First US Ship Seized By German Warship
A war between European powers has been raging on three continents since August 1914 but the US is reluctant to get involved. Aside from a tradition to avoid European entanglements, the Civil War, only 50 years ago looms in the minds on many people whose parents or grandparents were affected. Ethnically, America was divided with many German-Americans and Irish-American who were hostile to British interests. The combatants – the European nations involved in the war were predominantly Christian, were mostly liberal constitutional monarchies and shared a common western culture with the US.
US security has no been threatened. With America still neutral, Germany was reluctant to do anything that might bring her into the war on the side of the Allies, so flying an American flag usually guaranteed a safe passage.
On January 27, 1915 The US merchant schooner William P. Frye was detained off the coast of Brazil by the German raiding ship Prinz Eitel Fredrich. The William P. Frye and its cargo of wheat for an English firm were headed for the United Kingdom. Despite flying an American flag, the Prinz Eitel Fredrich gave orders to the American crew to dump all their cargo into the ocean. This is the first instance of Germany attacking US shipping.