America 1917: 3. Why Did Wilson Go To War?

President Wilson addressing Congress 1917

If on 4 March 1917, President Woodrow Wilson believed his own rhetoric when he proclaimed that America stood ‘firm in armed neutrality’ why was it necessary some twenty-nine days later, to advise a joint Session of Congress that they would have to go to war to defend and protect democracy? On April 6, 1917, America duly declared that war [1] after the Senate approved the action by 82-6 and the House of Representatives by 373-50.

In the Senate, a few voices were raised hopelessly against what they deemed ‘a great blunder’. Opposition inside the House of Representatives pointed out that no invasion was threatened, no territory at risk, no sovereignty questioned, no national policy contested nor honour sacrificed. [2] Be assured of one important fact. There was no outcry for war amongst ordinary American citizens. No excited crowds took to the streets. At Wellington House in London, the nerve-centre of British propaganda, the manipulators of truth were concerned that the American Press carried ‘no indications of enthusiasm except in a few Eastern papers’. [3] In the United States, citizens were genuinely unsure why the nation was at war, but loyalty to the flag has always carried great weight. Enlistment statistics threw an interesting light on American society. Before 1917, the Eastern seaboard editors, lawyers, bankers and financiers, teachers and preachers, leaders of ‘society’ in New York and Washington alike, had berated the Western states for their alleged unpatriotic attitude towards war. In the event, recruiting figures showed that the response from the western states was greater than their compatriots along the eastern seaboard.[4] How often do the movers and shakers turn into moaners and shirkers and fail to step up to the mark?

American Recruitment Poster 1917

There was no instant Kitchener-effect in America. British propagandists watched this lack of enthusiasm with real concern. Woodrow Wilson set up the Committee on Public Information on 14 April to rouse the public to ‘righteous wrath’.[5] Two and a half year’s worth of Wellington House propaganda was at hand for regurgitation and dissemination. Even so, from 1 April until 16 May, total enlistment was a mere 73,000 men. [6] By June 117,974 men had joined the regular army, but the rate was falling. In July only 34,962 joined the ranks; in August it was 28,155; in September, 10,557. [7] This simply could not continue. A conscript army was required.

On 18 May, 1917, the sixty-fifth Congress passed a Military Act to enable the President to temporarily increase the strength of the army, and the ‘draft’ became law.[8] For all his talk of brokering peace between the waring factions in Europe, and many reported attempts at reconciliation, President Wilson led his country into war, provided the manpower to be sacrificed and stirred the hatred and propaganda necessary to popularise the slaughter on the western front. Why? Why within months of his re-election on the proud boast that he had kept America out of the war, was everything reversed; every assumed position revoked; every implied promise, broken? Some historians insist that Germany forced President Wilson into a declaration of war through two acts of blundering stupidity. Emphasis on such a focus has successfully deflected attention away from much more powerful interests which Wilson could not ignore.

On 17 January 1917, British code-breakers partially deciphered an astonishing message from the German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmermann to his Ambassador in Washington. Though the analysts in Room 40 at the admiralty in London could decipher some of the essential message, the new code which had been delivered to the German Embassy in Washington by the cargo U-boat Deutschland in November 1916, had not been fully broken. Senior British cryptographs were trying to reconstruct this particular code but had made only sufficient progress to form an incomplete text. [9] From their initial reconstruction it appeared that Zimmermann had requested the German ambassador to the United States, Count Johann von Bernstorff, to contact President Carranza of Mexico through the German embassy in Mexico City and offer him a lucrative alliance. ‘Blinker’ Hall, Director of Naval Intelligence, took personal control. His grasp of effective propaganda was second to none. Hall knew that once the full text was available it had to be carefully handled both to protect the anonymity of Room 40 and convince the Americans of its authenticity.

Room 40 focused on the ambassadorial messages between Berlin and the American continent and on 19 February the full text of Zimmerman’s instructions to his Mexican ambassador was traced. It had been sent to Washington by a wireless channel which Wilson and House had previously allowed Germany to use for secret discussions on a possible peace initiative. This effrontery added insult to injury. Once Admiral ‘Blinker’ Hall held the decoded and translated text in his hands, he knew that he had unearthed a propaganda coup of enormous importance. Zimmermann’s telegram read as follows:

The coded and decoded Zimmermann message

‘Washington to Mexico 19 January 1917.

We intend to begin on 1 February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavour in spite of this to keep the USA neutral. In the event of this not succeeding we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following terms:-
Make war together
Make peace together
Generous financial support and an undertaking on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you.
You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the USA is certain, and add the suggestion that he should on his own initiative invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves.
Please call the President’s attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace. (signed) Zimmermann.’ [10]

After ensuring that they could conceal how they had obtained the telegram, the British Foreign Office released it to Walter Paget, the American ambassador in London, who promptly sent it to the State Department in Washington. Woodrow Wilson received the transcript on 24 February 1917. He was stunned to discover that the Germans had abused the cable line which he had insisted they be allowed to access for peace negotiations. [11] It took President Wilson four days to release the telegram to the Associated Press and following expressions of disbelief, he authorised Senator Swann of Virginia to announce in the Senate on 1 March 1917, that the Zimmerman note to Mexico was textually correct. Robert Lansing made a similar pronouncement from the State Department. Clearly the American public was not easily convinced. Even in 1917, they were suspicious of government pronouncements.

If the reader scans the infamous Zimmermann line by line, it quickly becomes apparent that its ludicrous nature verges on lunacy. Alliances are not forged by telegram. Vague promises of generous financial support, of a detailed settlement being left in the hands of the Mexican government and the subsequent ‘reconquering’ of vast tracts of America, did not make sense. Though the Mexicans gave no immediate response, the Japanese Ambassador authoritatively dismissed the proposition. They had no intention of being suckered by a spurious telegram. And why did Zimmermann describe Germany’s submarine tactics as ‘ruthless’? The whole incident seemed contrived.

William Randolph Hearst, newspaper proprietor, was strongly anti-Allied in his policies

One major American newspaper-owner firmly rejected the Zimmermann story. William Randolph Hearst had kept his stable independent of the British censor. Just as he had refused to swallow wholesale war guilt, atrocity or war aims propaganda, Hearst cabled his editors that ‘in all probability’ the Zimmermann note was an ‘absolute fake and forgery.’ He believed that the object was to frighten Congress into giving the President the powers he demanded. Hearst’s anxiety was that ‘the whole people of this country, 90 percent of whom do not want war, may be projected into war because of these misrepresentations..’ [12] He also accused the president’s advisor, ‘Colonel’ House of being a corporation lobbyist. Hearst was at Palm Beach in the weeks before America entered the war and his private telegrams to his editors and those of other newspapers, were later made public in an attempt to discredit him.[13]

Though publication of the telegram aroused some anger in the West and mid-West states, American newspapers generally chose to omit any reference to the fact that the proposed alliance would only take place after America had declared war against Germany. [14] The original note had been passed to the American embassy in London in such secrecy that the State Department could not reveal its origins to enquiring journalists. [15] Indeed the propaganda value was diluted by a suspicion that it was a forgery, as Hearst and his newspapers insisted until, to the immense relief of British and American war-mongers, the naive Zimmerman acknowledged that he was the author. At a press conference on 2 March, Zimmermann was invited by the Hearst correspondent in Berlin, W. B. Hale, to deny the story.


He chose instead to confirm that it was true. [16] In modern parlance, it was a spectacular own goal. Some have said that the Zimmermann telegram incident was the “overt act” that brought the United States into the war. It was not. Woodrow Wilson did not ask Congress to declare war until 3 April 1917, fully six weeks after the British delivered the telegram to him.

So why did Woodrow Wilson take the irredeemable step to war? Sympathetic historians were very clear as to the cause. German militarism. The diplomatic record left no room for doubt. ‘ It was the German submarine warfare and nothing else that forced him [Wilson] to lead America into war.’ [17] Newton D Baker, Secretary of War came to the same conclusion, but wrapped it carefully inside a moment of caution. He wrote that ‘ the occasion’ of America entering the war was the resumption of submarine warfare. [18] Don’t confuse the words ‘cause’ and ‘occasion’. Indeed, consider that sentence again, but replace ‘occasion’ with ‘excuse’.

The German government had announced an unrestricted submarine campaign on 31 January, 1917. From that date U-boat commanders were ordered to sink all ships, neutral and belligerent, passenger or merchant inside a delineated Atlantic and North Sea zone. Despite perfunctory American protests, the British blockade had begun to take its toll in Germany from late 1916. Hunger was to be a weapon of war which both sides could use to advantage. German strategists were aware that such a tactic was likely to bring America into the war, but had concluded that Britain could be starved out before America had time to raise an effective fighting force and bring it into the European theatre. As it stood, America could hardly offer the Allies much more assistance as a belligerent than it currently did as a neutral,[19] but one unforeseen consequence hit home quickly. American shipping was temporarily paralysed.[20] Great quantities of wheat and cotton began to pile up in warehouses. The American economy faced dangerous dislocation. American merchant shipping clung to the safety of their shoreline and trade stood still.

Look carefully at the twin ‘causes’ of America Declaration of War, the Zimmermann telegram and Germany’s unrestricted submarine campaign and you will find flaws. The first was not a ‘casus belli’. It was a propaganda coup to soften the American public’s attitude to war, to stir indignation into resentment and stir the fear factor. No matter how ridiculous the notion that Mexican troops could invade Texas, New Mexico or Arizona, the very suggestion of an alliance through which three huge American states might be ceded to Mexico, placed Germany in a particularly bad light. Zimmermann admitted he was the author, but the clandestine nature by which the British secret service ensured that the information was passed to Washington, and the extent to which the Americans covered all traces of British involvement, leaves questions hanging in the air. Did Zimmermann have a cerebral meltdown? Was he secretly trying to prepare for any eventuality? No matter, it was not the cause of war.

Greater weight may be placed on the general insistence that unrestricted submarine warfare brought about Wilson’s fateful decision. Historians have thrown a vast array of statistics into the equation to prove the importance of this single factor. In the first month of the unrestricted warfare at sea 781,500 tons of merchant shipping was lost.[21] While it is true that after Woodrow Wilson’s warning in February, ten American freighters, schooners or tankers were sunk, nine by submarines and one by a mine (laid originally by the Royal Navy), loss of American lives totalled 24 seamen. In total, 38,534 gross U.S. tonnage was sunk. [22] Was this sufficient to be a cause of war? The pro-war newspapers gave vent to their outrage when it was reported that three American ships, Vigilancia, City of Memphis and Illinois had been sunk on 18 March. The New York World screamed that ‘without a declaration of war, Germany is making war on America.’ The New York Tribune claimed that Germany was acting on the theory that already war existed; The Philadelphia Public Ledger demanded that Wilson’s administration take immediate action insisting was its duty to respond, while the St Louis Republic was confident that the President and his advisors would act with wisdom. [23]

What wisdom? Certainly a very small number of American lives had been lost at sea. Unarguably the Zimmermann telegram was a piece of effrontery … but was it sufficient reason to put the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Americans at risk? Or were there darker influences?

1. Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Presidential Proclamation 1364
2. H C Peterson, Propaganda for War, pp. 321-2.
3. American Press Resume (A.P.R.) issued by the War Office and Foreign Office. “For Use of the Cabinet”, 18 April, 1917.
4. A.P.R. 30 May, 1917.
5. Peterson, Propaganda for War, p. 325.
6. A.P.R. 6 June, 1917.
7. Peterson, Propaganda for War, p. 324. footnote.
8. 65th Congress, Session 1, CH. 15 1917. H.R. 3545.
9. Patrick Beesly, Room 40, pp. 207-8.
11. Rodney Carlisle, The Attacks on US Shipping that Precipitated American Entry into World War 1.
12. Telegram to SS Carvalho, 2 March 1917.
13. New York Times 11 December 1918.
14. Peterson, Propaganda, p. 314.
15. Bailey, A Diplomatic History, p. 643, note 28.
16. Beesly, Room 40, p. 223.
17. Charles Seymour, American Diplomacy During the World War, p. 210.
18. Paul Birdsall, Neutrality and Economic Pressures 1914-1917, Science and Society vol. 3, No. 2. (Spring 1939) p. 217.
19. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People, p. 641.
20. Millis, Road to War, p. 400.
21. Peterson, Propaganda, p. 318.
22. Carlisle, Attacks on American Shipping that Precipitated the War , The Northern Mariner, XVII, no. 3, p. 61.
23. New York Times, 19 March 1917.

