists and rewriting 
the measure in the interests of the manufacturers? It was a dangerous 
crisis, indeed, for Wilson's insistence on free wool and free sugar had 
embittered the very men whose votes were absolutely essential to the 
bill's success in the upper house. 31 In a canvass of the Senate on April 
6, five Democrats from Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, and Montana an- 
nounced they would not support free sugar or free wool and a change 
of three votes could turn a Democratic majority into a minority. 
Indeed, there was a grave danger that the Underwood bill would go 
the way of the Wilson and Payne bills, that Wilson's leadership would 
be repudiated in this first important test. 

Confronted, therefore, with a perilous situation, Wilson at once took 
bold steps. First, he applied in full measure his great power of per- 
suasion, by conciliatory but firm letters to and private conferences with 
the doubtful senators. "No party can ever for any length of time con- 
trol the Government or serve the people which can not command the 
allegiance of its own minority," he wrote, for example, reminding a 
Louisiana senator of his duty to the party. 32 By the first of May it was 
evident that Wilson was winning his fight. On that day he conferred 
with six senators from the Western and Rocky Mountain states, and 
all of them agreed to support the Underwood bill when it came up in 
the Senate.'jDnejof them, Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, had declared 
only a week before that it was his duty to oppose free sugar and free 
wool; two weeks after his conference with Wilson he agreed that free 
sugar and wool would not bring disaster to his state. So confident was 
the President by the middle of May that he announced flatly that he 

would consider no compromise whatever on sugar and wool. When the 


* Gordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cor dell Hull (2 vols., New York, 1948), I, 
71. / 

31 The Democrats /could not be sure of receiving a single progressive Republi- 
can vote, because b| making the bill a strict party measure the President had 
alienated the Midwestern senators who had co-operated with the Democrats in 
passing the tariff bills of 1911. 

32 Wilson to J. R. Thornton, July 15, 1913, Wilson Papers. 


Senate, in an important test vote on May 16, refused to instruct the 
Finance Committee to hold hearings on the Underwood bill, the ad- 
ministration forces had passed the first hurdle. 

In spite of his victories in these preliminary skirmishes, Wilson knew 
the situation was still dangerous and uncertain. This was made all the 
more obvious when Senator Walsh, who had voted with the Democrats 
in refusing to force the Finance Committee to hold hearings, reversed 
his earlier position and announced publicly on May 19 that he would 
oppose free sugar and free wool. Besides, swarms of lobbyists had 
descended upon Washington and were hard at work on the senators 
from the West. The wool and sugar lobbyists, now joined by spokes- 
men of the cotton manufacturers, citrus fruit growers, and others, were 
in a state of high indignation and were bombarding senators with 
resolutions, petitions, and appeals. 33 Washington was so full of the 
representatives of special interests, Wilson said, that "a brick couldn't 
be thrown without hitting one of them." In a dramatic maneuver that 
gave fire and daring to his leadership, the President struck back. On 
May 26 he issued a public statement denouncing the "industrious and 
insidious" lobby. "It is of serious interest to the country," he declared, 
"that the people at large should have no lobby and be voiceless in 
these matters, while great bodies of astute men seek to create an arti- 
ficial opinion and to overcome the interests of the public for their 
private profit." 3 * 

Reaction to Wilson's sensational statement was at first unfavorable, 
especially in the Senate, where Democratic leaders feared the Presi- 
dent had overplayed his hand. In a move calculated to embarrass the 
administration, Senator Albert B. Cummins of Iowa proposed the ap- 
pointment of a special committee to investigate the charge. The 
Democrats, of course, could not object; and when Senator La Follette 
suggested that all senators disclose their own property holdings that 
might In any way be affected by tariff reductions, no senator dared 
publicly to protest. What had begun as a political maneuver, therefore, 
soon turned into a sweeping investigation into the activities of private 
interests in behalf of legislation. 85 

33 For accounts of the activities of the lobbyists, see New York World, Apr. 
10, 22, 23, May 5, 18, 1913. 

**The New York Times, May 27, 1913; printed in The Public Papers, New 
Democracy, I, 36. 

35 Senate Judiciary Committee, Maintenance of Lobby to Influence Legisla- 
tion, Hearings . . ., 63d Cong., 1st sess. (4 vols., Washington, 1913). 


The results were more favorable than Wilson or the progressives 
could have expected. The investigation proved that there was indeed 
an industrious lobby in behalf of sugar, whether insidious or not ; and 
that an enormous amount of other lobbying was being carried on. But 
more important was the fact that each senator came before the com- 
mittee and dutifully told how many shares of coal or steel stock, or 
how many acres of sugar or grazing land he owned. 36 For the first time 
in American history the economic interests of the members of the 
Senate were laid bare for the whole country to see. Under this glaring 
spotlight., the opposition of the Democratic senators, except for the 
two immovable Lousianians, wilted. 

The first sign that the hardest phase of the struggle was over came 
when the Democratic caucus voted on June 25 to endorse free sugar 
and free wool. Although the Western senators dissented and grumbled, 
they made it plain they had no intention of carrying their fight to the 
Senate floor. On July 19 Chairman Simmons of the Finance Com- 
mittee opened debate in the upper house; and if the Republicans had 
not sought to delay banking legislation by debating the tariff bill 
schedule by schedule, it might have been passed almost at once. As it 
was, the Republicans talked tariff all during the summer months. They 
made a final and unsuccessful effort on September 8 to break the now 
solid Democratic ranks by offering an amendment for a gradual 
reduction of the wool duty. The following day the opposition collapsed 
and the Senate, forty-four to thirty-seven, passed the revised tariff bill. 
Among the Democrats, only the two Louisiana senators, Joseph E. 
Ransdell and John R. Thornton, voted against it. 

When the-Serjfate had finisfosd its work, many observers could hardly 
believe, >yhat they saw. Instead of wrecking tariff reform, the Senate 
had actually effected a general reduction of 4 per cent in the Under- 
wood rates, mainly by putting food and other farm products on the 
free list, thus bringing the general level of rates down to 24-26 per 
cent. Moreover, the Senate had increased the maximum surtax on 

86 For example, Senator Albert B. Fall of New Mexico revealed that he was a 
large owner of cattle, horses, sheep, and coal lands. Senator Asle J. Gronna of 
North Dakota said he owned a farm of nine thousand acres and had opposed 
the Canadian reciprocity treaty of 1911, Senator Henry F. Lippitt of Rhode 
Island admitted that he had extensive holdings in textile mills and that he had 
always favored a tariff on textile products. Senator Lee S. Overman of North 
Carolina said he and his wife owned shares in cotton mills, but that he stood 
with the President for tariff reductions. 


incomes from 3 to 6 per cent. It was almost unbelievable. "I did not 
much think we should live to see these things/* was Houston's sur- 
prised comment. 37 The House conferees accepted most of the Senate 
amendments and the revised bill was approved by the House on Sep- 
tember 30 and by the Senate on October 2. A day later the President 
signed it in a pleasant ceremony at the White House. "It is hard to 
speak of these things without seeming to go off into campaign elo- 
quence/' he told an assembled throng of Democratic leaders, "but 
that is not my feeling. It is one very profound, a feeling of profound 
gratitude." M 

What Wilson's victory in the tariff fight signified no one could 
doubt. Whether the operation of the Underwood law would in fact 
reduce the cost of living, as Democrats prophesied, was unimportant 
as compared with the fact that the party had proved itself free from 
shackling alliances with special privilege and capable of pulling to- 
gether. As one editor put it : "This is no tariff by log-rolling, by manip- 
ulation, by intrigue, by bribery. It was bought by no campaign 
contributions. It was dictated by no conspiracy between corrupt 
business and corrupt politics." w 

Significant, also, was the fact that by virtue of this victory Wilson's 
dominance in the Democratic party was firmly established. A weaker 
man would have failed where he succeeded and, as a London editor 
observed, the tariff victory raised Wilson "at a single stage from the 
man of promise to the man of achievement." 40 It was fortunate for 
the President that events turned out as they did, for another and more 
important struggle was already well in progress: the administration's 
campaign to free the nation's banks and businessmen from monopo- 
listic control. It was a battle in which Wilson needed all the support 
he could find. 

No objective stood higher on the Democratic reform schedule than 
banking and currency reform. In fact, there was by the beginning of 
1913 complete agreement among informed circles that the most press- 
ing economic need of the time was a fundamental reorganization of 
the nation's banking and money system. 41 Bankers and businessmen, 

87 David F, Houston to W. H. Page, c. Sept. 9, 1913, the Papers of Walter 
H. Page, in Houghton Library, Harvard University. 

88 The New York Times, Oct. 4, 1913. 
w New York World, Oct. 4, 1913. 

London Nation, XIV (Oct. 11, 1913), 90. 

41 There are literally thousands of letters, written during December, 1912, 


economists and leaders of both parties agreed that the national bank- 
ing system, which had been established during the Civil War, was 
about as badly adapted to the financial needs of a great nation as any 
system could be. The national banking structure was disjointed and 
without any effective central control. The provisions for mobilizing 
the banking reserves of the country were entirely inadequate in periods 
of crisis; the money supply bore no necessary relation to the needs of 
business and industry. 

The sharp bankers 9 panic of 1907 had reminded the country of the 
grave danger of attempting to get along with immobile reserves and an 
inelastic money supply. It had also evoked widespread discussion as to 
a remedy and the appointment of the National Monetary Commission, 
headed by Senator Nelson W. Aldrich. After studying intensively the 
banking systems of the world, the Commission offered its report and 
recommendations to Congress in 1911 and 1912. 42 Opinion was 
unanimous that financial reform was urgent, but the publication of 
the Aldrich report revealed a profound divergence over the kind of 
banking system the country should adopt. 

The Aldrich plan was drawn up by Paul M. Warburg, of Kuhn, 
Loeb & Company, 43 and was cordially endorsed by the American 
Bankers' Association; in brief, it represented the ideal of almost the en- 
tire banking community. It provided for one great central bank, the 
National Reserve Association, with a capital of at least $100 million 
and with fifteen branches in various sections..* The branches were to be 
controlled by the member banks on a basis of their capitalization. The 
National Reserve Association would issue currency, based on gold and 
commercial paper, that would be the liability of the bank and not of 
the government. It would also carry a portion of member banks' re- 
serves, determine discount reserves, buy and sell on the open market, 

and January and February, 1913, in the Papers of Carter Glass, in the Library 
of the University of Virginia, from businessmen, manufacturers, merchants, 
editors, or bankers, all strongly condemning the national banking and currency 
system and begging Glass and his House committee to lead the way in reforming 
the system. There would seem to be no doubt of the widespread nature of 
business discontent and of the conviction that banking and monetary reform was 
the most important need of the country. 

42 National Monetary Commission, Sen. Doc. 243, 62d Cong., 2d sess. (Wash- 
ington, 1912). The Commission also published twenty-four monographs on all 
phases of banking problems and practices. These were published as Senate 
Documents from 1910 to 1912. 

* 3 At least, so Warburg told Colonel House. House Diary, Mar. 31, 1913* 


and hold the deposits of the federal government. The branches and 
businessmen of each of the fifteen districts would elect thirty out of 
the thirty-nine members of the board of directors of the National 
Reserve Association. 44 

To progressive Democrats, the adoption of the Aldrich plan could 
mean only the perpetuation of existing Wall Street control nothing 
less, in fact, than a resurrection of the second Bank of the United 
States, which Jackson had destroyed. After talking so much about the 
necessity for banking reform, Wilson and his party were now obliged 
to propose an alternative to the Aldrich plan, one that would avoid 
the danger of monopolistic control and at the same time satisfy bank- 
ing and other conservative opinion that it was not a populistic, cheap- 
money scheme. Devising such an alternative and getting it adopted in 
the face of the united opposition of the banking community proved to 
be a task of infinite difficulty. 

Soon after the election of 1912 a subcommittee of the House Bank- 
ing Committee, headed by Carter Glass of Virginia, began to make 
plans for an exchange of views and hearings on currency legislation. 
There was, however, no agreement or even understanding among the 
Democratic leaders as to what kind of banking and currency system 
should be established. An ardent foe of the central bank plan, Glass 
was determined to establish such a loose and disconnected system of 
reserve banks that no one bank could ever become dominant. On the 
vital issue of control, however, he was thoroughly conservative. On the 
other hand, Bryan insisted that the government control the system and 
issue the currency a proposition that caused conservative editors, and 
Democrats like Colonel House, to shudder. It was fortunate for the 
country that Wilson knew practically nothing about the details of the 
matter, had made no commitments on the basic issues, and stood free 
to serve as mediator among the rival Democratic factions. 

Ten days after his return from Bermuda, Wilson called Glass and 
the subcommittee's expert, H. Parker Willis, 45 to Princeton for the 
first conference on the banking bill. Glass outlined his plan for a de- 
centralized, privately controlled reserve system with possibly twenty 

44 For a brief analysis of the Aldrich plan sec H. Parker Willis, The Federal 
Reserve System (New York, 1923), pp. 79-83. 

45 Formerly a professor of political economy at Washington and Lee and 
George Washington universities, in 1912 Willis was associate editor of the New 
York Journal of Commerce. He subsequently became secretary of the Federal 
Reserve Board and one of the leading authorities on the Federal Reserve System- 


independent reserve banks. Wilson tentatively approved, but he asked 
Glass and Willis to draw plans for a general supervisory board; what 
he called the "capstone" of the system. 46 To Glass, Wilson's proposal 
smacked of "dangerous centralization"; he was not at all convinced 
any such "capstone" was necessary; but he and Willis proceeded 
faithfully to follow the President-elect's instructions. By January 15, 
1913, they had completed a tentative draft of the bill. Then, from 
January 7 to February 17, the House subcommittee listened patiently 
while bankers and businessmen voiced their eagerness for a strong and 
highly centralized reserve system, privately controlled. When the 
hearings were ended, Willis went carefully through the draft bill, re- 
vising and strengthening its technical provisions in light of the bankers' 

Thus, even before Wilson's inaugural, the administration had seem- 
ingly come to an agreement on the form and detail of the new banking 
and currency bill. Working in close harmony with the bankers, Glass 
and Willis had constructed a measure that, in Glass' words, would 
"commend itself for soundness to the bankers of the country and , . . 
secure the support of the business community." 47 In this objective they 
had apparently succeeded, for leading bankers in New York, Chicago, 
and St. Louis had promised cordial support. There had been no real 
test of opinion among the Democrats, however, for the details of the 
Glass plan had been kept a carefully guarded secret among Wilson, 
Glass, Willis, and McAdoo. It did not seem to occur to Glass that his 
plan might evoke hostility from the progressive element of the party. 

The secret leaked when House sent a memorandum on the Glass 
bill, which he had obtained from Wilson, to his friend, Paul M. 
Warburg, one of the really competent authorities on banking practice 
in the country. 48 From Warburg news of the plan spread through the 
financial community and was blazoned in the press. Within a short 

46 Garter Glass, An Adventure in Constructive Finance (Garden City, N.Y., 
1927), pp. 81-84. 

47 Glass to Festus J. Wade, Jan. 24, 1913, Glass Papers. 

48 Formerly a partner in the banking house of M. M. Warburg & Company 
of Hamburg, Germany, Warburg was at this time a partner in the New York 
firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company. He strongly favored a powerful central bank 
with three or four branches, modeled after the German Reichsbank. Moreover, 
he stood firmly against public control of the new system or governmental issue 
of the currency. See his The Owen-Glass Bill, Some Criticisms and Suggestions, 
written at Silas-Maria, Switzerland, July 15, 1913 (New York [?], 1913), and 
Warburg to House, July 22, 1913, House Papers. 


time a controversy of serious proportions was developing in the inner 
circle of the administration and in Congress so serious that for a 
time it threatened to disrupt the party and destroy all hopes for 
financial reform. 

The issue at stake was nothing less than the fundamental character 
of the proposed banking system. Glass and Wilson had agreed upon 
what was substantially a decentralized version of the Aldrich plan; 
there was not the slightest chance the progressive wing of the party 
would accept it. They demanded, instead, outright governmental con- 
trol over the reserve system, and governmental issue of the currency. 
McAdoo, for example, came forward with an entirely new proposal to 
establish the system as an adjunct of the Treasury Department. Robert 
L. Owen, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Samuel 
Untermyer, counsel for the Pujo "Money Trust" Committee, sup- 
ported the McAdoo plan. Realizing that adoption of the Glass bill 
would signify repudiation of the Democratic platforms of 1896, 1900, 
1908, and 1912, as well as his own convictions on the banking and 
money question, Bryan regretfully warned the President that he would 
have to oppose the measure. 49 

The administration was shaken during May and early June by these 
dissensions, but not, as Glass thought at the time and afterward, 
because a group of Greenbackers sought to wreck his constructive 
efforts. The trouble arose simply because the progressive element re- 
fused to stand by and see control of the banking system given over to 
private hands, especially if this were done by a "reform" administra- 
tion. As the controversy developed, Glass appealed to his banker 
friends for support against McAdoo's "utter perversion of the true 
function of government." Bryan in effect replied that insistence upon 
the Glass bill would make any banking legislation impossible and wreck 
the Democratic party. 50 

Wilson was strangely surprised and of course profoundly disturbed 
by the dimensions of the struggle. By the middle of June it was plain 
the controversy would continue for months unless he could find a 
workable compromise and reconcile the opposing factions. If he had 
any genuine convictions on the basic issues, we do not know them. 

House Diary, May 11, 15, 19, 1913; House to Wilson, May 15, 1913, 
House Papers; Mary B. Bryan (ed.), The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan 
(Philadelphia, 1925), p. 370. 

*>Ibid.,p. 371. 


Probably he was undecided, even unconcerned, over what he thought 
was a question of detail. In any event, he had to either intervene 
quickly and decisively or else abandon his role as leader. 

He could not decide, however, without consulting the man whose 
opinions on economic questions he respected above all others Louis 
D. Brandeis. Brandeis came to the White House on June 11 and told 
the President frankly that Bryan and the progressives were right. The 
government alone should issue the currency, Brandeis insisted; and the 
government alone must control the banking system. "The conflict 
between the policies of the Administration and the desires of the finan- 
ciers and of big business, is an irreconcilable one," he warned. 51 
Brandeis' admonition must have persuaded Wilson that concessions to 
the progressive element had to be made. In several show-down con- 
ferences with Glass, Owen, and McAdoo June 17-19, the President 
announced that he would insist upon exclusive governmental control 
of the Federal Reserve Board and upon making Federal Reserve notes 
obligations of the United States. It was the absolute minimum that 
would satisfy the Bryan element, who wanted governmental operation 
of the entire system, and the most that Glass would concede, but it 

On June 23, therefore, Wilson went again to Congress and explained 
the administration's program for banking reform, "The control of the 
system of banking and of issue," he declared, "which our new laws are 
to set up must be public, not private, must be vested in the Govern- 
ment itself, so that the banks may be the instruments, not the masters, 
of business and of individual enterprise and initiative." 52 He must 
have reckoned on the opposition of the banking interests, but he was 
confident at least of the united support of his party in Congress. 
Actually, another revolt in the party was gathering, one that again 
threatened to split the party ranks in Congress and destroy all hopes 
of legislative action. 

The revolt was brewing among the Southern agrarian spokesmen, 
the inheritors of the Jacksonian-Populist tradition, who demanded 
really thoroughgoing and radical reform. 53 Because the Glass bill did 

51 Brandeis to Wilson, June 14, 1913, Wilson Papers, embodying the sub- 
stance of the views Brandeis had expressed at the conference of June 11, 1913. 

52 The Public Papers, The New Democracy, I, 39-40. 

53 For a further discussion of this group see Arthur S. Link, "The South and 
the New Freedom: An Interpretation," The American Scholar, XX (Summer, 
1951), 314^-324. 


not provide for the destruction of interlocking arrangements among 
and the prohibition of restrictive practices by the great banks, they 
charged the administration with betrayal of the Democratic platform; 
because the bill authorized private control of the regional banks and 
the issuance of currency based in part upon commercial paper, they 
accused the Democratic leaders of surrendering control of the banking 
system and the money supply to private interests. Finally, because the 
Glass bill made no provision for short-term agricultural credit, these 
agrarian representatives accused the administration of selling out the 
fanners to the moneylenders. The leader of the rebels, Robert L. Henry 
of Texas, chairman of the powerful Rules Committee of the House, 
opened the battle on June 14 with a blast in the press. 54 

The administration went serenely on, however, unaware of the 
meaning or seriousness of the new revolt. Glass and Owen introduced 
identical bills on June 26; but when Glass asked for approval by his 
committee, the radical majority took charge. Over Glass* angry protest, 
they adopted an amendment prohibiting interlocking directorates. 
Rumors that they had even prepared an entirely new banking bill 
seemed to be borne out when the committee, on July 25, refused to 
report the Glass measure to the House Democratic caucus. 

At this juncture Wilson entered the fight, pleading, cajoling, and 
promising that the interlocking directorate amendment would be in- 
corporated in the antitrust bill. The rebels accepted the President's 
promise and then moved to their most important demand: provision 
for the discounting by reserve banks of short-term agricultural paper. 
It was when Representative J. Willard Ragsdale of South Carolina 
introduced a series of amendments on July 24 to encompass this objec- 
tive that the really critical struggle began. The Eastern press scoffed at 
this proposal for "cotton currency" and "corn tassel currency" and 
predicted the administration would never surrender. 65 And when 
Wilson persuaded the Banking Committee to report the Glass bill to 
the Democratic caucus, observers were confident the President had 
stood firm. 

**The New York Times, June 15, 1913. Other leaders of the agrarian fac- 
tion were Representative Otis T. Wingo of Arkansas, James Willard Ragsdale 
of South Carolina, Joe Henry Eagle of Texas, Robert J. Bulkley of Ohio, and 
George A. Neeley of Kansas. 

* s The New York Times, July 26, 1913; Springfield Republican, Aug. 19, 
1913; Financial Age, XXVIII (Aug. 23, 1913), 297; Bankers' Magazine, 
LXXXVII (Sept., 1913), 234r-235. 


The radicals, however, had meantime won Bryan to their side. After 
the first great compromise was effected, Bryan had heartily supported 
the Glass bill; but the radical leaders now convinced him their demand 
for short-term agricultural credit was reasonable, and he pleaded with 
Wilson at least not to oppose the demand when it was made in the 
caucus. 56 

For the President there now seemed no course open but to yield. 
When the Democratic caucus met from the eleventh through the 
twenty-eighth of August, the Southern and Western representatives 
combined to force an amendment for the discounting of short-term 
agricultural paper. 57 Even this concession, however, did not appease 
the more radical agrarians, who continued to attack the bill because it 
authorized so-called asset currency and private control of the reserve 
banks. At this critical stage in the caucus deliberation, Bryan issued 
a fervent appeal to the radicals to support the measure, assuring them 
that Wilson would fulfill his promise to destroy interlocking directo- 
rates. 58 Bryan's masterful plea ended the struggle. On August 28 the 
caucus, by 116 to 9, voted to approve the Glass bill with the agri- 
cultural credit and less important amendments. Not all the radicals 
were pacified; a few of them, like Representative Joe H. Eagle of 
Texas, continued to oppose the bill. But the great majority of them, 
including their leader, Representative Robert L. Henry, were satisfied 
and voted for the bill when it passed the House on September 18 by a 
vote of 285 to 85. 59 

During that epochal summer of 1913 Wilson and his advisers moved 
from crisis to crisis. No sooner had the administration done the things 
necessary to consolidate Democratic support behind the Glass bill than 
there arose a virtual storm of protest and abuse from bankers, business 
leaders, and their spokesmen in Congress, all of them up in arms de- 
nouncing the bill as socialistic, theoretical, vicious, as the "preposterous 
offspring of ignorance and unreason." Meeting in Boston in early 
October, the American Bankers' Association severely criticized the bill, 

ss Bryan to Wilson, Aug. 6, 1913, Wilson Papers. 

^The New York Times, Aug. 15, 26, 1913; "Journal of the Democratic 
Caucus on Banking and Currency, August 11-28, 1913," in Glass Papers. 

Commoner > 

w Twenty-three Republicans and ten Progressives, most of them from the 
Middle West, supported the measure. Only three Democrats voted against it. 
The New York Times, Sept. 19, 1913. 


and appointed a committee to wait upon the President. Even the 
so-called liberal bankers^ George M. Reynolds^ Sol Wexler, A. Barton 
Hepburn, and Festus J. Wade, who had helped frame the original 
measure, turned against it because of the provision for public control. 

In the face of this torrent of abuse and criticism, Wilson stood im- 
movable. For one thing, it was evident that the bankers were rapidly 
maneuvering themselves into an indefensible position as advocates of 
the private against the public interest. For another, the amended Glass 
bill had the warm support of all the independent and progressive news- 
papers and journals of the country, which kept hammering at the 
opposition all during the summer and fall. 60 Even more valuable and 
more surprising, however, was the support that some leaders of the 
business world gave the measure. 61 

These were all encouraging signs that the great mass of non-banking 
opinion in the country was behind the administration, and prospects 
for prompt action by the Senate seemed bright until three Democratic 
members of the Banking Committee James A. O'Gorman of New 
York, James A. Reed of Missouri, and Gilbert M. Hitchcock of 
Nebraska bolted their party and upset the legislative timetable. The 
Republican-Democratic coalition now dominating the Committee in- 
sisted, first, on holding a long series of new hearings, which proceeded 
at a leisurely pace from the first of September until October 25. Mean- 
while 3 Wilson was at work almost constantly with Democratic leaders 
in the Senate, urging and pleading, even threatening to go to the 
people if the obstructionists persisted in blocking legislation. The party 
leaders were as indignant as the President, but they were helpless. 

The situation changed suddenly around the middle of November, 
however, when O'Gorman and Reed, one intimidated and the other 
satisfied, surrendered and permitted the Democratic members of the 
Committee to make a report. 62 On November 22 the Committee re- 

<*> E.g., Springfield Republican, June 20, 21, 23, 24, July 3, Aug. 7, Sept. 19, 
Oct. 7, 1913; Harper's Weekly, LVII (June 28, 1913), 3; ibid., LVIII (Aug. 
16, 1913), 4; Outlook, CIV (July 5, 1913), 490-491; Saturday Evening Post, 
CLXXXVI (Sept. 27, 1913), 26; St. Louis Republic, Sept. 29, 30, 1913; St. 
Louis Star, Sept. 3, 1913. 

01 The Merchants' Association of New York, for example, endorsed the 
Federal Reserve bill on October 9, while the constituent membership of the 
United States Chamber of Commerce approved it by a vote of 306 to 1 7. The 
New York Times, Oct. 10, 1913; New York Journal of Commerce, Oct. 15, 

62 Hitchcock's opposition stemmed in part from the fact that he was himself 


ported three separate drafts of the Glass bill to the Senate, and debate 
was begun at once. The Senate leaders were determined to pass the bill 
before Christmas, and progress from this time on was uninterrupted. 
The Senate passed the Federal Reserve bill, fifty-four to thirty-four, 
on December 19; 63 three days later the conference committee agreed, 
and on December 23 the two houses ratified and the President signed 
the measure. 

Thus it was that the greatest single piece of constructive legislation 
of the Wilson era was enacted, and almost exactly one year after that 
bleak afternoon when Wilson had held his first meeting with Glass and 
Willis in Princeton. Clearly the administration's whole concept and 
plan of banking and currency legislation had undergone profound 
alteration since that day. What had begun as a bill designed to serve 
only the business community and to reinforce private control over 
banking and the currency had metamorphosed, under progressive pres- 
sure, into a measure that offered substantial benefits to farmers as well 
as businessmen and allowed at least a modicum of public regulation. 

The tide of progressive banking concepts had receded, however, 
once the bill left the House of Representatives. During the long struggle 
in the Senate, the Democratic leaders had felt themselves compelled to 
make concessions that gravely impaired the power of the Federal 
Reserve Board and enlarged the private influence. The Board, for 
example, was deprived of authority directly to set the discount rates of 
the several reserve banks and was empowered only to veto changes in 
existing rates; the gold reserve behind the Federal Reserve notes was 

a banker and a spokesman of banking interests and in part from resentment at 
the administration's patronage policies in Nebraska. 

Reed had apparently bolted because the President would not appoint his 
candidate as postmaster of Kansas City. Wilson finally named Reed's man, 

O' Gorman, on the other hand, was determined to teach the President that 
he should not attempt to coerce the Senate. The New York senator, moreover, 
was working hand in glove with Tammany, and the administration's warfare on 
that organization had embittered him. When the administration-supported 
mayoralty candidate, John P. Mitchel, soundly thrashed the Tammany nominee 
in the New York election in November, however, O'Gorman began to view the 
President in a more favorable light. For an extended discussion see Charles W. 
Thompson's comments in The New York Times Magazine, Nov. 16, 1913. 

63 All Democrats present, including Hitchcock, voted for the amended bill. 
They 'were joined by six Republicans John W. Weeks of Massachusetts, 
Thomas Sterling of South Dakota, John D. Works and George C. Perkins of 
California, Wesley L. Jones of Washington, and George W. Norris of 
Nebraska and by the lone Progressive senator, Miles Poindexter of Washing- 


increased from thirty-three to forty per cent, as a result of a single 
speech by Senator Elihu Root of New York; finally, the bankers won 
the addition of an Advisory Commission, composed of bankers, to the 
Board. Yet the Glass plan survived in its fundamental structure and 
purposes, in spite of the abuse hurled against it and in spite of the 
severity of the conservative attack in the Senate. The basic structure 
twelve Federal Reserve banks, privately controlled, regulated and 
supervised in the public interest by the capstone of the Federal 
Reserve Board still remained. 

The creation of the Federal Reserve System was the crowning 
achievement of the first Wilson administration. The system was not 
created to prevent industrial depressions or banish poverty. The framers 
of the act hoped merely that it would provide the country with an 
absolutely sound yet elastic currency, establish machinery for mobiliz- 
ing the entire banking reserves of the country in times of financial 
stringency, prevent the concentration of reserves and credit in New 
York City, and, finally, preserve private enterprise in banking on the 
local level while at the same time imposing a degree of public regula- 
tion. On the whole, they succeeded remarkably well. 


The Mew Freedom and the 
Progressive Movement, 1913-16 

UNSUCCESSFUL struggle of the progressives to achieve a 
reserve banking and currency system owned and operated ex- 
clusively by the government underscored the dilemma in which the 
American progressive movement found itself during the years imme- 
diately preceding the First World War. The great impulses of the 
several movements for social and economic justice were now pulsating 
more strongly than before; diverse groups were in the field, campaign- 
ing for stringent regulation of industry, woman suffrage, federal child 
labor legislation, and advanced governmental aid to labor, farmers, 
tenant farmers, and the unemployed. It was inevitable that - these 
progressives x should sooner or later coalesce to put their i; program 
across. The important question was whether the New Freedom phi- 
losophy was sufficiently dynamic to accommodate the advanced pro- 

1 Diverse though they were, the several parts of advanced progressivism were 
clearly distinguishable by 1913. The more radical progressives included, first, 
the several important organized groups dedicated to the cause of social justice 
the American Association for Labor Legislation, the Consumers' League, the 
organized social workers, the National Child Labor Committee, and the Na- 
tional Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The leaders of 
organized labor should also be included, even though they generally refused to 
associate themselves with the professional students of labor problems. Finally, 
there were the farm organizations, like the National Farmers' Union, and 
shortly afterward the Non-Partisan League, that were now demanding a 
dynamic program of governmental intervention in their behalf, especially the 
establishment of a governmental system of long-term rural credits. 



gressive concepts; whether Wilson himself could abandon his liberal, 
laissez-faire rationale and become a progressive statesman; whether, 
in brief, there was room in the Democratic party for progressivism of 
this type. 

Evaluating the New Freedom at the end of the first ten months of 
Wilson's incumbency, advanced progressives wolild have disagreed in 
their answer to that vital question. Most of them conceded that the 
Underwood tariff was a step in the right direction, even though it was 
in part based on laissez-faire assumptions. They viewed the Federal 
Reserve Act, however, with mixed reactions. Uncompromising progres- 
sives, like La Follette, and the irreconcilable agrarians denounced it 
because of the large measure of private control that it allowed, 2 while 
middle-of-the-road progressives approved it as beginning a new experi- 
ment in public regulation. Even so, they must have suspected that 
Wilson's concessions to the progressive concept had been made under 
duress and were not the result of any genuine convictions on his part. 

That this suspicion was well founded was demonstrated time and 
again from 1913 to 1916, by the manner in which the President either 
obstructed or refused to encourage the fulfillment of a large part of the 
progressive platform. There was, for example, the way in which he 
maneuvered on the important question of the application of the anti- 
trust law to labor unions. Since 1906 the American Federation of 
Labor had waged a relentless campaign to obtain immunity from the 
application of the Sherman Law to its methods of industrial warfare, 
particularly the secondary boycott. 8 The Democratic platforms of 1908 
and 1912 had endorsed labor's demands, and Democratic leaders in 
Congress from 1911 to March, 1913, had tried conscientiously, if un- 
successfully, to redeem their party's pledges. 

Failing to get their contempt and injunction bills past the Republi- 
can opposition, the Democratic leaders had attached a rider to the 
Sundry Civil bill of 1913, prohibiting the Justice Department from 
using any funds therein appropriated in the prosecution of labor unions 
or farm organizations. President Taft promptly vetoed the bill, de- 

2 E.g., R. M. La Follette, "Legalizing the 'Money Power/ " La Follette's 
Weekly, V (Dec. 27, 1913), 1; Daniel T. Gushing, The Betrayal of the People 
in the. Aldrich-Wilson Federal Reserve Act and the Rural Credits Act (Wash- 
ington, 1916). 

3 For a brief account of this campaign see "The Twenty-Year Struggle for 
Adequate Eight-Hour Legislation," American Federationist, XX (Aug., 1913), 


nouncing the rider as "class legislation of the most vicious sort." When 
the same measure came up again in the special session in April, Wilson 
intimated to Congressional leaders that he would not oppose the ex- 
emption. News of Wilson's apparent approval and passage of the bill 
with the rider attached evoked a flood of petitions and appeals to the 
President from practically every spokesman of organized capital in the 
country, and from many of his personal friends as well. "The most 
vicious bill ever enacted by a Congress of the United States now awaits 
your approval or your dissent," exclaimed George Harvey, perhaps the 
most authoritative conservative spokesman in the country. 4 

Under such pressure Wilson weakened and then reversed his position. 
He signed the bill on June 23 but at the same time issued a state- 
ment explaining that the rider was merely an expression of Congres- 
sional opinion and that he would find money in the general funds of 
the Justice Department for the prosecution of any groups that broke 
the antitrust law. The explanation was not convincing, either to con- 
servatives or to labor leaders. "He attempts to retain the support of 
those who insist upon this special privilege ... by signing the bill," 
Taft commented., "and at the same time to mitigate the indignation of 
those who have regarded this as a test of his political character by con- 
demning the rider in a memorandum and excusing his signature." 5 
On the other hand, Samuel Gompers, president of the A.F. of L., had 
tried to make it plain that labor demanded nothing less than class 
legislation in its behalf; he later added that his union would not be 
satisfied until the principles embodied in the rider had been written 
into substantive law. 

In this first critical test, however, Wilson had signified that he would 
adhere to the New Freedom doctrine of "special privileges to none," 
that he would no more approve special legislation on labor's behalf 
than such legislation in the interest of any other class. Using the New 
Freedom doctrine to thwart the demands of the farm groups was some- 
what more difficult, however, as the agrarian spokesmen constituted 
perhaps a majority of the Democratic membership in Congress. Under 
heavy pressure, Wilson had consented to the addition of the short-term 

4 "An Appeal to the President," Harper's Weekly, LVII (May 17, 1913), 
3-4; also "Six Months of Wilson," North American Review, CXCVIH (Nov.. 
1913), 576-587. 

fi W. H. Taft to Gus J. Karger, June 25, 1913, the Papers of William Howard 
Taft, in the Library of Congress. 


agricultural credit amendment to the Glass bill; but this had not in- 
volved federal subvention to farmers, nor did it satisfy farm groups 
throughout the country. Their chief objective was the establishment, 
underwriting, and operation by the federal government of a system of 
long-term credits. The question had been under discussion for many 
years; all three major parties promised some form of federal aid in 
their platforms of 1912. By 1913 the movement was so powerful that 
no one expected the new administration to resist it. 

Indeed, at the beginning of the serious discussions of the rural 
credits question it appeared that no occasion for controversy would 
arise. In the spring of 1913 Congress authorized the appointment by 
the President of a Rural Credits Commission to study the problem and 
bring in a recommendation. The Commission studied rural credits 
systems in Europe during the summer; then its chairman, Senator 
Duncan U. Fletcher of Florida, framed a bill that would establish a 
system of privately controlled land banks, operating under federal 
charter. 6 Secretary of Agriculture Houston endorsed the bill and 
Wilson added his warm approval. In fact, he conferred with the joint 
subcommittee of the House and Senate banking committees that had 
charge of the legislation and urged prompt passage of the Fletcher bill. 

Encouraged by the President's friendly attitude, the joint sub- 
committee at once set to work and came up, around May 1, 1914, with 
a bill that adopted more or less the framework of the system proposed 
in the Fletcher plan but added a provision requiring the government 
to furnish the capital of the land banks, to purchase their bonds if 
private investors did not, and to operate the system. It was practically 
the same rural credit bill that was finally passed in 1916. The reporting 
of this, the so-called Hollis-Bulkley bill, set off a significant controversy 
in the administration, significant because it pointed up Wilson's limited 
view of the proper function of government. The root of the difficulty 
was that the farm spokesmen were convinced a rural credits system 
without governmental support and sponsorship would never succeed 
in making farmers independent of private moneylenders, while Wilson 
and Houston were just as strongly convinced this was no kind of busi- 
ness for the federal government to engage in. 

Houston cogently expressed this sentiment in a speech before the 
National Grange at Manchester, New Hampshire, in November, 1913. 
"I am not impressed," he said, "with the wisdom and the justice of 

6 Introduced on August 9, 1913. 


proposals that would take the money of all the people, through bonds 
or other devices, and lend it to the farmers or to any other class at a 
rate of interest lower than the economic conditions would normally 
require and lower than that at which other classes are securing their 
capital. This would be special legislation of a particularly odious type, 
and no new excursions in this direction would be palatable when we 
are engaged in the gigantic task of restoring the simple rule of equity." 7 

The controversy came to a head when Representative Robert J. 
Bulkley insisted on introducing the joint subcommittee's bill, in spite 
of the indignant protests of Carter Glass and other administration 
leaders. To head off the revolt, Majority Leader Underwood called a 
caucus of the House Democrats. To the assembled throng Glass read a 
fervent appeal from the President declaring he would gladly approve 
the Hollis-Bulkley bill without the governmental aid feature. But, 
Wilson added, "I have a very deep conviction that it is unwise and 
unjustifiable to extend the credit of the Government to a single class 
of the community." This, he continued, was a clear and permanent 
conviction, one that had come to him, as it were, "out of fire." 8 
Obviously threatening a veto of the Hollis-Bulkley bill, Wilson's letter 
angered the agrarian spokesman, who avowed there would be no rural 
credits legislation at all until the President changed his mind. Nor was 
there any such legislation, until new political circumstances prevailed in 
1916 and Wilson abruptly reversed his position, 

Wilson's momentary defeat of the rural credits measure pleased the 
private investors, but it generated a good deal of bitterness among the 
rural leaders of the country. Efforts of Democrats like Glass and Bryan 
to justify the President's stand in terms of "sound Democratic doc- 
trine" * made little sense to editors of farm papers -and presidents of 
granges and farmers' unions. When Congress reconvened in December, 
1914, Senator Henry F. Hollis warned the President that he and 
Bulkley planned to renew their campaign, even though Wilson's 
Annual Message had relegated rural credits legislation to the scrap 
heap. 1 ' Pressure from the rural sections mounted during the following 

7 Quoted in Commercial West, XXIV (Nov. 22, 1913), 7-8. 

18 Wilson to Glass, May 12, 1914, the Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the 
Library of Congress. 

* Glass to D. G. Pryer, July 9, 1914, the Papers of Carter Glass, in the 
Library of the University of Virginia; Glass to Herbert Myrick, May 18, 1914, 
ibid.; "Rural Credits Legislation," The Commoner, June, 1914. 

10 Hollis to Wilson, Dec. 11, 1914, Wilson Papers. In his Annual Message of 


months. Without warning to administration leaders, the Senate on 
February 25, 1915, adopted an amendment to the agricultural ap- 
propriation bill providing for the establishment of a rural credits system 
in the Treasury Department. A few days later, on March 2, the House 
approved the Hollis-Bulkley bill, but the session expired before the 
conference committee could agree, and the President was spared the 
embarrassment of vetoing a bill that had overwhelming support in 
Congress and among the farmers of the country. 

Thus Wilson successfully stood off the movements designed to swing 
the influence and financial support of the federal government to labor 
unions and farmers in their struggle for advancement. His strong con- 
viction that there were definite limits beyond which the federal 
authority should not be extended was demonstrated, again, in the 
manner in which he thwarted the campaign of the social justice groups 
to commit the administration to a positive program of social legis- 

One of the chief objectives of the reformers, for example, was a 
federal child labor law. A model bill, drafted by the National Child 
Labor Committee, was introduced in the House by Representative A. 
Mitchell Palmer on January 26, 1914. It would be incorrect to say 
Wilson opposed it; he simply refused to support it because he thought 
it was unconstitutional. 11 And so long as he withheld his aggressive 
support the bill would never get past the Senate. 

Another social justice objective was woman suffrage. Here, again, 
Wilson did not openly fight the cause but rather refused to aid it. And 
Southern opposition in Congress was so strong that without Wilson's 
most determined effort applied in its behalf a suffrage amendment 
could never obtain the necessary two-thirds vote. Wilson probably did 

December 8, 1914, Wilson had declared: "The great subject of rural credits 
still remains to be dealt with, and it is a matter of deep regret that the diffi- 
culties of the subject have seemed to render it impossible to complete a bill for 
passage at this session. But it can not be perfected yet, and therefore there are 
no other constructive measures the necessity for which I will at this time call 
your attention to." Ray S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public 
Papers of Woodrow Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New De- 
mocracy, I, 220. 

11 In early January, 1914, a delegation of leaders in the child labor reform 
movement requested an interview with the President. "Glad to see these gentle- 
men," Wilson replied, in a note to Tumulty, "but they ought to know, in all 
frankness, that no child labor law yet proposed has seemed to me constitu- 
tional." Wilson to Tumulty, inscribed at the bottom of Tumulty to Wilson, Jan. 
24, 1914, Wilson Papers. 


not believe it was proper for a lady to vote> but the excuse he always 
gave the delegations of suffragettes who visited him was that he was 
bound hand and foot in the matter because the Democratic platform 
had not approved a suffrage amendment. 12 Some of the interviews 
were not pleasant affairs, as the ladies could be brutally frank. For 
example, Mrs. Glendower Evans of Boston, who had escorted a large 
delegation of working women to the White House on February 2, 1915, 
reminded the President that in 1912 he had led her to believe he 
would support woman suffrage. Wilson replied that he had then 
spoken as an individual, but that he was now speaking as a representa- 
tive of his party. "Of course," Mrs. Evans shot back, "you were gun- 
ning for votes then." Wilson's face turned red, but he managed a weak 
smile. On the occasion of the sixth visitation by petitioning females, 
however, he finally confessed that he was "tied to a conviction" that 
the states alone should control the suffrage. 

A third item of the program supported by many leaders of the 
social justice movement was the imposition of some restriction on the 
enormous numbers of immigrants then coining to American shores. 
Restriction or, if possible, putting an end altogether to immigration 
had long been a prime objective of the A.F. of L. and other labor 
groups, whose spokesmen claimed unrestricted immigration operated 
to depress wages in the United States. Appalled by the dire effects of 
unrestrained immigration on American institutions, a number of lead- 
ing sociologists and social workers supported the movement. 13 More- 
over, the restrictionists were also strongly supported by anti-Catholic 
and anti- Jewish elements. 

The device favored by the restrictionists and exclusionists of that 
day, the literacy test, was embodied in the Burnett general immigration 
bill, which the House approved on February 4, 1914, and the Senate 
on January 2, 1915. From the beginning of the debates in the House, 
Wilson had intimated he would veto the immigration bill if it included 
the literacy test. After the House passed the bill, he frankly warned 
Senate leaders that he would veto the measure if they did not strike 

New York Times, Dec. 9, 1914; Elizabeth Glendower Evans, "An 
Audience at the White House," La Follette's Weekly, VI (Feb. 14, 1914), 5, 15. 
18 Among them were Henry P. Fairchild of Yale, Edward A. Ross of Wis- 
consin, Jeremiah W. Jenks of New York University, Thomas N. Carver of 
Harvard, Dean Leon G. Marshall of the University of Chicago, and Robert A. 
Woods of South End House, Boston. See H. P. Fairchild to Wilson, Mar. 17, 
1914, Wilson Papers. 


out the disputed provision. 14 Whether he thus acted out of conviction 
or for reasons of expediency, it is impossible to say/ 5 but when the 
Senate approved the Burnett bill in toto he replied with a ringing 
veto. "Those who come seeking opportunity are not to be admitted 
unless they have already had one of the chief of the opportunities 
they seek, the opportunity of education," he asserted. "The object of 
such provisions is restriction, not selection." 16 Two years later, in 
January, 1917, Congress re-enacted the Burnett bill. Wilson replied 
again with a stirring veto, but this time the forces of restriction were 
not to be denied victory, and the House on February 1 and the Senate 
on February 5 overrode the veto. 

One great measure of social justice, the Seamen's bill, had the 
President's approval in the beginning, as its purpose was only to free 
American sailors from the bondage of their contracts and to strengthen 
maritime safety requirements. Any recital of how this measure was 
passed should begin by taking account of the devotion and twenty 
years' unrequited labor of the president of the Seamen's Union, 
Andrew Furuseth "one of the heroes of the world, who . . . for- 
feited money, position, comfort and everything else to fight the battle 
"of the common sailor." ir Furuseth finally found sponsors for his bill 

14 Wilson to Senator E. D. Smith, Mar. 5, 1914, ibid. 

15 Senator John Sharp Williams urged Wilson not to veto the Burnett bill. 
Wilson's reply indicated that political considerations were uppermost in his 
mind. He wrote : "I find myself in a very embarrassing situation about that bill. 
Nothing is more distasteful to me than to set my judgment against so many of 
my friends and associates in public life, but frankly stated the situation is this: 
I myself personally made the most explicit statements at the time of the presi- 
dential election about this subject to groups of our fellow-citizens of foreign 
extraction whom I wished to treat with perfect frankness and for whom I had 
entire respect. In view of what I said to them, I do not see how it will be pos- 
sible for me to give my assent to the bill. I know that you will appreciate the 
scruple upon which I act." Wilson to Williams, Jan. 7, 1915, ibid. 

" The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 254. 

It should be pointed out here that during this long controversy a number of 
the social justice leaders strongly opposed any form of restriction. See, e.g., Jane 
Addams to Wilson, Jan. 29, 1915, Wilson Papers; Stephen S. Wise to Wilson, 
Jan. 29, 1915, ibid.; The Public, XVIII (Feb. 5, 1915), 121. 

The large employers of labor and their spokesmen, the spokesmen of the 
Italian-, Polish-, Hungarian-, and Russian-American societies, and the repre- 
sentatives of the Jewish community in the United States, however, were the 
real leaders in the fight against any form of restriction. The author could find 
no evidence that the Catholic Church entered the controversy on the political 

17 William Kent to Norman Hapgood, June 16, 1914, the Papers of William 
Kent, in the Library of Yale University. 


in the Sixty-Second Congress, Representative William B. Wilson and 
Senator La Follette. It passed the House in 1912 and the Senate in 
1913, only to receive a pocket veto from President Taft in the closing 
days of his administration. 

Had the Seamen's bill been merely a matter of domestic concern 
it would probably have been promptly re-enacted by the Sixty-Third 
Congress and signed by the President. Before the international rami- 
fications of the measure were brought home to him, for example, 
Wilson was cordially disposed and promised to support the bill. 
Trouble arose, however., because the measure in effect abrogated the 
contractual obligations of alien seamen on foreign ships in American 
ports, thus violating treaties with all the maritime powers. 18 More- 
over, the United States had consented to send delegates to an inter- 
national conference on safety at sea in London in November, 1913; it 
seemed hardly courteous for the nation that had taken the initiative 
in calling the conference to act unilaterally before it could meet. 

The envoys of several of the great powers expressed these objections 
emphatically to the Secretary of State, but Wilson was not disturbed 
until John Bassett Moore, Counselor of the State Department, called 
his attention to them on October 16, 1913. By this time it was too late 
to stop action by the Senate, which on October 23 adopted the 
Furuseth bill sponsored by La Follette. The administration blocked 
action by the House, however, and the American delegates, Furuseth 
among them, went to the London conference unembarrassed by any 
prior action by their government. Furuseth resigned and came home 
when the conference adopted safety requirements that did not meet 
the standards of his own bill. The rest of the American delegates 
stayed on, however, and helped draft a Convention that imposed uni- 
form and generally rigid safety standards on the vessels of all maritime 

The administration was now in another dilemma. Should the 
United States ratify the Convention on Safety at Sea unconditionally, 
which would mean abandoning the Furuseth bill, or should it ratify 
with a reservation that would leave room for the passage of that 
measure? Wilson let the State and Commerce departments, which in- 

18 The United States had entered into treaties with the maritime powers 
providing for the arrest of foreign seamen who deserted while their ships were 
in American ports. The Seamen's bill would have unilaterally abrogated these 


sisted on unconditional ratification, make the decision ; and he reversed 
his own support of the Furuseth bill and applied administration 
pressure toward speedy ratification of the Convention. Thus a bitter 
controversy ensued between the administration and some of the 
progressive leaders in Congress. In the end the progressives won. The 
House passed a modified version of the Furuseth bill on August 27, 
1914; the Senate in December ratified the Convention with a sweeping 
reservation; and three months later both houses ratified the conference 

Events now moved swiftly to a conclusion. Bryan urged the Presi- 
dent to give the bill a pocket veto, 19 and the newspapers on March 1, 
1915, predicted that this would be the measure's fate. Furuseth 
appealed in a moving letter, begging Wilson to approve the legislation 
for which he had fought so long, and Wilson replied in words indicat- 
ing he had no alternative but to follow the advice of the State De- 
partment. The same day, March 2, La Follette, Furuseth, and Senator 
Owen called on Bryan. Bryan had never heard of Furuseth, but he 
was so shaken by the old sailor's plea that he at once reversed his 
position. 20 La Follette added his personal promise that Congress would 
give the State Department ample time in which to abrogate old 
treaties and negotiate new ones. Wilson signed the Furuseth bill on 
March 4, but apparently not without considerable soul searching. "I 
debated the matter of signing the bill very earnestly indeed . . .," he 
explained, "and finally determined to sign it because it seemed the 
only chance to get something like justice done to a class of workmen 
who have been too much neglected by our laws." 21 

The dearth in administration circles of any impelling passion for 
social justice was nowhere better illustrated than in the government's 
policy toward Negroes during Wilson's magistracy. During the cam- 
paign of 1912 Wilson had appealed for Negro support, and spokesmen 
for the cause of racial democracy, among them being Oswald Garrison 
Villard, William E. B. Du Bois, and William Monroe Trotter, had 

19 On the grounds that passage of the bill would require the United States to 
denounce unilaterally some twenty-two treaties with maritime nations. Bryan to 
Wilson, Feb. 27, 1915, the Papers of William Jennings Bryan, in the National 
Archives. See also Bryan to Wilson, Mar. 1, 1915, Wilson Papers, and Robert 
Lansing to Bryan, Mar. 1, 1915, ibid. 

20 Bryan also urged the President " to suggest that the Seamen's bill be 
amended so as to give the State Department time in which to abrogate the 
treaties. Bryan to Wilson, Mar. 2, 1915, ibid. 

21 Wilson to Newton D. Baker, Mar. 5, 1915, ibid. 


accepted his promises and worked for his election. Soon after Wilson's 
inauguration, Oswald Garrison Villard, one of the founders of the Na- 
tional Association for the Advancement of Colored People and pub- 
lisher of the New York Evening Post and the Nation, called at the 
White House and presented a plan for the appointment of a National 
Race Commission to study the whole problem of race relations in the 
United States. Wilson seemed "wholly sympathetic" to the suggestion, 
and Villard left for a visit to Europe, confident Wilson would soon be 
ready to appoint the Commission. 22 He returned in July and tried 
several times to see the President, but Wilson refused to grant him an 
interview. Finally, when Villard appealed in personal terms, Wilson 
had to tell him that the political situation was too delicate for any 
such action, that the appointment of the Commission would incite the 
resentment of Southerners in Congress, whose votes he needed for the 
success of his legislative program. 23 

Villard's disappointment over Wilson's abandonment of the Race 
Commission was nothing, however, as compared with his consternation 
at the way in which Southern race concepts had gained ascendancy 
in Congress and in the administration. Southerners were riding high in 
Washington for the first time since the Civil War, demanding segrega- 
tion in the government departments and public services and the dis- 
missal or down-grading of Negro civil servants. 

Throughout his incumbency, Wilson stood firm against the cruder 
demands of the white supremacists, but he and probably all of his 
Cabinet believed in segregation, social and official. The issue first arose 
on April 11, 1913, when Burleson suggested segregating all Negroes in 
the federal services. If there were any defenders of the Negro or any 
foes of segregation in the Cabinet they did not then or afterward raise 
their voice. 24 Shortly afterward the Bureau of the Census, the Post 
Office Department, and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving quietly 
began to segregate workers in offices, shops, rest rooms, and res- 

22 O. G. Villard to R. H. Leavell, May 15, 1913, the Papers of Oswald 
Garrison Villard, in Houghton Library, Harvard University. Villard's plan was 
explained in A Proposal for a National Race Commission to be appointed by 
the President of the United States, Suggested by the National Association for 
the Advancement of Colored People (n.p., n.d.). 

as Villard to Wilson, Aug. 18, 1913, Villard Papers; Wilson to Villard, Aug. 
21, 1913, ibid. Wilson made this point even clearer in a conversation with John 
Palmer Gavit on October 1, 1913, for an account of which see Gavit to Villard, 
Oct. 1, 1913, ibid. 

24 The Diary of Josephus Daniels, in the Library of Congress, Apr. 11, 1913. 


taurants. Employees who objected were discharged. 25 Moreover, fed- 
eral Post Office and Treasury officials in the South were given free 
rein to discharge and down-grade Negro employees. The postmaster of 
Atlanta, for example, discharged thirty-five Negroes. "There are no 
Government positions for Negroes in the South," the Collector of 
Internal Revenue in Georgia announced. "A Negro's place is in the 
cornfield." 26 

There had been segregation in the government departments before, 
to be sure, but it had been informal and unofficial. Now it seemed that 
for the first time since the Civil War the federal government had 
placed its approval on the Southern caste system. Needless to say, 
Negroes throughout the country were shocked and confused by this 
action of an administration that promised a new freedom for all the 
people. "I have recently spent several days in Washington, and I have 
never seen the colored people so discouraged and bitter as they are at 
the present time," the great leader of the Negroes wrote. 27 "We had 
looked forward in the hope that under your guidance all this would be 
changed," another Negro leader wrote the President, "but the cold 
facts presented to us show that these cherished hopes are to be dashed 
to the ground and that for a while longer we must continue to drink 
from this bitter cup." 28 

The anger of the Negro leaders at the new segregation policies was 
the natural reaction of a group who had hopefully supported the man 
they were sure would deal with them compassionately. More surprising, 
however, was the manner in which a large part of the progressive 
leadership of the North and Middle West rose in fervent protest. 
Villard and his Nation and New York Evening Post and the National 
Association for the Advancement of Colored People first sounded the 
alarm, and the storm of protests from editors, clergymen, and civic 
leaders that followed gave ample proof that the old spirit of equali- 
tarianism was not dead, 

Wilson was visibly surprised and greatly disturbed by the furor his 

26 May Ghilds Nerney to Oswald G. Villard, Sept. 30, 1913, Wilson Papers, 
is the report by an investigator for the National Association for the Advance- 
ment of Colored People. For other analyses see J. P. Gavit in New York 
Evening Post, Oct. 21, 1913, and William Monroe Trotter, "Federal Segrega- 
tion Under Pres. Wilson," Boston Guardian, Oct. 25, 1913. 

26 Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 7, 1913. 

27 Booker T. Washington to O. G. Villard, Aug. 10, 1913, Wilson Papers. 

28 W. F. Powell to Wilson, Aug. 25, 1913, ibid. 


subordinates had provoked. From the beginning of the controversy, 
however, he contended that segregation was being instituted in the 
interest of the Negroes, and throughout he stoutly maintained this 
position. "I would say that I do approve of the segregation that is 
being attempted in several of the departments," he wrote, for example, 
to the editor of the influential Congregationalist. 29 Moreover, when the 
militant Boston Negro spokesman, William Monroe Trotter, headed a 
delegation to carry a protest to the White House and spoke rashly, the 
President virtually ordered him out. 

In every respect the whole affair was tragic and unfortunate one 
of the worst blots on the administration's record. It was more than 
even Wilson's staunchest editorial supporter, Frank Gobb, could 
stomach. "It is a small, mean, petty discrimination/' he cried in pro- 
test, "and Mr. Wilson ought to have set his heel upon this presumptu- 
ous Jim-Grow government the moment it was established. He ought to 
set his heel upon it now. It is a reproach to his Administration and to 
the great political principles which he represents." 30 

Although the President never set his heel upon Jim Crow, the forth- 
right protests of the liberal North had some effect. -The Treasury De- 
partment reversed its policy and began quietly to eliminate segrega- 
tion. But more important was the fact that the segregation movement 
in other departments was entirely checked. Jim Crowism was not 
rooted out of the federal government, to be sure, but at least the white 
supremacists were less bold and far less successful after 1913. 

The segregation affair caused many progressives to wonder what 
kind of progressive Wilson was. Their confusion was compounded, 
moreover, by the perplexing reversals that Wilson executed when he 
proceeded to complete his legislative program by fulfilling his pledges 
to strengthen the antitrust laws. 

Wilson had fabricated the New Freedom program in 1912 largely 
out of promises to destroy monopoly and restore free competition. He 
had, moreover, evolved a fairly definite remedy, which was to rewrite 
the rules of business practice so clearly that there could be no doubt as 
to their meaning, and to enforce these rules by the normal processes of 
prosecution and adjudication. Not until the middle of November, 
1913, however, when the Underwood bill was passed and the Federal 
Reserve bill was safely on its way to passage in the Senate, did Wilson 

2 Wilson to Rev. H. A. Bridgman, Sept. 8, 1913, ibid. 
3 New York World, Nov. 13, 1914. 


give any thought to details. On November 20 he began a long series of 
conferences with Democratic leaders in Congress, seeking their views 
and requesting them to submit their recommendations. The news that 
the President was determined to carry through with antitrust legisla- 
tion also provoked the introduction of a bewildering variety of bills 
when Congress convened in December. 

By the middle of December most of the recommendations were in, 
and it was evident that progressive opinion was divided over the 
remedy. The main body of Democrats desired merely an interpretative 
amendment of the Sherman Act, to define precisely the prohibitions 
against restraint of trade, to outlaw interlocking directorates of all 
kinds, and to narrow and clarify the "rule of reason," promulgated by 
the Supreme Court in 19 II. 31 A minority of Democrats and practically 
all progressive Republicans, on the other hand, agreed with Theodore 
Roosevelt that this was a na'ive solution, that it would be impossible to 
define by statute every conceivable restraint of trade. They wanted 
instead a powerful, independent trade commission armed with broad 
authority and capable of suppressing unfair competition whenever it 
arose and under whatever guise. 32 

Wilson had to choose, therefore, between what he called the "two 
ways open to us" in brief, to choose between the solution he had 
offered in 1912 and the program that Roosevelt and his friends cham- 
pioned. He pondered this question during his vacation at Pass Chris- 
tian, Mississippi, over the Christmas holidays, and if there was any 
doubt in his mind it was quickly resolved. He would press ahead for 
legislation along New Freedom lines, in spite of the great pressure that 
was being brought to bear upon him by personal friends and spokes- 
men of the great business interests to abandon his efforts, in spite of 
the seeming surrender of the House of Morgan, when it announced on 

81 The rule of reason, first promulgated by the Supreme Court in the 
Standard Oil case in May, 1911 (221 U.S. I) and shortly afterward reaffirmed 
in the American Tobacco case (221 U.S. 106), represented a triumph for Chief 
Justice Edward D. White, who, since 1897, had contended that the framers of 
the Sherman Act had intended to outlaw only unreasonable, or direct, restraints 
of trade, not reasonable restraints that were normally ancillary to most contracts. 

Some Democrats, notably John Sharp Williams and Bryan, wanted to abolish 
the rule of reason altogether and outlaw every restraint of trade, whether direct 
or ancillary. See J. S. Williams to Wilson, Jan. 13, 1914, Wilson Papers. 

82 For an analysis of such proposals see J. E. Davies to Wilson, Dec. 27, 1913, 
and "Memorandum of Recommendations as to Trust Legislation by Joseph E. 
Davies, Commissioner of Corporations," both in ibid. 


January 2, 1914, its withdrawal from thirty directorships in banks, 
railroads, and industrial firms. 83 

Soon after his return to Washington, Wilson had full-dress con- 
ferences with Congressional leaders, who agreed to support the pro- 
gram the administration had formulated. Then, appearing for the 
fifth time before a joint session, the President explained in unusual 
detail the kind of legislation he had in mind. He brandished no flam- 
ing sword against business, however, but offered an olive branch of 
peace and the hope of permanent accommodation. "The antagonism 
between business and Government is over," he said several times, as if 
to emphasize that he was speaking for the best business thought of the 
country. 84 

Wilson's program was embodied in three bills, originally drawn by 
Chairman Henry D. Clayton of the House Judiciary Committee, which 
were soon combined into one measure, known as the Clayton bill. It 
enumerated and prohibited a series of unfair trade practices, outlawed 
in unqualified terms interlocking directorates and stockholdings, and 
gave private parties benefit of decisions in suits that the government 
had originated. A fourth bill, prepared by Representatives Clayton, 
James H. Covington, and William C. Adamson and Senator Francis 
G. Newlands, created an interstate trade commission to supplant the 
Bureau of Corporations. The new commission would be no independ- 
ent arbiter of business practices, however, but would serve merely as 
the right arm of the Justice Department in antitrust matters. Actually, 
it was the Bureau of Corporations, under a new name and with a little 
more power as Wilson said, no "dangerous experiment," but a "safe 
and sensible" agency that all Democrats could approve. A final feature 
of the program was the bill prepared by Representative Sam Rayburn 
of Texas and Louis D. Brandeis, to give the Interstate Commerce 
Commission control over the issuance of new securities by the rail- 
roads. 35 

This, therefore, was the substance of the original Wilson program for 

33 The New York Times, Jan. 3, 1914. 

3 * The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 81-88. 

35 This measure passed the House on June 5, 1914, but later died in the 
Senate, in part a casualty of the panic that the war evoked. During the early 
months of the war the American security markets were in a chaotic condition; 
the New York Stock Exchange was closed; and the railroads were in a state 
approaching insolvency. Administration leaders decided, therefore, to drop the 
Rayburn bill entirely. 


trust reform. No sooner was it proposed, however, than there arose a 
storm of confusing dissent and criticism. The "Money Trust" expert, 
Samuel Untermyer, rushed to Washington and pointed to many weak- 
nesses in the Clayton bill. Brandeis, who was now spending most of his 
time in Washington, was evolving an entirely new solution, the corner- 
stone of which was the strengthening of small business by fair-trade 
price laws. Progressives and the representatives of small business were 
up in arms in protest against the plan for a weak interstate trade com- 
mission. And to compound the difficulty. Democratic leaders in Con- 
gress began to quarrel among themselves over jurisdiction and details. 
It seemed no one knew what to do or how to do it 

The most serious controversy of all, however, was that which oc- 
curred when the labor leaders and spokesmen in Congress read the 
Clayton bill and found nothing in it to give labor unions exemption 
from the application of the antitrust laws. Gompers and his colleagues 
in the A.F. of L. had supported Wilson in 1912 and had confidently 
expected the administration to stand by the Democratic platform 
pledges to exempt labor and farm organizations from the penalties of 
the Sherman law. They were now up in arms, threatening the Demo- 
crats with loss of labor's vote if these demands were not conceded. 
"Without further delay," Gompers declared, "the citizens of the United 
States must decide whether they wish to outlaw organized labor." 86 

In this bitter controversy Wilson and his Congressional leaders stood 
absolutely firm. The most they would concede was a compromise 
amendment providing for jury trials in cases of criminal contempt, 
circumscribing the issuance of injunctions in labor disputes, and de- 
claring that neither farm nor labor unions should be considered as 
illegal combinations in restraint of trade when they lawfully sought 
to obtain legitimate objectives. 37 This did not go far enough to suit the 

S6 New York World, Mar. 1, 1914. 

37 Wilson was emphatic in declaring that the provision did not authorize labor 
unions to use methods of industrial warfare that had previously been con- 
demned by the courts. The New York Times, June 2, 1914; New York World, 
June 2, 1914. 

Representative E. Y. Webb of North Carolina, who framed the compromise 
provision, further explained : 

"The framers of the Sherman law never intended to place labor organizations 
and farmers' organizations under the ban of that law. The existence of a labor 
of farmers' union never has been unlawful, and is not unlawful today, but it 
was decided to place in the statutory law of the country a recognition of the 
rights of those organizations to exist and carry out their lawful purposes. 


labor leaders, whose spokesmen in Congress 3S went to the White 
House on April 30 and threatened to join the Republicans in defeating 
the administration's antitrust program if labor's demand for complete 
immunity were not granted. Wilson would not budge, however, and 
the labor congressmen and union officials had to accept the compro- 
mise, which was better than nothing. 

With the compromise labor provision included, the House passed the 
Clayton bill, along with the interstate trade commission and railroad 
securities bills, by overwhelming majorities on June 5, 1914. The 
House's action brought to an end the New Freedom phase of antitrust 
legislation, that is, of legislation based upon the assumption that all 
that was required was merely to make more specific the prohibitions 
against restraint of trade. From this point forward, progress away from 
this concept was uninterrupted, until in the end Wilson accepted 
almost entirely the New Nationalism's solution for the regulation of 
business by a powerful trade commission. The metamorphosis in ad- 
ministration policy was gradual, and the story of how it evolved is 
complicated; but the major reasons for the change are clear. 

To begin with, there is much evidence that Wilson was growing un- 
certain as to the manner in which the broad objectives of his program 
should be accomplished. His attitude toward the industrial problem 
was conditioned by his belief that the vast majority of businessmen 
were honest and desired only the public good. Thus his objective was 
chiefly to strengthen the altruistic tendencies in the business com- 
munity; and he began to wonder whether this could be done by rigid, 
inflexible laws that might only further alienate and confuse the honest 

On the other hand, a large minority of the Democrats the Southern 
agrarians and the Bryan followers proposed legislation to destroy the 
oligarchical economic structure: stringent federal regulation of stock 
exchanges; " a graduated corporation tax that would bear so heavily 

"After the original Section 7 of the Anti-trust bill was drawn, certain repre- 
sentatives of labor contended that the section did not give labor all it was 
entitled to and demanded that we should make the section provide that the 
anti-trust laws should not apply to labor organizations. The acceptance of this 
amendment would have placed labor organizations beyond the pale of the 
anti-trust law entirely, which neither the president nor the members of the 
[Judiciary] committee would agree to." The New York Times, June 14, 1914. 

38 Representatives David J. Lewis of Maryland, Edward Keating of Colorado, 
Isaac R. Sherwood of Ohio, and John J. Casey of Pennsylvania. 

39 This was one of the recommendations of the Pujo Committee and was 
strongly supported by Samuel Unterrnyer and Senator Robert L. Owen of 


on the great combinations as to put them out of business; limiting a 
corporation or holding company usually to about one-third the total 
product of any given industry; * abolition of the "rule of reason"; and 
the complete destruction of the complicated network of interlocking 
relationships among banks^ railroads, corporations, and insurance com- 
panies. 41 This program went far beyond anything Wilson envisaged at 
any time. For example, he did not object to bigness per se; he only 
wanted to prevent the great interests from using their power to stifle 
new growth and competition. And he was beginning to doubt that the 
Clayton bill and the weak interstate trade commission bill offered an 
effective remedy. 

In the second place, the spokesmen of the business community, par- 
ticularly the United States Chamber of Commerce, had embraced the 
ideal of the "self-regulation" of business. What they desired most was 
legislation prohibiting unfair trade practices, with a trade commission 
to pass upon the legality of practices and to serve as a friendly adviser 
to businessmen. The suggestion found strong support in the Senate and 
among progressives generally, as it seemed to offer a simple solution to 
a perplexing difficulty. 

Just at the moment when Wilson seemed most confused and uncer- 
tain, Louis D. Brandeis took up the strong trade commission idea and 
persuaded the President to adopt it also. Since October, 1913, Brandeis 
had been hard at work, in Boston and Washington, on the antitrust 
question. His close friend and associate, George L. Rublee of New 
York, had joined the "people's lawyer," and together the two men 
drafted a Federal Trade Commission bill that was introduced by 
Representative Raymond B. Stevens, Democrat of New Hampshire. 
The Stevens bill in general terms outlawed unfair trade practices and 
established a trade commission endowed with plenary authority to 
oversee business activity and by the issuance of cease and desist orders 
to prevent the illegal suppression of competition. 

Oklahoma. Early in the Congressional discussions of antitrust legislation the 
President let it be known he did not favor the stock exchange bill. The New 
York Times, Jan. 23, 1914. 

40 The report of the House committee, headed by A. O. Stanley of Kentucky, 
which investigated United States Steel in 1911-12, proposed that there should 
be a presumption of restraint of trade when a single corporation or holding 
company controlled at least 30 per cent of the output of a single industry. 
House Report, No. 1127, 62d Gong., 2d sess. (Washington, 1912), p. 214. 

41 This was the desire and determination, often voiced, of practically all the 
so-called radical Democrats in the House of Representatives. 


Wilson and Congressional leaders first learned the details of the 
Brandeis-Rublee plan in the latter part of April, 1914. The chairman 
of the House Commerce Committee, William C. Adamson of Georgia, 
was aghast at the proposal, declaring it proposed giving an administra- 
tive agency power to make law. Wilson said nothing at first, but after 
the antitrust bills were safely through the House he called Brandeis, 
Rublee, and Stevens to the White House on June 10 and told them he 
had decided to make the Stevens bill the cornerstone of his antitrust 
program. How the President was won over to the idea of a strong trade 
commission is nowhere evident. In any event, three days after the 
White House conference the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee 
reported the Federal Trade Commission bill with the Stevens bill as an 
amendment. There then followed several weeks of debate in the 
Senate, during which time Wilson, Brandeis, and Rublee worked 
feverishly to overcome old-line Democratic and conservative opposition 
to Section 5, empowering the Commission to issue cease and desist 
orders. After adopting amendments guaranteeing broad court review 
of the Commission's orders, the Senate passed the bill on August 5 by 
a bipartisan vote of fifty-three to sixteen. The House agreed a month 
later, and the measure became law on September 10. "If the bill is 
wrong I shall be much to blame," Rublee wrote. "I drafted the con- 
ference report which was agreed to. Section 5 is exactly as I wanted it 
to be." 42 

Meanwhile, after he espoused the Brandeis-Rublee plan, Wilson 
seemed to lose all interest in the Clayton bill. It was cut adrift in the 
Senate, with the result that one after another of its strong provisions 
was so weakened as to make it in many particulars almost innocuous. 
For example, instead of forbidding exclusive selling contracts, inter- 
locking directorates, or interlocking stockholdings outright, the words 
"where the effect may be to substantially lessen competition or tend to 
create a monopoly in any line of commerce," or words of similar pur- 
port, wfcre inserted after all the prohibitions. 43 

"When the Clayton bill was first written," Senator James A. Reed of 
Missouri exclaimed, "it was a raging lion with a mouth full of teeth. 
It has degenerated to a tabby cat with soft gums, a plaintive mew, and 

42 Rublee to Brandeis, Oct. 6, 1914, the Papers of Louis D. Brandeis, in the 
Law School Library of the University of Louisville. 

43 For a good analysis of the weakening of the Clayton bill see Henry R. 
Seager and Charles A. Gulick, Jr., Trust and Corporation Problems (New York, 
1929), pp. 420-422. 


an anaemic appearance. It is a sort of legislative apology to the trusts, 
delivered hat in hand, and accompanied by assurances that no dis- 
courtesy is intended." * 4 Wilson, too, complained that Senator Culber- 
son, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had made the bill "so weak 
that you cannot tell it from water." 45 Of course this was largely true, 
but it was true because the administration had put all faith in the 
trade commission plan and had given up its effort to prohibit restraints 
of trade by statutory action. 

Farm and labor leaders, meanwhile, had been striving mightily with 
the Senate to win the concessions the President and House of Repre- 
sentatives had denied them. On July 30, Gompers, Frank Morrison, 
secretary-treasurer of the A.F. of L., the legislative representatives of 
the railroad brotherhoods, the general counsel of the Fanners' Union, 
and the secretary of the Farmers' National Congress addressed an im- 
portant appeal to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter reviewed 
the labor provisions of the Clayton bill, as it had passed the House, and 
pointed out specifically the changes that were necessary to satisfy labor 
and farm demands. The effect of the suggested changes would have 
been to give to labor and farm organizations the immunity from the 
penalties of the Sherman law they were seeking. 

A comparison of the labor-farm demands with the labor provisions 
of the Clayton bill as it passed the Senate and conference committee 
reveals that the Senate, like the President and the House of Repre- 
sentatives, stood absolutely firm in resisting these demands. The Senate 
made one change that became famous but was not important. At the 
suggestion of Senator Albert B. Cummins, it amended the provision to 
read, "The labor of human beings is not a commodity or article of 
commerce," which phrase was nothing more than a pious expression 
of senatorial opinion and did not change labor's standing before the 
law.* 6 

In any event, the labor provisions of the act apparently pleased 
everyone. Gompers hailed them as labor's "Magna Carta" 47 and after- 

, New York Times, Sept. 29, 1914. 

*5 The Diary of Edward M. House, in the Papers of Edward M. House, in 
the Library of Yale University, Oct. 2, 1914. 

46 That the labor provisions of the Clayton Act did not confer immunity from 
prosecution on farm and labor unions was the opinion of practically every re- 
sponsible contemporary observer. See, e.g., the cogent essay, " 'Labor Is Not a 
Commodity,' " New Republic, IX (Dec. 2, 1916), 112-114, or W. H. Taft to 
G. W. Wickersham, Oct. 31, Nov. 8, 1914, Taft Papers. 

47 "Labor's Magna Carta Demand It," American Federationist, XXI (July, 
1914), 553-557; ibid. (Oct., 1914), 866-867. 


ward tried desperately to convince himself and the country that labor 
was freed from the restraints of the antitrust laws. On the other ex- 
treme, the general counsel of the American Anti-Boycott Association 
was also entirely satisfied with the legislation. "The bill makes few 
changes in existing laws relating to labor unions, injunctions and con- 
tempts of court/' he observed, "and those are of slight practical im- 
portance." * 8 

With the appointment of the Federal Trade Commission on Febru- 
ary 22, 1915, the administration launched its experiment in the regula- 
tion of business enterprise. It is well, however, to understand the spirit 
in which the experiment was conceived and the purposes that Wilson 
and his colleagues hoped to accomplish. They were chiefly purposes 
friendly to business. As Redfield later put it, Wilson hoped to "create 
in the Federal Trade Commission a counsellor and friend to the busi- 
ness world. ... It was no large part of his purpose that the Federal 
Trade Commission should be primarily a policeman to wield a club 
over the head of the business community. Rather the reverse was true 
and the restraining powers of the Commission were thought a neces- 
sary adjunct which he hoped and expected to be of minor rather than 
of major use." 4%9 

Progressives like Brandeis and Rublee, who hoped the Commission 
would become a dynamic factor in American economic life, were 
bitterly disappointed when it failed to do anything constructive during 
the first years of its life. Brandeis later correctly observed that Wilson 
had ruined the Commission by his choice of commissioners. "It was a 
stupid administration," he recalled. 50 The chairman, Joseph E. Davies 
of Wisconsin, lacked force and judgment. In fact, the only really com- 
petent appointee, Rublee, was prevented from serving because the 
Senate refused to confirm his nomination. 51 Davies proved so incom- 
petent that in June, 1916, the majority of the Commission deposed him 
and made Edward N. Hurley, a Chicago industrialist, chairman. Hurley 

48 Daniel Davenport, in Springfield Republican, Oct. 11, 1914. 

49 W. G. Redfield, "Woodrow Wilson: An Appreciation,' 1 in the Ray Stan- 
nard Baker Collection, in the Library of Congress; see also A. W. Shaw, MS of 
interview on Jan. 4, 1915, with Wilson, in Wilson Papers. 

50 R. S. Baker, interview with L. D. Brandeis, Mar. 23, 1929, Baker Collec- 

51 Jacob H. Gallinger of New Hampshire, minority leader in the Senate, 
objected to the appointment on personal grounds and the Senate refused to 
confirm Rublee, in spite of the President's strenuous efforts to obtain confirma- 


was certainly abler than Davies; but he devoted his talents to making 
the Commission useful to businessmen and to preaching the doctrine of 
co-operation between government and business. And under his leader- 
ship, the Commission practically abandoned its role as watchdog of 
business practices. It was little wonder, therefore, that, on reviewing 
the situation on the eve of America's entry into the war, Rublee con- 
cluded that the Commission was on the rocks. 52 

The weakening of the administration's antitrust program was only 
the first sign of a general reaction that began to set in around the be- 
ginning of 1914 and increasingly affected the administration and the 
President. The chief cause of the ebbing of the reform impulse was 
the insidious depression that began during the fall of 1913 and 
mounted in severity during the late winter and spring of 1914. It was 
a world-wide phenomenon, the result of the tightening of credit in 
Europe because of the Balkan Wars and the fear of a general war. 53 
But in the United States the Republicans blamed the Underwood tariff 
and Wilson's antitrust measures. Business failures increased, production 
sagged, and unemployment was widespread and especially acute in the 
large cities. 54 Wilson and administration leaders like McAdoo tried to 
persuade themselves and the public that no real depression existed. 
Actually, however, they were seriously alarmed, and their concern in- 
evitably evidenced itself in administration policies. 

To begin with, in the spring of 1914 the President embarked upon 
a campaign calculated to win the friendship of businessmen and 
bankers and to ease the tension that had existed between the adminis- 
tration and the business community. The accommodation of the anti- 
trust program to the desires of the business world was the first step, 
along with Wilson's repeated expressions of confidence in and friend- 
ship for businessmen. Next the President began to welcome bankers 

52 George Rublee to E. M. House, Jan. 26, 1917, Wilson Papers. 

53 See the excellent analysis by S. S. Fontaine, in New York World, Jan. 3, 

64 Incomplete surveys revealed that in New York 23.7 per cent of 115,960 
families investigated in January-February, 1915, had members unemployed. The 
Bureau of Statistics of Massachusetts reported that returns received from labor 
organizations in the state, representing 66 per cent of the total trade-union 
members, showed 18.3 per cent unemployed on December 31, 1914. See Mayor's 
Committee on Unemployement, New York City, Report of the Mayor's Com- 
mittee on Unemployment (New York, 1916), and Bureau of Statistics, Labor 
Division, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Thirtieth Quarterly Report on Un- 
employment in Massachusetts, Quarter Ending June 30, 1915 (Boston, 1915). 


and business leaders to the White House. In the palmy days of 1913 
he had not wanted their advice; now he welcomed J. P. Morgan^ dele- 
gations of businessmen and bankers from Illinois, and Henry Ford. 
Thirdly, Wilson let it be known in the financial circles of New York 
and Boston that he had never really been an enemy of big business, but 
only of business that grew "big by methods which unrighteously crushed 
those who were smaller." 55 

It was about this time, also, that Attorney General McReynolds, with 
Wilson's approval, began to use a new method in dealing with alleged 
combinations in restraint of trade. He announced that any large cor- 
poration that felt doubtful of the legality of its corporate structure 
might seek the friendly advice and help of the Justice Department in 
rearranging its affairs. Several great combinations, notably the Ameri- 
can Telephone & Telegraph Company and the New Haven Railroad, 
came to terms with the administration and received its blessing. 56 
Whether such policy was wise or foolish depended upon one's point of 
view; in any event, there was no trust-busting ardor in the Wilson 

Wilson climaxed his little campaign to win the friendship of the 
business classes by turning over control of the Federal Reserve Board, 
in effect, to their representatives, as if he were trying to prove the sin- 
cerity of his recent professions. For several months McAdoo and House 
had engaged in a tug of war over the selection of the Board, McAdoo 
arguing that the appointees should be men in sympathy with the ad- 

55 Wilson to A. S. Burleson, July 27, 1914, Wilson Papers. See also Wilson to 
H. L. Higginson, Oct. 23, 1914, ibid.; E. M. House to J. C. McReynolds, Jan. 
7, 1914, House Papers. 

56 For details and consequences of the A. T. & T. settlement, see The New 
York Times, Dec. 20, 21, 1913. 

The New Haven settlement was reached only after long and bitter negotia- 
tions. There was first a thorough investigation into the affairs of the railroad by 
Joseph W. Folk, special prosecutor for the Interstate Commerce Commission. 
This was followed by an agreement for the dissolution of the vast New Haven 
empire, the terms of which were agreed to by railroad and Justice Department 
officials on January 10, 1914. Ibid., Jan. 11, 1914. The New Haven officers 
objected, however, to the government's demand that they dispose of the Boston 
& Maine Railroad at once. Ibid., July 21, 22, 23, 1914. The government replied 
by instituting a suit to compel dissolution, whereupon the railroad officials sur- 
rendered and accepted the Justice Department's terms. Ibid., Aug. 12, 1914. 

It should be added that when officials of the United States Steel Corporation, 
notably Henry C. Frick, endeavored to reach agreement with McReynolds, the 
Attorney General refused to approve the proposed settlement on the ground 
that it would not restore genuine competition in the industry. House Diary, 
Mar. 22, 24, 26, Sept 30, 1913. 


ministration's broad policies, House advising that the President choose 
leading bankers and businessmen. Actually, there never was much 
doubt in Wilson's mind as to the wise course to follow; and when the 
membership of the Board was announced it evoked almost unanimous 
approval from bankers and business leaders. Progressives, on the other 
hand, were shocked and astonished. "Why, it looks as if Mr. Vanderlip 
[president of the National City Bank of New York] has selected them," 
one progressive Republican senator exclaimed. 57 

The degree to which Wilson had outraged progressive sentiment, 
however, did not become apparent until the President sent the nomi- 
nations to the Senate on June 15. Insurgent anger in the upper house 
centered on two of the nominees Thomas D. Jones of Chicago and 
Paul M. Warburg. A former trustee of Princeton University and a 
close friend of Wilson, Jones was one of the owners of the so-called 
Zinc Trust and a director of the International Harvester Company, 
then under state and federal indictment for being an illegal combina- 
nation. Warburg was a partner in Kuhn, Loeb & Company, one of the 
great Wall Street banking houses. 

In reply to attacks on his friend Jones, Wilson addressed a public 
letter to the Senate Banking Committee, defending him and explaining 
that he had become a director of the Harvester Trust to help bring 
that corporation into conformity with the law. Jones came before the 
Committee, however, and affirmed that he had not gone on the board 
of the corporation to reform it and approved everything the Trust had 
done since he became a director. The upshot was that the Banking 
Committee refused to approve Jones' nomination and Wilson had to 
ask him to withdraw from the contest. The Warburg affair, on the 
other hand, developed differently, and with certain comic aspects. 
Much insulted by the senatorial opposition, Warburg at first refused to 
appear before the Committee. Finally the President persuaded him to 
swallow his pride and the Senate confirmed his appointment. 

The startling aspect of the Jones-Warburg affair, however, was 
Wilson's own reaction to it and the manner in which he came forward 
as the champion and defender of big business. "It would be partic- 
ularly unfair to the Democratic Party and the Senate itself to regard 
it as the enemy of business, big or little," he declared, while the fight 
was in progress. 68 When it became obvious that the Senate would re- 

7 Boston Advertiser, May 6, 1914. 
8 The New York Times, July 9, 1914. 


fuse to confirm Jones, Wilson's anger became intense. In a commisera- 
ting letter to Jones, he lashed out at the Senate insurgents, and at pro- 
gressives in general. "I believe that the judgment and desire of the 
whole country cry out for a new temper in affairs/' he wrote. ". . . We 
have breathed already too long the air of suspicion and distrust." In 
short, there was no room in this year of New Freedom grace for "class 
antagonism/' for the very dynamic quality that had given impetus and 
force to the American progressive movement. 59 

Wilson's temper soon cooled, and a week later the attention of the 
country was diverted to other matters by the outbreak of the war in 
Europe. Then followed a period of political confusion, during which 
partisan passions subsided. As it turned out, these developments at 
home and abroad were a godsend to the Democrats during the ensuing 
Congressional campaign. The Republicans did not wage a vigorous 
fight, and there seemed to be a general disposition to stand by the 
President during a time of peril. The most important Democratic asset, 
however, was the continued disruption of the Republican party, with 
Roosevelt and the Progressives making one last and futile effort to 
establish themselves as a major party. 60 

In spite of all these advantages, the Democrats made such a poor 
showing in the state and Congressional elections on November 3 that 
their defeat in 1916 seemed almost certain. The Democratic majority 
in the House was reduced from seventy- three to twenty-five; there was 
no change of voting strength in the Senate; but the Republicans swept 
back into or stayed in power in states like New York, Illinois, Pennsyl- 
vania, Ohio, Kansas, New Jersey, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and South 
Dakota. It seemed as if the progressive tide was beginning to recede, 
and everywhere progressive leaders were disheartened. "The cataclysm 
was just about what I expected," Roosevelt lamented. 61 "We are sad- 
dened by many defeats," Brandeis added. 62 Wilson, too, was heartsick 
and wondered whether all the effort of the preceding two years had 
been worth while. "People are not so stupid not to know," he declared, 
"that to vote against a Democratic ticket is to vote indirectly against 

* Wilson to T. D. Jones, July 23, 1914, printed in ibid., July 24, 1914. 
* George E. Mowry, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement 
(Madison, Wis., 1946), pp. 300-303. 

