Arthur Wallace Dunn.

From Harrison to Harding, a personal narrative, covering a third of a century, 1888-1921 online

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the subject of a moving picture show.

Finally, it was shown that Senators as well as the
Vice President had been to blame for the infraction of
the rules; mutual apologies were made, and the whole
matter eliminated from the Record, so that no trace of
any untoward controversy should be embalmed in that
journal of congressional debates.

There were a number of interesting incidents con-
nected with the Administration during the year 1914.
One of these was in regard to Memorial Day exercises
^t Arlington. The Grand Army of the Republic asked
President Wilson to deliver an address, and he declined.
Then they sought Champ Clark, and he accepted.

War and Politics 265

Subsequently the President withdrew his declination,
and addresses were delivered by both the President
and the Speaker of the House.

Early in the year Secretary Daniels issued the
famous order prohibiting alcoholic liquors on naval
ships and at naval stations. It excited widespread
comment. Naval officers felt that it was a reflection
upon their habits and a restriction of their personal
rights, but when prohibition was established in the mili-
tary services of a number of the European countries at
war, and it became apparent that the Secretary's order
was proving beneficial to the Navy, these criticisms

John Bassett Moore remained as Counselor of the
State Department for one year under the new Admin-
istration and then resigned. This valuable diplomat did
not find the conditions congenial. Upon his retire-
ment Robert Lansing was chosen for the place.

The second White House marriage took place May
7, when the youngest daughter of the President, Miss
Eleanor Wilson, was married to Mr. WilUam G.
McAdoo, the Secretary of the Treasury. This was
more of an event than the previous marriage, on ac-
count of the high position of the bridegroom. He was
a member of the President's official family, one of his
trusted advisers in political as well as in administration
affairs. He now became one of the President's personal
family. Again all officialdom assembled in the East
Room of the White House and witnessed the interesting
ceremony. Although Secretary McAdoo had a family

266 From Harrison to Harding

of grown children he did not look his years, and had an
attractive personality which might well captivate so
young a woman.

In August, 1914, death visited the White House,
taking the wife of the President and the mother of his
three daughters. The whole nation mourned with the
President and extended its sympathy. This was ex-
pressed by resdlutions in Congress and by letters and
telegrams from all over the world. In a democracy
like the United States the President stands in close
relation to the people, and much sympathy was ex-
pressed for the lone man in the White House, whose
public burdens, great as they could possibly be, were
augmented by the death of his beloved life partner,
who for so many years had shared his joys and sorrows
as he went onward and upward to the highest pinnacle
of fame.



World Conflict Involves the United States in Many Controversies —
Interesting Contest Over the Shipping Bill — Prominent Men Re-
tire from Public Life — ^Bryan Disagrees with the President on
Account of Notes Sent to Germany and Resigns — Great Britain
Disr^ards American Neutral Rights— Ford Peace Ship Fiasco.

•TBE short session of the Sixty-third Congress which
ended March 4, 1915, was enlivened by a success-
ful filibuster against the ship purchase bill in the Sen-
ate. The bill was strongly urged by the President and
passed the House. It provided for the purchase of
ships by the United States Government, and it was
believed that under its terms the German ships interned
in American harbors could be acquired. At least that
feature of the bill was made the chief point of attack
by its opponents. As the discussion proceeded, a
situation developed which made it certain that the bill
would be defeated. It was foimd that there was not an
active majority in the Senate for the bill, and that
a number of Democrats, who felt called upon to vote
for it if a vote was reached, wanted the bill defeated.
In fact, many Democrats were indifferent and supported
the bill simply because it was an Administration
measure. The opponents prevented a vote on the bill


268 From Harrison to Harding

by talking day after day. A threat came from the
White House that there would be an extra session of
the Sixty-fourth Congress in order to pass the bill if it
was defeated, but that did not deter the Republicans
from carrying on the filibuster.

