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Powers realized that their foreign commerce was rapidly shriveling up. As they

were primarily manufacturing and commercial countries, such a state of affairs

spelled ruin in the event of a long war.

Furthermore, there were certain articles,

such as rubber, copper, cotton (for use in

the manufacture of powder), and gasoline,

that were needed for the actual conduct

of the war and of which their supply was

inadequate. Even the supply of food for

the two countries was not sufficient for

the needs of the people, and the prospect

of scarcity in this respect rose like a specter

before them.

Up to the beginning of 1915, the Allies

did not consider foodstuffs contraband

unless destined for the Government or

armed forces of the enemy; but, on January 25 of that year, the German Government, by confiscating all supplies of

grain and flour in the Empire, gave their

enemies an excuse for declaring all food

absolute contraband. The British, who

usually spoke for the Allies in such matters,

announced that it now became obviously

impossible to distinguish food destined

for the armies from food destined for the

civil population, and that therefore it

might become necessary to seize all food.

By connivance between the Germans

and an American firm, a vessel called the

Wilhelmina, of American register, was

loaded with food at Brooklyn and sailed

for Hamburg, and it was asserted that the

food would be used only by the German

civil population. The British announced

that they would seize her cargo, and did

so when the vessel put into Falmouth

to take refuge from a storm. The food

was not confiscated but was requisitioned

under a new Order in Council, which

gave the Crown the right so to treat any

cargo brought before a prize court. Payment was made at Hamburg prices, and

the vessel herself was released. Hence