Dr. Robert Waite/Washington: "this terrible European war". The United States, the American Public and the Outbreak of War in 1914
(A speech at the international colloquium on 06/11/2014 concerning the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago)

On August 1, 1914, the German ambassador to Czarist Russia delivered the declaration of war to his Russian counterpart, setting in motion the conflict that quickly spread from a squabble in the Balkans to a European wide war of annihilation.1 Throughout the first months of the conflict the American public followed the rapidly developing events closely through its major sources of information, newspapers and magazines. "Our interest in the European struggle has its broadest basis in the fact that we are a nation of European immigrants," an editor of The Literary Digest wrote in the August 15th issue as he explained the extensive press coverage.2 With this deep-seated interest, the big-city newspapers had already stationed correspondents throughout Europe and the articles they submitted to their home papers were picked up and reprinted in small towns across the nation. Reporters for the Associated Press, United Press, Reuters, and the International News Service based in Europe sent back accounts daily and these too were transmitted to newspapers across the nation. Each day, many of the newspapers in the smaller, regional markets carried up to several articles on the growing diplomatic crisis and the outbreak of war. The editors shared the mounting and widespread concern, plus news of war sold newspapers. Albany, New York’s newspaper the Times-Union, a daily that served the Capital District, a cluster of several medium sized cities in upstate New York, ran front-page stories on the war throughout the summer of 1914, even a regular article entitled simply "The War News For Busy Readers."It termed the conflict "appalling and disastrous" in an August 4th editorial.3
The articles and reports from Europe were crucial in shaping views across America on the war. In the summer and fall of 1914 the American public relied on newspapers for their information on events beyond their own community. The daily press as well as a number of magazines, most weeklies, fed the widespread interest for news. The media had considerable influence over public opinion, for these publications not only provided the news, but also molded how its readers viewed the events of the world. In 1914 there were no public opinion polls to sample and gauge sentiment, however. The response of the American public, its commercial and political leaders to "this terrible European war," "the most devastating war in European history," can, therefore, best be assessed by a broad survey of the news media, namely a closer look at those vehicles that did so much to shape public views and opinions, the newspapers and magazines.4
During the first months of the conflict the belligerents waged a vigorous publicity campaign in the United States targeting the press, the public and political leaders. The European powers strived to sway public opinion and to gain at least the tacit support of this major economic and political power which was closely linked with Europe economically but which chose to remain distant with its diplomatic connections.5 Belgium sent an official commission to present its case before President Wilson. The French president called the White House and asserted that German troops had used the dreaded and banned dum-dum bullets. Kaiser Wilhelm sent a personal dispatch to Washington defending the conduct of his troops and their actions at Louvaine. German academics and German-Americans were especially active in this concerted effort to sway American public opinion.6 The German chancellor issued a statement that he addressed directly to the American people. The president of the Reichstag and the leaders of other influential organizations released a pamphlet entitled "The Truth About Germany." The German government distributed across America a pamphlet entitled "How the Franco German Conflict Could Have Been Avoided" which included a host of diplomatic cables and other relevant documents.7
How did the American public, its business and political leaders, react to the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914 and to the efforts of the belligerents to influence their views on the war? Can one speak of a consensus in public sentiment?8 Did attitudes and opinions shift in the first months of the conflict? Did the American media place the responsibility, the blame for launching a European wide war, on any one particular nation? Other questions need also to be addressed. How can public opinion be measured and gauged? What did the leading figures in commerce and trade see as the war’s impact on the United States? Was there a broad consensusamong members of Congress? And lastly, how did President Wilson, the head of state who did so much to lead public opinion, respond during the early phase of the war as fighting engulfed much of Europe, and did his responses have an impact on the nation’s reactions to the war?

When war broke out in Europe and spread rapidly across the continent the American public had already long been following the diplomatic crises that had done much to pave the way for a major conflagration. The frequent reports in the leading newspapers of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, for example, were reprinted often in the small, regional press, thereby reaching a much larger audience throughout America. Most of the media initially presented the system of European diplomatic relations as inherently unstable and troublesome, and therefore largely responsible for war. The weekly and monthly magazines carried thoughtful analyses. Among these journals some were decidedly pacifist, while others envisioned an active role for America in European affairs. Much of the discussion in the press reflected the editor’s view of America’s role in the world and how the conflict affected American national security. The outbreak of warin Europe also sparked a vigorous debate about militarism, power politics, preparedness, and national security in the United States, issues reflected in the press coverage.9
During the several yearsleading up to the outbreak of war, the American press hadoften published accounts of political and diplomatic developments in Europe and the mounting threats to peace. The magazine Living Age saw already in November 1912 the growing importance of "the demands of Austria-Hungary," but concluded then:"The dangers of the European situation are still in the future. There is now happily little doubt that the war will be localized," if a war were to break out.10 In the January 1913 issue of The Atlantic Monthly the distinguished scholar Guglielmo Ferrero published a long article on "The Dangers of War in Europe." Ferrero saw the major threats coming from "a long peace, the inexperience of the masses, a literature which falsely exalts the heroic in war and exaggerates its influence among the populace," all of which contributed to a broad sentiment favoring war as a means to settle territorial disputes and satisfy national ambitions.11 On the range of American sentiment toward the European powers, James Davenport Whelpley, a prominent journalist, offered an overview in his 1914 book entitled American Public Opinion in which he dealt with most European nations and a variety of issues. An original study and one of the few attempts to measure public sentiment, Whelpley’s bookdescribed the sentiment toward England as "amicable and understanding" in 1914. He, nevertheless, devoted a full chapter to the often uneasy relationship between the US and Great Britain. In contrast, he wrote that the "relations between Germany and the United States are excellent and always have been."Whelpley went on to survey the public’s views of other European and Asian nations. Nowhere did he see hints of an impending crisis nor widespread alarm among the American public.12
During the months leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914 the coverage of affairs in Europe intensified in the media, in the newspapers and magazines that most Americans read and turned to. The situation is "charged with the most menacing possibilities and the most potent danger," observed the magazine The Living Age in March 1914 as it surveyed the growing international tensions in the Balkans, the tense relations between Germany and Turkey, and the mounting military prowess of Russia. "Germany certainly believes that it is exposed to sudden attack, and such a belief is apt to increase the anxiety in which it originated." 13 A month later, the April issue of The Literary Digest described at length the recent increases in the size of the Russian army, its improved weaponry, and the massing of troops on its western border earlier that month. "And against what country if not Germany are thesepreparations being made," it asked. The article quoted German, French, and British newspapers heavily and their views of the current situation.14
In late July 1914, with tensions mounting, the American public, as well as its political leaders, were simply uncertain what would happen next in Europe. To be sure, newspapers throughout the nation closely followed the unfolding diplomatic crisis. Many journalists were hopeful that a conflict crisis could be averted but no one ventured to predict what would come. "Negotiations may prevent clash of arms," read a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Final moves made for peace in Europe." Another headline announced "Financiers Serve Notice On Powers There Will Be No Money to Carry on General War."15 As the threat of war came closer, most continental nations curbed over-sea’s telegram traffic so America’s media had only official statements and public announcements to provide its readers with information. Reporters, seeking any information, turned to tourists returning from Europe and eagerly published their observations, however inadequate or narrow the perspective.16 The mood in the press began to darken. "Horror is one salient emotion aroused in Americans by the spectacle of Mars stalking across Europe, if editorial opinion in this country is a fair reflection," wrote an editor of The Outlook in an August 15th survey of the media. He quoted a number of newspapers from across the nation, each voicing mounting anguish and bewilderment caused by the events in Europe. "A feeling of depression, of sadness, almost of bitterness, must possess every thinking person as Europe flames into war," penned a reporter for the New York Sun newspaper.17
Once war broke out, widely circulated and influential periodicals voiced their deep despair over the events in Europe. "Forecasts as to what may happen, now that all Europe has decided to halt the progress of civilization by going in for wholesale murder on a more terrible scale than the world has witnessed, would be utterly futile," cautioned The Nation, a view that reflected the cables from American diplomats in Europe.18 "All Europe is in the swiftest and most desperate war in history," telegrammed the U.S. ambassador from London.19 Most Americans were in all likelihood surprised by the outbreak of war, and the press which had followed closely the escalation of events did little to clarify the situation. "Reports of Ultimatum by Kaiser Offset Peace Hope," read an August 1st headline on the front page of the New York Times. That same day, the Atlantic Constitution ran on its front page an article entitled "Assurances From Germany Give Hope of Compromise," as the media struggled to stay abreast of the rapidly unfolding developments in Europe.20
As soon as the fighting started, the media jumped in to keep Americans informed. The Washington Post and the New York Times each began a regular series entitled "How the War Rages" and "Summary of War News" which carried abbreviated dispatches from reporters in the various theaters of war. Regional newspapers, such as Albany, New York’s Times-Union, ran a front page column entitled "The War News for Busy Readers." Initial reports described the gains made by Germany’s armed forces. Newspapers carried thorough accounts of the bloody battles the troops were engaged in.21 Monthly journals, such as Current Opinion, offered in-depth analysis. Its September edition ran a long article headlined "The Greatest War of History Breaks Over Europe." An editor in The Atlantic Monthly wrote: "The sudden transformation of Europe from a peaceful continent to a great battle field is something that so bewilders American public opinion that denunciations of a war so ‘senseless,’ so ‘insane,’ so ‘utterly without cause,’ have been heard on every hand."22 Even local newspapers voiced the despair. "Particularly appalling and disastrous as must be a war of such proportions," commented an editor for the Times-Union newspaper in the August 4th issue as he described the conflict in Europe.23
The press and the public struggled to make sense out of these events, of the rapidly escalating combat that the armed forces of the European powers were engaged in. "To Americans, far from the tramp of armies and safe from the aggression of covetous neighbors, such militant enthusiasm, such driving force of tradition and patriotism, is literally incomprehensible," explained Roland Usher, a historian at St. Louis’ Washington University, in The Atlantic Monthly. Usher, a critic of German policies, had already in a 1913 study of Pan-Germanism concluded that Germany’s ambitions beyond its borders dominated and shaped European diplomatic relations. "The Germans aim at nothing less than the domination of Europe and of the world by the Germanic race," he wrote in the first paragraph of the book. "The vital factor in the modern international situation is the aggression of Germany, her determination to expand her territories, to increase her power and wealth."24
During August and September reports from correspondents in Europe confirmed the worst fears; the nature and extent of the conflict and the fighting wasunprecedented. "The magnitude of the forces involved staggers the imagination; besides them the armies of the Napoleonic era fade into significance," noted a journalist. The impact of the sheer numbers of the troops in arms, the resources mobilized to support them will, wrote an editor in The Nation, "in every country…enormously increase those economic factors which have so much to do with the outcome of any prolonged struggle." In a frank assessment of the belligerents’ military strength, he concluded simply: these forces make "inevitable the greatest battles the world has yet seen."25 The American media--the daily newspapers and the weekly/monthly magazines-- followed the events in Europe closely as the local conflict spread rapidly across the continent, a chain reaction of events set in motion by Austria’s ultimatum.26 Most did recognize the complexity of the situation, the intricacies of the diplomatic system that had developed in the late 19th century. "The war on Servia [sic]…supplied the spark which set in motion those irresistible forces which are dragging five of the greatest nations in the world into a war of annihilation," commented a reporter for the New York Herald newspaper. Herbert Templin, the European manager of the International News Service concurred. "It had been smoldering for years, seeking an opportunity to break out, and it was bound to occur," he wrote.27

