Who's Who - James W. Gerard

James Watson Gerard James Watson Gerard (1867-1951) served as American Ambassador to Germany prior to U.S. involvement in World War One.

Gerard was born in New York City in 1867.  From 1908 he served on New York's Supreme Court.  Woodrow Wilson's election as U.S. President (and Gerard's generous financial support which helped to make it possible) brought with it an appointment for Gerard as U.S. Ambassador to Spain in 1913.  Later the same year however he was despatched instead to Germany, remaining until 1917.

Remarkably for a former Ambassador to the country, Gerard regarded Germany with little less than loathing.  His bile was reserved not only for native Germans, but was also taken to include German-American U.S. citizens.

Gerard gained particular notoriety for a speech given on 25 November 1917 to the Ladies Aid Society of St. Mary's Hospital in New York.  During the course of his speech he feared for the possibility of up to half a million German-Americans rising up and wreaking havoc within the U.S. once General Pershing's American Expeditionary Force (AEF) took part in its first major offensive against the German enemy.

His solution was startlingly simple: to hang German-Americans from lamp posts.  Unsurprisingly Gerard was unsuccessful in his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1920.

Gerard, who published My Four Years in Germany in 1917 and Face to Face With Kaiserism in 1918, died in 1951.  His broader memoirs were published the year of his death.

Click here to hear James W. Gerard's speech on 25 November 1917 to the Ladies Aid Society.  Click here to read Gerard's concerns regarding an alleged German policy of deportation in German-controlled Lille in 1916.

A "box barrage" was an artillery bombardment centred upon a small area.

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