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we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.”
How many Americans caught the real significance of Wilson's thought with all its consequences (is doubtful. The country certainly looked upon the war asa erusade. But there was in the national emotion much that did not accord with the ideals of Wilson. The people hated Germany for the sinking of the Lusitania and all the other submarine outrages, for her crimes in Belgium, for the plots and explosions in this country, for the Zimmermann note, and finally for her direct and insulting defiance of American rights. They recognized that the Allies were fighting for civilization; they sympathized with the democracies of Europe, of which, since the Russian revolution of March, the Allied camp was composed, and they wanted to help them. They feared for America's safety in the future, if Germany won the war. Most Americans entered the struggle, therefore, with a sober gladness, based partly on emotional, partly on quixotíc, and partly on selfish grounds. But nearly all fought rather to beat Germany than to secure a new international order. Hence it was that after Germany was beaten, Wilson was destined to discover that his idealistic preaching had not fully penetrated, and that he had failed to educate his country, as completely as he believed, to the ideal of a partnership of democratic
THE NATION IN ARMS
WHEN Congress declared that the United States was in a state of war with Germany, on April 6, 1917, the public opinion of the country was unified to a far greater extent than at the beginning of any previous war. The extreme patience displayed by President Wilson had its reward. When the year opened the majority of citizens doubtless still hoped that peace was possible. But German actions in February and March had gone far towards the education of the popular mind, and the final speeches of the President crystallized conviction. By April there were few Americans, except those in whom pacifism was a mania, who were not convinced that war with Germany was the only course consistent with either honor or safety. It is probable that many did not understand exactly the ideals that actuated Wilson, but nine persons out of ten believed it absolutely necessary to fight.
But, however firmly united, the country was completely unprepared for war in a military sense, and must now pay the penalty for President Wilson's opposition to adequate improvement of the military system in 1915 and for the half-hearted measures taken in 1916. Total military forces, including regular army, national guard, and reserves amounted to hardly three hundred thousand men and less than ten thousand officers. Even the regular army was by no means ready for immediate participation in the sort of fighting demanded by the European war; and, even if adequate troops were raised, the lack of trained officers would create the most serious difficulties. No wonder that the German General Staff ranked the United States, from the military point of view, somewhere between Belgium and Portugal. Furthermore, military experts had been discouraged by the attitude of the Administration. The Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, had failed, either through lack of administrative capacity or because of pacifistic tendencies, to prepare his department adequately. He had done nothing to rouse Congress or the nation from its attitude of indifference towards preparation. By faith a pacifist, he had been opposed to universal military service. An
extreme liberal, he distrusted the professional military type and was to find it difficult to coöperate with the captains of industry whose assistance was essential.
Thus with a President and War Secretary, both of whom had been instinctively opposed to a large army and who had expressed their fear of the development of a militaristic spirit, and with a majority in Congress favoring the traditional volunteer system, adherence to which had cost the British thousands of lives that might better have been used at home, the building of an effective army seemed a matter of extreme doubt. Great credit must go to both President Wilson and Secretary Baker for sinking their natural instincts and seeking, as well as following, the advice of the military experts, who alone were capable of meeting the problems that arose from a war for which the nation was not prepared.
The President must facenot only the special problems caused by unreadiness, but also the general difficulties which confront every American warPresident and which had tried nearly to the breaking-point even the capacity of Lincoln. The President of the United States in time of war is given the supreme unified command of the army and navy.