IN OUR FIRST YEAR OF WAR
MESSAGES AND ADDRESSES TO THE CONGRESS AND THE PEOPLE MARCH 5, 1917, TO JANUARY 8, 1918
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Frontispiece from drawing by WILFRID MUIR EVANS
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON
IN OUR FIRST YEAR OF WAR
WHY WE ARE AT WAR. 16mo
A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE Profusely illustrated. 5 volumes. 8vo Cloth Three-quarter Calf Three-quarter Levant
GEORGE WASHINGTON. Illustrated. 8vo Popular Edition
WHEN A MAN COMES TO HIMSELF. 16mo. Cloth. Leather
ON BEING HUMAN 16mo. Cloth. Leather
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES 16mo. Cloth. Leather
HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK
I. THE SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS 1 (March 5, 1917)
II. WE MUST ACCEPT WAR 9 (Message to the Congress, April 2, 1917)
III. A STATE OF WAR 26 (The President's Proclamation of April 6, 1917)
IV. "SPEAK, ACT AND SERVE TOGETHER" 32 (Message to the American people, April 15, 1917)
V. THE CONSCRIPTION PROCLAMATION 40 (May 18, 1917)
VI. CONSERVING THE NATION'S FOOD 49 (May 19, 1917)
VII. AN ANSWER TO CRITICS 54 (May 22, 1917)
VIII. MEMORIAL DAY ADDRESS 56 (May 30, 1917)
IX. A STATEMENT TO RUSSIA 59 (June 9, 1917)
X. FLAG-DAY ADDRESS 64 (June 14, 1917)
XI. AN APPEAL TO THE BUSINESS INTERESTS 76 (July 11, 1917)
XII. REPLY TO THE POPE 83 (August 27, 1917)
XIII. A MESSAGE TO TEACHERS AND SCHOOL OFFICERS 89 (September 30, 1917)
XIV. WOMAN SUFFRAGE MUST COME NOW 92 (October 25, 1917)
XV. THE THANKSGIVING DAY PROCLAMATION 96 (November 7, 1917)
XVI. LABOR MUST BEAR ITS PART 99 (November 12, 1917)
XVII. ADDRESS TO THE CONGRESS 112 (December 4, 1917)
XVIII. PROCLAMATION OF WAR AGAINST AUSTRIA-HUNGARY 130 (December 12, 1917)
XIX. THE GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER THE RAILROADS 134 (A Statement by the President, December 26, 1917)
XX. GOVERNMENT OPERATION OF RAILROADS 143 (Address to the Congress, January 4, 1918)
XXI. THE TERMS OF PEACE 150 (January 8, 1918)
This book opens with the second inaugural address and contains the President's messages and addresses since the United States was forced to take up arms against Germany. These pages may be said to picture not only official phases of the great crisis, but also the highest significance of liberty and democracy and the reactions of President and people to the great developments of the times. The second Inaugural Address with its sense of solemn responsibility serves as a prophecy as well as prelude to the declaration of war and the message to the people which followed so soon.
The extracts from the Conscription Proclamation, the messages on Conservation and the Fixing of Prices, the Appeal to Business Interests, the Address to the Federation of Labor and the Railroad messages present the solid every-day realities and the vast responsibilities of war-time as they affect every American. These are concrete messages which should be at hand for frequent reference, just as the uplift and inspiration of lofty appeals like the Memorial Day and Flag Day addresses should be a constant source of inspiration. There are also the clarifying and vigorous definitions of American purpose afforded in utterances like the statement to Russia, the reply to the communication of the Pope, and, most emphatically, the President's restatement of War Aims on January 8th. These and other state papers from the early spring of 1917 to January, 1918, have a significance and value in this collected form which has been attested by the many requests that have come to Harper & Brothers, as President Wilson's publishers, for a war volume of the President's messages to follow Why We Are At War.
As a matter of course, the President has been consulted in regard to the plan of publication, and the conditions which he requested have been observed. For title, arrangement, headings, and like details the publishers are responsible. They have held the publication of the President's words of enlightenment and inspiration to be a public service. And they think that there is no impropriety in adding that in the case of this book, and Why We Are At War, the American Red Cross receives all author's royalties.
In the case of the former book the evolution of events which led to war was illustrated in messages from January to April 15th. In the preparation of this book, which begins with the second inaugural, it has seemed desirable to present practically all the messages of war-time, and therefore three papers are included which appeared in the former and smaller book, in addition to the twenty-one messages and addresses which have been collected for this volume.
IN OUR FIRST YEAR OF WAR
IN OUR FIRST YEAR OF WAR
THE SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS
(March 5, 1917)
My Fellow-citizens,—The four years which have elapsed since last I stood in this place have been crowded with counsel and action of the most vital interest and consequence. Perhaps no equal period in our history has been so fruitful of important reforms in our economic and industrial life or so full of significant changes in the spirit and purpose of our political action. We have sought very thoughtfully to set our house in order, correct the grosser errors and abuses of our industrial life, liberate and quicken the processes of our national genius and energy, and lift our politics to a broader view of the people's essential interests. It is a record of singular variety and singular distinction. But I shall not attempt to review it. It speaks for itself and will be of increasing influence as the years go by. This is not the time for retrospect. It is time, rather, to speak our thoughts and purposes concerning the present and the immediate future.
A COSMOPOLITAN EPOCH AT HAND
Although we have centered counsel and action with such unusual concentration and success upon the great problems of domestic legislation to which we addressed ourselves four years ago, other matters have more and more forced themselves upon our attention, matters lying outside our own life as a nation and over which we had no control, but which, despite our wish to keep free of them, have drawn us more and more irresistibly into their own current and influence.
It has been impossible to avoid them. They have affected the life of the whole world. They have shaken men everywhere with a passion and an apprehension they never knew before. It has been hard to preserve calm counsel while the thought of our own people swayed this way and that under their influence. We are a composite and cosmopolitan people. We are of the blood of all the nations that are at war. The currents of our thoughts as well as the currents of our trade run quick at all seasons back and forth between us and them. The war inevitably set its mark from the first alike upon our minds, our industries, our commerce, our politics, and our social action. To be indifferent to it or independent of it was out of the question.
And yet all the while we have been conscious that we were not part of it. In that consciousness, despite many divisions, we have drawn closer together. We have been deeply wronged upon the seas, but we have not wished to wrong or injure in return; have retained throughout the consciousness of standing in some sort apart, intent upon an interest that transcended the immediate issues of the war itself. As some of the injuries done us have become intolerable, we have still been clear that we wished nothing for ourselves that we were not ready to demand for all mankind,—fair dealing, justice, the freedom to live and be at ease against organized wrong.
