Page 3520

3520 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

Italy into the war on the Allied side, in the

spring of 1915, diminished these difficulties

but did not entirely remove them. Obviously, if goods coming to or going from

Germany could pass through Dutch or

Danish ports unhindered, the Allies could

do little toward employing the economic

pressure they desired to exercise.

An international conference held at London in 1909 had endeavored to formulate rules to apply to situations such as

had now arisen. This conference formulated what was known as the Declaration

of London, whereby objects of international exchange were in times of war to

be divided into three classes: absolute

contraband of war, conditional contraband,

and free goods. Absolute contraband was

restricted to the actual tools and equipment

for fighting, and could be captured by a

belligerent even though consigned to a

neutral port. Conditional contraband included such things as food, clothing, horseshoes, and barbed wire, and was to be

subject to capture only if destined for the

enemies' forces and then only when proceeding by a direct route. Free goods were

not to be subject to capture under any conditions except those of an actual blockade.

This Declaration of London had not, however, been ratified by several nations,

including Great Britain, and hence could

not be said to be binding. At the outbreak

of the war, the Secretary of State of the

United States suggested that the belligerents accept the rules laid down in the un ratified Declaration. The Central Powers

naturally assented with great alacrity, but

the Allies announced that they would do so

only with considerable modifications.

To deal with all the details of the controversy that followed would require a separate volume, but it will be sufficient to

set forth merely the larger aspects of the

subject. Early in the war, the Allies

began to extend the list of absolute contraband, and under some circumstances to

seize conditional contraband even when

consigned to a neutral port. They also

brought pressure to bear upon such states

as Holland and Denmark to prevent

the transshipment through their ports

of goods designed for the Central

Powers. In the case of Holland, for

example, the Dutch Government laid

an embargo upon the British list of

contraband and conditional contraband, and all such goods, with. a few

exceptions, had to be consigned to

the Netherlands Overseas Trust, composed of Dutch business men organized under Government auspices for

that purpose. The exceptions were

grain, flour, petroleum, and copper,

which must be consigned to the

Government itself. In this campaign

the Allies were greatly assisted

by the fact that they controlled

most of the merchant ships of the world,

while the ships of neutral countries soon

found It expedient, in order to avoid

delay or seizure, to avoid carrying anything for the Central Powers. The Allies

justified their course in such matters not

only by appealing to past precedents but

also by pointing to the "departure by those

against whom we are fighting from hitherto

accepted rules of civilization and humanity." At the same time, they showed

some respect for the opinions of neutrals,

particularly for those of the United States,

and were not so ruthless as many of their

own people desired.

The Allied purpose was, of course,

often thwarted by evasions, but in general

it was so successful that soon the Central