61 Roosevelt to Archie B. Roosevelt, Nov. 7, 1914, the Papers of Theodore 
Roosevelt, in the Library of Congress. 

62 L. D. Brandeis to Gifford Pinchot, Nov. 4, 1914, Brandeis Papers. 


me." 6S He changed his mind soon, however, and boasted that the 
Democrats had won a great victory. 

In the autumn of 1914 Wilson, moreover, thought his program to 
effect a fundamental reorganization of American economic life was 
complete and that the progressive movement had fulfilled its mission. 
"We have only to look back ten years or so to realize the deep per- 
plexities and dangerous ill-humors out of which we have at last issued, 
as if from a bewildering fog, a noxious miasma," he wrote in a public 
letter to McAdoo in November, 1914, announcing the consummation of 
the New Freedom program. "Ten or twelve years ago the country was 
torn and excited by an agitation which shook the very foundations of 
her political life, brought her business ideals into question, condemned 
her social standards, denied the honesty of her men of affairs, the in- 
tegrity of her economic processes, the morality and good faith of many 
of the things which her law sustained." And so things stood until the 
Democrats came to power and the New Freedom legislation righted 
fundamental wrongs. The nightmare of the past years was over now, 
and the future would be a time of co-operation, of new understanding, 
of common purpose, "a time of healing because a time of just 
dealing." 6 * 

Advanced progressives were puzzled by Wilson's remarkable letter. 
Did the President mean what he had said? Was the progressive move- 
ment over? If so, then where could the social justice element go? 
Herbert Croly, chief editor of the New Republic, which had just be- 
gun its distinguished career, voiced the apprehensions that many pro- 
gressives felt when he wrote: 

How can a man of ... [Wilson's] shrewd and masculine intelligence 
possibly delude himself into believing the extravagant claims which he makes 
on behalf of the Democratic legislative achievement? . . . How many sincere 
progressives follow him in believing that this legislation has made the future 
clear and bright with the promise of best things? . . . 

President Wilson could not have written his letter unless he had utterly 
misconceived the meaning and the task of American progressivism. After every 
allowance has been made for his justifiable pride . . . , there remains an 
ominous residue of sheer misunderstanding. Any man of President Wilson's 
intellectual equipment who seriously asserts that the fundamental wrongs of 

* House Diary, Nov. 4, 1934. 

* "Wilson to W. G. McAdoo, Nov. 17, 1914, printed in The New York Times, 
Nov. 18, 1914. See also Wilson to Powell Evans, Oct. 20, 1914, Wilson Papers. 


a modern society can be easily and quickly righted as a consequence of a few 
laws . . . casts suspicion either upon his own sincerity or upon his grasp of 
the realities of modern social and industrial life. Mr. Wilson's sincerity is 
above suspicion, but he is a dangerous and unsound thinker upon con- 
temporary political and social problems. He has not only ... "a single-track 
mind," but a mind which is fully convinced of the everlasting righteousness 
of its own performances and which surrounds this conviction with a halo of 
shimmering rhetoric. He deceives himself with these phrases, but he should 
not be allowed to deceive progressive popular opinion. 65 

Groly's analysis of the superficial character of Wilson's progressivism 
was essentially correct. There is little evidence that Wilson had any 
deep comprehension of the far-reaching social and economic tensions 
of the time. As Groly said, Wilson was intelligent and sincere. But that 
did not make him a prophet or a pioneer, or even a progressive of the 
advanced persuasion. He had not taken office to carry out a program 
of federal social reform. He had promised to lower the tariff, reor- 
ganize the currency and banking system, and strengthen the antitrust 
laws, in order to free the nation's energies and unleash the competitive 
urges of the people. He had done these things, and with a minimum 
of concession to advanced progressive concepts. He had, moreover, 
turned over control of the public agencies established by the new legis- 
lation the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Trade Commis- 
sion to cautious men. To try to portray such a man as an -ardent 
social reformer is to defy the plain record. 

This, however 3 is only one chapter in the history of the journey of 
the Democratic party on the road leading to the New Deal and the 
Fair Deal. Events and circumstances sometimes cause men to change 
their minds or to adopt policies they have previously opposed. The 
process of reform was but temporarily halted in 1914, only to be 
reactivated by 1916. But before we tell this story we must first give 
some account of other events more portentous for the immediate future 
of the American people. 

66 "Presidential Complacency," New Republic, I (Nov. 21, 1914), 7. 


Missionary Diplomacy 

uTT WOULD be the irony of fate if my administration had to deal 
JL chiefly with foreign affairs/ 3 Wilson remarked to a Princeton friend 
just before he went to Washington. 1 As it turned out, fate was not only 
ironical, but in a sense also cruel, for the new administration had to 
cope with foreign problems of such magnitude as had not confronted 
the nation since the early years of the nineteenth century. With the 
outbreak of the war in Europe, the difficulty became almost more than 
the administration could handle; but even from the first months of his 
presidency, Wilson was perplexed by one crisis after another in foreign 

Wilson and Bryan shared with most of their predecessors ignorance 
of and indifference to foreign affairs. To a remarkable degree, however, 
they also shared certain assumptions and ideals, which provided the 
dynamic for their foreign policy. They were both moralists, who 
thought of foreign policy in terms of the eternal venues, ratheT diaii 
in terms of the expedienfTTKey were both dedicated to the democratic 
ideal, at least theoretically,"and obsessed with the concept of America's 
mission in the world. Finally, they were both fundamentally mission- 
aries, evangelists, confident that they comprehended the peace and 
well-being of other countries better than the leaders of those countries 
themselves. This urge to do good, to render disinterested service, was 
so compelling that it motivated interference in the internal affairs of 

1 To E. G. Conklin, cited in Ray Stannard Baker, W oodrow Wilson: Life and 
Letters (8 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 1927-39), IV, 55. 



other nations on such a scale as the United States had not heretofore 

The missionary impulse helps explain much that is baffling about 
Wilson's foreign policy, but it is not a full and sufficient explanation. 
To a varying degree, many other factors were involved naivete, the 
desire to protect American economic interests, imperialistic ambi- 
tions but these operated subconsciously in Wilson's and Bryan's 
minds. Paramount in their motivation was the ambition to do justly, to 
advance the cause of international peace, and to give to other peoples 
the blessings of democracy and Christianity. 

The most typical manifestation of missionary diplomacy 2 was 
Bryan's great campaign during 1913 and 1914 to negotiate treaties of 
conciliation with the nations of the world. 3 It had long been an ob- 
session with the Nebraskan to promote the cause of peace, 4 and one of 
the conditions upon which he accepted the Secretaryship of State was 
that Wilson should give him a free hand in negotiating the peace 
treaties. The first was signed with Salvador on August 7, 1913, and 
during the following year twenty-nine others were negotiated, includ- 
ing treaties with Great Britain, France, and Italy. Significantly, the 
German government refused to sign a treaty. Hardheaded realists like 
Theodore Roosevelt might condemn the plan as futile and dangerous, 
but Bryan was sure he had struck a blow for peace, and to the end of 
his life he was prouder of this achievement than of anything else he 
did during his long career. 

Another early evidence of the power of the missionary urge was the 
abrupt manner in which the administration withdrew support from 
the Six-Power Consortium, which had been formed in 1911 to make a 

2 The author wishes to explain that he does not use this term in its technical 
meaning that is, diplomacy aimed at protecting missionaries and church mis- 
sions abroad. He means, simply, diplomacy motivated by a desire to help other 

3 These "cooling off" treaties, as they were called, provided for the submis- 
sion of all disputes, even those involving questions of national honor, to perma- 
nent commissions for investigation. Neither party would declare war during the 
"cooling off" period, which was usually one year. After the investigation was 
completed, the parties could accept or reject the commission's findings. Bryan 
explained the details of his plan in a speech in New York City on May 9, 1913, 
for which see The New York Times, May 10, 1913. 

* Bryan first suggested his peace plan in February, 1905, and from that time 
forward he pressed it vigorously. He tells the history of the idea in his letter to 
Harry Walker, Jan. 20, 1915, the Papers of William Jennings Bryan, in the 
Library of Congress. 


loan of $125 million to the Chinese government for the construction of 
the Hukuang Railway. 5 The visit to the State Department on March 
10, 1913, by representatives of the American banking interests involved 
precipitated the first discussion of the project in administration circles. 
There is strong evidence that the American bankers were anxious to be 
rid of their commitment and that the European bankers, too, were 
lukewarm because Russian and Japanese banking interests had been 
admitted to the Consortium. 6 Secretary of State Philander C. Knox 
had insisted upon American admission to the Consortium and partici- 
pation by the American banking group in order that the State Depart- 
ment might be in a position to protect American interests and the 
Open Door in China. There seems, however, to have been no serious 
consideration by the new administration of these larger economic and 
strategic interests, only the moral judgment that, as the President told 
the Cabinet, "we ought to help China in some better way." 7 In any 
event, on March 18 Wilson issued a public statement explaining the 
American withdrawal. The United States could not approve the loan 
agreement, he declared, because the conditions attached to it touched 
"very nearly the administrative independence of China itself" and 
would lead to intolerable interference in Chinese affairs by foreign 
agents. The United States, he added, earnestly desired to help the 
struggling Chinese people in every way consistent with their own 
principles, but not by thwarting the Chinese efforts at independence 
and self-government. 

Experienced and cynical diplomatists thought they saw some 
Machiavellian purpose in Wilson's action. The German Under-Secre- 
tary for Foreign Affairs, for example, suspected that the American 
bankers wanted to withdraw from the Consortium, and that Wilson 
used their withdrawal as a means of winning good will in China. The 
suspicion credited Wilson with a sophistication in foreign affairs that 
he did not yet possess. The way in which the withdrawal evoked the 

5 The Consortium was first composed of British, French, and German bankers. 
Upon the demand of President Taft and the State Department in 1909, an 
American banking group was admitted in 1911, and Russian and Japanese 
interests were included soon afterward. 

6 Chief of the Banking House, M. M. Warburg & Company, in Hamburg, 
Max Warburg, to the Undersecretary in the Foreign Office, Zimmermann, Mar. 
20, 1913, in Die Grosse Politik der Europdischen Kabinette, 1871-1914 (40 
vols. in 54, Berlin, 1926), XXXII, 380-382. 

7 The Diary of Josephus Daniels, in the Library of Congress, Mar. 12, 1913, 
relating Cabinet discussions of the same date. 


overwhelming approval of missionaries and the American religious 
press was good evidence that Wilson and Bryan had simply voiced the 
revulsion all moralists felt against what seemed to be a conspiracy to 
control the government of China. As the President expressed it at a 
Cabinet meeting, "If we had entered into the loan with other powers 
we would have got nothing but mere influence in China and lost the 
proud position which America secured when Secretary Hay stood for 
the open door." s 

The administration's ambition to deal justly with China could be 
satisfied, therefore, only if the United States played a lone hand in the 
Far East, free from allegedly sinister European influences. A few weeks 
later, moreover, the President insisted upon recognizing the new Re- 
public of China unilaterally and without prior agreement among the 

Friendly feeling and good intentions did not always suffice to settle 
delicate diplomatic questions, as was evidenced when a serious contro- 
versy with Japan arose at the time the administration was considering 
other aspects of the Far Eastern question. The dispute had its origin 
in the efforts of Progressive and Democratic politicians in California 
to curry favor with the farm and labor vote in that state by enacting 
legislation prohibiting Japanese ownership of land. 9 The controversy 
soon deepened into a major international crisis, because the California 
leaders proceeded ruthlessly and deliberately to humiliate the Japanese 

In this development, unfortunately, Wilson and Bryan were not 
blameless. To begin with, they did not at first take the affair seriously 
or realize its international ramifications. In the second place, they 
acted throughout the episode as if California were a sovereign nation, 
at liberty to defy the treaty obligations of the United States. 10 Even 
more important, however, was the fact that they actually encouraged 
the Californians in their designs. When Democratic leaders in the state 

8 Daniels Diary, Mar. 28, 1913. 

9 The Democrats made an even more strenuous anti- Japanese campaign in 
1912 than the other two major parties. See J. O. Davis, chairman of the Demo- 
cratic state central committee, to J. P. Tumulty, Jan. 4, 1913, Papers of the 
Department of State, in the National Archives. 

10 "I do not feel by any means as confident as you do," Wilson wrote a young 
professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, "as to the power of the Federal Gov- 
ernment in the matter of overriding the constitutional powers of the states 
through the instrumentality of treaties." Wilson to Edward S. Corwin, Apr. 19, 
1913, the Woodrow Wilson Papers, in The Library of Congress. 


expounded upon the Japanese peril, the President replied that he 
understood. "I have only hoped," he added, "that the doing of the 
thing might be so modulated and managed as to offend the sus- 
ceptibilities of a friendly nation as little as possible" X1 He then pro- 
ceeded to volunteer a means by which the Japanese in California 
might be excluded from landownership without violating the Japanese- 
American Treaty of 19 II. 12 

The affair seemed to be progressing smoothly when the California 
Assembly on April 16 passed an alien land bill that prohibited Japa- 
nese landownership in the indirect manner that Wilson had sug- 
gested. 13 Underneath the surface, however, an international crisis of 
the first order was in the making. The Japanese representatives in 
Washington and the American Charge in Tokyo had repeatedly 
warned the State Department of the inevitable Japanese reaction; but 
it was not until public opinion in Japan erupted in full fury around the 
middle of April that the Washington government awoke to a realiza- 
tion that the two countries might be moving toward a break in re- 

The crisis was made all the more acute, moreover, when the leaders 
in the California Senate announced on April 21 that they intended to 
ignore the cautiously worded Assembly bill and to substitute a measure 
aimed specifically at the Japanese, by prohibiting landownership by all 
persons "ineligible to citizenship." This, and a rising war fever in 

11 Wilson to James D. Phelan, Apr. 9, 1913, ibid.; italics mine. 

12 William Kent, who acted as intermediary between the President and 
Governor Hiram Johnson, tells the story: "I was in Washington and had an 
interview with President Wilson. He suggested the extremely irritated state of 
affairs with Japan, admitted and endorsed the state's right to handle its own 
land questions, but deferentially submitted the fact that it might be framed in 
less offensive form. The result of our conference was, that it should be suggested 
that a bill might be drawn excluding from land ownership those who had not 
made application for American citizenship, thereby leaving the way open for 
bona fide prospective citizens to participate in the privilege of owning California 
land, but excluding those who had no such intent, necessarily including the 
Japanese whose first papers would not be accepted." William Kent, "Some, 
Reminiscences of Hiram Johnson," in the Papers of William Kent, in the 
Library of Yale University. See also Kent to Johnson, Apr. 7, 1913, and Wilson 
to Kent, Apr. 10, 1913, both in Wilson Papers. 

13 This was the so-called Thompson-Birdsall bill, which was modeled after 
the Alien Ownership Act of the District of Columbia of March 3, 1887, and 
which prohibited aliens from owning land for more than one year unless they 
declared their intentions of becoming United States citizens. The New York 
Times, Apr. 17, 1S13: Boston Transcript, Apr. 16, 1913. 


Japan, impelled the President at last to take a hand. Firstly, on April 
22 he addressed a public appeal to the Californians, urging them to 
exclude Japanese from landownership only by polite and indirect 
means, and not to embarrass the federal government by making the 
bill openly discriminatory, 1 * Secondly, Wilson decided to send Bryan 
to California to plead the cause of national honor personally before 
the California lawmakers. 15 

Bryan left for Sacramento on April 24 with only the power of an 
ambassador, to plead but not to coerce. In the capital he addressed the 
legislature and conferred with the Governor and legislators, begging 
that they defer legislation until the State Department had had an 
opportunity to negotiate the question and, if that were impossible, that 
they adopt a law that would not openly discriminate against the Japa- 
nese. The Californians, however, knew what they wanted and were 
determined to get it. They conceded the right of Japanese subjects to 
lease agricultural property for short periods; but they insisted on 
denying the privilege of landownership to persons "ineligible to citizen- 
ship" words that could only excite and insult the people of Japan. 
In one last, desperate stroke, Bryan appealed to Johnson to veto the 
bill, but the Governor, in a telling reply, refused. 

Meanwhile, relations with the Japanese government were rapidly 
approaching the point of tension. On May 9, the day the California 
legislature passed the alien land bill, the Japanese Ambassador, Vis- 
count Chinda, lodged his government's protest with the State Depart- 
ment. It was politely worded, but it left no doubt that the Imperial 
Government felt sorely aggrieved. 16 The American naval chiefs, fearful 
of a surprise attack on the Philippines, on May 13 urged the imme- 
diate distpatch of three American warships in the Yangtze River to 
those islands. The following day, the Joint Board of the Army and 
Navy reiterated the recommendation and Admiral Bradley A. Fiske 
warned that war with Japan was "not only possible, but even prob- 
able." 17 These recommendations precipitated a spirited discussion in 

14 Wilson to Hiram Johnson et al., Apr. 22. 1913, printed in The New York 
Times f Apr. 23, 1913. 

15 The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting on April 22. See the Daniels 
Diary, Apr. 22, 1913, for an account of these Cabinet discussions. 

16 Chinda to Bryan, May 9, 1913, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations 
of the United States, 1913 (Washington, 1920), pp. 629-631. 

17 Daniels Diary, May 15, 1913; B. A. Fiske to Josephus Daniels, May 14, 
1913, the Papers of Josephus Daniels, in the Library of Congress. 


the Cabinet on May 16. Garrison favored strong action and approved 
the Joint Board's recommendation, while Daniels argued that moving 
the warships would only irritate the Japanese without making it pos- 
sible to defend the Philippines if war occurred. Wilson,, of course, made 
the final decision. He not only decreed that no ships should be sent to 
the Philippines but also directed the Joint Board to hold no further 
meetings until he so ordered. 

From this time on, the state of high tension gradually diminished, 
and by the end of May the jingoists in both countries seem to have 
given up hope. But it would be a grave error to assume that friendly 
relations were restored by the administration's attempts to conciliate 
the Japanese. Many notes passed between the two foreign offices dur- 
ing the remainder of 1913 and the first half of 1914. In August, 1913, 
the Japanese proposed a treaty guaranteeing the mutual right of land- 
ownership by the citizens of both countries, and the Imperial Foreign 
Office repeatedly urged the extreme necessity of satisfying Japanese 
public opinion on this point. In turn, Wilson and Bryan promised to 
negotiate such a treaty as soon as it were politically possible to do so. 
But the time never seemed to come. The Yamamoto ministry fell on 
April 16, 1914, when the Diet rejected its naval budget, and Foreign 
Minister Makino was succeeded by Baron Kato in the new Okuma 
ministry. Shortly afterward, Kato abruptly brought the negotiations 
with the United States to an end. Japanese resentment had in no wise 
abated; the Imperial government had simply concluded that further 
parleys were useless and humiliating. 

The spreading of the First World War to the Far East, a develop- 
ment that Bryan tried unsuccessfully to prevent, brought a new tension 
in the troubled relations between Japan and America. The Japanese 
expelled the Germans from the Shantung Province and gave evidence 
of their intention to remain there permanently. What the American 
leaders suspected that Japan would seize this opportunity to extend 
her control over China proper was borne out when, in the early weeks 
of 1915, the Japanese government presented a series of demands, 
twenty-one in number, to the Republic of China. 18 This move so 

18 Reinsch to Secretary of State, Jan. 23, 24, 26, 27, Feb. 1, 1915, Papers 
Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1915 (Washington, 
1924), pp. 79-82. 

The first fourteen demands, embodied in Article I~IV of a treaty proposed 
by the Japanese government, transferred German interests in the Shantung 
Province to Japan, extended Japan's control in South Manchuria, and pro- 


alarmed some State Department officials that discussions in the ad- 
ministration were begun at once. In the beginning of the crisis, how- 
ever, the President signified he would move cautiously and not in a 
manner antagonistic to Japan. The charge that Japan had made 
demands that would have seriously compromised Chinese independence 
had only been alleged, not proved; and the allegation seemed false 
when Baron Kato informed the American Ambassador in Tokyo that 
the Imperial government had made no secret demands on China., had 
no desire to impair Chinese independence or to abrogate the rights of 
other nations in China, and desired only to strengthen its paramount 
interests in Manchuria and the Shantung Province. Wilson and the 
State Department officials knew they would have to make a frank 
avowal of their attitude, but they apparently had no intention of enter- 
ing the negotiations as special defenders of China. In fact, they were 
ready to admit Japan's paramount interests in Manchuria and the 
Shantung Province and discussed using such recognition as a bargain- 
ing weapon in reaching a settlement of the California question. 19 

As a preliminary move, Bryan addressed a long note to the Japanese 
Ambassador on March 13, 1915, unequivocally reminding the Imperial 
government that the United States had large commercial and religious 
interests in China, which it had no intention of abandoning. 20 Not yet 
alarmed, Wilson and Bryan were confident a friendly agreement with 
Japan was possible. 

But at the very moment when it appeared that American influence 
in the Japanese Foreign Office was having a moderating effect, the 

hibited China from leasing any ports or harbors to foreign countries. The re- 
maining seven demands, embodied in Article V, would have made China virtually 
a protectorate of Japan if the Chinese government had accepted them. In these 
provisions Japan demanded, among other things, that China employ Japanese 
administrative, military, and financial advisers; that China and Japan jointly 
police the important areas of China; that China purchase half her arms and 
munitions from Japanese firms, and that Japan be given important economic 
privileges. The proposed treaty is printed in ibid., pp. 93-95. 

19 Wilson to Bryan, Feb. 25, 1915, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations 
of the United States, The Lansing Papers, 1914-1920 (2 vols., Washington, 
1939-40), II, 407. See also E. T. Williams to Bryan, Feb. 26, 1915, the Papers 
of William Jennings Bryan, in the National Archives, and Lansing to Bryan, 
Mar. 1, 1915, ibid. 

20 Bryan to Chinda, Mar. 13, 1915, State Dept. Papers. The Japanese 'reply 
was "Unofficial Memorandum left by Ambassador Chinda Mch 22 1915 at my 
[Bryan's] request after he had delivered its contents as an oral communication," 
in Bryan Papers, National Archives. For Wilson's comment thereon, see Wilson 
to Bryan, Mar. 24, 1915, ibid. 


situation suddenly worsened. On March 31 the Chinese and Japanese 
negotiators in Peking reached a deadlock and -observers predicted that 
Japan would soon present an ultimatum. Then, on April 5, the Ameri- 
can Charge at Peking made a full report to Wilson on the negotiations 
then in progress in the Chinese capital. Contrary to Baron Kato's as- 
surances, he wrote, the Japanese had presented secret and sweeping 
demands to the Chinese government; the Chinese had resisted this 
attack on their independence and had expected diplomatic support 
from the United States. Nine days later came a report from Reinsch, 
the American Minister in Peking, that destroyed any chance that the 
United States 'would come to a friendly understanding with Japan. 
The Japanese Minister, Reinsch reported, had told the Chinese ne- 
gotiators that it was futile for them to expect support from the United 
States. Moreover, the authoritative Tientsin Times had quoted a 
prominent Japanese to the effect that "the Secretary of State is so 
much under the influence of Baron Chinda that he is not saying a 
word against the wishes of Japan." 21 

Wilson's comment on Reinsch's dispatch indicated that he had lost 
confidence in the good faith of the Japanese government and was now 
determined to take a strong stand in behalf of the Chinese cause. On 
April 27, therefore, Bryan informed Ambassador Chinda that the State 
Department could no longer refuse to take a public position, since its 
silence had been interpreted as acquiescence in the Japanese de- 
mands. 22 Moreover, the State Department issued a statement for the 
American press, declaring that the United States had never contem- 
plated surrendering its treaty rights in China. 28 When the Japanese 
Cabinet, on May 4, voted to send an ultimatum to China and the 
Chinese began to make preparations to defend their capital, Bryan 
addressed a long memorandum to the Japanese government, setting 
forth the American objections to the demands, especially the secret 
demands included in Article V of the treaty Japan was attempting to 
force on China. The following day, he addressed a personal message to 
Count Okuma, the Prime Minister, urging patience and a peaceful 
policy. 24 

21 Reinsch to Secretary of State, Apr. 14, 1915, State Dept. Papers. 
22 Bryan to Chinda, Apr. 27, 1915, Bryan Papers, National Archives. For 
Wilson's comment, see Wilson to Bryan, Apr. 27, 1915, Lansing Papers^ II, 

28 Foreign Relations* 1915, p. 143. 

24 Bryan to Chinda, May 5, 1915, Bryan Papers, National Archives; Bryan to 
Charg6 Wheeler, May 6, 1915, Lansing Papers, II, 422-423. 


The upshot of the State Department's strong stand was that the 
Japanese gave in under the American pressure and abandoned for the 
time being the demands included in Article V., while the Chinese con- 
sented to the remainder. It was a signal triumph for missionary di- 
plomacy. Bryan, moreover, had the last word in the controversy. He 
addressed an identic note to China and Japan, solemnly declaring that 
the United States could not "recognize any agreement or undertaking 
which has been entered into or which may be entered into between the 
Governments of Japan and China, impairing the treaty rights of the 
United States and its citizens in China, the political or territorial in- 
tegrity of the Republic of China, or the international policy relative to 
China commonly known as the open door policy." 25 Whether unwit- 
tingly or not, the Secretary of State was expounding a policy to which 
his government would adhere in future years and which eventually 
would prove to be one of the causes of war with the Japanese Empire. 

The significant point of Wilson's and Bryan's position during this 
crisis was that they were considerably more sympathetic to the Japa- 
nese at the outset of the affair than has heretofore been thought; that 
they were in no wise endeavoring to thwart Japanese attempts to 
strengthen their position in South Manchuria or even to legitimize their 
seizure of the Shantung Province; and that they finally took a firm 
public stand in defense of Chinese so-called sovereignty only after they 
were convinced the Japanese were using American friendship for Japan 
to intimidate the Chinese and compel them to surrender the vestiges of 
their independence. Had the Japanese Foreign Office been less devious 
in its diplomacy or more moderate in its aspirations, the story might 
well have had a different ending. 26 

Another international difficulty, for example, was promptly and 
effectively settled because there was good faith and mutual trust on 
both sides the Anglo-American dispute over the free use of the 
Panama Canal by American ships engaged in the coastwise trade. Con- 
gress had exempted coastwise ships from the payment of tolls in 
August, 1912, and the Democratic and Progressive platforms had both 
strongly approved the exemption. On October 14, 1912, the British 
Foreign Office lodged a strong protest against the exemption, asserting 
that its effect would be to violate the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty of 1901, 

25 Bryan to Outline, May II, 1915, Foreign Relations, 1915, p. 146. 

26 For extended discussions of this episode, see Essay on Sources, "The 
United States and the Far East, 1910-17." 


which promised equal rates for all nations/ 7 and proposing that the 
matter be arbitrated. 

The issue did not involve the vital interests of either country, to be 
sure, but to many Americans and practically all Britons it involved the 
good faith and honor of the United States. As the American Ambassa- 
dor, Walter Page, wrote from London, "Everywhere in circles the 
most friendly to us and the best-informed, I received commiseration 
because of the dishonourable attitude of our Government about the 
Canal Tolls." 2S Although he had approved the exemption during the 
campaign of 1912, Wilson was soon persuaded that national honor 
required repeal of the disputed provision. 29 In the first weeks of the 
administration, the British Ambassador, James Bryce, pressed Bryan 
hard for prompt action; but Bryan had to tell him the President could 
not then risk disrupting his party. In the following November, Sir 
William Tyrrell, secretary to the British Foreign Minister, came to 
America to discuss the Mexican situation and to reiterate the British 
point of view in the tolls controversy. He left with personal assurances 
from the President that the United States would, in good time, live up 
to its treaty obligations. 30 

It was not until the Federal Reserve Act had been passed and the 
antitrust discussions had been launched, however, that Wilson was 
ready to carry out his plan. On January 26, 1914, he met the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee in a three-hour conference and frankly 
reviewed the critical state of foreign affairs. He pointed to the tensions 
with Japan and the support the Japanese government was extending 
to the Huerta regime in Mexico; to the tolls dispute with Britain; and 
to the generally perilous world situation. One way to clean at least part 
of the American slate, he said, was to repeal the exemption clause and 

27 "The canal shall be free and open to the vessels of commerce and of war," 
the treaty read, "of all nations observing these rules, on terms of entire 
equality, so that there shall be no discrimination against any such nation, or its 
citizens or subjects, in respect of the conditions or charges of traffic, or other- 

28 Page to Wilson, Sept 10, 1913, the Papers of Walter H. Page, in Hough- 
ton Library, Harvard University. 

29 He had come to this decision at least by January, 1913. See the Diary of 
Edward M. House, in the Papers of Edward M. House, in the Library of Yale 
University, Jan. 24, 1913, and Henry White, The Roster of the Round Table 
Dining Club (New York, 1926), pp. 21-25. 

30 For details of this conference see House to W. H. Page, Nov. 14, 1913, 
House Papers. 


to come to a friendly understanding with the British government on 
other matters. A week and a half later he came out publicly for repeal 
of the exemption provision, which, he said, was "in clear violation of 
the terms of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty." 

For a time it seemed the President might encounter grave difficulty 
in obtaining repeal by the House, for Speaker Clark and Majority 
Leader Underwood both refused to follow his lead, asserting that they 
would not be parties to the violation of the solemn pledge given in the 
platform of 1912. Warned that repeal would fail unless he took per- 
sonal leadership of the fight, Wilson on March 5 laid his case clearly 
and ably before a joint session, ending with a cryptic reference to the 
Mexican difficulty: "I ask this of you in support of the foreign policy 
of the administration. I shall not know how to deal with other matters 
of even greater delicacy and nearer consequence if you do not grant it 
to me in ungrudging measure." 31 

The subsequent battle in the House came dangerously close to dis- 
rupting the Democratic ranks, and the bolt of Clark and Underwood 
caused observers to wonder if the President had lost his once firm con- 
trol over the lower house. The bad feeling was aggravated, moreover, 
when Republican Anglophobes charged that Wilson had promised 
repeal of tolls exemption in return for the withdrawal of British sup- 
port from Huerta. 32 Republican hopes of a Democratic rupture, how- 
ever, soon vanished. On March 31 the House passed the Sims bill to 
repeal the exemption provision, 247 to 162, with only Clark, Under- 
wood, the Tammany representatives, and Irish-American spokesmen 
from Boston and Chicago, among the Democrats, dissenting. 33 In the 
Senate the fight was more prolonged and bitter than in the House. 
Led by Senator James A. O'Gorman of New York a the Irish- Americans 

31 Ray S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow 
Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New Democracy, I, 92-93. For 
significant British comment see Pall Mall Gazette (London), Mar. 6, 1914; 
Daily Post (Birmingham), Mar. 6, 1914; Westminster Gazette (London), Mar. 

6, 1914; The Times (London), Mar. 6, 1914; Morning Post (London), Mar. 

7, 1914; Observer (London), Mar. 8, 1914. 

32 Wilson and Sir Edward Grey both indignantly denied the accusation. New 
York World, Mar. 20, 1914; The New York Times, Mar. 31, June 30, 1914. 

33 New York World, Apr. 1, 1914; The New York Times, Apr. 1, 1914. It 
was perhaps a victory for principle, but one should not assume that devotion to 
principle alone motivated the Democrats. The dispenser of the patronage, Post- 
master General Burleson, also had something to do with the victory in the 
House. See R. S. Baker, interview with A. S. Burleson, Mar. 17-19, 1927, Ray 
Stannard Baker Collection, in the Library of Congress. 


and other enemies of England enjoyed a field day and gave free rein 
to their opinions. After two months of bitter skirmishing and debate, 
the administration forces and Republican advocates of repeal won 
easily enough when they were able to obtain a vote. 34 

The significance of the President's personal victory in the tolls fight 
was not lost upon the country or the rest of the world: it was a clear 
vindication of the principle of honor and decent dealing among 
nations, and it came about in spite of all that purveyors of prejudice 
and local patriots could do. Administration policies in the Caribbean 
area, on the other hand, pose a more difficult problem of interpreta- 
tion. Here was another important testing ground of Wilsonian ideal- 
ism; here the difficulties of squaring generous professions with the 
necessities of power politics first became apparent. 

Latin America indeed, the entire civilized world confidently ex- 
pected that the coming to power of the Democrats in 1913 would 
signify the beginning by the United States of a policy of noninterven- 
tion in Latin American affairs. 35 Since 1898 the Democratic party, and 
particularly its chief spokesman before 1912, Bryan, had consistently 
opposed the extension of American control over the Caribbean region, 
whether by outright military force or by so-called dollar diplomacy. 
After 1912, moreover, Wilson, Bryan, and, later, Lansing gave eloquent 
voice to the doctrines of nonintervention and the absolute equality of 
the states of the Western Hemisphere. The President went even further 
in his promise of a new Latin American policy when, at Mobile on 
October 27, 1913, he prophesied the freeing of the southern republics 
from the strangle hold of foreign concessionaires. 36 

So much for the promise, which was bright. What does the record 
say about the performance? To state a complex matter briefly, the 
administration, with the best intentions, found itself so entangled by 
previous commitments and especially by its own inconsistencies that it 
violated all its generous professions in its relations with Mexico, Central 
America, and the island countries. The years from 1913 to 1921 wit- 
nessed intervention by the State Department and the navy on a scale 
that had never before been contemplated, even by such alleged im- 
perialists as Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft 

34 On June 11, 1914, by a vote of fifty to thirty-five. 

35 For an example of such expectations see La Follette's Weekly, V (Mar. 29, 
1913), 9. 

36 The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 64-69. For a further discussion of 
the circumstances and significance of this address, see below, pp. 116-118. 


The most important reason for this wide disparity between profes- 
sion and practice was the fact that the administration inherited a 
Caribbean policy, the object of which was the protection of the future 
Panamanian life line, which could not be reversed without a radical 
change in foreign policy. The Roosevelt and Taft administrations had 
used private bankers to consolidate American control in the Carib- 
bean. Bryan earnestly sought to persuade the President to inaugurate a 
new policy to use the financial resources of the United States to free 
Latin America from private banker control. If Wilson had meant to 
undertake a new policy and hasten the day when the New World 
would be free of European financial exploitation, he would have con- 
sidered Bryan's proposal. However, it was too bold, too unprecedented, 
too "radical," and Wilson rejected it. Thus Bryan thought he had no 
alternative but to continue to use the old instrumentalities. Certainly it 
was not at that time possible for him to think in terms of complete 
nonintervention. American naval power was not sufficient to allow 
such a luxury. 

In the second place, Wilson and Bryan were confident that the well- 
being of the Caribbean archipelago was absolutely dependent upon 
American supremacy in the area. Moreover, as evangels of democracy, 
they thought they could teach the Mexican, Central American, and 
Caribbean peoples how to elect good leaders and establish stable insti- 
tutions. Intervention, therefore, was always rationalized in terms of the 
good neighbor rescuing his helpless friends from foreign dangers and 
internal disorders. Because he thought in these terms, it did not occur 
to Bryan that he might be pursuing a conventionally imperialistic 
course, even when, for example, he began a diplomatic campaign to 
establish a string of new American naval bases in the Caribbean. 

Thirdly, Bryan was often extraordinarily naive in his estimate of 
character and motivation. If a man came from a respectable middle- 
class family or were a good friend and loyal Democrat, then Bryan 
thought he was as guileless as Bryan himself. Sometimes this was not 
true, and Bryan often took advice that was hardly disinterested. 

The formulation of Bryan's Nicaraguan program provides an illus- 
tration of how these several factors combined to determine policy. In 
1909 Secretary Knox had established a Conservative government, 
headed first by Juan J. Estrada and then by Adolfo Diaz, in Managua 
and had persuaded American bankers to underwrite the regime. 37 In 

87 During a revolution against the Nicaraguan dictator, Jos6 Santos Zelaya, 


addition, Knox had negotiated a treaty with Nicaragua by which that 
country agreed to sell an option on its canal route to the United States 
for three million dollars, which sum was to be used to put Nicaragua's 
finances in order. The Democrats defeated ratification of the treaty in 
the Senate^ but no sooner had Wilson come into office than the Diaz 
government opened a campaign for the renegotiation of the treaty. 
The turning point in the negotiations came on June 9 and 11, 1913, 
when Charles A. Douglas, close friend of Bryan and counsel for the 
Nicaraguan government, presented a draft treaty to the State Depart- 
ment. It provided for American purchase of the canal option for three 
million dollars and American supervision of the disbursement of the 
purchase money; but, more important, it empowered the United States 
to intervene in Nicaragua to maintain orderly government, to protect 
property, and to preserve Nicaraguan independence. It is clear from 
this and other correspondence that the idea of making Nicaragua a 
protectorate of the United States was conceived by the American 
bankers, Douglas, and the Diaz regime, chiefly as a means of keeping 
an unpopular government in power. 

How was Bryan persuaded to approve a treaty embodying a policy 
that he had strenuously opposed most of his adult life? He approved 
the treaty because it seemed the only possible way to preserve Ameri- 
can influence and to prevent civil war and possible anarchy in Nica- 
ragua. 58 He approved it, also, because he trusted his friend Douglas. It 
was no accident that the Diaz government chose Douglas to plead 
their cause before the Secretary of State. 

The details of the subsequent negotiations are too involved to be 
told here. Suffice it to say that the inclusion in the treaty of the pro- 
vision for American control of the internal and external affairs of 

in 1909, the State Department gave the revolutionists material aid. Zelaya was 
driven, from the country and a Conservative and minority government, with 
intimate business connections in the United States, was established. This was 
followed by the inauguration of an American receivership of the customs and 
the refinancing of Nicaragua's foreign debt by the American bankers, Brown 
Brothers and J & W Seligman. In 1912 a revolt against the Conservative gov- 
ernment was suppressed with the help of some 2,700 American marines, who 
stayed on in the capital until 1925. For monographic treatments of this subject 
see Essay on Sources, "The United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America, 

38 Bryan explained and defended the treaty in Bryan to Wilson, June 16, 
19,13, Jan. 15, June 12, July 8, Sept. 30, 1914, Wilson Papers; Bryan to Wilson, 
Jan. 23, 1914, Jan. 22, 1915, Bryan papers, National Archives; Bryan to W. J. 
Stone, July 2, 1914, State Dept. Papers. 


Nicaragua aroused the hostility of the rest of Central America and also 
of the Democratic members of the Foreign Relations Committee. 
They, in fact, refused to ratify the treaty until that provision was 
eliminated. 39 Actually, the removal of the objectionable clause made 
no difference at all in the State Department's policy, which continued 
to be one of active intervention in Nicaraguan affairs. 

The effect of Bryan's Nicaraguan policy 40 was, in brief, to fasten 
upon the people of Nicaragua a regime they did not like and the life 
of which depended upon the military and financial support of the 
United States. Even so 3 as it developed, the policy was also aimed at 
freeing Nicaragua from banker control and at establishing conditions 
in which orderly government might be maintained. 
^ Bryan's policy toward the Dominican Republic had much the same 
objectives, but it was wrecked by the machinations of the gentleman 
he sent as Minister to that country, in one of the most disgraceful 
chapters in the history of the American foreign service. Because of 
his tenderness for "deserving Democrats," especially for veterans of 
the campaign of 1896, Bryan made many unfortunate appointments 
on the ministerial level. Most of them, however, were mere incom- 
petents, not scoundrels. The worst mistake of all was the appointment 
of James M. Sullivan of New York City and Connecticut to Santo 
Domingo. A former prize-fight promoter and a lawyer of poor reputa- 
tion, Sullivan by any criteria hardly measured up to the standards of 
the foreign service. Bryan did not know it then, but the fact came out 
later through the revelations of the New York World and a presiden- 
tial commission of inquiry, 41 that the man who engineered Sullivan's 
appointment was William C. Beer, New York agent of Samuel M. 
Jarvis and his Banco Nacional of Santo Domingo. Jarvis coveted the 

39 The Senate ratified the treaty on February 18, 1916. For accounts of the 
struggle for ratification see Bryan to Wilson, July 31, 1913, Wilson Papers; The 
New York Times, Aug. 3, 1913; New York World, Aug. 3, 1913; B. W. Long, 
memorandum of conversation with W. J. Stone, dated Dec. 16, 1915, State 
Dept. Papers. 

40 The writer uses this term deliberately, as the Nicaraguan policy was the 
work of Bryan and the State Department and Wilson had nothing to do with 
formulating it. In fact, the President gave Bryan and the Department a free 
hand in the formulation of all policies relating to the Caribbean republics. He 
had some reservations about the Nicaraguan treaty, and he seemed to sense that 
there was some inconsistency about the Department's policies and his own high- 
sounding phrases about nonintervention and equality of states. He did not, how- 
ever, allow these doubts to disturb him unduly. 

New York World, Dec. 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 1914. 


deposits of the American Receiver-General of the Dominican customs. 
He supported Sullivan's candidacy in return for Sullivan's help in get- 
ting the deposits transferred from the agent of the National City Bank 
of New York in Santo Domingo to his own Banco Nacional. 

The funds of the Receiver-General were, accordingly, transferred 
soon after Sullivan reached Santo Domingo. If this had been the 
Minister's only manipulation, however, his record would not have been 
exceptionally bad. The funds, in any event, were soon transferred 
back to the bank from which they had been taken. 42 But Sullivan also 
entered into some kind of alliance with the then President, Jose" Bordas 
Valdes. The extent to which the Minister personally profited from the 
arrangement is not known; however, his cousin, Timothy Sullivan, 
who accompanied him to Santo Domingo, received a large share of 
the government's construction contracts, and it is possible the Minister 
received a favor or two. 

The Sullivan affair might have had a comic aspect, in view of the 
Minister's foibles and his long-winded reports to the Department, if a 
revolution had not broken out against Bordas in September, 1913. 
As it was, Sullivan kept his friend in power for almost a year, in the 
face of overwhelming popular hostility. He threatened the rebels with 
punishment by the United States; he constantly misrepresented the 
Dominican situation in his reports to the Department. In spite of the 
open support that the United States extended to the Bordas govern- 
ment, the rebels triumphed everywhere outside the capital, until in 
desperation Bordas had to call for American military aid. By mid- 
summer, 1914, the situation in the republic was rapidly approaching 
a state of anarchy and State Department officials concluded that only 
complete military occupation by American forces would suffice to 
restore order. 

Wilson finally intervened to end the civil war. Firstly, Sullivan was 
dismissed and replaced by the career officer, William W. Russell, who 
had preceded him. Secondly, the President sent a commission to Santo 
Domingo under instructions to confer with all the Dominican leaders, 
to request these chieftains to agree upon a provisional president, and 
to warn the Dominicans that if they did not settle their quarrels peace- 

42 It soon became evident the Banco Nacional was utterly unreliable and 
unsafe, and the funds were transferred back to the National City Bank's agent, 
S. Michelena. See W. W. Vick to Frank Mclntyre, Feb. 19, 1914, State Dept. 
Papers; Sullivan to Secretary of State, May 25, 1914, ibid.; L. M. Garrison to 
Bryan, June 4, 1914, ibid.; Frank Mclntyre to Bryan, June 10, 1914, ibid. 


fully he would occupy their country with American military forces. 43 
The commission found a provisional president apparently acceptable 
to all factions, and elections were held the following November under 
American supervision, at which one of the revolutionary leaders, Juan 
Y. Jimenez, was elected President. Unfortunately, however, Jimenez 
was too old and feeble to cope with the still explosive and complicated 
situation. On May 2, 1916, the opposition elements in the Dominican 
Congress voted to impeach the President, and when sharp fighting 
broke out three days later he resigned. After repeated warnings by 
Minister Russell, American marines were landed at the capital on May 
15 and took possession of the city. As it turned out, this was merely 
the beginning of what became by the end of 1916 the full-fledged 
occupation of the country and the establishment of a military govern- 
ment under the command of the senior naval officer, Captain Harry S. 

American relations with Santo Domingo's neighbor, Haiti, during 
the Wilson period began differently but ended in the same way, except 
that the Haitians, with their long and proud tradition of independence, 
fiercely resisted the American occupation. Soon after Wilson's in- 
auguration, a new President, Michel Oreste, was elected by the usual 
methods and inaugurated in Port-au-Prince. For a few months affairs 
went smoothly, and then the inevitable 44 revolution broke out in 
Le Plaine du Cul de Sac and spread to Cap Haitien. Oreste ab- 
dicated on January 27, 1914, and American sailors were landed tem- 
porarily at Port-au-Prince. Oreste was succeeded by two revolutionary 
chiefs, the brothers Zamor, Charles and Oreste, the latter being elected 
President on February 8, 1914. 

The downfall of the Oreste regime the fourth to be overthrown in 
two and a half years provoked discussions in the State Department of 

43 Bryan to John Franklin Fort, Aug. 10, 1914, Wilson Papers. The "Plan of 
President Wilson" is printed in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the 
United States, 1914 (Washington, 1922), pp. 247-248. 

** Inevitable because revolution was the instrument usually employed to ac- 
complish political change in Haiti. Control of the customs houses was the chief 
objective of all Haitian politicians. A military chieftain would seize control of 
the government and appropriate the customs revenues. Then another chieftain 
would organize a "revolution" to oust the "tyrant," and when this "revolution" 
had succeeded the new dictator would proceed to loot the Treasury. Under 
such an arrangement the democratic procedures established in the Haitian con- 
stitution were obviously inoperative. See Boaz W. Long to Secretary of State, 
Jan. 23, 1914, and B. W. Long, "Revolution in Haiti," memorandum dated 
Feb. 9, 1914, both in Wilson Papers. 


the need for American control of Haitian affairs. Prominent in these 
discussions was the agent of the National City Bank of New York in 
Haiti, Roger L. Farnham, and Boaz W. Long, Chief of the Latin 
American Affairs Division, who also had intimate connections with 
Wall Street. Farnham and Long suggested this would be the proper 
time to seize control of the Haitian customs houses, to press for a naval 
base at Mole St. Nicholas, 45 and in general to bring Haiti under as 
complete American control as was feasible. These plans were momen- 
tarily abandoned, however, when the Department learned that the 
Germans in Haiti were intriguing against the new Zamor government. 
Instead of attempting immediately to establish a protectorate, the 
Department recognized the Zamor regime on March 1, 1914, and gave 
it open support. 

Once the Zamor government was apparently securely in power, 
however, Bryan and the Latin American Affairs Division began to 
mature the so-called Farnham plan for American control of the 
Haitian custom houses and financial affairs. 46 A convention along the 
lines of the Dominican- American Convention of 1907 was drafted, 
and Farnham went to Haiti to promote its acceptance by the native 
leaders. 47 In a conference with Farnham and the American Consul at 
Cap Haitien, Charles Zamor, brother of the President, accepted the 
plan on behalf of the government. Moreover, he agreed that on the 
occasion of the next revolutionary disturbance, the United States 
should land occupation forces. An outbreak did occur in Port-au- 
Prince on July 19 and State Department officials urged that the time 
for full-scale intervention had come. The Zamor brothers, however, 
had found elsewhere the money they needed to stay in power, and they 

45 Acquisition of this naval base was one of Bryan's first projects. He not 
only recognized the strategic value of the base but was also anxious to prevent 
any European nation, particularly Germany, from obtaining a foothold in 
Haiti. In June, 1913, Bryan sent former Governor John E. Osborne of Wyo- 
ming to Haiti to negotiate the cession of a strip of land twenty miles wide run- 
ning ten miles beyond the eastern line of the harbor. Bryan to Wilson, June 14, 

1913, Wilson Papers; Bryan to Wilson, June 20, 1913, Bryan Papers, National 

46 The French and German governments, incidentally, asked for a share in 
the control of the Haitian customs and were told decisively that the United 
States would not consent to such an arrangement. Bryan to Wilson, Mar. 24 3 

1914, and Wilson to Bryan, Mar. 26, 1914, both in Wilson Papers. 

47 Bryan to Livingston, American Consul, Gap Haitien, July 10, 1914, State 
Dept. Papers. A copy of the proposed treaty was sent to Minister Blanchard on 
July 2, 1914, and is printed in Foreign Relations, 1914, pp. 349-350. 


now repudiated their acceptance of the proposed convention. The 
State Department, therefore, held off and did not intervene. 

The situation in Haiti grew utterly hopeless, however, in September 
and October, 1914. When it was apparent their government was 
doomed, the Zamor brothers appealed to the American Minister for 
help. They were now ready to accept the proposed treaty if the United 
States would maintain them in power. It was too late. President Zamor 
fled the capital on a Dutch boat on October 29, while his brother, 
Charles, and his so-called Cabinet sought refuge in the French lega- 
tion. A few days later the successful revolutionary chief, Davilmar 
Theodore, entered Port-au-Prince and took possession of the govern- 

Immediately the State Department applied pressure upon the new 
Theodore government for the negotiation of the treaty. When Acting 
Foreign Minister Bobo refused and offered instead to grant large com- 
mercial and mining concessions to the United States in return for 
American financial assistance, Bryan was so offended by the proffered 
bribe that he replied that the United States had no desire to force its 
influence on Haiti. The Theodore government soon proved incompe- 
tent and corrupt, and when another revolution broke out in Cap 
Haitien in early January, 1915, Bryan and the President agreed that 
American intervention could not long be postponed. They sent former 
Governor John Franklin Fort of New Jersey and Charles C. Smith to 
Haiti to negotiate the convention; but before the commission arrived 
in Port-au-Prince, Theodore had fled and General Vilbrun G. Sam had 
been elected President. Sam and his Foreign Minister, Duvivier, talked 
informally with the commissioners but refused officially to negotiate, 
on the ground that the Americans were not properly accredited to a 
sovereign government. 

During the following months, Wilson and Bryan pondered a course 
of action. Although he still supported the proposed treaty, the Secre- 
tary was reluctant to force it on the Haitians and tried to find an 
alternative to military action; the President, on the other hand, was 
completely out of patience and anxious to bring the matter to a head. 
The excuse for such action arose when the Haitian situation exploded 
again in June and July, 1915, after Bryan had resigned. When a 
revolution under Dr. Rosalvo Bobo threatened the capital, President 
Sam executed 160 political prisoners, including former President 
Zamor, who had returned to Haiti. The people of Port-au-Prince rose 


in righteous anger, dragged Sam and his executioners from their refuge 
in the French legation, and hacked their bodies to pieces. 

This final display of anarchy spelled the doom of Haitian independ- 
ence. Marines and bluejackets landed at Port-au-Prince on July 28 
and encountered slight resistance in occupying the city, A week later 
American sailors were landed at Cap Haitien, the nest of revo- 
lutionary disorders. From this point on, the task was mainly one of sub- 
duing the cacos, the professional soldiers, who resisted the American 
forces and took refuge in the mountainous parts of the country. The 
process of pacification, which had begun so easily, soon became almost 
a war of extermination, as the Haitians fought back fanatically, and 
the job was not completed until some two thousand of them had been 

Meanwhile, on August 9, 1915, Admiral W. B. Gaperton took con- 
trol of the Haitian government. Three days later the Admiral allowed 
the National Assembly to elect a pro-American, Sudre Dartiguenave, 
President of Haiti. The State Department now moved firmly to press a 
treaty upon the government, an arrangement providing not only for 
American financial supervision but also for the disarming of the so- 
called ^army and the establishment of a native constabulary under 
American control. When Dartiguenave balked at signing the treaty, 
Secretary of State Robert Lansing threatened to establish complete 
military government or else to put another puppet in power. 48 After 
much parleying, in which the Haitians got nowhere, Dartiguenave 
signed the treaty making his country a protectorate of the United 
States on September 16, 1915. 49 

To such extremes of intervention, invasion, and military occupation 
did missionary diplomacy carry the United States. By 1917 the close 
bonds between Nicaragua and Santo Domingo and the United States 
had been immeasurably strengthened, while a new protectorate 50 in 
Haiti had been added to the State Department's realm. Nor would the 
process have stopped here, if Bryan had had his way; for he originally 

48 Lansing to Davis, Aug. 24, 1915, Foreign Relations, 1915, pp. 437-438. 

49 Printed in ibid., pp. 449-451. The treaty was ratified by the Haitian 
Senate on November 12, 1915, and by the United States Senate on February 
28, 1916. 

50 The writer uses the word "protectorate" in its popular sense. Technically 
and legally, Nicaragua, Santo Domingo, and Haiti were not protectorates of the 
United States. In reality, however, they were. 


dreamed of making quasi protectorates of all the Central American 

Whether in the long run the achievements of missionary diplomacy 
justified the unfortunate consequences is a matter of opinion. Certainly 
in the more important case of Mexico, which will be examined in the 
next chapter, the constructive accomplishments were few and the un- 
fortunate results were many. 

The one saving feature of the policy, the feature that in the end 
prevented it from becoming pure imperialism, was its peculiar motiva- 
tion. Important in this motivation was the administration's desire to 
preserve the stability of the Caribbean area in order to preclude the 
excuse for European intervention, it is true. But just as important was 
Bryan's and Wilson's conviction that the great American democracy 
could not in Christian conscience refuse to offer a friendly hand to 
peoples ravaged by endemic civil war, disease, and starvation. Actually, 
this was the most important immediate motive for intervention in 
Santo Domingo and Haiti, for in 1915-16 there was no danger of any 
early European intervention. Moreover, had the people of these two 
republics demonstrated even a slight capacity to govern themselves and 
to discharge their international responsibilities, intervention in their 
affairs by the United States would not have occurred. 

It can be said, also, that missionary diplomacy was not motivated by 
any ambition to promote the exclusive material interests of the United 
States. On the contrary, Bryan was often more regardful of the rights 
and interests of the Caribbean peoples than were their so-called gov- 
ernments. For example, on one occasion Bryan advised the Cuban 
government not to agree to the terms of a loan it was negotiating with 
Wall Street firms, because the conditions of the loan restricted Cuba's 
ability to borrow in the future. "It is the policy of this Government," 
he added, "to treat all Americans alike and to give all an equal oppor- 
tunity . . . ; but in advising the Latin American states it is our desire 
to look at the question from their standpoint and to give them every 
assistance." 61 On several occasions, moreover, Bryan intervened to 
prevent the Diaz government of Nicaragua from granting exclusive 
concessions and undue privileges to American bankers. When the 
Nicaraguan government negotiated a loan in September, 1913, Bryan 
wrote: "We have put in everything [in the loan agreement] that we 

61 Bryan to Minister W. E. Gonzales, Nov. 21, 1913, Bryan Papers, Library 
of Congress. 


can think of that will protect Nicaragua. . . . The Nicaraguan repre- 
sentatives in Washington would have willingly made a contract less 
favorable to Nicaragua. In fact, they complained a little at the restric- 
tions that I imposed, but I told them that I would not recommend 
anything to you that could, in my judgment, be criticized." 52 Soon 
afterward Bryan prevented Nicaragua from granting a ninety-nine- 
year contract to Brown Brothers, banking firm of Baltimore, for the 
construction and operation of a railroad. He objected because the con- 
cession was exclusive and too long lived. 53 Finally, when the Haitian 
government of Davilmar Theodore tried to bribe the State Department 
by an offer of exclusive concessions for Americans, Bryan replied in a 
ringing affirmation of the principle that undergirded his diplomacy: 
"Our obligation to the American people requires that we shall give all 
legitimate assistance to American investors in Haiti, but we are under 
obligations just as binding to protect Haiti, as far as our influence goes, 
from injustice or exploitation at the hands of Americans." 54 A poor 
principle, indeed, upon which to build an American imperialism! 

In fact, it was Wilson's and Bryan's great hope that their policies 
would lead to peace and unity throughout the Western Hemisphere. 
In their relations with the stable governments of South America they 
gave full evidence that they regarded them as equals, deserving of the 
respect and treatment of sovereign neighbors. This conviction was 
given dramatic expression in 1914, when the President accepted 
Argentina's, Brazil's, and Chile's offer of mediation soon after the 
occupation of Vera Cruz, when it appeared war between the United 
States and Mexico was inevitable. A year later Wilson went even 
further and sought the advice and support of the leading Latin Ameri- 
can governments in his handling of the Mexican problem. ^ 

But the act which, more than any other, helped restore the moral 
prestige of the United States in the eyes of South America was the 
negotiation of a treaty with Colombia in 1913-14 to repair the damage 
done by Theodore Roosevelt's aggression in practically seizing the 
Canal Zone in 1903. 55 It was an act of honest and humble statesman- 

52 Bryan to Wilson, Sept. 3, 1913, Wilson Papers. 

53 I am not disposed to favor anything down there, Bryan added, "that I 
would not favor here and an exclusive franchise is abhorrent, especially when 
running ninety-nine years." Bryan to Wilson, Oct. 4, 1913, ibid. 

54 Bryan to Blanchard, Dec. 19, 1914, Foreign Relations, 1914, p. 371. 

55 In Article I of the treaty the United States expressed "sincere regret that 
anything should have occurred to interrupt or to mar the relations of cordial 


ship, sincerely meant. The idea of the great and powerful government 
of the United States in effect apologizing to the helpless government 
of Colombia for a past wrong stirred a wave of warm and friendly feel- 
ing in South America. The publication of the treaty of course nearly 
gave Roosevelt apoplexy, 56 and his friends in the Senate prevented its 
ratification. 57 The good intentions of the administration had been 
made clear, none the less. 

Wilson climaxed his hemispheric diplomacy by taking leadership in 
a movement to unite the American republics in a great Pan-American 
alliance, binding them to a "mutual guarantee of territorial integrity 
and of political independence under republican forms of government," 
to settle all disputes by peaceful means, and mutually to refrain from 
aiding the enemies of any signatory government. 58 Such a pact had 
been suggested by Representative James L. Slayden of Texas in 1910- 
1 1 and formally proposed a year later by the Colombian government. 
The Taft administration had scoffed at the Colombian proposal; but 
as soon as Wilson came into office, Slayden and the Colombian Minis- 
ter renewed their campaigns for a nonaggression pact. Wilson took up 
the idea enthusiastically; the State Department drafted a treaty and 
circulated it among the Latin American governments. Practically all 
the small republics hastened to approve the pact; the Brazilian govern- 
ment strongly supported it. Argentina, however, was lukewarm^ while 
Chile, because of her long-standing boundary dispute with Peru, was 

friendship that had so long subsisted between the two nations" an obvious 
apology for the Panama affair. Moreover, the United States offered the 
Colombian government free use of the Canal and an indemnity of $25 million. 
The treaty is printed in ibid., pp. 163-164. 

56 Roosevelt demanded a speedy hearing by the Foreign Relations Com- 
mittee. "I ask for this hearing," he wrote, "because I regard the proposed 
Treaty as a crime against the United States, an attack upon the honor of the 
United States, which, if true, would convict the United States of infamy, and 
a serious menace to the future well-being of our people." Theodore Roosevelt 
to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 11, 1914, 
the Papers of Theodore Roosevelt, in the Library of Congress. 

57 Led by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republicans defeated ratification 
of the treaty in 1914 and again in 1917, although on the latter occasion Lan- 
sing warned the Foreign Relations Committee that ratification was vital to the 
security of the United States. A treaty awarding Colombia $25 million, but 
without the so-called apology, was negotiated and approved by the United 
States Senate in April, 1921. 

58 These were the provisions of the proposed treaty. A copy is printed in 
Charles Seymour (ed.), The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (4 vols., Boston, 
1926-28), I, 233-234. 


positively opposed. The State Department was never able to crack the 
hard shell of Chilean resistance, and so the pact failed. 

Although the Pan-American Pact clearly forecast the League of 
Nations Covenant and the Good Neighbor Policy of a later President, 
the historian must be allowed a few doubts as to the administration's 
sincerity in proposing it. There is no evidence that Wilson, Bryan, or 
Lansing was prepared to do more than pay lip service to the Pan- 
American ideal, especially where the Caribbean and Central American 
countries were concerned. Nor were they ready to renounce the so- 
called right of intervention, in spite of the solemn pledges contained in 
the Pan-American Treaty. The truth was they were trying to reap the 
benefits of the Good Neighbor Policy without being willing to abide by 
that policy's fundamental principles. One of the chief tasks of subse- 
quent administrations was to liquidate the remaining vestiges of mis- 
sionary interventionism, in order that genuine Pan-American unity 
might become a living reality. 


Mexico: Interference and Defeat, 1913-17 

MISSIONARY diplomacy found its apogee in Wilson's efforts to 
shape the Mexican Revolution into a constitutional and moral- 
istic pattern of his own making. In spite of the President's frequent 
denials that he ever had intervened or ever would intervene, this effort 
involved interference by the United States in Mexican affairs on an 
unprecedented scale. Wilson's broad objective the establishment of a 
constitutional government in Mexico, responsive to the economic 
and social needs of the people and amenable to his direction was 
always paramount in his thought and policy. And Wilson had a sincere 
passion to help the struggling Mexican masses win land and liberty. 
The root of his difficulty and the chief cause of his failure was that in 
working toward a commendable objective he used the wrong tactics, 
with the result that by the end of his administration the United States 
had hardly a friend left^in Mexico. 

Wilson, of course, inherited and did not create the Mexican prob- 
lem. The old regime under Porfirio Diaz had been overthrown in 1911 
by a reformer, Francisco I. Madero. Mystic, idealist, and dreamer 
though he was, Madero none the less tried to destroy the backbone of 
the old system the landed aristocracy, the professional politicians 
allied with the business interests, the Church, and the army. And 
because he was attempting to reconstruct the bases of Mexican society 
the inevitable counterrevolutions occurred, and, in the end, Madero 
was betrayed, deposed, and murdered by his chief general, Victoriano 

Events of the "Tragic Ten Days" in Mexico City, February 9-18, 



1913, during which Huerta executed his coup, shook the Western 
world and set off a chain of events that culminated in one of the sig- 
nificant revolutions of the twentieth century. That fact was not, how- 
ever, apparent at the time. The only reason President Taft did not 
heed the advice of his Ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson, to extend 
immediate recognition to the Huerta government was that the State 
Department planned to use recognition as a bargaining weapon in 
obtaining favorable settlement of certain outstanding disputes with 
Mexico. 1 Following traditional practice, England, France, Germany, 
Japan, and the other powers extended recognition, as Huerta seemed 
the only person capable of preserving order and protecting foreign 

This, therefore, was the state of affairs when Wilson and Bryan took 
control of the foreign policy of the United States in March, 1913. Am- 
bassador Wilson began to bombard them with urgent pleas for recog- 
nition. Learned specialists in the State Department argued correctly 
that Huerta had observed constitutional requirements in assuming 
power, that the United States had always extended de facto recogni- 
tion to revolutionary governments, and that the Huerta regime was in 
fact the only government in Mexico. Moreover, practically the entire 
American colony in Mexico City and powerful financial interests in 
the United States brought strong pressure to bear upon the administra- 
tion to force recognition. 2 Wilson, however, would not be hurried or 
persuaded by these advices and pleas. To him, as to Bryan, 3 the issue 

1 The Diary of Chandler P. Anderson, in the Library of Congress, Mar. 15, 
1915. Former Secretary of State Knox told Anderson that if he and Taft had 
realized that Wilson would not recognize Huerta, they would have done so 
themselves. See also W. H. Taft to W. V. Backus, July 10, 1916, the Papers of 
William Howard Taft, in the Library of Congress. 

2 Especially active in this regard were E. N. Brown, president of the National 
Railways of Mexico, and James Speyer, of Speyer & Company, New York 
bankers with large interests in Mexican bonds. See the Diary of Edward M. 
House, in the Papers of Edward M. House, in the Library of Yale University, 
Mar. 27, Apr. 1, 1913; W. A. Tucker to E. M. House, Apr. 17, 1913, House 
Papers; James Speyer to J. B. Moore, May 1, 31, 1913, Papers of the Depart- 
ment of State, in the National Archives; Speyer to W. G. McAdoo, May 5, 
1913, ibid. y 

3 From the beginning of their administration, Wilson and Bryan were in 
complete accord in dealing with the Mexican problem. The State Department 
records reveal that although Wilson took the initiative in determining policy 
and made all important decisions, Bryan heartily concurred and faithfully exe- 
cuted his^ chief's policies. The present writer does not know of a single im- 
portant disagreement between the two men over Mexican policies. 


was clear: a constitutional, popular government had been overthrown 
by a military usurper^ and the rightful rulers of Mexico had been mur- 
dered. To recognize such a coup d'etat in a country as important as 
Mexico would be to sanction and encourage government by assassina- 
tion throughout the Western Hemisphere. "I will not recognize a gov- 
ernment of butchers," Wilson said privately. * Through the press he let 
it be known he would not appoint a successor to Ambassador Henry 
Lane Wilson, as such an act would imply tacit recognition of the 
Huerta government. 5 

It is plain Wilson's decision was dictated chiefly by the moral re- 
vulsion he felt against the bloody means Huerta had used to rise to 
power. There was, however, another reason why the administration 
hesitated to accord a hasty recognition to the provisional government 
in Mexico. On the day after Huerta's coup, the standards of a new 
revolution were unfurled in the northern states of Coahuila and Chi- 
huahua. The leader was the Maderista Governor of Coahuila, Venus- 
tiano Carranza, a bespectacled, scholarly-looking man with a great 
white beard, whose childlike face failed to reveal his inflexible charac- 
ter. Calling themselves Constitutionalists and the rightful heirs of 
Madero, the anti-Huertistas met at Guadalupe and pledged themselves 
to carry on the struggle, under the leadership of the First Chief, Car- 
ranza, until Huerta was overthrown and constitutional government 
was re-established. Although it was impossible to measure the propor- 
tions or predict the future of the Constitutionalist movement during 
March-May, 1913, it was evident Huerta's claim that he had pacified 
Mexico was false. 

4 Charles Willis Thompson to "Rube" Bull, May 22, 1913, the Papers of 
Charles Willis Thompson, in the Library of Princeton University. 

5 New York World, Mar. 13, 1913; The New York Times, May 17, 1913. 
On March 11 Wilson issued a public statement declaring that the United 
States could not approve Latin American governments established by fraud and 
violence and in defiance of the -wishes of the majority. "We can have no sym- 
pathy with those who seek to seize the power of government to advance their 
own personal interests or ambition," he warned. Ibid., Mar. 12, 1913. This 
statement, however, was not meant to apply to the situation in Mexico. It was 
issued because the administration had received advice from American diplomatic 
officials in Nicaragua that revolutionary leaders in that country were con- 
templating an uprising against the Diaz government. Miguel Alvarez S. to Dr. 
Salvador Castrillo, Nicaraguan Minister to the United States, Feb. 1, 1913, 
State Dept. Papers; Minister George F. Weitzel, from Managua, to Secretary of 
State, Feb. 18, Apr. 4, 1913, ibid. The Diary of Josephus Daniels, in the Library 
of Congress, Mar. 11, 1913, gives details of the Cabinet discussions of the same 


In the face of this uncertain situation, Wilson and Bryan wisely 
decided to wait and see whether Huerta could extend his control over 
all of Mexico and whether he would hold constitutional elections, as he 
had said he would do. Meanwhile, the United States would not for- 
mally recognize the provisional government, although it would deal 
with it, through Ambassador Wilson, "on the basis of the fact of its 
existence." 6 

At this point in the administration's deliberations, that is, in early 
May, the spokesmen of several corporations with large material interests 
in Mexico the Southern Pacific Railroad, Phelps, Dodge & Company, 
the Greene Cananea Copper Company, and Edward L. Doheny's 
Mexican Petroleum Company came forward with a plan that seemed 
to offer a practical solution. They proposed that the State Department 
agree to recognize Huerta, provided Huerta hold an election before 
October 26, 1913, the date the leaders of the provisional government 
had already agreed upon. The Constitutionalists, moreover, should 
suspend hostilities, join in the election, and agree to support the Presi- 
dent thus chosen. Wilson was so impressed by the proposal that he at 
once drafted a plan for a settlement that provided for recognition of 
Huerta by the United States, on the condition that Huerta hold an 
early and fair election; the plan also envisaged suspension of hostilities, 
participation in the election, and submission to the new government 
on the part of the Constitutionalists. 7 Wilson also drafted a note 
to Ambassador Wilson, setting forth the terms of his settlement, but 
for reasons that are not evident he did not send the note or formally 
offer his plan to the provisional government. 8 

Meanwhile, before he settled upon any policy, Wilson endeavored to 
obtain a true estimate of the Mexican situation. As early as March 7 
there had been disturbing reports reflecting on the integrity of Ambas- 
sador Wilson, reports to the effect that he had actually aided and 
abetted the Huerta coup d'etat. 9 These and subsequent revelations 

6 This policy was announced in the press on May 17, 1913, although Am- 
bassador Wilson was apparently not informed of it until July 10. The New 
York Times, May 17, 1913; Bryan to H. L. Wilson, July 10, 1913, Papers Re- 
lating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1913 (Washington, 1920), 
p. 809. 

7 "Mexico. Settlement," MS drafted by Wilson, c. May 8-10, 1913, the 
Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the Library of Congress. Wilson planned to ne- 
gotiate with the Constitutionalists through a special envoy. 

8 The text of this draft is printed in R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and 
Letters (8 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 1927-39), IV, 248-249. 

9 New York World, Mar. 7, 8, 12, 1913. The extent to which Ambassador 


convinced the President that Henry Lane Wilson was thoroughly un- 
trustworthy, and it is doubtful that thereafter he even read the Ambas- 
sador's dispatches. Instead, the President by-passed the Ambassador 
by sending a trusted friend, William Bayard Hale, 10 on a secret mis- 
sion to Mexico City to investigate and report. Hale's vivid and dra- 
matic dispatches from the Mexican capital during the summer of 1913 
reiterated a single theme, that the Huerta government could not pos- 
sibly survive and that only the election of a constitutional government 
could avert full-scale American intervention. 11 

Shortly before Hale's dispatches began to come to the President, 
the Southern Pacific-Phelps, Dodge & Company group brought for- 
ward on May 26 a revised plan for a settlement of the civil war in 
Mexico. These spokesmen did not now advise recognition of Huerta; 
they merely proposed that the State Department use its good offices 
to mediate between the provisional government and the Constitution- 
alists, who were daily gaining strength, to effect a fair and nation-wide 
election. Soon afterward Hale's reports began to come in, and on June 
14 the administration made its first formal and outright declaration of 
policy. Huerta was told that if he gave satisfactory assurances that an 
early and free election would be held and observed his promise not to 

Wilson encouraged the Huerta-Diaz cabal has never been determined. It is 
evident from Wilson's own dispatches, however, that he was strongly opposed to 
Madero, knew well in advance about the plot to overthrow the legal govern- 
ment and did not inform the constitutional authorities, and actually brought 
Huerta and Felix Dia2 together in the American Embassy and persuaded them 
to sign the "Pacto de la Ciudadela" on February 18, 1913, by which an agree- 
ment on the composition of the provisional government was reached. See 
especially H. L. Wilson to Secretary of State, Mar. 12, 1913, Foreign Relations, 
1913, pp. 768-776. 

10 A former Episcopal clergyman, William Bayard Hale was in 1910-13 one 
of the leading journalists in the United States. As a reporter for Walter Page's 
World's Work, Hale had come to know Wilson intimately in 191 L In 1912 
Hale edited Wilson's major campaign addresses in a volume entitled The New 
Freedom, which was published in 1913. Hale's brilliant style and quick intelli- 
gence made a deep impression on Wilson. In so far as the present writer can 
ascertain, Hale's reports from Mexico City were generally credible. 

11 Hale to Ben G. Davis (for the Secretary of State), June 3, 22, 25, July 2, 
8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, 24, 29, Aug. 5, 1913, State Dept. Papers. 

It should be added that Bryan also sent a secret envoy to Mexico Reginaldo 
F. Del Valle of California. Del Valle first conferred with Constitutionalist 
leaders, including Carranza, in northern Mexico; he then went to Mexico City, 
where he acted so indiscreetly that Bryan was forced to recall him. See Del 
Valle to Ben G. Davis, June 8, 9, 12, 17, 23, 1913, ibid.; Davis to Del 
Valle, July 8, 15, 1913, ibid.; El Diario (Mexico City), July 7, 1913. 


be a candidate, 12 the United States would attempt to bring the war- 
ring factions in Mexico together in a common program and govern- 

This first message to the Huerta government was merely suggestive 
of a larger program of interference in the affairs of Mexico, along the 
lines of the second Southern Pacific- Phelps, Dodge & Company pro- 
posal, that the President was preparing to undertake. That the pro- 
gram involved interference that neither side in Mexico had asked for 
or wanted did not seem to disturb the President, who apparently 
thought a strong policy would bring prompt submission. Firstly, he 
called Henry Lane Wilson home and then dismissed him. Secondly, he 
sent John Lind, former Governor of Minnesota and a close friend of 
Bryan, to the Mexican capital to press his proposal for the election of 
a constitutional government the United States could recognize. 13 
Thirdly, the President addressed a circular note to the powers, request- 
ing them to urge upon Huerta the necessity of accepting American 
mediation. 14 When news of Lind's mission reached Mexico City, 
Huerta blustered and informed the American Charge, Nelson 
O'Shaughnessy, that Lind would not be welcomed unless he came 
properly accredited. "I will resist with arms any attempt by the United 
States to interfere in the affairs of Mexico," he threatened. 15 

Huerta's outburst was, of course, not seriously meant. But his anger 
and the astonishment that most Mexicans, including the Constitution- 
alists, felt were not without good cause. Wilson's missionary diplomacy 
succeeded, to be sure, when all the President had to do was to order 
the occupation of some small republic and establish a puppet govern- 
ment. Mexico, however, was not Nicaragua or Santo Domingo. 
Mexico was a nation, whose citizens cherished their independence and 

12 The statement, "that Huerta will observe his original promise and not be 
a candidate at that election," reveals a puzzling misconception on Wilson's part 
regarding Huerta's position. Huerta had never promised that he would not be a 
candidate, yet during the future negotiations Wilson acted as if he had. 

13 Wilson's instructions to Lind, embodying the plan, are printed in Foreign 
Relations, 1913, pp. 821-822. Specifically, Wilson proposed (1) that there 
should be an immediate armistice in Mexico, (2) that there should be an early 
and free election, in which all parties would participate, ( 3 ) that Huerta should 
bind himself not to be a candidate for the presidency, and (4) that all factions 
should agree to abide by the results of the election and co-operate in supporting 
the new administration. 

14 Circular note to governments with representatives in Mexico, Aug. 8, 1913, 
Wilson Papers. 

The New York Times, Aug. 9, 1913. 


sovereignty more than their lives. To these proud people Wilson's 
assumption of the right to tell them who should or should not be their 
President was, in any event, intolerable. The method Wilson used, 
moreover that of sending an unofficial agent to a government the 
United States would not recognize only increased Mexican resent- 
ment and added to the general irony of the situation. 

Arriving in Mexico City on August 11, the following day Lind dis- 
creetly presented the President's proposal to the Foreign Minister of 
the de facto government, Federico Gamboa. Gamboa pleaded mov- 
ingly for recognition, or at least abstention from interference in Mexi- 
can affairs by the United States. He declared, moreover, that Mexico 
regarded the President's proposal as an unwarranted meddling in the 
domestic affairs of a sovereign neighbor. Lind replied firmly. The 
United States, he said, would never recognize the provisional govern- 
ment. Moreover, he continued, in a thinly veiled threat, if Huerta re- 
jected the President's mediation, Wilson might be compelled to lay 
the whole matter before Congress and might also allow the Constitu- 
tionalists to buy arms in the United States. Day after day the parleys 
proceeded stubbornly, amid alarming rumors in both countries of an 
impending break or outright American military intervention. On 
August 22 Lind went his limit and held out the promise that, if Huerta 
accepted Wilson's proposal, the State Department would help the 
Mexican government obtain a loan in the United States. Gamboa 
replied that he dared not transmit this offer, or bribe, to his chief. 16 

Then, after Lind had broken off the negotiations and left for Vera 
Cruz, the Foreign Minister delivered his final reply. Indignantly re- 
pudiating the right of an American President to determine Mexican 
affairs, Gamboa added: "If even once we were to permit the counsels 
and advice (let us call them thus) of the United States of America not 
only would we as I say above, forego our sovereignty but we would as 
well compromise for an indefinite future our destinies as a sovereign 
entity and all the future elections for president would be submitted to 
the veto of any President of the United States of America. And such 
an enormity, Mr. Confidential Agent, no government will ever attempt 
to perpetrate and this I am sure of unless some monstrous and almost 
impossible cataclysm should occur in the conscience of the Mexican 

16 Lind to Secretary of State, Aug. 12, 1913, State Dept. Papers; Lind to 
Secretary of State, n.d., but received Aug. 15, 1913, ibid.; Lind to Secretary of 
State, Aug. 18, 22, 1913, Wilson Papers. Of course Gamboa did transmit the 
offer to Huerta. 


people." However, Gamboa continued, the fact was that under the 
Mexican Constitution Huerta could not be a candidate to succeed 
himself. Huerta had done nothing to raise the suspicion that he would 
be a candidate. "On what then is the gratuitous suspicion of the Presi- 
dent of the United States of America based and his demand which is 
absolutely inadmissible?" Finally, Gamboa rejected Lind's offer of an 
American loan with the following barb: "When the dignity of the 
nation is at stake I believe that there are not loans enough to induce 
those charged by the law to maintain it to permit it to be lessened." 17 

Expressed though it was in proud words, Gamboa's note in effect 
conceded Wilson's most important demand, that Huerta eliminate 
himself from the Mexican presidency at an early date. Before the note 
arrived in Washington, however, Wilson went before a joint session, in 
the afternoon of August 27, for the first time to explain his Mexican 
policy to Congress and the country. He outlined the proposal that Lind 
had presented to Huerta and declared that Huerta had flatly rejected 
it. The United States, therefore, would now pursue a policy of "watch- 
ful waiting," would urge American citizens to withdraw from Mexico, 
and would "follow the best practice of nations in- the matter of 
neutrality by forbidding the exportation of arms or munitions of war 
of any kind" to either side in the civil war that was mounting in in- 
tensity. 18 

The arrival during the evening of August 27 of Gamboa's note, to- 
gether with assurances from Lind that the United States had won a 
substantial victory, greatly eased the tension in Washington and set 
Wilson and Bryan to making further plans to bring peace and stability 
to Mexico. The next four or five weeks were a virtual honeymoon 
period in Mexican-American relations. When Huerta expressed a desire 
to send a confidential agent to Washington, Bryan replied encourag- 

17 Gamboa to Lind, Aug. 26, 1913, transmitted in O'Shaughnessy to Secre- 
tary of State, Aug. 27, 1913, original in ibid. 

18 The address is printed in Ray S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The 
Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New 
Democracy, I, 4551. 

Up to this time the provisional government had been able to purchase arms 
in the United States, while the Constitutionalists, whose belligerent status the 
United States had not recognized, could not. Wilson's careless assertion that 
"the best practice of nations in the matter of neutrality" was the application of 
an arms embargo was grossly false. Two years later friends of Germany, who 
were urging an arms embargo, quoted it over and over, and with telling effect. 


ingly. 1 * Then, on September 16 Huerta announced to the Mexican 
Congress his ardent desire to turn the government over to a constitu- 
tional successor, and Lind and Bryan were greatly relieved. But the 
most encouraging development of all was the nomination of Gamboa 
for the presidency by the Catholic party on September 24. "I feel that 
we have nearly reached the end of our trouble/' wrote Bryan in strong 
approval of the Foreign Minister, 20 while the State Department an- 
nounced it would approve Gamboa's election, even if the northern 
states in revolt against Huerta did not participate. 21 

Just at the moment, however, when it appeared that Huerta would 
yield power to Gamboa and that the United States would throw its 
moral and financial support behind the new government, a catastrophic 
chain of events was set in motion upon the arrival in Mexico City of a 
new British Minister, Sir Lionel Garden. Garden was the mouthpiece 
of S. Weetman Pearson, Lord Gowdray, who had enormous oil 
interests in Mexico, and there is some ground for believing that the 
British Foreign Office for a time allowed Gowdray to dictate its 
Mexican policy. 22 Nor was there much doubt that Cowdray, through 
his agents in Mexico, exercised great influence over the Huerta govern- 
ment. In any event, Garden's arrival coincided with Huerta's most 
appalling act since the murder of Madero. 23 On October 10 the 

19 O'Shaughnessy to Secretary of State, Sept. 1, 1913; Bryan to Lind, Sept. 
8, 1913, both in State Dept. Papers. 

20 Bryan to Wilson, Sept. 25, 1913, Wilson Papers; also Bryan to Lind, Sept. 
26, 1913, State Dept. Papers. 

21 New York World, Sept 26, 1913. It should be added, however, that the 
State Department was doing its best at this time to bring about an armistice 
in the fighting and to obtain the participation of the Constitutionalists in the 
coming presidential election, scheduled to be held October 26, 1913. 

22 This was Wilson's and Bryan's firm conviction. See, e.g., Daniels Diary, 
Apr. 18, 1913, for Cabinet discussions of this point; also House Diary, Oct. 30, 
1913. Sir Edward Grey emphatically denied the charge in Twenty-Five Years, 
1892-1916 (2 vols., New York, 1925), II, 98-100. 

In any event, the major factor in British policy was Mexican oil, as the 
British navy had recently converted from coal burners to oil burners. With its 
production of twenty-five million barrels in 1912, Mexico was practically the 
sole source of oil for the British navy. British policy, therefore, was naturally 
directed at preserving a steady flow of petroleum. The provisional government 
in Mexico City could and did give guarantees that this vital British interest 
would be protected. 

28 Lind was convinced that Garden knew beforehand of Huerta's coup of 
October 10 and that the British Minister timed the presentation of his creden- 
tials with reference to it. Lind to Secretary of State, Oct. 23, 27, 1913, State 
Dept. Papers. 


usurper fell upon the Chamber of Deputies, composed mainly of 
Maderistas, arrested and imprisoned 110 members, and inaugurated a 
full-fledged military dictatorship. The following day, October 11, 
Garden went ostentatiously to the Presidential Palace and presented 
his credentials to Huerta. 

Huerta's act of violence and Garden's open approval shocked and 
angered Wilson and impelled him to adopt a new course of action. 
Firstly, the President accused Huerta of personal bad faith and told 
him the United States would not approve any election he might hold. 
Secondly, the President addressed a circular note to the governments 
with representatives in Mexico, asking them to withhold recognition 
from the new regime. Thirdly, two weeks later, on November 7, he 
warned these governments that it was "his immediate duty to require 
Huerta's retirement from the Mexican government" and that the 
United States would "now proceed to employ such means as may be 
necessary to secure this result." 24 

A significant exchange among Wilson, Bryan, and Counselor John 
Bassett Moore preceded the sending of the circular note of November 
7. Following Garden's recognition of Huerta's coup d'etat of October 
10, Wilson wrote on his own typewriter an outline of a circular note 
he wished the State Department to prepare. In his outline, the Presi- 
dent accused the European powers of keeping Huerta in power, "with- 
out regard to the wishes or purposes of the United States." Would they 
co-operate with the United States, Wilson continued, "or is their policy 
and intention to antagonize and thwart us and make our task one of 
domination and force?" To England, Wilson wanted it said that "The 
bottom was about to drop out when Sir Lionel Garden appeared upon 
the scene and took charge of its rehabilitation." Finally, Wilson wrote, 
he wanted the note to be "as strong and direct as the courtesies and 
proprieties of pacific diplomacy permit" 25 

Bryan thereupon proceeded to write a draft of the note Wilson had 
requested, and the President went over Bryan's draft, making certain 
textual changes in his own handwriting. In this note the United States 

24 Bryan to American Embassy, Oct. 13, 1913, ibid.; Bryan to certain diplo- 
matic officers, Oct. Jz4, Nov. 7, 1913, Foreign Relations, 1913, pp. 849, 856. 

25 Undated memorandum in State Dept. Papers. Wilson's anger stemmed 
chiefly from his belief that the British government was supporting Huerta in 
order to protect Gowdray's oil concessions. He told Colonel House he was de- 
termined to expose this alliance between the provisional government and 
Cowdray. "He said it was his purpose to build a fire back of the British Ministry 
through the English public." House Diary, Oct. 30, 1913. 


accused the powers of allowing their citizens to assist and encourage 
Huerta, in return for commercial concessions. The United States, 
therefore, "in the name of the people of the western hemisphere, whose 
lands have been dedicated to free and constitutional government, ask 
them [the powers] to withdraw that recognition which has exerted so 
baneful an influence." 26 

The note, if sent as drafted, might well have provoked a severe crisis 
with the British government and certainly would have earned for its 
authors a reputation for blustering diplomacy. Fortunately, however, 
Bryan handed the note to Moore for its polishing, with the suggestion 
that the Counselor add a paragraph invoking the Monroe Doctrine. 
Moore now proceeded to do a courageous, but dangerous, thing: he 
forthwith gave Wilson probably the severest tongue-lashing the Presi- 
dent ever received. The states of this hemisphere are independent, 
Moore pointed out, and "it has therefore never been considered neces- 
sary for foreign Powers to ask our consent to their recognition of an 
American government." Before accusing the powers of improper 
motives in recognizing Huerta, Moore added, the President should 
remember that actually the United States had been conducting dip- 
lomatic relations with the provisional government for many months. 
Seventeen governments had recognized Huerta. They thought they 
were doing the proper thing. As for Great Britain, he concluded, it 
would be unwise to impugn British motives in view of the grievances 
the British government had against the United States. Sending the pro- 
posed note, therefore, would only stir up resentment abroad and 
would in the end defeat the President's purpose. 27 

The significant point of this episode is that the gist of Wilson's emo- 
tional memorandum and projected note was incorporated in the 
famous speech he delivered at Mobile on October 27, in which he 
heralded the day when Latin America would be emancipated from the 
control of foreign concessionaires. If one reads "Mexico" for "Latin 
America" and "Great Britain" for "foreign interests," the subtle mean- 
ing of Wilson's words becomes evident. Moreover, Wilson was in- 
directly assuring the Mexicans that in the campaign he was about to 
undertake against Huerta he would avoid intervoption that carried 
with it acquisition of territory and would seek only to make possible 
the development of constitutional government in Mexico. 

