The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll QuigleyPredatory beasts that choose to hunt together often use a very successful tactic. While one catches the attention and focus of the prey, the other strikes the mortal blow and both share the carcass. Such was the modus operandi of the Anglo-American Establishment, the expanding Secret Elite so effectively identified by Professor Carrol Quigley. [1] They placed power and influence into hands chosen by friendship and association rather than merit, and have controlled politics, banking, the press and much else in Britain and the United States for the past century. Sometimes referred to obliquely as ‘the money-power, ‘the hidden power’ or ‘the men behind the curtain’, these men amassed vast profits for their companies, banks and industries through the war against Germany. We refer to them as the Secret Elite, [2] and our book, Hidden HistoryThe Secret Origins of the First World War reveals exactly how they came to control politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Their complicity in the sinking of the Lusitania and its immediate cover-up, demonstrates just how far their influence extended inside both Downing Street and the White House.

The influential diplomat and historian, Lewis Einstein captured the Secret Elite’s sense of inter-dependence and mutually assured future perfectly in an article published in 1913 in the London edition of the National Review. [3] He argued cogently that the United State’s share in the world power system meant that America would have to ensure that Britain was not defeated in a war with Germany, and would have to intervene in any future major European war if that was threatened. [4]

President Wilson (left) with his 'adviser' Edward Mandell House

These views were shared by the anglophile American historian and correspondent for the Secret Elite’s Round Table Journal, George Louis Beer, [5] Ambassador Walter Hines Page, President Wilson’s personal mentor, Edward Mandell House, the US Ambassador at Berlin, James Gerard, and most importantly in terms of the American involvement with the Lusitania, the up-and-coming presidential advisor, Robert Lansing. [6] Woodrow Wilson was a political puppet of the Secret Elite, and the men surrounding and representing him were entrenched anglophiles who staunchly believed in the ultimate victory of the English-speaking race. The ordinary American may have thought his President and his country neutral, but in the corridors of real power, neutrality was a sham.

The most prominent American politician who attempted to enforce neutrality was Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan. In August 1914, he advised President Wilson not to allow the Rothschild-backed bankers, J P Morgan and Co to raise loans and credits for the allies [7] but the bankers soon retaliated through their favoured trade advisor to the President, Robert Lansing. Despite Secretary Bryan’s repeated objections, Lansing and the State Department sided with the bankers and munitions manufacturers to alter the rules on credit and trade. They insisted that an embargo on arms sales by private companies was unconstitutional and enabled the US to become the Entente’s supply base despite the appearance of so-called neutrality. [8]

The Germans knew from their own spy network that the ‘secret’ British purchases of munitions and materiel of war was constant and extensive. J P Morgan Jnr was intimately linked to the Secret Elite, and his banking empire,  J P Morgan and Co. was at the core of the conspiracy to arm the Allies. In January 1915, he signed a contract appointing him sole purchasing agent as well as the Treasury’s primary financial agent. [9] Morgan’s associate, E C Grenfell, a director of the Bank of England, personally acted as a go-between with Washington and London. Britain’s munitions procurer, George Macauley Booth, ( of the Shipping co. Alfred Booth, ) readily gave his support to Morgan. In addition to his pre-eminence in US banking, Morgan controlled a vast tonnage of shipping through his International Mercantile Marine Co. George Booth was well aware that an alliance with Morgan meant that both his ships and Cunard’s would benefit greatly from the huge upsurge in Atlantic trade. [10] Vast profits were made. From the start of the war until they entered in April 1917, quite apart from weapons, the United States sent the Allies more than a million tons of cordite, gun-cotton, nitrocellulose, fulminate of mercury and other explosive substances. British servicemen in civilian clothes were employed in the scheme and customs at both ends turned a blind eye to the illicit trade underwritten by the merchants of death. Unfortunate passengers on the liners which carried the munitions knew nothing of the dangers that lurked in their hold.

Lusitania at Pier 54,  New York

On the dock-side in New York, cargoes were inspected by the Admiralty forwarding agent, and the more urgently needed were allocated to faster ships. Cargo manifests were a charade of false names and supposed destinations. Security was tight, but munitions are difficult to disguise, even if the cargo list claimed that raw or gun cotton was ‘furs’, or weapons of war appeared as ‘sewing machines’. It was standard British practice to sail on the basis of a false manifest  with the tacit blessing of the Collector of Customs, Dudley Field Malone, another of the President’s place-men. [11]

A friend and protégé of President Woodrow Wilson, Malone had known and supported him since the beginning of his political career.  In November 1913, after a brief period at the State Department, Malone was appointed to the post of Collector of the Port of New York. This was a political sinecure, paying $12,000 a year for supervising the collection of import duties. [12] It was mere child’s play to have the manifest stamped with the approval of Messrs Wood, Niebuhr and Co., Customs Brokers of Whitehall Street, New York. [13] The Admiralty in London was advised in advance which ships carried what cargo, and of their destination and estimated date of arrival. Such was the understanding between governments that British Consul-General Sir Courtney Bennet, who directed the British counter-intelligence operation in New York, had his own desk in the Cunard general manager’s office. [14] Exports of munitions from America to Britain was so blatant that it should embarrass every historian who denies the practice or claims that the Lusitania was simply a passenger liner.

