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By M. Ryan Floyd (auth.)

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Extra info for Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914–December 1915

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Throughout August and early September, there were hints about the future direction of Anglo-American relations and the eventual constrictions placed on diplomatic discourse. Concerns over the purchase of belligerent ships, initial discussions about the Declaration of London, the treatment of US trade on the seas, the warring states’ apathy toward mediation, and developments on the battlefield all pointed to potential complications between the Allies and the United States. By the end of September 1914, Britain and the United States had more sticking points than solutions to the issues in their relationship and without some degree of compromise on both sides, the outlook for Anglo-American diplomacy had become dangerously uncertain.

The colonel, however, asserted Washington needed to push the idea of peace while it still had a chance because Britain “dominates her allies. ”79 London, however, was still not interested in a compromise with Berlin. Yet, it still had to entertain Washington’s requests. Whitehall would only consider talks that required Germany’s acceptance of dictated peace terms, but on September 19, Spring-Rice sent Wilson a paraphrase of a telegram he had received from Grey outlining Britain’s view on negotiations.

That the United States, though neutral, were being ruined . . ” He wanted Britain to allow US companies to transfer their internationally registered vessels and purchase German merchant ships to alleviate the pressure on the country’s commerce. Barclay disagreed with the secretary. He maintained that this would harm London’s war effort because Germany would gain needed income and the ships would continue carrying valuable goods. When reflecting on his discussion with Bryan, Barclay concluded that Britain had no real choice but to allow the United States to purchase vessels.

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