It is in this spirit and with this thought that we have grown more and more aware, more and more certain that the part we wished to play was the part of those who mean to vindicate and fortify peace. We have been obliged to arm ourselves to make good our claim to a certain minimum of right and of freedom of action. We stand firm in armed neutrality since it seems that in no other way we can demonstrate what it is we insist upon and cannot forego. We may even be drawn on, by circumstances, not by our own purpose or desire, to a more active assertion of our rights as we see them and a more immediate association with the great struggle itself. But nothing will alter our thought or our purpose. They are too clear to be obscured. They are too deeply rooted in the principles of our national life to be altered. We desire neither conquest nor advantage. We wish nothing that can be had only at the cost of another people. We have always professed unselfish purpose and we covet the opportunity to prove that our professions are sincere.
THE SPIRIT OF CO-OPERATION
There are many things still to do at home, to clarify our own politics and give new vitality to the industrial processes of our own life, and we shall do them as time and opportunity serve; but we realize that the greatest things that remain to be done must be done with the whole world for stage and in co-operation with the wide and universal forces of mankind, and we are making our spirits ready for those things. They will follow in the immediate wake of the war itself and will set civilization up again. We are provincials no longer. The tragical events of the thirty months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. Our own fortunes as a nation are involved, whether we would have it so or not.
And yet we are not the less Americans on that account. We shall be the more American if we but remain true to the principles in which we have been bred. They are not the principles of a province or of a single continent. We have known and boasted all along that they were the principles of a liberated mankind. These, therefore, are the things we shall stand for, whether in war or in peace:
OUR NATIONAL PLATFORM
That all nations are equally interested in the peace of the world and in the political stability of free peoples, and equally responsible for their maintenance;
That the essential principle of peace is the actual equality of nations in all matters of right or privilege;
That peace cannot securely or justly rest upon an armed balance of power;
That Governments derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed and that no other powers should be supported by the common thought, purpose or power of the family of nations;
That the seas should be equally free and safe for the use of all peoples, under rules set up by common agreement and consent, and that, so far as practicable, they should be accessible to all upon equal terms;
That national armaments should be limited to the necessities of national order and domestic safety;
That the community of interest and of power upon which peace must henceforth depend imposes upon each nation the duty of seeing to it that all influences proceeding from its own citizens meant to encourage or assist revolution in other states should be sternly and effectually suppressed and prevented.
A UNITY OF PURPOSE AND ACTION
I need not argue these principles to you, my fellow-countrymen: they are your own, part and parcel of your own thinking and your own motive in affairs. They spring up native amongst us. Upon this as a platform of purpose and of action we can stand together.
And it is imperative that we should stand together. We are being forged into a new unity amidst the fires that now blaze throughout the world. In their ardent heat we shall, in God's providence, let us hope, be purged of faction and division, purified of the errant humors of party and of private interest, and shall stand forth in the days to come with a new dignity of national pride and spirit. Let each man see to it that the dedication is in his own heart, the high purpose of the nation in his own mind, ruler of his own will and desire.
I stand here and have taken the high and solemn oath to which you have been audience because the people of the United States have chosen me for this august delegation of power and have by their gracious judgment named me their leader in affairs. I know now what the task means. I realize to the full the responsibility which it involves. I pray God I may be given the wisdom and the prudence to do my duty in the true spirit of this great people. I am their servant and can succeed only as they sustain and guide me by their confidence and their counsel. The thing I shall count upon, the thing without which neither counsel nor action will avail, is the unity of America—an America united in feeling, in purpose, and in its vision of duty, of opportunity, and of service. We are to beware of all men who would turn the tasks and the necessities of the nation to their own private profit or use them for the building up of private power; beware that no faction or disloyal intrigue break the harmony or embarrass the spirit of our people; beware that our Government be kept pure and incorrupt in all its parts. United alike in the conception of our duty and in the high resolve to perform it in the face of all men, let us dedicate ourselves to the great task to which we must now set our hand. For myself I beg your tolerance, your countenance, and your united aid. The shadows that now lie dark upon our path will soon be dispelled and we shall walk with the light all about us if we be but true to ourselves—to ourselves as we have wished to be known in the counsels of the world and in the thought of all those who love liberty and justice and the right exalted.
WE MUST ACCEPT WAR
(Message to the Congress, April 2, 1917)
Gentlemen of the Congress,—I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.
On the 3d of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government that on and after the first day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean. That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the Imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger-boats should not be sunk, and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats.
The precautions taken were meager and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.
GERMANY'S RUTHLESS POLICY
The new policy 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 those of 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 proscribed 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 of principle.
I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would, in fact, be done by any Government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion, and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up with meager enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view at least of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded.
This minimum of right the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity, and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these, which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world.
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 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.
GERMAN WARFARE AGAINST MANKIND
The present German 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 the 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 victorious 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.
When I addressed the Congress on the 26th of February last I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable. Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea.
It is common prudence in such circumstances, grim necessity, indeed, to endeavor to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all.
The German Government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defense of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant-ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be.
Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual; it is likely to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents.
There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making: we will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are not common wrongs; they reach out to the very roots of human life.
BELLIGERENCY THRUST UPON US
With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities 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 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.
WHAT THIS WILL INVOLVE
What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable co-operation in counsel and action with the Governments now at war with Germany, and as incident to that the extension 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 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 of dealing with the enemy's submarines.
It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United 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 so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training.
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 that it would 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—of 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.
I shall take the liberty of suggesting, through the several executive departments of the Government, for the consideration of your committees measures for the accomplishment of the several objects I have mentioned. I hope that it will be your pleasure to deal with them as having been framed after very careful thought by the branch of the Government upon which the responsibility of conducting the war and safeguarding the nation will most directly fall.
OUR MOTIVES AND OBJECTS
While we do these things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear and make very clear to all the world what our motives and our objects are. My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and normal course by the unhappy events of the last two months, and I do not believe that the thought of the nation has been altered or clouded by them.
I have exactly the same thing in mind now that I had in mind when I addressed the Senate on the 22d of January last; the same that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the 3d of February and on the 26th of February.
Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up amongst the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth insure the observance of those principles.
Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic Governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances.
We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their Governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states.
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 this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval.
It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon 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 fellow-men as pawns and tools.
Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbor states with spies or set the course of intrigue to bring about some critical posture of affairs which will give them an opportunity to strike and make conquest. Such designs can be successfully worked only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions.
Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class. They are happily impossible where public opinion commands and insists upon full information concerning all the nation's affairs.
PEACE THROUGH FREE PEOPLES
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 plottings 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 their honor steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.
Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia?
Russia was known by those who know it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude toward life.
Autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, in character or purpose; and now it has been shaken and the great, generous Russian people have been added, in all their native majesty and might, to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a league of honor.
One of the things that have served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of Government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of council, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce.
Indeed, it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began, and it is, unhappily, not a matter of conjecture, but a fact proved in our courts of justice, that the intrigues which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction, of official agents of the Imperial German Government accredited to the Government of the United States.
Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people toward us (who were, no doubt, as ignorant of them as we ourselves were), but only in the selfish designs of a Government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing. But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that Government entertains no real friendship for us and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience. That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted note to the German Minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence.
A CHALLENGE OF HOSTILE PURPOSE
We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a Government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic Governments of the world.
We are now about to accept the gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty, and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German people included; for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the trusted foundations of political liberty.
We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices 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 made as secure as the faith and the freedom of the nation can make them.
Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish objects, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.
I have said nothing of the Governments allied with the Imperial Government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honor.
The Austro-Hungarian Government has indeed avowed its unqualified indorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the Imperial German Government, and it has therefore not been possible for this Government to receive Count Tarnowski, the ambassador recently accredited to this Government by the Imperial and Royal Government of Austria-Hungary; but that Government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna.
OPPOSITION TO THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT
FRIENDSHIP TOWARD THE GERMAN PEOPLE
We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.
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 the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible Government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck.
We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early re-establishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us—however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present Government through all these bitter months because of that friendship—exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible.
We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions toward the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live amongst us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it toward all who are, in fact, loyal to their neighbors and to the Government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose. If there should be disloyalty it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression; but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there and without countenance except from a lawless and malignant few.
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 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. God helping her, she can do no other.
A STATE OF WAR
(The President's Proclamation of April 6, 1917)
Whereas, the Congress of the United States, in the exercise of the constitutional authority vested in them, have resolved by joint resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives, bearing date this day, that a state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared;
Whereas, It is provided by Section 4067 of the Revised Statutes as follows:
Whenever there is declared a war between the United States and any foreign nation or Government, or any invasion or predatory incursion is perpetrated, attempted or threatened against the territory of the United States by any foreign nation or Government, and the President makes public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of a hostile nation or Government being male of the age of fourteen years and upward who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained secured and removed as alien enemies.
The President is authorized in any such event, by his proclamation thereof or other public acts, to direct the conduct to be observed on the part of the United States toward the aliens who become so liable; the manner and degree of the restraint to which they shall be subject and in what cases and upon what security their residence shall be permitted and to provide for the removal of those who, not being permitted to reside within the United States, refuse or neglect to depart therefrom, and to establish any such regulations which are found necessary in the premises and for the public safety;
Whereas, By Sections 4068, 4069, and 4070 of the Revised Statutes further provision is made relative to alien enemies;
Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim to all whom it may concern that a state of war exists between the United States and the Imperial German Government, and I do specially direct all officers, civil or military, of the United States that they exercise vigilance and zeal in the discharge of the duties incident to such a state of war, and I do, moreover, earnestly appeal to all American citizens that they, in loyal devotion to their country, dedicated from its foundation to the principles of liberty and justice, uphold the laws of the land and give undivided and willing support to those measures which may be adopted by the constitutional authorities in prosecuting the war to a successful issue and in obtaining a secure and just peace;
And acting under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the United States and the said sections of the Revised Statutes:
I do hereby further proclaim and direct that the conduct to be observed on the part of the United States toward all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of Germany, being male, of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, who for the purpose of this proclamation and under such sections of the Revised Statutes are termed alien enemies, shall be as follows:
All alien enemies are enjoined to preserve the peace toward the United States and to refrain from crime against the public safety and from violating the laws of the United States and of the States and Territories thereof, and to refrain from actual hostility or giving information, aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States, and to comply strictly with the regulations which are hereby or which may be from time to time promulgated by the President, and so long as they shall conduct themselves in accordance with law they shall be undisturbed in the peaceful pursuit of their lives and occupations and be accorded the consideration due to all peaceful and law-abiding persons, except so far as restrictions may be necessary for their own protection and for the safety of the United States, and toward such alien enemies as conduct themselves in accordance with law all citizens of the United States are enjoined to preserve the peace and to treat them with all such friendliness as may be compatible with loyalty and allegiance to the United States.
And all alien enemies who fail to conduct themselves as so enjoined, in addition to all other penalties prescribed by law, shall be liable to restraint or to give security or to remove and depart from the United States in the manner prescribed by Sections 4069 and 4070 of the Revised Statutes and as prescribed in the regulations duly promulgated by the President.
And, pursuant to the authority vested in me, I hereby declare and establish the following regulations, which I find necessary in the premises and for the public safety:
First. An alien enemy shall not have in his possession at any time or place any firearms, weapons or implement of war, or component parts thereof; ammunition, Maxim or other silencer, arms or explosives or material used in the manufacture of explosives.
Second. An alien enemy shall not have in his possession at any time or place, or use or operate, any aircraft or wireless apparatus, or any form of signaling device, or any form of cipher code or any paper, document or book written or printed in cipher, or in which there may be invisible writing.
Third. All property found in the possession of an alien enemy in violation of the foregoing regulations shall be subject to seizure by the United States.
Fourth. An alien enemy shall not approach or be found within one-half of a mile of any Federal or State fort, camp, arsenal, aircraft station, Government or naval vessel, navy-yard, factory or workshop for the manufacture of munitions of war or of any products for the use of the army or navy.
Fifth. An alien enemy shall not write, print or publish any attack or threat against the Government or Congress of the United States, or either branch thereof, or against the measures or policy of the United States, or against the persons or property of any person in the military, naval or civil service of the United States, or of the States or Territories, or of the District of Columbia, or of the municipal governments therein.
Sixth. An alien enemy shall not commit or abet any hostile acts against the United States, or give information, aid or comfort to its enemies.
Seventh. An alien enemy shall not reside in or continue to reside in, to remain in or enter any locality which the President may from time to time designate by an executive order as a prohibitive area in which residence by an alien enemy shall be found by him to constitute a danger to the public peace and safety of the United States except by permit from the President and except under such limitations or restrictions as the President may prescribe.
Eighth. An alien enemy whom the President shall have reasonable cause to believe to be aiding or about to aid the enemy, or to be at large to the danger of the public peace or safety of the United States, or to have violated or to be about to violate any of these regulations, shall remove to any location designated by the President by executive order, and shall not remove therefrom without permit, or shall depart from the United States if so required by the President.
Ninth. No alien enemy shall depart from the United States until he shall have received such permit as the President shall prescribe, or except under order of a Court, Judge or Justice, under Sections 4069 and 4070 of the Revised Statutes.
Tenth. No alien enemy shall land in or enter the United States except under such restrictions and at such places as the President may prescribe.
Eleventh. If necessary to prevent violation of the regulations, all alien enemies will be obliged to register.
Twelfth. An alien enemy whom there may be reasonable cause to believe to be aiding or about to aid the enemy, or to be at large to the danger of the public peace or safety, or who violates or who attempts to violate or of whom there is reasonable grounds to believe that he is about to violate any regulation to be promulgated by the President or any criminal law of the United States or of the States or Territories thereof, will be subject to summary arrest by the United States, by the United States Marshal or his deputy or such other officers as the President shall designate, and to confinement in such penitentiary, prison, jail, military camp, or other place of detention as may be directed by the President.
