4164 HOW THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA
increase in number and intricacy and in danger, and I would be derelict to
my duty to you if I did not deal with you in these matters with the utmost
candor, and tell you that it may be necessary to use the force of the United
States to do." The next day at St. Louis, he repeated his warning: The
danger is not from within, gentlemen, it is from without; and I am bound
to tell you that that danger is constant and immediate, not because anything new has happened, not because there has been any change in our
international relationships within recent weeks or months, but because
the danger comes with every turn of events."
The break would have come sooner if our Government had not been restrained by the hope that saner counsels might still prevail in Germany.
For it was well known to us that the German people had to a very large
extent been kept in ignorance of many of the secret crimes of their Government against us. And the pressure of a faction of German public opinion
less hostile to this country was shown when their Government acquiesced
to some degree in our demands, at the time of the Sussex outrage, and for
nearly a year maintained at least a pretense of observing the pledge they had
made to us. The tension was abated.
While the war spirit was growing in some sections of our Nation, there
was still no widespread desire to take part in the conflict abroad; for the
tradition of non-interference in Europe's political affairs was too deeply
rooted in our national life to be easily overthrown. Moreover, two other
considerations strengthened our Government in its efforts to remain neutral
in this war. The first was our traditional sense of responsibility toward
all the republics of the New World. Throughout the crisis our Government was in constant communication with the countries of Central and
South America. They, too, preferred the ways of peace. And there was
a very obvious obligation upon us to safeguard their interests with our own.
The second consideration, which had been so often developed in the President's speeches, was the hope that by keeping aloof from the bitter passions
abroad, by preserving untroubled here the holy ideals of civilized intercourse
between nations, we might be free at the end of this war to bind up the
wounds of the conflict, to be the restorers and rebuilders of the wrecked
structure of the world.
All these motives held us back, but it was not long until we were
beset by further complications. We soon had reason to believe that the
recent compliance of the German Government had not been made to us
in good faith and was only temporary; and by the end of 1916 it was plain
that our neutral status had again been made unsafe through the