THE ROAD TO WAR
"The military masters of Germany denied us the right to, be neutral."' WOODROW WILSON, June 14, 1917.
ON JUNE 28, 1914, a fanatical student, in the Bosnian city of Serajevo, stepped toward the royal limousine, and fired two revolver shots, one at the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, the other at his blonde consort, the Duchess of Hohenberg. Both died within a few minutes.
The flaming pistol of Princip touched off the European powder magazine, and set in motion a series of earth-shaking events that have not yet run their course, and will not soon do so.
Did the American people even faintly foresee that the death of the Austrian Archduke heralded the death of tens of thousands of their sons in France, and within twenty-five or so years the death of tens of thousands more in a dozen or so different theaters of conflict?
The answer is no. The news of the assassination made the headlines and then gave way to local sensations, including the scandal involving Mme. Caillaux in France. A handful of American observers, it is true, suggested that the resulting quarrel between Austria and Servia might widen into a European conflict. But the rank and file of the American people, busied with their everyday affairs, could hardly take seriously the murder of a seemingly obscure archduke, by an obscure assassin, in an obscure town, in an obscure part of the world. The New York Sun was not alone when it boldly predicted that the assassinations would make for peace between Austria and Servia.