Primary Documents - House-Grey Memorandum, 22 February 1916

"Colonel" Edward House President Wilson's diplomatic emissary to Europe, "Colonel" Edward House, met and agreed with the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, the outline details of a veiled threat to Germany.

The so-called 'House-Grey Memorandum', noted in memo form by Grey, involved the U.S. 'inviting' German participation in a U.S. inspired peace convention; the failure of Germany to attend would lead to U.S. military involvement.

A marked departure from the official U.S. policy of neutrality, House's agreement with Grey was not cleared in advance by Wilson, who was almost certain to object to House's actions.

In the event House was spared inevitable humiliation by Wilson.  The British Government led by Prime Minister Asquith vetoed the suggestion.

Memorandum of Sir Edward Grey

22 February 1916

Colonel House told me that President Wilson was ready, on hearing from France and England that the moment was opportune, to propose that a Conference should be summoned to put an end to the war.

Should the Allies accept this proposal, and should Germany refuse it, the United States would probably enter the war against Germany.

Colonel House expressed the opinion that, if such a Conference met, it would secure peace on terms not unfavourable to the Allies; and, if it failed to secure peace, the United States would leave the Conference as a belligerent on the side of the Allies, if Germany was unreasonable.

Colonel House expressed an opinion decidedly favourable to the restoration of Belgium, the transfer of Alsace and Lorraine to France, and the acquisition by Russia of an outlet to the sea, though he thought that the loss of territory incurred by Germany in one place would have to be compensated to her by concessions to her in other places outside Europe.

If the Allies delayed accepting the offer of President Wilson, and if, later on, the course of the war was so unfavourable to them that the intervention of the United States would not be effective, the United States would probably disinterest themselves in Europe and look to their own protection in their own way.

I said that I felt the statement, coming from the President of the United States, to be a matter of such importance that I must inform the Prime Minister and my colleagues; but that I could say nothing until it had received their consideration.

The British Government could, under no circumstances accept or make any proposal except in consultation and agreement with the Allies...

(initialled 'E.G.' by Sir Edward Grey)
Foreign Office

A "creeping barrage" is an artillery bombardment in which a 'curtain' of artillery fire moves toward the enemy ahead of the advancing troops and at the same speed as the troops.

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Primary Docs