It will be a matter of gratification to me if I have removed from your Excellency’s mind any misapprehension you may have been under regarding either the policy or the spirit and purposes of the Government of the United States.
Its neutrality is founded upon the firm basis of conscience and good-will.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
[Colloquy in the House of Commons, May 4, 1915.]
Sir E. Grey, in reply to Sir A. Markham, (L., Mansfield,) said: The United States Government have not at any time during the present war supplied any war material of any kind to his Majesty’s Government, and I do not suppose that they have supplied any of the belligerents. It has always been a recognized legitimate practice, and wholly consistent with international law, for manufacturers in a neutral country to sell munitions of war to belligerents. They were supplied in this way from Germany to Russia during the Russo-Japanese war, and from Germany to Great Britain during the Boer war, and are no doubt being supplied in the same way from manufacturers in neutral countries to belligerents now.
Mr. MacNeill (N., South Donegal)—Has not the rule always been, before The Hague Conferences at all, that subjects of neutral nations are allowed to supply munitions of war at their own risk?
Sir E. Grey—It is wholly consistent with international law that that practice should go forward, and if there be any question of departure from neutrality I think it will be, not in permitting that practice, but in interfering with it. [Cheers.]
By Charles W. Eliot
President Emeritus of Harvard University.
That the sinking of the Lusitania was an act which outraged not only the existing conventions of the civilized world but the moral feelings of present civilized society is the view put forth in his letter to THE NEW YORK TIMES, appearing May 15, 1915, by one of the most distinguished commentators on the war. Dr. Eliot counsels that America’s part is to resist such a no-faith policy while keeping its neutral status.
Cambridge, Mass., May 13, 1915.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The sinking of a great merchant vessel, carrying 2,500 noncombatant men, women, and children, without giving them any chance to save their lives, was in violation of long-standing conventions among civilized nations, concerning the conduct of naval warfare. The pre-existing conventions gave to a German vessel of war the right to destroy the Lusitania and her cargo, if it were impossible to carry her into port as a prize; but not to drown her passengers and crew. The pre-existing conventions or agreements were, however, entered into by the civilized nations when captures at sea were made by war vessels competent to take a prize into some port, or to take off the passengers and crew of the captured vessel.