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a war zone open to submarine activities. The President promptly warned the German Government that it would be held to “strict accountability” if American ships were sunk or American lives lost in the submarine campaign. Along with this a message was sent to the British Government protesting against British restriction of neutral commerce. There was good ground for objection to the practices of both Governments, and the simultaneous protests emphasized the neutral attitude of the United States. Not until later was it evident that to the Germans this policy seemed to indicate the possibility of putting pressure on England through America.
"Strict accountability” seemed to be a popular watchword, except among pacifists and German sympathizers, but Americans soon began to be killed by the submarines without provoking the Government to action. When the Lusitania was sunk on May 7, 1915, and more than a hundred of the 1,200 victims were Americans a great part of the nation which had been growing steadily more exasperated felt that now the issue must be faced. The President was the personal conductor of the foreign policy of the Administration; Mr. Bryan's sole interest in foreign affairs seemed to be the conclusion of a large number of polite and valueless treaties of arbitration, and it was certain that with Germany, as with Mexico, the President would deal in person. In the few days after the sinking of the Lusitania the nation waited confidently for the President's leadership, and public sentiment was perhaps more nearly unanimous than it had been for eight months past, or was to be again for two years more.
The President's note on May 13 met with general approval. It denied any justification for such acts as the sinking of the Lusitania, and warned the Germans that the Government of the United States would not “omit any word or act” to defend the rights of its citizens. But some of the effect of that declaration had already been destroyed by a speech the President had made two days before, in which he had said that “there is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight,” and the Germans, it was learned presently, had been still further reassured by a declaration of Mr. Bryan (entirely on his own authority) to the Austrian Ambassador that the note was intended only for home consumption.
At any rate, the note was not followed by action. Throughout the whole Summer the President maintained a correspondence with the Germans, distinguished by patient reasoning on his part and continual shiftings and equivocations on theirs. Meanwhile nothing was done; the public sentiment of the first days after the Lusitania had been sunk had slackened; division and dissension had returned and redoubled. Pacifism was more active than ever and German agents were spreading propaganda and setting fire and explosives to munition plants. Mr. Bryan, who apparently
alone in the country was fearful that the President might needlessly involve the nation in war, resigned as Secretary of State on June 8. Aside from a certain relief, the public almost ignored his passing; the man who had been the strongest leader of the party in March, 1913, had in the last two years sunk almost into obscurity. Attention was now concentrated on the policy which the President, whose new Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, was hardly more than a figurehead, was pursuing toward Germany.
In August two more American passengers were drowned in the sinking of the liner Arabic, and in other submarine exploits of the Summer a number of American seamen lost their lives. The President's persistence at last had the effect of getting from the Germans, on September 1, a promise to sink no more passenger boats, and on October 5 they made a formal expression of regret for the Arabic incident. Meanwhile some of the acts of sabotage against American industries had been traced back to the Austro-Hungarian Embassy, and the Ambassador, Dr. Dumba, was sent home in September. A few months later Papen and Boy-Ed, the Military and Naval Attachés of the German Embassy, followed him for a similar reason.
But the German outrages continued, and so did the submarine sinkings, though these were now transferred to the Mediterranean and Austria was put forward as the guilty power. Also, nothing had been done about the Lusitania. The country had apparently been divided by internal discords. The condition which the President had hoped to prevent by his appeal for “impartiality in thought as well as in action” had come about. Also, the danger of war had revealed the inadequacy of America's military establishment, and a private organization, whose moving spirit was General Leonard Wood, had undertaken to supply the deficiencies of the Government by establishing officers' training camps. Toward Wood and his enterprise the Government seemed cold, and he was reprimanded by the Secretary of War for permitting Colonel Roosevelt to make an indiscreet speech at the training camp at Plattsburg. But when Congress assembled in December the President deplored and denounced that new appearance in American public life, the hyphenate, and urged upon Congress that military preparation which he had derided a year before.
Congress, it was soon evident, was far less convinced than the President that anything had happened during 1915. In December, 1915, and in January, 1916, Mr. Wilson made a speaking tour through the East and Middle West in support of his new policy. His demand for a navy “incomparably the most adequate in the world,” which Mr. Daniels translated into the biggest navy in the world, aroused some doubts in the minds of the public as to where the Administration thought the chief danger lay, and German influences did their best during the Winter to stir up anti-British
sentiment in Congress—the more easily since the controversy over British interference with American commerce was still unsettled.
Eventually, and largely as a result of the President's speaking tour, Congress adopted a huge naval program, which was destined to remain on paper for some years. Military reform, however, had a different fate. The President had supported the policy favored by the Secretary of War, Lindley M. Garrison, of supplementing the regular line by a federalized “Continental army” of 400,000 men. The House Committee on Military Affairs, led by James Hay, would not hear of this and insisted on Federal aid to
Senator Glass on Woodrow Wilson It is my considered judgment that Woodrow Wilson will take a place in history among the very foremost of the great men who have given direction to the fortunes of the nation. No President of the United States, from the beginning of the Republic, ever excelled him in essential preparation for the tasks of the office. By a thorough acquisition of abstract knowledge, by clear and convincing precept and by a firm and diligent practical application of the outstanding principles of statecraft, no occupant of the Executive chair up to his advent was better furnished for a notable administration of public affairs. And Wilson's Ad-/ ministration has been notable. Its achievements, in enumeration and importance, have never been surpassed; and it may accurately be said that most of the things accomplished were of the President's own initiative.
