Page 4170

4170 HOW THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA

decision should be taken until he had had the chance to make one final plea

for peace to his sovereign. We do not know the nature of his report to

the Kaiser; we know only that, even if he kept his pledge and urged an

eleventh-hour revocation of the submarine order, he was unable to sway

the policy of the Imperial Government.

And so, having exhausted every resource of patience, our Government on

the 12th of March finally issued orders to place armed guards on our merchant ships.

With the definite break in diplomatic relations there vanished the last

vestige of cordiality toward the Government of Germany. Our attitude

was now to change. So long as we had maintained a strict neutrality in

the war, for the reason that circumstances might arise in which Europe

would have need of an impartial mediator, for us to have given official heed

to the accusation of either party would have been to pre-judge the case before

all the evidence was in. But now at last, with the breaking of friendly

relations with the German Government, we were relieved of the oppressive

duty of endeavoring to maintain a judicial detachment from the rights and

wrongs involved in the war. We were no longer the outside observers

striving to hold an even balance of judgment between disputants. One

party by direct attack upon our rights and liberties was forcing us into the

conflict. And, much as we had hoped to keep out of the fray, it was no

little relief to be free at last from that reserve which is expected of a judge.

Much evidence had been presented to us of things so abhorrent to our

ideas of humanity that they had seemed incredible, things we had been

loath to believe, and with heavy hearts we had sought to reserve our judgment. But with the breaking of relations with the Government of Germany that duty at last was ended. The perfidy of that Government in

its dealings with this Nation relieved us of the necessity of striving to give

them the benefit of the doubt in regard to their crimes abroad. The Government which under cover of profuse professions of friendship had tried

to embroil us in war with Mexico and Japan could not expect us to believe

in its good faith in other matters. The men whose paid agents dynamited

our factories here were capable of the infamies reported against them over

the sea. Their Government's protestations, that their purpose was self defense and the freeing of small nations, fell like a house of cards before the

revelation of their "peace terms".

And judging the German Government now in the light of our own experience through the long and patient years of our honest attempt to keep

the peace, we could see the Great Autocracy and read her record through the