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Title: President Wilson's Addresses
Author: Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924
Language: English
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     "The virtue of books is the perfecting of reason, which is indeed
     the happiness of man."

     _Richard De Bury._

     "On bokès for to rede I me delyte."


English Readings for Schools




[Illustration: Woodrow Wilson]









First Inaugural Address
First Address to Congress
Address on the Banking System
Address at Gettysburg
Address on Mexican Affairs
Understanding America
Address before the Southern Commercial Congress
The State of the Union
Trusts and Monopolies
Panama Canal Tolls
The Tampico Incident
In the Firmament of Memory
Memorial Day Address at Arlington
Closing a Chapter
Annapolis Commencement Address
The Meaning of Liberty
American Neutrality
Appeal for Additional Revenue
The Opinion of the World
The Power of Christian Young Men
Annual Address to Congress
A Message
Address before the United States Chamber of Commerce
To Naturalized Citizens
Address at Milwaukee
The Submarine Question
American Principles
The Demands of Railway Employees
Speech of Acceptance
Lincoln's Beginnings
The Triumph of Women's Suffrage
The Terms of Peace
Meeting Germany's Challenge
Request for Authority
Second Inaugural Address
The Call to War
To the Country
The German Plot
Reply to the Pope
Labor must be Free
The Call for War with Austria-Hungary
Government Administration of Railways
The Conditions of Peace
Force to the Utmost


These addresses of President Woodrow Wilson represent only the most
recent phase of his intellectual activity. They are almost entirely
concerned with political affairs, and more specifically with defining
Americanism. It will not be forgotten, however, that the life of Mr.
Wilson as President of the United States is but a short period compared
with the whole of his public career as professor of jurisprudence,
history, and politics, as President of Princeton University, as Governor
of New Jersey, as an orator, and as a writer of many books.

Surprise has been expressed that a man, after reaching the age of fifty,
should be able to step from the "quiet" life of a teacher and author
into the resounding regions of politics; but Mr. Wilson's life as a
scholar, professor, and author was not at all quiet in the sense of
being easy or untouched with exciting chances and changes, and, in the
second place, he carried into politics the steadying ideals and the
methodical habits of his former occupation.

As these addresses themselves prove, he has retained something of the
teacher's interest in showing the relation between specific instances
and the general forms of thought or action of which they are a part. Not
fact alone, but principle, is what he seeks to discover to his
audiences. In the addresses made in 1913 it is apparent that his main
effort was to fasten attention upon the principles of international
justice and good will and to restrain the impulses of those Americans
who were inclined to hasty action with reference to Mexico. From the
beginning of the Great War to a point not much earlier than our own
entrance into the struggle, he counselled neutrality and inaction, with
what motives one must judge from his statements and from events. Only a
few speeches belonging to this period have been included in the present
collection. When it became practically certain that war between the
United States and Germany was inevitable, there came into his utterances
a new temper and a more direct kind of eloquence. With scarcely an
exception, this collection includes every one of his addresses made
between August, 1916, and February, 1918.

Some of the addresses are state papers, read to Congress, and were
carefully composed. Others, delivered in various places, appear to have
been more or less extemporaneous. All are full of their author's
political philosophy, and many of them contain expressions of his
opinions on general subjects, such as personal character and conduct.

In order more fully to appreciate the weight of experience and the
maturity of reflection which give value to his words, it will be worth
while to consider Mr. Wilson's entire career as a scholar and man of
letters, paying particular attention to the growth of his political
ideals and to the qualities of his style.

To be a literary artist, a writer must possess a constructive
imagination. He must be a man of feeling and have the gift of imparting
to others some share of his own emotions. On almost every page of
President Wilson's writings, as in almost all his policies, whether
educational or political, is stamped the evidence of shaping, visionary
power. Those of us who have known him many years remember well that in
his daily thought and speech he habitually proceeded by this same poetic
method, first growing warm with an idea and then by analogy and figure
kindling a sympathetic heat in his hearers.

The subjects that may excite an artist's imagination are infinitely
numerous and belong to every variety of conceivable life. A Coleridge or
a Renan will make literature out of polemical theology; a Huxley will
write on the physical basis of life with emotion and in such a way as to
infect others with his own feelings; a Macaulay or a Froude will give
what color he please to the story of a nation and compel all but the
most wary readers to see as through his eyes. We are too much accustomed
to reserve the title of literary artist for the creator of fiction,
whether in prose or in verse. Mr. Wilson is no less truly an artist
because the vision that fires his imagination, the vision he has spent
his life in making clear to himself and others and is now striving to
realize in action, is a political conception. He has seen it in terms of
life, as a thing that grows, that speaks, that has faced dangers, that
is full of promise, that has charm, that is fit to stir a man's blood
and demand a world's devotion; no wonder he has warmed to it, no wonder
he has clothed it in the richest garments of diction and rhythm and

There are small artists and great artists. Granted an equal portion of
imagination and an equal command of verbal resources, and still there
will be this difference. It is an affair of more or less intellectual
depth and more or less character. If character were the only one of
these two things to be considered in the case of Mr. Wilson's writings,
one might with little or no hesitation predict that the best of them
would long remain classics. They are full of character, of a high and
fine character. They have a tone peculiar to themselves, like a man's
voice, which is one of the most unmistakable properties of a man. It
would be no reflection on an author to say that his point of view in
fundamental matters had changed in the course of thirty or forty years;
but the truth is that with reference to his great political ideal Mr.
Wilson's point of view has not widely changed. The scope of his survey
has been enlarged, he has filled up the intervening space with a
thousand observations, he sees his object with a more penetrating and
commanding eye; but it is the same object that drew to itself his
youthful gaze, and has had its part in making him

     "The generous spirit, who, when brought
      Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
      Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought."

The world, in time, will judge of the amount of knowledge and the degree
of purely intellectual force that Mr. Wilson has applied in his field of
study. A contemporary cannot well pronounce such a judgment, especially
if the province be not his own.

In the small space at my disposal I shall try, first, to say what I
think is the political conception or idea upon which Mr. Wilson has
looked so steadily and with so deep emotion that he has made of it a
poetical subject. And then I shall venture to distinguish those
processes of imagination, that artistic method, which we call style, by
which he has elucidated its meaning for his readers so as to win for it
their intelligent and moved regard. The inquiry will take into account
his earliest book, _Congressional Government_, published in 1885,
_Division and Reunion_, 1893, _An Old Master and Other Political
Essays_, 1893, _Mere Literature and Other Essays_, 1896, _George
Washington_, 1897, _The State_, written 1889, rewritten 1898, _A History
of the American People_, 1902, _Constitutional Government in the United
States_, 1908, and a volume, issued very recently in England, containing
some of the President's statements on the war and entitled _America and

Like a strong current through these works runs the doctrine that in a
good government the law-making power should be also the administering
power and should bear full and specific responsibility; safeguards
against ill-considered action being provided in two directions, by the
people on the one hand, and on the other hand by law and custom, these
latter being considered historically, as an organic growth. He finds the
elements and essentials of this doctrine in our Constitution, though
somewhat obscured by the old "literary" theory of checks and balances.
He finds it more fully acknowledged in the British Constitution. He
finds it originating in our English race, enunciated at Runnymede,
developing by a slow but natural growth in English history, sanctioned
in the Petition of Right, the Revolution of 1688, and the Declaration of
Rights, achieved for us in our own Revolution, and illustrated by the
implied powers of Congress and the more directly exercised powers of the
House of Commons. It is a corollary of this doctrine that the President
of the United States, to whom in the veto and in his peculiar relations
to the Senate our Constitution gives a very real legislative function,
should associate himself closely with Congress, not merely as one who
may annul but also as one who initiates policies and helps to translate
them into laws. In his _Congressional Government_, begun when he was a
student in Princeton and finished before he was twenty-eight years old,
Mr. Wilson clearly indicates his dissatisfaction with the tradition
which would set the executive apart from the legislative power as a
check against it and not a coöperating element; and it is a remarkable
proof of the man's integrity and persistent personality that one of his
first acts as President was to go before the Congress as if he were its

If any proof of his democracy were required, one might point to his
rather surprising statement, which he has repeated more than once, that
the chief value of Congressional debate is to arouse and inform public
opinion. He regards the will of the people as the real source of
governmental policy. Yet he is very impatient of those theories of the
rights of man which found favor in France in the eighteenth century and
have been the mainspring of democratic movements on the Continent of
Europe. He regards political liberty, as we know it in this country, as
a peculiar possession of the English race to which, in all that concerns
jurisprudence, we Americans belong.

The other safeguard against arbitrary action by the combined
legislative-administrative power is, he declares, national respect for
the spirit of those general legal conceptions which, through many
centuries, have been making themselves part and parcel of our racial
instinct. He perceives that the British Constitution, though unwritten,
is as effective as ours and commands obedience fully as much as ours,
and that both appeal to a certain ingrained legal sense, common to all
the English-speaking peoples. These peoples do not really have
revolutions. What we call the American Revolution was only the
reaffirming of principles which were as precious in the eyes of most
Englishmen as they were in the eyes of Washington, Hamilton, and
Madison, but which had been for a time and owing to peculiar
circumstances, neglected or contravened. Political development in this
family of nations does not, he maintains, proceed by revolution, but by
evolution. On all these points his _Constitutional Government in the
United States_ is only a richer and more mature statement and
illustration of the ideas expressed in his _Congressional Government_.
The main thesis of his _George Washington_ is that the great Virginian
and first American was the truest Englishman of his time, a modern
Hampden or Eliot, a Burke in action. Again and again he pays respect to
Chief Justice Marshall, who represented, in our early history, the
conception of law as something in its breadth and majesty older and more
sacred than the decrees of any particular legislature, and yet capable
of being so interpreted as to accommodate itself to progress. Mr. Wilson
has from the beginning been an admiring student of Burke. And if Burke
has been his study, Bagehot has been his schoolmaster. The choice of
book and teacher is significant. _Mere Literature_ shows how Mr. Wilson
revered them in 1896; his public life proves that he learned their
lessons well. In _An Old Master and Other Essays_, he had already borne
witness to the genius of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, who, as
compared with Continental writers, illustrate in the field of economics
the Anglo-Saxon spirit of respect for customs that have grown by organic

Mr. Wilson's _Division and Reunion_ is an admirable treatment of a
question upon which a Southerner might have been expected to write as a
Southerner. He has discussed it as an American. His well-known text-book
_The State_, which has been revised and frequently reprinted, discusses
the chief theories of the origin of government, describes the
administrative systems of Greece and Rome and of the great nations of
medieval and modern Europe and of the United States, and treats in
detail of the functions and objects of government, with special
reference to law and its workings. His _History of the American People_,
though it contains many passages of insight and has the charm that comes
from intense appreciation of details, is too diffuse and repetitious. A
great history should be a combination of a chronicle and a treatise; it
should be a record of facts and at the same time a philosophical
exposition of an idea. Mr. Wilson's five-volume work is insufficient as
a chronicle and too long for an essay. Yet an essay it really is.
Moreover, unless I myself am blinded by prejudice, it makes too much of
the errors committed by our government in the reconstruction period
after the Civil War. On the whole, with all their faults, the
administrations of Grant and Hayes accomplished a task of enormous
difficulty, with remarkably little impatience and intemperance. The
disadvantage of having been written originally under pressure in monthly
instalments, for a periodical, is clearly visible in the _History_.
There is a too constant effort to catch the eye with picturesque
description. Nevertheless, in this book, as in the others, Mr. Wilson
evokes in his readers a noble image of that government, constitutional,
traditional, democratic, self-developing, which, from the days of his
youth, aroused in him a poetic enthusiasm.

And now for the way his imagination works and clothes itself in
language. The quality of his mind is poetic, and his style is highly
figurative. There have been very few professors, lecturing on abstruse
subjects, such as economics, jurisprudence, and politics, who have dared
to give so free a rein to an instinct frankly artistic. In the early
days of his career, Mr. Wilson was invited to follow two courses which
were supposed to be inconsistent with each other. The so-called
"scientific" method, much admired at that time even when applied to
subjects in which philosophic insight or a sense for beauty are the
proper guides, was being urged upon the rising generation of scholars.
Perhaps the Johns Hopkins University was the center of this impulse in
America; at least it was thought to be, though the source was almost
wholly German. If he had had to be a dry-as-dust in order to be a writer
on politics and history, Mr. Wilson would have preferred to turn his
attention to biography and literary criticism. But he promptly resolved
to disregard the warnings of pedants and to be a man of letters
_though_ a professor of history and politics. I well remember the
irritation, sometimes amused and sometimes angry, with which he used to
speak of those who were persuaded that scholarship was in some way
contaminated by the touch of imagination or philosophy. He at least
would run the risk. And so he set himself to work cultivating the graces
of style no less assiduously than the exactness of science. There is a
distinct filiation in his diction, by which, from Stevenson to Lamb and
from Lamb to Sir Thomas Browne, one can trace it back to the quaint old
prose writers of the seventeenth century. I remember his calling my
attention, in 1890, or thereabouts, to the delightful stylistic
qualities of those worthies. Many of his colors are from their
ink-horns, in which the pigments were of deep and varied hues. When he
is sententious and didactic he seems to have caught something of
Emerson's manner. And indeed there is in all his writings a flavor of
optimism and a slightly dogmatic, even when thoroughly gentle and
persuasive, tone which he has in common with the New England sage.

But in spite of all these resemblances to older authors, Mr. Wilson
gives proof in his style of a masterful independence. He is constantly
determined to think for himself, to get to the bottom of his subject,
and finally to express the matter in terms of his own personality.
Especially is this evident in his early works, where he struggles
manfully to be himself, even in the choice of words and phrases,
weighing and analyzing the most current idioms and often making in them
some thoughtful alteration the better to express his exact meaning. His
literary training appears to have been almost wholly English. There are
few traces in his writings of any classical reading or of any first-hand
acquaintance with French, German, or Italian authors. And indeed in the
substance of his thought I wonder if he is sufficiently hospitable to
foreign ideas, especially to the vast body of comment on the French
Revolution. I imagine few Continental authorities would agree with him
in his comparatively low estimate of the importance of that great
movement, which he seems to regard with almost unmitigated disapproval.

In Mr. Wilson's addresses and public letters concerning the War he
re-affirms his principles and applies them with high confidence to the
fateful problems of this time. His tone has become vastly deeper and
sounder since he made his great decision, and from his Speech to
Congress, on February 3, 1917, to his recent Baltimore appeal, it has
rung true to every good impulse in the hearts of our people. His letter
to the Pope is in every way his master-piece, in style, in temper, and
in power of thought. He has led his country to the place it ought to
occupy, by the side of that other English democracy whose institutions,
ideals, and destiny are almost identical with our own, as he has
demonstrated in the writings of half a lifetime. Let us hope there was
prophetic virtue in a passage of his _Constitutional Government_, where,
speaking of the relation between our several States and the Union that
binds them together, he says they "may yet afford the world itself the
model of federation and liberty it may in God's providence come to

No one can rise from a perusal of the great mass of Mr. Wilson's
writings without an almost oppressive sense of his unremitting and
strenuous industry. From his senior year in college to the present day
he has borne the anxieties and responsibilities of authorship. The work
has been done with extreme conscientiousness in regard to accuracy and
clearness of thinking and with sedulous care for justness and beauty of
expression. It might well crown a life with honor. And when we remember
the thousands of his college lectures and the hundreds of his
miscellaneous addresses which have found no record in print, when we
recall the labors of university administration which crowded upon him in
middle life, when we consider the spectacle of his calm, prompt,
orderly, and energetic performance of public duty in these latter years,
our admiration for the literary artist is enhanced by our profound
respect for the man.[A]

[A] A considerable part of this Introduction appeared originally as an
article in _The Princeton Alumni Weekly_.



[Delivered at the Capitol, in Washington, March 4, 1913.]

There has been a change of government. It began two years ago, when the
House of Representatives became Democratic by a decisive majority. It
has now been completed. The Senate about to assemble will also be
Democratic. The offices of President and Vice-President have been put
into the hands of Democrats. What does the change mean? That is the
question that is uppermost in our minds to-day. That is the question I
am going to try to answer, in order, if I may, to interpret the

It means much more than the mere success of a party. The success of a
party means little except when the Nation is using that party for a
large and definite purpose. No one can mistake the purpose for which the
Nation now seeks to use the Democratic Party. It seeks to use it to
interpret a change in its own plans and point of view. Some old things
with which we had grown familiar, and which had begun to creep into the
very habit of our thought and of our lives, have altered their aspect as
we have latterly looked critically upon them, with fresh, awakened eyes;
have dropped their disguises and shown themselves alien and sinister.
Some new things, as we look frankly upon them, willing to comprehend
their real character, have come to assume the aspect of things long
believed in and familiar, stuff of our own convictions. We have been
refreshed by a new insight into our own life.

We see that in many things that life is very great. It is incomparably
great in its material aspects, in its body of wealth, in the diversity
and sweep of its energy, in the industries which have been conceived
and built up by the genius of individual men and the limitless
enterprise of groups of men. It is great, also, very great, in its moral
force. Nowhere else in the world have noble men and women exhibited in
more striking forms the beauty and the energy of sympathy and
helpfulness and counsel in their efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate
suffering, and set the weak in the way of strength and hope. We have
built up, moreover, a great system of government, which has stood
through a long age as in many respects a model for those who seek to set
liberty upon foundations that will endure against fortuitous change,
against storm and accident. Our life contains every great thing, and
contains it in rich abundance.

But the evil has come with the good, and much fine gold has been
corroded. With riches has come inexcusable waste. We have squandered a
great part of what we might have used, and have not stopped to conserve
the exceeding bounty of nature, without which our genius for enterprise
would have been worthless and impotent, scorning to be careful,
shamefully prodigal as well as admirably efficient. We have been proud
of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped
thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed
out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and
spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead
weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through. The
groans and agony of it all had not yet reached our ears, the solemn,
moving undertone of our life, coming up out of the mines and factories
and out of every home where the struggle had its intimate and familiar
seat. With the great Government went many deep secret things which we
too long delayed to look into and scrutinize with candid, fearless
eyes. The great Government we loved has too often been made use of for
private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had forgotten the

At last a vision has been vouchsafed us of our life as a whole. We see
the bad with the good, the debased and decadent with the sound and
vital. With this vision we approach new affairs. Our duty is to cleanse,
to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the
good, to purify and humanize every process of our common life without
weakening or sentimentalizing it. There has been something crude and
heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great. Our
thought has been "Let every man look out for himself, let every
generation look out for itself," while we reared giant machinery which
made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control
should have a chance to look out for themselves. We had not forgotten
our morals. We remembered well enough that we had set up a policy which
was meant to serve the humblest as well as the most powerful, with an
eye single to the standards of justice and fair play, and remembered it
with pride. But we were very heedless and in a hurry to be great.

We have come now to the sober second thought. The scales of heedlessness
have fallen from our eyes. We have made up our minds to square every
process of our national life again with the standards we so proudly set
up at the beginning and have always carried at our hearts. Our work is a
work of restoration.

We have itemized with some degree of particularity the things that ought
to be altered and here are some of the chief items: A tariff which cuts
us off from our proper part in the commerce of the world, violates the
just principles of taxation, and makes the Government a facile
instrument in the hands of private interests; a banking and currency
system based upon the necessity of the Government to sell its bonds
fifty years ago and perfectly adapted to concentrating cash and
restricting credits; an industrial system which, take it on all its
sides, financial as well as administrative, holds capital in leading
strings, restricts the liberties and limits the opportunities of labor,
and exploits without renewing or conserving the natural resources of the
country; a body of agricultural activities never yet given the
efficiency of great business undertakings or served as it should be
through the instrumentality of science taken directly to the farm, or
afforded the facilities of credit best suited to its practical needs;
watercourses undeveloped, waste places unreclaimed, forests untended,
fast disappearing without plan or prospect of renewal, unregarded waste
heaps at every mine. We have studied, as perhaps no other nation has,
the most effective means of production, but we have not studied cost or
economy as we should, either as organizers of industry, as statesmen, or
as individuals.

Nor have we studied and perfected the means by which government may be
put at the service of humanity, in safeguarding the health of the
Nation, the health of its men and its women and its children, as well as
their rights in the struggle for existence. This is no sentimental duty.
The firm basis of government is justice, not pity. These are matters of
justice. There can be no equality of opportunity, the first essential of
justice in the body politic, if men and women and children be not
shielded in their lives, their very vitality, from the consequences of
great industrial and social processes which they cannot alter, control,
or singly cope with. Society must see to it that it does not itself
crush or weaken or damage its own constituent parts. The first duty of
law is to keep sound the society it serves. Sanitary laws, pure-food
laws, and laws determining conditions of labor which individuals are
powerless to determine for themselves are intimate parts of the very
business of justice and legal efficiency.

These are some of the things we ought to do, and not leave the others
undone, the old-fashioned, never-to-be-neglected, fundamental
safeguarding of property and of individual right. This is the high
enterprise of the new day: To lift everything that concerns our life as
a Nation to the light that shines from the hearthfire of every man's
conscience and vision of the right. It is inconceivable that we should
do this as partisans; it is inconceivable we should do it in ignorance
of the facts as they are or in blind haste. We shall restore, not
destroy. We shall deal with our economic system as it is and as it may
be modified, not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to
write upon; and step by step we shall make it what it should be, in the
spirit of those who question their own wisdom and seek counsel and
knowledge, not shallow self-satisfaction or the excitement of excursions
whither they cannot tell. Justice, and only justice, shall always be our

And yet it will be no cool process of mere science. The Nation has been
deeply stirred, stirred by a solemn passion, stirred by the knowledge of
wrong, of ideals lost, of government too often debauched and made an
instrument of evil. The feelings with which we face this new age of
right and opportunity sweep across our heartstrings like some air out of
God's own presence, where justice and mercy are reconciled and the judge
and the brother are one. We know our task to be no mere task of politics
but a task which shall search us through and through, whether we be able
to understand our time and the need of our people, whether we be indeed
their spokesmen and interpreters, whether we have the pure heart to
comprehend and the rectified will to choose our high course of action.

This is not a day of triumph; it is a day of dedication. Here muster,
not the forces of party, but the forces of humanity. Men's hearts wait
upon us; men's lives hang in the balance; men's hopes call upon us to
say what we will do. Who shall live up to the great trust? Who dares
fail to try? I summon all honest men, all patriotic, all forward-looking
men, to my side. God helping me, I will not fail them, if they will but
counsel and sustain me!


[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, at the
beginning of the first session of the Sixty-third Congress, April 8,


I am very glad indeed to have this opportunity to address the two Houses
directly and to verify for myself the impression that the President of
the United States is a person, not a mere department of the Government
hailing Congress from some isolated island of jealous power, sending
messages, not speaking naturally and with his own voice--that he is a
human being trying to coöperate with other human beings in a common
service. After this pleasant experience I shall feel quite normal in all
our dealings with one another.[B]

I have called the Congress together in extraordinary session because a
duty was laid upon the party now in power at the recent elections which
it ought to perform promptly, in order that the burden carried by the
people under existing law may be lightened as soon as possible and in
order, also, that the business interests of the country may not be kept
too long in suspense as to what the fiscal changes are to be to which
they will be required to adjust themselves. It is clear to the whole
country that the tariff duties must be altered. They must be changed to
meet the radical alteration in the conditions of our economic life which
the country has witnessed within the last generation. While the whole
face and method of our industrial and commercial life were being changed
beyond recognition the tariff schedules have remained what they were
before the change began, or have moved in the direction they were given
when no large circumstance of our industrial development was what it is
to-day. Our task is to square them with the actual facts. The sooner
that is done the sooner we shall escape from suffering from the facts
and the sooner our men of business will be free to thrive by the law of
nature (the nature of free business) instead of by the law of
legislation and artificial arrangement.

We have seen tariff legislation wander very far afield in our day--very
far indeed from the field in which our prosperity might have had a
normal growth and stimulation. No one who looks the facts squarely in
the face or knows anything that lies beneath the surface of action can
fail to perceive the principles upon which recent tariff legislation has
been based. We long ago passed beyond the modest notion of "protecting"
the industries of the country and moved boldly forward to the idea that
they were entitled to the direct patronage of the Government. For a long
time--a time so long that the men now active in public policy hardly
remember the conditions that preceded it--we have sought in our tariff
schedules to give each group of manufacturers or producers what they
themselves thought that they needed in order to maintain a practically
exclusive market as against the rest of the world. Consciously or
unconsciously, we have built up a set of privileges and exemptions from
competition behind which it was easy by any, even the crudest, forms of
combination to organize monopoly; until at last nothing is normal,
nothing is obliged to stand the tests of efficiency and economy, in our
world of big business, but everything thrives by concerted arrangement.
Only new principles of action will save us from a final hard
crystallization of monopoly and a complete loss of the influences that
quicken enterprise and keep independent energy alive.

It is plain what those principles must be. We must abolish everything
that bears even the semblance of privilege or of any kind of artificial
advantage, and put our business men and producers under the stimulation
of a constant necessity to be efficient, economical, and enterprising,
masters of competitive supremacy, better workers and merchants than any
in the world. Aside from the duties laid upon articles which we do not,
and probably cannot, produce, therefore, and the duties laid upon
luxuries and merely for the sake of the revenues they yield, the object
of the tariff duties henceforth laid must be effective competition, the
whetting of American wits by contest with the wits of the rest of the

It would be unwise to move toward this end headlong, with reckless
haste, or with strokes that cut at the very roots of what has grown up
amongst us by long process and at our own invitation. It does not alter
a thing to upset it and break it and deprive it of a chance to change.
It destroys it. We must make changes in our fiscal laws, in our fiscal
system, whose object is development, a more free and wholesome
development, not revolution or upset or confusion. We must build up
trade, especially foreign trade. We need the outlet and the enlarged
field of energy more than we ever did before. We must build up industry
as well, and must adopt freedom in the place of artificial stimulation
only so far as it will build, not pull down. In dealing with the tariff
the method by which this may be done will be a matter of judgment,
exercised item by item. To some not accustomed to the excitements and
responsibilities of greater freedom our methods may in some respects
and at some points seem heroic, but remedies may be heroic and yet be
remedies. It is our business to make sure that they are genuine
remedies. Our object is clear. If our motive is above just challenge and
only an occasional error of judgment is chargeable against us, we shall
be fortunate.

We are called upon to render the country a great service in more matters
than one. Our responsibility should be met and our methods should be
thorough, as thorough as moderate and well considered, based upon the
facts as they are, and not worked out as if we were beginners. We are to
deal with the facts of our own day, with the facts of no other, and to
make laws which square with those facts. It is best, indeed it is
necessary, to begin with the tariff. I will urge nothing upon you now at
the opening of your session which can obscure that first object or
divert our energies from that clearly defined duty. At a later time I
may take the liberty of calling your attention to reforms which should
press close upon the heels of the tariff changes, if not accompany them,
of which the chief is the reform of our banking and currency laws; but
just now I refrain. For the present, I put these matters on one side and
think only of this one thing--of the changes in our fiscal system which
may best serve to open once more the free channels of prosperity to a
great people whom we would serve to the utmost and throughout both rank
and file.

I thank you for your courtesy.

[B] It had been the practice of our Presidents to send their Messages to
Congress and not to read them in person.


[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, June 23,


It is under the compulsion of what seems to me a clear and imperative
duty that I have a second time this session sought the privilege of
addressing you in person. I know, of course, that the heated season of
the year is upon us, that work in these chambers and in the committee
rooms is likely to become a burden as the season lengthens, and that
every consideration of personal convenience and personal comfort,
perhaps, in the cases of some of us, considerations of personal health
even, dictate an early conclusion of the deliberations of the session;
but there are occasions of public duty when these things which touch us
privately seem very small, when the work to be done is so pressing and
so fraught with big consequence that we know that we are not at liberty
to weigh against it any point of personal sacrifice. We are now in the
presence of such an occasion. It is absolutely imperative that we should
give the business men of this country a banking and currency system by
means of which they can make use of the freedom of enterprise and of
individual initiative which we are about to bestow upon them.

We are about to set them free; we must not leave them without the tools
of action when they are free. We are about to set them free by removing
the trammels of the protective tariff. Ever since the Civil War they
have waited for this emancipation and for the free opportunities it
will bring with it. It has been reserved for us to give it to them. Some
fell in love, indeed, with the slothful security of their dependence
upon the Government; some took advantage of the shelter of the nursery
to set up a mimic mastery of their own within its walls. Now both the
tonic and the discipline of liberty and maturity are to ensue. There
will be some readjustments of purpose and point of view. There will
follow a period of expansion and new enterprise, freshly conceived. It
is for us to determine now whether it shall be rapid and facile and of
easy accomplishment. This it cannot be unless the resourceful business
men who are to deal with the new circumstances are to have at hand and
ready for use the instrumentalities and conveniences of free enterprise
which independent men need when acting on their own initiative.

It is not enough to strike the shackles from business. The duty of
statesmanship is not negative merely. It is constructive also. We must
show that we understand what business needs and that we know how to
supply it. No man, however casual and superficial his observation of the
conditions now prevailing in the country, can fail to see that one of
the chief things business needs now, and will need increasingly as it
gains in scope and vigor in the years immediately ahead of us, is the
proper means by which readily to vitalize its credit, corporate and
individual, and its originative brains. What will it profit us to be
free if we are not to have the best and most accessible
instrumentalities of commerce and enterprise? What will it profit us to
be quit of one kind of monopoly if we are to remain in the grip of
another and more effective kind? How are we to gain and keep the
confidence of the business community unless we show that we know how
both to aid and to protect it? What shall we say if we make fresh
enterprise necessary and also make it very difficult by leaving all else
except the tariff just as we found it? The tyrannies of business, big
and little, lie within the field of credit. We know that. Shall we not
act upon the knowledge? Do we not know how to act upon it? If a man
cannot make his assets available at pleasure, his assets of capacity and
character and resource, what satisfaction is it to him to see
opportunity beckoning to him on every hand, when others have the keys of
credit in their pockets and treat them as all but their own private
possession? It is perfectly clear that it is our duty to supply the new
banking and currency system the country needs, and it will need it
immediately more than it has ever needed it before.

The only question is, When shall we supply it--now, or later, after the
demands shall have become reproaches that we were so dull and so slow?
Shall we hasten to change the tariff laws and then be laggards about
making it possible and easy for the country to take advantage of the
change? There can be only one answer to that question. We must act now,
at whatever sacrifice to ourselves. It is a duty which the circumstances
forbid us to postpone. I should be recreant to my deepest convictions of
public obligation did I not press it upon you with solemn and urgent

The principles upon which we should act are also clear. The country has
sought and seen its path in this matter within the last few years--sees
it more clearly now than it ever saw it before--much more clearly than
when the last legislative proposals on the subject were made. We must
have a currency, not rigid as now, but readily, elastically responsive
to sound credit, the expanding and contracting credits of everyday
transactions, the normal ebb and flow of personal and corporate
dealings. Our banking laws must mobilize reserves; must not permit the
concentration anywhere in a few hands of the monetary resources of the
country or their use for speculative purposes in such volume as to
hinder or impede or stand in the way of other more legitimate, more
fruitful uses. And the control of the system of banking and of issue
which our new laws are to set up must be public, not private, must be
vested in the Government itself, so that the banks may be the
instruments, not the masters, of business and of individual enterprise
and initiative.

The committees of the Congress to which legislation of this character is
referred have devoted careful and dispassionate study to the means of
accomplishing these objects. They have honored me by consulting me. They
are ready to suggest action. I have come to you, as the head of the
Government and the responsible leader of the party in power, to urge
action now, while there is time to serve the country deliberately and as
we should, in a clear air of common counsel. I appeal to you with a deep
conviction of duty. I believe that you share this conviction. I
therefore appeal to you with confidence. I am at your service without
reserve to play my part in any way you may call upon me to play it in
this great enterprise of exigent reform which it will dignify and
distinguish us to perform and discredit us to neglect.


[Delivered in the presence of Union and Confederate veterans, on the
occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, July 4, 1913.]


I need not tell you what the Battle of Gettysburg meant. These gallant
men in blue and gray sit all about us here.[C] Many of them met upon
this ground in grim and deadly struggle. Upon these famous fields and
hillsides their comrades died about them. In their presence it were an
impertinence to discourse upon how the battle went, how it ended, what
it signified! But fifty years have gone by since then, and I crave the
privilege of speaking to you for a few minutes of what those fifty years
have meant.

