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ing the Civil War. In order to prevent contra- not clearly defined its position in this matter at band being shipped from neighboring neutral the beginning of the war. When the question of territory to the Confederacy, the Federal gov- the purchase by Americans of the interned Gerernment enforced the doctrine of the continuous man ships was broached, the British government voyage, and goods destined for enemy territory indicated that it would not object to a “bona were intercepted before they reached the neu fide" transfer, if such transfer was not used for tral ports from which they were to be reëxported. the benefit of the enemy. Thus, if the vessels Such action, moreover, was upheld by the Su were to be used in the South American trade, preme Court of the United States in the case of she would not object, but if they were to be used the Springbok. The main argument of the Brit- to trade with Germany, she would. As the ish government was that, when the underlying Dacia was to be used for the latter purpose, principles governing blockade and contraband Great Britain served notice that the vessel would are not violated, it is permissible to adopt new be seized. A request from the United States measures of enforcement.
that the Daoia be allowed to make one trip withThe final chapter of the year in this contro- out interference was declined by Great Britain versy was written with the dispatch on Oct. 21, on the ground that it might establish a prece1915, of an exhaustive reply by the United dent. Despite this warning the Dacia sailed States to the contention of Sir Edward Grey. from Galveston and was seized by a French It was couched in much more vigorous language cruiser and taken to Brest. The question was than the earlier communications. It stated that sent to the French Prize Court, which decided the so-called blockade instituted by the Allies that the transfer of registry "was tainted with was "ineffective, illegal, and indefensible,” that fraud and against the rights of belligerents," the "American government cannot submit to a and ordered the steamer seized as a prize. The curtailment of its neutral rights," and that the cotton cargo, however, was not involved in the United States “must insist that the relations be- forfeiture, but was purchased by the French govtween it and His Majesty's government be gov- ernment. erned, not by a policy of expediency, but by those THE UNITED STATES AND GERMANY. Submaestablished rules of international conduct to rine Warfare and the War Zone. The present which Great Britain in the past has held the war witnessed for the first time the use of the United States to account.”
submarine on a large scale in naval warfare. lt Use of Neutral Flags. Early in the year was evident that the introduction of this new 1915, the German government made representa weapon would give rise to a number of novel tions to the Government of the United States questions. The frail construction of these boats that British ships were making use of neutral made them an easy prey, if seen, for warships flags in order to escape capture. Particular at- or even for unarmed merchantmen which might tention was called to the action of the captain sink the submarines by ramming them. These of the British steamer Lusitania in raising the conditions made it necessary for the submarines United States flag when approaching British to attack quickly and without warning. Furwaters, and it was stated that orders had been thermore, the old method of capture, by which a issued by the British government to all com- prize crew was placed on the captured vessel, manders to make use of neutral flags when nec could hardly be followed by the submarine, as essary. On Feb. 10, 1915, the United States gov- the size of the crew was small and could not be ernment addressed a note to the British govern- spared for this purpose. The only feasible ment calling attention to this matter. Without method of disposing of vessels captured by subdisputing that in exceptional cases there was marines was to sink them. But this raised the precedent for the use of neutral flags by mer- question of the safety of passengers and crew. chant vessels to escape capture, it was pointed The established rules of international law reout that any general use of the American flag quired that merchant vessels could not be sunk, for such purposes would endanger American unless they attempted to escape, until provision ships, by raising the presumption that they were was made for the safety of passengers and crew. of belligerent nationality. In answer to this The United States first became involved in the the British government stated, on Feb. 19, 1915, issue when, on Feb. 4, 1915, Germany declared that English law allowed the use of the British the waters around the British Isles a “war flag by foreign merchant vessels in order to eg- zone" after Feb. 18, 1915. It declared its intencape capture, that instances were on record of tion of sinking every enemy merchant ship found United States vessels making such use of the in the zone, even if it was impossible to save English flag during the American Civil War, and the crew and passengers. It also stated that that it would be unreasonable to deny to British neutral ships entering the “war zone" were in vessels at the present time a similar privilege. danger. It was stated, however, that the British govern- The United States government promptly took ment had no intention of advising their mer- notice of this proclamation, and on Feb. 10, 1915, chant shipping to use foreign flags as a general sent a communication to the German governpractice.