Robert Lansing, United States Secretary of State who replaced William Jennings Bryan

The sinking of the Lusitania posed a serious problem for President Wilson’s administration. On 9 May 1915, an official statement from the German government stated that the Lusitania was ‘naturally armed with guns…and she had a large cargo of war material’. [15] Alarmed by possible ramifications, President Wilson telephoned Robert Lansing demanding to know precisely what the Lusitania had been carrying.  Lansing had a detailed report from Malone on his desk by noon. It stated that ‘practically all of her cargo was contraband of some kind’ with lists denoting great quantities of munitions. This was political dynamite of the most damning kind. Lansing and Wilson realised that if the public learned that over a hundred Americans had lost their lives because of their abuse of neutrality, they would not survive the inevitable  backlash. [16] Consequently, the official statement from the Collector of the Port of New York stated ‘that Report is not correct. The Lusitania was inspected before sailing as customary. No guns were found.’ [17] The denial was given full coverage by the international press and became the mantra of court historians from that time onward. The real manifest was consigned to obscurity and may never have seen the light of day had not Franklin Delaney Roosevelt, at that time Assistant Secretary at the Navy, not saved it for posterity, [18] and Mitch Peeke and his team not traced it to the FDR Presidential Archives. [19]

The text and terms of the American Note of protest to Germany of 11 May 1915 was a historic and deliberately abrasive document. Omitting the customary diplomatic civilities, Wilson protested that American citizens had the right to sail the seas in any ship they wished even if it was a belligerent and armed merchantman. His words were ‘unanimously approved and commended by the financial community’ where a group of leading bankers and financiers vowed to help finance the Allies in memory of the drowned capitalist, Cornelius Vanderbilt. [20] The official German reply from their Foreign Office regretted that ‘ Americans felt more inclined to trust English promises rather than pay attention to the warnings from the German side.’ [21] Germany deeply regretted the loss of American lives and offered compensation, but British merchant vessels had been instructed by Winston Churchill to ram and destroy German submarines where possible. They refused to concede that the sinking of the Lusitania was an illegal act, and repeated, correctly, that she was a vessel in the British Navy’s merchant fleet auxiliary service and had been carrying munitions and contraband of war.

William Jennings Bryan who resigned in protest after Wilson's note to Germany in 1915

The final, undeniable proof that the Lusitania had been used contrary to international law came with the resignation of President Wilson’s Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan on 8 June 1915. His resignation statement was clear and unambiguous, though he posed his distaste as a rhetorical question. ‘Why should American citizens travel on belligerent ships with cargoes of ammunition?’ He believed that it was the government’s duty to go as far as it could to stop Americans travelling on such ships and thus putting themselves, and by default, the American nation, at risk. His parting shot clarified what had happened on the Lusitania. ‘I think too that American passenger ships should be prevented from carrying ammunition. The lives of passengers should not be endangered by cargoes of ammunition whether that danger comes from possible explosions within or from possible explosions without. Passengers and ammunition should not travel together.’ [22] He might just as well have said, ‘it matters not whether the Lusitania was sunk by a torpedo or an internal explosion from munitions onboard. The truth is she was carrying munitions.’ Lives had been lost; the truth had to be suppressed by the the American government too. Immediately. To his eternal credit, Bryan would have nothing more to do with the Wilson Administration. He was replaced by the Wall Street champion, Robert Lansing, whose connivance in favour of both the money-power and the Allies in Europe had established his credentials.

Suppression of evidence continued unabated. Wesley Frost, the American Consul in Queenstown obtained affidavits from every American survivor and these were forwarded by him to the State Department in Washington and the Board of Trade in London. Not one of the thirty five affidavits was ever used in British or American inquiries. Nor is there any trace of the copies sent to London save the acknowledgement of their safe receipt. [23] Why? We can only speculate that they would not have corroborated the story about a single torpedo. Charles Lauriat, Jr., for instance, a Boston bookseller, survived the ordeal, and on his safe return to London, met Ambassador Page. Surely his independent testimony would have been very valuable, given an experience which he shared with the Ambassador, but he was convinced that here had been a single torpedo. Lauriat was also angry about the manner in which survivors were threatened by the British authorities at Queenstown. [24] He was not called.