What _have_ they meant? They have meant peace and union and vigor, and
the maturity and might of a great nation. How wholesome and healing the
peace has been! We have found one another again as brothers and comrades
in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long
past, the quarrel forgotten--except that we shall not forget the
splendid valor, the manly devotion of the men then arrayed against one
another, now grasping hands and smiling into each other's eyes. How
complete the union has become and how dear to all of us, how
unquestioned, how benign and majestic, as State after State has been
added to this our great family of free men! How handsome the vigor, the
maturity, the might of the great Nation we love with undivided hearts;
how full of large and confident promise that a life will be wrought out
that will crown its strength with gracious justice and with a happy
welfare that will touch all alike with deep contentment! We are debtors
to those fifty crowded years; they have made us heirs to a mighty

But do we deem the Nation complete and finished? These venerable men
crowding here to this famous field have set us a great example of
devotion and utter sacrifice. They were willing to die that the people
might live. But their task is done. Their day is turned into evening.
They look to us to perfect what they established. Their work is handed
on to us, to be done in another way, but not in another spirit. Our day
is not over; it is upon us in full tide.

Have affairs paused? Does the Nation stand still? Is what the fifty
years have wrought since those days of battle finished, rounded out, and
completed? Here is a great people, great with every force that has ever
beaten in the lifeblood of mankind. And it is secure. There is no one
within its borders, there is no power among the nations of the earth, to
make it afraid. But has it yet squared itself with its own great
standards set up at its birth, when it made that first noble, naïve
appeal to the moral judgment of mankind to take notice that a government
had now at last been established which was to serve men, not masters? It
is secure in everything except the satisfaction that its life is right,
adjusted to the uttermost to the standards of righteousness and
humanity. The days of sacrifice and cleansing are not closed. We have
harder things to do than were done in the heroic days of war, because
harder to see clearly, requiring more vision, more calm balance of
judgment, a more candid searching of the very springs of right.

Look around you upon the field of Gettysburg! Picture the array, the
fierce heats and agony of battle, column hurled against column, battery
bellowing to battery! Valor? Yes! Greater no man shall see in war; and
self-sacrifice, and loss to the uttermost; the high recklessness of
exalted devotion which does not count the cost. We are made by these
tragic, epic things to know what it costs to make a nation--the blood
and sacrifice of multitudes of unknown men lifted to a great stature in
the view of all generations by knowing no limit to their manly
willingness to serve. In armies thus marshaled from the ranks of free
men you will see, as it were, a nation embattled, the leaders and the
led, and may know, if you will, how little except in form its action
differs in days of peace from its action in days of war.

May we break camp now and be at ease? Are the forces that fight for the
Nation dispersed, disbanded, gone to their homes forgetful of the common
cause? Are our forces disorganized, without constituted leaders and the
might of men consciously united because we contend, not with armies, but
with principalities and powers and wickedness in high places? Are we
content to lie still? Does our union mean sympathy, our peace
contentment, our vigor right action, our maturity self-comprehension and
a clear confidence in choosing what we shall do? War fitted us for
action, and action never ceases.

I have been chosen the leader of the Nation. I cannot justify the choice
by any qualities of my own, but so it has come about, and here I stand.
Whom do I command? The ghostly hosts who fought upon these battlefields
long ago and are gone? These gallant gentlemen stricken in years whose
fighting days, are over, their glory won? What are the orders for them,
and who rallies them? I have in my mind another host, whom these set
free of civil strife in order that they might work out in days of peace
and settled order the life of a great Nation. That host is the people
themselves, the great and the small, without class or difference of kind
or race or origin; and undivided in interest, if we have but the vision
to guide and direct them and order their lives aright in what we do. Our
constitutions are their articles of enlistment. The orders of the day
are the laws upon our statute books. What we strive for is their
freedom, their right to lift themselves from day to day and behold the
things they have hoped for, and so make way for still better days for
those whom they love who are to come after them. The recruits are the
little children crowding in. The quartermaster's stores are in the mines
and forests and fields, in the shops and factories. Every day something
must be done to push the campaign forward; and it must be done by plan
and with an eye to some great destiny.

How shall we hold such thoughts in our hearts and not be moved? I would
not have you live even to-day wholly in the past, but would wish to
stand with you in the light that streams upon us now out of that great
day gone by. Here is the nation God has builded by our hands. What shall
we do with it? Who stands ready to act again and always in the spirit of
this day of reunion and hope and patriotic fervor? The day of our
country's life has but broadened into morning. Do not put uniforms by.
Put the harness of the present on. Lift your eyes to the great tracts of
life yet to be conquered in the interest of righteous peace, of that
prosperity which lies in a people's hearts and outlasts all wars and
errors of men. Come, let us be comrades and soldiers yet to serve our
fellow-men in quiet counsel, where the blare of trumpets is neither
heard nor heeded and where the things are done which make blessed the
nations of the world in peace and righteousness and love.

[C] The speech was made from a rostrum in the National Cemetery, on the


[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, August 27,


It is clearly my duty to lay before you, very fully and without
reservation, the facts concerning our present relations with the
Republic of Mexico. The deplorable posture of affairs in Mexico I need
not describe,[D] but I deem it my duty to speak very frankly of what
this Government has done and should seek to do in fulfillment of its
obligation to Mexico herself, as a friend and neighbor, and to American
citizens whose lives and vital interests are daily affected by the
distressing conditions which now obtain beyond our southern border.

Those conditions touch us very nearly. Not merely because they lie at
our very doors. That of course makes us more vividly and more constantly
conscious of them, and every instinct of neighborly interest and
sympathy is aroused and quickened by them; but that is only one element
in the determination of our duty. We are glad to call ourselves the
friends of Mexico, and we shall, I hope, have many an occasion, in
happier times as well as in these days of trouble and confusion, to show
that our friendship is genuine and disinterested, capable of sacrifice
and every generous manifestation. The peace, prosperity, and
contentment of Mexico mean more, much more, to us than merely an
enlarged field for our commerce and enterprise. They mean an enlargement
of the field of self-government and the realization of the hopes and
rights of a nation with whose best aspirations, so long suppressed and
disappointed, we deeply sympathize. We shall yet prove to the Mexican
people that we know how to serve them without first thinking how we
shall serve ourselves.

But we are not the only friends of Mexico. The whole world desires her
peace and progress; and the whole world is interested as never before.
Mexico lies at last where all the world looks on. Central America is
about to be touched by the great routes of the world's trade and
intercourse running free from ocean to ocean at the Isthmus. The future
has much in store for Mexico, as for all the States of Central America;
but the best gifts can come to her only if she be ready and free to
receive them and to enjoy them honorably. America in particular--America
north and south and upon both continents--waits upon the development of
Mexico; and that development can be sound and lasting only if it be the
product of a genuine freedom, a just and ordered government founded upon
law. Only so can it be peaceful or fruitful of the benefits of peace.
Mexico has a great and enviable future before her, if only she choose
and attain the paths of honest constitutional government.

The present circumstances of the Republic, I deeply regret to say, do
not seem to promise even the foundations of such a peace. We have waited
many months, months full of peril and anxiety, for the conditions there
to improve, and they have not improved. They have grown worse, rather.
The territory in some sort controlled by the provisional authorities at
Mexico City has grown smaller, not larger. The prospect of the
pacification of the country, even by arms, has seemed to grow more and
more remote; and its pacification by the authorities at the capital is
evidently impossible by any other means than force. Difficulties more
and more entangle those who claim to constitute the legitimate
government of the Republic. They have not made good their claim in fact.
Their successes in the field have proved only temporary. War and
disorder, devastation and confusion, seem to threaten to become the
settled fortune of the distracted country. As friends we could wait no
longer for a solution which every week seemed further away. It was our
duty at least to volunteer our good offices--to offer to assist, if we
might, in effecting some arrangement which would bring relief and peace
and set up a universally acknowledged political authority there.

Accordingly, I took the liberty of sending the Hon. John Lind, formerly
governor of Minnesota, as my personal spokesman and representative, to
the City of Mexico, with _the following instructions_:

     Press very earnestly upon the attention of those who are now
     exercising authority or wielding influence in Mexico the following
     considerations and advice:

     The Government of the United States does not feel at liberty any
     longer to stand inactively by while it becomes daily more and more
     evident that no real progress is being made towards the
     establishment of a government at the City of Mexico which the
     country will obey and respect.

     The Government of the United States does not stand in the same case
     with the other great Governments of the world in respect of what is
     happening or what is likely to happen in Mexico. We offer our good
     offices, not only because of our genuine desire to play the part of
     a friend, but also because we are expected by the powers of the
     world to act as Mexico's nearest friend.

     We wish to act in these circumstances in the spirit of the most
     earnest and disinterested friendship. It is our purpose in whatever
     we do or propose in this perplexing and distressing situation not
     only to pay the most scrupulous regard to the sovereignty and
     independence of Mexico--that we take as a matter of course to which
     we are bound by every obligation of right and honor--but also to
     give every possible evidence that we act in the interest of Mexico
     alone, and not in the interest of any person or body of persons who
     may have personal or property claims in Mexico which they may feel
     that they have the right to press. We are seeking to counsel Mexico
     for her own good and in the interest of her own peace, and not for
     any other purpose whatever. The Government of the United States
     would deem itself discredited if it had any selfish or ulterior
     purpose in transactions where the peace, happiness, and prosperity
     of a whole people are involved. It is acting as its friendship for
     Mexico, not as any selfish interest, dictates.

     The present situation in Mexico is incompatible with the
     fulfillment of international obligations on the part of Mexico,
     with the civilized development of Mexico herself, and with the
     maintenance of tolerable political and economic conditions in
     Central America. It is upon no common occasion, therefore, that the
     United States offers her counsel and assistance. All America cries
     out for a settlement.

     A satisfactory settlement seems to us to be conditioned on--

     (_a_) An immediate cessation of fighting throughout Mexico, a
     definite armistice solemnly entered into and scrupulously observed;

     (_b_) Security given for an early and free election in which all
     will agree to take part;

     (_c_) The consent of Gen. Huerta to bind himself not to be a
     candidate for election as President of the Republic at this
     election; and

     (_d_) The agreement of all parties to abide by the results of the
     election and coöperate in the most loyal way in organizing and
     supporting the new administration.

     The Government of the United States will be glad to play any part
     in this settlement or in its carrying out which it can play
     honorably and consistently with international right. It pledges
     itself to recognize and in every way possible and proper to assist
     the administration chosen and set up in Mexico in the way and on
     the conditions suggested.

     Taking all the existing conditions into consideration, the
     Government of the United States can conceive of no reasons
     sufficient to justify those who are now attempting to shape the
     policy or exercise the authority of Mexico in declining the offices
     of friendship thus offered. Can Mexico give the civilized world a
     satisfactory reason for rejecting our good offices? If Mexico can
     suggest any better way in which to show our friendship, serve the
     people of Mexico, and meet our international obligations, we are
     more than willing to consider the suggestion.

Mr. Lind executed his delicate and difficult mission with singular tact,
firmness, and good judgment, and made clear to the authorities at the
City of Mexico not only the purpose of his visit but also the spirit in
which it had been undertaken. But the proposals he submitted were
rejected, in a note the full text of which I take the liberty of laying
before you.

I am led to believe that they were rejected partly because the
authorities at Mexico City had been grossly misinformed and misled upon
two points. They did not realize the spirit of the American people in
this matter, their earnest friendliness and yet sober determination that
some just solution be found for the Mexican difficulties; and they did
not believe that the present administration spoke, through Mr. Lind, for
the people of the United States. The effect of this unfortunate
misunderstanding on their part is to leave them singularly isolated and
without friends who can effectually aid them. So long as the
misunderstanding continues we can only await the time of their awakening
to a realization of the actual facts. We cannot thrust our good offices
upon them. The situation must be given a little more time to work itself
out in the new circumstances; and I believe that only a little while
will be necessary. For the circumstances are new. The rejection of our
friendship makes them new and will inevitably bring its own alterations
in the whole aspect of affairs. The actual situation of the authorities
at Mexico City will presently be revealed.

Meanwhile, what is it our duty to do? Clearly, everything that we do
must be rooted in patience and done with calm and disinterested
deliberation. Impatience on our part would be childish, and would be
fraught with every risk of wrong and folly. We can afford to exercise
the self-restraint of a really great nation which realizes its own
strength and scorns to misuse it. It was our duty to offer our active
assistance. It is now our duty to show what true neutrality will do to
enable the people of Mexico to set their affairs in order again and wait
for a further opportunity to offer our friendly counsels. The door is
not closed against the resumption, either upon the initiative of Mexico
or upon our own, of the effort to bring order out of the confusion by
friendly coöperative action, should fortunate occasion offer.

While we wait the contest of the rival forces will undoubtedly for a
little while be sharper than ever, just because it will be plain that an
end must be made of the existing situation, and that very promptly; and
with the increased activity of the contending factions will come, it is
to be feared, increased danger to the non-combatants in Mexico as well
as to those actually in the field of battle. The position of outsiders
is always particularly trying and full of hazard where there is civil
strife and a whole country is upset. We should earnestly urge all
Americans to leave Mexico at once, and should assist them to get away in
every way possible--not because we would mean to slacken in the least
our efforts to safeguard their lives and their interests, but because it
is imperative that they should take no unnecessary risks when it is
physically possible for them to leave the country. We should let every
one who assumes to exercise authority in any part of Mexico know in the
most unequivocal way that we shall vigilantly watch the fortunes of
those Americans who cannot get away, and shall hold those responsible
for their sufferings and losses to a definite reckoning. That can be and
will be made plain beyond the possibility of a misunderstanding.

For the rest, I deem it my duty to exercise the authority conferred upon
me by the law of March 14, 1912, to see to it that neither side to the
struggle now going on in Mexico receive any assistance from this side
the border. I shall follow the best practice of nations in the matter of
neutrality by forbidding the exportation of arms or munitions of war of
any kind from the United States to any part of the Republic of Mexico--a
policy suggested by several interesting precedents and certainly
dictated by many manifest considerations of practical expediency. We
cannot in the circumstances be the partisans of either party to the
contest that now distracts Mexico, or constitute ourselves the virtual
umpire between them.

I am happy to say that several of the great Governments of the world
have given this Government their generous moral support in urging upon
the provisional authorities at the City of Mexico the acceptance of our
proffered good offices in the spirit in which they were made. We have
not acted in this matter under the ordinary principles of international
obligation. All the world expects us in such circumstances to act as
Mexico's nearest friend and intimate adviser. This is our immemorial
relation towards her. There is nowhere any serious question that we have
the moral right in the case or that we are acting in the interest of a
fair settlement and of good government, not for the promotion of some
selfish interest of our own. If further motive were necessary than our
own good will towards a sister Republic and our own deep concern to see
peace and order prevail in Central America, this consent of mankind to
what we are attempting, this attitude of the great nations of the world
towards what we may attempt in dealing with this distressed people at
our doors, should make us feel the more solemnly bound to go to the
utmost length of patience and forbearance in this painful and anxious
business. The steady pressure of moral force will before many days break
the barriers of pride and prejudice down, and we shall triumph as
Mexico's friends sooner than we could triumph as her enemies--and how
much more handsomely, with how much higher and finer satisfactions of
conscience and of honor!

[D] General Victoriano Huerta had, on Feb. 18, deposed President Madero,
and had been, on the 20th, elected President by the Mexican Congress.
Three days later Madero was assassinated while in the custody of the new
government. An army calling themselves Constitutionalists under General
Villa, defeated the Mexican Federal forces in May. On August 20, Huerta
declined the proposal of the United States government that he should
cease to be a candidate for the Presidency.


[Delivered at Philadelphia, Pa., on the occasion of the rededication of
Congress Hall, Oct. 25, 1913. The United States Congress met in this
hall till 1800. Here Washington was inaugurated the second time, and
here he made his farewell address to the American people. Here John
Adams took the oath of office when he succeeded Washington. The hall,
after being long disused, was now restored and reopened. Before Mr.
Wilson spoke, Mr. Frank Miles Day, representing the committee of
architects, had referred to the "delightful silence, order, gravity, and
personal dignity of manner" observed by the Senators of the first
Congress, and had said, "They all appeared every morning full powdered,
and dressed, as age or fancy might suggest, in the richest material."]


No American could stand in this place to-day and think of the
circumstances which we are come together to celebrate without being most
profoundly stirred. There has come over me since I sat down here a sense
of deep solemnity, because it has seemed to me that I saw ghosts
crowding--a great assemblage of spirits, no longer visible, but whose
influence we still feel as we feel the molding power of history itself.
The men who sat in this hall, to whom we now look back with a touch of
deep sentiment, were men of flesh and blood, face to face with extremely
difficult problems. The population of the United States then was hardly
three times the present population of the city of Philadelphia, and yet
that was a Nation as this is a Nation, and the men who spoke for it were
setting their hands to a work which was to last, not only that their
people might be happy, but that an example might be lifted up for the
instruction of the rest of the world.

I like to read the quaint old accounts such as Mr. Day has read to us
this afternoon. Strangers came then to America to see what the young
people that had sprung up here were like, and they found men in counsel
who knew how to construct governments. They found men deliberating here
who had none of the appearance of novices, none of the hesitation of men
who did not know whether the work they were doing was going to last or
not; men who addressed themselves to a problem of construction as
familiarly as we attempt to carry out the traditions of a Government
established these 137 years.

I feel to-day the compulsion of these men, the compulsion of examples
which were set up in this place. And of what do their examples remind
us? They remind us not merely of public service but of public service
shot through with principle and honor. They were not histrionic men.
They did not say--

     Look upon us as upon those who shall hereafter be illustrious.

They said:

     Look upon us who are doing the first free work of constitutional
     liberty in the world, and who must do it in soberness and truth, or
     it will not last.

Politics, ladies and gentlemen, is made up in just about equal parts of
comprehension and sympathy. No man ought to go into politics who does
not comprehend the task that he is going to attack. He may comprehend it
so completely that it daunts him, that he doubts whether his own spirit
is stout enough and his own mind able enough to attempt its great
undertakings, but unless he comprehend it he ought not to enter it.
After he has comprehended it, there should come into his mind those
profound impulses of sympathy which connect him with the rest of
mankind, for politics is a business of interpretation, and no men are
fit for it who do not see and seek more than their own advantage and

We have stumbled upon many unhappy circumstances in the hundred years
that have gone by since the event that we are celebrating. Almost all of
them have come from self-centered men, men who saw in their own interest
the interest of the country, and who did not have vision enough to read
it in wider terms, in the universal terms of equity and justice and the
rights of mankind. I hear a great many people at Fourth of July
celebrations laud the Declaration of Independence who in between Julys
shiver at the plain language of our bills of rights. The Declaration of
Independence was, indeed, the first audible breath of liberty, but the
substance of liberty is written in such documents as the declaration of
rights attached, for example, to the first constitution of Virginia,
which was a model for the similar documents read elsewhere into our
great fundamental charters. That document speaks in very plain terms.
The men of that generation did not hesitate to say that every people has
a right to choose its own forms of government--not once, but as often as
it pleases--and to accommodate those forms of government to its existing
interests and circumstances. Not only to establish but to alter is the
fundamental principle of self-government.

We are just as much under compulsion to study the particular
circumstances of our own day as the gentlemen were who sat in this hall
and set us precedents, not of what to do but of how to do it. Liberty
inheres in the circumstances of the day. Human happiness consists in the
life which human beings are leading at the time that they live. I can
feed my memory as happily upon the circumstances of the revolutionary
and constitutional period as you can, but I cannot feed all my purposes
with them in Washington now. Every day problems arise which wear some
new phase and aspect, and I must fall back, if I would serve my
conscience, upon those things which are fundamental rather than upon
those things which are superficial, and ask myself this question, How
are you going to assist in some small part to give the American people
and, by example, the peoples of the world more liberty, more happiness,
more substantial prosperity; and how are you going to make that
prosperity a common heritage instead of a selfish possession? I came
here to-day partly in order to feed my own spirit. I did not come in
compliment. When I was asked to come I knew immediately upon the
utterance of the invitation that I had to come, that to be absent would
be as if I refused to drink once more at the original fountains of
inspiration for our own Government.

The men of the day which we now celebrate had a very great advantage
over us, ladies and gentlemen, in this one particular: Life was simple
in America then. All men shared the same circumstances in almost equal
degree. We think of Washington, for example, as an aristocrat, as a man
separated by training, separated by family and neighborhood tradition,
from the ordinary people of the rank and file of the country. Have you
forgotten the personal history of George Washington? Do you not know
that he struggled as poor boys now struggle for a meager and imperfect
education; that he worked at his surveyor's tasks in the lonely forests;
that he knew all the roughness, all the hardships, all the adventure,
all the variety of the common life of that day; and that if he stood a
little stiffly in this place, if he looked a little aloof, it was
because life had dealt hardly with him? All his sinews had been
stiffened by the rough work of making America. He was a man of the
people, whose touch had been with them since the day he saw the light
first in the old Dominion of Virginia. And the men who came after him,
men, some of whom had drunk deep at the sources of philosophy and of
study, were, nevertheless, also men who on this side of the water knew
no complicated life but the simple life of primitive neighborhoods. Our
task is very much more difficult. That sympathy which alone interprets
public duty is more difficult for a public man to acquire now than it
was then, because we live in the midst of circumstances and conditions
infinitely complex.

No man can boast that he understands America. No man can boast that he
has lived the life of America, as almost every man who sat in this hall
in those days could boast. No man can pretend that except by common
counsel he can gather into his consciousness what the varied life of
this people is. The duty that we have to keep open eyes and open hearts
and accessible understandings is a very much more difficult duty to
perform than it was in their day. Yet how much more important that it
should be performed, for fear we make infinite and irreparable blunders.
The city of Washington is in some respects self-contained, and it is
easy there to forget what the rest of the United States is thinking
about. I count it a fortunate circumstance that almost all the windows
of the White House and its offices open upon unoccupied spaces that
stretch to the banks of the Potomac and then out into Virginia and on to
the heavens themselves, and that as I sit there I can constantly forget
Washington and remember the United States. Not that I would intimate
that all of the United States lies south of Washington, but there is a
serious thing back of my thought. If you think too much about being
reëlected, it is very difficult to be worth reëlecting. You are so apt
to forget that the comparatively small number of persons, numerous as
they seem to be when they swarm, who come to Washington to ask for
things, do not constitute an important proportion of the population of
the country, that it is constantly necessary to come away from
Washington and renew one's contact with the people who do not swarm
there, who do not ask for anything, but who do trust you without their
personal counsel to do your duty. Unless a man gets these contacts he
grows weaker and weaker. He needs them as Hercules needed the touch of
mother earth. If you lift him up too high or he lifts himself too high,
he loses the contact and therefore loses the inspiration.

I love to think of those plain men, however far from plain their dress
sometimes was, who assembled in this hall. One is startled to think of
the variety of costume and color which would now occur if we were let
loose upon the fashions of that age. Men's lack of taste is largely
concealed now by the limitations of fashion. Yet these men, who
sometimes dressed like the peacock, were, nevertheless, of the ordinary
flight of their time. They were birds of a feather; they were birds come
from a very simple breeding; they were much in the open heaven. They
were beginning, when there was so little to distract their attention, to
show that they could live upon fundamental principles of government. We
talk those principles, but we have not time to absorb them. We have not
time to let them into our blood, and thence have them translated into
the plain mandates of action.

The very smallness of this room, the very simplicity of it all, all the
suggestions which come from its restoration, are reassuring
things--things which it becomes a man to realize. Therefore my theme
here to-day, my only thought, is a very simple one. Do not let us go
back to the annals of those sessions of Congress to find out what to do,
because we live in another age and the circumstances are absolutely
different; but let us be men of that kind; let us feel at every turn
the compulsions of principle and of honor which thy felt; let us free
our vision from temporary circumstances and look abroad at the horizon
and take into our lungs the great air of freedom which has blown through
this country and stolen across the seas and blessed people everywhere;
and, looking east and west and north and south, let us remind ourselves
that we are the custodians, in some degree, of the principles which have
made men free and governments just.


[Delivered at Mobile, Alabama, October 27, 1913.]


It is with unaffected pleasure that I find myself here to-day. I once
before had the pleasure, in another southern city, of addressing the
Southern Commercial Congress. I then spoke of what the future seemed to
hold in store for this region, which so many of us love and toward the
future of which we all look forward with so much confidence and hope.
But another theme directed me here this time. I do not need to speak of
the South. She has, perhaps, acquired the gift of speaking for herself.
I come because I want to speak of our present and prospective relations
with our neighbors to the south. I deemed it a public duty, as well as a
personal pleasure, to be here to express for myself and for the
Government I represent the welcome we all feel to those who represent
the Latin-American States.

The future, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be very different for this
hemisphere from the past. These States lying to the south of us, which
have always been our neighbors, will now be drawn closer to us by
innumerable ties, and, I hope, chief of all by the tie of a common
understanding of each other. Interest does not tie nations together; it
sometimes separates them. But sympathy and understanding does unite
them, and I believe that by the new route that is just about to be
opened, while we physically cut two continents asunder, we spiritually
unite them. It is a spiritual union which we seek.

I wonder if you realize, I wonder if your imaginations have been filled
with the significance of the tides of commerce. Your Governor alluded in
very fit and striking terms to the voyage of Columbus, but Columbus took
his voyage under compulsion of circumstances. Constantinople had been
captured by the Turks, and all the routes of trade with the East had
been suddenly closed. If there was not a way across the Atlantic to open
those routes again, they were closed forever; and Columbus set out not
to discover America, for he did not know that it existed, but to
discover the eastern shores of Asia. He set sail for Cathay and stumbled
upon America. With that change in the outlook of the world, what
happened? England, that had been at the back of Europe with an unknown
sea behind her, found that all things had turned as if upon a pivot and
she was at the front of Europe; and since then all the tides of energy
and enterprise that have issued out of Europe have seemed to be turned
westward across the Atlantic. But you will notice that they have turned
westward chiefly north of the Equator, and that it is the northern half
of the globe that has seemed to be filled with the media of intercourse
and of sympathy and of common understanding.

Do you not see now what is about to happen? These great tides which have
been running along parallels of latitude will now swing southward
athwart parallels of latitude, and that opening gate at the Isthmus of
Panama will open the world to a commerce that she has not known before,
a commerce of intelligence, of thought, and sympathy between North and
South. The Latin-American States which, to their disadvantage, have been
off the main lines will now be on the main lines. I feel that these
gentlemen honoring us with their presence to-day will presently find
that some part, at any rate, of the center of gravity of the world has
shifted. Do you realize that New York, for example, will be nearer the
western coast of South America than she is now to the eastern coast of
South America? Do you realize that a line drawn northward parallel with
the greater part of the western coast of South America will run only
about one hundred and fifty miles west of New York? The great bulk of
South America, if you will look at your globes (not at your Mercator's
projection), lies eastward of the continent of North America. You will
realize that when you realize that the canal will run southeast, not
southwest, and that when you get into the Pacific you will be farther
east then you were when you left the Gulf of Mexico. These things are
significant, therefore, of this, that we are closing one chapter in the
history of the world and are opening another of great, unimaginable

There is one peculiarity about the history of the Latin-American States
which I am sure they are keenly aware of. You hear of "concessions" to
foreign capitalists in Latin America. You do not hear of concessions to
foreign capitalists in the United States. They are not granted
concessions. They are invited to make investments. The work is ours,
though they are welcome to invest in it. We do not ask them to supply
the capital and do the work. It is an invitation, not a privilege; and
States that are obliged, because their territory does not lie within the
main field of modern enterprise and action, to grant concessions are in
this condition, that foreign interests are apt to dominate their
domestic affairs, a condition of affairs always dangerous and apt to
become intolerable. What these States are going to see, therefore, is an
emancipation from the subordination, which has been inevitable, to
foreign enterprise and an assertion of the splendid character which, in
spite of these difficulties, they have again and again been able to
demonstrate. The dignity, the courage, the self-possession, the
self-respect of the Latin-American States, their achievements in the
face of all these adverse circumstances, deserve nothing but the
admiration and applause of the world. They have had harder bargains
driven with them in the matter of loans than any other peoples in the
world. Interest has been exacted of them that was not exacted of anybody
else, because the risk was said to be greater; and then securities were
taken that destroyed the risk--an admirable arrangement for those who
were forcing the terms! I rejoice in nothing so much as in the prospect
that they will now be emancipated from these conditions; and we ought to
be the first to take part in assisting in that emancipation. I think
some of these gentlemen have already had occasion to bear witness that
the Department of State in recent months has tried to serve them in that
wise. In the future they will draw closer and closer to us because of
circumstances of which I wish to speak with moderation and, I hope,
without indiscretion.

We must prove ourselves their friends and champions upon terms of
equality and honor. You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon
the terms of equality. You cannot be friends at all except upon the
terms of honor. We must show ourselves friends by comprehending their
interest whether it squares with our own interest or not. It is a very
perilous thing to determine the foreign policy of a nation in the terms
of material interest. It not only is unfair to those with whom you are
dealing, but it is degrading as regards your own actions.

Comprehension must be the soil in which shall grow all the fruits of
friendship, and there is a reason and a compulsion lying behind all this
which is dearer than anything else to the thoughtful men of America. I
mean the development of constitutional liberty in the world. Human
rights, national integrity, and opportunity as against material
interests--that, ladies and gentlemen, is the issue which we now have to
face. I want to take this occasion to say that the United States will
never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest. She will
devote herself to showing that she knows how to make honorable and
fruitful use of the territory she has, and she must regard it as one of
the duties of friendship to see that from no quarter are material
interests made superior to human liberty and national opportunity. I say
this, not with a single thought that anyone will gainsay it, but merely
to fix in our consciousness what our real relationship with the rest of
America is. It is the relationship of a family of mankind devoted to the
development of true constitutional liberty. We know that that is the
soil out of which the best enterprise springs. We know that this is a
cause which we are making in common with our neighbors, because we have
had to make it for ourselves.

Reference has been made here to-day to some of the national problems
which confront us as a nation. What is at the heart of all our national
problems? It is that we have seen the hand of material interest
sometimes about to close upon our dearest rights and possessions. We
have seen material interests threaten constitutional freedom in the
United States. Therefore we will now know how to sympathize with those
in the rest of America who have to contend with such powers, not only
within their borders but from outside their borders also.

I know what the response of the thought and heart of America will be to
the program I have outlined, because America was created to realize a
program like that. This is not America because it is rich. This is not
America because it has set up for a great population great
opportunities of material prosperity. America is a name which sounds in
the ears of men everywhere as a synonym with individual opportunity
because a synonym of individual liberty. I would rather belong to a poor
nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love
with liberty. But we shall not be poor if we love liberty, because the
nation that loves liberty truly sets every man free to do his best and
be his best, and that means the release of all the splendid energies of
a great people who think for themselves. A nation of employees cannot be
free any more than a nation of employers can be.

In emphasizing the points which must unite us in sympathy and in
spiritual interest with the Latin-American peoples we are only
emphasizing the points of our own life, and we should prove ourselves
untrue to our own traditions if we proved ourselves untrue friends to
them. Do not think, therefore, gentlemen, that the questions of the day
are mere questions of policy and diplomacy. They are shot through with
the principles of life. We dare not turn from the principle that
morality and not expediency is the thing that must guide us and that we
will never condone iniquity because it is most convenient to do so. It
seems to me that this is a day of infinite hope, of confidence in a
future greater than the past has been, for I am fain to believe that in
spite of all the things that we wish to correct the nineteenth century
that now lies behind us has brought us a long stage toward the time
when, slowly ascending the tedious climb that leads to the final
uplands, we shall get our ultimate view of the duties of mankind. We
have breasted a considerable part of that climb and shall presently--it
may be in a generation or two--come out upon those great heights where
there shines unobstructed the light of the justice of God.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
December 2, 1913.]


In pursuance of my constitutional duty to "give to the Congress
information of the state of the Union," I take the liberty of addressing
you on several matters which ought, as it seems to me, particularly to
engage the attention of your honorable bodies, as of all who study the
welfare and progress of the Nation.

I shall ask your indulgence if I venture to depart in some degree from
the usual custom of setting before you in formal review the many matters
which have engaged the attention and called for the action of the
several departments of the Government or which look to them for early
treatment in the future, because the list is long, very long, and would
suffer in the abbreviation to which I should have to subject it. I shall
submit to you the reports of the heads of the several departments, in
which these subjects are set forth in careful detail, and beg that they
may receive the thoughtful attention of your committees and of all
Members of the Congress who may have the leisure to study them. Their
obvious importance, as constituting the very substance of the business
of the Government, makes comment and emphasis on my part unnecessary.