ment, calling attention to the serious difficulties Transfer of Belligerent Merchant Vessels to that might arise if the policy contemplated were Neutral Registry. The question of the right to carried out, and declaring that it would hold transfer ship ownership from a citizen of a bel- the German government to a “strict accountaligerent power to a citizen of a neutral nation bility,” if any merchant vessel of the United arose in the case of the steamer Dacia. This States was destroyed, or citizens of the United steamer, formerly owned by the Hamburg-Amer States lost their lives. In reply to this note the ican Line, was purchased by an American citizen German government stated on Feb. 18, 1915, after the outbreak of the war. The steamer was that, in view of the illegal methods used by admitted to American registry by the United Great Britain in preventing commerce between States authorities and prepared to sail with a Germany and neutral countries, even in articles cargo of cotton to Germany. Great Britain had which are not contraband of war, the German government felt justified in using all means ernment of the United States had formulated within its power to retaliate on England. Com- any action in connection with these cases, the plaint was made of the large quantities of muni- civilized world was shocked at the terrible news tions of war which were being sent to Great that the Cunard Line steamship Lusitania had Britain, and it was stated that Germany in been sunk on May 7, 1915, by a German submatended to suppress such traffic "with all means rine off Old Head of Kinsale at the southeastern at its disposal." Finally it was suggested that point of Ireland, resulting in the loss of 1152 in order to avoid mistakes, all American vessels lives, of whom 114 were known to be American carrying non-contraband through the war zone citizens (see LUSITANIA). Prior to the sailing of should travel under convoy.
the Lusitania from New York on her fatal voyIn order to avoid, if possible, the very serious age, an advertisement signed by the German emconsequences of the proposed German naval pol- bassy appeared in many American newspapers, icy, the Government of the United States ad- warning Americans of the danger of traveling dressed an identical note to Great Britain and on British vessels through the "war zone." Germany suggesting an agreement between these The first feeling of horror at the terrible catastwo powers respecting the conduct of naval war trophe was succeeded by a feeling of bitter refare. The memorandum contained the follow- sentment in this country at what appeared to ing suggestions: (1) That neither power would be a ruthless sacrifice of innocent lives. It apsow floating mines on the high seas or in terri- peared, at first, as if a break between the United torial waters, and that anchored mines should States and Germany was inevitable. President be placed only in cannon range of harbors for Wilson waited six days before taking definite acdefensive purposes, and that all mines should tion, stating that it was important to act "with bear the stamp of the government planting them, deliberation as well as with firmness." In the and be so constructed as to become harmless meantime the German government on May 10, when freed from their anchorage. (2) That 1915, sent a communication to the United States neither would use submarines to attack the mer government expressing its sympathy for the loss chant vessels of any nationality, except to en- of American lives, but at the same time mainforce the right of visit and search. (3) That taining that the responsibility rested with the each would require their merchant vessels not to British government, which, "through its plan of use neutral flags for purposes of disguise. starving the civilian population of Germany"
The note further suggested that the United by prohibiting the importation of foodstuffs, States government designate certain agencies in had forced Germany to resort to retaliatory Germany to which foodstuffs from the United measures. It was further claimed that British States should be sent, and that the German gov- merchant vessels were generally armed, and reernment guarantee that such foodstuffs be used peated attempts had been made by such vessels for noncombatants only. Great Britain was re- to ram submarines. Finally it was stated that quested to agree not to put foodstuffs on the the Lusitania carried a large quantity of amlist of absolute contraband, and that ships of munition in her cargo, and warning had been foodstuffs sent to the designated consignees in given by Germany that such vessels were liable Germany should not be interfered with.
to destruction. Nothing of practical importance came from On May 13, 1915, the eagerly awaited statethese suggestions. Germany replied, accepting ment of the United States was sent to Germany. some and rejecting others, while Great Britain With a dignity and earnestness which the gravreviewed the alleged violations of international ity of the situation called for, President Wilson law and defended the stoppage of foodstuffs des reviewed the series of acts of German submarine tined for Germany as a legitimate incident of commanders, culminating in the sinking of the the blockade.
