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The agencies of German insurance companies, which were doing an enormous business in this country, carrying some $3,500,000,000 in risks, were permitted to continue operations, but all their assets were to be kept here.
BUSINESS ORGANIZING FOR WAR All over the country, business began to organize for war. More than fifty railroad presidents, representing 250,000 miles of roads, met at Washington to perfect plans for placing their roads at the disposal of the government for purposes of military transportation. The Federal Shipping Board began arrangements for the building of numerous cargo ships to take the place of those destroyed by German submarines, and General George W. Goethals, the builder of the Panama Canal, was placed in charge of this colossal undertaking.
Meantime, for the protection of existing shipping and to minimize the danger of unexpected raids of hostile cruisers or submarines, barred zones of from two to ten miles in radius were established across the approaches to all harbors, which vessels were forbidden to enter at night, or without permission by the harbor patrol.
INDUSTRY AT THE NATION'S SERVICE Within three days of the declaration of war about 32,000 manufacturing establishments, including the largest in the country, placed themselves at the nation's service and offered to turn their plants and workmen over to the government, if needed.
The American Federation of Labor, comprising nearly all labor organizations in the United States, through the unanimous action of its advisory committee pledged itself not to take advantage of the country's necessities to change existing standards of hours or wages, thus averting strikes.
CO-OPERATION WITH THE ALLIES One of the most interesting and significant achievements of the period immediately following the declaration of war was the entering of the United States into a cooperative entente with the allied powers of Europe. Two important commissions came at once from Great Britain and France to this country and held a series of war conferences with the President and his Cabinet at Washington. That from Great Britain was headed by Arthur James Balfour, Foreign Secretary and formerly Prime Minister, one of the foremost British statesmen of his time, and one who throughout his career had been distinguished for friendliness to America. The French commission was headed by M. Rene Viviani, formerly Prime Minister, and Field Marshal Joffre, the hero of the battle of the Marne. These commissions were cordially received by the President and Congress, and with vast enthusiasm by the general public. One of their earliest acts was to pay a visit of homage to the home and tomb of Washington at Mount Vernon.
They made it quite clear to the American Government that there was urgent need of our aid, in money, in ships and in men;
to keep the European allies supplied with food, and to reinforce the armies in France which for so long a time had been enduring the awful strain of holding back the German hordes. As a result of their representations our government was incited to redoubled efforts, and it was decided to send an American army to France at the earliest practicable date.
NO "ENTANGLING ALLIANCES It was also made clear, however, that the United States was not asked or expected to renounce the Monroe Doctrine
or to depart from its fixed policy of not forming permanent alliances with European powers. On this point Mr. Balfour, speaking for all his colleagues, was most explicit.
“I am told,” he said, "that there are some doubting critics who seem to think that the object of the mission of Great Britain and France is to inveigle the United States out of its traditional policy and to entangle it in a formal alliance, secret or public, with European powers. I cannot imagine any rumor with less foundation, nor can I imagine any policy so utterly unnecessary. Our confidence in the assistance which we are going to get from this country is not based upon such considerations as those which arise out of formal treaties."
PURPORT OF THE ENTENTE
There was no treaty, then, but there was a "gentlemen's agreement,” or an entente, no less specific and binding. It was to the effect that the United States and the European allies would co-operate in the war to the end, and that no power should make a separate peace with Germany. At the end of the war, the United States would take an equal part in the peace conference, and terms would be insisted upon which would be satisfactory to all. But there would be no thought of dragging the United States into any permanent league of European powers, or into matters which did not directly concern it.
Thus was begun a new era in the relationships between America and the European powers, which was in fact merely a reversion to and fulfilment of the policy enunciated by the founders of the republic but never before put into execution.
OUR RELATIONS WITH THE ALLIES
Mutual Misunderstandings at the Beginning of the War - The President's Ideals of Perfect Neutrality – Seeking the Impossible - Reasons for Our Official Attitude – Effect of the German Propaganda — Astonishment of the Allies at Our Course America Saved by Three European Powers from German Invasion - The Service of the British Fleet — Radical Difference Between the Two Belligerent Leagues - Allied Legality and German Illegality - Dollars or Human Lives — America at Last Realizing the Difference — Mutual Understanding and Co-operation at Last Attained Without Sacrifice of American Principles.
A DRAMA of misunderstanding; that is what we must consider the great war to have been before our entry into it; at least so far as America and the Allies—now our allies
were concerned. Never, perhaps, was there another war in which the essential issues were so little appreciated by the chief neutral power, or in which the chief neutral and one of the belligerent sides so little understood each other; though in the end the most complete mutual understanding came. We speak now of the official attitude of mind. Doubtless there were many individuals on each side of the Atlantic who had the Vision, and who from the beginning rightly appreciated the position and the conduct of both America and the Allies. But diplomacy is directed and history is largely made by the official and not the individual course.
THE PRESIDENT'S CONCEPTION OF NEUTRALITY The official attitude of the United States was set forth by the President in his proclamation of neutrality, at the very beginning of the war. The proclaiming of neutrality was of course not only proper but necessary, unless we
Copyright by Harris and Ewing.
MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE W. GOETHALS The work of building the Panama Canal was brought to a successful conclusion largely through his engineering skill and executive ability while in charge of the work first as Chief Engineer and then as Governor of the Canal Zone. He was appointed Chairman of the Naval Advisory Board, to build a merchant marine for the government.