The state of American neutrality in February 1915

Published by carolyn on Mon, 2019-01-07 20:04

By Carolyn Yeager

THESE FIRST FOUR ITEMS COME FROM the No. 26 issue of THE FATHERLAND newspaper, [No. 24 shown at left] meaning that after 26 consecutive weeks it was still going strong. Also going strong was discussion of the United States-declared 'Neutrality' in regards to the war raging in Europe. We know today that U.S. neutrality was a sham, but at the time those Americans who were not pro-England or pro-Russian were struggling to bring attention to the situation.

The Fatherland v.1 no.26 P 5

N.Y. Staats Zeitung editorial, January 25, 1915

On Our Knees to England”

IN a letter to United States Senator Stone, but intended for general consumption, Secretary Bryan has undertaken to justify the attitude of the administration toward the warring nations and to reply to the attacks which have been provoked by the attitude of the Government on this subject. It is well that the letter bears the signature of Mr. Bryan, as otherwise it might have been assumed that it had been composed in London, or the British Embassy in Washington, except that British diplomats would probably have gone about it with more skill and discretion than our Secretary of State. 

The letter is remarkable for the truly painful efforts of Mr. Bryan to represent the various charges of the crass violation of neutrality for the benefit of the Allies as exaggerated or unproven, while, for example, he indulges with marked satisfaction in the allegation that a number of German reservists were found in possession of American passports to which they were not entitled. The Secretary of State with evident regret admits that he cannot explain away the fact that the complaints of England's unwarranted aggression against our sea-going trade are justified. For his own justification he points to the protests which have been filed in London but which have met with no satisfactory response, because England, as Mr. Bryan with undisguised satisfaction points out, controls the seas.”

Also on Page 5

Bryan-Wilson Logic

IN an editorial dated Jan. 25, 1915 the New Yorker Herold sharply calls President Wilson to account for his “malignant neutrality”:

It is more than five months since the Morgen Herold began discussing the question whether our government observed due neutrality in this war. Shortly before the last election the President has, in several ways, attempted to answer our contentions that some of the warring nations were discriminated against. Since then the alarm in Washington has increased, and now Mr. Bryan has published an “expose'” of five thousand words, in which he purposes to meet every question raised, We recommend to our readers a careful perusal of the entire document, and then ponder over the following observations on our part:

Mr. Bryan maintains the American government had no reason to interfere with the cables, because Germany might have cut them [England did cut the cable used by Germany as soon as it declared war -cy] and by so doing could have established equality between herself and her enemies. This is a rather specious argument. […] When Mr Bryan says the wireless could have been the means of establishing communication between the shore and the warships at sea, we admit that this is true, but we might also say that England and France had, before the war, the same right to erect wireless stations as Germany. Their omission to do so should not have mitigated against Germany reaping the fruit of her enterprise. And we should keep in mind that there is no treaty requiring and no law permitting our government to censor anything—yet. Mr. Wilson was in a great hurry to subject the German wireless to censorship!

And, as we have said before: Mr. Wilson as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy arrogates to himself the power to prohibit the export of war news (by wireless) but when it comes to prohibit the export of tangible war material he forgets his high military office and pleads that there is no law permitting him to forbid such shipments!

Mr. Bryan, in his argument, fails to mention the treaty he concluded with Panama and which prevents any warships obtaining supplies in the territorial waters of that republic in case the vessel has been in an American harbor within three months. This treaty was a direct violation of neutrality because it changed, during a war, the methods in supplying warships. It worked against Germany, too, since the vessels of the Allies have their bases in the immediate neighborhood of the Panama Canal, while Germany has no supply stations there.

Mr. Bryan with his arguments has not improved his standing as a logician.

Page 10


ONE of the most loyal acts in connection with the war was that of Miss Ferne Rogers, the American actress who was forced to give up her position as prima donna of “The Sleeping Beauty” at the Drury Lane Theater, London, because she declared she would not believe the stories of German atrocities, and held the Germans to be “the dearest people in the world.” The latest development in connection with the case is the news cabled by the Central News that the American Ambassador in London refused to issue her an American passport to go to Germany where she was offered an engagement. A letter addressed to the State Department inquiring the reasons why an American girl is refused an American passport remains unanswered. Miss Rogers comes of pure American stock and was born at Meriden, Conn., where her parents still reside.

We know that Secretary of State Bryan has a son-in-law in the English Army and that he is anti-German to the backbone; but it will certainly interest an untold number of Americans who are not in the English dragnet at Washington to know whether Ambassador Page who, not so long ago, all but declared his allegiance to England in a public speech, is to be permitted to exercise his sweet will regarding the question what American citizens may or may not receive American passports.

We have not been informed as to the ground of his refusal; he may be justified for some reason. But if his decision rests on the fact that Miss Rogers refused to betray the German people, among whom she obtained her musical education, and who encouraged and supported her when she was singing at the court theaters at Farmstadt and Coburg, he is responsible to the American people for his conduct, and an explanation cannot be forthcoming too soon.

Page 15


THIS is the title of a recent pamphlet by Alexander Szarski and Faust C. DeWalsh, Ph,D., a thorough and reliable analysis of the underlying causes of the present conflagration in Europe. The authors leave no one in doubt as to the seriousness of the facts compiled by them, for the introduction expressly states that the result of their inquiry is here presented in the form of an indictment, placing the blame for this murderous war at the doors of Russia and Great Britain.

