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government ; the right of access to the sea for every great people struggling for development; the freedom of the seas ; and subsequent disarmament.
The term “ freedom of the seas " has never yet been adequately explained, and President Wilson left its significance still indefinite. His reference to "peace without victory" he explained to be merely a warning against “a peace forced upon the loser," a peace that “would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently but only as upon quicksand." The Allies had already repudiated the idea of forcing such a peace as that. The phrase "peace without victory " none the less provoked much criticism and some hostility, and it must be ranked with the curiously unhappy or ambiguous expressions of which isolated examples are to be found in almost all Mr. Wilson's more important pronouncements on the war.
In the main the President's address was well received. It was both defended and criticized in the Senate itself--the frank abandonment of the Monroe Doctrine being the main object of attack-and in Europe responsible opinion in the Allied countries generally approved the speech. At any rate, it had kept the subject of peace to the fore, and at the end of January the era of actual negotiations seemed sensibly less remote than at any earlier period of the war.
Within a fortnight of the day the President addressed the Senate the situation took a dramatic turn. On January 31st the German Government presented to the American Ambassador at Berlin a Note giving warning of an unrestricted submarine campaign. Germany declared what was virtually a blockade of Europe, and informed the United States Ambassador that one American vessel would be permitted to cross to England each week, following a specified course and arriving and leaving on specified days. All other vessels entering the war zone would do so at their peril.
The challenge was met by immediate action at Washington. The German Note reached America late on the evening of Thursday, January 31st. All day on Friday the President was in conference with his Ministers and the political leaders. At 1.57 on Saturday afternoon Count Bernstorff, the German Ambassador at Washington, was handed his passports by Mr. T. M. Woolsey, the Assistant-Solicitor of the State Department. Mr. Gerard had already been recalled from Berlin and the American Consuls throughout Germany instructed to relinquish their posts forthwith. Diplomatic relations between the two Governments were completely severed.
At two o'clock the same day the President appeared before Congress. In a brief, impressive, and severely practical message, that took no more
* See Note, p. 9.
than sixteen minutes in delivery, he recalled what had been popularly known as “the Sussex pledge” of April 1916; quoted textually Germany's new threat to sink indiscriminately all vessels entering the so-called “war zone " ; and added, amid an outburst of applause on the part of the assembled Senators, Representatives, and Supreme Court Judges : “ I, therefore, directed the Secretary of State to announce to his Excellency the German Ambassador that all diplomatic relations between the United States and the German Empire are severed and that the American Ambassador in Berlin will immediately be withdrawn, and in accordance with this decision to hand to his Excellency his passports."
“ If," the President concluded, “ American ships and American lives should in fact be sacrificed by German naval commanders in heedless contravention of the just and reasonable understandings of international law and the obvious dictates of humanity, I shall take the liberty of coming again before Congress to ask that authority be given to me to use any means that may be necessary for the protection of our seamen and our people in the prosecution of their peaceful legitimate errands on the high seas. I can do nothing less. I take it for granted that all neutral Governments will take the same course."
America stood at the brink of war, confident in the knowledge that the reins of power would for four years more be held by the man who by the establishment of the Federal Reserve
Board had set American financial stability on a new basis, who by his personal campaign had roused the country to a sense of the needs of the Army and Navy, who had riveted South America to North by his Pan-American foreign policy, and who by his restraint and forbearance had welded a nation of divided sympathies into a solid whole in resistance to the threatened invasion of its rights.
PREPAREDNESS AND PERMANENT PEACE
Our principles are well known. It is not necessary to avow them again. We believe in political liberty and founded our great Government to obtain it, the liberty of men and of peoples-of men to choose their own lives, and of peoples to choose their own allegiance.
Our ambition also all the world has knowledge of. It is not only to be free and prosperous ourselves, but also to be the friend and thoughtful partisan of those who are free or who desire freedom the world over. If we have had aggressive purposes and covetous ambitions, they were the fruit of our thoughtless youth as a nation, and we have put them aside. We shall, I confidently believe, never again take another foot of territory by conquest. We shall never in any circumstances seek to make an independent people subject to our dominion; because we believe, we passionately believe, in the right of every people to choose their own allegiance and be free of masters altogether.
For ourselves we wish nothing but the full liberty of self-development; and with ourselves in this great matter we associate all the peoples of our own hemisphere. --Address to Manhattan Club, New York, November 1915.
THERE is no more than a superficial inconsistency, if there is even that, between President Wilson's advocacy of a programme of “preparedness," naval, military, and commercial, unprecedented in the history of the United States, and his unqualified support of proposals directed towards so preserving the peace of the world as to render the projected fleets and armies mere wasteful superfluities. Mr. Wilson is an idealist,