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the "overt act " which the president said he would await before recommending further action.
During the next three weeks two American ships were sunk by German submarines, but without loss of life. Ship
owners were, however, unwilling to send their The debate on the pro
vessels to sea, and American commerce was tied posal to arm up in American ports under a practical embargo merchant ships
laid by decree of the German government. Under
these circumstances President Wilson again appeared before Congress, February 26, and asked for authority to arm American merchantmen, in order that they might protect themselves in passing through the danger zone. The House voted overwhelmingly for the resolution giving the president the necessary authority, but under the rules of the Senate permitting unlimited debate, a small group of eleven senators, led by La Follette of Wisconsin and Vardaman of Mississippi, prevented a vote being taken and Congress adjourned March 4 without action by the Senate.
Popular indignation against the recalcitrant senators was raised to a fever heat by the disclosure, on March 1, of the
famous “Zimmermann Note,” in which the German foreign secretary invited Mexico to unite
with Germany and Japan in a war against the United States. The dispatch was addressed to the German minister in Mexico and was transmitted through Count Bernstorff at Washington, but was intercepted and came into the possession of the State Department. Both Mexico and Japan indignantly denied any knowledge of the note or any possibility of their being led into such a scheme. ! The failure of the Senate to act on the resolution giving the president authority to arm merchantmen made it Revision of necessary for him to call an extra session of ConSenate rules
gress, which convened April 2. The Senate had already convened in extra session on March 5, and in response to the demands of public opinion had revised its rules, placing
The Zimmermann note
reasonable limits on debate and making it impossible for a small group to delay action indefinitely.
Meanwhile the president had been forced to the conclusion that the arming of merchantmen would not be a sufficiently effective means of dealing with the submarine
The presiterror. On April 2 he appeared before a joint dent's war session of the two Houses and urged “that the address Congress declare the recent course of the German government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it; and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense, but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the government of the German Empire to terms and end the war."
The president did not, however, stop here. The recent Russian revolution had created a new international outlook and given him a new vision of the future. In his address, therefore, he laid bare the menace to all free peoples of an autocratic government like that of Germany and proclaimed a world-wide war of democracy against autocracy. The lofty idealism of the president's address struck a responsive chord in the hearts of lovers of liberty the world over. "It is a fearful thing," he said in conclusion, "to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts, — for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives
and our fortunes, everything that 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.”
On April 6, after discussion lasting several days as to the form the resolution should take, Congress finally declared War with
that a state of war existed between Germany and Germany the United States. A few days later the vast sum declared
of seven billion dollars was appropriated for carrying on the war. This was the largest single appropriation made by any legislative body in the history of the world. Nearly half of it was to be used in loans to foreign governments. The foreign loan was to be raised by bond issues, but the president urged that our own expenditures for the war be raised as far as possible by increased taxation. Congress at once undertook the task of providing for a great army to be raised by selective draft and of framing new revenue laws.
GENERAL REFERENCES J. B. Moore, Principles of American Diplomacy, pp. 66-101 ; F. A. Ogg, National Progress, Chaps. XVIII-XXI; Woodrow Wilson, Why We Are at War (A collection of the president's addresses preceding and following the declaration of war); André Chéradame, The Pan-German Plot Unmasked; Arthur Bullard, The Diplomacy of the Great War; J. M. Beck, The Evidence in the Case; G. L. Beer, The English-Speaking Peoples; J. B. Scott, The American View of the War against the Imperial German Government, 2 Vols.; U. S. Department of State, Diplomatic Correspondence with Belligerent Governments Relating to Neutral Rights and Commerce; The American Year Book (issued annually since 1910 by Appleton); A. B. Hart and A. O. Lovejoy, Handbook of the War for Public Speakers, issued by the National Security League, contains excellent bibliography on the various phases of the war.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776. A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA, IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:- That all men are created equal ; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happi
Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained ; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise ; the State remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States ; for that purpose obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners ; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.
He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.
He has combined with others to subje to a jurisdiction gn to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation :
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;
For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States;
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world ;