This proclamation and the regulations herein contained shall extend and apply to all land and water, continental or insular, in any way within the jurisdiction of the United States.
"SPEAK, ACT AND SERVE TOGETHER"
(Message to the American People, April 15, 1917)
MY FELLOW COUNTRYMEN,—The entrance of our own beloved country into the grim and terrible war for democracy and human rights which has shaken the world creates so many problems of national life and action which call for immediate consideration and settlement that I hope you will permit me to address to you a few words of earnest counsel and appeal with regard to them.
We are rapidly putting our navy upon an effective war footing and are about to create and equip a great army, but these are the simplest parts of the great task to which we have addressed ourselves. There is not a single selfish element, so far as I can see, in the cause we are fighting for. We are fighting for what we believe and wish to be the rights of mankind and for the future peace and security of the world. To do this great thing worthily and successfully we must devote ourselves to the service without regard to profit or material advantage and with an energy and intelligence that will rise to the level of the enterprise itself. We must realize to the full how great the task is and how many things, how many kinds and elements of capacity and service and self-sacrifice it involves.
WHAT WE MUST DO
These, then, are the things we must do, and do well, besides fighting—the things without which mere fighting would be fruitless:
We must supply abundant food for ourselves and for our armies and our seamen, not only, but also for a large part of the nations with whom we have now made common cause, in whose support and by whose sides we shall be fighting.
We must supply ships by the hundreds out of our shipyards to carry to the other side of the sea, submarines or no submarines, what will every day be needed there, and abundant materials out of our fields and our mines and our factories with which not only to clothe and equip our own forces on land and sea, but also to clothe and support our people, for whom the gallant fellows under arms can no longer work; to help clothe and equip the armies with which we are co-operating in Europe, and to keep the looms and manufactories there in raw material; coal to keep the fires going in ships at sea and in the furnaces of hundreds of factories across the sea; steel out of which to make arms and ammunition both here and there; rails for wornout railways back of the fighting fronts; locomotives and rolling-stock to take the place of those every day going to pieces; mules, horses, cattle for labor and for military service; everything with which the people of England and France and Italy and Russia have usually supplied themselves, but cannot now afford the men, the materials or the machinery to make.
It is evident to every thinking man that our industries, on the farms, in the shipyards, in the mines, in the factories, must be made more prolific and more efficient than ever, and that they must be more economically managed and better adapted to the particular requirements of our task than they have been; and what I want to say is that the men and the women who devote their thought and their energy to these things will be serving the country and conducting the fight for peace and freedom just as truly and just as effectively as the men on the battle-field or in the trenches. The industrial forces of the country, men and women alike, will be a great national, a great international, service army—a notable and honored host engaged in the service of the nation and the world, the efficient friends and saviors of free men everywhere. Thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands, of men otherwise liable to military service will of right and of necessity be excused from that service and assigned to the fundamental sustaining work of the fields and factories and mines, and they will be as much part of the great patriotic forces of the nation as the men under fire.
I take the liberty, therefore, of addressing this word to the farmers of the country and to all who work on the farms: The supreme need of our own nation and of the nations with which we are co-operating is an abundance of supplies, and especially of foodstuffs. The importance of an adequate food-supply, especially for the present year, is superlative. Without abundant food, alike for the armies and the peoples now at war, the whole great enterprise upon which we have embarked will break down and fail. The world's food reserves are low. Not only during the present emergency, but for some time after peace shall have come, both our own people and a large proportion of the people of Europe must rely upon the harvests in America.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FARMERS
Upon the farmers of this country, therefore, in large measure rest 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 co-operation 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 foodstuffs, 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 co-operate. 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!
THE DUTY OF MIDDLEMEN
This let me say to the middlemen of every sort, whether they are handling our foodstuffs or the 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.
THE MEN OF THE RAILWAYS
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 every one 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 practises 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.
THE SUPREME TEST
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.
THE CONSCRIPTION PROCLAMATION
(May 18, 1917)
Whereas, Congress has enacted and the President has on the 18th day of May, 1917, approved a law which contains the following provisions:
Section 5. That all male persons between the ages of twenty-one and thirty, both inclusive, shall be subject to registration in accordance with regulations to be prescribed by the President, and upon proclamation by the President or other public notice given by him or by his direction, stating the time and place of such registration, it shall be the duty of all persons of the designated ages, except officers and enlisted men of the Regular Army, the Navy and the National Guard and Naval Militia while in the service of the United States, to present themselves for and submit to registration under the provisions of this act.
And every such person shall be deemed to have notice of the requirements of this act upon the publication of said proclamation or other notice as aforesaid given by the President or by his direction.
THE PENALTY FOR FAILURE
And any person who shall wilfully fail or refuse to present himself for registration or to submit thereto as herein provided, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction in the District Court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year, and shall thereupon be duly registered.
Provided, that in the call of the docket preference shall be given, in courts trying the same, to the trial of criminal proceedings under this act.
Provided, further, that persons shall be subject to registration as herein provided who shall have attained their twenty-first birthday and who shall not have attained their thirty-first birthday on or before the day set for the registration, and all persons so registered shall be and remain subject to draft into the forces hereby authorized unless exempted or excused therefrom, as in this act provided.
Provided, further, that in the case of temporary absence from actual place of legal residence of any person liable to registration as provided herein, such registration may be made by mail under regulations to be prescribed by the President.
THE WORK OF REGISTRATION
Section 6. That the President is hereby authorized to utilize the service of any or all departments and any or all officers or agents of the United States and of the several States, Territories and the District of Columbia and subdivisions thereof, in the execution of this act, and all officers and agents of the United States and of the several States, Territories and subdivisions thereof, and of the District of Columbia, and all persons designated or appointed under regulations prescribed by the President, whether such appointments are made by the President himself or by the Governor or other officer of any State or Territory to perform any duty in the execution of this act, are hereby required to perform such duty as the President shall order or direct, and all such officers and agents and persons so designated or appointed shall hereby have full authority for all acts done by them in the execution of this act, by the direction of the President. Correspondence in the execution of this act may be carried in penalty envelopes bearing the frank of the War Department.
NEGLECT OF DUTY AND FRAUD
Any person charged, as herein provided, with the duty of carrying into effect any of the provisions of this act or the regulations made or directions given thereunder who shall fail or neglect to perform such duty, and any person charged with such duty or having and exercising any authority under said act, regulations or directions, who shall knowingly make or be a party to the making of any false or incorrect registration, physical examination, exemption, enlistment, enrolment or muster.
And any person who shall make or be a party to the making of any false statement or certificate as to the fitness or liability of himself or any other person for service under the provisions of this act, or regulations made by the President thereunder, or otherwise evades or aids another to evade the requirements of this act or of said regulations, or who, in any manner, shall fail or neglect fully to perform any duty required of him in the execution of this act, shall, if not subject to military law, be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction in the District Court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year, or, if subject to military law, shall be tried by court martial and suffer such punishment as a court martial may direct.