Lusitania, which he said “the Government of the Thus matters rested pending the first case in United States has observed with growing conwhich an American vessel should be sunk or cern, distress, and amazement." American lives lost. On March 28, 1915, news Referring to the claim that the alleged illegal was received that the British steamship Falaba acts of her adversaries justified Germany in had been sunk, and that among those lost was adopting retaliatory measures, the American an American citizen, Leon C. Thrasher. Ac- note stated that the Government of the United counts differed as to the actions of the steam- States could not admit that any such measures ship when called upon by the commander of the were legal which infringed the clearly estabsubmarine to stop. The German government de- lished rights of neutrals under international fended the action on the ground that the Falaba law. These rights include the protection of the had attempted to escape after being warned and lives of noncombatants traveling on unarmed that, upon being overhauled, 10 minutes had merchant vessels, and the right of neutrals to been allowed for the crew and the passengers to travel on the high seas wherever their legititake to the life boats before the vessel was tor- mate business calls them. In view of these pedoed. While this case was still under con- clearly established principles, the note stated sideration by the United States government, it that "it confidently expects the Imperial Gerwas reported that the American vessel Cushing man government will disavow the acts of which had been attacked by a German aëroplane in the the Government of the United States complains; English Channel on April 29, 1915, one bomb that they will make reparation as far as reparabeing dropped on the ship which caused some tion is possible for injuries which are without damage but no loss of life.
measure; and that they will take immediate Within two days following this, word was re- steps to prevent the recurrence of anything so ceived that the American steamer Gulflight had obviously subversive of the principles of warbeen attacked by a German submarine off the fare, for which the Imperial German governScilly Islands on May 1st. Two members of the ment have in the past so wisely and so firmly crew were drowned, and the captain died of heart contended." In conclusion it was stated that failure the following morning. Before the Gov. "the Imperial German government will not expect the Government of the United States to Finally it was asserted that the rapid sinking omit any word or any act necessary to the per- of the Lusitania was due to an explosion of the formance of its sacred duty of maintaining the cargo of ammunition. The German government rights of the United States and its citizens, and requested the American government to careof safeguarding their free exercise and enjoy fully consider the above statements and express ment."
its view in regard to them, and that thereupon During the days immediately following the the German government would make a "final” terrible event, newspaper comment in Germany statement as to its position. This note did not indicated that the feeling in that country was meet the issue squarely and was clearly an invicharacterized by regret at the loss of so many tation to further negotiations between the two lives, but that the government was justified in governments. sinking the Lusitania on the ground that she It was at this juncture in the negotiations was carrying large quantities of ammunition, that Mr. Bryan resigned as Secretary of State and that she had guns mounted and concealed on the ground that he was unable to agree with between decks. The last charge was categor the President as to the proper policy to pursue ically denied both by the British authorities and in dealing with our difficulties with Germany. the American port officials at New York.
The two points upon which Mr. Bryan in his Some hope was felt that the German govern letter of explanation stated that he was not in ment would disavow the act, when on May 11, agreement with the President were: (1) as to 1915, a note was issued explaining its attitude submitting the Lusitania case to the investigawith respect to American and other neutral ships tion of an international commission, and (2) as in the "war zone.” It stated that the German to warning Americans against traveling on belgovernment had no intention of attacking such ligerent vessels or vessels carrying cargoes of neutral ships if they were guilty of no hostile ammunition. Mr. Bryan held that the questions act. Even if such ships carried contraband, they in dispute should be considered by an internawere to be dealt with according to the rules of tional commission, and that, secondly, American international law applying to prize warfare. It travelers should be warned as above indicated. further stated that, if a neutral ship should be Much comment was aroused by Mr. Bryan's act, destroyed by mistake, the German government and the consensus of opinion appeared to be that would "unreservedly recognize its responsibility it strengthened rather than weakened the adtherefor.” While this did not cover the ques. ministration. tion involved in the Lusitania case, viz. the The next move in the diplomatic game was · right of neutrals to travel in safety on merchant made on June 9, 1915, when the American gov. vessels under a belligerent flag, nevertheless it ernment replied to the German government that was a distinct modification of the policy an. it noted with satisfaction the position taken by nounced in the proclamation establishing the the latter in the cases of the Cushing and Gui"war zone."