The country, I am thankful to say, is at peace with all the world, and
many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and
sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age
of settled peace and good will. More and more readily each decade do the
nations manifest their willingness to bind themselves by solemn treaty
to the processes of peace, the processes of frankness and fair
concession. So far the United States has stood at the front of such
negotiations. She will, I earnestly hope and confidently believe, give
fresh proof of her sincere adherence to the cause of international
friendship by ratifying the several treaties of arbitration awaiting
renewal by the Senate. In addition to these, it has been the privilege
of the Department of State to gain the assent, in principle, of no less
than thirty-one nations, representing four-fifths of the population of
the world, to the negotiation of treaties by which it shall be agreed
that whenever differences of interest or of policy arise which cannot be
resolved by the ordinary processes of diplomacy they shall be publicly
analyzed, discussed, and reported upon by a tribunal chosen by the
parties before either nation determines its course of action.

There is only one possible standard by which to determine controversies
between the United States and other nations, and that is compounded of
these two elements: Our own honor and our obligations to the peace of
the world. A test so compounded ought easily to be made to govern both
the establishment of new treaty obligations and the interpretation of
those already assumed.

There is but one cloud upon our horizon. That has shown itself to the
south of us, and hangs over Mexico. There can be no certain prospect of
peace in America until Gen. Huerta has surrendered his usurped authority
in Mexico; until it is understood on all hands, indeed, that such
pretended governments will not be countenanced or dealt with by the
Government of the United States. We are the friends of constitutional
government in America; we are more than its friends, we are its
champions; because in no other way can our neighbors, to whom we would
wish in every way to make proof of our friendship, work out their own
development in peace and liberty. Mexico has no Government. The attempt
to maintain one at the City of Mexico has broken down, and a mere
military despotism has been set up which has hardly more than the
semblance of national authority. It originated in the usurpation of
Victoriano Huerta, who, after a brief attempt to play the part of
constitutional President, has at last cast aside even the pretense of
legal right and declared himself dictator. As a consequence, a condition
of affairs now exists in Mexico which has made it doubtful whether even
the most elementary and fundamental rights either of her own people or
of the citizens of other countries resident within her territory can
long be successfully safeguarded, and which threatens, if long
continued, to imperil the interests of peace, order, and tolerable life
in the lands immediately to the south of us. Even if the usurper had
succeeded in his purposes, in despite of the constitution of the
Republic and the rights of its people, he would have set up nothing but
a precarious and hateful power, which could have lasted but a little
while, and whose eventual downfall would have left the country in a more
deplorable condition than ever. But he has not succeeded. He has
forfeited the respect and the moral support even of those who were at
one time willing to see him succeed. Little by little he has been
completely isolated. By a little every day his power and prestige are
crumbling and the collapse is not far away. We shall not, I believe, be
obliged to alter our policy of watchful waiting. And then, when the end
comes, we shall hope to see constitutional order restored in distressed
Mexico by the concert and energy of such of her leaders as prefer the
liberty of their people to their own ambitions.

I turn to matters of domestic concern. You already have under
consideration a bill for the reform of our system of banking and
currency, for which the country waits with impatience, as for something
fundamental to its whole business life and necessary to set credit free
from arbitrary and artificial restraints. I need not say how earnestly I
hope for its early enactment into law. I take leave to beg that the
whole energy and attention of the Senate be concentrated upon it till
the matter is successfully disposed of. And yet I feel that the request
is not needed--that the Members of that great House need no urging in
this service to the country.

I present to you, in addition, the urgent necessity that special
provision be made also for facilitating the credits needed by the
farmers of the country. The pending currency bill does the farmers a
great service. It puts them upon an equal footing with other business
men and masters of enterprise, as it should; and upon its passage they
will find themselves quit of many of the difficulties which now hamper
them in the field of credit. The farmers, of course, ask and should be
given no special privilege, such as extending to them the credit of the
Government itself. What they need and should obtain is legislation which
will make their own abundant and substantial credit resources available
as a foundation for joint, concerted local action in their own behalf in
getting the capital they must use. It is to this we should now address

It has, singularly enough, come to pass that we have allowed the
industry of our farms to lag behind the other activities of the country
in its development. I need not stop to tell you how fundamental to the
life of the Nation is the production of its food. Our thoughts may
ordinarily be concentrated upon the cities and the hives of industry,
upon the cries of the crowded market place and the clangor of the
factory, but it is from the quiet interspaces of the open valleys and
the free hillsides that we draw the sources of life and of prosperity,
from the farm and the ranch, from the forest and the mine. Without these
every street would be silent, every office deserted, every factory
fallen into disrepair. And yet the farmer does not stand upon the same
footing with the forester and the miner in the market of credit. He is
the servant of the seasons. Nature determines how long he must wait for
his crops, and will not be hurried in her processes. He may give his
note, but the season of its maturity depends upon the season when his
crop matures, lies at the gates of the market where his products are
sold. And the security he gives is of a character not known in the
broker's office or as familiarly as it might be on the counter of the

The Agricultural Department of the Government is seeking to assist as
never before to make farming an efficient business, of wide coöperative
effort, in quick touch with the markets for food-stuffs. The farmers and
the Government will henceforth work together as real partners in this
field, where we now begin to see our way very clearly and where many
intelligent plans are already being put into execution. The Treasury of
the United States has, by a timely and well-considered distribution of
its deposits, facilitated the moving of the crops in the present season
and prevented the scarcity of available funds too often experienced at
such times. But we must not allow ourselves to depend upon extraordinary
expedients. We must add the means by which the farmer may make his
credit constantly and easily available and command when he will the
capital by which to support and expand his business. We lag behind many
other great countries of the modern world in attempting to do this.
Systems of rural credit have been studied and developed on the other
side of the water while we left our farmers to shift for themselves in
the ordinary money market. You have but to look about you in any rural
district to see the result, the handicap and embarrassment which have
been put upon those who produce our food.

Conscious of this backwardness and neglect on our part, the Congress
recently authorized the creation of a special commission to study the
various systems of rural credit which have been put into operation in
Europe, and this commission is already prepared to report. Its report
ought to make it easier for us to determine what methods will be best
suited to our own farmers. I hope and believe that the committees of the
Senate and House will address themselves selves to this matter with the
most fruitful results, and I believe that the studies and recently
formed plans of the Department of Agriculture may be made to serve them
very greatly in their work of framing appropriate and adequate
legislation. It would be indiscreet and presumptuous in anyone to
dogmatize upon so great and many-sided a question, but I feel confident
that common counsel will produce the results we must all desire.

Turn from the farm to the world of business which centers in the city
and in the factory, and I think that all thoughtful observers will agree
that the immediate service we owe the business communities of the
country is to prevent private monopoly more effectually than it has yet
been prevented. I think it will be easily agreed that we should let the
Sherman antitrust law stand, unaltered, as it is, with its debatable
ground about it, but that we should as much as possible reduce the area
of that debatable ground by further and more explicit legislation; and
should also supplement that great act by legislation which will not
only clarify it but also facilitate its administration and make it
fairer to all concerned. No doubt we shall all wish, and the country
will expect, this to be the central subject of our deliberations during
the present session; but it is a subject so many-sided and so deserving
of careful and discriminating discussion that I shall take the liberty
of addressing you upon it in a special message at a later date than
this. It is of capital importance that the business men of this country
should be relieved of all uncertainties of law with regard to their
enterprises and investments and a clear path indicated which they can
travel without anxiety. It is as important that they should be relieved
of embarrassment and set free to prosper as that private monopoly should
be destroyed. The ways of action should be thrown wide open.

I turn to a subject which I hope can be handled promptly and without
serious controversy of any kind. I mean the method of selecting nominees
for the Presidency of the United States. I feel confident that I do not
misinterpret the wishes or the expectations of the country when I urge
the prompt enactment of legislation which will provide for primary
elections throughout the country at which the voters of the several
parties may choose their nominees for the Presidency without the
intervention of nominating conventions. I venture the suggestion that
this legislation should provide for the retention of party conventions,
but only for the purpose of declaring and accepting the verdict of the
primaries and formulating the platforms of the parties; and I suggest
that these conventions should consist not of delegates chosen for this
single purpose, but of the nominees for Congress, the nominees for
vacant seats in the Senate of the United States, the Senators whose
terms have not yet closed, the national committees, and the candidates
for the Presidency themselves, in order that platforms may be framed by
those responsible to the people for carrying them into effect.

These are all matters of vital domestic concern, and besides them,
outside the charmed circle of our own national life in which our
affections command us, as well as our consciences, there stand out our
obligations toward our territories over sea. Here we are trustees. Porto
Rico, Hawaii, the Philippines, are ours, indeed, but not ours to do what
we please with. Such territories, once regarded as mere possessions, are
no longer to be selfishly exploited; they are part of the domain of
public conscience and of serviceable and enlightened statesmanship. We
must administer them for the people who live in them and with the same
sense of responsibility to them as toward our own people in our domestic
affairs. No doubt we shall successfully enough bind Porto Rico and the
Hawaiian Islands to ourselves by ties of justice and interest and
affection, but the performance of our duty toward the Philippines is a
more difficult and debatable matter. We can satisfy the obligations of
generous justice toward the people of Porto Rico by giving them the
ample and familiar rights and privileges accorded our own citizens in
our own territories and our obligations toward the people of Hawaii by
perfecting the provisions for self-government already granted them, but
in the Philippines we must go further. We must hold steadily in view
their ultimate independence, and we must move toward the time of that
independence as steadily as the way can be cleared and the foundations
thoughtfully and permanently laid.

Acting under the authority conferred upon the President by Congress, I
have already accorded the people of the islands a majority in both
houses of their legislative body by appointing five instead of four
native citizens to the membership of the commission. I believe that in
this way we shall make proof of their capacity in counsel and their
sense of responsibility in the exercise of political power, and that the
success of this step will be sure to clear our view for the steps which
are to follow. Step by step we should extend and perfect the system of
self-government in the islands, making test of them and modifying them
as experience discloses their successes and their failures; that we
should more and more put under the control of the native citizens of the
archipelago the essential instruments of their life, their local
instrumentalities of government, their schools, all the common interests
of their communities, and so by counsel and experience set up a
government which all the world will see to be suitable to a people whose
affairs are under their own control. At last, I hope and believe, we are
beginning to gain the confidence of the Filipino peoples. By their
counsel and experience, rather than by our own, we shall learn how best
to serve them and how soon it will be possible and wise to withdraw our
supervision. Let us once find the path and set out with firm and
confident tread upon it and we shall not wander from it or linger upon

A duty faces us with regard to Alaska which seems to me very pressing
and very imperative; perhaps I should say a double duty, for it concerns
both the political and the material development of the Territory. The
people of Alaska should be given the full Territorial form of
government, and Alaska, as a storehouse, should be unlocked. One key to
it is a system of railways. These the Government should itself build and
administer, and the ports and terminals it should itself control in the
interest of all who wish to use them for the service and development of
the country and its people.

But the construction of railways is only the first step; is only
thrusting in the key to the storehouse and throwing back the lock and
opening the door. How the tempting resources of the country are to be
exploited is another matter, to which I shall take the liberty of from
time to time calling your attention, for it is a policy which must be
worked out by well-considered stages, not upon theory, but upon lines of
practical expediency. It is part of our general problem of conservation.
We have a freer hand in working out the problem in Alaska than in the
States of the Union; and yet the principle and object are the same,
wherever we touch it. We must use the resources of the country, not lock
them up. There need be no conflict or jealousy as between State and
Federal authorities, for there can be no essential difference of purpose
between them. The resources in question must be used, but not destroyed
or wasted; used, but not monopolized upon any narrow idea of individual
rights as against the abiding interests of communities. That a policy
can be worked out by conference and concession which will release these
resources and yet not jeopard or dissipate them, I for one have no
doubt; and it can be done on lines of regulation which need be no less
acceptable to the people and governments of the States concerned than to
the people and Government of the Nation at large, whose heritage these
resources are. We must bend our counsels to this end. A common purpose
ought to make agreement easy.

Three or four matters of special importance and significance I beg that
you will permit me to mention in closing.

Our Bureau of Mines ought to be equipped and empowered to render even
more effectual service than it renders now in improving the conditions
of mine labor and making the mines more economically productive as well
as more safe. This is an all-important part of the work of
conservation; and the conservation of human life and energy lies even
nearer to our interest than the preservation from waste of our material

We owe it, in mere justice to the railway employees of the country, to
provide for them a fair and effective employers' liability act; and a
law that we can stand by in this matter will be no less to the advantage
of those who administer the railroads of the country than to the
advantage of those whom they employ. The experience of a large number of
the States abundantly proves that.

We ought to devote ourselves to meeting pressing demands of plain
justice like this as earnestly as to the accomplishment of political and
economic reforms. Social justice comes first. Law is the machinery for
its realization and is vital only as it expresses and embodies it.

An international congress for the discussion of all questions that
affect safety at sea is now sitting in London at the suggestion of our
own Government. So soon as the conclusions of that congress can be
learned and considered we ought to address ourselves, among other
things, to the prompt alleviation of the very unsafe, unjust, and
burdensome conditions which now surround the employment of sailors and
render it extremely difficult to obtain the services of spirited and
competent men such as every ship needs if it is to be safely handled and
brought to port.

May I not express the very real pleasure I have experienced in
coöperating with this Congress and sharing with it the labors of common
service to which it has devoted itself so unreservedly during the past
seven months of uncomplaining concentration upon the business of
legislation? Surely it is a proper and pertinent part of my report on
"the state of the Union" to express my admiration for the diligence, the
good temper, and the full comprehension of public duty which has already
been manifested by both the Houses; and I hope that it may not be
deemed an impertinent intrusion of myself into the picture if I say with
how much and how constant satisfaction I have availed myself of the
privilege of putting my time and energy at their disposal alike in
counsel and in action.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
January 20, 1914.]


In my report "on the state of the Union," which I had the privilege of
reading to you on the 2d of December last, I ventured to reserve for
discussion at a later date the subject of additional legislation
regarding the very difficult and intricate matter of trusts and
monopolies. The time now seems opportune to turn to that great question;
not only because the currency legislation, which absorbed your attention
and the attention of the country in December, is now disposed of, but
also because opinion seems to be clearing about us with singular
rapidity in this other great field of action. In the matter of the
currency it cleared suddenly and very happily after the much-debated Act
was passed; in respect of the monopolies which have multiplied about us
and in regard to the various means by which they have been organized and
maintained it seems to be coming to a clear and all but universal
agreement in anticipation of our action, as if by way of preparation,
making the way easier to see and easier to set out upon with confidence
and without confusion of counsel.

Legislation has its atmosphere like everything else, and the atmosphere
of accommodation and mutual understanding which we now breathe with so
much refreshment is matter of sincere congratulation. It ought to make
our task very much less difficult and embarrassing than it would have
been had we been obliged to continue to act amidst the atmosphere of
suspicion and antagonism which has so long made it impossible to
approach such questions with dispassionate fairness. Constructive
legislation, when successful, is always the embodiment of convincing
experience, and of the mature public opinion which finally springs out
of that experience. Legislation is a business of interpretation, not of
origination; and it is now plain what the opinion is to which we must
give effect in this matter. It is not recent or hasty opinion. It
springs out of the experience of a whole generation. It has clarified
itself by long contest, and those who for a long time battled with it
and sought to change it are now frankly and honorably yielding to it and
seeking to conform their actions to it.

The great business men who organized and financed monopoly and those who
administered it in actual everyday transactions have year after year,
until now, either denied its existence or justified it as necessary for
the effective maintenance and development of the vast business processes
of the country in the modern circumstances of trade and manufacture and
finance; but all the while opinion has made head against them. The
average business man is convinced that the ways of liberty are also the
ways of peace and the ways of success as well; and at last the masters
of business on the great scale have begun to yield their preference and
purpose, perhaps their judgment also, in honorable surrender.

What we are purposing to do, therefore, is, happily, not to hamper or
interfere with business as enlightened business men prefer to do it, or
in any sense to put it under the ban. The antagonism between business
and government is over. We are now about to give expression to the best
business judgment of America, to what we know to be the business
conscience and honor of the land. The Government and business men are
ready to meet each other half-way in a common effort to square business
methods with both public opinion and the law. The best informed men of
the business world condemn the methods and processes and consequences of
monopoly as we condemn them; and the instinctive judgment of the vast
majority of business men everywhere goes with them. We shall now be
their spokesmen. That is the strength of our position and the sure
prophecy of what will ensue when our reasonable work is done.

When serious contest ends, when men unite in opinion and purpose, those
who are to change their ways of business joining with those who ask for
the change, it is possible to effect it in the way in which prudent and
thoughtful and patriotic men would wish to see it brought about with as
few, as slight, as easy and simple business readjustments as possible in
the circumstances, nothing essential disturbed, nothing torn up by the
roots, no parts rent asunder which can be left in wholesome combination.
Fortunately, no measures of sweeping or novel change are necessary. It
will be understood that our object is _not_ to unsettle business or
anywhere seriously to break its established courses athwart. On the
contrary, we desire the laws we are now about to pass to be the bulwarks
and safeguards of industry against the forces that have disturbed it.
What we have to do can be done in a new spirit, in thoughtful
moderation, without revolution of any untoward kind.

We are all agreed that "private monopoly is indefensible and
intolerable," and our program is founded upon that conviction. It will
be a comprehensive but not a radical or unacceptable program and these
are its items, the changes which opinion deliberately sanctions and for
which business waits:

It waits with acquiescence, in the first place, for laws which will
effectually prohibit and prevent such interlockings of the _personnel_
of the directorates of great corporations--banks and railroads,
industrial, commercial, and public service bodies--as in effect result
in making those who borrow and those who lend practically one and the
same, those who sell and those who buy but the same persons trading with
one another under different names and in different combinations, and
those who affect to compete in fact partners and masters of some whole
field of business. Sufficient time should be allowed, of course, in
which to effect these changes of organization without inconvenience or

Such a prohibition will work much more than a mere negative good by
correcting the serious evils which have arisen because, for example, the
men who have been the directing spirits of the great investment banks
have usurped the place which belongs to independent industrial
management working in its own behoof. It will bring new men, new
energies, a new spirit of initiative, new blood, into the management of
our great business enterprises. It will open the field of industrial
development and origination to scores of men who have been obliged to
serve when their abilities entitled them to direct. It will immensely
hearten the young men coming on and will greatly enrich the business
activities of the whole country.

In the second place, business men as well as those who direct public
affairs now recognize, and recognize with painful clearness, the great
harm and injustice which has been done to many, if not all, of the great
railroad systems of the country by the way in which they have been
financed and their own distinctive interests subordinated to the
interests of the men who financed them and of other business enterprises
which those men wished to promote. The country is ready, therefore, to
accept, and accept with relief as well as approval, a law which will
confer upon the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to superintend
and regulate the financial operations by which the railroads are
henceforth to be supplied with the money they need for their proper
development to meet the rapidly growing requirements of the country for
increased and improved facilities of transportation. We cannot postpone
action in this matter without leaving the railroads exposed to many
serious handicaps and hazards; and the prosperity of the railroads and
the prosperity of the country are inseparably connected. Upon this
question those who are chiefly responsible for the actual management and
operation of the railroads have spoken very plainly and very earnestly,
with a purpose we ought to be quick to accept. It will be one step, and
a very important one, toward the necessary separation of the business of
production from the business of transportation.

The business of the country awaits also, has long awaited and has
suffered because it could not obtain, further and more explicit
legislative definition of the policy and meaning of the existing
antitrust law. Nothing hampers business like uncertainty. Nothing daunts
or discourages it like the necessity to take chances, to run the risk of
falling under the condemnation of the law before it can make sure just
what the law is. Surely we are sufficiently familiar with the actual
processes and methods of monopoly and of the many hurtful restraints of
trade to make definition possible, at any rate up to the limits of what
experience has disclosed. These practices, being now abundantly
disclosed, can be explicitly and item by item forbidden by statute in
such terms as will practically eliminate uncertainty, the law itself and
the penalty being made equally plain.

And the business men of the country desire something more than that the
menace of legal process in these matters be made explicit and
intelligible. They desire the advice, the definite guidance and
information which can be supplied by an administrative body, an
interstate trade commission.

The opinion of the country would instantly approve of such a commission.
It would not wish to see it empowered to make terms with monopoly or in
any sort to assume control of business, as if the Government made itself
responsible. It demands such a commission only as an indispensable
instrument of information and publicity, as a clearing house for the
facts by which both the public mind and the managers of great business
undertakings should be guided, and as an instrumentality for doing
justice to business where the processes of the courts or the natural
forces of correction outside the courts are inadequate to adjust the
remedy to the wrong in a way that will meet all the equities and
circumstances of the case.

Producing industries, for example, which have passed the point up to
which combination may be consistent with the public interest and the
freedom of trade, cannot always be dissected into their component units
as readily as railroad companies or similar organizations can be. Their
dissolution by ordinary legal process may oftentimes involve financial
consequences likely to overwhelm the security market and bring upon it
breakdown and confusion. There ought to be an administrative commission
capable of directing and shaping such corrective processes, not only in
aid of the courts but also by independent suggestion, if necessary.

Inasmuch as our object and the spirit of our action in these matters is
to meet business half-way in its processes of self-correction and
disturb its legitimate course as little as possible, we ought to see to
it, and the judgment of practical and sagacious men of affairs
everywhere would applaud us if we did see to it, that penalties and
punishments should fall, not upon business itself, to its confusion and
interruption, but upon the individuals who use the instrumentalities of
business to do things which public policy and sound business practice
condemn. Every act of business is done at the command or upon the
initiative of some ascertainable person or group of persons. These
should be held individually responsible and the punishment should fall
upon them, not upon the business organization of which they make illegal
use. It should be one of the main objects of our legislation to divest
such persons of their corporate cloak and deal with them as with those
who do not represent their corporations, but merely by deliberate
intention break the law. Business men the country through would, I am
sure, applaud us if we were to take effectual steps to see that the
officers and directors of great business bodies were prevented from
bringing them and the business of the country into disrepute and danger.

Other questions remain which will need very thoughtful and practical
treatment. Enterprises, in these modern days of great individual
fortunes, are oftentimes interlocked, not by being under the control of
the same directors, but by the fact that the greater part of their
corporate stock is owned by a single person or group of persons who are
in some way ultimately related in interest. We are agreed, I take it,
that holding _companies_ should be prohibited, but what of the
controlling private ownership of individuals or actually coöperative
groups of individuals? Shall the private owners of capital stock be
suffered to be themselves in effect holding companies? We do not wish, I
suppose, to forbid the purchase of stocks by any person who pleases to
buy them in such quantities as he can afford, or in any way arbitrarily
to limit the sale of stocks to bona fide purchasers. Shall we require
the owners of stock, when their voting power in several companies which
ought to be independent of one another would constitute actual control,
to make election in which of them they will exercise their right to
vote? This question I venture for your consideration.

There is another matter in which imperative considerations of justice
and fair play suggest thoughtful remedial action. Not only do many of
the combinations effected or sought to be effected in the industrial
world work an injustice upon the public in general; they also directly
and seriously injure the individuals who are put out of business in one
unfair way or another by the many dislodging and exterminating forces of
combination. I hope that we shall agree in giving private individuals
who claim to have been injured by these processes the right to found
their suits for redress upon the facts and judgments proved and entered
in suits by the Government where the Government has upon its own
initiative sued the combinations complained of and won its suit, and
that the statute of limitations shall be suffered to run against such
litigants only from the date of the conclusion of the Government's
action. It is not fair that the private litigant should be obliged to
set up and establish again the facts which the Government has proved. He
cannot afford, he has not the power, to make use of such processes of
inquiry as the Government has command of. Thus shall individual justice
be done while the processes of business are rectified and squared with
the general conscience.

I have laid the case before you, no doubt as it lies in your own mind,
as it lies in the thought of the country. What must every candid man say
of the suggestions I have laid before you, of the plain obligations of
which I have reminded you? That these are new things for which the
country is not prepared? No; but that they are old things, now familiar,
and must of course be undertaken if we are to square our laws with the
thought and desire of the country. Until these things are done,
conscientious business men the country over will be unsatisfied. They
are in these things our mentors and colleagues. We are now about to
write the additional articles of our constitution of peace, the peace
that is honor and freedom and prosperity.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
March 5, 1914.]


I have come to you upon an errand which can be very briefly performed,
but I beg that you will not measure its importance by the number of
sentences in which I state it. No communication I have addressed to the
Congress carried with it graver or more far-reaching implications as to
the interest of the country, and I come now to speak upon a matter with
regard to which I am charged in a peculiar degree, by the Constitution
itself, with personal responsibility.

I have come to ask you for the repeal of that provision of the Panama
Canal Act of August 24, 1912, which exempts vessels engaged in the
coastwise trade of the United States from payment of tolls, and to urge
upon you the justice, the wisdom, and the large policy of such a repeal
with the utmost earnestness of which I am capable.

In my own judgment, very fully considered and maturely formed, that
exemption constitutes a mistaken economic policy from every point of
view, and is, moreover, in plain contravention of the treaty with Great
Britain concerning the canal concluded on November 18, 1901. But I have
not come to urge upon you my personal views. I have come to state to you
a fact and a situation. Whatever may be our own differences of opinion
concerning this much debated measure, its meaning is not debated outside
the United States. Everywhere else the language of the treaty is given
but one interpretation, and that interpretation precludes the exemption
I am asking you to repeal. We consented to the treaty; its language we
accepted, if we did not originate it; and we are too big, too powerful,
too self-respecting a nation to interpret with a too strained or refined
reading the words of our own promises just because we have power enough
to give us leave to read them as we please. The large thing to do is the
only thing we can afford to do, a voluntary withdrawal from a position
everywhere questioned and misunderstood. We ought to reverse our action
without raising the question whether we were right or wrong, and so once
more deserve our reputation for generosity and for the redemption of
every obligation without quibble or hesitation.

I ask this of you in support of the foreign policy of the
administration. I shall not know how to deal with other matters of even
greater delicacy and nearer consequence if you do not grant it to me in
ungrudging measure.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
April 20, 1914.]


It is my duty to call your attention to a situation which has arisen in
our dealings with General Victoriano Huerta at Mexico City which calls
for action, and to ask your advice and coöperation in acting upon it. On
the 9th of April a paymaster of the U.S.S. _Dolphin_ landed at the
Iturbide Bridge landing at Tampico with a whaleboat and boat's crew to
take off certain supplies needed by his ship, and while engaged in
loading the boat was arrested by an officer and squad of men of the army
of General Huerta. Neither the paymaster nor anyone of the boat's crew
was armed. Two of the men were in the boat when the arrest took place
and were obliged to leave it and submit to be taken into custody,
notwithstanding the fact that the boat carried, both at her bow and at
her stern, the flag of the United States. The officer who made the
arrest was proceeding up one of the streets of the town with his
prisoners when met by an officer of higher authority, who ordered him to
return to the landing and await orders; and within an hour and a half
from the time of the arrest orders were received from the commander of
the Huertista forces at Tampico for the release of the paymaster and his
men. The release was followed by apologies from the commander and later
by an expression of regret by General Huerta himself. General Huerta
urged that martial law obtained at the time at Tampico; that orders had
been issued that no one should be allowed to land at the Iturbide
Bridge; and that our sailors had no right to land there. Our naval
commanders at the port had not been notified of any such prohibition;
and, even if they had been, the only justifiable course open to the
local authorities would have been to request the paymaster and his crew
to withdraw and to lodge a protest with the commanding officer of the
fleet. Admiral Mayo regarded the arrest as so serious an affront that he
was not satisfied with the apologies offered, but demanded that the flag
of the United States be saluted with special ceremony by the military
commander of the port.

The incident cannot be regarded as a trivial one, especially as two of
the men arrested were taken from the boat itself--that is to say, from
the territory of the United States--but had it stood by itself it might
have been attributed to the ignorance or arrogance of a single officer.
Unfortunately, it was not an isolated case. A series of incidents have
recently occurred which cannot but create the impression that the
representatives of General Huerta were willing to go out of their way to
show disregard for the dignity and rights of this Government and felt
perfectly safe in doing what they pleased, making free to show in many
ways their irritation and contempt. A few days after the incident at
Tampico an orderly from the U.S.S. _Minnesota_ was arrested at Vera Cruz
while ashore in uniform to obtain the ship's mail, and was for a time
thrown into jail. An official dispatch from this Government to its
embassy at Mexico City was withheld by the authorities of the
telegraphic service until peremptorily demanded by our chargé d'affaires
in person. So far as I can learn, such wrongs and annoyances have been
suffered to occur only against representatives of the United States. I
have heard of no complaints from other Governments of similar treatment.
Subsequent explanations and formal apologies did not and could not
alter the popular impression, which it is possible it had been the
object of the Huertista authorities to create, that the Government of
the United States was being singled out, and might be singled out with
impunity, for slights and affronts in retaliation for its refusal to
recognize the pretensions of General Huerta to be regarded as the
constitutional provisional President of the Republic of Mexico.

The manifest danger of such a situation was that such offenses might
grow from bad to worse until something happened of so gross and
intolerable a sort as to lead directly and inevitably to armed conflict.
It was necessary that the apologies of General Huerta and his
representatives should go much further, that they should be such as to
attract the attention of the whole population to their significance, and
such as to impress upon General Huerta himself the necessity of seeing
to it that no further occasion for explanations and professed regrets
should arise. I, therefore, felt it my duty to sustain Admiral Mayo in
the whole of his demand and to insist that the flag of the United States
should be saluted in such a way as to indicate a new spirit and attitude
on the part of the Huertistas.

Such a salute General Huerta has refused, and I have come to ask your
approval and support in the course I now purpose to pursue.

This Government can, I earnestly hope, in no circumstances be forced
into war with the people of Mexico. Mexico is torn by civil strife. If
we are to accept the tests of its own constitution, it has no
government. General Huerta has set his power up in the City of Mexico,
such as it is, without right and by methods for which there can be no
justification. Only part of the country is under his control. If armed
conflict should unhappily come as a result of his attitude of personal
resentment toward this Government, we should be fighting only General
Huerta and those who adhere to him and give him their support, and our
object would be only to restore to the people of the distracted Republic
the opportunity to set up again their own laws and their own government.

But I earnestly hope that war is not now in question. I believe that I
speak for the American people when I say that we do not desire to
control in any degree the affairs of our sister Republic. Our feeling
for the people of Mexico is one of deep and genuine friendship, and
everything that we have so far done or refrained from doing has
proceeded from our desire to help them, not to hinder or embarrass them.
We would not wish even to exercise the good offices of friendship
without their welcome and consent. The people of Mexico are entitled to
settle their own domestic affairs in their own way, and we sincerely
desire to respect their right. The present situation need have none of
the grave implications of interference if we deal with it promptly,
firmly, and wisely.

No doubt I could do what is necessary in the circumstances to enforce
respect for our Government without recourse to the Congress, and yet not
exceed my constitutional powers as President; but I do not wish to act
in a matter possibly of so grave consequence except in close conference
and coöperation with both the Senate and House. I, therefore, come to
ask your approval that I should use the armed forces of the United
States in such ways and to such an extent as may be necessary to obtain
from General Huerta and his adherents the fullest recognition of the
rights and dignity of the United States, even amidst the distressing
conditions now unhappily obtaining in Mexico.

There can in what we do be no thought of aggression or of selfish
aggrandizement. We seek to maintain the dignity and authority of the
United States only because we wish always to keep our great influence
unimpaired for the uses of liberty, both in the United States and
wherever else it may be employed for the benefit of mankind.


[Address at the Services in Memory of those who lost their lives at Vera
Cruz, Mexico, delivered at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, May 11, 1914. The
roster, of fifteen sailors and four marines, was presented by the
Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Daniels.]


I know that the feelings which characterize all who stand about me and
the whole Nation at this hour are not feelings which can be suitably
expressed in terms of attempted oratory or eloquence. They are things
too deep for ordinary speech. For my own part, I have a singular mixture
of feelings. The feeling that is uppermost is one of profound grief that
these lads should have had to go to their death; and yet there is mixed
with that grief a profound pride that they should have gone as they did,
and, if I may say it out of my heart, a touch of envy of those who were
permitted so quietly, so nobly, to do their duty. Have you thought of
it, men? Here is the roster of the Navy--the list of the men, officers
and enlisted men and marines--and suddenly there swim nineteen stars out
of the list--men who have suddenly been lifted into a firmament of
memory where we shall always see their names shine, not because they
called upon us to admire them, but because they served us, without
asking any questions and in the performance of a duty which is laid upon
us as well as upon them.