26 Draft of note, in State Dept. Papers. 

27 John Bassett Moore to Wilson, Oct. 28, 1913, ibid. 


During the six months from November, 1913, until nearly the end 
of April, 1914, Wilson bent all his energies and employed all the diplo- 
matic resources of the United States to force Huerta from power, by 
all means short of war. His campaign was two-pronged: to isolate 
Huerta diplomatically, and then to encourage the Constitutionalists in 
their war against Huerta. 28 

As the German government quickly signified its willingness to follow 
the President's lead, Wilson brought his greatest pressure to bear upon 
the British Foreign Office. In cold truth, the British were forced to 
choose between the friendship of the United States and that of Huerta. 
The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, was frankly fearful of what 
would happen to British property in Mexico if the Constitutionalists 
succeeded. If Huerta were eliminated and the Constitutionalists ob- 
tained control, would the United States assume responsibility for the 
protection of British property in Mexico? These questions were dis- 
cussed and answered when Grey sent his secretary, Sir William Tyrrell, 
to Washington for talks with the President and Colonel House. Tyrrell 
promised that the Foreign Office would withdraw its recognition and 
support from Huerta. For his part, Wilson assured Tyrrell that he 
would "teach the South American republics to elect good men" and 
that the United States would work to establish a government in Mexico 
"under which all contracts and business and concessions will be safer 
than they have been," as well as to protect all foreign property in 
Mexico during the civil war. 29 

However doubtful Grey might have been about the President's ability 
to carry out these promises, 30 in the then perilous state of European 

28 It should be pointed out, however, that before undertaking this campaign, 
Wilson made another strenuous effort to persuade Huerta to retire in favor of 
a provisional government of elder statesmen, which should hold new elections. 
"This Government cannot too earnestly urge him [Huerta] to make the inevi- 
table choice wisely and in full view of the terrible consequences of hesitation or 
refusal," Wilson warned. Bryan to American Embassy, Nov. 1, 1913, ibid. 

When Huerta signified his readiness to agree (O'Shaughnessy to Secretary of 
State, Nov. 13, 1913, ibid.), Wilson proceeded to draw up a contract providing 
for Huerta's retirement, for the formation of a provisional government accept- 
able to the United States, and for American recognition of the new provisional 
government. Bryan to O'Shaughnessy, Nov. 14, 1913, ibid. At this point, how- 
ever, Huerta balked 'and announced to the world his determination to fight on. 

29 Burton J. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page (3 vols., 
Garden City, N.Y., 1924-26), I, 204; Wilson to Tyrrell, Nov. 22, 1913, Wilson 

30 Wilson's promise was, of course, a vitally important one. But the President 
made it on the assumption that he could create and control a Mexican govern- 


affairs he had no alternative but to co-operate. In the event of a 
general European war, which seemed in the offing, American friend- 
ship would be worth more than Mexican oil. Accordingly, Garden was 
soon bridled by the Foreign Office, the British withdrew recognition of 
Huerta, and British policy in Mexico, generally, was thereafter sub- 
ordinated to the personal wishes of the President of the United States. 
Meanwhile, the steady progress of the Constitutionalist armies 
toward Mexico City encouraged Wilson to believe they might be the 
instrument he could use to encompass Huerta's downfall, without the 
military intervention of the United States. The Constitutionalist chief- 
tain, Venustiano Carranza, established a provisional government at 
Hermosillo, in Sonora, on October 17, and already claimed control of 
most of the large northern states. There was no doubt in the minds of 
many observers that the Constitutionalists were carrying the torch of 
the Madero Revolution and were fighting to achieve the aspirations of 
the Mexican masses. The chief question in Wilson's mind, however, 
was whether they had the capacity to govern Mexico and whether he 
could control them. To find the answer, in mid-November Wilson sent 
his trusted confidential agent, William Bayard Hale, to Nogales, 
Mexico, with a message of supreme importance for Carranza. It pro- 
posed nothing less than the joint co-operation of the United States and 
the Constitutionalists in the war against Huerta. 31 

ment, and the assumption was unwarranted by the circumstances. As will be 
shown, Wilson tried hard enough to bring the Constitutionalists under his con- 
trol but failed. 

31 The author was not able to find a copy of Wilson's message to Carranza. 
Fortunately, however, the President outlined his plan to Colonel House, as 
follows : 

"The President has in mind to declare war against Mexico even though actual 
armed entrance into Mexico is not made. His purpose in this is to keep the 
powers from interfering and entirely out of the situation. He will first blockade 
the ports, thereby cutting off all revenue from the Mexican Government which 
will have a tendency to break down Huerta's resistance. 

"He has in mind also throwing a line across the southern part of Mexico, and 
perhaps another line just south of the Northern States. He plans to send troops 
to the Northern States, if they [the Constitutionalists] consent, in order to 
protect the lives and property of foreign citizens. These troops would be 
stationed at strategic points, but would not be intended to contend against 
either the Constitutionalists or Federals [the Huerta forces] unless some overt 
act was made by one or the other. 

"It is his purpose to send six battleships at once. . . . The President seems 
alert and unafraid. He realizes that his course may possibly bring about a coali- 
tion of the European Powers against this Government, but he seems ready to 
throw our gauntlet into the arena and declare all hands must be kept off 
excepting our own." House Diary, Oct. 30, 1913. 


The Nogales conference was significant, not only because of Wilson's 
offer of support to the Constitutionalists, but also because in the course . 
of the negotiations he clearly revealed the pattern of his future rela- 
tions with the Constitutionalist movement. In brief, in return for 
American support, he insisted on guiding the Revolution into orderly 
and democratic channels by obtaining Carranza's promise that the 
rebels would participate in new elections, provided a provisional gov- 
ernment of elder statesmen were established. Carranza, on the other 
hand, made it abundantly plain that the Constitutionalists did not want 
the advice and support of the United States and would oppose the 
entry of American troops into Mexico by force, if that were necessary. 
They wanted from the American government only one thing recogni- 
tion of their belligerent status, with the accompanying privilege of buy- 
ing arms and ammunition. Moreover, they were determined to effect a 
thoroughgoing revolution; they would not compromise with the old 
regime by co-operating with a facsimile of it in holding national elec- 
tions; and they would use constitutional processes only after they had 
occupied all of Mexico. Once Wilson's plan was made clear to Car- 
ranza, he broke up the conference by demanding diplomatic recogni- 
tion and by refusing further to see Hale. Hale, in turn, accused the 
First Chief of a lack of candor and left in a huff for Washington. "You 
know the world is full of all kinds of people," he told reporters at 
Nogales, Arizona. "Some of them are not only impossible, but highly 
improbable. Please understand that I am not speaking of the gentle- 
men across the border who are with such admirable skill preventing 
their friends from helping them." 32 

For two months after the Nogales conference Wilson withheld any 
form of support from the Constitutionalists. By the beginning of 1914, 
however, it was evident the President would have to either allow them 
to obtain arms and supplies or else carry out his threats to depose 
Huerta by the military force of the United States. As Wilson was not 
yet ready to intervene in an active way, he had no alternative but to 
lift the arms embargo. In late January, therefore, the State Depart- 
ment undertook official negotiations with Luis Cabrera, Carranza's 
agent in Washington, and obtained from him the promise that the 
provisional Constitutionalist government would respect property rights 
and "just and equitable" concessions. Following this exchange, the 

82 The New York Times, Nov. 20, 1913. Kale's reports are Hale to Secretary 
of State, Nov. 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 1913, State Dept. Papers. 


President on February 3 took the fateful step of revoking the embargo; 
thus, in the eyes of the world, he identified the United States with the 
cause of the Mexican Revolution. 

Wilson, his advisers, and the Constitutionalists all confidently pre- 
dicted the speedy triumph of the revolutionary forces as the result of 
the President's action. Events did not turn out that way, however, for 
by lifting the arms embargo Wilson spurred Huerta and his govern- 
ment to new endeavors and caused the landed aristocracy, the business 
and banking elements, and the Church for the first time to throw their 
full support to Huerta. By the end of March, therefore, Huerta's end 
seemed no nearer than it had been two months before. From Wilson's 
point of view, this was a catastrophic development, for, as Lind wrote 
almost daily from Vera Cruz, it was now up to the President to fulfill 
his pledges to Mexico and the world. 

But how could this be done? How could Huerta be deposed, if not 
by the direct military intervention of the United States, which was 
what the Constitutionalists had threatened to oppose by force of arms? 
There seemed no other way, yet Wilson shrank from the extreme 
alternative, as if his former threats had been mere bluff. Then an op- 
portunity to intervene, and with some show of excuse, presented itself 
when an otherwise minor incident occurred on April 10 at Tampico, 
held by the Huertistas but then under siege by a Constitutionalist army. 
The paymaster and crew of the U.S.S. Dolphin were arrested by a 
Mexican colonel when they landed their whaleboat without permission 
behind the federal lines. As soon as the Huertista commander, General 
Morelos Zaragoza, learned of the incident, he immediately released the 
Americans and sent a personal apology to Admiral Henry T. Mayo, 
commander of the American squadron off Vera Cruz. 33 

The affair would have ended with Zaragoza's apology had not the 
Washington administration been looking for an excuse to provoke a 
fight. On his own volition, Admiral Mayo demanded a twenty-one-gun 
salute to the American flag, and Wilson backed up the demand. There 
followed a serious of ridiculous exchanges between Mexico City and 
Washington, in which the latter converted the arrest of the paymaster 
and his crew from the petty incident it was into a deliberate affront 

33 Morelos Zaragoza, "Truth of the 'Dolphin* Incident at Tampico," El 
Excelsior (Mexico City), Dec. 6, 1931, gives the Mexican side; Clarence A. 
Miller, Consul at Tampico, to Secretary of State, May 21, 1914, State Dept. 
Papers, is a splendid report of the incident and its aftermath. Miller's account 
generally agrees with Zaragoza's. 


to the honor of the United States and on April 18 issued an ultimatum 
to Huerta to salute the American flag at once or take the consequences. 

The logic behind Wilson's demand was difficult for the Mexicans to 
perceive. The United States had refused to recognize the Huerta gov- 
ernment yet was dealing with it as if it were enough of a government 
to discharge an official international obligation. The humor of the 
situation was not lost upon Huerta, who replied that he would salute 
the American flag, but only if an American warship returned the salute, 
volley for volley. As this would have been tantamount to recognizing 
the provisional government, Wilson refused. Then in Hot Springs, 
Virginia, he announced on April 19 he would go before Congress the 
following day. In Washington naval and military leaders laid plans for 
a general blockade and possible war operations, the first step of which 
would be the occupation of Vera Cruz. Arriving in Washington early in 
the morning of April 20, the President at once held hurried con- 
ferences with the Cabinet, Congressional leaders, and his military and 
naval advisers. At three that afternoon he went before a joint session, 
related the details of the Tampico affair and the subsequent negotia- 
tions, accused the Huerta government of deliberately insulting the 
United States, and asked for Congressional authority to use the armed 
forces to obtain redress. 34 

While both houses were debating resolutions conferring the authority 
Wilson had requested, news reached the State Department in the early 
morning of April 21 of the impending arrival at Vera Cruz of a 
German steamer, the Ypiranga, with an enormous load of ammunition 
for the Huerta government. In order to be able legally to prevent the 
entry of these supplies, which might soon be used against American 
forces, and without waiting for Congressional sanction, Wilson at day- 
break ordered the navy to occupy Vera Cruz. 35 A landing was easily 
effected and by the following day, April 22, all of the city was in 
American hands, although Mexican naval cadets and civilians offered 
spirited resistance and suffered 126 killed and 195 wounded. 36 Ameri- 
can casualties were nineteen dead and seventy-one wounded. 

It is clear Wilson contemplated only this limited punitive action 

3 *The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 99-103. 

35 The New York Times, Apr. 22, 1914. The Ypiranga, incidentally, slipped 
out of Vera Cruz harbor, moved down the coast to Puerto Mexico, and dis- 
charged her cargo there. 

36 This was the official American count. Fletcher to Secretary of the Navy, 
Apr. 24, 1914, Wilson Papers. 


against the de facto government, 87 in order to hasten its downfall. 
Because he had not been frank with Congress and the people, because 
he insisted he was punishing an individual, Huerta, for a personal 
insult, 38 no one outside high administration circles understood the 
reason for the Vera Cruz action. Indeed, in the eyes of the civilized 
world the President appeared ridiculous, as a person willing to make 
war over an obscure point of honor. As one London editor put it, "If 
war is to be made on points of punctilio raised by admirals and gen- 
erals, and if the Government of the United States is to set the example 
for this return to mediaeval conditions it will be a bad day for civiliza- 
tion." S9 No wonder the public at home was also dazed, when Wilson 
told them over and again that he had a passion for peace and justice 
and an abhorrence of war. 40 Nor was the confusion abated when Car- 

37 As was evidenced by his instructions to General Frederick Funston, when 
the army relieved the navy of the duty of occupying Vera Cruz. See Chief of 
Staff, Memorandum for the Adjutant General, Apr. 26, 1914, ibid. 

38 On April 20, just before he addressed the joint session, Wilson told re- 
porters: "What, then, is the purpose of our naval operation in Mexico? It is 
not, as you gentlemen seem to think not this act, that is the elimination of 
Huerta. Its purpose is to compel the recognition of the dignity of the United 
States." "President Wilson on His Foreign Policy," World's Work, XXVIII 
(Oct., 1914), 489-490. 

In his message to the joint session, Wilson added: "I therefore come to ask 
your approval that I should use the armed forces of the United States in such 
ways and to such an extent as may be necessary to obtain from General Huerta 
and his adherents the fullest recognition of the rights and dignity of the United 
States." The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 102. 

The present writer finds it difficult to believe that Wilson was speaking 
frankly, that he was actually willing to go to war to compel an unqualified 

** Economist (London), LXXVIII (Apr. 18, 1914), 906-907. 

The action at Vera Cruz provoked a series of anti-American demonstrations 
throughout Latin America in Montevideo, Santiago, Chile, Costa Rica, 
Guatemala, and elsewhere, while the authorities in Buenos Aires prevented a 
public demonstration* Except for the Brazilian newspapers, the Latin American 
press generally condemned the occupation of Vera Cruz as another manifesta- 
tion of American imperialism. As for European opinion, the British Foreign 
Office welcomed the occupation of Vera Cruz as heralding full-scale occupation 
of Mexico by American forces, while Conservative journals and newspapers, in- 
cluding The Times (London), also approved. The German government and 
press were generally favorable to the United States, but Russian editorial com- 
ment was mordant. See, e.g., Novoe Vremya (St. Petersburg), 9/22, 15/28 Apr. 
1914; Retch (St. Petersburg), 9/22 Apr. 1914; Russkoe Slovo (Moscow), 
11/24 Apr. 1914. 

40 The New York Times, Apr. 21, 1914. Perhaps a word about American 
reaction to the Vera Cruz action is in order. A small Republican interven- 
tionist group in the Senate, led by Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts and 


ranza and his lieutenants, with one notable exception, condemned the 
seizure of Vera Cruz as wanton aggression against the Mexican people. 
Indeed, only by the most strenuous effort were hostilities with the Con- 
stitutionalists avoided.* 1 

Albert B. Fall of New Mexico, tried unsuccessfully to obtain adoption of a 
resolution empowering the President to send the armed forces anywhere into 
Mexico to compel respect for American lives and property. It is doubtful, how- 
ever, if Lodge and Fall spoke for a majority even of their own party. Certainly 
they did not bespeak the sentiments of the American people. As it was mani- 
fested in newspapers, mass meetings, and resolutions and letters, the pre- 
ponderant American sentiment was decidedly pacific. It is even doubtful that 
most articulate leaders and spokesmen approved the Vera Cruz action; they 
certainly regarded the prospect of a general war with utter repugnance. From 
the crisis over the flag salute through the occupation of Vera Cruz, peace 
groups, labor unions. Socialist organizations, and diverse groups of plain citizens 
held mass meetings and flooded congressmen and the President with appeals for 
peace. For a few samples of such appeals see Resolutions adopted by the Com- 
mission on Peace and Arbitration of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ 
in America, Apr. 21, 1914, in the Papers of Elihu Root, in the Library of Con- 
gress; Massachusetts Federation of Churches to Wilson, Apr. 22, 1914, Wilson 
Papers; Executive Committee of the Socialist Party to Wilson, Apr. 22, 24, 
1914, ibid.; Andrew Carnegie to Wilson, Apr. 21, 1914, ibid.; O. G. Villard to 
Wilson, Apr. 23, 1914, ibid.; John W. Foster to Elihu Root, Apr. 24, 1914, 
Root Papers; Moorfield Storey, president of the Anti-Imperialist League, to 
Wilson, Apr. 25, 1914, Wilson Papers; Charles W. Eliot to Wilson, Apr. 29, 
1914, ibid. There is, moreover, no evidence that men with large material inter- 
ests in Mexico, or their spokesmen, except for William R. Hearst, were in any 
way agitating for a war. The Financial World, XXII (Apr. 18, 1914), 2, and 
Financial Age, XXIX (Apr. 25, 1914), 673, condemned Wilson's policy and 
declared the financial community did not want war. Former President Taft 
declared that Wilson was attempting to provoke war for political purposes. Taft 
to Mabel T. Boardman, Apr. 19, 1914, Taft Papers. Senator Elihu Root wrote 
that he was heartsick at the thought of war with Mexico. Root to A. T. Mahan, 
Apr. 27, 1914, Root Papers. There seems no reason to continue to pile evidence 
on evidence to prove this point. 

41 On April 23 Carranza addressed a letter to the President and the Secretary 
of State, in which he declared: "The invasion of our territory and the perma- 
nency of your forces in the Port of Vera Cruz are a violation of the rights that 
constitute our existence as a free and independent sovereignty, and will drag us 
into an unequal war which until today we desired to avoid." Carranza, more- 
over, demanded that the United States evacuate Vera Cruz at once. Carranza 
to Carothers, for Wilson and Bryan, Apr. 22, 1914, printed in The New York 
Times, Apr. 23, 1914. In reply, Wilson and Bryan assured the First Chief that 
their intentions were friendly and called upon him to affirm that the Constitu- 
tionalists would not resist the efforts of the United States to obtain redress from 
Huerta. Bryan to Letcher, Consul at Chihuahua, Apr. 24, 1914, State Dept. 
Papers. In addition, supporters of the Constitutionalist movement in the United 
States brought immediate pressure to bear upon Carranza to show a more 
friendly attitude and assured him that the American government had no inten- 
tion of subverting Mexican sovereignty. C. A. Douglas to Pesqueira, Apr. 23, 


It came as a great relief to the American people, therefore, when the 
Brazilian, Argentine, and Chilean envoys in Washington on April 25 
offered to mediate the dispute and Bryan and Huerta accepted. The 
offer did not come any too soon, for Wilson's decision on April 23 to 
send an occupation army into Vera Cruz brought the military leaders 
prominently into the administration's deliberations and was further 
provocation to the Huerta government. At a Cabinet meeting on April 
24, for example, Secretary of War Garrison urged the President to 
order the army to move toward Mexico City as rapidly as possible. At 
a White House conference that evening the President, Bryan, Garrison, 
and Daniels discussed plans for a general war, while Garrison and 
Daniels at once set their staffs at work on campaign plans. It should 
be noted, however, that throughout these discussions Bryan argued 
consistently against further preparations or provocations. 

On the face of it, it was somewhat absurd for the United States to 
negotiate on the high level of international mediation with a govern- 
ment it had refused to recognize. But Wilson was not disturbed by a 
seeming inconsistency, for he never had any intention of submitting to 
a genuine mediation. On the contrary, he expected to use the media- 
tion as a means of eliminating Huerta and establishing a provisional 
government that would turn Mexico over to the Constitutionalists. 42 

1914, copy in ibid.; S. G. Hopkins to Carranza, Apr. 24, 1913, copy in the 
Papers of Hugh L. Scott, in the Library of Congress. 

Meanwhile, Carranza's chief general in the north, Francisco Villa, -who was 
already laying plans to seize control of the Constitutionalist movement, publicly 
declared he would not join Carranza in wax against the United States. New 
York World, Apr. 24, 1914. Privately, Villa assured Wilson that Carranza had 
spoken only for himself and that he, Villa, entirely approved the seizure of 
Vera Cruz. Carothers to Bryan, Apr. 25, 1914, transmitting Villa to Wilson, 
Apr. 25, 1914, State Dept. Papers. 

Villa's defection from the otherwise solid Constitutionalist ranks precluded 
any action by Carranza. On April 28 the two men met at Chihuahua City and 
agreed that the Constitutionalists should not oppose American forces unless they 
invaded Constitutionalist territory. The New York Times, Apr. 29, 1914; New 
York World, Apr. 29, 1914. 

42 In a confidential memorandum for the ABC mediators, written probably 
on April 25, 1914, Wilson warned that no settlement of the Mexican problem 
would be acceptable to American public opinion or the American government 
that did not provide for "the entire elimination of General Huerta'* and the 
establishment of a provisional government in Mexico City representative of all 
factions. Undated memorandum in the Wilson Papers. Moreover, the American 
commissioners at the peace conference that met soon afterward at Niagara 
Falls, Canada, constantly pressed Wilson's plan for the creation of a provisional 
government controlled by the Constitutionalists. Obviously, the American ob- 


The American and Mexican delegates met at Niagara Falls, 
Canada, under the ABC sponsorship, from May 20 until July 2, 1914. 
As the talks droned on, the Constitutionalists drove nearer and nearer 
Mexico City. Huerta notified the commissioners that he was about at 
the end of his rope and would soon have to abdicate. The only sig- 
nificant aspect of the conference, therefore, was Wilson's attempt to 
compel the Constitutionalists to cease fighting and submit to American 
guidance in establishing a provisional government. After much par- 
leying, Carranza reluctantly sent a delegation to Niagara Falls, which 
met secretly with the American commissioners on June 16. Carranza's 
envoys frankly declared that the First Chief did not want American 
help, would oppose any form of mediation of the civil war itself, and 
would not accept Mexico City if it were offered to him by outsiders. 

Carranza's absolute refusal to allow Wilson to use the ABC media- 
tion to settle the civil war and to impose a program for the economic 
and social reconstruction of Mexico 43 was final and complete proof 
that the Revolution was out of American control. And it was out of 
control at the very moment when the cumulative effect of American 
policies was making possible the triumph of the revolutionary forces. 
In short, Wilson had made possible the success of a movement for 
which he had assumed responsibility before the British government, 

jective was either to persuade Huerta to abdicate peacefully and to turn over 
the government to his enemies or else, as General Hugh L. Scott, American 
Chief of Staff, put it, "to kill time until Villa takes the City of Mexico." Scott 
to Mary L. Scott, May 19, 1914, Scott Papers. 

43 At least since the early winter of 1913-14, Wilson and his chief advisers 
had given much study to the economic and social aspects of the Mexican prob- 
lem. This shift from a moralistic to a sociological approach brought with it an 
increasing awareness on the administration's part that the basic causes of dis- 
order in Mexico were the illiteracy, abject poverty, landlessness, and exploita- 
tion of 80 per cent of the Mexican people. In a long conversation with Samuel 
G. Blythe on April 27, for example, Wilson revealed an acute comprehension 
of the underlying causes of the Revolution and of the aspirations of the Mexi- 
can masses. S. G. Blythe, "Mexico: The Record of a Conversation with Presi- 
dent Wilson," Saturday Evening Post, CLXXXVI (May 23, 1914), 2-4. In a 
memorandum that he prepared on May 4, 1914, for the guidance of the Presi- 
dent and the Secretary of State, Counselor Robert Lansing also revealed a 
thorough understanding of the important causes of Mexico's difficulties. Robert 
Lansing, "The Mexican Situation," May 4, 1914, State Dept. Papers. 

Consequently, the American commissioners at the ABC conference pressed 
hard for a comprehensive program for the reconstruction of Mexico, a program 
that emphasized land reform. The insuperable obstacle was, of course, Car- 
ranza's refusal to admit that the Washington government knew more about the 
Mexican problem than the Constitutionalists did. 


yet over which he could exercise no real direction. There was nothing 
he could do, therefore, except to acquiesce and to make it plain that 
the United States would not tolerate wholesale executions or confisca- 
tions when the Constitutionalists captured their capital. On July 15 
Huerta abdicated; a provisional government was speedily formed to 
arrange the surrender, and on August 20 the First Chief, his lieuten- 
ants, and his armies triumphantly entered the City of Mexico. 

"With the retirement of Huerta . . , prospects are bright for the 
triumph of President Wilson's moral-suasion peace policy," wrote one 
optimistic editor,* 4 and many commentators throughout the world 
agreed. Yet the new era of peace and reconstruction, the end of 
Mexico's suffering and of Wilson's perplexities, was not yet; for almost 
immediately after Huerta's downfall there occurred a tragic split in 
the ranks of the Constitutionalists that was to plunge Mexico into civil 
war for another three years. The disruption of the revolutionary move- 
ment was, of course, long in the making and the product of many 
forces. The root of the trouble, however, was the personal rivalry 
between the First Chief and his most spectacular general, Francisco, or 
"Pancho," Villa. 45 Born a peon, Villa, who had spent most of his early 
life an outlaw and a bandit, joined the Madero forces in 1911 and two 
years later threw in his lot with Carranza. Where Carranza was stolid, 
Villa was volatile and violent, the personal embodiment, as it were, of 
the hatred the peons bore toward the great landowners and profes- 
sional politicians. Ignorant and illiterate though he was, Villa soon 
demonstrated astonishing military skill and a dashing leadership; and, 
as general of the Division of the North, he became the dynamic force 
behind the Constitutionalist movement in the northern states. 

Unfortunately for his distracted country, Villa was also consumed 
with an ambition to become ruler of Mexico, and during the early 
months of 1914 he schemed to wrest control of the revolutionary 
armies from Carranza. There was almost a complete rupture between 
the two leaders in April, 1914, but American diplomatic officers in the 
field, especially George C. Carothers, who was attached to Villa's head- 
quarters, temporarily patched up the break. Then, during the first two 
months after the Constitutionalists assumed power, Villa carefully 
garnered supplies and built up his forces. 

From its consular agents in Chihuahua and Juarez, the Washington 

** Dallas Baptist Standard, XXVI (July 23, 1914), 4. 
45 Villa's real name was Doroteo Arango. 


government knew about the impending rupture long before it oc- 
curred. From Wilson's and Bryan's point of view. Villa's revolt was 
not altogether unfortunate, because it afforded an opportunity to dis- 
place Carranza as leader of the Revolution with Villa, who had 
studiously manifested his willingness to follow Wilson's advice. The 
deposing of Carranza and the enthroning of Villa now became the 
chief objective of the American government. 46 In August, 1914, the 
administration embarked upon its new policy, one ill conceived and 
unfortunate in its consequences. 

As the first step, John Lind was dismissed as adviser to the State De- 
partment, because he was too friendly to Carranza and too hostile to 
the Roman Catholic Church. He was replaced by Paul Fuller, a mem- 
ber of the New York law firm of Coudert Brothers, a leading Roman 
Catholic layman, and an authority on Latin American affairs. As the 
second and more important step, Fuller was sent with secret instruc- 
tions from Wilson on confidential missions to Villa's headquarters and 
to Mexico City to propose the calling of a convention representing the 
revolutionary armies and the subsequent creation of a new provisional 
government. At Santa Rosalia on August 16, Fuller conferred with 
Villa and obtained from him oral and written promises of his willing- 
ness to co-operate and his purpose to help establish speedily a constitu- 
tional government and then to retire from political life. The American 
agent added also a flattering description of Villa's personal qualities 
his quiet demeanor, gentleness, and self-effacement. 47 That Villa's 

46 How did it happen that Wilson and Bryan turned against Carranza and 
threw their support to Villa, whose violent character and consuming ambition 
for personal power had already been made plain to them in numerous ways? 
Their dislike of Carranza is not hard to understand, as the First Chief time and 
again had demonstrated his stubborn refusal to take their advice or even to 
reciprocate their early friendship. Wilson's and Bryan's support of Villa 
stemmed chiefly from the fact that Villa had been careful to give them the 
impression that he would establish a government they could control. The two 
Americans did not forget, moreover, that Villa's firm stand had prevented 
Carranza from making trouble at the time of the Vera Cruz affair. Further- 
more, there was a strong pro- Villa clique in the administration, headed by 
George C. Carothers, Consul accredited to Villa's headquarters, and General 
Hugh L. Scott, Chief of Staff, who pleaded Villa's cause and played upon the 
President's prejudices against Carranza. Finally, Villa had enjoyed a friendly 
press in the United States and had been depicted as a natural leader of the 
downtrodden Mexican masses. It was assumed Villa would effect land reform 
more quickly than Carranza. 

47 Paul Fuller, "Memorandum for the President," dated Aug. 20, 1914, State 
Dept. Papers. Villa's written affirmation was "Statement by General Villa of 


promise to retire from public life was given or received sincerely might 
be doubted, as Fuller later declared that the object of his mission was 
"conciliation and mediation between the hostile elements, directed 
chiefly to bringing about a convention which would place Villa in con- 
trol." 48 

Fuller went next to Mexico City, by way of Vera Cruz. Arriving in 
the capital on September 4, he proceeded to lecture the Foreign Secre- 
tary in the provisional government on correct democratic procedures. 
In conference with Carranza on September 5 3 Fuller found the First 
Chief accommodating, friendly, and willing to co-operate in President 
Wilson's plan and to retire from the leadership of the Constitutionalist 
movement after the new government was established. Obviously Car- 
ranza was in a perilous situation and dared not risk the consequences 
of open defiance, as his chief lieutenant, Alvaro Obregon, had come 
out in support of the President's plan. On September 8 Fuller had his 
last conference with Carranza, and agreement was made for the calling 
of the convention and the speedy establishment soon afterward of a 
civil government, representing all factions. Thus it seemed the way was 
finally open for the retirement of Carranza and the seating of a new 
coalition, headed by Villa. 

That Villa was all along jockeying for supremacy was evidenced 
when he issued a declaration of war against Carranza on September 23, 
three weeks before the convention was to assemble. The convention, 
none the less, met at Aguascalientes from October 12 through Novem- 
ber 12. Middle-of-the-road leaders like Obregon and Pablo Gonzales, 
who sincerely desired the retirement of Carranza and Villa and a 
genuine reconciliation of all factions, tried vainly to heal the breach. 
At the insistence of the Villistas, delegates from the Zapatista revolu- 
tionary movement ** were admitted, whereupon the Villistas joined 

the purposes and intentions of his Division of the North with reference to the 
new government in Mexico, August 18, 1914," enclosed in Villa to Wilson, 
Aug. 18, 1914, ibid. One is tempted to believe that Fuller helped Villa write 
this statement. 

48 Anderson Diary, Feb. 20, 1915. 

49 In 1910 Emiliano Zapata began a revolutionary movement in the state of 
Morelos, southeast of Mexico City, against the Diaz regime, which he continued 
against the Madero government. The Zapatistas' first objective was destruction 
of the great estates and the distribution of land among the peons, which 
objective was set forth in the Plan of Ayala, adopted November 28, 1911. See 
E. Zapata to Wilson, Aug. 23, 1914, Wilson Papers, and "Plan for the libera- 
tion of the natives of the State of Morelos belonging to the Insurgent 
Army . . .," dated Nov. 28, 1911, and "Act of Ratification of the Plan of 
Ayala," dated July 19, 1914, copies in ibid. 


with them to dominate the convention, depose Carranza, establish a 
new government, and elect General Eulalio Guiterrez, a Villa f ollower, 

Along with other lesser chieftains, Carranza's two stalwarts, Obregon 
and Gonzales, co-operated with the Villista-Zapatista majority and 
even tried to persuade Garranza to withdraw. But it was evident to the 
First Chief that the new convention government was merely a front 
for Villa, and he defied the convention and declared war on the 
usurpers of Aguascalientes. At this point, when it was clear they 
would have to choose personally between Villa and their chief, a ma- 
jority of the able generals, including Obregon and Gonzales, unhesi- 
tatingly repudiated the convention and rushed to Garranza's , side. 
Garranza then moved his capital from Mexico City to Vera Cruz, re- 
cently evacuated by the American forces ; Villa and Zapata met in the 
City of Mexico and established the convention government there, and 
the civil war was begun all over again. 

If the State Department had remained absolutely neutral in the 
ensuing conflict, its duration would have been considerably shortened. 
Instead of remaining aloof, the Washington government threw its 
moral and diplomatic support behind the convention, or Villa, gov- 
ernment. As it turned out, Wilson and Bryan could have made no 
more unrealistic decision or worse diplomatic blunder. They bet on the 
wrong man, in spite of the fact that their agents at Aguascalientes 
told them Carranza still commanded the loyalty of a large majority 
of the revolutionary forces and that Villa was surrounding himself 
with the worst elements in Mexico. 

Events soon demonstrated the error of the administration's policy. 
While Villa sat in Mexico City and waited for the Garranzistas to dis- 
integrate, the First Chief set to the task of rebuilding his armies and 
broadening his program. The "Additions to the Plan of Guadalupe" 
of December, 1914, the decree of January 6, 1915, restoring land to 
the villages, and various labor decrees mobilized broad public support 
behind the Constitutionalists and set in motion a social revolution 
that is still in progress. Then, in January, 1915, under Obregon's mas- 
terful generalship, Carranza began a campaign that inflicted a series 
of crushing blows on the Villistas, culminating in a great defeat of 
Villa's army at Gelaya, April 14-16, 1915. From this time on, Villa 
fought a desperate retreat northward, until he found refuge in his 
native stronghold of Chihuahua. 


The period of the rapid destruction of Villa's power, from January 
to September, 1915, was a time of divided counsels and confusion in 
the Washington government. The administration quickly shifted from 
support of the Villa convention government to a policy of strict neu- 
trality, and Wilson forthrightly and courageously insisted that the 
Mexicans be allowed to settle their own problems in their own way. 50 
The war in Europe made this policy of abstention easier, as there was 
now no possibility of immediate European interference. On the other 
hand, demands at home for intervention mounted so rapidly during 
the first nine months of 1915 that the administration was subjected to 
pressures almost irresistible. Some business elements may have desired 
the military occupation of Mexico, but if they did their spokesmen 
were remarkably silent. Since 1913 the Hearst newspapers had been 
trying frantically to generate a war fever; they now redoubled this ef- 
fort. But more important were the powerful new voices in the inter- 
ventionist camp. On December 6, 1914, Theodore Roosevelt opened 
his campaign for intervention with a strong blast in The New York 
Times Magazine?* His assertion that Wilson was responsible for most 
of the trouble in Mexico^ because he had made the civil war possible 
by his support of the Constitutionalist movement., was soon echoed by 
influential spokesmen, some of whom had previously been friendly to 
the administration. 52 Even more important a factor in the new cam- 
paign for intervention, however, were the hierarchy and laymen of the 
Roman Catholic Church. 53 

Confronted with a rapidly changing situation in Mexico that he did 
not understand, Wilson in February, 1915, sent another agent, Duval 
West of San Antonio, to Mexico; but West returned to report that no 

50 Especially in his Jackson Day address at Indianapolis, January 8, 1915, 
The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 236-251. 

51 Theodore Roosevelt, "Our Responsibility in Mexico," The New York 
Times Magazine, Dec. 6, 1914. 

52 E.g., Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 7, 1914; \V. H. Taft to M. T. Herrick, 
Dec. 14, 1914, Taft Papers; Outlook, CIX (Jan. 20, 1915), 127, GX (May 5, 
1915), 10-12; Independent, LXXXI (Jan. 25, Mar. 22, 1915), 112-113, 407; 
Louisville Courier- Journal, Apr. 17 S 1915; New Republic, HI (June 12, 1915), 

53 E.g., sermon by Joseph Schrembs, Bishop of Toledo, in the Baltimore 
Cathedral, Sept. 27, 1914, New York World, Sept 28, 1914; American Federa- 
tion of Catholic Societies to Wilson, Sept. 29, 1914, Wilson Papers; Cardinal 
O'Connell of Boston, in New York World, Nov. 16, 1914; John Ireland, Arch- 
bishop of St. Paul, to Theodore Roosevelt, Dec. 7, 1914, the Papers of Theodore 
Roosevelt, in the Library of Congress. 


faction was strong enough to dominate the country and establish or- 
der. West also brought back a tragic report of a Mexico ruined and 
devastated, her industries and railroads destroyed, her people near 
starvation. The worst aspect of the tragedy was that there seemed to 
be no hope. The administration pondered the alternatives and con- 
cluded that the only effective solution was the establishment and main- 
tenance by the United States of a government capable of restoring 
order and suppressing the civil war. This, clearly, was what the Presi- 
dent had in mind when, on June 2, he issued a warning to the 
Mexican leaders to stop fighting or else to face American interven- 
tion. Villa replied by offering to make peace with Garranza, while the 
First Chief emphatically repudiated the President's right to interfere. 54 

At this point, when it seemed the administration would at last suc- 
cumb to interventionist pressures and temptations, the situation took a 
new turn. In the first place, it became increasingly evident during the 
summer and early fall that Duval West's estimate had been incorrect. 
The unpleasant truth was that Carranza was growing stronger daily 
and that intervention by the United States^would entail a war with 
Mexico that no one in administration circles wanted. Secondly, at the 
same time the United States became embroiled in a diplomatic crisis 
of the greatest magnitude with Germany over the use of the submarine 
against merchant shipping. As war with Germany became a possibility, 
administration leaders recognized the necessity of avoiding a second 
possible war with Mexico. Thirdly, and most important, the German 
government undertook to provoke a war between the United States 
and Mexico, in order to weaken American pressure against free use of 
the submarine. 55 

In early June, 1915, moreover, a new Secretary of State, Robert 
Lansing, took the helm at the Department of State. In decisions 
affecting Mexico, Bryan had always followed Wilson's lead, without 
attempting to take the initiative. Lansing, however, pursued a more 
vigorous policy. Earlier, in March, he had suggested that the ABC 
powers be brought into the administration's consultations, and in 
August he began a series of conferences with the ABC Ambassadors, 
the Ministers from Bolivia, Uruguay, and Guatemala^ and Paul Fuller 

54 "I think I have never known of a man more impossible to deal with on 
human principles than this man Carranza," Wilson wrote soon afterward. 
Wilson to Lansing, July 2, 1915, the Ray Stannard Baker Collection, in the 
Library of Congress. 

55 These intrigues are discussed more fully below, pp. 200-201. 


that lasted into October. At the outset of these deliberations, Lansing 
and his colleagues agreed Carranza should be eliminated and a new 
provisional government, representing all factions, should be estab- 
lished. 56 On August 11 the conferees addressed an appeal to the 
various Mexican leaders, urging them to compose their differences 
under the auspices of the Pan-American council. 67 Villa agreed at once 
to a mediation that would save a remnant of his shattered power, 
but the Carranzistas replied with one voice that their only leader was 
the First Chief, who would transmit their refusal to submit to any 
form of mediation. 58 Finally, Carranza sent his refusal to Washington 
on September 10, at the very time his armies were capturing Torreon, 
the Villista stronghold in the North. 

Impressed by the unity in the Constitutionalist ranks and by Car- 
ranza's capture of Torreon, Lansing decided the First Chief should be 
recognized. Moreover, the German intrigues in Mexico had convinced 
him there was no alternative. 59 First, however, he had to persuade the 
Latin American envoys, who represented reactionary governments and 
were extremely hostile to the Mexican Revolution, to concur. "It was a 
situation which required delicate handling because a false move would 
defeat the object for which the Conference was called/' Lansing wrote 
soon afterward. "The plan of carrying on the negotiation which I de- 
termined to follow ... to bring the desired result, the recognition of 

56 Lansing to Wilson, Aug. 6, 1915, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations 
of the United States, The Lansing Papers, 1914-1920 (2 vols., Washington, 
1939-40), II, 544. On the other hand, Wilson did not agree that the Pan- 
American conferees should insist upon Carranza's elimination. He was so im- 
pressed by the First Chiefs growing power that he was willing to consider the 
possibility of recognizing him. Wilson to Lansing, Aug. 11, 1915, ibid., p. 549. 

57 Printed in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 
1915 (Washington, 1924), pp. 735-736. 

58 The New York Times, Aug. 22, 1915. 

59 Lansing wrote (the Diary of Robert Lansing, in the Library of Congress) 
on October 10, 1915: 

"Looking at the general situation I have come to the following conclusions: 

"Germany desires to keep up the turmoil in Mexico until the United States 
is forced to intervene; therefore, we must not intervene. 

"Germany does not wish to have any one faction dominant in Mexico ; there- 
fore, we must recognize one faction as dominant in Mexico. 

"When we recognize a faction as the government, Germany will undoubtedly 
seek to cause a quarrel between that government and ours; therefore, we must 
avoid a quarrel regardless of criticism and complaint in Congress and the 

"It comes down to this: Our possible relations with Germany must be our 
first consideration; and all our intercourse with Mexico must be regulated ac- 


Carranza, was to lay a foundation in philosophy^ which would appeal 
strongly to the Latin mind." Lansing's strategy was to convince his 
colleagues that Mexican sovereignty now resided in the revolutionary 
armies, and that the Carranza faction was de facto sovereign because 
it controlled most of the country. 60 

Lansing's strategy succeeded on October 9, and ten days later the 
United States and its six Latin American associates formally recog- 
nized the government of Venustiano Carranza as the de facto govern- 
ment of Mexico. The Villa clique in Washington, headed by the Chief 
of Staff, General Hugh L. Scott, were of course angered, but the 
Roman Catholic hierarchy and journalistic spokesmen were even more 
outraged and replied with a savage attack on the administration that 
continued through the election of 19 16. 61 The Catholic leaders felt 
insulted, not only because the Carranzistas were avowedly anticlerical 
and had committed outrages against priests, nuns, and church property, 
but also because these same Catholic leaders had earlier attempted to 
persuade Wilson and Bryan to bring pressure to bear upon the Con- 
stitutionalists to repeal the Reform Laws of the Juarez era, and Wilson 
and Bryan had refused. 62 Whether the Catholic hierarchy would have 
preferred Villa to Carranza, it is impossible to say. 63 In any event, the 
powerful hostility of the Catholic Church to the administration's policy, 
already manifested, was intensified. Wilson, in turn, resented the 
Catholic criticism and contemplated striking the hierarchy a public 
blow, but apparently thought better of it. 64 

e Ibid. \ 

i E.g., America, XIII (Oct. 2, 1915), 614; ibid., XIV (Oct. 16, 1915), 14; 
ibid. (Oct. 23, 1915), p. 38; Brooklyn Tablet. Oct. 16, 1915; New Orleans 
Morning Star, Oct. 16, 1915. 

62 The Rev. Francis G. Kelley, of the Catholic Church Extension Society of 
Chicago, was the hierarchy's intermediary with the administration. See D. F. 
Malone to Wilson, Apr. 22, 1915, Wilson Papers. Kelley wrote a long letter, 
setting forth the official Catholic position and objectives on February 23, 1915. 
The author was unable to find this letter, but Bryan described it in a letter to 
Wilson, Apr. 19, 1915, the Papers of William Jennings Bryan, in the National 
Archives. "Father Kelley's letter is on the whole quite moderate I think," Bryan 
commented, "but there is one proposition in it which would seem to be un- 
tenable, namely, that the revolutionists should be asked to repeal the laws which 
they have there on the separation of church and state/ 9 

68 Villa's chief agent in the United States, Felix A. Sommerfeld, obtained 
from Villa a promise not to molest the Church and negotiated with the Rev. 
Francis C. Kelley, the chief Catholic spokesman in the United States on Mexi- 
can matters. F. A. Sommerfeld to H. L. Scott, Feb. 18, 1915, Scott Papers. 

64 "The President was very firm in his determination to strike the Catholics a 


Relations between the United States and the Carranza government 
were friendly, if not cordial, during the first three months after recog- 
nition. Then 3 in early January, 1916, occurred the first in a series of 
events that was to culminate in the two nations' drawing to the verge 
of war. The entire cause of the trouble was Villa, who, after Carranza's 
recognition, turned violently on his erstwhile friends and began a cam- 
paign to exterminate Americans in the Northern states. On January 
11, 1916, Villistas stopped a Mexico Northwestern train at Santa 
Ysabel, fifty miles west of Chihuahua City, removed seventeen Ameri- 
cans, and shot sixteen of them on the spot Coinciding as it did with 
the opening of the campaign of 1916, the massacre evoked a strong 
demand in Congress for intervention, and even Wilson's stalwart 
spokesman in the Senate, William J. Stone, wavered. It required the 
full force of administration influence to block passage of a resolution 
authorizing the President to use the military forces in Mexico. 65 

Villa, however, was now deliberately attempting to provoke such 
intervention as a means of discrediting Carranza and regaining his lost 
power. When the Santa Ysabel massacre failed to bring results, the 
bandit chieftain made a desperate raid on American territory, at 
Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, burning the town and killing 
nineteen Americans. Some observers thought he had been seized with 
what Mexicans called Delirio de Grandeza and had gone mad with an 
obsession to kill Americans. Whatever his motivation, Villa this time 
achieved his objective, for the demand in the United States for mili- 
tary action against the Villistas was now so strong that the administra- 
tion could hardly resist it. Instructions were sent immediately to 
military commanders in Texas to assemble an expedition for the pursuit 
of Villa. The President, however, would not allow this so-called Puni- 
tive Expedition to cross the border until he had been assured the 
Mexican authorities approved such action. 68 At the same time, in re- 
public blow, provided they carried their arrogance too far." House Diary, Dec 
16, 1914 [1915]. 

65 Tta New York Times, Jan. 14, 15, 1916. The interventionists did, how- 
ever, obtain passage of a resolution by the Senate calling on the Secretary of 
State to submit a report on the number of Americans killed in Mexico since 
the beginning of the Revolution. The resolution and the State Department's 
reply are printed in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United 
States, 1916 (Washington, 1925), pp. 463-464, 469-478. 

6ft This approval was given orally by the Mexican Secretaries for Foreign 
Relations, War, and Marine on March 15. Silliman to Secretary of State Mar 
15, 1916, ibid., p. 491. 


sponse to a suggestion from Carranza, Lansing negotiated on March 13 
a protocol with Eliseo Arredondo, Mexican Ambassador-designate in 
Washington, empowering either nation in the future to pursue bandits 
across the international boundary. 'Finally, the Punitive Expedition, 
under the command of Brigadier General John J. Pershing, was sent 
across the border on March 15, 1916, but with the most explicit in- 
structions to commit no acts of aggression against the Carranza forces, 

At the same time that Lansing initialed the protocol, the administra- 
tion announced that the agreement was "in full force" and that it 
authorized the entry of the Punitive Expedition into Mexican territory. 
The Washington government was acting in good faith, but its asser- 
tions were incorrect. In the first place, the protocol had not been rati- 
fied by the Mexican government when the Expedition crossed the 
border; in the second, it authorized only temporary crossings in the 
future. Actually, the protocol was not officially ratified by the de facto 
government until March 24, and by this time Pershing's force was far 
into Mexico. 

When he proposed authorizing the mutual right of hot pursuit across 
the border, Carranza was thinking in terms of small forces, whose stay 
in the neighboring territory would be limited to a few days. The entry 
of Pershing's large force 67 greatly alarmed him, and he at once began 
a diplomatic campaign to compel the Expedition's retirement. During 
the first few weeks of the chase, however, the Carranzistas restrained 
their irritation and even made a show of co-operating with Pershing. 
There would have been no difficulty if Villa had been less elusive; 
several times Pershing came within an ace of capturing him and de- 
stroying his band, but Villa always somehow contrived to escape south- 
ward, drawing Pershing behind him. By April 8 the Punitive Expedi- 
tion, now 6,675 strong, had penetrated more than three hundred miles 

Before this word had come from the Mexican capital, then at Queretaro, 
Wilson told Tumulty that if the Mexicans showed an intention to resist the 
Punitive Expedition he would not allow Pershing to cross the border. Tumulty 
to Wilson, Mar. 15, 1916, Wilson Papers; House Diary, Mar. 17, 1916. This 
was a time of renewed crisis with Germany, and, as House expressed it, the 
President was determined to avoid war with Mexico because Germany ardently 
desired such a war. Ibid., Mar. 29, 1916. 

167 In the beginning the Expedition contained a little over 5,000 officers and 
men. By April 5 there were 251 officers and 6,424 men in the force. On April 
18 an additional 2,300 troops were sent to Pershing. By June 19, at the height 
of the Mexican- American tension, Pershing's force numbered 11,635 385 
officers and 11,250 men. 


deep into the heart of Mexico. To sensitive Mexicans this was alarm- 
ing enough; worse still, the Expedition gave no signs of halting, was 
being constantly reinforced, and was rapidly assuming the appearance 
of an army of occupation in the northern states. Carranza had never 
agreed to the Expedition's entry; he now decided he could remain 
acquiescent no longer, and on April 13 Arredondo presented his chief's 
protest, a virtual demand for the withdrawal of the Expedition from 
Mexican soil. 

By mid-April, therefore, it was evident the two governments had 
unintentionally blundered into an exceedingly dangerous situation. By 
now Mexican public opinion was so hostile to the Expedition that 
Carranza could not long remain in power if he did not take drastic 
steps to compel its withdrawal. On the other hand, the Washington 
government were now convinced Carranza either could not or else did 
not wish to control the bandit gangs in northern Mexico. The longer 
the Expedition stayed in Mexico, the less willing the Carranzistas were 
to pursue the Villistas, which fact only deepened American suspicion 
that the Carranza commanders were contemplating an attack on the 
Expedition, Moreover, the Republicans were now launching a bitter 
campaign against the administration's Mexican policy. Carranza's 
demand for the withdrawal of the Expedition evoked indignant pro- 
tests from leaders of the President's own party, who realized with- 
drawal at this time might have disastrous political consequences. 

Neither Carranza nor Wilson wanted war, yet a situation was 
rapidly developing in which conflict between the American and de 
facto forces was inevitable. This unhappy truth was demonstrated by 
an incident that occurred on April 12 and that prompted Carranza to 
demand the withdrawal of the expeditionary force. A detachment of 
American troops entered the town of Parral to purchase supplies. 
Mexican soldiers opened fire upon the Americans as they were leaving, 
and in the ensuing exchange forty Mexicans and two Americans were 
killed. The issue, therefore, was now clearly drawn. In the face of an 
inflamed Mexican public opinion, Carranza could not acquiesce in the 
shedding of Mexican blood on Mexican soil. On the other hand, 
Wilson could not give the appearance of allowing a Mexican mob to 
drive the United States Army out of Mexico. Carranza's demand, 
therefore, was refused. 

Immediately after the Parral incident the two governments made one 
desperate effort at agreement, in order to avert the likelihood of hos- 



tilities, when Generals Hugh L. Scott and Frederick Funston conferred 
with General Alvaro Obregon, Mexican War Minister, in Juarez and 
El Paso. It was evident from the War Department's instructions to 
Scott that the administration sought only the protection of the border 



Kirby in the New York World 
The class in reading and writing 

and the suppression of the Villa marauders. But the President insisted 
that these objectives could be obtained only through the effective co- 
operation of the Mexican and American forces, operating on Mexican 
soil. Obregon, on the other hand, demanded the complete and imme- 
diate withdrawal of the Expedition. Scott and Funston finally drew 
Obregon into a secret conference and persuaded him to sign an agree- 


merit providing for the gradual withdrawal of the Punitive Expedition 
and an effective campaign against the Villistas by the de facto govern- 
ment. Wilson immediately approved the protocol; Carranza, however, 
rejected it because it did not stipulate a definite date for the complete 
evacuation of the Expedition, and he countered with the suggestion 
that the two governments co-operate in policing the border. In the 
end, the most Scott and Funston could get from Obregon was a 
promise that the Mexicans would in good faith try to clean out the 

As it turned out, Villa had other plans. Almost at the very moment 
Obregon was giving his pledge, the bandit leader executed a daring 
raid fifteen miles across the Rio Grande, on the little settlement of 
Glen Springs, Texas, killing three soldiers and a boy and capturing one 
soldier. There were new demands in Congress for full-fledged interven- 
tion, and the Governor of Texas called for the occupation of all 
northern Mexico. And when the President sent a new detachment into 
Mexico to pursue the Glen Springs raiders, Carranza concluded the 
time for a showdown had come by diplomacy if possible, by war if 
that were necessary. On May 22 he addressed a long and bitter note to 
the Secretary of State, accusing the American government of bad faith, 
requesting the United States frankly to avow its intentions, and declar- 
ing that Washington could prove it did not want war only by imme- 
diately withdrawing the Punitive Expedition. 

Carranza's note was delivered at the State Department on May 31. 
From this time forward it seemed events were out of control, that the 
two nations were plunging headlong toward a war that neither of them 
wanted, and that the most tragic chapter in twentieth-century Ameri- 
can history was about to open. Firstly, the American military leaders 
began to draw plans for a Mexican campaign. "I would like plans, 
prepared by the War College for the invasion of Mexico on the lines of 
the various railways from the north," Scott ordered. 68 Secondly, Car- 
ranza instructed his commanders to prevent new American expeditions 
from entering Mexico and to resist the Punitive Expedition if it moved 
in any direction but northward, toward the border. Thirdly, the Presi- 
dent on June 18 called out practically the entire National Guard, some 
100,000 men, to protect the border, 6 * and sent additional warships to 

68 H. L. Scott, "Memorandum for Chief, War College Division/* June 16, 
1916, Scott Papers. 

69 'The New York Times, June 19, 1916. Scott later wrote (to Robert 


Painting by Sir William Orpen, courtesy of Bernard Baruch, Jr., photo- 
graphed by Fernand Bourges. 

Brown Brothe 

2. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT, President of the United States, 1909-1913, 
and Sympathetic Critic of Wilson's Policies, 1913-1917. 

Underwood Sf Underwood 

3. THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Leader of Republican Progressives and Wil- 
son's Chief Critic on Foreign Policy. 

Brown Brothers 


Brown Brothen 






Brown Brothers 




~~ji v- 

Underwood & Underwood 

7. Wilson Being Inaugurated by Chief Justice Edward D. White, 
March 4, 1913. 

Underwood & Underwood 

8. Wilson and His Cabinet, 1913. Reading from left to right: President 
Wilson, William G. McAdoo, James C. McReynolds, Josephus Daniels, 
David F. Houston, William B. Wilson, William C. Redfield, Franklin K. 
Lane, Albert S. Burleson, Lindley M. Garrison, William J. Bryan. 

Underwood & Underwood 
9. Louis D. BRANDEIS, one of the Chief Architects of the New Freedom. 
Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1916. 

Brown Brothers 


Brown Brother 






Brown Brothers 


Underwood & Underwood Brown Brothers 

13. WILLLIAM J. BRYAN 14. ROBERT LANSING, Counsellor of the j 

Secretary of State, 1913-1915 State Department, 1914-1915, and Secre- | 

tary of State, 1915-1920. [ 




Underwood 6* Underwood 

15. EDWARD M. HOUSE, Adviser to the 
President, 1913-1919 




Underwood Sf Underwood 

CARRANZA with His Staff 

Underwood & Underwood 

PERSHING, Commander of the 
Punitive Expedition. 

Underwood r Undcn 

20. "Horse Marines" in Vera Cruz, April 24, 

i. Pershing and the Staff of the Punitive Expedition. Reading from 
left to right: Col. L. G. Berry, Col. De R. C. Cabell, Lt. M. C. Schellen- 
berger, Gen. Pershing, Lt. George E. Patton, Maj. J. L. Hines, Maj. J. B. 
Clayton, Capt. W. B. Burt. 




I * 

for Votes in 1916 

bj Not Amused 

Brown Brothers 

27. Wilson on Campaign Tour, 1916 

Brom Brothers 

28, Wilson Reads His War Message to Congress, April 2, 


both coasts of Mexico. Fourthly, on June 19 occurred a clash between 
Mexican soldiers and American sailors at the port of Mazatlan, on the 
west coast. 70 Finally, on June 20, the Secretary of State addressed the 
reply of the United States to Aguilar's note of May 22. Lansing re- 
counted the destruction of American life and property in Mexico, by 
Mexican citizens; he accused Carranza of being unable or unwilling to 
punish the perpetrators of these outrages; he reviewed the diplomatic 
exchanges since the sending of the Punitive Expedition; he told the 
Mexican government that the Expedition would not be withdrawn, 
and he ended with the warning that any attacks by the de facto forces 
on American troops would "lead to the gravest consequences." 71 

The incident that seemed inevitably to lead to "the gravest conse- 
quences" occurred on June 21, only a few hours after Lansing's sting- 
ing rebuke was delivered in Mexico City. On June 15, Pershing, then 
encamped at Dublan, received a report that a large force of de facto 
troops were concentrating against him. The General sent two troops of 
cavalry under one Captain Boyd and Captain Lewis S. Morey to in- 
vestigate, with Boyd in command. The American party came upon a 
detachment of 250 Mexicans near CarrizaL Wishing to push on be- 
yond, to Ahumada, Boyd negotiated briefly with the Mexican com- 
mander, General Felix G. Gomez. Gomez informed Boyd he could not 
allow him to pass through the town but offered to request such per- 
mission from his superiors. Convinced the Mexicans would not resist, 
Boyd ordered his men to charge the Mexican troops, who meanwhile 
had taken a strong position. Instead of running, as Boyd expected, the 
Mexicans replied gallantly, surrounded the American force, killing 
twelve, including Boyd, and capturing twenty-three soldiers and an 
interpreter. General Gomez and twenty-nine Mexicans were killed. 73 

Leonard, Dec. 11, 1916, Scott Papers) : "The Mexicans had an idea that \ve 
were afraid of them; some 20,000 of them were congregating around Pershing 
within striking distance; some 14,000 were below Douglas, Arizona, and our 
line was thin everywhere. . . . Obregon was boasting that he would be in San 
Antonio within two weeks." 

70 For details see The New York Times, June 20, 1916; Flagship San Diego 
to Secretary of the Navy, June 21, 1916, Wilson Papers; Josephus Daniels to 
Wilson, July 21, 1916, the Papers of Josephus Daniels, in the Library of Con- 
gress, and Daniels to Secretary of State, July 19, 1916, ibid., endorsing report 
by Commander A. G. Kavanagh of the U.S.S. Annapolis. 

71 Lansing to Secretary of Foreign Relations, June 20, 1916, Foreign Rela- 
tions, 1916 9 pp. 581-592. 

72 The foregoing is based upon the following accounts, all of which agree 
remarkably: (1) report by Captain Morey, written immediately after the 


Was this the first incident in the war that all responsible officials in 
Washington now expected? So it seemed, for the first accounts of the 
clash told of a treacherous ambush of the American troops. Charging 
the Mexican government with "deliberately hostile" purposes, Wilson 
demanded the immediate release of the prisoners. A few hours later, 
he called Congressional leaders to the White House and told them 
American troops had been deliberately attacked at Carrizal and that 
he would soon appear before a joint session. Next, he prepared the 
message he would deliver, in which he reviewed the recent history of 
the troubles with Mexico, disavowed any intention of seeking to inter- 
vene in Mexican internal affairs, declared the United States had no 
alternative but to clear the northern states of the bandit gangs, and 
asked Congress to empower him to use the armed forces for such a 
purpose. 73 

Such action, even the publication of Wilson's message, would have 
meant a war that would end only in the occupation of practically every 
square mile of Mexico by American soldiers. And yet, because of the 
force of public opinion in the United States, because Wilson never lost 
control of the military services, and because neither Carranza nor 
Wilson wanted war, war was averted. Captain Morey's report, which 
proved that the Americans had been the aggressors at Carrizal, was 
published in the newspapers on June 26. It was taken up by the 
American Union Against Militarism, a pacifist organization, which 
printed it and a fervent plea against war in full-page advertisements 
in all the metropolitan newspapers. As a result, Wilson was immediately 
overwhelmed with a flood of telegrams, letters, and petitions; and 
from the replies he made to the appeals for peace it is evident that he 
was shaken and deeply moved. Not slowly, but almost at once, good 
sense returned to official circles in Washington. And when Carranza, 
on June 28, ordered the release of the American soldiers, tension eased 
perceptibly. Two days later, in a speech before the New York Press 

battle, printed in Foreign Relations, 1916, p. 596; (2) report written by the 
interpreter, Lemuel Spillsbury, printed in The New York Times, June 25, 1916; 

(3) official Mexican report, Lt. Col. Genovevo Rivas to General Gonzales at 
Juarez, c. June 21, 1916, printed in El Pueblo (Mexico City), July 1, 1916; 

(4) official United States Army report, E. A. Garlington, Inspector General, 
"Fourth Endorsement on the Report of investigation of the encounter between 
American and Mexican forces at Carrizal, Chihuahua, June 21, 1916," dated 
Oct. 2, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

78 The manuscript copy of Wilson's address, "To the Congress. June, 1916," 
is in ibid. 


Club, Wilson reciprocated with a forthright, passionate plea for peace. 
"Do you think the glory of America would be enhanced by a war of 
conquest in Mexico?" he asked. 74 An answer was given in Mexico City 
on July 4, when Carranza suggested direct and friendly negotiations to 
end the causes of the Mexican- American tension. 

The upshot was the signing soon afterward of an agreement for the 
appointment of a Joint High Commission to investigate and recom- 
mend. Wilson welcomed the negotiations, as they afforded some relief 
from the Republican attacks during the presidential campaign then in 
progress. Carranza welcomed the conference because it afforded him 
an opportunity to hold elections, the first step in the establishment of a 
constitutional government. From September 6, 1916, through January 
15, 1917, the commissioners Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. 
Lane, the Reverend Doctor John R. Mott, former Judge George Gray, 
Luis Cabrera, Ignacio Bonillas, and Alberto J. Pani met in New 
London, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia. All phases of the Mexican 
problem were thoroughly discussed. The Mexicans pressed for an 
agreement promising the immediate withdrawal of the Punitive Expe- 
dition. The Americans, on the other hand, insisted on discussing 
internal conditions in Northern Mexico., taxes on American mining 
properties in Mexico, and the protection of British and American oil 
properties. The Mexican commissioners finally surrendered to the 
extraordinarily heavy pressure being put upon them and, on November 
24, signed a protocol for the withdrawal of the Expedition within forty 
days, only provided conditions in the Northern states warranted such 

A new crisis was created, however, when Garranzaj on December 27, 
rejected the protocol and announced he would approve no agreement 
that did not first provide for the immediate evacuation of Mexican 
territory by the forces of the United States. As accord on that issue was 
impossible, the Joint High Commission broke up January 15, 1917. It 
had preserved the peace, and that fact alone justified its existence; and 
it had helped Wilson win the election by neutralizing the Mexican 
issue during the campaign. But with the breakup of the Commission 
the Washington government was back at the point from which nego- 
tiations had begun. In brief, the United States now had either to with- 
draw the expedition or else to break relations and attempt to occupy 

74 New York World, July 1, 1916. 


the Northern Mexican states. With the possibility of soon becoming in- 
volved in the European war staring him in the face, there was never 
much doubt in Wilson's mind what the national interest compelled him 
to do. The decision was made by January 18, when Secretary of War 
Baker informed the military commanders that the President would 
soon order the return of Pershing's command to Texas. By January 27 
the withdrawal had begun and a near-tragic chapter in Mexican- 
American relations was finished. 

The de facto government, meanwhile, had proceeded serenely and 
quite independently to establish a constitutional government. On 
October 22, 1916, the Mexican people elected a constituent assembly 
that met in Queretaro in December and January and adopted a new 
and advanced Constitution. Next, on March 11, a new Congress and a 
constitutional President, Carranza, were elected; finally, the United 
States extended de jure recognition by sending Henry P. Fletcher as 
Ambassador to Carranza on March 13, 1917. 

The recognition of Carranza's de jure government and the with- 
drawal of the Punitive Expedition were the outward and visible signs 
of the First Chiefs victory, not only at home, but also over an equally 
stubborn man in the White House. Since the first days of the Consti- 
tutionalist movement, Carranza had never once wavered in his de- 
termination to preserve the integrity and independence of the Revolu- 
tion. Neither Wilson's blandishments nor threats had moved him. The 
result was that Mexico was now free to undertake its great experiment 
and its long and difficult progress toward democratic institutions. 

The tragedy was that Wilson had in large measure made this oppor- 
tunity possible, yet had interfered in the wrong way so often that he 
embittered Mexican-American relations for many years to come. Even 
so, future generations may forget his mistakes and the Mexican people 
may some day remember that he, almost alone, stood off Europe dur- 
ing the days of the Huertista tyranny, withstood the powerful forces 
in the United States that sought the undoing of the Revolution, and 
refused to go to war at a time when it might have insured his re- 


American Neutrality ^ 1914-15 

TO SAY that the outbreak of the First World War in August, 1914, 
came as a shock to the American people would be to make an 
understatement of heroic proportions. In the summer of that momen- 
tous year most Americans were still living in the confident international 
community of the nineteenth century and were totally unprepared for 
the impending catastrophe. Americans read with horrified interest 
about the assassination on June 28 of the Austrian Archduke and his 
wife, but they were unaware that this spark would set off a general 
conflagration. When war came and the international structure fell 
crashing in ruins, thoughtful men in the United States, indeed, in all 
the world, were stunned and perplexed. As one sensitive North Caro- 
linian expressed it, "This dreadful conflict of the nations came to most 
of us as lightning out of a clear sky. The horror of it all kept me awake 
for weeks, nor has the awfulness of it all deserted me." * 

Yet events compelled Americans to examine closely the basic causes 
and issues of the war. During the first months, indeed, during the long 
period from August, 1914, to April, 1917, the American people were 
deluged -with a flood of appeals, both at home and abroad, in behalf of 
the opposing alliances. So much that is superficial has been written on 
the subject of propaganda and the formation of American attitudes 
that perhaps a few corrective generalizations are in order. Firstly, it is 
doubtful that Americans of this period were as naive about the origins 
of the war as a later generation believed. On the contrary, many 

* Robert N. Page to Walter H. Page, Nov. 12, 1914, the Papers of Walter H. 
Page, in Houghton Library, Harvard University. 



molders of opinion had a sophisticated understanding of the intricate 
causes of the war, 2 To be sure, some influential newspapers and spokes- 
men in the United States immediately branded Germany as the ag- 
gressor; 3 but other distinguished leaders in church and secular affairs 
argued persuasively that Germany was least guilty. 4 Secondly, the 
Germans had a full and free opportunity to present their case before 
the American public and did present it in a variety of ways, especially 
through the regular channels of opinion. 5 Far from being inept >and 

2 Colonel House's comment, which is too long to be printed here, is particu- 
larly significant, as it revealed 'an acute understanding of European politics and 
the background of the war. The Diary of Edward M. House, in the Papers of 
Edward M. House, in the Library of Yale University, Apr. 15, 1915. See also, 
for example, Benjamin Ide Wheeler to F. K. Lane, Sept. 5, 1914, copy in the 
Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the Library of Congress; C. W. Eliot to Wilson, 
Aug. 20, 1914, ibid.; Saturday Evening Post, CLXXXVII (Aug. 29, 1914), 20; 
ibid., June 19, 1915, p. 22; George Harvey, "Europe at Armageddon," North 
American Review, CC (Sept., 1914), 321-332; The Presbyterian, LXXXIV 
(Sept. 30, 1914), 3; ibid., Dec. 2, 1914, p. 3; Pastoral Letter of the Methodist 
Episcopal Bishops, May 12, 1915, in New York Christian Advocate, XC (May 
20, 1915), 677. 

3 E.g., New York World, Aug. 4, 5, 1914; Outlook, CVII (Aug. 15, 1914), 
891-893; ibid., CVIII (Sept. 30, 1914), 245-249; W. H. Taft to Mrs. W. A. 
Edwards, Sept. 2, 1914, the Papers of William Howard Taft, in the Library of 
Congress; O. G. Villard to E. W. Hilgard, Sept. 18, 1914, the Papers of Oswald 
Garrison Villard, in Houghton Library, Harvard University; Henry A. Wallace 
to W. H. Page, Aug. 2, 1915, Page Papers; Henry Watterson, in Louisville 
Courier- Jour rial, July 4, 1915. Elihu Root's views are given fully in the memo- 
randum of an interview of c. Aug. 4, 1914, that Hamilton Holt sent to Root on 
Aug. 7 3 1914, the Papers of Elihu Root, in the Library of Congress. 

* Lutheran Church Work, III (Sept. 3, 1914), 8-9; ibid., Oct. 1, 1914, pp. 
89. Rear Admiral French E. Chadwick carried on a long campaign to convince 
the public that Britain was chiefly responsible for the war. For samples of his 
propaganda see Chadwick to Wilson, Aug. 23, Sept. 12, Dec. 16, 1914, Feb. 19, 
1915, Wilson Papers; Chadwick to O. G. Villard, Jan. 4, 1915, Villard Papers. 
Professor John W. Burgess of Columbia University was another ardent de- 
fender of Germany. See, among others, his articles in the Boston Evening 
Transcript, Aug. 19, 1914; Newport (R.I.) Daily News, Sept. 12, 1914; New 
York Evening Mail, Aug. 14, 1915; letter to editor of the Springfield Republi- 
can, reprinted in The Open Court, XXVIII (Oct., 1914), 587-595. Perhaps 
the most influential German apologist in the United States, however, was the 
Rev. Dr. Walter Rauschenbusch, leader of the social gospel movement. His "Be 
Fair to Germany,'* reprinted from the Congregationalist by the Lutheran 
Church Work, III (Nov. 19, 1914), 8-10, is typical of his appeals. 

5 The British cut the cable between Germany and the United States imme- 
diately after the declaration of war; but the lack of direct cable connection 
between Berlin and New York was no deterrent to the sending of news from 
Germany. A great amount of literature came through the mails during the first 
year of the war; American correspondents sent their dispatches through either 


unsuited to the American mentality, much of the German propaganda 
was skillfully executed and made a deep impression on the American 
mind, especially when it appealed to the deep-rooted American hatred 
of Russian despotism and anti-Semitism and the American fear of 
future Russian aggression. 6 

The fact is, the Germans and their champions in the United States 
went to greater expense and effort to influence American opinion, at 
least before the German propaganda machine was exposed in August, 
1915, than did their enemies. That they failed to persuade a majority 
of Americans that their cause was just does not necessarily signify that 
they blundered. They failed because a majority of thoughtful Ameri- 
cans had made up their minds on the causes and issues of the war 
before the German or British propaganda agencies set effectively to 
work. American attitudes were of course conditioned by the back- 
ground of German-American rivalries, by the fear that Germany had 
naval ambitions in the Caribbean, and by a deep-rooted distrust of the 
Kaiser and the military clique that controlled Imperial Germany. But 
most important, Germany's actions immediately before and after the 
outbreak of the war confirmed the deepest American suspicions. Ger- 
many's and Austria's refusal to submit the Serbian question to arbitra- 
tion, i f . was thought, had made a general war inevitable, while Ger- 
many's ruthless breach of treaty pledges in violating Belgian neutrality 
was regarded as a defiance of the moral conscience of the world. Thus 
the preponderant American opinion was determined during the first 
months of the war, not by atrocity stories, 7 British propaganda, and 

Rotterdam, Copenhagen, or London, but in the latter case the British censors 
often did not interfere. Finally, American correspondents could always use 
the wireless for important dispatches, and a large quantity of news came by this 

6 For samples of German propaganda in the United States, see the Essay on 
Sources, "Propaganda and American Opinion on the War German Propa- 

7 Before the publication of the Bryce Report on May 13, 1915, no person of 
consequence in the United States took the atrocity stories seriously, mainly 
because American correspondents with the German armies in Belgium and 
France denied them emphatically. See Roger Lewis et al. 9 in New York World 9 
Sept. 7, 1914; John T. McGutcheon, in ibid., Sept. 19, 1914; -Joseph Medill 
Patterson, in ibid., Sept. 25, 1914; Arno Dosch, "Louvain the Lost," World's 
Work, XXVIII (Oct., 1914), A-H; Arthur Sweetser, "A Diary from the Front," 
ibid. 9 XXIX (Jan., 1915), 350-356; Irvin S. Gobb, "Being a Guest of the 
German Kaiser," Saturday Evening Post, GLXXXVII (Oct. 24, 1914), 14; 
A. Sweetser, "With the Germany Army in Its Dash Toward Paris," Outlook, 
CIX (Jan. 27, 1915), 186-190. 


molders of opinion had a sophisticated understanding of the intricate 
causes of the Avar. 2 To be sure, some influential newspapers and spokes- 
men in the United States immediately branded Germany as the ag- 
gressor; 3 but other distinguished leaders in church and secular affairs 
argued persuasively that Germany was least guilty: 1 Secondly, the 
Germans had a full and free opportunity to present their case before 
the American public and did present it in a variety of ways, especially 
through the regular channels of opinion. 5 Far from being inept and 

2 Colonel House's comment, which is too long to be printed here, is particu- 
larly significant, as it revealed 'an acute understanding of European politics and 
the background of the war. The Diary of Edward M. House, in the Papers of 
Edward M. House, in the Library of Yale University, Apr. 15, 1915. See also, 
for example, Benjamin Ide Wheeler to F. K. Lane, Sept. 5, 1914, copy in the 
Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the Library of Congress; C. W. Eliot to Wilson, 
Aug. 20, 1914, ibid.; Saturday Evening Post, CLXXXVII (Aug. 29, 1914), 20; 
ibid., June 19, 1915, p. 22; George Harvey, "Europe at Armageddon," North 
American Review, CC (Sept., 1914), 321-332; The Presbyterian, LXXXIV 
(Sept. 30, 1914), 3; ibid., Dec. 2, 1914, p. 3; Pastoral Letter of the Methodist 
Episcopal Bishops, May 12, 1915, in New York Christian Advocate, XC (May 
20, 19;5\ 677. 

3 E.g., New York World, Aug. 4, 5, 1914; Outlook, CVII (Aug. 15, 1914), 
891-893: ibid., CVIII (Sept. 30, 1914), 245-249; W. H. Taft to Mrs. W. A. 
Edwards, Sept. 2, 1914, the Papers of William Howard Taft, in the Library of 
Congress; O. G. Villard to E. W. Hilgard, Sept. 18, 1914, the Papers of Oswald 
Garrison Yiilard, in Houghton Library, Harvard University; Henry A. Wallace 
to W. H. Page, Aug. 2, 1915, Page Papers; Henry Watterson, in Louisville 
Courier- Journal, July 4, 1915. Elihu Root's views are given fully in the memo- 
randum of an interview of c. Aug. 4, 1914, that Hamilton Holt sent to Root on 
Aug. 7, 1914, the Papers of Elihu Root, in the Library of Congress. 

* Lutheran Church Work, III (Sept. 3, 1914), 8-9; ibid., Oct. 1, 1914, pp. 
8-9. Rear Admiral French E. Chadwick carried on a long campaign to convince 
the public that Britain was chiefly responsible for the war. For samples of his 
propaganda see Chadwick to Wilson, Aug. 23, Sept. 12, Dec. 16, 1914, Feb. 19, 
1915, Wilson Papers; Chadwick to O. G. Villard, Jan. 4, 1915, Villard Papers. 
Professor John W. Burgess of Columbia University was another ardent de- 
fender of Germany. See, among others, his articles in the Boston Evening 
Transcript, Aug. 19, 1914; Newport (R.I.) Daily News, Sept. 12, 1914; New 
York Evening Mail, Aug. 14, 1915; letter to editor of the Springfield Republi- 
can, reprinted in The Open Court, XXVIII (Oct., 1914), 587-595. Perhaps 
the most influential German apologist in the United States, however, was the 
Rev. Dr. W r alter Rauschenbusch, leader of the social gospel movement. His "Be 
Fair to Germany," reprinted from the Congregationalist by the Lutheran 
Church Work, III (Nov. 19, 1914), 8-10, is typical of his appeals. , 

5 The British cut the cable between Germany and the United States imme- 
diately after the declaration of war; but the lack of direct cable connection 
between Berlin and New York was no deterrent to the sending of news from 
Germany. A great amount of literature came through the mails during the first 
year of the war; American correspondents sent their dispatches through either 


unsuited to the American mentality, much of the German propaganda 
was skillfully executed and made a deep impression on the American 
mind, especially when it appealed to the deep-rooted American hatred 
of Russian despotism and anti-Semitism and the American fear of 
future Russian aggression. 6 

The fact is, the Germans and their champions in the United States 
went to greater expense and effort to influence American opinion, at 
least before the German propaganda machine was exposed in August, 
1915, than did their enemies. That they failed to persuade a majority 
of Americans that their cause was just does not necessarily signify that 
they blundered. They failed because a majority of thoughtful Ameri- 
cans had made up their minds on the causes and issues of the war 
before the German or British propaganda agencies set effectively to 
work. American attitudes were of course conditioned by the back- 
ground of German-American rivalries, by the fear that Germany had 
naval ambitions in the Caribbean, and by a deep-rooted distrust of the 
Kaiser and the military clique that controlled Imperial Germany. But 
most important, Germany's actions immediately before and after the 
outbreak of the war confirmed the deepest American suspicions. Ger- 
many's and Austria's refusal to submit the Serbian question to arbitra- 
tion, i<: was thought, had made a general war inevitable, while Ger- 
many's ruthless breach of treaty pledges in violating Belgian neutrality 
was regarded as a defiance of the moral conscience of the world. Thus 
the preponderant American opinion was determined during the first 
months of the war, not by atrocity stories, 7 British propaganda, and 

Rotterdam, Copenhagen, or London, but in the latter case the British censors 
often did not interfere. Finally, American correspondents could always use 
the wireless for important dispatches, and a large quantity of news came by this 

6 For samples of German propaganda in the United States, see the Essay on 
Sources, "Propaganda and American Opinion on the War German Propa- 

7 Before the publication of the Bryce Report on May 13, 1915, no person of 
consequence in the United States took the atrocity stories seriously, mainly 
because American correspondents with the German armies in Belgium and 
France denied them emphatically. See Roger Lewis et aL 9 in New York World, 
Sept. 7, 1914; John T. McGutcheon, in ibid., Sept. 19, 1914; Joseph Medill 
Patterson, in ibid., Sept. 25, 1914; Arno Dosch, "Louvain the Lost," World's 
Work, XXVIII (Oct., 1914), A-H; Arthur Sweetser, "A Diary from the Front," 
ibid., XXIX (Jan., 1915), 350-356; Irvin S. Gobb, "Being a Guest of the 
German Kaiser," Saturday Evening Post, CLXXXVII (Oct. 24, 1914), 14; 
A. Sweetser, "With the Germany Army in Its Dash Toward Paris," Outlook, 
CIX (Jan. 27, 1915), 186-190. 


hysterical fear, but upon a fairly keen analysis of the international 
situation and sure knowledge of German actions. And this opinion was 
confirmed and strengthened by subsequent events, especially the ruth- 
less submarine campaign. 8 

The fact that probably a majority of Americans were mildly pro- 
Allied by the autumn of 1914 did not mean, however, that they wanted 
to intervene in any fashion. At this time, at any rate, opinion was 
almost unanimous that the United States had no vital stake in the war 
and that wisdom dictated a policy of complete neutrality. Therefore, 
when the President issued an official proclamation of neutrality and 
backed it up on August 18 with a personal appeal to his fellow country- 
men for impartiality of thought as well as of action, even ardent be- 
lievers in the British cause like Charles W. Eliot applauded. 9 

The publication by the Bryce Commission of its Report, however, created an 
entirely new situation. James Bryce, Sir Frederick Pollock, and the other mem- 
bers of the Commission were venerated in the United States, and their names 
gave authority to a superficially convincing document, the main thesis of 
which was that the German army had used cruelty as a deliberate policy in 
Belgium. Coining as it did after the second greatest atrocity of the war the 
sinking of the Lusitania the Report caused many Americans to wonder or to 
believe that there was a firm basis of truth in many of the atrocity charges. For 
American comment see New York World, May 13, 1915; The Nation, C (May 
20, 1915), 554-555; Independent, LXXXII (May 24, 1915), 309-310; Out- 
look, CX (May 26, 1915), 150-151; World's Work, XXX (June, 1915), 134; 
Collier's, LV (June 5, 1915), 15. 

It would be easy, however, to overestimate the importance of the Bryce 
Report. We know, for example, that Wilson steadfastly refused to listen to, 
much less believe, the atrocity charges. Southerners with long memories pointed 
out that General Sherman had used a deliberate policy of cruelty to civilians 
to shorten the Civil War. And most Americans had made up their minds by 
the time the Bryce Report was issued. 

8 Oswald Garrison Villard, certainly not an interventionist, best expressed 
the preponderant American opinion in reply to the German naval attache", who 
had asserted that the American people were being misled by British lies. "I am 
frant to admit," Villard replied, "that it is no longer possible for the bulk of 
the papers to deal with judicial minds with the situation; for the bulk of them 
it has been impossible since Belgium, but I insist that the responsibility rests 
with Germany alone and that their acts in Belgium, in Louvain and the sinking 
of the Lusitania readily account for this partisanship of our press. Germany has 
affronted the moral, neutral sentiment of the world, and that cannot be ex- 
plained away by dismissing our sources of information as English lies, etc." 
Villard to Karl Boy-Ed, Oct. 28 3 1915, Villard Papers. 

9 Wilson also forbade army and navy officers publicly to discuss the issues of 
the war. Later he went so far as to make an appeal to motion-picture audiences 
to refrain from demonstrating in any way in favor of either side, Wilson to 
Bryan, Sept. 11, 1914, Wilson Papers. On another occasion, he refused to 
accept a cutting from a rosebush from the battlefield of Verdun because to do 
so might be "unneutral." Wilson to B. R. Newton, June 9, 1916, ibid. 


Shattering though the war was to American dreams of the progres- 
sive betterment of mankind, it had also a profound impact on the 
domestic economy and created problems that demanded prompt atten- 
tion. Rumors of war, for example, sent prices on the New York Stock 
Exchange on July 30 tumbling an average of nearly five points, and 
the pressure of European liquidation was so enormous that the Ex- 
change closed the following day. A panic was averted by Secretary 
McAdoo's decisive action in making available an almost unlimited 
quantity of so-called "emergency currency," authorized by the Aldrich- 
Vreeland Act, until the Federal Reserve System could go into opera- 
tion. 10 Moreover, closing prices on the Stock Exchange were used to 
determine the value of securities offered as collateral for loans from 
national banks, thus freezing, as it were, stock and bond prices at an 
almost normal level. 

Effective co-operation between bankers and the Treasury saved the 
national financial structure until the day, in the spring of 1915, when 
Allied war orders began to pour in upon American manufacturers and 
stimulated a boom of great proportions. But when a similar crisis de- 
moralized the cotton market and caused prices to drop from ten-eleven 
to four-five cents a pound, the government at first failed to do any- 
thing. Facing economic ruin, the cotton planters and their spokesmen 
were up in arms all over the South and in Washington, imploring the 
administration to use governmental resources to stabilize cotton prices, 
by "valorizing" the price of cotton. 11 There was even a short-lived 
filibuster in Congress in October, but the strongest pressure Southern- 
ers could muster brought no substantial relief. The most the ad- 
ministration would do was to allow the issuance of emergency currency 
against cotton in licensed warehouses, but "on thelbasis of 75 per cent 
of the current price, ,to approve a federally licensed warehouse system, 
and to promote the establishment by private bankers of a national pool 
oj jj>150 million to stabilize cotton at six cents a pound. So onerous 
were the tern^uno!ef" which planters could borrow from the national 

10 To September 10, 1914, some $256,170,000 of the emergency currency was 

11 Representatives of- the cotton growers met with Secretary McAdoo at a 
conference in the Pan-American Building in Washington on August 24^-25, 
1914. The cotton spokesmen proposed that the federal government peg the 
price of cotton at its normal level of ten cents a pound and allow state banks to 
issue emergency currency, in the form of loans to planters, based upon ten-cent 
cotton. The New York Times, Aug. 25, 26, 1914; New York Journal of Com- 
merce, Aug. 25, 1914. 


pool, however, that only seven loans, totaling $28,000, were made; and 
it is a safe assumption the South lost about half the value of the cotton 
crop of 1914 without benefit of any decisive action by the administra- 

Southerners, therefore, complained bitterly that the administration 
was mindful of business and banking interests and callous to the des- 
perate needs of the farmers. These complaints were not without sub- 
stance* In numerous ways besides the issuing of emergency currency 
and the pegging of security prices the administration evidenced its 
readiness to soften the impact of the war on the business and commer- 
cial classes, if not actually to take advantage of the war situation to 
give a peculiar advantage to those interests. 

Thus, on July 31 the President called Congressional leaders to the 
White House, warned them that the outbreak of war would demoralize 
the sea lanes until the British navy had cleared them of German 
raiders, and urged the passage of emergency legislation to increase the 
American merchant marine. 12 In response to this appeal, the Senate 
on August 3 passed a bill authorizing the use of naval vessels as cargo 
carriers. It was never approved by the House; but the administration 
obtained drastic alterations in the ship registry law, making it easy for 
foreign ships to hoist the American flag. 13 The administration, more- 
over, obtained Congressional approval for the establishment in the 
Treasury Department of a War Risk Insurance Bureau to provide 

12 He was obviously thinking of blockade and contraband in traditional terms, 
as he pointed out that American ships alone would be available to carry food, 
cotton, and other raw materials to the Central Powers. W. C. Adamson, un- 
dated memorandum in the Baker Collection; also New York World, Aug. 1, 

13 As the bill approved on August 18, 1914, did not even require American 
ownership of a majority of stock in corporations applying for American regis- 
try, it was a clear violation of international custom and law and later evoked 
strong protests from the British government. See Joint Neutrality Board, "Note 
to the French Ambassador Concerning Purchase of German Merchant Ships," 
dated Sept. 16, 1914, copy in the Papers of Chandler P. Anderson, in the 
Library of Congress. 

