Cecil Spring Rice: A Diplomat's Life

Cecil Spring Rice: A Diplomat's Life

Cecil Spring Rice: A Diplomat's Life

Cecil Spring Rice: A Diplomat's Life

Synopsis

This work examined the career of Cecil Spring Rice in detail from 1887 when Rice was posted to the British Legation in Washington and subsequent posts in Tokyo, Berlin, Tehran, Constantipople, Cairo, Petrograd, and Stockholm.

Excerpt

Certain lives tempt the biographer to read events backward in time. This is especially so if there has been some crowning achievement in that life toward which there has been a discernible, forceful tendency, carrying with it a sense of preordination. From the point of climax there may develop something akin to a compulsion to pick through the years, isolating incidents and featuring actions that, taken all in all, suggest--if they do not prove--that there has been a spirit and a purpose combining to achieve a destiny. Cecil Spring Rice lived such a life. His long career as a diplomat attained a rare distinction when he became British ambassador to the United States in 1913, a post fraught with the greatest significance for his country with the outbreak of World War I. He served in Washington during the difficult years preceding 1918. The responsibilities of office were awesome and, in the end, extremely stressful. After a long struggle to remain neutral, during which time there were acrimonious disagreements between Great Britain and the United States, America entered the war on the side of the Allies. By no means had Spring Rice masterminded this turn of events. Indeed, few, if any, statesmen would have been able to exercise as he did the patience and the understanding necessitated by President Wilson's determination to stay aloof from the fighting. Spring Rice's conduct of affairs, a vital element contributing to United States involvement, must be ranked as an astute accomplishment.

There has been the temptation in consequence to interpret Spring Rice's first meeting with Theodore Roosevelt in 1886 as something like fate. Friendship with Roosevelt--who was truly a darling of destiny--and who was becoming more and more prominent in public affairs in the United States, can all too easily be viewed as a remote but critical factor in Spring Rice's promotion to ambassador in Washington, the predictable outcome in a series of related events. Adding force to this judgment was Sir Cecil's sudden death within a month of his depar-

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