File No. 763.72/3234
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 7, 2.30 a.m.]
5616. To the Secretary and President. I called on the Prime Minister yesterday. In a private unofficial talk he said that it would be an affectation to conceal his pleasure at our diplomatic break with Germany. He began immediately to talk about the probability of war following. I reminded him that the United States is arranging peace and that war was not in my vocabulary. He replied that it was well to look a little ahead in a private conversation. He hoped that in no event would our supply of ammunition to the Allies be curtailed, that a much larger supply of steel could be got from the United States which munition factories here badly need, and he asked earnestly about our merchant shipbuilding activities. “Are your shipyards on the Great Lakes doing their utmost? Vast numbers of small ships are now needed and whoever owns a ship can get rich and this condition will not soon change.” I reminded him that supplies for belligerents concerned the belligerents, shipbuilding, private concerns in the United States, and not our Government. But such reminders in no way stopped his rapid talk. He continued: “If you are drawn into the war I shall be glad for many reasons but especially because your Government will then participate in the conference that concludes peace. I especially desire this because of your President’s cool and patient and humane counsel which will be whole [Page 120] some for us all.” Then he asked, “Is there any way we can serve you? I have already directed our Army Chief of Staff (Robertson) and the first Sea Lord (Jellicoe) to give you all possible information out of our experience that you may ask for. You will find them communicative to you at any time,” and he asked if any other departments of his Government could serve us, “if so come and see me at any time and I will open the way.” Perhaps you will send me definite suggestions or instructions on this point.
… Public as well as official opinion continues to become more cordial. It has not lacked in essence of friendliness, but it was becoming fearful lest we should wander from the road of practical action. Now both the Government and the press understand and heartily appreciate your whole wise and patient course. I think the expectation is general that the Germans will force war on us, but even if they should not, they regard our present attitude with genuine but restrained satisfaction.