Fortunately for the United States, the German owners of vessels in American 
harbors dared not risk losing their property and did not openly take advantage 
of the new provision. Thus most of the vessels 'that changed their registry were 
American-owned ships previously under British, Belgian, and German registry, 
and the United States was spared the necessity of defending the right of Ger- 
man shipowners to operate under the American flag. The right of American 
citizens to buy German vessels and operate them in the European trade was a- 
different matter and will be discussed later. 


marine insurance at standard rates for American shipowners and 

The administration's early position on the question of loans by 
American bankers to belligerent governments should also be understood 
as part and parcel of a great effort to protect the much damaged 
domestic financial structure. In early August the French government 
asked J. P. Morgan & Company to float a $100 million loan in the 
United States. There were good economic reasons why the loan should 
not be made: the security markets were disorganized and there was 
widespread fear that foreign creditors would demand large quantities 
of gold in return for American securities and payment of outstanding 
obligations. In refusing to approve the French loan, the administration 
was protecting the American gold reserve. Unfortunately, however, the 
President allowed the Secretary of State to inject an irrational and 
unneutral meaning into the State Department's refusal to approve the 
transaction, and to trumpet it abroad as the official position of the 
American government. "There is no reason why loans should not be 
made to Governments of neutral nations," Bryan was allowed to say in 
an official statement, "but in the judgment of this Government loans by 
American bankers to any foreign nation which is at war is [sic] incon- 
sistent with the true spirit of neutrality." 14 Moreover, in a signed 
article in his monthly, The Commoner, for September, 1914, Bryan 
went further and declared, "Money is the worst of contrabands it 
commands all other things." 15 

While the State Department's ban did not violate international law,, 
it was a deviation from traditional practice and, further, was un- 
neutral, in that it operated to the disadvantage of Great Britain, a sea 
power, and to the great advantage of Germany, a land power. More- 
over, it was an economically unrealistic policy, because if it had been 
faithfully adhered to it would have ended by destroying the only 
foreign trade in which the United States could then engage on a large 
scale trade with its natural customers, Britain and France. 

As these facts became evident after the panic in Wall Street bad 

14 Bryan's statement of August 15, 1914, printed in The New York Times, 
Aug. 16, 1914. 

15 Bryan expressed these sentiments also in Bryan to Wilson, Aug. 10, 1914, 
Wilson Papers. One is tempted to believe that had this issue not arisen at the 
time of Mrs. Wilson's death, when he was almost beside himself with grief, the 
President would not have allowed Bryan to lead him into approving this mis- 
taken policy. 


passed, the economic impossibility and strategic unwisdom of maintain- 
ing Bryan's ban on loans also became apparent, and the State 
Department began a retreat that ended in complete revocation of the 
prohibition. In mid-October the Department shifted its position and , 
made it plain it would not attempt to obstruct future loans to the 
belligerents. A short time later, on October 23, the President told 
Lansing, then Counselor, that he would not oppose an extension of 
commercial credits, information that was at once relayed to the Na- 
tional City Bank and the Morgan firm. The bankers, however, seemed 
still uncertain of the administration's attitude, especially regarding the 
floating of outright loans, and they moved with extreme care to avoid 
offending public opinion. Before the spring of 1915 only a few small 
short-term commercial credits had been advanced by the New York 
banks. As exports began greatly to exceed imports, however, larger 
credits had to be advanced, and the bankers demanded explicit assur- 
ances of approval from the State Department before they undertook to 
finance the growing war trade. The issue came to a head in March, 
1915, when the Morgan firm sought official approval for a $50 million 
commercial credit to the French government. Every responsible person 
knew there was no difference between a credit of this kind and a 
"loan," but Bryan saved face by announcing on March 31 that the 
Department would not object to such credit arrangements, although it 
had in the past disapproved "loans." 

The administration's most important effort to meet the economic 
needs created by the war situation was its vigorous, almost frantic 
campaign to obtain passage of a bill to provide $30 million for the 
purchase of a governmentally owned and operated shipping line. The 
author of the ship purchase bill introduced in August, 1914, was Mc- 
Adoo, who brought the President to his side and led the fight for its 
adoption. As the bill provided for the purchase, not for the construc- 
tion, of ships, the question of what ships would be purchased immedi- 
ately arose. Obviously, the only vessels available in quantity were the 
German ships, totaling half a million tons, lying in American harbors. 
Wilson was reluctant to take the step, but McAdoo convinced him there 
was no other way to get the ships quickly. Moreover, as McAdoo 
pointed out, the government "would not ... be confined to the pur- 
chase of German ships only." 16 

Wilson's insistence on' pushing the measure provoked a bitter fight in 

McAdoo to Wilson, Nov. 21, 1914, ibid. 


Congress. The Republicans, led by Henry Cabot Lodge and Elihu 
Root, opposed the bill because it would project the government into 
the business field. They opposed it, also, because they suspected the 
administration planned to buy the German ships and operate them in 
the Atlantic trade; 17 and this, they asserted, would inevitably involve 
the United States in a serious and entirely needless dispute with the 
British government. 18 Administration spokesmen were not frank with 
Congress and refused to affirm or deny the charge that they contem- 
plated purchasing the German ships. Like most other leaders, Bryan 
saw the issue clearly and begged the President to come out frankly and 
tell the American people and the Allies that he had no intention of 
buying the disputed vessels. But Wilson would not surrender. On the 
contrary, he grew sullen and bitter and privately charged Lodge and 
Root with lack of conscience and with using "insincere and contempti- 
ble methods of fighting." After the defeat of the bill in early March, 
1915, moreover, he wrote a long and bitter indictment of the Repub- 
lican senators and the seven Democrats who had joined them in de- 
feating the measure. 19 Someone must have persuaded him to withhold 
the statement, for it was never published. 

The administration, meanwhile, had been maneuvering to take a 
definite diplomatic position in relation to the belligerents. As the Ger- 
man government early announced its intention to adhere to the 
Declaration of London 20 in its maritime warfare and adhered to this 

17 Lodge, moreover, believed McAdoo was involved in some understanding, 
probably corrupt, with Kuhn, Loeb & Company, which firm, he thought, would 
handle the sale of the ships. See Lodge to Theodore Roosevelt, Jan. 15, 20, 26, 
Feb. 5, 8, 19, Mar. 1, 1915, the Papers of Theodore Roosevelt, in the Library 
of Congress; Lodge to Henry L. Higginson, Jan. 8, 25, 1915, the Papers of 
Henry L. Higginson, in Hough ton Library, Harvard University; Lodge to John 
T. Morse, Jr., Jan. 28, 1915, the Papers of John T. Morse, Jr., in the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. 

18 Lodge's and Root's fear was well grounded, as was evidenced by the bitter 
protest of the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, against the ship 
purchase bill (Grey to Spring Rice, Jan. 22, 1915, House Papers). It is certain 
the British would not have acknowledged the legality of the American govern- 
ment's purchase of the German vessels. Moreover, the British would probably 
have seized the ships if the government shipping corporation had tried to use 
them in the Atlantic trade. This action, in turn, would have compelled the 
United States either to abandon its shipping venture or else to resort to strong 
diplomacy or force to maintain its illegal position. 

19 "Statement about the shipping bill," c. Mar. 4, 1915, in Wilson Papers. 

20 Drawn up by the representatives of the maritime powers at the London 
Conference of 1909, the Declaration represented the culmination of liberal 


promise until February, 1915, the administration's early troubles were 
all with Great Britain over the contraband list, the status of Ameri- 
can-owned ships formerly under German registry, and the searching 
and detention of American ships by British naval craft. Determined to 
use their naval supremacy to the fullest advantage, the British Cabinet, 
by Order in Council on August 20, 1914, began the process of tighten- 
ing the noose around the Central Powers. Slowly, gradually, this eco- 
nomic warfare was intensified, until soon Germany was denied access, 
even through neutral ports, to neutral sources of copper, oil, food, 
cotton, and other vital raw materials. But the Cabinet always operated 
with a keen eye on American reactions. The British policy, in brief, was 
to exercise the maximum restraint of neutral trade compatible with 
retaining the friendship of the United States. By the beginning of 1915 
the structure of the British system of maritime controls was fairly com- 
plete, although it was strengthened considerably as new opportunities 

The important question was whether the American government 
would acquiesce in the British system or attempt to enervate it by 
insisting, to the point of war, upon freedom of trade with Germany in 
so-called noncontraband commodities. At first Wilson endeavored to 
persuade the Foreign Office to accept in full the Declaration of Lon- 
don, with one modification, as the code governing British sea opera- 
tions. Wilson's proposal would have given the British only slight 
control over the transit of goods into Germany through neutral ports 
and would have denied to the British their most effective weapon 
their control over the contraband list. 21 Grey pointed out this elemental, 
but important, fact to Page when he rejected the President's suggestion. 
In their subsequent negotiations with the British Foreign Office, there- 

nineteenth-century thought on the subject of maritime warfare. Its provisions 
regarding contraband were most explicit and generous to land powers, as it 
forbade placing food and raw materials on the list of absolute, or prohibited, 
contraband. The Declaration was never ratified by the British Parliament and 
was, therefore, never an integral part of international law. 

21 Specifically, Wilson proposed that the British government accept the 
Declaration of London, with the reservation that when the territory of a 
neutral country was used as a base for the transit of supplies to Germany, "such 
port or territory has acquired enemy character in so far as trade in contraband 
is concerned and that vessels trading shall be thereafter subject to the rules of 
the declaration governing trade to enemy's territory." (Italics mine.) Acting 
Secretary of State to Page, Oct. 16, 1914, Papers Relating to the Foreign Rela- 
tions of the United States, 1914, Supplement (Washington, 1928), pp. 249- 


fore, the Washington government had to appeal to traditional inter- 
national law, much controverted though it was. 

In actual fact, however, the President was unwilling at this time to 
make a serious issue with the British over the important aspects of 
their economic warfare. On December 26, 1914, for example, the State 
Department sent a firm note to the Foreign Office protesting ship 
seizures and detentions, but it was cordial in tone. For obvious reasons, 
however, Grey was anxious to come to an informal understanding with 
Wilson and to accomplish this end sent a message of great importance 
to the President by Chandler P. Anderson, then in the State Depart- 
ment. Firstly, Grey wanted Wilson to have a clear understanding of the 
Allied war aims, which he specified in detail. 22 Secondly, he wanted 
the President to know that the British government was doing its best to 
meet American objections to the manner in which the Order in Council 
of August 20, 1914, was being enforced. When Anderson relayed Grey's 
message to Wilson, the President replied that there were "no very im- 
portant questions of principle" involved in the Anglo-American dis- 
putes, and that they could all be settled by arbitration or adjudication 
after the war was over. 28 

Just at the moment, therefore, when it seemed Wilson and Grey had 
found a basis of mutual adjustment, a new issue of serious proportions 
arose and revived smoldering grievances. It was the much debated 
question of the purchase of the German ships in American ports by 
American citizens or by German-controlled dummy corporations, which 
was raised when the Hamburg-American Line sold a freighter, the 
Dacia, to Edward N. Breitung, mine operator and banker. As Breitung 
was acting for the German government and planned to buy all the 
German vessels in the United States if the Dacia purchase went un- 
challenged, the British Cabinet became enormously agitated and 

22 At this time they included restitution of and reparation for Belgium, the 
return of Alsace-Lorraine and an indemnity for France, and the transfer of 
Constantinople and the Dardanelles to Russia. 

23 The Diary of Chandler P. Anderson, in the Library of Congress, Jan. 9, 
1915. Anderson himself had argued to this effect earlier in his "Memorandum 
of reasons why the United States should acquiesce without protest but reserving 
all rights in regard to Great Britain's interference with shipments from the 
United States to neutral countries of supplies available for war purposes, the 
ultimate destination of which is Germany," dated Oct. 21, 1914, Anderson 
Papers. Anderson gave Wilson a copy of this memorandum, but if Wilson read 
it he was not impressed. He told Anderson on January 9, 1915, that he did not 
remember it. 


warned they would seize the vessel and bring it before the Prize 
Court. 24 Even more excited were the British editors, some of whom 
hinted that the United States would force a break in relations if the 
State Department attempted to protect the Dacia. 25 Although the 
Department was moderate and conciliatory throughout the controversy, 
the Dacia affair stirred British resentment as no other incident before 
1916 did; and the fact that their government sidestepped the issue by 
allowing the French to seize the ship did not appease the anger of the 
British people. 26 

The dispute over the transfer of German ships to American registry 
was soon obscured, however, by a new and startling development the 
German submarine challenge to the British maritime system and to 
traditional concepts of international law, which compelled a re-exami- 
nation of Wilson's whole plan of neutrality. Hereafter it would be 
impossible for the United States to acquiesce in the British system 
without seriously impairing the continuance of friendly relations with 
Germany. In other words, as the two giants fought desperately for 
survival impartiality was no longer possible for the United States. Any 
American action against one belligerent was bound to benefit the other; 
American acquiescence in the maritime measures of one belligerent 
would injure the other. 

It is, of course, clear that Britain and Germany were determined to 
exert the maximum economic pressure compatible with achieving their 
supreme goals, 27 and that the policies of the one were not necessarily 

24 See e.g., Page to Secretary of State, Jan. 15, 18, 1915, Papers Relating to 
the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1915, Supplement (Washington, 
1928), pp. 679-680, 682-683, 

25 See especially the vitriolic editorial in the Spectator (London), Jan. 23, 
1915; also, Morning Post (London), Jan. 14, 1915; Standard (London), Jan. 
16, 1915; Westminster Gazette (London), Jan. 16, 1915. 

26 The Dacia affair led Grey to send an extraordinary message to the British 
Ambassador, Sir Cecil Spring Rice, to be shown only to Wilson and House. In 
this dispatch, Grey made a sweeping indictment of the allegedly unneutral con- 
duct of the Wilson administration, for blocking private loans to the Allies, re- 
fusing to allow the export of submarine parts, trying to obtain passage of the 
ship purchase bill, promoting the sale of German ships, and for not discouraging 
the movement to apply an embargo on the export of munitions. Grey to Spring 
Rice, Jan. 22, 1915, House Papers. Page also summarized the British grievances 
in a frank personal letter to the President, Jan. 26, 1915, Wilson Papers. 

As for the Dacia, she was confiscated by the French government, was renamed 
the Yser, and was sunk by a submarine in the Mediterranean on November 9, 

27 Thus, for Great Britain, this meant using the maximum pressure against 


dependent upon the policies of the other. 28 In diplomatic practice, how- 
ever, the doctrine of retaliation and reprisal is often invoked to justify 
policies unpleasant to third parties. Thus after January, 1915, the 
Germans used the illegal British measures as an excuse for instituting 
illegal measures of their own, which action in turn furnished further 
excuse to the British for intensifying their maritime controls. 

The question of how far each of the contenders should go in their 
maritime warfare was raised in such a way, however, as to confuse the 
American government and public. In January, 1915, the W. L. Greene 
Commission Company of St. Louis shipped a large cargo of food to 
Germany on the Wilhelmina, owned by the Southern Products Trading 
Company. Actually, German interests were behind the entire trans- 
action. Four days after the Wilhelmina sailed, the Bundesrat, or Fed- 
eral Council, impounded all foodstuffs within the German Empire, and 
this action gave the British Cabinet an excuse to prohibit all shipments 
of food from the United States to Germany. The Bundesrat thereupon 
rescinded its order, in so far as it applied to food imported from 
neutrals; but the British stood by their decree and seized the Wilhel- 
mina off Falmouth on February 11. 

In reply and allegedly in retaliation against the British food blockade, 
the German Admiralty on February 4, 1915, announced a submarine 
blockade of the British Isles. All enemy vessels within the war zone 
would be destroyed, the German proclamation warned, while neutral 
vessels in the zone would be in grave danger because of the British 
misuse of neutral flags. 29 During the ensuing weeks German spokesmen 
explained and appealed to the American people for understanding. The 
German government, they said, had adopted extreme measures only to 
force the British to abandon their blockade aimed at starving German 

Germany compatible with retaining American friendship, which was absolutely 
essential to an Allied victory. For Germany, it meant adjusting its sea warfare 
to the demands of the United States until it was considered more advantageous 
to have the United States in the war than to forgo longer the unrestricted use 
of the submarine. 

28 In other words, the British would have instituted a total blockade of Ger- 
many and neutral European port* whether or not the Germans resorted to the 
submarine weapon, while the Germans would have used the submarine regard- 
less of British measures. 

29 Gerard to Secretary of State, Feb. 4, 1915, Foreign Relations, 79/5, 
Supplement, p. 94. In a concurrent memorandum, the Imperial Chancellor 
explained that the submarine blockade was being undertaken as reprisal against 
British violations of the laws of sea warfare. "Memorandum of the German 
Government . . .," dated Feb. 4, 1915, ibid., pp. 96-97. 



Military Area established by 
Britain, November 3, 1914 

women and children. Germany would, therefore, it was officially an- 
nounced, abandon the submarine blockade if Britain would abandon 
her food blockade. 30 

30 Official statement of Admiral Behncke of the Marine Department, pre- 
sented to the United States naval attach6 on February 16, 1915, and printed 
in The New York Times, Feb. 17, 1915; Gerard to Secretary of State, Feb. 12, 
1915, Foreign Relations, 1915, Supplement, p. 102; Bernstorff to Secretary of 
State, Feb. 15, 1915, ibid., pp. 104-105. 


As was later revealed, this German offer was not seriously intended. 
The Germans were simply using a bluff, a paper blockade, to try to 
compel the British to relax their controls, not only on food, about which 
they were not seriously worried, but also on other so-called noncontra- 
band raw materials. If the Germans had been able to institute an 
effective blockade of the British Isles at this or any other time, they 
would have done so and would thereby have brought the war to a 
speedy conclusion. 

This fact, however, was not apparent to most American leaders, some 
of whom, like Bryan, took seriously the German cry of "starvation." 
As correspondents and diplomatic officers pointed out time and again, 
there was an ample supply of food in the Empire before 1917, and the 
British food blockade was a failure. The head of the German War 
Food Office, Dr. Batocki, summarized the situation when he declared 
on January 27, 1917: 

There is absolutely no question of our ability to pull through. Despite the 
blockade and the practically complete stoppage of our imports, despite the 
partial failures of some of our own crops last year, we have enough food. We 
do not pretend that it is all we should like to have. There are numerous 
things which we enjoy, but they are not necessary. We eat them with pleasure 
when we have them. But we do not starve without them, nor do we lose 
health and vigor for the lack of them. ... I tell you there is absolutely no 
question of starvation for the German people. In point of fact, there is less 
starvation in Germany today than there is in the United States with your 
congested cities and your great centres of poverty and distress. 31 

The German "war zone" decree and accompanying "offer" raised a 
challenge and presented an opportunity to the State Department that 
it did not fail to grasp. To answer the challenge to American interests 
implicit in the warning to neutral vessels, Lansing and Wilson at once 
prepared a reply, advising the German authorities that the United 
States would not tolerate unrestrained attacks on American vessels, 
would hold the Imperial government to "a strict accountability" for 
illegal destruction of American ships and lives, and would take meas- 
ures necessary to defend American rights on the seas. 82 Although 

31 The New York Times, Jan. 28, 1917. 

32 Secretary of State to Gerard, Feb. 10, 1915, Foreign Relations, 1915, 
Supplement, pp. 98-100. Lansing's original draft of this note, dated February 
6, 1915, with Wilson's penciled emendations, is in the Wilson Papers. 


Lansing wondered whether any protest should be made 33 and the note 
was weak, in that it was confined entirely to German attacks against 
American vessels and said nothing about attacks upon belligerent mer- 
chant ships upon which Americans might be traveling or working, 
American commentators hailed the note as a forthright and courageous 
reply. 3 * Actually, in the subsequent negotiations and after several 
American ships had been destroyed, the Imperial government backed 
down in its threat against American vessels, so that the later and great 
controversies centered around an entirely new issue the alleged rights 
of Americans traveling and working on Allied merchantmen. 

On the other hand, the Washington administration also seized the 
opportunity presented by the German offer to abandon the submarine 
blockade, provided the British gave up their "hunger blockade," to 
attempt to persuade the British Cabinet to relax their controls. From 
the point of view of American neutral interests, such a move became 
highly desirable when the British Cabinet on March 1 1 issued a new 
Order in Council interdicting all neutral commerce to Germany, 
through German or neutral ports. So hostile was the reaction in Ameri- 
can circles that the administration could not well ignore this extension 
of Britain's sea dominion. Even before the new British Order was 
issued, the President had instructed Page and House, then in London, 
emphatically to urge the Cabinet to accept the German offer. Under 
increasing American pressure, Grey finally agreed in May to accept, 
with reservations, the proposed arrangement, and Wilson and House 
were delighted. It later turned out, however, that both Wilson and the 
German Foreign Office insisted that the British allow free entry into 
Germany, not only of foodstuffs, but also of all noncontraband prod- 
ucts, and this the British adamantly refused to do. 

Meanwhile, Wilson and his advisers had been moving in another 
direction to solve their dilemma in the direction of ending the war by 
mediation. At the outset of hostilities the President had offered his good 
offices as mediator, and although this offer was rejected peace rumors 
and discussions persisted. Most of them came to nothing, but out of the 
talks begun by the New York banker, James Speyer, in September, 
1914, grew the idea that England and Germany might come to an 
understanding under the aegis of Wilson and House. 35 As time passed, 

33 Lansing to Wilson, Feb. 7, 1915, ibid. 

3*E.g., New York World, Feb. 12, 1915; The Nation, G (Feb. 18, 1915), 

35 Speyer dined with Ambassador von Bernstorff on September 5, 1914, on 


the pressure on the President to take some positive steps to end the war 
mounted^ while his own thoughts turned irresistibly in the same direc- 
tion. 36 Thus, in mid-December, 1914, Wilson asked Colonel House to 
begin serious discussions with the British and German Ambassadors and 
then to go to Europe to carry the conversations to the point of definite 
agreement. Bernstorff was positive his government would agree to 
evacuate and indemnify Belgium, while Grey sent word to Spring Rice 
that the Allies could not refuse a reasonable German offer. 37 It was 
with high hopes, therefore, that House sailed from New York on Jan- 
uary 30, 1915. 

House was received cordially in London, but his early progress was 
interrupted by the controversy over the submarine blockade, the British 
retaliatory measures, and considerable opposition within the British 
Cabinet to the idea of any peace discussions. 38 From London House 
went to Paris and thence to Berlin for long talks with all the leading 
civilian officials. To the British he had suggested general disarmament 
and an international organization as a basis for the peace settlement; 
to the Germans he held out the bait of freedom of the seas and an end 
to British navalism. Friendly and hopeful though the German officials 
were, they frankly admitted they could not dare publicly to agree to 
evacuate and indemnify Belgium. House left Berlin, however, with the 
understanding that he would endeavor to persuade the British govern- 
ment to "consent to freedom of the seas as one of the peace conditions," 
while the German leaders should begin to prepare their people to 

which occasion Bernstorff told him he believed the Kaiser would be willing to 
discuss measures of peace through mediation. Speyer went at once to Washing- 
ton and relayed the conversation to Bryan, who began serious intergovernmental 

36 For example, he told House on September 28, 1914, that Grey should be 
warned of the grave danger of postponing peace discussions, because if Ger- 
many and Austria were crushed it might become impossible to restrain Russia. 
House Diary, Sept. 28, 1914. 

37 Ibid., Dec. 17, 20, 1914. Grey revealed his great enthusiasm for the peace 
project in a conversation with Sir Horace Plunkett on February 6, 1915. See 
the Diary of Horace Plunkett, microfilm copy in possession of Herbert Brayer, 
Evanston, 111., Feb. 6, 1915. 

38 House to Wilson, Feb. 8, 9, 15, 18, 23, Mar. 1, 5, 9, 1915, Wilson Papers;. 
House Diary, Feb. 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 24, 25, Mar. 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 1915, 

"E. M. House went to Paris this morning, having no peace message from this 
Kingdom whatever. This kind of talk here now was spoken of by the Prime 
Minister [Asquith] the other day as 'the twittering of a sparrow in a tumult that 
shakes the world. 9 " The Diary of Walter H. Page, in Houghton Library, 
Harvard University, Mar. 11, 1915. 


accept the idea of giving up Belgium. After House left Berlin and had 
gone to Paris, the Foreign Secretary, Gottlieb von Jagow, revealed to 
him the terms Germany would be willing to accept. They included 
German retention of Namur, Liege, and the Valley of the Meuse, an 
indemnity from France, and acquisition of part of the Belgian Congo. 
House repeated the terms to Delcasse, the French Foreign Minister, 
who remarked that if the Germans wanted their indemnity they would 
have to come to Paris to get it. 

Back in London in late April, the Colonel set to work at once to 
persuade the British Cabinet that freedom of the seas was as essential 
to British as to German security. Grey, personally, was not opposed, 
provided Germany consented to general disarmament and gave definite 
guarantees for the future. What progress House made, however, was 
shattered by the ruthless sinking of the British liner Lusitania by a 
German submarine on May 7, 1915. If that were the German idea of 
"freedom of the seas," then the British wanted none of it. Moreover, as 
the German-American negotiations over the Lusitania proceeded, 
House became momentarily convinced his country would soon be 
drawn into the war. 39 He left England on June 5, therefore, more an 
emissary of war than of peace, his mission a failure because neither 
coalition was yet willing to admit that it could not achieve by war what 
it had failed to achieve by diplomacy. 

At the very time House was in Berlin, the German admirals were 
setting in motion the underseas campaign that would inevitably bring 
their government into collision with the United States. The first im- 
portant issue arose when a submarine sank the British steamer Falaba 
on March 28, 1915, without giving the passengers and crew time to 
escape. One American, Leon C. Thrasher, was drowned. 

The Thrasher case assumed an extraordinary significance when it 
became evident during the ensuing discussions that the administration 
was constructing a future policy regarding submarine warfare. The 
debate in the State Department revealed at once a profound diver- 
gence in the administration. The distinguished international lawyer, 
Chandler P. Anderson, then acting in an advisory capacity, argued 
that the case did not involve an affront to the United States^ as 
Thrasher's death was incidental to the destruction of the Falaba. 

39 At times lie thought the United States should enter the war. For revealing 
statements by House, see the Plunkett Diary, June 1, 4, 1915; also House to 
Wilson, June 16, 1915, Wilson Papers. 


Under international law, Anderson asserted, the United States was 
warranted in asking only for pecuniary damages. Bryan reinforced 
Anderson's argument by a series of letters and memoranda, in which 
he raised many extraneous issues, 40 but the chief purport of which was 
that the United States should grant the same freedom to violate inter- 
national law to Germany that it had given to Britain. In opposition, 
Lansing, Counselor of the Department, argued that the attack on the 
Falaba was such a flagrant violation of international law that the 
United States could not avoid asking the German government to dis- 
avow the act, punish the submarine commander, and pay damages. He 
frankly admitted that such demand might lead to war. Lansing, more- 
over, was supported by an unequivocal declaration by the Joint Neu- 
trality Board that American interests were vitally involved in the case 
and that "the action of the commanding officer of the German sub- 
marine appears to the Board not only illegal but revoltingly in- 
human." 41 

The final decision, of course, rested with the President. From the 
outset of the discussions he seemed to agree with Lansing; even so, he 
was reluctant to raise a serious issue with the German government, 
especially since he thought there was some chance that House's mission 
would succeed. The collapse of the peace negotiations and the growing 
truculence, not to say insolence, of the German government, 42 how- 
ever, must have made a deep impression on him. On April 22 he finally 
gave his decision : he would avoid discussing the issue on merely tech- 

40 Chief among which was the question whether the British were arming their 
merchant ships and whether this did not provide justification for unrestricted 
submarine warfare. 

41 Memorandum of the Joint Neutrality Board, Apr. 8, 1915, Wilson Papers. 

42 Bernstorff, for example, on April 6 gave out a statement from his govern- 
ment disavowing any responsibility for the safety of neutrals on board bellig- 
erent ships. The New York Times, Apr, 7, 1915. On April 4, moreover, the 
Ambassador presented to the State Department a long memorandum accusing 
the United States of virtual unneutrality because it acquiesced in British viola- 
tions of international law and allowed the export of munitions to Germany's 
enemies. Foreign Relations, 1915, Supplement, pp. 157-158. Without consulting 
the State Department, BernstorfF gave the memorandum to the newspapers on 
April 11. This move, which, incidentally, he made on the direct order of the 
Foreign Office, was clearly an appeal to the American people over the heads of 
their leaders and a direct encouragement to the movement then getting under 
way in the United States with the help of German money to force Congress to 
apply an embargo on munitions exports. The Department's reply, probably 
drafted by Wilson, was a masterful refutation of the German accusations. Secre- 
tary of State to Bernstorff, Apr. 21, 1915, ibid., pp. 160-162. 


nical grounds and would "put the whole note on very high grounds, 
not on the loss of this single man's life, but on the interests of mankind 
which are involved and which Germany has always stood for; on the 
manifest impropriety of a single nation's essaying to alter the under- 
standings of nations; and as all arising out of her mistake in employing 
an instrument against her enemy's commerce which it is impossible to 
employ in that use in accordance with any rules that the world is likely 
to be willing to accept." 43 After having come to this decision, how- 
ever, Wilson six days later admitted he was not sure what the adminis- 
tration should do. "Perhaps it is not necessary to make formal 
representations in the matter at all," he wrote to Bryan. 44 

To follow Bryan's advice and say nothing about Thrasher's death 
would have been the easy way out, and Wilson might have followed 
such a course had not events taken a sudden, spectacular turn. That a 
profoundly serious crisis was impending was evidenced when, on May 
1, the German Embassy published a formal warning to Americans 
against traveling on belligerent merchantmen. Before the administra- 
tion could come to a decision on a Falaba note or comment on the 
remarkable German warning, there occurred the dramatic and catas- 
trophic event the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7 that forced the 
President to make some kind of reply to the German challenge. 45 

Americans were shocked and horrified at \vhat they considered the 
deliberate murder of almost twelve hundred noncombatants, including 
128 Americans, on the high seas, by direct order of the German gov- 
ernment. But except for a small group of ardent nationalists headed by 
Theodore Roosevelt, few Americans wanted to go to war to avenge the 

43 Wilson to Bryan, Apr. 22, 1915, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations 
of the United States, The Lansing Papers, 1914-1920 (2 vols., Washington, 
1939-40) I, 378. 

Wilson to Bryan, Apr. 28, 1915, ibid., p. 380. 

45 I do not have space to go into the many facets of the controversy that has 
since grown up over the sinking of the Lusitania. Whether the great North 
Atlantic liners were legitimate prey of the submarines since they were prime 
carriers of contraband became obscured by the methods the Germans used to 
destroy them. There are, however, a few points that might be cleared up. 
Firstly, the Lusitania was not armed. Secondly, she was not actually an 
auxiliary cruiser. Thirdly, she carried some 4,200 cases of small arms, which 
was a small part of her cargo of contraband. Fourthly, the submarine com- 
mander, Schwieger, knew well that he was aiming at a great passenger 
ship. He apparently fired only one torpedo and was astonished when the 
ship sank rapidly. See "Admiralstab d. Marine. Kriegstagebuch. U. 20. Kptltn. 
Schwieger. vom 18.3.15. bis 31.8.15 Bd. 3," from the Kriegsarchiv der Marine, 
Berlin, photostat in the Wilson Papers. 






Fastest and Largest Steamer 

now in Atlantic "Service Sails 

SATURDAY, MAY 1, 10 A. M. 
Transylvania, Fri. f May 7, 5P.M. 
Orduna, Tues.,May 18, 10A.M. 
Ttiscania, - - Fri., May 21, 5P.M. 
LUSITANIA, Sat., May 29, 1O A.M. 
Transylvania, Frl. June 4, 5 P.M. 

Gibra Itar-Genoa-Naple-Piraeus 
S.S. Carpathia, Thur. t May 13, Noon 

Two notices concerning the same sailing 

wrong. The great majority applauded when Wilson acted deliberately 
during the crisis, even when he declared in a speech at Philadelphia on 
May 10 that "There is such a thing as a man being too proud to 
fight." 4S From governors, senators, congressmen, and other spokesmen 


-TRAVKLLKKS intending to 
embark on (h$ Atlantic voyage, 
are reminded that a state of 4 
war exists betweTm. Germany ; 
and her "allies and Great Britain ' 
and^her allies; that the'zone of 
war includes the waters adja- 
cent to the British Isles; that, 
in accordance witfi formal no- 
tice given by the Imperial Ger- 
man Government, vessels flying 
the flag of Great Britain, or of 
any of her allios. ars liable to 
destruction in those ivaters and 
that travellers sailing in the 
**ar zone on ships of Great' 
Britain or her allies do so at! 

their own risk. 



D. C.. Al'RIL 22. 1913. 

New York Times, May 11, 1915. Although the foregoing generaliza- 
tion is correct, it should also be pointed out that the sinking of the Lusitania 
convinced a small but significant segment of thoughtful American opinion that 
Imperial Germany was a menace to the peace of the world and that the 
philosophy of ruthlessness had so captured the German mind that the United 
States could not survive in a world dominated by the Prussian military class. 
Lansing, for example, who had heretofore taken a realistic view of the German 
violations of American rights (Diary of Robert Lansing, in the Library of Con- 
gress, May 3, 1915), was now firmly convinced that German success "would 
mean the overthrow of democracy in the world, the suppression of individual 
liberty, the setting up of evil ambitions, the subordination of the principles of 
right and justice to physical might directed by arbitrary will, and the turning 
back of the hands of human progress two centuries." Jbid.j July 11, 1915. Elihu 
Root, also, found evidence in the Lusitania disaster that the war was a struggle 
between democracy and military despotism. Anderson Diary, May 15, 1915. 


came fervid appeals for peace. From Senator Thomas S. Martin and 
Representative Hal D. Flood, two powerful Democratic leaders, came 
an explicit warning that the country did not want war and that the 
President might find it impossible to obtain a war resolution from 

It should not, however, be assumed that in the subsequent negotia- 
tions with the German government Wilson's strong arm was paralyzed 
by popular and Congressional opposition to a belligerent policy. The 
President was confident there would be no real diplomatic crisis and, in 
any event, contemplated no stronger step than severing relations with 

During the discussions over the writing of the first Lusitania note, 
Lansing took a consistently strong stand, while Bryan sought to find 
some way to mitigate the severity of the language. In his note to the 
German government of May 13, 1915, the President now took the high 
ground he had earlier decided to take in composing a Falaba note and 
had then abandoned. He reviewed the submarine actions culminating 
in the sinking of the Lusitania and virtually demanded that the 
Imperial government abandon submarine warfare altogether against 
unarmed merchantmen. 47 Under pressure from Bryan, Wilson agreed 
to issue a statement suggesting arbitration of the dispute; but under 
stronger pressure from Lansing, Garrison, Burleson, and Tumulty, 
Wilson recalled the statement, which had already been cabled to 
Berlin. 48 The note, therefore, was delivered at the Foreign Office in all 
its naked severity. When Von Jagow replied evasively, 49 Bryan pleaded 
for compromise even more strongly than before. Wilson stood firm, 
however, and Bryan resigned rather than sign the second note, in which 
the President appealed to the Imperial government to renew its alle- 
giance to "the rights of humanity, which every Government honors itself 
in respecting." 50 Von Jagow's reply, again, was evasive and unsatis- 
factory, and for a third time Wilson addressed the German govern- 

47 Bryan to Gerard, May 13, 1915, Foreign Relations, 1915. Supplement, pp. 

48 This was the famous "postscript" episode, about which there was much 
controversy later. For details see L. M. Garrison to R. S. Baker, Nov. 12, 3CL 
1928, Ray Stannard Baker Collection, in the Library of Congress; House Diary^ 
Nov. 3, 1916; Bryan to Wilson, May 13, 1915, the Papers of William Jennings 
Bryan, in the National Archives; Bryan to Gerard, May 13, 1915, ibid. 

** Gerard to Bryan, May 29, 1915, Foreign Relations, 1915, Supplement, pp. 

50 Lansing to Gerard, June 9, 1915, ibid., pp. 436-438. 


ment. He was both conciliatory and peremptory. He admitted that it 
might be possible for submarine warfare to be conducted within the 
rules of visit and search, and he invited the German government to 
join him in achieving freedom of the seas. But he ended with the 
warning that a repetition of ruthless sinkings would be regarded by the 
United States as "deliberately unfriendly/' in other words, would lead 
to diplomatic rupture and possibly to war. 51 

The summer of crisis was a time of alarm, confusion, and divided 
counsels among the American people. After his resignation, Bryan set 
out upon a peace campaign, which added new impetus to the already 
widespread antiwar sentiment. There were increased demands that the 
administration adopt a stern attitude also toward the British. The 
movement for an arms embargo, liberally financed by the German 
Embassy, was gaining new converts, while German- and Irish- American 
spokesmen grew frantic in their rage against the President's policy. On 
the other hand, anti-German sentiment undoubtedly increased by leaps 
and bounds as a result of the failure of the Lusitania negotiations. 
Moreover, the secrets of the German propaganda machine, headed by 
Privy Councillor Heinrich Albert in New York City, were revealed 
when United States secret-service agents picked up a brief case that 
Albert left on an elevated train and the contents were published in 
the New York World and the Chicago Tribune. Nor was the excitement 
allayed when the Austrian Ambassador, Dr. Constantin Dumba, was 
sent home for trying to persuade Austro-Hungarian subjects to quit 
working in American munitions plants. Even more irritating to in- 
flamed American sentiment were the rumors and reports of German 
intrigues and machinations against the neutrality and peace of the 
United States. Many thoughtful men looked with shame and disgust at 
a nation "too proud to fight," so weak that it could not protect its 
rights on the seas or preserve its neutrality at home, so divided from 
within that its government could not speak with authority abroad. 

In Germany, too, the popular temper was inflamed 52 and demanded 

si Lansing to Gerard, July 21, 1915, ibid., pp. 480-482. 

52 On two counts, mainly: (1) the export of munitions to the Allies, which 
infuriated the German people, and (2) the widespread impression that the 
United States was trying to force Germany to give up her most effective naval 
weapon without at the same time compelling Great Britain to adhere to inter- 
national law. For able analyses of German opinion and samples of German edi- 
torial opinion, see J. G. O'Laughlin to Wilson, Feb. 1, 1915, Wilson Papers; 
O'Laughlin to Tumulty, Apr. 16, 1915, ibid.; New York World, Apr. 17, 1915; 
The New York Times, June 30, 1915; Von Reventlow in New York World, 


that the Imperial government resist inflexibly the American demands. 
Official spokesmen had so aroused the people against the alleged 
"hunger blockade" and predicted so confidently the success of the 
submarine campaign that the government feared disastrous conse- 
quences if it should yield. However, as it became apparent that conces- 
sions might be necessary to maintain peaceful relations with the 
United States, the moderate editorial spokesmen in Germany defied 
public opinion and boldly championed conciliation and compromise. 
In the meantime, the Washington government waited to see what 
events would bring. On June 30, 1915, a British passenger liner, the 
Armenian, was sunk off the coast of Cornwall; but when it developed 
that the ship had attempted to escape after warning was given, no 
issue arose. On July 17 another British liner, the Orduna, was at- 
tacked, though the torpedo missed its mark and the German Admiralty 
denied official knowledge of the incident. Then on August 19 came 
the event that ended the President's time of waiting the torpedoing 
without warning of the White Star liner Arabic off Fastnet, with the 
loss, among others, of two American lives. 53 Wilson evidently resolved 
to obtain full satisfaction or else to break relations, although he was 
not yet thinking in terms of war. 54 The tension was relieved on August 

July 4, 1915; Karl Boy-Ed to O. G. Villard, Nov. 6, 1915, Villard Papers; 
Kolnische Zeitung, 1st morning ed., Feb. 3, 1915; Frankfurter Zeitung, 2d 
morning ed., Feb. 14, 1915; Deutsche Tageszeitung (Berlin), morning ed., Feb. 
14, 1915; Vossische Zeitung (Berlin), Apr. 22, 1915; Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, 
morning ed., Apr. 22, 1915; Kolnische %eitung, noon ed., May 18, 1915; 
Kreuzzeitung (Berlin), June 4, 1915. 

The incident that had probably the most unfortunate effect on German- 
American relations was the publication by the Cleveland Automatic Machine 
Company in the American Machinist, XLII (May 6, 1915), 26-27, of an 
advertisement depicting a machine that manufactured high-explosive shells. 
The advertisement went on to describe in a gory way the deadliness of the 
shrapnel thrown out as the shell exploded. A facsimile was printed in the 
German press (e.g., Frankfurter eitung, 3d morning ed., June 26, 1915) and 
evoked a wave of resentful criticism of the United States. See Deutsche 
Zeitung (Berlin), evening ed., June 25, 1915; Berliner Tageblatt, evening ed., 
June 25, 1915; Tdgliche Rundschau (Berlin), morning ed., June 26, 1915; 
Kolnische Zeitung, evening ed., June 25, 1915. Copies of the advertisement 
were also laid on the desks of every member of the Reichstag. 

58 The Arabic was another important carrier of contraband. For a descrip- 
tion of her cargoes on her last three voyages from New York to Liverpool, see 
the New York World, Aug. 20, 1915. She was westbound when she was sunk. 

54 There appeared in the Baltimore Sun, August 24, 1915, an article pur- 
porting to describe the plans for a war with Germany that the Army War 
College had drawn up. Wilson read the report, became much agitated, and 


25, when the German Chancellor declared that the submarine com- 
mander must have exceeded his instructions, and that if investigation 
proved a German submarine had sunk the Arabic the Imperial gov- 
ernment would not hesitate to give complete satisfaction to the United 
States. Rumors that Germany had begun a diplomatic retreat were 
confirmed when it became known that the Imperial government, on 
June 6, had ordered its submarines to spare large passenger liners. 
More important for the United States was the outcome of an Imperial 
conference at Pless Castle on August 26, at which the Emperor took 
Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg's side and ordered the abandon- 
ment of unrestricted warfare against all passenger ships. The decision 
was telegraphed at once to BernstorfT, who, under strong pressure from 
Lansing, on September 1 gave a written promise that "Liners will not 
be sunk by our submarines without warning and without safety of the 
lives of noncombatants, provided that the liners do not try to escape or 
offer resistance." 55 

The giving of the so-called Arabic pledge, the later explicit dis- 
avowal of the sinking of the ship, and the generous pledges given con- 
cerning American ships in the war zone 56 added up to a remarkable 
diplomatic achievement for the President and sufficed at least to pre- 
serve peace between the two governments. This, however, was no 
lasting and complete settlement of the submarine troubles, for the 
reluctant Arabic pledge applied only to passenger vessels and left 
uncertain the status of merchantmen and armed merchant and pas- 
senger ships. Moreover, the Lusitania issue still hung fire, and German 
refusal to give satisfaction prevented cordial relations. Most important, 
Wilson's confidence in the good faith and integrity of the German 
government had been severely shaken, if not destroyed. 

Meanwhile, the administration had not relaxed its pressure on the 
British government, although the dire crisis with Germany precluded 
strong and effective measures to compel the British to abandon their 
illegal blockade. The gravest threat to Anglo-American relations was 

ordered the Assistant Secretary of War to investigate. "No such plans have ever 
been prepared, nor even contemplated by the General Staff," the Chief of the 
War College replied. W. W. Macomb, Chief, War College Division, Memoran- 
dum for the Chief of Staff, Aug. 24, 1915, Wilson Papers. 

55 The New York Times, Sept. 2, 1915. ' 

56 Given in the so-called Frye note of September 19, 1915. Gerard to Secre- 
tary of State, Sept. 20, 1915, Foreign Relations, 1915, Supplement, pp. 551- 


the possibility that the Southern contingent in Congress might join 
with the German- and Irish-American elements to force the applica- 
tion of an arms embargo in retaliation against British suppression of 
the cotton trade with Central Europe. The British Foreign Office 
made arrangements to provide for that part of the crop of 1914 that 
had been sold to German buyers; 57 but as the crop of 1915 blossomed 
in the fields and picking time drew near, a wave of hysteria swept over 
the South, out of fear that the British would suppress exports to 
Europe altogether and the South would have to endure another year 
of depression. That the situation was full of danger was evidenced by 
a widespread campaign throughout the South for retaliation against 
the British government 58 The pro-British senator from Mississippi, 
John Sharp Williams, spoke truthfully when he declared that every 
politician in the South had to be anti-British. 59 

Rumors that the British would put cotton on the list of absolute 
contraband and refuse to support the price of the staple leaked to the 
Washington administration in July. Greatly excited, Wilson declared 
such action would have a "fatal effect" on American opinion and 
would probably lead to "action by Congress cutting off munitions." 
The warning was at once relayed to the British Cabinet. So great was 
the popular demand in Britain for making cotton absolute contra- 
band that is, for suppressing completely the cotton trade with Ger- 
many that the government could no longer resist it. The Foreign 

57 After the promulgation of the Order in Council of March 11, 1915, de- 
claring a virtual blockade of Germany, the British Cabinet's policy regarding 
the shipment of cotton to the Continent was designed to prevent such shipments 
without unnecessarily offending American cotton growers. All cotton sold to 
German buyers before March 2 was given free transit; but the British reserved 
the right to buy the cotton at the contract price. This arrangement would not, 
however, apply in the future. Official statement of the British Foreign Office, 
The New York Times, May 21, 1915. 

58 On June 28, for example, the Georgia legislature petitioned the President 
to use every means, "diplomatic if possible, retaliatory if necessary," to open 
American trade in cotton with neutral European ports. Ibid. 3 June 29, 1915. 
See also "Preamble and Resolution adopted by the Board of Directors of the 
New Orleans Cotton Exchange," dated June 30, 1915, in the Papers of Albert 
S. Burleson, in the Library of Congress; resolution adopted by the State Coun- 
cil of the North Carolina Farmers' Union, c. July 3, 1915, Wilson Papers; 
resolutions adopted by the Savannah Cotton Exchange, July 8, 1915, ibid.; 
officers of the National Farmers' Union to Wilson, Aug. 13, 1915, ibid.; resolu- 
tion adopted by the Texas Farmers' Union, Aug. 6, 1915, ibid.; A. F. Lever, 
E. J. Watson, and Wade Stackhouse to Wilson, July 12, 1915, ibid. New York 
World, July 22, 1915, gives a long and able analysis of Southern sentiment. 

89 Williams to Wilson, June 29, 1915, Wilson Papers. 


Office, therefore, sought and obtained an understanding with the 
American government that solved the dilemma. A secret agreement, 
officially unknown to Wilson and Lansing, was negotiated by Am- 
bassador Cecil Spring Rice and Sir Richard Crawford of the British 

McCutcheon in the Chicago Tribune 

Embassy with W. P. G. Harding of the Federal Reserve Board and 
Theodore Price, a financial reporter of New York City. It provided in 
effect that the British government would buy enough cotton to stabilize 
the price at ten cents a pound. 60 The agreement was never published, 

60 For details of the cotton agreement see Anderson Diary, July 22, 30, 1915; 
Page to Secretary of State, Aug. 13, 1915, Wilson Papers; New York Tribune, 
Nov. 20, 1915. 


and for a time after the British put cotton on the absolute contraband 
list the pressure from Southerners for retaliation was enormous. But in 
almost no time cotton prices began to rise as a result of British buying, 
and the cotton crisis was soon passed. 

It was fortunate for the British that they were able thus easily to 
eradicate the most rankling cause of American resentment before the 
summer of 1915 had ended. For the fact was, as the Germans 
lamented time and again, that the United States had by now become 
virtually an arsenal of the Allies. This was a natural consequence of 
the British control of the seas and was in no respect the outcome of 
American sentiments. The important fact was, however, that Allied 
buying in the United States had become so heavy by August, 1915, 
that the British were near the end of the resources from which they 
could obtain dollars. 61 Allied purchases would have to be drastically 
curtailed if Britain and France did not obtain a large loan in the 
United States to finance the war trade. But the New York bankers 
who stood ready to float such a loan refused to commit themselves to 
the undertaking unless the State Department explicitly approved. The 
trouble was, as McAdoo pointed out in a long letter to Wilson, that 
Bryan had committed the administration and even the President per- 
sonally to a policy of discouraging outright loans. Had a strictly neutral 
course been adopted in the beginning, the administration would not 
have discouraged loans to the belligerents and would not now find 
itself caught in a trap from which escape was difficult. 

In the end, the State Department specifically reversed the Bryan 
doctrine which Bryan himself had in effect reversed on March 31, 
when he approved large commercial credits and declared that it had 
no objection to the loan. Certain New York bankers may have had 
strong pro-Allied sentiments, although that fact did not prevent them 
from demanding and obtaining a commission of 2 per cent, in addition 
to an interest rate of nearly 5^2 per cent. It is clear, however, that the 
administration made its decision to approve the loan on two grounds 
only: firstly that negotiation of, the loan was essential to the main- 
tenance of the war trade, and therefore to the prosperity of the United 

the loan would be an unneutral 

61 By the end of May the British economic situation was becoming almost 
desperate. By this date Britain was purchasing $50 million to $75 million 
monthly in excess of her ability to pay in gold, goods, and services. 


act, so discriminatory as to deprive Britain of her legitimate advantage 
as mistress of the seas. 

On September 10, 1915, a distinguished Anglo-French commission 
arrived in New York City and subsequently negotiated with a group of 
bankers, headed by J. P. Morgan, for a loan of $500 million. Popular 
opposition, generated by the Hearst press and the German- and Irish- 
American groups, was so great that the campaign to sell the bonds to 
the public did not come off well. 62 During the next year and a half the 
British government borrowed a billion dollars, the French government 
three hundred millions, and the Canadians over four hundred millions 
more. All the later loans, however, were secured 100 per cent by high- 
grade American and South American securities, and none was sold by 
public campaign. 

The summer of 1915 was a time not only of uncertainty and alarm 
but also of decision. Anglo-American relations were considerably Im- 
proved by the cotton agreement and by the State Department's rever- 
sion to a neutral position on loans to the belligerents. The first great 
submarine crisis had been weathered by a mixture of firmness and 
pacific diplomacy, but German-American relations were still in a 
precarious state. The great crisis through which the American people 
had passed had stimulated new fears and suggested remedies so con- 
flicting that it was evident the nation was on the verge of one of the 
bitterest and most portentous debates in its history. In fact, the great 
debate over foreign policy and preparedness had already begun, and 
the administration could not long ignore it. 

62 The syndicate managing the loan was unable to sell $187 million of the 
bonds, which had to be taken by the participating banks. 


The Preparedness Controversy., 1914-16 

DURING the first months of the war, before the submarine issue 
was raised, American sentiment was overwhelmingly neutral and 
pacific. Even those persons who believed in a vague way that the 
United States had some interest in the European settlement were re- 
assured by the knowledge that the Allies were bound to win. This 
conviction of the certainty of an Allied victory^ held by civilian and 
military leaders alike, conditioned all American attitudes on questions 
of foreign policy and preparedness. No catastrophe such as the fall of 
France in 1940 occurred before April, 19 17, to shock Americans out of 
their complacency; nothing compelled them to calculate seriously the 
consequences of German domination of Europe. 1 

A few observers like Ambassador Walter H. Page and Charles W. 
Eliot sensed that the issues involved in the conflict were freighted with 
momentous consequences for the United States. Page and a few other 
like-minded citizens frankly declared at the outset of the war that 
American and British interests were so closely intertwined that the de- 
struction of British naval power and the triumph of a dynamic, mili- 
taristic Imperial Germany would constitute a grave threat to the 
future security of the United States. 2 Such voices, however 3 were ob- 

a significant commentary on this point, see Edward H. Buehrig, 
"Wilson's Neutrality Re-Examined," World Politics, III (Oct., 1950), 1-19. 

2 See, e.g., H. L. Higginson to E. M. House, Sept. 1, 1914, the Papers of 
Edward M. House, in the Library of Yale University,- Walter H. Page to House, 
Sept. 22, 1914, ibid.; Henry Van Dyke to Wilson, Sept. 10, 1914, the Woodrow 
Wilson Papers, in the Library of Congress; Collier's, LIII (Sept. 12, 1914), 
16; Stuart H. Perry, "After the War," North American Review, GG (Nov., 
1914), 732-741; Outlook, CVHI (Nov. 4, 1914), 521-524. 



scured by the more vociferous and more representative spokesmen, 
who affirmed the total separation of American and European interests. 
This, after all, was the ideological base upon which American neu- 
trality rested. 

Even so> after the war's first shock wore off, impartiality in thought 
became impossible for many sensitive Americans, who refused to close 
their minds to the issues of the greatest catastrophe that had visited 
the world in a century. It was inevitable that as German methods and 
ambitions unfolded, these observers should begin to calculate the value 
of neutrality. The first important manifestation of this sentiment came 
during the debate provoked by Theodore Roosevelt's charge^ 3 later 
reiterated by Senators Root and Lodge and other Republican leaders, 
that the administration had virtually acquiesced in Germany's invasion 
of Belgium by not protesting that violation of the Hague Convention. 4 

The great submarine crisis of 1915 and the concurrent revelations 
of German intrigues against American peace and neutrality, however, 
caused an even more significant turn in this segment of American 
opinion. The conviction that the United States could probably not 
avoid intervention, especially if the Allies weakened, now spread irre- 
sistibly among leaders like Root, Lansing, Roosevelt, George Harvey, 
editor of the North American Review, Lawrence Abbott, an editor 
of the Outlook, and Paul Fuller, prominent New York attorney. The 
rationale of these interventionists and near-interventionists of course 
varied. Some were sheer idealists, who believed the American 
democracy could not refuse to aid the European democracies in their 
death grapple with imperialistic autocracy; some, like Roosevelt, were 
realists, who thought a firm defense of American rights on the seas 
would lead inevitably to war. 5 

3 'Tear God and Take Your Own Part," The New York Times Magazine, 
Nov. 8, 1914. 

4 The controversy rather fizzled, however, when Norman Hapgood pointed to 
Roosevelt's earlier articles in the Outlook, August 22 and September 23, 1914, 
in which Roosevelt had declared that the United States should adhere to a 
strict neutrality and bore no responsibility for Belgium's fate. Norman Hapgood, 
"The Real Hughes Idea/' Harper's Weekly, LXII (Mar. 18, 1916), 271. As 
the New Republic, VI (Mar. 25, 1916), 204, pointed out, the truth was that 
everyone Wilson, Roosevelt, and Root included thought in August, 1914, 
that noninterference was the proper course to follow. 

5 For expressions of the interventionist attitude, see Lawrence Abbott to T. 
Roosevelt, Dec. 23, 1914, the Papers of Theodore Roosevelt, in the Library of 
Congress; Paul Fuller, for the American Rights Committee, "A Memorial to the 
President of the United States," dated Nov. 29, 1915, Wilson Papers, and the 


In December, 1915, a little group of New York interventionists 
formed the American Rights Committee, 6 which, with the New York 
Tribune, then edited by Ogden Reid, and similar groups in Boston and 
Cambridge, \vaged a valiant but generally futile campaign to fire the 
American war spirit. 7 Calling upon the President to break relations 
with the German government, these idealists devoted their talents to 
the hopeless task of persuading the American people that a complete 
Allied victory was essential to the preservation of democracy and 
civilization. As the President turned a deaf ear to their pleas and suc- 
ceeded, in spite of extraordinary provocations, in preserving neutrality, 
the interventionists turned on him in disgust and contempt. 8 Their 
sentiments were nowhere more accurately expressed than in the follow- 
ing tribute by the novelist, Owen Wister: 

To WOODROW WILSON. FEB. 22, 1916. 
History has lashes that have flayed the names 

Of public cowards, hypocrites, poltroons, 
You go immune, cased in your self-esteem; 

The next world cannot scathe you, nor can this; 
No fact can stab through your complacent dream; 

Nor present laughter, nor the future's hiss. 
But if its fathers did this land control 

Dead Washington would wake and blast your soul. 9 

titles cited in the Essay on Sources, "German-American Relations, 1914-17 
American Comment on Germany General" and "American Public Opinion on 
the War, 1914-17 Representative American Comment on the War." 

6 Prominent in this organization were George Haven Putnam, Henry L. 
Stimson, Everett V. Abbott, Lawrence F. Abbott, Frederick R. Goudert, Profes- 
sor Franklin H. Giddings, Lawrence Godkin, Charles P. Howland, and, before 
his death, Paul Fuller. 

7 For representative editorials in the New York Tribune, see the issues of 
Dec. 29, 1915, Jan. 1, 4, 26, 1916. 

8 Theodore Roosevelt, for example, from the early days of the submarine 
crisis, accused the President of cowardice and of being a "Byzantine logothete" 
because he wrote notes instead of taking strong action to defend American 
rights. The following comment (Roosevelt to Archibald B. Roosevelt, May 19, 
1915, Roosevelt Papers) is typical: "There is a chance of our going to war; 
but I don't think it is very much of a chance. ... As a nation, we have 
thought very little about foreign affairs ; we don't realize that the murder of the 
thousand men, women and children on the Lusitania is due, solely, to Wilson's 
abject cowardice and weakness. . . He and Bryan are morally responsible for 
the loss of the lives of those American women and children. . . . They are 
both of them abject creatures and they won't go to war unless they are kicked 
into it." 

' Printed in the Springfield Republican, Feb. 24, 1916. 


For all the depth of their conviction and the ardor of their pleading, 
however, the interventionists remained only a fractional minority 
before March, 1917, devoid of influence on the masses of people. 
Their organization, the American Rights Committee, never gained a 
foothold outside the Northeast and was in no sense comparable in 
power and influence to the Committee to Defend America by Aiding 
the Allies of the period 1939-41. The crisis in German-American rela- 
tions in 1915 was chiefly significant, therefore, not because it stimu- 
lated the interventionists to greater efforts, but because it provoked 
among many Americans an awareness of the military impotence of 
their country. In fact, an important public debate over the question 
of increased armaments had been maturing for months before the 
submarine controversy erupted. For example, Theodore Roosevelt and 
his editorial organ, the Outlook, assumed leadership of the prepared- 
ness movement in November and December, 1914, 10 while in the latter 
month Senator Lodge's son-in-law, Representative Augustus P. Gard- 
ner, tried vainly to force a Congressional investigation of the military 
and naval establishments. Moreover, on December 1, 150 public 
leaders gathered in New York City and organized the National Security 
League, frankly dedicated to the task of preparing the United States 
for a possible war with Germany. Meanwhile, the two stalwart cham- 
pions of the services, the Navy League and the Army League, had 
redoubled their propaganda. 

This early preparedness agitation, however, fell on deaf ears in the 
administration and country and aroused the bitter antagonism of the 
progressive and peace groups. In October, 1914, the President laugh- 
ingly called the preparedness talk "good mental exercise," and in his 
Annual Message of December 8 he reaffirmed the traditional position. 
"We shall not alter our attitude . . .," he declared, "because some 
amongst us are nervous and excited." " Secretary Daniels announced 
happily that the navy was in "fine shape," even though the General 
Board had advised differently. 12 Every effort by the preparedness 

1 Outlook, CVIII (Nov. 25, Dec. 9, 16, 30, 1914), 663-666, 813-814, 
865-866, 986-988. 

11 Ray S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow 
Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New Democracy, I, 223-227. 

12 The navy had suffered a severe decline in efficiency as a result of the con- 
centration of the Atlantic fleet in Mexican waters since February 10, 1913. 
Target practice had been so neglected that a large proportion of the men of the 
fleet had never heard a ship's guns fired. The crews of the Texas and the New 
York, the largest and most powerful of the battleships, had never fired a gun. 


advocates met not only with strong administration opposition in Con- 
gress but also with intimations by Wilson that he suspected some lobby 
was stirring up an artificial alarm. Thus, when the President and his 
defense secretaries conferred with Democratic leaders in January, 
1915, over the army and navy appropriations for 1915, opinion was 
unanimous that, in view of the decrease in federal revenues, the mili- 
tary budgets would have to be cut instead of increased. 

In reply, the preparedness spokesmen increased the tempo and 
broadened the scope of their activities and propaganda during the 
early months of 1915. A stream of articles and books, depicting the 
nation's military weakness and forecasting the invasion of American 
territory by hostile forces, began to pour forth. Then, after the 
Lusitania disaster, this stream became a mighty flood. Motion-picture 
producers, too, entered the struggle, with The Battle Cry of Peace and 
The Fall of a Nation, both of which portrayed invasions of the United 
States by soldiers with a goose step and German-style mustaches. Not 
in many years had the American people been subjected to such pres- 
sure by an organized minority. 13 

As the conviction grew after the Lusitania incident that the United 
States had a vital interest in the conduct of the belligerents and the 
outcome of the war, preparedness became a virtual crusade. Defense 
societies were swamped with applications for membership. When the 
Navy League asked for $25,000 for a campaign to compel Congress to 
appropriate half a billion dollars for "an adequate navy/* the sum 
.was oversubscribed in twenty-five minutes. 14 In a stirring manifesto 
issued two days after the sinking of the Lusitania, the National Se- 
curity League appealed to the American people to examine their 
defenses and compel Congress to strengthen them, while the Navy 
League on May 11 demanded that Congress be called into special 
session and vote $500 million for naval expansion. In mid- June the 
National Security League convoked a great preparedness assemblage 

Moreover, because of their prolonged stay in the tropics and their long absence 
from home, the men were in bad spirits. A. F. Nicholson, senior member of the 
General Board, to Secretary of the Navy, Sept. 9, 1914, Wilson Papers. 

13 Needless to say, none of this literature was Allied propaganda. It was, 
instead, thoroughly indigenous. For the literature of preparedness, see the Essay 
on Sources, "The Preparedness and Peace Movements, 1914-17 The Litera- 
ture of Preparedness." 

14 At a meeting of 100 of New York City's wealthiest men. on Tune 10. 1915. 
New York World, June 11, 1915. 


in New York City, which was attended by public leaders from twenty- 
five states. By September, twenty-two governors had joined the or- 

It was evident, therefore, that a powerful movement had been set 
on foot that could not long be ignored by the political leaders. Although 
the various defense societies had made an honest effort to be non- 
partisan, practically all their chief spokesmen were Republicans as- 
sociated with the great financial and industrial interests. As many 
observers pointed out, the danger seemed grave indeed that the Re- 
publicans would capture the preparedness movement and succeed in 
identifying the Democratic party with national weakness. 

As he was ever mindful of the desirability of keeping the Democratic 
party in power, the significance of the preparedness agitation could 
not have been lost upon the President. It would, however, probably 
be more accurate to say that the submarine crisis and the exasperat- 
ingly futile Lusitania negotiations were the chief reasons why Wilson 
decided to reverse his position on the armaments question. In any 
event, he became a convert to preparedness reluctantly and only after 
much soul searching. On July 21, 1915, he asked Secretaries Garrison 
and Daniels to investigate and recommend programs adequate to 
satisfy the needs of security. Shortly afterward, he advised Congres- 
sional leaders that the administration would soon reverse its position. 

As they had long been at work on comprehensive plans, the General 
Board of the Navy and the Army War College speedily answered the 
President's request of July 21. Garrison and Daniels evidently exercised 
little restraint, but rather gave their subordinates a free hand in con- 
structing what they thought were ideal programs. The General Board 
submitted a long-range program, aimed at achieving naval equality 
with the British by 1925. Approved by the President on October 15, 
this plan envisaged the construction, during the first five years, of ten 
battleships, six battle cruisers, ten cruisers, fifty destroyers, one hun- 
dred submarines, and lesser craft, at a cost of $500 million. Even the 
Navy League had not asked for more. Although the army plan was a 
compromise between what the War College wanted and what Garrison 
thought it could get, in certain respects it was even more astonishing 
than the General Board's recommendations. The army plan proposed 
not only substantial increases in the Regular Army, which everyone 
expected, but also virtually to scrap the National Guard as the first 


line of defense and to substitute instead a national reserve force, the 
Continental Army, of 400,000 men. 15 

Although the administration's defense program had been described 
piecemeal by the newspapers during October, it was not until Novem- 
ber 4, 1915, that the President presented it formally to the country. 
The occasion was an address before the Manhattan Club in New York 
City, in which he explained the program and urged its adoption. 16 
The Navy League and other defense organizations rallied at once to 
the President's side; but it was as yet impossible to ascertain Congres- 
sional or popular opinion. From the violent protests and criticisms of 
the antipreparedness forces, however, it was evident that one of the 
hardest battles of the decade impended. 

To understand the intensity and significance of the struggle that 
followed, it is necessary first to appreciate the character of the progres- 
sive-pacifistic movement of these years. The humanitarian spirit that 
had given momentum to the progressive movement stemmed from 
definite beliefs about America and her place in the family of nations. 
To begin with, progressivism concentrated largely on economic and 
social justice at home. This emphasis grew into such an obsession that 
progressivism became tantamount to provincialism. To be sure, a 
small Eastern minority, led by Roosevelt, were internationally minded; 
but to the large majority of progressives, particularly in the South and 
Middle West, America's unique mission was to purify and offer herself 
to decadent Europe, an example of democracy triumphant over social 
and economic injustice. This self-purification involved also an end to 
America's experiment in imperialism and a weakening of American 
naval power. The second major progressive assumption concerned the 
place of war in modern society. Wars were mainly economic in causa- 
tion and necessarily evil because bankers with money to lend, munition- 
makers with sordid profits to earn, and industrialists with markets to 
win were the chief promoters and beneficiaries of war. 

It followed from these two assumptions that the path of progressive 
righteousness led straight to disarmament, an international system 
based upon compulsory arbitration, and an unequivocal repudiation of 
war. To these progressives, therefore, the call of duty was unmistak- 
ably clear in the summer and fall of 1915. The forces against which 
they had been battling at home since 1898 the big navy imperialists, 

15 There is a comprehensive analysis of the administration's defense program 
in The New York Times, Nov. 6, 1915. 

15 The Public Papers, New Democracy, I, 384-392. 



the armor-plate monopoly, the big industrialists^ and the bankers 
were arrayed solidly in support of a great military effort. This fact 
alone would have sufficed to arouse the hostility of progressives^ but 
more important was their repudiation of the principle of using power 

Robert Carter in the New York Evening Sun 
Preparedness: Wilson reverses himself in midstream 

as an instrument of diplomacy. To them preparedness signified turning 
America into an armed camp, the glorification of force, and, worst of 
all, an end to the reform movement at home. Little wonder it was 
that in the ensuing battle almost every leader of the American progres- 
sive movement was found in the antipreparedness ranks. 

The antipreparedness forces had not been entirely inactive before 


the summer of 1915. At the same time the National Security League 
was organized, a group of Eastern peace leaders, including Oswald 
Garrison Villard, George Foster Peabody, Jane Addams, Lillian D. 
Wald, and Rev. Charles E. Jefferson of New York City, formed the 
League to Limit Armament to offset the agitation for preparation. 17 
A few weeks later the Woman's Peace party was organized by Jane 
Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt to mobilize feminine sentiment. 
These and other peace groups kept up a steady reply to the prepared- 
ness propaganda. 18 

So long as the administration withstood the demand for increased 
armaments the peace forces felt reasonably secure. The President's 
desertion of the peace cause in the summer of 1915, however, caused 
the first real crisis in the progressive movement since 1912. Whether to 
follow Wilson and attempt to moderate his program, or to oppose him 
in what promised to be a doubtful battle these were the difficult 
alternatives. For most progressives, however, there was only one 
answer: fight the President. For, as one pacifist warned, he was "sow- 
ing the seeds of militarism, raising up a military and naval caste." w 
Thus Wilson's preparedness appeal of November 4 was met by a 
thundering opposition. Bryan, who had already begun his peace cam- 
paign, now undertook a nation-wide appeal to persuade the people 
that Wilson was being duped by his enemies, the great business inter- 
ests. Senator La Follette, too, entered the fight, charging that profiteers 
were the real promoters of preparedness. 20 And from every obscure 
corner of the country came angry demands, protests, pleas, and appeals. 
And even more meaningful to the politicians was the almost unani- 
mous opposition of labor and farm organizations to the preparedness 
program. 21 

17 "Organization Meeting of the American League to Limit Armament 
December 18, 1914"; "Report of the Secretary . . . April 7, 1915," in* the 
Papers of Oswald Garrison Villard, in Houghton Library, Harvard University. 

18 For the literature of the peace and antipreparedness movements see Essay 
on Sources, "The Preparedness and Peace Movements, 1914-17 General 
Studies; The Peace and Antipreparedness Crusades," 

19 O. G. Villard to Wilson, Oct. 30, 1915, Wilson Papers. 

20 R. M. La Follette, "Patriots," La toilette's Magazine, VII (Nov., 1915), 

21 For example, see H. Q. Alexander, president of the National Farmers' 
Union, to Claude Kitchin, Nov. 3, 24, 1915, the Papers of Claude Kitchin, in 
the Library of the University of North Carolina; resolutions adopted by the 
North Carolina Farmers' Union, Nov. 18, 1915, The New York Times .'Nov. 19, 
1915; American Socialist, Dec. 4, 1915; Ohio Valley Trades and Labor As- 


Antipreparedness sentiment at once focused upon the members of 
Congress, for the outcome of the controversy depended upon the suc- 
cess or failure of Bryan and his friends in wresting control of the 
legislative branch from the President. Appalled by Wilson's new de- 
parture, a group of from thirty to fifty Democratic radicals, most of 
them Southerners and Westerners, took counsel with one another dur- 
ing the summer and fall of 1915. The leaders of the group were Claude 
Kitchin, the new House majority leader 22 and farmer-lawyer from 
Scotland County, North Carolina, and Warren Worth Bailey, single 
taxer and publisher of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Democrat. With 
the tacit co-operation of the chairman of the House Military Affairs 
Committee, James Hay of Virginia, the antipreparedness leaders were 
able to pack and control that key body. 23 

When Congress assembled in December, 1915, Wilson made patriot- 
ism, preparedness, and a new shipping bill the keynotes of his Annual 
Message. 24 Having failed to budge Majority Leader Kitchin from his 
stubborn opposition, the President called the House and Senate 
minority leaders, James R. Mann of Illinois and Jacob H. Gallinger 
of New Hampshire, to the White House and asked for the opposition's 
aid. After beginning this energetic campaign, however, Wilson was 
drawn away from the developing controversy for several weeks by his 
marriage on December 18, 1915, to Mrs. Edith Boiling Gait of Wash- 
ington. The consequence of his failure to press his measures at this 
time was that he soon lost control of the House of Representatives. 
Democratic members were apathetic, if not openly opposed, to the 
defense program. 

Preparedness advocates were most alarmed, however, by the situa- 
tion in the Military Affairs Committee. The leaders of this body had 
never got on well with Secretary Garrison, whom they thought dic- 
tatorial and responsive only to the military point of view. Now the 

sembly to Wilson, Dec. 3, 1915, Wilson Papers; action of the United Mine 
Workers of America, Jan. 18, 1916, The New York Times, Jan. 19, 1916; Isaac 
R. Sherwood to W. W. Bailey, Nov. 5, 12, 1915, the Papers of Warren Worth 
Bailey, in the Library of Princeton University. 

22 Oscar W. Underwood, House majority leader from 1911 to 1915, was 
elected to the Senate in the latter year. 

. 23 The membership and activities of the antipreparedness radicals are fully 
revealed in the voluminous correspondence in the Kitchin and Bailey Papers 
and the Papers of William Jennings Bryan, in the Library of Congress, August 
through November, 1915. 

24 The Public Papers, The New Democracy, I, 406-428. 


Committee were at positive loggerheads with Garrison over the most 
important feature of the administration's army plan, the Continental 
Army. The Army War College had emphatically asserted that because 
of constitutional limitations on federal control of the state forces, the 
National Guard could never be legally subjected to the control of the 
President and War Department. 25 Garrison reiterated this argument 
before the Committee, adding that any army plan that made the Na- 
tional Guard the core of the reserve force was not only futile but also 
dangerous, because it could provide no effective reserve force at all. 
The Committee members, however, were adamantly opposed to the 
idea of a national reserve force. The powerful National Guard lobby 
in Washington was active during the fight, to be sure, but its opposition 
to the Continental Army proposal was not the only reason for the 
Committee's opposition. A large, effective reserve army, under the 
absolute control of the War Department, seemed to the rural Demo- 
crats on the Committee the very symbol of uncontrolled militarism. 
Southerners, moreover, feared that a President hostile to their racial 
system might enlist Negroes in the volunteer reserve force. Chairman 
James Hay came forward, instead, with a plan to "federalize" the 
militia, that is, to give the War Department control over the enlist- 
ment, equipment, and training of the National Guard. The state 
forces, moreover, would be paid by the federal government. In spite 
of everything administration leaders could do 5 the Committee members 
insisted upon having their way. 

This, therefore, was the stalemate that existed during the month fol- 
lowing the President's second marriage. To the country at large he 
seemed helpless in face of the deadlock and, for the first time in his 
political career, ineffective. As friendly critics pointed out, he had 
abandoned his leadership of Congress at a critical juncture and had 

25 E.g., H. L. Scott to Charles M. de Bremond, Dec. 27, 1915, the Papers of 
Hugh L. Scott, in the Library of Congress; L. M. Garrison to Wilson, Jan. 12, 
1916, Wilson Papers. 

The Army War College and Garrison based their arguments in behalf of the 
Continental Army plan entirely on this assertion. The Committee members, on 
the other hand, declared that of course Congress had ample power to bring the 
state forces under federal control. In spite of the obvious necessity of clearing 
up this legal point, it was not until after the Continental Army plan had been 
abandoned and Secretary Garrison had resigned that Wilson sought to find an 
answer to this question. On February 25, 1916, Attorney General Thomas W. 
Gregory submitted a long memorandum, dated February 24, 1916, to the 
President. Gregory supported the Committee's assertion that the authority of 
Congress over the militia was practically unlimited. 


left the business of creating opinion to a public bewildered by a multi- 
tude of discordant elements. "I cannot impress upon you too forcibly the 
importance of an appeal to the country at this time on the question of 
preparedness/' Tumulty advised. ". . . Our all is staked upon a 
successful issue in this matter." 26 Stung by his critics and by Tumulty's 
warning, after returning from his honeymoon Wilson decided to carry 
the fight to the people. Opposition to preparedness was strongest in the 
rural areas of the South and Middle West; since Southern congress- 
men might support the administration out of party loyalty, Wilson 
decided to address his appeal to the East and Middle West. 

Opening his tour in New York City on January 27, 1916, the Presi- 
dent campaigned westward through Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, 
Milwaukee, Des Moines, Kansas City, Topeka, and St. Louis. He 
explained and defended the Continental Army plan, and in a famous 
slip at St. Louis on February 3 he declared the United States should 
have "incomparably the greatest navy in the world." 27 He affirmed 
the necessity of defending the Western Hemisphere against hostile 
attack; he declared he could not defend the national honor without 
military power; he depicted the explosive and unpredictable European 
situation. Preparedness, he declared, was not a partisan cause, but a 
national necessity. 28 

Everywhere Wilson went he was welcomed by friendly editors and 
cheering throngs, a fact that deluded him into thinking he had changed 
the Midwestern mind. And he came back to Washington on February 
4 and waited for the ground swell he thought would soon overwhelm 
Congressional opposition. It soon became evident, however, that the 
masses of farmers and workers in the Midwest were unconverted. 29 

26 Tumulty to Wilson, Jan. 17, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

27 In the official printed version Wilson changed this phrase to read "in- 
comparably the most adequate navy in the world." For criticisms of the St. Louis 
address, see New York Journal of Commerce, Feb. 4, 1916; Springfield Re- 
publican, Feb. 5, 1916; The Nation, CII (Feb. 10, 1916), 153. 

28 Wilson's addresses are printed in The Public Papers* New Democracy, II, 

29 This, at least, was the opinion of competent observers. See Governor 
Arthur Capper, of Kansas, to O. G. Villard, Feb. 3, 1916, Villard Papers; 
H. E. Farnham to W. W. Bailey, Feb. 5, 1916, Bailey Papers; S. H. Smith to 
Bailey, Feb. 8, 1916, ibid. 

As preparedness enthusiasm throughout the country was largely concen- 
trated in the cities and towns, there was actually a large body of favorable 
opinion in the Middle West before Wilson began his tour. There can be no 
doubt that his speeches, which were delivered in the large cities of the region, 


More important, it was obvious the President had failed to convince 
many leaders of opinion that the United States confronted any grave 
danger from abroad. 

"I see no real change in the attitude of the Members since the 
President's Western tour," Claude Kitchin observed five days after 
Wilson returned to the capital. 30 Events soon proved the accuracy of 
Kitchin's surmise. By now the deadlock between Garrison and the 
House Military Affairs Committee was apparently hopeless, for Garri- 
son had taken such advanced ground he could never compromise, 
while the Democratic congressmen were more than ever determined 
to scrap the Continental Army plan and to strengthen the National 
Guard. Convinced that the Committee's alternative was vicious, 
because it would prevent enactment of effective legislation, Garrison 
intimated he would resign if the President surrendered. 

Even before he left on his Western tour, Wilson had given signs of 
weakening. On February 5, the day after his return, Chairman Hay 
advised him that the Democrats would never accept the Continental 
Army scheme; three days later he added that Garrison and the military 
spokesmen had thoroughly antagonized the Committee. In order to 
get any army bill at all, the President had to give in, abandon the 
Continental Army, and accept "federalization" of the National Guard. 
As he had no other choice, he surrendered to the Committee and 
allowed Garrison to resign on February 10. Immediately the tension 
between the Committee and the executive department vanished. 
Garrison left hurriedly for home, deeply aggrieved but still too loyal 
to his chief to vent his feelings. 31 

The appointment of Garrison's successor was another move calcu- 
lated to heal the breach between the President and the Military Affairs 
Committee. He was Newton D. Baker, Mayor of Cleveland, who, until 

mid ? le " and u PP er -dass support for preparedness. But it seems likely 
that Wilson failed to change rural antipreparedness sentiment. For one thing 
the opposition of the rural members in Congress to the defense program did 
not diminish. For another, rural opposition, as revealed in farm journals and 
letters to congressmen, did not noticeably subside after Wilson's tour 

3 ^ tChin t0 Bryan ' Febl 9 > 1916 > Ktebin Papers; also W. W. Bailey to 
W. E. Ewer, Feb. 11, 1916, Bailey Papers. 

31 Only once in later years did Garrison say what he thought of Wilson. "I 
once heard a description which as nearly fits the case of President Wilson as 
any other I know," he wrote in 1929. "In describing someone it was said, 'He 
was a man of high ideals but no principles/ " Garrison to W. E. Brooks *Feb 
24, 1929, the Papers of William E. Brooks, in the Library of Congress. ' 


within a month of his appointment on March 7, was outspokenly 
opposed to preparedness. Wilson had followed Baker's rise to a position 
of leadership among young, progressive Democrats with admiration 
and in 1913 had twice offered him the Secretaryship of the Interior. 
Baker came as Secretary of War because Wilson convinced him it was 
his duty to come, and the President thereafter had no more loyal or 
congenial friend in the Cabinet. 

After the administration's acceptance of the Hay plan and Garri- 
son's withdrawal, the Democratic leaders made steady progress in 
Congress. On March 23, 1916, the House, 402 to 2, adopted the Com- 
mittee bill, which increased substantially the Regular Army and 
brought the National Guard under the control of the War Depart- 
ment. It was true, however, as Kitchin claimed, that the victory be- 
longed to the antipreparedness group. They had waged what seemed 
in the beginning a hopeless battle against the combined force of the 
administration, the metropolitan press, and a part of the Republican 
minority. They had forced the President to abandon the heart of his 
military program, the Continental Army, and to sacrifice a Secretary 
of War who had won the affection of the military leaders and a 
reputation for courage and loyalty to principle. As Kitchin further 
pointed out, however, there still remained the danger that the Garrison 
plan would triumph in the Senate, where the Military Affairs Com- 
mittee was dominated by large-army men. 

The month following the adoption by the House of the Hay army 
bill was a time of severe crisis in German-American relations. Follow- 
ing the torpedoing of the French packet, Sussex, in the English Chan- 
nel on March 24, the President announced that if the Germans did not 
thereafter adhere to the rules of cruiser warfare in their submarine 
operations the United States would sever diplomatic relations with the 
Imperial government. The preparedness leaders in the Senate, whose 
spokesman was George E. Chamberlain, chairman of the Military 
Affairs Committee, used the Sussex crisis to advance their cause. On 
April 18, the same day Wilson threatened to break relations with the 
German government, the Senate adopted a bill that embodied vir- 
tually the War College-Garrison program. The House bill had in- 
creased the Regular Army from 100,000 to 140,000 officers and men. 
In contrast, the Senate measure increased the regulars to 250,000, 
"federalized" the National Guard, provided $15 million for the con- 
struction of nitrate plants, and, most important, established a national 


volunteer reserve force the Continental Army of 261,000 men. 

Thus the issue between the moderates and the preparedness advo- 
cates was frankly raised in the ensuing struggle between the two 
houses for control of the major aspects of the military bill. In this 
struggle Wilson displayed all his powers of leadership and mediation. 
He quickly spotted weaknesses in the Hay bill to "federalize" the Na- 
tional Guard and obtained their correction. He threw his support 
behind Secretary Baker's suggestion for the creation of a Council of 
National Defense. And in the struggle between the House and Senate 
he offered a compromise, in which the House's demand for a smaller 
standing army and the Senate's plan for a larger number of regiments 
would be reconciled. When the conferees adjourned without agree- 
ment on May 5, Wilson entered the controversy again, pleading with 
the House members to meet the Senate halfway. 

Under steady presidential pressure the legislative deadlock was 
finally broken, and on May 13 the conferees agreed on a bill embody- 
ing mutual concessions. The measure 32 more than doubled the Regu- 
lar Army, increasing it from an authorized peacetime strength of 
5,029 officers and 100,000 men to 11,327 officers and 208,338 men. 
The Garrison plan for a large national reserve force was abandoned, 
but the National Guard was thoroughly integrated into the federal 
defense structure and increased to an authorized strength of 17,000 
officers and 440,000 men within five years. In addition, the War De- 
partment was allowed to establish a number of volunteer summer 
training camps, patterned after the highly successful experimental 
camp at Plattsburg, New York. Finally, the War Department was 
authorized to construct and operate a nitrate plant, to cost not more 
than $20 million. Later legislation provided for a Council of National 

Because the army bill constructed the first line of the nation's reserve 
upon the cornerstone of the National Guard, the extreme preparedness 
advocates denounced it as "a menace to public safety in that it pur- 
ports to provide a military force of value" and does not. 88 With cus- 
tomary exaggeration, Roosevelt called it "one of the most iniquitous 
bits of legislation ever placed on the statute books," and the National 

32 Approved by the Senate on May 17 and by the House on May 20, 1916. 

33 Leonard Wood, "Memorandum with respect to legislation affecting the 
Militia," sent to E. M. House, Apr. 17, 1916, Wilson Papers. 


Security League urged the President to veto the measure. 34 On the 
other hand, the progressive, antipreparedness leaders congratulated 
themselves that the country had been saved from the worst conse- 
quences of the preparedness hysteria and that the traditional American 
defensive structure had been preserved. As Warren Worth Bailey's 
newspaper claimed, they had forced the administration to accept 
"reasonable" preparedness. 55 

Meanwhile^ the House and Senate Naval Affairs committees had 
been biding their time until the army issue was settled. Actually, there 
had been little controversy over naval expansion. The die-hard paci- 
fists in the House in principle opposed increased naval appropriations; 
but they concentrated their energies on the army bill, which seemed to 
them more important. On May 18 the House Committee presented a 
bill that ignored the administration's request for approval of the five- 
year building program but provided more tonnage than Secretary 
Daniels had requested for the first year: five battle cruisers, four 
cruisers, ten destroyers, twenty submarines, and smaller vessels. The 
scrapping of the five-year program, the provision for battle cruisers 
instead of dreadnoughts, and the addition of an amendment authoriz- 
ing the President to convene a naval disarmament conference at the 
end of the war all represented substantial achievements by the anti- 
preparedness group. During the final debate in the House, on June 2, 
a Republican "big navy" amendment was narrowly defeated, 189 to 
183, although the Democrats agreed to increase the number of sub- 
marines to fifty and almost to double the appropriations for the naval 
air force, from $2 million to $3j4 million. The House on May 31 had 
approved a Senate bill to establish a government armor-plate fac- 
tory. 36 

34 Roosevelt to A. C. Wiprud, Dec. 21, 1916, Roosevelt Papers; Robert 
Bacon, president, National Security League, to Wilson, May 26, 1916, Wilson 
Papers. The military leaders, of course, regarded the bill as "a gold brick." For 
a detailed criticism by a member of the Army War College, see W. H. Johnston 
to H. L. Scott, May 26, 1916, Scott Papers. 

35 Johnstown Democrat, May 25, 1916. 

36 The passage of this bill was a personal triumph for old Senator "Pitch- 
fork" Ben Tillman of South Carolina, who had been at war with the armor- 
plate manufacturers since the Spanish-American War. When Tillman brought 
his bill out in December, 1915, the manufacturers offered to reduce their prices 
substantially if the South Carolinian would abandon his measure. Tillman 
replied that they were "robbers." Then the manufacturers threatened to 
increase prices $200 a ton if the measure passed. This threat, however, back- 
fired by arousing the entire country and expediting passage of the bill. See 


The House navy bill, however, was wrecked by the complete 
triumph of the "big navy" forces in the Senate and by the battle of 
Jutland, which naval experts said demonstrated the superiority of the 
dreadnought over the faster and more lightly armored battle cruiser. 
Thus the Senate measure, passed on July 21, provided for the com- 
pletion of the administration's program within three years, not five, 
and for the construction during the first year of four battleships, four 
battle cruisers, four cruisers, twenty destroyers, thirty submarines, and 
a number of lesser craft. 