America 1917: 2. Promises Given, Promises Broken.

Wilson peace button

The 1916 election proved to be very close indeed. What matters in an American Presidential election is the Electoral College vote of which, in 1912, there were 530, so the winner had to reach a minimum of 266.

When the first returns from the Eastern States were announced, Republican Charles Hughes appeared to have won by a landslide. By seven o’clock on 7 November it was certain that Wilson had lost New York and the other populous Northeastern States with their heavy votes in the Electoral College followed in swift succession; New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin and Delaware went Republican. It was a rout.[1] Apparently.

Election extras were quickly on the streets bearing huge portraits of ‘The President Elect, Charles Evans Hughes’. As night fell on Washington, strange forces spread across the United States. President Wilson’s private secretary, Joseph Tumulty was instructed not to concede. He was reported to have received a mysterious, anonymous telephone message warning him ‘in no way or by the slightest sign give up the fight.’ [2] Remarkably the American historian and New York Herald Tribune journalist, Walter Millis wrote ‘Who it was he never knew; perhaps it was a miracle.’ Absurd. Ridiculous. Preposterous. Must we always be taken as fools? How many anonymous callers have the telephone number of the President’s private secretary or could order him not to concede the election? Malpractice was afoot.

Hughes 1916 victory

In London, The Times pronounced, ’Mr Hughes Elected’ in a Republican landslide. Its sober conclusion was that Mr Wilson has been defeated not by, but in spite of his neutrality. [3] The Kolnische Volkrientung cheered that ‘German-Americans have defeated Wilson’, while in Vienna, the Neue Freie Presse claimed that Hughes had been elected to bring an end to an era where ‘the Steel Trust and the Bethlehem works may still make further profits and that the price of munitions shares may be whipped up still further while Morgan further extends his financial kingdom.’ [4] The inference was that the people had turned against the military – industrial profiteers. But they were all running ahead of themselves.

At daybreak on 8 November, while the New York Times conceded Wilson’s defeat, Tumulty remained unmoved. He was quietly informed that the rot had been stopped at Ohio by a margin of 60,000 votes. Colonel House ordered the Democratic Headquarters to put every county chairman in every doubtful state across America on high alert. They were urged to exercise their ‘utmost vigilance’ on every ballot box.[5] How odd that such instructions should be issued on the day following the election. What did House know that others did not? Projections of a Hughes’ victory shrank from certainty to doubt until the entire election result hung on the outcome from California. Secret Service agents and US Marshals were drafted into the largest Californian counties to guard ballot boxes and supervise proceedings. California, with 13 Electoral College votes in 1916, was pivotal to determining the winner. On 8 November, the Electoral vote stood at 264 to Wilson and 254 to Hughes.

mimiapolis election 1916

Before the mystical, middle-of-the-night change of fortune, the Democrats had conceded California to the Republican challenger, but they declared their decision premature. After a two day recount, Wilson was declared winner by a mere 3,420 out of a total of 990,250 Californian votes cast. Talk of election-fraud and vote-buying prompted the Republican party to file legal protests, [6] but nothing significant materialised. They were effectively too late. While scrutiny of the returns showed minor vote-tallying errors, and affected both sides, these appeared to be random. Nothing fraudulent could be proved.

An angry and suspicious Republican Party refused to concede the election. The final recount in California showed that Wilson had gained 46.65% of votes cast and Hughes 46.27%. The Republican candidate baulked at accusing his rival of fraud. His final statement acknowledged ‘in the absence of absolute proof of fraud, no such cry should be raised to becloud the title of the next President of the United States.’ [7] ‘Absolute proof’ set a very high level of certainty. In New Hampshire the lead changed hands during the canvassing of returns and Wilson won the State by a mere 56 Votes. [8]

Vested interests jumped to close down the Republican options. In London, The Times could not believe that ‘the patriotic and shrewd men who manage the electioneering affairs of the Republican Party will attempt to impugn that decision [Wilson’s claim to victory] without clear and conclusive evidence.’[9] Consider the pressure that was heaped upon Charles Hughes. War in Europe raged on. A newly elected government in the United States would have brought about a complete change in all of the key cabinet posts with consequent dislocation of existing ties. Imagine the confusion if a President Hughes had to appoint new ambassadors, new consuls, new State Department staff, new White House staff and so forth.

hughes and wilson

Woodrow Wilson (left) and Charles Hughes. We will never know who truly won the 1916 election

Colonel House told the President that ‘Germany almost to a man is wishing for your defeat and that France and England are almost to a man wishing for your success.’[10] They weren’t wishing for his success, they were dependant on it. In the end, Wilson won more popular votes overall, ( 9,129,606 – 8,538,221) and no clear evidence of malpractice could be found. On 22 November Charles Hughes accepted the election result as it stood. His acquiescence did not go unrewarded. Charles Evans Hughes became United States Secretary of State between 1921and 1925, a judge on the Court of International Justice between 1928 and 1930, and Chief Justice of the United States from 1930 to 1941. His son, Charles Evans Hughes junior, was appointed Solicitor General by Herbert Hoover.

Primed by his jubilant backers, Woodrow Wilson demonstrated an unexpectedly theatrical touch at the start of his second term in office. Not since George Washington had a president delivered his first formal presidential address to the Senate itself. Wilson did this on 22 January, 1917 in a barnstorming speech which created the impression of an enlightened, benevolent master-statesman to whom the world ought to listen. He called for ‘peace without victory’ because:

‘Victory would mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor’s terms imposed upon the vanquished. It would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last.’[11]


As rhetoric, this was stout stuff. As policy, it did not last for long. He claimed that his soaring vision for peace and the future was based on core American values unshackled by entangling alliances.[12] The shining centrepiece of his dazzling new utopia was to be a League of Nations which could enforce peace. The Senate sat mesmerised and many rose to salute him at the end of an impressive performance. Democrats waxed lyrical with claims that Wilson’s speech ‘was the greatest message of the century…the most momentous utterance that has a yet been made during this most extraordinary era…simply magnificent…the most wonderful document he has ever delivered.’[13] His Republican rivals were more circumspect in their appraisal, describing it as ‘presumptuous’ and ‘utterly impractical.’

American newspapers split opinion in predictable fashion. The New York World saluted his principles of liberty and justice; the Philadelphia Public Ledger declared that Wilson’s oration was inspired by lofty idealism and the Washington Post thought it constituted a shining ideal. The conservative New York Sun caustically remarked that having failed for four years to secure peace with Mexico, Wilson had no business lecturing the world on the terms for peace with Europe, while The New York Herald warned that ‘Mr Wilson’s suggestion would lead to the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon nations…propaganda for which ‘has been in evidence for a quarter of a century.’ [14]

In Europe reaction was naturally selfish. The British government refused to countenance his proposal first and foremost because he had added a passage on freedom of the seas which challenged their divine right to dominate the oceans. Having shed rivers of blood on the fields of Flanders and beyond, the Europeans were not attracted to ‘peace without victory’. The French novelist, Anatole France, a Nobel Prizewinner for literature, likened peace without victory to ‘bread without yeast…mushrooms without garlic…love without quarrels…camel without humps’. [15]

But Wilson strode that world stage for darker reasons. Who, one wonders, whispered in his ear that all of his visionary pronouncements could not deliver a place at the high table of international settlement at the end of the war if America was not a participant? He could not logically take part in the final resolution of the conflict unless the United States was a full partner in absolute victory. Peace without victory was an empty promise, a misdirection to the jury of hope.

wilson war congress

On 4 March 1917, President Woodrow Wilson gave his second inaugural address to Congress and proclaimed that America stood ‘firm in armed neutrality’ but warned that ‘we may even be drawn on by circumstances…to a more active assertion of our rights’.[16 ] Twenty-nine days later, on 2 April, he again addressed a joint Session of Congress. This time his purpose was to seek their approval for war with Germany. In a lofty speech he revisited the same moral high ground with which the Secret Elite and their agents in Britain had previously gone to war. With claims about saving civilisation, it might have been penned by Sir Edward Grey:

‘It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilisation itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts-for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.’ [17]

America was encouraged to war in order to fight for democracy. The phrase has a familiar ring. What had caused this violent swing from peace to war in barely four months?

1. Cuddy, Irish Americans and the 1916 Election, American Quarterly vol. 21, no 2, Part 1 p. 235.
2. Walter Millis, Road to War, America 1914-17, p. 352.
3. The Times, 8 Nov. 1916, p. 9.
4. The Times, 18 Nov. 1916. p. 7.
5. Millis, Road to War, America 1914-17, p. 353.
6. Foley, Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States, p. 202.
7. New York Times, 11 November 1916.
8. Foley, Ballot Battles: p. 431.
9. The Times, 13 November, 1916, p. 9.
10. H. C. Peterson, Propaganda for War, p. 281.
11. Woodrow Wilson: Address to the Senate of the United States; World League for Peace, 22 January, 1917.
12. Ibid.
13. New York Times, 23 January, 1917, Scenes in the Senate .
14. New York Times, 23 January, 1917. Wilson’s Senate Speech – Press comments
15. Alfred Carter Jefferson, Anatole France: The Politics of Skepticism, p. 195.
17. Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Address to a Joint Session of Congress Requesting a Declaration of War against Germany, 2 April, 1917.

America 1917: 1 He Kept Us Out Of War.

william jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan U.S. Secretary of State

One of the great myths of the First World War is that the United States was not directly involved until April 1917, at which point a coalition of circumstances demanded her formal involvement. Such a convenient interpretation has covered the lie of American neutrality virtually from the day that war was declared by Britain. If neutrality included the vast production of munitions for one side, the enormous loans and credits provided for that same side, the active propaganda which was pumped out, if not exclusively for one side, certainly heavily weighted towards that one side, the provision of vital food supplies and every avenue through which the Allies were aided in their war, then you might argue that America remained neutral. It remains an intrinsically false argument.

Yet the United States was not formally at war with Germany and Austria-Hungary for one overwhelming reason. The people did not want to be dragged into someone else’s conflict. There was no political consensus in favour of war. An active group of upper and upper-middle class businessmen advocated military preparedness but many public figures hated the prospect. Of these, President Wilson’s first Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, was the most outspoken and he had the honesty to resign as Wilson increasingly came under the influence of his minders, Edward Mandell House, and the Wall Street money-power. They supported Robert Lansing as Secretary Bryan’s replacement. A more outspoken opposition to American involvement came from German and Irish communities, but the bottom line was clear. The American people did not want to see American troops sacrificed in Europe. This was not their war.

How and why was America suckered into the conflict despite the overwhelming popular view against, demands examination. The first question to be asked focusses on the President himself.

Woodrow Wilson’s first term in office from 1912-1916, was predicated on an election victory subscribed to and underwritten by the ‘money-power’ in New York. [1] He campaigned under the banner of ‘New Freedom’ and opposition to big business and monopoly power,[2] yet like many presidents, before and after, his actions turned his promises to lies. However the daunting task of defeating the incumbent Republican President William Taft, who had steadfastly attacked the powerful business combinations in the United States, seemed beyond any realistic expectation.

Taft was popular. The Supreme Court’s legal actions against Standard Oil and the American Tobacco Company were decided in favour of his government. [3] In October 1911, Taft’s Justice Department brought a suit against U.S. Steel and demanded that over a hundred of its subsidiaries be granted corporate independence. They named and shamed prominent executives and financiers as defendants. Big business was thoroughly shaken. William Taft earned many powerful enemies. Clear favourite to win a second term in office in 1912, Taft’s chances of success were destroyed by a well-contrived split in the Republican party. Financed by J P Morgan’s associates, the former Republican, Theodore Roosevelt created a third force from thin air, the ‘Progressive’ Bull Moose Party and at the ballot box in November 1912, Wilson was elected President with 42 per cent of the vote; Roosevelt gained 27 percent and Taft could only muster 23 percent. The split Republican voted totalled 7.5 million while Wilson and the Democrats won with just 6.2 million. [4]

wilson 1916

1916 promised to offer better prospects for the Republican Party. The schism with Roosevelt and the Bull-Moose was closing fast. Wilson’s supposed neutrality was so transparently false that certain sectors of the American electorate were drawn to his opponent, the Republican, Charles E. Hughes, a former Supreme Court Judge. German-Americans and Irish-Americans had been particularly annoyed by what they believed was President Wilson’s partisan behaviour and were expected to vote Republican. These groups could not be ignored and came under sustained attack for what the President termed, ‘disloyalty.’ In his annual Message to Congress on 7 December 1915, Woodrow Wilson ranted against those born under foreign flags and welcomed ‘under our generous naturalisation laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life… who seek to make this proud country once more a hotbed of European passion.’[5]

He expressed contempt for those who held fast to their original national identities because they did not put American interests first. These he termed ‘hyphenated Americans’.[6] Wilson’s attitude towards German-Americans was harsh. They had watched from across the Atlantic as their former homeland was bounced into a debilitating war by a British Establishment, financed and supplied by America.

