The Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: American War Aims in World War I

By David M. Esposito | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Toward an American Neutrality

It was my opinion that the real difference with Great Britain now was that the United States had undertaken to build a great navy; that our commerce was expanding beyond all belief, and we were rapidly taking the position Germany occupied before the war. No one in England would probably admit that the things I mentioned were causing the growing irritation against us, but it was a fact nevertheless. The President replied: "Let us build a navy bigger than hers and do what we please!"

-- House Diary, September 24, 1916.

The year 1916 began in an atmosphere of cooperation between President Wilson and British war leaders, but ended with the president disabused of most of his anglophilia and pursuing an independent peace strategy. Earlier in the war, Wilson did not believe that a victory by the Allies could harm American interests. By the end of the year, he had enough evidence of the illiberal ambitions of both coalitions to damn them both. However, his aim was not to praise or condemn but to secure American objectives: trade, security and prestige. He ruthlessly

-61-

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The Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: American War Aims in World War I
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Containment 1917 1
  • Notes 10
  • Chapter 2 - Most Terrible of All Wars 13
  • Notes 24
  • Chapter 3 - A Cruel and Unmanly Business 27
  • Notes 36
  • Chapter 4 - Not One Chance in Thousands 39
  • Notes 56
  • Chapter 5 - Toward an American Neutrality 61
  • Notes 80
  • Chapter 6 - These People Have One God -- Force 83
  • Notes 93
  • Chapter 7 - The Sun Rises in the West 97
  • Notes 111
  • Chapter 8 - Force Without Stint or Limit 117
  • Notes 129
  • Chapter 9 - Venomous Victories 133
  • Notes 141
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 155
  • About the Author *
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