October 12, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The headlines from the Capital Journal:

Engine and Last Car of Train of Eighteen Was Left On Track
Car Saved Carried German Prisoners – Most Horrible Incident of War

Taking Extreme Measures to Maintain Neutrality But Is In Fear and Trembling


The Germans showed signs of increasing activity in the western field of the European war today.

The fighting fronts extended from the North sea to Saint Die, 512 miles, and have merged into each other.

The kaiser’s troops were trying to reach the Dover strait.

On the editorial page, the paper comments on the tenacity of the Belgians:

The Germans have captured Belgium, but they have not conquered the Belgians. They may drive them out of their country, but they can never drive the inborn bravery out of them. The pages of ancient history show this is impossible. The Belgian has been the rock against which the waves of war have for countless centuries broken and swept back, and the present generation is showing the blood of their ancestors flows unweakened in their veins. Attila, the Hun, poured his forces in a great wave over Europe and foresaw himself the conqueror of the world, but he dashed his armies in vain against the hardy Belgian who set the boundaries beyond which he could not pass. Caesar felt his prowess and was glad to let him alone, and Napoleon in Belgium found his Waterloo. Kaiser Wilhelm may be able to upset this long chain of defeats by the hardy lowlanders, but if so he will break a heretofore unbroken precedent.

The continuing exchange between a reader, A. Davies Fleet, and the editor over the issue of American neutrality and whether or not Britain has violated that neutrality continued with this letter from Mr. Fleet:

. . . [The] editor seems to have shifted his ground from the right of search to the particular question of searching the mails and says very confidently that “neither England nor any other country will be allowed to swipe Uncle Sam’s mails under any pretense whatever.” I must still claim that such language is somewhat intemperate.

Does the Journal claim that the sending of contraband of war through the mails is any less a violation of neutrality than sending of the same by express or freight? The question would seem to answer itself. It should be remembered that the parcel post is a part of the mail service, and that several eastern firms have sent consignments of over a ton in weight through the mail by dividing it up into proper parcels. If some dealer in war supplies should send a ton or more of contraband to Germany by U.S. mails, does The Journal hold that England would have no right to confiscate some after it had left American territory. Such a contention does not seem a reasonable one, when we remember that there is not the slightest doubt Great Britain would have a perfect right to confiscate same if sent by American express aboard the same ship.

. . . For that reason it seems to me that The Journal is somewhat too positive and belligerent in tone when it says that “no country will be allowed to swipe Uncle Sam’s mails under any pretense whatever.” It would all depend upon whether the so-called “pretense” was a fair and legitimate “reason” or not.

In a post script, the letter writer asks whether or not the paper is regulating publication of news to fit an editorial bias:

P.S. – Why did not The Journal publish the statement issued on Thursday by the Belgian legation to the american public, giving Belgium’s side of the case in regard to the German invasion” It was published by The Journal’s contemporaries. Was it because the statement was such a terrible indictment of Germany before the bar of public opinion? Or was it simply because The Journal was “scooped.”


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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