Duty is not an uncommon thing, gentlemen. Men are performing it in the
ordinary walks of life all around us all the time, and they are making
great sacrifices to perform it. What gives men like these peculiar
distinction is not merely that they did their duty, but that their duty
had nothing to do with them or their own personal and peculiar
interests. They did not give their lives for themselves. They gave their
lives for us, because we called upon them as a Nation to perform an
unexpected duty. That is the way in which men grow distinguished, and
that is the only way, by serving somebody else than themselves. And what
greater thing could you serve than a Nation such as this we love and are
proud of? Are you sorry for these lads? Are you sorry for the way they
will be remembered? Does it not quicken your pulses to think of the list
of them? I hope to God none of you may join the list, but if you do you
will join an immortal company.

So, while we are profoundly sorrowful, and while there goes out of our
hearts a very deep and affectionate sympathy for the friends and
relatives of these lads who for the rest of their lives shall mourn
them, though with a touch of pride, we know why we do not go away from
this occasion cast down, but with our heads lifted and our eyes on the
future of this country, with absolute confidence of how it will be
worked out. Not only upon the mere vague future of this country, but
upon the immediate future. We have gone down to Mexico to serve mankind
if we can find out the way. We do not want to fight the Mexicans. We
want to serve the Mexicans if we can, because we know how we would like
to be free, and how we would like to be served if there were friends
standing by in such case ready to serve us. A war of aggression is not a
war in which it is a proud thing to die, but a war of service is a thing
in which it is a proud thing to die.

Notice how truly these men were of our blood. I mean of our American
blood, which is not drawn from any one country, which is not drawn from
any one stock, which is not drawn from any one language of the modern
world; but free men everywhere have sent their sons and their brothers
and their daughters to this country in order to make that great
compounded Nation which consists of all the sturdy elements and of all
the best elements of the whole globe. I listened again to this list of
the dead with a profound interest because of the mixture of the names,
for the names bear the marks of the several national stocks from which
these men came. But they are not Irishmen or Germans or Frenchmen or
Hebrews or Italians any more. They were not when they went to Vera Cruz;
they were Americans, every one of them, and with no difference in their
Americanism because of the stock from which they came. They were in a
peculiar sense of our blood, and they proved it by showing that they
were of our spirit--that no matter what their derivation, no matter
where their people came from, they thought and wished and did the things
that were American; and the flag under which they served was a flag in
which all the blood of mankind is united to make a free Nation.

War, gentlemen, is only a sort of dramatic representation, a sort of
dramatic symbol, of a thousand forms of duty. I never went into battle;
I never was under fire; but I fancy that there are some things just as
hard to do as to go under fire. I fancy that it is just as hard to do
your duty when men are sneering at you as when they are shooting at you.
When they shoot at you, they can only take your natural life; when they
sneer at you, they can wound your living heart, and men who are brave
enough, steadfast enough, steady in their principles enough, to go about
their duty with regard to their fellow-men, no matter whether there are
hisses or cheers, men who can do what Rudyard Kipling in one of his
poems wrote, "Meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two
impostors just the same," are men for a nation to be proud of. Morally
speaking, disaster and triumph are impostors. The cheers of the moment
are not what a man ought to think about, but the verdict of his
conscience and of the consciences of mankind.

When I look at you, I feel as if I also and we all were enlisted men.
Not enlisted in your particular branch of the service, but enlisted to
serve the country, no matter what may come, even though we may sacrifice
our lives in the arduous endeavor. We are expected to put the utmost
energy of every power that we have into the service of our fellow-men,
never sparing ourselves, not condescending to think of what is going to
happen to ourselves, but ready, if need be, to go to the utter length of
complete self-sacrifice.

As I stand and look at you to-day and think of these spirits that have
gone from us, I know that the road is clearer for the future. These boys
have shown us the way, and it is easier to walk on it because they have
gone before and shown us how. May God grant to all of us that vision of
patriotic service which here in solemnity and grief and pride is borne
in upon our hearts and consciences!


[Delivered at the National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 30, 1914.]


I have not come here to-day with a prepared address. The committee in
charge of the exercises of the day have graciously excused me on the
grounds of public obligations from preparing such an address, but I will
not deny myself the privilege of joining with you in an expression of
gratitude and admiration for the men who perished for the sake of the
Union. They do not need our praise. They do not need that our admiration
should sustain them. There is no immortality that is safer than theirs.
We come not for their sakes but for our own, in order that we may drink
at the same springs of inspiration from which they themselves selves

A peculiar privilege came to the men who fought for the Union. There is
no other civil war in history, ladies and gentlemen, the stings of which
were removed before the men who did the fighting passed from the stage
of life. So that we owe these men something more than a legal
reëstablishment of the Union. We owe them the spiritual reëstablishment
of the Union as well; for they not only reunited States, they reunited
the spirits of men. That is their unique achievement, unexampled
anywhere else in the annals of mankind, that the very men whom they
overcame in battle join in praise and gratitude that the Union was
saved. There is something peculiarly beautiful and peculiarly touching
about that. Whenever a man who is still trying to devote himself to the
service of the Nation comes into a presence like this, or into a place
like this, his spirit must be peculiarly moved. A mandate is laid upon
him which seems to speak from the very graves themselves. Those who
serve this Nation, whether in peace or in war, should serve it without
thought of themselves. I can never speak in praise of war, ladies and
gentlemen; you would not desire me to do so. But there is this peculiar
distinction belonging to the soldier, that he goes into an enterprise
out of which he himself cannot get anything at all. He is giving
everything that he hath, even his life, in order that others may live,
not in order that he himself may obtain gain and prosperity. And just so
soon as the tasks of peace are performed in the same spirit of
self-sacrifice and devotion, peace societies will not be necessary. The
very organization and spirit of society will be a guaranty of peace.

Therefore this peculiar thing comes about, that we can stand here and
praise the memory of these soldiers in the interest of peace. They set
us the example of self-sacrifice, which if followed in peace will make
it unnecessary that men should follow war any more.

We are reputed to be somewhat careless in our discrimination between
words in the use of the English language, and yet it is interesting to
note that there are some words about which we are very careful. We
bestow the adjective "great" somewhat indiscriminately. A man who has
made conquest of his fellow-men for his own gain may display such genius
in war, such uncommon qualities of organization and leadership that we
may call him "great," but there is a word which we reserve for men of
another kind and about which we are very careful; that is the word
"noble." We never call a man "noble" who serves only himself; and if you
will look about through all the nations of the world upon the statues
that men have erected--upon the inscribed tablets where they have
wished to keep alive the memory of the citizens whom they desire most to
honor--you will find that almost without exception they have erected the
statue to those who had a splendid surplus of energy and devotion to
spend upon their fellow-men. Nobility exists in America without patent.
We have no House of Lords, but we have a house of fame to which we
elevate those who are the noble men of our race, who, forgetful of
themselves, study and serve the public interest, who have the courage to
face any number and any kind of adversary, to speak what in their hearts
they believe to be the truth.

We admire physical courage, but we admire above all things else moral
courage. I believe that soldiers will bear me out in saying that both
come in time of battle. I take it that the moral courage comes in going
into the battle, and the physical courage in staying in. There are
battles which are just as hard to go into and just as hard to stay in as
the battles of arms, and if the man will but stay and think never of
himself there will come a time of grateful recollection when men will
speak of him not only with admiration but with that which goes deeper,
with affection and with reverence.

So that this flag calls upon us daily for service, and the more quiet
and self-denying the service the greater the glory of the flag. We are
dedicated to freedom, and that freedom means the freedom of the human
spirit. All free spirits ought to congregate on an occasion like this to
do homage to the greatness of America as illustrated by the greatness of
her sons.

It has been a privilege, ladies and gentlemen, to come and say these
simple words, which I am sure are merely putting your thought into
language. I thank you for the opportunity to lay this little wreath of
mine upon these consecrated graves.


[Address in which President Wilson accepted the Monument in Memory of
the Confederate Dead, at Arlington National Cemetery, June 4, 1914.].


I assure you that I am profoundly aware of the solemn significance of
the thing that has now taken place. The Daughters of the Confederacy
have presented a memorial of their dead to the Government of the United
States. I hope that you have noted the history of the conception of this
idea. It was suggested by a President of the United States who had
himself been a distinguished officer in the Union Army. It was
authorized by an act of Congress of the United States. The corner-stone
of the monument was laid by a President of the United States elevated to
his position by the votes of the party which had chiefly prided itself
upon sustaining the war for the Union, and who, while Secretary of War,
had himself given authority to erect it. And, now, it has fallen to my
lot to accept in the name of the great Government, which I am privileged
for the time to represent, this emblem of a reunited people. I am not so
much happy as proud to participate in this capacity on such an
occasion,--proud that I should represent such a people. Am I mistaken,
ladies and gentlemen, in supposing that nothing of this sort could have
occurred in anything but a democracy? The people of a democracy are not
related to their rulers as subjects are related to a government. They
are themselves the sovereign authority, and as they are neighbors of
each other, quickened by the same influences and moved by the same
motives, they can understand each other. They are shot through with some
of the deepest and profoundest instincts of human sympathy. They choose
their governments; they select their rulers; they live their own life,
and they will not have that life disturbed and discolored by fraternal
misunderstandings. I know that a reuniting of spirits like this can take
place more quickly in our time than in any other because men are now
united by an easier transmission of those influences which make up the
foundations of peace and of mutual understanding, but no process can
work these effects unless there is a conducting medium. The conducting
medium in this instance is the united heart of a great people. I am not
going to detain you by trying to repeat any of the eloquent thoughts
which have moved us this afternoon, for I rejoice in the simplicity of
the task which is assigned to me. My privilege is this, ladies and
gentlemen: To declare this chapter in the history of the United States
closed and ended, and I bid you turn with me with your faces to the
future, quickened by the memories of the past, but with nothing to do
with the contests of the past, knowing, as we have shed our blood upon
opposite sides, we now face and admire one another. I do not know how
many years ago it was that the _Century Dictionary_ was published, but I
remember one day in the _Century Cyclopedia of Names_ I had occasion to
turn to the name of Robert E. Lee, and I found him there in that book
published in New York City simply described as a great American general.
The generosity of our judgments did not begin to-day. The generosity of
our judgment was made up soon after this great struggle was over. Men
came and sat together again in the Congress and united in all the
efforts of peace and of government, and our solemn duty is to see that
each one of us is in his own consciousness and in his own conduct a
replica of this great reunited people. It is our duty and our privilege
to be like the country we represent and, speaking no word of malice, no
word of criticism even, stand shoulder to shoulder to lift the burdens
of mankind in the future and show the paths of freedom to all the


[Delivered before the Graduating Class of the United States Naval
Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, June 5, 1914.]


During the greater part of my life I have been associated with young
men, and on occasions it seems to me without number have faced bodies of
youngsters going out to take part in the activities of the world, but I
have a consciousness of a different significance in this occasion from
that which I have felt on other similar occasions. When I have faced the
graduating classes at universities I have felt that I was facing a great
conjecture. They were going out into all sorts of pursuits and with
every degree of preparation for the particular thing they were expecting
to do; some without any preparation at all, for they did not know what
they expected to do. But in facing you I am facing men who are trained
for a special thing. You know what you are going to do, and you are
under the eye of the whole Nation in doing it. For you, gentlemen, are
to be part of the power of the Government of the United States. There is
a very deep and solemn significance in that fact, and I am sure that
every one of you feels it. The moral is perfectly obvious. Be ready and
fit for anything that you have to do. And keep ready and fit. Do not
grow slack. Do not suppose that your education is over because you have
received your diplomas from the academy. Your education has just begun.
Moreover, you are to have a very peculiar privilege which not many of
your predecessors have had. You are yourselves going to become
teachers. You are going to teach those 50,000 fellow-countrymen of yours
who are the enlisted men of the Navy. You are going to make them fitter
to obey your orders and to serve the country. You are going to make them
fitter to see what the orders mean in their outlook upon life and upon
the service; and that is a great privilege, for out of you is going the
energy and intelligence which are going to quicken the whole body of the
United States Navy.

I congratulate you upon that prospect, but I want to ask you not to get
the professional point of view. I would ask it of you if you were
lawyers; I would ask it of you if you were merchants; I would ask it of
you whatever you expected to be. Do not get the professional point of
view. There is nothing narrower or more unserviceable than the
professional point of view, to have the attitude toward life that it
centers in your profession. It does not. Your profession is only one of
the many activities which are meant to keep the world straight, and to
keep the energy in its blood and in its muscle. We are all of us in this
world, as I understand it, to set forward the affairs of the whole
world, though we play a special part in that great function. The Navy
goes all over the world, and I think it is to be congratulated upon
having that sort of illustration of what the world is and what it
contains; and inasmuch as you are going all over the world you ought to
be the better able to see the relation that your country bears to the
rest of the world.

It ought to be one of your thoughts all the time that you are sample
Americans--not merely sample Navy men, not merely sample soldiers, but
sample Americans--and that you have the point of view of America with
regard to her Navy and her Army; that she is using them as the
instruments of civilization, not as the instruments of aggression. The
idea of America is to serve humanity, and every time you let the Stars
and Stripes free to the wind you ought to realize that that is in itself
a message that you are on an errand which other navies have sometimes
tunes forgotten; not an errand of conquest, but an errand of service. I
always have the same thought when I look at the flag of the United
States, for I know something of the history of the struggle of mankind
for liberty. When I look at that flag it seems to me as if the white
stripes were strips of parchment upon which are written the rights of
man, and the red stripes the streams of blood by which those rights have
been made good. Then in the little blue firmament in the corner have
swung out the stars of the States of the American Union. So it is, as it
were, a sort of floating charter that has come down to us from
Runnymede, when men said, "We will not have masters; we will be a
people, and we will seek our own liberty."

You are not serving a government, gentlemen; you are serving a people.
For we who for the time being constitute the Government are merely
instruments for a little while in the hands of a great Nation which
chooses whom it will to carry out its decrees and who invariably rejects
the man who forgets the ideals which it intended him to serve. So that I
hope that wherever you go you will have a generous, comprehending love
of the people you come into contact with, and will come back and tell
us, if you can, what service the United States can render to the
remotest parts of the world; tell us where you see men suffering; tell
us where you think advice will lift them up; tell us where you think
that the counsel of statesmen may better the fortunes of unfortunate
men; always having it in mind that you are champions of what is right
and fair all 'round for the public welfare, no matter where you are, and
that it is that you are ready to fight for and not merely on the drop
of a hat or upon some slight punctilio, but that you are champions of
your fellow-men, particularly of that great body one hundred million
strong whom you represent in the United States.

What do you think is the most lasting impression that those boys down at
Vera Cruz are going to leave? They have had to use some force--I pray
God it may not be necessary for them to use any more--but do you think
that the way they fought is going to be the most lasting impression?
Have men not fought ever since the world began? Is there anything new in
using force? The new things in the world are the things that are
divorced from force. The things that show the moral compulsions of the
human conscience, those are the things by which we have been building up
civilization, not by force. And the lasting impression that those boys
are going to leave is this, that they exercise self-control; that they
are ready and diligent to make the place where they went fitter to live
in than they found it; that they regarded other people's rights; that
they did not strut and bluster, but went quietly, like self-respecting
gentlemen, about their legitimate work. And the people of Vera Cruz, who
feared the Americans and despised the Americans, are going to get a very
different taste in their mouths about the whole thing when the boys of
the Navy and the Army come away. Is that not something to be proud of,
that you know how to use force like men of conscience and like
gentlemen, serving your fellow-men and not trying to overcome them? Like
that gallant gentleman who has so long borne the heats and perplexities
and distresses of the situation in Vera Cruz--Admiral Fletcher. I
mention him, because his service there has been longer and so much of
the early perplexities fell upon him. I have been in almost daily
communication with Admiral Fletcher, and I have tested his temper. I
have tested his discretion. I know that he is a man with a touch of
statesmanship about him, and he has grown bigger in my eye each day as I
have read his dispatches, for he has sought always to serve the thing he
was trying to do in the temper that we all recognize and love to believe
is typically American.

I challenge you youngsters to go out with these conceptions, knowing
that you are part of the Government and force of the United States and
that men will judge us by you. I am not afraid of the verdict. I cannot
look in your faces and doubt what it will be, but I want you to take
these great engines of force out onto the seas like adventurers enlisted
for the elevation of the spirit of the human race. For that is the only
distinction that America has. Other nations have been strong, other
nations have piled wealth as high as the sky, but they have come into
disgrace because they used their force and their wealth for the
oppression of mankind and their own aggrandizement; and America will not
bring glory to herself, but disgrace, by following the beaten paths of
history. We must strike out upon new paths, and we must count upon you
gentlemen to be the explorers who will carry this spirit and spread this
message all over the seas and in every port of the civilized world.

You see, therefore, why I said that when I faced you I felt there was a
special significance. I am not present on an occasion when you are about
to scatter on various errands. You are all going on the same errand, and
I like to feel bound with you in one common organization for the glory
of America. And her glory goes deeper than all the tinsel, goes deeper
than the sound of guns and the clash of sabers; it goes down to the very
foundations of those things that have made the spirit of men free and
happy and content.


[Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 4, 1914.]


We are assembled to celebrate the one hundred and thirty-eighth
anniversary of the birth of the United States. I suppose that we can
more vividly realize the circumstances of that birth standing on this
historic spot than it would be possible to realize them anywhere else.
The Declaration of Independence was written in Philadelphia; it was
adopted in this historic building by which we stand. I have just had the
privilege of sitting in the chair of the great man who presided over the
deliberations of those who gave the declaration to the world. My hand
rests at this moment upon the table upon which the declaration was
signed. We can feel that we are almost in the visible and tangible
presence of a great historic transaction.

Have you ever read the Declaration of Independence or attended with
close comprehension to the real character of it when you have heard it
read? If you have, you will know that it is not a Fourth of July
oration. The Declaration of Independence was a document preliminary to
war. It was a vital piece of practical business, not a piece of
rhetoric; and if you will pass beyond those preliminary passages which
we are accustomed to quote about the rights of men and read into the
heart of the document you will see that it is very express and detailed,
that it consists of a series of definite specifications concerning
actual public business of the day. Not the business of our day, for the
matter with which it deals is past, but the business of that first
revolution by which the Nation was set up, the business of 1776. Its
general statements, its general declarations cannot mean anything to us
unless we append to it a similar specific body of particulars as to what
we consider the essential business of our own day.

Liberty does not consist, my fellow-citizens, in mere general
declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of
those declarations into definite action. Therefore, standing here where
the declaration was adopted, reading its businesslike sentences, we
ought to ask ourselves what there is in it for us. There is nothing in
it for us unless we can translate it into the terms of our own
conditions and of our own lives. We must reduce it to what the lawyers
call a bill of particulars. It contains a bill of particulars, but the
bill of particulars of 1776. If we would keep it alive, we must fill it
with a bill of particulars of the year 1914.

The task to which we have constantly to readdress ourselves is the task
of proving that we are worthy of the men who drew this great declaration
and know what they would have done in our circumstances. Patriotism
consists in some very practical things--practical in that they belong to
the life of every day, that they wear no extraordinary distinction about
them, that they are connected with commonplace duty. The way to be
patriotic in America is not only to love America but to love the duty
that lies nearest to our hand and know that in performing it we are
serving our country. There are some gentlemen in Washington, for
example, at this very moment who are showing themselves very patriotic
in a way which does not attract wide attention but seems to belong to
mere everyday obligations. The Members of the House and Senate who stay
in hot Washington to maintain a quorum of the Houses and transact the
all-important business of the Nation are doing an act of patriotism. I
honor them for it, and I am glad to stay there and stick by them until
the work is done.

It is patriotic, also, to learn what the facts of our national life are
and to face them with candor. I have heard a great many facts stated
about the present business condition of this country, for example--a
great many allegations of fact, at any rate, but the allegations do not
tally with one another. And yet I know that truth always matches with
truth and when I find some insisting that everything is going wrong and
others insisting that everything is going right, and when I know from a
wide observation of the general circumstances of the country taken as a
whole that things are going extremely well, I wonder what those who are
crying out that things are wrong are trying to do. Are they trying to
serve the country, or are they trying to serve something smaller than
the country? Are they trying to put hope into the hearts of the men who
work and toil every day, or are they trying to plant discouragement and
despair in those hearts? And why do they cry that everything is wrong
and yet do nothing to set it right? If they love America and anything is
wrong amongst us, it is their business to put their hand with ours to
the task of setting it right. When the facts are known and acknowledged,
the duty of all patriotic men is to accept them in candor and to address
themselves hopefully and confidently to the common counsel which is
necessary to act upon them wisely and in universal concert.

I have had some experiences in the last fourteen months which have not
been entirely reassuring. It was universally admitted, for example, my
fellow-citizens, that the banking system of this country needed
reorganization. We set the best minds that we could find to the task of
discovering the best method of reorganization. But we met with hardly
anything but criticism from the bankers of the country; we met with
hardly anything but resistance from the majority of those at least who
spoke at all concerning the matter. And yet so soon as that act was
passed there was a universal chorus of applause, and the very men who
had opposed the measure joined in that applause. If it was wrong the day
before it was passed, why was it right the day after it was passed?
Where had been the candor of criticism not only, but the concert of
counsel which makes legislative action vigorous and safe and successful?

It is not patriotic to concert measures against one another; it is
patriotic to concert measures for one another.

In one sense the Declaration of Independence has lost its significance.
It has lost its significance as a declaration of national independence.
Nobody outside of America believed when it was uttered that we could
make good our independence; now nobody anywhere would dare to doubt that
we are independent and can maintain our independence. As a declaration
of independence, therefore, it is a mere historic document. Our
independence is a fact so stupendous that it can be measured only by the
size and energy and variety and wealth and power of one of the greatest
nations in the world. But it is one thing to be independent and it is
another thing to know what to do with your independence. It is one thing
to come to your majority and another thing to know what you are going to
do with your life and your energies; and one of the most serious
questions for sober-minded men to address themselves to in the United
States is this: What are we going to do with the influence and power of
this great Nation? Are we going to play the old role of using that power
for our aggrandizement and material benefit only? You know what that may
mean. It may upon occasion mean that we shall use it to make the
peoples of other nations suffer in the way in which we said it was
intolerable to suffer when we uttered our Declaration of Independence.

The Department of State at Washington is constantly called upon to back
up the commercial enterprises and the industrial enterprises of the
United States in foreign countries, and it at one time went so far in
that direction that all its diplomacy came to be designated as "dollar
diplomacy." It was called upon to support every man who wanted to earn
anything anywhere if he was an American. But there ought to be a limit
to that. There is no man who is more interested than I am in carrying
the enterprise of American business men to every quarter of the globe. I
was interested in it long before I was suspected of being a politician.
I have been preaching it year after year as the great thing that lay in
the future for the United States, to show her wit and skill and
enterprise and influence in every country in the world. But observe the
limit to all that which is laid upon us perhaps more than upon any other
nation in the world. We set this Nation up, at any rate we professed to
set it up, to vindicate the rights of men. We did not name any
differences between one race and another. We did not set up any barriers
against any particular people. We opened our gates to all the world and
said, "Let all men who wish to be free come to us and they will be
welcome." We said, "This independence of ours is not a selfish thing for
our own exclusive private use. It is for everybody to whom we can find
the means of extending it." We cannot with that oath taken in our youth,
we cannot with that great ideal set before us when we were a young
people and numbered only a scant 3,000,000, take upon ourselves, now
that we are 100,000,000 strong, any other conception of duty than we
then entertained. If American enterprise in foreign countries,
particularly in those foreign countries which are not strong enough to
resist us, takes the shape of imposing upon and exploiting the mass of
the people of that country it ought to be checked and not encouraged. I
am willing to get anything for an American that money and enterprise can
obtain except the suppression of the rights of other men. I will not
help any man buy a power which he ought not to exercise over his

You know, my fellow-countrymen, what a big question there is in Mexico.
Eighty-five per cent of the Mexican people have never been allowed to
have any genuine participation in their own Government or to exercise
any substantial rights with regard to the very land they live upon. All
the rights that men most desire have been exercised by the other fifteen
per cent. Do you suppose that that circumstance is not sometimes in my
thought? I know that the American people have a heart that will beat
just as strong for those millions in Mexico as it will beat, or has
beaten, for any other millions elsewhere in the world, and that when
once they conceive what is at stake in Mexico they will know what ought
to be done in Mexico. I hear a great deal said about the loss of
property in Mexico and the loss of the lives of foreigners, and I
deplore these things with all my heart. Undoubtedly, upon the conclusion
of the present disturbed conditions in Mexico those who have been
unjustly deprived of their property or in any wise unjustly put upon
ought to be compensated. Men's individual rights have no doubt been
invaded, and the invasion of those rights has been attended by many
deplorable circumstances which ought sometime, in the proper way, to be
accounted for. But back of it all is the struggle of a people to come
into its own, and while we look upon the incidents in the foreground
let us not forget the great tragic reality in the background which
towers above the whole picture.

A patriotic American is a man who is not niggardly and selfish in the
things that he enjoys that make for human liberty and the rights of man.
He wants to share them with the whole world, and he is never so proud of
the great flag under which he lives as when it comes to mean to other
people as well as to himself a symbol of hope and liberty. I would be
ashamed of this flag if it ever did anything outside America that we
would not permit it to do inside of America.

The world is becoming more complicated every day, my fellow-citizens. No
man ought to be foolish enough to think that he understands it all. And,
therefore, I am glad that there are some simple things in the world. One
of the simple things is principle. Honesty is a perfectly simple thing.
It is hard for me to believe that in most circumstances when a man has a
choice of ways he does not know which is the right way and which is the
wrong way. No man who has chosen the wrong way ought even to come into
Independence Square; it is holy ground which he ought not to tread upon.
He ought not to come where immortal voices have uttered the great
sentences of such a document as this Declaration of Independence upon
which rests the liberty of a whole nation.

And so I say that it is patriotic sometimes to prefer the honor of the
country to its material interest. Would you rather be deemed by all the
nations of the world incapable of keeping your treaty obligations in
order that you might have free tolls for American ships? The treaty
under which we gave up that right may have been a mistaken treaty, but
there was no mistake about its meaning.

When I have made a promise as a man I try to keep it, and I know of no
other rule permissible to a nation. The most distinguished nation in
the world is the nation that can and will keep its promises even to its
own hurt. And I want to say parenthetically that I do not think anybody
was hurt. I cannot be enthusiastic for subsidies to a monopoly, but let
those who are enthusiastic for subsidies ask themselves whether they
prefer subsidies to unsullied honor.

The most patriotic man, ladies and gentlemen, is sometimes the man who
goes in the direction that he thinks right even when he sees half the
world against him. It is the dictate of patriotism to sacrifice yourself
if you think that that is the path of honor and of duty. Do not blame
others if they do not agree with you. Do not die with bitterness in your
heart because you did not convince the rest of the world, but die happy
because you believe that you tried to serve your country by not selling
your soul. Those were grim days, the days of 1776. Those gentlemen did
not attach their names to the Declaration of Independence on this table
expecting a holiday on the next day, and that 4th of July was not itself
a holiday. They attached their signatures to that significant document
knowing that if they failed it was certain that every one of them would
hang for the failure. They were committing treason in the interest of
the liberty of 3,000,000 people in America. All the rest of the world
was against them and smiled with cynical incredulity at the audacious
undertaking. Do you think that if they could see this great Nation now
they would regret anything that they then did to draw the gaze of a
hostile world upon them? Every idea must be started by somebody, and it
is a lonely thing to start anything. Yet if it is in you, you must start
it if you have a man's blood in you and if you love the country that you
profess to be working for.

I am sometimes very much interested when I see gentlemen supposing that
popularity is the way to success in America. The way to success in this
great country, with its fair judgments, is to show that you are not
afraid of anybody except God and his final verdict. If I did not believe
that, I would not believe in democracy. If I did not believe that, I
would not believe that people can govern themselves. If I did not
believe that the moral judgment would be the last judgment, the final
judgment, in the minds of men as well as the tribunal of God, I could
not believe in popular government. But I do believe these things, and,
therefore, I earnestly believe in the democracy not only of America but
of every awakened people that wishes and intends to govern and control
its own affairs.

It is very inspiring, my friends, to come to this that may be called the
original fountain of independence and liberty in American and here drink
draughts of patriotic feeling which seem to renew the very blood in
one's veins. Down in Washington sometimes when the days are hot and the
business presses intolerably and there are so many things to do that it
does not seem possible to do anything in the way it ought to be done, it
is always possible to lift one's thought above the task of the moment
and, as it were, to realize that great thing of which we are all parts,
the great body of American feeling and American principle. No man could
do the work that has to be done in Washington if he allowed himself to
be separated from that body of principle. He must make himself feel that
he is a part of the people of the United States, that he is trying to
think not only for them, but with them, and then he cannot feel lonely.
He not only cannot feel lonely but he cannot feel afraid of anything.

My dream is that as the years go on and the world knows more and more of
America it will also drink at these fountains of youth and renewal; that
it also will turn to America for those moral inspirations which lie at
the basis of all freedom; that the world will never fear America unless
it feels that it is engaged in some enterprise which is inconsistent
with the rights of humanity; and that America will come into the full
light of the day when all shall know that she puts human rights above
all other rights and that her flag is the flag not only of America but
of humanity.

What other great people has devoted itself to this exalted ideal? To
what other nation in the world can all eyes look for an instant sympathy
that thrills the whole body politic when men anywhere are fighting for
their rights? I do not know that there will ever be a declaration of
independence and of grievances for mankind, but I believe that if any
such document is ever drawn it will be drawn in the spirit of the
American Declaration of Independence, and that America has lifted high
the light which will shine unto all generations and guide the feet of
mankind to the goal of justice and liberty and peace.


[An appeal to the citizens of the Republic, requesting their assistance
in maintaining a state of neutrality during the European War, August 20,


I suppose that every thoughtful man in America has asked himself, during
these last troubled weeks, what influence the European war may exert
upon the United States, and I take the liberty of addressing a few words
to you in order to point out that it is entirely within our own choice
what its effects upon us will be and to urge very earnestly upon you the
sort of speech and conduct which will best safeguard the Nation against
distress and disaster.

The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what
American citizens say and do. Every man who really loves America will
act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of
impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned. The spirit
of the Nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what
individuals and society and those gathered in public meetings do and
say, upon what newspapers and magazines contain, upon what ministers
utter in their pulpits, and men proclaim as their opinions on the

The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly
from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there
should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with
regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish
one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It
will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those
responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility,
responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United
States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its Government
should unite them as Americans all, bound in honor and affection to
think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile
opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse
and opinion if not in action.

Such divisions among us would be fatal to our peace of mind and might
seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the
one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a
part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and
accommodation, not as a partisan, but as a friend.

I venture, therefore, my fellow countrymen, to speak a solemn word of
warning to you against that deepest, most subtle, most essential breach
of neutrality which may spring out of partisanship, out of passionately
taking sides. The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in
name during these days that are to try men's souls. We must be impartial
in thought as well as in action, must put a curb upon our sentiments as
well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference
of one party to the struggle before another.

My thought is of America. I am speaking, I feel sure, the earnest wish
and purpose of every thoughtful American that this great country of
ours, which is, of course, the first in our thoughts and in our hearts,
should show herself in this time of peculiar trial a Nation fit beyond
others to exhibit the fine poise of undisturbed judgment, the dignity of
self-control, the efficiency of dispassionate action; a Nation that
neither sits in judgment upon others nor is disturbed in her own
counsels and which keeps herself fit and free to do what is honest and
disinterested and truly serviceable for the peace of the world.

Shall we not resolve to put upon ourselves the restraints which will
bring to our people the happiness and the great and lasting influence
for peace we covet for them?


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
September 4, 1914.]


I come to you to-day to discharge a duty which I wish with all my heart
I might have been spared; but it is a very clear duty, and therefore I
perform it without hesitation or apology. I come to ask very earnestly
that additional revenue be provided for the Government.

During the month of August there was, as compared with the corresponding
month of last year, a falling off of $10,629,538 in the revenues
collected from customs. A continuation of this decrease in the same
proportion throughout the current fiscal year would probably mean a loss
of customs revenues of from sixty to one hundred millions. I need not
tell you to what this falling off is due. It is due, in chief part, not
to the reductions recently made in the customs duties, but to the great
decrease in importations; and that is due to the extraordinary extent of
the industrial area affected by the present war in Europe. Conditions
have arisen which no man foresaw; they affect the whole world of
commerce and economic production; and they must be faced and dealt with.