Closely following the declarations of war and the initial battles between the newly mobilized armed forces, the belligerents launched another campaign, one to gain the favor of the American public and their political leaders. They madeconcerted efforts to influence this powerful and neutral nation as they strived to get the United States to take their side or at least remain fully uninvolved. The German Reich was especially active.28 This eagerness on the part of Germany to show the American public how it conducted the war as well as the rightness of its decision to declare war in the first place was but an element of a broader effort to court public opinion. The American media, the newspapers and the weekly/monthly magazines that did much to shape public opinion were not persuaded. Already in mid-August, The Outlook magazine published an article entitled "The German Point of View of the War" which stated simply that Germany had "no friends or well-wishers" in Europe or America. Its author wrote that if the hostile feelings long shown Germany by France, Russia, and England, had been reported in the American press, "the American public might not have been so surprised at the rapid development of events in the last few days; it would understand that the Germans did not think it safe to wait until the Czar had finished his mobilization, and that the German people, including the Socialists, are ready to risk their all in what they consider their supreme struggle for existence." Albany, New York’s Times-Union newspaper ran a headline "Berlin Is Gone War Mad." And one of its reporters wrote that "Patriotic mobs filled the streets during the night, shouting for war with both Russia and France." An estimated "fifty thousand men and women" rallied in front of the Kaiser’s palace and "cheered repeatedly for Emperor William and the German empire." The Kaiser appeared at the window and addressed the crowd with "a ringing appeal to the patriotic sentiment of the throng."29
Influential magazines commented on the outcry over the media coverage of Germany’s role in precipitating war and the conduct of its troops during the first weeks of the fighting. In its August 22, 1914, issue, the widely read The Literary Digest responded to what it termed "bitter protests" from German newspapers, German societies and prominent German-Americans over the alleged "unfair treatment," the "anti-German editorials," and the "abysmal ignorance concerning German conditions."30 The editors pulled together a selection of the comments from critics of the press coverage, in particularly the influential weeklies such as The Outlook, The Independent, and Harper’s Weekly. While many editorial writers made a distinction between the German people, whom they generally applauded, and the German government, which they held largely responsible for the war, most responses from Germany rejected the effort to distinguish between the people and the rulers. The Literary Digest’s editor quoted from a number of different sources, from dozens of newspapers, particularly letters to the editor published in prominent newspapers, as well as official pronouncements from German spokesmen. These pro-German responses, he concluded, had a broad unanimity among them – the war was forced upon Germany and the military conflict was an epic fight between "the Slavic world and the German world."31 The New York Times put a satirical spin on this view. "As we understand the theory of the holy war, the Kaiser had a divine mission to rescue England, France and Belgium from the impending menace of Slav domination. They were pig-headed about it and refused to be rescued. So, with a heavy heart, the Kaiser was compelled to thrash them in order to save them."32
Magazines and newspapers across the nation received "by every mail," an editor of The Nation wrote in mid-October 1914, "masses of printed matter, specially marked, and prepared and intended to convince us of the correctness of Germany’s position, and of the cruel injustices that has been done her by the failure of American public opinion to support her cause."33 The press was not the only recipient of materials from Germany which attempted to shape American attitudes. Teachers of German in schools throughout the country were "bombarded" with letters and materials from individuals and societies in Germany, reams of information justifying their war stand. These were, The Nation reported in mid-October, sent to "every ascertainable address" in America. These materials identified what they termed "misrepresentations" and presented "their holy cause," and often they came from one of the newly established "______ Society for the Spreading Abroad the Truth about Germany" which sprang up in many German cities and targeted communities in the United States. In addition, German newspapers published special issues that were handed to Americans leaving Berlin during the first weeks of the war "with the request that each copy be preserved and sent to an American newspaper." What an editor of The Nation termed "a misleading pamphlet" entitled "The Truth About Germany. Facts About the War" was distributed widely by mail and even offered at newsstands in New York City. There, a newspaper published it in full. Early in the text which ran to 86 pages it was asserted: "We are soldiers, because we have to be soldiers, because otherwise Germany and German civilization would be swept away from the face of the earth." The pamphlet included chapters on such topics as "How the War Came About," "The Attitude of Germany’s Enemies," and "Lies About Germany." It concluded: "To know that we have American friendship in this struggle will mean a great deal moral support for us in the coming trying days, for we know that the country of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln places itself on the side of a just cause and one worth of humanity’s blessing," as it attempted to rally support by the plea to America’s most revered leaders.34 The editor of New York City’s German language newspaper the Staats-Zeitung, Hermann Ridder, added his voice to those contesting German responsibility for the outbreak of war. "The assertion that German wanted war [is] ridiculous and absurd," he wrote.35
Other pro-German actions included a "war rally" at New York City’s Terrace Garden in late September and it drew more than 10,000 to speeches and music. A Congressman who attended and addressed the audience criticized the press for what he termed its "unneutrality."36 Newspapers and journals ran letters to the editor from German scholars and diplomats who vigorously defended their nation’s position. They urged Americans to view the justness of Germany’s actions in the war.37 What a magazine editor termed "the deluge of pro-German literature" persisted because, he wrote, of the widely held belief "that the German side is not getting a hearing in the American press," that this nation’s links to England and its willingness to accept what a German professor termed "the infamous lies of the British press."38
One of the strongest pro-German voices came from the prominent psychologist Hugo Müstenberg. Born in Germany and based at Harvard University since the 1890s, Müstenberg was tireless in his defense of Germany’s actions. Already in 1914 he published a book, The War and America, which he dedicated"To All Lovers of Fair Play," clearly implying that those with an open mind about the conflict would gain much from reading his text. Distressed by the extent of anti-German sentiment, Müstenberg wrote that he was troubled "because it deprives one of the ideal faith which has filled my heart for years, the faith in the fairness of the American people."39 Müstenbenberg devoted a full chapter to what he termed "The Anti-German Sentiment," and throughout the book he remains an ardent defender. "The war was forced on Germany," he asserted. It was "absolutely clear that the war was started by Russia and France and that Germany was in no way responsible," he wrote, as he vigorously refuted the widely held view of German responsibility. Sitting in his office in Boston, Müstenberg was clearly taken by the impact of the war on his homeland. There he saw a "new inner unity of the nation, and one thing above all, the tremendous increase of the monarchial conviction," a sentiment that certainly did not move the American public which historically had been deeply suspicious of kingly rule. He added that the American press had failed to "grasp the true historic meaning of the war and its inner consequences." Furthermore, Münsterberg commented, "only one great historic fact stands out, that the German nation and the Emperor were never more one than since the hour when the war against Russian broke out."40 Within the American public such talk of monarchy and the one-ness of the nation with its hereditary ruler were outright repulsive. In fact, most Americans looked with deep suspicion upon the monarchial nations of Europe and held that form of government accountable for the diplomatic morass that had led to war.
The widespread distribution of pro-German materials, the extensive coverage of Germany’s perception of the events leading to the military confrontation seemed to have little impact on American public opinion which from the outbreak of war was decidedly pro-British. As an editor of The Nation explained in mid-October, "The judgment of this country was based upon a calm consideration of the facts leading up to the war, and upon the invasion of Belgium as set forth by the Germans themselves. American good opinion was forfeited when the Kaiser rejected Sir Edward Grey’s two distinct offers to assure peace, when the ‘scrap of paper’ incident occurred, and the Chancellor admitted the flagrant violation of the law of nations."41 In the court of American public opinion the decision went clearly against Germany, against an autocratic state, and against its aggressive leadership. This sentiment marked the decided rejection of the archaic system of international relations that had placed so much emphasis on the balance of power which, it was now widely believed, had in fact fueled international tensions.42