What makes “The Great Conspiracy” especially interesting and worthy of general attention is the fact that it is entirely free from speculation and pro-German sentimentality. Documentary evidence forms the basis of the whole argument, and the evidence itself occupies a great amount of space. The nucleus of the pamphlet is a sketch by M. V. Stepankowsky, entitled “The Russian Plot to Seize Galicia” (London, March, 1914), many pages of which have been reprinted. Stepankowsky's information is so accurate and his knowledge of Russian ambitions so well-founded as to make his statements which seem to anticipate the events of July 1914 well worth reading. All of Stepankowsky's prophecies have since become historic facts, and we fully understand what it means when, at the outbreak of hostilities, M. Iswolski, Russian Ambassador to France, and as former Minister of Foreign Affairs—one of the moving spirits in the conspiracy, exclaimed: “This is MY war!”

The part played by Great Britain in the gigantic conspiracy to crush German influence throughout the world is not the focus of interest in the pamphlet under consideration—though a number of valuable official documents are quoted and discussed under the heading “The British Accomplice.” To fix Russia's responsibility for this wanton destruction of irrecoverable values is the principal object of “The Great Conspiracy,” and this purpose has been accomplished with great technical skill, while the evidence presented is irrefutable.

The neatly gotten-up pamphlet is being distributed by the publishers, the German-American Literary Defense Committee, 183 William Street, New York. To the readers of THE FATHERLAND it will be of particular interest to learn that all Anglo-American newspapers have hitherto refrained even from mentioning the appearance of said pamphlet.

v. 2 no.1  February 10, 1915  Pages 3-5


Nation-Wide Movement for the Protection of American Interests

IT was to be expected that the meeting of the 58 delegates to a national conference at the New Willard [Hotel], Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 30 last, would arouse the deep-seated indignation and rage of the entire Allied press of New York, and that the conference, called to take the initiative in a national movement for the protection of American commerce, the laying of an American cable, the neutralization of the seas, strict neutrality and the prohibition of the export of arms and munitions of war, together with the establishment of an American merchant marine, would be misrepresented in the light of a movement by “hyphenated citizens” to force the Administration to favor Germany and Austria-Hungary.

But we defy any fair-minded American to read the resolutions for himself and say that the platform contains a single phrase that is not inspired by a sincere patriotism. The principles enunciated are American principles, expressed in even more moderate terms than those used by a number of public men—Governor Colquitt of Texas, among others—in formulating their demands for the exercise of an international policy honorable to the United States.

If the New York Times, the Sun, the Evening Post, the World, and all the other champions of the cause of England, Russia and Japan, can cite a sentence that does not ring true, they have failed to point it out in their ferocious joint attack upon the platform and the patriotic citizens who adopted it by a unanimous vote.

The vindictive character of this editorial assault is the best proof that the declaration has struck deep into the flesh of those whose interest it is to uphold England in this country in the position of a dictator, a menace to the world's peace, the destroyer of our prosperity—and that it has struck equally at the root of Mr. Bryan's doctrine that the commerce of the United States must suffer because of Britain's superior navy.

There were represented at this conference not only great American church organizations—the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church of North America—the great German athletic association of the entire North American continent, the German-American Alliance of 2,000,000 members, but American universities and seminaries, charity and benevolent associations, the House of Representatives, the clergy, the bar and the press.

Representative Bartholdt was elected Chairman and Mr. Horace Brand, of Chicago, secretary.


Those who came to the conference as representatives were not all “hyphenated citizens,” and those who delivered speeches spoke as Americans, not as German-Americans, Irish-Americans or Hungarian-Americans. […]

The assertion that this is not an American movement is painfully ridiculous. Many of those who founded it, propagated it and spoke for it had ancestors that came from England, Holland, Scandinavia, as well as Germany and Austria-Hungary, ancestors who fought in the Revolution, in the War of 1812, or faced the hardships and dangers of pioneer life in what was once known as the Far West. Many of them represent great business institutions; they feel the wrong that is inflicted upon our commerce by English arrogance, and see bankruptcy staring them and their constituents in the face unless there is prompt relief from an intolerable situation.

The Platform

Whereas, Whereas,Whereas, etc. ... Resolved, That we, citizens of the United States, agree to effect a national organization the objects and purposes of which may be stated as follows:

  1. In order to assume the possession of an independent news service we favor an American cable, controlled by the Government of the United States.

  2. We demand a free and open sea for the commerce of the United States, and unrestricted traffic in non-contraband goods as defined by international law.

  3. We favor as a strictly American policy the immediate enactment of legislation prohibiting the export of arms, ammunition and munitions of war.

  4. We favor the establishment of an American merchant marine, and

  5. We pledge ourselves individually and collectively to support only such candidates for public office, irrespective of party, who will place American interests above those of any other country and who will aid in eliminating all undue foreign influences from American life.

Wherein does this platform conflict with the dictum of President Wilson's neutrality proclamation? “The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name,” declared the President, “and we must put a curb on any transaction which might give a preference to one party to the struggle over another.”

That is all that the members of the conference ask in their platform. Yet the Times, echoing Mr. Bryan—and we shall look into Mr. Bryan's famous letter with a critical eye—tells its readers that the resolution to prohibit the export of arms and munitions of war would commit us to an interference in the war to help Germany, and deprive England, France and Russia of advantages gained by their arms.

If the failure to send arms to the Allies would help Germany, why is it not a breach of neutrality toward Germany to send them to the Allies? Is it not “giving a preference to one party to the struggle over another?”

Obviously, this is an American question to be settled by Americans.

And if the alleged “advantage” of the Allies must be assured to them through our continued shipment of arms, why was not Germany permitted to remain secure in possession of her advantage in the form of wireless stations?

And the article goes on for another page and a half … signed Frederick F. Schrader


I found a very much shortened version of the letter from Sec. of State William Jennings Bryan, intended for the public to see, to Sen. Stone, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And here is the NY Times reply ... or one of them.

Notice it came from London. All war news came to the US over the London cable!