Up to this point the President had not interfered directly in the 
course of the legislation; now, however, he turned the full force of his 
personal and political pressure on the House leaders, to obtain accept- 
ance of the astonishing Senate bill. The reasons for his sudden and 
decisive intervention are not hard to find. There was a first of all, the 
possibility of a war between Germany and the United States should 
the former triumph in Europe. In the second place, fear that Japan 
would emerge from the war expansionist and aggressive was another 
major cause for the Senate's action and the President's vigorous support 
of it. 37 But a more immediate cause was the fact that relations between 
Britain and the United States were becoming exceedingly strained at 
this time. Although the naval building program could have no imme- 
diate effect on foreign policy, Wilson was anxious to hasten the day 
when the American navy was larger than Britain's. "Let us build a 
navy bigger than hers and do what we please," he told Colonel House. 

After considerable wrangling, the conferees voted on August 7 to 
disagree and refer the bills to their respective houses. The first break 
in the House ranks came the following day, when Chairman Lemuel 
P. Padgett of the House Committee conferred with Wilson and agreed 
to support the Senate bill. Then, on August 15, the House capitulated 
and accepted the important provisions of the Senate measure without 
altering a sentence. The antipreparedness leaders were heartsick. "The 
United States today becomes the most militaristic naval nation on 
earth," Kitchin shouted. "The forces on the other side are too great," 
Bailey lamented. 88 

Francis B. Simkins, Pitchfork Ben Tillman (Baton Rouge, La., 1944), pp. 

37 The New York Times, July 18, 19, 1916. Outten J. Clinard, Japan's In- 
fluence on American Naval Power, 1897-1917 (Berkeley, Calif., 1947), pp. 
145-172, offers convincing evidence to support this statement. 

s* The New York Times, Aug. 16, 1916; W. W. Bailey to G. F. Dole, Aug. 8, 
1916, Bailey Papers. 


In the meantime, the administration also obtained the adoption of 
a much revised shipping bill as part of the general preparedness legis- 
lation. As early as May 24, 1915, the President had revived the defunct 
ship purchase bill, and all during the following summer McAdoo 
urged the proposal in administration circles and before the country. In 
his speeches after the Lusitania and Arabic crises, however, McAdoo 
placed increasing emphasis upon the need for a strong merchant 
marine as an indispensable adjunct to the navy. He began, moreover, 
to think in terms of comprehensive federal regulation of maritime rates 
and services, rather than merely of the purchase and operation of 
ships. 39 

By late October, 1915, McAdoo had drafted a new shipping bill, 
which furnished the basis for administration discussions during the 
following weeks. Then, on January 31, 1916, Chairman Alexander of 
the Merchant Marine Committee introduced the administration's 
measure in the House. Carefully phrased to meet the objections of the 
Democratic senators who had helped defeat the ship purchase bill a 
year before, the Alexander bill authorized the appointment of a United 
States Shipping Board, which might spend up to $50 million in the 
construction or purchase of merchant ships suitable for use as naval 
auxiliaries. The Board was empowered to operate shipping lines but 
might also lease or charter its vessels to private corporations. Finally, 
the agency was endowed with full power to regulate the rates and 
services of all vessels engaged in the interstate, coastwise, and foreign 
trade of the United States. 

The Merchant Marine Association inveighed against this "socialistic 
scheme"; the shipping companies sent experts to testify against it 
before the House Committee; yet administration leaders made rapid 
headway in pushing the bill. Early in May, 1916, the Committee 
approved the Alexander bill, slightly revised, 40 and the House adopted 
it on May 20. There was no longer any real opposition to the proposal 
among Senate Democrats, only a general apathy and still a lingering 

39 See e.g., McAdoo's speech before the businessmen and commercial or- 
ganizations of Indianapolis, Oct. 13, 1915, mimeographed copy in Wilson 
Papers; also speeches at St. Louis, Oct. 14, and Kansas City, Oct. 15, The New 
York Times, Oct. 15, 16, 1915. 

40 The Committee's major change stipulated that the shipping lines owned 
and operated by the Shipping Board should go out of business five years after 
the end of the European war and that all the Board's property, except vessels 
designed primarily as naval auxiliaries, should be sold. 


fear that purchase of German vessels would involve the country in a 
serious dispute with the British government. When, in mid- July, the 
Senate Democrats iinally consented to consider the measure, they 
amended it to prevent the Shipping Board from purchasing any ships 
under belligerent registry. As the presidential campaign was by now 
getting into full swing, debate in the Senate was desultory, with the 
Republican stalwarts, Warren G. Harding of Ohio and Jacob H. 
Gallinger of New Hampshire, leading the opposition. By a strict party 
vote the bill was adopted on August 18, 1916. 

Although McAdoo complained that the shipping bill was "tre- 
mendously emasculated," the truth was the act Wilson signed on 
September 7 had been immensely strengthened by Congress. In the 
place of regulation of ocean rates and services by the overburdened 
Interstate Commerce Commission, which McAdoo's draft had con- 
templated, the House Committee had substituted thoroughgoing 
regulation by a powerful independent commission. Instead of Mc- 
Adoo's ill-advised plan to purchase the German vessels, the Senate had 
insisted on a frank statutory avowal that the United States would be 
guilty of no such unneutral conduct. Thus what had begun in 1914 as 
a hastily conceived emergency measure had metamorphosed into one 
of the most important pieces of legislation of the Wilson era, for his- 
torians date the birth of the modern American merchant marine from 
the passage of this Shipping Act of 1916. 

The great defense appropriations of 1916 entailed for that day 
enormous outlays and compelled Congress in an election year either 
to impose new taxes or to approve a bond issue. In short, the Demo- 
crats had to find large new revenues; and in their search for them they 
provoked a new discussion and gave a powerful impetus to the move- 
ment then being agitated for a progressive tax policy. In light of 
federal fiscal policy since 1916, one is tempted to believe the Revenue 
Act of that year marked another milestone in the progress toward a 
more democratic America: a dividing point between the old tax policy 
and the new. 

The federal tax structure in 1914 was so constructed as to throw the 
major share of the tax burden on the lower and middle classes. Almost 
$300 million of the government's total revenues of $734,673,167, ex- 
clusive of postal receipts, came from customs receipts, which were 
paid by the mass of consumers. Another $300 million were paid by the 
rank and file in the form of taxes on tobacco, liquor, wine, and beer. 


Individuals and corporations paid $71 million in income taxes, while 
the balance was derived from surplus postal receipts, the sale of public 
lands, and miscellaneous sources. The wealthy, obviously, enjoyed rela- 
tive immunity from taxation. 

If conservatives had had their way, the entire cost of the new arma- 
ments would have been met by a bond issue and by increased con- 
sumption taxes. Rejecting the suggestion of a bond issue, McAdoo 
presented in November, 1915, a comprehensive tax plan that threw 
the burden of paying for preparedness as much on the lower and 
middle classes as on the rich. 41 When Congress on December 17 ex- 
tended the emergency war tax act of 1914 for another year, it seemed 
the administration still had firm control of fiscal policy. 

McAdoo' s proposal to place the heaviest burden of increased taxa- 
tion on the lower and middle classes, however, aroused bitter comment 
and opposition from radicals and progressives, as well as from Demo- 
cratic politicians with uneasy eyes on the coming campaign. 42 The 
Central Labor Union of Seattle, for example, suggested that since the 
capitalists sought to provoke a war to increase their own profits, Con- 
gress should instruct the War Department to seize all bank deposits 
and all security holdings worth more than $5,000. 4S More significant 
was the organization by a group of Eastern progressives, including 
John Dewey, Frederick C. Howe, and George L. Record, of the As- 
sociation for an Equitable Federal Income Tax. Their executive secre- 
tary, Benjamin Marsh, undertook a speaking campaign in the Middle 

41 Specifically, McAdoo proposed ( 1 ) to retain the emergency war taxes 
voted in the autumn of 1914, which were mainly stamp and excise taxes; (2) 
to retain the duty on sugar, instead of allowing it to enter free in 1916, as the 
Underwood Act provided; (3) to reduce the income tax exemption from $4,000 
to $3,000 for married persons and from $3,000 to $2,000 for single persons; (4) 
to begin application of the surtax on incomes at $10,000 or $15,000,, instead of 
at $20,000; (5) to double the normal income tax of 1 per cent, but not to 
increase the surtax; and (6) to levy new taxes on gasoline, crude and refined oil, 
and automobile horsepower. McAdoo to Wilson, Nov. 23, 1915, Wilson Papers; 
The New York Times, Nov. 26, 1915. 

42 See, e.g., W. J. Bryan, "The President's Message Analyzed," The Com- 
moner, Dec., 1915; "Who Will Pay?" Harper's Weekly, LXI (Dec. 18, 1915), 
577; Edwin O. Wood, member of the Democratic National Committee for 
Michigan, to Tumulty, Dec. 1, 1915, Wilson Papers; R. B. Glenn to G. Kitchin, 
Dec. 30, 1915, Kitchin Papers. 

43 Resolution adopted c. Jan. 21, 1916, Wilson Papers. Local 5, Amalgamated 
Sheet Metal Workers' Alliance, Youngstown, Ohio, and Local 24, International 
Association of Machinists, Topeka, Kansas, adopted identical resolutions on 
January 13 and February 27, 1916. 


West in January, 1916, and reported strong popular sentiment for 
increasing the maximum surtax to 20 or 30 per cent. Finally, on Feb- 
ruary 1 Representative Warren Worth Bailey came forward with a 
plan to meet the entire cost of preparedness by raising the maximum 
surtax to 50 per cent. "If the forces of big business are to plunge this 
country into a saturnalia of extravagance for war purposes in a time 
of peace," he declared on introducing his bill, "it is my notion that the 
forces of big business should put up the money." ** 

This ground swell had immediate impact on the Southern and West- 
ern radicals who controlled the House Ways and Means Committee 
and who agreed among themselves to force through a tax bill accept- 
able to the labor and farm spokesmen. In late January and early Feb- 
ruary of 1916, Chairman Kitchin was suddenly deluged with letters 
from Democratic congressmen, most of them representing rural or 
labor constituencies, warning they would not support the administra- 
tion's tax program, even if a Democratic caucus thus ordered. More- 
over, all demanded that the money for preparedness be raised by 
greatly increasing taxes on large incomes and by imposing new taxes 
on inheritances and the profits of munitions manufacturers. "The 
people of the United States are now paying annually $250,000,000 for 
the national defense," a Nebraskan wrote. "I think this is sufficient but 
if it is not let the surplus wealth that is claiming additional protection 
pay for it." 45 Kitchin of course replied that he agreed completely. To 
Bryan he confided that he was "persuaded to think that when the 
New York people are thoroughly convinced that the income tax will 
have to pay for the increase in the army and navy, . . . preparedness 
will not be so popular with them as it now is." * 6 

It was not publicly apparent until July, 1916, but control of the 
Ways and Means Committee had been wrested from the administra- 
tion for the first time since March 4, 1913. The radicals made one 

** Johnstown Democrat, Feb. 2, 1916; also ibid., Feb. 15, 1916, and The 
Public, XIX (Mar. 3, 1916), 194-195, for significant comment. 

* 5 Dan V. Stephens to Kitchin, Jan. 29, 1916, Kitchin Papers. See also the 
following letters to Kitchin, all in ibid.: R. L. Doughton, Jan. 25, 1916; Oscar 
Callaway, Jan. 26, 1916; Carl G. Van Dyke, Clyde H. Tavenner, Isaac R. 
Sherwood, W. L. Hensley, William Gordon, W. W. Bailey, Jan. 27, 1916; T. J. 
Steele, Jan. 28, 1916; W. W. Hastings, Jim McClintic, James H. Mays, James 
S. Davenport, William A. Ayres, Jan. 29, 1916; Carl Hayden, Jouett Shouse, 
William H. Murray, Jan. 31, 1916; Scott Ferris, D. S. Church, J. R. Connelly. 
Feb. 1,1916. 

* Kitchin to Bryan, Jan. 31, 1916, ibid. 


concession, by voting to retain the one-cent duty on sugar. But the bill 
that the Committee presented to the House on July 1, 1916, was a far 
cry from McAdoo's and Wilson's proposals. It doubled the normal 
income tax, from 1 to 2 per cent, without lowering exemptions; raised 
the surtax on incomes over $40,000 to a maximum of 10 per cent, 
instead of the maximum of 6 per cent under the law of 1913; imposed 
a federal estate tax ranging from 1 to 5 per cent on estates over 
$50,000; levied a tax of from 1 to 8 per cent on the gross receipts of 
munitions manufacturers making a net profit of 10 per cent and over, 
and repealed the hated stamp tax sections of the war emergency tax 
law of 1914. 47 In all, Kitchin asserted, the bill would produce some 
$250 million in new revenues, enough to pay for the military and naval 
increases that Congress contemplated. Amid angry charges in the 
House that the South and West had combined in a gigantic raid on 
Northern wealth, 48 the House adopted the revenue bill on July 10. 

Under the spur of progressives like George W. Norris and Robert 
M. La Follette, the Senate Finance Committee went even further than 
the House had gone in "soaking the rich," and the Senate bill finally 
adopted on September 6 and agreed to by the House represented a 
frank assessment against privileged wealth. In addition to the House 
provision which doubled the normal income tax, the Senate bill in- 
creased the surtax on incomes over $20,000 to a maximum of 13 per 
cent, which, with the normal tax of 2 per cent, set the maximum 
income tax at 15 per cent; levied a new tax on corporation capital, 
surplus, and undivided profits; increased the estate tax to a maximum 
of 10 per cent, and increased to 12J4 per cent the tax on gross receipts 
of munitions industries. 

What the passage of the revenue bill of 1916 signified was clear to 
both the friends and the enemies of preparedness, to both the progres- 
sives and the spokesmen for great property. Heretofore, the advocates 
of a progressive tax policy the single taxers, the Socialists, and the 
labor and agrarian progressives had been a minority, scourged and 
ridiculed by conservatives as purveyors of class prejudice and despoilers 
of the rich. Now for the first time in the saddle, these progressives used 

47 For this and the following analysis of the Senate amendments I am in- 
debted to Sidney Ratner, American Taxation (New York, 1942), pp. 345-361. 

48 Martin Madden, Illinois Republican, for example, pointed out that four 
states New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois had paid $85 
million in individual and corporation income taxes in 1915, while twelve 
Southern states combined had paid only $5,389,670. 


the necessity for vastly increased revenues as the occasion for putting 
their advanced tax theories into effect. The new income and inheritance 
taxes constituted,, for that day, a powerful equalitarian attack on great 
property, unrivaled even by Lloyd George's "Tax on Wealth" of 1909. 

Nor did the progressives fail to derive satisfaction from the way in 
which they had seemingly turned the tables on the preparedness-big 
business element. "What has become of the dollar patriots?" Bailey 
taunted. "Where are the members of the Preparedness league and the 
Navy league? In the counting room hollering loud and long because 
they find that incomes must bear a portion of the burden they had 
hoped to unload upon the farmer and the steel worker." 49 This was 
the progressives* economic interpretation of the movement to make 
America strong enough to defend herself. 

By the autumn of 1916 the administration's preparedness program 
was fairly well accomplished. Looking back over the enormous 
obstacles that the President had faced, both from pacifists and from 
ardent preparationists, it was clear his accomplishment was consider- 
able indeed. It was a program designed, not to meet the immediate 
needs of diplomacy, but rather to afford some measure of security to 
the United States in a troubled postwar era. It did not satisfy the Na- 
tional Security League any more than it pleased the extreme pacifists. 
But opinion in the country as a whole agreed that the administration's 
program provided "reasonable" preparedness for the uncertain years 
ahead. Still doggedly noninterventionist, the rank and file were think- 
ing in terms, not of preparedness for war 5 but of preparedness for 

^Johnstown Democrat, July 15, 1916. 


Devious Diplomacy, 1915-16 

r I 1 HE FAVORABLE settlement of the nation's most urgent contro- 
JL versies with Germany and Britain in the autumn of 1915 brought 
relief to a people distraught at the thought of active intervention. Yet 
the calm that settled upon the country with the exacting of the Arabic 
pledge was not shared by the few men who controlled the foreign 
policy of the United States. Obviously, the great majority of Americans 
wanted peace, yet the maintenance of peace depended upon German 
observance of the Arabic promise, which was beyond Wilson's power 
to control. Nor was a break with Britain an impossibility, although it 
seemed unlikely at the time. 

With his usual perspicacity, Colonel House saw that the surest way 
to end the dilemma and create a situation subject to American direc- 
tion was to inaugurate a movement for peace under President Wilson's 
leadership. His earlier efforts to persuade the Germans to agree to the 
status quo ante as a basis for peace talks having been rebuffed, 1 House 
was by the late summer of 1915 convinced that the triumph of un- 
bridled German militarism in Europe would gravely imperil future 
American security. He concluded, moreover, that the only chance for 
peace lay in coming to firm agreement with the Allies and in co- 
operating with them in a drive for peace, based on the status quo ante, 
so powerful the Germans could not resist it. 2 

Although mediation had been much in House's thought since the 

1 See above, pp. 160-162. 

2 House to Edward Grey, Sept. 3, 1915, the Papers of Edward M. House, in 
the Library of Yale University. House later explained the objectives of his 
peace plan in a letter to George S. Viereck, Feb. 13, 1932, ibid., written in 
connection with Viereck's Strangest Friendship in History. 



failure of his first peace mission, it was probably Sir Edward Grey's 
suggestion that the United States intervene to bring the war to an end 
that prompted House's action soon afterward. During a brief con- 
ference in New York City on October 8 he first presented to Wilson 
a daring plan that had been taking shape in his mind: either to com- 
pel a peace settlement or else to bring the United States into the war 
on the Allied side. The President was startled but seemingly acquiesced 
by silence. 3 A few days later House received letters from Grey intimat- 
ing that the Allies might be willing to consider a negotiated and 
reasonable peace if the United States were prepared to join a postwar 
League of Nations to prevent aggressive war in the future. 4 

House went at once to Washington where, with Grey's letters in 
hand; he and Wilson collaborated on a reply. The time might soon 
come. House advised Grey, when the United States should demand a 
peace conference upon the basis of the elimination of militarism and 
navalism. "What I want you to know is that whenever you consider 
the time propitious for this intervention I will propose it to the Presi- 
dent." After conferring with the British government., House added, he 
would go to Berlin and tell the German leaders that the President in- 
tended to stop the war. He would not, however, tell the Germans of 
his prior understanding with the Allies. "If the Central Powers were 
still obdurate, it would probably 5 be necessary for us to join the Allies 
and force the issue." 6 

3 Specifically, House proposed that he ask the Allies whether they would 
accept the President's mediation. He thought they would accept. If the Central 
Powers accepted also, all would be well. If the Central Powers refused, how- 
ever, "we could then push our insistence to a point where diplomatic relations 
would first be broken off, and later the whole force of our Government . . . 
might be brought against them." The Diary of Edward M. House, in House 
Papers, Oct. 8, 1915. 

4 Grey to House, Sept. 22, 1915, two letters, House Papers; also Spring Rice 
to House, Oct. 15, 1915, ibid. "I cannot say which Governments would be 
prepared to accept such a proposal, but I am sure that the Government of the 
United States is the only Government that could make it with effect," Grey 
wrote. Perhaps the most significant part of Grey's communication, however, was 
his intimation that, although the Allies would like to see Alsace-Lorraine re- 
turned to France and the Dardanelles given to Russia, the British government 
might be willing to negotiate on a basis of the restoration of Belgium and the 
evacuation of France. 

9 The word probably" was inserted by Wilson. "I do not want to make it 
inevitable quite, that we should take part to force terms on Germany, because 
the exact circumstances of such a crisis are impossible to determine," he wrote. 
Wilson to House, Oct. 18, 1915, the Ray Stannard Baker Collection, in the 
Library of Congress. 

6 House to Grey, Oct. 17, 1915, House Papers. 

DEVIOUS DIPLOMACY, 1915-16 1 99 

Because the ship that carried House's letter to England was delayed, 
it was not until November 9 that Grey replied, asking what House 
meant by "elimination of militarism and navalism" and whether 
House agreed that the peace of the world could be secured only by 
the United States' joining a League of Nations and guaranteeing the 
peace settlement. In relaying Grey's message to the President, House 
begged him to come out forthrightly behind Grey's proposal. "This is 
the part I think you are destined to play in this world tragedy," he 
urged, "and it is the noblest part that has ever come to a son of man. 
This country will follow you along such a path, no matter what the 
cost may be." 7 Wilson agreed, and House at once replied affirmatively 
to the Foreign Secretary. 

In a long conference in New York City with Wilson on November 
28, House again pressed his proposal for an Anglo-American entente. 
There was an irrepressible conflict between German autocracy and 
American democracy, he declared, and the United States could not 
permit a military autocracy to dominate the world. The President, 
moreover, should make these convictions known to the Allied leaders. 
Wilson agreed and suggested that House go to London to begin secret 
talks. 8 Two weeks later the momentous decision was made. House 
would go to London and Berlin to sound out the possibilities of peace 
on the basis of military and naval disarmament and a League of 
Nations to prevent aggression and maintain the "absolute" freedom of 
the seas. "If either party to the present war will let us say to the other 
that they are willing to discuss peace on such terms," the President's 
confidential instructions read, "it will clearly be our duty to use our 
utmost moral force to oblige the other to parley, and I do not see how 
they could stand in the opinion of the world if they refused." 9 

7 House to Wilson, Nov. 10, 1915, the Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the 
Library of Congress. 

8 House Diary, Nov. 28, 1915. By now Wilson was convinced that Walter 
Page was thoroughly unreliable and totally ineffective, because of his partiality 
to the British cause. The President, moreover, had no confidence in the British 
Ambassador in Washington, Sir Cecil Spring Rice, that "highly excitable 
invalid," Wilson called him. Like his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wilson 
seemed obsessed with a desire to circumvent diplomatic channels and to estab- 
lish direct, personal communication with the British leaders. 

9 Wilson to House, Dec. 24, 1915, Baker Collection; italics mine. Wilson's 
use of the term "moral force" did not necessarily imply a qualification of his 
statement. He meant, actually, diplomatic force, which in the then existing cir- 
cumstances could have been a powerful weapon of coercion. Diplomatic force 
used strongly against Germany, for example, might have led to a rupture in 
relations and war. 


In order to understand the reasons for the profoundly significant 
change in policy implied in Wilson's determination to intervene de- 
cisively for peace, it is necessary to review briefly the troubled state of 
German-American relations from October through December, 1915, 
during the time when Wilson and House agreed to embark upon the 
new course. Too often it has been assumed that the President simply 
decided upon a policy of intervention, diplomatic if possible, military 
if necessary^ on general moral grounds. The fact was, however, that 
Wilson's and House's willingness to think boldly was conditioned by 
the knowledge that German-American relations, already extremely 
tense, might worsen at any moment to the point of an open rupture. 

The giving of the Arabic pledge by the Germans had prevented a 
break in relations without effecting a comprehensive settlement of out- 
standing grievances and without convincing the Washington govern- 
ment that a friendly understanding was possible. To begin with, this, 
the fall of 1915, was the time when German agents in the United States 
and Mexico were most active and stimulated genuine alarm among the 
administration. As early as August 4 Wilson was convinced the country 
was "honeycombed with German intrigue and infested with German 
spies." As evidence of German espionage began to unfold on all sides, 10 

10 The most important case that developed during the summer of 1915 in- 
volved the head of the powerful German secret-service organization in the 
United States, Franz Rintelen von Kleist, who came to America in April, 1915. 
News of Rintelen's activities came to Lansing in July. Investigation by American 
agents revealed that Rintelen was head of the German intriguers, had engaged 
in a number of schemes to stop the export of munitions to the Allies, and had 
intrigued with Villa and Huerta to provoke a war between the United States 
and Mexico. The Diary of Chandler P. Anderson, in the Library of Congress, 
July 22, 1915, summarizing report by Charles Warren, Assistant Attorney 

Later and more comprehensive reports by United States secret-service agents 
established that Rintelen and the German military and naval attache's, Franz 
von Papen and Karl Boy-Ed, ha*d spent at least $27 million before December, 
1915, as follows: (1) $12 million to promote a Huerta- Villa counterrevolution 
against Carranza in Mexico; (2) $5 million for the Bridgeport Projectile Com- 
pany, which the Germans bought in order to tie up Allied war orders; (3) 
$3 million for secret-service and detective work; (4) $3 million for lecturers, 
press bureaus, and foreign language publications; (5) $2*/i million to supply 
German warships; and (6) $lVi million for miscellaneous expenses. 

The reports of the United States agents were given to the press and were 
summarized in The New York Times, Dec. 5, 8, 1915, and the New York 
World, Dec. 8, 1915. See also Lansing to Wilson, Sept. 27, 1915, enclosing Page 
to Lansing, Sept. 25, 1915, Wilson Papers, for another interesting case. Attor- 
ney General Gregory reviewed the work of the German Embassy among Ameri- 


Wilson grew indignant and threatened to send Bernstorff home. 11 The 
Department of Justice, heretofore almost criminally negligent, turned 
in full force on the German intriguers, while the Attorney General 
issued an unprecedented appeal for assistance to state authorities. The 
climax of the government's campaign came early in December, when 
Lansing demanded the recall of Von Papen and Boy-Ed, German 
military and naval attaches, for their proved complicity in plots against 
American neutrality. Soon afterward Bernstorff disavowed Rintelen,* 
but he could not so easily repudiate his two attaches. 

It was at this time, also, that Lansing began his diplomatic campaign 
to wrest from the Imperial government an apology and disavowal for 
the destruction of American lives on board the Lusitania. This was 
still the most rankling wound of all, and until it was healed cordial 
relations between the two governments were impossible. From the 
voluminous correspondence on the matter that passed among Wilson, 
Lansing, Bernstorff, and the German Foreign Office, it is clear the 
Washington administration were resolved to obtain full satisfaction or 
else to break diplomatic relations, and that the Foreign Office would 
surrender only if that were necessary to avoid a rupture. 12 During the 
first weeks of the negotiation, however, the Foreign Office stubbornly 
refused to concede the illegality of the destruction of the Lusitania. 
The result was that, at the very time Wilson and House were making 

can organizations in a letter to Vance McCormick, Sept. 30, 1916, copy in 
House Papers. 

George S. Viereck, who was a key figure in the German propaganda agency 
in New York City, gives the best description of how that organization func- 
tioned in Spreading Germs of Hate (New York, 1930), pp. 43-118. H. C. 
Peterson, Propaganda for War (Norman, Okla., 1939), pp. 134-158, is a brief 
account of German sabotage and propaganda activities. 

11 House Diary, Oct. 8, 1915. Bernstorff protested piously that he had abso- 
lutely no connection with the various intrigues. The fact was, however, that he 
knew everything about and was a key figure in them. See, for example, Foreign 
Office to Bernstorff, Jan. 13, 1916, "Bernstorff Wireless Messages 1916," in 
the Papers of Walter H. Page, in Houghton Library, Harvard University; 
Bernstorff to Foreign Office, Mar. 21, 1916, ibid.; Wolf von Igel to War Office, 
May 10, 1916, ibid.; Bernstorff to Foreign Office, Aug. 26, 1916, ibid. 

Lansing, however, was never fooled by BernstorfFs protestations of innocence. 
See the Diary of Robert Lansing, in the Library of Congress, "Count von 
Bernstorff," entry in Notes, dated May, 1916. 

12 The documents covering the first phase of the negotiation are printed in 
Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, The Lansing 
Papers, 1914-1920 (2 vols., Washington, 1939-40), I, 488-497. 


plans for the second peace mission, a break in relations with Germany 
seemed likely almost any day. 

Finally a break between the United States and Austria impended 
over the sinking of the Italian liner Ancona in the Mediterranean on 
November 7, with the loss of twenty-seven lives, by a German sub- 
marine flying the Hapsburg ensign. Only a few days before Wilson and 
House made plans for their peace move, the State Department had 
dispatched a virtual ultimatum to Vienna. Although the Austrian gov- 
ernment later yielded completely to the American demands for dis- 
avowal and reparation, it was not certain at the height of the crisis 
that the outcome would be a happy one. 

Obviously, then, House's peace plan was not conceived in a vacuum^ 
or even as a means of needlessly hastening American intervention. 
Wilson and House knew a break with Germany might become neces- 
sary if the Lusitania negotiations failed, and they realized it would be 
difficult to arouse popular approval for war over this somewhat stale 
issue. It is clear, therefore, that they hoped to avert such a break by 
compelling a reasonable peace settlement that would benefit all man- 
kind. But if this effort failed because of German unreasonableness, 
then the President could appeal in the name of humanity for the 
support of the American people in a drive to end the war. 

These thoughts were much in House's mind when he arrived in 
London on January 6, 1916. It seemed a propitious time to begin 
serious peace talks. Russia was wounded beyond hope of recovery, 
while the prospect of the Allies' breaking through the German lines in 
the West was at best remote. In fact, it seemed the situation would get 
worse, not better, for the Allies in the coming months of 19 16. 13 Dur- 
ing his two-weeks stay in London, before leaving for the Continent, 
House talked with every official of consequence in the government. 
Although he, Grey, and Balfour, head of the Admiralty, discussed only 
the major aspects of the President's plan and the British leaders did 
not make any commitments, House was so encouraged by the prospects 
for successful mediation that he begged Wilson not to break relations 
with Germany over the Lusitania issue, as that would wreck the entire 

From London House went to Berlin where, from January 26 to 29, 
he conferred with the chief civilian leaders. As he had already led 

13 As Sir Edward Grey later pointed out in Twenty-Five Years. 1892-1916 
(2 vols., New York, 1925), II, 128-129. 


Bernstorff to believe he was as friendly to Germany as to the Allies, 
House received a cordial welcome. To the Colonial Secretary he de- 
clared that the moderate elements in Britain and Germany could and 
should come to agreement. With the Imperial Chancellor and the 
Foreign Secretary, House pleaded movingly the cause of understanding 
and peace, pointing to the impending danger of a collapse of Western 
civilization and the futility of the war. Disclaiming any responsibility 
for the tragedy, Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg agreed; but he made 
it clear Germany would entertain no peace offer that did not include 
indemnities from Britain and France and German control of Belgium 
and Poland. 

By the end of his stay in Berlin, therefore, House was convinced 
neither side was yet ready to begin serious peace discussions. "Hell will 
break loose in Europe this spring and summer as never before," he 
advised the President; but he was certain Wilson could intervene after 
the summer campaigns were over. 14 This conviction was strengthened 
in Paris where, from February 2 to 8, House had a series of confiden- 
tial talks with the French Premier and Foreign Minister, Aristide 
Briand and Jules Cambon. Grey had been reluctant to broach the sub- 
ject of peace with the French government. Convinced of the urgency 
of a complete understanding with the French, House revealed the 
President's plan and on February 7 made an important agreement with 
Briand and Cambon. "In the event the Allies are successful during the 
next -few months" House related, (e l promised that the President 
would not intervene. In the event they were losing ground, I promised 
the President would intervene." He declared, moreover, that the lower 
the fortunes of the Allies ebbed, the closer the United States would 
stand by them. Briand and Cambon, in turn, "agreed not to let the 
fortunes of the Allies recede beyond a point where our intervention 
could save them." 15 

In reporting this conference to the President, House for the only 
time in the writer's knowledge failed to convey a faithful account of 
what he did and said. Omitting any reference to his sweeping promise 
of American support for the Allies in his letter to Wilson, House 
merely reported: "It was finally understood that in the event the Allies 
had some notable victories during the spring and summer, you would 

i* House to Wilson, Feb. 3, 1916, Wilson Papers, 
is House Diary, Feb. 7, 1916. 


[not] 16 intervene; and in the event that the tide of war went against 
them or remained stationary, you would intervene." 1T The important 
point, of course, was House's sweeping assurances of American inter- 
vention under certain conditions and support under almost all condi- 
tions. These assurances led the French Cabinet to believe they could 
expect the military support of the United States if their prospects 
darkened. Yet House was probably thinking, as Wilson assuredly was, 
only in terms of diplomatic intervention. House later claimed Briand 
and Gambon misinterpreted and exaggerated his promises to them. 1 
There is no evidence in his Diary or letters to Wilson, however, that he 
sought to make clear to the French leaders the important distinction in 
his mind between military intervention and diplomatic intervention. 

In London again on February 9, House moved swiftly to bring Grey 
to some agreement. At a conference the following morning, the Foreign 
Secretary made it clear he preferred American military intervention to 
mediation, but he finally agreed that the President might demand that 
the war be ended and a peace conference be held. 19 Next came the 
more difficult task of winning the approval of the other Cabinet mem- 
bers. The decisive conference was held on February 14, with House, 
Grey, Balfour, Asquith, Lloyd George, and Lord Reading, the Chief 
Justice, present. House promised that Wilson would preside at the 
peace conference, and he wanted to know specifically when the Presi- 
dent should issue his peace demand. The British conferees agreed that 
early fall would be the best time. Lloyd George insisted that the Allies 
and the United States come to agreement on terms before the con- 
ference was called, but House refused to make any such promise. What 
would Wilson do if the Allies insisted on terms he considered unjust? 

16 Professor Seymour, in The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (4 vols., 
Boston, 1926-28), II, 164, made this sentence read as follows: "It was finally 
understood that in the event the Allies had some notable victories during the 
spring and summer, you would not intervene. . . ." It seems reasonable to 
assume that House's omission of this important "not" in his letter to Wilson was 
an inadvertence. 

w House to Wikon, Feb. 9, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

18 "The Memoirs of Colonel House," in the Papers of George Sylvester 
Viereck, in the Library of Yale University. 

19 "I argued the matter earnestly and convinced him," House wrote in his 
Diary Feb. 10, 1916, "that for the good of all it would be best for us to smooth 
over the Lusitania incident, and intervene by demanding a conference of the 
belligerents for the purpose of discussing peace terms. We finally agreed it was 
best for the President not to set any conditions whatever, but merely to demand 
that war cease, and a conference be held." 


Asquith asked. "I replied that he would probably withdraw from the 
conference and leave them to their own devices." But what would 
Wilson do if the Germans insisted on unreasonable terms? "In these 
circumstances, I thought the President would throw the weight of the 
United States on the side of the Allies. In other words, he would 
throw the weight of the United States on the side of those wanting a 
just settlement a settlement which would make another such war 
impossible." 20 

Three days after this epochal meeting, on February 17, Grey and 
House drafted a memorandum embodying the Anglo-French-American 
understanding. 21 Grey was now anxious that the President intervene 
quickly. "History will lay a grave charge against those of us who refuse 
to accept your proffered services at this time," he declared with 
obvious feeling. 22 House sailed from Falmouth on February 25, there- 
fore, confident the day was not far distant when the President might 
perform the greatest service ever given man to render: to end the most 
destructive war in history and to lay the foundations of a secure, just, 
and lasting peace. 

In the meantime, however, while House was in Europe, Wilson 
and Lansing had embarked upon an independent diplomatic cam- 
paign that nearly wrecked House's negotiations, threatened to draw 
the United States and Germany together against the Allies, and back- 
fired in a most spectacular way in Congress. It was the controversy 
over armed ships, provoked by the administration's drive to disarm 

20 House Diary, Feb. 14, 1916. The writer believes that on this supremely 
important occasion House faithfully reflected the President's position. House 
also revealed the true purpose behind Wilson's plan of mediation, which was a 
purpose chiefly to bring peace to Europe, not to involve the United States in 
the war. To be sure, the risk of war with Germany was inherent in the plan, 
but that risk would be even more serious if the mediation effort failed. And 
Wilson undoubtedly believed that, once an armistice had been effectuated and 
a peace conference actually held, there was little chance the people of Europe 
would allow their governments to resume hostilities. 

21 Initialed by Grey on February 22, 1916, the memorandum began: 
"Colonel House told me that President Wilson was ready, on hearing from 

France and England that the moment was opportune, to propose that a Con- 
ference should be summoned to put an end to the war. Should the Allies accept 
this proposal, and should Germany refuse it, the United States would probably 
enter the war against Germany." The full text is printed in Intimate Papers, II, 

22 House Diary, Feb. 17, 1916. Grey confessed, however, that the Cabinet 
would have to be guided by military judgment in deciding upon the best time 
for the President's mediation. Ibid., Feb. 21, 1916. 


Allied merchantmen. One of the most maladroit blunders in American 
diplomatic history, it revealed the immaturity and inherent confusion 
of the President's policies. 

The immediate background of the episode was the nearly successful 
conclusion of the Lusitania negotiations and the generous guarantees 
the German government gave regarding submarine operations in the 
Mediterranean. All during January the Lusitania negotiations pro- 
ceeded, the Imperial government refusing to admit the illegality of 
the sinking and insisting on arbitration, the United States just as 
stubbornly demanding an explicit admission of wrongdoing. Finally, 
on January 25 the President threatened to break diplomatic relations 
unless Germany gave in. 

Then, moved by House's pleading to avoid a break, Wilson backed 
down and indicated he would accept a "handsome apology" without 
explicit disavowal. For their part, the Germans were ready to go to 
any length except to admit the illegality of the destruction of the 
Lusitania. The final German proposal, handed to Lansing on February 
4, expressed regret at the loss of American lives, for which the Imperial 
government assumed liability and offered to pay indemnity. It was the 
maximum Germany could concede, Bethmann-Hollweg declared in 
an unprecedented direct appeal to the American people. "I cannot 
concede a humiliation of Germany and the German people, or the 
wrenching of the submarine weapon from our hands." 23 

And it was enough. As Lansing pointed out, the German concessions 
came so close to meeting the American demand that the Imperial 
government had surrendered in spirit if not in explicit language. More- 
over, it was evident Congressional sentiment would never sanction a 
rupture of relations over a semantic disagreement. On February 11, 
therefore, Lansing, Vice-President Thomas R. Marshall, the chairman 
of the House and Senate Foreign Relations committees, and Senator 
Hoke Smith of Georgia answered Bethmann-Hollweg by assuring the 
German people the United States sought only honorable friendship. 

In this manner was a severe crisis settled, or would have been settled 
had not the armed ship controversy arisen to revive old animosities 
and create new tensions. During the first months of the war, long 
before the submarine issue was raised, the State Department had issued 
regulations classifying defensively armed merchant ships as peaceful 
vessels. For almost a year the question of the status of armed ships was 

23 New York World, Feb. 9, 1916. 



quiescent, mainly because the British Admiralty did not begin arming 
ships in the American trade until the late summer of 1915. The issue 
was first raised in September, 1915, when an armed British steamer 
entered the port of Norfolk and Lansing, for reasons that are not clear, 
suggested changing the regulations. 24 This case was settled when the 

Harper's Weekly, October 2, 1915 

So sorry! 

ship's guns were removed. In the following months, however, the issue 
assumed larger proportions as the British and Italians began to arm 
even passenger liners. 

24 Lansing to Wilson, Sept. 12, 1915, Lansing Papers, I, 330-331. Lansing's 
position was revealed to the British Cabinet, whose members became much 
agitated lest the United States attempt to change international law during the 
progress of the war. A. J. Balfour to House, Sept. 12, 1915, House Papers; 
Horace Plunkett to House, Sept. 17, 1915, ibid. After reading the letters from 
Balfour and Plunkett, Wilson commented: "The matter of armed merchant- 
men is not so simple as Balfour would make it. It is hardly fair to ask Sub- 
marine commanders to give warning by summons if, when they approach as 
near as they must for that purpose they are to be fired upon. It is a question of 
many sides and is giving Lansing and me some perplexed moments." Wilson to 
House, Oct. 4, 1915, Baker Collection. 


The matter came to a head when the Persia, an armed British liner, 
was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on December 30, 1915, and when 
armed Italian liners began to enter the port of New York. Lansing, 
whose sense of fairness sometimes outran his strategic thinking, laid 
the matter before the President on January 2, 1916. Since so-called 
defensively armed merchant ships could destroy submarines, and since 
many of them were under orders to attack submarines on sight, how 
could the United States expect submarines to surface and give warning 
before they attacked? Lansing asked. Moreover, should not armed 
merchant ships entering American ports be dealt with as warships? On 
the other hand, Lansing suggested a few days later, would it not be 
possible to settle the whole submarine question if the Allies agreed to 
disarm their merchant ships and the Germans, in turn, agreed to 
observe the rules of cruiser warfare in all submarine operations against 
merchant vessels? 

Agreeing that Lansing's proposal was "reasonable, and thoroughly 
worth trying," Wilson authorized the Secretary of State to undertake a 
diplomatic campaign to obtain a revision of the rules. On January 18, 
1916, therefore, Lansing issued to the Allied governments his proposal 
for a new modus vivendi to govern maritime warfare. Repeating the 
German argument that under modern conditions any armed merchant 
ship was offensively armed, Lansing warned the Allies that the United 
States was seriously considering treating armed merchantmen as 
auxiliary cruisers and suggested that all merchant ships be disarmed, 

In London Lansing's modus vivendi caused dismay and confusion. 
Grey must have been sorely puzzled for, as he cabled Spring Rice on 
January 25, the American government had proposed nothing less than 
that "sinking of merchant vessels shall be the rule and not the excep- 
tion." In short, the modus vivendi envisaged a change in international 
law, during the course of the war, that would profoundly benefit Ger- 
many. "It confronts us with a most serious situation," Grey added, 
"which must of course be considered in consultation with our Allies." 26 
On the same day, Grey called Ambassador Page to the Foreign Office. 
"I have only once before seen Sir Edward so grave and disappointed," 
Page reported, "and that was when he informed me that the British 
had sent the German Government an ultimatum." 26 House, too, at 

25 Grey to Spring Rice, Jan. 25, 1916, handed to Lansing by Spring Rice, 
Jan, 27, 1916, enclosed in Lansing to Wilson, Jan. 27, 1916, Wilson Papers; 
also Grey to Spring Rice, Feb. 3, 1916, ibid. 

26 Page added : "Then he asked me for House's address because, as I gath- 


once realized the disastrous consequences the modus vivendi was bound 
to have and on February 14 cabled Lansing that it was extremely 
urgent the proposal be held in abeyance. 27 

Grey's and House's alarm at the modus vivendi was well founded. 
Had the State Department insisted upon the proposed arrangement, 
the British would have faced the fatal choice of either allowing their 
vast merchant fleet to be sunk or defying the American government 
and running the risk of an Anglo-American rupture. Moreover, House's 
efforts looking toward the President's mediation would assuredly have 
been blasted. No one realized these facts better than the Germans, who 
must have been gleeful over this turn of events. On January 26 Lansing 
saw the Austrian Charge, Baron Erich Zwiedinek, and told him confi- 
dentially about the proposal of January 18. Zwiedinek replied that the 
German and Austrian governments were contemplating issuing a 
declaration of unrestricted warfare against armed ships; he wondered 
if it would be wise to do this. Lansing replied that he thought the 
sooner it were done the better the situation would be. 28 

This, then, was the involved background of the armed ship contro- 
versy that exploded soon afterward. Taking Lansing at his word, the 
German government on February 10, 1916, announced that its sub- 
marines would soon receive orders, to go into effect February 29, to 
attack armed merchant ships without warning. 29 For several days 

ered, he had talked with him at my table so frankly and freely about the rela- 
tions of our two Governments that he thought he ought to inform House that 
he [did not] then know that this proposal would come. He spoke as one speaks 
of a great calamity. He said that he would not mention the subject in his 
speech in the House of Commons to-morrow because the announcement that 
such a proposal had been made by the United States would cause a storm that 
would drive every other subject out of the mind of the House and of the 
country." Paper Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1916, 
Supplement (Washington, 1929), p. 151. 

27 House to Lansing, Feb. 14, 1916, Lansing Papers, I, 342. Sir Horace 
Plunkett presented the British view forcibly in talks with House on February 
12, 13, and 14, 1916. The Diary of Kforace Plunkett, microfilm copy in pos- 
session of Herbert Brayer, Evanston, 111., Feb. 12-14, 1916. 

28 The Desk Diary of Robert Lansing, in the Library of Congress, Jan. 26, 
1916; "Memorandum by the Secretary of State . . . February 9, 1916," Lan- 
sing Papers, I, 341. Zwiedinek of course at once cabled this information to 
Vienna and Berlin, except that he reported Lansing had said he would 
"welcome" the Austro-German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare 
against armed merchant ships. 

29 Gerard to Secretary of State, Feb. 10, 1916, Foreign Relations, 1916, 
Supplement, p. 163; memorandum of the German government dated Feb. 8, 


American newspapers predicted the State Department would approve 
the new decree and warn Americans against traveling on armed ships. 
Then, on February 15, Lansing startled the country by telling reporters 
that although the Department believed the interests of humanity would 
best be served by the disarming of merchant ships, none the less, 
should the Allies reject the modus vivendi the United States would not 
insist upon a change in the conventional rules. Nor would the United 
States warn its citizens against traveling on ships armed defensively. 
Moreover, on February 17 Lansing called Bernstorff to the Depart- 
ment and informed him that, in view of the new submarine policy, the 
American government could not accept the Lusitania note of February 

By this startling reversal the administration set off a new dispute 
with Germany and an explosion in Congress. Although Wilson and 
Lansing nowhere set in writing the explicit reasons for their abrupt 
change of policy, those reasons can easily be inferred from other 
evidence and from the circumstances. In the first place, Wilson and 
Lansing had blundered in proposing the modus Vivendi because they 
were desperately trying to avoid another showdown with Germany 
over the submarine issue. 80 Wilson later admitted he had made a 
serious mistake. Secondly, insistence upon the disarming of merchant 
ships would have driven a deep wedge between the United States and 
Great Britain and would have wrecked Wilson's mediation plan. 
Wilson obviously did not consider these consequences when he allowed 
Lansing to launch his bolt on January 18; but Grey and House made 
them ominously apparent. Thirdly, the President executed his sudden 
change of policy in order to restore his standing among the Allies as 
neutral mediator. It was no mere coincidence the British leaders con- 
sented to the possibility of Wilson's mediation on the same day the 
President abandoned the ill-fated modus vivendL 

Although the reasons for the reversal were sound, the administra- 
tion's action had tragic consequences in Congress and the country at 

1916, ibid., pp. 163-166. The Austrian government followed suit on February 
10, 1916. , y 

30 House_ recorded in his Diary, Mar. 7, 1916: "Spring-Rice told me what 
Lansing said to the Italian Ambassador, an indiscretion of which I am sorry 
Lansing was guilty. He told him that his purpose in proposing the disarming of 
Allied merchantmen was to please Germany and get a favorable settlement of 
the Lusitania controversy. This is exactly what Lansing and the President have 
been charged with." 


large. Completely ignorant of the President's peace move and of the 
necessity for abandoning the modus vivendi, Congressional leaders 
began for the first time to suspect Wilson was maneuvering to involve 
the country in the war. Troubled and perplexed, Senate Majority 
Leader John W. Kern, Chairman William J. Stone of the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee, and Chairman Hal D. Flood of the 
House Foreign Affairs Committee went to the White House on Feb- 
ruary 21, 1916. The Congressional leaders wanted to know what would 
happen if a submarine without warning sank an armed ship upon 
which Americans were traveling. Wilson replied that he would hold 
Germany to strict account and that he would not compel the Allies to 
disarm their merchantmen. At this Senator Stone, heretofore Wilson's 
most loyal and admiring friend in the upper house, lost his temper. 
Banging his fist on the table, he shouted: "Mr. President, would you 
draw a shutter over my eyes and my intellect? You have no right to 
ask me to follow such a course. It may mean war for my country." 31 
News of the President's position was at once taken back to Congress. 
"Flood told me today," a Texan wrote, "that Stone & Kern (& he 
also) were afraid of an immediate break, & the two former thought 
the President was almost determined on war." 32 At almost the same 
time the Imperial Foreign Secretary announced publicly that Germany 
would not recede from her new position. The result of the simul- 
taneous declarations was to provoke an unprecedented panic in Con- 
gress on February 23. Veteran congressmen said that not for many 
years had they seen a situation so dramatic and sensational. The 
Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee met 
and agreed unanimously to demand prompt action on a resolution 
already offered by Representative Jeff: McLemore of Texas, warning 
Americans against traveling on armed belligerent ships. Although they 

81 W. J. Stone to Wilson, Feb. 24, 1916, Wilson Papers, repeats the gist of 
the conversation. The quotation is from The New York Times, Feb. 24, 1916. 
Senator Thomas P. Gore told the Senate on March 2 that he "had it on good 
authority" that Wilson had said war -with Germany might not necessarily be 
undesirable, as American intervention might operate to bring the war to a 
speedy conclusion. Charles G. Tansill, America Goes to War (Boston, 1938), 
pp. 465466, uses Gore's statement (saying Gore got his information from 
Stone) to reinforce the dubious thesis that Wilson was at this point seeking to 
promote full-scale American intervention. Yet Wilson, Stone, and Flood all 
denied emphatically that the President had in any way intimated he desired 
American intervention. The New York Times, Mar. 3, 1916. 

32 J. L. Slayden to O. G. Villard, Feb. 23, 1916, the Papers of Oswald 
Garrison Villard, in Houghton Library, Harvard University. 


strongly favored the resolution, Speaker Clark and Majority Leader 
Kitchin pleaded with their colleagues to take no action until they had 
consulted with the President. Senator Stone, also, worked diligently to 
prevent the impending revolt in the House. 

Confronted with an uprising that threatened to wrest control of 
foreign policy from his hands, the President struck back at his critics 
in Congress. In an open letter to Stone, Wilson declared that of course 
he would do his utmost to keep the country out of war. Even so, he 
could not consent to the abridgment of the rights of American citizens, 
and to bow to the German threat against armed ships would be a 
"deliberate abdication of our hitherto proud position as spokesmen, 
even amidst the turmoil of war, for the law and the right." Once 
accept a single abatement of the right and "the whole fine fabric of 
international law might crumble under our hands piece by piece." 33 

The hysteria rapidly subsided after the publication of Wilson's 
letter. At nine in the morning of February 25 the Democratic leaders 
in the House, Clark, Kitchin, and Flood, visited the President to 
inform him of sentiment in Congress. The McLemore resolution would 
carry two to one, the Speaker announced, if members were -allowed to 
vote on it. He intended to stand by his announced policy, Wilson 
replied, in spite of Congressional resolutions. But what if an armed 
ship were torpedoed with the loss of American lives? the congressmen 
asked. He would break relations with the Central Powers, the Presi- 
dent declared. What then? He had been told this might lead to war, 
Wilson replied. What would be the effect of American intervention? 
one of the congressmen asked. American participation might have the 
effect of bringing the war to an end sooner than would otherwise be 
the case, Wilson countered. But why should any man think he wanted 
war? he added. His policies were the policies of peace, not of war. "In 

33 Wilson to Stone, Feb. 24, 1916, printed in Ray S. Baker and William E. 
Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925- 
27), The New Democracy, II, 122-124. 

During the early evening of February 24 Tumulty wrote to Wilson suggesting 
he write an identic letter to Chairmen Flood and Stone. This was necessary, 
Tumulty added, because he had talked with Speaker Clark, Senator Key Pitt- 
man, and Representative T. W. Sims, who had all warned that action on the 
McLemore resolution could not be delayed much longer. Tumulty went on to 
suggest what the President should say in the letter, and the phrases "the whole 
fabric of international law" and "What we are contending for in this matter is 
of the very essence of the things that have made America a sovereign nation* * 
were Tumulty's. Tumulty to Wilson, Feb. 24, 1916, Wilson Papers. 


God's name/ 9 he exclaimed, "could any one have done more than I 
to show a desire for peace? 9 ' S4 

Meanwhile, the McLemore resolution, warning Americans against 
traveling on armed belligerent ships, was hanging like a sword over 
Wilson's head, while Senator Thomas P. Gore of Oklahoma intro- 
duced a similar resolution of warning in the upper house on February 
25. It was an intolerable situation, for so long as these resolutions hung 
fire no one knew who controlled the foreign policy of the United 
States. With Burleson in command and brandishing the patronage 
stick, administration leaders worked desperately to bring the Demo- 
cratic members into line. On February 29, when he was certain of a 
favorable vote, the President demanded that the Rules Committee 
allow the House to vote on the McLemore resolution. Newspapers and 
journals of opinion rushed to the President's defense, one of them de- 

34 This was the celebrated "Sunrise Conference." The above is based upon 
full accounts of the conference printed in The New York Times, Feb. 26 and 
Mar. 3, 1916. 

Five years after this meeting, Kitchin wrote an account for the journalist, 
Gilson Gardner, that placed the date of the conference in early April, 1916. 
Kitchin also recalled that Wilson had declared the time had come to put the 
United States in the war and that Wilson desired Congressional co-operation in 
achieving this objective. Gilson Gardner, "Why We Delayed Entering the War," 
McNaughfs Monthly, III (June, 1925), 171-173. 

Alex M. Arnett, Claude Kitchin and the Wilson War Policies (Boston, 1937), 
pp. 183-192, accepts Kitchin's version of the affair. C. C. Tansill, America 
Goes to War, pp. 467, 485-486, disagrees with Kitchin and Arnett as to the 
date of the conference; but Tansill quotes with seeming approval Kitchin's 
statement that Wilson requested support for American intervention. 

The time has come to clear away the misunderstanding about this important 
event created by Professors Arnett and Tansill. As Ray S. Baker, Woodrow 
Wilson: Life and Letters (8 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 1927-39), VI, 169, points 
out, the date of the conference was February 25, 1916, not February 22, as 
Tansill asserts. The meeting was no secret and was reported in some detail by 
the newspapers on the following day, February 26. Moreover, there is not a 
shred of reliable evidence that the President in any way intimated he desired 
American participation in the war. Kitchin's memorandum is, therefore, entirely 
untrustworthy. Tansill points out that at the time he wrote his memorandum 
Kitchin was suffering from a severe stroke. Tansill asserts that Kitchin was 
mistaken as to the date of the conference and admits that Kitchin's memory 
might have been affected by the stroke. Yet Professor Tansill proceeds to quote 
Kitchin's memorandum, in order to prove his own impossible thesis that Wilson 
was actually maneuvering to get the country into the war. 

It is remarkable that in his correspondence at the time, Kitchin never once 
mentioned the President's alleged request. One thing, at least, is certain: if 
Wilson had been moving to get a war resolution from Congress he would not 
have divulged his plans to his bitter critics, Clark and Kitchin. 


claring, "Whoever defends these resolutions defends German lawless- 
ness against American rights and American honor." 85 The New York 
World, moreover, published a series of documents, which were widely 
reprinted, revealing that the German-American Alliance had been 
conducting a powerful lobby to apply pressure on congressmen in 
behalf of a foreign policy partial to the "Fatherland." 36 

So overwhelming, in fact, was the apparent popular and editorial 
support for the President that the wonder was his opposition did not 
collapse entirely. The Senate, where Wilson had strong support among 
Eastern Republicans like Lodge, voted first, on March 3, to table the 
Gore resolution. 37 After more than a week's delay, during which time 
Bryan rushed to the capital to bolster his discouraged followers, the 
House came to the showdown. On March 7 ninety-three Republicans 
joined with most of the Democrats in an emphatic vote, 276 to 142, 
to stand by the President. 38 Wilson's support came chiefly from the 
Atlantic states and the South. In contrast, the Middle West recorded 
a majority against Wilson, with the delegations from Iowa, Nebraska, 
Minnesota, and Wisconsin solidly arrayed. 

In the meantime, the German government refused to rescind its 
warfare against armed merchantmen, claiming it had in no manner 
violated the Arabic pledge, as was true. The Foreign Office, moreover, 
assured the State Department on February 28 that no armed liner 
would be sunk "unless such armament is proved. 55 None the less, Lan- 
sing pressed for a break and urged Wilson to accuse the Imperial gov- 
ernment of violating its pledges. The President, however, apparently 
refused to force a break over a dubious point and after the tabling of 
the Gore and McLemore resolutions simply waited to see what events 
would bring. 

35 New York World, Mar. 3, 1916; also The New York Times, Mar. 7, 1916, 
and Outlook, GXII (Mar. 8, 1916), 545-546. 

36 New York World. Mar. 7, 1916. 

37 By a last-minute maneuver Gore reversed his resolution, which originally 
warned Americans against traveling on armed belligerent ships, to read that 
the destruction of American lives on such ships would constitute a cause for 
war. In this form the resolution was tabled sixty-eight to fourteen, although the 
parliamentary situation was so confused many senators did not know what they 
were voting for. The New York Times, Mar. 4, 1916. 

38 The vote for and against tabling the resolution was as follows: in favor 
of tabling, 182 Democrats, 93 Republicans, 1 Progressive; against tabling, 33 
Democrats, 102 Republicans, 5 Progressives, 1 Independent, and 1 Socialist. 
Ibid., Mar. 8, 1916. 


The opportunity to force a final showdown with Germany over all 
aspects of the submarine question soon came, with the torpedoing 
without warning of the unarmed French Channel steamer Sussex on 
March 24, with eighty casualties. Lansing was ready to break relations 
at once, but Wilson moved with customary deliberateness. After first 
denying a submarine had attacked the Sussex, on April 10 Von Jagow 
admitted that a U-boat commander had sunk what he thought was 
a warship in the English Channel on March 24, at the same spot 
where the Sussex had been hit. 

For days the President fought an agonizing struggle for the right 
course to follow. Pressed by his wife, Lansing, and House either to 
break relations immediately or else to issue an ultimatum, 39 he held 
firm against warlike moves and drafted a note that left wide room for 
future negotiation. In the end, however, Wilson gave in and followed 
the counsel of his close advisers. The note that he drafted on April 16 
and sent to Berlin two days later was an unequivocal denunciation of 
the ruthless German campaign against all shipping, whether belligerent 
or neutral, armed or unarmed. The United States had waited with 
extraordinary patience; it was now painfully evident that the use of 
submarines against merchant ships was "utterly incompatible with the 
principles of humanity, the long-established and incontrovertible rights 
of neutrals, and the sacred immunities of non-combatants." Unless the 
Imperial government abandoned its relentless warfare against mer- 
chant and passenger ships, therefore, the United States had no alterna- 
tive but to sever relations with the German Empire. The following 
day, April 19, 1916, Wilson went before a joint session and reiterated 
his ultimatum.* 

Published in the German press on April 22-23, Wilson's note caused 
a wave of hot anger to sweep over the German people, most of whom 
now believed the President was seeking to wrest from their govern- 
ment's hands the one weapon that could bring the war to a speedy and 
victorious conclusion. "We can no longer retreat," declared a Berlin 

39 Lansing drafted a note denouncing Germany's "brutal," "inhuman," and 
"lawless" submarine warfare, which Wilson rejected on the ground that it was 
tantamount to a declaration of war. See Lansing's "Draft Instructions . . ." 
and "Suggested Insertion . . .," Lansing Papers, I, 540-543; House Diary, 
Apr. 11, 1916, gives an account of House's and Mrs. Wilson's talks with the 

40 Lansing to Gerard, Apr. 18, 1916, Foreign Relations, 1916, Supplement, 
pp. 232-234; The New York Times, Apr. 20, 1916. 


newspaper, "but rather must use the freedom which the enemy has 
given us to conduct unlimited submarine warfare, with consideration 
for no one." 41 The moderate editors were angry, too, but they con- 
tinued to urge calmness and to deprecate the idea of war with the 
United States. 

Wilson's ultimatum also sharpened the struggle over submarine 
policy then going on between the military and naval leaders and the 
civilian heads of government in Germany. Since the beginning of the 
year, the heads of the War and Navy departments had been pressing 
hard for unrestricted submarine warfare, even at the cost of war with 
the United States. 42 Arguing that such policy would inevitably bring 
America into the war, Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg had stead- 
fastly resisted this strong pressure and had brought the Emperor to his 
side. 43 One concession, however, had been made to the navy, that 
hereafter all belligerent merchant ships in the war zone, whether 
armed or unarmed, should be sunk without warning. 44 Thinking the 
Sussex was either a troopship or a merchantman, and acting under the 
new orders, the commander of the U-29 had torpedoed the Sussex. 

Wilson's demands, therefore, compelled the German rulers to calcu- 
late whether American friendship was worth an abandonment, not 
only of the campaign against armed ships, but also of the unrestricted 
campaign against belligerent merchantmen in the war zone. Beth- 
mann-Hollweg and the Foreign Office were still desperately anxious to 
avert war. In spite of the mounting pressure applied by his military 
and naval chieftains, on May 1 the Emperor announced his submis- 
sion to the President's demands, even if that meant abandoning sub- 
marine activity altogether in the war zone. 45 

^Tdglische Rundschau, morning ed., Apr. 23, 1916; also Morgenpost 
(Berlin), Apr. 23, 1916; Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, morning ed., Apr. 23, 1916; 
Germania (Berlin), Apr. 23, 1916; Vossische Zeitung (Berlin), morning ed., 
Apr. 23, 1916; Frankfurter &itung, 2d morning ed, Apr. 23, 1916; Kolnische 
Zeitung, 2d morning ed., Apr. 23, 1916, 

42 "Report ... of Imperial Chancellor v. Bethmann-Hollweg," Jan. 4, 
1916; Chief of Admiralty Staff, Von Holtzendorff, to Bethmann-Hollweg, Jan. 
7, 1916; Von Tirpitz to Bethmann-Hollweg, Feb. 13, 1916; Chief of General 
Staff, Von Falkenhayn, to Bethmann-Hollweg, Feb. 13, 1916, all printed in 
Official German Documents Relating to the World War (2 vols., New York, 
1923), II, 1116-1130. 

43 Bethmann-Hollweg to Von Jagow, Mar, 5, 1916, ibid., pp. 1139-1142. 

44 Admiralty Order of Mar, 13, 1916, cited in Tansill, America Goes to War, 
p. 491. 

45 Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine (Ren6 Jouan, trans., 3 vols., Paris, 


Dated May 4, the German reply admitted that U-boat commanders 
had recently been waging unrestricted warfare against belligerent mer- 
chant ships in the war zone. But it conceded Wilson's minimum 
demand by announcing that hereafter submarines would observe the 
rules of visit and search before sinking merchant vessels, both within 
and outside the war zone. The note, however, was truculent, almost 
insolent, in tone and ended with the threat that if the United States 
did not compel the British to observe international law, "the German 
Government would then be facing a new situation in which it must 
reserve itself complete liberty of decision." German editors agreed 
their government had gone the extreme limit, and that it was now in- 
cumbent upon the United States to bring Britain to book. 46 

In America reaction to the German reply was sharply divided. A 
few bellicose editors suggested rejecting it altogether, 47 while many 
moderate journals resented its accusatory tone. However, the rank and 
file, especially in the Middle West and South and among the German- 
Americans, hailed the German note with unalloyed relief as a victory 
for the United States that precluded even the possibility of a war they 
desperately wanted to avoid. As the President shared this desire for 
peace, he, too, regarded the German reply as a welcome surrender to 
his long-standing demand. When Lansing tried to warn him that the 
note had all the appearances of a " 'gold brick' swindle, with a de- 
cidedly insolent tone," he at first ignored the admonition and drafted 
a reply expressing gratification and accepting the German promises. 
Wilson finally eliminated the paragraph expressing gratification, how- 
ever. His note, sent to Berlin May 8, simply accepted the German con- 
cessions, warned that friendly relations would depend upon a scrupu- 
lous observance of them, and declared the United States could not 

1933-35), III, 191-197, is the best account of the German deliberations during 
the Sussex crisis. The Emperor still believed the navy was not strong enough 
to institute an effective blockade. Only two months before he had declared that 
the U-boat forces "were insufficient to overcome England; that as a matter of 
fact England could not be overcome." Bethmann-Hollweg to Von Jagow, Mar. 
5, 1916, Official German Documents, II, 1142. 

46 E.g., Kolnische geitung, evening ed., May 5, 1916; Frankfurter eitung f 
evening ed., May 5, 1916; Vossische geitung (Berlin), evening ed., May 5, 

47 The New York Tribune, quoted in New York World, May 6, 1916, for 
example, declared the President had no choice left but to sever relations imme- 
diately. See also Providence Evening Journal, Louisville Courier- Journal, Louis- 
ville Times, Atlanta Journal, Philadelphia Record, Philadelphia Evening Bulle- 
tin, all cited in New York World, May 6, 1916. 


accept the conditions upon which the German concessions had been 
made.* 8 

The passing of this great crisis marked a major turning point in 
American attitudes and policies toward the war. As the months passed 
and no incident occurred to mar German-American relations, Ameri- 
can opinion toward Germany softened perceptibly. This changing 
attitude was reflected on all sides in the press and in the comments of 
public leaders. It was reflected even more significantly, however, in 
the consequent hardening of American attitudes toward the British 
and the nearly disastrous worsening of official Anglo-American rela- 
tions that occurred during the spring and summer of 1916. 

A hardening of popular attitudes toward Great Britain was inevi- 
table after the Sussex settlement focused attention on alleged British 
wrongdoing. Thus, no sooner had the Sussex notes been exchanged 
than there arose demands for stern action, now against the British. 
This was, however, only the beginning, for events following hard upon 
the Sussex settlement provoked hostility against the British govern- 
ment and widened the gulf between the two countries. First came the 
Irish Rebellion of April 24, 1916, which the British authorities sup- 
pressed so ruthlessly that even Anglophiles in America were shocked. 49 
Next occurred the trial and execution of the leaders of the Rebellion, 
including the Irish nationalist, Sir Roger Casement, who had come 
from Germany to lead the revolt. The Senate of the United States 
formally petitioned the British government to spare the Irish prisoners, 
but the appeal merely exacerbated mutual bitterness. As the best 
American journal of opinion put it, "The Dublin executions have done 
more to drive America back to isolation than any other event since the 
war began." 50 Finally, as the British intensified further their economic 
warfare^ the movement in the United States for outright retaliation 
grew stronger than at any time since the beginning of the war. 

The worsening of official Anglo-American relations was, if anything, 
even more evident than the change in popular attitudes. Certainly it 
had more serious consequences, for the President's heart so hardened 
against the British that before the year had ended he regarded the 

48 Secretary of State to Gerard, May 8, 1916, Foreign Relations, 1916, Supple- 
ment, p. 263. 

^ For a moving protest by a shocked Anglophile, see William Dean Howells 
to the Editor, May 6, 1916, New York Evening Post, May 8, 1916. 

*> New Republic, VII (July 29, 1916), 321-322. 


Allies with suspicion, almost contempt, and was contemplating the 
possibility of a sympathetic alliance with Germany. 51 

This momentous change in Wilson's attitude had many causes, but 
the most important was probably Sir Edward Grey's refusal to allow 
the President to set the machinery of mediation in motion. The House- 
Grey memorandum of February 22, 1916, to be sure, had made it plain 
that the final decision rested with the British Cabinet. But Grey had 
given House rather definite verbal assurances that Wilson's mediation 
would be welcomed in the late summer or early autumn. During April 
and months following, House pleaded with Grey to consent to media- 
tion on the basis of the memorandum of February 22. House warned 
explicitly that dire consequences would follow an Allied rejection, but 
each time Grey evaded the request. Emboldened by the failure of the 
German attack on the French fortress of Verdun and the apparent 
success of the great British offensive beginning July 1, 1916, the Allies 
grew more and more confident of their ability to defeat Germany on 
the battlefield. 52 Moreover, it was evident that Grey sincerely doubted 
the President's ability to bring the United States into the war if the 
proposed peace conference should fail. In late August, therefore, Sir 
Edward had to come out flatly and tell House a peace conference could 
not yet be held, 53 

As it became evident that the British and French leaders would 
allow the President's mediation only if their hopes of victory were 
shattered beyond recall, the attitude of Wilson and House became in- 
creasingly recriminatory, even hostile. Wilson made it plain that 

51 See below, pp. 252-253, 255-257. 

52 As Grey pointed out in a memorandum for the Cabinet in the autumn of 
1916, "Nothing but the defeat of Germany can make a satisfactory end to this 
war and secure future peace." However, he added, if an absolute victory could 
not be won, then Wilson's mediation would be desirable. Grey, Twenty-Five 
Years, II, 131-133. The British military leaders were confident they could 
deliver a decisive blow against the German lines in 1916. Wilson's mediation, 
therefore, would not be considered until the success or failure of this impending 
British offensive was demonstrated. 

53 For the important correspondence between House and Grey see House to 
Grey, Apr. 7, May 10, 11, 19, 23, 27, June 8, July 15, 1916; Grey to House, 
Apr. 7, 8, May 12, 29, June 28, Aug. 28, 1916, all in House Papers. 

Looking back over these events. Grey concluded that the Germans had made 
a fatal mistake in not joining with the President in a drive for a reasonable 
peace. He also acknowledged that the Allies, by rejecting Wilson's leadership, 
had missed a great opportunity to save the Western community from the dire 
consequences of a prolongation of the war. Grey, Twenty-Five Years, II, 135- 


Britain would have to either consent to mediation or else expect stern 
efforts by the United States to protect its maritime rights. Later he 
resolved to cut loose from the Allies altogether and to issue his own 
peace demand at the right time. For his part. House began to criticize 
Allied "selfishness" and "ingratitude"; to tell himself, and probably the 
President also, that the trouble was the Allies did not want a reason- 
able settlement; and even to advise Wilson that he might have to ap- 
peal directly to the British and French peoples, over the heads of 
their governments. 

The really dangerous tension in official Anglo-American relations 
came, however, when the British tightened their economic warfare 
and moved directly and indirectly to bring all neutral trade and ship- 
ping under their control. When the British and French seized and 
examined parcels in the American mails, for example, Lansing ob- 
jected in language that betrayed the administration's growing anger. 
"The Government of the United States . . . can no longer tolerate 
the wrongs which citizens of the United States have suffered and con- 
tinue to suffer through these methods," the note concluded. "To sub- 
mit to a lawless practice of this character would open the door to 
repeated violations of international law by the belligerent powers." 54 
The mails dispute was never settled and continued to rankle. But the 
event that had spectacular consequences was the British government's 
attempt to extend its economic warfare directly to the United States 
and Latin America by the publication on July 19, 1916, of a "black- 
list" of 87 American and some 350 Latin American firms, with whom 
British subjects were forbidden to deal in any way. 55 

To Wilson, the publication of the "blacklist" came as the culmina- 
tion of a series of British indignities. "I am seriously considering asking 
Congress to authorize me to prohibit loans and restrict exportations to 
the Allies," he advised House. ". . . Polk [Counselor of the State De- 
partment] and I are compounding a very sharp note. I may feel 
obliged to make it as sharp and final as the one to Germany on the 

54 Lansing to Spring Rice and Jusserand, May 24, 1916, Foreign Relations, 
1916, Supplement, pp. 604-608. 

55 British spokesmen correctly claimed that the "blacklist" was a lawful 
attempt to forbid British subjects to give aid to the enemy. On the other hand,' 
American officials asserted that the practical effect of the measure was to put 
the proscribed firms entirely out of business, because British shipping would be 
denied them and because the balance of American and other neutral firms 
would refuse to do business with them, for fear of being put on the "blacklist" 
themselves. See The New York Times, July 19, 20, 22, 24, 1916; New York 
World, July 21, 23, 1916. 


submarines." Publicly the President declared that the "blacklist" had 
"got on his nerves"; privately he called the British leaders "poor 
boobs." 56 Although the note of protest that Wilson and Frank L. Polk, 
Counselor of the State Department, sent to London on July 26 was not 
the ultimatum Wilson had threatened, it was ominous in tone and 
harsh in language, forecasting grave consequences if the British gov- 
ernment persisted in their attacks on American commerce. 57 

That the President's wrath was mounting was evidenced in a way 
that threatened to bring the United States and Britain to a parting of 
the ways. At the beginning of the "blacklist" dispute, Acting Secretary 
of State Polk had warned the British Ambassador that Wilson was 
considering retaliatory measures. And when the British refused to 
withdraw the "blacklist" and the Foreign Office failed to reply 
promptly to the American note of July 26 3 58 Wilson moved swiftly to 
obtain from Congress a means of redress. 59 An amendment to the 
Shipping Act of September 7 empowered the President to refuse clear- 
ance to any vessel refusing to carry the freight of a blacklisted Ameri- 
can citizen. More important, however, were amendments to the 
Revenue Act adopted the following day, which authorized the Presi- 
dent to deny clearance and port facilities to ships of any nation that 
discriminated unfairly against American commerce, and to use the 
armed forces to enforce these provisions. 

There was, of course, a vast difference between enacting such legis- 
lation and using it, but the significant fact was that the administration 
had taken leadership in providing retaliatory recourses which, if used, 
might deal the Allied cause a death blow. Indeed, friends of the Allies 
were shocked by the hardening of Wilson's attitude and by the con- 
comitant severity with which the British were being dealt. Lansing 
sensed the danger that the President's resentment would lead him to 
retaliation and shuddered at the prospect of his government's aligning 
itself on the German side. 60 

56 Wilson to House, July 23, 1916, Baker Collection; The New York Times* 
July 25, 1916; Wilson to House, July 27, 1916, Baker Collection. 

57 Polk to Page, July 26, 1916, Foreign Relations, 1916, Supplement, pp. 

58 The British reply was not sent until October 12, 1916. Ibid., pp. 461-465. 
89 The fact that Wilson took the initiative in obtaining retaliatory legislation 

is evidenced in the Diary of Frank L. Polk in the Library of Yale University, 
July 26, 1916; Lansing to Wilson, Aug. 26, 1916, the Papers of Albert S. 
Burleson, in the Library of Congress; Lansing Desk Diary, Aug. 29, 30, 31, 
Sept. 6, 7, 8, 1916. 

60 "The President's Attitude Toward Great Britain and Its Dangers," Lansing 
Diary, Sept., 1916. 


Wilson's change of attitude was a crushing blow, however, to Walter 
Page, who carne to Washington in August, 1916, to have full-dress 
conferences, he thought, on the British situation. Nothing better illus- 
trated the changed atmosphere in Washington than the reception 
accorded this distinguished champion of Anglo-American friendship. 
From August 17 to September 25 Page had five conferences with Lan- 
sing; but Lansing was mindful of Wilson's hostility to Page and would 
talk of nothing but complaints against the British government. "I have 
tried in vain to inform the Secretary of the larger view of the subject," 
Page recorded in his Diary; "he changes the topic of conversation and 
discusses some technicality or some 'case.' " 61 Wilson invited the Am- 
bassador to lunch the day after he arrived and on August 29, but on 
both occasions other guests were present and Wilson refused to talk 
about the war. On September 22, five weeks after he had arrived in 
the United States, Page finally obtained a private interview with the 
President. What Wilson told him only deepened Page's despair. "The 
President] said to me that when the war began he and all the men he 
met were in hearty sympathy with the Allies; but that now the senti- 
ment toward England had greatly changed. He saw no one who was 
not vexed and irritated at the arbitrary English course." 62 

To such a state had Anglo-American relations come, therefore, by 
the autumn of 1916. The favorable settlement of the submarine con- 
troversy had practically eliminated the German-American tension and 
focused American resentment on the British maritime system. This 
resentment had hardened into bitterness and near hostility as a result 
of the rejection of Wilson's offer of mediation, the ruthless suppression 
of the Irish Rebellion, and the intensification of Britain's economic 
warfare. The fact that the nation was in the throes of a presidential 
campaign prevented Wilson either from using his new retaliatory 
powers or from launching an independent peace campaign. But he 
stood ready, if sustained by the people, to embark upon a bold policy, 
portentous for the United States and the world a policy of genuinely 
neutral mediation. 

61 The Diary of Walter H. Page, in Houghton Library, Harvard University, 

* 2 Ibid., n.d. For an extended discussion see Burton J. Hendrick, The Life 
and Letters of Walter H. Page (3 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 1924-26), II, 148- 


Progressivism and Peace: 
The Campaign of 1916 

NOT SINCE 1910 had the American political scene seemed so 
confused as at the beginning of 1916, when both major parties 
began to lay plans for the coming presidential election. The Republi- 
cans were slowly recovering from the great rupture of four years before. 
Theodore Roosevelt was now back in the G.O.P. in all but name, but 
no one could predict whether the great body of Progressives would 
follow their erstwhile leader. Nor could any man forecast the policies 
the Republican party might unite upon, for Republicans were, if any- 
thing, more divided than their opponents on the great issues of the 

The Democrats^ too, were rent by factionalism and conflict over 
policies. The President's preparedness program had antagonized a 
large body of progressives and rural voters, and there were rumors of 
an impending revolt of the pacifist element, under Champ Clark's 
leadership. 1 More important, Bryan was in a rebellious mood, angered 
by Wilson's stand on preparedness and the armed ship issue, and 
threatening to disrupt the party if the President made further warlike 
moves.. "I have been amazed at the slush he [Wilson] has been pouring 
out upon the West," Bryan wrote at the time of Wilson's preparedness 
tour. ". . . It is disturbing to see our party's chances of success de- 

i-The New York Times, Jan. 26, 1916; especially Chicago Herald, Feb. 28, 
1916. Clark, however, hotly denied these charges. See Clark to Wilson, Mar. 
10, 1916, the Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the Library of Congress. 



stroyed and the country's peace menaced by one in whom we had such 
great hope. If I find that his purpose is to drag this nation into this 
war I may feel it my duty to oppose his nomination." 2 

As it turned out, however, these were momentary alarms that quickly 
vanished once the Sussex crisis and the controversies over the defense 
bills were settled. All Democrats knew they could win only under 
Wilson's leadership and that revolt would merely insure a Republican 
victory. Looking at the election returns of 1912, moreover, Wilson and 
his party leaders realized they could convert the Democratic minority 
of 1912 into a majority in 1916 only if they won over a large number 
of former Progressives. 

But how could these Progressives be lured into the Democratic 
camp? The answer was so obvious most commentators took it for 
granted. The administration would have to convince Progressives that 
the Democratic party was an acceptable vehicle of reform of the kind 
they wanted; that it had, once and for all, cast off the doctrines of 
laissez-faire and state rights that had heretofore shackled it. Thus far 
Wilson had either thwarted or failed to support the advanced progres- 
sive objectives, like rural credits and child labor legislation, woman 
suffrage, and other economic and social legislation. Could he now 
reverse himself and sponsor such dynamic measures of domestic 

Those observers who predicted the President would adhere stub- 
bornly to New Freedom concepts did not well understand Woodrow 
Wilson. He had broad political principles, to be sure; but he was no 
inflexible dogmatist on methods or details. As he thought the Demo- 
cratic party offered the only hope of constructive, progressive change, 
he believed his party's most important task was to stay in power. 
Nowhere did he come out and say that his desire to maintain the 
Democrats in power was responsible for the commitment he made to 
advanced progressivism in 1916. Yet he became almost a new political 
creature, and under his leadership a Democratic Congress enacted the 

2 Bryan to Josephus Daniels, Feb. 4, 1916, the Papers of Josephus Daniels, in 
the Library of Congress. See also Bryan to Claude Kitchin, c. Feb. 5, 1916, 
the Papers of Claude Kitchin, in the Library of the University of North Car- 
olina; Bryan to Burleson, Mar. 8, 1916, the Papers of Albert S. Burleson, in the 
Library of Congress; David Lawrence, in New York Evening Post, Feb. 15, 
1916 ; the Diary of Edward M. House, in the Papers of Edward M. House, in the 
Library of Yale University, Mar. 7, 1916, in which House recorded Wilson's 
fear that Bryan would bolt. 


most sweeping and significant progressive legislation in the history of 
the country up to that time. 

The first public sign of the new departure was Wilson's nomination, 
on January 28, of Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court. 3 It was an 
open defiance of and a personal affront to the masters of capital as 
well as to conservative Republicans like Taft. Nor was the significance 
of the appointment lost upon rejoicing progressives and labor leaders. 
"The appointment . . . tends to restore faith in President Wilson," 
the single-tax oracle declared, 4 while Senator La Follette gladly 
acknowledged the people's debt to the President for a courageous act. 5 
As the forces of privilege mustered all their resources to prevent 
Brandeis' confirmation, and as the President took up the gage, publicly 
defending the champion of social justice and throwing the whole force 
of the administration behind the nominee, the battle became a test of 
strength between conservatives and progressives. After a grueling 
struggle the administration won on June I. 6 "The confirmation of Mr. 
Brandeis is an important mile-stone in the progress of the republic," 
one progressive asserted. "For the first time within my knowledge the 
vested interests have gone out to defeat an important nomination, and 
after using every possible source have been soundly beaten." 7 

A second major test of the President's attitude involved the much 
controverted rural credits bill, which he had blocked in 1914 and 1915 
and which seemed certain to become an important issue in the im- 
pending campaign. 8 The sponsors of the Hollis-Bulkley bill, Senator 
Henry F. Hollis and Representative A. F. Lever, decided to make one 
last appeal to Wilson to support the provision for federal underwriting 

8 Attorney General Thomas W. Gregory strongly urged Brandeis* nomination, 
as did certain independent progressive leaders. 

*The Public, XIX (Feb. 4, 1916), 97. 

5 R. M. La Follette, "Brandeis," La Follette* 's Magazine, VIII (Feb., 1916), 
1-2; also Amos Pinchot to Norman Hapgood, c. Jan. 29, 1916, Wilson Papers; 
several hundred letters of approval from civic and labor leaders in Box 522, 
File VI, ibid.; "A Secret!" Harper's Weekly, LXII (Feb. 12, 1916), 145; 
Collier's, LVI (Feb. 26, 1916), 14; Springfield Republican, Apr. 4, 1916. 

6 There is a splendid account of this battle in Alpheus T. Mason, Brandeis: 
A Free Man's Life (New York, 1946), pp. 465-508. 

7 H. F. Hollis to E. F. McClennen, June 7, 1916, the Papers of Louis D. 
Brandeis, in the Law School Library of the University of Louisville. 

18 As the secretary of the American Rural Credits Association, Frank G. 
Odell, warned on January 9, 1916: "The support of the farmers, which would 
be engaged by rural credit legislation, is necessary to the Democratic Party in 
the Middle West." The New York Times, Jan. 10, 1916. 


of the proposed system. They were willing. Lever told Wilson and 
Secretary Houston at a White House conference in late January, 1916, 
to reduce the amount of federal farm bonds the government might 
have to buy to $250,000 for each of the proposed twelve federal farm 
loan banks. "I have only one criticism of Lever's proposition," the 
President replied, "and that is that he is too modest in the amount." 
Then and there it was agreed the government should establish and 
operate the farm loan banks and provide an initial capital of $500,000 
for each of them. 

From that day on, the rural credits bill had the full support of the 
administration. Denounced by radicals because it did not go far 
enough, castigated by conservatives as a dangerous socialistic measure 
and as "class legislation, using the public resources to do for some what 
is not done for others," it none the less passed the Senate on May 4 
and the House on May 15 almost unanimously and became law on 
July 17.* Thus the Democratic campaigners had ample opportunity to 
appear as friends of the farmer in the presidential campaign of this 

The great social justice movement also came to its first legislative 
culmination, on the national level, in this year of the new progressive 
dispensation, but not before the President virtually bludgeoned his 
party leaders into allowing the necessary measures to pass. 10 Then sud- 
denly the log jam was broken. Under administration pressure, the 
Kern-McGillicuddy bill, a model workmen's compensation measure for 
federal employees drafted by the American Association for Labor 
Legislation, was resurrected and passed by Congress on August 19 and 
quickly signed. Even more astonishing was the manner in which 
Wilson forced the passage of the Keating-Owen child labor bill. This 
measure, the special project of the National Child Labor Committee, 
passed the House on February 2, with only a few dissenting votes from 
Southern textile states. Then the bill languished in the Senate, where 

9 Only a handful of urban votes were cast against the bill. The vote in the 
Senate was 58 to 5, in the House, 295 to 10. 

10 Stymied time and again by the administration's refusal to support their 
measures, the leaders of this important segment of independent opinion were 
growing restive by the spring of 1916. John B. Andrews to L. D. Brandeis, May 
17, June 1, 1916, Brandeis Papers; A. O. Lovejoy to C. Kitchin, June 3, 1916, 
Kitchin Papers. Their suspicion that the administration was not sincere in its 
professions of support seemed borne out when Wilson and Congressional leaders 
agreed, on March 24, 1916, on a legislative schedule that made no provision 
for the social justice bills. The New York Times, Mar. 25, 1916. 


it would have died had not political exigencies demanded decisive 
presidential action. Before July 17 Wilson had said not a word in sup- 
port of the bill. On July 17 the Democratic liaison with the social 
workers warned the President that the independent progressives con- 
sidered the Keating-Owen bill a test of the administration's pro- 
gressivism and that the Democrats might stand or fall on this issue. 
The following day, July 18, Wilson went to the Capitol, pleaded with 
the Democratic Senate leaders to allow the measure to come to a vote, 
and warned that the fortunes of their party depended upon prompt 
and favorable action. After much grumbling, the obstructive Southern- 
ers gave in and the measure was adopted on August 8 and signed by 
the President on September 1, "with real emotion," he said. 

Nor was this all, though it represented perhaps the high peak of 
Wilsonian progressivism. 11 The movement to give the Filipinos a 
larger measure of autonomy, perhaps independence, the product of 
years of anti-imperialistic, progressive agitation, also came to fruition 
in 1916. Wilson had early endorsed the bill sponsored by Representa- 
tive William A. Jones of Virginia to give self-government at once and 
full independence within a short time to the Philippines. Then, under 
pressure from Republicans, Catholics, and the War Department, the 
President had reversed himself on the question of independence and 
had helped to shape a new Jones bill drafted by the Bureau of Insular 
Affairs, which gave legislative autonomy and a larger measure of ad- 
ministrative control to the Filipinos, but reserved final sovereignty to 
the United States and made no definite promises about independence. 

11 The child labor law forbade the shipment in interstate commerce of goods 
manufactured in whole or in part by children under fourteen, of products of 
mines and quarries involving the labor of children under sixteen, and of any 
products manufactured by children under sixteen employed more than eight 
hours a day. Many Southerners opposed the measure out of the conviction, until 
recently shared by Wilson, that the bill represented an unconstitutional invasion 
of the police power of the states. The National Association of Manufacturers 
also opposed the bill, not because they favored child labor, but because they 
realized the bill was merely the beginning of a new federal regulation under 
the commerce cause, as the spokesman in Washington of the N.A.M. wrote, "of 
any commodity produced in whole or part by the labor of men or women who 
work more than eight hours, receive less than a minimum wage, or have not 
certain educational qualifications." James A. Emery to W. H. Taft, Apr. 4, 
1916, the Papers of William Howard Taft, in the Library of Congress. 

