File No. 763.72/3458
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page) to the Secretary of State
[Received 1.30 p.m.]
5816. For the President and the Secretary only. In reporting on the general feeling here I find that continued delay in sending out American ships, especially American liners, is producing an increasingly unfavorable impression. In spite all explanations, which are imperfectly understood here, delay is taken to mean the submission of our Government to the German blockade. This is the view of the public and of most of the press. There is a tendency even in high government circles to regard the reasons for delay which are published here as technicalities which a national crisis should sweep aside. British opinion coupled the delay of our ships with the sinking of the Laconia and the Z[immermann] telegram and. Seems to be reaching the conclusion that our Government will not be able to take positive action under any provocation. The feeling which the newspaper despatches from the United States produce on the British mind is that our, Government is holding back our people, until the blockade of our ships the Z[immermann] telegram, and the Laconia shall be forgetten and until the British Navy shall overcome, the German submarines. There is danger that this feeling harden into a conviction and interfere with any influence that we might otherwise have when peace comes.
So friendly a man as Viscount Grey of Fallodon writer me privately from his retirement: “I do not see how the United States can sit still while neutral shipping is swept off the sea. If no action is taken it will be like a great blot in history or a failure that must grievously depress the future history of America.”