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democracy. We see it now. This is a war against an old spirit, an ancient, outworn spirit. It is a war against feudalism—the right of the castle on the hill to rule the village below. It is a war for democracy—the right of all to be their own masters. Let Germany be feudal if she will, but she must not spread her system over the world that has outgrown it. Feudalism plus science, thirteenth century plus twentieth—this is the religion of the mistaken Ger- many that has linked itself with the Turk; that has, . too, adopted the method of Mahomet. “The state has no conscience.” “The state can do no wrong.’” With the spirit of the fanatic she believes this gospel and that it is her duty to spread it by force. With poison gas that makes living a hell, with submarines that sneak through the seas to slyly murder noncombatants, with dirigibles that bombard men and women while they sleep, with a perfected system of terrorization that the modern world first heard of when German troops entered China,” German feudalism is making war upon mankind. Let this old spirit of evil have its way and no man will live in America without paying toll to it in manhood and in money. This spirit might demand Canada from a defeated, navyless England, and then our dream of peace on the north would be at an end. We would live, as France has lived for forty years, in haunting terror. America speaks for the world in fighting Germany. Mark on a map those countries which are Germany's allies and you will mark but four, run
ning from the Baltic through Austria and Bulgaria to Turkey. All the other nations the whole globe around are in arms against her or are unable to move. There is deep meaning in this. We fight with the world for an honest world in which nations keep their word, for a world in which nations do not live by swagger or by threat, for a world in which men think of the ways in which they can conquer the common cruelties of nature instead of inventing more horrible cruelties to inflict upon the spirit and body of man, for a world in which the ambition or the philosophy of a few shall not make miserable all mankind, for a world in which the man is held more precious than the machine, the system, or the state.
THE DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN
[ADDRESS DELIVERED AT CHICAGO, ILLINOIs, SEPTEMBER 14, 1917]
The declaration of war between the United States and Germany completely changed the relations of all the inhabitants of this country to the subject of peace and war. Before the declaration everybody had a right to discuss in private and in public the question whether the United States should carry on war against Germany. Everybody had a right to argue that there was no sufficient cause for war, that the consequences of war would be worse than the consequences of continued peace, that it would be wiser to submit to the aggressions of Germany against American rights, that it would be better to have Germany succeed than to have the allies succeed in the great conflict. Everybody holding these views had a right by expressing them to seek to influence public opinion and to affect the action of the President and the Congress, to whom the people of the country by their constitution have entrusted the power to determine whether the United States shall or shall not make war. But the question of peace or war has now been decided by the President and Congress, the sole authorities which had the right to decide, the lawful authorities upon whom rested the duty to decide. The question no longer remains open. It has been determined and the United States is at war with Germany. The power to make such a decision is the most essential, vital, and momentous of all the powers of government. No nation can maintain its independence or protect its citizens against oppression or continue to be free which does not vest the power to make that decision in some designated authority, or which does not recognize the special and imperative duties of citizenship in time of war following upon such a decision lawfully made. One of the cardinal objects of the Union which formed this nation was to create a lawful authority whose decision and action upon this momentous question should bind all the states and all the people of every state. The constitution under which we have lived for one hundred and thirty years declares: “We, the people of the United States, in order to . . . provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution.’” The constitution so ordained vests in Congress the power to declare war, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy,” and it vests in the President the power to command the army and navy.” The power in this instance was exercised not suddenly or rashly, but advisedly, after a long delay and discussion, and patience under provocation, after repeated diplomatic warnings to Germany known to the whole country, after clear notice by breach of diplomatic relations with Germany that the question was imminent, after long opportunity for reflection and discussion following that notice, and after a formal and deliberate presentation by the President to Congress of the reasons for action in an address which compelled the attention not of Congress alone but of all Americans and of all the world and which must forever stand as one of the great state papers of modern times. The decision was made by overwhelming majorities of both houses of Congress.” When such a decision has been made the duties—and therefore the rights— of all the people of the country immediately change. It becomes their duty to stop discussion upon the question decided, and to act, to proceed immediately to do everything in their power to enable the government of their country to succeed in the war upon which the country has entered. It is a fundamental necessity of government that it shall have the power to decide great questions of policy and to act upon its decision. In order that there shall be action following a decision once made, the decision must be accepted. Discussion upon the question must be deemed closed. A nation which declares war and goes on discussing whether it ought to have declared war or not is impotent, paralyzed, imbecile, and earns the contempt of mankind and the certainty of humiliating defeat and subjection to foreign control.