By 1916, there were important and influential groups of ‘hyphenated Americans’. As the table below shows, almost 11,000,000 Americans had comparatively recent German, Austrian or Hungarian ancestry. If the Irish community was added, the total approached 15,500,000.

Table 1. 1910 Census of the United States: Total population 91,972,266 [7]

Defined by place of birth, by persons, both of whose parents were immigrants from that country or one of the parents was foreign born;

German – American 8,282,618
Austria – Hungarian – American 2,701,786
Irish – American 4,504,360
English – Scottish – Welsh – American 3,231,052
Russian – Finnish – American 2,752,675
Italian – American 2,098,360
Note: The U.S. Census of 1910 did not take into account renumbers of foreign-born grandparents or the huge numbers of immigrants from Europe who had settled in America over the previous two and a half centuries.

hyphenated Americans

Puck Cartoon. Wilson asks why the immigrant wants a full vote when claiming to be only half American.

Social tensions diluted Democratic support amongst the American – Irish community. Though many Catholics were not Irish, and not all Irish were Catholic, there was a strong affinity between race and religion on the eastern seaboard states of America. In the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, Wilson made himself even more unpopular by refusing to endorse an appeal for clemency for Roger Casement.[8] The President’s support for the anti-clerical President Carranza in Mexico gave rise to the claim that Wilson was anti-Catholic.[9] The New York weekly newspaper, The Irish World, accused his Administration of ‘having done everything for England that an English Viceroy might do.’[10] Quite a calculated insult by any standard. In truth racism and bigotry lay centimetres from the surface of many American voters.

Little was said of another nascent power-block which was beginning to find its political feet; the hyphenated Jewish-American. The spread of Zionism in America brought with it a fresh wind of political influence.Though still in comparative infancy by election day 1916, certain pro-Zionist Jewish-Americans like Wilson’s newly appointed Supreme Court Judge, Louis Brandeis, were held in high esteem inside the Jewish community. Though Brandeis, and by default, Wilson who appointed him, were initially lambasted in the press.[11] It appeared to have little direct effect in November 1916. That would later change.[12]

1916 He Kept Us

Woodrow Wilson had one important advantage, the economy. At the outbreak of war in Europe, America was wallowing in a depression more serious than that of 1907-8, but the war trade brought phenomenal prosperity. [13] The very Trusts which Wilson had spoken against were profiteering on a scale hitherto unknown. Thanks to the massive order book from Britain and France, managed exclusively by the JP Morgan- Rothschild banks, the military-industrial complex thrived, as did the communities around them. There were more and better-paid jobs. On 21 August 1915 Secretary to the ( US) Treasury, McAdoo told President Wilson (his father-in-law,) that ‘Great prosperity is coming. It is, in large measure, already here. It will be tremendously increased if we can extend reasonable credits to our customers’. [14] The customers on whom he was focussed were Britain and France. Wilson’s America forged an economic solidarity with the Allies which made nonsense of neutrality, yet the tacit promise from the Democrats to the American nation in the 1916 election was that ‘He Kept Us out of War’. That was true, as far as it went. The inference was that Woodrow Wilson would continue to keep America out of the war, but the President never claimed that he would continue this policy. Indeed it would have been political suicide to whisper a call to arms. It would also have shortened the war.

1. Anthony Sutton, Federal Reserve Conspiracy, pp. 82-3.
2. Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, p. 76.
3. Paolo Enrico Coletta, The Presidency of William Howard Taft. pp. 154–157.
5. Albert Shaw, President Wilson’s State Papers and Addresses, p. 150.
6. Hans P. Vought, The Bully Pulpit and the Melting Pot, American Presidents and the Immigrant, 1897-1933, p. 96.
7. Thomas A Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People, p. 611.
8. Roger Casement was at that time a hero of the Irish Republican movement because of his support for and involvement in, the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916.]
9. Edward Cuddy, Irish Americans and the 1916 Election, American Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 2, Part 1, Summer 1969, pp. 229-231.
10. Irish World, 24 June, 1916.
11. For example, the New York Times urged the U S Senate to throw out Brandeis’s nomination New York Times, 29 January 1916. p. 3
12. See chapter 28 in forthcoming book, Prolonging The War.
13. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People, p. 622.
14. Paul Birdsall, Neutrality and Economic Pressures, Science and Society, Vol. 3, no. 2, (Spring 1939) p. 221.

First World War Hidden History Blogs – an update

We appreciate the number of blog readers and followers who have continued to support our drive to demonstrate clearly how the  First World War was justified, prolonged and deliberately aimed at the destruction of Germany and her allies. Over the past nine months we have been focussed on completing the second book spanning the years 1914-1919. It will be entitled, Prolonging The Agony and published by Trineday in the United States in the autumn / fall. As soon as the production work is completed we intend to post directions from the blog to the publishers so that you can get hold of a copy should you want to read the entire narrative and have it was a historical record. The revelations contained within its covers unmasks many of the myths of ‘The Great War for Civilisation’. It is a history that the establishment does not want to acknowledge, yet year on year, has been forced to concede, as the evidence of their collusion and lies grows ever more obvious.

The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley

Over the next two years we intend to examine the period from late 1916-1919 in a series of blogs which will be unrepentantly contentious. As the First World War was deliberately prolonged, so the opportunities for racketeers and armaments suppliers, millionaire bankers and financiers and political opportunists, expanded exponentially and the Secret Elite, whom we have regularly  exposed, began to extend into the trans-Atlantic, Anglo-American establishment, first documented by Professor Carroll Quigley. [1]

In July 1917, the great war poet, Siegfried Sassoon, [2] wrote a letter to his regimental masters in his capacity as a Second Lieutenant of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. It was read aloud in the House of Commons on 30 July by his friend and Member of Parliament for Northampton,  Lees-Smith, and might well have resulted in a court martial and Sassoon’s execution. It read:

‘Lt. Siegfried Sassoon.
3rd Batt: Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
July, 1917.

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.’ [3]

Siegfried Sassoon in military uniform. His bravery at the front won him the Military Cross

Ponder the key words here. Sassoon wrote his outcry in wilful defiance of military authority because he believed as a fighting soldier, that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who could have ended it. He no longer considered it a war of defence and liberation but of aggression and conquest. Had the reasons for war been clearly set at the start, the end would already have been attainable by negotiation ( the peace that Britain and France refused to entertain). He could no longer be involved with prolonging these sufferings at the Front for objectives which he described as evil and unjust. He castigated the politicians for their lies for which the fighting men are being sacrificed. He blamed deception and callous complacency with which those at home accepted the agonies which continued in the trenches. This is the very vocabulary which we have used repeatedly to try to come to grips with the horrendous fact that young men across Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia and, by 1917, America were being sacrificed. Sassoon’s very words; being sacrificed. Slaughtered, abandoned, surrendered to a faceless evil. It was  young men across the world who were betrayed … for the aims of a Secret Elite who sought to control a one world power for themselves. These words sit at the core of our thesis that the First World War was deliberately prolonged.  What Sassoon could not point out were the names of the elite cabal involved in this monstrous charade.

Our future blogs will prove beyond argument that this evil was deliberately prolonged just as Sassoon stated. When The Times reported that the letter had been read aloud in Parliament [4] the ruling powers had already taken steps to nullify his brave outburst. For Siegfried Sassoon was a very brave soldier who had won the Military Cross for his actions on the Western Front and had received several commendations for his leadership and decisiveness. This was not a man who could be thrown into prison or executed as a traitor. No. The official conclusion, which the War Office had prepared in advance, was that Sassoon was not responsible for his actions because he was suffering from a nervous breakdown. They decided that there ‘must be something wrong with an extremely gallant officer’ and had him sent to a special hospital for shell-shocked officers at Craiglockhart in Edinburgh. It was by far the easiest solution for Lloyd George’s government to avoid of the wrong kind of publicity. [5]

Between 1917 and 1919 momentous changes were brought about because of the prolonged war which impacted severely on the future direction of a fast-changing world. These events did not ‘just’ happen. Each on its own has grown into further and future power struggles, with consequent misery and disaster.

In 1917 two immensely significant events helped destroy the old world order. In Russia, the once-mighty Czar and his royal family were forced to abdicate before being summarily shot by the rising force of bolshevism. What ensued involved hidden forces from the American banking dynasties, the money-power, which bled Russia of her wealth before abandoning her to the misery of Lenin’s secret police. We will demonstrate how Lord Alfred Milner and his Secret Elite colleagues were intimately involved in the downfall of the Romanov dynasty.

A second momentous event was not awarded  its proper significance at the time. In 1917, the British government sent a letter to Walter Rothschild and the Zionist Federation of Great Britain intimating that it sympathised with, and approved, the idea of a future Jewish homeland in Palestine. Though a range of conditions and understandings concerning the rights of the native arabs were also inferred, the Balfour Declaration, as the letter became known, was to have far-reaching consequences. It was not as it has been politely portrayed by sympathetic historians. As events became manipulated by the nascent Zionists, this action also prolonged the war, and, unknown to the general public, had deep rooted links in America.

By 1918, as the relentless stalemate appeared to have no foreseeable end, Germany was driven to seek an armistice. But the war was not over. Far from it. Had the Germans not been completely deceived by the lofty pronouncements from President Wilson and his mythical Fourteen Points, they would never have surrendered. Yet, because historians and politicians have distorted the true facts, we have long believed that the First World War ended in 1918. It did not. From 1918-1919 war against Germany and her allies continued to be waged through the cruel strangulation of a total food blockade to deliberately crush the German people. Her women and children, her starving troops returning from the front line, and her old and disabled became the victims of a merciless allied revenge. Starvation became the weapon of attrition until the crippling and false Treaty of Versailles was signed in mid-1919; until the Anglo-American establishment was satisfied that Germany had been crushed.

If these statements of intent cause you a deep intake of breath, bear with us. All of these great issues deserve close analysis. We start with the convenience of America’s entry to the fray after an election which championed the President who had previously kept the United States out of the war, Woodrow Wilson. Let the story unfold.

[1] The Anglo-American Establishment written by Professor Carroll Quigley is the seminal work on the elite cabal in England which developed after 1919 into a much more powerful trans-Atlantic power-group.

[2] For a brief but informative piece on Sassoon’s life and works see

[3] The letter can be read in full at;

[4] The Times, 31 July 1917, p. 6.

[5] Ibid., p. 8.




A Pause to Prepare and Finalise Book Two in the Hidden History Series

We have decided to pause our current series of blogs which takes our Hidden History of the First World War up to the end of 1916 to find the requisite time for the publication of book 2. This second publication will cover all of the major topics included so far in these posts.

In addition we will consider the fabrications, lies and deliberate obfuscations which still surround key elements of that terrible conflict as it spiralled like a whirlwind across the world before the shocking, inhumane tactics which obligated Germany to accept the Treaty of Versailles. Our research will be focused on contentious issues including:

  • American financial and business dealings which expanded through the Allied access to Federal Reserve funds
  • The Balfour Declaration and the dealings behind the scenes which clearly demonstrate the reasons why this misnamed letter of intent became a matter of international contention. Who benefitted within the context of the First World War?
  • The entrance of the United States into a global conflict in which so many millionaires had been created, and from which they could continue to thrive. Who changed President Wilson’s mind?
  • The Russian Revolution and the American involvement in 1916-17.
  • The Armistice and the horrors which followed in the Allied drive to crush the German people.
  • The Secret Elite and the Treaty of Versailles.

We are grateful to our many thousands of readers, to those who have sent welcome and valuable comments and additional insight, and those who have re-blogged our posts. Please keep our link open so that we can post you direct information when book 2 is ready for publication and our blogs can restart.

Remember always that we are lied to by governments and truth is constantly abused by pliant historians. We continue to find that evidence has been torn from official documents [1] , that correspondence is missing or cannot be found, and that unaccountable omissions in original accounts and diaries are glossed over or explained by laughable excuses.

