1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gerard, James Watson
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Gerard, James Watson
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|See also James W. Gerard on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
GERARD, JAMES WATSON (1867- ), American lawyer and diplomat, was born at Geneseo, N.Y., Aug. 25 1867. He was educated at Columbia University (A.B. 1890; A.M. 1891) and at the New York Law School (LL.B. 1892). He was admitted to the bar in 1892 and began to practise in New York City. The same year he became a member of the New York National Guard, rose to captain, and served through the Spanish-American War (1898) on the staff of Gen. McKoskry Butt. From 1900 to 1904 he was quartermaster, with the rank of major, of the 1st Brigade of the New York National Guard. In 1908 he became associate justice of the Supreme Court of New York and served until 1913, when he resigned on being appointed ambassador to Germany. At the outbreak of the World War in 1914 he assumed the care of British interests in Germany, later visiting the camps where British prisoners were confined and doing much to alleviate their condition. His responsibilities were further increased by the fact that German interests in France, Great Britain, and Russia were placed in the care of the American embassies in those countries, the American embassy in Berlin thus becoming a sort of clearing house. From first-hand knowledge he was able to settle the question, much disputed among the Germans themselves, as to the official attitude of the German Government toward the violation of Belgian neutrality. At the request of von Jagow, after the fall of Liége, he served as intermediary for offering the Belgians peace and indemnity if they would grant passage of German troops through their country. On Aug. 10 1914 the Kaiser placed in his hands a telegram addressed personally to President Wilson declaring that Belgian neutrality “had to be violated by Germany on strategical grounds.” At the request of a high German official this telegram was not made public as the Kaiser had wished, but was sent privately to the President. After the sinking of the “Lusitania” with many Americans on board, on May 7 1915, the American ambassador's position became more difficult, and finally, on Feb. 3 1917, diplomatic relations were broken off by America and he was recalled. He was detained for a time because of wild rumours that the German ambassador in America was being mistreated and German ships had been confiscated; but this being disproved he was allowed to depart. While in Germany in 1914 he was Democratic nominee in New York for the U.S. Senate, but without success. On his return to America in 1917 he again entered the practice of law in New York City. In 1917 he published My Four Years in Germany and in 1918 Face to Face with Kaiserism. For his services to England he was decorated with the G.C.B.