God will be with us further!
Main Headquarters, Dec. 31, 1916.
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Ambassador Gerard warned the State Department in September that Germany would start her submarine war before the Spring of 1917 so the United States must have known several months before the official announcement came. But Washington probably was under the impression that the Chancellor would not break his word. Uncle Sam at that time trusted von Bethmann-Hollweg.
[Illustration: SCHWAB TO MR. WILSON—“FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, GREAT LITTLE LEADER, THE WHOLE PLACE WILL BLOW UP IF YOU SMOKE HERE!”]
Diplomatic relations were broken on February 1st. Ambassador Gerard departed February 10th. Upon his arrival in Switzerland several German citizens, living in that country because they could not endure conditions at home, asked the Ambassador upon his arrival in Washington to urge President Wilson if he asked Congress to declare war to say that the United States did not desire to go to war with the German people but with the German Government. One of these citizens was a Prussian nobleman by birth but he had been one of the leaders of the democratic forces in Germany and exiled himself in order to help the Liberal movement among the people by working in Switzerland. This suggestion was followed by the President. When he spoke to the joint session of Congress on February 1st he declared the United States would wage war against the Government and not against the people. In this historic address the President said:
“I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.
“On the 3rd of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government, that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe, or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.
“That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its under-sea craft, in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk, and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.