Once again, thanks for your support

Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor

[1] Barely a fortnight ago while researching Foreign Office documents at the National Archives ini London (FO 899, Cabinet Memoranda 1905-18 volume IV.) we discovered that page 685, which followed a confidential memo on the work of the Committee for Relief in Belgium and German guarantees, had been blatantly ripped from the bound documentation. What secrets once lay within? Most likely we will never know. Whatever it was, the Establishment did not want it recorded.

The Great Coup of 1916: 7 The End Of Democracy

10 Downing Street before the war. The car probably belonged to A J BalfourLloyd George immediately accepted the King’s invitation to form a government on 7 December 1916. His own version of events dripped insincerity, giving the impression that the onerous task of leading the government was thrust upon him suddenly, as if by magic. ‘As soon as the King entrusted me with the task of forming an Administration in succession to the Ministry that had disappeared, I had to survey the tasks awaiting me …’ [1] What arrant nonsense. ‘The ministry that had disappeared.’ This was not a Harry Potter. Perhaps he was thinking more in terms of a mafia ‘disappearance’. He would have been at home with the Mafiosa.

One of Lloyd George’s first moves was to summon Maurice Hankey to the War Office to ‘have a long talk about the personnel of the new Govt., the procedure of the select War Ctee., and the future of the war.’ [2] He asked Hankey to write a memo giving his view on the state of the war and as early as 9 December, Hankey spent the whole day with the new War Cabinet. [3] How more central could he have been to all of the discussions which finally approved Lloyd George’s decisions? [4] Unlike many of his contemporaries, Maurice Hankey was not surprised to find that Milner had been appointed directly to the inner-sanctum of Britain’s war planning. Unelected, unknown to many ordinary men and women, Lord Milner appeared as if out of the ether to take his place among the political elite charged with managing the war to ultimate victory. [5] Lloyd George claimed, laughably, that ‘I neither sought nor desired the Premiership’ and explained Milner’s inclusion as representing the ‘Tory intelligentsia and Die-Hards.’ [6] What lies. Lloyd George had always exuded unbridled ambition and had been plotting the coup against Asquith with Milner’s cabal for months. [7] His premiership was conditional on their support. Lord Milner was to have a place by his side.

The myth of Lloyd George’s ‘lightening rapidity’ in assembling around him ‘all that is best in British Life’ was coined by Lord Northcliffe in an article printed by the international press on 10 December. [8] Northcliffe had been highly influential in supporting Lloyd George, largely, but not exclusively through his editor at the Times, Geoffrey Dawson.

Northcliffe - his editors were instructed to hound Asquith out of office.

Although he thought nothing of telephoning the new prime minister in person, [9] the owner of the Times could not stop other influences obligating Lloyd George to retain what Northcliffe called ‘has-beens’ in cabinet posts. [10] His Daily Mail and Evening News called for the removal of Arthur Balfour and his cousin, Lord Robert Cecil to no avail. Did Northcliffe not know that both men were deeply entrenched inside the Secret Elite?

Let there be no doubt, the coup was devised and executed by members and agents of the Secret Elite. Once Asquith had been replaced, they permeated the new administration with Milner’s acolytes and associates from top to bottom, and on all sides as well. [11] Let Lloyd George be the figurehead, but the Monday Night Cabal and their Secret Elite supporters were absolutely determined to place themselves and their trusted allies in all of the major offices of state. Furthermore, Lloyd George was subtly but securely scrutinised at every turn. He would not be given free rein. Thus their chosen men were placed in key positions, with a smattering of useful Conservative and Labour MPs given office in order to guarantee that the government could survive any parliamentary vote. On his return to London on 10 December, Hankey ‘had to see Lord Milner by appointment’. He noted in his diary ‘I have always hated his [Lord Milner’s] politics but found the man very attractive and possessed of personality and [we] got own like a house on fire’. [12] Of course they did. Hankey would not have survived otherwise. He was well aware of Milner’s power and influence.

Optimised by Greg Smith

Another myth still widely accepted is that Lloyd George’s very special cabinet, which literally took control of every strand in the prosecution of the war, was assembled at break-neck speed by the Welsh genius. It had taken months of deliberation and consultation before appointments and tactics were finally agreed inside the closed ranks of the Monday Night Cabal. The final selection which bore Lloyd George’s alleged stamp reflected the Secret Elite’s approval of men in whom they had faith. The War Committee initially comprised prime minister Lloyd George, who had been in the Secret Elite’s pocket since 1910, [13] Viscount Alfred Milner, the most important influence inside that secret movement [14] George Curzon of All Souls and twice Viceroy of India, [15] Andrew Bonar Law, still the formal leader of the Tories and the Labour MP Arthur Henderson, an outspoken champion of the war effort. [16] This central core took charge. They held daily meetings to better manage the war. Sometimes two and three meetings took place in a single day. These five men alone were supposedly the supreme governors of the State. [17] But they were not in any sense, equals.

From the left, Lord Crewe, Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey. Crewe and Grey were dismissed ini 1916. Churchill was still sidelined by Lloyd George.

The old order of senior Liberal politicians was mercilessly purged. Out went Asquith despite his years of loyal service. Sir Edward Grey had forfeited his right to office when he began to consider possibilities of peace with the Americans. He was put out to pasture. Reginald McKenna, long a thorn in Lloyd George’s side was dismissed. Lord Crewe remained loyal to Asquith and was not considered. To his great disappointment, Winston Churchill was not deemed suitable.  He had many enemies in the Tory  party. One Liberal Party stalwart, Samuel Montagu, who took over at the Ministry of Munitions when Lloyd George moved to the War Office in July 1916, had to go in order to find room for other appointees, but his patience was to be rewarded some short months later when he was made Viceroy of India. [18] This is precisely how the Secret Elite adjusts its favours and looks after its own. It still does.

The Secret Elite stamped their authority over every important level of government. With Sir Edward Carson at the Admiralty and Arthur Balfour at the Foreign Office, Lord Derby became Secretary of State for War and Lord Robert Cecil continued in his position as Minister of Blockade. Home Secretary, Sir George Cave took office barely months after he and FE Smith had successfully prosecuted Sir Roger Casement and refused his right to appeal to the House of Lords. [19] Secret Elite agents, every one.

Milner ensured that his close friends were given positions of influence and authority. Take for example the meteoric rise of Rowland Prothero. He claimed to know only two men ‘prominent in public life’. [20] It transpired that these were Lords Milner and Curzon. In 1914 Prothero was first elected to parliament as one of Oxford University’s MPs. In late 1915 he served on a Committee on Home Production of Food with Alfred Milner. In 1916, Milner’s friend was given the cabinet post of President of the Board of Agriculture. [21] It took him a mere two and a half years to move from new recruit to cabinet minister. In addition, Arthur Lee, who had accommodated many of the secret meetings which foreshadowed the coup, was appointed Director-General of food production. Other known members and supporters of the Secret Elite who shamelessly benefitted from the coup included H.A.L. Fisher, President of the Board of Education, [22] Walter Long as Colonial Secretary and Sir Henry Birchenough at the Board of Trade. [23] They were everywhere … and not just politicians.

Board of Trade offices from Parliament Square around 1900.

Lloyd George had risen to high office through the unseen patronage of the Secret Elite. His performance at the Board of Trade [24] guaranteed him the benevolent approbation of leading figures in shipping and ship-building. As Chancellor he laid claim to saving the City [25], took advice from Lord Rothschild, financiers and insurance brokers, linked the British economy to America through Morgan-Grenfell and met and socialised with the great mine-owners and manufacturers of the time. In December 1916 he revolutionised government control of production by bringing businessmen into political office. Unfortunately the appointment of interested parties to posts from which their companies could reap great profit was not a success.

Sir Joseph Maclay was appointed in charge of shipping. As a Scottish ship-owner and manager, Maclay had been critical of the government’s concessions to trade unions and he opposed the nationalization of shipping. The Admiralty treated Maclay with deep hostility, and opposed his idea of convoys after the onset of Germany’s unrestricted submarine offensive in February 1917. Maclay was proved right [26] though shipowners still reaped unconscionable fortunes.

Hudson Kearley 1st Lord Devonport

The new prime minister made Lord Devonport food controller. Chairman of the Port of London Authority (1909-25), he broke the dockers’ strike in 1912, causing great distress and hardship in East London. Imagining that his hard-man image equated to strength of character, Lloyd George appointed Minister of Food Control. [27] Not so. Devonport protected his own grocery interests and resisted the introduction of rationing until May 1917. 

Lord Rhondda, the Welsh coal magnate and industrialist was entrusted with the Local Government Board and his popularity grew when he was asked to take over the role of the incompetent Devonport as minister of food control. He grasped the nettle, by fixing food prices and ensuring government purchases of basic supplies. [28] Compared to the others, he was a shining light.

Westman Pearson, later Viscount Cowdrey, was placed in charge of the Air Board. Pearson had acquired oil concessions in Mexico through his questionable relationship with the Mexican dictator, Diaz. [29] His ownership of the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company (which became part of Royal Dutch Shell in 1919) guaranteed Pearson vast profits throughout the war.

Sir Alfred Mond, elevated by Lloyd George in 1916 to Commissioner of Works was the managing director of the Mond Nickel Company and a director of the International Nickel Company of Canada. Nickel hardens armour and special steels. Basically it is a strategic material which came to the fore in the so-called naval race prior to 1914. [30]

Alfred Mond (left) with Lloyd George.

The Mond companies made great profits during the prolonged war. In 1915 Britain sent twelve times the amount of nickel to Sweden that it had in 1913. [31] There, it was either manufactured into war materials and sold to Germany, or re-exported in its raw state. Incredibly, the Chairman of one of the Empire’s most important metal processing and exporting businesses, which was directly and indirectly supplying Germany, was created Commissioner of Works. Questionable deals were subsequently negotiated between the British government and the British-American Nickel Corporation which were strongly criticised in parliament [32] but Alfred Mond ended his career as Lord Melchett of Landforth. You couldn’t make this up.

In addition, Milner and his Secret Elite associates literally took over Lloyd George’s private office. As early as 10 December Hankey realised that he was not to be the only member of the new prime minister’s secretariat. At Milner’s request, Leo Amery, his loyal lieutenant in South Africa, was unaccountably placed on the staff of the War Cabinet, but not as joint Secretary. Hankey remained secure in Lloyd George’s trust in charge of the War Cabinet organisation. [33]

A curious new chapter in Downing Street’s history was created outside the prime minister’s residence. Literally. Temporary offices were constructed in the Downing Street garden to accommodate a select group of trusted administrators who monitored and directed all contact between Lloyd George and departments of government. [34] The man in charge throughout its existence was Professor W.G. S. Adams, an Oxford Professor and member of Milner’s entourage [35] who later became editor of War Cabinet Reports and Warden of All Souls in Oxford. [36] This appointment was swiftly followed by that of two former members of Milner’s famous Kindergarten; [37] Philip Kerr became Lloyd George’s private secretary and Lionel Curtis, another of Milner’s loyal acolytes, was also drafted into service. It did not stop there. Waldorf Astor and Lord Northcliffe’s younger brother, Cecil Harmsworth followed shortly afterwards.

John Buchan was drafted into Lloyd George's service at the insistence of Alfred Milner.

To complete the pack, Milner insisted that Lloyd George reconsider appointing John Buchan to his staff after Haig’s apologist had been turned down for a post. In a private letter which has survived because it comes from the Lloyd George archives, rather than Milner’s much culled and carefully shredded papers, he wrote:
‘My Dear Prime Minister, Don’t think me too insistent! I wish you would not turn down John Buchan, without seeing him yourself…. I am not satisfied to have him rejected on hear-say, & ill informed hear-say at that.’ [38]
Buchan was appointed to the prime minister’s staff as Director of Information. And historians would have us believe that these were Lloyd George’s appointments.

It was as if the Monday Night Cabal had kidnapped the prime minister. Just as Alfred Milner had captured, then captivated, the nascent talent of young imperialists from Oxford University at the turn of the century and taken them to South Africa to help him govern and renovate the post Boer-War Transvaal and Cape colonies, so now, the very same men ‘guided’ Lloyd George and filtered the information which flowed to Downing Street. They were not Lloyd Georg’s men … they were Lord Milner’s. He was in charge.