flight. In regard to the Falaba the United On May 28, 1915, the German government sub- States was unwilling to admit that the attempt mitted a note defining its position, in regard to on the part of merchantmen to escape capture the various questions raised in the American alters the obligation of the commander of the atnote. With regard to the cases of the Cushing tacking vessel to provide for the safety of the and the Gulflight, it was stated that an investi. lives of those on board the merchantman. gation was in progress and the results of this In regard to the statements made by Germany investigation would be communicated to the that the Lusitania was armed, the American govUnited States government shortly. (In this con- ernment stated that it had official information nection it is well to state here that a note was that such was not the case. With regard to sent by the German government on June 4, 1915, the carrying of contraband by the Lusitania, it expressing regrets for the sinking of the Gul was held that this was entirely irrelevant to the flight, explaining that no distinctive marks were question of the legality of the methods used in seen on the vessel by which she could be identi- sinking the vessel. Brushing aside these exfied. Germany further agreed to furnish full traneous issues the American government took recompense for the damage done. In regard to its stand firmly on the ground that it was "conthe Cushing, the German government asked for tending for nothing less high and sacred than additional information in the possession of the the rights of humanity," and it stated that it American government in order that a conclusion “very earnestly and very solemnly” renewed its might be reached in the matter.) In regard to representations made in the previous note. the Falaba, it was again stated that the com- A reply to this note came from the German mander had disregarded the order to lay to, and government on July 8, 1915. There was in this had sent up rocket signals for help.
communication little evidence of a desire to meet Concerning the Lusitania, the German govern- the issue. There were the usual assertions in ment took the position that the Government of regard to England's “inhuman" methods of warthe United States had not considered all of the fare and a suggestion for guarding the safety of material facts in the case. It then repeated the American vessels in the war zone. charge that the Lusitania had guns on board, The rejoinder to this note sent by the Governmounted under decks; that the British govern- ment of the United States on July 21, 1915, inment had issued orders to merchantmen to ram dicated very clearly that it considered the Gersubmarines; and that in view of these alleged man communication evasive and unsatisfactory. facts the German commanders “were no longer It stated once more in the clearest manner pogin a position to observe the rules of capture sible the real question at issue, namely, that acts otherwise usual.” It was further contended that of reprisal against an enemy are indefensible the Lusitania carried large quantities of ammu- when they deprive neutrals of their acknowlnition and a number of Canadian troops, and edged rights. The note further gave pointed that the German government was justified in de evidence that the United States government felt stroying war munitions destined for the enemy. that the discussion had gone far enough, and
that "it cannot believe that the Imperial gov- to arbitration of The Hague Tribunal. These ernment will longer refrain from disavowing the suggestions were accepted by the United States wanton act of its naval commander.” Despite on Aug. 10, 1915, provided that arrangements this urgent suggestion from the United States should be made for the immediate submission that the matter should be speedily settled, the to arbitration of the question of the legality of negotiations dragged on during the remaining the sinking of the vessel. The United States furmonths of the year. There was evidence, how- ther requested a statement from Germany as to ever, that the German government was attempt whether it intended to govern future naval oping to find some solution which would concede erations, pending the arbitration, according to most that the United States was contending for, its interpretation of the treaty. To this the while at the same time avoiding the appearance German government replied on Sept. 23, 1915, of being humiliated. For example, on Sept. 1, that no more American merchantmen would be 1915, Ambassador von Bernstorff in a letter to destroyed when carrying conditional contraband, Secretary Lansing gave assurance that German but that it reserved the right to sink such vessubmarines would not sink any more liners with sels carrying absolute contraband. out warning. It is to be noted that this in- In a further note the United States governcluded ships belonging to belligerents as well as ment on Oct. 18, 1915, stated that, pending arneutrals. Finally, in November, the German gov- bitration, it could agree to the sinking of Amerernment authorized its ambassador at Washing- ican vessels carrying absolute contraband only ton to begin negotiations with the American au- on condition that persons on board such vessels thorities looking to a settlement of all outstand were placed in "safety," and that this condition ing issues. These negotiations were still in prog- would not be satisfied by placing them in liferess at the close of the year.
