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to find free voice and utterance. Perhaps I am the only person in high authority amongst all the peoples of the world who is at liberty to speak and hold nothing back. I am speaking as an individual, and yet I am speaking also, of course, as the responsible head of a great government, and I feel confident that I have said what the people of the United States would wish me to say. May I not add that I hope and believe that I am in effect speaking for liberals and friends of humanity in every nation and of every program of liberty? I would fain believe that I am speaking for the silent mass of mankind everywhere who have as yet had no place or opportunity to speak their real hearts out concerning the death and ruin they see to have come already upon the persons and the homes they hold most dear.
Nation Ready to Aid.
“And in holding out the expectation that the people and government of the United States will join the other civilized nations of the world in guaranteeing the permanence of peace upon such terms as I have named, I speak with the greatest boldness and confidence because it is clear to every man who can think that there is in this promise no breach in either our traditions or our policy as a nation, but a fulfillment rather, of all that we have professed or striven for.
“I am proposing, as it were, that the nations should with one accord adopt the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world: ‘That no nation should seek to extend its policy over any other nation or people, but that every people should be left free to determine its own policy, its own way of development, 11nhindered, unthreatened, unafraid, the little along with the great and powerful.” -
“I am proposing that all nations henceforth avoid entangling alliance which would draw them into competitions of power, catch them in a net of intrigue and selfish rivalry and disturb their own affairs with influence introduced from without. There is no entangling alliance in a concert of power. When all unite to act in the same sense and with the same purpose all act in the common interest and are free to live their own lives under a common protection.
“I am proposing government by the consent of the governed ;
that freedom of the seas which in international conference after conference representatives of the United States have urged with the eloquence of those who are the convinced disciples of liberty and that moderation of armaments which makes of armies and navies a power for order merely, not an instrument of aggression or of selfish violence.
“These are American principles, American policies. We can stand for no other. And they are also the principles and policies of forward looking men and women everywhere, of every modern nation, of every enlightened community. They are the principles of mankind and must prevail.”
Germany had declared RUTHLESS UNDER-SEA warfare to commence February 1st, 1917, and had notified all governments to that effect. The date announced was awaited with anxiety and anticipation. Results soon convinced the world what “ruthless U-boat warfare” meant; it simply meant the torpedoing of every kind of vessel within reach.
On February twenty-sixth, President Wilson reported to Congress the destructtion of American merchant vessels, and recommended that all such ships should be armed for defense against attacks of U-boats. But this proved ineffective and disastrous, so on the second day of April, 1917, the Congress was called in extra session, and in his message on the opening day, the President declared that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany and recommended that steps be discussed and determined upon for defensive and progressive warfare against Germany until Prussian militarism is crushed, and universal peace in conformity with his message on January 22nd shall be established.
In this Message, one of the most remarkable state documents, considering the moral tone, the high ideals, the clever distinction, the clear and forceful expression, President Wilson calls attention to the fact, that the “new policy of the Germans has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the prescribed areas by the German government itself, and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or principle.
President Wilson's War-Message With a Few Abbreviations Follows:
“I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of the non-combatants, men, women and children, engaged in pursuits, which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be. “The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorial assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion >k >k
“Armed neutrality “ ” * is likely at once to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the right or the effectiveness of belligerentS.
“There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of mak111g :
*we will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most
sacred rights of the nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are not common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.
Declaration of War Against Germany.
“With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking, and the grave responsibility which it involves but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and the 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.
Co-operation With Entente Allies.
“What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable co-operation in counsel and action with governments now in war with Germany, and, as incident to that, the extentions to those governments of the most liberal financial credits, in order that our resources may, so far as possible, be added to theirs. It will involve the organization and mobilization of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of the war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant, and yet the most economical and efficient way possible. It will involve the immediate full equipment of the navy in all respects, but particularly in supplying it with the best means in dealing with the enemy's submarines. It will involve the immediate additon to the armed forces of the Unted States already provided for by law in case of war, at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service, and also the authorization of subsequent additional increments of equal force as soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training.
Credits, Taxation, Loans.
“It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained, by the present generation by well conceived taxation. I say sustained so far as may be equitable by taxation, because it seems to me to be most unwise to base the credits which will now be necessary entirely on money borrowed. It is our duty, I most respectfully urge, to protect our people so far as we may against the very serious hardships and evils which would be likely to arise out of the inflation which would be produced by vast loans.
“In carrying out the measures by which these things are to be accomplished, we should keep constantly in mind the wisdom of interfering as little as possible in our own preparation and in the equipment of our own military forces with the duty—for it will be a very practical duty—in supplying the nations already at war with Germany with the materials which they can obtain only from us or by our assistance. They are in the field, and we should help them in every way to be effective there * * *.
No Quarrel With the German People.
“We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering the war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval.
“It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined on in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers, and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their men as pawns and tools + ° *.
Steadfast Concert for Peace.
“A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honor, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plotting of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one WOULD BE A CORRUPTION SEATED AT ITS VERY HEART. Only free peoples can hold their purpose and honor steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own * * *.
No Selfish Ends to Serve.
“We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We need no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifice we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been as secure as the faith and the freedom of the nations can make them.
“Just because we fight without rancor or selfish objects, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share as free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctillo the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for. * * *.
“It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with a desire to bring any injury or disadvantge upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all consideration of humanity and of right and is running amuck * * *.
“Right More Precious Than Peace.”
“It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing 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 government, for the right and liberties of SMALL NATIONS, for a UNIVERSAL DOMINION OF RIGHT by such a concert of free people, 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 * * * God helping her, she can do no other.”