A CALL TO GOVERNORS
Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, do call upon the Governor of each of the several States and Territories, the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia and all officers and agents of the several States and Territories, of the District of Columbia, and of the counties and municipalities therein, to perform certain duties in the execution of the foregoing law, which duties will be communicated to them directly in regulations of even date herewith.
And I do further proclaim and give notice to all persons subject to registration in the several States and in the District of Columbia, in accordance with the above law, that the time and place of such registration shall be between 7 A.M. and 7 P.M. on the 5th day of June, 1917, at the registration place in the precinct wherein they have their permanent homes.
Those who shall have attained their twenty-first birthday and who shall not have attained their thirty-first birthday on or before the day here named are required to register, excepting only officers and enlisted men of the Regular Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the National Guard and Naval Militia while in the service of the United States, and officers in the Officers' Reserve Corps and enlisted men in the enlisted Reserve Corps while in active service. In the Territories of Alaska, Hawaii and Porto Rico a day for registration will be named in a later proclamation.
REGISTRATION BY MAIL
And I do hereby charge those who, through sickness, shall be unable to present themselves for registration that they apply on or before the day of registration to the County Clerk of the county where they may be for instructions as to how they may be registered by agent.
Those who expect to be absent on the day named from the counties in which they have their permanent homes may register by mail, but their mailed registration cards must reach the places in which they have their permanent homes by the day named herein. They should apply as soon as practicable to the County Clerk of the county wherein they may be for instructions as to how they may accomplish their registration by mail.
In case such persons as, through sickness or absence, may be unable to present themselves personally for registration shall be sojourning in cities of over 30,000 population, they shall apply to the City Clerk of the city wherein they may be sojourning rather than to the Clerk of the county.
The Clerks of counties and of cities of over 30,000 population, in which numerous applications from the sick and from non-residents are expected, are authorized to establish such sub-agencies and to employ and deputize such clerical force as may be necessary to accommodate these applications.
THE WHOLE NATION AN ARMY
The Power against which we are arrayed has sought to impose its will upon the world by force. To this end it has increased armament until it has changed the face of war. In the sense in which we have been wont to think of armies there are no armies in this struggle, there are entire nations armed.
Thus, the men who remain to till the soil and man the factories are no less a part of the army that is in France than the men beneath the battle flags.
It must be so with us. It is not an army that we must shape and train for war—it is a Nation. To this end our people must draw close in one compact front against a common foe. But this cannot be if each man pursues a private purpose. All must pursue one purpose. The Nation needs all men, but it needs each man, not in the field that will most pleasure him, but in the endeavor that will best serve the common good.
Thus, though a sharpshooter pleases to operate a trip-hammer for the forging of great guns, and an expert machinist desires to march with the flag, the Nation is being served only when the sharpshooter marches and the machinist remains at his levers. The whole Nation must be a team, in which each man shall play the part for which he is best fitted.
NOT A DRAFT OF THE UNWILLING
To this end Congress has provided that the Nation shall be organized for war by selection, that each man shall be classified for service in the place to which it shall best serve the general good to call him.
The significance of this cannot be overstated. It is a new thing in our history and a landmark in our progress. It is a new manner of accepting and vitalizing our duty to give ourselves with thoughtful devotion to the common purpose of us all. It is in no sense a conscription of the unwilling. It is, rather, selection from a Nation which has volunteered in mass.
It is no more a choosing of those who shall march with the colors than it is a selection of those who shall serve an equally necessary and devoted purpose in the industries that lie behind the battle-lines.
The day here named is the time upon which all shall present themselves for assignment to their tasks. It is for that reason destined to be remembered as one of the most conspicuous moments in our history. It is nothing less than the day upon which the manhood of the country shall step forward in one solid rank in defense of the ideals to which this Nation is consecrated. It is important to those ideals, no less than to the pride of this generation in manifesting its devotion to them, that there be no gaps in the ranks.
DAY OF PATRIOTIC DEVOTION
It is essential that the day be approached in thoughtful apprehension of its significance and that we accord to it the honor and the meaning that it deserves. Our industrial need prescribes that it be not made a technical holiday, but the stern sacrifice that is before us urges that it be carried in all our hearts as a great day of patriotic devotion and obligation, when the duty shall lie upon every man, whether he is himself to be registered or not, to see to it that the name of every male person of the designated ages is written on these lists of honor.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington this 18th day of May, in the year of our Lord, 1917, and of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and forty-first.
By the President:
ROBERT LANSING, Secretary of State.
CONSERVING THE NATION'S FOOD
(May 19, 1917)
It is very desirable, in order to prevent misunderstanding or alarms and to assure co-operation in a vital matter, that the country should understand exactly the scope and purpose of the very great powers which I have thought it necessary, in the circumstances, to ask the Congress to put in my hands with regard to our food-supplies.
Those powers are very great, indeed, but they are no greater than it has proved necessary to lodge in the other Governments which are conducting this momentous war, and their object is stimulation and conservation, not arbitrary restraint or injurious interference with the normal processes of production. They are intended to benefit and assist the farmer and all those who play a legitimate part in the preparation, distribution and marketing of foodstuffs.
A SHARP LINE OF DISTINCTION
It is proposed to draw a sharp line of distinction between the normal activities of the Government, represented in the Department of Agriculture, in reference to food production, conservation and marketing, on the one hand, and the emergency activities necessitated by the war, in reference to the regulation of food distribution and consumption, on the other.
All measures intended directly to extend the normal activities of the Department of Agriculture, in reference to the production, conservation and the marketing of farm crops, will be administered, as in normal times, through that department; and the powers asked for over distribution and consumption, over exports, imports, prices, purchase and requisition of commodities, storing and the like, which may require regulation during the war, will be placed in the hands of a Commissioner of Food Administration, appointed by the President and directly responsible to him.
THE END TO BE ATTAINED
The objects sought to be served by the legislation asked for are: Full inquiry into the existing available stocks of foodstuffs and into the costs and practices of the various food producing and distributing trades; the prevention of all unwarranted hoarding of every kind, and of the control of foodstuffs by persons who are not in any legitimate sense producers, dealers or traders; the requisition, when necessary for public use, of food supplies and of the equipment necessary for handling them properly; the licensing of wholesome and legitimate mixtures and milling percentages, and the prohibition of the unnecessary or wasteful use of foods.
Authority is asked also to establish prices, but not in order to limit the profits of the farmers, but only to guarantee to them, when necessary, a minimum price, which will insure them a profit where they are asked to attempt new crops, and to secure the consumer against extortion by breaking up corners and attempts at speculation when they occur, by fixing temporarily a reasonable price at which middlemen must sell.
