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

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The War of 1812, he noted, had started over the British seizure of American merchant vessels. Wilson viewed Madison as a peace-loving man, yet popular feeling in the country made it impossible for him to avoid the conflict: “Madison and I are the only two Princeton men that have become President. The circumstances of the war of 1812 and now run parallel. ”16 Wilson’s comments demonstrate the degree of stress that he felt and illustrate his belief that relations with Britain were in danger. 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.

The foreign secretary wanted Wilson to believe that Britain was not opposed to opening a discussion. 28 ABANDONING AMERICAN NEUTRALITY Grey again made strong preconditions that Germany would have to accept, which included disarmament and reparations to Belgium. “[I]f Germany desires the mediation of the United States,” the foreign secretary argued, “these facts must be considered in drawing up the conditions of peace. But we have no indication that Germany is prepared to consider them . . 80 By declaring that London still favored peace, Grey continued implying that it was acting honorably.

To gain Wilson’s approval, Spring-Rice reminded the president that nearly sixty years before, the United States had found itself in a similar position in its struggle to win the American Civil War. Spring-Rice asserted that when Washington told Britain to end its trade with the Confederacy, London acquiesced. 30 The Order in Council divided Wilson’s cabinet. 31 He still hoped Britain would accept the Declaration of London without modification and told Wilson that if he approved of his objections, the president should send them to Page as soon as possible because Grey wanted to get America’s impression.

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