In 1918 the Supreme Court, in Hammer v. Dagcnhart, 274 U.S., 251, de- 
clared this child labor law unconstitutional. The Court declared that the pur- 
pose of the law was not to regulate commerce, but to regulate the labor of 
children, which fell solely within the competence of the states. 


This revised Jones bill passed the House on October 14, 1914, but 
Republicans easily blocked it in the Senate during the hectic short ses- 
sion of 1914-15. The measure could not be delayed for long, however. 
In complete control of the Senate, the anti-imperialists on February 4, 
1916, adopted the Jones bill with the so-called Clarke amendment, 
promising independence to the Filipinos by March 4, 1921. The coun- 
try expected an automatic approval by the House. But the Catholic 
hierarchy in the United States, fearful that an independent Philippines 
might confiscate church property, 12 brought enormous pressure to bear 
upon the Catholic membership of the House against the Clarke 
amendment. 13 On May 1, therefore, thirty Catholic Democrats joined 
with the Republicans and defeated the amendment, and the bill as 
passed and signed by Wilson lacked any definite promise of independ- 
ence, although it did greatly enlarge the liberties of the Philippine 

Finally, as if to make his new program complete and his bid for 
support all inclusive, Wilson capitulated also to the mounting demands 
of business organizations for a tariff commission, 14 antidumping legis- 
lation, 15 and legislation allowing Americans engaged in the export 

12 The Catholic position was ably and candidly set forth by the representatives 
of the Philippine hierarchy in Washington, in W. N. Kinkaid to Wilson, Feb. 
11, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

13 William H. Taft, who had been on intimate terms with American Catholic 
leaders since the time when he was Governor General of the Philippines, was a 
key figure in marshaling Catholic opposition to the Clarke amendment. For his 
negotiations with Cardinals Gibbons and O'Connell, see Taft to J. Cardinal 
Gibbons, Jan. 11, 16, 1916, and Gibbons to Taft, Jan. 12, 1916, all in Taft 
Papers; also The New York Times, Apr. 27, 28, 1916; New York World, Apr. 
29, 1916. 

14 As late as August 27, 1915, Wilson had steadfastly opposed the establish- 
ment of a tariff commission, which Roosevelt and the Progressives had ad- 
vocated in 1912. But the demands of the business groups were so overwhelming 
that Wilson finally gave in and on January 24, 1916, came out in favor of a 
strong, independent, and nonpartisan commission, which would allegedly work 
to remove the tariff issue from politics. Wilson to C. Kitchin, Jan. 24, 26, 1916, 
printed in The New York Times, Jan. 27, 1916. Because it represented such a 
radical departure from traditional Democratic policies, Kitchin refused to 
sponsor the tariff commission bill in the House. Leadership in putting the bill 
through fell, therefore, to Representative Henry T. Rainey of Illinois. The 
measure was incorporated as a part of the Revenue Act of 1916. 

15 Especially alarmed were American chemical and dye manufacturers, who 
feared the German chemical trust would resume its destructive competition once 
the war had ended. On January 4, 1916, Secretary Redfield presented an anti- 
dumping measure (Redfield to Wilson, Jan. 4, 1916, Wilson Papers) that 
McAdoo roundly condemned as a Republican device (W. G. McAdoo, "Confi- 


trade to combine. 16 In making these concessions to the business com- 
munity, Wilson in effect reversed the historic Democratic policy 17 
and put the government at the service of American businessmen. 18 
There was no reason why he should not have done this, to be sure., but 
the point was he had espoused the very program of co-operation be- 
tween business and government that Theodore Roosevelt had proposed 
in 1912 and that he, Wilson, had then strongly condemned. A few 
Democratic leaders, who prized the old Democratic tariff principles, 
rebelled and uttered futile protests, but most Democrats followed the 

The significance of the astonishing metamorphosis in Democratic 
policies that occurred during the summer of 1916 was apparent to all 
observers. Regardless of the motivation behind Wilson's commitment 
to advanced doctrines, the fact was the Democratic Congressional 
majority had, by the fall of 1916, enacted almost every important 
plank in the Progressive platform of 1912. Wilson, therefore, could 
affirm that Democrats were also Progressives, and Democratic cam- 

dential Memorandum for the President," Jan. 14, 1916, ibid.). Soon afterward 
a representative of the dye manufacturers conferred with the President and 
urged the importance of sizable tariff protection for the infant dye industry 
(Andrew C. Imbrie, "Memorandum of talk with President Wilson, March 8th, 
1916," the Ray Stannard Baker Collection, in the Library of Congress), and 
this was the instrumentality finally agreed upon and included in the Revenue 
Act of September, 1916. 

18 Wilson and the administration strongly supported the Webb bill to amend 
the antitrust laws so as to allow manufacturers engaged in the export trade to 
combine for purposes of selling abroad. The bill was not passed, however, until 

17 That the President had gone over to the protectionist principle was pub- 
licly evidenced when he wrote the president of the Illinois Manufacturers' As- 
sociation: "It ought to be possible by such [nonpartisan] means to make the 
question of duties merely a question of progress and development, a question of 
adapting means to ends, of facilitating and helping business and employing to 
the utmost the resources of the country in a vast development of our business 
and enterprise." Wilson to S. M. Hastings, July 28, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

18 Wilson proposed, among other things, to use the resources of the govern- 
ment to gather information and statistics, to help businessmen find new markets 
abroad, and to assist trade associations in standardizing products and eliminating 
cut-throat competition. He outlined this program in an address before the 
United States Chamber of Commerce, February 10, 1916, The New York 
Times, Feb. 11, 1916; see also L. Ames Brown, "Preparedness for Peace, an 
Authorized Statement of President Wilson's Plans," Collier's, LVIII (Sept. 16, 
1916), 12-13, and Wilson to Edward N. Hurley, May 12, 1916, printed in Ray 
S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson 
(6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New Democracy, II, 167-168. 


paigners could espouse the cause of social justice with mounting fervor. 
Whether this acceptance of the New Nationalism signified a funda- 
mental change in Democratic philosophy, or whether it was executed 
solely for expediency's sake, no man could tell. In any event, on the 
surface, at least, progressivism had come momentarily to fruition and 
had found acceptance by one of the major parties. And the future of 
American politics would be profoundly altered by this fact. 19 

While the Democrats were writing into legislation the nationalistic, 
progressive program of 1916, their opponents were floundering in a sea 
of confusion and conflicting counsels. For months Theodore Roosevelt 
had waged a strenuous campaign for strong action against Mexico and 
Germany; and when Elihu Root and Henry Cabot Lodge took up the 
theme in important political speeches in February and March, it 
seemed almost certain the Republicans would make Wilson's Mexican 
policy, his failure to protest the violation of Belgium, and his weak 
and futile defense of American rights on the seas their chief points of 
attack during the presidential campaign. 20 

Or so it seemed at the beginning of the preconvention campaign. 
But Republican leaders like Taft protested that the G.O.P. was head- 
ing straight for disaster if it nominated Roosevelt on a war platform. 
A series of startling developments soon demonstrated, moreover, that 
the Eastern interventionists did not speak for the Republican rank and 
file, even of their own section. The action of a majority of the Re- 
publican representatives and of an almost solid Midwestern contingent 
in voting to warn American citizens off armed merchant ships was the 
first sign that the Republican masses, especially in the Midwest, valued 
peace more highly than a heroic assertion of technical rights. The 
defeat of Robert Bacon, an avowed interventionist, for the Republican 
senatorial nomination in New York by William M. Galder, who had 
the support of the German-Americans and the peace element, signified 
that interventionism could not command a majority among Repub- 
licans even in Root's and Roosevelt's own state. More important, how- 
ever, was the success of Henry Ford, a pacifist leader of dubious wis- 

19 For incisive comments on the triumph of the New Nationalism in the 
Democratic party, see New Republic, VII (June 24, 1916), 185-187; VIII 
(Sept. 2, 9, 1916), 103-104, 128-129; also Collier's, LVIII (Sept. 16, 1916), 

20 Root spoke before the New York Republican state convention in New York 
City on February 15, 1916, Lodge before the Republican Club of Lynn, Massa- 
chusetts, on March 16, 1916. Their speeches are printed in The New York 
Times, Feb. 16, 1916, and the Boston Evening Transcript, Mar. 17, 1916. 


dom, in the Republican presidential primaries in Michigan and Ne- 
braska, despite the fact that he was not a candidate and had tried to 
take his name off the ballots in these states. Obviously, Midwestern 
Republican leaders were using the Ford candidacy as a warning to the 
national leaders. Finally., German- American spokesmen gave early 
notice they would enter the presidential campaign and bitterly oppose 
any interventionist candidate. As they were for the most part Re- 
publicans, the significance of their admonition was not lost upon the 
men who controlled the G.O.P. 

After minor booms for Root and former Governor Myron T. Her- 
rick of Ohio had fizzled, the Republican preconvention contest settled 
into a test of strength between Roosevelt and Charles Evans Hughes, 
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The party managers liked 
Hughes little better than Roosevelt, but he was their best hope of 
heading off the alleged destroyer of the party. Outwardly, at least, 
Hughes bore many resemblances to Wilson. Like the President, he had 
integrity, independence, great power of leadership, and, above all, in- 
tellectual depth. Hughes had come first into public notice in 1905, 
when he conducted investigations of the New York utilities ring and 
the great insurance companies. His methods were so relentless and 
his disclosures were so startling that at once he was catapulted into 
leadership of the progressive wing of the Republican party in New 
York. Elected Governor in 1906 and 1908, Hughes, like Wilson a few 
years later, electrified the country by his defiance of the bosses and his 
magnificent battles for reform legislation. He might have been elected 
President in 1908, but he spurned Theodore Roosevelt's overtures. 
Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1910 by President Taft, Hughes 
by 1916 had won a place of leadership among the liberal minority of 
that tribunal. In 1912 he flatly refused to accept the Republican presi- 
dential nomination, but four years later the draft was so strong that 
he could not refuse duty's command. 21 

For his part, Theodore Roosevelt worked strenuously for the nomi- 
nation and apparently thought his chances were good, 22 but the bosses 
knew better. They went to the national convention at Chicago on June 
8 to prevent Roosevelt's triumph, even if that meant nominating the 

21 This paragraph is a brief summary of Merlo J. Pusey, Charles Evans 
Hughes (2 vols., New York, 1951), I, 132-324. 

22 So did the professional odds makers. Roosevelt was the favorite in the 
betting in St. Louis on June 1, when his supporters offered two to one odds in 
his favor. The New York Times, June 2, 1916. 


independent and progressive Hughes. The leaders of the nearly de- 
funct Progressive party also gathered in Chicago at the same time. 
Die-hard Progressives insisted that their rump convention nominate 
Roosevelt and make a hopeless campaign, rather than surrender 
abjectly to the enemy, the Old Guard. Most Progressives did not know 
it, but Roosevelt was using them to bludgeon the Republicans into 
nominating him. The strategy, of course, failed, and Hughes was 
nominated easily on June 10. Having failed to win a single important 
concession from the Republican managers, the rebellious Progressives 
proceeded in sheer anger and desperation to nominate Roosevelt any- 
way. Roosevelt declined the dubious honor at once and suggested that 
the Progressives and Republicans unite behind Henry Cabot Lodge 
one of the "staunchest fighters for different measures of economic 
reform in the direction of justice," Roosevelt said. Two weeks later the 
Progressive National Committee followed their leader's instructions 
and disbanded the party that had been launched with such hope and 
enthusiasm in 1912. 23 

The nomination of Hughes on a platform that carefully avoided 
any denunciation of hyphenism and the extreme German-American 
element and that called for "a straight and honest" neutrality was, 
therefore, an implicit repudiation of the Rooseveltian intervention- 
ists. 24 As Roosevelt wrote soon after the convention, "the country 
wasn't in a heroic mood." The selection of Hughes was also a signal 
victory for the German-American element of the party, for, whether 
he liked it or not, Hughes had become the German-American candi- 

Meanwhile, Wilson, House, and other Democratic leaders had been 

23 George E. Mowry, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement 
(Madison, Wis., 1946), pp. 345360. A minority of the Progressives, led by 
John M. Parker, Matthew Hale, and Bainbridge Colby, held a new Progressive 
convention in Indianapolis in early August, repudiated Roosevelt, and came out 
for Wilson. As will be shown, they were an important factor in accomplishing 
Wilson's re-election in November. 

24 The Republican platform, among other things, demanded protection of 
American rights, "by land and sea," but also called for an "honest neutrality." 
It condemned the administration's interference in Mexico and blamed it for 
much of the alleged chaos prevailing in that country. On the preparedness issue, 
the Republicans equivocated by simply demanding "adequate" land and naval 
forces. Finally, they reaffirmed their allegiance to the principle of tariff protec- 
tion, condemned the Democrats for attempting to abandon the Philippines, and 
pledged themselves to support effective rural credits and federal child labor 
legislation. Republican Campaign Text-Book (New York, 1916), pp. 48-52. 


laying their own plans for the coming campaign. The party machinery 
was reorganized and the erratic and ineffective national chairman, 
William F. McCombs, was eased out and replaced by the young and 
progressive Vance G. McCormick of Pennsylvania. After the happy 
settlement of the armed ship and Sussex crises the President was once 
again in undisputed control of party policies. In consultation with 
party leaders, 25 he wrote the Democratic platform, which contained an 
open bid for Progressive support in the form of a plank approving an 
advanced program of social legislation, promised a neutral foreign 
policy, endorsed reasonable preparedness, commended the cause of 
woman suffrage to the states, and denounced groups that placed the 
interests of foreign countries above the interests of the United States. 
Finally, the platform committed the party to support entrance by the 
United States into a postwar League of Nations pledged to enforce 
peace by collective security measures against aggressors. 26 

When delegates began to assemble for the national convention in 
St. Louis on June 11, the Democratic situation seemed so firmly under 
presidential control that the vanguard of party leaders on the scene 
expected a dull affair. Irritated by the Republicans' claim to a 
monopoly on patriotism, the President sent instructions that "Ameri- 
canism" should be the keynote of the convention and that frequent 
demonstrations should attest to Democratic loyalty to the flag. When 
former Governor Martin H. Glynn of New York gave the keynote 
address at the opening session on June 14, however, he failed to evoke 
more than dutiful enthusiasm for the President, preparedness, and 100 
per cent Americanism. Glynn then moved on to the war and American 

25 Senators W. J. Stone, Henry F. Hollis, F. M. Simmons, O. W. Underwood, 
and T. J. Walsh all submitted suggestions for the platform. These suggestions 
were sent to Wilson by Burleson on June 7, 1916, and are in the Wilson Papers. 

26 In fact, Wilson had already personally committed the country to this 
project in a significant address at Washington on May 27 before the League to 
Enforce Peace, a nonpartisan organization formed in 1915 to propagate the 
League plan. It is interesting that in preparing this address, which alleged 
America's willingness to depart from its historic policy of isolation, Wilson con- 
sulted only Colonel House and Secretary Lansing. In spite of his failure to 
confer with Democratic Congressional leaders on the matter, the Democrats 
willingly accepted a plank embodying the far-reaching proposal. It was a 
significant commentary on Wilson's mastery over the party leaders. The League 
to Enforce Peace speech is printed in The Public Papers, New Democracy, II, 
184-188. The Democratic platform of 1916 is printed in The Democratic Text 
Book, 1916 (New York, 1916), pp. 3-26, and in many other contemporary 


neutrality, invoking historical parallels to prove that Wilson's diplo- 
macy of note writing had good precedent in the American past. But this 
would be a dull recital, he averred; and he was about to pass over that 
portion of his address when the immense crowd were on their feet, 
shouting, "No I No! Go on!" This was an unexpected development, 
but Glynn sensed the electrical quality of the situation and at once 
launched into his historical exposition. As he cited one case after 
another in which the United States had refused under provocation to 
go to war, the mighty throng would chant, "What did we do? What 
did we do?" And Glynn would roar back, "We didn't go to war, we 
didn't go to war!" On and on he went, while the convention indulged 
in one frenzied demonstration after another. It was as if the delegates 
had just discovered that pacifism, jeered at and derided, was the 
cornerstone upon which American foreign policy had been built. 

Events of the following day gave even more spectacular evidence 
of the passion for peace that consumed the delegates and deafened 
their ears to any other appeals. The permanent chairman, Senator 
Ollie M. James of Kentucky, was a veteran of many campaigns with 
a sharp understanding of crowd psychology. He appealed stirringly to 
the delegates' desire for peace, and with the famous peroration, "With- 
out orphaning a single American child, without widowing a single 
American mother, without firing a single gun or shedding a drop of 
blood, he .[Wilson] wrung from the most militant spirit that ever 
brooded over a battlefield the concession of American demands and 
American rights," James provoked a nearly riotous demonstration that 
lasted twenty-one minutes. 

At the night session of June 15 the cries for Bryan grew so loud that 
The Commoner had to speak. Cast out of party councils and castigated 
by the Democratic press, Bryan had even been refused election as a 
delegate from Nebraska and had come to the convention as a re- 
porter. 27 He it was who became the hero of the convention, when he 
urged the delegates to renominate Wilson and thanked God the coun- 
try had a President who did not want war. A few hours later Wilson 
was named by one mighty acclamation, and the convention adjourned 
the following day after adopting the platform. 28 

The meaning of the peace demonstration at St. Louis was unmistak- 

w Bryan's letters to the newspapers from the convention are printed in The 
Commoner, June, 1916. 

2 * The New York Times, June 16, 17, 1916. 


ably clear to Wilson and his campaign managers. Irresistibly they were 
drawn into the ground swell for peace, and, as will be shown, the 
Democratic campaign that followed became in many respects a pro- 
longed demonstration for peace. But while the managers in both 
camps were busy constructing their organizations and raising their 
funds, another development occurred that had a profound impact on 
the course of the contest. It was the near occurrence of a general rail- 
road strike and the President's method of averting it. 

Storm clouds had gathered on the horizon in early spring, when the 
presidents of the four railroad brotherhoods presented demands for an 
eight-hour day, with no reduction in wages, and time and a half for 
overtime work. On June 15 the railroad managers rejected these 
demands, although they offered to submit them to arbitration, and a 
weary conference broke up. When the United States Board of Media- 
tion failed to bring agreement and 94 per cent of the nation's 400,000 
engineers, firemen, conductors, and trainmen approved a general strike 
call, Wilson decided the time for decisive action had come. On August 
13 he invited the brotherhood chiefs and the railroad managers to the 
White House and reminded them of the catastrophic consequences of 
a general strike suffering, even starvation, in the great cities, disrup- 
tion of the nation's economic life, and a setting back of the prepared- 
ness effort. The following morning the contending parties presented 
their cases, and Wilson appealed solemnly for compromise in the na- 
tional interest. When both sides refused to budge he then and there 
resolved to impose his own settlement. The workers' demand for the 
eight-hour day was right, he declared; but they must abandon their 
demand for punitive overtime pay, and a federal commission should 
be appointed to study the entire railroad labor problem. 29 

The brotherhood chiefs accepted the President's proposal on August 
18, but the managers had rejected it the day before. At once Wilson 
summoned the presidents of the great railroad systems to the White 
House and set Congressional leaders at work on legislation to be 
rushed through if his last-ditch efforts failed. Thirty-one railroad presi- 
dents appeared at the White House on August 18, but they were un- 
moved by the President's pleading. 80 Then Wilson issued a public 

* Q Ibid., Aug. 14, 15, 16, 17, 1916. Wilson's solution was embodied in "Pro- 
posal. R. R. Conference," memorandum prepared by Wilson c. Aug. 16-17, 
1916, Wilson Papers. 

80 The New York Times, Aug. 19, 1916. There were indications that some of 
the railroad presidents welcomed the prospect of a general strike, which they 


appeal for support and summoned twelve more railroad presidents to 
Washington. To the railroad executives assembled and sweating in 100 
degrees of heat in the East Room on August 21, Wilson appealed in 
the name of humanity that they accept his compromise. When they 
refused he exclaimed bitterly, "I pray God to forgive you, I never 
can," and left the room. 31 

Further futile negotiations between executives and union leaders 
only highlighted the hopelessness of the deadlock. On August 27 the 
brotherhood local chairman left Washington with orders to call a 
nation-wide strike on September 4. The railroad presidents' committee 
gave Wilson their final refusal to accept his plan. Wilson went to the 
Capitol, where he was closeted with Senate Democratic leaders during 
the afternoon of August 28, and before a joint session the following 
day he outlined legislation to prevent a strike and guarantee that the 
country would never again be threatened by such a catastrophe. 32 
More important for the long future, however, was his sweeping en- 
dorsement of the eight-hour day, as a cause so vital to the health and 
happiness of the people that its fate could not be arbitrated. 

The next few days were extraordinarily hectic. For a while it seemed 
Congress might refuse to act and, thinking he had failed, the President 
called fifteen thousand national guardsmen from the Mexican border 
to preserve order. Meanwhile, however, Chairman William C. Adam- 
son of the House Interstate Commerce Committee and Majority 
Leader Kitchin drafted a bill imposing the eight-hour day, beginning 

were sure they could break and which they thought would destroy the brother- 
hoods. "President Ripley of the Santa Fe road believes that if a violent strike 
should occur, it can be broken in thirty days," wrote the publisher of the reac- 
tionary Los Angeles Times. "In that case the organized railroad men would be 
the losers by a tremendous majority, and the outcome would be the ultimate 
non-unionizing of the railway service." Harrison Gray Otis to H. L. Scott, Aug. 
24, 1916, the Papers of Hugh L. Scott, in the Library of Congress; also The 
New York Times, Aug. 29, 1916. 

31 Ibid., Aug. 22, 1916; C. W. Eliot to J. P. Tumulty, Sept. 11, 1916; Wilson 
to Tumulty, c. Sept. 21, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

32 Wilson proposed ( 1 ) the eight-hour day for railroad workers engaged in 
interstate commerce, which, in the absence of punitive overtime, meant ten 
hours' pay for eight hours' work; (2) compulsory suspension of railroad strikes 
pending investigation by a federal commission; (3) that the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission be enlarged and directed to study the cost of the eight-hour 
day, with a view to allowing the railroads to increase rates; and (4) that the 
President be authorized to compel railroad officials and workers to operate 
trains for military purposes. His address is printed in The Public Papers, New 
Democracy, II, 267-274. 


January 1, 1917, and providing for a commission to study the railroad 
problem. As it was the only measure that could be passed quickly, it 
was approved August 31 by Wilson, Burleson, and the Congressional 
leaders. The House approved the following day, 239 to 56; and after 
a day of acrimonious debate the Senate accepted the bill on September 
2 and the President signed it in his private car in the Union Station 
the next morning, just before he left for Hodgenville, Kentucky., for an 
address at Lincoln's birthplace. 83 

Passage of the Adamson Act prevented the railroad strike, to be 
sure, but it also injected a new issue, which Hughes gladly seized upon 
to bolster his sagging campaign. For it was now plain that he was not 
doing well. He had entered the contest with the respect and admira- 
tion of most independent and many Democratic journals. The four 
leading independent organs of opinion, the New Republic, the Nation, 
The New York Times, and the New York Evening Post, stood predis- 
posed to support him. But his acceptance speech at Carnegie Hall on 
July 31 had been a bitter disappointment, reflecting mainly the advice 
of Henry Lane Wilson on the Mexican question. 34 Soon afterward 
Hughes had set out on a long tour of the Middle West and Far West, 
and everywhere he spoke he made votes for Wilson by his petty 
criticisms and failure to offer any constructive alternatives. 35 The great 

33 The New York Times, Sept. 2, 3, 4, 1916. There is a denouement to this 
story that should not be overlooked. The railroad managers refused to accept 
the Adamson settlement and immediately instituted proceedings to test the act's 
constitutionality. When the railroads refused to abide by the law after January 
1, 1917, the brotherhoods, on March 15, issued a general strike order. As the 
nation was on the verge of war with Germany, Wilson and the Council of 
National Defense appealed to both sides to remember that the country was 
already in dire peril. On March 17 the brotherhoods postponed the strike 
forty-eight hours; and the following day, after German submarines sank three 
American ships, the railroad managers gave in and conceded the eight-hour 
day. Then, on March 19, the Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, upheld 
the constitutionality of the Adamson Act. This important decision, rendered in 
Wilson v. New, 243 U.S., 332, affirmed that Congress 1 control over transporta- 
tion facilities operating in interstate commerce was absolute. 

34 It was a significant commentary on Hughes' campaign that he should have 
chosen the discredited former Ambassador as his chief adviser on Mexico. See 
H. L. Wilson to Taft, June 23, 1916, Taft Papers; H. L. Wilson, "Memoran- 
dum on Mexico," undated, sent to Hughes, copy in ibid.; The New York Times, 
July 23, 28, 1916. For comment on Hughes' acceptance speech see Denver Post, 
Aug. 1, 1916; The New York Times, Aug. 1, 1916; Springfield Republican, 
Aug. 1, 1916; New York Evening Post, Aug. 1, 1916; New York World, Aug. 
1, 1916; New Republic, VIII (Aug. 5, 1916), 4-5. 

35 See, for example, his speeches at Detroit, Aug. 7, in New York Evening 


Eastern journals, which had hailed Hughes' candidacy with real 
enthusiasm, were baffled and searched about for an explanation, for, as 
one editor put it, "No other candidate for President within the memory 
of living man ever ran downhill so rapidly." 36 

The triumph of the brotherhoods in the epochal struggle for the 
eight-hour day, however, breathed life into the corpse of the Hughes 
campaign. For one thing, it aroused the business community to frantic 
anger and overwhelming support of the Republican ticket and sent a 
cold chill down the spines of the Democratic managers. For another, 
Hughes finally had an issue and launched a vigorous attack on Wilson 
for betraying the cause of arbitration and knuckling under to the rail- 
road workers "the most shameful proceeding," he said, "that has 
come to my attention since I have observed public life." 37 

For his part, Wilson stayed at his post until the threat of a railroad 
strike was past. He made a few short speeches in the capital, important 
only as portents of the course he would later follow; and he wrote a 
long letter to Representative Lever, reviewing the agricultural legisla- 
tion of his administration. 38 His first important pronouncement, how- 
ever, he saved for his acceptance speech at Shadow Lawn, New Jersey, 
his temporary summer home, on September 2. It was more a scholarly 
summary of recent Democratic achievements than a rousing campaign 
address. 39 Then, on September 23, the President began a series of hard- 
hitting speeches that got his campaign into high gear and left his 
opponents dazed. Instead of apologizing for the Adamson Act, he 

Post, Aug. 8, 1916; at Chicago, Aug. 8, in The New York Times, Aug. 9, 1916; 
at St. Paul, Aug. 9, ibid., Aug. 10, 1916; at Fargo, N.D., Aug. 10, ibid., Aug. 
11, 1916; at Butte, Mont., Aug. 12, ibid., Aug. 13, 1916. 

36 New York World, Aug. 17, 1916; for similar comments see The New York 
Times, Aug. 17, Sept. 8, 1916; Independent, LXXXVII (Aug. 28, 1916), 289- 
290; The Nation, CIII (Sept. 14, 1916), 251; Oswald G. Villard to William 
L. Phelps, July 21, 1916, the Papers of Oswald Garrison Villard, in Houghton 
Library, Harvard University. 

Although Merlo J. Pusey, Hughes* biographer, makes out the best possible 
case for his subject, he nowhere answers the baffling question of why Hughes 
failed to wage a positive, constructive type of campaign. Nor, it might be added, 
is Mr, Pusey fair to Wilson, whom he accuses of using the peace issue at a time 
when the President knew war with Germany was likely. Pusey, Hughes, II, 
356357. The evidence Mr. Pusey uses to substantiate this charge is totally 

M G. E. Hughes to Taft, Sept. 16, 1916, Taft Papers. 

**The New York Times, July 5, 14, 1916; the letter to Lever is printed in 
The Public Papers, New Democracy, II, 260-263. 

39 Printed in ibid. f pp. 275-291. 


boldly defended it and the principle of the eight-hour day. In October 
he campaigned into the Middle West, defending his Mexican policy, 
reiterating the blessings his administration had brought the farmers, 
and in general magnifying his and the Democratic party's devotion to 
the great cause of progressive reform.* 

Wilson's bold championship of labor's supreme objective and of the 
cause of social justice stood out in vivid contrast to the equivocation of 
the Republican platform and Hughes' evasive declarations. The result, 
therefore, was such a division on domestic issues as the country had 
not seen since 1896. The left wing of the progressive movement, in- 
cluding many Socialists and most single taxers, did not like Wilson's 
advocacy of preparedness and of measures calculated to appease the 
business community, but they never once seemed to doubt they had no 
alternative but to support the President. 4 * Even more astonishing, how- 
ever, was the way in which independent 1 progressives the social work- 
ers, sociologists, and articulate intellectuals moved en masse into the 
Wilson camp. To name them is to name practically the entire leader- 
ship of the advanced wing of the progressive movement in the United 
States. 42 If this did not suffice to prove that the Democratic party was 
being transformed and re-created, then the wholesale movement of the 
former leaders of the Progressive party into the Democracy must have 
convinced the most cynical observer. One by one, the men and women 
who had gone into the Roosevelt party in 1912 to fight for principles 
and social regeneration, rather than to follow a hero, came out for 
Wilson Jane Addams of Illinois, Francis J. Heney of California, John 
M. Parker of Louisiana, Edgar C. Snyder, chairman of the state com- 
mittee in Washington, Bainbridge Colby of New York, Victor Mur- 

40 Addresses at Chicago, Oct. 4, 1916, The New York Times, Oct. 5, 1916; 
at Omaha, Oct. 5, 1916, printed in The Public Papers, New Democracy, II, 
344-355; at Indianapolis, Oct. 12, 1916, ibid., pp. 356-363; at Cincinnati, Oct. 
26, 1916, ibid., pp. 376-382; at Buffalo, Nov. 1, 1916, New York World, Nov. 
2, 1916. 

41 On this point, see the significant articles: Victor S. Yarros, "Hughes, 
Wilson and the Radicals," The Public, XIX (June 16, 1916), 559-560, and 
Louis F. Post, "A Campaign Talk to Old Friends," ibid., XIX (Oct. 20-27, 
1916), 992-995, 1016-1019. 

42 A partial list would include William Kent, Norman Hapgood, Francis J. 
Heney, Frederic C. Howe, E. W. Scripps, A. J. McKelway; a host of journalists, 
including John Reed, Ray S. Baker, Lincoln Steffens, Ida M. Tarbcll, Irvin S. 
Cobb, Walter Lippmann, Herbert Croly, and George Creel; Ben B. Lindsey, 
Jane Addams, Lillian D. Wald, David Lubin, Amos Pinchot, John Dewey, Max 
Eastman, Washington Gladden, and Bishop Francis J. McConnell of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. 


dock of Kansas, Edward P. Costigan of Colorado, Matthew Hale of 
Massachusetts, acting chairman of the national committee, and many 
others. Finally, a week before the election, eleven out of the nineteen 
members of the Progressive platform committee at the Chicago con- 
vention joined in a public appeal for Wilson, on the ground that the 
Democrats had redeemed the Progressive promises of 1912. 

Obviously, Wilson's strategy of building a new coalition and draw- 
ing large accessions to his party had succeeded brilliantly. But there 
were other and as important additions to Democratic strength. The 
railway brotherhoods, the American Federation of Labor, and other 
organized labor groups were profoundly grateful to the administration 
and abandoned all pretense of neutrality during the campaign. 43 So 
vigorous was their support of the Democratic ticket, in fact, that at 
least two Old Guard bosses demanded that Hughes drop the eight- 
hour issue at once. 44 There were also many signs that Wilson's appeal 
for farm support was paying large dividends. The distinguished farm 
editor, Herbert Quick, traveled with the Federal Farm Loan Board 
through the Middle West in September and noted that everywhere the 
Board went Republican farmers were going in droves into the Wilson 
ranks. The Non-Partisan League, which was spreading like wildfire in 
the region, came out officially for Wilson because of the adoption of 
the rural credits act. Everywhere, in practically every state of the 
Middle West, farm groups endorsed Wilson. 

Finally, the accession to the Democratic ranks of practically all 
independent newspapers and periodicals completed the great progres- 
sive coalition and added powerful support to Wilson's candidacy. "I 
shall vote not for the Wilson who has uttered a few too many noble 
sentiments," one independent declared, "but for the Wilson who is 
evolving under experience and is remaking his philosophy in the light 
of it, for the Wilson who is temporarily at least creating, out of the 
reactionary, parochial fragments of the Democracy, the only party 
which at this moment is national in scope, liberal in purpose, and 

43 Statements of Samuel Gompers, Andrew Furuseth, et al. t in Wilson and 
Labor (Democratic National Committee, 1916); Samuel Gompers et al, "To 
the Officers of All Organized Labor," Oct. 14, 1916, copy in Wilson Papers; 
appeal of the presidents of the four brotherhoods, The New York Times, Oct. 
27, 1916; Locomotive Firemen's and Engineers' Magazine, Nov., 1916; Samuel 
Gompers, "On Which Side Are You?" American Federationist, XXIII (Nov., 
1916), 1067-1068. 

44 W. Murray Crane to Taft, Sept. 5, 1916, Taft Papers; David Baird to 
Taft, Oct. 7, 1916, ibid. 


effective in action." 45 Herbert Groly confessed that he would vote 
for Wilson because the President had reconstructed the Democratic 
party into a responsible instrument of progressive nationalism, but that 
a few years before he would not have believed such a miracle was 
possible. 46 Thus the New Republic, The New York Times, the New 
York Evening Post, the Nation, Pearson's Magazine, the Scripps news- 
papers, and other leaders of independent opinion came out, some of 
them reluctantly, for Wilson as the hope of the country. 

It is clear, therefore, that the campaign witnessed an almost perfect 
alignment of progressives and conservatives into two opposing camps 
and that the issue of further advancement toward a dynamic social 
welfare democracy drew large numbers to Wilson's side. But to inter- 
pret the campaign solely within this framework would be to miss the 
most important phenomenon of the contest: the fusion of the peace 
cause with the ideal of progressive democracy that the President and 
his campaigners effected. 

As he was profoundly impressed by the mounting manifestations of 
the deep peace longings of the people, and particularly by the develop- 
ments at St. Louis, Wilson must have deliberately decided to make a 
direct appeal to what was obviously an overwhelming popular senti- 
ment. Nor was he motivated by considerations of expediency alone. 
By September his efforts to co-operate with the Allies in ending the 
war had failed, and he was growing suspicious of British motives and 
was persuaded neither side should win. Thus his metamorphosis from 
the firm defender of American rights on the seas to a leading champion 
of nonintervention was facilitated by developments both at home and 

In an address at Shadow Lawn on September 30, the President first 
sounded the new keynote of his campaign. He brought his audience 
to their feet by charging that the Republicans were a war party and 
that Hughes* election must mean intervention in Mexico and the 
European war. 47 It was as if he had finally found the one great issue, 
and time and again he expounded this theme, in the Midwest and in 
the East, until it became the staccato note of his addresses. Moreover, 
by implication he promised to keep the United States out of war if the 

45 Walter Lippmann, "The Case for Wilson/' New Republic, VIII (Oct. 14, 
1916), 263-264. 

* 6 Herbert Groly, "The Two Parties in 1916," ibid., Oct. 21, 1916, pp. 286- 

* 7 New York World, Oct. 1, 1916. 


people sustained him. "I am not expecting this country to get into 
war," he declared at Shadow Lawn on October 21, for example. "I 
know that the way in which we have preserved peace is objected to, 
and that certain gentlemen say that they would have taken some 
other way that would inevitably have resulted in war, but I am not 
expecting this country to get into war, partly because I am not expect- 
ing those gentlemen to have a chance to make a mess of it." tt Or 
again, ten days later he wrote for publication in Western newspapers 
the following letter: "Thank you warmly for your letter of October 
twenty-third. The reason you give for supporting me touches me very 
deeply, that you should feel when you see 'the boys and mother' to- 
gether in your home circle that I have preserved the peace and happi- 
ness of the home. Such a feeling on the part of my fellow-citizens is a 
sufficient reward for everything that I have done." 4fl 

Wilson, moreover, shared with the people his great vision of a post- 
war community of nations co-operating to maintain the peace. There 
were times when he warned that the day might come when America 
must fight for the right. But he made it clear he was talking about the 
future, after the war, when the United States would use its strength 
in concert with other nations to prevent aggression. That was what 
he meant in his Cincinnati address of October 26, when he declared, 
"the business of neutrality is over." 50 

As the Republican interventionists, led by Theodore Roosevelt, took 
up Wilson's peace challenge and increased the ferocity of their attacks 
on his alleged failure to defend American rights on the seas, the Presi- 
dent indignantly denounced them for dragging questions of foreign 
policy into the campaign in a partisan way. The Democratic cam- 
paign committee and orators, however, were elated by Roosevelt's 
blasts and used the peace issue for all it was worth. They knew the 
slogan, "He kept us out of war," 51 had vast potentialities, and when 

48 The Public Papers, New Democracy, II, 371-372. 

** Wilson to J. W. Wasson, Velva, N.D., Oct. 31, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

50 In this same address Wilson also denounced those persons who said the 
United States should now be at war. "Have you ever heard what started the 
present war?" he asked. "If you have, I wish you would publish it, because 
nobody else has, so far as I can gather. Nothing in particular started it, but 
everything in general." The Public Papers, New Democracy p , II, 381. 

51 Robert W. Woolley, publicity director for the Democratic National Com- 
mittee in 1916, claims that he and Richard L. Metcalfe, his assistant, invented 
the phrase, "With honor, he has kept us out of war," and that it was used in 
all official literature. Woolley admitted, however, that the shorter "He kept us 
out of war" was used thousands of times by Democratic campaigners. Woolley 


Wilson sounded the peace note on September 30 they were delighted 
and urged him on. So overwhelming was the popular response in 
the Midwest to Wilson's speech that Senator Thomas J. Walsh, in 
charge of Midwestern headquarters in Chicago, at once sent instruc- 
tions to an army of orators in the region to adopt the peace issue as 
their main theme. Thus it was that "He kept us out of war" became 
the battle cry of peace that was thundered over the plains. 

To lead the Democratic peace campaigners in the Middle and Far 
West the great apostle himself, Bryan, was chosen. No longer a pariah, 
up and down the West he went, carrying the good news of peace and 
progressivism to countless throngs. "Bryan's speeches at Pueblo last 
night and Colorado Springs tonight were masterpieces in argument 
and power/* the former Governor of Colorado wrote. 52 Democratic 
leaders in Wisconsin reported that The Commoner had never been so 
well received in their state. 58 

It was in the millions of pamphlets and thousands of newspaper 
advertisements they published, however, that the campaign committee 
attained the maximum effectiveness. No matter what the subject of 
the written appeal happened to be, the peace issue was highlighted. 
Thus, a pamphlet entitled Woodrow Wilson and Social Justice con- 
cluded: "More than all, our country is at peace in a world at war," 
while an essay devoted to the child labor law reminded mothers that 
Wilson had saved their children from mines, mills, and sweatshops, as 
he had "saved their sons and their husbands from unrighteous battle- 
fields!" 54 The climax of this propaganda came just before the elec- 
tion, when the Wilson Business Men's League on November 4 pub- 
lished the following advertisement in leading newspapers: 

to R. S. Baker, Nov. 21, 1928, Baker Collection. Vance C. McCormick, Demo- 
cratic national chairman in 1916, could not later remember who invented the 
slogan, although he well recalled how effectively it was used. R. S. Baker, 
interview with Vance G. McCormick, July 15, 1928, ibid. In so far as the 
present writer knows, Wilson never used the phrase. 

52 Alva Adams to T. J. Walsh, Oct. 13, 1916, the Papers of Thomas J. 
Walsh, in the Library of Congress. 

63 Joseph Martin to T. J. Walsh, Oct. 27, 1916, the Papers of William Jen- 
nings Bryan, in the Library of Congress. 

^Children's Emancipation Day (Democratic National Committee, 1916); 
also "Yes" or "No!" Mr. Hughes?, Ten Reasons for Voting for Wilson, by Dr. 
Irving Fisher, "Complete Accord with Roosevelt" Wilson and Labor, War 
Menace Masked by Republican Policy, The Wilson Volunteers, Wilson Workers 3 
Manual, all issued by the Democratic National Committee, 1916. 


You Are Working Not Fighting! 

Alive and Happy; Not Cannon Fodder! 

Wilson and Peace with Honor? 

Hughes with Roosevelt and War? 

Roosevelt says we should hang our heads in shame because we are 
not at war with Germany in behalf of Belgium! Roosevelt says that 
following the sinking of the Lusitania he would have foregone 
diplomacy and seized every ship in our ports flying the German 
Flag. That would have meant war! 

Hughes Says He and Roosevelt are in Complete Accord! 

The Lesson is Plain: 
If You Want WAR, vote for HUGHES! 

If You Want Peace with Honor 

While the Democrats were pressing a united and powerful cam- 
paign, Hughes and his managers fumbled from one issue to another, 
confused and continually embarrassed by feuds within their ranks. The 
Democrats kept pounding away, demanding that Hughes tell what he 
would have done. At Louisville on October 12 the former Justice 
finally shot back that he would have broken relations with Germany 
after the sinking of the Lusitania, although he said the tragedy would 
never have occurred if the Germans had believed Wilson meant what 
he had said about "strict accountability." Even more embarrassing to 
the Republicans than the Democratic gadflies, however, was'Theodore 
Roosevelt, who barnstormed the country, denouncing the President for 
cowardly weakness abroad. Indeed, Roosevelt was a virtual millstone 
around Hughes' neck, for the hapless candidate was drawn into ap- 
proving Roosevelt's declarations, which enabled the Democrats to 
charge that Hughes also harbored warlike designs. 55 Bernstorff was not 
far wrong when he wrote the Foreign Office, "If Hughes is defeated he 
has Roosevelt to thank for it." 56 

55 When Roosevelt made one of his usual addresses at Lewiston, Maine, 
Hughes telegraphed him from Kansas: "I heartily congratulate you on your 
speech at Lewiston, and warmly appreciate your effective support." Outlook, 
GXIV (Sept. 13, 1916), 63. For the way in which the Democrats used this 
incident, see "Complete Accord with Roosevelt/* 

6 Oct. 19, 1916, "Bernstorff Wireless Messages--! 9 16," in the Papers of 
Walter H. Page, in Houghton Library, Harvard University. 


Hughes' difficulties with the peace issue,, his failure to attract wide 
independent and Progressive support, and Roosevelt's bellicose speeches 
were serious encumbrances to the Republican cause, to be sure, but in 
the showdown it was the bitter factionalism within the party that 
caused its undoing. For one thing, the Old Guard resented Hughes' 
approval of Roosevelt and the appointment of former Progressives to 
positions of leadership in the campaign organization. For another, in 
certain Western states the old-line bosses were more interested in pre- 
venting the Progressives from capturing the party than they were in 
electing Hughes. This was the situation, for example, in California, 
through which Hughes campaigned in August. The former Progres- 
sives were preparing to move back into the Republican party and to 
nominate Governor Hiram Johnson for the Senate on the G.O.P. 
ticket. From the day he entered the seething California campaign, 
Hughes went from one blunder to another. He allowed himself to be 
surrounded and his itinerary to be determined by the Old Guard 
leaders, who had declared open war on the Progressives. He followed 
the Republican state chairman across a picket line in San Francisco. 
Finally, he unwittingly failed to confer with Governor Johnson, when 
the two men were in a Long Beach hotel at the same time. 

As if to compound Republican difficulties, Hughes was also em- 
barrassed by the open support of organized German-American groups 
and practically the entire German-language press. It was a difficult 
situation, and Hughes tried to play both ends against the middle. On 
the one hand, he talked boldly of "straight Americanism" and ap- 
plauded Roosevelt; on the other he conferred with the most extreme 
pro-German spokesmen in the country the leaders of the German- 
financed American Independence Conference 57 and satisfied them 
he would pursue a policy of true neutrality. 58 Apparently to prove his 
sincerity, at Philadelphia on October 9 Hughes affirmed that he would 
take strong action against the British if he were elected. Unhappily for 
the luckless Hughes, the Democratic National Committee bought or 
stole the records of the American Independence Conference and pub- 
lished the details of the German- and Irish-American plot to defeat 

57 They were Jeremiah A. O'Leary, Carl E. Schmidt, Will R. McDonald, 
Frank Seiberlich, Jaspar T. Darling, St. John Gaffney, Joseph Frey, Victor 
Bidder, and Daniel F. Cohalan. 

58 The meeting took place around the middle of September, probably in New 
York City. 


Berlin's candidate 

Kirby in the New York World 

Wilson and of Hughes' negotiations with the leaders of that move- 
ment. 5 * 

The Democratic managers tried just as shamelessly to curry favor 
with the so-called hyphen vote, 60 but Wilson personally refused to 

59 The documents were printed in The New York Times, Oct. 23, 24, 25, 
1916; New York World, Oct. 24, 25, 1916. 

60 For details of these negotiations see Kent E. Keller to N: Hapgood, Sept. 
16, 1916, Wilson Papers; William J. Stone to J. P. Tumulty, Sept. 25, 1916, 


engage in any such negotiations. Indeed, when the blatant president 
of the American Truth Society, Jeremiah A. O'Leary, tried to compel 
the President to state his views, Wilson shot back: "I would feel deeply 
mortified to have you or anybody like you vote for me. Since you have 
access to many disloyal Americans and I have not, I will ask you to 
convey this message to them." 61 It was a telling blow that many voters 
remembered when the details of Hughes' conference with O'Leary and 
his brethren were later published. 

In their effort to turn out what many of them sincerely thought was 
a disgraceful administration, the Republicans thundered and volleyed 
on Mexico, made a vain bid for women's votes in the Western states, 
accused Wilson and Bryan of adding a postcript to the first Lusitania 
note, telling the German government they did not mean what they 
had just said, and charged that Southerners in control of Congress 
were plundering the wealth of the North and Middle West to pay for 
preparedness. Finally, the Republicans organized vast whispering cam- 
paigns against the President, accusing him of all kinds of irregularities, 
but especially of numerous infidelities to his first wife. 

In spite of all the din and confusion, however, two issues peace and 
progressivism stood out above all the rest, and nothing the Republi- 
cans could do diverted attention from them. Even so, it seemed at first 
that the new Democratic-Progressive coalition had failed to convert 
the normal Democratic minority into a majority. Outside the South, 
the majority of farmers, businessmen, and professional people normally 
voted Republican. The great mass of laborers and minority groups 
were in that day politically illiterate and leaderless. In 1912 Taft and 
Roosevelt combined had received 1,311,484 more votes than Wilson; 
perhaps it was unreasonable to think Wilson could overcome such a 
preponderance against his party. 

Early returns on Tuesday evening, November 7, revealed that 
Hughes had made almost a clean sweep of the East, except for Ohio 
and possibly New Hampshire, and the Democratic spokesman, the 

ibid.; The New York Times, Oct. 11, 12, 13, 14, 1916; also "Complete Accord 
with Roosevelt" the most extraordinary document issued by the Democratic 
National Committee during the campaign. It accused Hughes of sympathizing 
with England and of desiring a war with the beloved Fatherland. "Such a 
bloody war," it declared, "would help crush a nation, millions of whose sons 
and daughters dwell in our land and love our flag; and help destroy a people 
who lead in art, poetry, music, philosophy, and science" and "drain our veins 
in order that Germany might bleed the more." 

ei Wilson to O'Leary, Sept. 29, 1916, The New York Times, Sept. 30, 1916. 


New York World, conceded defeat. Wilson went to bed at ten that 
evening and slept soundly in the knowledge that he could soon turn his 
thoughts to matters less pressing than affairs of state. But the Demo- 
cratic managers kept their eyes on the West and refused to concede, 
and as one Western state after another recorded its vote for Wilson 

(Courtesy, Knickerbocker News). 

The suspense which followed the November, 1916, election depicted 
by a cartoonist for the Albany, N. Y v Knickerbocker Press. 

the margin between the two candidates narrowed. In Delaware, New 
Hampshire, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, and California 
the contest was so close a handful of votes either way would have 
turned the tide. Wilson won all these doubtful states except Delaware 


and Minnesota, which went to Hughes by pluralities of 1,258 and 392, 
respectively. With a total of 277 electoral votes, Wilson had a majority 
of twenty-three in the Electoral College. 62 He received in all 9,129,606 
votes, as against 8,538,221 for Hughes a gain for the President of 
nearly three million votes over 1912. It was the best possible evidence 
that the progressive-peace issue had succeeded in drawing together a 
new coalition. The congressional and senatorial contests had been so 
close, however, that the Democratic majority in the Senate was reduced 
to eight, while control of the House of Representatives would rest with 
a handful of Progressives and Independents. 63 

After the ballots in the hotly contested states had been recounted, 
analysts tried to discover the factors that had enabled Wilson to win. 
A close examination of the returns yielded many surprises and portents. 
To begin with, the vaunted German- American bloc had been so riddled 
by the Democratic peace appeal and Roosevelt's campaign blasts that 
the so-called hyphen vote almost vanished. 64 The labor vote, while not 
yet solidly organized, went largely to Wilson and was a factor in his 
success in New Hampshire, Ohio, Washington, and California. In the 
Middle and Far Western states the women's vote went disproportion- 
ately to Wilson. 65 Moreover, Socialists deserted their party by the 

62 Wilson carried all the Southern states, including Maryland, Kentucky, 
Missouri, and Oklahoma, plus New Hampshire, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, North 
Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, 
Idaho, Washington, and California. 

63 The Sixty-Fifth Congress would contain, in the House, 213 Democrats, 217 
Republicans, 2 Progressives, 1 Prohibitionist, 1 Socialist, and 1 Independent; in 
the Senate, 54 Democrats and 42 Republicans. 

64: The German-American vote went largely to Hughes in Oregon, Minnesota, 
and Illinois, and was apparently important in the Republican success in the 
first two states. On the other hand, in Maryland the German-Americans voted 
largely for Wilson and probably swung the state to him. Hamilton County, Ohio 
(Cincinnati), an important German-American center, returned a twelve 
thousand plurality for Hughes. On the other hand, Taft carried the county by 
18,374 in 1908 and the combined Taft-Roosevelt vote exceeded Wilson's vote 
by 16,036 in 1912. With its large German-American population, Ohio gave 
Wilson a plurality of 89,503 in 1916, although Taft carried the state by 69,591 
in 1908 and Taft and Roosevelt together in 1912 polled a vote that exceeded 
Wilson's by 83,341. In the six "German" wards of St. Louis, Hughes gained 
only two-tenths of one per cent over the combined Republican-Progressive per- 
centage of the total vote four years before. Hughes gained 12,480 votes in 
twelve "German" counties in Wisconsin, but Wilson carried the most important 
of them, Milwaukee County, by seven thousand, although not another Democrat 
received a majority in the county. This note is based upon the excellent analy- 
sis in The New York Times, Nov. 12, 1916. 

65 Democratic and Republican leaders in Kansas estimated, for example, that 


hundreds of thousands the Socialist vote declined from 901,873 in 
1912 to 585,113 in 1916 and it is a safe assumption that all the 
seceders went to Wilson. They, too, could claim a large share in de- 
termining the result. 66 

So much for the voting behavior of the several important groups. As 
for the issues, all observers agreed the key factor in Democratic success 
was Wilson's and his party's promise of continued peace, prosperity, 
and progressive democracy. 67 These were the issues that won a ma- 
jority of the women, a large minority of the Socialists^ and a large 
enough number of former Progressives to put Wilson across. 68 

What the election portended for the long future of American politics 
would in large measure depend upon the administration's success in 
holding the new coalition together, and this in turn might depend 
upon a redemption of the Democratic promises to keep the country out 
of war. The election's immediate significance, however, was apparent 
to all observers and especially to the President. "It is the South and 
West united," a distinguished historian wrote; "the farmers, small 
business men and perhaps a large sprinkle of Union labor against the 
larger industrial, transportation and commercial interests." 69 It was, 
indeed, the South and West united again in an emphatic mandate for 
progressivism and peace. 70 In short, Wilson had consummated the 

70,000 women Republicans in the state, out of a total of 625,000 voters, voted 
for Wilson on the peace issue; it was estimated, moreover, that 90,000 out of 
155,000 registered women voted for Wilson in Washington, where his plurality 
was only 16,594; and that women also helped carry California, Idaho, Utah, 
and Arizona for the President. These estimates were made by local politicians 
and newspaper correspondents. See The New York Times, Nov. 12, 1916. 

66 The Socialist losses were heaviest in the key states. Expressed in per- 
centages, the losses were as follows: Ohio, 58 per cent; Pennsylvania, 50 per 
cent; Illinois, 50 per cent; California, 62 per cent; New York, 27 per cent; 
Washington, 47 per cent. In California the Socialist presidential vote in 1916 
declined fifty thousand from the high point of 1912. 

67 William Allen White was the only contemporary observer who thought the 
peace issue was not important. He believed Midwestern and Western Progres- 
sives supported Wilson solely on the ground that the administration was com- 
mitted to further progressive reforms. William A. White, "Who Killed Cock 
Robin?" Collier's, LVIII (Dec. 16, 1916), 5-6, 26-27. 

68 It was estimated that 20 per cent of the former Progressives voted for 
Wilson in 1916, but this was a national average and the percentage was much 
higher in the West. 

69 William E. Dodd to E. M, House, Nov. 10, 1916, House Papers. 

70 There were special reasons, which did not generally operate in the West, 
to account for Hughes' victory in the East and in the central Midwestern states 
of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. 


union of most of the agricultural states, which Bryan had narrowly 
failed to do in 1896, and had added to the Democratic column two 
Eastern states and a large portion of the social justice element, who 
had heretofore followed Roosevelt. 

No war clouds darkened the horizon. No convulsion threatened 
domestic tranquillity. To Democrats and progressives it was a time full 
of joy and hope for another four years of peace and an intensification 
of the drive for social justice. 71 The poet Witter Bynner expressed this 

The morning-sun arose, the evening star: 

America renewed her light all day 

And stood serene at evening, and from far 

Freedom was visible with lifted ray . . . 

Wilson! humanity once more is true 

The light that shone on Lincoln shines on you. 72 

Hughes carried Minnesota and Wisconsin, normally heavily Republican 
states, by greatly reduced Republican majorities, which fact was testimony to 
the power of the progressive-peace appeal. In Illinois and Iowa the reunion of 
the Republican party had resulted in a shift of control to former Progressives or 
progressive Republicans. Reunion had been accomplished in Indiana under 
Old Guard auspices, but without recrimination or bitterness. Thus Republican 
losses, by defection of former Progressives to Wilson, were small in these two 

In Illinois, Indiana, and the Eastern states, moreover, other factors con- 
tributed to Hughes' success. Firstly, the Democratic city machines, especially in 
Boston, Chicago, and New York City, either knifed the national ticket or else 
made only halfhearted campaigns. Secondly, the Negro vote went almost solidly 
to Hughes. Thirdly, a part of the Catholic hierarchy and many priests and 
Catholic journals entered the campaign against Wilson. Catholics were par- 
ticularly aroused against the President's Mexican policy. The opposition of the 
Catholic Church had its most profound impact upon the Irish-Americans, who 
were already angry because Wilson had refused to intervene in behalf of the 
Irish during the Rebellion of the preceding April and May. They left the 
Democratic party in droves, and Wilson did not carry a single state in which 
they were an important factor. 

71 For significant comments on the meaning of the election, see the New York 
World, Nov. 9, 1916; R. M. La Follette, "Jingoism Rebuked," La Follette's 
Magazine, VIII (Nov., 1916), 1; W. J. Bryan, "The Election of 1916," The 
Commoner, Nov., 1916; The New York Times, Nov. 10, 1916; New Republic, 
IX (Nov. 11, 1916), 31-32; The Public, XIX (Nov. 17, 1916), 1092-1093. 

72 "Wilson," printed in The Public, XIX. (Nov. 24, 1916), 1121. 


From Peace Without Victory to War 

WHILE Wilson, the Democratic campaigners, and a large seg- 
ment of the American people displayed their deep desire for 
peace during the autumn of 1916, events in Europe were conspiring to 
make continued American neutrality difficult, if not impossible. After 
the failure of the German Verdun offensive in the spring and of the 
Allied Somme offensive in the summer and fall, both sides resolved 
to use their most desperate weapons to break the deadlock and end 
the awful slaughter. 

For Great Britain, this decision involved an intensification of eco- 
nomic warfare, which would inevitably exacerbate Anglo-American 
tension. Thus, instead of yielding to American pressure on the "black- 
list," the British extended their warfare against suspected American 
firms. "We have the rawest kind of cases all over the world," the 
Counselor of the State Department complained, "where British officials 
have threatened and browbeaten American merchants." x The British, 
moreover, devised a new scheme to obtain control of all neutral ship- 
ping: the so-called bunkering agreement, by which the neutral ship- 
owner submitted to the regulations of the British Admiralty in return 
for the privilege of buying British coal in various ports of the world. 2 

iR L. Polk to Irwin Laughlin, Dec. 8, 1916, the Papers of Frank L. Polk, 
in the Library of Yale University. 

2 When a neutral shipowner entered into this agreement, he promised to keep 
the British Admiralty informed of the names of all his vessels, not to charter 
ships to any person or country not approved by British authorities, not to trade 
with any country at war with Great Britain, to co-operate closely with British 
authorities in operations with Holland and Scandinavia, and to carry no goods 



When the British trade representative in the United States, Sir Richard 
Crawford, frankly admitted the purpose of the bunkering agreement, 
the issue became to the American government even more serious than 
the "blacklist" dispute. 

It is no exaggeration to say that official Anglo-American relations 
reached the point of highest tension during the critical period from 
November, 1916, through the following January. This was true, not 
only because of the tightening of British economic controls, but also 
because of the British refusal to co-operate in the German and Ameri- 
can peace drives. It is perhaps conjectural to say the two countries 
were heading toward a break in relations, yet such a catastrophe was 
not impossible. On November 24, for example, Wilson asked Colonel 
House to tell Sir Edward Grey that Americans "were growing more 
and more impatient with the intolerable conditions of neutrality, their 
feeling as hot against Great Britain as it was at first against Germany 
and likely to grow hotter still against an indefinite continuation of the 
war." 3 "I hate to feel that the two great democratic countries are 
drifting apart," Polk wrote, "but ... I cannot persuade myself that 
the fault is entirely ours, or even half ours." 4 Nor was all the ex- 
asperation on the American side. British nerves were on edge and 
British resentment at American efforts to enforce the rules of neutrality 
was noticeably increasing. 5 

consigned "to order." There is a copy of the bunkering agreement in Papers 
Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1916, Supplement 
(Washington, 1929), pp. 458-459. 

3 Wilson to House, Nov. 24, 1916, the Ray Stannard Baker Collection, in the 
Library of Congress. 

*F. L. Polk to W. H. Page, Nov. 23, 1916, Polk Papers. "Confidentially," 
Polk wrote a short time later, "what I am afraid of is that Congress will get on 
to this [blacklist] abuse, call for a Congressional investigation of the way the 
blacklist is being administered, and then the lid will be off . ... I have become 
a most violent believer in a large army and navy, because li see that we are 
fast arriving at a station, if we have not already reached it, where everyone 
hates us and we have got to be in a position to protect ourselves and ask no 
favors." Polk to Irwin Laughlin, Dec. 8, 1916, ibid. See also Polk to W. H. 
Page, Sept. 29, 1916, and to F. R. Coudert, Oct. 6, 1916, ibid. 

5 Lansing relates the story of an extraordinary interview on January 18, 1917, 
with the British Ambassador, Sir Cecil Spring Rice, which illustrated the pos- 
sibility of difficulties on other issues. The British Admiralty had placed a gun 
crew on a certain merchant vessel, which caused the State Department to 
protest and warn that such vessels would be regarded as warships. Spring Rice 
inquired if the protest were authentic, Lansing replied that it was. Spring 
Rice's u face twitched, his eyes blazed, and his hands clenched until the knuckles 
showed white." The two men stood facing each other about three feet apart. 


At the same time, events on the seas and developments in the Ger- 
man government pointed to the grave danger that Germany would 
burst the bonds of the Sussex pledge and use her submarines in such a 
way as to imperil good relations with the United States. For one thing, 
a series of borderline U-boat sinkings during October and November 
raised the question whether the German government had not in fact 
already violated its pledges. There were a number of questionable 
sinkings, but the two important cases involved the British merchant 
ship Marina, sunk without warning October 28, and the British liner 
Arabia, torpedoed without warning November 6, 1916. 6 Wilson was 
not willing to raise a serious issue over doubtful cases at this time 
because he planned to begin a peace campaign immediately after the 
election. Even within the limits of the Sussex pledge, however, the 
submarine campaign was being tremendously stepped up. German sub- 
marines, raiders, and mines sank on an average about 350,000 tons a 
month from October, 1916, through January, 1917, as compared with 
185,800 tons sunk in August, 1915, 191,600 tons in April, 1916, and 
230,400 in September of the same year. During the eight months that 
the Germans honored the Sussex pledge, from June, 1916, to Feb- 
ruary, 1917, their submarines and raiders accounted for an over-all 
total of 2,099,523 tons. 7 

The intensified submarine operations during the fall and early 
winter of 1916-17 had a profound impact upon the British, making 
them all the more determined to intensify their own economic war- 
fare. 8 But so long as the Germans remained reasonably within the 
bounds of the Sussex pledge, the Washington government would offer 

The Ambassador leaned forward and "fairly hissed," "If you follow this course, 
sir, of doing nothing while helpless people are murdered or put in open boats 
three hundred miles from land, and at the same time of stopping our vessels 
from defending themselves, you will be held personally responsible, yes, you and 
the President will be personally responsible." "Memorandum of an Interview 
with the British Ambassador, Thursday, January 18, 1917," the Diary of Robert 
Lansing, in the Library of Congress. 

6 Robert Lansing, "Memorandum. Vessels Sunk by German and Austrian 
Submarines, November 13, 1916," the Woodrow Wilson Papers, in the Library 
of Congress, and two memoranda by Lansing, entitled "Marina Case" and 
"Arabia Case," sent to the President Dec, 8, 1916, and in ibid. 

7 These figures are taken from the tables in R. H. Gibson and Maurice 
Prendergast, The German Submarine War, 1914-1918 (New York 1931) TD 
380-381. ' H ' 

8 For a discussion of the impact of this warfare on the British economy before 
February, 1917, see Official German Documents Relating to the World War (2 
vols., Now York, 1923), II, 702-705. 


no objections. Of serious consequence to the United States, however, 
were the increasing evidences that the Germans contemplated inaugu- 
rating unrestricted submarine warfare at an early date. The question 
entered an acute stage of discussion at a conference of all civilian and 
military chieftains at Pless Castle on August 31, 1916. The naval 
leaders pressed for immediate resumption of all-out, ruthless warfare, 
but Hindenburg and LudendorfT, the new masters of the army, agreed 
with Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg that the military situation was too 
unpromising to invite the certain intervention of the United States, 
Rumors of an impending all-out submarine campaign were alternately 
affirmed and denied by American representatives in Berlin, but the 
possibility hung like a sword over the President's head. 

This, therefore, was the uncertain and dangerous situation confront- 
ing Wilson during the last weeks of the presidential campaign and 
immediately afterward. The two giants in Europe were obviously pre- 
paring for a desperate bid for victory, which would inevitably abridge 
further American neutral rights. To preserve neutrality in the face of 
such assaults would be nearly impossible at best. Yet that was obviously 
what the American people wanted the President to do. Even more, 
they apparently preferred to abandon their rights on the seas rather 
than go to war to defend them, and Wilson was so impressed by the 
peace manifestations that his will to maintain his submarine policy was 
profoundly shaken. "I do not believe the American people would wish 
to go to war no matter how many Americans were lost at sea," he told 
House and Vance McCormick. He was sorry this was true, but it was 
his firm opinion. 9 

The only course of peace and safety for the United States, was, 
therefore so the President thought to bring the war to an end. Yet 
the House-Grey understanding was dead, and British spokesmen, 
aware of the possibilities of an American mediation attempt, publicly 
announced that anyone who talked of peace was a friend of Ger- 
many. 10 As the wisest British journalist warned, the mere suggestion of 
peace would make the British people "wild with fury." If Wilson 

9 The Diary of Edward M. House, in the Papers of Edward M. House, in the 
Library of Yale University, Nov. 2, 1916. 

10 Lloyd George, for example, on September 28 warned that Britain would 
"tolerate" no mediation by the United States and was determined to fight until 
"Prussian military despotism is broken beyond repair." The New York Times, 
Sept. 29, 1916. For the background of Lloyd George's statement see the Diary 
of Chandler P. Anderson, in the Library of Congress, Sept. 15, 1916. 


could expect nothing but hostility to peace in British circles, then 
where could he turn? Obviously, there was no alternative left but to 
seek peace through diplomatic co-operation with the German govern- 

Since the happy settlement of the Sussex crisis, Colonel House had 
dangled the lure of Wilson's mediation before BernstorfFs eyes, and in 
turn the Ambassador had excited the hopes of his government. At first 
disdainful of the President's help, by autumn Bethmann-Hollweg and 
the Foreign Office had concluded that Wilson's mediation on terms 
favorable to Germany was the only hope of forestalling a resumption 
of unrestricted submarine operations. The Imperial Chancellor, there- 
fore, began urgently to request that Wilson take an early initiative for 
peace. 11 And Bernstorff and Gerard made it abundantly plain what 
the consequences of the failure of the peace campaign would be. 

In a pacific mood, the President welcomed the German overtures 
as the first ray of hope since the collapse of the House-Grey talks, 
Bernstorff talked with him around October 14 and made the following 
revealing report: "Wilson gave his remarks a particular weight 
through referring to the fact that the leaders of the opposition, Roose- 
velt, Lodge, et aL, wanted war with Germany, a desire which he 
could not understand. He stated that he had but the one wish, to 
remain neutral and to help bring the war to an end, since in his 
opinion a decision could not be reached by force of arms." 12 As soon 
as his re-election was beyond doubt, the President summoned House 
to Washington and on November 14 told him that, in order to avert 
the necessity of American intervention, he planned to demand that the 
war be ended. House protested that such a move would be highly 
prejudicial to the Allies. The following morning Wilson announced 
he had made up his mind to move for peace. But what if Germany 
agreed to a reasonable settlement and the Allies refused? House asked, 
In that case would not the United States drift into a sympathetic 
alliance with Germany? Might not France and Britain declare war on 

11 Bethmann-Hollweg to Bernstorff, Sept. 25, Oct. 9, 1916, Official German 
Documents, II, 984^986, 986-987. At the same time, Gerard left Berlin 
for Washington with Jagow's and Bethmann's request that he ask the President 
to move quickly for peace, in order to prevent resumption of ruthless submarine 
warfare. James W. Gerard, My First Eighty-Three Years in America (Garden 
City, N.Y., 1951), pp. 241-243. 

12 Bernstorff to Foreign Office, received Oct. 14, 1916, Official German 
Documents, II, 988. 


the United States? If the Allies wanted war 3 Wilson replied^ he would 
not shrink from it. 13 

The event that caused Wilson to pause was not House's opposition 
or the threat of a break with Great Britain, which he did not take 
seriously. It was the deportation by the German government of some 
300 3 000 Belgians for forced labor in the Reich. This act, which the 
Germans justified on the ground of desperate necessity, provoked a 
wave of indignation in the United States that exceeded initial Ameri- 
can anger at the violation of Belgian neutrality. At first Wilson thought 
he had no right to protest, but the rising popular wrath soon caused 
him to change his mind. 

Even so, pressure from Germany and at home for daring presidential 
leadership in the peace movement was also heavy, and Wilson set to 
work on his note soon after his conference with House of November 
14-15. By November 25 he had completed the first draft and read it 
to House on November 26. As the President for the first time since 
1914 unburdened his most secret thoughts on the war and America's 
relation to it, the note was a document of extraordinary importance. 14 
He described the futility of the war and its baneful effects on civiliza- 
tion. Declaring that the causes of the war were obscure, he went on to 
point out that the position of neutrals was becoming intolerable, not 
only because of the conduct of the belligerents, but also because 
neutrals still did not know what the war was about. 15 Future American 

18 "He [Wilson] thought they would not dare resort to this and if they did, 
they could do this country no serious hurt. I disagreed with him again. I 
thought Great Britain might conceivably destroy our fleet and land troops from 
Japan in sufficient numbers to hold certain parts of the United States. He 
replied they might get a good distance but would have to stop somewhere, to 
which I agreed." House Diary, Nov. 15, 1916. 

14 The original is in the Wilson Papers. R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life 
and Letters (8 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 1927-39), VI, 381-386, reprints it in 

15 "And yet the reasons for this upheaval of the world remain obscure f and 
the objects which would, if attained, satisfy the one group of belligerents or 
the other have never been definitely avowed. As it is not known what motives 
led to the war's sudden outbreak so it is not known, the The world can still 
only conjecture what definitive results, what actual exchange of guarantees, 
what political readjustments or changes, what stage or degree of military suc- 
cess even, would bring it to an end. If any other nation now neutral should be 
drawn in, it would know only that it was forced drawn in by some force it 
could not resist, because it had been hurt and saw no remedy but to risk still 
greater, it might be even irreparable, injury, in order to make the weight in 
the one scale or the other decisive; and even as a participant it would not know 


policy would depend upon the objectives for which the respective 
alliances were fighting, yet leaders on both sides had avowed the same 
objectives. He was clearly within his rights, therefore, in urging the 
belligerents to define their objectives, and to do this at an early con- 

Because the proposed note reflected a cool, neutral detachment, 
House did not like it and prophesied it would have dire consequences 
for Anglo-American relations. He urged delay, but Wilson was appar- 
ently unmoved. Lansing, too, was gravely troubled. "Suppose . . . 
Germany listens to the President and the Allies decline to do so, what 
will be our situation?" he asked. "How can we turn then to the Allies? 
This is causing me the gravest concern." 16 Wilson agreed to delay 
action, but not for long; and when House tried to divert him by reviv- 
ing the House-Grey understanding, Wilson answered flatly: "We can- 
not go back to those old plans. We must shape new ones." 17 

One of the new plans involved calling a halt to the partial financing 
of the Allied war effort by American bankers. The British were near 
the point of exhausting the securities they could use as collateral for 
. loans, while their dependence upon American food, raw materials, and 
munitions was increasing daily. J. P. Morgan & Company proposed to 
solve the difficulty by taking the unsecured and renewable short-term 
bills of the British and French treasuries. A majority of the Federal 
Reserve Board, however, decided the time to call a halt had come, lest 
the American economy become too dependent upon the war trade. 
Their spokesman, W. P. G. Harding, conferred with Lansing on No- 
how far the scales must tip before the end would come or what was being 
weighed in the balance!'* The words italicized were crossed out by Wilson in 
his original draft. 

16 The Diary of Robert Lansing, in the Library of Congress, Dec. 3, 1916. 
Lansing further outlined the danger in a letter to Wilson on December 10, 
1916 (Wilson Papers): 

"I think, among other questions, we should consider these: Unless the 
answers of both parties are made in the right spirit, will there be any other 
course than to declare in favor of the one most acceptable and abandon a 
neutrality which is becoming more and more difficult? But suppose that the un- 
acceptable answer comes from the belligerents whom we could least afford to 
see defeated on account of our own national interest and on account of the 
future domination of the principles of liberty and democracy in the world 
then what? Would we not be forced into an even worse state than that in which 
we are now? . . . Can we avoid the logic of our declarations? And if we act 
in accordance with that logic, would it not be a calamity for the nation and for 
all mankind?" 

"Wilson to House, Dec. 8, 1916, Baker Collection. 


vember 20 and with Wilson on November 25 and proposed that the 
Board caution American bankers against accepting the short-term 
Treasury notes. Wilson, however., wanted a strong warning and was 
pleased when the Board, on November 27, advised bankers that it did 
not "regard it in the interest of the country at this time that they 
invest in foreign Treasury bills of this character." Although Wall Street 
grumbled and threatened to buy the Treasury notes anyway, the 
British discreetly decided not to issue them. 

While Wilson was debating with Lansing and House the wisdom of 
launching his peace bolt, the civilian and military leaders of Germany 
agreed that events had finally created a situation favorable to a peace 
move. Poor harvests in the United States and Britain and the ravages 
of the submarines would make the British susceptible, while the 
spectacular success of the German campaign in Rumania had stabi- 
lized the military situation. Bethmann-Hollweg and Hindenburg 
reached accord on peace terms by November 7, and when Wilson did 
not act during November the Germans grew restive. Bucharest fell on 
December 6; two days later Hindenburg and the Emperor allowed 
Bethmann-Hollweg to launch an independent peace campaign. If it 
failed, unrestricted submarine warfare should be inaugurated in Jan- 
uary, 1917. 

On December 12, therefore, the Chancellor announced to an excited 
Reichstag that the Imperial government was ready to join with its 
enemies to end the war. 18 He said nothing about the German terms, 
which, if they had been disclosed, would have shocked the world. They 
included, in the East/ establishment of the Kingdom of Poland and 
German annexation of the Baltic provinces of Courland and Lith- 
uania; in the West, "guarantees in Belgium" or the annexation of 
Liege and "corresponding areas," annexation of Luxemburg and the 
French territories of Briey and Longwy, which contained great iron 
deposits, strategic boundary adjustments in Alsace-Lorraine, and in- 
demnities; overseas, the return of German colonies, except Kiaochow, 
the Carolines, and the Marianas, and acquisition of all or part of the 
Belgian Congo. 19 

18 For his speech, see The New York Times, Dec. 13, 1916. The German 
peace note is printed in Foreign Relations, 1916, Supplement, p. 90. 

19 These were the terms agreed upon by the Emperor, Hindenburg, and 
Bethmann-Hollweg. See Official German Documents, II, 1059-1062, 1064. 
For an excellent discussion see Hans W. Gatzke, Germany's Drive to the West 
(Baltimore, 1950), pp. 139-144. 


On December 5 the American Charge in Berlin, Joseph G. Grew, 
had told Bethmann-Hollweg, "What the President now most earnestly 
desires is practical cooperation on part of German authorities in bring- 
ing about a favorable opportunity for early and affirmative action." ^ 
On the day he announced Germany's willingness to negotiate, the 
Chancellor dispatched an earnest appeal to Wilson: "It is my sincere 
hope that this formal and solemn offer to enter immediately into peace 
negotiations . . . will coincide with the wishes of the President of the 
United States." 21 At first Wilson was depressed because he thought 
the Germans had acted hastily. Within a week, however, he was writ- 
ing and without any knowledge of the German terms "We are just 
now . . . holding our breath for fear the overtures of the Central 
Powers with regard to peace will meet with a rebuff instead of an ac- 
ceptance." 22 Even Lansing admitted the Germans might sincerely 
desire peace and that, in any event, they had put the Allies in a 
difficult position. 23 

On the day the German offer was announced, December 12, Wilson, 
House, and Lansing were debating the President's proposed peace 
message. Wilson at once revised his draft, which he submitted to 
Lansing on December 17. Lansing thought the revision "far superior, 
. , . much more forceful and convincing" than the original draft had 
been. Actually, the note as sent to all belligerents on December 18 had 
been vastly weakened by the force of House's and Lansing's advice and 
of recent circumstances. The warning that the future policies of the 
United States would depend upon a frank avowal by the belligerents of 
their war objectives was absent. Also eliminated was the President's 
virtual demand for a conference to discuss peace terms. In brief, the 

20 Quoted in Bernstorff to House, Dec. 12, 1916, House Papers. 

21 Grew to Secretary of State, Dec. 12, 1916, Foreign Relations, 1916, 
Supplement, p. 87. 

22 Wilson to P. A. Stovall, Dec. 19, 1916, Wilson Papers. 

23 Robert Lansing, "The German Proposal to Enter on Peace Negotiations,'* 
Dec. 14, 1916, ibid. 

The Allies wasted no time in replying to the German offer. On December 15 
the Russian Czar and Duma unanimously rejected the offer to negotiate, and 
four days later Lloyd George, the new British Prime Minister, gave answer for 
Britain and France. The Allies, Lloyd George declared, would be putting their 
heads into a noose, with Germany holding the end of the rope, if they agreed to 
enter a peace conference without knowing the German terms. The Prime 
Minister, however, left large loopholes for future negotiations. The New York 
Times, Dec. 16, 20, 1916, The official Allied reply was sent to the German 
government on December 30, 1916. Ibid., Dec. 31, 1916. 


note of December 18 simply called upon the belligerents to define the 
objectives for which they were fighting. 24 

American reaction to Wilson's appeal^ which was published on 
December 20, accurately reflected the commentator's attitude toward 
the war. The defenders of Germany, the peace element, and the great 
mass of noninterventionists hailed it as the beginning of the end of the 
war. 25 In contrast, American champions of the Allied cause denounced 
Wilson for playing Germany's game and approving Germany's attempt 
to impose a dictated peace settlement. 26 Many German editors naturally 
interpreted Wilson's move as co-operation with their own government, 
while a large segment of the English and French press were in a state 
of virtual frenzy. 

Unperturbed by the violence of his critics at home and abroad, the 
President now proceeded to carry his peace campaign beyond the level 
of suggestion to direct negotiation with the German government. His 
negotiations were based upon the hope that the Germans, at least, 
would agree to the kind of reasonable peace he contemplated. The 
unhappy truth was, however, that the German leaders now had no 
intention of allowing Wilson to participate in the peace discussions. 
They would be glad to use him to force the Allies to negotiate directly 
with the German government, but their plans left small scope for the 
play of Wilsonian idealism, and they still suspected that Wilson was 

In order to head off any "meddling" by Wilson in the peace negotia- 
tions, the German Foreign Office answered the President's request for 
a definition of objectives by evading his query and suggesting the 

24 The note is printed in Foreign Relations, 1916, Supplement, pp. 97-99. 

25 There could be no doubt that an overwhelming majority of American 
newspapers, periodicals, and public spokesmen approved the move. For samples 
of this dominant opinion see the statements of Congressional leaders in The 
New York Times, Dec. 21, 1916; New York World, Dec. 21, 22, 1916; Herbert 
Croly to E. M. House, Dec. 26, 1916, House Papers; New Republic, IX (Dec. 
30, 1916), 228-231; W. J. Bryan in The Commoner, Jan., 1917; New Yorker 
Staats-Zeitung, Dec. 21, 1916; New Yorker Herold, Dec. 21, 1916. 

26 E.g., H. C. Lodge to T. Roosevelt, Dec. 21, 1916, the Papers of Theodore 
Roosevelt, in the Library of Congress; T. Roosevelt to G. W. Perkins, Jan. 11, 
1917, ibid.; T. Roosevelt, statement in The New York Times, Jan. 4, 1917; 
George Burton Adams to the Editor, Dec. 24, 1916, ibid., Dec. 26, 1916; Rev. 
Dr. William T. Manning, cited in ibid.; Frank J. Mather, Jr., to the Editor, 
Dec. 24, 1916, The Nation, GUI (Dec. 28, 1916), 607; Rev. Newell Dwight 
Hillis et al, "To the Christians of America," The New York Times, Jan. 1, 


speedy assembling of a conference of the belligerents only. After the 
peace conference had accomplished its task, then the German govern- 
ment stood ready to co-operate with the United States in preventing 
future wars. Gravely disappointed by the Imperial government's refusal 
frankly to state its terms. House and Bernstorff at once began personal 
negotiations that they hoped would draw the Chancellor and the 
President into sympathetic co-operation. 

On December 29 Bernstorff informed his government that House 
had invited him to take part in "absolutely confidential" negotiations. 
The President was not concerned with territorial adjustments, the 
Ambassador continued, but was anxious to obtain guarantees for the 
future. In reply, Secretary Zimmermann sent specific and important 
instructions. Germany positively did not desire American participation 
in the actual peace negotiations. However, Bernstorff might say Ger- 
many stood ready to sign an arbitration treaty with the United States 
and to join with it in establishing a League of Nations and setting 
general disarmament under way after the war. Moreover, Germany's 
terms were moderate and did not include the annexation of Belgium. 
On the other hand, Zimmermann concluded, only quick and decisive 
action by the President could forestall a resumption of unrestricted 
U-boat warfare. 

On January 15 Bernstorff transmitted to House Zimmermann's 
assurances for the future and his offer to sign a treaty of arbitration. 
BernstorfFs message, House declared in astonishment, was the most 
important pronouncement he had received from any belligerent gov- 
ernment since the war began. "In my opinion," he advised Wilson, 
"the best interests of the Allies and ourselves would be met by taking 
Germany at her word and concluding peace as speedily as possible." 
And if Bernstorff had expressed his government's views correctly, he 
added, Wilson would be justified in forcing the Allies to consider peace 
negotiations. 27 

House's enthusiasm was soon dampened, however, when Bernstorff 
finally admitted that his government did not want the President's 
presence at the peace conference and that the German assurances ap- 
plied only to the future, after the peace treaty had been signed. In 
short, while the Imperial government would be delighted to use Wilson 
to force the Allies to go to the peace table, at a time when the military 
situation greatly favored Germany, there would be no room at that 

27 House to Wilson, Jan. 18, 1917, Wilson Papers. 


table for the President of the United States! The disclosure of this 
important fact caused Wilson to lay his cards on the table. Germany 
could have peace, he declared, if she were ready to state her terms 
frankly., propose a reasonable settlement, and confide in him. "It oc- 
curs to me that it would be well for you to see Bernstorff," Wilson 
wrote House, ". . . and tell him this is the time to accomplish some- 
thing, if they really and truly want peace. . . . Feelings, exasperations 
are neither here nor there. Do they want me to help? I am entitled to 
know because I genuinely want to help and have now put myself in a 
position to help without favour to either side." 28 

In other words, Wilson was not deceived by the evasive German 
promise to join a League of Nations and co-operate in a general dis- 
armament after the peace treaty had been signed. The first task was 
to build a righteous peace, and the Germans had to give him frank 
assurances that this was the kind of peace they desired. If they could 
give such assurances, however, then he would gladly join hands with 
them in compelling the Allies 29 to accept a settlement including, by 
and large, the status quo ante, disarmament, and the establishment of 
a new concert of power. Such a settlement did not offer victory to 
Germany. It offered only the promise of the friendship of the United 
States and a secure, peaceful, and prosperous future. Unfortunately for 
mankind, time had already run out on the House-Bernstorff negotia- 
tions. The men who governed Germany preferred victory, with an- 
nexations and indemnities, because they were confident they could win 
such a victory. The military and naval leaders, who had taken control 
out of the Chancellor's hands, had decided on January 8 to launch the 
all-out submarine campaign on February 1. 

House did not know the secret, and Bernstorff kept it from him 
until the last moment. 80 Meanwhile, was there any chance the Allies 
would abandon their hope of victory and join with the United States 

28 Wilson to House, Jan. 24, 1917, Baker Collection. 

29 As will soon be shown, if Wilson had obtained such assurances from the 
German government at this time, the Allies would probably have consented to a 
negotiated settlement under Wilson's direction. But if the Allies had refused 
to mediate on this basis, Wilson would almost certainly have used strong 
diplomatic pressure to force them to the peace table. 

30 Bethmann-Hollweg informed Bernstorff of the decision on January 16, 
1917. Official German Documents, II, 1017-1019. It should be added that 
Bernstorff urged his government to delay taking the fateful step until Wilson 
had had a chance to complete his peace plans. Bernstorff to Foreign Office, 
Jan. 19, 1917, ibid., p. 1021. 


and Germany in peace negotiations? To find an answer to this ques- 
tion 3 House had also been conducting secret talks with the Allied 
representatives, particularly with Sir William Wiseman, chief of British 
Intelligence in the United States. A few hours after Bernstorff made his 
remarkable pronouncement on January 15 about Germany's willing- 
ness to co-operate in peace plans, House told Wiseman Germany was 
willing to negotiate on liberal terms. Five days later House advised 
Wiseman that his government should agree immediately to enter a 
peace conference, as this alone would prevent Germany from inaugu- 
rating a submarine campaign that might soon bring Great Britain to 
her knees. On January 26, therefore, Wiseman gave to House his gov- 
ernment's reply. After telling House what he already suspected, that 
he was in direct communication with the British Cabinet, Wiseman 
declared that Great Britain was ready to begin peace discussions, pro- 
vided the Germans were willing to negotiate on a reasonable basis. 31 

In the meantime, however, the peace talks on the public level had 
collapsed. On December 30 the Allied governments with one voice 
indignantly rejected the German proposal of a peace conference. The 
German government replied in a note to the neutral powers on Jan- 
uary 10, accusing the Allies of prolonging the war for conquest and 
answering the Allied aspersions. Two days later the Allied powers 
made formal answer to Wilson's request of December 18. Without 
specifying their objectives, they made it plain they intended to exact 
huge reparations from the Central Powers and to destroy German 
power in Europe. 

In order to clarify the American position in the light of these de- 
velopments, to strengthen House's hand, and to appeal directly to the 
peoples of the countries at war, 32 Wilson decided to lay frankly before 
the world his concept of a peace settlement the United States would 
be willing to support in a League of Nations. Preliminary discussions 
with House on January 3 and 11 and a reading of the provocative 
suggestions outlined in the New Republic sa helped to crystallize his 

31 House to Wilson, Jan. 20, 26, 1917, Wilson Papers. The British already 
knew of the German decision to launch unrestricted submarine warfare, and it 
is possible this was an important factor in their willingness to talk of peace. 

82 "The real people I was speaking to was neither the Senate nor foreign 
governments, as you will realize, but the people of the countries now at war " 
Wilson to J. P. Gavit, Jan. 29, 1917, ibid. 