boats in the open sea. To this suggestion the While the controversy in connection with the German government replied on Nov. 29, 1915, Lusitania was in process of settlement, a num- stating that it agreed that all possible provi. ber of other issues had arisen due to attacks on sions should be made for the safety of persons other vessels in which American property and on a vessel to be sunk. It was stated that lives were destroyed. These cases will be briefly thereafter no persons would be ordered into lifestated.
boats unless conditions of weather and the proxOn Jan. 28, 1915, the American schooner, Wm. imity of land made it "absolutely certain that P. Frye, loaded with a cargo of wheat consigned the boats will reach the nearest port." to an English firm, was sunk by the German This closed the controversy over the Frye case, auxiliary cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich.* In a and the outcome was a notable victory for the communication to the German government the American contention for the safety of innocent Government of the United States contended that persons on the high seas. the act was unwarranted by international law, On May 25, 1915, the American steamer as the cargo could only be considered condiNebraskan was torpedoed, 40 miles southwest of tional contraband, and there was no evidence Fastnet, off the coast of Ireland. The ship was that it was to be used for military purposes. not seriously damaged and no lives were lost. To this the German government replied on April After an investigation, the German government 4, 1915, asserting that the act was justified by explained that the attack was an "unfortunate the Declaration of London, and the German Prize accident,” due to the fact that the vessel disLaw. Nevertheless, Germany agreed to pay for played no flag or distinguishing marks to indithe ship and cargo provided it was shown that cate its nationality. Regret was expressed and both belonged to American citizens. This ac- liability for damage sustained was assumed by tion was based on an interpretation of the Germany treaties of 1799 and 1828 between Prussia and The destruction of the Allan liner Hesperian the United States. It was provided, however, on Sept. 4, 1915, by which an American that the case should go before the German Prize citizen named Wolff was drowned, involved a Court.
question of fact. Germany maintained that the The Government of the United States replied ship was sunk by a mine, not by a submarine. to this note on May 5, 1915, declining to submit Great Britain, on the other hand, asserted that the question to the German Prize Court, and fragments of a torpedo had been picked up on suggesting direct diplomatic negotiations. the deck of the Hesperian after she was struck.
A further German note on June 7, 1915, and Samples of this metal were submitted to Ameran American rejoinder on June 24, 1915, failed ican naval experts who declared that they were to bring the question any nearer to a solution. parts of a torpedo. The United States authoriOn July 10, 1915, the German Prize Court ren- ties held, however, that there was no conclusive dered its decision justifying the sinking of the evidence that the fragments of metal were found Frye, but holding that Germany must pay an on the Hesperian, and the case was dropped. indemnity under the terms of the Treaty of 1799. The Arabic Case. The White Star liner AraThe German government then suggested that the bic, outward bound for New York, was torpedoed amount of indemnity be determined by two ex- and sunk by a German submarine off Fastnet perts, one appointed by each government, and on the morning of Aug. 19, 1915. Eighteen pasthat the differences between the governments as sengers and 21 members of the crew were reto the interpretation of the treaty be submitted ported missing. Among those lost were two * The Prinz Eitel Friedrich and the Crown Prince
American citizens. Depositions of survivors inWilhelm, two German commerce destroyers, entered the harbor of Newport News after extended cruises in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during which a number of
to ram the submarine. A formal and detailed French and English vessels were destroyed. At first the commanders of both vessels indicated their intention of communication from Ambassador Gerard on making necessary repairs and putting to sea again. The Sept. 7, 1915, stated that the German governpresence of English war vessels outside the harbor caused
ment had received information that the Arabic them to change their plans, and both vessels were eventually interned.
had altered its course while approaching the