chapter  4
32 Pages

Peace Workers And The Wilson Administration

With prospects for peace overtures coming to a standstill in Europe, peace advocates turned their attention to the United States. The women’s interviews with European leaders were a prelude for face-to-face meetings they hoped to have with Woodrow Wilson concerning prospects for neutral mediation. Having been politely put off by the President before their European adventure, the peace advocates knew that he was not easily influenced. As the women had set off for the Hague congress in mid-April, he had publicly intimated in fact that he did not want to “discountenance it in any way, but it has no official sanction of any kind.” Certainly they knew that he had not thus far expressed any real interest in their proposal for a continuous conference of neutrals. He had shown the same reserve in his reactions to the discreet inquiries of other neutral governments about possible peace initiatives, although the peace advocates were unaware of the details. In November 1914, for example, he had rejected the feeler of Switzerland to begin negotiations with the European neutrals on the feasibility of calling a conference of neutral states. The Swiss Government had suggested that the American delegate would preside over this conference in some European city, which would agree on a mediation offer to be presented to the belligerents at an opportune time. A month later he had also squelched the request of the King of Spain for cooperation on a possible mediation overture.1