How well informed was the American public on the complex issues surrounding the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the spread of the military conflict across Europe? During these fateful months, from August through October, the major newspapers, those in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston, published articles almost daily from their correspondents based in Europe who had received regular briefings from government representatives or who had less formal but nevertheless meaningful contact with policy makers. Newspapers in the small cities and towns reprinted many of these articles or relied on the news services, the United Press for example, and they too carried daily accounts that reached across the nation. Leading magazines published in-depth and lengthy articles.43 The intensive press coverage led an editor with the magazine The Living Age to assert in early November 1914 that "no people in the world are getting more information about the war than Americans," as he argued strongly in support of the soundness of the judgment of the American people and for the balanced and even handed coverage of the war in the media. "Public opinion in any country is a matter of delicate adjustment" and the repeated efforts of the belligerent nations to shape sentiment were bound to fail, he asserted. Not only did the European powers fail to weigh fully "the forces and counter-forces at work in a different nation than their own," but such efforts "may turn the scales in an undesirable direction." The journalist found already "signs that the strenuous efforts being made on all sides to prejudice this neutral people have excited a certain amount of amusement." Furthermore, "to join in what threatens to become a scramble for American goodwill promises more harm than good." He concluded simply: "Undue effort to influence public opinion" in America will certainly not have the desired effect.44
The consensus in the American media was clear – the public, well informed through press reports, stood behind Great Britain and its allies who "are fighting on behalf of the civilized world to destroy a false and brutal idea," wrote an editor for The Saturday Review in October 1914. "America is firmly united with Great Britain today in feeling that the Will to Power of a nation which has thrust honor and justice from the way of its ambition is a grave and instant menace to the whole world."45
Already in the first months of the war magazines and newspapers turned to established scholars of European affairs for their views on the war, on the question of responsibility for launching the conflict, as the media strived to offer its readers thoughtful analyses. The number of these accounts, though difficult to accurately measure, was large. Mostreflected the position of the editorial board of the respective publication.Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, was one such contributor. Eliot concluded that the causes of the conflict lay in "two old and widespread evils in Europe from which America has been exempt for at least 150 years. The first is secret diplomacy with power to make issues and determine events, and the second is autocratic executives who can swing the whole physical forces of the nation to this side or that without consulting the people or their representatives."46 Eliot’s views were held by the editors of a number of prominent newspapers whoblamed the autocratic system and Europe’s failed power-politics diplomacy for the war."The conclusions that remain fixed in the American mind are that the Kaiser had the power to stop the war and filed to do so; that Austria-Hungary was recklessly severe in her attitude toward Servia [sic] because Germany had promised to buck her up; and that the violation of Belgium’s neutrality was an indefensible proceeding that cannot be explained away or justified," wrote the editor of Current Opinion as he summed up the widely held belief that Germany bore much responsibility for the outbreak of war.47
The historian Roland Usher concurred and placed the immediate responsibility for the outbreak of war upon Austria. Its ultimatums, he wrote in The Atlantic Monthly, the "language in which they were couched, the circumstances of their presentation, and of the receipt of the reply, render it improbable that Austria wished to force upon Servia [sic] the solution by war of an infinitely larger issue than that raised by the murder of the unfortunate Archduke and his wife."48 For Austria, "the war is literally a war of self-preservation," crucial to ruler’s aim to hold together its vast and diverse population, Usher explained. Austria expected "great results" from these efforts and firmly believed these policies would "knit the various peoples together and give them a common object to strive for and a common victory to celebrate." The conflict served other purposes. "It is none the less a war of ambition and aggression," wrote Usher in August 1914, a means of guaranteeing Austria’s century long dream of "dominating southeastern Europe," of ruling the Balkans.49 Austria’s ambitions were, Usher asserted, well known "to every diplomat in Europe," especially those states "whose interests would be much injured by the annihilation of Servia [sic]." Nonetheless, "the fears of general European war" would cause other nations on the continent to pause and to be slow to interfere, he added. The "domestic difficulties" of England, France, and Russia, Usher argued, would prevent each from acting decisively.50
While a number of the scholars quoted in the press placed much of the blame on Austria, "many an editorial finger points at William II of Germany, as he is admitted to be the one overshadowing personality of the opening days of the war."51 As an editor with the New York Globe newspaper commented, "It is difficult to admit that German interests were menaced beyond reasonable tolerance, that Austria took a stand against her dominative neighbor which was arbitrary in the extreme without full sanction of the Kaiser, or that there was any doubt in Wilhelmstrasse that Austria’s attitude would compel Russia and France to intervene. It is for these reasons that American opinion is almost solidly arranged against Germany as the aggressor, ruthlessly plunging Europe into what looks like the bloodiest of wars to satisfy the overwhelming ambition of the Emperor."52 The editors of The Outlook were blunt in their conclusions: "History will hold the German Emperor responsible for the war in Europe." They summarized Germany’s relationship to each of the belligerents, its role in prompting each along the road to war, thereby bolstering their argumentthat Germany’s actions did much to launch the war.53
The American press almost universally laid the blame on Germany, the responsibility for war in August 1914 and its rapid expansion from a regional conflict to a European wide conflagration. The distinguished historian Bernadotte E. Schmitt, a professor at Cleveland’s Western Reserve University, added his voice to those condemning Germany’s actions. "Apart from our citizens of German birth or German descent, the public opinion of the United States seems to be decidedly against Germany in the struggle ushered in by her own declaration of war against Russia." His point of view, Schmitt added, was not motivated by a "love of the Russian colossus nor by a dislike of the German people." Rather, "as a nation we do protest against the doctrine of militarism as preached by and practiced by his Majesty William II."54 The Outlook magazine published a survey of the press in mid-August and found widespread agreement on the issue of responsibility for the horrible conflict. "Monarchial cliques, absolutists, and those in Germany in particular, are held responsible," it concluded and offered a number of examples.55
The German Reich had, however, its defenders. "The haste in which the powers of Europe have rushed to arms is exceeded only by the haste in which the anti-German press of America is seeking to place the blame for the commencement of hostilities," wrote Karl F. Geiser, a professor at Oberlin College in an August 11th letter to The Nation. In his missive, Geiser argued that The Nation in particular had "fixed the responsibility of the whole affair upon the German Kaiser." He presented a long argument in Germany’s defense, as he attempted to refute that journal’s editorial comments.56 Geiser remained one of a handful of vigorous defenders of Germany. He was joined by, among others, Herman Ridder, the editor of New York City’s Staats-Zeitung.57

The American press, newspapers across the nation, in major cities and small towns, carriedhundreds of articles on the conflict during the first months of the war, covering every conceivable topic such as the sheer size of the armed forces involved, the novelty of the conflict, the unprecedented conditions, the brutality of the fighting, and the loss of life. Frequently, newspapers and magazines turned to experts on military affairs for their view points and opinions. There was among them one general point of agreement: "The resources of the world are not sufficient to maintain a conflict of such dimensions for a long period." It would not be a long war; most experts estimated that the conflict would last from one month to a year at the most. While only a few, however, anticipated the "decisive blow" within the next six months, almost no one expected it to be a protracted and bloody struggle, going on for several years, costing the lives of so many.58
The rivalries, the imperial ambitions, economic pressure, domestic strains, growing military strength, had long been present in Europe. There was keen interest in what precipitated war in 1914, as journalists and scholars sought to identify who was responsible for the bloodshed and destruction. They also covered the unfolding conflict, the combat on the western and eastern fronts. By the fall of 1914 America’s views of the war in Europe had pretty much been shaped and determined, as the public read the daily accounts of the war and the debates on who was responsible for the terrible conflict. The American public was, an editor of The Living Agewrote in November 1914, well informed about the events on the battle field. "No people of the world are getting more information about the war than are the Americans," James Whelpley asserted. "Their press is uncensored, scores of correspondents in England, France, Germany, and elsewhere are laboring night and day to fill American publications with news; thousands of returning travelers from all parts of Europe are daily contributing their stories to eager pressmen; and of all nationalities the American alone has been accorded facilities in Germany, and with the German army to see and judge for himself as to the real situation so far as the conduct of the war devastated region is concerned."59