Finally, came an unexpected attack. Senator Clarke
of Arkansas, always independent in his actions, moved
to recommit the bill to the Committee on Commerce.
Taken by surprise, the supporters of the measure se-
cured a vote on a motion to lay the motion of Clarke
on the table, when it was found that, in addition to
Clarke, Bankhead of Alabama, Hardwick of Georgia,
Hitchcock of Nebraska, O'Gorman of New York, Cam-
den of Kentucky, and Vardaman of Mississippi, all
Democrats, were against the shipping bill, and had
joined the Republicans in the movement to secure its
recommittal, which meant its defeat. These seven
more than offset the votes of La FoUette of Wisconsin,
Kenyon of Iowa, and Norris of Nebraska, three
Republicans who supported the bill.

Then followed a filibuster by the supporters of the bill
with a view of preventing a vote on Clarke's motion,
during which Senator Stone of Missouri assumed the
duty of whip wielder for the Administration, and bit-
terly assailed the seven Democrats for deserting their
party and conspiring with the Republicans.

Senator O'Gorman replied, and in the course of his
speech. said that, if the policy of those in control of the
party was to be pursued, "the likelihood of New York
remaining in the Democratic column is doubtful."

Getting Close to the War 269

Amendments were then proposed to the bill which
secured a doubtful majority for it, and the filibuster
against it was renewed. There were several very long
speeches. The rules as interpreted by former Vice
President Sherman and others, with the object of limit-
ing debate, were rigidly enforced. No adjournments
were permitted and no Senator was allowed to yield for
an interruption without losing his right to the floor. It
was during this term of severity that Senator Smoot
broke the long distance record of continuous speaking
without interruption, holding the floor for eleven hours
and thirty-five minutes.

The most interesting plan to pass the shipping bill
was never put in operation. It was known as the
"strong-arm" method. A motion was to be made to
close debate, and was to be put through by the presiding
officer regardless of rules. Everything was arranged
for the exciting event, but Vice President Marshall re-
fused to be a party to it. He was willing to call a Sena-
tor to the chair, and Senator James of Kentucky and
Senator Swanson of Virginia were willing to take the
responsibility, but another difficulty arose. The vote,
of the Vice President, it was found upon careful can-
vass, was necessary to adopt the motion and Marshall
would not vote. Bryan, who in the last term of his
service in Congress had filibustered long and earn-
estly against "gag" methods to pass the silver repeal
bill, and who had disturbed the serenity of the Parker
convention of 1904 by a fight against what he called
"gavel rule," went to the Capitol and urged Marshall

270 From Harrison to Harding

to assume the responsibility and save the Admin-
istration's shipping bill.

An interested body of spectators had gathered for
the final performance. Many high officers of the Gov-
ernment and their wives were in the galleries and
Cabinet officers were on the floor of the Senate. It was
believed that Bryan could persuade Marshall to re-
verse his decision, but after a long effort to win him over
the Vice President still refused, as presiding officer, to
take any step which was not in accordance with the
rules of the Senate.

Incidentally the refusal of Marshall to take a revolu-
tionary stand at that time started a movement for
another candidate for Vice President in the next elec-
tion. Close friends of the President began to give out
intimations that this or that man would be a good
candidate for Vice President in 1916.

With the failure of the "strong-arm" plan the death
knell of the shipping bill was sounded. The President
consented to have it laid aside and the appropriation
bills were rushed through. All thought of an extra
session was abandoned.

The President did not want Congress in session.
There were two great overshadowing problems to face,
the European war and Mexico, and he did not want
Congress interfering with his policies in regard to
either. Not even his desire to pass the ship purchase
bill, and it could have passed the new Senate, would
induce him to call Congress in extra session. He
wanted the intervening nine months without "Con-

Getting Close to the War 271

gress on his hands," to debate, and possibly pass, reso-
lutions of inquiry regarding the administration of
foreign affairs.

With the end of the Sixty-third Congress the sena-
torial careers of Elihu Root of New York, George C.
Perkins of California, Theodore E. Burton of Ohio, and
Joseph L. Bristow of Kansas came to a close. Two of
these, Root and Burton, were candidates for the Re-
publican nomination in 191 6, although both of them
disavowed any such ambition several times during the
short session of Congress. Several times when they
were opposing the shipping bill their Democratic col-
leagues charged them with being Republican Presi-
dential possibilities, but both of them treated the
allusions as jests.