It would be very unwise to postpone dealing with them. Delay in such a
matter and in the particular circumstances in which we now find
ourselves as a nation might involve consequences of the most
embarrassing and deplorable sort, for which I, for one, would not care
to be responsible. It would be very dangerous in the present
circumstances to create a moment's doubt as to the strength and
sufficiency of the Treasury of the United States, its ability to
assist, to steady, and sustain the financial operations of the country's
business. If the Treasury is known, or even thought, to be weak, where
will be our peace of mind? The whole industrial activity of the country
would be chilled and demoralized. Just now the peculiarly difficult
financial problems of the moment are being successfully dealt with, with
great self-possession and good sense and very sound judgment; but they
are only in process of being worked out. If the process of solution is
to be completed, no one must be given reason to doubt the solidity and
adequacy of the Treasury of the Government which stands behind the whole
method by which our difficulties are being met and handled.

The Treasury itself could get along for a considerable period, no doubt,
without immediate resort to new sources of taxation. But at what cost to
the business of the community? Approximately $75,000,000, a large part
of the present Treasury balance, is now on deposit with national banks
distributed throughout the country. It is deposited, of course, on call.
I need not point out to you what the probable consequences of
inconvenience and distress and confusion would be if the diminishing
income of the Treasury should make it necessary rapidly to withdraw
these deposits. And yet without additional revenue that plainly might
become necessary, and the time when it became necessary could not be
controlled or determined by the convenience of the business of the
country. It would have to be determined by the operations and
necessities of the Treasury itself. Such risks are not necessary and
ought not to be run. We cannot too scrupulously or carefully safeguard a
financial situation which is at best, while war continues in Europe,
difficult and abnormal. Hesitation and delay are the worst forms of bad
policy under such conditions.

And we ought not to borrow. We ought to resort to taxation, however we
may regret the necessity of putting additional temporary burdens on our
people. To sell bonds would be to make a most untimely and unjustifiable
demand on the money market; untimely, because this is manifestly not the
time to withdraw working capital from other uses to pay the Government's
bills; unjustifiable, because unnecessary. The country is able to pay
any just and reasonable taxes without distress. And to every other form
of borrowing, whether for long periods or, for short, there is the same
objection. These are not the circumstances, this is at this particular
moment and in this particular exigency not the market, to borrow large
sums of money. What we are seeking is to ease and assist every financial
transaction, not to add a single additional embarrassment to the
situation. The people of this country are both intelligent and
profoundly patriotic. They are ready to meet the present conditions in
the right way and to support the Government with generous self-denial.
They know and understand, and will be intolerant only of those who dodge
responsibility or are not frank with them.

The occasion is not of our own making. We had no part in making it. But
it is here. It affects us as directly and palpably almost as if we were
participants in the circumstances which gave rise to it. We must accept
the inevitable with calm judgment and unruffled spirits, like men
accustomed to deal with the unexpected, habituated to take care of
themselves, masters of their own affairs and their own fortunes. We
shall pay the bill, though we did not deliberately incur it.

In order to meet every demand upon the Treasury without delay or
peradventure and in order to keep the Treasury strong, unquestionably
strong, and strong throughout the present anxieties, I respectfully
urge that an additional revenue of $100,000,000 be raised through
internal taxes devised in your wisdom to meet the emergency. The only
suggestion I take the liberty of making is that such sources of revenue
be chosen as will begin to yield at once and yield with a certain and
constant flow.

I cannot close without expressing the confidence with which I approach a
Congress, with regard to this or any other matter, which has shown so
untiring a devotion to public duty, which has responded to the needs of
the Nation throughout a long season despite inevitable fatigue and
personal sacrifice, and so large a proportion of whose Members have
devoted their whole time and energy to the business of the country.


[Address before the American Bar Association, in Continental Hall,
October 20, 1914.]


I am very deeply gratified by the greeting that your president has given
me and by your response to it. My only strength lies in your confidence.

We stand now in a peculiar case. Our first thought, I suppose, as
lawyers, is of international law, of those bonds of right and principle
which draw the nations together and hold the community of the world to
some standards of action. We know that we see in international law, as
it were, the moral processes by which law itself came into existence. I
know that as a lawyer I have myself at times felt that there was no real
comparison between the law of a nation and the law of nations, because
the latter lacked the sanction that gave the former strength and
validity. And yet, if you look into the matter more closely, you will
find that the two have the same foundations, and that those foundations
are more evident and conspicuous in our day than they have ever been

The opinion of the world is the mistress of the world; and the processes
of international law are the slow processes by which opinion works its
will. What impresses me is the constant thought that that is the
tribunal at the bar of which we all sit. I would call your attention,
incidentally, to the circumstance that it does not observe the ordinary
rules of evidence; which has sometimes suggested to me that the ordinary
rules of evidence had shown some signs of growing antique. Everything,
rumor included, is heard in this court, and the standard of judgment is
not so much the character of the testimony as the character of the
witness. The motives are disclosed, the purposes are conjectured, and
that opinion is finally accepted which seems to be, not the best founded
in law, perhaps, but the best founded in integrity of character and of
morals. That is the process which is slowly working its will upon the
world; and what we should be watchful of is not so much jealous
interests as sound principles of action. The disinterested course is
always the biggest course to pursue not only, but it is in the long run
the most profitable course to pursue. If you can establish your
character, you can establish your credit.

What I wanted to suggest to this association, in bidding them very
hearty welcome to the city, is whether we sufficiently apply these same
ideas to the body of municipal law which we seek to administer.
Citations seem to play so much larger a role now than principle. There
was a time when the thoughtful eye of the judge rested upon the changes
of social circumstances and almost palpably saw the law arise out of
human life. Have we got to a time when the only way to change law is by
statute? The changing of law by statute seems to me like mending a
garment with a patch, whereas law should grow by the life that is in it,
not by the life that is outside of it.

I once said to a lawyer with whom I was discussing some question of
precedent, and in whose presence I was venturing to doubt the rational
validity, at any rate, of the particular precedents he cited, "After
all, isn't our object justice?" And he said, "God forbid! We should be
very much confused if we made that our standard. Our standard is to find
out what the rule has been and how the rule that has been applies to the
case that is." I should hate to think that the law was based entirely
upon "has beens." I should hate to think that the law did not derive its
impulse from looking forward rather than from looking backward, or,
rather, that it did not derive its instruction from looking about and
seeing what the circumstances of man actually are and what the impulses
of justice necessarily are.

Understand me, gentlemen, I am not venturing in this presence to impeach
the law. For the present, by the force of circumstances, I am in part
the embodiment of the law, and it would be very awkward to disavow
myself. But I do wish to make this intimation, that in this time of
world change, in this time when we are going to find out just how, in
what particulars, and to what extent the real facts of human life and
the real moral judgments of mankind prevail, it is worth while looking
inside our municipal law and seeing whether the judgments of the law are
made square with the moral judgments of mankind. For I believe that we
are custodians, not of commands, but of a spirit. We are custodians of
the spirit of righteousness, of the spirit of equal-handed justice, of
the spirit of hope which believes in the perfectibility of the law with
the perfectibility of human life itself.

Public life, like private life, would be very dull and dry if it were
not for this belief in the essential beauty of the human spirit and the
belief that the human spirit could be translated into action and into
ordinance. Not entire. You cannot go any faster than you can advance the
average moral judgments of the mass, but you can go at least as fast as
that, and you can see to it that you do not lag behind the average moral
judgments of the mass. I have in my life dealt with all sorts and
conditions of men, and I have found that the flame of moral judgment
burned just as bright in the man of humble life and limited experience
as in the scholar and the man of affairs. And I would like his voice
always to be heard, not as a witness, not as speaking in his own case,
but as if he were the voice of men in general, in our courts of justice,
as well as the voice of the lawyers, remembering what the law has been.
My hope is that, being stirred to the depths by the extraordinary
circumstances of the time in which we live, we may recover from those
depths something of a renewal of that vision of the law with which men
may be supposed to have started out in the old days of the oracles, who
communed with the intimations of divinity.


[Address at the Young Men's Christian Association's Celebration,
Pittsburgh, October 24, 1914.]


I feel almost as if I were a truant, being away from Washington to-day,
but I thought that perhaps if I were absent the Congress would have the
more leisure to adjourn. I do not ordinarily open my office at
Washington on Saturday. Being a schoolmaster, I am accustomed to a
Saturday holiday, and I thought I could not better spend a holiday than
by showing at least something of the true direction of my affections;
for by long association with the men who have worked for this
organization I can say that it has enlisted my deep affection.

I am interested in it for various reasons. First of all, because it is
an association of young men. I have had a good deal to do with young men
in my time, and I have formed an impression of them which I believe to
be contrary to the general impression. They are generally thought to be
arch radicals. As a matter of fact, they are the most conservative
people I have ever dealt with. Go to a college community and try to
change the least custom of that little world and find how the
conservatives will rush at you. Moreover, young men are embarrassed by
having inherited their fathers' opinions. I have often said that the use
of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as
possible. I do not say that with the least disrespect for the fathers;
but every man who is old enough to have a son in college is old enough
to have become very seriously immersed in some particular business and
is almost certain to have caught the point of view of that particular
business. And it is very useful to his son to be taken out of that
narrow circle, conducted to some high place where he may see the general
map of the world and of the interests of mankind, and there shown how
big the world is and how much of it his father may happen to have
forgotten. It would be worth while for men, middle-aged and old, to
detach themselves more frequently from the things that command their
daily attention and to think of the sweeping tides of humanity.

Therefore I am interested in this association, because it is intended to
bring young men together before any crust has formed over them, before
they have been hardened to any particular occupation, before they have
caught an inveterate point of view; while they still have a searchlight
that they can swing and see what it reveals of all the circumstances of
the hidden world.

I am the more interested in it because it is an association of young men
who are Christians. I wonder if we attach sufficient importance to
Christianity as a mere instrumentality in the life of mankind. For one,
I am not fond of thinking of Christianity as the means of saving
_individual_ souls. I have always been very impatient of processes and
institutions which said that their purpose was to put every man in the
way of developing his character. My advice is: Do not think about your
character. If you will think about what you ought to do for other
people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a
by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his
own case will become a selfish prig. The only way your powers can become
great is by exerting them outside the circle of your own narrow,
special, selfish interests. And that is the reason of Christianity.
Christ came into the world to save others, not to save himself; and no
man is a true Christian who does not think constantly of how he can lift
his brother, how he can assist his friend, how he can enlighten mankind,
how he can make virtue the rule of conduct in the circle in which he
lives. An association merely of young men might be an association that
had its energies put forth in every direction, but an association of
Christian young men is an association meant to put its shoulders under
the world and lift it, so that other men may feel that they have
companions in bearing the weight and heat of the day; that other men may
know that there are those who care for them, who would go into places of
difficulty and danger to rescue them, who regard themselves as their
brother's keeper.

And, then, I am glad that it is an association. Every word of its title
means an element of strength. Young men are strong. Christian young men
are the strongest kind of young men, and when they associate themselves
together they have the incomparable strength of organization. The Young
Men's Christian Association once excited, perhaps it is not too much to
say, the hostility of the organized churches of the Christian world,
because the movement looked as if it were so non-sectarian, as if it
were so outside the ecclesiastical field, that perhaps it was an effort
to draw young men away from the churches and to substitute this
organization for the great bodies of Christian people who joined
themselves in the Christian denominations. But after a while it appeared
that it was a great instrumentality that belonged to all the churches;
that it was a common instrument for sending the light of Christianity
out into the world in its most practical form, drawing young men who
were strangers into places where they could have companionship that
stimulated them and suggestions that kept them straight and occupations
that amused them without vicious practice; and then, by surrounding
themselves with an atmosphere of purity and of simplicity of life, catch
something of a glimpse of the great ideal which Christ lifted when He
was elevated upon the cross.

I remember hearing a very wise man say once, a man grown old in the
service of a great church, that he had never taught his son religion
dogmatically at any time; that he and the boy's mother had agreed that
if the atmosphere of that home did not make a Christian of the boy,
nothing that they could say would make a Christian of him. They knew
that Christianity was catching, and if they did not have it, it would
not be communicated. If they did have it, it would penetrate while the
boy slept, almost; while he was unconscious of the sweet influences that
were about him, while he reckoned nothing of instruction, but merely
breathed into his lungs the wholesome air of a Christian home. That is
the principle of the Young Men's Christian Association--to make a place
where the atmosphere makes great ideals contagious. That is the reason
that I said, though I had forgotten that I said it, what is quoted on
the outer page of the program--that you can test a modern community by
the degree of its interest in its Young Men's Christian Association. You
can test whether it knows what road it wants to travel or not. You can
test whether it is deeply interested in the spiritual and essential
prosperity of its rising generation. I know of no test that can be more
conclusively put to a community than that.

I want to suggest to the young men of this association that it is the
duty of young men not only to combine for the things that are good, but
to combine in a militant spirit. There is a fine passage in one of
Milton's prose writings which I am sorry to say I cannot quote, but the
meaning of which I can give you, and it is worth hearing.[E] He says
that he has no patience with a cloistered virtue that does not go out
and seek its adversary. Ah, how tired I am of the men who are merely on
the defensive, who hedge themselves in, who perhaps enlarge the hedge
enough to include their little family circle and ward off all the evil
influences of the world from that loved and hallowed group. How tired I
am of the men whose virtue is selfish because it is merely
self-protective! And how much I wish that men by the hundred thousand
might volunteer to go out and seek an adversary and subdue him!

I have had the fortune to take part in affairs of a considerable variety
of sorts, and I have tried to hate as few persons as possible, but there
is an exquisite combination of contempt and hate that I have for a
particular kind of person, and that is the moral coward. I wish we could
give all our cowards a perpetual vacation. Let them go off and sit on
the side lines and see us play the game; and put them off the field if
they interfere with the game. They do nothing but harm, and they do it
by that most subtle and fatal thing of all, that of taking the momentum
and the spirit and the forward dash out of things. A man who is virtuous
and a coward has no marketable virtue about him. The virtue, I repeat,
which is merely self-defensive is not serviceable even, I suspect, to
himself. For how a man can swallow and not taste bad when he is a coward
and thinking only of himself I cannot imagine.

Be militant! Be an organization that is going to do things! If you can
find older men who will give you countenance and acceptable leadership,
follow them; but if you cannot, organize separately and dispense with
them. There are only two sorts of men worth associating with when
something is to be done. Those are young men and men who never grow old.
Now, if you find men who have grown old, about whom the crust has
hardened, whose hinges are stiff, whose minds always have their eye over
the shoulder thinking of things as they _were_ done, do not have
anything to do with them. It would not be Christian to exclude them from
your organization, but merely use them to pad the roll. If you can find
older men who will lead you acceptably and keep you in countenance, I am
bound as an older man to advise you to follow them. But suit yourselves.
Do not follow people that stand still. Just remind them that this is not
a statical proposition; it is a movement, and if they cannot get a move
on them they are not serviceable.

Life, gentlemen--the life of society, the life of the world--has
constantly to be fed from the bottom. It has to be fed by those great
sources of strength which are constantly rising in new generations. Red
blood has to be pumped into it. New fiber has to be supplied. That is
the reason I have always said that I believed in popular institutions.
If you can guess beforehand whom your rulers are going to be, you can
guess with a very great certainty that most of them will not be fit to
rule. The beauty of popular institutions is that you do not know where
the man is going to come from, and you do not care so he is the right
man. You do not know whether he will come from the avenue or from the
alley. You do not know whether he will come from the city or the farm.
You do not know whether you will ever have heard that name before or
not. Therefore you do not limit at any point your supply of new
strength. You do not say it has got to come through the blood of a
particular family or through the processes of a particular training, or
by anything except the native impulse and genius of the man himself. The
humblest hovel, therefore, may produce you your greatest man. A very
humble hovel did produce you one of your greatest men. That is the
process of life, this constant surging up of the new strength of
unnamed, unrecognized, uncatalogued men who are just getting into the
running, who are just coming up from the masses of the unrecognized
multitude. You do not know when you will see above the level masses of
the crowd some great stature lifted head and shoulders above the rest,
shouldering its way, not violently but gently, to the front and saying,
"Here am I; follow me." And his voice will be your voice, his thought
will be your thought, and you will follow him as if you were following
the best things in yourselves.

When I think of an association of Christian young men I wonder that it
has not already turned the world upside down. I wonder, not that it has
done so much, for it has done a great deal, but that it has done so
little; and I can only conjecture that it does not realize its own
strength. I can only imagine that it has not yet got its pace. I wish I
could believe, and I do believe, that at seventy it is just reaching its
majority, and that from this time on a dream greater even than George
Williams[F] ever dreamed will be realized in the great accumulating
momentum of Christian men throughout the world. For, gentlemen, this is
an age in which the principles of men who utter public opinion dominate
the world. It makes no difference what is done for the time being. After
the struggle is over the jury will sit, and nobody can corrupt that

At one time I tried to write history. I did not know enough to write it,
but I knew from experience how hard it was to find an historian out, and
I trusted I would not be found out. I used to have this comfortable
thought as I saw men struggling in the public arena. I used to think to
myself, "This is all very well and very interesting. You probably assess
yourself in such and such a way. Those who are your partisans assess you
thus and so. Those who are your opponents urge a different verdict. But
it does not make very much difference, because after you are dead and
gone some quiet historian will sit in a secluded room and tell mankind
for the rest of time just what to think about you, and his verdict, not
the verdict of your partisans and not the verdict of your opponents,
will be the verdict of posterity." I say that I used to say that to
myself. It very largely was not so. And yet it was true in this sense:
If the historian really speaks the judgment of the succeeding
generation, then he really speaks the judgment also of the generations
that succeed it, and his assessment, made without the passion of the
time, made without partisan feeling in the matter--in other
circumstances, when the air is cool--is the judgment of mankind upon
your actions.

Now, is it not very important that we who shall constitute a portion of
the jury should get our best judgments to work and base them upon
Christian forbearance and Christian principles, upon the idea that it is
impossible by sophistication to establish that a thing that is wrong is
right? And yet, while we are going to judge with the absolute standard
of righteousness, we are going to judge with Christian feeling, being
men of a like sort ourselves, suffering the same temptations, having the
same weaknesses, knowing the same passions; and while we do not
condemn, we are going to seek to say and to live the truth. What I am
hoping for is that these seventy years have just been a running start,
and that now there will be a great rush of Christian principle upon the
strongholds of evil and of wrong in the world. Those strongholds are not
as strong as they look. Almost every vicious man is afraid of society,
and if you once open the door where he is, he will run. All you have to
do is to fight, not with cannon but with light.

May I illustrate it in this way? The Government of the United States has
just succeeded in concluding a large number of treaties with the leading
nations of the world, the sum and substance of which is this, that
whenever any trouble arises the light shall shine on it for a year
before anything is done; and my prediction is that after the light has
shone on it for a year it will not be necessary to do anything; that
after we know what happened, then we will know who was right and who was
wrong. I believe that light is the greatest sanitary influence in the
world. That, I suppose, is scientific commonplace, because if you want
to make a place wholesome the best instrument you can use is the sun; to
let his rays in, let him search out all the miasma that may lurk there.
So with moral light: It is the most wholesome and rectifying, as well as
the most revealing, thing in the world, provided it be genuine moral
light; not the light of inquisitiveness, not the light of the man who
likes to turn up ugly things, not the light of the man who disturbs what
is corrupt for the mere sake of the sensation that he creates by
disturbing it, but the moral light, the light of the man who discloses
it in order that all the sweet influences of the world may go in and
make it better.

That, in my judgment, is what the Young Men's Christian Association can
do. It can point out to its members the things that are wrong. It can
guide the feet of those who are going astray; and when its members have
realized the power of the Christian principle, then they will not be men
if they do not unite to see that the rest of the world experiences the
same emancipation and reaches the same happiness of release.

I believe in the Young Men's Christian Association because I believe in
the progress of moral ideas in the world; and I do not know that I am
sure of anything else. When you are after something and have formulated
it and have done the very best thing you know how to do you have got to
be sure for the time being that that is the thing to do. But you are a
fool if in the back of your head you do not know it is possible that you
are mistaken. All that you can claim is that that is the thing as you
see it now and that you cannot stand still; that you must push forward
the things that are right. It may turn out that you made mistakes, but
what you do know is your direction, and you are sure you are moving in
that way. I was once a college reformer, until discouraged, and I
remember a classmate of mine saying, "Why, man, can't you let anything
alone?" I said, "I let everything alone that you can show me is not
itself moving in the wrong direction, but I am not going to let those
things alone that I see are going downhill"; and I borrowed this
illustration from an ingenious writer. He says, "If you have a post that
is painted white and want to keep it white, you cannot let it alone; and
if anybody says to you, 'Why don't you let that post alone,' you will
say, 'Because I want it to stay white, and therefore I have got to paint
it at least every second year.'" There isn't anything in this world that
will not change if you absolutely let it alone, and therefore you have
constantly to be attending to it to see that it is being taken care of
in the right way and that, if it is part of the motive force of the
world, it is moving in the right direction.

That means that eternal vigilance is the price, not only of liberty, but
of a great many other things. It is the price of everything that is
good. It is the price of one's own soul. It is the price of the souls of
the people you love; and when it comes down to the final reckoning you
have a standard that is immutable. What shall a man give in exchange for
his own soul? Will he sell that? Will he consent to see another man sell
his soul? Will he consent to see the conditions of his community such
that men's souls are debauched and trodden underfoot in the mire? What
shall he give in exchange for his own soul, or any other man's soul? And
since the world, the world of affairs, the world of society, is nothing
less and nothing more than all of us put together, it is a great
enterprise for the salvation of the soul in this world as well as in the
next. There is a text in Scripture that has always interested me
profoundly. It says godliness is profitable in this life as well as in
the life that is to come; and if you do not start it in this life, it
will not reach the life that is to come. Your measurements, your
directions, your whole momentum, have to be established before you reach
the next world. This world is intended as the place in which we shall
show that we know how to grow in the stature of manliness and of

I have come here to bid Godspeed to the great work of the Young Men's
Christian Association. I love to think of the gathering force of such
things as this in the generations to come. If a man had to measure the
accomplishments of society, the progress of reform, the speed of the
world's betterment, by the few little things that happened in his own
life, by the trifling things that he can contribute to accomplish, he
would indeed feel that the cost was much greater than the result. But no
man can look at the past of the history of this world without seeing a
vision of the future of the history of this world; and when you think of
the accumulated moral forces that have made one age better than another
age in the progress of mankind, then you can open your eyes to the
vision. You can see that age by age, though with a blind struggle in the
dust of the road, though often mistaking the path and losing its way in
the mire, mankind is yet--sometimes with bloody hands and battered
knees--nevertheless struggling step after step up the slow stages to the
day when he shall live in the full light which shines upon the uplands,
where all the light that illumines mankind shines direct from the face
of God.

[E] In the _Areopagitica_: "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered
virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her
adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to
be run for, not without dust and heat."

[F] Sir George Williams, 1821-1905, an English philanthropist, founder
of the Young Men's Christian Association.


[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, December 8,


The session upon which you are now entering will be the closing session
of the Sixty-third Congress, a Congress, I venture to say, which will
long be remembered for the great body of thoughtful and constructive
work which it has done, in loyal response to the thought and needs of
the country. I should like in this address to review the notable record
and try to make adequate assessment of it; but no doubt we stand too
near the work that has been done and are ourselves too much part of it
to play the part of historians toward it.

Our program of legislation with regard to the regulation of business is
now virtually complete. It has been put forth, as we intended, as a
whole, and leaves no conjecture as to what is to follow. The road at
last lies clear and firm before business. It is a road which it can
travel without fear or embarrassment. It is the road to ungrudged,
unclouded success. In it every honest man, every man who believes that
the public interest is part of his own interest, may walk with perfect

Moreover, our thoughts are now more of the future than of the past.
While we have worked at our tasks of peace the circumstances of the
whole age have been altered by war. What we have done for our own land
and our own people we did with the best that was in us, whether of
character or of intelligence, with sober enthusiasm and a confidence in
the principles upon which we were acting which sustained us at every
step of the difficult undertaking; but it is done. It has passed from
our hands. It is now an established part of the legislation of the
country. Its usefulness, its effects will disclose themselves in
experience. What chiefly strikes us now, as we look about us during
these closing days of a year which will be forever memorable in the
history of the world, is that we face new tasks, have been facing them
these six months, must face them in the months to come,--face them
without partisan feeling, like men who have forgotten everything but a
common duty and the fact that we are representatives of a great people
whose thought is not of us but of what America owes to herself and to
all mankind in such circumstances as these upon which we look amazed and

War has interrupted the means of trade not only but also the processes
of production. In Europe it is destroying men and resources wholesale
and upon a scale unprecedented and appalling. There is reason to fear
that the time is near, if it be not already at hand, when several of the
countries of Europe will find it difficult to do for their people what
they have hitherto been always easily able to do,--many essential and
fundamental things. At any rate, they will need our help and our
manifold services as they have never needed them before; and we should
be ready, more fit and ready than we have ever been.

It is of equal consequence that the nations whom Europe has usually
supplied with innumerable articles of manufacture and commerce of which
they are in constant need and without which their economic development
halts and stands still can now get only a small part of what they
formerly imported and eagerly look to us to supply their all but empty
markets. This is particularly true of our own neighbors, the States,
great and small, of Central and South America. Their lines of trade have
hitherto run chiefly athwart the seas, not to our ports but to the
ports of Great Britain and of the older continent of Europe. I do not
stop to inquire why, or to make any comment on probable causes. What
interests us just now is not the explanation but the fact, and our duty
and opportunity in the presence of it. Here are markets which we must
supply, and we must find the means of action. The United States, this
great people for whom we speak and act, should be ready, as never
before, to serve itself and to serve mankind; ready with its resources,
its energies, its forces of production, and its means of distribution.

It is a very practical matter, a matter of ways and means. We have the
resources, but are we fully ready to use them? And, if we can make ready
what we have, have we the means at hand to distribute it? We are not
fully ready; neither have we the means of distribution. We are willing,
but we are not fully able. We have the wish to serve and to serve
greatly, generously; but we are not prepared as we should be. We are not
ready to mobilize our resources at once. We are not prepared to use them
immediately and at their best, without delay and without waste.

To speak plainly, we have grossly erred in the way in which we have
stunted and hindered the development of our merchant marine. And now,
when we need ships, we have not got them. We have year after year
debated, without end or conclusion, the best policy to pursue with
regard to the use of the ores and forests and water powers of our
national domain in the rich States of the West, when we should have
acted; and they are still locked up. The key is still turned upon them,
the door shut fast at which thousands of vigorous men, full of
initiative, knock clamorously for admittance. The water power of our
navigable streams outside the national domain also, even in the eastern
States, where we have worked and planned for generations, is still not
used as it might be, because we will and we won't; because the laws we
have made do not intelligently balance encouragement against restraint.
We withhold by regulation.

I have come to ask you to remedy and correct these mistakes and
omissions, even at this short session of a Congress which would
certainly seem to have done all the work that could reasonably be
expected of it. The time and the circumstances are extraordinary, and so
must our efforts be also.

Fortunately, two great measures, finely conceived, the one to unlock,
with proper safeguards, the resources of the national domain, the other
to encourage the use of the navigable waters outside that domain for the
generation of power, have already passed the House of Representatives
and are ready for immediate consideration and action by the Senate. With
the deepest earnestness I urge their prompt passage. In them both we
turn our backs upon hesitation and makeshift and formulate a genuine
policy of use and conservation, in the best sense of those words. We owe
the one measure not only to the people of that great western country for
whose free and systematic development, as it seems to me, our
legislation has done so little, but also to the people of the Nation as
a whole; and we as clearly owe the other in fulfillment of our repeated
promises that the water power of the country should in fact as well as
in name be put at the disposal of great industries which can make
economical and profitable use of it, the rights of the public being
adequately guarded the while, and monopoly in the use prevented. To have
begun such measures and not completed them would indeed mar the record
of this great Congress very seriously. I hope and confidently believe
that they will be completed.

And there is another great piece of legislation which awaits and should
receive the sanction of the Senate: I mean the bill which gives a larger
measure of self-government to the people of the Philippines. How better,
in this time of anxious questioning and perplexed policy, could we show
our confidence in the principles of liberty, as the source as well as
the expression of life, how better could we demonstrate our own
self-possession and steadfastness in the courses of justice and
disinterestedness than by thus going calmly forward to fulfill our
promises to a dependent people, who will now look more anxiously than
ever to see whether we have indeed the liberality, the unselfishness,
the courage, the faith we have boasted and professed. I cannot believe
that the Senate will let this great measure of constructive justice
await the action of another Congress. Its passage would nobly crown the
record of these two years of memorable labor.

But I think that you will agree with me that this does not complete the
toll of our duty. How are we to carry our goods to the empty markets of
which I have spoken if we have not the ships? How are we to build up a
great trade if we have not the certain and constant means of
transportation upon which all profitable and useful commerce depends?
And how are we to get the ships if we wait for the trade to develop
without them? To correct the many mistakes by which we have discouraged
and all but destroyed the merchant marine of the country, to retrace the
steps by which we have, it seems almost deliberately, withdrawn our flag
from the seas, except where, here and there, a ship of war is bidden
carry it or some wandering yacht displays it, would take a long time and
involve many detailed items of legislation, and the trade which we ought
immediately to handle would disappear or find other channels while we
debated the items.

The case is not unlike that which confronted us when our own continent
was to be opened up to settlement and industry, and we needed long lines
of railway, extended means of transportation prepared beforehand, if
development was not to lag intolerably and wait interminably. We
lavishly subsidized the building of transcontinental railroads. We look
back upon that with regret now, because the subsidies led to many
scandals of which we are ashamed; but we know that the railroads had to
be built, and if we had it to do over again we should of course build
them, but in another way. Therefore I propose another way of providing
the means of transportation, which must precede, not tardily follow, the
development of our trade with our neighbor states of America. It may
seem a reversal of the natural order of things, but it is true, that the
routes of trade must be actually opened--by many ships and regular
sailings and moderate charges--before streams of merchandise will flow
freely and profitably through them.

Hence the pending shipping bill, discussed at the last session but as
yet passed by neither House. In my judgment such legislation is
imperatively needed and cannot wisely be postponed. The Government must
open these gates of trade, and open them wide; open them before it is
altogether profitable to open them, or altogether reasonable to ask
private capital to open them at a venture. It is not a question of the
Government monopolizing the field. It should take action to make it
certain that transportation at reasonable rates will be promptly
provided, even where the carriage is not at first profitable; and then,
when the carriage has become sufficiently profitable to attract and
engage private capital, and engage it in abundance, the Government ought
to withdraw. I very earnestly hope that the Congress will be of this
opinion, and that both Houses will adopt this exceedingly important

The great subject of rural credits still remains to be dealt with, and
it is a matter of deep regret that the difficulties of the subject have
seemed to render it impossible to complete a bill for passage at this
session. But it cannot be perfected yet, and therefore there are no
other constructive measures the necessity for which I will at this time
call your attention to; but I would be negligent of a very manifest duty
were I not to call the attention of the Senate to the fact that the
proposed convention for safety at sea awaits its confirmation and that
the limit fixed in the convention itself for its acceptance is the last
day of the present month. The conference in which this 15 convention
originated was called by the United States; the representatives of the
United States played a very influential part indeed in framing the
provisions of the proposed convention; and those provisions are in
themselves for the most part admirable. It would hardly be consistent
with the part we have played in the whole matter to let it drop and go
by the board as if forgotten and neglected. It was ratified in May last
by the German Government and in August by the Parliament of Great
Britain. It marks a most hopeful and decided advance in international
civilization. We should show our earnest good faith in a great matter by
adding our own acceptance of it.

There is another matter of which I must make special mention, if I am to
discharge my conscience, lest it should escape your attention. It may
seem a very small thing. It affects only a single item of appropriation.
But many human lives and many great enterprises hang upon it. It is the
matter of making adequate provision for the survey and charting of our
coasts. It is immediately pressing and exigent in connection with the
immense coast line of Alaska, a coast line greater than that of the
United States themselves, though it is also very important indeed with
regard to the older coasts of the continent. We cannot use our great
Alaskan domain, ships will not ply thither, if those coasts and their
many hidden dangers are not thoroughly surveyed and charted. The work is
incomplete at almost every point. Ships and lives have been lost in
threading what were supposed to be well-known main channels. We have not
provided adequate vessels or adequate machinery for the survey and
charting. We have used old vessels that were not big enough or strong
enough and which were so nearly unseaworthy that our inspectors would
not have allowed private owners to send them to sea. This is a matter
which, as I have said, seems small, but is in reality very great. Its
importance has only to be looked into to be appreciated.