83 In "Peace Without Victory," IX (Dec. 23, 1916), 201-202, "The Note 
as Americanism;* IX (Dec. 30, 1916), 228-231, and "Beneath the Outcry" 
IX (Dec. 30, 1916), 231-232, the editors of the New Republic called for a 


thought. By January 16 he had completed the address and discussed it 
with Lansing and Senator Stone; and on January 22, after the message 
had been secretly telegraphed to the American embassies, he delivered 
it before the Senate. 

Wilson began by asserting the right of the United States to claim a 
share in laying the broad foundations of a lasting peace. While his 
government would have no voice in determining the specific details of 
settlement, he continued, the world should know what kind of arrange- 
ment the American people would help to guarantee. It must be a 
"peace without victory," without humiliation, for only a "peace among 
equals" could last. It must be a peace based upon the principle of the 
equality of all nations, upon the right of peoples now under alien 
domination to govern themselves, and upon the freedom of the seas 
and an end to huge armies. These were "American principles, Ameri- 
can policies," approved by forward-looking men everywhere. "I would 
fain believe, 55 the President concluded, "that I am speaking for the 
silent mass of mankind everywhere who have as yet had no place or 
opportunity to speak their real hearts out concerning the death and 
ruin they see to have come already upon the persons and the homes 
they hold most dear." S4s 

It was a clarion call to the Old World to shake off war's stupor 
before European civilization was destroyed, and many men of good 
will in all the Western nations were intoxicated by the President's 
vision of a postwar order founded upon the principle of Christian love, 
rather than upon the precepts of Realpolitik. But was it possible that 
the millennium could be conceived during such a war and given birth 
during a conference of mortal men? No one could answer this question, 
but the reaction of liberal groups among the Allied nations and in the 
British press seemed to offer hope that mankind was indeed ready to 
meet the President's challenge. 36 In any event, Wilson had high hopes 

negotiated peace, based upon the status quo ante, and warned that the Ameri- 
can people would not support a dictated settlement of the old imperialistic 
kind, involving annexations, indemnities, and attempts to construct a new im- 
perialistic balance of power. 

34 Ray S. Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow 
Wilson (6 vols., New York, 1925-27), The New Democracy, II, 407-414. 

35 On January 26 the 89 Socialist members of the French Chamber of Depu- 
ties hailed Wilson's speech as "the charter of the civilized universe," while on 
the same day the British trades unions endorsed the League of Nations pro- 
posal. The New York Times, Jan. 27, 1917. Even the Russian Foreign Office 
affirmed its approval of the President's "broad humanitarian principles." Ibid. 


and noble expectations. "I have said what everybody has been longing 
for but has thought impossible," he declared. "Now it appears to be 
possible." 36 

Noble expressions, however, emphasize the tragic and abiding fact 
of history: that a wide gulf separates the ideal from the attainable. 
No one could sneer at Wilson's vision without abandoning his hope for 
the eventual redemption of human society. But to believe that his 
address embodied a practical solution would make cynics out of dream- 
ers. Thus Wilson's effort had a tragic and ironic, as well as a noble, 
quality. He affirmed the necessity of a negotiated peace, a "peace 
without victory," and declared that no other kind of peace could last. 
In the next breath he depicted a settlement that could be imposed only 
when Germany's military power was broken and the Allies could dictate 
the terms. 37 And if this came to pass, the possibility of a reasonable and 
just peace, of a "peace without victory," was slight indeed. 

On January 31 the German government finally gave its answer to 
Wilson's request for the terms upon which it would have been willing 
to negotiate. The German terms included territorial adjustments in the 
East, "which would protect Germany and Poland against Russia, 
strategically and economically"; additional colonies; the return of 
French territory occupied by Germany, but "under reservations con- 
cerning the establishment of strategic and economic boundaries, as well 
as financial compensation"; the restoration of Belgium, but "under 
certain guarantees assuring Germany's safety, which would have to be 
reached by negotiations with the Belgian Government"; indemnifica- 
tion of German corporations and individuals injured by the war; and 
freedom of the seas. 88 

Bernstorff delivered this message at the same time he gave Ger- 
many's answer to the President's demand for a peace of justice and 
understanding. After February 1, the Imperial government announced, 

3 6 Ibid., Jan. 23, 1917. 

37 For example, Wilson declared that governments derive their just powers 
from the consent of the governed and that peoples under alien domination 
should be given "inviolable security of life, of worship, and of industrial and 
social development" in other words, complete autonomy, if not independence. 
This was also what the Allies had promised to give the subject peoples of 
Germany and Austria-Hungary. Certainly Germany and Austria would not have 
negotiated for the dissolution of their empires. Nor would the British, for that 
matter. It should be pointed out again, moreover, that the kind of peace the 
German leaders thought they could obtain was a far cry from a "peace without 
victory" among equals. 

88 Official German Documents, II, 1048-1050. 


submarines would sink without warning all ships, belligerent and neu- 
tral, found in a zone around Great Britain, France, and Italy, and 
in the eastern Mediterranean. The German Admiralty, however, would 
allow one American passenger ship to sail between New York and 
Falmouth weekly, provided the ship were painted with red and white 
stripes and carried no contraband. The decision had been made de- 
liberately, "in the certain consciousness that the commencement of an 
unrestricted U-boat warfare would inevitably be followed by war with 
America." 39 

Thus it happened that the President found himself in the dilemma 
he had tried so desperately to avoid. Had the Germans declared un- 
restricted submarine warfare only against armed merchantmen, or even 
against all belligerent shipping, he might well have acquiesced and 
allowed the two giants to fight it out. But the Germans had quite 
deliberately promised to sink on sight all American ships found in the 
broad war zones, because destruction of neutral shipping was as much 
essential to their plan as was destruction of Allied shipping. Moreover, 
the strategists in the German Admiralty were confident they could 
bring England to her knees before American manpower and resources 
could be brought effectively to bear upon the conflict. "By entering 
into the war," the chief of the Admiralty predicted, "the United States 
Government will give up by a single move the sources of that com- 
mercial prosperity which has given it the towering political prominence 
which it now occupies. It stands face to face with the Japanese peril; 
it can neither inflict material damage upon us, nor can it be of 
material benefit to our enemies. ... I guarantee that for its part the 
U-boat war will lead to victory." 40 

Gould Wilson view this wholesale assault upon American commerce 
with his customary philosophic detachment? He was indignant and 
bitterly disappointed, but not belligerent. Indeed, he was so persuaded 
that mankind's salvation depended upon a negotiated peace that he 
hesitated even to break diplomatic relations with Germany, as that 
might be the prelude to full-scale American participation. He revealed 
his mental agony during a two-hour conference with Lansing on the 
evening of January 31. Obsessed with the fear that American interven- 

the "Report of the Second Subcommittee of the Committee of 
Inquiry," June 18, 1920, Md. 9 I, 150. 

* Chief of the Admiralty Staff Admiral von Holtzendorff to Chief of the 
General Staff General Field Marshal von Hindenburg, Dec. 22, 1916, ibid., II, 


tion would hasten the disintegration of "white" civilization, he won- 
dered whether America could perform her duty only by bearing the 
German insult. None the less, he asked Lansing to prepare the note 
announcing severance of relations with the German Empire. The fol- 
lowing morning Colonel House arrived at the White House. He be- 
lieved an immediate break was necessary, and Wilson and Lansing 
agreed. Thus the decision was already made when the President pre- 
sented Lansing's draft to the Cabinet on February 2 and discussed it 
with Democratic senators soon afterward. 41 

Even so, Wilson had not changed his opinion that the war should 
end without victory, and he continued to hope that somehow he would 
not have to drink the bitter cup. This hope he expressed movingly in 
his address to a joint session of Congress on February 3 announcing 
the break in relations he had just effected. The message was no such 
condemnation of German "barbarism" as Lansing had advised him to 
deliver, nor was it a stirring appeal to the American people to prepare 
for inevitable war. "We do not desire any hostile conflict with the 
Imperial German Government,'* Wilson declared. "We are the sincere 
friends of the German people and earnestly desire to remain at peace 
with the Government which speaks for them. We shall not believe that 
they are hostile to us unless and until we are obliged to believe it." 42 

During the remainder of February the President and probably a 
large majority of people continued to hope for peace, while circum- 
stances were developing that would soon force the nation to make a 
decision. Army leaders who suggested rapid preparation for war were 
abruptly told to mind their own business, but slowly and quietly the 
government laid its plans. The naval appropriations bill, then under 
discussion in the House, was immediately amended to provide in- 
creased construction and to empower the President to seize shipyards 
and munitions factories in the event of war or national emergency. 
The War College was set to work on a conscription bill. Even so, the 
administration acted as if war would not occur and precautions would 
suffice. 43 

41 "Memorandum on the Severance of Diplomatic Relations with Germany," 
Lansing Diary, Feb. 4, 1917; Josephus Daniels to Wilson, Feb. 2, 1917, Wilson 
Papers, summarizing Wilson's views; The New York Times, Feb. 3, 1917. 

42 The Public Papers, The New Democracy, II, 422-426. The note announcing 
severance of relations was Lansing to Bernstorff, Feb. 3, 1917, Papers Relating 
to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917, Supplement 1 (Washington. 
1931), pp. 106-108. 

48 Especially in so far as army preparations were concerned. The army bill 


Thus it turned out that the three weeks following the break in 
relations were a time of waiting, wasted in the false hope that no 
overt act by the German government would compel abandonment of 
neutrality. As the days of waiting ripened into weeks, the deep peace 
longing of the people revived and the pacifist leaders had full oppor- 
tunity to get a nation-wide campaign under way. New committees to 
keep the country out of war were hastily organized, while all the old 
ones, like the American Union Against Militarism, leaped into action.* 4 
As in 1915 and at the height of the Sussex crisis^ monster rallies in the 
great cities demanded that Americans stay out of the war zone. Bryan 
made a fervent^ last-ditch campaign. In their desperate search for any 
alternative to war, the peace groups demanded embargoes, a war 
referendum, or a general strike if war occurred. At the other extreme, 
the interventionists redoubled their propaganda, calling for a bold and 
heroic defense of American rights. 45 But before March 1, at least, they 
still represented only a small Eastern minority, and their appeals roused 
no response among the rank and file of the people. 

Still, the German campaign of sea terror was obviously succeeding 
in one of its main objectives, the frightening of neutral shipping from 
the seas. When the administration on February 7 refused to use battle- 
ships to convoy ships through the war zone, the International Mer- 
cantile Marine Company of New York canceled the sailing of its pas- 
senger ships, the Saint Louis and Saint Paul. As more and more ships 
stayed at their berths and goods began to pile up on wharves and in 
warehouses, the demand for the arming and protection of American 

passed by the House on February 22, 1917, for example, appropriated only a 
normal $250 million for the coming fiscal year. As the Chief of Staff wrote, 
"The President does not want us to do anything which will give Germany an 
idea that we are getting ready for war, so we are not allowed to ask for any 
money or to get ready in a serious way, until the soft pedal is taken off." H. L. 
Scott to D. Hunter Scott, Feb. 15, 1917, the Papers of Hugh L. Scott, in the 
Library of Congress. 

44 For a comprehensive description of all the peace organizations and their 
activities, see the New York World, Mar. 4, 1917. 

45 American Rights Committee, appeal to the American people for a declara- 
tion of war, The New York Times, Feb. 12, 1917; American Rights Committee, 
"A CALL TO AMERICANS to assure the President that he will receive The 
United Support of the American People in taking effective action to UPHOLD 
Feb. 26, 1917. For the activities of the Committee see George H. Putnam to 
John G. Hibben, Feb. 2, 1917, the Papers of John Grier Hibben, in the Library 
of Princeton University; R. G. Monroe to J. G. Hibben, Feb. 21, 1917, ibid.; 
Paul D. Cravath to J. G. Hibben, Feb. 21, 1917, ibid. 



ships grew on all sides. Discussion of the subject within the administra- 
tion began on February 6 and continued through February 23. At 
Cabinet meetings on February 6 and 13 the President declared that, 
while ships might arm for defense, he would not ask Congress for 

Kirby in the New York World 

Nailing It There 

authority to arm them. Continuing their demand that the government 
protect its sea-borne commerce, Houston, Lane, and McAdoo provoked 
a crisis in the Cabinet on February 23. Wilson bitterly reproached the 
champions of belligerency for appealing to the code duello and asserted 
that the country was not willing to run the risk of war. 


Two events coming immediately on the heels of the Cabinet session 
of February 23 caused Wilson to change his mind. First, the Repub- 
lican leaders in the Senate agreed on that day to filibuster the impor- 
tant appropriations bills, in order to force Wilson to call the next 
Congress into special session. 46 Secondly, on February 25 the President 
received a message from London so shocking as to end all doubts of 
German intentions. It was a dispatch from Page, transmitting a mes- 
sage from the German Foreign Secretary, Zimmermann, to the Ger- 
man Minister in Mexico City. In the event Germany and the United 
States went to war, the message read, the Minister should propose to 
the Mexican government an alliance by which Mexico would enter 
the war against the United States and receive in return "the lost terri- 
tory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona." Moreover, President Car- 
ranza should be asked to invite Japan to join the coalition. 47 

The day after the receipt in Washington of the Zimmermann note 
Wilson went before a joint session to ask Congress for authority, first, 
to arm American merchant ships, and second, to "employ any other 
instrumentalities or methods that may be necessary and adequate to 
protect our ships and our people in their legitimate and peaceful pur- 
suits on the seas." It was not, however, a warlike speech. Wilson did 
not mention the Zimmermann note; he admitted that the "overt act" 
had not been committed, and he voiced a fervent desire for continued 
peace.* 8 Except for a few interventionist newspapers, which protested 
that Wilson would not defend American commerce in any event, 49 the 
press of the country overwhelmingly endorsed the President's request. 50 

**The New York Times, Feb. 24, 1917; New York World, Feb. 24, 1917. 
"I have also come to the conclusion that we must force an extra session," Lodge 
wrote to Theodore Roosevelt, February 27, 1917 (Roosevelt Papers). "Although 
I have not much faith in Congress we should be safer with Congress here than 
we would be with Wilson alone for nine months." 

* 7 Page to Secretary of State, Feb. 24, 1917, Foreign Relations, 1917, Sup- 
plement 1, pp. 147148. The Zimmermann note had been sent to Bernstorff on 
January 19, with instructions that he relay it to Minister von Eckhardt in 
Mexico City. The British had intercepted the message and were able to decipher 
it because they had BernstorfFs code. For an exciting account of this episode 
see Burton J. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter H, Page (3 vols., Gar- 
den City, N. Y., 1924-26), III, 331-348. 

48 The Public Papers, New Democracy, II, 428-432. 

4 New York Sun, Feb. 27, 1917; Boston Herald, Feb. 27, 1917; Boston 
Advertiser, Feb. 27, 1917. 

50 There is a comprehensive survey of press opinion in The New York Times, 
Feb. 27, 1917. Even the spokesmen of the peace element approved the idea of 
armed neutrality, as they saw in it a possible alternative to full-fledged war. 


Indeed, there was little opposition in either house of Congress to 
giving the President authority simply to arm merchantmen. Extreme 
noninterventionists like La Follette would vote against such a bill, to 
be sure, but they were not prepared to block it by desperate obstruc- 
tion. The entire controversy that developed revolved, therefore, around 
Wilson's additional request for broad authority to use "any other in- 
strumentalities or methods' 5 to protect American lives and commerce. 
Senate Republican leaders like Lodge did not object to giving the 
President authority to wage limited war, but they were determined 
that Congress should be in session. The extreme anti-interventionists in 
the Senate, however, so strongly opposed giving Wilson virtual blanket 
authority that they would fight an armed ship bill with such a provi- 
sion to the point of a filibuster. When this fact became apparent, the 
Republican leaders quickly abandoned their own plans for a filibuster 
to force a special session and let the noninterventionists carry the 
burden of opposition and receive the opprobrium. 

That the President would encounter bitter opposition was evident 
from the beginning. In spite of heavy administration pressure, the 
House Foreign Affairs Committee refused to empower the President to 
use "other instrumentalities or methods" and would only approve a 
bill authorizing the arming of merchant ships. 51 Just at the moment, 
therefore, when it appeared neither house would grant the virtual war- 
making authority he desired, the President gave the Zimmermann note 
to the Associated Press, which published it on March 1. The bolt 
struck so suddenly that Congress and the country were stunned and 
confused. Could this fantastic news be true, or was the note, as George 
Sylvester Viereck, the leading Germanophile, claimed, "unquestionably 
a brazen forgery planted by British agents" ? 52 Most doubts were dis- 

Professor Carlton J. H. Hayes of Columbia University first made the proposal, 
which was soon taken up by peace groups all over the country, for armed 
neutrality instead of war. See C. J. H. Hayes, "Memorandum on Constructive 
Action if Confronted by Alternative of War," sent by House to Wilson, Feb. 8, 
1917, Wilson Papers; C. J. H. Hayes, "Which? War Without a Purpose? Or 
Armed Neutrality with a Purpose?" The Survey, XXXVII (Feb. 10, 1917), 
535-538; New York Evening Post, Feb. 10, 1917; The Nation, CIV (Feb. 15, 
1917), 178-179; Paul U. Kellogg, "The Fighting Issues," The Survey, XXXVII 
(Feb. 17, 1917), 572-577. 

51 The House bill also prohibited the insuring by the War Risk Bureau of 
ships carrying munitions. A. S. Burleson, penciled note to Wilson, c. Feb. 27, 
1917, the Papers of Albert S. Burleson, in the Library of Congress; Wilson to 
Burleson, c. Feb. 27, 1917, ibid.; The New York Times, Feb. 28, Mar. 1, 1917. 

52 G. S. Viereck to A. S. Burleson, Mar, 1, 1917, Burleson Papers. 


pelled at once 5S when Wilson, in reply to a pointed inquiry by the 
Foreign Relations Committee,, affirmed the note's authenticity. 54 

American incredulity now burst into anger that swept the country. 
Not since August, 1914, had the people been so aroused or so con- 
vinced of the hostile intentions of the German government. The House 
of Representatives quickly passed the armed ship bill on March I, 
403 to 13, but without giving the President broad authority. 55 In the 
Senate, however, administration leaders pressed a bill empowering the 
President to wage an undeclared naval war; and the Republican lead- 
ers were willing to agree, since the important appropriation bills could 
not be passed before March 5 and Wilson would have to call a special 
session in any event. But a group of eleven or twelve die-hard non- 
interventionists, including Senators La Follette and George W. Norris, 
refused to abdicate the warmaking power to the Chief Executive and 
insisted on talking the bill to death. 56 The newspapers fiercely de- 
nounced the "dastardly moral treason" of these alleged "descendants 
of Benedict Arnold," but it remained for Wilson to coin the phrase to 

53 Not all, however. The defenders of Germany continued to charge that the 
note was a piece of British humbuggery, until Zimmermann himself admitted 
on March 3, 1917, that he had sent the note, pointing out that Eckhardt had 
been instructed to suggest an alliance to the Mexican government only in the 
event the United States declared war on Germany. Official statement, Mar. 3, 
1917, The New York Times, Mar. 4, 1917. Zimmermann further defended him- 
self in a speech before the Reichstag on March 29, 1917, ibid., Mar. 31, 1917. 

**Ibid., Mar. 2, 1917; H. G. Lodge to T. Roosevelt, Mar. 2, 1917, Roosevelt 

55 The House also prohibited the War Risk Bureau from insuring ships carry- 
ing munitions. The New York Times, Mar. 2, 1917. The anti-interventionists in 
the House had also tried to add an amendment forbidding any armed merchant 
ship from carrying munitions. This, the so-called Cooper amendment, received 
125 votes. For significant comment see New Republic, X (Mar. 24, 1917), 

60 The senators who prevented passage of the armed ship bill objected to 
giving extraordinary authority to the President and protection to ships carrying 
munitions. They charged that Wilson had brought the bill forward near the 
end of the session and then had sprung the Zimmermann note solely to stam- 
pede the country and coerce Congress into giving him dictatorial power. And, 
they argued, if the armed ship bill were vital to the country's safety, then 
Wilson could easily call Congress into special session and obtain passage of the 
measure in a short time. 

Most of the so-called filibusterers later issued statements defending their 
action and claiming there had been no real filibuster. See R. M. La Follette, 
"The Armed Ship Bill Meant War," La Follette's Magazine, IX (Mar., 1917), 
1_4 ; w. J. Stone to the Editor, March 4, 1917, New York World, Mar. 5, 
1917; statements by Senators Vardaman, O'Gorman, Kenyon, Cummins, and 
Lane, March 6, 1917, in The New York Times, Mar. 7, 1917. 


fit the crime. Immediately after the Senate adjourned he indignantly 
declared: "A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but 
their own, have rendered the great Government of the United States 
helpless and contemptible." 5T 

Thus the Sixty-Fourth Congress passed out of existence amid a 
display of bad temper on all sides and the country entered upon a 
month of increasing tension. After obtaining opinions from Lansing 
and Attorney General Gregory that arming merchant ships would not 
contravene the piracy statute of 1819, and after discussing the implica- 
tions of such action with his naval advisers, 58 the President on March 
9 announced he would forthwith put guns and naval crews on mer- 
chant ships and called Congress into special session for April 16. 
Soon afterward the work of arming the ships was begun and the crews 
were ordered to fire on any submarine that approached within striking 
range or acted suspiciously. 

By this time, also, public opinion had reached a point of near alarm, 
and for the first time since the outbreak of the war the interventionists 
found a sympathetic audience. On March 18 submarines sank without 
warning and with heavy loss of life three American merchant vessels, 
the City of Memphis, Illinois, and Vigilancia. It was the "overt act" 
for which the President had been waiting, and Theodore Roosevelt 
issued a call for war, the echoes of which reverberated over the coun- 
try, from New York to the plains of Kansas. 59 At this moment of 

57 I&wf.,Mar. 5, 1917. 

58 There is a group of documents in the Papers of Josephus Daniels, in the 
Library of Congress, relating to the armed ship question. The most important 
are Daniels to Wilson, Mar. 9, 1917, two letters; memorandum by Commander 
F. H. Schofield for the Secretary of the Navy, dated Mar. 9, 1917; an undated 
memorandum entitled "Rules for the Conduct of American Merchant Vessels"; 
draft of a proclamation announcing the arming of American merchant ships; 
and a memorandum in Daniels' handwriting of a conversation with P. A. S. 
Franklin, president of the International Mercantile Company. 

59 Roosevelt's statement is printed in The New York Times, Mar. 20, 1917. 
The Union League of New York demanded adoption of a war declaration on 
March 20. The following day the New York World seconded the demand. On 
March 22 a mass meeting of twelve thousand persons at Madison Square 
Garden cheered for Roosevelt and war. On March 23 a group of prominent 
Socialists, including William English Walling, Charles Edward Russell, Upton 
Sinclair, and William J. Ghent, condemned the antiwar resolution adopted by 
the Socialist National Executive Committee. On March 24 Governor Arthur 
Capper of Kansas, heretofore an antipreparedness and antiwar leader, declared 
the United States had to resist the "murderous assaults" of the German gov- 
ernment. The New York Times, Mar. 21, 23, 24, 25, 1917; New York World, 
Mar. 21, 1917. 


mounting tension occurred the first Russian Revolution^ with the 
overthrow of the autocratic Gzarist government and the establishment 
of a constitutional monarchy. To Americans who had tried to convince 
themselves the Allies were fighting for democracy, the news from 
Petrograd ended all doubt as to the issues of the war. The fear of 
Russian despotism and future aggression, which all along had been the 
greatest single handicap to Allied spokesmen in the United States, was 
at once swept away. 

It was also the hour of supreme crisis for the peace forces. If any- 
thing, their appeals during the last critical days were more fervent than 
before. 60 On the extreme left wing, the Socialist leader, Eugene V. 
Debs, demanded a general strike if Rockefeller, Morgan, and the rest 
of the Wall Street crowd succeeded in their insidious war campaign. 
The more moderate peace spokesmen continued to petition the Presi- 
dent and to hope for a miracle. As for the great mass of citizenry, not 
during the height of the Lusitania and Sussex crises had there been 
such an outpouring of peace sentiment. The public opinion of a great 
nation during a period of crisis and stimulated hysteria cannot be 
measured with any precision, for the great mass of people have no 
means of expressing their sentiments, while spokesmen for organized 
groups are necessarily minorities. From such evidence as is available, 
however, one might hazard the guess that even as late as April 1, 1917, 
the majority of people were still firmly for peace. 61 

The week from about March 12 to 20 was also the time of Wilson's 
Gethsemane, when events on the seas compelled him to a reluctant 
decision for war. During the early part of this week of spiritual agony 

60 Committee for Democratic Control (Amos Pinchot, R. S. Bourne, Max 
Eastman, Winthrop D. Lane), "Do the People Want War?" New Republic, X 
(Mar. 3, 1917), 145; Emergency Peace Federation, "Mothers, Daughters and 
Wives of Men," The New York Times, Mar. 29, 1917; American Union 
Against Militarism, "To the People of New York," ibid.; W. J. Bryan, "To the 
Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives," Mar. 28, 1917, 
the Papers of Thomas J. Walsh, in the Library of Congress. 

61 Evidence supporting this generalization abounds in the papers of Claude 
Kitchin, W. J. Bryan, Library of Congress, Warren Worth Bailey, George W. 
Norris, Thomas J. Walsh, Robert M. La Follette, Oswald G. Villard, and other 
such public leaders. The present writer knows how deceptive such evidence can 
be. Yet one cannot read through the thousands of letters, telegrams, and peti- 
tions from people in all walks of life and all sections of the country without 
being profoundly impressed by the depth of the popular desire for peace and 
the positive hostility to a war resolution in response to the German submarine 


he remained secluded in the White House. From all sides he was 
bombarded with advice and pleadings for peace and for war. From 
Page came an appeal to bolster the credit of the British government, 
lest the whole system of international exchange collapse. 62 For the first 
time came reports that the Allies were in a desperate military situation, 
that Allied morale was cracking, and that only American intervention 
could turn the tide. Finally, it was obvious the German campaign 
against sea-borne commerce was succeeding even beyond the expecta- 
tions of the most ardent champions of the submarine. Nearly 600,000 
tons of Allied and neutral shipping were sunk during March, 1917, and 
the toll reached nearly 900,000 tons the following month. 

In spite of these appeals and warnings, the President still hesitated. 
On March 19, the day after the sinking of the three American ships, 
he conferred with Lansing and told him he opposed immediate action. 
The following afternoon Wilson called the Cabinet to consider the 
crisis and advise him on the course he should follow. McAdoo, Hous- 
ton, Redfield, and Baker urged an immediate declaration of war. 
Lansing agreed, pointing out the ideological issues and the importance 
of speedy American aid to the Allies. Wilson replied that he did not 
see how he could speak of a war for democracy in addressing Congress. 
Secretary Wilson and Attorney General Gregory concurred with Lan- 
sing; his eyes filled with tears, Daniels admitted there was no other 
course. And so all of them declared. "The solemnity of the occasion as 
one after another spoke was increasingly impressive and showed in 
every man's face as he rose from the council table and prepared to 
leave the room." 6S 

The President gave his advisers no sign of his decision, but the next 
day he called Congress into special session for April 2, "to receive a 
communication concerning grave matters of national policy." More- 
over, his action during the ten days that followed left no doubt that he 
had resolved to ask for a war resolution. On March 24, for example, 
he ordered the withdrawal of American diplomatic and relief officials 

2 In an urgent telegram to Lansing on March 5, 1917, Page warned that the 
British government had absolutely reached the end of the resources it could use 
to obtain credit in the United States. If the United States government did not 
supply the credit or guarantee a large Allied loan, Page added, the great war 
trade would come to an end. Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the 
United States, 1917, Supplement 2 (2 vols., Washington, 1932), I, 516-518. 

63 "Memorandum of the Cabinet Meeting, 2 : 30-5 P.M. Tuesday, March 20, 
1917," Lansing Diary. 


from Belgium. On the same day he authorized Daniels to begin con- 
versations with the British Admiralty for the co-ordination of the naval 
operations of the two countries. On March 25 and 26 he called the 
National Guard of the Eastern, Midwestern, and Far Western states 
into the federal service, and on March 25 he increased the enlisted 
strength of the navy to the statutory limit of 87,000. 

Meanwhile, Wilson had begun writing his war message. Gethsemane 
was over; the decision was made. But the road ahead pointed straight 
to Golgotha, and in his turmoil he could find no sleep at night. Colonel 
House came to Washington on March 27 and tried to calm his spirit, 
but the anguish would not leave him and on April 1 he sent for Frank 
Cobb, editor of the New York World, and unburdened his soul. 

He said he couldn't see any alternative, that he had tried every way he knew 
to avoid war [Gobb later recalled]. ... He said war would overturn the 
world we had known; that so long as we remained out there was a preponder- 
ance of neutrality, but that if we joined with the Allies the world would be 
off the peace basis and onto a war basis. ... He had the whole panorama 
in his mind. He went on to say that so far as he knew he had considered 
every loophole of escape and as fast as they were discovered Germany de- 
liberately blocked them with some new outrage. 

Then he began to talk about the consequences to the United States. He 
had no illusions about the fashion in which we were likely to fight the 
war. . . . 

"Once lead this people into war,*' he said, "and they'll forget there ever 
was such a thing as tolerance. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and 
the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of our national 
life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the 
street." . . . 

He thought the Constitution would not survive it; that free speech and the 
right of assembly would go. He said a nation couldn't put its strength into 
a war and keep its head level; it had never been done. 

"If there is any alternative, for God's sake, let's take it," he exclaimed. 64 

At no time during this critical period did the President recognize the 
necessity for American intervention on idealistic grounds or because 
such intervention was necessary to protect the security of the United 
States. Indeed, had he been a free agent he would probably have 
adhered to the course of armed neutrality he had embarked upon on 

64 Quoted in Baker, Wilson, VI, 490, 506-507. 


March 9. 65 Much of his despair stemmed from the fact that events 
beyond his control were impelling the nation blindly into a war it did 
not want. In brief, the country had now arrived at the situation Wilson 
had described so vividly in the first draft of his peace note of Decem- 
ber 18, 1916: "If any other nation now neutral should be drawn in, it 
would know only that it was drawn in by some force it could not re- 
sist, because it had been hurt and saw no remedy but to risk still 
greater, it might be even irreparable, injury, in order to make the 
weight in the one scale or the other decisive; and even as a participant 
it would not know how far the scales must tip before the end would 
come or what was being weighed in the balance!" 66 

What forces and events impelled a divided nation and a distraught 
President and Congress to do the thing they had fought so desperately 
to avoid? 

The progressives, pacifists, and Socialists gave an answer in 1917 
that was reiterated by the Nye Committee in 1934 and 1935. To these 
observers, the causes for American intervention were mainly economic 
and psychological. That was what Senator George W. Norris meant by 
his assertion, made during his speech against the war resolution, that 
the Senate would stamp the dollar mark on the American flag if it 
approved a declaration of belligerency. Before the United States en- 
tered the war American bankers had lent $2,145 million to the Allied 
governments for war purposes. The economic masters of the United 
States had invested the savings of the American people in an Allied 
victory a cause they could not now afford to abandon. Moreover so 
the progressive-pacifist argument ran by April, 1917, American pros- 

65 During the last days of March, Wilson received four letters of great sig- 
nificance, from J. P. Gavit, Senator Joseph I. France of Maryland, Matthew 
Hale, and Senator Gilbert M. Hitchcock of Nebraska, all of them urging him 
to adhere to armed neutrality and a course of limited participation as the only 
sensible method of defending American rights on the seas and avoiding en- 
tanglement in the peace plans of the Allies. Gavit to Wilson, Mar. 25, 1917; 
France to Wilson, Mar. 28, 1917; Hale to Wilson, Mar. 28, 1917; Hitchcock 
to Wilson, Mar. 29, 1917, all in Wilson Papers. In his reply to Hale, Mar. 31, 
1917, ibid., Wilson declared he would be inclined to adhere to armed neutral- 
ity, but that such a course was no longer feasible. "To defend our rights upon 
the seas, we must fight submarines," he explained. ". . . Germany has inti- 
mated that she would regard the only sort of warfare that is possible against 
her submarines as an act of war and would treat any persons who fell into her 
hands from the ships that attacked her submarines as beyond the pale of law. 
Apparently, to make even the measures of defense legitimate we must obtain 
the status of belligerents." 

Baker, Wilson, VI, 382. 


perity had become so dependent upon a continuation of the war trade 
that the country went to war also to protect it. 67 Munitions-makers, 
who sought a new market for their products, added their voices to the 
rising clamor for war. Finally, propagandists, voluntary and hired, had 
misled Americans into believing that the Allies were fighting for 
democracy and that Germany's triumph would spell the doom of 
Western civilization. These and other forces more subtle had caused 
the administration to pursue an unneutral course from the beginning 
to enforce the rules against Germany, but not against Britain and had 
compelled Germany to adopt desperate measures in 1917. 

At the other extreme, Walter Lippmann, in a series of articles in the 
New Republic published in 1916-17 and later in U.S. Foreign Policy: 
Shield of the Republic developed the thesis that the United States 
had followed a deliberate policy of unneutrality, had accepted British 
transgressions of international law and stood firm against German 
transgressions, because the American people condemned the objectives 
for which Germany was fighting. When German success seemed immi- 
nent, Lippmann continued, the United States had gone to war to 
preserve the supremacy of the Atlantic Community in Europe and to 
protect its vital stake in a peaceful and orderly world. 

What is the truth? Does it lie somewhere in between these extremes? 
The events, forces, and developments from 1914 to 1917 were too 
complex to permit any simple generalizations on the causes of Ameri- 
can intervention. There is no evidence that bankers or munitions- 
makers influenced the decision for war. On the contrary, because it 
furnished deadly ammunition to the progressives and pacifists, the sup- 
port that bankers and munitions-makers gave the preparedness and 
intervention movements was a great obstacle to the success of those 
movements. The power of the propagandists has been vastly overrated, 
and it is doubtful if they played a major role. 69 Although Lansing and 
occasionally House shared Lippmann's views, they had only an inci- 
dental influence on Wilson. 

67 The foreign trade of the United States with the Allied countries increased 
from $824,860,237 in 1914, to $1,991,747,493 in 1915, to $3,214,480,547 in 

68 The passage in U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic (Boston, 
1943) is pp. 33-39; see also Walter Lippmann to Wilson, Mar. 11, 1917, 
Wilson Papers, enclosing "Memorandum" on the reasons for the American de- 
termination to resist the German bid for domination of Europe. 

69 See above, pp. 145-148. 


In the final analysis, American policy was determined by the Presi- 
dent and public opinion, which had a great, if unconscious, influence 
upon him. It was Wilson who decided to accept the British maritime 
system in the first instance, who set the American government against 
unrestricted use of the submarine, and who made the final decision for 
war instead of a continuance of armed neutrality. 

Before the summer of 1916 the President's policies, on the whole, 
constituted a differential neutrality, favorable to the Allies. This was 
true because Wilson accepted the British sea measures and resisted the 
German, a course that seemed necessary in the light of a number of 
factors: German unfriendliness, as manifested by the network of in- 
trigue and conspiracies against American neutrality, the invasion of 
Belgium and the deliberate killing of civilians on the high seas, and the 
fact that there seemed to be a hope for a reasonable settlement by 
working with Britain and France. 

The policy of differential neutrality was, therefore, grounded upon 
Wilson's personal assessment of the situation, which in turn was de- 
termined by his moralistic judgment of events. When he became con- 
vinced the Allied governments did not want a reasonable peace, he 
began to change differential neutrality into impartiality. Moreover, he 
began to shift his personal moral condemnation from Germany to 
Great Britain. And in the process he came to the firm conviction that 
neither side was fighting for worthy objectives and that the hope of 
the world lay in a negotiated settlement and a future concert of all 
the powers. 

These were the concepts paramount in Wilson's mind toward the 
end of 1916 and in early 1917. So long as the German government paid 
lip service, at least, to the Sussex pledge he would have pursued his 
neutral course relentlessly. Or, if the German leaders had at any time 
desired a genuinely reasonable settlement and evidenced a willingness 
to help build a peaceful and orderly postwar world, they would have 
found a friend in the White House eager to join with them in accom- 
plishing these high goals. 

Given the circumstances existing at the beginning of 1917, therefore, 
the Germans had three alternatives, which were carefully considered 
by them. Firstly, they could have accepted Wilson's leadership in the 
peace campaign, which would also have involved abandoning their 
hopes for winning on the fields of battle the ambitious program they 
had set for themselves. Secondly, they could have rejected Wilson's 


mediation and continued their "legal/ 9 although devastating, sub- 
marine campaign in the hope of obtaining a draw. Or, thirdly, they 
could run the risks involved in American intervention by launching an 
overwhelming submarine campaign against all commerce. They took 
the third alternative because their strategists told them it would bring 
complete victory and a chance to establish German domination in 
Europe, if not in the world. 70 

The German decision to gamble on all-out victory or complete ruin, 
therefore, alone compelled Wilson to break diplomatic relations, to 
adopt a policy of armed neutrality, and finally to ask for a declaration 
of war because American ships were being sunk and American citi- 
zens were being killed on the high seas, and because armed neutrality 
seemed no longer possible. Considerations of America's alleged eco- 
nomic stake in an Allied victory did not influence Wilson's thought 
during the critical weeks from February 1 to April 2, 1917. Nor did 
considerations of the national interest, or of the great ideological issues 
at stake in the conflict. 

In response to the President's call Congress assembled on the ap- 
pointed day, April 2, and with the help of the independents the Demo- 
crats organized the House and elected Champ Clark Speaker again. 
At eight-thirty in the evening Wilson went before the joint session and 
read his message before the expectant throng. He reviewed the recent 
German warfare against commerce, which he termed "warfare against 
mankind." He declared that armed neutrality was no longer feasible 
and that there was no choice but to admit that the recent course of 
the Imperial German government was war against the United States. 
After enumerating the steps necessary to put the country on a war 
footing, Wilson abruptly turned to a discussion of the issues and 
objectives for which the nation would fight. The American people now 
knew the Imperial government, like all autocracies, was a natural foe 
of liberty. Therefore, "The world must be made safe for democracy. 
Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political 
liberty." And then, with one great peroration, which has gone ringing 
down the years, the long ordeal of neutrality was over: 

It is a distressing and oppressive duty, Gentlemen of the Congress, which I 
have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months 

70 The sanest and most convincing opinion on German motivation yet written 
was offered by the majority of the Reichstag's committee of inquiry in its 
report dated June 18, 1920, Official German Documents, I, 128-150. 


of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great 
peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, 
civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious 
than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried 
nearest our hearts, for democracy, for the right of those who submit to 
authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and 
liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert 
of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the 
world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our 
fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride 
of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to 
spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and 
happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can 
do no other. 71 

From the halls of Congress the deafening thunder of applause 
reverberated round the world. Men in the trenches took hope, and the 
Allied peoples thanked God their cause was not lost. Even Wilson's 
bitterest critics, Lodge, Root, and Roosevelt, admitted the President 
had epitomized their own thoughts. But for Wilson it was not a day of 
triumph but of sadness and, one is tempted to believe, of doubt and 
soul searching. Tumulty recalled a scene in the White House after 
Wilson returned from the Capitol, when the President broke down and 
sobbed like a child. 72 The story is probably fictional, but it conveys 
poetic truth. 

In spite of the opposition in both houses of men like Claude Kitchin, 
George W. Norris, and Robert M. La Follette, the war resolution was 
quickly passed. On April 4 the Senate adopted the resolution, 82 to 6; 
at 3:12 A.M. on April 6 the House concurred, 373 to 50; and at 1: 18 
the following afternoon Wilson signed the resolution. Minutes later the 
news was sent by telegraph and wireless around the world. A new 
epoch in the history of the United States had begun. 

71 The Public Papers, War and Peace, I, 6-16. 

72 J. P. Tumulty, Woodrow Wilson As 1 Know Him (Garden Gity a N.Y., 
1921), p. 259. 

Essay on Sources 


The following essay does not include all works and sources on American 
history for the period 1910-1917. Even if it were susceptible of compilation, 
such a list would more than fill the present volume and would be a source 
of confusion rather than of help to students. The writer, however, has en- 
deavored to include all significant and relevant works and sources and to 
arrange them in an orderly and purposeful manner. 

Thus, the first seven sections include the general sources manuscripts, 
newspapers, periodicals, published writings and memoirs, and the like that 
relate in a broad way to the politics, personalities, and diplomacy of the 
period. In contrast, the last sections are arranged roughly to follow the 
chapters of the book and include monographs, articles, and other works that 
bear specifically upon the subjects under which they are listed. 

Finally, the author has attempted to avoid repeating in this bibliography 
the references that he lists in the footnotes. It has not been possible to avoid 
such repetition entirely; generally, however, the footnotes cite letters, diaries, 
and newspaper and periodical articles and editorials, while the bibliographical 
essay attempts to survey works and sources in a more general and compre- 
hensive manner. 


The Wilson Administration 

Of greatest importance for the period from 1912 to 1917 are the Papers of 
Woodrow Wilson in the Library of Congress, which are excellently arranged 
and, in spite of their huge volume, easily used. They are open to advanced 
students by permission of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. An important supplement 
to the Wilson Papers is the Ray Stannard Baker Collection, Library of Con- 
gress, which Baker gathered while writing the President's authorized biogra- 
phy. The Baker Collection contains correspondence not available in the 



Wilson Papers, transcripts of interviews with and memoranda by many of the 
leaders of the period, and a large collection of articles on Wilson. For certain 
fields, particularly the diplomacy of the neutrality period, the Papers and 
massive Diary of Edward M. House, Yale University Library, rival the Wilson 
Papers in significance. 

The papers of most of the chief figures of the Wilson administration are 
available and together constitute a fairly complete documentation of the 
period. They include the Papers of William Jennings Bryan in the Library 
of Congress and the National Archives; the Papers, Diary, and Desk Diary 
of Robert Lansing, Library of Congress; the Papers, Diary, and Desk Diary 
of Josephus Daniels, Library of Congress, a collection as large as the Wilson 
Papers; and the Papers of Albert S. Burleson, Library of Congress. The Papers 
of David F. Houston, Houghton Library, Harvard University, are fragmen- 
tary and should be supplemented by the Department of Agriculture Papers 
in the National Archives, which contain Houston's letter-books. The Papers 
of William B. Wilson are in the Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, 
and should be used with the Department of Labor's file in the National Ar- 
chives. The Papers of Lindley M. Garrison, Princeton University Library, 
are extremely disappointing; for Garrison's correspondence one has to go to 
the Wilson Papers and the War Department Papers in the National Archives. 
The Papers of Newton D. Baker, Wilson's other Secretary of War, have just 
come to the Library of Congress. The Papers of William G. McAdoo, in the 
Library of Congress, will not be opened until around 1960. The Papers of 
Joseph P. Tumulty, in the possession of the family in Washington, are val- 
uable for the light they shed on patronage policies. Most of Tumulty's im- 
portant letters are in the Wilson Papers. 

Among administration officials of the second rank, the papers of the fol- 
lowing are most important: Frank L. Polk, Diary and Papers, Yale Univer- 
sity Library; Chandler P. Anderson, Diary and Papers, Library of Congress; 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park; Louis F, Post, Library 
of Congress; Francis Burton Harrison, Library of Congress; Charles S. Ham- 
lin, Diary and Scrapbooks, Library of Congress; Robert W. Woolley, Library 
of Congress; and John Purroy Mitchel, Library of Congress. 

The Papers of Walter H. Page, Houghton Library, Harvard University, in- 
clude not only Page's voluminous letters and intimate Diary but also the 
London Embassy files for the period 1913-18, The Diary of Joseph C. Grew, 
Houghton Library, sheds much light on German developments, 1913-17. The 
Papers of John Lind, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, bear chiefly on 
Mexico during the period 1913-17. 

Of the papers of military leaders during the prewar period, the Papers of 
Hugh L. Scott, Tasker H. Bliss, Leonard Wood, and John J. Pershing, all in 
the Library of Congress, are the most important. The Wood Papers are tightly 


sealed, but the Scott Papers are indispensable for a study of Mexican-Ameri- 
can relations during this period. 

The Senate 

Of great value for a study of Democratic policies in the Senate and of 
public opinion in various sections are the Papers of John Sharp Williams, 
Library of Congress; Thomas J. Walsh, Library of Congress; Furnifold M. 
Simmons, Duke University Library; Francis J. Newlands, Yale University 
Library; John H. Bankhead, Alabama Department of Archives, Montgomery; 
Benjamin R. Tillman, University of South Carolina Library; Gilbert M. 
Hitchcock, Library of Congress; Thomas R. Marshall, Indiana Historical 
Society, Indianapolis; Lee S. Overman, University of North Carolina Library; 
and Paul O. Rusting, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Republican insurgency, the revolt of 1910-12, progressive Republican re- 
action to Wilsonian reform, and Midwestern public opinion are revealed in 
enormous detail in the papers of the leading insurgent senators: Miles Poin- 
dexter, Alderman Library, University of Virginia; Jonathan P. Dolliver, State 
Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City; Albert J. Beveridge, Library of Con- 
gress; Moses Clapp and Knute Nelson, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul; 
Albert B. Cummins, Historical Memorial and Art Department of Iowa, Des 
Moines; Joseph H. Bristow, Kansas Historical Society, Topeka; John D. 
Works, Stanford University Library and University of California Library; 
George W. Norris, Library of Congress; William E. Borah, Library of Con- 
gress; and Robert M. La Follette, in the possession of Miss Fola La Follette, 

Conservative Republican policies in the Senate are amply revealed in the 
Papers of Henry Cabot Lodge, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; of 
Elihu Root, Library of Congress; and of Philander C. Knox, Library of 
Congress. The Lodge Papers are temporarily closed. The Root Papers are 
somewhat disappointing, but the Diary of Chandler P. Anderson, Library of 
Congress, records many intimate conversations with the distinguished New 

The House of Representatives 

The papers of most of the House Democratic leaders during the Wilson 
period are now available. The Papers of Oscar W. Underwood, Alabama 
Department of Archives, Montgomery, and of Hal D. Flood, Library of 
Congress, are disappointing; but the Papers of Carter Glass, Alderman 
Library, University of Virginia, and of Claude Kitchin, University of North 
Carolina Library, are immensely rich. 

The papers of two independent congressmen, William Kent, Yale University 
Library, and Warren Worth Bailey, Princeton University Library, contain 


important materials on progressive politics, conservation, the Japanese ques- 
tion, and the preparedness and peace movements. For reaction in the upper 
Middle West to Wilson's policies and the war see the Papers of Charles A. 
Lindbergh, Minnesota Historical Society, and of Nils P. Haugen, State His- 
torical Society of Wisconsin. The Papers of Richmond P. Hobson, Library of 
Congress, are loaded with materials on the prohibition crusade, 

Republican Leaders 

Most important in this group are the Papers of Theodore Roosevelt and 
of William Howard Taft, both in the Library of Congress. Both collections 
are enormous and contain voluminous materials on all phases of public 

Significant for a study of progressive Republican opinion and politics are 
the Papers of William Allen White, Library of Congress; Herbert S. Hadley, 
University of Missouri Library; Gifford Pinchot, Library of Congress; Chester 
H. Rowell, University of California Library; Frank O. Lowden, University 
of Chicago Library; and Charles J. Bonaparte, Library of Congress. 

For conservative and middle-of-the-road Republican politics see the 
Papers of Henry L. Stimson, Yale University Library; Charles Evans Hughes, 
Library of Congress; Nicholas Murray Butler, Columbia Uaiversity Library; 
Charles G. Dawes, Northwestern University Library; and Joseph B. Foraker, 
Library of Congress and Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, Cin- 

Editors and Newspapermen 

One of the most important manuscript collections in the field of recent 
American history is the Papers of Oswald Garrison Villard, Houghton 
Dbrary, Harvard University. The Papers of Lincoln Steffens, now in the 
University of California Library, shed much light on radical thought and on 
Mexican relations. The Papers of Henry Watterson, Library of Congress, are 
thin for the period of 1910-17, but the Papers of Albert Shaw, New York 
Public Library, are rewarding, as are the Papers of Ray Stannard Baker and 
of Charles E. Russell, both in the Library of Congress. 


For the social justice, labor, Negro rights, and peace movements, see the 
Papers of Andrew Carnegie, of Alexander J. McKelway, of Ben B. Lindsey, 
of George Foster Peabody, of Booker T. Washington, and of Amos Pinchot, 
all in the Library of Congress; of Samuel Gompers, American Federation of 
Labor Archives, Washington; of Jane Addams, Swarthmore College Library; 
and of Edward P. Costigan, University of Colorado Library. 

One of the great collections in recent American history is the Papers of 


Louis D. Brandeis, Law School Library, University of Louisville, which is 
especially important for a study of the origins of the Federal Reserve Act, 
the Clayton Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and of progressive 
politics during the Wilson era. 

The Papers of Charles W. Eliot, Harvard College Archives, are valuable 
for a study of pro-Allied opinion in the United States. The Papers of John 
Grier Hibben, Princeton University Library, shed some light on the inter- 
vention movement, 1915-17, and on the presidential campaign of 1916. 

Business opinion may be consulted in the Papers of Henry Lee Higginson, 
Houghton Library, Harvard University, and of Daniel A. Tompkins, Uni- 
versity of North Carolina Library and the Library of Congress. Finally, the 
Papers of Richard Olney, Library of Congress, are valuable for conservative 
Democratic opinion; the Papers of Henry White, Library of Congress, con- 
tain correspondence by leading Republicans; and the Papers of Moreton 
Frewen, Library of Congress, include important letters from Frewen's friends 
in the United States and Great Britain. 


Most useful to the student of this period are the published writings of 
Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Edward M. House. Ray S. Baker and 
WiUiam E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (6 vols., 
New York, 1925-27), is carefully edited and fairly complete for the period 
after 1912. There is no edition of Wilson's letters. Charles Seymour (ed.), 
The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (4 vols., Boston 1926-28), is master- 
fully edited. Elting E. Morison and John M. Blum (eds.), The Letters of 
Theodore Roosevelt (8 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1951-54), is one of the great 
sources for the period 1901-19. The Works of Theodore Roosevelt (20 vols., 
National Ed., New York, 1926) reprints Roosevelt's important speeches dur- 
ing the period 1910-17. Henry Cabot Lodge (ed.), Selections from the 
Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, 1884-191B 
(2 vols., New York, 1925), is not always reliable. For the period after 1900 
the student can consult the Lodge file in the Roosevelt Papers. 

Burton J. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page (3 vols., 
Garden City, N.Y., 1924-26), prints some of Page's best letters. The first 
two volumes are filled with errors, with large portions of the original text 
often omitted. The third volume, which includes Page's letters to Wilson, is 
on the whole carefully edited. 

The following are also useful: Anne W. Lane and Louise H. Wall (eds.), 
The Letters of Franklin K. Lane, Personal and Political (Boston, 1922); 
Stephen Gwynn (ed.), The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice 


(2 vols., Boston, 1929); Allan Nevins (ed.), The Letters and Journal of 
Brand Whitlock (2 vols., New York, 1936); Worthington C. Ford (ed.), 
Letters of' Henry Adams, 1892-1918 (.Boston, 1938); Arthur B. Darling 
(ed.), The Public Papers of Francis G. Newlands (2 vols., Boston, 1932); 
Ella Winter and Granville Hicks (eds.), The Letters of Lincoln Steffens (2 
vols., New York, 1938); Constance Gardner (ed.), Some Letters of Augustus 
Peabody Gardner (Boston, 1920); and Walter Johnson (ed.), Selected 
Letters of William Allen White, 1899-1943 (New York, 1947). 


The New York Times and the New York World were easily the two best 
newspapers in the United States from 1910 to 1917. The Times' reporting 
of news was better than the World's, but the World excelled in editorials, 
cartoons, special features, and the reporting of political news. 

Along with the World, which was the editorial spokesman of the Wilson 
administration, a number of other progressive newspapers carried the 
Democratic-progressive banner from 1910 to 1917. They included the Spring- 
field Republican, which Wilson read avidly, the Raleigh News and Observer, 
the Baltimore Sun, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Milwaukee Journal, and 
the San Francisco Bulletin. 

The pre-eminent spokesmen of Wall Street and Old Guard Republicanism 
were the New York Sun and Evening Sun. Harrison Gray Otis' Los Angeles 
Times, however, rivaled the New York Sun as the leading champion of re- 
actionary policies. 

In a special class were the Hearst newspapers. Although nominally a 
Democrat, William R. Hearst was lukewarm in his support of Wilson's 
domestic program, and during the neutrality period he was so violently anti- 
British as to be almost pro-German. The leading Hearst newspapers during 
the prewar years were the New York American and Chicago American. 

Other newspapers noteworthy for their editorials and features were the 
Chicago Daily Tribune, Des Moines Register, Topeka Capital, Louisville 
Courier- Journal, Boston Advertiser, Minneapolis Tribune, Kansas City Star, 
New York Herald,. New York Tribune, Charlotte Daily Observer, and Dallas 
Morning News. 

The chief editorial spokesmen of militant Negro opinion were The Crisis 
(New York, 1910- ), edited by William E. B. DuBois, the Boston Guardian, 
edited by William Monroe Trotter, the New York Age, and the Pittsburgh 
Courier. For radical American opinion the New York Call, the Appeal to 
Reason (Girard, Kan., 1895- ), Pearson's Magazine (New York, 1899- 
1925), International Socialist Review (Chicago, 1900-18), and The Masses 
(New York, 1911-17) are most useful. 




The magazines in this group often published articles and editorials of 
contemporary significance, although they were not primarily journals of 
opinion. Among the more important were the Review of Reviews (New 
York, 1890-1937), Collier's (New York, 1888- ), Cosmopolitan (New 
York, 1886-1925), Everybody's Magazine (New York, 1899-1929), Ameri- 
can Magazine (New York, 1876- ), Metropolitan (New York, 1911-24), 
Munsey's Magazine (New York, 1889-1929), The Independent (New York, 
1848-1928), Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia, 1821- ), World's Work 
(New York, 1900-32), McClure's Magazine (New York, 1893-1929), and 
Literary Digest (New York, 1890-1937), useful for its summaries of press 

Political Journals 

Easily the most significant periodical in this group was the New Republic 
(New York, 1914- ), which was the pre-eminent spokesman of advanced 
progressive and internationalist thought. The Nation (New York, 1865- ) 
generally expressed nineteenth-century liberal opinions. Under the editorship 
of Norman Hapgood, Harper's Weekly (New York, 1857-1916) was a 
spokesman of the Wilson administration. The Outlook (New York, 1870- 
1935) was Roosevelt's chief editorial mouthpiece and a leader in the pre- 
paredness movement. La Follette's Magazine (Madison, Wis., 1909-29) was 
the Wisconsin senator's personal outlet, while The Commoner (Lincoln, 
Neb., 1901-23) was Bryan's. George Harvey's North American Review 
(Boston and New York, 1815-1940) was the leading conservative periodical. 
Capper's Weekly (Topeka, Kan., 1875- ) is useful for Midwestern farm 

The Religious Press 

As the religious periodicals often expressed social and economic opinions 
and printed articles of significance, the student of this period cannot well 
ignore them. Most advanced socially were the Congregational, Baptist, 
Methodist, and Episcopal organs. For the Gongregationalists see the Con- 
gregationalist and Christian World (Boston, 1816-1934); for the Baptists, the 
Watchman-Examiner (New York, 1819- ) and The Standard (Chicago, 
1853-1920); for the Methodists, the Christian Advocate (Nashville, 1832- 
1940) and Christian Advocate (New York, 1826- ); for the Episcopalians, 
The Churchman (New York, 1845- ) and The Living Church (Milwaukee, 
1878- ). The Presbyterian journals generally followed a conservative edi- 
torial policy. See The Presbyterian (Philadelphia, 1831- ) and Christian 


Observer (Louisville, 1813- ). Although the Lutheran periodicals usually 
ignored political and social issues, during the period of neutrality they were 
militantly pro-German. For two leading Lutheran papers see The Lutheran 
(Lebanon, Penna., 1896-1919) and Lutheran Church Work and Observer 
(Philadelphia, 1908-19). 

The Catholic press is especially important for a study of the Mexican and 
Philippine questions. All Catholic newspapers were opposed to administra- 
tion policies in these fields, but most outspoken were The Extension Maga- 
zine (Chicago, 1906- ) and the Jesuit organ, America (New York, 1909- ). 

The Agricultural Press 

The rural press is an indispensable source for opinion on all administration 
policies, but particularly on rural credits, the Underwood tariff, and pre- 
paredness. The following are most important: Progressive Farmer (Raleigh 
and Birmingham, 1886- ), Wisconsin Farmer (Madison, Wis., 1881-1929), 
Wallace's Farmer (Des Moines, 1874- ), Nebraska Farm Journal (Omaha, 
1897-1924), Capper's Farmer (Topeka, 1893- ), and Dakota Farmer 
(Aberdeen, S.D., 1881- ). For radical Midwestern farm opinion see the 
organs of the Farmer's Non-Partisan League, The Farmer's Open Forum, 
later United Farmers 9 Forum (Washington, 1915-21) and the Non-Partisan 
Leader, later National Leader (Minneapolis and Fargo, 1915-23). 

Banking Journals 

Banking journals are useful for their views on the Federal Reserve bill, 
antitrust legislation, the appointment of the Federal Reserve Board, and 
financial policies toward the belligerents. The following provide a cross- 
section of banking opinion: Bankers 9 Magazine (New York, 1846- ), Com- 
mercial and Financial Chronicle (New York, 1865- ), Financial Age (New 
York, 1900- ), Magazine of Wall Street (New York, 1907- ), Wall Street 
Journal (New York, 1889- ), Southern Banker (Atlanta, 1904- ), Texas 
Bankers' Record (Austin, 1911- ), Bankers 3 Monthly (Chicago, 1883- ), 
Northwestern Banker (Des Moines, 1895- ), and Kansas Banker (Topeka, 
1910- ). 

Commercial and Industrial Journals 

The commercial and industrial magazines also provide one of the best 
sources of specific class and interest points of view. Thus the Manufacturers 3 
Record (Baltimore, 1882- ) spoke for the Southern textile interests, Ameri- 
can Industries (New York, 1902-31) for the National Association of Manu- 
facturers, Iron Age (New York, 1859- ) for the American Iron and 
Steel Institute, Commercial Bulletin (Boston, 1859- ) and News Bureau 


(Boston, 1887- ) for the Boston commercial interests, Commercial America 
(Philadelphia, 1904 ), for the commercial interests of the Middle states, 
Annalist (New York, 1913-40) and Journal of Commerce and Commercial 
(New York, 1827- ) for the New York commercial interests, and Com- 
mercial West (Minneapolis, 1901- ) for the commercial and banking 
interests of the Midwest. 

The Labor Press 

Easily the commanding voices in this field were the American Federationist 
(Washington, 1894- ) and the American Federation of Labor Weekly News 
Letter (Washington, 1911- ). Both are indispensable sources. The Coast 
Seamen's Journal (San Francisco, 1887-1937) should be used in connection 
with the passage of the Seamen's Act of 1915. The United Mine Workers 3 
Journal (Indianapolis, 1891- ) is especially important for a study of the 
Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-14. 

British Journals of Opinion 

The following British periodicals are included in this section because of 
their significant observations on domestic politics in the United States, 
Mexican- American relations, and the United States and the European war: 
The Nation (London, 1907-31), The Outlook (London, 1898-1928), The 
Spectator (London, 1828- ), The Economist (London, 1843- ), The 
Fortnightly Review (London, 1865- ), The Statist (London, 1878- ), 
The Saturday Review (London, 1855-1938), and The Nineteenth Century 
(London, 1877- ). 


The autobiographical material for the period 1910-17 is immensely rich. 
Among the leaders of the administration, Bryan, Houston, Lansing, Daniels, 
McAdoo, Tumulty, House, Marshall, Clark, and Redfield have written 
memoirs. Mary B. Bryan (ed.) 5 The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan 
(Philadelphia, 1925), is honest for Bryan's motivation. David F. Houston, 
Eight Years with Wilson's Cabinet, 1913-1920 (2 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 
1926), is generally reliable. Robert Lansing, The War Memoirs of Robert 
Lansing (Indianapolis, 1935), must be supplemented by the Lansing Diary 
in the Library of Congress. Josephus Daniels, The Wilson Era (2 vols., 
Chapel Hill, N.C., 1944-46) , must be used with great caution. William G. 
McAdoo, Crowded Years (Boston, 1931), goes to 1917 and reveals, among 
other things, McAdoo's high regard for himself. Joseph P. Tumulty, 
Woodrow Wilson As I Know Him (Garden City, N.Y., 1921), is not reliable. 


Tumulty's versions of Wilson's conversations are often semifictional, George 
S. Viereck, Transcripts of conversations with Edward M. House, unpublished 
MS entitled "The Memoirs of Colonel House," in the George Sylvester 
Viereck Papers, Yale University Library, is revealing but demands critical 
scrutiny. William C. Redfield, With Congress and Cabinet (Garden City, 
N.Y., 1924), is undistinguished. A reading of Champ Clark, My Quarter 
Century of American Politics (2 vols., New York, 1920), and Thomas R. 
Marshall, Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall (Indianapolis, 1925), makes 
one grateful neither was indulged his wish to become President. William F. 
McCombs, Making Woodrow Wilson President (New York, 1921, is the 
bitter memoir of a man who fell from Wilson's grace. For the personal poli- 
tics of the administration see also Daniel C. Roper, Fifty Years of Public Life 
(Durham, N.C., 1941); Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull (2 vols., 
New York, 1948); Frederic C. Howe, Confessions of a Reformer (New York ? 
1925); and Henry Morgenthau, Sr., All in a Life-Time (Garden City, N.Y., 

Excellent for the insurgent revolt, progressive Republican politics, and the 
coming of the First World War are George W. Norris, Fighting Liberal (New 
York, 1945); William Allen White, The Autobiography of William Allen 
White (New York, 1946); Harold L. Ickes, Autobiography of a Curmudgeon 
(New York, 1943); Giiford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (New York, 
1947); Owen Wister, Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship (New York, 
1930); and Donald Richberg, Tents of the Mighty (New York, 1930). Henry 
L. Stimson, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York, 1948); 
Nicholas Murray Butler, Across the Busy Years (2 vols., New York, 1939- 
40); and James E. Watson, As I Knew Them (Indianapolis, 1936), are 
valuable sources for the Republican politics of the era. 

Intimate and revealing accounts of the politics and personalities of the 
Wilson period are presented in the following autobiographies of editors and 
reporters: Lincoln Steffens, Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens (New York, 
1931); Oswald Garrison Villard, Fighting Years, Memoirs of a Liberal Editor 
(New York, 1939); Ray S. Baker, American Chronicle (New York, 1945); 
George Creel, Rebel at Large (New York, 1947); Oscar K. Davis, Released 
for Publication (Boston, 1925); Arthur W. Dunn, From Harrison to Harding 
(2 vols., New York, 1922); J. Frederick Essary, Covering Washington (Bos- 
ton, 1927); H. H. Kohlsaat, From McKinley to Harding (New York, 1923); 
Henry L. Stoddard, As I Knew Them (New York, 1927); and Henry Watter- 
son, "Marse Henry 3 * (2 vols., New York, 1919). 

Also important are Samuel Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor (2 
vols., New York, 1925); Hugh L. Scott, Some Memories of a Soldier (New 
York, 1928); and Thomas W. Lament, Across World Frontiers (New York, 



Theodore Roosevelt, the Insurgent Revolt, and Republican Politics, 

Although Henry F. Pringle does not take Roosevelt seriously enough, his 
Theodore Roosevelt, A Biography (New York, 1931), is still the best study 
of the man. Much better for the period 1909-19, however, is George E. 
Mowry, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement (Madison, "Wis., 
1946). Russell Buchanan, "Theodore Roosevelt and American Neutrality, 
1914^-1917," American Historical Review, XLIII (July, 1938), 775-790, is 
also useful. 

The two best biographies relating to the insurgent revolt and progressive 
Republican politics are Walter Johnson, William Allen White's America 
(New York, 1946), and Claude Bowers, Beveridge and the Progressive Era 
(Boston, 1932). The literature on the regular Republican leaders is unusually 
rich. Merlo J. Pusey, Charles Evans Hughes (2 vols., New York, 1951), is 
marred only by lack of critical judgment. Philip G. Jessup, Elihu Root (2 
vols., New York, 1938) , is the authorized biography, but Richard W. Leopold's 
forthcoming study of Root is not only briefer but also more critical. Henry 
F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft (2 vols., New York, 
1939), is practically definitive, but lacks a critical quality, while Nathaniel 
W. Stephenson, Nelson W. Aldrich (New York, 1930), is helpful for the 
background and writing of the Federal Reserve bill. 

Woodrow Wilson, the Administration, and the Democratic Party, 

The most nearly complete biography of Wilson is Ray S. Baker's author- 
ized Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (8 vols., Garden City, N.Y., 1927- 
39). The first four volumes, which carry the biography to August, 1914, are 
uncritical and often ignore the important historical processes. Volumes V and 
VI, which cover the neutrality period, were written during the disillusion- 
ment over American participation in the war and reflect the temper of the 
time in which they were written. The best one-volume biography of Wilson is 
Herbert G. F. Bell, Woodrow Wilson and the People (Garden City, N.Y., 
1945), although David Lawrence, The True Story of Woodrow Wilson (New 
York, 1924); James Kerney, The Political Education of Woodrow Wilson 
(New York, 1926); Robert E. Annin, Woodrow Wilson: A Character Study 
(New York, 1924); and William B. Hale, Woodrow Wilson: The Story of 
His Life (Garden City, N.Y., 1912), have a special value because they were 
written by contemporaries. 

Scholarly and historical works on Wilson are few. Laura S. Turnbull, 
Woodrow Wilson, A Selected Bibliography (Princeton, N.J., 1948), is a use- 


ful guide. Arthur S. Link, Wilson: The Road to the White House (Princeton, 
N.J., 1947), is the first volume of a new multi-volume biography. Harley 
Notter, The Origins of the Foreign Policy of Woodrow Wilson (Baltimore, 
1937), is thorough but based on published sources. William Diamond, The 
Economic Thought of Woodrow Wilson (Baltimore, 1943), is good for the 
period before 1913 but weak on the presidential years. 

Scholarly biographies of leaders in the Wilson administration and the 
Democratic party are also scarce. For House the best work is still Seymour, 
The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, previously cited, which of course is 
not strictly a biography. Arthur D. H. Smith, Mr. House of Texas (New 
York, 1940), and George Sylvester Viereck, The Strangest Friendship in 
History (New York, 1932), were written with House's collaboration and 
exaggerate his influence. There is no biography of Lansing. Paxton Hibben 
and G. H. Grattan, The Peerless Leader (New York, 1929); M. R. Werner, 
Bryan (New York, 1929); Wayne G. Williams, William Jennings Bryan 
(New York, 1936); and J. G. Long, Bryan, the Great Commoner (New 
York, 1928), are either overly critical or else worshipful. 

One of the best biographies for the period is Alpheus T. Mason, Brandeis, 
A Free Man's Life (New York, 1946). John M. Blum, Joe Tumulty and the 
Wilson Era (Boston, 1951), is also excellent. For other administration and 
party leaders see Mary Synon, McAdoo (Indianapolis, 1924); Rixey Smith 
and Norman Beasley, Carter Glass, A Biography (New York, 1939); George 
G. Osborn, John Sharp Williams (Baton Rouge, La., 1943); Francis B. 
Simkins, Pitchfork Ben Tillman (Baton Rouge, La., 1944); John L. Heaton, 
Cobb of the World (New York, 1924); Frederick Palmer, Newton D. Baker: 
America at War (2 vols., New York, 1931); and F. Palmer, Bliss, Peace- 
maker (New York, 1934). 


Disparate but excellent biographies relevant to the period are Allan 
Nevins, Henry White, Thirty Years of American Diplomacy (New York, 
1930) ; Hermann Hagedorn, Leonard Wood, A Biography (2 vols., New York, 
1931); Willis F. Johnson, George Harvey, "A Passionate Patriot" (Boston, 
1929); Ferdinand Lundberg, Imperial Hearst, a Social Biography (New 
York, 1936); Ray Ginger, The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene Victor 
Debs (New Brunswick, N.J., 1949); and G. Vann Woodward, Tom Watson: 
Agrarian Rebel (New York, 1938). 


The only general works that treat this period specifically are Frederick L. 
Paxson, The Pre-War Years, 1913-1917 (Boston, 1936), and Mark Sullivan, 
Our Times, The United States, 1900-1925 (6 vols., New York, 1926-35), 
V. Of great value for its analysis of economic institutions and social and 


economic legislation is Harold U. Faulkner, The Decline of Laissez-Faire, 
1897-1917 (New York, 1951). The best general account of the progressive 
movement is still Harold U. Faulkner, The Quest for Social Justice, 1898 
1914 (New York, 1931), but no student of this period should overlook 
Russell B. Nye, Midwestern Progressive Politics (East Lansing, Mich., 1951), 
or Eric F. Goldman, Rendezvous with Destiny (New York, 1952), a history 
of the American reform movement since 1865. Sidney Ratner, American 
Taxation (New York, 1942) , is another invaluable study. 


The Years of Revolt, 1910-12 

The culmination of the progressive movement evoked the writing of many 
commentaries on the changing political order. The following are selected 
samples of this literature: Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life 
(New York, 1909) and Progressive Democracy (New York, 1914); Thomas 
N. Carver, Essays in Social Justice (Cambridge, Mass., 1915); Allan L. 
Benson, Our Dishonest Constitution (New York, 1914); Nicholas M. Butler, 
Why Should We Change Our Form of Government? (New York, 1912); and 
Elihu Root, Experiments in Government and the Essentials of the Constitu- 
tion (Princeton, N.J., 1913). 

The best secondary sources on the insurgent revolt and the campaign of 
1912 are Mo wry and Link, cited above, and Kenneth W. Hechler, In- 
surgency: Personalities and Politics of the Taft Era (New York, 1940). See 
also the biographies and memoirs of the leaders involved, cited above, to 
which should be added chapters from Robert M. La Follette, La Follette's 
Autobiography (Madison, Wis., 1913). 

The best sources for the conventions and platforms of 1912 are the news- 
papers and the official party publications. W. J. Bryan, A Tale of Two Con- 
ventions (New York, 1912), is a day-by-day account of the Republican and 
Democratic conventions* A. S. Link (ed.), "A Letter from One of Wilson's 
Managers," American Historical Review, L (July, 1945), 768-775, presents 
an inside view of the Democratic convention. 

Wilson's and Roosevelt's important speeches during the campaign of 1912 
may be found in Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom (Garden City, N.Y., 
1913), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson, and the Works of Theodore 

The Underwood Tariff 

The best source for contemporary opinion on the tariff question is House 
Ways and Means Committee, Tariff Schedules, Hearings . . . , 62d Cong., 
3d sess. (7 vols., Washington, 1913). An excellent contemporary comment 


is Frank W. Taussig, Some Aspects of the Tariff Question (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1915). 

The activities of the various tariff lobbies in 1913 were fully revealed and 
analyzed in Senate Judiciary Committee, Maintenance of Lobby to Influence 
Legislation, Hearings . . . , 63d Cong., 1st sess. (4 vols., Washington, 1913). 

The great source for Congressional debates on the tariff and all other legis- 
lation for the period 1911 to 1917 is Congressional Record, 62d Cong., 1st 
sess.-64th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, 1911-17). 

The Federal Reserve Act 

The Federal Reserve Act had a long background of public discussion and 
agitation over the shape that banking reform should assume. Discussions of 
the movement for a new banking and currency system and significant ac- 
counts of the writing of the Federal Reserve Act may be found in the fol- 
lowing general works by some leaders of the era: H. Parker Willis, The 
Federal Reserve System (New York, 1923); J. Laurence Laughlin, The 
Federal Reserve Act, Its Origins and Problems (New York, 1933); Paul M. 
Warburg, Essays on Banking Reform in the United States (New York, 1914); 
and The Federal Reserve System, Its Origin and Growth (2 vols., New York, 

The revelations of the Pujo Committee during the early months of 1913 
dramatized the extent of the concentration of banking credits in the United 
States and set off a widespread demand for legislation to destroy the "Money 
Trust," For the report of the Pujo Committee see Report of Committee Ap- 
pointed Pursuant to H.R. 429 and 504 . . , , 62d Cong., 3d sess. (Washing- 
ton, 1913). Louis D. Brandeis summarized the testimony taken by the Pujo 
Committee in Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It (New 
York, 1914). 

A violent tempest in a teapot raged in 1926 and 1927 over the authorship 
of the Federal Reserve Act. Professor Seymour's assertion, made in the 
Intimate Papers of Colonel House, I, 160, that House was the "unseen 
guardian" of the Federal Reserve bill so infuriated Carter Glass that he 
wrote An Adventure in Constructive Finance (Garden City, N.Y., 1927) to 
prove that House and Samuel Untermyer, counsel for the Pujo Committee, 
had nothing to do with the measure. Untermyer shot back at Glass in Who 
Is Entitled to the Credit for the Federal Reserve Act? An Answer to Senator 
Carter Glass (New York, 1927). Glass' rejoinder, "Vapor vs. the Record/ 9 a 
manuscript in the Carter Glass Papers, was apparently never published. 

The best sources on the writing and passage of the Federal Reserve bill 
are Willis, The Federal Reserve System; Glass, An Adventure in Constructive 
Finance, and Robert L. Owen, The Federal Reserve Act (New York, 1919). 

For opinions on the bill see House Banking and Currency Committee, 


Banking and Currency Reform. Hearings before Subcommittee . . . , 62d 
Cong., 3d sess. (13 parts, Washington, 1913), and Senate Banking and Cur- 
rency Committee, Hearings on H.R. 7837 (S. 2639) . . . , 63d Cong., 1st 
sess. (3 vols., Washington, 1913). Academy of Political Science, Banking and 
Currency in the United States (New York, 1913), includes criticisms and 
defenses of the Federal Reserve bill by leading bankers and administration 

The best works on the development of Federal Reserve policies are Willis, 
cited above, and Seymour E. Harris, Twenty Years of Federal Reserve 
Policy (2 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1933). 

Antitrust Legislation 

For a general discussion of the background and adoption of the antitrust 
legislation of the Wilson administration, the following are useful: John D. 
Clark, The Federal Trust Policy (Baltimore, 1931); Henry R. Seager and 

C. A. Gulick, Jr., Trust and Corporation Problems (New York, 1929); and 
Oswald W. Knauth, The Policy of the United States Towards Industrial 
Monopoly (New York, 1914). 

Progressive opinion on a policy toward big business diverged sharply from 
1910 through 1914. The main body of Democrats, who advocated destruction 
of the great combinations, found an eloquent spokesman in Louis D. 
Brandeis, whose articles on the trust question were reprinted in Business A 
Profession (Boston, 1914). Wilson's views in 1912 are set forth in The New 
Freedom, previously cited. The Progressive program for acceptance and 
federal regulation of the great corporations was most explicitly set forth in 
Charles R. Van Hise, Concentration and Control: A Solution of the Trust 
Problem in the United States (New York, 1912). 

All shades of opinion -on the question, however, were most completely set 
forth in American Academy of Political and Social Science, Industrial Com- 
petition and Combination (Philadelphia, 1912); House Judiciary Committee, 
Trust Legislation, Hearings, 63d Cong., 2d sess. (4 vols., Washington, 1914); 
and Senate Interstate Commerce Committee, Hearings on Bills Relating to 
Trust Legislation, 63d Cong., 2d sess, (2 vols., Washington, 1914). 

The Rural Credits Act 

The background of the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 is briefly discussed 
in Theodore Saloutos and John D. Hicks, Agricultural Discontent in the 
Middle West, 1900-1939 (Madison, Wis., 1951). More detailed are James 
B. Morman, The Principles of Rural Credits (New York, 1915), and Edna 

D. Bullock, Agricultural Credit (New York, 1915). 

The conservative argument that a federal rural credits system would 
constitute special privilege for a favored class may be found in Myron T. 


Herrick and R. Ingalls, Rural Credits (New York, 1914). All phases of 
current opinion may be conveniently found in House Banking and Currency 
Committee, Rural Credits, Hearings Before Subcommittee . . . , 63d Cong., 
2d sess. (Washington, 1914), and Senate Banking and Currency Committee, 
Rural Credits, Joint Hearings Before Subcommittees on Banking and Cur- 
rency of Senate and House of Representatives, 63d Cong., 2d sess. (2 vols., 
Washington, 1914). 

The Seamen's Bill 

The campaign for the passage of the Furuseth seamen's bill can be fol- 
lowed in the Coast Seamen's Journal, La Follette's Magazine, The Survey 
(New York, 1897-1932), and the American Labor Legislation Review (New 
York, 1911- ). A wide range of opinion for and against the bill may be 
found in House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, Seamen's Bill, 
Hearings on S. 136 . . . , 63d Cong., 2d sess. (2 parts, Washington, 1914), 
and Senate Commerce Committee, Seamen's Bill, Hearings on S. 136 . . . 9 
63d Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, 1914). 

The ChUd Labor Act 

The passage of the Child Labor Act in 1916 marked the first culmination 
of a movement already a decade old. For background and related discussions 
see Elizabeth Brandeis, "Labor Legislation," in J. R. Commons et aL, History 
of Labor in the United States (4 vols., New York, 1918-35), III; Elizabeth 
H. Davidson, Child Labor Legislation in the Southern Textile States (Chapel 
Hill, N.C., 1939); Miriam E. Loughran, The Historical Development of 
Child-Labor Legislation in the United States (Washington, 1921); and C. G. 
Bowers, Beveridge and the Progressive Era, cited above. 

The best sources for contemporary opinion on the measure are House 
Labor Committee, Child-Labor Bill, Hearings on H.R. 12292 . . . , 63d 
Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, 1914); House Labor Committee, Child-Labor 
Bill, Hearings on H.R. 8234 . . . , 64th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, 1916); 
and Senate Interstate Commerce Committee, Interstate Commerce in 
Products of Child Labor, Hearings on H.R. 8234 . . . , 64th Cong., 1st sess. 
(2 parts, Washington, 1916). 

The Burnett Immigration Bills of 1915 and 1917 

Samuel Gompers, "Immigration Legislation Effected," American Federa- 
tionist, XXIV (Mar., 1917), 189-195, reviews the long struggle for restric- 
tion. House Immigration and Naturalization Committee, Restriction of 
Immigration, Hearings . . . , 63d Cong., 2d sess. (3 parts, Washington, 
1913-14), and House Immigration and Naturalization Committee, Hear- 


ings ... 9 64th Gong., 1st sess. (Washington, 1916), are the best sources 
for contemporary opinion. 

The Negro, 1910-17 

Negro reaction to administration policies, especially segregation, can best 
be followed in The Crisis and other Negro newspapers. William E. B. 
DuBois, Dusk of Dawn (New York, 1940), and Alexander Walters, My Life 
and Work (New York, 1917), are two memoirs by Negro leaders during the 
Wilson period. The following contemporary accounts of the segregation of 
Negroes in the federal departments are excellent: Belle Case La Follette, 
"Color Line to Date," La Follette 3 s Weekly, VI (Jan. 24, 1914), 6-7; O. G. 
Villard, "The President and the Segregation at Washington," North Ameri- 
can Review, CXCVIII (Dec., 1913), 800-807; McGregor (A. J. Mc- 
Kelway), "Segregation in the Departments," Harper's Weekly, LIX (Dec. 
26, 19 14), 620-621. 

AMERICA, 1910-17 


The best summaries are Samuel F. Bemis, The Latin American Policy of 
the United States (New York, 1943), and Wilfred H. Callcott, The Carib- 
bean Policy of the United States, 1890-1920 (Baltimore, 1942). Less detailed 
treatments are Dexter Perkins, The United States and the Caribbean (Cam- 
bridge, Mass., 1947), and Julius W. Pratt, America's Colonial Experiment 
(New York, 1950)* Selig Adler, "Bryan and Wilsonian Carribean Penetra- 
tion," Hispanic American Historical Review, XX (May, 1940), 198-226, is 
the only detailed study of this subject. 

As for contemporary materials, the richest published sources for a study of 
Taft's and Wilson's Latin American and Caribbean policies are the Papers . 
Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1910-1917 (8 vols., 
Washington, 1915, 1918-20, 1922, 1924-26). These volumes are so incom- 
plete, however, that the student must go to the State Department Papers in 
the National Archives for the full record. 

Special Studies 

Isaac J. Cox, Nicaragua and the United States, 1909-1927 (Boston, 1927), 
is fairly complete, although not based upon archival materials. The standard 
history of Santo Domingo, Sumner Welles, Naboth's Vineyard, the Domini- 
can Republic, 1844-1924 (New York, 1928), has a critical account of the 
American occupation. A wealth of information on the occupations of Santo 
Domingo and Haiti may be found in Senate Select Committee, Inquiry into 


Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo, 67th Cong., 1st 
and 2d sess. (2 vols., Washington, 1922). Detailed accounts of the American 
occupation of Haiti may be found also in Raymond L. Buell, The American 
Occupation of Haiti (New York, 1929); Arthur G. Millspaugh, Haiti Under 
American Control, 1915-1930 (Boston, 1931); and Emily G. Balch (ed.), 
Occupied Haiti (New York, 1927). The only general work on Colombian- 
American relations is J. Fred Rippy> The Capitalists and Colombia (New 
York, 1931). For Cuban- American relations during the Wilson period see 
Russell H. Fitzgibbon, Cuba and the United States, 1900-1935 (Menasha, 
Wis., 1935), and Leland H. Jenks, Our Cuban Colony: A Study in Sugar 
(New York, 1928). Charles C. Tansill, The Purchase of the Danish West 
Indies (Baltimore, 1932), is definitive. 


General Works 

Several general works offer excellent guides in studying this area of Ameri- 
can foreign relations: A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the 
United States (New York, 1938); Edwin O. Reischauer, The United States 
and Japan (Cambridge, Mass., 1950); and John K. Fairbank, The United 
States and China (Cambridge, Mass., 1948). Roy H. Akagi, Japanese 
Foreign Relations, 1542-1936 (Tokyo, 1936), is the only survey in English 
by a Japanese scholar. 

The California Controversy of 1913 

General treatments are Carey McWilliams, Prejudice: Japanese-Americans 
(Boston, 1944); Yamato Ichihashi, Japanese in the United States (Stanford, 
Calif., 1932); Toyokichi lyenaga and Kenoske Sato, Japan and the Cali- 
fornia Problem (New York, 1921); and Sidney L. Gulick, The American 
Japanese Problem: A Study of the Racial Relations of East and West (New 
York, 1914) . A contemporary report of unusual significance is H. A. Millis, 
The Japanese Problem in the United States, an Investigation for the Com- 
mission on Relations with Japan Appointed by the Federal Council of the 
Churches of Christ in America (New York, 1915). 

The Crisis over the Twenty-One Demands 

Stanley K. Hornbeck, Contemporary Politics in the Far East (New York, 
1916), is an excellent contemporary discussion. Paul S. Reinsch, An American 
Diplomat in China (New York, 1922), is the memoir of the American Min- 
ister at Peking during the crisis. Tien-yi Li, Woodrow Wilson's China Policy, 
1913-1917 (New York, 1952), is an excellent discussion. For the documents 
in the Japanese-Chinese negotiations of 1915 see Carnegie Endowment for 


International Peace, The Sino-Japanese Negotiations of 1915 (Washington, 

The United States and the Philippines 

The Wilson administration sponsored legislation and pursued policies that 
greatly enlarged the self-government of the Filipino peoples. Wilson's Gov- 
ernor General, Francis B. Harrison, tells the story in The Corner-Stone of 
Philippine Independence: A Narrative of Seven Years (New York, 1922), as 
does Manuel L. Quezon, The Good Fight (New York, 1946). Highly critical 
of Wilson's policies was W. Cameron Forbes in The Philippine Islands (2 
vols., Boston, 1928). 


Official and Manuscript Sources 

The most important published official sources are the volumes in the 
Foreign Relations series, cited on p. 299. The sections on Mexico in these 
volumes, however, are so incomplete that the student must work through the 
Mexican files in the State Department Papers to understand the formation of 
policies. There are, moreover, many important documents, not elsewhere 
available, in the Wilson and Frank L. Polk Papers. 

The relation between American oil and railroad promoters and the Madero 
Revolution was revealed in Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Revolutions 
in Mexico . . . , 62d Cong., 3d sess. (Washington, 1913). Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, Investigation of Mexican Affairs . . . , 66th Cong., 2d 
sess. (2 vols., Washington, 1920), was an effort to discredit Wilson's Mexican 
policy but contains much useful data. 

General Works on the Mexican Revolution 

There is no authoritative history of the Mexican Revolution in any lan- 
guage. Charles C. Cumberland, The Mexican Revolution, Genesis Under 
Madero (Austin, Tex., 1952), is excellent for the first phase of the Revolu- 
tion. Ernest H. Gruening, Mexico and Its Heritage (New York, 1928), and 
Frank Tannenbaum, The Mexican Agrarian Revolution (New York, 1929), 
are two general works by American scholars. Miguel Alessio Robles, Historica 
Politica de la Revolucion (Mexico City, 1946), is the only good Mexican 
work on the subject. 

Contemporary Accounts, Critiques, and Documents of the Revolu- 
tion, 1913-17 

Edith L. O'Shaughnessy, Diplomatic Days (New York, 1917) and A Diplo- 
mat's Wife in Mexico (New York, 1916), are editions of the letters of the 


wife of the American Charge in Mexico City from 1912 to 1914. Important 
defenses of Huerta are Rafael de Zayas Enriquez, The Case of Mexico and 
the Policy of President Wilson (New York, 1914), and Manuel Calero, Un 
Decinio de Politico, Mexicana (New York, 1920). For an eloquent defense of 
the Revolution, however, see Luis Cabrera, The Mexican Situation from a 
Mexican Point of View (Washington, 1913 [?]). 