THE FIXING OF PRICES
I have asked Mr. Herbert Hoover to undertake this all-important task of food administration. He has expressed his willingness to do so, on condition that he is to receive no payment for his services, and that the whole of the force under him, exclusive of clerical assistance, shall be employed, as far as possible, upon the same volunteer basis.
He has expressed his confidence that this difficult matter of food administration can be successfully accomplished through the voluntary co-operation and direction of legitimate distributers of foodstuffs and with the help of the women of the country.
Although it is absolutely necessary that unquestionable powers shall be placed in my hands, in order to insure the success of this administration of the food-supplies of the country, I am confident that the exercise of those powers will be necessary only in the few cases where some small and selfish minority proves unwilling to put the Nation's interests above personal advantage, and that the whole country will heartily support Mr. Hoover's efforts by supplying the necessary volunteer agencies throughout the country for the intelligent control of food consumption, and securing the co-operation of the most capable leaders of the very interests most directly affected, that the exercise of the powers deputed to him will rest very successfully upon the good-will and co-operation of the people themselves, and that the ordinary economic machinery of the country will be left substantially undisturbed.
NO FEAR OF BUREAUCRACY
The proposed food administration is intended, of course, only to meet a manifest emergency and to continue only while the war lasts. Since it will be composed for the most part of volunteers, there need be no fear of the possibility of a permanent bureaucracy arising out of it.
All control of consumption will disappear when the emergency has passed. It is with that object in view that the Administration considers it to be of pre-eminent importance that the existing associations of producers and distributers of foodstuffs should be mobilized and made use of on a volunteer basis. The successful conduct of the projected food administration, by such means, will be the finest possible demonstration of the willingness, the ability and the efficiency of democracy and of its justified reliance upon the freedom of individual initiative.
The last thing that any American could contemplate with equanimity would be the introduction of anything resembling Prussian autocracy into the food control of this country.
It is of vital interest and importance to every man who produces food and to every man who takes part in its distribution that these policies, thus liberally administered, should succeed and succeed altogether. It is only in that way that we can prove it to be absolutely unnecessary to resort to the rigorous and drastic measures which have proved to be necessary in some of the European countries.
AN ANSWER TO CRITICS
(May 22, 1917)
In the following letter, addressed to Representative Heflin, Democrat, of Alabama, President Wilson replies to criticisms regarding his position with regard to the war and its objects:
It is incomprehensible to me how any frank or honest person could doubt or question my position with regard to the war and its objects. I have again and again stated the very serious and long-continued wrongs which the Imperial German Government has perpetrated against the rights, the commerce and the citizens of the United States. The list is long and overwhelming. No Nation that respected itself or the rights of humanity could have borne those wrongs any longer.
Our objects in going into the war have been stated with equal clearness. The whole of the conception which I take to be the conception of our fellow-countrymen with regard to the outcome of the war and the terms of its settlement, I set forth with the utmost explicitness in an address to the Senate of the United States on the 22d of January last. Again, in my message to Congress on the 2d of April last, those objects were stated in unmistakable terms.
I can conceive no purpose in seeking to becloud this matter except the purpose of weakening the hands of the Government and making the part which the United States is to play in this great struggle for human liberty an inefficient and hesitating part.
We have entered the war for our own reasons and with our own objects clearly stated, and shall forget neither the reasons nor the objects. There is no hate in our hearts for the German people, but there is a resolve which cannot be shaken even by misrepresentation, to overcome the pretensions of the autocratic Government which acts upon purposes to which the German people have never consented.
MEMORIAL DAY ADDRESS
(May 30, 1917)
In one sense the great struggle into which we have now entered is an American struggle, because it is in defense of American honor and American rights, but it is something even greater than that; it is a world struggle. It is the struggle of men who love liberty everywhere, and in this cause America will show herself greater than ever because she will rise to a greater thing.
The program has conferred an unmerited dignity upon the remarks I am going to make by calling them an address, because I am not here to deliver an address [said the President]. I am here merely to show in my official capacity the sympathy of this great Government with the object of this occasion, and also to speak just a word of the sentiment that is in my own heart.
Any memorial day of this sort is, of course, a day touched with sorrowful memory, and yet I for one do not see how we can have any thought of pity for the men whose memory we honor to-day. I do not pity them. I envy them, rather, because their great work for liberty is accomplished, and we are in the midst of a work unfinished, testing our strength where their strength already has been tested.
A HERITAGE FROM THE DEAD
There is a touch of sorrow, but there is a touch of reassurance also in a day like this, because we know how the men of America have responded to the call of the cause of liberty, and it fills our mind with a perfect assurance that that response will come again in equal measures, with equal majesty and with a result which will hold the attention of all mankind.
When you reflect upon it, these men who died to preserve the Union died to preserve the instrument which we are now using to serve the world—a free nation espousing the cause of human liberty. In one sense the great struggle into which we have now entered is an American struggle, because it is in the sense of American honor and American rights, but it is something even greater than that; it is a world struggle. It is a struggle of men who love liberty everywhere; and in this cause America will show herself greater than ever because she will rise to a greater thing.
We have said in the beginning that we planned this great Government that men who wish freedom might have a place of refuge and a place where their hope could be realized, and now, having established such a Government, having preserved such a Government, having vindicated the power of such a Government, we are saying to all mankind, "We did not set this Government up in order that we might have a selfish and separate liberty, for we are now ready to come to your assistance and fight out upon the fields of the world the cause of human liberty."
AMERICA'S FULL FRUITION
In this thing America attains her full dignity and the full fruition of her great purpose.
No man can be glad that such things have happened as we have witnessed in these last fateful years, but perhaps it may be permitted to us to be glad that we have an opportunity to show the principles which we profess to be living—principles which live in our hearts—and to have a chance by the pouring out of our blood and treasure to vindicate the things which we have professed. For, my friends, the real fruition of life is to do the things we have said we wished to do. There are times when words seem empty and only action seems great. Such a time has come, and in the providence of God America will once more have an opportunity to show to the world that she was born to serve mankind.
A STATEMENT TO RUSSIA
(June 9, 1917)
In view of the approaching visit of the American delegation to Russia to express the deep friendship of the American people for the people of Russia and to discuss the best and most practical means of co-operation between the two peoples in carrying the present struggle for the freedom of all peoples to a successful consummation, it seems opportune and appropriate that I should state again, in the light of this new partnership, the objects the United States has had in mind in entering the war. Those objects have been very much beclouded during the past few weeks by mistaken and misleading statements, and the issues at stake are too momentous, too tremendous, too significant for the whole human race to permit any misinterpretations or misunderstandings, however slight, to remain uncorrected for a moment.
The war has begun to go against Germany, and in their desperate desire to escape the inevitable ultimate defeat, those who are in authority in Germany are using every possible instrumentality, are making use even of the influence of groups and parties among their own subjects to whom they have never been just or fair, or even tolerant, to promote a propaganda on both sides of the sea which will preserve for them their influence at home and their power abroad, to the undoing of the very men they are using.