Before I close may I say a few words upon two topics, much discussed out
of doors, upon which it is highly important that our judgments should be
clear, definite, and steadfast?

One of these is economy in government expenditures. The duty of economy
is not debatable. It is manifest and imperative. In the appropriations
we pass we are spending the money of the great people whose servants we
are,--not our own. We are trustees and responsible stewards in the
spending. The only thing debatable and upon which we should be careful
to make our thought and purpose clear is the kind of economy demanded of
us. I assert with the greatest confidence that the people of the United
States are not jealous of the amount their Government costs if they are
sure that they get what they need and desire for the outlay, that the
money is being spent for objects of which they approve, and that it is
being applied with good business sense and management.

Governments grow, piecemeal, both in their tasks and in the means by
which those tasks are to be performed, and very few Governments are
organized, I venture to say, as wise and experienced business men would
organize them if they had a clean sheet of paper to write upon.
Certainly the Government of the United States is not. I think that it is
generally agreed that there should be a systematic reorganization and
reassembling of its parts so as to secure greater efficiency and effect
considerable savings in expense. But the amount of money saved in that
way would, I believe, though no doubt considerable in itself, running,
it may be, into the millions, be relatively small,--small, I mean, in
proportion to the total necessary outlays of the Government. It would be
thoroughly worth effecting, as every saving would, great or small. Our
duty is not altered by the scale of the saving. But my point is that the
people of the United States do not wish to curtail the activities of
this Government; they wish, rather, to enlarge them; and with every
enlargement, with the mere growth, indeed, of the country itself, there
must come, of course, the inevitable increase of expense. The sort of
economy we ought to practice may be effected, and ought to be effected,
by a careful study and assessment of the tasks to be performed; and the
money spent ought to be made to yield the best possible returns in
efficiency and achievement. And, like good stewards, we should so
account for every dollar of our appropriations as to make it perfectly
evident what it was spent for and in what way it was spent.

It is not expenditure but extravagance that we should fear being
criticized for; not paying for the legitimate enterprises and
undertakings of a great Government whose people command what it should
do, but adding what will benefit only a few or pouring money out for
what need not have been undertaken at all or might have been postponed
or better and more economically conceived and carried out. The Nation is
not niggardly; it is very generous. It will chide us only if we forget
for whom we pay money out and whose money it is we pay. These are large
and general standards, but they are not very difficult of application to
particular cases.

The other topic I shall take leave to mention goes deeper into the
principles of our national life and policy. It is the subject of
national defense.

It cannot be discussed without first answering some very searching
questions. It is said in some quarters that we are not prepared for war.
What is meant by being prepared? Is it meant that we are not ready upon
brief notice to put a nation in the field, a nation of men trained to
arms? Of course we are not ready to do that; and we shall never be in
time of peace so long as we retain our present political principles and
institutions. And what is it that it is suggested we should be prepared
to do? To defend ourselves against attack? We have always found means to
do that, and shall find them whenever it is necessary without calling
our people away from their necessary tasks to render compulsory military
service in times of peace.

Allow me to speak with great plainness and directness upon this great
matter and to avow my convictions with deep earnestness. I have tried to
know what America is, what her people think, what they are, what they
most cherish and hold dear. I hope that some of their finer passions are
in my own heart,--some of the great conceptions and desires which gave
birth to this Government and which have made the voice of this people a
voice of peace and hope and liberty among the peoples of the world, and
that, speaking my own thoughts, I shall, at least in part, speak theirs
also, however faintly and inadequately, upon this vital matter.

We are at peace with all the world. No one who speaks counsel based on
fact or drawn from a just and candid interpretation of realities can say
that there is reason to fear that from any quarter our independence or
the integrity of our territory is threatened. Dread of the power of any
other nation we are incapable of. We are not jealous of rivalry in the
fields of commerce or of any other peaceful achievement. We mean to live
our own lives as we will; but we mean also to let live. We are, indeed,
a true friend to all the nations of the world, because we threaten none,
covet the possessions of none, desire the overthrow of none. Our
friendship can be accepted and is accepted without reservation, because
it is offered in a spirit and for a purpose which no one need ever
question or suspect. Therein lies our greatness. We are the champions of
peace and of concord. And we should be very jealous of this distinction
which we have sought to earn. Just now we should be particularly jealous
of it, because it is our dearest present hope that this character and
reputation may presently, in God's providence, bring us an opportunity
such as has seldom been vouchsafed any nation, the opportunity to
counsel and obtain peace in the world and reconciliation and a healing
settlement of many a matter that has cooled and interrupted the
friendship of nations. This is the time above all others when we should
wish and resolve to keep our strength by self-possession, our influence
by preserving our ancient principles of action.

From the first we have had a clear and settled policy with regard to
military establishments. We never have had, and while we retain our
present principles and ideals we never shall have, a large standing
army. If asked, Are you ready to defend yourselves? we reply, Most
assuredly, to the utmost; and yet we shall not turn America into a
military camp. We will not ask our young men to spend the best years of
their lives making soldiers of themselves. There is another sort of
energy in us. It will know how to declare itself and make itself
effective should occasion arise. And especially when half the world is
on fire we shall be careful to make our moral insurance against the
spread of the conflagration very definite and certain and adequate

Let us remind ourselves, therefore, of the only thing we can do or will
do. We must depend in every time of national peril, in the future as in
the past, not upon a standing army, nor yet upon a reserve army, but
upon a citizenry trained and accustomed to arms. It will be right
enough, right American policy, based upon our accustomed principles and
practices, to provide a system by which every citizen who will volunteer
for the training may be made familiar with the use of modern arms, the
rudiments or drill and maneuver, and the maintenance and sanitation of
camps. We should encourage such training and make it a means of
discipline which our young men will learn to value. It is right that we
should provide it not only, but that we should make it as attractive as
possible, and so induce our young men to undergo it at such times as
they can command a little freedom and can seek the physical development
they need, for mere health's sake, if for nothing more. Every means by
which such things can be stimulated is legitimate, and such a method
smacks of true American ideas. It is right, too, that the National Guard
of the States should be developed and strengthened by every means which
is not inconsistent with our obligations to our own people or with the
established policy of our Government. And this, also, not because the
time or occasion specially calls for such measures, but because it
should be our constant policy to make these provisions for our national
peace and safety.

More than this carries with it a reversal of the whole history and
character of our polity. More than this, proposed at this time, permit
me to say, would mean merely that we had lost our self-possession, that
we had been thrown off our balance by a war with which we have nothing
to do, whose causes cannot touch us, whose very existence affords us
opportunities of friendship and disinterested service which should make
us ashamed of any thought of hostility or fearful preparation for
trouble. This is assuredly the opportunity for which a people and a
government like ours were raised up, the opportunity not only to speak
but actually to embody and exemplify the counsels of peace and amity and
the lasting concord which is based on justice and fair and generous

A powerful navy we have always regarded as our proper and natural means
of defense; and it has always been of defense that we have thought,
never of aggression or of conquest. But who shall tell us now what sort
of a navy to build? We shall take leave to be strong upon the seas, in
the future as in the past; and there will be no thought of offense or of
provocation in that. Our ships are our natural bulwarks. When will the
experts tell us just what kind we should construct--and when will they
be right for ten years together, if the relative efficiency of craft of
different kinds and uses continues to change as we have seen it change
under our very eyes in these last few months?

But I turn away from the subject. It is not new. There is no new need to
discuss it. We shall not alter our attitude toward it because some
amongst us are nervous and excited. We shall easily and sensibly agree
upon a policy of defense. The question has not changed its aspect
because the times are not normal. Our policy will not be for an
occasion. It will be conceived as a permanent and settled thing, which
we will pursue at all seasons, without haste and after a fashion
perfectly consistent with the peace of the world, the abiding friendship
of states, and the unhampered freedom of all with whom we deal. Let
there be no misconception. The country has been misinformed. We have not
been negligent of national defense. We are not unmindful of the great
responsibility resting upon us. We shall learn and profit by the lesson
of every experience and every new circumstance; and what is needed will
be adequately done.

I close, as I began, by reminding you of the great tasks and duties of
peace which challenge our best powers and invite us to build what will
last, the tasks to which we can address ourselves now and at all times
with free-hearted zest and with all the finest gifts of constructive
wisdom we possess. To develop our life and our resources; to supply our
own people, and the people of the world as their need arises, from the
abundant plenty of our fields and our marts of trade; to enrich the
commerce of our own States and of the world with the products of our
mines, our farms, and our factories, with the creations of our thought
and the fruits of our character,--this is what will hold our attention
and our enthusiasm steadily, now and in the years to come, as we strive
to show in our life as a nation what liberty and the inspirations of an
emancipated spirit may do for men and for societies, for individuals,
for states, and for mankind.


[Returning to the House of Representatives without approval an act to
regulate the immigration of aliens to and the residence of aliens in the
United States.]


It is with unaffected regret that I find myself constrained by clear
conviction to return this bill (H.R. 6060, "An act to regulate the
immigration of aliens to and the residence of aliens in the United
States") without my signature. Not only do I feel it to be a very
serious matter to exercise the power of veto in any case, because it
involves opposing the single judgment of the President to the judgment
of a majority of both the Houses of the Congress, a step which no man
who realizes his own liability to error can take without great
hesitation, but also because this particular bill is in so many
important respects admirable, well conceived, and desirable. Its
enactment into law would undoubtedly enhance the efficiency and improve
the methods of handling the important branch of the public service to
which it relates. But candor and a sense of duty with regard to the
responsibility so clearly imposed upon me by the Constitution in matters
of legislation leave me no choice but to dissent.

In two particulars of vital consequence this bill embodies a radical
departure from the traditional and long-established policy of this
country, a policy in which our people have conceived the very character
of their Government to be expressed, the very mission and spirit of the
Nation in respect of its relations to the peoples of the world outside
their borders. It seeks to all but close entirely the gates of asylum
which have always been open to those who could find nowhere else the
right and opportunity of constitutional agitation for what they
conceived to be the natural and inalienable rights of men; and it
excludes those to whom the opportunities of elementary education have
been denied, without regard to their character, their purposes, or their
natural capacity.

Restrictions like these, adopted earlier in our history as a Nation,
would very materially have altered the course and cooled the humane
ardors of our politics. The right of political asylum has brought to
this country many a man of noble character and elevated purpose who was
marked as an outlaw in his own less fortunate land, and who has yet
become an ornament to our citizenship and to our public councils. The
children and the compatriots of these illustrious Americans must stand
amazed to see the representatives of their Nation now resolved, in the
fullness of our national strength and at the maturity of our great
institutions, to risk turning such men back from our shores without test
of quality or purpose. It is difficult for me to believe that the full
effect of this feature of the bill was realized when it was framed and
adopted, and it is impossible for me to assent to it in the form in
which it is here cast.

The literacy test and the tests and restrictions which accompany it
constitute an even more radical change in the policy of the Nation.
Hitherto we have generously kept our doors open to all who were not
unfitted by reason of disease or incapacity for self-support or such
personal records and antecedents as were likely to make them a menace to
our peace and order or to the wholesome and essential relationships of
life. In this bill it is proposed to turn away from tests of character
and of quality and impose tests which exclude and restrict; for the new
tests here embodied are not tests of quality or of character or of
personal fitness, but tests of opportunity. Those who come seeking
opportunity are not to be admitted unless they have already had one of
the chief of the opportunities they seek, the opportunity of education.
The object of such provisions is restriction, not selection.

If the people of this country have made up their minds to limit the
number of immigrants by arbitrary tests and so reverse the policy of all
the generations of Americans that have gone before them, it is their
right to do so. I am their servant and have no license to stand in their
way. But I do not believe that they have. I respectfully submit that no
one can quote their mandate to that effect. Has any political party ever
avowed a policy of restriction in this fundamental matter, gone to the
country on it, and been commissioned to control its legislation? Does
this bill rest upon the conscious and universal assent and desire of the
American people? I doubt it. It is because I doubt it that I make bold
to dissent from it. I am willing to abide by the verdict, but not until
it has been rendered. Let the platforms of parties speak out upon this
policy and the people pronounce their wish. The matter is too
fundamental to be settled otherwise.

I have no pride of opinion in this question. I am not foolish enough to
profess to know the wishes and ideals of America better than the body of
her chosen representatives know them. I only want instruction direct
from those whose fortunes, with ours and all men's, are involved.


THE WHITE HOUSE, _28 January, 1915_.


[Delivered in Washington, February 3, 1915.]


I feel that it is hardly fair to you for me to come in in this casual
fashion among a body of men who have been seriously discussing great
questions, and it is hardly fair to me, because I come in cold, not
having had the advantage of sharing the atmosphere of your deliberations
and catching the feeling of your conference. Moreover, I hardly know
just how to express my interest in the things you are undertaking. When
a man stands outside an organization and speaks to it he is too apt to
have the tone of outside commendation, as who should say, "I would
desire to pat you on the back and say 'Good boys; you are doing well!'"
I would a great deal rather have you receive me as if for the time being
I were one of your own number.

Because the longer I occupy the office that I now occupy the more I
regret any lines of separation; the more I deplore any feeling that one
set of men has one set of interests and another set of men another set
of interests; the more I feel the solidarity of the Nation--the
impossibility of separating one interest from another without
misconceiving it; the necessity that we should all understand one
another, in order that we may understand ourselves.

There is an illustration which I have used a great many times. I will
use it again, because it is the most serviceable to my own mind. We
often speak of a man who cannot find his way in some jungle or some
desert as having "lost himself." Did you never reflect that that is the
only thing he has not lost? _He_ is _there_. He has lost the rest of the
world. He has no fixed point by which to steer. He does not know which
is north, which is south, which is east, which is west; and if he did
know, he is so confused that he would not know in which of those
directions his goal lay. Therefore, following his heart, he walks in a
great circle from right to left and comes back to where he started--to
himself again. To my mind that is a picture of the world. If you have
lost sight of other interests and do not know the relation of your own
interests to those other interests, then you do not understand your own
interests, and have lost yourself. What you want is orientation,
relationship to the points of the compass; relationship to the other
people in the world; vital connections which you have for the time being

I am particularly glad to express my admiration for the kind of
organization which you have drawn together. I have attended banquets of
chambers of commerce in various parts of the country and have got the
impression at each of those banquets that there was only one city in the
country. It has seemed to me that those associations were meant in order
to destroy men's perspective, in order to destroy their sense of
relative proportions. Worst of all, if I may be permitted to say so,
they were intended to boost something in particular. Boosting is a very
unhandsome thing. Advancing enterprise is a very handsome thing, but to
exaggerate local merits in order to create disproportion in the general
development is not a particularly handsome thing or a particularly
intelligent thing. A city cannot grow on the face of a great state like
a mushroom on that one spot. Its roots are throughout the state, and
unless the state it is in, or the region it draws from, can itself
thrive and pulse with life as a whole, the city can have no healthy
growth. You forget the wide rootages of everything when you boost some
particular region. There are dangers which probably you all understand
in the mere practice of advertisement. When a man begins to advertise
himself there are certain points that are somewhat exaggerated, and I
have noticed that men who exaggerate most, most quickly lose any proper
conception of what their own proportions are. Therefore, these local
centers of enthusiasm may be local centers of mistake if they are not
very wisely guided and if they do not themselves realize their relations
to the other centers of enthusiasm and of advancement.

The advantage about a Chamber of Commerce of the United States is that
there is only one way to boost the United States, and that is by seeing
to it that the conditions under which business is done throughout the
whole country are the best possible conditions. There cannot be any
disproportion about that. If you draw your sap and your vitality from
all quarters, then the more sap and vitality there is in you the more
there is in the commonwealth as a whole, and every time you lift at all
you lift the whole level of manufacturing and mercantile enterprise.
Moreover, the advantage of it is that you cannot boost the United States
in that way without understanding the United States. You learn a great
deal. I agreed with a colleague of mine in the Cabinet the other day
that we had never attended in our lives before a school to compare with
that we were now attending for the purpose of gaining a liberal

Of course, I learn a great many things that are not so, but the
interesting thing about that is this: Things that are not so do not
match. If you hear enough of them, you see there is no pattern whatever;
it is a crazy quilt. Whereas, the truth always matches, piece by piece,
with other parts of the truth. No man can lie consistently, and he
cannot lie about everything if he talks to you long. I would guarantee
that if enough liars talked to you, you would get the truth; because the
parts that they did not invent would match one another, and the parts
that they did invent would _not_ match one another. Talk long enough,
therefore, and see the connections clearly enough, and you can patch
together the case as a whole. I had somewhat that experience about
Mexico, and that was about the only way in which I learned anything that
was true about it. For there had been vivid imaginations and many
special interests which depicted things as they wished me to believe
them to be.

Seriously, the task of this body is to match all the facts of business
throughout the country and to see the vast and consistent pattern of it.
That is the reason I think you are to be congratulated upon the fact
that you cannot do this thing without common counsel. There isn't any
man who knows enough to comprehend the United States. It is coöperative
effort, necessarily. You cannot perform the functions of this Chamber of
Commerce without drawing in not only a vast number of men, but men, and
a number of men, from every region and section of the country. The
minute this association falls into the hands, if it ever should, of men
from a single section or men with a single set of interests most at
heart, it will go to seed and die. Its strength must come from the
uttermost parts of the land and must be compounded of brains and
comprehensions of every sort. It is a very noble and handsome picture
for the imagination, and I have asked myself before I came here to-day,
what relation you could bear to the Government of the United States and
what relation the Government could bear to you?

There are two aspects and activities of the Government with which you
will naturally come into most direct contact. The first is the
Government's power of inquiry, systematic and disinterested inquiry, and
its power of scientific assistance. You get an illustration of the
latter, for example, in the Department of Agriculture. Has it occurred
to you, I wonder, that we are just upon the eve of a time when our
Department of Agriculture will be of infinite importance to the whole
world? There is a shortage of food in the world now. That shortage will
be much more serious a few months from now than it is now. It is
necessary that we should plant a great deal more; it is necessary that
our lands should yield more per acre than they do now; it is necessary
that there should not be a plow or a spade idle in this country if the
world is to be fed. And the methods of our farmers must feed upon the
scientific information to be derived from the State departments of
agriculture, and from that taproot of all, the United States Department
of Agriculture. The object and use of that department is to inform men
of the latest developments and disclosures of science with regard to all
the processes by which soils can be put to their proper use and their
fertility made the greatest possible. Similarly with the Bureau of
Standards. It is ready to supply those things by which you can set
norms, you can set bases, for all the scientific processes of business.

I have a great admiration for the scientific parts of the Government of
the United States, and it has amazed me that so few men have discovered
them. Here in these departments are quiet men, trained to the highest
degree of skill, serving for a petty remuneration along lines that are
infinitely useful to mankind; and yet in some cases they waited to be
discovered until this Chamber of Commerce of the United States was
established. Coming to this city, officers of that association found
that there were here things that were infinitely useful to them and with
which the whole United States ought to be put into communication.

The Government of the United States is very properly a great
instrumentality of inquiry and information. One thing we are just
beginning to do that we ought to have done long ago: We ought long ago
to have had our Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. We ought long
ago to have sent the best eyes of the Government out into the world to
see where the opportunities and openings of American commerce and
American genius were to be found--men who were not sent out as the
commercial agents of any particular set of business men in the United
States, but who were eyes for the whole business community. I have been
reading consular reports for twenty years. In what I came to regard as
an evil day the Congressman from my district began to send me the
consular reports, and they ate up more and more of my time. They are
very interesting, but they are a good deal like what the old lady said
of the dictionary, that it was very interesting but a little
disconnected. You get a picture of the world as if a spotlight were
being dotted about over the surface of it. Here you see a glimpse of
this, and here you see a glimpse of that, and through the medium of some
consuls you do not see anything at all. Because the consul has to have
eyes and the consul has to know what he is looking for. A literary
friend of mine said that he used to believe in the maxim that
"everything comes to the man who waits," but he discovered after awhile
by practical experience that it needed an additional clause, "provided
he knows what he is waiting for." Unless you know what you are looking
for and have trained eyes to see it when it comes your way, it may pass
you unnoticed. We are just beginning to do, systematically and
scientifically, what we ought long ago to have done, to employ the
Government of the United States to survey the world in order that
American commerce might be guided.

But there are other ways of using the Government of the United States,
ways that have long been tried, though not always with conspicuous
success or fortunate results. You can use the Government of the United
States by influencing its legislation. That has been a very active
industry, but it has not always been managed in the interest of the
whole people. It is very instructive and useful for the Government of
the United States to have such means as you are ready to supply for
getting a sort of consensus of opinion which proceeds from no particular
quarter and originates with no particular interest. Information is the
very foundation of all right action in legislation.

I remember once, a good many years ago, I was attending one of the local
chambers of commerce of the United States at a time when everybody was
complaining that Congress was interfering with business. If you have
heard that complaint recently and supposed that it was original with the
men who made it, you have not lived as long as I have. It has been going
on ever since I can remember. The complaint came most vigorously from
men who were interested in large corporate development. I took the
liberty to say to that body of men, whom I did not know, that I took it
for granted that there were a great many lawyers among them, and that it
was likely that the more prominent of those lawyers were the intimate
advisors of the corporations of that region. I said that I had met a
great many lawyers from whom the complaint had come most vigorously, not
only that there was too much legislation with regard to corporations,
but that it was ignorant legislation. I said, "Now, the responsibility
is with you. If the legislation is mistaken, you are on the inside and
know where the mistakes are being made. You know not only the innocent
and right things that your corporations are doing, but you know the
other things, too. Knowing how they are done, you can be expert advisors
as to how the wrong things can be prevented. If, therefore, this thing
is handled ignorantly, there is nobody to blame but yourselves." If we
on the outside cannot understand the thing and cannot get advice from
the inside, then we will have to do it with the flat hand and not with
the touch of skill and discrimination. Isn't that true? Men on the
inside of business know how business is conducted and they cannot
complain if men on the outside make mistakes about business if they do
not come from the inside and give the kind of advice which is necessary.

The trouble has been that when they came in the past--for I think the
thing is changing very rapidly--they came with all their bristles out;
they came on the defensive; they came to see, not what they could
accomplish, but what they could prevent. They did not come to guide;
they came to block. That is of no use whatever to the general body
politic. What has got to pervade us like a great motive power is that we
cannot, and must not, separate our interests from one another, but must
pool our interests. A man who is trying to fight for his single hand is
fighting against the community and not fighting with it. There are a
great many dreadful things about war, as nobody needs to be told in this
day of distress and of terror, but there is one thing about war which
has a very splendid side, and that is the consciousness that a whole
nation gets that they must all act as a unit for a common end. And when
peace is as handsome as war there will be no war. When men, I mean,
engage in the pursuits of peace in the same spirit of self-sacrifice and
of conscious service of the community with which, at any rate, the
common soldier engages in war, then shall there be wars no more. You
have moved the vanguard for the United States in the purposes of this
association just a little nearer that ideal. That is the reason I am
here, because I believe it.

There is a specific matter about which I, for one, want your advice. Let
me say, if I may say it without disrespect, that I do not think you are
prepared to give it right away. You will have to make some rather
extended inquiries before you are ready to give it. What I am thinking
of is competition in foreign markets as between the merchants of
different nations.

I speak of the subject with a certain degree of hesitation, because the
thing farthest from my thought is taking advantage of nations now
disabled from playing their full part in that competition, and seeking a
sudden selfish advantage because they are for the time being disabled.
Pray believe me that we ought to eliminate all that thought from our
minds and consider this matter as if we and the other nations now at war
were in the normal circumstances of commerce.

There is a normal circumstance of commerce in which we are apparently at
a disadvantage. Our anti-trust laws are thought by some to make it
illegal for merchants in the United States to form combinations for the
purpose of strengthening themselves in taking advantage of the
opportunities of foreign trade. That is a very serious matter for this
reason: There are some corporations, and some firms for all I know,
whose business is great enough and whose resources are abundant enough
to enable them to establish selling agencies in foreign countries; to
enable them to extend the long credits which in some cases are necessary
in order to keep the trade they desire; to enable them, in other words,
to organize their business in foreign territory in a way which the
smaller man cannot afford to do. His business has not grown big enough
to permit him to establish selling agencies. The export commission
merchant, perhaps, taxes him a little too highly to make that an
available competitive means of conducting and extending his business.

The question arises, therefore, how are the smaller merchants, how are
the younger and weaker corporations going to get a foothold as against
the combinations which are permitted and even encouraged by foreign
governments in this field of competition? There are governments which,
as you know, distinctly encourage the formation of great combinations in
each particular field of commerce in order to maintain selling agencies
and to extend long credits, and to use and maintain the machinery which
is necessary for the extension of business; and American merchants feel
that they are at a very considerable disadvantage in contending against
that. The matter has been many times brought to my attention, and I have
each time suspended judgment. I want to be shown this: I want to be
shown how such a combination can be made and conducted in a way which
will not close it against the use of everybody who wants to use it. A
combination has a tendency to exclude new members. When a group of men
get control of a good thing, they do not see any particular point in
letting other people into the good thing. What I would like very much to
be shown, therefore, is a method of coöperation which is not a method of
combination. Not that the two words are mutually exclusive, but we have
come to have a special meaning attached to the word "combination." Most
of our combinations have a safety lock, and you have to know the
combination to get in. I want to know how these coöperative methods can
be adopted for the benefit of everybody who wants to use them, and I say
frankly if I can be shown that, I am for them. If I cannot be shown
that, I am against them. I hasten to add that I hopefully expect I _can_
be shown that.

You, as I have just now intimated, probably cannot show it to me
offhand, but by the methods which you have the means of using you
certainly ought to be able to throw a vast deal of light on the subject.
Because the minute you ask the small merchant, the small banker, the
country man, how he looks upon these things and how he thinks they ought
to be arranged in order that he can use them, if he is like some of the
men in country districts whom I know, he will turn out to have had a
good deal of thought upon that subject and to be able to make some very
interesting suggestions whose intelligence and comprehensiveness will
surprise some city gentlemen who think that only the cities understand
the business of the country. As a matter of fact, you do not have time
to think in a city. It takes time to think. You can get what you call
opinions by contagion in a city and get them very quickly, but you do
not always know where the germ came from. And you have no scientific
laboratory method by which to determine whether it is a good germ or a
bad germ.

There are thinking spaces in this country, and some of the thinking done
is very solid thinking indeed, the thinking of the sort of men that we
all love best, who think for themselves, who do not see things as they
are told to see them, but look at them and see them independently; who,
if they are told they are white when they are black, plainly say that
they are black--men with eyes and with a courage back of those eyes to
tell what they see. The country is full of those men. They have been
singularly reticent sometimes, singularly silent, but the country is
full of them. And what I rejoice in is that you have called them into
the ranks. For your methods are bound to be democratic in spite of you.
I do not mean democratic with a big "D," though I have a private
conviction that you cannot be democratic with a small "d" long without
becoming democratic with a big "D." Still that is just between
ourselves. The point is that when we have a _consensus_ of opinion, when
we have this common counsel, then the legislative processes of this
Government will be infinitely illuminated.

I used to wonder when I was Governor of one of the States of this great
country where all the bills came from. Some of them had a very private
complexion. I found upon inquiry--it was easy to find--that practically
nine-tenths of the bills that were introduced had been handed to the
members who introduced them by some constituent of theirs, had been
drawn up by some lawyer whom they might or might not know, and were
intended to do something that would be beneficial to a particular set of
persons. I do not mean, necessarily, beneficial in a way that would be
hurtful to the rest; they may have been perfectly honest, but they came
out of cubby-holes all over the State. They did not come out of public
places where men had got together and compared views. They were not the
products of common counsel, but the products of private counsel, a very
necessary process if there is no other, but a process which it would be
a very happy thing to dispense with if we could get another. And the
only other process is the process of common counsel.

Some of the happiest experiences of my life have been like this. We had
once when I was president of a university to revise the whole course of
study.[G] Courses of study are chronically in need of revision. A
committee of, I believe, fourteen men was directed by the faculty of the
university to report a revised curriculum. Naturally, the men who had
the most ideas on the subject were picked out and, naturally, each man
came with a very definite notion of the kind of revision he wanted, and
one of the first discoveries we made was that no two of us wanted
exactly the same revision. I went in there with all my war paint on to
get the revision I wanted, and I dare say, though it was perhaps more
skillfully concealed, the other men had their war paint on, too. We
discussed the matter for six months. The result was a report which no
one of us had conceived or foreseen, but with which we were all
absolutely satisfied. There was not a man who had not learned in that
committee more than he had ever known before about the subject, and who
had not willingly revised his prepossessions; who was not proud to be a
participant in a genuine piece of common counsel. I have had several
experiences of that sort, and it has led me, whenever I confer, to hold
my particular opinion provisionally, as my contribution to go into the
final result but not to dominate the final result.

That is the ideal of a government like ours, and an interesting thing is
that if you only talk about an idea that will not work long enough,
everybody will see perfectly plainly that it will not work; whereas, if
you do not talk about it, and do not have a great many people talk about
it, you are in danger of having the people who handle it think that it
will work. Many minds are necessary to compound a workable method of
life in a various and populous country; and as I think about the whole
thing and picture the purposes, the infinitely difficult and complex
purposes which we must conceive and carry out, not only does it
minister to my own modesty, I hope, of opinion, but it also fills me
with a very great enthusiasm. It is a splendid thing to be part of a
great wide-awake Nation. It is a splendid thing to know that your own
strength is infinitely multiplied by the strength of other men who love
the country as you do. It is a splendid thing to feel that the wholesome
blood of a great country can be united in common purposes, and that by
frankly looking one another in the face and taking counsel with one
another, prejudices will drop away, handsome understandings will arise,
a universal spirit of service will be engendered, and that with this
increased sense of community of purpose will come a vastly enhanced
individual power of achievement; for we will be lifted by the whole mass
of which we constitute a part.

Have you never heard a great chorus of trained voices lift the voice of
the prima donna as if it soared with easy grace above the whole
melodious sound? It does not seem to come from the single throat that
produces it. It seems as if it were the perfect accent and crown of the
great chorus. So it ought to be with the statesman. So it ought to be
with every man who tries to guide the counsels of a great nation. He
should feel that his voice is lifted upon the chorus and that it is only
the crown of the common theme.

[G] This was at Princeton, in 1902 and 1903.


[Address delivered at Convention Hall, Philadelphia, May 10, 1915. The
audience included four thousand newly naturalized citizens. This speech
attracted great attention because in it no reference was made to the
sinking of the "Lusitania," three days before.]


It warms my heart that you should give me such a reception; but it is
not of myself that I wish to think to-night, but of those who have just
become citizens of the United States.

This is the only country in the world which experiences this constant
and repeated rebirth. Other countries depend upon the multiplication of
their own native people. This country is constantly drinking strength
out of new sources by the voluntary association with it of great bodies
of strong men and forward-looking women out of other lands. And so by
the gift of the free will of independent people it is being constantly
renewed from generation to generation by the same process by which it
was originally created. It is as if humanity had determined to see to it
that this great Nation, founded for the benefit of humanity, should not
lack for the allegiance of the people of the world.

You have just taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Of
allegiance to whom? Of allegiance to no one, unless it be God--certainly
not of allegiance to those who temporarily represent this great
Government. You have taken an oath of allegiance to a great ideal, to a
great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race. You have
said, "We are going to America not only to earn a living, not only to
seek the things which it was more difficult to obtain where we were
born, but to help forward the great enterprises of the human spirit--to
let men know that everywhere in the world there are men who will cross
strange oceans and go where a speech is spoken which is alien to them if
they can but satisfy their quest for what their spirits crave; knowing
that whatever the speech there is but one longing and utterance of the
human heart, and that is for liberty and justice." And while you bring
all countries with you, you come with a purpose of leaving all other
countries behind you--bringing what is best of their spirit, but not
looking over your shoulders and seeking to perpetuate what you intended
to leave behind in them. I certainly would not be one even to suggest
that a man cease to love the home of his birth and the nation of his
origin--these things are very sacred and ought not to be put out of our
hearts--but it is one thing to love the place where you were born and it
is another thing to dedicate yourself to the place to which you go. You
cannot dedicate yourself to America unless you become in every respect
and with every purpose of your will thorough Americans. You cannot
become thorough Americans if you think of yourselves in groups. America
does not consist of groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to
a particular national group in America has not yet become an American,
and the man who goes among you to trade upon your nationality is no
worthy son to live under the Stars and Stripes.

