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stances over which we have no control from the ordinary commerce of the world. You know, therefore, how the spirit of America has not been able to express itself adequately in both directions. But I believe that the people of America are genuinely neutral. I believe that their desire is to stand in unprejudiced judgment upon what is going on; not that they would arrogate to themselves the right to utter rebuking judgment upon any nation, but that they are holding themselves off to assist neither side in what is wrong, and to countenance both sides in what they are doing for the legitimate defense of their national honor.
The fortunate circumstance of America, my fellow countrymen, is that it desires nothing but a free field and no favor. Our security is in the purity of our motives. The minute we get an impure motive we are going to deserve to be insecure. The minute we desire what we have no right to, then we are going to get into trouble and ought to get into trouble. But, my fellow citizens, while we know our own hearts and know our own desires, it does not follow that other nations and other governments understand our purpose and our principle of action. These are days of infinite prejudice and passion, because they are days of war. It is said by an old maxim that amidst war the law is silent. It is also true that amidst war the judgment is silent. Men press forward towards their object with a certain degree of blind recklessness, and they are apt to excite their passion particularly against those who in any way stand in their way. Therefore, this is the situation that I have come to remind you of, for you need merely to have it stated to see it: The peace of the world, including America, depends upon the aroused passion of other nations and not upon the motives of the United States. It is for that reason that I have come to call you to a consciousness of the necessity for preparing this country for anything that may happen.
Here is the choice, and I do not see how any prudent man
could doubt which side of the alternative to take: Either we shall stand still and wait for the necessity for immediate national defence to come and then call for raw volunteers who for the first few months would be impotent as against a trained and experienced enemy, or we shall adopt the ancient American principle that the men of the country shall immediately be made ready to take care of their own Government. You have either got to make the men of this Nation in sufficient number ready to defend the Nation against initial disaster, or you have got to take the risk of initial disaster. Think of the cruelty, think of the stupidity, of putting raw levies of inexperienced men into the modern field of battle! We are not asking for armies; we are asking for a trained citizenship which will act in the spirit of citizenship and not in the spirit of military establishments. If anybody is afraid of a trained citizenship in America he is afraid also of the spirit of America itself. I do not want to command a great army under the authority granted me by the Constitution to be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States; I want to command the confidence and support of my fellow citizens.
Of course you will back me up and come to my assistance if I need you, but will you come knowing what you are about, or will you not? Will you come knowing the character of the arms that you carry in your hands, knowing something of the discipline of organization, knowing something of how to take care of yourselves in camp, knowing something of all those things that it is necessary to know so as not to throw human life away? It is handsome, my fellow citizens, to sacrifice human life intelligently for something greater than life itself, but it is not handsome for any cause whatever to throw human life away.
The plans now laid before the Congress of the United States are merely plans not to throw the life of American youth away. Those plans are going to be adopted. I am not jealous and you are not jealous of the details; no man
ought to be confident that his judgment is correct about the details; no man ought to say to any legislative body, “You must take my plan or none at all”—that is arrogance and stupidity—but we have the right to insist, and I believe that it will not be necessary to insist, that we get the essential thing; that is to say, a principle, a system, by which we can secure a trained citizenship, so that if it becomes necessary to defend the Nation the first line of defence on land will be an adequate and intelligent line of defence.
I say "on land” because America apparently has never been jealous of armed men if they are only at sea. America also knows that you can not send volunteers to sea unless you want to send them to the bottom. The modern fighting ship, the modern submarine, every instrument of modern naval warfare must be handled by experts. America has never debated or disputed that proposition, and all that we are asking for now is that a sufficient number of experts and a sufficient number of vessels be at our disposal. The vessels we have are manned by experts. There is not a better service in the world than that of the American Navy. But no matter how skilled and capable the officers, or devoted the men, they must have ships enough, and we are going to give them ships enough. We have been doing it slowly and leisurely and good-naturedly, as we are accustomed to do everything in times of peace, but now we must get down to business and do it systematically. We must lay down a programme and then steadfastly carry it out and complete it. There are no novelties about the programme. All the lines of it are the lines already established, only drawn out to their legitimate conclusion, and drawn out so that they will be completed within a calculable length of time.
It will be noticed that President Wilson grew more positive in his own convictions as the speaking tour progressed. He not only pleaded for “a great navy that ranked first in the world" (at Kansas City), and for a volunteer army of 500,000 men "to take a little training every year for three years”; but he also urged haste, for “no man knows what danger a single week or a single day or a single hour may bring forth” (Cleveland address).
A naval program of vast proportions had previously been agreed upon by the Administration, recommended to and ultimately adopted by Congress. But the details of an army system the President left to the legislative body, he finding it impossible to endorse any one of several plans proposed. Congress, after long deliberation, passed a bill federalizing the State militia and authorizing an increase in the regular army. The real strength of the armed forces of the United States remained unchanged until the country was drawn into the European War-fourteen months after the President's "preparedness” tour-when a selective conscription system was adopted in order to raise immediately a large army.]
PRESIDENT WILSON AND THE EUROPEAN WAR
(Included in the pages immediately following are the more important of the diplomatic notes which were sent from Washington to European governments, upon matters affecting the interests of neutrals. President Wilson himself guided the foreign policies of the nation; and, although the notes are signed by his Secretary of State-first Mr. Bryan and later Mr. Lansing-they not only express the President's views and decisions, but frequently are from his own pen.)
WILSON ASKS BELLIGERENT NATIONS TO GOVERN THEIR OPERA
TIONS AND CONDUCT BY THE DECLARATION OF LONDON [The Declaration of London, laying down the rules that were to govern the signatory Nations in the conduct of war, blockade, definitions of contraband and treatment of neutral shipping, was signed in London February 26, 1909, by the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Holland, and Spain. President Wilson sent the following identical note to all the belligerent European Nations as soon as war began:]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
WASHINGTON, August 6, 1914, 1 P. M. Mr. Bryan instructs Mr. Page to inquire whether the British Government is willing to agree that the laws of naval warfare as laid down by the Declaration of London of
1909 shall be applicable to naval warfare during the present conflict in Europe provided that the Governments with whom Great Britain is or may be at war also agree to such application. Mr. Bryan further instructs Mr. Page to state that the Government of the United States believes that an acceptance of these laws by the belligerents would prevent grave misunderstanding which may arise as to the relations between neutral powers and the belligerents. Mr. Bryan adds that it is earnestly hoped that this inquiry may receive favorable consideration.
[August 13 Austria-Hungary replied in the affirmative. August 22 the German government did the same. Great Britain replied that she would adopt "generally the rules of the Declaration, subject to certain modifications." Following this, the British and French governments issued steadily enlarging definitions and lists of contraband and made such other radical modifications of the Declaration, that the United States withdrew its proposal in the following notes:]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
WASHINGTON, October 22, 1914. To Ambassador W. H. Page (London):
Inasmuch as the British Government consider that the conditions of the present European conflict make it impossible for them to accept without modification the Declaration of London, you are requested to inform His Majesty's Government that in the circumstances the Government of the United States feels obliged to withdraw its suggestion that the Declaration of London be adopted as a temporary code of naval warfare to be observed by belligerents and neutrals during the present war; that therefore this Government will insist that the rights and duties of the United States and its citizens in the present war be defined by the existing rules of international law and the treaties of the United States irrespective of the provisions of the Declaration of London; and that this Government reserves to itself the right to enter a protest or demand in each case