« ПретходнаНастави »
the railroad brotherhoods in August of 1916, as well as the general policy of his Administration, had won him the invaluable support of the American Federation of Labor, and this good understanding, together with the unprecedented wage scales which came into operation in most industries with the war emergency, gave to the United States Government much more firm support from organized labor than most of the allied countries had been able to obtain.
But this war touched every department of human affairs. The Allies were short of food, and one of the first achievements of the American Government was the institution of a limited food control in the United States, under the directorship of Herbert Hoover. Saving of food by voluntary effort was popularized, and increased production and reduced consumption prevented the appearance of any serious food crisis in the allied countries. Later a fuel control was instituted under Dr. Harry A. Garfield, and the principle of voluntary self-denial established by the Food Administration was carried on into the field of news, where the newspapers submitted to voluntary restriction of the publication of news that might unfavorably affect military and naval movements. The Committee on Public Information, headed by George Creel, was in general supervision of this work, and, though it was, on the whole, unpopular and accomplished no very useful purpose at home, it developed during 1918 a service of European propaganda which was of immense value in heartening the Allies, informing the neutrals and discouraging the enemy.
For all this money was needed, and in May and June the first Liberty Loan of $2,000,000,000 was put before the public in an intensive campaign of publicity. Mr. McAdoo proved himself an extremely able advertiser of the public finances, and with the vigorous coöperation of banks and business men the loan was more than 50 per cent oversubscribed. There were other and larger loans later, but after the success of the first one there was no doubt that they would be taken; the first great accomplishment in national financing was almost as much of a surprise to the public as the ready acceptance of the draft.
Early in April the railroads were put in charge of a committee of five railroad Presidents, who were given great powers in the combination of facilities for better service. But the system did not work well, and on Dec. 26, 1917, the President announced the assumption by the Government of control of the railroads for the war emergency, with Mr. McAdoo as Director General.
Nineteen hundred and seventeen, then, saw the Wilson Administration undertaking far heavier burdens than any previous Administration had attempted, and meeting with a measure of success which was beyond all prediction. The most powerful nation in the world was getting ready for war on an enormous scale, getting ready slowly, to be sure, but with a surprising ease and a surprising harmony. The nation which had re-elected the President in November because he had kept it out of war was whole-heartedly behind him from April on as he led it into war.
But great as was the President's moral authority at home, it ✓ was still greater abroad. The principles proclaimed in his address of April 2, and repeated and elaborated later in the year, became the creed of almost every political element in Europe except the German military party. The Russian revolution was still a liberalizing influence, in the early part of the year, and self-determination began to be proclaimed over all Europe as the central principle of any satisfactory peace settlement. In the allied countries, where Mr. Wilson's forbearance toward Germany had been heaped with ridicule for the last two years, he became over night the interpreter of the ideals for which the democratic Peoples were fighting. Hereafter in any negotiations with Germany the President by general consent acted as the spokesman of all the allied Governments, and the peoples of the allied countries accepted his declarations as a sort of codification of the principles of the war. It must be left for the historian of the future to decide how much of this deference was due to appreciation of the President's service in clarifying the allied ideals, and how much to his position as head of the most powerful nation in the world, whose intervention was expected to bring victory to the Allies.
But in other countries as well, Wilson's ideals had become a dogma to which everybody professed allegiance no matter what his views. The President's principles, as publicly expressed in his speeches, had been in effect a declaration of worthy ends, such as all right thinking persons desired. He had been less concerned with the means to those ends, and consequently all who agreed with his principles were inclined to assert that the President's ideals were exemplified by their own practices. In 1917 the President enjoyed the unusual experience of seeing American liberals, British Laborites, three or four kinds of Russian Socialists, neutral Socialists, neutral clericals, neutral pacifists and even certain groups in the enemy countries all proclaiming their adherence to the ideals of President Wilson.
For a time, indeed, it seemed that the war might be decided by moral force. Beginning to take alarm at the activity of America, and not yet certain of the effect of the Russian revolution (which was having grave consequences in Austria-Hungary) the Germans inclined during the Summer of 1917 to a new peace offensive. Bethmann Hollweg was dropped on July 14, and five days later a majority of the Reichstag voted for a peace virtually on the basis of the status quo ante. In August the Vatican issued a peace proposal suggesting a settlement on that general principle, with territorial and racial disputes to be left for later adjustment; and the Socialists of Europe were preparing to meet at Stockholm for a peace conference of their own influenced by the same ideas.
But the President had changed his opinion that America had no
concern with the causes and the objects of the wai; he had had to search for and explore the obscure foundations from which the tremendous flood had burst forth. His Flag Day speech on June 14 showed that he was now thinking of the political and economic aspects of the German drive for world supremacy; and when the allied powers intrusted him with the task of answering the Pope's peace suggestion in the name of all of them, he declared that “we cannot take the word of the present rulers of Germany as a guarantee for anything that is to endure.” The German Government could not be trusted with a peace without victory.