While the American media, the press and magazines, followed closely the unfolding of the war, offering their readers daily accounts of the fighting and also analyses of the conflict, many Americans felt securely distant, sheltered and protected by the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. That offered a broad sense of relief as well as a feeling of security. As an editor of The Literary Digest commented in the August 8, 1914, issue, "Our isolated position and freedom from entangling alliances inspire our press with the cheering assurance that we are in no peril of being drawn into the European quarrel."60 An editor for New York’s Sun newspaper added, the United States "will inevitably to some extent benefit from the waste and destruction abroad, but it has permanent cause of gratitude in its insulation from the worst."61 This attitude was reflected in editorial writings in newspapers and magazines across the nation.
The media, namely the daily newspapers as well as financial publications, speculated on the economic impacts of the conflict on American trade, finance, manufactures and the agricultural sector. As one journalist observed, "the closing of our stock exchanges, the exportation of gold to Europe, the rise in wheat and corn, the failure of business firms, help to remind our editors that a war which involved all Europe could not but have its effects among us."62 A lengthy survey from mid-August of how the press viewed the potential economic impact of the war began: "The price the United States pays for the madness of warring Europe is the upset of our money market and the blockade of our commerce."63 The war had the potential, observers commented and often discussed at length, to have far reaching and lasting consequences for the economy of the United States. Trade with Europe was severely disrupted. Ports on the Atlantic seaboard halted operations as "The carrying ships of the world have been diverted into war activities and millions of tons of cotton, food stuffs and other articles destined for foreign markets must remain on the remain in storage while millions of tons of manufactured goods expected by merchants in this country from Europe must remain on the other side of the ocean," wrote Gilson Gardner, a prominent journalist.64
The war affected not only the major trade and merchant marine companies of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, nor solely the financiers of Wall Street, Chicago and Pittsburgh, nor largely the manufacturer centers of the mid-West. The war impacted the farmers in the South who produced cotton that was sold abroad and the farmers of the Great Plains who grew corn and wheat for the world market. All were concerned with how the war in Europe would hit their bottom line. "We cannot get away from the hard fact that war is a destroyer," observed a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in early September. "In the present case it would not be so bad if only two of the great powers were engaged. With all fighting – a condition deemed unthinkable a few weeks ago – the effects are incalculable."65 A host of questions and uncertainties faced America’s banking and commercial leaders as the financial markets were thrown into turmoil. The Dean of New York University’s School of Commerce, Joseph French Johnson, wrote disheartedly: "The war has blocked the wheels of industry in every country on the globe. It has turned back the hands of the clock of our material or industrial civilization."66
Already in early August, however, a few observers anticipated economic gains for the nation. The President of New York’s Investment Bankers Association saw a decided advantage for American trade because at the end of the war "it will be extremely difficult for European countries to finance their oversea trade." The surge in manufacturing after the war would favor American industry. "I believe that the future for this country is brighter today than it has ever been," he concluded.67 Financial institutions acted quickly to reassure the American market and to protect this nation’s supply of gold.68 A number of newspapers urged the US government and American business to "take up the world’s trade, which Europe has forsaken for the battlefront." New York’s Sun newspaper saw in the conflict the opportunity to vastly expand this nation’s merchant marine. Reports circulated that President Wilson had in mind a plan to bring much of the world’s shipping under the American flag, to the gain of American business, by offering registration to ships of other nations. The President discussed this with leaders of Congress already on July 31stwho supported the idea and theyagreed to investigate it further. By sailing under the flag of a neutral power, the vessels could not be pressed into service by a belligerent nor seized as war booty.69
Another New York City newspaper termed the moment "a supreme opportunity for American manufacturers to gain world-wide markets." In spite of the military conflict crippling Europe, "the needs of the world must be supplied."70 New York’s Journal of Commerce quoted an "authority" who asserted that the war "may mark the beginning of a new commercial and industrial era in the United States." The amount of the economic boost would depend only upon "the alacrity with which the American business man will seize the opportunity, and upon the wisdom with which the American legislator will face the situation."71 Joseph French Johnson, a prominent economist, summarized "the chief items of profit and loss to the American people" in a 1914 article. According to Johnson, the conflict would drain gold from the nation, thereby restricting credits. This would, however, give America’s banks the opportunity to increase their prestige and connections in the world. The closure of the European market to American securities might permanently divert capital from this nation. Such would give American banks a greater opportunity to enter South American and Asian markets and to secure a larger percentage of this market. The war cut off raw materials, some essential to the manufacturing sector, and this would certainly affect profits. While the conflict interfered with this trade, the sale of foodstuffs and military supplies for high prices in the European markets would be a gain. "We know that Europe will come to us for our goods," voiced Henry Lee Higginson, a noted American businessman, in a letter to President Wilson. Other experts offered a variety of points of view.72
Termed by the New York Times "one of the most distinguished economists of the country," Johnson had mixed views on the war’s impact. "A striking feature of the situation is the uneven influence of the war on American industries," he wrote. "We shall probably see, if the situation continues, certain industries and commercial organizations working at top speed and making enormous profits, while besides them will be the empty offices and deserted factories of other industries."73 Johnson foresaw significant gains for American agriculture, a major part of the economy. With the interruptions in shipping and the shift of vast amounts of manpower out of agriculture, American producers were well positioned to step forward, meet the heightened demand and reap, as a result, significant profits. Other sectors of the economy faced an uncertain future. The closure of the European market to American securities and the diversion of large amounts of foreign capital would adversely impact the financial centers, Johnson argued.He was especially concerned with the drain of gold from this country to Europe, a trend that began in 1913 which could lead to restriction on credit and inflation.74
Nations of Europe were in need of American products. Although the official neutrality of the United States restricted sales to the belligerents, export and sale of weapons to Great Britain continued; they were delivered through Canada. German Americans protested, but the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives permitted sales by American manufacturers to any government, "provided they do not discriminate between belligerents." With the blockade of the Atlantic already in effect, that meant trade with Britain could continue.75 Agriculture products from the American heartland would be welcome abroad as the war shut down the trade routes of traditional suppliers. But, economists cautioned, breaking into new markets would not come easily.76
The efforts made by the government and private enterprise were rewarded, and in October the President reported that business conditions were improving across the nation, that orders for goods from abroad were rising, as the initial impact of the war had passed. To facilitate foreign trade, Wilson made the bold announcement that "the United States is prepared to protect to the utmost the rights of shippers of American exports when such goods are being transported in vessels flying neutral flags,"Arthur Henning, the Chicago Tribune’s longtime Washington correspondent,reported.77 The State Department followed quickly with guidelines for exports to belligerents, and these two efforts went far in boosting trade. The measures were intended to reassure traders that the government, with all its power and authority, stood firmly behind their right to trade freely with belligerent nations, something they were initially reluctant to do. "The president’s announcement on Monday and the state department’s memorandum are regarded as constituting the biggest boost given American foreign trade since the outbreak of the war," observed Henning.78 The President’s statement and State Department announcement on free trade clearly favored Great Britain and led to German protests.
The economic dimensions of the war in Europe also impacted the domestic politics of the United States. President Wilson had early in 1914 predicted an industrial boom, which also meant electoral success for his party. The gains were interrupted by the outbreak of the conflict. Wilson was very concerned with the state of the American economy because "business revival meantime is vital to the chances of the democratic party in the next Presidential election," commented the Wall Street Journal.79 The war and its disruption of trade resulted in a drop in customs’ revenue of more than $10.6 million dollars when compared to the previous year. President Wilson went before Congress on September 4th to request a massive tax increase to offset the loss of custom duties from trade with Europe. The President asked for emergency legislation to raise $100 million of additional revenue. "We ought not to borrow. We ought to resort to taxation," the President explained to Congress. "The occasion is not of our own making. We had no part it making it." The legislation, the emergency Internal Revenue Tax Bill, passed quickly.80
Wilson faced some tough economic issues, among them restive labor unions. In late July the President received notification that the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineermen and Fireman had voted to strike. "All freight movement and much of the passenger services would be indefinitely suspended," wrote William Lea Chambers, a commissioner of the U.S. Board of Mediation. "The mining operations would stop at once, then the industries generally; all crop movements would suddenly cease." The impact on the economy would be disastrous.81
In early August the President acted and averted arailway strike on 98 western rail lines. Recognizing that the impact of a strike on trade and commerce would be far-reaching--these railroads served much of the western half of the nation, from Chicago to Los Angeles-- he met with negotiators and representatives of the railroad companies and organized labor.82 A month later, the President persuaded union coal miners in Colorado to agree to a three year truce and no-strike.83 In his efforts to keep labor calm, Wilson appealed strongly to their sense of patriotism and the need to rally behind America when Europe was at war.
Along with calming disgruntled workers, the President moved quickly to reassure the American public that the administration would initiate immediate measures to guarantee the nation’s continuing fiscal well-being. Already on July 31st, Wilson and his advisers adopted "peace measures" aimed to strengthen, the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote, the "financial conditions in the United States to withstand the effects of the liquidation in Europe and the tremendous demand for gold in the countries on the brink of war."84 The seven steps taken and announced by Wilson included losing the restrictions on the amounts of currency banks must hold in reserve, depositing gold held by the Treasury in banks, the organization of a new banking system to better regulate currency and gold flows to Europe, proposed legislation to permit the registry in the US of foreign trading vessels, as the President moved quickly to gain the cooperation of the financial industry. He called a special meeting in Washington for leading bankers who assembled on August 2nd. Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo addressed the group and called for "intelligent co-operation on the part of the government and the banks" to guide the nation through the financial crisis sparked by the outbreak of war.85 A day later Congress moved to stabilize the currency markets. By an overwhelming majority it passed a bill that made available to national banks "unlimited millions of currency." The distribution of funds began immediately.86
The President faced other issues pressuring the economy. Already in early August "the swift advance in the prices of food-stuff, with the European situation as the pretext, has brought to the first place in American discussion the question of government interference in the interest of the consumer,"reported the Christian Science Monitor.87 President Wilson directed the attorney general to investigate the rise in prices and to advise him on measures to combat this alarming trend. Congress followed the President’s lead and called upon both the Department of Justice and the Secretary of Commerce to determine the causes for the rapid rise in prices when exports had come to a virtual standstill.88
In addition to trade, banking, labor, and price issues, the President faced a major dip in revenue due to the loss of customs fees, a shortfall estimated at more than $2million a week in early September.89 Wilson prepared to address Congress and to call for a sharp rise in taxes to cover the anticipated shortfall. While the federal government had sufficient revenue to cover expenses, an increase in taxes was, Wilson asserted, necessary to prevent a deficit. He recommended that Congress raise taxes on such commodities as beer, whisky, tobacco, railway and theater tickets, and even soft drinks. The President called upon federal agencies to reduce their expenses.90

"In common with the rest of the country, Washington waits with breathless interest news from the waring nations of Europe," wrote Charles S. Groves, a journalist with the Boston Globe newspaper in mid-September. "But one will have to look far to discover an outward sign of excitement." The various branches of government, including the White House, Congress, as well as the War, State and Treasury Departments "find new and important problems presented as a result of the conflict on the other side of the Atlantic," but these have "all come to be part of the day’s work."91 Despite the importance of the war in Europe for America, its position in the world, its economy, and its status as a neutral, Congress devoted remarkably little attention to the war during these first months of fighting. After spending about two weeks on emergency legislation related to the European conflict, to international trade and shipping, the President turned to revenue. It was but a matter of time before President Wilson asked Congress for a war tax.92 Still, the Congressional Record Index for 1914 identifies some 60 items as dealing directly with the war in Europe, and many of these were newspaper articles reprinted in the Congressional Record. Members of Congress introduced such materials into the record, and also added specific appeals, such as the "Antiwar Proclamation" from the Labor Council of Greater New York from August 25.93 A member of the Senate moved to include in the Congressional Record President Wilson’s September 8th peace proclamation in which he called for a day of prayer for peace.94
Members of Congress did sometimes make their own predictions on the outcome of the war. New York Congressman Herman Metz, who the New York Times described as having a "wide knowledge of Germany and things German," reportedly told the press on September 23rd that "victory for Germany as the final outcome of the war is beyond all question." He predicted that peace "would come soon" and that it would find German troops still on French soil in the west and Russian soil in the east.95

