February 25, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondence

The opposite of a blockade is an embargo. Today’s paper headlines a suggestion that the United States use the threat of starvation as a means to bring the belligerents to the bargaining table:

UNITED STATES MAY SUMMON HUNGER TO FORCE HER DEMANDS
Will Bring Both England and Germany to their Knees By embargo
WILL GIVE RELIEF WHEN COMMERCE IS PROTECTED
Mayor Mitchell of New York and Others Urge Wilson To Use This Weapon

The United States government may summon hunger as her ally to bring England and Germany to their knees in the situation which has caused German submarine warfare on merchantmen and has threatened American commerce.

This was the unconfirmed hint heard today in official circles.

Those standing sponsors for the suggestion declare President Wilson may establish “an airtight” embargo on the exportation from the United States of any foodstuffs either to Germany or her allied enemies unless all involved in the dispute over the right to receive foodstuffs for civilians agree to demands that have been made by this government.

One hundred eight years earlier, President Thomas Jefferson, signed into law the Embargo of 1807. As in World War I, war between France and Britain affected American trade and tested our neutrality. The Embargo Act hit Americans as hard or harder than it hit either Britain or France. The act effectively isolated the American economy; merchants, workers and farmers suffered and unemployment rose. It will be interesting to see how long this proposal takes before it becomes the subject of the editor’s wrath.

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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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