Root's retirement was a distinct loss to the
country. He was one of the best equipped men in
public life to render good service. As a Senator
he continued to do the big things that characterized
his service in the War and State Departments. He
was never small, he had no petty meanness, and his
sense of humor was never wanting. With few words
he often relieved a tense state of feeling, and again he
would scorch an opponent with his delicate sarcasm.
On one occasion Senator Newlands of Nevada made a
rather bombastic speech of criticism and flourishes,
parts of which were directed against Senator Root.

"If the Senator from Nevada," responded the New
Yorker, with the utmost affability, "would lend us the
charm of his genial personality more frequently he

272 From Harrison to Harding

would not have expended his eloquence and energy
for nothing. The matter which has been the subject
of the Senator's protracted and illuminating remarks
was disposed of several days ago during the lengthy
and lamented absence of the Senator."

There were a few Senators who liked to get into a
controversy with Senator Root. There was a certain
pride in having been in a tilt with Elihu Root, even if
it were a one-sided contest. On one occasion when
Senator Root was making a speech Senator Martine of
New Jersey, who would break into anybody's speech,
interrupted Root and roared out one of his impas-
sioned and vociferous utterances.

"The Senator from New Jersey," remarked Senator
Root, in that halting manner so effective in his humor,
"the Senator from New Jersey should not make my
poor feeble speech the setting for his brilliant gems of

When Root decided to retire I wrote a short arti-
cle about him for a periodical. In it I told a story
about the Senator and Colonel Roosevelt, a story that
never can be published, as shown by the following
letter, written after I had submitted my manuscript to
Senator Root :

"United States Senate,
"Washington, Aug. 12, 1914.
"My Dear Dunn:

"The little article you sent me is very nice and I am
very much obliged to you. I see nothing in it to object
to except a single paragraph about Mr. Roosevelt. I

Getting Close to the War 273

don't want that published. I have felt that the rela-
tions between Roosevelt and myself have been such
that any controversy between us would necessarily de-
generate into the kind of recrimination and exposure of
confidences which accompany a divorce suit, with a
loss of personal dignity to both. Accordingly I have
carefully refrained from saying anything at all about
him personally. I don't want to do so now. I return
the paper which you sent with the paragraph to which
I refer, on page four, crossed out in blue pencil.
"With kind regards, I am

"Faithfully yours,

"Elihu Root."

Senator Perkins of California was one of those re-
markable products of our country, a self-made man who
is a credit to his maker. A state of Maine lad, living
on a farm until thirteen years old, he then became a
sailor. In 1855 he sailed before the mast around Cape
Horn and located in California. He became a success-
ful business man, and after holding a number of offices
he was elected Governor. In 1893 he succeeded Leland
Stanford in the Senate, and when he retired in March,
1914, was third Senator in length of service.

During his career Perkins devoted himself to Cali-
fornia and the Pacific coast. He took special interest
in the extension of American interests in the Pacific,
particularly in Hawaii and the Philippines. He was a
staunch friend of the American Navy.

"I would rather be an officer in the Navy, wearing
the uniform of my country, and in ^command of one of
our magnificent ships, than hold my present position in

VOL. II — 18

274 From Harrison to Harding

the Senate," he once told me, and I knew that the lure
of seafaring life still called him.

Senator Burton and Senator Bristow were both men
of strong personal characteristics, men whose integrity
was never questioned. Both had been independent in
the first part of their senatorial careers; Bristow inclin-
ing toward insurgency and Biu"ton toward mugwump-
ery. Both became better party men near the close of
their terms than at any time during their six years of
service. They were not alike, yet both were serious-
minded men, hard-working and studious, and forceful
enough to make for themselves a place in the Senate.

The first break in President Wilson's Cabinet was the
resignation of his Secretary of State. William J. Bryan
resigned as Secretary of State because he feared the
Administration he had created was growing too warlike.
Bryan would not sign a note which Wilson had prepared
to be dispatched to Germany in regard to the Lusitania.