To the anguish of Asquith’s political allies, this new bureaucracy had metamorphosed into an undemocratic monster fashioned by Alfred Milner. They could see it and railed against it. What we need to know is, why has this wholesale coup d’etat been studiously ignored by mainstream historians? Why do they continually write about Lloyd George’s government and Lloyd George’s secretariat when his very position was bound and controlled by Milner and his Garden Suburb minders? The radical journalist, H W Massingham published a vitriolic attack on Milner’s organisation in early 1917:

‘… A new double screen of bureaucrats is interposed between the War Directorate and the heads of [government] Departments, whose responsibility to Parliament has hitherto been direct … The first is the Cabinet Secretariat … the second is a little body of illuminati, whose residence is in the Prime Minister’s garden …These gentlemen stand in no sense for a Civil Service Cabinet. They are rather a class of travelling empirics in Empire, who came in with Lord Milner … The governing ideas are not those of Mr. Lloyd George … but of Lord Milner … Mr George has used Toryism to destroy Liberal ideas; but he has created a Monster which, for the moment, dominates both. This is the New Bureaucracy which threatens to master England …’ [39]

It was indeed. This was the Secret Elite’s most successful coup so far, accomplished by the critical silence and complicity of a compliant press. Elected parliamentary government had been purged. The Secret Elite spurned democracy because they ordained that democracy did not work. Their dictatorship was masked by Lloyd George, happy to pose and strut as the man who would win the war. Perhaps you were taught that he did? It is a self-serving myth. He operated inside a political straitjacket and fronted an undemocratic government.

And the sacrifice of youth continued.  And the profits of war grew ever larger.

[1] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 620.
[2] Hankey, Diary 10 December 1916.
[3] War Cabinet 1, CAB 23/1/1 discussed the cost of loans from America which were running at $60 million per week. Messrs. Morgan, Grenfell and Co. continued as the conduit for all American payments. Hankey also recorded in these minutes that the Press had been informed that the War cabinet would meet every weekday.
[4] Lord Vansittart recorded that Hankey ‘progressively became secretary of everything that mattered. He grew into a repository of secrets, a chief Inspector of Mines of information.’ Robert Gilbert Vansittart, The Mist Procession, p. 164.
[5] While Lloyd George spends many pages expressing his opinion on most of his colleagues, he curiously omits a pen-picture on Lord Milner. Possibly the Censor removed it. Either way it is interesting to note how carefully Milner’s contribution to Lloyd George’s ascent to the premiership has been airbrushed.
[6] Lloyd George, Memoirs, p. 596.
[7] See blog, The Great Coup of 1916: 4 The Monday Night Cabal, 3 August 2016.
[8] The Times estimated that Lord Northcliffe’s lengthy article in praise of Lloyd George had been carried in one thousand American, Australian, Canadian, South African, French, Italian and other journals. [Times 11 December, 1916]
[9] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 329.
[10] The Times, 11 December 1916, p. 4.
[11] Gollin, Proconsul, p. 376.
[12] Ibid., p. 329.
[13] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, pp 164-5.
[14] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp. 6-9 and pp.140- 47.
[15] The place of All Souls college at Oxford as the centre of the Secret Elite intelligentsia in Britain was identified by Professor Quigley. See The Anglo-American Establishment pp. 20-26.
[16] In August 1914 Arthur Henderson had been outspoken in his objection to war, but he changed his position absolutely within weeks.
[17] Gollin, Proconsul, p. 391.
[18] E.S. Montagu was both a friend of Asquith’s and respected colleague of Lloyd George. To most observers his omission from Asquith’s cabinet in 1916 spelled the end of his political career. But this is not how the Secret Elite work. In stepping down temporarily, Montagu earned the right to be promoted to the prestigious position of Viceroy of India in 1917.
[19] Thomas S. Legg, Marie-Louise Legg, ‘Cave, George, Viscount Cave (1856–1928)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[20] Lord Ernle, Whippingham to Westminster, p. 248.
[21] Quigley, Anglo-American Establishment, p. 27.
[22] Ibid., p. 312.
[23] Ibid.
[24] President of the Board of Trade was Lloyd George’s first cabinet post in 1906. During his tenure there he became popular with the business class whose interests he often championed.
[25] Lloyd George, Memoirs, p. 61.
[26] Ibid., pp. 688-95.
[27] Richard Davenport-Hines, ‘Kearley, Hudson Ewbanke, first Viscount Devonport (1856–1934)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[28] John Williams, ‘Thomas, David Alfred, first Viscount Rhondda (1856–1918)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[29] Geoffrey Jones, Westman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdrey, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[30] Gordon H Boyce, Co-operative Structures in Global Business, pp. 84-5.
[31] Rear Admiral MWWC Consett, The Triumph of Unarmed Forces, p. 201.
[32] Hansard House of Commons Debate, 14 January 1918 vol. 101 cc5-6.
[33] Maurice Hankey, Supreme Command, vol. II, p. 590.
[34] John Turner, Lloyd George’s Secretariat, p.1.
[35] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 313.
[36] Ibid., pp. 91-93. All Souls College in Oxford has been closely associated with the Rhodes / Milner group so integral to the Secret Elite in England.
[37] The title Milner’s Kindergarten was given to the group of young Oxford University graduates whom Milner attracted to help him rebuild South Africa after the Boer War. They subsequently enjoyed stellar careers in journalism, politics, banking and finance every area of Secret Elite influence. Further reading – Walter Nimocks, Milner’s Young Men.
[38] Milner to Lloyd George 17 January 1917, in the Lloyd George Papers.
[39] H.W. Massingham, The Nation 24 February, 1917.

The Great Coup of 1916: 6 When Putsch Came To Shove

Lloyd George, at that point Minister of War, nailed his colours to Lord Milner’s flag from September 1916 onwards when, in the afterglow of the secret meetings held with representatives of the Monday Night Cabal, [1] he reaffirmed the Secret Elite’s policies for outright victory. First he gave a private interview to Roy Howard, President of the United Press of America and swept aside any talk of peace. His words were carried across the world. They were intended to warn that any step ‘by the United States, the Vatican, or any other neutral in the direction of peace would be construed by England as an unneutral, pro-German move.’ Here it was that he coined the promise that ‘the fight must be to a finish – to a knock out’. [2]

Their design to reorganise the governing of the war, for which Lloyd George was ever ready to claim credit, began to be voiced by him at the War Committee. Out of the blue, he proposed the creation of a ‘Shipping Dictator’ to control all aspects of the shipping and ship-building industries on 10 November. Hankey considered this ‘an undigested and stupid waste of precious time’. [3] Lo and behold, six weeks later ‘Lloyd George’s’ idea had been transformed into fact. He advocated a similar approach to address the problems with food supplies in a memo which promoted the central control of these vial commodities. What the others had yet to grasp was that the Minister of War had begun to expound the basic principles of a complete reconstruction of government and its functions, principles underpinned by Milner’s belief that success would only be achieved through organisation on a national scale. [4]

Next, Lloyd George ‘adopted’ the idea that the day to day conduct of the war should be placed in the hands of a select few in parliament who would concentrate on the focused leadership required for ultimate victory. According to Lloyd George’s Memoirs, this idea stemmed from a discussion he had with Maurice Hankey when they were in Paris for a ministerial conference on 15 November 1916.

The iconic Place Vendome Paris where Lloyd George claimed to have been advised by Maurice Hankey on a reconstituted approach to government.

The given story, a story faithfully regurgitated by other historians [5] has Hankey dramatically pausing alongside the Vendome Column before urging Lloyd George: ‘You ought to insist on a small War Committee being set up for the day-to-day conduct of the War, with full powers. It must be independent of the Cabinet. It must keep in touch with the P.M., but the Committee ought to be in continuous session, and the P.M. as Head of he Government, could not manage that… He is a bit tired too after all he has gone through in the last two and a half years.’ [6] Such a specific description of time and place, detailed and precise: unfortunately it was pure fiction. Lloyd George would have posterity believe that the strategy he unleashed on government originated from Asquith’s secretary, rather than the Monday Night Cabal and the secret dinners he had been holding with Alfred Milner, Edward Carson and Arthur Lee. [7] He could hardly admit the truth.

This is not how Hankey recorded matters. He wrote of a morning stroll in Paris with Lloyd George ‘who was full of schemes…’ [8] but made no specific reference to a new approach to government. Indeed the Welshman was full of schemes but, what is of particular interest is the pivotal role given to Maurice Hankey. We know from Professor Quigley’s work [9] that Hankey was in the inner-circle of Milner’s group inside the Secret Elite, though not the precise date of his inclusion. It later became evident that Lloyd George had talked about this inner-War Committee with others before he went to Paris and had asked the newspaper owner, Max Aitken, to discuss the concept with the Conservative Party leader, Bonar Law. [10] Given that revelation, why would Lloyd George try so hard to blame, or indeed credit Maurice Hankey for the suggestion? What was he covering up? His source of inspiration was, of course, Alfred Milner and the Monday Night Cabal.

Labour politician Arthur Henderson's commitment to victory and outright rejection of peace in 1916 earned him the approval of the Monday Night Cabal.

Six days later Lloyd George told Hankey that he had further developed his ideas on an inner War Committee and his initial choice of select colleagues was Sir Edward Carson, Andrew Bonar Law and Arthur Henderson ‘to conciliate Labour members’. [11] With whom had he most recently dined? Bonar Law, of course. Hankey recorded his approval of a small and effective inner War Committee, but not the personnel. [12] He didn’t particularly like Carson or Bonar Law. By December, the time to strike was at hand.

Lloyd George stabbed Asquith in a frontal attack of Shakespearian cruelty as surely as Brutus put an end to Julius Caesar. He presented Asquith with an ultimatum, threatening to resign unless a new, smaller War Committee was appointed with himself as Chairman and his political allies by his side. If he wished, Asquith would be allowed to continue to hold the post of Prime Minister without the means to lead the war effort. Lloyd George’s friends in the Monday Night Cabal also unsheathed their knives. Geoffrey Dawson at the Times praised the Minister for War in an editorial and, without a hint of embarrassment, added: ‘Mr Lloyd George, to the best of our knowledge, took his stand entirely alone so far as his colleagues in the Cabinet are concerned, a fact which refutes the tales of intrigue.’ [13] What awesome deception. It was a ridiculous lie. The editor of the Times had been involved in the cabal to remove Asquith since its conception. He played a central part in the intrigue. Every detail of the trial of strength between Asquith and Lloyd George for the possession of 10 Downing Street appeared in Northcliffe’s papers. Lloyd George protested that he was not the mole. No-one believed him then, and no-one should now. The coup was underway.

In the brinksmanship that followed, the key parliamentary conspirators, Lloyd George, Bonar Law and Sir Edward Carson resigned, removing Liberal, Conservative and Ulster Unionist support from Asquith. With an eye to posterity, Lloyd George ended his letter of resignation to the prime minister with the words: ‘Vigour and Vision are the supreme need at this hour’. [14] His conceit was unbounded. Lloyd George imagined that he was talking about himself.

King George V was not originally predisposed towards Lloyd George.

His coalition government torn apart, Asquith tendered his resignation to the King, possibly expecting that it would be declined. Bonar Law was summoned to Buckingham Palace but he rejected the King’s offer to form a new government. He was already party to the planned coup and knew where his future lay. Lloyd George did not have to be asked twice. He had been prepared for government. He had been discussing this moment for months, and he knew exactly who and what was required.

Lloyd George had let it be known that he was willing to take up the mantle of leadership in his secret discussions with the Monday Night Cabal. From his secret meeting with Alfred Milner and Geoffrey Dawson in September 1915, at which stage it was his open commitment to conscription which caught their attention, Lloyd George took every opportunity to strengthen his links with the conspiracy to replace the coalition government. One small but pertinent example of the extent to which these men tried to cover their traces can be gleaned from this particular meeting. ‘On 30 September, after a fair amount of scheming, a luncheon was arranged at Milner’s house, 17 Great College Street. Dawson had first proposed that Milner and Lloyd George should meet at his home, but when the Minister [Lloyd George] learned that Reginald McKenna [the Chancellor of the Exchequer] lived opposite, he refused to go there.’ [15] Clearly Lloyd George had no intention of being caught on the doorstep of the editor of the Times.

