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