by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
Caught in the middle again, the pending seizure of cargo destined for Germany from an American vessel would affect U.S. commerce, according to the headline in the Capital Journal:
The government was advised today that an unfavorable outcome of the test case to be made in a British prize court by the American steamer Wilhelmina will bring retaliatory measures against England by Germany in which Americans may suffer commercially.
The Wilhelmina, which sailed from New York some weeks ago loaded with food for Germany, put into Falmouth harbor early this week after being buffeted by a terrific storm for several days. She intended merely to repair her damage, but the British admiralty seized her cargo and threw the case into a prize court. The Wilhelmina herself will be released as soon as she has been unloaded.
Count Von Bernstorff, the German ambassador, presented this warning to Secretary of State Bryan and Counsellor Lansing. He suggested that it would be to the interest of the United States to seek favorable action by the prize court in the case.
He declared the kaiser would not tolerate England’s plan to starve German civilians and the United States was warned it might expect the strongest measure of retaliation against England by Germany. It was hinted that American commerce might be shut off as part of Germany’s proposed course.