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READINGS IN CONTEMPORARY HISTORY
MORRIS EDMUND SPEARE
WALTER BLAKE NORRIS
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH IN THE UNITED STATES
GINN AND COMPANY
AND WALTER BLAKE NORRIS
The Athenæum Press
Every generation needs to be addressed in its own language. — Bosanquet
For youth whose education begins upon a momentous day in history, when vast and cataclysmic political changes must needs influence educational methods as well, this book of essays, sketches, addresses, and state papers has been framed. Time-worn ideals and policies of every nation which had become permanent parts of their people's character and established tenets of their constitutional life have been lifted by a great historical crisis into the foreground. They are being subjected to a searching examination by a majority of humanity to prove that they are worth the millions of lives and the billions of wealth that have been spent in their defense. It is especially necessary for American youth, the ideals of whose nation have been suddenly proposed for framing the basic principles of a world democracy, that they understand what is the best modern interpretation of those ideals, and what are the ideals of those nations whom we are to-day influencing and with whom we have been allied. A new program for a cosmopolitan education must be hereafter adopted. We must henceforth cultivate — to use President Butler's admirable phrase — the quality of "international-mindedness.”
Experience of some years in instructing college youth, and at present young men in the United States Naval Academy, where, since the beginning of the World War, considerable attention has been given to the study of the underlying causes and the issues of that war, has bred confidence in the belief that in a book of the character here presented may be found the most expedient means and the most effective method of furnishing, in a brief space of time and without the need of elaborate study, a comprehensive and well-rounded survey of those profound ideas whose significance now engages the attention of the entire thinking world. A further result of that experience has bred the conviction that to latter-day youth, in these stirring
times, ideals and issues become living realities only in direct proportion to the respect which is awakened in them for the influence and the character of the writer or the speaker whose works they study. If a man has proved in the present his ability to influence events, if his discussions upon matters of national import show his ability to rephrase old traditions in terms of contemporary life, that man — rewarded with influence and recognized with leadership — is most likely to quicken and invigorate his youthful reader; far more so, indeed, than is the other writer or speaker who, while living a generation before and enunciating principles which have since become classic examples of conduct, has not himself reached the fringe of this vital present day when the whole world has been battling for an Ideal.
In emphasizing the need of making ideas living realities to American youth, the editors feel themselves in accord with certain pedagogical principles which have, in recent years, exerted a considerable influence upon introductory courses in our colleges and universities. Not the least important example of this influence is to be found in the program of the War Issues Course fashioned by the Committee on Education and Special Training for the purposes of the War Department. "The purpose of the War Issues Course,” says that Committee, " is to enhance the morale of the members of the Corps by giving them an understanding of what the war is about and the supreme importance to civilization of the cause for which we are fighting.” It was intended to make this War of Ideas a living reality to each man.' The Committee therefore desired that, so far as the limited time of the course allowed, opportunity should be made for a discussion of the various points of view, the attitudes of life and of society, the philosophy which we have been called upon to defend, and the ideas against which we have fought. The student possessing a knowledge of the issues and the ideals at stake in the international situation and giving some reflection to the various national characteristics and to the conflicts in the points of view — as these are expressed in the literature and the history of the various states — would then realize the full purpose and the international character of the War Issues Course. When one now considers the almost immeasurable
influence which the events of the last several years will have upon our education hereafter, and recalls also the particular influence which the Committee on Education and Special Training has had upon the college and university life in more recent days, one may well predict that however temporary may be the physical place of this particular group of educators, its intellectual influence will be obvious for many years to come.
Altogether in sympathy with this influence, and in order to present the issues and the ideals which have been so significant in these momentous historical times in a form that is compact as well as unqualifiedly authoritative, the editors have made this survey of national and international motives. It has been a peculiar privilege to be able to gather this collection of essays, speeches, and sketches from so many distinguished sources and from the writings of so various a group of statesmen and of men of letters. In spite of the variety of material, it is hoped that the arrangement here will suggest some sense of unity. The editors have sought, first, through the most distinguished spokesmen of the major warring nations, to present the conflicting issues of the war, the spirit which has guided their youth and their citizenry, and the ideals underlying the philosophy and the history of their respective governments. Then, the gains from the war as these are now possible to approximate, the relation of force to peace in a democracy, the conditions which may hereafter make for a permanent peace, the vision of the new Europe which shall henceforth arise — all these it has been thought desirable to reflect not alone from President Wilson's state papers but also from the writings of distinguished educators and scholars. To youthful readers, furthermore, and to nonparticipants generally, no great crisis of a political or social nature can be made a reality by an appeal to the intellect alone. Some reflection of the atmosphere of the war, presenting in its narrative and descriptive sketches a challenge to the imagination and the senses of the reader, has, therefore, also been thought worth including. Finally, since this book of selections is intended primarily for American youth, a reflection more or less comprehensive is necessary to remind the student of certain permanent aims and ideas underlying American character and American politics.