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1914, President Wilson followed closely the unfolding events in Europe and he was informed immediately by telegram of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The President responded with a telegram to the Austrian emperor expressing that he was "deeply shocked at the atrocious murder."96 When war did break out on the continent the American Ambassador to France, Myron Timothy Herrick, telegrammed the Secretary of State in Washington: "Situation in Europe is regarded here as the gravest in history. It is apprehended that civilization is threatened by demoralization which would follow a general conflagration." Herrick urged the President to step forward and serve as an arbitrator.97 At a July 27th press conference a reporter had asked the President: "Whether the United States is in a position to maintain to peace of Europe." Wilson answered non-committedly, "Well that is a matter which it would be, perhaps, unwise for me to say anything about. I can only say that the United States has never attempted to interfere in European affairs."98
American diplomatic agents abroad urged the President to take action. Ambassador Herrick in Pariscabled Washington: "I believe that a strong plea for delay and moderation from the President of the United States would meet with the respect and approval of Europe."99 The US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Walter Hines Page, notified Wilson that he had immediately and on his own initiative gone to the Prime Minister and asked "if he saw any way in which the good offices of our Government cd. Be used and that, if he did or should see any way, I prayed that he wd. Inform me." Page wrote the President that "It’s the Slav and the German. Each wants his day and neither has got beyond the stage of tooth and claw." He added, "If they do have a general war they will so set back the march of progress in Europe as to set the day forward for American leadership."100 On July 31st the Chargé ?Affaires in Russia cabled Washington: "Situation becoming steadily more hopeless."101
On July 30thPresident Wilson addressed a Press Conference in Washington. Asked if he had taken any action in to stem the likelihood of war in Europe, Wilson responded simply "No, sir…" and added that no request for his services had been received.102 Even after war broke out, Wilson’s deep seated feelings toward the conflict, his views on responsibility and his immediate reactions to the events of the war, particularly those that most affected the United States, are exceedingly difficult to discern. As President, he notoriously resisted seeking advice and he left no body of private writings that might offer insight. His public utterances were guarded. His advisors complained about him being withdrawn and uncommunicative. Yet it is clear that Wilson held America’s neutrality, its impartiality in the conflict and the well-established right to unencumbered trade over the Atlantic, as fundamental principles that had to be recognized by the belligerents. Neutrality was of foremost importance to this country and central to his guidance of American foreign policy.103 To a large degree, Wilson was also an isolationist, unwilling to become involved in the conflicts of Europe, his isolationism was based on the presumption that the western hemisphere was impregnable and that the consequences of a war in Europe would be limited. Those initial views were, however, soon challenged by events of the conflict. Wilson came to recognize that the nature of the warwould go far in shaping the world order. The President also had a distinct view of America as a bastion of freedom, and he viewed the US as an economic powerhouse whose presence could not easily be ignored by the European powers. American interests, especially trade by sea with Europe, had to be respected. Still, Wilson desired above all for the nation to remain neutral, a view he shared with most Americans. The President remained convinced that the nation’s trade, the ability of its merchant vessels to navigate the oceans, particularly the Atlantic, had to be respected by the European powers. This had long been a guiding element of American foreign policy. In the summer of 1914, America was in the position to have its expectations acknowledged and recognized by the European powers, for the nation had become the strongest economic power in the world, even though its military strength stood well behind that of Germany and England.104
President Wilson’s first public remarks on the European war came on August 3rd when he met with correspondents for his semi-weekly press conference. The outbreak of war in Europe clearly weighed heavily upon him. "The strain and the tremendous burden he has been carrying for the last week has drawn deep lines of care across his face," wrote a correspondent for the Chicago Daily Tribune. Wilson began addressing the press corps as soon as they had assembled, without waiting for a question. He was clearly eager to reassure the nation and he urged calm.105 In spite of the furor in Europe, the President told the press that "the excitement ought not spread to the United States." Noting the magnitude of the situation, "perhaps the gravest…in modern times," he stated that "it need not affect the United States unfavorably in the long run."106 Wilson went out of his way to reassure leaders of business and commerce that "there was no cause for alarm," a statement he repeated to the press and to representatives from Congress who called upon him at the White House. "I know from my conferences with the secretary of the treasury there is no cause for alarm." He added that the Treasury Department was closely monitoring the financial situation throughout the country. "The bankers and business men of the country are cooperating with the Government with a zeal, intelligence, and spirit which make the outcome secure.""America is absolutely prepared to meet the financial situation and to straighten everything out without any material difficulty."Wilson also took the opportunity to urge members of Congress not to delay "not to delay the pending trust legislation programme [sic]…until the next session of Congress."107
Also on August 3rd, just several days after the initiation of hostilities, the press carried reports that the President was deeply engaged and closely following developments in Europe. "American ambassadors ordered to do everything possible to prevent general conflict," read the headlines. "All hope not gone." An editor for Albany’s Times-Union newspaper added, "President Wilson’s good offices will be at the service of Europe."108 Along withdirecting American diplomatic representative abroad to keep the State Department in Washington fully abreast of any opportunity for the US to mediate the conflict, Wilson took steps to insulate the economy from any blows. The President met with Congressional leaders and obtained their agreement to a proposal to permit foreign ships to sail under American registry in order to keep international trade and commerce operating.109 Wilson also directed Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo, to New York City to confer with bankers and to reassure them.110
On August 4th, President Wilson made known to the U.S. and to the world that this nation stood "strictly neutral" in the conflict. "Whereas a state of war unhappily exists between Austria-Hungary and Servia [sic] and between Germany and Russia and between Germany and France," the President identified as illegal 11 acts, most involving enlistment or service in the armed forces or merchant marine of one of the belligerents. Along with this stern warning to nationals not to join one of the combatants’ armed forces, Wilson cautioned the belligerent powers to keep their naval vessels out of US waters. Such a move, he stated forcefully, "must be regarded as unfriendly and offensive."111
The President followed on August 5th with two Executive Orders, one to aid American citizens stranded in Europe by the outbreak of the war and the other to further ensure the neutrality of this nation by prohibiting radio stations from transmitting "messages of an unneutral nature" from any of the belligerents. At a press conference the very next day no member of the press asked the President about the assassination, a striking omission in light of the media’s otherwise extensive coverage of European affairs. The act that had launched the crisis was perceived as a regional incident.112 President Wilson did receive requests to take a side in the conflict, much as the American public had been able to read in the press appeals from the belligerents. On August 6th, Charles William Eliot, the highly influential president of Harvard University wrote directly to Wilson urging him to take the lead and organize "an effective international police method, suited to the present crimes," that "would overpower Austria-Hungary and Germany with all possible promptness and thoroughness." Eliot envisioned a US led blockade of Germany and Austria-Hungary, "an alliance to rebuke and punish" the two nations "for the outrages they are now committing." Wilson did not answer this letter.113
Throughout these weeks, Wilson had faced a traumatic personal situation at the White House that certainly pulled much of his attention and energy. His wife of 29 years, Ellen Louise Axson, lay mortally ill with kidney disease. "Every moment that could be spared from his office the President spent here, by her side who had been his constant coworker in the past," wrote an editor for The Literary Digest. He added that "President Wilson’s tender to the warring nations of his good offices for peace in Europe was written while he was sitting at the bedside of Mrs. Wilson." She died on August 6th.114 Wilson continued to remain focused on the unfolding war in Europe, although deeply affected by his wife’s death.115
On August 18th President Wilson addressed the American people and issued a forceful call for neutrality "in speech and conduct," as he viewed with concern the energetic campaign of the belligerents to influence public opinion. His address was carried in a number of newspapers, and it began: "Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned."Wilson stated that the country was made up of individuals from many nations, "chiefly from the nations now at war," and this would invariably shape their views of the war. He argued against the divisive influence on the country and work against "the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace" to serve as a mediator. "The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name during these days that are to try men’s souls."116
Efforts to mediate the conflict on behalf of the US government continued, largely through close advisers to the President, particularly Edward Mandell House, who initiated The Inquiry, a group that advised the President on peace strategy and war aims.117 In early August, House presented Wilson with a letter he had received from Arthur Zimmermann, a ranking official in Germany’s Foreign Ministry. House wrote: "I have a feeling that Germany will soon be glad to entertain suggestions of mediation, and that the outlook is more hopeful in that direction than elsewhere." Wilson’s advisor then wrote to Zimmerman, expressing the President’s "deep regret" that he had not been able "to bring about a better understand between the great Powers of Europe," but added that the "offer of mediation was not an empty one." House, who acted on the President’s behalf – Wilson termed him "my second personality" and stated "His thoughts and mine are one" – noted in the letter to Zimmermann, "Now that His Majesty has so brilliantly shown the power of His army, would it not be consistant [sic] with His life long endeavor to maintain peace, to consent to overtures being made in that direction?"118 Later in August other developments followed. At a diplomatic conference in Washington the German ambassador, Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, was approached with an offer of American mediation. "Here everyone desires peace, for the United States suffers heavily because of the war," the Ambassador wrote in a telegram to his superiors in Berlin. "I, therefore, did not reject the offer, since I wanted to leave the odium of rejection to our enemies." Bernstorff urged serious consideration of the offer "because public opinion here, which has already been strongly influenced by England, will unquestionable turn against the belligerent whom they hold responsible for prolonging the war."119
Also in August, Wilson’s confidant Colonel House made a personal trip to Europe to speak directly with leaders of the belligerent nations. Upon his return to the US he met with President Wilson on August 30th. During a lengthy conversation with the President, House wrote later, he had "told of my experiences in Europe and gave him more of the details of my mission." More than a mere advisor, House provided Wilson intelligence he had gathered, information that had shaped his own strongly held views. During these weeks efforts to mediate the conflict had intensified, but met with little favorable response. While House was on his way to meet the President, the Secretary of State relayed a message from the Czar regarding the "offer of mediation" and expressing his gratitude. However, the Czar explained, "Russia did not desire war and did everything to avoid it, but from the moment this war was imposed upon her she cannot fail to defend her rights by force of arms." That was the fifth response received from belligerents and this led William Jennings Bryan to tell the President that "Each one declares he is opposed to war and anxious to avoid it and then lays the blame upon someone else."120
With little progress to show for the effort to persuade the belligerents to agree to American mediation, President Wilson issued a proclamation on September 8th calling for a national day of prayer. Noting that the "great nations of the world have taken up arms" and "the counsel of statesmen have not been able to save [them] from the terrible sacrifice," Wilson turned to "prayer and counsel" and designated Sunday, October 4th as "a day of prayer and supplication" and urged "all God-fearing persons to repair…to their places of worship there to unite their petitions to Almighty God that, overruling the counsel of men, setting straight the things they cannot govern or alter, taking pity on the nations now in the throes of conflict, in His mercy and goodness showing a way where men can see none."121
Even into mid-September, the belligerent nationsand their supporters attempted to sway American public opinion and to gain the sympathy of the President. On September 18th, newspapers carried a report that Wilson refused to meet with a representative of several German-American associations "protesting the charges of atrocities made by the Belgian commission against the German army." The President asserted that, in accordance with his strict stand on neutrality, he had consistently refused to meet with representatives of the nations at war. He was, newspapers reported, deeply upset by such efforts to influence American policy and to steer the nation away from its strict neutrality.122
On September 10th the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that the Kaiser had written personally to Wilson asserting that "Belgian civilians drove his generals to be severe." Although the President and his staff were keeping the contents of the cable secret – "no one at the White House or state department would even admit officials that it had arrived," the message was clearly timed to be there shortly before the arrival of an official commission from Belgium which the President did receive.123 Wilson responded directly to the Kaiser on September 17th. "I received your Majesty’s important letter," he wrote, "and perused it with great care." The President used the opportunity to assert the neutrality of the US and that he foresaw a day of reckoning coming when the European powers would confer on "the evils committed in this war and [assign] the appropriate responsibility."124