My urgent advice to you would be, not only always to think first of
America, but always, also, to think first of humanity. You do not love
humanity if you seek to divide humanity into jealous camps. Humanity can
be welded together only by love, by sympathy, by justice, not by
jealousy and hatred. I am sorry for the man who seeks to make personal
capital out of the passions of his fellow-men. He has lost the touch
and ideal of America, for America was created to unite mankind by those
passions which lift and not by the passions which separate and debase.
We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors,
to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had
seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of
the things that unite. It was but an historical accident no doubt that
this great country was called the "United States"; yet I am very
thankful that it has that word "United" in its title, and the man who
seeks to divide man from man, group from group, interest from interest
in this great Union is striking at its very heart.

It is a very interesting circumstance to me, in thinking of those of you
who have just sworn allegiance to this great Government, that you were
drawn across the ocean by some beckoning finger of hope, by some belief,
by some vision of a new kind of justice, by some expectation of a better
kind of life. No doubt you have been disappointed in some of us. Some of
us are very disappointing. No doubt you have found that justice in the
United States goes only with a pure heart and a right purpose as it does
everywhere else in the world. No doubt what you found here did not seem
touched for you, after all, with the complete beauty of the ideal which
you had conceived beforehand. But remember this: If we had grown at all
poor in the ideal, you brought some of it with you. A man does not go
out to seek the thing that is not in him. A man does not hope for the
thing that he does not believe in, and if some of us have forgotten what
America believed in, you, at any rate, imported in your own hearts a
renewal of the belief. That is the reason that I, for one, make you
welcome. If I have in any degree forgotten what America was intended
for, I will thank God if you will remind me. I was born in America. You
dreamed dreams of what America was to be, and I hope you brought the
dreams with you. No man that does not see visions will ever realize any
high hope or undertake any high enterprise. Just because you brought
dreams with you, America is more likely to realize dreams such as you
brought. You are enriching us if you came expecting us to be better than
we are.

See, my friends, what that means. It means that Americans must have a
consciousness different from the consciousness of every other nation in
the world. I am not saying this with even the slightest thought of
criticism of other nations. You know how it is with a family. A family
gets centered on itself if it is not careful and is less interested in
the neighbors than it is in its own members. So a nation that is not
constantly renewed out of new sources is apt to have the narrowness and
prejudice of a family; whereas, America must have this consciousness,
that on all sides it touches elbows and touches hearts with all the
nations of mankind. The example of America must be a special example.
The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because
it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and
elevating influence of the world and strife is not. There is such a
thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a
nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force
that it is right.

You have come into this great Nation voluntarily seeking something that
we have to give, and all that we have to give is this: We cannot exempt
you from work. No man is exempt from work anywhere in the world. We
cannot exempt you from the strife and the heartbreaking burden of the
struggle of the day--that is common to mankind everywhere; we cannot
exempt you from the loads that you must carry. We can only make them
light by the spirit in which they are carried. That is the spirit of
hope, it is the spirit of liberty, it is the spirit of justice.

When I was asked, therefore, by the Mayor and the committee that
accompanied him to come up from Washington to meet this great company of
newly admitted citizens, I could not decline the invitation. I ought not
to be away from Washington, and yet I feel that it has renewed my spirit
as an American to be here. In Washington men tell you so many things
every day that are not so, and I like to come and stand in the presence
of a great body of my fellow-citizens, whether they have been
fellow-citizens a long time or a short time, and drink, as it were, out
of the common fountains with them and go back feeling what you have so
generously given me--the sense of your support and of the living
vitality in your hearts of the great ideals which have made America the
hope of the world.


[Between January 27 and February 3, 1916, President Wilson made a series
of speeches in New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Chicago, Des
Moines, Topeka, Kansas City, and St. Louis. The address made at
Milwaukee, on January 31, has been chosen as representing the general
tenor and spirit of the whole series.]


I need not inquire whether the citizens of Milwaukee and Wisconsin are
interested in the subject of my errand. The presence of this great body
in this vast hall sufficiently attests your interest, but I want at the
outset to remove a misapprehension that I fear may exist in your mind.
There is no sudden crisis; nothing new has happened; I am not out upon
this errand because of any unexpected situation. I have come to confer
with you upon a matter upon which it would, in any circumstances, be
necessary for us to confer when all the rest of the world is on fire and
our own house is not fireproof. Everywhere the atmosphere of the world
is thrilling with the passion of a disturbance such as the world has
never seen before, and it is wise, in the words just uttered by your
chairman, that we should see that our own house is set in order and that
everything is done to make certain that we shall not suffer by the
general conflagration.

There were some dangers to which this Nation seemed at the outset of the
war to be exposed, which, I think I can say with confidence, are now
passed and overcome. America has drawn her blood and her strength out of
almost all the nations of the world. It is true of a great many of us
that there lies deep in our hearts the recollection of an origin which
is not American. We are aware that our roots, our traditions, run back
into other national soils. There are songs that stir us; there are some
far-away historical recollections which engage our affections and stir
our memories. We cannot forget our forbears; we cannot altogether ignore
the fact of our essential blood relationship; and at the outset of this
war it did look as if there were a division of domestic sentiment which
might lead us to some errors of judgment and some errors of action; but
I, for one, believe that that danger is passed. I never doubted that the
danger was exaggerated, because I had learned long ago, and many of you
will corroborate me by your experience, that it is not the men who are
doing the talking always who represent the real sentiments of the
Nation. I for my part always feel a serene confidence in waiting for the
declaration of the principles and sentiments of the men who are not
vociferous, do not go about seeking to make trouble, do their own
thinking, attend to their own business, and love their own country.

I have at no time supposed that the men whose voices seemed to contain
the threat of division amongst us were really uttering the sentiments
even of those whom they pretended to represent. I for my part have no
jealousy of family sentiment. I have no jealousy of that deep affection
which runs back through long lineage. It would be a pity if we forget
the fine things that our ancestors have done. But I also know the magic
of America; I also know the great principles which thrill men in the
singular body politic to which we belong in the United States. I know
the impulses which have drawn men to our shores. They have not come
idly; they have not come without conscious purpose to be free; they have
not come without voluntary desire to unite themselves with the great
nation on this side of the sea; and I know that whenever the test comes
every man's heart will be first for America. It was principle and
affection and ambition and hope that drew men to these shores, and they
are not going to forget the errand upon which they came and allow
America, the home of their refuge and hope, to suffer by any
forgetfulness on their part. And so the trouble makers have shot their
bolt, and it has been ineffectual. Some of them have been vociferous;
all of them have been exceedingly irresponsible. Talk was cheap, and
that was all it cost them. They did not have to do anything. But you
will know without my telling you that the man whom for the time being
you have charged with the duties of President of the United States must
talk with a deep sense of responsibility, and he must remember, above
all things else, the fine traditions of his office which some men seem
to have forgotten. There is no precedent in American history for any
action of aggression on the part of the United States or for any action
which might mean that America is seeking to connect herself with the
controversies on the other side of the water. Men who seek to provoke us
to such action have forgotten the traditions of the United States, but
it behooves those with whom you have entrusted office to remember the
traditions of the United States and to see to it that the actions of the
Government are made to square with those traditions.

But there are other dangers, my fellow-citizens, which are not past and
which have not been overcome, and they are dangers which we cannot
control. We can control irresponsible talkers amidst ourselves. All we
have got to do is to encourage them to hire a hall and their folly will
be abundantly advertised by themselves. But we cannot in this simple
fashion control the dangers that surround us now and have surrounded us
since this titanic struggle on the other side of the water began. I say
on the other side of the water; you will ask me, "On the other side of
which water," for this great struggle has extended to all quarters of
the globe. There is no continent outside, I was about to say, of this
Western Hemisphere which is not touched with it, but I recollected as I
began the sentence that a part of our own continent was touched with it,
because it involves our neighbors to the north in Canada. There is no
part of the world, except South America, to which the direct influences
of this struggle have not extended, so that now we are completely
surrounded by this tremendous disturbance and you must realize what that

Our thoughts are concentrated upon our own affairs and our own relations
to the rest of the world, but the thoughts of the men who are engaged in
this struggle are concentrated upon the struggle itself, and there is
daily and hourly danger that they will feel themselves constrained to do
things which are absolutely inconsistent with the rights of the United
States. They are not thinking of us. I am not criticising them for not
thinking of us. I dare say if I were in their place neither would I
think of us. They believe that they are struggling for the lives and
honor of their nations, and that if the United States puts its interests
in the path of this great struggle, she ought to know beforehand that
there is danger of very serious misunderstanding and difficulty. So that
the very uncalculating, unpremeditated, one might almost say accidental,
course of affairs may touch us to the quick at any moment, and I want
you to realize that, standing in the midst of these difficulties, I feel
that I am charged with a double duty of the utmost difficulty. In the
first place, I know that you are depending upon me to keep this Nation
out of the war. So far I have done so, and I pledge you my word that,
God helping me, I will if it is possible. But you have laid another duty
upon me. You have bidden me to see it that nothing stains or impairs
the honor of the United States, and that is a matter not within my
control; that depends upon what others do, not upon what the Government
of the United States does. Therefore there may at any moment come a time
when I cannot preserve both the honor and the peace of the United
States. Do not exact of me an impossible and contradictory thing, but
stand ready and insistent that everybody who represents you should stand
ready to provide the necessary means for maintaining the honor of the
United States.

I sometimes think that it is true that no people ever went to war with
another people. Governments have gone to war with one another. Peoples,
so far as I remember, have not, and this is a government of the people,
and this people is not going to choose war. But we are not dealing with
people; we are dealing with Governments. We are dealing with Governments
now engaged in a great struggle, and therefore we do not know what a day
or an hour will bring forth. All that we know is the character of our
own duty. We do not want the question of peace and war, or the conduct
of war, entrusted too entirely to our Government. We want war, if it
must come, to be something that springs out of the sentiments and
principles and actions of the people themselves; and it is on that
account that I am counseling the Congress of the United States not to
take the advice of those who recommend that we should have, and have
very soon, a great standing Army, but, on the contrary, to see to it
that the citizens of this country are so trained and that the military
equipment is so sufficiently provided for them that when they choose
they can take up arms and defend themselves.

The Constitution of the United States makes the President the Commander
in Chief of the Army and Navy of the Nation, but I do not want a big
Army subject to my personal command. If danger comes, I want to turn to
you and the rest of my fellow-countrymen and say, "Men, are you ready?"
and I know what the response will be. I know that there will spring up
out of the body of the Nation a great host of free men, and I want those
men not to be mere targets for shot and shell. I want them to know
something of the arms they have in their hands. I want them to know
something about how to guard against the diseases that creep into camps,
where men are unaccustomed to live. I want them to know something of
what the orders mean that they will be under when they enlist under arms
for the Government of the United States. I want them to be men who can
comprehend and easily and intelligently step into the duty of national
defense. That is the reason that I am urging upon the Congress of the
United States at any rate the beginnings of a system by which we may
give a very considerable body of our fellow-citizens the necessary

I have not forgotten the great National Guard of this country, but in
this country of 100,000,000 people there are only 129,000 men in the
National Guard; and the National Guard, fine as it is, is not subject to
the orders of the President of the United States. It is subject to the
orders of the Governors of the several States, and the Constitution
itself says that the President has no right to withdraw them from their
States even, except in the case of actual invasion of the soil of the
United States. I want the Congress of the United States to do a great
deal for the National Guard, but I do not see how the Congress of the
United States can put the National Guard at the disposal of the national
authorities. Therefore it seems to me absolutely necessary that in
addition to the National Guard there should be a considerable body of
men with some training in the military art who will have pledged
themselves to come at the call of the Nation.

I have been told by those who have a greater knack at guessing
statistics than I have that there are probably several million men in
the United States who, either in this country or in other countries from
which they have come to the United States, have received training in
arms. It may be; I do not know, and I suspect that they do not either,
but even if it be true, these men are not subject to the call of the
Federal Government. They would have to be found; they would have to be
induced to enlist; they would have to be organized; their numbers are
indefinite; and they would have to be equipped. Such are not the
materials which we need. We want to know who these men are and where
they are and to have everything ready for them if they should come to
our assistance. For we have now got down, not to the sentiment of
national defense, but to the business of national defense. It is a
business proposition and it must be treated as such. And there are
abundant precedents for the proposals which have been made to the
Congress. Even that arch-Democrat, Thomas Jefferson, believed that there
ought to be compulsory military training for the adult men of the
Nation, because he believed, as every true believer in democracy
believes, that it is upon the voluntary action of the men of a great
Nation like this that it must depend for its military force.

There is another misapprehension that I want to remove from your minds:
Do not think that I have come to talk to you about these things because
I doubt whether they are going to be done or not. I do not doubt it for
a moment, but I believe that when great things of this sort are going to
be done the people of this country are entitled to know just what is
being proposed. As a friend of mine says, I am not arguing with you; I
am telling you. I am not trying to convert you to anything, because I
know that in your hearts you are converted already, but I want you to
know the motives of what is proposed and the character of what is
proposed, in order that we should have only one attitude and counsel
with regard to this great matter.

It is being very sedulously spread abroad in this country that the
impulse back of all this is the desire of men who make the materials of
warfare to get money out of the Treasury of the United States. I wish
the people that say that could see meetings like this. Did you come here
for that purpose? Did you come here because you are interested to see
some of your fellow-citizens make money out of the present situation? Of
course you did not. I am ready to admit that probably the equipment of
those men whom we are training will have to be bought from somebody, and
I know that if the equipment is bought, it will have to be paid for; and
I dare say somebody will make some money out of it. It is also true,
ladies and gentlemen, that there are men now, a great many men, in the
belligerent countries who are growing rich out of the sale of the
materials needed by the armies of those countries. If the Government
itself does not manufacture everything that an army needs, somebody has
got to make money out of it, and I for my part have been urging the
Congress of the United States to make the necessary preparations by
which the Government can manufacture armor plate and munitions, so that,
being in the business itself and having the ability to manufacture all
it needs, if it is put upon a business basis, it can at any rate keep
the price that it pays within moderate and reasonable limits. The
Government of the United States is not going to be imposed upon by
anybody, and you may rest assured, therefore, that while I believe you
prefer that private capital and private initiative should bestir
themselves in these matters, it is also possible, and I assure you that
it is most likely, that the Government of the United States will have
adequate means of controlling this matter very thoroughly indeed. There
need be no fear on that side. Let nobody suppose that this is a
money-making agitation. I would for one be ashamed to be such a dupe as
to be engaged in it if it had any suspicion of that about it, but I am
not as innocent as I look; and I believe that I can say for my
colleagues in Washington that they are just as watchful in such matters
as you would desire them to be.

And there is another misapprehension that I do not wish you to
entertain. Do not suppose that there is any new or sudden or recent
inadequacy on the part of this Government in respect of preparation for
national defense. I have heard some gentlemen say that we had no coast
defenses worth talking about. Coast defenses are not nowadays
advertised, you understand, and they are not visible to the naked eye,
so that if you passed them and nothing exploded, you would not know they
were there. The coast defenses of the United States, while not numerous
enough, are equipped in the most modern and efficient fashion. You are
told that there has been some sort of neglect about the Navy. There has
not been any sort of neglect about the Navy. We have been slowly
building up a Navy which in quality is second to no navy in the world.
The only thing it lacks is quantity. In size it is the fourth navy in
the world, though I have heard it said by some gentlemen in this very
region that it was the second. In fighting force, though not in quality,
it is reckoned by experts to be the fourth in rank in the world; and yet
when I go on board those ships and see their equipment and talk with
their officers I suspect that they could give an account of themselves
which would raise them above the fourth class. It reminds me of that
very quaint saying of the old darky preacher, "The Lord says unto Moses,
come fourth, and he came fifth and lost the race." But I think this Navy
would not come fourth in the race, but higher.

What we are proposing now is not the sudden creation of a Navy, for we
have a splendid Navy, but the definite working out of a program by which
within five years we shall bring the Navy to a fighting strength which
otherwise might have taken eight or ten years; along exactly the same
lines of development that have been followed and followed diligently and
intelligently for at least a decade past. There is no sudden panic,
there is no sudden change of plan; all that has happened is that we now
see that we ought more rapidly and more thoroughly than ever before to
do the things which have always been characteristic of America. For she
has always been proud of her Navy and has always been addicted to the
principle that her citizenship must do the fighting on land. We are
working out American principle a little faster, because American pulses
are beating a little faster, because the world is in a whirl, because
there are incalculable elements of trouble abroad which we cannot
control or alter. I would be derelict to the duty which you have laid
upon me if I did not tell you that it was absolutely necessary to carry
out our principles in this matter now and at once.

And yet all the time, my fellow-citizens, I believe that in these things
we are merely interpreting the spirit of America. Who shall say what the
spirit of America is? I have many times heard orators apostrophize this
beautiful flag which is the emblem of the Nation. I have many times
heard orators and philosophers speak of the spirit which was resident in
America. I have always for my own part felt that it was an act of
audacity to attempt to characterize anything of that kind, and when I
have been outside of the country in foreign lands and have been asked if
this, that, or the other was true of America I have habitually said,
"Nothing stated in general terms is true of America, because it is the
most variegated and varied and multiform land under the sun." Yet I know
that if you turn away from the physical aspects of the country, if you
turn away from the variety of the strains of blood that make up our
great population, if you turn away from the great variations of
occupation and of interest among our fellow-citizens, there is a
spiritual unity in America. I know that there are some things which stir
every heart in America, no matter what the racial derivation or the
local environment, and one of the things that stirs every American is
the love of individual liberty. We do not stand for occupations. We do
not stand for material interests. We do not stand for any narrow
conception even of political institutions; but we do stand for this,
that we are banded together in America to see to it that no man shall
serve any master who is not of his own choosing. And we have been very
liberal and generous about this idea. We have seen great peoples, for
the most part not of the same blood with ourselves, to the south of us
build up polities in which this same idea pulsed and was regnant, this
idea of free institutions and individual liberty, and when we have seen
hands reached across the water from older political polities to
interfere with the development of free institutions on the Western
Hemisphere we have said: "No; we are the champions of the freedom of
popular sovereignty wherever it displays or exercises itself throughout
both Americas." We are the champions of a particular sort of freedom,
the sort of freedom which is the only foundation and guarantee of

Peace lies in the hearts of great industrial and agricultural
populations, and we have arranged a government on this side of the water
by which their preferences and their predilections and their interests
are the mainsprings of government itself. And so when we prepare for
national defense we prepare for national political integrity; we prepare
to take care of the great ideals which gave birth to this Government; we
are going back in spirit and in energy to those great first generations
in America, when men banded themselves together, though they were but a
handful upon a single coast of the Atlantic, to set up in the world the
standards which have ever since floated everywhere that Americans
asserted the power of their Government. As I came along the line of the
railway to-day, I was touched to observe that everywhere, upon every
railway station, upon every house, where a flag could be procured, some
temporary standard had been raised from which there floated the stars
and stripes. They seemed to have divined the errand upon which I had
come, to remind you that we must subordinate every individual interest
and every local interest to assert once more, if it should be necessary
to assert them, the great principles for which that flag stands.

Do not deceive yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, as to where the colors
of that flag came from. Those lines of red are lines of blood, nobly and
unselfishly shed by men who loved the liberty of their fellow-men more
than they loved their own lives and fortunes. God forbid that we should
have to use the blood of America to freshen the color of that flag; but
if it should ever be necessary again to assert the majesty and integrity
of those ancient and honorable principles, that flag will be colored
once more, and in being colored will be glorified and purified.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
April 19, 1916.]


A situation has arisen in the foreign relations of the country of which
it is my plain duty to inform you very frankly.

It will be recalled that in February, 1915, the Imperial German
Government announced its intention to treat the waters surrounding Great
Britain and Ireland as embraced within the seat of war and to destroy
all merchant ships owned by its enemies that might be found within any
part of that portion of the high seas, and that it warned all vessels,
of neutral as well as of belligerent ownership, to keep out of the
waters it had thus proscribed or else enter them at their peril. The
Government of the United States earnestly protested. It took the
position that such a policy could not be pursued without the practical
certainty of gross and palpable violations of the law of nations,
particularly if submarine craft were to be employed as its instruments,
inasmuch as the rules prescribed by that law, rules founded upon
principles of humanity and established for the protection of the lives
of non-combatants at sea, could not in the nature of the case be
observed by such vessels. It based its protest on the ground that
persons of neutral nationality and vessels of neutral ownership would be
exposed to extreme and intolerable risks, and that no right to close any
part of the high seas against their use or to expose them to such risks
could lawfully be asserted by any belligerent government. The law of
nations in these matters, upon which the Government of the United States
based its protest, is not of recent origin or founded upon merely
arbitrary principles set up by convention. It is based, on the contrary,
upon manifest and imperative principles of humanity and has long been
established with the approval and by the express assent of all civilized

Notwithstanding the earnest protest of our Government, the Imperial
German Government at once proceeded to carry out the policy it had
announced. It expressed the hope that the dangers involved, at any rate
the dangers to neutral vessels, would be reduced to a minimum by the
instructions which it had issued to its submarine commanders, and
assured the Government of the United States that it would take every
possible precaution both to respect the rights of neutrals and to
safeguard the lives of non-combatants.

What has actually happened in the year which has since elapsed has shown
that those hopes were not justified, those assurances insusceptible of
being fulfilled. In pursuance of the policy of submarine warfare against
the commerce of its adversaries, thus announced and entered upon by the
Imperial German Government in despite of the solemn protest of this
Government, the commanders of German undersea vessels have attacked
merchant ships with greater and greater activity, not only upon the high
seas surrounding Great Britain and Ireland but wherever they could
encounter them, in a way that has grown more and more ruthless, more and
more indiscriminate as the months have gone by, less and less observant
of restraints of any kind; and have delivered their attacks without
compunction against vessels of every nationality and bound upon every
sort of errand. Vessels of neutral ownership, even vessels of neutral
ownership bound from neutral port to neutral port, have been destroyed
along with vessels of belligerent ownership in constantly increasing
numbers. Sometimes the merchantman attacked has been warned and summoned
to surrender before being fired on or torpedoed; sometimes passengers or
crews have been vouchsafed the poor security of being allowed to take to
the ship's boats before she was sent to the bottom. But again and again
no warning has been given, no escape even to the ship's boats allowed to
those on board. What this Government foresaw must happen has happened.
Tragedy has followed tragedy on the seas in such fashion, with such
attendant circumstances, as to make it grossly evident that warfare of
such a sort, if warfare it be, cannot be carried on without the most
palpable violation of the dictates alike of right and of humanity.
Whatever the disposition and intention of the Imperial German
Government, it has manifestly proved impossible for it to keep such
methods of attack upon the commerce of its enemies within the bounds set
by either the reason or the heart of mankind.

In February of the present year the Imperial German Government informed
this Government and the other neutral governments of the world that it
had reason to believe that the Government of Great Britain had armed all
merchant vessels of British ownership and had given them secret orders
to attack any submarine of the enemy they might encounter upon the seas,
and that the Imperial German Government felt justified in the
circumstances in treating all armed merchantmen of belligerent ownership
as auxiliary vessels of war, which it would have the right to destroy
without warning. The law of nations has long recognized the right of
merchantmen to carry arms for protection and to use them to repel
attack, though to use them, in such circumstances, at their own risk;
but the Imperial German Government claimed the right to set these
understandings aside in circumstances which it deemed extraordinary.
Even the terms in which it announced its purpose thus still further to
relax the restraints it had previously professed its willingness and
desire to put upon the operations of its submarines carried the plain
implication that at least vessels which were not armed would still be
exempt from destruction without warning and that personal safety would
be accorded their passengers and crews; but even that limitation, if it
was ever practicable to observe it, has in fact constituted no check at
all upon the destruction of ships of every sort.

Again and again the Imperial German Government has given this Government
its solemn assurances that at least passenger ships would not be thus
dealt with, and yet it has again and again permitted its undersea
commanders to disregard those assurances with entire impunity. Great
liners like the _Lusitania_ and the _Arabic_ and mere ferryboats like
the _Sussex_ have been attacked without a moment's warning, sometimes
before they had even become aware that they were in the presence of an
armed vessel of the enemy, and the lives of non-combatants, passengers
and crew, have been sacrificed wholesale, in a manner which the
Government of the United States cannot but regard as wanton and without
the slightest color of justification. No limit of any kind has in fact
been set to the indiscriminate pursuit and destruction of merchantmen of
all kinds and nationalities within the waters, constantly extending in
area, where these operations have been carried on; and the roll of
Americans who have lost their lives on ships thus attacked and destroyed
has grown month by month until the ominous toll has mounted into the

One of the latest and most shocking instances of this method of warfare
was that of the destruction of the French cross-Channel steamer
_Sussex_. It must stand forth, as the sinking of the steamer _Lusitania_
did, as so singularly tragical and unjustifiable as to constitute a
truly terrible example of the inhumanity of submarine warfare as the
commanders of German vessels have for the past twelvemonth been
conducting it. If this instance stood alone, some explanation, some
disavowal by the German Government, some evidence of criminal mistake or
wilful disobedience on the part of the commander of the vessel that
fired the torpedo might be sought or entertained; but unhappily it does
not stand alone. Recent events make the conclusion inevitable that it is
only one instance, even though it be one of the most extreme and
distressing instances, of the spirit and method of warfare which the
Imperial German Government has mistakenly adopted, and which from the
first exposed that Government to the reproach of thrusting all neutral
rights aside in pursuit of its immediate objects.

The Government of the United States has been very patient. At every
stage of this distressing experience of tragedy after tragedy in which
its own citizens were involved it has sought to be restrained from any
extreme course of action or of protest by a thoughtful consideration of
the extraordinary circumstances of this unprecedented war, and actuated
in all that it said or did by the sentiments of genuine friendship which
the people of the United States have always entertained and continue to
entertain towards the German nation. It has of course accepted the
successive explanations and assurances of the Imperial German Government
as given in entire sincerity and good faith, and has hoped, even against
hope, that it would prove to be possible for the German Government so to
order and control the acts of its naval commanders as to square its
policy with the principles of humanity as embodied in the law of
nations. It has been willing to wait until the significance of the facts
became absolutely unmistakable and susceptible of but one

That point has now unhappily been reached. The facts are susceptible of
but one interpretation. The Imperial German Government has been unable
to put any limits or restraints upon its warfare against either freight
or passenger ships. It has therefore become painfully evident that the
position which this Government took at the very outset is inevitable,
namely, that the use of submarines for the destruction of an enemy's
commerce is of necessity, because of the very character of the vessels
employed and the very methods of attack which their employment of course
involves, incompatible with the principles of humanity, the long
established and incontrovertible rights of neutrals, and the sacred
immunities of non-combatants.

I have deemed it my duty, therefore, to say to the Imperial German
Government that if it is still its purpose to prosecute relentless and
indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by the use of
submarines, notwithstanding the now demonstrated impossibility of
conducting that warfare in accordance with what the Government of the
United States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of
international law and the universally recognized dictates of humanity,
the Government of the United States is at last forced to the conclusion
that there is but one course it can pursue; and that unless the Imperial
German Government should now immediately declare and effect an
abandonment of its present methods of warfare against passenger and
freight carrying vessels this Government can have no choice but to sever
diplomatic relations with the Government of the German Empire

This decision I have arrived at with the keenest regret; the possibility
of the action contemplated I am sure all thoughtful Americans will look
forward to with unaffected reluctance. But we cannot forget that we are
in some sort and by the force of circumstances the responsible spokesmen
of the rights of humanity, and that we cannot remain silent while those
rights seem in process of being swept utterly away in the maelstrom of
this terrible war. We owe it to a due regard for our own rights as a
nation, to our sense of duty as a representative of the rights of
neutrals the world over, and to a just conception of the rights of
mankind to take this stand now with the utmost solemnity and firmness.

I have taken it, and taken it in the confidence that it will meet with
your approval and support. All sober-minded men must unite in hoping
that the Imperial German Government, which has in other circumstances
stood as the champion of all that we are now contending for in the
interest of humanity, may recognize the justice of our demands and meet
them in the spirit in which they are made.


[Address delivered at the First Annual Assemblage of the League to
Enforce Peace, May 27, 1916.]

When the invitation to be here to-night came to me, I was glad to accept
it,--not because it offered me an opportunity to discuss the program of
the League,--that you will, I am sure, not expect of me,--but because
the desire of the whole world now turns eagerly, more and more eagerly,
towards the hope of peace, and there is just reason why we should take
our part in counsel upon this great theme. It is right that I, as
spokesman of our Government, should attempt to give expression to what I
believe to be the thought and purpose of the people of the United States
in this vital matter.

This great war that broke so suddenly upon the world two years ago, and
which has swept within its flame so great a part of the civilized world,
has affected us very profoundly, and we are not only at liberty, it is
perhaps our duty, to speak very frankly of it and of the great interests
of civilization which it affects.

With its causes and its objects we are not concerned. The obscure
fountains from which its stupendous flood has burst forth we are not
interested to search for or explore. But so great a flood, spread far
and wide to every quarter of the globe, has of necessity engulfed many a
fair province of right that lies very near to us. Our own rights as a
Nation, the liberties, the privileges, and the property of our people
have been profoundly affected. We are not mere disconnected lookers-on.
The longer the war lasts, the more deeply do we become concerned that
it should be brought to an end and the world be permitted to resume its
normal life and course again. And when it does come to an end we shall
be as much concerned as the nations at war to see peace assume an aspect
of permanence, give promise of days from which the anxiety of
uncertainty shall be lifted, bring some assurance that peace and war
shall always hereafter be reckoned part of the common interest of
mankind. We are participants, whether we would or not, in the life of
the world. The interests of all nations are our own also. We are
partners with the rest. What affects mankind is inevitably our affair as
well as the affair of the nations of Europe and of Asia.

One observation on the causes of the present war we are at liberty to
make, and to make it may throw some light forward upon the future, as
well as backward upon the past. It is plain that this war could have
come only as it did, suddenly and out of secret counsels, without
warning to the world, without discussion, without any of the deliberate
movements of counsel with which it would seem natural to approach so
stupendous a contest. It is probable that if it had been foreseen just
what would happen, just what alliances would be formed, just what forces
arrayed against one another, those who brought the great contest on
would have been glad to substitute conference for force. If we ourselves
had been afforded some opportunity to apprise the belligerents of the
attitude which it would be our duty to take, of the policies and
practices against which we would feel bound to use all our moral and
economic strength, and in certain circumstances even our physical
strength also, our own contribution to the counsel which might have
averted the struggle would have been considered worth weighing and

And the lesson which the shock of being taken by surprise in a matter so
deeply vital to all the nations of the world has made poignantly clear
is, that the peace of the world must henceforth depend upon a new and
more wholesome diplomacy. Only when the great nations of the world have
reached some sort of agreement as to what they hold to be fundamental to
their common interest, and as to some feasible method of acting in
concert when any nation or group of nations seeks to disturb those
fundamental things, can we feel that civilization is at last in a way of
justifying its existence and claiming to be finally established. It is
clear that nations must in the future be governed by the same high code
of honor that we demand of individuals.

We must, indeed, in the very same breath with which we avow this
conviction admit that we have ourselves upon occasion in the past been
offenders against the law of diplomacy which we thus forecast; but our
conviction is not the less clear, but rather the more clear, on that
account. If this war has accomplished nothing else for the benefit of
the world, it has at least disclosed a great moral necessity and set
forward the thinking of the statesmen of the world by a whole age.
Repeated utterances of the leading statesmen of most of the great
nations now engaged in war have made it plain that their thought has
come to this, that the principle of public right must henceforth take
precedence over the individual interests of particular nations, and that
the nations of the world must in some way band themselves together to
see that that right prevails as against any sort of selfish aggression;
that henceforth alliance must not be set up against alliance,
understanding against understanding, but that there must be a common
agreement for a common object, and that at the heart of that common
object must lie the inviolable rights of peoples and of mankind. The
nations of the world have become each other's neighbors. It is to their
interest that they should understand each other. In order that they may
understand each other, it is imperative that they should agree to
coöperate in a common cause, and that they should so act that the
guiding principle of that common cause shall be even-handed and
impartial justice.

This is undoubtedly the thought of America. This is what we ourselves
will say when there comes proper occasion to say it. In the dealings of
nations with one another arbitrary force must be rejected and we must
move forward to the thought of the modern world, the thought of which
peace is the very atmosphere. That thought constitutes a chief part of
the passionate conviction of America.