Of all the tragedies of the war that which aroused this
country, which seemed to be the one real reason for go-
ing into the war, was the sinking of the English Uner
with the loss of 125 Americans who were peaceful pas-
sengers on a merchant ship. It was all the more
shocking because Count von Bernstorfl, the German
Ambassador, had published advertisements in the news-
papers warning Americans not to take passage on the

"If I had been President," said Colonel Roosevelt, in
discussing the Lusitania, "I would have called Count
Bernstorfl to the White House and told him to disavow

Getting Close to the War 275

the advertisements or receive his passports. I would
also have told him to tell his Government that Ameri-
can lives must not be destroyed; that if submarines
sank peaceful ships and Americans were lost, it would
mean war. I know the Germans. The advertise-
ments would have been withdrawn and the Lusitania
would not have been torpedoed."

Soon after the sinking of the Lusitania President
Wilson delivered an address in Philadelphia, in which
he declared that the example of America should be for
peace and used the expresssion "too proud to fight,"
which sent a chill down the spines of people who were
ready to go to war with Germany, not only because the
sjmipathy of the country was with the allies, but on ac-
count of the Lusitania and numerous other outrages
the Germans had perpetrated.

The firm and almost warlike note which later was sent
to Germany in regard to the Lusitania caused a strong
reaction. This note was signed by Bryan. The Ger-
man reply was inadequate, almost offensive in terms,
and a second note was prepared. It was this note which
Bryan refused to sign and he tendered his resignation,
which was accepted. For a few days there was grave
apprehension, and a belief that the second note must be
strong, indeed.

"God bless you, Mr. President," said Bryan in his
good-bye at the White House, and as he passed out the
pacifists thought that the one tie which would keep
this country out of war had been broken, Robert
Lansing became Secretary of State.

276 From Harrison to Harding

And then the second note was published, and it was
, found to be not only less warlike than the one which
Bryan had signed, but much milder than the "strict ac-
countability " note which had been dispatched upon the
first threat of Germany to sink merchant ships. Bryan
said that the note had been changed; that the note he
had refused to sign was modified after he had tendered
his resignation, but evidently not to such an extent as
to cause him to withdraw his resignation.

The retirement of Bryan was for several weeks a
matter of much speculation and discussion. Those
who could not find as much war in the note that he re-
fused to sign as in the two previous notes he had signed
sought for other motives. The general opinion was that
Bryan had become convinced that Wilson would not
abide by the one-term plank in the Baltimore platform,
and that he wanted to be in a position to run for the
Presidency if there was a favorable opening.

The facts are that Bryan was not happy in the State
Department. , Four walls, unless they confined a multi-
tude of people whom he was addressing, were too small
for Bryan. Besides, he was no longer Democracy's
boss, and he was not whoUy dominant in his own De-
partment. Although the position of Secretary of State
carries with it the title of Premier of the Cabinet, it
does not follow that the Secretary can even control his
own Department. It had become known that President
Wilson was writing the notes which were signed by

Bryan suffered in leaving the Cabinet when he did

Getting Close to the War 277

Df the reasons he gave. He was charged with dis-
;y at the moment when partisanship had been laid

and every American citizen was called upon to
[ by the President. A great many people feared
Bryan's popularity might bring about a division
B country at a time when an unbroken front was

essential. No one knew what Bryan's large
?ing would do, particularly if he should use his
erful oratorical power in opposition to the Presi-
Had war followed the bold utterances in the
Lusitania note, a division such as Bryan might
created would have been serious. ,

t the temperament of the American people is such
they soon recover from what seems to be a calamity
■eparable loss. They soon learn that no one man
solutely necessary in this great nation; that any

no matter what his position or ability, may die
sign and the Government will stiU live,
lally, there was a partial settlement of the
ania controversy. A promise was obtained

Count Bernstorff that merchantmen would not
nk without warning. Later Germany came along

a declaration of the same sort and a demand
merchantmen should not carry guns to be used
ist the submarines. Of course, the United States
I not prescribe what the merchant ships of other
ms should carry in the way of defense.
lOut the middle of June our people learned that
t Britain was rifling our mails and that our com-
e had been detained. We had been restricted

278 From Harrison to Harding

from dealing with neutral countries in non-contraband
articles. By orders in Council Great Britain was making
or unmaking international law as best suited her de-
signs. Goods which United States merchants were
not permitted to deliver in Holland, Sweden, and Den-
mark were sent from Great Britain, and British
merchants were making large profits.