To conclude, during the summer and fall of 1914 those nations involved in "this terrible European war" scrambled to gain support abroad, particularly in the United States. This task proved challenging, to say the least, especially for Germany and its allies. Journalists, such as the editor of The Outlook who wrote in late September, "because under our free institutions public opinion has great facility both for formation and expression partly because we are remote from the conflict and our jury is less prejudiced," proudly announced the objectivity of their coverage and the open minds of their readers. A similar sentiment applied to the fundamental question of who was responsible in the first place for the outbreak of war. Here, too, the American media came to a consensus. Asking "who brought on this war," The Outlook’s editor concluded: "History will hold Austria-Hungry and Germany responsible for the terrible tragedy which is now spreading dissolution throughout Europe."125
These two points of view sum up American sentiments during the first months of the conflict. To a large degree, the coverage of the war by the established magazines and journals reflected the outlooks of their editors and their owners, their views on international relations, power politics, American national security, and militarism. These conflicting points of view fought their own battles within the American media as they sought public support, and aimed to affect the nation’s stand on the war. The success of each in shaping public opinion can at best be gauged by a thorough review of the media, the newspapers and magazines that American relied upon for information and points of view. Lacking public opinion polls which first were developed in the 1930s, a broad survey of the media offers the best view of American opinion. It is that public sentiment shifted over the course of the war. As a scholar wrote in 1937, when tensions were once more increasing on the continent, Americans had "lost interest" in the war by the winter of 1914-1915. "The truth is that the epic scale of the war was beyond popular comprehension. So, in the ensuing months, we informed ourselves indifferently of the progress of the conflict through dull communiqués," he wrote.126 This struggle for public opinion and support continued through 1917 and America’s entrance into the conflict. It persisted even through the peace settlement as the political leaders and the public strived to articulate America’s role in the world.127
Throughout these years, Woodrow Wilson strived to articulate not only his view on neutrality but to shape the nation’s as well. Already by late September 1914, the President had reached certain conclusions about the European conflict and these guided him through the American declaration of war in April 1917. Wilson came to believe that a German victory would seriously threaten America’s security; that it would spark the growth of domestic militarism; that the Allies would prove victorious because they had thwarted the German assault and were now in greater control of the war; and that the Allies showed interest in building a post-war world based on disarmament. These assumptions led Wilson to believe that the best way to build a world free of military arms race was to offer limited assistance to the Allies. Wilson had aimed to play the honest broker to the Allied and Central powers, a mediator who sought a fair peace, a true neutral party.128 For Wilson and America central to this policy was strict neutrality. But that proved increasingly more difficult as his policies clearly favored Britain and as Germany became more desperate, more aggressive. Its declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare defied Wilson and widely held American principles. This action above all made continued neutrality improbable. By early April 1917, the President explained in an address to a joint session of Congress: "Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances." The declaration of war followed.129


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1 On the response of US diplomats to the declaration of war, see Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States. 1914 Supplement. The World War (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1928), 16-48.

2 “How the War Affects America,” The Literary Digest LXIV(August 15, 1914), 256.

3 “The War News For Busy Readers,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914). Some Aspects of War” Times-Union (August 4, 1914).

4 “Who Is Responsible?” The Outlook (September 30, 1914), 245. There was some effort at the time to gauge public opinion; see, for example, “American Opinion on the War. A Poll of the Press,” The Outlook 107(15 August 1914), 907-908, which did just that, survey a range of newspapers and magazines. Dale E. Zacher, The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008), 20-22, 26, 33-50.

5 “Europe’s War and America’s Sympathies,” Current Opinion LVII (October 1914), 221. “The War in Europe. An International Symposium,” The Outlook 107(15 August 1914), 897-907.

6 “Germany Interpreted By a German-American,” The Outlook 107(22 August 1914),954-956. “Europe’s War and America’s Sympathies,” 221. “Europe Appealing to America,” The Literary Digest LXIX(September 19, 1914), 495-496. “Ridder on War Situation,” Times-Union (September 13, 1914); Hermann Ridder was the editor of New York City’s German language newspaper, the Staats-Zeitung.

7 “Europe’s War and America’s Sympathies,” 221. Enclosure II, Telegram from the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Belgium Minister in Washington, in Arthur Link, editor, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, May 6-September 5,1914 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979), 458. A Draft of a Reply to William II; Remarks to the Belgian Commissioner; and Poincaire’s Telegram, Enclosure (translation), September 10, 1914, in Arthur Link, editor, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, September 6 – December 31, 1914 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979), 32-33, 33-34, 38-39.

8 See Fraser J. Harbutt, “War Peace, and Commerce. The American Reacton to the Outbreak of World War I in Europe 1914,” in Holger Afflerbach & David Stevenson, An Improbable War. The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 320-334. On the issue of public opinion, see James Davenport Whelpley, American Public Opinion (New York: E.P. Dunton & Company, 1914), a collection of his essays on opinion on international issues. Published in May 1914, before the outbreak of war, the book was an early effort to gauge public sentiment on international issues.

9 For a fuller discussion of these issues, see Ross A. Kennedy, The Will to Believe. Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and America’s Strategy for Peace and Security (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2009), 1-24. Kennedy differentiates between what he identifies as the pacifists who saw the arms races and diplomatic issues that led to war as an European issue and who were convinced that America was largely insulated from the war by geography, the liberal interventionists who feared a German victory, and the Atlanticists who viewed a German victory as posing a serious threat to America. James Hay, “The War Terror,” Sunday Star (Washington D.C.) (January 10, 1915), reprinted in Congressional Record Appendix and Index, 63rd Congress, 3rd Session, Volume LII, Park VI, 103-105. See the collection of newspaper articles written by former president Theodore Roosevelt, a vocal proponent of preparedness, America and the World War (NY: Scribner’s Sons, 1915).

10 “The War and the Dangers of the Future,” The Living Age 275(November 16, 1912), 433-437; the quote is from page 433.

11 Guglielmo Ferrero, “The Dangers of War in Europe,” The Atlantic Monthly 111(January 1913), 1-9; quote is from page 4.

12 Whelpley, American Public Opinion, 28-38, 260, 264.

13 “The Increase of Disquiet in Europe,” The Living Age 280(March 7, 1914), 626-628.

14 “Germany’s War Scar From Russia,” The Literary Digest 48(April 4, 1914), 749-750.

15 “Final Moves For Peace in Europe,” San Francisco Chronicle (August 1, 1914). “Reports of Ultimatum By Kaiser Offset By Peace Hope,” Boston Daily Globe (August 1, 1914). “Financiers Serve Notice On Powers There Will Be No Money to Carry on General War,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914).

16 “Travelers Think War Was Forced on Kaiser,” Atlanta Constitution (September 8, 1914). Even the regional press queried locals, see “Albanians Who Are In Europe,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914).

17 “American Opinion of the War. A Poll of the Press,” The Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 907. “What Readers of The Outlook Think of The War,” The Outlook 107(September 2, 1914), 44-47.

18 “The Military Preparedness,” The Nation 99(August 6, 1914), 150. Samuel Taylor Moore, America and the World War (New York: Greenberg Publishers, 1937), 2, 9.

19 The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State, London, August 6, 1914, in Foreign Relations, 1914, Supplement, 46.

20 “Reports of Ultimatum By Kaiser Offset Peace Hope,” New York Times (August 1, 1914). “Assurances From Germany Give Hope of Compromise,” Atlantic Constitution (August 1, 1914). See also, “All Military Eyes Fixed on War Stage,” New York Times (August 1, 1914).

