The War Situation in the United States

Agnes C. Laut March 1 1917

The War Situation in the United States

Agnes C. Laut March 1 1917

The War Situation in the United States

Agnes C. Laut

NEW YORK, Feb. 13.

EVENTS are following with such incredible rapidity in the United States that what is news to-day may be stale to-morrow.

Only in November the country was divided into just two great parties—He-kept-us-out-of-the-war and He-ought-to-have-fought-for-freedom-and-right. Pacifism stood shrieking hysterically at Preparedness. America was an island of smug buttered prosperity in a sea of blood. To-day there are no longer two great parties. There is only one; and though it has no name and hardly knows whether it is going to line up with the Allies or fight alone, it is a solid phalanx behind the President against Germany. Pacifism has been swept off the map. Henry Fohl .has offered his entire fortune and all his plants to equip the United States for aggreeeive defence — please note the words. School boys are drilling. Army and navy are girding up their loins. There is not a State in the Union which is not contemplating universal training, which is a soft way of breaking the public’s mind into the idea of universal conscription. Instead of being an island of smug cowardly safety in a weltering sea of mood, It looks as if the whole nation would presently plunge in the universal struggle for world freedom.

CIX MONTHS ago you could not get ^ action against pro-German plotters who blew up munition factories and terminals. To-day, men in khaki uniform are strung in line guarding water works, bridges, terminals railroads, and ships. Wire netting is being stretched across

Atlantic harbors to keep submarines out; and cement foundations are being laid to mount long-range guns to defend every city on the Atlantic Coast. Appropriations are being rushed through Congress for fleets of fast cruisers, of submarines, of aeroplanes; and practically every factory in the United States has offered its services to the Government for defence and equipment. One concern has been asked to provide 500.000 shoes for soldiers; another explosives; another nitrates; and so down the line from Maine to the Rio Grande. Six months ago men pooh-poohed stories of German plots. Today public subscriptions are being taken up to spread knowledge of the actual facts as to the underground danger. As late as January German-Americans drank to the Fatherland. Within one week in one city 1,450,000 Germans have applied for naturalisation papers; and the President's condemnation of Germany’s submarine warfare was hardly off his lips before every German house, Yestaurant, factory, shop, brokerage office and bank had hoisted the Stars and Stripes and shouted to high heaven eager desire to shoulder a Lewis gun (60 shots a minute) and to fight for Uncle Sam. And the German-American Alliance which boasted three million votes, and the twenty million Germans of whose loyalty the Kaiser bragged, and the 600,000 German army reservists of whom the Kaiser had twitted Ambassador Gerard—where, oh, where were they? Singing small, very small, my friendB, not visible to the naked eye, on the run for naturalization papers, Vereich of the blatant Fatherland Weekly leading the race in a sudden change of his sheet’s name and purpose.

AS TO the American public if you know this mercurial, highly emotional, almost childishly optimistic people well, yam will not need to be told, they are too quiet, very much too quiet, too ominously quiet for the health of any treasonous plotter, if the things break from cover which have been burning and smouldering in secret for two years.

Now review the facta !

As early as November 10 authorities on this side have known that certain submarines left Kiel for American waters, they have suspected submarine bases on this side within range of Panama. Thejf have known that some oil company here or in Mexico must have' been supplying these submarines with fuel. It was thought at first these submarines were designed to intercept oil supply for the British navy moving out from Mexico, and Uncle Sam shrugged his shoulders. Now men are asking themselves whether the big merchant submarines that first came to Baltimore and New London, which were welcomed so vociferously, were not scouts for .a war fleet of hidden destroyers.

Whether delayed by the November elections, Wilson’s peace note or what, is not known, but the anticipated crisis did not come. Men began to quizz their own judgment for having believed there were submarines on this side. "Two or three facts should be emphasized here. They are significant. One week before Berostorff handed pie American State Department Germany’s declaration of a return to ruthless submarine warfare, the machinery of the big fleet of German liners tied up at American docks was secretly utterly destroyed. The destruction was as frenzied and bootless a piece of madness as all Germany’s other acts; for the United States, governed by the law of civilized nations, has declared, in case of war with Germany, German property in the United States would be left inviolate, though treason on the part of Germans in the United States would be visited by death. Also, German gold on deposit in American banks began surreptitiously moving to South America. Also, just before the news broke, cargoes for the big merchant submarines in the docks at New London were fired and burned by their owners. Lastly, a big fleet of German cargo vessels ostensibly owhed by American capital, were frantically offered for sale. Without a doubt German agents on this side knew what was coming. It is now said that Ambassador Bemstorff received his instructions just before President Wilson announced his peace message, and that on his own authority the German Ambassador withheld the submarine declaration till the effects of Wilson’s peace outlines could be observed.

To the outside the question at once occurs: Why this sudden paralysis of shipping? W’hat brought the tension to a crisis? What is Germany ablento do now any more than she has been able to do with her submarines from the first? Didn’t she announce a ruthless submarine warfare before? Didn’t she push her warfare while she parleyed with America, till Great Britain had destroyed her submarines, then tacitly consent to a mitigated warfare? Isn’t she doing the same thing again? W’hile she is trying it out, won’t she count on bluffing Wilson off with explanations? Why the sudden crisis now? ?

