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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He also believed that if the government augmented the number of ships available it could regulate shipping rates and keep them at fair levels for merchants. ” They were right; there was an enormous outpouring of opposition. Many Americans felt that the bill would provide the government with too much influence in the business world and threaten free enterprise. Others thought that it could place the United States at odds with the belligerents and endanger its neutrality. Opposition to the plan frustrated the president because he and McAdoo were trying to aid the business community by providing the ships that the private sector could not afford and at a time it desperately needed the help.

Like Wilson and Bryan, House saw a great opportunity for the United States to play a leading role in world affairs, but he did not like Bryan. ” As soon as House returned from Europe, he made clear that he viewed himself as the best candidate to be Wilson’s spokesman to the foreign dignitaries. He worked to push Bryan out of a seat of prominence, warning against letting him make overtures to the European powers. He claimed that Bryan had no standing with their leaders: “They look upon him as purely visionary and it would lessen the weight of your influence if you desired to use it yourself.

In his opinion, the matter needed further consideration and he advised Wilson, despite Lansing’s protest, not to send the note. House wanted to take control of the debate personally and suggested that he meet privately with British Ambassador Cecil Spring-Rice to discuss the matter in more detail. ”7 Per Wilson’s request, the following morning Lansing submitted a new draft of the instructions for Page. The president handed the dispatch to House, who took it to his meeting with the British ambassador.

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