Besides rifling our mails, Great Britain had been
making use of our flag, hoisting it over merchant ships
in order to deceive enemy ships and thus escape cap-
ture or destruction. The seizure of American ships
and their detention while mails, not only to Germany,
but neutral nations as well, were opened and their con-
tents disclosed, became a regular practice. American
merchants began to complain that their trade secrets
were thus obtained and that their customers were be-
ing taken away and turned over to British merchants.
By July 1 8, 1 91 5, it was shown that more than 2,000
American ships had been seized and taken into British

Notes of protest were sent on several occasions, but
in every case, whether concerning the seizure of ships,
or concerning the mails. Great Britain rejected the
demands of the United States, and maintained that all
her acts were a war necessity.

"Dollar chasers" was what Americans were called in
the British and Canadian press, because objection was
made to the interference with the neutral rights of
American citizens engaged in legitimate commerce.
Every act which was against Germany was loudly

Getting Close to the War 279

applauded, and every demand upon England was

By the middle of September American cargoes
valued at $15,000,000 had been confiscated. Mean-
while Great Britain was successfully floating a loan in
this country and raising $500,000,000 to pay for the war
supplies furnished by citizens of the United States.

One position taken by the United States, particu-
larly pleasing to England, was the refusal to create a
new international law to the effect that belligerents
could not purchase arms and mtmitions in this country.
A great many of our people would have been glad to
have an embargo laid upon death-dealing supplies, but
it would take an act of Congress to lay stich an embargo,
and the State Department in a note to Austria and
in representations to German officials showed that it
would be contrary to all usage to deny any government
the right to purchase arms in a neutral country.

Possibly the determination of the Government on
this subject led to the formation of plots to destroy
munition plants, and otherwise to make this country the
base of operations and intrigue which we regarded as
contrary to international law. The arrest of an
American on board a ship touching at a British port
with letters and papers from the Austrian Ambassador,
and letters from attaches of the German Embassy,
still further complicated the situation. In one of the
letters written by Baron Dumba he said: "Having
regard for the self-willed temperament of the Presi-
dent," etc. He also referred to the President as "in-

28o From Harrison to Harding

transigeant." The publication of this letter caused a
demand on the Austrian Government for the recall of
the Ambassador. Captains von Papen and Boy-ed,
military and naval attaches of the German Embassy,
were also involved by the capture of the letters, and
the Government had them removed from the country.
Captain von Papen had referred to our people as
"idiotic Yankees."

There had been a long delay in sending one note to
Great Britain concerning the interference with Ameri-
can shipping. Our government did not feel justified
in calling Great Britain to account for the violation of
our neutrality rights while Germany ruthlessly contin-
ued to sink non-combatant ships with the loss of lives
of Americans who were passengers. Germany inti-
mated that in view of the dangers to such ships Amer-
icans should not take passage on them, particularly
when they carried munitions of war for use against
the German and Austrian soldiers.

The note of Secretary Lansing to Great Britain was
published November 8, 191 5, and it was found that he
had taken very strong grounds against the methods of
the British Government. The United States as the
greatest of neutral nations became the champion of neu-
tral rights. The note questioned the efiEectiveness of the
blockade, and as applied to the ports of neutral nations,
asserted that it was "ineffective, illegal, and inde-
fensible.' ' The ' ' relations between the United States and
Great Britain must not be governed by expediency, but
international law. ' ' The determination was announced

Getting Close to the War 281

to "contest the seizure of vessels at sea upon conjectural
suspicions," and also to unhesitatingly protest against
the lawless conduct of belligerents.

The tragedy which covered Europe was given a

Online LibraryArthur Wallace DunnFrom Harrison to Harding, a personal narrative, covering a third of a century, 1888-1921 → online text (page 17 of 29)