That peace offensive died out in early Fall. The Germans had lost interest, for they seemed likely to reach their objective in other ways. Things were going badly for the Allies. The offensives in the west had broken down and France's striking power seemed exhausted. Italy suffered a terrific defeat in October. America was preparing, but had not yet arrived, and the chief result of the Russian revolution had been the collapse of the eastern front. When in November the Bolsheviki overthrew Kerensky and prepared to make peace at any price, it was evident that the German armies in France would soon be enormously reinforced So the Winter of 1917–18 saw a new peace offensive, but this time most of the work was done by the Allies, and the object was to detach Austria-Hungary from Germany.
The item of principal interest in the long-range bombardment of speeches on war aims by which the statesmen of the various powers conducted this exchange of views was the proclamation of the famous Fourteen Points, in which the President for the first time put his ideas as to the conditions of a just peace into somewhat specific form. The origin of this program, which was eventually to become the basis of the peace treaty, is still a matter of conjecture. Lloyd George on Jan. 5, 1918, had stated war aims in some respects identical with those which the President embodied in the Fourteen Points three days later. A good deal of the program had been included in the allied statement of Jan. 11, 1917, but the Fourteen Points were somewhat more moderate. They seemed to be, indeed, a rather hasty recension of old programs in the effort to modify allied aspirations so that Austria would accept them; for while the Fourteen Points professed to contain the scheme of a just peace, they were set forth as a step in the endeavor to persuade Austria to desert her ally. As it happened, Austria could not have deserted Germany even if she had desired; and, in any event, the effort to compromise was quite impracticable. The section referring to Austrian internal problems, for instance, proposed a solution which the Austrian Government had rejected only a few weeks before, and which the Austrian subject nationalities would no longer have been willing to accept
Whatever the origin of the Fourteen Points, their immediate effect was slight. The Austrians, and to a lesser extent the Germans, professed interest, but it was soon apparent that the Germans at least were not ready to approach the allied point of view. And the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, forced upon Russia on March 3, was in such stark contrast with the benevolent professions of German statesmen that the President realized that nothing could be gained by debate and compromise. On April 6, in a speech at Baltimore, he declared that only one argument was now of use against the Germans—“force to the utmost, force without stint or limit.” The process of conversion from the viewpoint of January, 1917, was complete.
As a matter of fact, however, the application of force had already begun. On March 21 Ludendorff had opened his great offensive in France which was to bring the war to a German victory, and for the next few months Foch, and not Wilson, was the dominant personality among the Allies. And for a time it seemed that however much America had contributed to the moral struggle between the alliances, she would be able to furnish comparatively little force. The winter of 1917-18 had been full of humiliations. The railroad disorganization which had led to the proclamation of Government control at the end of December was being cleared up only slowly. The Fuel Administration was in an even worse tangle, and in January business and industry had to shut down for several days throughout the whole Eastern part of the country in order to find coal to move food trains to the ports. Great sums of money and enormous volumes of boasting had been expended on airplane construction without getting any airplanes. Hundreds of millions had been poured into shipyards and ships were only beginning to come from the ways. The richest nation in the world allowed hundreds of its soldiers to die in cantonment hospitals because of insufficient attention and inadequate supplies. Artillery regiments' were being trained with wooden guns and only 150,000 Americans, many of them technical troops, were in France.
The Secretary of War, called before a Congressional committee to answer questions on these shortcomings, had created the impression that he either did not know that anything was wrong or did not care. On Jan. 19 Senator Chamberlain, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, declared that “the military establishment of the United States has broken down; it has almost stopped functioning,” and that there was “inefficiency in every bureau and department of the Government.” The next day he introduced bills for a War Cabinet and a Director of Munitions, which would practically have taken the military and industrial conduct of the war out of the President's hands.
The President met the challenge boldly with the declaration that Senator Chamberlain's statement was “an astonishing and unjustifiable distortion of the truth," and must have been due to
The Fourteen Points
President Wilson's program for the world's peace was outlined in the Fourteen Points, which constituted part of an address delivered before Congress January 8, 1918, as follows:
No Private Understandings 1 Open Covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
Freedom of the Seas 2 ABSOLUTE FREEDOM of navigation upon the seas outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
No Economic Barriers
3 The REMOVAL, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
Reduce National Armaments 4 ADEQUATE GUARANTEEs given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with damestic safety.
Colonial Claims 5 A FREE, open minded and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
Russian Territory 6 The EVACUATION of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and naticnal policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing, and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good-will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguish fruir, their own interests and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.