The answer is in two words—the Pocket Nerve. Wilson was counting on Germany not meaning her wild threats. Germany was counting on President Wilson not meaning his mild protests, and each was in deadly earnest and unwittingly called the other’s bluff.

This time the German submarines are to be on this side. This country's foreign commerce has leaped to billions and her gold imports to $800,000,000, solely owing to the fact that the British navy was keeping the sea lanes open and clear; but if the submarines come to this aide, can Uncle Sam expect John Bull to patrol American shores? Consider the length of America’s shore line—3,000 miles as the crow flies, 8,000 miles as the zig-zag line runs. John Bull could not patrol these shores, nor half these shores, nor one short strip of them. Submarines and raiders were sighted down Hayti way, down Yucatan, in ,the Caribbean, off Brazil.

Suddenly, marine insurance ratea shot skyward. Something suddenly stabbed the Pocket Nerve of a thoughtless people. The quiver ran from shipside to bank, from bank to factory, from factory to farm labor. When a small freighter ties up at her berth, it costs the owner $5,0QP a day. Cotton can’t move out. Wheat is embargoed. Cotton fell nearly $45 a bale in a week, wheat 30 to 40 cents. Even steel, the king-pin of prosperity, slumped 14 points a share. Factories laid off hands. Farm labor came back on the job. Last year you could not hire farm labor for love or money. This week I had forty applicants for one job.

I do not mean to imply that it was only the Pocket Nerve. It was something bigger, deeper. That is why things are so quiet. That is why people are not shouting. But I do mean to imply it was a bayonet thrust in the Pocket Nerve that arrested this whole nation’» thoughtlessness— that wakened Middle West and Far West and down South as well as East. It is easy to be perfunctory in sympathy when the tragedy is far away; but when somebody sticks a bayonet in your middle and then kicks you in the face it is quite impossible to remain nonchalant.

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npHEN, another influence came in. A Hoover and many of his Belgium relief men are back. The tales they tell do not make pleasant hearing. Two years ago certain famous correspondents published over their signatures the declaration that there were no German atrocities. Not so, say Hoover’s men. They say the atrocities are as infamous to-day as at the very worst; and young Americans of thi 50,000 fighting in France bear witness to the truth of the testimony. The hayonet thrust in the pocket book brought forcibly home what might happen to Americans if an American city were raided and sacked. Suddenly the righteousness of the Allied cause shone forth unconfused by German sophistries,

Will it mean war?

And if so, will the United States line up with the Allies?

One person’s guess is as good as another’s.

As to the army for a fighting force the American army to-day is not 80,000 strong; and it is badly equipped. Though the navy used to rank third and fourth in the world, the navy has not men to man the ships. It is 18,000 men short.

fboaefwts settle thé question of actual ¡yrtiBg in the immediate future.

THE United States are preparing.

They are preparing feverishly. They «ifldrill and equip and make ready; but it is not the actual fighting which they BOW fear. Nor is it some great catastpujie like the Lu#itart$a. It is the afternath of all the devilish plots* which German Propaganda has' been sowing for two year»An Anarchist was heard by a Secret Service man boasting “when a

bomb would bring-; (the highest build-

in in New York) dowp.” For two years (frn—n aecret agents have indoctrinated the Anarchists with devices as ready taoie—powder which (Btepped on would threw a facton* into flqmes, bombs which a|uged into water wfould consume the ary atmosphere ; and they have plied the Wild Reds with whiskey, money and wmm. A rascal in Detroit, who has engalerad the worst plqts against Canada showed a woman agent the list «fhif Ben whom the Carmans had chosen “Isba picked off.” The;ruler of the United StatM, the two presidents of two great arpentions, half a dozen bankers were « the hit A woman swas chosen to vicone, a chauffeur “to get“ another, a favorite bootblack tq pass out informatisa so a third. The woman secret agent had a lover who was ah Austrian anarchist In fact, when this whole story is written it will read mère like a pre-revolttioo page of French history, when court Manch ran to height* than sober Ameriaaa fact Men who have been respected tet of families caught in the snare of Imputable plots have lost their decency, id themselves with bribery and and women, and; cast decency to the . This is true of the Detroit plotter a H is equally true of some master plotara, who will be on thp way home to GerBUty before these words see print.

A 81 write the Adriatic is in the dan** ger zone; but it ii not the fate of the Airhtic that men hiere fear. It is a plowing up of the secret fires which Geraaaj has been bankihg and plying with high explosive fuel Among “the Reds.” PÄik men, public bqildings, banks, termal* all are under most rigorous guard; bat you can’t undermine and sap the security of public life hrith high explosive thssrias and facts, fot two years and not pay the price; and JJncle Sam knows he wiQ pty the price in tqrrible catastrophes befara he is in the wqr.

DY THE time he is prepared, what? ** Will the war be over?

* There are twenty-three million Geraaa-Americans in this country. They are proving themselves American-Americans; bat—they are the gréât buying power for the German commerce that comes to this oaautry. Likewise, they are the great ••Bing force for the American commerce Ant goes to Germany.. It is inconceivable Aat these Americans qf German influence ln*he world of finance will not wield their P**»; and their power is to coerce the Jílifig dynasty of Germany, or feed the “*®a of German Revolution.

No one will predictions these day*; but the expectation is the reaction for Germans in the 'United States will “****0—will, indeed, force the end of the If that expectation is wrong, then, “wmd, are evil days ahead fc^r the United yStes; for her onemf is within her own