My Three Years in America

By Count Bernstorff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
POLITICAL EVENTS PRECEDING THE "LUSITANIA" INCIDENT

As I mentioned in the first chapter, it was to be expected that public opinion in America would range itself overwhelmingly on the side of the Entente. As a result of the violation of Belgian neutrality, this happened far in excess of expectation. The violence of the statements of the anti-German party called forth strong replies from those who desired a strict neutrality on the part of the United States. The adherents of the latter party were always stigmatized as pro-Germans, although even the German-Americans never called for anything more than an unconditional neutrality. This also was the aim for which the German policy was working through its representatives in America. We never hoped for anything further.

The waves of excitement ran so high that even the private relations of the adherents of both parties contending suffered. President Wilson, therefore, on the 18th August, 1914, issued a proclamation to the American people which is of special interest because it lays down in a definite form the policy to which he logically and unwaveringly adhered until the rupture.

In this proclamation the following sentences occur: "Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned." And further: "The people of the United

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