Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the by M. Ryan Floyd (auth.)

By M. Ryan Floyd (auth.)

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Extra info for Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914–December 1915

Sample text

80 By declaring that London still favored peace, Grey continued implying that it was acting honorably. But Germany had not lost the war, much less the battle, and was still capable of continuing the fight; it was not going to accept Britain’s proposal. Bryan slowly accepted that the war was going to be long. Britain’s and Germany’s stalling tactics aggravated the secretary of state and he could not fathom that all they seemed capable of doing was asserting that the war was not their fault. Bryan told Wilson that “continuing the war was just as grave as the responsibility for beginning it .

The president immediately declared that his country would remain neutral because, as he asserted, the American people wanted to avoid European affairs and he wanted to lead the mediation effort to end the war. Wilson also called on Americans to conduct themselves in the spirit of neutrality, something he would prove unable to do himself. Yet he seems to have thought he had a balanced approach to the belligerents and in certain cases attempted to assure American neutrality by going beyond its legal definition found in international law.

Even though the president personally favored London over Berlin, he placed American interests before all others and knew that public opinion could force his hand against Britain. While Wilson may not have intended his private comments to have an effect on international relations, they did. Once he left Wilson, House told Spring-Rice about his conversation with the president. ” Grey said that his government would change the contraband list and that his office had received a guarantee from the Netherlands, which was neutral, that it would not “reexport” foodstuffs to the German government.

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