British diplomacy with America and Ireland, an Ambassador's letters, 1909-1962

Correspondence for September-December 1918

You are here: British diplomacy with America and Ireland, an Ambassador's letters, 1909-1962 : Correspondence for September-December 1918

Events moved quickly at the end of 1918, after the sudden collapse of Germany. Murray's communications to Wiseman were usually passed on to Colonel House and sometimes to the President himself. "The letters, cables and documents you have been sending Sir William have been of the greatest value and I want you to know of my warm appreciation", House wrote to Murray. "It is only through such complete information as you give that one can correctly advise those on this side. I hope you will come over here soon so as to keep in touch with both countries" (House to Murray, 4 Sep 1918). Wiseman mentioned the high opinion that House had of Murray. "He often talks about you and feels that we have found an ideal person to be our eyes, ears and adviser in Europe", wrote Wiseman. "He has already settled what you are to do at the Peace Conference!" (Wiseman to Murray, 5 Sep 1918).As well as sending intelligence to Wiseman and his contacts, Murray kept in touch with American officials and politicians visiting London on their way to France. One such visitor at this time was the Assistant Secretary of the US Navy, Franklin Roosevelt. Murray said to Roosevelt that "it would be a good thing if there were available a fast ship to bring over to this country important people like himself and to take back important personages to the United States". According to Murray, Roosevelt "agreed that the plan was a good one, and said it could be easily worked". Murray therefore asked Wiseman to start the ball rolling in Washington (Murray to Wiseman, 11 Sep 1918). Wiseman later reported that the US authorities were not very responsive to Murray's suggestion. "They point out that there are now fast transports leaving practically every week. And a special ship detailed for the purposes mentioned would only save about a day if it happened to be available when wanted and might easily be on the wrong side of the water" (Wiseman to Murray, 4 Oct 1918).One urgent question was Lord Reading's continued absence, as British Ambassador, from the USA. He had travelled to Britain with Murray in August and was due to return in October. But he fell ill with jaundice and was then urged by Wiseman to stay in England for the visit of Colonel House and Wiseman in late October (Wiseman to Reading, 17 Oct 1918). In the end Reading did not return to the USA as he did not wish to continue as Ambassador beyond the end of the War, and by November it was clear that Germany and her allies were in full retreat. But Murray was anxious to renew his ties with the USA and returned to New York. He arrived in Washington on 18 November by which time the war was over and the US Congressional elections had taken place.The election results were a setback for Wilson and the Democrats, as they gave the Republicans a majority in both Houses of Congress. Murray cabled Reading to say that the change wrought by the elections was very apparent. Although the Republicans were not due to take over until March, they were becoming "openly intolerant" of Wilson's conduct of affairs. There was growing criticism of his advocacy of a "League of Nations" and of his forthcoming trip to Europe. However, Murray felt that Wilson still retained great prestige among the American people and that he would be able to implement the Fourteen Points in his speech of 8 January 1918 to Congress, provided he explained them "in a convincing manner" (Murray to Reading, 22 Nov 1918).Murray returned to England at the end of December. By then the general election postponed because of the war had taken place, and Lloyd George's Coalition Government had been returned with a large majority. The "Coupon Election" as it soon became known, because of the endorsements given to Lloyd George Liberals but denied to supporters of Asquith, contributed greatly to the Liberal Party's division and decline. Murray himself was returned unopposed as MP for Kincardineshire. While associated with Asquith, Murray's role during the War meant that he had not openly criticised Lloyd George, and so there was no serious move to oppose him.

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Showing 1 documents Correspondence for September-December 1918

MS 8807

  • Contributor: National Library of Scotland
  • Reference: 1491-8807
  • Keyword:  british usa warfare war ww1
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