WILSON, Woodrow. Typed letter signed ("Woodrow Wilson") as President, to H.B. Brougham of the New York Times, Washington, 10 May 1915. 1 page, 4to (8 7/8 x 7 in.), White House stationery, integral blank, signature very slightly faded.
IN THE WAKE OF THE SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA WILSON COMPLAINS THAT "MEN ARE NOT LISTENING TO REASON"
An intriguing letter, written only three days after the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk off Ireland by a German U-Boat with the loss of 1198 persons, inluding 128 Americans. President Wilson, who had endeavored to assert American neutrality in the face of the European war, acknowledges the intense indignation of the American public over the sinking. The British merchant fleet had been decimated by the German U-boat fleet, sharply curtailing Britain's maritime trade. Information that the British were using luxury liners to smuggle military goods convinced the Germans that these passenger ships must be added to their list of targets. The sinking of the Cunard liner Lusitania unleashed an immediate popular clamor for war, which Wilson found it challenging to counterbalance. Here, he responds to Brougham's suggestion about an article: "I do not feel that I have any right to say whether I would approve of your writing on a particular subject or not and I hope that you will feel perfectly free to do anything that your judgment dictates." He cautions, however, that the mood of the nation might not be receptive: "My only thought is that this time of deep irritation is hardly a time when suggestions will be of any real service, no matter how wise they are. The air may clear enough for your article by the time it is ready to appear, but at present men are not listening to reason."
Wilson adopted a policy of cautious rebuke towards Germany. Unwilling to involve the United States in a foreign war, Wilson attempted to resolve the outstanding issues with Germany by diplomatic channels. Attacks upon American shipping by German U-Boats finally forced his hand, however, and on April 2, 1917, he requested and received from Congress a Declaration of War.