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America. Upon the farmers of this country, therefore, in large measure, rests the fate of the war and the fate of the nations. May the nation not count upon them to omit no step that will increase the production of their land or that will bring about the most effectual cooperation in the sale and distribution of their products? The time is short. It is of the most imperative importance that everything possible be done and done immediately to make sure of large harvests. I call upon young men and old alike and upon the able-bodied boys of the land to accept and act upon this duty—to turn in hosts to the farms and make certain that no pains and no labor is lacking in this great matter.
I particularly appeal to the farmers of the South to plant abundant food stuffs as well as cotton. They can show their patriotism in no better or more convincing way than by resisting the great temptation of the present price of cotton and helping, helping upon a great scale, to feed the nation and the peoples everywhere who are fighting for their liberties and for our own. The variety of their crops will be the visible measure of their comprehension of their national duty.
The Government of the United States and the governments of the several States stand ready to cooperate. They will do everything possible to assist farmers in securing an adequate supply of seed, an adequate force of laborers when they are most needed, at harvest time, and the means of expediting shipments of fertilizers and farm machinery, as well as of the crops themselves when harvested. The course of trade shall be as unhampered as it is possible to make it and there shall be no unwarranted manipulation of the nation's food supply by those who handle it on its way to the consumer. This is our opportunity to demonstrate the efficiency of a great Democracy and we shall not fall short of it!
This let me say to the middlemen of every sort, whether they are handling our food stuffs or our raw materials of manufacture or the products of our mills and factories: The eyes of the country will be especially upon you. This is your opportunity for signal service, efficient and disinterested. The country expects you, as it expects all others, to forego unusual profits, to organize and expedite shipments of supplies of every kind, but especially of food, with an eye to the service you are rendering and in the spirit of those who enlist in the ranks, for their people, not for themselves. I shall confidently expect you to deserve and win the confidence of people of every sort and station.
To the men who run the railways of the country, whether they be managers or operative employees, let me say that the railways are the arteries of the nation's life and that upon them rests the immense responsibility of seeing to it that those arteries suffer no obstruction of any kind, no inefficiency or slackened power. To the merchant let me suggest the motto, "Small profits and quick service"; and to the shipbuilder the thought that the life of the war depends upon him. The food and the war supplies must be carried across the seas no matter how many ships are sent to the bottom. The places of those that go down must be supplied and supplied at once. To the miner let me say that he stands where the farmer does: the work of the world waits on him. If he slackens or fails, armies and statesmen are helpless. He also is enlisted in the great Service Army. The manufacturer does not need to be told, I hope, that the nation looks to him to speed and perfect every process; and I want only to remind his employees that their service is absolutely indispensable and is counted on by every man who loves the country and its liberties.
Let me suggest, also, that everyone who creates or cultivates a garden helps, and helps greatly, to solve the problem of the feeding of the nations; and that every housewife who practices strict economy puts herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation. This is the time for America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and extravagance. Let every man and every woman assume the duty of careful, provident use and expenditure as a public duty, as a dictate of patriotism which no one can now expect ever to be excused or forgiven for ignoring.
In the hope that this statement of the needs of the nation and of the world in this hour of supreme crisis may stimulate those to whom it comes and remind all who need reminder of the solemn duties of a time such as the world has never seen before, I beg that all editors and publishers everywhere will give as prominent publication and as wide circulation as possible to this appeal. I venture to suggest, also, to all advertising agencies that they would perhaps render a very substantial and timely service to the country if they would give it widespread repetition. And I hope that clergymen will not think the theme of it an unworthy or inappropriate subject of comment and homily from their pulpits.
The supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act, and serve together!
President Wilson's Address At Dedication Of The Red Cross Building, Washington, May 12, 1917
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It gives me a very deep gratification as the titular head of the American Red Cross to accept in the name of that association this significant and beautiful gift, the gift of the Government and of private individuals who have conceived their duty in a noble spirit and upon a great scale. It seems to me that the architecture of the building to which the Secretary of War, Mr. Baker, alluded suggests something very significant. There are few buildings in Wash
ington more simple in their lines and in their ornamentation than the beautiful building we are dedicating this evening. It breathes a spirit of modesty and seems to adorn duty with its proper garment of beauty. It is significant that it should be dedicated to the women who serve to alleviate suffering and comfort those who were in need during our Civil War, because their thoughtful, disinterested, selfsacrificing devotion is the spirit which should always illustrate the services of the Red Cross.
The Red Cross needs at this time more than it ever needed before the comprehending support of the American people and all the facilities which could be placed at its disposal to perform its duties adequately and efficiently. I believe that the American people perhaps hardly yet realize the sacrifices and sufferings that are before them. We thought the scale of our Civil War was unprecedented, but in comparison with the struggle into which we have now entered the Civil War seems almost insignificant in its proportions and in its expenditure of treasure and of blood. And, therefore, it is a matter of the greatest importance that we should at the outset see to it that the American Red Cross is equipped and prepared for the things that lie before it. It will be our instrument to do the works of alleviation and of mercy which will attend this struggle. Of course, the scale upon which it shall act will be greater than the scale of any other duty that it has ever attempted to perform.
It is in recognition of that fact that the American Red Cross has just added to its organization a small body of men whom it has chosen to call its War Council—not because they are to counsel war, but because they are to serve in this special war those purposes of counsel which have become so imperatively necessary. Their first duty will be to raise a great fund out of which to draw the resources for the performance of their duty, and I do not believe that it will be necessary to appeal to the American people to respond to their call for funds, because the heart of this country is in this war, and if the heart of the country is in the war, its heart will express itself in the gifts that will be poured out for these humane purposes.
I say the heart of the country is in this war because it would not have gone into it if its heart had not been prepared for it. It would not have gone into it if it had not first believed that here was an opportunity to express the character of the United States. We have gone in with no special grievance of our own, because we have always said that we were the friends and servants of mankind. We look for no profit. We look for no advantage. We will accept no advantage out of this war. We go because we believe that the very principles upon which the American Republic was founded are now at stake and must be vindicated. In such a contest, therefore, we shall not fail to respond to the call to service that comes through the instrumentality of this particular organization.
And I think it not inappropriate to say this: There will be many expressions of the spirit of sympathy and mercy and philanthropy, and I think that it is very necessary that ive should not disperse our activities in those lines too much; that we should keep constantly in view the desire to have the utmost concentration and efficiency of effort, and I hope that most, if not all of the philanthropic activities of this war may be exercised if not through the Red Cross, then through some already-constituted and experienced organization. This is no war for amateurs. This is no war for mere spontaneous impulse. It means grim business on every side of it, and it is the mere counsel of prudence that in our philanthropy, as well as in our fighting, we should act through the instrumentalities already prepared to our hand and already experienced in the tasks which are going to be assigned to them. This should be merely the expression of the practical genius of America itself, and I believe that the practical genius of America will dictate that the efforts