AMERICA SEEKS NO CONQUEST
The position of America in this war is so clearly avowed that no man can be excused for mistaking it. She seeks no material profit or aggrandizement of any kind. She is fighting for no advantage or selfish object of her own, but for the liberation of peoples everywhere from the aggressions of autocratic force. The ruling classes in Germany have begun of late to profess a like liberality and justice of purpose, but only to preserve the power they have set up in Germany and the selfish advantages which they have wrongly gained for themselves and their private projects of power all the way from Berlin to Bagdad and beyond. Government after Government has, by their influence, without open conquest of its territory, been linked together in a net of intrigue directed against nothing less than the peace and liberty of the world. The meshes of that intrigue must be broken, but cannot be broken unless wrongs already done are undone; and adequate measures must be taken to prevent it from ever again being rewoven or repaired.
Of course the Imperial German Government and those whom it is using for their own undoing are seeking to obtain pledges that the war will end in the restoration of the status quo ante. It was the status quo ante out of which this iniquitous war issued forth, the power of the Imperial German Government within the empire and its widespread domination and influence outside of that empire. That status must be altered in such fashion as to prevent any such hideous thing from ever happening again.
THE PRINCIPLES THAT ARE INVOLVED
We are fighting for the liberty, self-government and the undictated development of all peoples, and every feature of the settlement that concludes this war must be conceived and executed for that purpose. Wrongs must first be righted and then adequate safeguards must be created to prevent their being committed again. We ought not to consider remedies merely because they have a pleasing and sonorous sound. Practical questions can be settled only by practical means. Phrases will not accomplish the result. Effective readjustments will; and whatever readjustments are necessary must be made.
But they must follow a principle, and that principle is plain:
No people must be forced under sovereignty under which it does not wish to live.
No territory must change hands except for the purpose of securing those who inhabit it a fair chance of life and liberty.
No indemnities must be insisted on except those that constitute payment for manifest wrongs done.
No readjustments of power must be made except such as will tend to secure the future peace of the world and the future welfare and happiness of its peoples.
And then the free peoples of the world must draw together in some common covenant, some genuine and practical co-operation, that will in effect combine their force to secure peace and justice in the dealings of nations with one another. The brotherhood of mankind must no longer be a fair but empty phrase; it must be given a structure of force and reality. The nations must realize their common life and effect a workable partnership to secure that life against the aggressions of autocratic and self-pleasing power.
For these things we can afford to pour out blood and treasure. For these are the things we have always professed to desire, and unless we pour out blood and treasure now and succeed, we may never be able to unite or show conquering force again in the great cause of human liberty. The day has come to conquer or submit. If the forces of autocracy can divide us, they will overcome us; if we stand together, victory is certain and the liberty which victory will secure.
We can afford, then, to be generous, but we cannot afford then or now to be weak or omit any single guarantee of justice and security.
(June 14, 1917)
My Fellow-citizens,—We meet to celebrate Flag Day because this flag which we honor and under which we serve is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours. It floats in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us—speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us and of the records they wrote upon it. We celebrate the day of its birth; and from its birth until now it has witnessed a great history, has floated on high the symbol of great events, of a great plan of life worked out by a great people. We are about to carry it into battle, to lift it where it will draw the fire of our enemies. We are about to bid thousands, hundreds of thousands, it may be millions, of our men—the young, the strong, the capable men of the nation—to go forth and die beneath it on fields of blood far away—for what? For some unaccustomed thing? For something for which it has never sought the fire before? American armies were never before sent across the seas. Why are they sent now? For some new purpose, for which this great flag has never been carried before, or for some old, familiar, heroic purpose for which it has seen men, its own men, die on every battlefield upon which Americans have borne arms since the Revolution?
These are questions which must be answered. We are Americans. We in our turn serve America, and can serve her with no private purpose. We must use her flag as she has always used it. We are accountable at the bar of history and must plead in utter frankness what purpose it is we seek to serve.
WHY WE ARE AT WAR
It is plain enough how we were forced into the war. The extraordinary insults and aggressions of the Imperial German Government left us no self-respecting choice but to take up arms in defense of our rights as a free people and of our honor as a sovereign Government. The military masters of Germany denied us the right to be neutral. They filled our unsuspecting communities with vicious spies and conspirators and sought to corrupt the opinion of our people in their own behalf. When they found that they could not do that, their agents diligently spread sedition among us and sought to draw our own citizens from their allegiance—and some of those agents were men connected with the official embassy of the German Government itself here in our own capital. They sought by violence to destroy our own industries and arrest our commerce. They tried to incite Mexico to take up arms against us and to draw Japan into a hostile alliance with her—and that, not by indirection, but by direct suggestion from the Foreign Office in Berlin. They impudently denied us the use of the seas and repeatedly executed their threat that they would send to their death any of our people who ventured to approach the coasts of Europe. And many of our own people were corrupted. Men began to look upon their own neighbors with suspicion and to wonder, in their hot resentment and surprise, whether there was any community in which hostile intrigue did not lurk. What great nation, in such circumstances, would not have taken up arms? Much as we had desired peace, it was denied us, and not of our own choice. This flag under which we serve would have been dishonored had we withheld our hand.
But that is only part of the story. We know now as clearly as we knew before we were ourselves engaged that we are not the enemies of the German people and that they are not our enemies. They did not originate or desire this hideous war or wish that we should be drawn into it; and we are vaguely conscious that we are fighting their cause, as they will some day see it, as well as our own. They are themselves in the grip of the same sinister power that has now at last stretched its ugly talons out and drawn blood from us. The whole world is at war because the whole world is in the grip of that power and is trying out the great battle which shall determine whether it is to be brought under its mastery or fling itself free.
THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONFLICT
The war was begun by the military masters of Germany, who proved to be also the masters of Austria-Hungary. These men have never regarded nations as peoples, men, women and children of like blood and frame as themselves, for whom governments existed and in whom governments had their life. They have regarded them merely as serviceable organizations which they could by force or intrigue bend or corrupt to their own purpose. They have regarded the smaller states, in particular, and the peoples who could be overwhelmed by force, as their natural tools and instruments of domination. Their purpose has long been avowed. The statesmen of other nations, to whom that purpose was incredible, paid little attention; regarded what German professors expounded in their class-rooms and German writers set forth to the world as the goal of German policy as rather the dream of minds detached from practical affairs, as preposterous private conceptions of German destiny, than as the actual plans of responsible rulers; but the rulers of Germany themselves knew all the while what concrete plans, what well-advanced intrigues, lay back of what the professors and the writers were saying, and were glad to go forward unmolested, filling the thrones of Balkan states with German princes, putting German officers at the service of Turkey to drill her armies and make interest with her Government, developing plans of sedition and rebellion in India and Egypt, setting their fires in Persia. The demands made by Austria upon Serbia were a mere single step in a plan which compassed Europe and Asia, from Berlin to Bagdad. They hoped those demands might not arouse Europe, but they meant to press them whether they did or not, for they thought themselves ready for the final issue of arms.
