Herbert Hoover to Lindon Bates




Hoover-Wilson Correspondence, Hoover Institution, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


pdf file




-Inter-Office Communication
London, 14th May, 1915.
Letter No. 142:

Dear Bates:

Please find herewith copy of letter and telegram which I sent to the President of the United States this week, which matter fairly well explains itself

We are of course at the present moment utterly unable to determine what will be our future course of action, as we obviously cannot tell what response the Germans will make to the American Note. My impression is that the Note as framed up has missed the cue which might save war. I can see no answer to it that will satisfy the United States, and I have no doubt that they will make response by way of withdrawing our Ambassadors in German territory. I do believe that if the President had enunciated great ideals and high principles, he would have caught the support of German public opinion against their own military clique, but when he confined his representations, as he did, practically to incidents, he made it impossible of solution

If it should eventuate that our Ambassadors are withdrawn, there may be a twilight period in which nominal relations are preserved through charge’ d’affaires, and during which we could go on with our work. If such an event arises, we will take a pledge from the German Government that our men shall be given a free right of retreat from Belgium in case the situation becomes more acute. If they will not give such an undertaking, we shall have to come out with the diplomatic staff. I have already arranged with the Allied Governments that they shall allow me to substitute Dutch or Spanish for the Americans in Belgium, and if the situation gets to the point where we must withdraw, I shall substitute such men and we will go ahead with the game as long as the Germans do not interfere with the food-stuffs. It is useless, however, to write anything in particular as before you receive letters it may have been entirely put out of joint. You can be sure that we are going to make a fight for the Belgians, and if the Germans have not entirely lost all shreds of respectability so that they will not steal our food-stuffs, I can see our way to keep these people alive until harvest. They can then paddle their own canoe for two or three months.

Yours faithfully,
(Signed) HC Hoover

Original Format





Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Lindon Bates,” 1915 May 14, WWP19043, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.