Sir Edward Grey (left) and King George V, both of whom questioned House before Lusitania was torpedoed

And what of that powerfully influential coterie of American anglophiles who gathered at Ambassador Walter Page’s residence on the evening of 7 May? What did they really know? Just five days before the sinking, Page had written a letter to his son Arthur forecasting ‘the blowing up of a liner with American passengers’. On the same day he wrote ‘ if a British liner full of American passengers be blown up, what will Uncle Sam do?’ Note that the question concerned a ship being blown up, not sunk. Then he added ‘That’s what’s is going to happen.’ [25] What too of Mandell House’s discussions on 7 May both with Sir Edward Grey and King George V? They questioned him directly about the impact on America of a passenger liner being torpedoed, [26] yet House seemed to find nothing suspicious in their foreknowledge. They knew that a disaster was about to happen, because they had been complicit in its organisation and preparation. On both sides of the Atlantic evil men pursued greater profit from human loss.

The official American reaction to the sinking of the Lusitania contained so many lies and went to such a depth to cover government complicity that there can be no doubt whatsoever that they shared in the blame for the dreadful incident. American authorities, bankers, financiers and politicians close to the Secret Elite were obliged to hide the truth that they were supplying Britain and France with much needed munitions in contravention of international law. In addition, they allowed American citizens to act as human shields and defied  public opinion in so doing. Yes, Captain Schweiger of U-20 fired the fateful torpedo but the great liner had deliberately been set up as an easy target or, as the cold, scheming Churchill called it, ’livebait.’ [27]

Newspaper outrage denounced the sinking as the mass murder of innocent American citizens. The New York Times likened the Germans to ‘savages drunk with blood’ [28] and the Nation declaimed that ‘the torpedo that sank the Lusitania also sank Germany in the opinion of mankind’. [29] Stirred though they were, the American people were reluctant to embrace all out war. In a somewhat crude analysis the East coast had been galvanised by the powerful Anglo-American interests whose profits were already mounting in millions by the day. But the further news travelled from New York,  through the Mid-West to the Pacific coast, the sinking of the Cunarder excited less and less attention. The British Ambassador regretfully informed the Foreign Office that the United States was a long way from war with anybody. The British Ambassador at Paris described Americans as ‘a rotten lot of of psalm-singing, profit mongering humbugs’. [30] Changing opinion requires patience and the constant reiteration of propaganda.

The sinking of the Lusitania, and the successful cover-up by two complicit governments, played an important role in bringing about an eventual sea-change in opinion across America. They were also complicit  in the murder of 1,201 men, women and children.

[1] Carrol Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, published 1981, Books In Focus.
[2] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins OF The First World War, p. 18.
[3] Lewis Einstein, The United States and the Anglo-German Rivalry, National Review, LX, Jan. 1913.
[4] Ibid., pp. 736-50
[5] Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 168.
[6] Robert E Osgood, Ideals and Self Interest in America’s Foreign Policy, pp.114-34; and 154-50.
[7] Bryan to JP Morgan and Co. 15 August, Library of Congress, Foreign Relations, Supplement 580.
[8] Daniel M Smith, Lansing and the Formation of American Neutrality Policies, 1914-1915, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol.43 No. 1, p. 69.
[9] Kathleen Burk, War And The State, The Transformation of British Government, 1914-1919, p. 89.
[10] Kathleen Burk, Britain, America and the Sinews of War, pp. 18-19.
[11] Colin Simpson, Lusitania, pp. 49-51.
[14] Simpson, Lusitania, p. 59.
[15] The United States and War: President Wilson’s Notes on the Lusitania and Germany’s reply, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. XXX (1915).
[16] Simpson, Lusitania, pp. 172-3.
[17] The United States and War: President Wilson’s Notes on the Lusitania and Germany’s reply, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. XXX (1915) p. 47.
[18] Our thanks to Colonel Robert A Lynn, Florida Guard, from personal communication.
[19]See Guest blog, 2 May 2015, Mitch Peeke; The Lusitania Story – The Struggle for The Truth.
[20] The Times, Saturday 15 May, 1915, p. 7.
[21] The United States and War: President Wilson’s Notes on the Lusitania and Germany’s reply, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. XXX (1915) p. 47.
[22] Ibid., p. 48.
[23] Simpson, Lusitania, p. 168.
[24] Lauriat, Charles E.  The Lusitania‘s Last Voyage.  Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1915.
[25] Burton J Hendrick, The Life And Letters Of Walter Page, vol. 1. p. 436.
[26] Edward Mandell House and Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol.1, p. 432.
27] Reported in a letter from George Booth to Alfred Booth, 25 September 1914.
[28] Thomas A Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People, p. 626.
[29] New York Nation, 13 May, 1915.
[30] H C Peterson, Propaganda for War, p. 170. and footnote 6.