THE PLAN OF CONQUEST
Their plan was to throw a broad belt of German military power and political control across the very center of Europe and beyond the Mediterranean into the very heart of Asia; and Austria-Hungary was to be as much their tool and pawn as Serbia or Bulgaria or Turkey or the ponderous states of the East. Austria-Hungary, indeed, was to become part of the central German Empire, absorbed and dominated by the same forces and influences that had originally cemented the German states themselves. The dream had its heart at Berlin. It could have had a heart nowhere else! It rejected the idea of solidarity of race entirely. The choice of peoples played no part in it at all. It contemplated binding together racial and political units which could be kept together only by force—Czechs, Magyars, Croats, Serbs, Rumanians, Turks, Armenians—the proud states of Bohemia and Hungary, the stout little commonwealths of the Balkans, the indomitable Turks, the subtile peoples of the East. These peoples did not wish to be united. They ardently desired to direct their own affairs, would be satisfied only by undisputed independence. They could be kept quiet only by the presence or the constant threat of armed men. They would live under a common power only by sheer compulsion and await the day of revolution. But the German military statesmen had reckoned with all that and were ready to deal with it in their own way.
And they have actually carried the greater part of that amazing plan into execution! Look how things stand. Austria is at their mercy. It has acted, not upon its own initiative or upon the choice of its own people, but at Berlin's dictation, ever since the war began. Its people now desire peace, but cannot have it until leave is granted from Berlin. The so-called Central Powers are, in fact, but a single Power. Serbia is at its mercy, should its hand be but for a moment freed. Bulgaria has consented to its will, and Rumania is overrun. The Turkish armies, which Germans trained, are serving Germany, certainly not themselves, and the guns of German warships lying in the harbor at Constantinople remind Turkish statesmen every day that they have no choice but to take their orders from Berlin. From Hamburg to the Persian Gulf the net is spread.
THE TALK OF PEACE
Is it not easy to understand the eagerness for peace that has been manifested from Berlin ever since the snare was set and sprung? Peace, peace, peace has been the talk of her Foreign Office for now a year and more; not peace upon her own initiative, but upon the initiative of the nations over which she now deems herself to hold the advantage. A little of the talk has been public, but most of it has been private. Through all sorts of channels it has come to me, and in all sorts of guises, but never with the terms disclosed which the German Government would be willing to accept. That Government has other valuable pawns in its hands besides those I have mentioned. It still holds a valuable part of France, though with slowly relaxing grasp, and practically the whole of Belgium. Its armies press close upon Russia and overrun Poland at their will. It cannot go farther; it dare not go back. It wishes to close its bargain before it is too late, and it has little left to offer for the pound of flesh it will demand.
The military masters under whom Germany is bleeding see very clearly to what point Fate has brought them. If they fall back or are forced back an inch, their power both abroad and at home will fall to pieces like a house of cards. It is their power at home they are thinking about now more than their power abroad. It is that power which is trembling under their very feet; and deep fear has entered their hearts. They have but one chance to perpetuate their military power, or even their controlling political influence. If they can secure peace now, with the immense advantages still in their hands which they have up to this point apparently gained, they will have justified themselves before the German people; they will have gained by force what they promised to gain by it—an immense expansion of German power, an immense enlargement of German industrial and commercial opportunities. Their prestige will be secure, and with their prestige their political power. If they fail, their people will thrust them aside; a government accountable to the people themselves will be set up in Germany, as it has been in England, in the United States, in France, and in all the great countries of the modern time except Germany. If they succeed they are safe and Germany and the world are undone; if they fail Germany is saved and the world will be at peace. If they succeed, America will fall within the menace. We and all the rest of the world must remain armed, as they will remain, and must make ready for the next step in their aggression; if they fail, the world may unite for peace and Germany may be of the union.
THE PRESENT AIM OF GERMANY
Do you not now understand the new intrigue, the intrigue for peace, and why the masters of Germany do not hesitate to use any agency that promises to effect their purpose, the deceit of the nations? Their present particular aim is to deceive all those who throughout the world stand for the rights of peoples and the self-government of nations; for they see what immense strength the forces of justice and of liberalism are gathering out of this war. They are employing liberals in their enterprise. They are using men, in Germany and without, as their spokesmen whom they have hitherto despised and oppressed, using them for their own destruction—socialists, the leaders of labor, the thinkers they have hitherto sought to silence. Let them once succeed and these men, now their tools, will be ground to powder beneath the weight of the great military empire they will have set up; the revolutionists in Russia will be cut off from all succor or co-operation in western Europe and a counter revolution fostered and supported; Germany herself will lose her chance of freedom; and all Europe will arm for the next, the final struggle.
The sinister intrigue is being no less actively conducted in this country than in Russia, and in every country in Europe to which the agents and dupes of the Imperial German Government can get access. That Government has many spokesmen here, in places high and low. They have learned discretion. They keep within the law. It is opinion they utter now, not sedition. They proclaim the liberal purposes of their masters; declare this a foreign war which can touch America with no danger to either her lands or her institutions; set England at the center of the stage and talk of her ambition to assert economic dominion throughout the world; appeal to our ancient tradition of isolation in the politics of the nations; and seek to undermine the Government with false professions of loyalty to its principles.
THIS IS A PEOPLES' WAR
But they will make no headway. The false betray themselves always in every accent. It is only friends and partisans of the German Government whom we have already identified who utter these thinly disguised disloyalties. The facts are patent to all the world, and nowhere are they more plainly seen than in the United States, where we are accustomed to deal with facts and not with sophistries; and the great fact that stands out above all the rest is that this is a Peoples' War, a war for freedom and justice and self-government amongst all the nations of the world, a war to make the world safe for the peoples who live in it and have made it their own, the German people themselves included; and that with us rests the choice to break through all these hypocrisies and patent cheats and masks of brute force and help set the world free, or else stand aside and let it be dominated a long age through by sheer weight of arms and the arbitrary choices of self-constituted masters, by the nation which can maintain the biggest armies and the most irresistible armaments—a power to which the world has afforded no parallel and in the face of which political freedom must wither and perish.
For us there is but one choice. We have made it. Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way in this day of high resolution, when every principle we hold dearest is to be vindicated and made secure for the salvation of the nations. We are ready to plead at the bar of history, and our flag shall wear a new luster. Once more we shall make good with our lives and fortunes the great faith to which we were born, and a new glory shall shine in the face of our people.
AN APPEAL TO THE BUSINESS INTERESTS
(July 11, 1917)
My Fellow-countrymen,—The Government is about to attempt to determine the prices at which it will ask you henceforth to furnish various supplies which are necessary for the prosecution of the war, and various materials which will be needed in the industries by which the war must be sustained.