1916-1925: America– War and Peace

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Author: David Lloyd George  | Date: 1917

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Britain Welcomes America Into the War

I AM in the happy position, I think, of being the first British Minister of the Crown who, speaking on behalf of the people of this country, can salute the American nation as comrades in arms, I am glad. I am proud. I am glad not merely because of the stupendous resources which this great nation can bring to the succor of the Alliance, but I rejoice as a Democrat that the advent of the United States into this war gives the final stamp and seal to the character of the conflict as a struggle against military autocracy through out the world.

That was the note that rang through the great deliverance of President Wilson…. The United States of America have a noble tradition, never broken, of having never engaged in a war except for liberty, and this is the greatest struggle for liberty they have ever embarked upon. I am not at all surprised, when one recollects the wars of the past, that America took its time to make up its mind about the character of this struggle. In Europe most of the great wars of the past were waged for dynastic aggrandizements and for conquest. No wonder that when this great war started there were some elements of suspicion still lurking in the minds of the people of the United States of America. There were many who thought, perhaps, that kings were at their old tricks, and although they saw the gallant Republic of France fighting, some of them perhaps regarded France as the poor victim of conspiracy and of monarchical swashbucklers. The fact that the United States of America has made up its mind finally makes it abundantly clear to the world that this is no struggle of that character, but a great fight for human liberty.

They naturally did not know at first what we had endured in Europe for years from this military caste in Prussia. It never has reached the United States of America. Prussia was not a democracy. The Kaiser promises that it will be a democracy after the war. I think he is right. But Prussia not merely was not a democracy. Prussia was not a State; Prussia was an army. It had great industries that had been highly developed; a great educational system; it had its universities, it had developed its science.

All these were subordinate to the one great predominant purpose, the purpose of all—a conquering army which was to intimidate the world. The army was the spear-point of Prussia; the rest was merely the haft. That was what we had to deal with in these old countries. It got on the nerves of Europe. They knew what it all meant. It was an army that in recent times had waged three wars, all of conquest, and the unceasing tramp of its legions through the streets of Prussia, on the parade grounds of Prussia, had gone into the Prussian head. The Kaiser, when he witnessed on a grand scale his reviews, got drunk with the sound of it. He delivered the law to the world as if Potsdam was another Sinai, and he was uttering the law from the thunder clouds….

Why is it that Germany deliberately in the third year of the war provoked America to this declaration, and to this action? Deliberately! Yes; resolutely! It has been suggested that the reason was that there were certain elements in American life which Germany was under the impression would make it impossible for the United States to declare war. That I can hardly believe; but the answer has been afforded by General Hindenburg himself in the very remarkable interview which appeared in the press.

He depended clearly on one of two things—that the submarine campaign would have destroyed inter’ national shipping to such an extent that England would have been put out of business before America was ready. According to his computation, America would not be ready for twelve months. He does not know America. Then alternatively, and when America was ready at the end of twelve months with her army, she would have no ships to transport that army to the field of battle. In Hindenburg’s words, "America carries no weight." I suppose he means that she has no ships to carry it in!

Well, it is not wise always to assume, even when the German General Staff has miscalculated, that they have had no ground for their calculation; and therefore it behooves the whole of the Allies—Britain and America in particular—to see that the reckoning of von Hindenburg is as false as the one he made about his famous line which we have already broken…. The road to victory, the guarantee of victory, the absolute assurance of victory is to be found in one word—ships! In a second word—ships! In a third word—ships! I see that America, with that quickness of comprehension which characterizes your nation, fully realizes that, and to-day I observe that they have already made an arrangement to build a thousand 3,000—tonners for the Atlantic. I think that the German military advisers must already begin to realize that this is another of the tragic miscalculations which is going to lead them to disaster and to ruin….

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Chicago: David Lloyd George, "Britain Welcomes America Into the War," 1916-1925: America– War and Peace in America, Vol.12, Pp.35-38 Original Sources, accessed July 6, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y8QEJ7GERHXUGHI.

MLA: George, David Lloyd. "Britain Welcomes America Into the War." 1916-1925: America– War and Peace, in America, Vol.12, Pp.35-38, Original Sources. 6 Jul. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y8QEJ7GERHXUGHI.

Harvard: George, DL, 'Britain Welcomes America Into the War' in 1916-1925: America– War and Peace. cited in , America, Vol.12, Pp.35-38. Original Sources, retrieved 6 July 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y8QEJ7GERHXUGHI.