File No. 841.857Ar1/29
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 8.45 p. m.]
2686. For the Secretary and the President:
I report the following as indicating public opinion here for whatever it may be worth, if it be worth anything.
Sir William Mather, who you know is a good representative of conservative-minded, non-political, thoughtful Englishmen, called to see me yesterday to express the friendly grave fear lest delay in action should deepen the impression throughout Europe that the United States is seeking to maintain peace at the price of humiliation in the face of repeated offenses. This fear is becoming more or less general, even among thoughtful men.
The reported intention of our Government published here to give Germany another opportunity to explain and thereby to evade and to cause delay provokes the general opinion that any delayed action on our part will lose much of its moral effect by tardiness.
The tone of the less responsible press is a tone of open ridicule. The tone of the best papers shows surprise at what they regard as an unfortunate delay and a restrained fear lest the United States delay too long.
Several men in official life have expressed opinions such as the opinion that follows. They have so spoken, not to me but in quarters where they knew I should hear from it: “The Germans shuffled and evaded and lied to us for ten years and we refused to believe that this [Page 525] was their deliberate policy. The Americans seem slow to learn by our experience. They have a contempt for the United States as they had for England and they hope to keep her writing letters at which they laugh.”
The facts about the Arabic seems so clear here as to leave no doubt of her deliberate sinking by the German submarine without any provocation. The testimony all survivors is identical on all important particulars.