John Reed, Insurgent Mexico (New York, 1914), and Gasper Whitney, 
What's the Matter with Mexico? (New York, 1916), are reports by journalists 
friendly to the Revolution. The following are samples of anti-Revolutionary 
propaganda: Edward I. Bell, The Political Shame of Mexico (New York, 
1914); Randolph W. Smith, Benighted Mexico (New York, 1916); and 
Thomas E. Gibson, Mexico Under Carranza (Garden City, N. Y., 1919). 

American Catholics and Mexico 

Catholic comment on the Revolution and Wilson's policies may be followed 
in the newspapers and magazines cited above. Francis C. Kelley, The Book 
of Red and Yellow, Being a Story of Blood and a Yellow Streak (Chicago, 
1915), was a severe condemnation of Wilson's allegedly cowardly policies. 
Blood-Drenched Altars (Milwaukee, 1935) is Father Kelley's autobiographical 
account. Dr. A. Paganel [Carlo de Fornaro], What the Catholic Church Has 
Done to Mexico (Mexico City, 1916), was a Constitutionalist reply to Catholic 

The United States and Mexico, 1913-17 

J. Fred Rippy, The United States and Mexico (New York, 1931), is now 
superseded by Howard F. Cline, The United States and Mexico (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1953). There is a wealth of information on Wilson's policy toward 
Huerta in George M. Stephenson, John Lind of Minnesota (Minneapolis, 
1935). Stuart A. MacCorkle, American Policy of Recognition Towards Mex- 
ico (Baltimore, 1933), is helpful for the period 1913-17. 

Contemporary observations on Wilson's Mexican policy are usually critical. 
Henry Lane Wilson, Diplomatic Episodes in Mexico, Belgium and Chile 
(Garden City, N.Y., 1927), is hardly objective. Francisco Bulnes, The Whole 
Truth About Mexico, President Wilson's Responsibility (New York, 1916), 
and Manuel Calero, The Mexican Policy of President Wilson As It Appears 
to a Mexican (New York, 1916), are condemnations of Wilsonian interven- 
tion. Henry Morris, Our Mexican Muddle (Chicago, 1916), is a thoroughgo- 
ing denunciation by an American observer. 

The British and Mexico 

Edward Grey, Twenty-Five Years, 1892-1916 (2 vols., New York, 1925), 
and B. J. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, help to explain 


Britain's Mexican policy. John A. Spender, Weetman Pearson, First Viscount 
Cowdray, 1856-1927 (London, 1930) , is also useful. The best sources of British 
opinion, however, are the British journals of comment, cited on p. 291, which, 
until the war in Europe began, made the most penetrating and permanently 
valuable observations on Wilson's policy that we have. 


Official American Sources and Manuscripts 

Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Supplements, 
1914-1917 (6 vols., Washington, 1928-29, 1931-32), the great storehouses of 
materials relating to American neutrality, are magnificently edited and com- 
plete for all important issues. Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the 
United States, The Lansing Papers (2 vols., Washington, 1939-^0), and 
Carlton Savage (ed.)> Policy of the United States Toward Maritime Com- 
merce in War, 1776-1918 (2 vols., Washington, 1934-36), are also absolutely 
indispensable. Special Senate Committee, Hearings Before the Special Com- 
mittee Investigating the Munitions Industry, 74th Gong., 2d sess. (40 parts, 
Washington, 1937), reprints much of the important correspondence of bankers 
and administration leaders bearing on the question of loans to the belligerents. 

The Wilson, House, Page, Bryan, Lansing, Daniels, Polk, and McAdoo 
Papers all contain documents relating to the manifold aspects of the problems 
of neutrality that cannot be found elsewhere. 

General Works 

It has now been more than thirty-five years since the United States entered 
the First World War; most of the important documents bearing upon that 
event have been available to scholars at least since 1941. Even so, we still do 
not have a general study that can be recommended to students as compre- 
hensive and dispassionate. 

Ray S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, V-VI; Harley Hotter, 
The Origins of the Foreign Policy of Woodrow Wilson, and Newton D. Baker, 
Why We Went to War (New York, 1936), are useful. Among the general 
studies, however, Charles Seymour's American Diplomacy during the World 
War (Baltimore, 1934) and American Neutrality, 1914-1917 (New Haven, 
Conn., 1935), remain the most balanced discussions of the subject. One of 
the most perceptive commentaries has not yet been published Edward H. 
Buehrig, "Our First European Intervention: 1917" (MS in possession of the 
author). C. Harley Grattan, Why We Fought (New York, 1929), and Walter 
Millis, Road to War: America, 1914-1917 (Boston, 1935), are vividly written 
journalistic studies that often ignore the important issues. Alex M. Arnett, 


Claude Kitchin and the Wilson War Policies (Boston, 1937), is reliable only 
for Congressional opinions on preparedness and the question of intervention. 
Alice M. Morrissey, The American Defense of Neutral Rights, 1914-1917 
(Cambridge, Mass., 1939), is legalistic and unrealistic. 

Because of their impact upon subsequent historical writing, Edwin M. 
Borchard and W. P. Lage, Neutrality for the United States (New Haven, 
Conn., 1937), and Charles C. Tansill, America Goes to War (Boston, 1938), 
deserve special notice. Professor Borchard was imbued with a sense of mission 
to expose Wilson's duplicity and to prove that a truly neutral conduct would 
have kept the United States out of the war. Professor TansilPs volume is based 
upon enormous research but is marred by a deep anti-British tension and by 
TansilTs willingness to use doubtful evidence to bolster a weak case. 

Bibliographical Aids 

Bernadotte E. Schmitt, "American Neutrality, 1914-1917," Journal of 
Modern History, VIII (June, 1936), 200-211, and D. F. Fleming, "Our Entry 
into the World War in 1917: the Revised Version," Journal of Politics, II 
(Feb., 1940), 75-86, are older commentaries. Richard W. Leopold, "The 
Problem of American Intervention, 1917: An Historical Retrospect," World 
Politics, II (Apr., 1950), 405-425, is a comprehensive survey of the literature. 



In addition to the general works cited above, the following are useful sup- 
plementary monographs by American scholars: Malbone W. Graham, The 
Controversy between the United States and the Allied Governments, Respect- 
ing Neutral Rights and Commerce during the Period of American Neutrality, 
1914-1917 (Austin, Tex., 1923); Richard W. Van Alstyne, "The Policy of 
the United States Regarding the Declaration of London, at the Outbreak of 
the Great War," Journal of Modern History, VII (Pec., 1935), 434-447; 
Thomas A. Bailey, "The United States and the Blacklist during the Great 
War," Journal of Modern History, VI (Mar., 1934), 14-35; Joseph V. Fuller, 
"The Genesis of the Munitions Traffic," Journal of Modern History, VI 
(Sept., 1934), 280-293; R. W. Van Alstyne, "Private American Loans to the 
Allies, 1914-1916," Pacific Historical Review, II (June, 1933), 180-193; T, 
A. Bailey, "World War Analogues of the Trent Affair," American Historical 
Review, XXXVIII (Jan., 1933), 286-290; J. C. Crighton, "The Wilhelmina: 
An Adventure in the Assertion and Exercise of American Trading Rights 
during the World War," American Journal of International Law, XXXIV 
(Jan., 1940), -74-88. 


Contemporary American Comment 

One of the most influential contemporary comments on the British mari- 
time system was Edwin J. Clapp, Economic Aspects of the War (New Haven, 
Conn., 1915), which was highly critical of British measures. Some Americans, 
however, well recognized that British victory and the preservation of British 
sea power in the North Atlantic were essential to the security of the United 
States. For samples of such views see Roland G. Usher, The Challenge of the 
Future (Boston, 1916), and George Louis Beer, "America's Part Among 
Nations," New Republic, V (Nov. 20, 1915), 62-64. The most perspicacious 
articles in this vein, however, were a series by Walter Lippmann in the New 
Republic, published from February, 1916, to April, 1917. 

British Newspapers and Periodicals 

Armin Rappaport, The British Press and Wilsonian Neutrality (Stanford, 
Calif., 1951), is an excellent summary. British newspapers and journals of 
opinion commented freely and often caustically on Wilson's neutral policies. 
Among the daily press, the London Chronicle, London Observer, London 
Daily Telegraph, Manchester Guardian, London Times, Westminster Gazette, 
and London Pall Mall Gazette were generally friendly to the United States, 
while, the London Clarion, London Daily Express, London Daily Mail, Lon- 
don Daily News and Leader, London Morning Post, and Glasgow Herald 
were usually highly critical of American policies. For a list of the significant 
British journals of comment see p. 291. 

Letters, Memoirs, and Biographies of British Leaders 

Stephen Gwynn (ed.), The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring 
Rice (2 vols., Boston, 1929), is important, but more useful for British opinion 
are Herbert H. Asquith, Memories and Reflections, 1852-1927 (2 vols., 
Boston, 1928); Arthur J. Balfour, Retrospect: An Unfinished Biography 
(Boston, 1930); Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis (4 vols. in 5, New 
York, 1923-29); Edward Grey, Twenty-Five Years, 1892-1916, cited above; 
David Lloyd George, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George (6 vols., Boston, 
1933-37); and Henry W. Steed, Through Thirty Years, 1892-1922 (Garden 
City,N,Y., 1924). 

Also helpful in understanding British policies are Blanche E. C. Dugdale, 
Arthur James Balfour (2 vols., London, 1936); Herbert A. L. Fisher, fames 
Bryce (2 vols., New York, 1927); and George M. Trevelyan, Grey of 
Fallodon (Boston, 1937). 


Most of the general works cited under "American Neutrality, 1914^17, 
General" advert to the relations between the United States and France. 


T. Bentley Mott, Myron T. Herrick, Friend of France (Garden City, N.Y., 
1929), and William G. Sharp, War Memoirs of William Graves Sharp 
(London, 1931), are the biography and memoir of the two American Am- 
bassadors in Paris from 1914 to 1917. Georges E. B. Clemenceau, In the 
Evening of My Thought (Charles M. Thompson and John Heard, Jr., trans., 
2 vols., Boston, 1929), is the only autobiography of an important French 
statesman. Andre* P. G. A. Tardieu, France and America (Boston, 1927), is 
also useful. 



The general sources and works cited under "American Neutrality, 1914-17, 
General" are of course especially pertinent here. In this connection, see also 
James W. Gerard, My Four Years in Germany (New York, 1917), Face to 
Face with Kaiserism (New York, 1918), and My First Eighty-Three Years in 
America (Garden City, N.Y., 1951); Hugh Gibson, A Journal from Our 
Legation in Belgium (Garden City, N.Y., 1917), and Joseph G. Grew, 
Turbulent Era, A Diplomatic Record of Forty Years, 1904-1945 (Walter 
Johnson, ed., 2 vols., Boston, 1952). 

Johann H. von Bernstorff, My Three Years in America (New York, 1920) 
and Memoirs (New York, 1936), and Gonstantin Dumba, Memoirs of a 
Diplomat (Ian F, D. Morrow, trans., Boston, 1932), should be used with 

William H. Skaggs, German Conspiracies in America (London, 1915), is 
somewhat exaggerated, but Franz Rintelen von Kleist, The Dark Invader 
(London, 1933), is the story of German intrigues in the United States by 
the chief German agent. 

American Comment on Germany General 

For sympathize analyses of and comment on the German war effort and 
objectives by Americans see E. F. Henderson, Germany's Fighting Machine 
(Indianapolis, 1914); John W. Burgess, The European War of 1914 (Chicago, 
1915); George S. Fullerton, Germany of Today (Indianapolis, 1915); Max 
Eastman, Understanding Germany (New York, 1916); and Albert J. 
Beveridge, What Is Back of the War? (Indianapolis, 1915). 

In contrast to these Americans who viewed the German cause sympa- 
thetically, other American observers asserted that Germany had begun the 
war in order to achieve hegemony in the world and condemned the Prussian 
military class as a dire menace to liberty everywhere. In this vein see James 
M. Beck, The Evidence in the Case (New York, 1914); J. M. Beck, The 
War and Humanity (New York, 1916); Frederick W. Whitridge, One 


American's Opinion of the European War (New York, 1914); John Jay 
Chapman, Deutschland 'liber Alles, or Germany Speaks (New York, 1914); 
Oswald G. Villard, Germany Embattled (New York, 1915); William Roscoe 
Thayer, Germany vs. Civilization (Boston, 1916); and A. D. McLaren, 
Germanism from Within (New York, 1916). 

German Atrocities 

The report of the Bryce Commission, Report of the Committee on Alleged 
German Outrages, was published in full in The New York Times and other 
American newspapers on May 13, 1915. For other such contemporary indict- 
ments against the German government see, e.g., Joseph Bedier, Les Crimes 
Allemands d'apres Temoignages Allemands (Paris, 1916); J. H. Morgan, 
German Atrocities (New York, 1916); and James M. Beck, The Case of 
Edith Cavell (New York, 1916). 

There is considerable doubt, however, that these atrocity charges signifi- 
cantly affected American public opinion. This was true primarily because 
American reporters with the German armies in Belgium and northern France 
unanimously repudiated the accusations. See, e.g., Roger Lewis et al., in 
New York World and other newspapers, Sept. 7, 1914; John T. McCutcheon, 
in New York World, Sept. 19, 1914; Arno Dosch, "Louvain the Lost," 
World's Work, XXVIII (Oct., 1914), A-H; Irvin S. Cobb, "Being a Guest 
of the German Kaiser," Saturday Evening Post, CLXXXVII (Oct. 24, 
1914), 14-15, 48-50; Arthur Sweetser, "With the German Army In Its Dash 
toward Paris," Outlook, CIX (Jan. 27, 1915), 186-190. 

The Submarine Controversy, 1915-17 

The most authoritative work on German submarine operations before 
February, 1917, is Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine (Rene Jouan, 
trans., 3 vols., Paris, 1933-35), but the following are also useful: Albert 
Gayer, "Summary of German Submarine Operations in the Various Theaters 
of War from 1914 to 1918," Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, 
LI (1926),. 621-659; and Maurice Prendergast and R. H. Gibson, The 
German Submarine War, 1914-1918 (New York, 1931). 

All available data on the sinking of the Lusitania are brought together in 
Thomas A. Bailey, "The Sinking of the Lusitania" American Historical Re- 
view, XLI (Oct., 1935), 54-73, and "German Documents Relating to the 
'Lusitania,' " Journal of Modern History, VIII (,Sept., 1936), 320-337. 

German Sources 

The Archives of the German Foreign Office for the period 1914r-18 are 
now available on microfilm in the National Archives. Except for data on 
German intrigues in the United States and Mexico, however, the record of 


German diplomacy toward the United States is fully revealed in Official 
German Documents Relating to the World War (2 vols., New York, 1923). 
Die Grosse Politik der Europdischen Kabinette, 1871-1914 (40 vols. in 54, 
Berlin, 1922-27) goes only through the outbreak of the war. 

An excellent source for a study of German policies is the memoirs of the 
leaders of the government and the armed forces: Theobald von Bethmann- 
Hollweg, William II, Matthias Erzberger, Erich Georg von Falkenhayn, Karl 
Helfferich, Paul von Hindenburg, Erich LudendorfT, and Alfred von Tirpitz. 
The best source for German opinion on the developing tension between 
Germany and the United States, however, is the German press, which was 
enlightened and subjected only to slight censorship. Among the Liberal news- 
papers the Berliner Tageblatt, which often spoke for the Foreign Office, 
the Kolnische Zeitung, and the Frankfurter Zeitung, were the leaders. 
Vorwdrts of Berlin spoke for the Social Democrats and consistently cham- 
pioned peace with America. The Lokal-Anzeiger (Berlin) was an organ of 
the government, while the Vossische Zeitung (Berlin) was another moderate 
spokesman. Deutsche Tageszeitung and Tdglische Rundschau, both of Berlin, 
were organs of the Conservative party and mouthpieces of the military and 
naval leaders. The spokesman of Rhenish Catholic opinion was the 
Kolnische Volkszeitung. 


There is no comprehensive study of this important subject, but Robert E. 
Osgood, Ideals and Self -Interest in America's Foreign Relations (Chicago, 
1953), analyzes the thought of an important segment of American leadership, 
while Ralph O. Nafziger, "The American Press and Public Opinion During 
the World War 1914 to April 1917," unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of 
Wisconsin Library, is also helpful. 

' The following specialized studies contribute toward understanding the great 
diversity of American attitudes: Edwin Costrell, How Maine Viewed the 
War, 1914-1917 (Orono, Me., 1940); Cedric C. Cummins, Indiana Public 
Opinion and the World War, 1914-1917 (Indianapolis, 1945); John C. 
Crighton, Missouri and the World War, 1914-1917 (Columbia, Mo., 1947); 
Joseph Rappaport, "Jewish Immigrants and World War I: A Study of 
American Yiddish Press Reactions," unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Columbia 
University Library; Ray A. Billington, "The Origins of Middle Western 
Isolationism," Political Science Quarterly, LX (Mar., 1945), 44-64; and 
Harold C. Syrett, "The Business Press and American Neutrality, 1914-1917," 
Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXII (Sept., 1945), 215-230. 

Although they are fragmentary and inconclusive, several contemporary 
surveys by Americans offer insight: Samuel H. Church, The American Verdict 


on the War (Baltimore, 1915); J. M. Baldwin, American Neutrality (New 
York, 1916); and Joseph H. Ghoate et aL, Sixty American Opinions on the 
War (London, 1915). The keenest analyses of American opinion, however, 
were made by British observers, most of whom never deluded themselves into 
believing the American people wanted to enter the war. Three documents of 
extraordinary importance are Gilbert Parker, Memorandum on the Attitude 
of the American Press (London, 1914); G. Parker, Report of the Opinion of 
the Universities and Colleges in America upon the War (London, n.d.); and 
Horace Plunkett, Memorandum on the Anglo-American Situation, Printed for 
the use of the Cabinet (London, 1916). 

Representative American Comment on the War 

American comment on all phases of the difficulties with Germany is cited 
on pp. 306-307. American comment on the British conduct of the war is 
listed on pp. 304-305. For general German- American comment, see p. 310. 

In addition, George Harvey, "Europe at Armageddon," North American 
Review, CC (Sept., 1914), 321-332, and the Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, May 12, 1915, printed in New York 
Christian Advocate, XG (May 20, 1915), 677, were balanced commentaries 
on the causes of the war. 

For representative interventionist or quasi-interventionist sentiment see 
William Dean Howells, "Why?" North American Review, CGI (May, 1915), 
676-682; George Harvey, "The German Attitude," North American Review, 
CCII (Oct., 1915), 481-488; American Rights Committee, A Memorial to 
the President of the United States (New York, 1915); Josiah Royce, The 
Duties of Americans in the Present War (Boston, 1916); and William T. 
Manning, The Present Crisis in Our National Life (New York, 1916). 



Carl Wittke, German- Americans and the World War (Columbus, Ohio, 
1936), and Clifton J. Child, The German- Americans in Politics, 1914-1917 
(Madison, Wis., 1939), provide a fairly complete picture. Alden Jamison, 
"The Irish Question and American Diplomacy, 1895-1921," unpublished 
Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University Library, is excellent. 

German-American Periodicals and Newspapers 

The Fatherland (New York, 1914-33), The Vital Issue, later Issues and 
Events (New York, 1914-18), and The Open Court (Chicago, 1887-1936) 
were the leading German-American periodicals. Among the many German- 
language newspapers, the following were most influential: New York 


Deutsches M or gen-Journal, New York Staats-Zeitung, Chicago Abendpost, 
Chicago Illinois Staats-Zeitung, St. Louis Westliche Post, Milwaukee Ger- 
mania, and Cincinnati Freie Presse. 

German-American Comment and Propaganda 

Gustavus Ohlinger, Their True Faith and Allegiance (New York, 1916), is 
a compilation of utterances by German-American leaders. The following are 
samples of German- American appeals for sympathy for the Fatherland: 
Edmund von Mach, What Germany Wants (Boston, 1914); Kuno Francke, 
A German-American's Confession of Faith (New York, 1915); Roland 
Hugins, Germany Misjudged (Chicago, 1916); S. I. Stefan, Neutrality? 
(Chicago, 1916); Charles F. Aked and Walter Rauschenbusch, "Private 
Profit and the Nation's Honor," Chicago Standard, LXII (July 31, 1915), 

Irish-Americans and the War 

The best source for Irish-American efforts to obtain an arms embargo and 
acquiescence in the German submarine campaign is the Hearst press and the 
several Irish-American periodicals, New York Irish World, New York Gaelic 
American, and Los Angeles Irish Review. Typical of Irish-American tracts 
are J. K. McGuire's The King, the Kaiser, and Irish Freedom (New York, 
1915) and What Could Germany Do for Ireland? (New York, 1916). 

For samples of the propaganda of the most vociferous Irish-American 
organization, the American Truth Society, see J. A. O'Leary, Why Woodrow 
Wilson Should be Defeated and a Republican Congress Elected (New York, 
1916), and A Statement Issued by the American Truth Society in defense of 
its President against an unjust attack made upon him by the President of the 
United States (New York, 1916). 


General Surveys 

All of the studies of propaganda exaggerate its role in shaping American 
opinions on the war. H. C. Peterson, Propaganda for War (Norman, Okla., 
1939), is the best of the general works. J. D. Squires, British Propaganda at 
Home and in the United States from 1914-1917 (Cambridge, Mass., 1935), 
analyzes the content of British propaganda. Arthur Willert, Road to Safety: 
A Study in Anglo-American Relations (London, 1952), is a revealing study 
by the former Washington correspondent for the Northcliffe Press. George 
Sylvester Viereck, Spreading Germs of Hate (New York, 1931), is especially 
good for the operations of the German propaganda machine in the United 


How the belligerents utilized propaganda as a weapon of war is well 
presented in J. M. Read, Atrocity Propaganda, 1914-1919 (New Haven, 
Conn., 1941); Georges Demartial, La Guerre de 1914: Comment OnMobilisa 
les Consciences (Paris, 1922); Harold D. Lasswell, Propaganda Technique in 
the World War (New York, 1927); and Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in War- 
Time (New York, 1928). 

British Propaganda 

From 1914 to 1917 the American periodical press printed hundreds of 
statements and appeals by British leaders. Good examples of books in this 
category are Ramsay Muir, Britain's Case Against Germany (New York, 
1914), and Douglas Sladen, The Real "Truth About Germany 93 (New York, 

For the student who wishes to go thoroughly into this subject, there is a 
practically complete listing of British propaganda books and articles in Her- 
mann Wanderscheck, Bibliographie zur englischen Propaganda im Weltkrieg 
(Stuttgart, 1935). 

German Propaganda 

American magazines and newspapers printed hundreds of articles, state- 
ments, and appeals by various German leaders during the period 1914-17. 
For representative books and pamphlets see Adolph von Baeyer et al. t To the 
Civilized World (n.p., n.d.); How the Franco-German Conflict Could Have 
Been Avoided (Berlin, 1914); Notable Germans, The Truth About Germany 
(New York [?], 1914); Hugo Miinsterberg, The War and America (New 
York, 1914); Bernhard Dernburg, The Case of Belgium in the Light of 
Official Reports Found in the Secret Archives of the Belgian Government 
. . . (New York, 1915 [?]); H. Miinsterberg, The Peace and America (New 
York, 1915); and Alexander Fuehr, The Neutrality of Belgium (New York, 


General Studies 

The best general surveys of the preparedness and peace movements are 
William H. Harbaugh, "Wilson, Roosevelt, and American Interventionism, 
1914-1917," unpublished Ph.D. thesis in Northwestern University Library, 
and R. E. Osgood, Ideals and Self-Interest in America's Foreign Relations, 
cited above. William W. Tinsley, "The American Preparedness Movement, 
1913-1916," unpublished Ph.D. thesis in the Stanford University Library, is 
useful for the literature of preparedness. 

Hermann Hagedorn's The Bugle That Woke America (New York, 1940) 


and Leonard Wood, A Biography, cited above, and Elting E. Morison, Ad- 
miral Sims and the Modern American Navy (Boston, 1942), are excellent on 
the most aggressive preparedness elements. 

The only general studies of the peace movement are Merle Curti, The 
American Peace Crusade (Durham, N.C., 1929); M. Curti, Bryan and World 
Peace (Northampton, Mass., 1931), and Jane Addams, Peace and Bread in 
Time of War (New York, 1922). 

In a special category is Ruhl J. Bartlett, The League to Enforce Peace 
(Chapel Hill, N.G., 1944), an excellent study of the most important inter- 
nationalist organization in the United States during the neutrality period. 

Preparedness Periodicals 

Leaders in the preparedness movement were the periodicals published by 
the military and naval societies and by the armed services. The Seven Seas 
Magazine (New York, 1915-16) and Sea Power (Washington, 1916-21, 
1935- ) were organs of the Navy League. Spokesmen for the military 
branch included the Army and Navy Magazine (Washington, 1893- ) , Army 
and Navy Journal (New York, 1863- ), and Infantry Journal (Washington, 
1904 ). In addition, a number of general periodicals, including Outlook, 
Everybody's Magazine, and New Republic, were active in the preparedness 

The Literature of Preparedness 

The following books illustrate the propaganda of the preparedness move- 
ment and often reflect the conviction that a conflict between the United States 
and Germany was almost inevitable: Hudson Maxim, Defenseless America 
(New York, 1915); Frederick L. Huidekoper, The Military Unpreparedness of 
the United States (New York, 1915); Howard D. Wheeler, Are We Ready? 
(Boston, 1915); Theodore Roosevelt, Fear God and Take Your Own Part 
(New York, 1916); John B. Walker, America Fallen! (New York, 1916); 
Owen Wister, The Pentecost of Calamity (New York, 1915); Julius W. 
Muller, The Invasion of America (New York, 1916); Cleveland Moffett, 
The Conquest of America (New York, 1916); Porter E. Browne, Scars and 
Stripes (New York, 1917). 

The Peace and Antipreparedness Crusades 

The best contemporary sources for these movements are The Survey, The 
Nation, the New York Evening Post, the Johnstown (Penna,) Democrat, 
Bryan's Commoner, the Chicago Public, and La Follette's Magazine. For 
accounts of the peace movement and its objectives, see Jane Addams et aL, 
Women at The Hague (New York, 1915), and Randolph S. Bourne (ed.), 


Towards an Enduring Peace (New York, 1916), an elaboration of various 
current peace proposals. 

The campaign against preparedness was an outgrowth of the peace move- 
ment and closely related to it. Among the contemporary arguments against 
preparedness, the following are representative: Allen L. Benson, Inviting 
America to War (New York, 1916); William I. Hull, Preparedness: The 
American versus Military Programme (New York, 1916); Oswald G. Villard, 
Preparedness (Washington, 1915); Charles E. Jefferson, Christianity and In- 
ternational Peace (New York, 1915) and What the War Is Teaching (New 
York, 1916); Washington Gladden, The Forks of the Road (New York, 
1916); John Haynes Holmes, New Wars for Old (New York, 1916); and 
Frederick G. Howe, Why War? (New York, 1916). 

The Army Bills of 1916-17 

The whole range of public and professional opinion on the army bills of 
1916 and 1917 may be consulted in House Military Affairs Committee, Army 
Appropriation Bill, 1917, Hearings . . . , 64th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, 
1916) ; Senate Military Affairs Committee, Preparedness for National Defense 
. . . , 64th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, 1916); House Military Affairs Com- 
mittee, Army Appropriation Bill, 1918, Hearings . . . , 64th Cong., 2d sess. 
(Washington, 1917), and Senate Military Affairs Committee, Universal Mili- 
tary Training, Hearings . . . , 64th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, 1917). 

The Naval and Shipping Bills of 1916 

Important background of this legislation is discussed in Outten J. Clinard, 
Japan's Influence on American Naval Power, 1897-1917 (Berkeley, Calif., 
1947). Storehouses of information and opinion on these measures are House 
Naval Affairs Committee, Hearings on Estimates Submitted by Secretary of 
Navy t 1916, 64th Cong., 1st sess. (3 vols., Washington, 1916), and Senate 
Commerce Committee, Creating Shipping Board, Naval Auxiliary, and Mer- 
chant Marine, Hearings . . . , 64th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, 1916). 


Abbott, Lawrence F., 175-176 

ABC mediation, 104, 126-127 

Adams, Herbert Baxter, 8 

Adamson, William C., a Democratic 
leader in the House, 35; helps pre- 
pare antitrust legislation, 68; op- 
poses Federal Trade Commission 
idea, 72; and writing and adoption 
of Adamson Act, 236-237 

Adamson Act, 235-237, 238-239 

Addams, Jane, 16, 182, 239 

Aguascalientes Convention, 130-131 

Albert, Heinrich, 167 

Aldrich, Nelson W., 3, 5, 44 

Aldrich Plan, 44-45, 47 

Alexander, Joshua W., 191 

American Anti-Boycott Association, 

American Association for Labor 
Legislation, 54, 226 

American Bankers* Association, 50-51 

American Federation of Labor, see 

American League to Limit Arma- 
ment, 182 

American Rights Committee, 176, 

American Telephone & Telegraph 
Company antitrust settlement, 76 

American Union Against Militarism, 
pleads against war with Mexico, 
142; agitates against war with Ger- 
many, 269 

Ancona affair, 202 

Anderson, Chandler P., 155, 162-163 

Antipreparedness movement, origins 
and motivation, 180-181; organi- 
2ation of, 181-182; champions in 
House of Representatives, 183; vic- 
tory in controversy over Army 
Reorganization Act, 189 

Antitrust legislation, discussion and 
formulation of original Wilsonian 
program, 6669; controversy over, 
69-70; adoption of Clayton Act, 
70, 7273; writing and adoption 
of Federal Trade Commission Act, 

Arabia case, 254 

Arabic case, 168-169 

Armed neutrality, 271-272, 277-278 

Armed ship controversy of 1916, 205- 

Armed ship controversy of 1917, 269- 

Armenian, 168 

Arms embargo, 167 

Army League of the United States, 

Army Reorganization Act of 1916, 
Army War College proposal, 179- 
180; controversy over, 180186; 
adoption of House bill, 187; Senate 
bill, 187-188; adoption and terms 
of final measure, 188; opinions of, 


316 INDEX 

Army War College, prepares army 
reorganization bill, 179-180; pre- 
pares conscription bill, 268 

Arredondo, Eliseo, 137, 138 

Ashurst, Henry F., 35 

Asquith, Herbert H,, 204^205 

Association for an Equitable Income 
Tax, 193 

Bacon, Robert, 230 
Bagehot, Walter, 8 
Bailey, Warren. Worth, a leader of 
antipreparedness group, 183; com- 
ments on Army Act, 189; laments 
passage of naval bill, 190; proposes 
huge increases in income tax, 194; 
praises Revenue Act of 1916, 196 
Baker, Newton D., appointed Secre- 
tary of War, 28, 187; orders with- 
drawal of Punitive Expedition, 
144; proposes establishment of 
Council of National Defense, 188; 
urges war resolution, 276 
Baker, Ray S., 239 
Balfour, Arthur J., and House's peace 
plan, 202, 204; and armed ship 
question, 207 
Ballinger, Richard A. and the Ball- 

inger Affair, 34, 5 
Banco Nacional of Santo Domingo, 


Bankhead, John H., 35 
Beer, William C., 97 
Belmont, August, 12 
BerastorrT, Johann von, and House's 
first peace mission, 160-161; pre- 
sents protest against sale of muni- 
tions, 163; disavows Rintelen, 201; 
connection with intriguers, 201; 
comments on Roosevelt and cam- 
paign of 1916, 244; excites Ger- 
man hopes of peace, 256; reports 
Wilson's comments on Roosevelt 
and Lodge, 256; secret negotiations 
with House, 262-263; urges post- 
ponement of unrestricted sub- 
marine warfare, 263 
Bethmann-Hollweg, Theobald von, 
and the Arabic crisis, 168-169; 
discusses peace with House, 203; 
on Lusitania negotiations, 206; re- 
sists pressure for unrestricted sub- 
marine warfare, 216, 255; desires 

Wilson's mediation, 256; issues 
peace offer to enemies, 259; ap- 
peals for Wilson's support, 260; 
loses control of foreign policy, 263 

Beveridge, Albert J., 5 

"Blacklist" dispute, 220-221, 252 

Bobo, Rosalvo, 101 

Bonillas, Ignacio, 143 

Bordas, Valdes Jos6, 98 

Boyd, Captain, 141 

Boy-Ed, Karl, 200-201 

Brandeis, Louis D., Wilson's chief ad- 
viser in 1912, 20-21 ; not appointed 
to Cabinet in 1913, 28, 30-31; and 
framing of Federal Reserve bill, 
48; helps prepare railroad securi- 
ties bill, 68; evolving new antitrust 
solution, 69; and writing of Fed- 
eral Trade Commission Act, 71- 
72; disappointed over failure of 
Federal Trade Commission, 74; 
comments on results of election of 
1914, 78; nomination to Supreme 
Court, 225 

Breitung, Edward N., 155 

Briand, Aristide, 203, 204 

Brown, E. N., 108 

Bryan, William Jennings, dominant 
in Democratic party, 1908-1910, 
2; and need for new leadership, 
2-7; and elections of 1910, 7; 
and Baltimore convention, 12-13; 
sketch of as Secretary of State, 26- 
27; and income tax of 1913, 39; 
and writing of Federal Reserve 
bill, 4550; and adoption of sea- 
men's bill of 1915, 63; urges aboli- 
tion of "rule of reason," 67; 
dynamics of foreign policy, 81-82; 
negotiates conciliation treaties, 82; 
and dispute with Japan, 84-87; 
and crisis over Twenty-One De- 
mands, 8790; and Panama Canal 
tolls dispute, 91; origins and moti- 
vation of Latin American and 
Caribbean policies, 93-94, 103- 
104; Nicaraguan policy, 94-97; 
Dominican policy, 97-99; Haitian 
policy, 99-102; negotiates- treaty 
of reparation with Colombia, 104- 
105; and relations with Huerta 
government of Mexico, 1913-1914, 
107-128; and ABC mediation, 



126; and Villa's revolt, 129; sup- 
ports Villa government, 131; re- 
fuses to sanction Catholic demands 
for repeal of Reform Laws, 135; 
bans war loans as unneutral, 151; 
implicitly revokes ban, 152; on 
ship purchase bill, 153; and the 
British food blockade, 159; and 
peace talks in 1914, 160-161; 
pleads against strong stand in 
Thrasher case, 163; seeks to find 
peaceful solution in Lusitania nego- 
tiations, 166; resigns, 166; sets out 
on peace campaign, 167; leader in 
antipreparedness, 182; threatens to 
bolt party, 223-224; hero of St. 
Louis convention, 234; and cam- 
paign of 1916, 243; makes last- 
ditch campaign for peace, 269 

Bryce, James, 91, 147-148 

Bryce Report, 147-148 

Bulkley, Robert J., 57-59 

Bunkering agreement, 252-253 

Burleson, Albert S., patronage poli- 
cies as Postmaster General, 29; 
segregates Negro workers, 64-65; 
uses patronage in tolls dispute, 92; 
protests Lusitania postscript, 166; 
uses patronage to defeat McLemore 
Resolution, 213 

Burnett immigration bills of 1915 and 
1917, see Immigration legislation 

Bynner, Witter, 251 

Cabrera, Luis, 121, 143 

Calder, William M., 230 

California alien land act of 1913, 

Cambon, Jules, 203-204 

Cannon, Joseph G., 3 

Caperton, W. B., 102 

Capper, Arthur, 274 

Garden, Sir Lionel, 116-117, 120 

Caribbean policy of the United 
States, 1910-1917, see Latin 
American Policy of the United 
States, 1910-1917 

Carothers, George G., 128, 129 

Carranza, Venustiano, begins revolt 
against Huerta, 109; establishes 
provisional government, 120; re- 
fuses to allow Wilson to control 
Constitutionalist movement, 120- 

121; condemns American occupa- 
tion of Vera Cruz, 125-126; 
occupies Mexico City, 128; and 
Villa's revolt, 128-129; concurs 
in plan for new government for 
Mexico, 129-130; declares war on 
Villa's government, 131; broadens 
program and crushes Villa, 131; 
repudiates Wilson's right to inter- 
vene in Mexico, 133-134; wins 
recognition by United States and 
Latin America, 135; alarmed by 
entry of Punitive Expedition, 137; 
demands withdrawal of Punitive 
Expedition, 138-139; rejects Scott- 
Obreg6n agreement, 140; threatens 
war against United States, 140; 
suggests direct negotiations, 143; 
and Joint High Commission, 143; 
establishes constitutional govern- 
ment and is recognized de jure by 
United States, 144; and the Zim- 
mermann "note," 271 

Carrizal incident, 141-142 

Casement, Sir Roger, 218 

Casey, John J., 70 

Catt, Carrie Chapman, 182 

Chadwick, French E., 146 

Chamberlain, George E., 187 

Child Labor Act of 1916, origins, 59; 
passage of, 226-227; significance, 

China and the United States, Ameri- 
can withdrawal from Six-Power 
Consortium, 82-84; American rec- 
ognition of Republic of China, 84; 
and crisis over Twenty-One De^ 
mands, 87-90 

Chinda, Viscount, 86, 89 

City of Memphis, 274 

Clark, Champ, a new Democratic 
leader, 7; biographical sketch, 11; 
and the Democratic pre-convention 
campaign of 191O-1912, 11-12; 
and Baltimore convention, 12-13; 
opposes Wilson in tolls dispute, 92; 
and armed ship controversy of 
1916, 212; threatened revolt of, 
223; elected Speaker in 1917, 281 

Clarke amendment, 228 

Clayton, Henry D., 35, 68 

Clayton Act of 1914, writing of, 67- 
68; controversy over, 69; passage 


by House, 70; weakening of in 
Senate, 72-73. For adoption of 
labor provisions see Labor 

Cleveland Automatic Machine Com- 
pany, 168 

Cobb, Frank, comments on segrega- 
tion, 66; talk with Wilson, 277 

Cobb, Irvin S., 239 

Colby, Bainbridge, 232, 239 

Colombia and the United States, 

Columbus Raid, 136 

Committee to Defend America by 
Aiding the Allies, 177 

Conciliation treaties, 82 

Constitutionalist movement in Mex- 
ico, see Mexican Revolution 

Consumers' League, 54 

Continental Army, Army War Col- 
lege proposal, 179-180; opposed 
by House Military Affairs Commit- 
tee, 184, 186; defeat of, 188 

Convention on Safety at Sea, 62-63 

"Cooling-off" treaties, 82 

Cooper amendment, 273 

Costigan, Edward P., 240 

Cotton, the cotton crisis of 1914, 
149-150; cotton crisis of 1915, 
1 69-1 70 ; Anglo-American agree- 
ment on, 171-172 

Coudert, Frederic R., 176 

Council of National Defense, 188 

Covington, James H., 68 

Cowdray, Lord (S. Weetman Pear- 
son), 116-117 

Crawford, Sir Richard, 171-172, 253 

Creel, George, 239 

Croly, Herbert, contribution to de- 
velopment of progressive thought, 
1819; comments on Wilson's con- 
cept of progressivism, 78-79; sup- 
ports Wilson in 1916, 239, 240 

Cuba and the United States, 103 

Culberson, Charles A., 73 

Cummins, Albert B., 41, 73 

Dacia affair, 155-156 

Daniels, Josephus, sketch of as Secre- 
tary of the Navy, 28-29; and con- 
troversy over general leasing bill, 
30; on conditions in navy, 177; 
and formulation of naval prepared- 
ness program, 179; urges war reso- 

lution, 276; begins talks with 
British Admiralty, 277 

Dartiguenave, Sudre, 102 

Davies, Joseph ., 74-75 

Debs, Eugene V., and campaign of 
1912, 16-17; popular vote in 1912, 
22; demands general strike in 
event of war, 275 

Declaration of London, 153-154 

Del Valle, Reginaldp F., 112 

Democratic party, victory in elections 
of 1910, 6-7; preconvention cam- 
paign of 1910-1912, 8-13; Balti- 
more convention, 1213; election 
of 1912, 22-24; patronage policies 
of Wilson administration, 29; 
leadership in Congress in 1913, 35; 
approves A.F. of L.'s legislative de- 
mands, 55; suffers reversal in 
elections of 1914, 78; situation in 
early 1916, 223-224; platform of 
1916, 233; St. Louis convention, 
233-235; campaign of 1916, 237- 
247; election of 1916, 247-251 

Depression of 1913-1915, 75 

Dewey, John, 193, 239 

Diaz, Adolfo, 94, 96 

Diaz, F<51ix, 112 

Diaz, Porfirio, 107 

Dolliver, Jonathan P., 5 

Dominican Republic and the United 
States, 1913-1917, 97-99 

Douglas, Charles A., 96 

Du Bois, William E. B., 63 

Dumba, Constantin, 167 

Eagle, Joe H., 50 

Eastman, Max, 239 

Einstein, Lewis, 26 

Elections of 1910, 1912, 1914, and 

1916, see Democratic party and 

Republican party 
Eliot, Charles W., 148, 174 
Estrada, Juan J., 94 
Evans, Mrs. Glendower, 60 
Evening Post, New York, 237, 241 

Falaba case, 162-164 
Fall, Albert B., 42, 124-125 
Farnham, Roger L., 100 
Farnham Plan, 100 
Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916, ef- 
forts of agrarian leaders to establish 



rural credits system blocked by 
Wilson administration, 5659 ', 
passage of Act, 225-226 

Federal Reserve Act of 1913, 43-53 

Federal Reserve Board, controversy 
over appointment, 76-78; calls halt 
to extension of short-term credits 
to Allies, 258-259 

Federal Trade Commission, purpose 
of, 74; failure to realize ambitions 
of its sponsors, 74-75 

Federal Trade Commission Act of 
1914, Roosevelt proposes and Wil- 
son condemns during campaign of 
1912, 16, 21; "weak" trade com- 
mission bill, 68; writing of "strong" 
trade commission bill and approval 
by Wilson, 71-72; passage of meas- 
ure, 72 

Fiske, Bradley A., 86 . 

Fletcher, Duncan .," 57 

Fletcher, Henry P., 144 

Flinn, William, 16 

Flood, Hal D., and Lusitania crisis, 
166; assures Germany of American 
friendship, 206; and armed ship 
controversy of 1916, 211-212 

Ford, Henry, 76, 230-231 

Fort, John Franklin, 101 

France, Joseph I., 278 

Frick, Henry C., 76 

Frye note, 169 

Fuller, Paul, goes on secret mission to 
Mexico, 129-130; views on war, 

Furuseth, Andrew, early campaign 
for seamen's bill, 6162; denoun- 
ces London Convention on Safety 
at Sea, 62; and passage of Sea- 
men's Act, 62-63 

Gallinger, Jacob H., 183, 192 

Gait, Edith Boiling, 183 

Gamboa, Federico, repudiates Wil- 
son's right to intervene in Mexico, 
114-115; candidate for Mexican 
presidency, 116 

Gardner, Augustus P., 177 

Gardner, Gilson, 213 

Garrison, Lindley M., sketch of as 
Secretary of War, 28; favors strong 
action against Japan, 87; protests 
Lusitania postscript, 166; and 

formulation of army preparedness 
program, 179-180; at loggerheads 
with House committee over army 
bill, 183-184, 186; resigns, 186; 
opinion of Wilson, 186 

Gavit, J. P., 278 

George, Henry, 1 

Gerard, James W., 256 

German- American Alliance, 214 

German-Americans, and senatorial 
contest in New York, 230; and 
Republican preconvention cam- 
paign of 1916, 231; win victory in 
nomination of Hughes, 232; and 
campaign of 1916, 245-247; vote 
in election of 1916, 249 

Germany, food situation in, 159; war 
objectives in 1915, 162; German 
anger over export of munitions to 
Allies, 167-168; German reaction 
to Sussex ultimatum, 215-216; in- 
ternal struggle over submarine 
policy, 216; intensifies submarine 
campaign, 254; discussions of un- 
restricted submarine warfare, 255; 
deportation of Belgian laborers, 
257; leaders decide upon peace 
campaign and, that failing, un- 
restricted submarine warfare, 259; 
war objectives in December 1916, 
259; peace offer, 259-260, 264; 
decision for unrestricted submarine 
warfare, 263; reveals peace terms 
to Wilson, 266; announces unre- 
stricted submarine warfare, 266- 
267; success of submarine cam- 
paign, 276. See also Germany and 
the United States 

Germany and the United States, 
Bryan anxious to prevent German 
control of Haiti, 100; Germany 
supports United States in Mexico, 
119; Germany foments trouble be- 
tween United States and Mexico, 
133-134; Wilson anxious to avoid 
war with Mexico because of trouble 
with Germany, 137; German prop- 
aganda during First World War 
and American opinion, 145-148; 
Germany challenges British block- 
ade with submarines, 156-159; re- 
jects Wilson's mediation, 160-162; 
the Thrasher case, 162-164; Ger- 


man protests over American sale 
of munitions to Allies, 163; sink- 
ing of Lusitania and subsequent 
crisis, 164-167; revelation of Ger- 
man propaganda in United States, 
167; sinking of Arabic leads to first 
German submarine pledge, 168- 
169; growth of anti-German senti- 
ment in United States, 174-177; 
German intrigues in Mexico and 
United States, 200-201; negotia- 
tions to settle Lusitania affair, 201, 
206, 210; discussions over armed 
ships, 205-209; Germany issues 
proclamation against armed ships, 
209-210; controversy over armed 
ships, 210-214; Sussex crisis and 
settlement, 215-218; intensified 
submarine campaign raises new 
cases, 254; and possibilities of 
Wilson's mediation, 255-257; Ger- 
many rejects Wilson's offer of 
mediation and friendship, 261- 
266; unrestricted submarine war- 
fare causes break in relations, 266 
268; the Zimmermann "note," 
271; causes for war between, 278- 

Ghent, William J., 274 

Giddings, Franklin H., 176 

Gladden, Washington, 239 

Glass, Carter, and writing of Federal 
Reserve bill, 45-50; and rural 
credits legislation, 58 

Glynn, Martin H., 233-234 

Godkin, Lawrence, 176 

Gomez, F<lix G., 141 

Gompers, Samuel, president of A.F. 
of L., demands exemption of labor 
unions from prosecution under 
antitrust laws, 56, 69, 73; calls 
Clayton Act "Magna Carta" of 
labor, 7374; supports Wilson in 
1916, 240 

Gonzales, Pablo, 130-131 

Gore, Thomas P,, 211-214 

Gore Resolution, 213-214 

Gray, George, 143 

Great Britain, British war objectives 
in 1915, 155, 198; interdicts all 
commerce with Germany, 160; in- 
ability to pay for war purchases in 
United States, 172; intensifies eco- 

nomic warfare, 252-253; and Ger- 
man peace offer, 260, 264. See also 
Great Britain and the United 

Great Britain and the United States, 
dispute over Panama Canal tolls, 
90-93; British- government sup- 
ports Huerta, 116; Wilson contem- 
plates strong protest to British 
government, 1 1 7-1 18; Wilson 
forces British government to aban- 
don Huerta, 119-120; British 
propaganda during First World 
War and American opinion, 145- 
148; Anglo-American difficulties 
and negotiations over neutral trad- 
ing rights, 154-155; Dacia contro- 
versy, 155-156; British food 
blockade, 157; cotton crisis of 
1915, 169-172; negotiation of 
Anglo-French loan of 1915, 172- 
173; worsening of Anglo-American 
relations, 218-220; mails dispute, 
220; "blacklist" dispute, 220-221; 
new antagonisms drive two nations 
further apart, 252-253; potential 
controversy over mediation, 255- 
257; restriction of American credit 
to Britain, 258-259; Anglo-Ameri- 
can negotiations looking toward 
mediation, 263-264 

Gregory, Thomas W., appointed At- 
torney General, 28; and contro- 
versy over general leasing bill, 30; 
submits memorandum on army bill 
of 1916, 184; reviews work of Ger- 
man Embassy, 200-201; issues ap- 
peal for help against German intri- 
guers, 201; urges appointment of 
Brandeis to Supreme Court, 225; 
on legality of arming merchant 
ships, 274; urges war resolution, 

Grew, Joseph C., 260 

Grey, Sir Edward, denies "deal" with 
Wilson over Panama Canal tolls 
and Mexico, 92; denies that Cow- 
dray controls Mexican policy of 
British government 116; agrees to 
abandon support of Huerta, 119 
120; protests ship purchase bill and 
American unneutrality, 153, 156; 
anxious to come to understanding 



with Wilson, 155; welcomes peace 
talks, 161; and House's peace mis- 
sion of 1915, 162; suggests Ameri- 
can mediation, 198-199; confers 
with House, 202-203, 204-205; 
understanding with House, 205; 
shocked by Lansing's modus vi- 
vendi, 208; refuses to allow Wil- 
son's mediation, 219 

Gronna, Asle J., 42 

Guiterrez, Eulalio, 131 

Haiti and the United States, 1913- 

1916, 99-102, 104 
Hale, Edward J., 26 
Hale, Matthew, 232, 240, 278 
Hale, William Bayard, 112, 120-121 
Hapgood, Norman, 31, 175, 239 
Harding, Warren G., 192 
Harding, W. P. G., 171, 258 
Harmon, Judson, 7 
Harvey, George, 9, 10, 56, 175 
Hay, James, 183, 186 
Hayes, Garlton J. H., 271-272 
"He kept us out of war," 242-243 
Hearst, William Randolph, supports 
Clark, 11; agitates for war with 
Mexico, 125 
Hearst newspapers, 132 
Heney, Francis J., 239 
Henry, Robert L., 49-50 
Hepburn, A. Barton, 51 
Herrick, Myron T., 231 
Hindenburg, Paul von, 255, 259 
Hitchcock, Gilbert M., opposes Fed- 
eral Reserve bill, 51-52; urges 
armed neutrality instead of war, 

Hollis, Henry F., Democratic leader 
in Senate, 35; and controversy over 
rural credits bill, 5759; and pas- 
sage of rural credits bill, 225-226; 
and Democratic platform of 1916, 

House, Edward M., and Democratic 
preconvention campaign of 1912, 
12; personal relations with Wilson, 
26; helps Wilson select Cabinet, 
25, 26, 30-31; and appointment of 
Federal Reserve Board, 76-77; 
opinion on causes of First World 
War, 146; first mediation effort, 
1914-1915, 160-162; formulates 

plan to end war, 197-201; second 
peace mission, 202205; under- 
standing with Grey, 205; urges 
Lansing to hold modus vivendi in 
abeyance, 208-209; urges strong 
stand in Sussex crisis, 215; urges 
Grey to allow mediation, 219; sus- 
picious of British motives, 219- 
220; Wilson consults on League 
speech, 233; excites BernstorfFs 
hopes of mediation, 256; warns 
Wilson of dangers of mediation, 
256-258; and Wilson's peace note, 
260; secret negotiations with Bern- 
storff and Wiseman, 262-264; 
urges severance of relations with 
Germany, 268; tries to calm Wil- 
son, 277 

House-Grey understanding (the 
"Gentlemen's Agreement"), 205 

Houston, David F., sketch of as Secre- 
tary of Agriculture, 30; comments 
on Underwood tariff, 43; opposes 
rural credits bill, 5758; and pas- 
sage of rural credits bill, 226; urges 
arming of merchant ships, 270; 
urges war resolution, 276 

Howe, Frederick C., 193, 239 

Howland, Charles P., 176 

Huerta, Victoriano, deposes Madero 
and seizes power in Mexico, 107- 
108; Wilson offers mediation to, 
112-113; repudiates Wilson's right 
to intervene, 113-115; establishes 
military dictatorship, 116-117; 
again refuses to retire, 119; grows 
in strength, 122; refuses to salute 
American flag during Tampico 
affair, 122-123; and ABC media- 
tion, 126-127; abdicates, 128; and 
German intrigues, 200 

Hughes, Charles Evans, and presi- 
dential nomination in 1908, 3; 
biographical sketch, 231; nomina- 
tion for President, 232; failure of 
campaign appeals, 237-238; de- 
nounces Adamson Act, 238; embar- 
rassments in campaign, 244-245; 
confers with German-Americans, 
245-246; and election of 1916, 

Hughes, William, 35 

Hull, Cordell, 38, 39-40 


Hurley, Edward N., 74, 75 


Illinois, 274 

Immigration legislation, movement 

for immigration restriction, 60; 

Wilson vetoes Burnett bill of 1915, 

60-61; passage of Burnett bill in 

1917 over Wilson's veto, 61 
Income tax of 1913, 38-40; income 

tax of 1916, 192-196 
International Harvester Company, 77 
International Mercantile Company, 

Irish-Americans and campaign and 

election of 1916, 245-247, 251 
Irish Rebellion, 218 

Jagow, Gottlieb von, 162, 166, 211, 

James, Ollie M., 29, 234 

Japan and the United States, crisis 
over California alien land act of 
1913, 84^-87; crisis over Twenty- 
One Demands, 87-90; difficulties 
over Mexico, 91 

Jarvis, Samuel M., 97 

Jefferson, Charles E., 182 

Jimenez, Juan Y., 99 

Johnson, Hiram W., elected Governor 
of California, 6; Progressive vice- 
presidential candidate, 16; and 
crisis over California alien land act, 
85-86; and campaign of 1916 in 
California, 245 

Joint Board of Army and Navy, 86 

Joint Neutrality Board, opinion on 
purchase of belligerent merchant 
ships, 150; opinion in Thrasher 
case, 163 

Jones Act of 1916, 227-228 

Jones, Thomas D., 77 

Jones, Wesley L., 52 

Jones, William A., 227 

Kato, Baron, 87-89 

Keating, Edward, 70 

Keating-Owen child labor bill, 226- 


Kelley, Rev. Francis C., 135 
Kent, William, 30, 85, 239 
Kern, John W., 211 
Kern-McGillicuddy bill, 226 

Kitchin, Claude, leader of antipre- 
paredness group, 183; comments 
on results of Wilson's tour, 186; 
claims victory for anti-preparedness 
group in army bill controversy, 
187; denounces naval bill, 190; 
and writing of Revenue Act of 
1916, 194^-195; and armed ship 
controversy of 1916, 212-213; and 
"Sunrise Conference," 213; refuses 
to support tariff commission, 228; 
helps draft Adamson bill, 236; 
opposes war resolution, 282 

Kleist, Franz Rintelen von, 200 

Knapp, Harry S., 99 

Knox, Philander C., and Six-Power 
Consortium, 83; and Nicaragua, 
94, 96; on non-recognition of 
Huerta, 108 

Labor, W. B. Wilson and develop- 
ment of Labor Department, 31; 
A.F. of L. 9 s unsuccessful campaign 
to win immunity for labor unions 
from application of antitrust laws, 
55-56, 69-70, 73-74; attitude of 
organized labor toward immigra- 
tion restriction, 60; passage of 
Seamen's Act, 61-63; labor legisla- 
tion of 1916, 226-227; passage of 
Adamson Act, 235-237; A.F. of L. 
and campaign of 1916, 240; and 
election of 1916, 249 

La Foilette, Robert M., insurgent Re- 
publican leader, 13-14; and in- 
come tax of 1913, 39; and tariff 
lobby investigation, 41; denounces 
Federal Reserve Act, 55; sponsors 
seamen's bill, 61-63; denounces 
preparedness advocates, 182; and 
Revenue Act of 1916, 195; on 
Brandeis' nomination to Supreme 
Court, 225; opposes armed ship 
bill, 272-273; opposes war resolu- 
tion, 282 

Lane, Franklin K., sketch of as Secre- 
tary of Interior, 2930; serves on 
Joint High Commission, 143; urges 
arming of merchant ships, 270 

Lansing, Robert, sketch of as Secre- 
tary of State, 27; comments on 
Wilson's mental processes, 32-33; 
forces Haitians to sign treaty, 102; 



on causes of Mexican Revolution, 
127; convinced Germany desires 
war between United States and 
Mexico, 133-135; negotiates pro- 
tocol for entry of Punitive Expedi- 
tion into Mexico, 136137; warns 
Garranza of danger of war, 141; 
and "strict accountability" note, 
159-160; argues for strong protest 
in Thrasher case, 163; impact of 
Lusitania sinking on, 165; protests 
Lusitania postscript, 166; views on 
war, 175; investigates German in- 
trigues, 200201 ; begins Lusitania 
negotiations, 201; negotiations for 
disarming of merchant ships, 205- 
209; assures Germany of American 
friendship, 206; reverses position 
on armed ships, 210; his indiscre- 
tion, 210; and Sussex crisis and 
settlement, 215-218; protests Brit- 
ish seizure of mails, 220; fears 
Wilson will retaliate against Brit- 
ain, 221; refuses to discuss Anglo- 
American relations with Page, 222; 
Wilson, consults on League speech, 
233; unpleasant interview with 
Spring Rice, 253; warns Wilson of 
dangers of mediation, 258; on Ger- 
man peace offer, 260; and Wilson's 
peace note, 260; discusses "Peace 
without Victory" speech, 265; and 
decision to break relations with 
Germany, 267-268; affirms legality 
of arming ships, 274; urges war 
resolution, 276 

Latin American policy of the United 
States, 1910-1917, origins and gen- 
eral aspects, 93-94, 103-104, 109; 
Nicaragua and United States, 94*- 
97 ; Dominican Republic and 
United States, 97-99; Haiti and 
United States, 99-102; United 
States and major Latin American 
powers, 104; Colombian treaty, 
104-105; Pan-American Pact, 105- 
106; limitations of, 106; relations 
between United States and Mexico, 
1913-1914, 107-128; background 
and significance of Wilson's Mobile 
address, 117-118; United States 
and Mexican civil war, 128-133; 
United States recognizes Carranza 

government, 133-135; sending of 
Punitive Expedition nearly pro- 
vokes war between United States 
and Mexico, 136-142; Mexican- 
American Joint High Commission, 
143; withdrawal of Punitive Ex- 
pedition and de jure recognition of 
Carranza government by United 
States, 143-144 

League of Nations, 233 

League to Enforce Peace, 233 

Lever, A. F., 225-226, 238 

Lewis, David J., 70 

Lind, John, goes to Mexico City as 
confidential agent, 113; presents 
Wilson's proposals to H u e r t a 
government, 114; is convinced Brit- 
ish government supports Huerta, 
116; urges Wilson to depose 
Huerta by force, 122; dismissed as 
adviser on Mexico, 129 

Lindsey, Ben B., 239 

Lippitt, Henry F., 42 

Lippmann, Walter, 239, 240, 279 

Lloyd George, David, tax bill of 1909, 
196; peace talks with House, 204; 
warns against mediation effort, 
255; answers German peace offer, 

Lloyd, Henry Demarest, 1 

Loans, war, Bryan's ban, 1.51,; revoca- 
tion of ban, 1J5&; negotiation of 
Anglo-French loan of 1915, 172- 
j_73 L-Subscquent loans, J73; restric- 
tion of American credits, 258-259 ; 
and American intervention, 278 

Lodge, Henry Cabot, leads fight 
against ratification of Colombian 
treaty, 105; urges strong action 
against Mexico, 124-125; opposes 
ship purchase bill, 153; supports 
Wilson in armed ship controversy, 
214; attacks Wilson's foreign policy, 
230; on necessity for special ses- 
sion, 271, 272; commends Wilson's 
war message, 282 

Long, Boaz W., 99, 100 

Lubin, David, 239 

Ludendorff, Erich F. W., 255 

Lusitania case and negotiations, 164- 
167, 201, 206, 210 

Lusitania postscript episode, 166, 247 

324 INDEX 

McAdoo, William G., leader in Wil- 
son's preconvention campaign, 10 ; 
sketch of as Secretary of Treasury, 
27; and framing of Federal Re- 
serve bill, 46-48; and appointment 
of Federal Reserve Board, 76-77; 
acts in war crisis, 149; and cotton 
crisis of 1914, 149; and ships pur- 
chase bill, 152-153; urges Wilson 
to approve Anglo-French loan, 172; 
pushes revised shipping bill, 191- 
192; presents tax bill to pay for 
preparedness, 193; opposes anti- 
dumping measure, 228-229; urges 
arming of merchant ships, 270; 
urges war resolution, 276 

McGombs, William F., 10, 25, 233 

McConnell, Francis J., 239 

McGormick, Vance G., 233, 243, 255 

McKelway, A. J., 239 

McLemore Resolution, 211-214 

McReynolds, James G., sketch of as 
Attorney General, 28; new solution 
for trust problem, 76 

Madden, Martin, 195 

Madero, Francisco I., 107 

Mails dispute, 220 

Mann, James R., 183 

Marina case, 254 

Marsh, Benjamin, 193 

Marshall, Thomas R., 206 

Martin, Thomas S., 35, 166 

Mayo, Henry T., and Tampico affair, 

Mazatlan incident, 141 

Mexican-American Joint High Com- 
mission, 143 

Mexican Revolution, beginnings un- 
der Madero and counterrevolution 
by Huerta, 107-108; beginnings 
and early progress of Constitu- 
tionalist movement, 109, 120; 
triumph of Constitutionalists, 127- 
128; great schism in Revolution, 
1914-1915, 128-131; triumph of 
Carranza, 131135; adoption of 
Constitution of 1917 and establish- 
ment of de jure government, 144 

Mexico and the United States, 1910- 
1917, United States and Huerta 
regime, 107-128; Tampico affair 
and occupation of Vera Cruz, 122- 
125; ABC mediation, 126-127; 

triumph of the Revolution, 127- 
128; United States supports Villa 
in civil war, 129-131; Pan-Ameri- 
can conferences on Mexico, 133- 
135; Santa Ysabel massacre, 136; 
Columbus raid, 136; formation and 
sending of Punitive Expedition, 
136-138; development of war 
situation, 138; Scott-Obregon con- 
ferences, 138-139; Glen Springs, 
Texas, raid, 140; Carrizal incident 
leads to verge of war, 141142; 
Mexican-American Joint High 
Commission, 143; withdrawal of 
Punitive Expedition and de jure 
recognition of Carranza govern- 
ment by United States, 143-144; 
German agents try to stir trouble 
between, 200 ; Mexican-American 
relations as an issue in campaign 
of 1916, 230, 232, 237, 239, 246, 

Mitchel, John Purroy, 52 

Mobile Address, Wilson's, 117-118 

Moore, John Bassett, on seamen's 
bill, 62; prevents Wilson from 
sending insulting note to London, 

Morey, Lewis S., 141-142 

Morgan, House of, withdraws from 
thirty directorships, 67-68; and 
French loan of 1914, 151; and 
French commercial credit, 152; 
negotiates Anglo-French loan of 

1915, 173; attempts to extend 
short-term credit to British, 258- 

Morgan, J. Pierpont, Jr., 76 
Morgan, J. Pierpont, Sr., 12 
Morrison, Frank, 73 
Mott, John R., 143 
Munitions-makers and American in- 
tervention, 279 
Murdock, Victor, 239-240 
Murphy, Charles F., 13 

Nation, disappointed by Hughes cam- 
paign, 237; supports Wilson in 

1916, 241 

National Association for the Advance- 
ment of Colored People, 54, 65 

National Association of Manufac- 
turers, 227 



National Child Labor Committee, 
and advanced progressivism, 54; 
sponsors child labor bill in 1914, 
59; sponsors child labor bill in 
1916, 226-227 

National City Bank of New York, 
and Dominican finances, 98; and 
Haiti, 100; and war loans, 152 

National Farmers' Union, 54 

National Guard, Wilson calls to 
Mexican border, 140; Army War 
College proposes to scrap, 179-180; 
controversy over, 184, 186; provi- 
sion for control in House army bill, 
187; provisions for expansion and 
federal control of in Army Act of 
1916, 188; called by President in 
railroad strike crisis, 236; called 
into federal service, 277 

National Monetary Commission, 44 

National Security League, formation, 
177; issues manifesto, 178; urges 
Wilson to veto Army Act, 188-189 

Naval Appropriations Act of 1916, 
General Board proposes program of 
expansion, 179; House bill, 189; 
Senate bill, 190; Wilson wins adop- 
tion of Senate bill as final measure, 

Navy League of the United States, 
177-178, 179, 180 

Negroes, Wilson's promises to in 
1912, 63-64; segregation in federal 
departments under Wilson, 64-66; 
Negroes protest segregation, 65 

New Freedom, see Wilson, Woodrow 

New Haven Railroad antitrust case, 

New Nationalism, see Roosevelt, 

New Republic, disappointed by 
Hughes' campaign, 237; supports 
Wilson in 1916, 241; influences 
Wilson's views on peace settlement, 

New York Times, The, disappointed 
by Hughes' campaign, 237; sup- 
ports Wilson in 1916, 241 

New York World, exposes intrigue 
behind appointment of J. M. Sul- 
livan as Minister to Santo Do- 
mingo, 97; publishes revelations of 
German propaganda, 167; pub- 

lishes documents on German-Ameri- 
can Alliance, 214; comments on 
Hughes' campaign, 238; concedes 
Republican victory in 1916, 247- 
248; demands war resolution, 274 

Newlands, Francis G., 68 

Nicaragua and the United States, 
1909-1917, 94, 96-97, 103-104, 

Non-Partisan League, 54, 240 

Norris, George W., and income tax of 
1913, 39; vote on Federal Reserve 
bill, 52; and Revenue Act of 1916, 
195; opposes armed ship bill, 273; 
speech against war resolution, 278; 
votes against war resolution, 282 

Obreg6n, Alvaro, 130-131, 139-140 

O' Gorman, James A,, 51-52, 92-93 

Okuma, Count, 87, 89 

O'Leary, Jeremiah A., 247 

Orduna, 168 

Oreste, Michel, 99 

O'Shaughnessy, Nelson, 113 

Outlook, 177 

Overman, Lee S., 42 

Owen, Robert L., Democratic leader 
in Senate, 35; and writing of Fed- 
eral Reserve bill, 47-49; supports 
measure for control of stock ex- 
changes, 7071 

Padgett, Lemuel, 190 

Page, Walter H., leader in Wilson's 
preconvention campaign, 10; Pan- 
ama Canal tolls dispute, 91 ; com- 
ments on House's mediation efforts, 
161; on issues of the war, 174; 
Wilson's opinion of, 199; on Grey's 
dismay over Lansing's modus vi~ 
vendi, 208-209; dismayed by anti- 
British sentiment in administration, 
222 ; transmits Zimmermann 
"note," 271; appeals for credit for 
British government, 276 

Panama Canal tolls dispute, 90-93 

Pan-American Pact, 105-106 

Pani, Alberto J., 143 

Papen, Franz von, 200-201 

Parker, Alton B., 12 

Parker, John M., 232, 239 

Parral incident, 138 

326 INDEX 

Payne-Aldrich tariff of 1909, 3, 38, 

Peabody, George Foster, 182 

Peace issue in campaign of 1916, 
241-244, 249-250 

"Peace without Victory" speech, 264- 

Pearson's Magazine, 241 

Perkins, George C., 52 

Pershing, John J., 137, 141 

Persia case, 208 

Philippine Islands, 227-228 

Pinchot, Amos, 239 

Pinchot, Gifford, and the Ballinger 
affair, 3; and Roosevelt-Taft 
estrangement, 5; and controversy 
over general leasing bill, 30 

Pittman, Key, 212 

Plunkett, Sir Horace, 161, 209 

Poindexter, Miles, 52 

Polk, Frank L., and "blacklist" dis- 
pute, 220-221, 252; comments on 
Anglo-American tension, 253 

Pollock, Sir Frederick, 148 

Pomerene, Atlee, 35 

Preparedness movement, beginnings, 
177; literature of, 178; becomes 
crusade, 178-179; General Board's 
program, 179; War College's pro- 
gram, 179-180; opposition devel- 
ops, 180-182; antipreparedness 
group controls House, 183; contro- 
versy in House over army bill, 183- 
184, 186; sectional alignment, 185- 
186; Wilson's preparedness tour, 
185; adoption and provisions of 
Army Reorganization Act, 187- 
188; writing and adoption of 
Naval Appropriations Act, 189- 
190; adoption of Shipping Act, 
191-192; paying for preparedness, 

Progressive movement, origins, 1-2; 
and Republican party, 1901-1909, 
2; divergence in ideology and 
movement, 1909-1912, 18-22; ad- 
vanced segment of, 1913-1915, 54- 
55; Wilson's refusal to yield to 
advanced program, 54-66; Wilson 
accepts advanced program for reg- 
ulation of business, 66-72; Wilson 
announces consummation of pro- 
gram, 79-80; and foreign policy 

and preparedness, 180-181; and 
culmination of democratic tax pro- 
gram, 192-196; Wilson adopts ad- 
vanced progressive program, 224- 
230; progressives support Wilson in 
1916, 239-241 

Progressive party, organized, 16; plat- 
form in 1912, 16; election of 1912, 
22-24; last effort during election 
of 1914, 78; Roosevelt disbands in 
1916, 232; many leaders of party 
support Wilson in 1916, 239-240; 
significance of vote in election of 
1916, 250 

Propaganda and the First World War, 
145-148, 279 

Punitive Expedition, formation, 136; 
sent into Mexico, 137; strength of, 
137; threatened by Carranza, 140; 
withdrawn, 144 

Pusey, Merlo J., 238 

Putnam, George Haven, 176 

Quick, Herbert, 240 

Ragsdale, J. Willard, 49 

Railroad brotherhoods, and strike 
crisis of 1916, 235-237; and strike 
crisis of 1917, 237; and campaign 
of 1916, 240 

Railroad securities bill, 68, 70 

Rainey, Henry T., 228 

Rauschenbusch, Walter, 146 

Rayburn, Sam, 68 

Reading, Lord, 204 

Record, George L., 16, 193 

Redfield, William C., sketch of as 
Secretary of Commerce, 3 1 ; states 
purpose of Federal Trade Commis- 
sion, 74; suggests anti-dumping 
measure, 228; urges war resolution, 

Reed, James A., and income tax of 
1913, 39; opposes Federal Reserve 
bill, 51-52; comments on weaken- 
ing of Clayton bill, 72 

Reed, John, 239 

Reid, Ogden, 176 

Reinsch, Paul S., 89 

Republican party, background of dis- 
ruption of, 3-6; disruption of, 
1911-1912, 13-16; election of 
1912, 22-24; resurgence during 



election of 1914, 78; situation in 
early 1916, 223; preconvention 
campaign of 1916, 230-231; Chi- 
cago convention of 1916, 231-232; 
platform of 1916, 232; campaign 
of 1916, 237-247; election of 
1916, 247-251 

Revenue Act of 1916, 192-196 

Reynolds, George M., 51 

Robinson, Joseph T., 35 

Roman Catholic Church, campaign 
for intervention in Mexico, 132; 
resents recognition of Carranza, 
135; desires repeal of Reform Laws, 
135; opposes independence for 
Philippines, 227-228; Catholics 
and election of 1916, 251 

Roosevelt, Theodore, contribution to 
progressive movement, 1901-1909, 
2-3; estrangement from Taft, 5-6; 
enunciates New Nationalism during 
campaign of 1910, 6; unsuccessful 
bid for Republican presidential 
nomination in 1912, 1415; organ- 
izes Progressive party, 16; develop- 
ment of New Nationalism, 18-20; 
and campaign and election of 
1912, 20-24; on results of election 
of 1914, 78; condemns conciliation 
treaties, 82; and Colombian treaty, 
104105; opens campaign for inter- 
vention in Mexico, 132; for war 
during Lusitania crisis, 164; views 
on war, 175; denounces Wilson's 
failure to protest violation of Bel- 
gian neutrality, 175; characterizes 
Wilson's diplomacy, 176; assumes 
leadership of preparedness agita- 
tion, 177; denounces Army Re- 
organization Act, 188; campaigns 
for Republican nomination in 1916, 
231-232; embarrasses Hughes, 
244-245; issues call for war, 274; 
commends Wilson's war message, 

Root, Elihu, contribution to Federal 
Reserve bill, 52-53; heartsick at 
thought of war with Mexico, 125; 
views on First World War, 146, 
175; opposes ship purchase bill, 
153; opinion on Lusitania sinking, 
165; attacks Wilson's foreign pol- 
icy, 230; boom for President in 

1916, 231; commends Wilson's war 
message, 282 

Rublee, George L., and writing of 
Federal Trade Commission bill, 
7172; disappointed over failure of 
Federal Trade Commission, 74- 
75; Senate refuses to confirm 
nomination as trade commissioner, 

"Rule of Reason," 67, 71 

Rural credits, see Federal Farm Loan 
Act of 1916 

Russell, Charles Edward, 274 

Russell, William W., 26, 98-99 

Russian kevolution, 275 

Ryan, Thomas Fortune, 12 

Sam, Vilbrun G., 101-102 

Scott, Hugh L., 129, 135, 139, 140, 
140-141, 269 

Scripps, E. W., 239, 241 

Seamen's Act of 1915, 61-63 

Segregation, see Negroes 

Seymour, Charles, 204 

Shaw, Anna Howard, 22 

Sherwood, Isaac R., 70 

Ship purchase bill of 1914-1915, 

Shipping Act of 1916, 191-192 

Simmons, Furnifold M., Democratic 
leader in Senate, 35; and politics 
of Underwood tariff bill in Senate, 

Sims, T. W., 212 

Sinclair, Upton, 274 

Six-Power Consortium, origins, 82- 
83; American withdrawal from, 

Slayden, James L,, 105 

Smith, Charles C., 101 

Smith, Hoke, 206 

Smith, James, Jr., 10 

Snyder, Edgar C., 239 

Socialist party, and campaign of 
1912, 16-17; election of 1912, 22; 
and campaign of 1916, 239, 249- 
250; and war resolution, 274, 275 

Southern agrarians, revolt against 
Federal Reserve bill, 48-50; plans 
for destruction of oligarchical eco- 
nomic structure, 70-71 

Speyer, James, 108, 160-161 

Spring Rice, Sir Cecil, British 

328 INDEX 

Ambassador to United States, 161; 
negotiates cotton agreement, 171; 
Wilson's opinion of, 199; and Lan- 
sing's indiscretion, 210; unpleasant 
interview with Lansing, 253 

Steffens, Lincoln, 239 

Sterling, Thomas, 52 

Stevens, Raymond B., 71-72 

Stimson, Henry L., 176 

Stone, William J., Democratic leader 
in Senate, 35; wavers in support 
of Wilson's Mexican policy, 136; 
assures Germany of American 
friendship, 206; and armed ship 
controversy of 1916, 211-212; and 
Democratic platform of 1916, 233; 
discusses "Peace without Victory" 
speech, 265 

Submarine controversy, see Germany 
and the United States and Germany 

Sullivan, James M., 97-98 

Sullivan, Roger, 13 

Sullivan, Timothy, 98 

"Sunrise Conference," 212-213 

Sussex crisis and settlement, 215-218 

Taft, William Howard, and begin- 
ning of disruption of Republican 
party, 3-4; attacks insurgents, 45; 
becomes estranged from Roosevelt, 
5-6; defeats Roosevelt for presi- 
dential nomination in 1912, 14^15; 
and campaign of 1912, 17; vote in 
election of 1912, 22-24; vetoes bill 
to exempt labor from prosecution 
under antitrust law, 55-56; com- 
ments on Wilson's signing of Sun- 
dry Civil Act, 56; vetoes seamen's 
bill in 1913, 62; refuses to recog- 
nize Huerta, 108; condemns Wil- 
son's Mexican policy, 125; helps 
defeat Clarke amendment, 228; 
and the preconvention campaign of 
1916, 230 

Tampico affair, 122-123 

Tansill, Charles C., 211, 213 

Tarbell, Ida M., 239 

Tariff Commission of 1916, 228 

Thrasher case, 162-164 

Th6odore, Davilmar, 101 

Tilhnan, Ben, 189 

Tolls dispute, 90-93 

Trotter, William Monroe, 63, 66 

Tumulty, Joseph P., sketch of as 
Secretary to President, 31-32; pro- 
tests Lusitania postscript, 166; 
urges Wilson to appeal to country 
on preparedness, 185; and the 
armed ship controversy of 1916, 

Twenty-One Demands, Japanese- 
American crisis over, 8790 

Tyrrell, Sir William, 91, 119 

Underwood, Oscar W., campaign for 
Democratic presidential nomination 
in 1912, 12; and Baltimore conven- 
tion, 13; leader in House, 35; and 
writing of Underwood tariff bill, 
36-40; opposes Wilson in tolls dis- 
pute, 92; elected to Senate, 183; 
and Democratic platform of 1916, 
Underwood Tariff Act of 1913, 35- 


Union League of New York, 274 
United States Chamber of Commerce, 


United States Shipping Board, 191 
United States Steel Corporation, 76 
Untermyer, Samuel, and writing of 
Federal Reserve bill, 47; criticizes 
Clayton bill, 69; supports measure 
for control of stock exchanges, 70 

Vardaman, James K., 39 

Vera Cruz affair, occupation by 
United States, 123; Wilson's moti- 
vation, 123124; Latin American 
and European reactions, 124; 
American reaction, 124^125 

Viereck, George Sylvester, 272 

Vigilancia, 274 

Villa, Francisco, opposes Carranza 
during Vera Cruz crisis, 126; 
schemes to control Mexico and 
begins war against Carranza, 128- 
129; concurs in American plan for 
new government for Mexico, 129- 
130; joins forces with Zapata and 
seizes control at Aguascalientes 
convention, 130-131; defeated by 
Obreg6n, 131; offers to make peace 
with Carranza, 133-134; massacres 
Americans at Santa Ysabel, 136; 



executes raid on Columbus, New 
Mexico, 136; escapes capture by 
Punitive Expedition, 137; raids 
Glen Springs, Texas, 140; and 
German intrigues, 200 
Villard, Oswald Garrison, advises 
Wilson on race problem, 64; pro- 
tests segregation, 65; denounces 
Germany, 148; active in peace and 
antipreparedness movements, 182 

Wade, Festus J., 51 

Wald, Lillian D., 182, 239 

Walling, William English, 274 

Walsh, Thomas J., Democratic leader 
in Senate, 35; and politics of 
Underwood tariff bill, 40-41; and 
Democratic platform of 1916, 233; 
and peace issue in 1916, 243 

War Risk Insurance Bureau, 150- 
151, 272, 273 

Warburg, Paul M., and framing of 
Aldrich Plan, 44; and framing of 
Federal Reserve bill, 46; contro- 
versy over appointment to Federal 
Reserve Board, 77 

Ward, Lester F., 1 

Washington, Booker T., 65 

Webb, E. Y., 69-70 

Weeks, John W., 52 

West, Andrew F., 9 

West, Duval, 132-133 

Wexler, Sol, 51 

White, Edward D., 67 

White, William Allen, 5, 18, 250 

Wilhelmina case, 157 

William II, Emperor, orders abandon- 
ment of unrestricted submarine 
warfare, 169; and Sussex crisis, 
216217; agrees to peace campaign 
and, that failing, to approve un- 
restricted submarine warfare, 259 

Williams, John Sharp, comments on 
Wilson, 32; urges abolition of "rule 
of reason," 67; on anti-British 
sentiment in South, 170 

Willis, H. Parker, 45-46, 52 

Wilson, Henry Lane, advises recogni- 
tion of Huerta, 108; role in Huerta 
coup, 111-112; dismissed as Ambas- 
sador to Mexico, 113; Hughes* 
chief adviser on Mexico, 237 

Wilson, William B., as Secretary of 

Labor, 31; sponsors seamen's bill 
in 1912, 61-62; urges war resolu- 
tion, 267 

Wilson, Woodrow, new Democratic 
leader, 7; biographical sketch, 8; 
as president of Princeton University, 
8-9; nominated and elected Gover- 
nor of New Jersey, 9-10; and re- 
form movement in New Jersey, 10; 
campaigns for presidential nomina- 
tion, 10-11; near failure of cam- 
paign, 12; nomination for presi- 
dency, 13; enunciates New Free- 
dom, 20-22; election, 22-24; maps 
legislative program and appoints 
Cabinet, 25-33; sketch of in early 
1913, 32-33; inaugural, 33-34; his 
system of presidential leadership, 
34-35; and writing and adoption 
of Underwood tariff bill, 35-43; 
and writing and adoption of Fed- 
eral Reserve bill, 45-52; relations 
with advanced wing of progressive 
movement, 54-55; opposes exempt- 
ing labor from prosecution under 
antitrust law, 56, 69-70, 73; op- 
poses plan to establish federal rural 
credits system, 5659; refuses to 
support child labor bill, 59; op- 
poses women's suffrage, 59-60; 
vetoes Burnett immigration bills of 
1915 and 1917, 60-61; and passage 
of Seamen's Act, 61-63; and Negro 
question, 63-64; and segregation 
controversy, 64-66; formulates New 
Freedom program for business, 66 
69; abandons New Freedom pro- 
gram for business control and 
adopts Rooseveltian solution, 70 
72; loses interest in Clayton bill, 
72; purpose of antitrust program, 
74; campaign to win friendship of 
business community, 7576; ap- 
pointment of Federal Reserve 
Board raises controversy, 76-78; 
disheartened by congressional elec- 
tion of 1914, 78-79; announces 
consummation of progressive pro- 
gram, 79; character of Wilson's 
progressivism, 79-80; dynamics of 
Wilson's foreign policy, 81-82; and 
dispute with Japan over California 
alien land act of 1913, 84r-87; and 

330 INDEX 

crisis over Twenty-One Demands, 
87-90; and Panama Canal tolls 
dispute, 90-93; origins, formula- 
tion, and motivation of his Latin 
American and Caribbean policies, 
93-94, 103-104; Nicaraguan pol- 
icy, 94-97; Dominican policy, 97- 
99; Haitian policy, 99-102; rela- 
tions with. Huerta government of 
Mexico, 1913-1914, 107-128; early 
attempts to control Constitutionalist 
movement are rebuffed, 120-121; 
revokes arms embargo against 
Mexico, 121-122; and Tampico 
Affair, 122-123; orders occupation 
of Vera Cruz, 123-124; and ABC 
mediation, 126-128; turns against 
Carranza and supports Villa, 129- 
131; plans intervention in Mexico, 
132-133; resents Catholic inter- 
ference, 135-136; prepares for war 
with Mexico, 137-142; refuses to 
go to war with Mexico, 142-143; 
orders withdrawal of Punitive Ex- 
pedition, 144; issues proclamation 
of neutrality, 148; urges adoption 
of measures to meet war crisis, 
150-151; and question of war 
loans, 151-152; futile struggle for 
ship purchase bill, 152-153; replies 
to German submarine challenge, 
159-160; attempts to obtain Brit- 
ish-German agreement on block- 
ade and submarines, 160; first 
efforts at mediation, 160-162; at- 
tempts to formulate policy toward 
submarines in Thrasher case, 162- 
164; during Lusitania crisis, 165- 
166; negotiations with German 
government, 166-167; obtains satis- 
faction in Arabic case, 168169; 
and cotton crisis of 1915, 170-171; 
deprecates preparedness talk, 177- 
178; takes up preparedness, 179; 
presents preparedness program to 
country, 180; loses control of 
House, 183; campaigns for pre- 
paredness through East and Mid- 
west, 185; accepts House army 
plan, 186; contributions to Army 
Reorganization Act, 188; supports 
Senate naval bill, 190; concurs in 
House's plan to end war through 

mediation, 198-199; opinion of 
Page and Spring Rice, 199; 
alarmed by German intrigues in 
Mexico and United States, 200- 
201 ; purpose of his proposed media- 
tion, 205; and discussion over 
armed ships, 205-209; reverses 
position on armed ships, 210; and 
controversy over armed ships, 210- 
214; and Sussex crisis and settle- 
ment, 215-218; hardening of atti- 
tude toward British, 218-220; 
obtains retaliatory power from 
Congress, 220-221; confers with 
Page, 222; adopts advanced pro- 
gressivism, 224-225; names Bran- 
deis to Supreme Court, 225; 
supports rural credits bill, 225-226; 
supports workmen's compensation 
bill, 226; forces passage of child 
labor bill, 226-227; supports meas- 
ures to aid business, 228-229; 
plans for campaign of 1916, 232- 
233; renominated by St. Louis con- 
vention, 234; and railroad strike 
crisis, 235237; assumes leadership 
of progressives during campaign of 
1916, 235-241; takes leadership of 
peace forces, 241-242; and election 
of 1916, 247-251; angered by Brit- 
ish maritime practices, 253; un- 
willing to raise submarine issue 
during campaign, 254; determines 
to end war to avoid American inter- 
vention, 255-257; reads draft of 
peace note, 257-258; spurns Anglo- 
American co-operation for peace, 
258; urges tightening credit to 
Allies, 259; impressed by German 
peace offer, 260; issues peace ap- 
peal, 260-261; negotiates directly 
with German and British govern- 
ments, 261-264; voices American 
peace objectives in "Peace without 
Victory" speech, 264-266; breaks 
relations with Germany, 266-268; 
continues to hope for peace, 268; 
refuses to sanction arming of mer- 
chant ships, 269-270; receives 
Zimmermann message, asks Con- 
gress for authority to arm merchant 
ships, 271; publishes Zimmermann 

"note," 272; denounces opponents 
of armed ship bill, 273-274; arms 
merchant ships, 274; makes reluc- 
tant decision for war, 275-276; 
calls Congress into special session 
and begins war preparations, 276 
277; talk with Frank Gobb, 277; 
his despair, 277278; an analysis 
of his policies toward belligerents, 
280; delivers war message and 
signs war resolution, 281282 

Wiseman, Sir William, 264 

Wister, Owen, 176 

Women's Peace party, 182 

Woolley, Robert W., 241-242 

Works, John D., 52 

World War, First, American reaction 
to, 145, 174-177; German and 
British propaganda in United 

INDEX 331 

States, 145-148; early economic 
impact on American economy, 
149-150; administration measures 
to meet war crisis, 150151; mili- 
tary situation in January 1916, 
202; causes for American entry 
into, 278-281 

Zamor, Charles and Oreste, 99101 

Zapata, Emiliano, 130-131 

Zaragoza, Morelos, 122 

Zelaya, Jose" Santos, 94, 96 

Zimmermann, Alfred, sends instruc- 
tions during peace negotiations, 
262; message to Minister in Mexico, 
271 ; admits authenticity of mes- 
sage, 273 

Zimmermann "note," 271273 

Zwiedinek, Erich, 209 

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