THE UNITED STATES VERSUS
AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE
AND EFFORTS TO REMAIN NEUTRAL,
by Mark A. Macina, M.A., 1995
Department of History
Texas Christian University
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Spencer Tucker, Chair
The German Government drove a wedge between itself and
the United States Government in 1915. By failure to stop the German
submarines from attacking neutral shipping, Berlin squandered any chances of an
alliance with the United States. After the sinking of the Lusitania
on May 7, 1915, Berlin was working to keep the United States out of the war
knowing that if the Americans intervened, they would join the Allied effort.
There were three cases of German hostility prior to the sinking of the Lusitania that damaged German-American relations: the William P. Frye on January 27, the Falaba on March 28, and the Gulflight on May 1. All of these merchant ships were attacked by German submarines. Washington's response to these attacks, one of anger and desire for reparation, can be seen in the subsequent diplomatic cable correspondence between Washington and Berlin. When these cases are compared to the cable traffic regarding the British seizure of the American ship Wilhelmina, it is no surprise that Germany later became the enemy of the United States. The Wilhelmina case was settled in a peaceful manner without a single American life lost.
The United States might have entered World War I for a whole host of other reasons, but Germany still should have exercised caution. If they had stopped these attacks that destroyed their relations with Washington, they might have at least kept the United States out of the war long enough to defeat the Allies on the Western Front.