21 “How the War Rages,” Washington Post (September 2, 1914). “The War Situation,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914). “Summary of War News,” New York Times (September 2, 1914). “The War News For Busy Readers,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914). “Germany the Gainer in Military Advantage,” Los Angeles Times (September 2, 1914). “Field at Liege Blood-Soaked,” Los Angeles Times (September 2, 1914). “Allies’ Left Forced Back as Germans Concentrate Attack,” Christian Science Monitor (September 2, 1914).

22 “Why Europe Is At War,” The Atlantic Monthly XLIX(August 7, 1914), 253. “The Germans in France,” The Literary Digest XLIX(September 5, 1914), 400-401.

23 “Some Aspects of the War,” Times-Union (August 4, 1914).

24 Roland G. Usher, “The Reasons Behind the War,” Atlantic Monthly 114(1914), 444. Roland G. Usher, Pan- Germanism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1913), 1, 4, passim. Roland G. Usher, The Story of the Great War (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1919), 3-16.

25 “Military Preparedness,” 151-152.

26 “The War in Belgium,” The Literary Digest XLIX(August 22, 1914). 289-294. “The Greatest War of History Breaks Over Europe,” Current Opinion LVII(September 1914), 149-153. “How the War Wages,” Washington Post (September 2, 1914). “Summary of War News,” New York Times (September 2, 1914). “Germany the Gainer in Military Advantage,” Los Angeles Times (September 2, 1914). “Allies Left Forced Back As Germans Concentrate Attack,” Christian Science Monitor (September 2, 1914). “The Germans in France,” TheLiterary Digest LXIX(September 5,1914), 399-406.

27 Quoted in “Why Europe Is At War,” 253. “Powers Looked for a War Excuse,” Times-Union (August28, 1914).

28 H.C.G. von Jagemann, “Germany’s Struggle for Existence,” The Outlook 108(September 16, 1914), 144-145. “Bavaria in War Time,” The Outlook 108(September 30, 1914), 251-253. “Germany’s Object in the War as Interpreted by a Prussian Military Officer,” The Outlook 108(September 9, 1914), 68-71. “With the Germans in Belgium,” The Outlook 108(September 16, 1914), 139-143. See, “Appeal of Warring Nations to American Sentiment” and “German Efforts to Influence American Opinion,” in Current Opinion LVII (October, 1914), 222ff.

29 Ernst Richard, “The German Point of View of the War,” The Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 903-904. “Berlin Is Gone War Mad,” Times-Union (August 1, 1914). See also “Germany Interpreted By a German-American,” The Outlook 107(August 22, 1914), 954-956.

30 “Blaming Germany for the War,” The Literary Digest (August 22, 1914), 293. “Mr. Ridder On War Situation,” Times-Union (September 19, 1914).

31 “Blaming Germany for the War,” 293. “Germany Ready To Fight the World To Protect Her Honor,” Times-Union (August 4, 191).

32 Quoted in “American Sentiment and the German Viewpoint,” Current Opinion LVII (September 1914), 150.

33 “German Appeal to America,” The Nation 99(October 15, 1914), 455.

34 Ibid. “Truth About Germany. Facts About the War,” emphasis in original, 6, 86.

35 Quoted in “Mr. Ridder On War Situation,” Times-Union (September 19, 1914).

36 “War Rally Here By German-Americans,” New York Times (September 28, 1914).

37 See, for example, “The ‘Anti-German’ Press,” The Nation 99(August 20 1914), 221-222; “Professor Darmstaedter Replies,” “England’s Violation of Neutral Territory,” and “Argument From Germany,” The Nation 99(November 4, 1914), 548-549.

38 “German Appeals to America,” 455. “British Lies and American Sentiment,” The Nation 99(November 26, 1914), 621. See, Joseph Meditt Patterson, “Germans Adhere to Laws of War,” Chicago Daily Tribune (September 26, 1914).

39 Hugo Müsterberg, The War and America (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1914), 19. See the response by John Cowper Powys, The War and Culture. A Reply to Professor Münstenberg (New York: G. Arnold Shaw, 1914), who rejected Müstenberg’s assertions that “Germany’s preparations for war were purely defensive; [and] second, that Germany’s defeat in the war would mean a devastating blow for culture, and a disastrous set-back to the best interests of humanity.”

40 Müsterberg, The War and America, 205-207, 209-210.

41 “German Appeals to America,” 455-456.

42 Ross A. Kennedy, The Will to Believe. Woodrow Wilson, World I, and America’s Strategy for Peace and Security (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2009), 12-14.

43 See, for example, “The War in Belgium,” The Literary Digest XLIX(August 22, 1914), 289-290. “The War in Europe. An International Symposium,” The Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 896-907.

44 Whelpley, “Courting of America,” 323-324. “England Still Makes … Favorite Weapon, Says Staats-Zeitung,” Washington Post (September 28, 1914).

45 “The American Attitude,” The Saturday Review, reprinted in The Living Age 283(October 3, 1914), 52-53.

46 “Europe’s War and American Sympathies,” 224.

47 Ibid., 223.

48 Usher, “Reasons Behind the War,” 444-445.

49 Ibid. See also, “Why Europe Is At War,” The Literary Digest XLIX(August 15, 1914), 254-262. “The Quarrel Between Britain, Austria-Hungary, and Servia,” The Nation 99(August 13, 1914), 186.

50 Usher, “Reasons Behind the War,” 446-448. For a differing view, see Constantin Theodor Dumba, Ambassador of Austria-Hungry, “The Austro-Servian Conflict,” The Outlook 107(August 29, 1914), 1028.

51 “Why Europe Is At War,” 253-254. See also, “The Lust of Empire,” The Nation 99(October 22, 1914), 493. “The Responsibility For War,” The Nation 99(August 6, 1914), 151. “Blaming Germany for the War,” The Literary Digest XLIX(August 21, 1914), 293-294. “German Jingoism,” The Outlook 97(April 22, 1911), 8-9.

52 Quoted in “Why Europe Is At War” 254.

53 “The War Against Popular Rights,” The Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 891. See Ernst Richard, “The German Point of View of the War,” The Outlook 107(August 15, 1914), 903-905. Frederic William Hale, “The Germans and the War. The People and the Kriegspartei,” The Outlook 107(September 2, 1914), 36-38. Maurice Parmelee, “An American In ‘Berlin,” The Outlook 107(September 2, 1914), 38.

54 Bernadotte E. Schmitt, “Made in Germany,” The Nation 99(August 27, 1914), 251. See also the response of The Nation’s Editor, “The Real Crime Against Germany,” The Nation 99(August 13, 1914), 111; and the editorial, “The War’s Motives,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).

55 “American Opinion on the War, 907. See, “Germany Interpreted By a German-American,” The Outlook 107(August 22, 1914), 954-956.

56 Karl F. Geiser, letter, “The Anti-German Press,” The Nation 99(August 20, 1914), 221-212.

57 “Ridder on War Situation,” Times-Union (September 13, 1914).

58 “Why Europe Is At War,” 255.

59 James Davenport Whelpley, “The Courting of America.”

60 “How The War Affects America,” The Literary Digest XLIX (August 15, 1914), 256. Kennedy, Will to Believe, 26-29.

61 Quoted in “How The War Affects America,” 256.

62 “Europe’s Call to Arms,” The Literary Digest XLIX (August 8, 1914), 215.

63 “The Financial Side,” The Literary Digest XLIX (August 15, 1914), 257.

64 Gilson Gardner, “War Effects and Finance,” Times-Union (August 13, 1914). See, “War and Our Merchant Marine,” The Literary Digest LXIX (August 22, 1914), 290-293

65 “Stock Exchange May Open in a Few Weeks, Says Adams,” Wall Street Journal (September 2, 1914). Gilson Gardner, “War Effects and Finance,” Times-Union (August 13, 1914).

66 Alba B. Johnson, “America’s Industries as Affected by the European War,” American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (hereafter AAPSS) 61(September 1914), 1. Joseph French Johnson, “The Probable Condition of the American Money Market After the War is Over,” AAPSS 60(1915), 133. Johnson was very concerned about the impact of the war, which he anticipated as lasting six months, on America’s capital market as funds would be taken by the European powers to finance their war efforts.

67 A.B. Leach, “The Effect of the European War on American Business,” AAPSS 60(1915), 143-144.

68 “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks to Meet Any Crisis” and “Gold Supply Fully Safeguarded,” Times-Union (August 3,1914).

69 A News Report (August 1, 1914) New Shipping Bill Will be Pushed Through Monday, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 325-326. “Wilson Would Protect Shipping of the World,” Atlantic Constitution (August 1, 1914). “How the War Affects America,” 256.

70 Quoted in “How the War Affects America,” 256. Gardner, “War Effects and Finance.”

71 “American’s Loss and Gain in Europe’s War,” The Literary Digest 49(August 29, 1914), 330.

72 Joseph French Johnson quotes are from New York’s Evening Post newspaper and were cited in “America’s Loss and Gain in Europe’s War,” 330. “How We Will Gain and Lose by War. Dean Johnson Sees Opportunities for Us to Extend Our Financial Influence,” New York Times (September 6, 1914). From Henry Lee Higginson to Woodrow Wilson, August 20, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 420-421.

73 Quoted in “America’s Loss and Gain.”

74 “How We Will Gain and Lose by War.” Johnson added his voice to the debate over responsibility for the war: he wrote that Germany had increased its holdings of gold from $194 million in 1913 to $336 million in mid-July 1914, a “highly significant” measure from “one of the world’s powers [that] deliberately planned and promoted this war.”

75 “House Committee Will Ask Ruling On Sale of American War Supplies,” Washington Post (September 2, 1914).

76 “How We Will Gain and Lose by War.” “Expert Estimates Profit and Loss to U.S. by War,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 17, 1914). “Credit Problem Thorn in Side of Trade Conquest,” Chicago Daily Tribune (September 5, 1914).

77 “Business Is Improving, President Wilson Hears,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 10, 1914). Arthur Sears Henning, “U.S. To Protect Export Shippers, Wilson Assures,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 13, 1914).

