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Walter Hines Page

Walter Hines Page: Ambassador to the Court of St. James's

Ross Gregory
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Walter Hines Page
    Book Description:

    This lucid study assesses Page's career as ambassador to Great Britain from 1913 to 1918. It reconsiders the famous publisher's impact on American diplomacy through an examination of British-American relations in that troubled period. Page, a friend of Woodrow Wilson and an intense Anglophile, devoted his major efforts to bringing the United States into the war on the side of the Allies and to cementing Anglo-American friendship.

    The book brings to bear information from all pertinent manuscript collections in the United States and introduces new information on British-American relations from recently-opened documents in British Foreign Office Archives.

    Written in a clear and lively style, the book revises earlier interpretations of the importance of Page's ambassadorial career, placing it in balance perspective.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6315-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Chapter One The Road to London
    (pp. 1-26)

    Like all southern lads raised in the second half of the nineteenth century, Walter Page grew up in the shadow of the Civil War. Born in the town his father had founded in north-central North Carolina, he was not quite six years old when Confederate batteries fired the first shots at Fort Sumter. His oldest memories were such tragic sights as soldiers’ coffins, weeping relatives, the seemingly endless line of bluecoats that filed past his father’s door in pursuit of fleeing rebels. He recalled soldiers camping in the yard, commandeering the property, and rummaging through the house, all of which...

  6. Chapter Two The Happy Time
    (pp. 27-48)

    London in 1913 was more than a large and cosmopolitan European city; it was the focal point of a sprawling empire that since has vanished, capital of a people proud of that empire and a long history of cultural and political progress. For an American like Page, accustomed to looking to the future rather than the past, the transition to a world where tradition was important, where noble blood somehow was redder, or bluer, might have seemed difficult. It did not turn out that way. Indeed Page merged into London society with ease. During those first months on the job...

  7. Chapter Three Battle for Civilization Begins
    (pp. 49-62)

    As July marked the end of the social season and beginning of a slow time in official circles, Page closed the London house and took a place about an hour’s travel from the city where he planned to spend several weeks playing golf, resting, and catching up on correspondence. Among the letters was a folksy missive July 22 to his brother, Robert, congressman from North Carolina. Looking back on the first year as a diplomat, he allowed some boastfulness. “I think I kept this Gov’t from making possibly embarrassing protests about the Canal tolls,” he wrote. “I’ve kept them right...

  8. Chapter Four Harassing the British
    (pp. 63-89)

    The British ambassador to the United States spoke with as much truth as sarcasm when he remarked in 1915 that most of the American people “want to make money and not to make war.”¹ There seemed little reason why the United States should not trade with nations at war, for the powers of Alliance and Entente, each wishing to draw on American resources, welcomed commerce with the industrial giant. After some hasty statements, the government announced that it was legal, that merchants and shippers could sell almost anything they had. The State Department did say the government could not send...

  9. Chapter Five Assault of the Barbarians
    (pp. 90-113)

    Walter Page was out of bed earlier than usual May 9, 1915, for that morning he had to perform one of the most unpleasant tasks of his ambassadorship. Before 6:00 A.M. he was at Euston Station to greet and offer his services to American survivors of theLusitania,the large British passenger liner torpedoed two days earlier. As passengers stepped off the train and proceeded into the small crowd awaiting, their expressions told of the terrible experience two days before. Occasionally a weary face brightened at sight of a relative, but for the most part the people walked hypnotically, eyes...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. Chapter Six Harassing the British Again
    (pp. 114-138)

    While Page was devoting such great energy to the problem of the submarine, events would not allow him to forget, wish though he might, that the United States continued to have difficulty with Great Britain. In fact, German-American relations were for Page’s position secondary to the diplomacy between Britain and the United States. The year 1915 saw the Western Allies establish the so-called blockade of Germany, justification for which they found in Germany’s use of the submarine. In the controversy that followed, Page with increased vigor acted his self-appointed role of guardian of Anglo-American friendship, dedicating himself to smoothing issues...

  12. Chapter Seven The Worst Year
    (pp. 139-172)

    As the old year ended and the new one began, Page found good reason for believing that one way or another, a decisive time had come. Newspapers and letters from House reported that the United States government again was pressing theLusitaniacase. It even had appeared for a short time that the ambassador might get all he wished out of that issue. House had written that the United States was much nearer a break with the Central Powers and suggested that Page tell “our friends in England . . . that the lower their fortunes seem the more ready...

  13. Chapter Eight War at Last
    (pp. 173-196)

    When Page returned to the London embassy in October 1916 there was little indication that within six months the United States would be at war with Germany. To be sure, the ambassador had felt since theLusitaniawent down that hostilities were possible at almost any time, but with Germany—to Wilson’s satisfaction at least—honoring theSussexpledge, and with feeling what it was in Washington, it seemed in autumn 1916 that the chance of war with Germany was less than it had been in many months. Many people in the United States would have preferred to fight Britain....

  14. Chapter Nine Victory and Death
    (pp. 197-207)

    I’ll tell you,” Rudyard Kipling remarked to Page a few months after America’s fateful decision, “your coming into the war made a new earth for me.”¹ Page failed to record his answer to the famous English poet, but he could have replied “for me also,” because there was no happier man on April 3. No longer could his government procrastinate; no longer need he explain Wilson’s policy. Along the way to the Foreign Office he could see the American flag displayed on public buildings, and entering Balfour’s office he watched the foreign secretary rush forward to shake hands and remark:...

  15. Chapter Ten The Ambassadorship of Walter Page
    (pp. 208-218)

    The story of Walter Page did not end with the ambassador’s death; indeed he became a more popular, albeit controversial figure in the years which followed the World War. The military battles in France prefaced equally important, and in some cases more frustrating diplomatic battles at Paris. The quarreling victors agreed upon a settlement which presaged another conflict between scholars and statesmen who set out to refute or support the famous war guilt clause of the Versailles Treaty, which stated that Germany had caused the war. Governments published documents to prove their countries’ innocence and historians, delighted at so much...

  16. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 219-228)
  17. Index
    (pp. 229-236)