Instructions to American Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral Countries, February 4, 1917, regarding the severance of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Germany

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Instructions to American Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral Countries, February 4, 1917, regarding the severance of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Germany


Instructions to American Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral Countries, February 4, 1917, regarding the Severance of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Germany1

     You will immediately notify the Government to which you are ac- credited that the United States, because of the German Government's recent announcement of its intention to renew unrestricted submarine warfare, has no choice but to follow the course laid down in its note of April 18, 1916 (the Sussex note).      It has, therefore, recalled the American Ambassador to Berlin and has delivered passports to the German Ambassador to the United States. Say, also, that the President is reluctant to believe Germany actually will carry out her threat against neutral commerce, but if it be done the President will ask Congress to authorize use of the national power to protect American citizens engaged in their peaceful and lawful er- rands on the seas.      The course taken is, in the President's view, entirely in conformity with the principles he enunciated in his address to the Senate January 12 (the address proposing a world league for peace). He believes it will make for the peace of the world if other neutral powers can find it possible to take similar action. Report fully and immediately on the reception of this announcement and upon the suggestion as to similar action.


1Congressional Record, February 8, 1917, p. 3263