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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

Sample text

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.

On September 4, German forces were only 35 miles from Paris and expected victory in mere days. Imperial Army Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke gave orders to his forces to cross the Marne, advance toward the capital, and surround the French opposition. At the same time, French Marshal Joseph Joffre observed that his enemy’s offensive had exposed the flank of the German forces east of Paris and he too ordered his troops to advance. Therefore, when the Allies and Central Powers contemplated peace talks, each side intended to discuss terms from a position of strength.

Concerns over the purchase of belligerent ships, initial discussions about the Declaration of London, the treatment of US trade on the seas, the warring states’ apathy toward mediation, and developments on the battlefield all pointed to potential complications between the Allies and the United States. By the end of September 1914, Britain and the United States had more sticking points than solutions to the issues in their relationship and without some degree of compromise on both sides, the outlook for Anglo-American diplomacy had become dangerously uncertain.

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