Despite all of this well documented intrigue, the official reason for Asquith’s resignation given on the current Library of the House of Commons website, is, incredibly, ‘Hostile Press’. [16] His government effectively destroyed from within, himself pushed from office by the secret intrigues of former political colleagues and opposition leaders who were backed by the awesome power of the Secret Elite, Asquith’s fall from the highest office of government remains covered by a lie. No other prime ministerial resignation, retiral or reason for leaving office is described this way. It is totally misleading and serves only to add obfuscation to an important incident in our so-called democratic history that is regularly glossed over by historians. How Lloyd George would have laughed. Of course the British Establishment will never admit that Asquith was the victim of a bloodless coup.

Sir Henry Wilson , friend and confidante of Alfred Milner was party to the plot to overthrow Asquith .

By 5 December 1916 Asquith’s coalition had been dissolved. That was followed by a purge of the old order of Liberal government dressed up as an administrative revolution. [17] There was no sense of military intervention in this putsch, but senior military commanders like Sir Henry Wilson rejoiced at the coup’s progress. ‘Asquith is out. Hurrah’ he wrote in his diary, ‘… I am confident myself that, if we manage things properly, we have Asquith dead.’ [18] He used the plural ‘we’ to indicate his inclusion in the Monday Night Cabal which had planned the overthrow of government. [19] At the very least there was military collusion with the inner-core of plotters.

In our next blog we will examine the astounding changes which took place inside the British government over the following week; changes so profound and far-reaching that, for once, we can witness the Secret Elite and their agents openly taking control.

[1] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, pp. 323- 364.
[2] The Times, 29 September 1916, p. 7.
[3] Hankey, Diary 10 November 1916.
[4] The Times 27 May 1915.
[5] Roy Hattersley, David Lloyd George, The Great Outsider, p. 402.
[6] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 574.
[7] fuller details are given in previous blog.
[8] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Volume I, 1877-1918, p. 319.
[9] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 313.
[10] Roy Jenkins, Asquith; portrait of a man and an era, p. 421.
[11] Roskill, Hankey, p. 320.
[12] Ibid.
[13] The Times, 4 December 1915, p. 9.
[14] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 592.
[15] Gollin, Proconsul, p. 295.
[16] Library of the House of Commons, Prime Ministers, SN/PC/4256. p. 5.
[17] John Turner, Cabinets, Committees and Secretariats: The Higher Direction of War, in Kathleen Burk, War and the State, p. 59.
[18] C E Caldwell and Marshal Foch, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson VI: His Life and Diaries, pp. 304-5.
[19] Terence H O’Brien, Milner, pp. 266-9.

The Great Coup of 1916: 5 The Sacrilege Of Peace

As the Monday Night Cabal and Milner’s wider circle of friends and associates continued their manoeuvres through much of 1916, the issue which above all others fired their fears, was talk of peace. To the Secret Elite who had invested in the war, who had funded the war and who facilitated the war, this was a pivotal moment. Their aims and objectives were nowhere in sight. Indeed, cessation of the war would a greater disaster than the huge loss of life if it continued.

Somme injured being carried to a casualty station.

The bloodletting across the western front was suitably reducing the masses who might be induced to rise against the middle-class plutocracies, but even in 1916 there was still a sense of denial about the human cost in the purified air of the upper echelons. In early February, Sir Edward Grey told President Wilson’s emissary from America, Colonel House, that Britain had not been seriously hurt by the war, ‘since but few of her men had been killed and her territory had not been invaded.’ [1] Whether this was a stupid lie or callous disregard for the tragedies suffered in every part of the land we will never know, but in that same month (February, 1916) the Times carried column after column of the lost legions of dead and missing every day. [2]

The cost of peace did not bear contemplation. Think of the massive and unprecedented loans that could only be repaid if there were spoils of victory to plunder. Think of the manufacturers whose investments in new plant, new infrastructure and expanded capacity was predicated upon a long war. There were billions of pounds and dollars to be made from extortionate prices, but that only followed a period of sustained and costly investment. The profiteers had initially bought into procuring the loans and providing the munitions because they had been promised a long war. Such are the prerequisites of greed

Nor would a negotiated peace safeguard the future of the Empire. Indeed it would have had the opposite effect. If Great Britain and the Empire and all of the Allies could not defeat the German/Austro-Hungarian/Ottoman powers, then the message would reverberate across the world that the old order had passed.

Austrialian casualties recovering in Cairo after Gallipoli.

Given the massive loss of life already inflicted on the troops from Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, the outcry against a feeble Mother country that had given up the struggle would grow to a clamour. Any notion of a commonwealth of nations would dissolve in cynical spasms of derision. [3] And a negotiated peace would leave Germany free to continue her plans of expansion into the Near and Far East. The real reasons for war, the elimination go Germany as a rival on the world stage, would not be addressed at all. Peace would be a calamity for the Elite under such circumstances. To talk of it was sacrilege.

The flying of ‘Peace Kites’, as Maurice Hankey described Colonel Houses’s approaches, brought one benefit for Milner’s intriguers. Those members of Asquith’s coalition who were attracted to a negotiated peace exposed their lack of commitment to the ultimate goal. Reginald McKenna, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, felt that Britain would gain a ‘better peace now [January 1916] than later, when Germany is wholly on the defensive.’ [4] The Secret Elite were watching and listening. Literally.

As Asquith’s personal confidante and permanent secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence,[5] Maurice Hankey was privy to many confidences but even he was surprised to learn that the Director of Naval Intelligence, Captain Blinker Hall, [6] had in his possession American diplomatic codes and was monitoring the telegrams sent from Colonel House to President Wilson. What the Americans claimed was that they would broker ‘a reasonable peace’ [7] and call a conference. If Germany refused to attend, the USA would probably enter the war on the side of the Allies. [8] Note that the promise was definitely not absolute.

House 1916 sailing to Europe

In late January, Hankey went to Hall at the Admiralty on another pretext [9] and discovered to his horror that Colonel House’s visit was a ‘peace stunt’. 1916 was, after all, an election year, and President Wilson had to appear to be a serious peace-broker. It was a sham. Worse still, Sir Edward Grey had given the Americans an assurance that he would trade Britain’s blockade, euphemistically called the ‘freedom of the seas’, against an end to German militarism. Hall claimed that this priceless secret information had not been shared with Arthur Balfour, First Lord of the Admiralty, which begs the question, with whom was it shared? The Foreign Secretary had made promises behind the backs of his cabinet colleagues, and we are expected to believe that Captain Hall told no-one? Grey was clearly mentally exhausted. Fearful that he might miss an opportunity to ‘get a decent peace’, if the war ‘went wrong’ Sir Edward Grey brought the American proposals before the War Committee in March 1916. They ignored it. When the Americans again pressed for a decision on the President’s offer to intervene in May 1916, the Cabinet was split. Asquith, Grey, McKenna and Balfour were apparently in favour; Lloyd George and the conservative leader Bonar Law, were against.

Alarm bells sounded. The Army Council, a body whose admiration for Alfred Milner could hardly have been stronger, threatened to resign if the War Council insisted on discussing ‘the peace question’, [10] but the threat had not passed.

Asquith was prepared to accept that ‘the time has come where it was very desirable’ to formulate clear ideas on proposals for peace and at the end of August suggested that individual members of his cabinet put their ideas on paper for circulation and discussion.[11] In September E. S. Montagu, then Minister for Munitions, advised that it was not safe to ignore the possibility of a sudden peace since no-one was more likely to ‘get out’ when the fight was up, than the Germans. [12] He also asked what an unqualified victory might mean. The General Staff brought forward their own Memorandum [13] which erroneously claimed that the French Prime Minister, Briand, would likely have ‘very decided views worked out, under his direction, by very clever people who swerve him and who do not appear on the surface of political life.’ They also offered their opinion on how an armistice might be managed to Britain’s advantage.

Hoover was not an altruistic philanthropist. He was a profiteering racketeer.

Foreign Office papers which were shared with the Cabinet in October 1916, showed that Germany was prepared to offer peace to Belgium irrespective of Britain’s position. Herbert Hoover who was running the scandalous Belgian Relief programme, [14] warned the Foreign Office that the German government intended to negotiate with the Belgian government in exile. He alleged that the Germans would evacuate the country, guarantee complete economic and political liberty and pay an indemnity for reconstruction purposes. Furthermore, in order to end the conflict with France, they were prepared to cede the whole of the province of Lorraine under the condition that the French would promise to supply five million tons of iron ore each year to Germany. Their ‘terms’ also included independence for Poland and an unspecified ‘arrangement’ in the Balkans. [15]

(A knowledgeable observer will have noted that in combining the Belgian Relief agency with the supplies of iron and steel from Briey and Longwy, two of the biggest scandals of the First World War were rolled together as a lure to peace.) [16] Hoover had no truck with such suggestions. When he next went to Brussels, the German-American member of the Belgian Comite Nationale, Danny Heinemann, approached him to try to find out what the British terms for peace might be. Hoover claimed that ‘he was not in the peace business’. He most certainly was not. He was in the business of profiteering from war. [17]

Though a conservative, Lord Lansdowne thought that the time to consider what was meant by 'peace'.

The more circumspect Lord Lansdowne, a member of Asquith’s coalition cabinet as Minister without Portfolio, asked a telling question on 13 November, 1916: ‘… what is our chance of winning [the war] in such a manner, and within such limits of time, as will enable us to beat our enemy to the ground and impose upon him the kind of terms we so freely discuss?’ [We might well read this as a ‘get-real’ moment, but when he continued by regretting that the Allied cause remained ‘partly vindictive and partly selfish’ to the extent that any attempt to get out of the impasse of a stalemate was viewed in negative terms, Lansdowne’s immediate future in politics was decidedly limited. [18]

Kitchener’s timely and suspicious death in June 1916 brought to an end any chance of his interference in what he looked forward to as a just peace, [19] but for the Secret Elite, their immediate problem focussed on politicians who clearly lacked the commitment to crush Germany. Asquith had run his course. His prevarications and capacity to ‘wait and see’ had no place at a time when the Secret Elite needed decisive firmness to see it through. Although Asquith went to considerable lengths in Parliament in October 1916 to shun any notion of a settlement, it was too late. His pain was heartfelt [20] when he declared:

‘The strain which the War imposes on ourselves and our Allies, the hardships which we freely admit it involves on some of those who are not directly concerned in the struggle, the upheaval of trade, the devastation of territory, the loss of irreplaceable lives—this long and sombre procession of cruelty and suffering, lighted up as it is by deathless examples of heroism and chivalry, cannot be allowed to end in some patched-up, precarious, dishonouring compromise, masquerading under the name of Peace.’ [21]

Less than two months later the men who had even considered defining peace had gone from government: Asquith, Grey, Lansdowne, Montagu and McKenna were disposed of. They had committed sacrilege. Their unforgivable sin was the contemplation of peace. There would be no peace.

[1] Edward Mandell House and Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, 1915-1917, p.175.
[2] By this time there were daily examples of the horrendous waste of life on the Western Front. one example amongst hundreds can be found in The Times 1 February, 1916, p.10.
[3] Alfred Milner and his associates in the Round Table group in Britain had from 1905 onwards worked tirelessly to promote the Empire and indeed prepare the Empire of r ‘the coming war’. See Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the first World War, pp. 153-160.
[4] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Volume 1, 1877-1918, p. 245.
[5] This secretive committee was originally formed in 1902 to advise the prime minister on matters of military and naval strategy. Maurice Hankey had been Assistant Secretary since 1908 and was the immensely authoritative Secretary from 1912 onwards.
[6] The nerve centre of British intelligence was in Room 40 at the Admiralty where the highly secretive Captain (later Rear- Admiral) William ‘Blinker’ Hall monitored radio and telegraphic messages from Germany and German ships. Britain had had possession of all German codes from the first months of the war. See Blog; Lusitania 1: The Tale of there Secret Miracles, 28 April 2015.
[7] House and Seymour, The Intimate Papers, p. 135.
[8] Ibid., p. 170.
[9] Allegedly, Hankey visited Hall on 27 January 1916 to discuss a ploy to put false German banknotes into circulation and the conversation just happened to wander into Mandell House’s visit to Sir Edward Grey. So they would have us believe. Roskill, Hankey, p. 247.
[10] CAB 42/14/12.
[11] CAB 42/18/ 8.
[12] CAB 42/18/ 7.
[13] CAB 42/18/10.
[14] See Blog; Commission For Relief in Belgium 13: As If It Had Never Happened. posted on 25 November 2015.
[15] FO 899 Cabinet Memoranda 1905-1918, Memorandum by Lord Eustace Percy, 26 September 1916.
[16] See our four Blogs on Briey from 12 November 2014 onwards.
[17] See Blog; Commission For Relief in Belgium 12: Hoover, Servant Not Master, posted on 18 November 2015.
[18] Harold Kurtz, The Lansdowne Letter, History Today, Volume 18 issue 2 February 1968.
[19] Randolph S Churchill, Lord Derby, King of Lancashire, p. 210.
[20] Asquith had lost his son Raymond, on 15 September 1916, at the Somme. It was a crushing personal blow.
[21] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 11 October 1916, vol 86 cc95-161.

