My Three Years in America

By Count Bernstorff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE "LUSITANIA" INCIDENT

ON August 6th, 1914, the Government of the United States proposed to all the belligerent Powers that the laws of war at sea, as laid down in the Declaration of London of 1909, should be observed throughout the present war. This reasonable suggestion, which, had it been generally observed, would have saved the world much distress, came to nothing, owing to the refusal of Great Britain to accept it as it stood without reservation. The United States Government thereupon withdrew its proposal on October 24th, and announced that "It was resolved in future to see that the rights and duties of the Government and citizens of the United States should be settled in accordance with the accepted principles of international law and the treaty obligations of the United States, without reference to the provisions of the Declaration of London." Moreover, the American Government drew up protests and demands for compensation, for use in case of any infringement of these rights, or of any interference with their free exercise on the part of the belligerent Powers.

On November 3rd, 1914, Great Britain declared the whole of the North Sea a theatre of war, and thereupon instituted, in flagrant violation of the Law of Nations, a blockade of the adjoining neutral coasts and ports. General disappointment was felt in Germany that the

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