Of the President's personal traits and characteristics I cannot as confidently speak as those persons whose constant and intimate association with him has given them observation of his moods and habits. To me he always has been the soul of courtesy and frankness. Dignified, but reasonably familiar; tenacious when sure of his position, but not hard to persuade or to convince in a cause having merit, I have good reason to be incredulous when I hear persons gabble about the unwillingness of President Wilson to seek counsel or accept advice. For a really great man who must be measurably conscious of his own intellectual power, he has repeatedly done both things in an astonishing degree during his Administration; and when certain of a man's downright honesty, I have never known anybody who could be readier to confide serious matters implicitly to a coadjutor in the public service.
February 18, 1921.
the National Guard. The President, declaring that he could not tell a Congressional committee that it must take his plan or none, appeared to be ready to give in to Hay, and Garrison resigned in protest. Hay had his way, and Garrison was succeeded by Newton D. Baker, previously regarded as inclined to the pacifist side of the controversy.
Meanwhile the submarine issue was still an issue. Little satisfaction had been obtained for events in the Mediterranean, and in March the Sussex, a cross-Channel passenger boat, was torpedoed in plain violation of the German promise of September 1. There
efforts to deny and evade were somewhat more clumsy than usual. On April 19 the President came before Congress and announced that “unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight carrying vessels” diplomatic relations would be broken off. The threat had its effect; the Germans yielded, grudgingly and in language that aroused much irritation, but on the main question they yielded none the less, and promised to sink no more merchantmen without warning.
During this crisis the President had had to contend with a serious revolt in Congress, which took the form of the Gore Resolution in the Senate and the McLemore resolution in the House, warning American citizens off armed merchantmen. The President took the position that this was a surrender of American rights, and upon his insistence both resolutions were brought to a vote and defeated. The Lusitania question was still unsettled, but on the general issue of submarine war the Germans had at last given way to the President's demand, and through most of 1916 the submarine issue was in the background.
During the year there was a continuation of diplomatic action against the British Government's interference with neutral commerce and with neutral mails. But, aside from the comparative unimportance of these issues beside the submarine assassinations, the Lusitania and similar episodes had stirred up so much indig. V nation that not many Americans were seriously interested in action against England which could only work to the advantage of Germany. The year saw the institution of the Shipping Board, which was to look after the interests of the American merchant marine brought into being by the war. and also some efforts to extend American commerce in South America. Of more eventual importance for Latin-American relations was the necessity for virtually superseding the Government of the Dominican Republic, which had become involved in civil war and financial difficulties, by an American Naval Administration, as had been done in Haiti the year before. The principal domestic event of the year was the threatened
railroad strike, which came at the end of the Summer. The President summoned the heads of the four railroad brotherhoods and the executives of the railroad lines to Washington for a conference in August, and attempted without success to bring them to an agreement. A program to which he eventually gave his approval provided for the concession by the employers of the basic eight-hour day, with other issues left over until the working of this proposal could be studied. The railroad executives refused this, and while the negotiations were thus at a deadlock it became known that the brotherhoods had secretly ordered a strike beginning September 4. To avert this crisis the President asked Congress to pass a series of laws accepting the basic eight-hour day, providing for a commission of investigation, and forbidding further strikes pending Government inquiry.
None of these proposals except the eight-hour day, the center of the whole dispute, met the approval of the brotherhoods, and none of them except the eight-hour day and the commission of investigation was adopted. But, with A. B. Garreston, of the Brotherhood of Conductors, holding a stopwatch in the gallery, Congress hastily passed these laws and the strike was called off.
The eight-hour issue was the last item on the record on which President Wilson came up for re-election in the Fall of 1916. Despite the single-term plank in the Democratic platform of 1912, it had been evident long before the end of Mr. Wilson's first term that he was the only possible candidate. In March, 1913, he had seemed almost like an outside expert called in for temporary service in readjusting some of the problems of public life; he was by no means the leader of the party. But long before Bryan resigned in alarm at the tendencies of a foreign policy over which the Secretary of State had no control the President had become the leader of the party, and by 1916 he was almost the only leader of prominence.
In the record on which the electorate was to express its judgment only a minor place was taken by the issues which had seemed of such importance in 1913. The Federal Reserve Act had already proved its value so well that it was being taken as a matter of course, and people were forgetting that they had ever had to depend on a currency which ran for cover in every crisis and on a banking system where each bank was a source of weakness to its neighbors instead of strength. What effect the Underwood-Simmons Tariff and other measures of the first year might have had on American business no man could say, for conditions created by the war had left America the only great producer in a world of impatient consumers whose wants had to be met at any price.
Mexico, which had provided the most pressing problem in foreign affairs during the Taft Administration, was still an unsolved problem in 1916, and more disturbing than ever. The