The Great Coup of 1916: 4 The Monday Night Cabal

Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908-1916

Asquith’s Coalition government of May 1915 changed little in terms of Britain’s war management. It was hardly likely to given that it was a basic reshuffle of old faces and older politics. Alfred Milner was well aware that this would be the case, and as such, it suited the Secret Elite to bide their time before catapulting their leader into front-line politics. Milner was initially stirred into action over Asquith’s inability to make clear decisions, and criticised the ‘contradictions and inconsistencies which have characterised our action as a nation’ [1] He began to turn the screw on the prime minister in the House of Lords early in 1916 and Sir Edward Carson did likewise in the Commons.[2] Carson had originally been the protege of Alfred Balfour, and was a fellow member of the Secret Elite. It did not take long for the unnatural coalition of conservatives and liberals to unravel inside the Cabinet.

Within the context of 1916, the British nation had no respite from disaster. The Somme [ref] produced heavy losses made more unpalatable by negligible gains. In the War Committee, Curzon and Balfour waged a bitter and prolonged inter-departmental dispute over the future of the Air Board [3] to the detriment of other critical business. Without Kitchener, the General Staff appeared complacent and Maurice Hankey feared the generals were ‘bleeding us to death’. [4] He warned Lloyd George that the British Army was led by ‘the most conservative class in the world, forming the most powerful trades union in the world’ [5] It was an astute observation. The Staff ‘ring’ ( and these were Hankey’s words) which had been brought together under the pre-war influence of Milner’s great ally, and former head of the Army, Lord Roberts, [6] was indeed a closed union of former cavalry officers, so self satisfied and complacent that they ignored the views of others. [7] Whatever the obscene consequences of their mistakes, they continued to repeat them with the arrogance of those who are convinced that they know better.

Confirmed in their view that the democratic process had failed to provide the leadership and organisation which was needed to win the war on their terms, Milner and the Secret Elite began the process of completely undermining the government and replacing it with their own agents. In January 1916 a small group of Milner’s closest friends and disciples formed a very distinctive and secret cabal to prepare the nation for a change so radical, that it was nothing less than a coup; a planned take-over of government by men who sought to impose their own rule rather than seek a mandate from the general public. [8] Having ensured that the war was prolonged, they now sought to ensure that it would be waged to the utter destruction of Germany.

Waldorf and Nancy Astor: both identified by Carroll Quigley as members of Milner's cabal.

The men behind the carefully constructed conspiracy were Alfred Milner, Leo Amery, Sir Edward Carson, Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times, F S Oliver the influential writer who believed that war was a necessity, [9] and Waldorf Astor, the owner of The Observer. They met regularly on Monday evenings to formulate their alternative plans for war management over dinner. These men were drawn from the inner-circle of Milner’s most trusted associates. [10] Others who were invited to join them included, Lloyd George, Sir Henry Wilson, (at that point a corps commander on the Western Front) Philip Kerr, another of Milner’s proteges from his days in South Africa, and Sir Leander Starr Jameson, the man who almost brought down the British government in 1896 in the wake of his abortive raid on the Transvaal. [11] Could anyone have anticipated that Jameson would have reemerged in London inside a very powerful conspiracy some twenty years after he had almost blown Cecil Rhode’s dream apart? [12] But then he was always the servant of the mighty South African arm of the Secret Elite.

On the rare occasions that this clique has been mentioned by historians, it is usually referred to as a ‘Ginger Group’. Yet another veneer of deception. Their objective was not to spice up the opposition to Herbert Asquith but to rule in his place. It was, as Alfred Milner’s biographer put it, a very powerful fellowship devoid of party hacks and faceless civil servants, [13] Carson, still the hero of Ulster Unionists, was the foremost of the Tory critics in the House of Commons; Dawson at The Times was probably the most influential journalist in the Empire and had the full backing of its owner, Lord Northcliffe; Astor’s Observer added hugely valuable weight to Milner’s battalions in the press; Oliver was fanatical in his disdain of grovelling peacemakers. He proposed that the whole nation rather than the armed forces must be conscripted. [14]

Viscount Alfred Milner, the undisputed leader of the Monday Night Cabal.

Alfred Milner was the undisputed leader of this ‘Monday Night Cabal’. [15 ] The agenda notes for one of the meetings in February demonstrated clearly that they planned to demolish the widely held notion that there was no alternative to a combination of Asquith and Bonar Law. Their solution was to repeat ‘in season and out of season’ that the current coalition was having a paralytic effect on the conduct of the war and it was absurd to believe that there was no alternative. [16] They were the alternative.

Here we find one of the few examples of precisely how the Secret Elite worked to influence and dominate British politics. The cabal comprised the key players at the core of the opposition to Asquith. They instructed their supporters and agents to lobby both inside and outside parliament for the policies that were determined over their private dinners. The rank and file were never invited to these exclusive gatherings which remained the preserve of the select. [17] A second assault-route was through the press, whose influential leaders were also at the heart of the Monday Night Cabal. Public opinion had to be turned against the Asquith coalition. One of he most successful influences which the Secret Elite still wield is the power to make the public believe that they want the changes expounded by a corrupted press.

Geoffrey Dawson led the attack from his lofty office at The Times. Instructed in the Milnerite catechism of Coalition failure, his editorials began the campaign to champion Alfred Milner into high office without the niceties of a political mandate. On 14 April his leading article was the first salvo in that offensive:

‘ Let there be no mistake about it. What the country want is leaders who are not afraid to go to all lengths or undergo also sacrifices, party or personal, in order to win the war… We believe that in Lord Milner they possess yet another leader whose courage and character are needed in a national crisis. It is a most damning indictment of the coalition, and especially of those Unionist leaders who had a free hand to strengthen its composition, that such a man should be out of harness at such a time.’ [18]

A J Balfour, an inner-circle member of Milner's Secret Elite. His position in Cabinet was safeguarded by his allegiance to the cabal.

The plot which had been carefully constructed over months of detailed planning was promoted in a series of newspaper editorials which advanced Milner’s intentions. Their new mantra was that change was needed; change was vital to save the country from disaster. But not everyone would be sacrificed. No. Not at all. What was proposed was far more subtle. They proposed that the Secret Elite’s chosen men in Cabinet ( Balfour etc.) needed the support of a more organised system (behind them) and there was ‘no reason whatsoever why they should not continue…’. However, those who had served their purpose, who ‘were encrusted in the old party habit, worn out … by a period of office which has lasted continuously in some cases for more than a decade … are a sheer danger to the State.’ [19] Translated into personalities their targets were Herbert Asquith, Sir Edward Grey, Lord Lansdowne, Walter Runciman and the remnants of the original Liberal government.

Dawson rampaged against the ‘weak methods’ and ‘weak men’ who were failing the country. Unresolved problems of man-power, of food control and food production, of conflict over the output of aircraft and merchant ships were attributed to a system where, according to the clique, the country was being governed by a series of debating societies. He was disgusted that the War Committee had reverted back to the old habits of ‘interminable memoranda’ and raged about the impossibility of heads of great departments having additional collective responsibility for correlating all of the work of a war government. Every design which the Monday Night Cabal had agreed was promoted by Dawson at The Times.

Popular newspapers ensured that their message was unrelenting. Tom Clarke, then editor of the Daily Mail wrote in his diaries that he was instructed by Northcliffe in December 1916 to undermine the Prime Minister. He was told to find a smiling picture of Lloyd George and underneath it put the caption, “ Do it Now” and get the worst possible picture of Asquith and label it, “ Wait and See”. [20] It was to be billed as if it was Action-Man against the ditherer.

The major beneficiary from the conclusions of the Monday Night Cabal was David Lloyd George. Since the day he was given his first government post as President of the Board of Trade in 1905, Lloyd George had pursued his career with the singular intention of rising to the top. His firebrand oratory which made him a champion of the people not matched by his machiavellian self interest. While basking in the credit for providing pensions in old age, he befriended the leaders of industry, the bankers and financiers in the City, the money-men in New York and newspaper owners like Northcliffe and Max Aitken. (Lord Beaverbrook) The Secret Elite had identified Lloyd George many years before [21] as the man most likely to front popular appeal for their policies, but his negotiations between the conspirators in 1916 had to be carried out well away from prying eyes.

Arthue Lee, later Viscount Farnham. later he gifted Chequers as the country residence for the British prime minister

They chose Arthur Lee [22] as the facilitator for many of the secret meetings between Lloyd George, Maurice Hankey, Alfred Milner and Geoffrey Dawson at Lee’s house in the Abbey Garden at Westminster. [23] An opponent of Lloyd George in previous times, Lee had married into the New-York financial elite and his wife Ruth inherited a substantial fortune. He was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt with whom he corresponded frequently. [24] Lee had apparently become increasingly frustrated with the conduct of the war by the Asquith government and sought out David Lloyd George as the one member of the government whom he considered had ‘sufficient courage and dynamic energy … to insist upon things being done’ [25]. Note how Lee offered his services to Lloyd George who invited him into the Ministry of Munitions as parliamentary military secretary. Later, in his War Memoirs, Lloyd George went out of his way to praise Lee’s ‘untiring industry, great resource, and practical capacity’,[26] without mentioning his role as co-conspirator in Asquith’s removal.

On Lloyd George’s move to the War Office, Lee became his personal secretary. He was also a member of the Unionist war committee which acted as a focus of back-bench opposition to the Asquith coalition in 1916. [27] Whether he was aware of it or not, the Secret Elite ensured that Arthur Lee was well placed to watch over Lloyd George in the critical months leading up to the coup.

Safe from prying eyes, the conspirators drew an ever compliant Lloyd George to the centre of their web. His closest aide ensured that they could contact him with ease without rousing the suspicion of mere mortals. They organised their policies, decided their tactics and picked their chosen men. The Secret Elite were poised to take over the governance of the war and run it along their lines, but the old order had to be removed. As ever with Alfred Milner, he required his opponent, in this instance, Asquith, to make the first unforgivable mistake.

[1] Hansard, House of Lords Debate, 20 December 1915 vol 20 cc696-744.
[2] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 320.
[3] Memorandum for the War Committee, Doc. 658, November 1916 and Reply to The First Report of the Air Board, Doc.658, November 1916 in Cabinet Memoranda 1905-1918, vol. IV, F.O. 899.
[4] Maurice Hankey, Diary entry 28th October 1916, quoted in Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, p. 312.]
[5] Ibid.
[6] For a detailed examination of the influence which Lords Roberts exerted over the British Military Establishment see Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, chapter 15, The Roberts Academy, pp. 194-203.
[7] Gollin, Hankey, p. 313.
[8] Ibid., pp. 323-4.
[9] F. S. Oliver , Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, author, Richard Davenport-Hines.
[10] Alfred Milner, Leo Amery, Philip Kerr, Waldorf Astor and Geoffrey Dawson were specifically placed inside what Carroll Quigley called The Society of the Elect in his work, The Anglo-American Establishment, while Leander Starr Jameson was placed in the outer circle. [pp. 311-313.] We have enlarged the group under the collective title of the Secret Elite. [
[11] Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, Prologue, pp. 1-5.
[12] Sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment for his involvement in the infamous Jameson Raid, he served barely three before being pardoned. His career flourished thereafter. From 1904-1908 Jameson was prime minister of the Cape Colony. He returned to England in 1912 and remained one of Alfred Milner’s trusted confidantes.
[13] Gollin, Hankey, p. 324.
[14] Davenport-Hines, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. See above.
[15] It is often interesting to consider the manner in which historians entitle events. In A.M. Collin’s Proconsul in Politics, he boldly christened Milner’s group as The Monday Night Cabal – which it certainly was, while Terence O’Brien, in his work, Milner, stepped away from controversy by calling it the Monday Night Group, thus omitting any hint of conspiracy. [Terence O’Brien, Milner, p. 266.]
[16] Amery Papers, “Notes for Monday’s Meeting, 19th February 1916.”
[17] Gollin, Hankey, p. 325.
[18] The Times, 14 April, 1916, p. 9.
[19] The Times, 1 December 1916, p. 9.
[20] Tom Clarke, My Northcliffe Diary, p.107.
[21] Docherty and Macgregor, Hidden History, chapter 12, Catch a Rising Star, pp. 161-171.
[22] Later Viscount Lee of Farnham. Typical of many Secret Elite associates, his loyalty was rewarded with political appointments including Director General of Food Production from 1917-18, President of the Board of Agriculture, 1919-21 and first Lord of the Admiralty, 1921-22. He donated Chequers, still the country residence of British prime ministers, for that purpose.
[23] Gollin, Hankey, p. 348 and p. 354.
[24] A Clark, A Good Innings: the private papers of Viscount Lee of Fareham, p. 92.
[25] Ibid., p.140.
[26] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 346.
[27] V. W. Baddeley, ‘Lee, Arthur Hamilton, Viscount Lee of Fareham (1868–1947)’, rev. Marc Brodie, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The Great Coup of 1916: 3 The Compromise Government of ‘Unity’, 1915

The given explanation for the introduction of a ‘national’ or ‘unity’ government in May 1915 goes as follows:

Andrew Bonar Law, leader of the Conservatives in 1915.

