File No. 763.72/2383

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State


2080. To the Secretary and the President: My telegram No. 2065 [2068], May 8.1 Continuing my report of British feeling and opinion. Every day without news of definite action by the American government about the Gulflight and the Lusitania deepens the British [Page 392] suspicion into a conviction that our Government will content itself with mere argumentative protests. The respectful and sympathetic silence of the first few days’ excitement is now giving way to open criticism of American failure to realize the situation and of American unwillingness to act. There is a good deal of contempt in British feeling. This contempt is not based upon British wish for military help, but on the feeling that America falls short morally to condemn German methods and has fallen victim to German propaganda and does not properly rate German character, as shown in war, nor understand German danger to all free institutions. Fear grows of a moral failure on the part of the United States.

The most conservative action hoped for by the best friends of America here is that diplomatic relations be severed with Germany pending satisfactory settlement, and that Congress be convened so that the voice of the nation may be heard.

The aristocratic element of English life which enjoys social and governmental privileges and is what we should call reactionary, consciously or unconsciously hopes for American inactivity to justify their distrust of democratic institutions. Their feeling is that Great Britain will emerge from the war far more powerful than ever, and they are content that the United States should be of as slight influence in the world as possible. The few expressions that the United States will remain neutral and will refrain from breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany come from this element of English society and unofficially from governing circles.

Official life here is studiously silent to me. The few persons who have called to express condolence or who have written letters of sympathy about the Lusitania are all, I think, more or less close personal friends who feel free to speak for personal reasons.

The impression is clear that delay in definite action in some really effective form or failure to act definitely will shut the United States out of British, and I should guess, of all European respect for a generation.

American Ambassador
  1. Ante, p. 385.