The possibilities of serious interruption of American trade under the Order in Council are so many, and the methods proposed are so unusual, and seem liable to constitute so great an impediment and embarrassment to neutral commerce, that the Government of the United States, if the Order in Council is strictly enforced, apprehends many interferences with its legitimate trade which will impose upon his Majesty’s Government heavy responsibilities for acts of the British authorities clearly subversive of the rights of neutral nations on the high seas. It is, therefore, expected that the Majesty’s Government, having considered these possibilities, will take the steps necessary to avoid them, and, in the event that they should unhappily occur, will be prepared to make full reparation for every act which, under the rules of international law, constitutes a violation of neutral rights.
As stated in its communication of Oct. 22, 1914, “this Government will insist that the rights and duties of the United States and its citizens in the present war be defined by the existing rules of international law and the treaties of the United States irrespective of the provisions of the Declaration of London, and that this Government reserves to itself the right to enter a protest or demand in each case, in which those rights and duties so defined are violated or their free exercise interfered with by the authorities of the British Government.”
In conclusion you will reiterate to his Majesty’s Government that this statement of the view of the Government of the United States is made in the most friendly spirit, and in accordance with the uniform candor which has characterized the relations of the two Governments in the past, and which has been in large measure the foundation of the peace and amity existing between the two nationals without interruption for a century.
The First Authoritative German Presentation of the Idea
By Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, Late German Colonial Secretary of State
That Germany would be willing to make peace on the basis of a free neutral sea, guaranteed by the powers, was indicated in a letter written by Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, ex-Colonial Secretary of Germany, and read at a pro-German mass meeting held in Portland, Me., on April 17, 1915. After an explanatory note Dr. Dernburg divided into numbered clauses his letter, as follows:
(1) Whatever peace is concluded should be of a permanent nature; no perfunctory patching up should be permitted. The horror of all the civilized nations of the Old World slaughtering one another, every one convinced of the perfect righteousness of their own cause—a recurrence, if it could not be avoided absolutely, should be made most remote, so as to take the weight from our minds that all this young blood of the best manhood of Europe might be spilled in vain.