Pushed over the edge by the resignation of Lord Fisher as First Sea Lord at the Admiralty, the Conservative leader, Andrew Bonar Law met Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, privately, at the Treasury. Following this, he sent a letter from the Conservative Opposition to prime minister Asquith stating:

‘In our opinion things cannot go on as they are, and some change in the constitution of the Government seems to us inevitable if it is to retain a sufficient measure of public confidence to conduct the War to a successful conclusion.’ [1]

He surreptitiously sent a copy of the same letter to Lloyd George. They were clearly in cahoots. [2] Lloyd George and Bonar Law claimed a personal friendship, ‘on terms of greater cordiality than is usual’ according to the Chancellor himself. [3] In fact, Lloyd George was in agreement with the major issues raised by Bonar Law because the proposed coalition government was no threat to his own career. Their meeting and the subsequent events were more stage-managed than genuine.

What is astounding is the speed at which Asquith accepted the offer to form a coalition. Lloyd George played the role of marriage broker and physically took Bonar Law into the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street to talk through the conditions under which the Conservatives would join forces with the government. It took only fifteen minutes to bring to an end the last purely Liberal government in British history. Thus the deed was done. Or so we have been told.

But surely the offer was the wrong way round? To have had credence, to merit the sense of a government striving to do its best for the Empire, surely Asquith should have taken the first steps? Be mindful that a prime minister may appear to be in charge, but is always subject to the power-brokers above him / her.

Asquith trying to assert his authority in Parliament

Instead, a gun was put to his political head and he did not hesitate to capitulate. Why? Who had spoken to him? Did Lloyd George threaten to resign too, unless the coalition was formed? Or was it simply the only way for Asquith to save his own political skin? Hours later he told the King that ‘the Government must be reconstructed on a broad and non-party basis’. [4] Two days later the prime minister announced in the House of Commons ‘that steps are in contemplation which involve the reconstruction of the Government on a broader, personal and political basis.’ He clarified three points, inferring that all of this was of his own doing. He and Sir Edward Grey would definitely remain in post. The prosecution of the War would continue ‘with every possible energy and by means of every available resource.’ Finally, ‘any reconstruction that may be made will be for the purposes of the War alone…’ [5]

The first steps in the Secret Elite takeover of every aspect of war government was underway, but it had a slow-burning fuse.

Political niceties had to be followed. The main condition for ‘unity’ placed on the table by Bonar Law was the immediate demise of Winston Churchill. The Conservatives would not countenance his continuation at the Admiralty after Lord Fisher’s walk out; the Ulster Unionists would never forgive nor forget his pre-war threats to their cause and well, had he not abandoned both his class and his party by crossing over to the Liberals? During the period of horse-trading between Asquith and the Conservatives, the only certainty was, as the Times put it, that ‘Churchill will leave the Admiralty…that is virtually a sine qua non of the reconstruction.’ [6] Winston Churchill was insulted at being shunted off to the inconsequential post of Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster, but he accepted the sinecure, in order to remain a member of the War Council. In the fight for the best pickings, the Conservatives had insisted that he be relegated to a minor position, and Asquith was neither willing nor able to save him. Churchill railed at Asquith for being ‘supinely weak’. He did not stay long in post, resigning on 15 November after he had been denied a place in the revised War Committee. [7]

But Asquith failed one of his best friends, Richard Haldane. It was a stain on his character that he dismissed Haldane, the man who created the BEF, whom he sent to the War Office on 4 August to initiate mobilisation, and abandoned in May 1915 ‘after one of the most discreditable smear campaigns in British history.’ [8]

Richard Haldane was a very experienced and successful politician thrown to the wolves by 'spineless' Asquith.

You might well ask why the Secret Elite were prepared to countenance the loss of two of their agents who had taken Britain into war; in this instance Churchill and Haldane? Basically, they were replaceable. All political agents no matter what their supposed allegiance, were replaceable. They still are. Churchill was a self-publicist who had upset too many important Conservatives. Haldane was an academic, a well read, knowledgeable lawyer who had the complete confidence of King Edward VII. Yet he had been subjected to malicious and ignorant abuse because of his oft-stated admiration and sympathy for Germany. [9] He found himself threatened with assault in the street, and was aware that he was in danger of being shot at. [10] Ridiculous abuse and false accusations were levelled against him by the Daily Express. [11] In an atmosphere of poison, his detractors claimed that he had ordered the release of a ship laden with copper which had been impounded in Gibraltar so that the cargo could be delivered to Germany. [12] A clever lie. Blame Haldane for blockade-bursting and cut him adrift.

What mattered was that both men were unpopular with the public, and the Secret Elite understood that every act which might make the public question the government’s actions threatened their ultimate objective.

This far-from-radical change marked the first step towards a full-blown coup, for that was not yet possible. The government (they called it a National Government) was formed over the next weeks; a government which both re-introduced well known faces and retained some old problems. Asquith’s 22-man coalition had included 12 Liberals, 8 Conservatives, a single Labour MP and Lord Kitchener, retained because of his immense popularity. Despite his support amongst the military chiefs, amongst the liberal imperialists and Conservative grandees, Alfred Milner did not join Asquith’s cabinet. Milner was of course a member of the House of Lords and an outspoken advocate for conscription rather than voluntary recruitment to the army. In truth, keeping unity amongst the coalition government was always going to test Asquith’s skills, and he would have feared Milner’s direct influence over so many in this cabinet. Alfred Milner stood ready, but waited patiently for the turning tide.

Asquith's coalition government 1915. Churchill is 4th from left;Kitchener has his back to the artist. To his immediate left is Bonar Law, with Asquith immediately in front and Lloyd George to Kitchener's right.

The unseen hand of the Elite had redrawn boundaries and ensured that senior posts were allocated to major players from Milner’s associates. [13] The Empire was back. [14] Two former Viceroys of India, Lords Curzon and Lansdowne, were elevated to cabinet posts. Lord Selborne, former High Commissioner in South Africa became President of the Board of Agriculture. Sir John Simon was made Home Secretary, Arthur Balfour replaced Churchill at the Admiralty and Lord Robert Cecil made Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and both Sir Edward Carson (the uncrowned King of Ulster) and FE Smith were included as Attorney General and Solicitor General.

What of Andrew Bonar Law, the man who had assisted Lloyd George in demanding a national government? Surely he would be well-rewarded with a senior cabinet post? Not so. Bonar Law, though leader of the Conservatives, had neither the aristocratic pedigree nor Oxford University kudos to be a member of the Inner-circle of the Secret Elite. Indeed, Professor Carroll Quigley omits him entirely from membership of secret cabal; he was not ‘one of them’. Asquith, in his later reflections on there events of December 1915 talked of the deception and lies which were spun by Lloyd George, but held no animosity towards his Conservative rival. [15] The outsider was obliged to accept the relatively minor position of Secretary of State for the Colonies hardly a handsome reward for his political connivance with the man who had everything to gain.

British newspapers hailed the new non-party Cabinet for its inclusive strength, but John Redmond, leader of the Irish Home Rule Party, would not accept Asquith’s offer of a minor post. He had little option given the prominent inclusion of leading figures from the Ulster campaign to oppose Home Rule from 1912-14. The men who had openly threatened a breakaway government in Belfast were back in power at Westminster. How ironic that British justice was placed in the hands of those who had been openly prepared to defy that rule of law [16] by raising and arming an illegal private army in Ulster [17] and conveniently taking Britain to the brink of what looked like civil war.

Lloyd George at dispatch box in his role of Minister of Munitions.

Lloyd George was paid his asking price. His disloyalty was bought off with the creation of a Ministry of Munitions in which he was given supreme authority. [18] He knew that the burning issue of the moment was the alleged lack of munitions and heavy artillery. He was aware of the clamour from the Military High Command for better shells; he knew that the exaggerated shortage of weaponry would gather public voice and turn to outrage if not addressed. He believed that this was a job that he alone could do, and that his backers in Britain and in America would support him all the way. He was correct.

Lloyd George received a remarkable letter dated 1 June 1915 from Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, a Pilgrim [19] and close associate of the J.P. Morgan associates. Roosevelt was an enthusiastic advocate for the spread of the English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon expansion across the world [20] and as such was an agent of the Secret Elite. His letter read;

‘ I wish to congratulate you upon the action you have taken in getting a coalition cabinet, and especially your part therein. More than all I wish to congratulate you upon what you have done in connection with this war… the prime business for you to do is to save your country. [21]

The former President of America gave the newly appointed Minster of Munitions his full approval for ‘what you have done’. It was an apostolic blessing from the other side of the Atlantic. Lloyd George was congratulated for his action, not Asquith or Bonar Law, because Roosevelt knew that Lloyd George had masterminded this coalition and was the one man who understood what action to take. He was their man. That letter confirmed their approval.

Asquith was sufficiently astute to keep the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer within the Liberal domain, by stating that Lloyd George’s transfer to the new Ministry of Munitions was a temporary arrangement.

maurice hankey

The Secrete Elite’s man at the hub of the war effort, Maurice Hankey, [22] remained exactly where he had always been, at the very heart of the decision-making. In every reorganisation, every shifting of seats or consolidation of power, in every alteration or formation of committee or council that had power and influence, that involved the inner-cabinet, the real decision-makers, Hankey remained quietly in the background as secretary or minute-taker. His was the ever – present hand that recorded the meeting and increasingly advised the members. [23] He, above all, was in the know.

But Asquith remained to the fore and so too did most of the problems. Getting rid of elected officials is always fraught with some danger, and there was a feeling that this national government would lack the competence to pull the nation together. When analysed critically, the deck-chairs had been shuffled but, with the exception of Lloyd George’s new role, little else changed.

Milner knew it would fail. That’s why he was waiting in the wings.

[1] A. Bonar Law to Asquith, 17 May 1915.
[2] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 137.
[3] Ibid., p. 135.
[4] Roy Jenkins, Asquith, pp. 360-1.
[5] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 19 May 1915 vol 71 cc2392-3.
[6] The Times, 20 May 1915, p. 9.
[7] Virginia Cowles, Winston Churchill, p. 204.
[8] Michael and Eleanor Brock, HH Asquith, Letters to Virginia Stanley, p. 598.
[9] The Times Obituary , 20 August 1928, p.17.
[10] Richard Burdon Haldane, An Autobiography, p. 287.
[11] Maurice, Haldane 1856-1915. p. 359.
[12] Ibid. p. 363.
[13] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 141.
[14] The Times, 26 May 1915, pp. 9-10.
[15] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 141.
[16] Brian P Murphy, Patrick Pearse and the Lost Republican Ideal, p. 45.
[17] Pat Walsh, The Great Fraud of 1914-18, p. 25.
[18] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 142.
[19] Founded in 1902, this exclusive association of politicians and financiers, ambassadors and businessmen in New York and in London, aimed to preserve the bonds of the english-speaking peoples and promote the Anglo-Saxon race values.
[20] Anne Pimlott Baker, The Pilgrims of America, p. 4.
[21] Roosevelt to Lloyd George, 1 June 1915, reproduced in full on p.145 of his War Memoirs.
[22] Quigley, Anglo-American Establishment, p. 313.
[23] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Man of Secrets, 1877-1918, pp. 179-185.