78 Arthur Sears Henning, “Americans Free To Ship Supplies to Belligerents,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 15, 19114).

79 “Stock Exchange May Open in a Few Weeks.”

80 From William Gibbs McAdoo, September 2, 1914; and An Address to a Joint Session of Congress, September 4, 1914 in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 467-468, 473-474. “Pay War’s Toll, President Urges,” Washington Post (September 5, 1914). “What We Pay to See Europe At War,” The Literary Digest XLIX(September 19, 1914), 491-492. The President’s call for additional tax revenue gained widespread coverage; see, for example, “Wilson Asks Congress For War Tax,” Times-Union (September 4, 1914).

81 Letter, William Lea Chambers to Woodrow Wilson, July 26, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 305-306.

82 “Wilson’s Appeal to Patriotism, Determined to Prevent Big Strike on Railroads,” Los Angeles Times (August 1, 1914).

83 Miners Accept Wilson’s Terms,” Los Angeles Times (September 17, 1914). Draft of a Tentative Basis for the Adjustment of the Colorado Strike, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 486-488. See, “Plight of the Railways Further Aggravated by War,” Wall Street Journal (October 5, 1914). From Frank J. Hayes and Others to Woodrow Wilson, September 16, 1914; and From Jesse Floyd Wellborn to Woodrow Wilson, September 18, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 37, 48.

84 “Guard America From Losses By War in Europe. Wilson and Congress Move to Prevent Money Shortage and Other Ills,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 1, 1914).

85 Ibid. “America Has Billions To Meet Emergency,” Los Angeles Times (August 1, 1914). “Extraordinary Action Taken by Financiers To Forestall a Crisis,” Atlanta Constitution (August 2, 1914). “McAdoo Calls To Financiers,” Atlanta Constitution (August 2, 1914). “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks top Meet Any Crisis,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914). “Wilson Would Protect Shipping of the World,” Atlanta Constitution (August 1, 1914), “Financial Chiefs Will Preserve Commerce. Bankers and Industrial Captains Confer With President on Nation’s Credit,” San Francisco Chronicle (August 15, 1914).

86 “Unlimited Millions Available to Banks to Meet Any Crisis,” front page.

87 “American Events in Review,” Christian Science Monitor (August 15, 1914).

88 Ibid. “Guard America From Losses by War in Europe,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 1, 1914).

89 “War Tax Bill To Be Hurried,” Chicago Daily Tribune (September 1, 1914).

90 Address to a Joint Session of Congress (September 4, 1914), in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 473-475. “War Tax Bill To Be Hurried.” “Hundred Million War Deficit Subject of Wilson Message,” Los Angeles Times (September 3, 1914). “Cut in Revenue To Be Met With More Economy,” Christian Science Monitor (September 18, 1914).

91 Charles S. Groves, “How Official Washington Views War in Europe,” Boston Daily Globe (September 13, 1914).

92 “Congress Proceeds With Work,” Christian Science Monitor (August 19, 1914).

93 Congressional Record Index, Volume 51, 63-2, 137-138, 477. These items were listed under the headings “Europe” and “War and Preparations for War.” “Antiwar Proclamation,” Congressional Record-Senate, Volume 51, Part 14 (August 25, 1914), 14194. Congressional Record-Senate, Volume 51, Part 15(September 16, 1914), 15192.

94 “President’s Peace Proclamation,” Congressional Record-Senate, Volume 51, Part 15(September 8, 1914), 14803.

95 “America Must Intervene to End War, Says Metz,” New York Times (September 23, 1914).

96 The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary (Penfield) to the Secretary of state, Vienna, July 13, 1914, in Foreign Relations, 1914, Supplement,22-23. From Frederic Courtland Penfield, Vienna, June 28, 1914, and To Francis Joseph I, Washington, June 28, 1914, Remarks at a Press Conference, June 29, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 222-223. Wilson’s own views can be discerned in his public papers and official correspondence, the only material available to historians; see, Kurt Wimer, “Woodrow Wilson and World Order,” in Arthur S. Link, editor, Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 1913-1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 146-150.

97 Myron Timothy Herrick to William Jennings Bryan, Paris. July 28, 1914. Rec’d 7:30 P.M., in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 313. See the editorial, “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).

98 Portions of Remarks at a News Conference, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 307.

99 Cable, Paris, Myron Timothy Herrick to WJB, July 28, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 313. The Ambassador in France (Herrick) to the Secretary of State, July 28, 1914, in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 18.

100 From Walter Hines Page, Dear Mr. President, London July 29, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 314-316.

101 The Chargé ?Affaires in Russia (Wilson) to the Secretary of State, July 31, 1914, in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 26.

102 Remarks at a Press Conference, July 30, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 317.

103 Robert W. Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War. Reconsidering America’s Neutrality 1914-1917 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007), 19-24.

104 Ibid., 3-6, 49-50. Woodrow Wilson, Fourth of July address, July 4, 1917, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 248-255. “President Wilson Advises All to be Calm,” Times-Union (August 3, 1914).

105 “Wilson Pleads ‘Remain Calm’,” Chicago Daily Tribune (August 4, 1914). “Pres. Wilson Advises All To Be Calm.”

106 Quoted in “President Advises Nation to be Calm,” New York Times (August 4, 1914). “Wilson Watches War in Europe,” Los Angeles Times (August 3, 1914).

107 “Wilson Pleads ‘Remain Calm.’” “President Advises Nation to be Calm.” “Pres. Wilson Advises All To Be Calm.”

108 “U.S. Diplomats Work for Peace,” Atlanta Constitution (August 2, 1914). See the editorial, “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer,” Times-Union (August 5, 1914).

109 “U.S. Diplomats Work for Peace.” “President Wilson’s Peace Proffer.” See Wilson’s comments, Remarks at a Press Conference, August 3, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 331-335. “U.S. Diplomats Work For Peace,” Atlanta Constitution (August 2, 1914).

110 “Wilson Watches War in Europe,” Los Angeles Times (August 3, 1914).

111 The proclamation was published in its entirety in the New York Times, see “President Wilson Proclaims Our Strict Neutrality; Bars All Aid to Belligerents and Defines the Law,” New York Times (August 5, 1914).

112 “Executive Order 2011 – To Enforce Neutrality of Wireless Stations,” August 5, 1914. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http//www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=75364. “Executive Order 2012 – For the Relief, Protection and Transportation Home of Americans in Europe at the Outbreak of the European War of 1914,” August 5, 1914. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http//www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=75365.

113 From Charles William Eliot. Confidential. Dear President Wilson: Asticou, Maine 6 August 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 353-354.

114 “Mrs. Wilson Dies in White House,” New York Times (August 7, 1914). “Mrs Woodrow Wilson,” The Literary Digest XLIX(August 15, 1914), 258.

115 See the letter the letter to Mary Allen Hulbert, September 6, 1914, in which he wrote with regard to the death of his wife: “I am lamed and wounded more sorely than any words I have can describe,” in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 3. “President Wilson’s Trial,” Times-Union (august 6, 1914). “Mrs. Woodrow Wilson,” 258.

116 An Appeal to the American People. My fellow countrymen: [Aug. 18, 1914], in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 393-394. “President Wilson Bids All His Countrymen be Neutral Both in Speech and Action,” Christian Science Monitor (August 18, 1914). Wimer, “Woodrow Wilson and World Order,” 151-156.

117 From Edward Mandell House, with Enclosures, September 5, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 488. On the importance of House in formulating America’s war aims and peace strategy, see Inga Floto, “Woodrow Wilson: War Aims, Peace Strategy, and the European Left,” in Link, Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 129-130; Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War, 38-49; and Godfrey Hodgson, Woodrow Wilson’s Right Hand. The Life of Colonel Edward M. House (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).

118 Enclosure I, Edward Mandell House to Arthur Zimmerman (July 8, 1914); and Enclosure II, Edward Mandell House to William II (July 8, 1914), in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 265-267. Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War, 38. From Edward Manelll House, with Enclosures. Dear Governor: Prides Crossing, Mass. September 5th, 1914; and Enclosure I. Edward Mandell House to Arthur Zimmermann. My dear Herr Zimmermann: Washington, September 5, 1941, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 488-489.

119 Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office. Washington, den 7. September 1914; and Translation. Washington, September 7, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 9-10.

120 From William Jennings Bryan. My Dear Mr. President: Washington August 28, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 30, 456-457. The five responses came from the Czar, the governments of France, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, and Germany. See also the Telegram from the Belgian Foreign Minister in Ibid., 458-461. Secretary of State Bryan did not give up his plea for mediation and on December 1st he wrote to Wilson and urged the President to once more attempt to mediate; From William Jennings Bryan. My dear Mr. President: Washington December 1, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 378-379.

121 A Proclamation. [Sept. 8, 1914], in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 10-11. “President Sets Day To Pray for Peace,” Los Angeles Times (September 9, 1914).

122 “Wilson Bars Appeal By German-Americans,” Atlantic Constitution (September 19, 1914).

123 “Kaiser In Plea To U.S. Says Foe Uses ‘Dumdums’,” Chicago Daily Tribune (September 10, 1914).

124 A Draft of a Reply to William II, September 15, 1914; and To Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, September 16, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, ”Wilson Replies to Protest of the Kaiser,” San Francisco Chronicle (September 17, 1914); and “President Wilson and the Kaiser,” Shanghai Times (October 2, 1914). A Draft Reply to William II, September 15, 1914; and To Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, September 16, 1914, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 31, 32-33, 34-35..

125 “Who Is Responsible?,” 245-249.

126 Moore, America and the World War, 12.

127 Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War, 188-191. Kennedy, Will to Believe, 163-167, 182-186.

128 Kennedy, Will to Believe, 65. Wilson, letter to House, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 34, 271.

129 An Address to a Joint Session of Congress, April 2, 1917; and Enclosure, April 6, 1917, in Link, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 41, 519-527, 552; the quote is from page 523.