We believe these fundamental things: First, that every people has a
right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live. Like other
nations, we have ourselves no doubt once and again offended against that
principle when for a little while controlled by selfish passion, as our
franker historians have been honorable enough to admit; but it has
become more and more our rule of life and action. Second, that the small
states of the world have a right to enjoy the same respect for their
sovereignty and for their territorial integrity that great and powerful
nations expect and insist upon. And, third, that the world has a right
to be free from every disturbance of its peace that has its origin in
aggression and disregard of the rights of peoples and nations.

So sincerely do we believe in these things that I am sure that I speak
the mind and wish of the people of America when I say that the United
States is willing to become a partner in any feasible association of
nations formed in order to realize these objects and make them secure
against violation.

There is nothing that the United States wants for itself that any other
nation has. We are willing, on the contrary, to limit ourselves along
with them to a prescribed course of duty and respect for the rights of
others which will check any selfish passion of our own, as it will check
any aggressive impulse of theirs.

If it should ever be our privilege to suggest or initiate a movement for
peace among the nations now at war, I am sure that the people of the
United States would wish their Government to move along these lines:
First, such a settlement with regard to their own immediate interests as
the belligerents may agree upon. We have nothing material of any kind to
ask for ourselves, and are quite aware that we are in no sense or degree
parties to the present quarrel. Our interest is only in peace and its
future guarantees. Second, an universal association of the nations to
maintain the inviolate security of the highway of the seas for the
common and unhindered use of all the nations of the world, and to
prevent any war begun either contrary to treaty covenants or without
warning and full submission of the causes to the opinion of the
world,--a virtual guarantee of territorial integrity and political

But I did not come here, let me repeat, to discuss a program. I came
only to avow a creed and give expression to the confidence I feel that
the world is even now upon the eve of a great consummation, when some
common force will be brought into existence which shall safeguard right
as the first and most fundamental interest of all peoples and all
governments, when coercion shall be summoned not to the service of
political ambition or selfish hostility, but to the service of a common
order, a common justice, and a common peace. God grant that the dawn of
that day of frank dealing and of settled peace, concord, and coöperation
may be near at hand!


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
August 29, 1916.]


I have come to you to seek your assistance in dealing with a very grave
situation which has arisen out of the demand of the employees of the
railroads engaged in freight train service that they be granted an
eight-hour working day, safeguarded by payment for an hour and a half of
service for every hour of work beyond the eight.

The matter has been agitated for more than a year. The public has been
made familiar with the demands of the men and the arguments urged in
favor of them, and even more familiar with the objections of the
railroads and their counter demand that certain privileges now enjoyed
by their men and certain bases of payment worked out through many years
of contest be reconsidered, especially in their relation to the adoption
of an eight-hour day. The matter came some three weeks ago to a final
issue and resulted in a complete deadlock between the parties. The means
provided by law for the mediation of the controversy failed and the
means of arbitration for which the law provides were rejected. The
representatives of the railway executives proposed that the demands of
the men be submitted in their entirety to arbitration, along with
certain questions of readjustment as to pay and conditions of employment
which seemed to them to be either closely associated with the demands or
to call for reconsideration on their own merits; the men absolutely
declined arbitration, especially if any of their established privileges
were by that means to be drawn again in question. The law in the matter
put no compulsion upon them. The four hundred thousand men from whom the
demands proceeded had voted to strike if their demands were refused; the
strike was imminent; it has since been set for the fourth of September
next. It affects the men who man the freight trains on practically every
railway in the country. The freight service throughout the United States
must stand still until their places are filled, if, indeed, it should
prove possible to fill them at all. Cities will be cut off from their
food supplies, the whole commerce of the nation will be paralyzed, men
of every sort and occupation will be thrown out of employment, countless
thousands will in all likelihood be brought, it may be, to the very
point of starvation, and a tragical national calamity brought on, to be
added to the other distresses of the time, because no basis of
accommodation or settlement has been found.

Just so soon as it became evident that mediation under the existing law
had failed and that arbitration had been rendered impossible by the
attitude of the men, I considered it my duty to confer with the
representatives of both the railways and the brotherhoods, and myself
offer mediation, not as an arbitrator, but merely as spokesman of the
nation, in the interest of justice, indeed, and as a friend of both
parties, but not as judge, only as the representative of one hundred
millions of men, women, and children who would pay the price, the
incalculable price, of loss and suffering should these few men insist
upon approaching and concluding the matters in controversy between them
merely as employers and employees, rather than as patriotic citizens of
the United States looking before and after and accepting the larger
responsibility which the public would put upon them.

It seemed to me, in considering the subject-matter of the controversy,
that the whole spirit of the time and the preponderant evidence of
recent economic experience spoke for the eight-hour day. It has been
adjudged by the thought and experience of recent years a thing upon
which society is justified in insisting as in the interest of health,
efficiency, contentment, and a general increase of economic vigor. The
whole presumption of modern experience would, it seemed to me, be in its
favor, whether there was arbitration or not, and the debatable points to
settle were those which arose out of the acceptance of the eight-hour
day rather than those which affected its establishment. I, therefore,
proposed that the eight-hour day be adopted by the railway managements
and put into practice for the present as a substitute for the existing
ten-hour basis of pay and service; that I should appoint, with the
permission of the Congress, a small commission to observe the results of
the change, carefully studying the figures of the altered operating
costs, not only, but also the conditions of labor under which the men
worked and the operation of their existing agreements with the
railroads, with instructions to report the facts as they found them to
the Congress at the earliest possible day, but without recommendation;
and that, after the facts had been thus disclosed, an adjustment should
in some orderly manner be sought of all the matters now left unadjusted
between the railroad managers and the men.

These proposals were exactly in line, it is interesting to note, with
the position taken by the Supreme Court of the United States when
appealed to to protect certain litigants from the financial losses which
they confidently expected if they should submit to the regulation of
their charges and of their methods of service by public legislation. The
Court has held that it would not undertake to form a judgment upon
forecasts, but could base its action only upon actual experience; that
it must be supplied with facts, not with calculations and opinions,
however scientifically attempted. To undertake to arbitrate the question
of the adoption of an eight-hour day in the light of results merely
estimated and predicted would be to undertake an enterprise of
conjecture. No wise man could undertake it, or, if he did undertake it,
could feel assured of his conclusions.

I unhesitatingly offered the friendly services of the administration to
the railway managers to see to it that justice was done the railroads in
the outcome. I felt warranted in assuring them that no obstacle of law
would be suffered to stand in the way of their increasing their revenues
to meet the expenses resulting from the change so far as the development
of their business and of their administrative efficiency did not prove
adequate to meet them. The public and the representatives of the public,
I felt justified in assuring them, were disposed to nothing but justice
in such cases and were willing to serve those who served them.

The representatives of the brotherhoods accepted the plan; but the
representatives of the railroads declined to accept it. In the face of
what I cannot but regard as the practical certainty that they will be
ultimately obliged to accept the eight-hour day by the concerted action
of organized labor, backed by the favorable judgment of society, the
representatives of the railway management have felt justified in
declining a peaceful settlement which would engage all the forces of
justice, public and private, on their side to take care of the event.
They fear the hostile influence of shippers, who would be opposed to an
increase of freight rates (for which, however, of course, the public
itself would pay); they apparently feel no confidence that the
Interstate Commerce Commission could withstand the objections that would
be made. They do not care to rely upon the friendly assurances of the
Congress or the President. They have thought it best that they should be
forced to yield, if they must yield, not by counsel, but by the
suffering of the country. While my conferences with them were in
progress, and when to all outward appearance those conferences had come
to a standstill, the representatives of the brotherhoods suddenly acted
and set the strike for the fourth of September.

The railway managers based their decision to reject my counsel in this
matter upon their conviction that they must at any cost to themselves or
to the country stand firm for the principle of arbitration which the men
had rejected. I based my counsel upon the indisputable fact that there
was no means of obtaining arbitration. The law supplied none; earnest
efforts at mediation had failed to influence the men in the least. To
stand firm for the principle of arbitration and yet not get arbitration
seemed to me futile, and something more than futile, because it involved
incalculable distress to the country and consequences in some respects
worse than those of war, and that in the midst of peace.

I yield to no man in firm adherence, alike of conviction and of purpose,
to the principle of arbitration in industrial disputes; but matters have
come to a sudden crisis in this particular dispute and the country had
been caught unprovided with any practicable means of enforcing that
conviction in practice (by whose fault we will not now stop to inquire).
A situation had to be met whose elements and fixed conditions were
indisputable. The practical and patriotic course to pursue, as it seemed
to me, was to secure immediate peace by conceding the one thing in the
demands of the men which society itself and any arbitrators who
represented public sentiment were most likely to approve, and
immediately lay the foundations for securing arbitration with regard to
everything else involved. The event has confirmed that judgment.

I was seeking to compose the present in order to safeguard the future;
for I wished an atmosphere of peace and friendly coöperation in which to
take counsel with the representatives of the nation with regard to the
best means for providing, so far as it might prove possible to provide,
against the recurrence of such unhappy situations in the future,--the
best and most practicable means of securing calm and fair arbitration of
all industrial disputes in the days to come. This is assuredly the best
way of vindicating a principle, namely, having failed to make certain of
its observance in the present, to make certain of its observance in the

But I could only propose. I could not govern the will of others who took
an entirely different view of the circumstances of the case, who even
refused to admit the circumstances to be what they have turned out to

Having failed to bring the parties to this critical controversy to an
accommodation, therefore, I turn to you, deeming it clearly our duty as
public servants to leave nothing undone that we can do to safeguard the
life and interests of the nation. In the spirit of such a purpose, I
earnestly recommend the following legislation:

First, immediate provision for the enlargement and administrative
reorganization of the Interstate Commerce Commission along the lines
embodied in the bill recently passed by the House of Representatives and
now awaiting action by the Senate; in order that the Commission may be
enabled to deal with the many great and various duties now devolving
upon it with a promptness and thoroughness which are with its present
constitution and means of action practically impossible.

Second, the establishment of an eight-hour day as the legal basis alike
of work and of wages in the employment of all railway employees who are
actually engaged in the work of operating trains in interstate

Third, the authorization of the appointment by the President of a small
body of men to observe the actual results in experience of the adoption
of the eight-hour day in railway transportation alike for the men and
for the railroads; its effects in the matter of operating costs, in the
application of the existing practices and agreements to the new
conditions, and in all other practical aspects, with the provision that
the investigators shall report their conclusions to the Congress at the
earliest possible date, but without recommendation as to legislative
action; in order that the public may learn from an unprejudiced source
just what actual developments have ensued.

Fourth, explicit approval by the Congress of the consideration by the
Interstate Commerce Commission of an increase of freight rates to meet
such additional expenditures by the railroads as may have been rendered
necessary by the adoption of the eight-hour day and which have not been
offset by administrative readjustments and economies, should the facts
disclosed justify the increase.

Fifth, an amendment of the existing federal statute which provides for
the mediation, conciliation, and arbitration of such controversies as
the present by adding to it a provision that in case the methods of
accommodation now provided for should fail, a full public investigation
of the merits of every such dispute shall be instituted and completed
before a strike or lockout may lawfully be attempted.

And, sixth, the lodgment in the hands of the Executive of the power, in
case of military necessity, to take control of such portions and such
rolling stock of the railways of the country as may be required for
military use and to operate them for military purposes, with authority
to draft into the military service of the United States such train crews
and administrative officials as the circumstances require for their safe
and efficient use.

This last suggestion I make because we cannot in any circumstances
suffer the nation to be hampered in the essential matter of national
defense. At the present moment circumstances render this duty
particularly obvious. Almost the entire military force of the nation is
stationed upon the Mexican border to guard our territory against hostile
raids. It must be supplied, and steadily supplied, with whatever it
needs for its maintenance and efficiency. If it should be necessary for
purposes of national defense to transfer any portion of it upon short
notice to some other part of the country, for reasons now unforeseen,
ample means of transportation must be available, and available without
delay. The power conferred in this matter should be carefully and
explicitly limited to cases of military necessity, but in all such cases
it should be clear and ample.

There is one other thing we should do if we are true champions of
arbitration. We should make all arbitral awards judgments by record of a
court of law in order that their interpretation and enforcement may lie,
not with one of the parties to the arbitration, but with an impartial
and authoritative tribunal.

These things I urge upon you, not in haste or merely as a means of
meeting a present emergency, but as permanent and necessary additions to
the law of the land, suggested, indeed, by circumstances we had hoped
never to see, but imperative as well as just, if such emergencies are to
be prevented in the future. I feel that no extended argument is needed
to commend them to your favorable consideration. They demonstrate
themselves. The time and the occasion only give emphasis to their
importance. We need them now and we shall continue to need them.


[On being offered the nomination for President by the Democratic Party.
Delivered at Shadow Lawn, Sea Girt, N.J., Saturday, September 2, 1916.]


I cannot accept the leadership and responsibility which the National
Democratic Convention has again, in such generous fashion, asked me to
accept without first expressing my profound gratitude to the party for
the trust it reposes in me after four years of fiery trial in the midst
of affairs of unprecedented difficulty, and the keen sense of added
responsibility with which this honor fills (I had almost said burdens)
me as I think of the great issues of national life and policy involved
in the present and immediate future conduct of our Government. I shall
seek, as I have always sought, to justify the extraordinary confidence
thus reposed in me by striving to purge my heart and purpose of every
personal and of every misleading party motive and devoting every energy
I have to the service of the nation as a whole, praying that I may
continue to have the counsel and support of all forward-looking men at
every turn of the difficult business.

For I do not doubt that the people of the United States will wish the
Democratic Party to continue in control of the Government. They are not
in the habit of rejecting those who have actually served them for those
who are making doubtful and conjectural promises of service. Least of
all are they likely to substitute those who promised to render them
particular services and proved false to that promise for those who have
actually rendered those very services.

Boasting is always an empty business, which pleases nobody but the
boaster, and I have no disposition to boast of what the Democratic Party
has accomplished. It has merely done its duty. It has merely fulfilled
its explicit promises. But there can be no violation of good taste in
calling attention to the manner in which those promises have been
carried out or in adverting to the interesting fact that many of the
things accomplished were what the opposition party had again and again
promised to do but had left undone. Indeed that is manifestly part of
the business of this year of reckoning and assessment. There is no means
of judging the future except by assessing the past. Constructive action
must be weighed against destructive comment and reaction. The Democrats
either have or have not understood the varied interests of the country.
The test is contained in the record.

What is that record? What were the Democrats called into power to do?
What things had long waited to be done, and how did the Democrats do
them? It is a record of extraordinary length and variety, rich in
elements of many kinds, but consistent in principle throughout and
susceptible of brief recital.

The Republican Party was put out of power because of failure, practical
failure and moral failure; because it had served special interests and
not the country at large; because, under the leadership of its preferred
and established guides, of those who still make its choices, it had lost
touch with the thoughts and the needs of the nation and was living in a
past age and under a fixed illusion, the illusion of greatness. It had
framed tariff laws based upon a fear of foreign trade, a fundamental
doubt as to American skill, enterprise, and capacity, and a very tender
regard for the profitable privileges of those who had gained control of
domestic markets and domestic credits; and yet had enacted anti-trust
laws which hampered the very things they meant to foster, which were
stiff and inelastic, and in part unintelligible. It had permitted the
country throughout the long period of its control to stagger from one
financial crisis to another under the operation of a national banking
law of its own framing which made stringency and panic certain and the
control of the larger business operations of the country by the bankers
of a few reserve centers inevitable; had made as if it meant to reform
the law but had faint-heartedly failed in the attempt, because it could
not bring itself to do the one thing necessary to make the reform
genuine and effectual, namely, break up the control of small groups of
bankers. It had been oblivious, or indifferent, to the fact that the
farmers, upon whom the country depends for its food and in the last
analysis for its prosperity, were without standing in the matter of
commercial credit, without the protection of standards in their market
transactions, and without systematic knowledge of the markets
themselves; that the laborers of the country, the great army of men who
man the industries it was professing to father and promote, carried
their labor as a mere commodity to market, were subject to restraint by
novel and drastic process in the courts, were without assurance of
compensation for industrial accidents, without federal assistance in
accommodating labor disputes, and without national aid or advice in
finding the places and the industries in which their labor was most
needed. The country had no national system of road construction and
development. Little intelligent attention was paid to the army, and not
enough to the navy. The other republics of America distrusted us,
because they found that we thought first of the profits of American
investors and only as an afterthought of impartial justice and helpful
friendship. Its policy was provincial in all things; its purposes were
out of harmony with the temper and purpose of the people and the timely
development of the nation's interests.

So things stood when the Democratic Party came into power. How do they
stand now? Alike in the domestic field and in the wide field of the
commerce of the world, American business and life and industry have been
set free to move as they never moved before.

The tariff has been revised, not on the principle of repelling foreign
trade, but upon the principle of encouraging it, upon something like a
footing of equality with our own in respect of the terms of competition,
and a Tariff Board has been created whose function it will be to keep
the relations of American with foreign business and industry under
constant observation, for the guidance alike of our business men and of
our Congress. American energies are now directed towards the markets of
the world.

The laws against trusts have been clarified by definition, with a view
to making it plain that they were not directed against big business but
only against unfair business and the pretense of competition where there
was none; and a Trade Commission has been created with powers of
guidance and accommodation which have relieved business men of unfounded
fears and set them upon the road of hopeful and confident enterprise.

By the Federal Reserve Act the supply of currency at the disposal of
active business has been rendered elastic, taking its volume, not from a
fixed body of investment securities, but from the liquid assets of daily
trade; and these assets are assessed and accepted, not by distant groups
of bankers in control of unavailable reserves, but by bankers at the
many centers of local exchange who are in touch with local conditions

Effective measures have been taken for the re-creation of an American
merchant marine and the revival of the American carrying trade
indispensable to our emancipation from the control which foreigners have
so long exercised over the opportunities, the routes, and the methods of
our commerce with other countries.

The Interstate Commerce Commission is about to be reorganized to enable
it to perform its great and important functions more promptly and more
efficiently. We have created, extended and improved the service of the
parcels post.

So much we have done for business. What other party has understood the
task so well or executed it so intelligently and energetically? What
other party has attempted it at all? The Republican leaders, apparently,
know of no means of assisting business but "protection." How to
stimulate it and put it upon a new footing of energy and enterprise they
have not suggested.

For the farmers of the country we have virtually created commercial
credit, by means of the Federal Reserve Act and the Rural Credits Act.
They now have the standing of other business men in the money market. We
have successfully regulated speculation in "futures" and established
standards in the marketing of grains. By an intelligent Warehouse Act we
have assisted to make the standard crops available as never before both
for systematic marketing and as a security for loans from the banks. We
have greatly added to the work of neighborhood demonstration on the farm
itself of improved methods of cultivation, and, through the intelligent
extension of the functions of the Department of Agriculture, have made
it possible for the farmer to learn systematically where his best
markets are and how to get at them.

The workingmen of America have been given a veritable emancipation, by
the legal recognition of a man's labor as part of his life, and not a
mere marketable commodity; by exempting labor organizations from
processes of the courts which treated their members like fractional
parts of mobs and not like accessible and responsible individuals; by
releasing our seamen from involuntary servitude; by making adequate
provision for compensation for industrial accidents; by providing
suitable machinery for mediation and conciliation in industrial
disputes; and by putting the Federal Department of Labor at the disposal
of the workingman when in search of work.

We have effected the emancipation of the children of the country by
releasing them from hurtful labor. We have instituted a system of
national aid in the building of highroads such as the country has been
feeling after for a century. We have sought to equalize taxation by
means of an equitable income tax. We have taken the steps that ought to
have been taken at the outset to open up the resources of Alaska. We
have provided for national defense upon a scale never before seriously
proposed upon the responsibility of an entire political party. We have
driven the tariff lobby from cover and obliged it to substitute solid
argument for private influence.

This extraordinary recital must sound like a platform, a list of
sanguine promises; but it is not. It is a record of promises made four
years ago and now actually redeemed in constructive legislation.

These things must profoundly disturb the thoughts and confound the plans
of those who have made themselves believe that the Democratic Party
neither understood nor was ready to assist the business of the country
in the great enterprises which it is its evident and inevitable destiny
to undertake and carry through. The breaking up of the lobby must
especially disconcert them: for it was through the lobby that they
sought and were sure they had found the heart of things. The game of
privilege can be played successfully by no other means.

This record must equally astonish those who feared that the Democratic
Party had not opened its heart to comprehend the demands of social
justice. We have in four years come very near to carrying out the
platform of the Progressive Party as well as our own; for we also are

There is one circumstance connected with this program which ought to be
very plainly stated. It was resisted at every step by the interests
which the Republican Party had catered to and fostered at the expense of
the country, and these same interests are now earnestly praying for a
reaction which will save their privileges,--for the restoration of their
sworn friends to power before it is too late to recover what they have
lost. They fought with particular desperation and infinite
resourcefulness the reform of the banking and currency system, knowing
that to be the citadel of their control; and most anxiously are they
hoping and planning for the amendment of the Federal Reserve Act by the
concentration of control in a single bank which the old familiar group
of bankers can keep under their eye and direction. But while the "big
men" who used to write the tariffs and command the assistance of the
Treasury have been hostile,--all but a few with vision,--the average
business man knows that he has been delivered, and that the fear that
was once every day in his heart, that the men who controlled credit and
directed enterprise from the committee rooms of Congress would crush
him, is there no more, and will not return,--unless the party that
consulted only the "big men" should return to power,--the party of
masterly inactivity and cunning resourcefulness in standing pat to
resist change.

The Republican Party is just the party that _cannot_ meet the new
conditions of a new age. It does not know the way and it does not wish
new conditions. It tried to break away from the old leaders and could
not. They still select its candidates and dictate its policy, still
resist change, still hanker after the old conditions, still know no
methods of encouraging business but the old methods. When it changes its
leaders and its purposes and brings its ideas up to date it will have
the right to ask the American people to give it power again; but not
until then. A new age, an age of revolutionary change, needs new
purposes and new ideas.

In foreign affairs we have been guided by principles clearly conceived
and consistently lived up to. Perhaps they have not been fully
comprehended because they have hitherto governed international affairs
only in theory, not in practice. They are simple, obvious, easily
stated, and fundamental to American ideals.

We have been neutral not only because it was the fixed and traditional
policy of the United States to stand aloof from the politics of Europe
and because we had had no part either of action or of policy in the
influences which brought on the present war, but also because it was
manifestly our duty to prevent, if it were possible, the indefinite
extension of the fires of hate and desolation kindled by that terrible
conflict and seek to serve mankind by reserving cur strength and our
resources for the anxious and difficult days of restoration and healing
which must follow, when peace will have to build its house anew.

The rights of our own citizens of course became involved: that was
inevitable. Where they did this was our guiding principle: that property
rights can be vindicated by claims for damages and no modern nation can
decline to arbitrate such claims; but the fundamental rights of humanity
cannot be. The loss of life is irreparable. Neither can direct
violations of a nation's sovereignty await vindication in suits for
damages. The nation that violates these essential rights must expect to
be checked and called to account by direct challenge and resistance. It
at once makes the quarrel in part our own. These are plain principles
and we have never lost sight of them or departed from them, whatever the
stress or the perplexity of circumstance or the provocation to hasty
resentment. The record is clear and consistent throughout and stands
distinct and definite for anyone to judge who wishes to know the truth
about it.

The seas were not broad enough to keep the infection of the conflict out
of our own politics. The passions and intrigues of certain active groups
and combinations of men amongst us who were born under foreign flags
injected the poison of disloyalty into our own most critical affairs,
laid violent hands upon many of our industries, and subjected us to the
shame of divisions of sentiment and purpose in which America was
contemned and forgotten. It is part of the business of this year of
reckoning and settlement to speak plainly and act with unmistakable
purpose in rebuke of these things, in order that they may be forever
hereafter impossible. I am the candidate of a party, but I am above all
things else an American citizen. I neither seek the favor nor fear the
displeasure of that small alien element amongst us which puts loyalty to
any foreign power before loyalty to the United States.

While Europe was at war our own continent, one of our own neighbors, was
shaken by revolution. In that matter, too, principle was plain and it
was imperative that we should live up to it if we were to deserve the
trust of any real partisan of the right as free men see it. We have
professed to believe, and we do believe, that the people of small and
weak states have the right to expect to be dealt with exactly as the
people of big and powerful states would be. We have acted upon that
principle in dealing with the people of Mexico.

Our recent pursuit of bandits into Mexican territory was no violation of
that principle. We ventured to enter Mexican territory only because
there were no military forces in Mexico that could protect our border
from hostile attack and our own people from violence, and we have
committed there no single act of hostility or interference even with the
sovereign authority of the Republic of Mexico herself. It was a plain
case of the violation of our own sovereignty which could not wait to be
vindicated by damages and for which there was no other remedy. The
authorities of Mexico were powerless to prevent it.

Many serious wrongs against the property, many irreparable wrongs
against the persons of Americans have been committed within the
territory of Mexico herself during this confused revolution, wrongs
which could not be effectually checked so long as there was no
constituted power in Mexico which was in a position to check them. We
could not act directly in that matter ourselves without denying Mexicans
the right to any revolution at all which disturbed us and making the
emancipation of her own people await our own interest and convenience.

For it is their emancipation that they are seeking,--blindly, it may be,
and as yet ineffectually, but with profound and passionate purpose and
within their unquestionable right, apply what true American principle
you will,--any principle that an American would publicly avow. The
people of Mexico have not been suffered to own their own country or
direct their own institutions. Outsiders, men out of other nations and
with interests too often alien to their own, have dictated what their
privileges and opportunities should be and who should control their
land, their lives, and their resources,--some of them Americans,
pressing for things they could never have got in their own country. The
Mexican people are entitled to attempt their liberty from such
influences; and so long as I have anything to do with the action of our
great Government I shall do everything in my power to prevent anyone
standing in their way. I know that this is hard for some persons to
understand; but it is not hard for the plain people of the United States
to understand. It is hard doctrine only for those who wish to get
something for themselves out of Mexico. There are men, and noble women,
too, not a few, of our own people, thank God! whose fortunes are
invested in great properties in Mexico who yet see the case with true
vision and assess its issues with true American feeling. The rest can be
left for the present out of the reckoning until this enslaved people has
had its day of struggle towards the light. I have heard no one who was
free from such influences propose interference by the United States with
the internal affairs of Mexico. Certainly no friend of the Mexican
people has proposed it.

The people of the United States are capable of great sympathies and a
noble pity in dealing with problems of this kind. As their spokesman and
representative, I have tried to act in the spirit they would wish me
show. The people of Mexico are striving for the rights that are
fundamental to life and happiness,--15,000,000 oppressed men,
overburdened women, and pitiful children in virtual bondage in their own
home of fertile lands and inexhaustible treasure! Some of the leaders of
the revolution may often have been mistaken and violent and selfish, but
the revolution itself was inevitable and is right. The unspeakable
Huerta betrayed the very comrades he served, traitorously overthrew the
government of which he was a trusted part, impudently spoke for the very
forces that had driven his people to the rebellion with which he had
pretended to sympathize. The men who overcame him and drove him out
represent at least the fierce passion of reconstruction which lies at
the very heart of liberty; and so long as they represent, however
imperfectly, such a struggle for deliverance, I am ready to serve their
ends when I can. So long as the power of recognition rests with me the
Government of the United States will refuse to extend the hand of
welcome to any one who obtains power in a sister republic by treachery
and violence. No permanency can be given the affairs of any republic by
a title based upon intrigue and assassination. I declared that to be the
policy of this Administration within three weeks after I assumed the
presidency. I here again vow it. I am more interested in the fortunes of
oppressed men and pitiful women and children than in any property rights
whatever. Mistakes I have no doubt made in this perplexing business, but
not in purpose or object.

More is involved than the immediate destinies of Mexico and the
relations of the United States with a distressed and distracted people.
All America looks on. Test is now being made of us whether we be sincere
lovers of popular liberty or not and are indeed to be trusted to respect
national sovereignty among our weaker neighbors. We have undertaken
these many years to play big brother to the republics of this
hemisphere. This is the day of our test whether we mean, or have ever
meant, to play that part for our own benefit wholly or also for theirs.
Upon the outcome of that test (its outcome in their minds, not in ours)
depends every relationship of the United States with Latin America,
whether in politics or in commerce and enterprise. These are great
issues and lie at the heart of the gravest tasks of the future, tasks
both economic and political and very intimately inwrought with many of
the most vital of the new issues of the politics of the world. The
republics of America have in the last three years been drawing together
in a new spirit of accommodation, mutual understanding, and cordial
coöperation. Much of the politics of the world in the years to come will
depend upon their relationships with one another. It is a barren and
provincial statesmanship that loses sight of such things!

The future, the immediate future, will bring us squarely face to face
with many great and exacting problems which will search us through and
through whether we be able and ready to play the part in the world that
we mean to play. It will not bring us into their presence slowly,
gently, with ceremonious introduction, but suddenly and at once, the
moment the war in Europe is over. They will be new problems, most of
them; many will be old problems in a new setting and with new elements
which we have never dealt with or reckoned the force and meaning of
before. They will require for their solution new thinking, fresh courage
and resourcefulness, and in some matters radical reconsiderations of
policy. We must be ready to mobilize our resources alike of brains and
of materials.

It is not a future to be afraid of. It is, rather, a future to stimulate
and excite us to the display of the best powers that are in us. We may
enter it with confidence when we are sure that we understand it,--and we
have provided ourselves already with the means of understanding it.

Look first at what it will be necessary that the nations of the world
should do to make the days to come tolerable and fit to live and work
in; and then look at our part in what is to follow and our own duty of
preparation. For we must be prepared both in resources and in policy.

There must be a just and settled peace, and we here in America must
contribute the full force of our enthusiasm and of our authority as a
nation to the organization of that peace upon world-wide foundations
that cannot easily be shaken. No nation should be forced to take sides
in any quarrel in which its own honor and integrity and the fortunes of
its own people are not involved; but no nation can any longer remain
neutral as against any wilful disturbance of the peace of the world. The
effects of war can no longer be confined to the areas of battle. No
nation stands wholly apart in interest when the life and interests of
all nations are thrown into confusion and peril. If hopeful and generous
enterprise is to be renewed, if the healing and helpful arts of life are
indeed to be revived when peace comes again, a new atmosphere of justice
and friendship must be generated by means the world has never tried
before. The nations of the world must unite in joint guarantees that
whatever is done to disturb the whole world's life must first be tested
in the court of the whole world's opinion before it is attempted.

These are the new foundations the world must build for itself, and we
must play our part in the reconstruction, generously and without too
much thought of our separate interests. We must make ourselves ready to
play it intelligently, vigorously, and well.

One of the contributions we must make to the world's peace is this: We
must see to it that the people in our insular possessions are treated in
their own lands as we would treat them here, and make the rule of the
United States mean the same thing everywhere,--the same justice, the
same consideration for the essential rights of men.

Besides contributing our ungrudging moral and practical support to the
establishment of peace throughout the world we must actively and
intelligently prepare ourselves to do our full service in the trade and
industry which are to sustain and develop the life of the nations in the
days to come.

We have already been provident in this great matter and supplied
ourselves with the instrumentalities of prompt adjustment. We have
created, in the Federal Trade Commission, a means of inquiry and of
accommodation in the field of commerce which ought both to coördinate
the enterprises of our traders and manufacturers and to remove the
barriers of misunderstanding and of a too technical interpretation of
the law. In the new Tariff Commission we have added another
instrumentality of observation and adjustment which promises to be
immediately serviceable. The Trade Commission substitutes counsel and
accommodation for the harsher processes of legal restraint, and the
Tariff Commission ought to substitute facts for prejudices and theories.
Our exporters have for some time had the advantage of working in the new
light thrown upon foreign markets and opportunities of trade by the
intelligent inquiries and activities of the Bureau of Foreign and
Domestic Commerce which the Democratic Congress so wisely created in
1912. The Tariff Commission completes the machinery by which we shall be
enabled to open up our legislative policy to the facts as they develop.

We can no longer indulge our traditional provincialism. We are to play a
leading part in the world drama whether we wish it or not. We shall
lend, not borrow; act for ourselves, not imitate or follow; organize and
initiate, not peep about merely to see where we may get in.

We have already formulated and agreed upon a policy of law which will
explicitly remove the ban now supposed to rest upon coöperation amongst
our exporters in seeking and securing their proper place in the markets
of the world. The field will be free, the instrumentalities at hand. It
will only remain for the masters of enterprise amongst us to act in
energetic concert, and for the Government of the United States to insist
upon the maintenance throughout the world of those conditions of
fairness and of even-handed justice in the commercial dealings of the
nations with one another upon which, after all, in the last analysis,
the peace and ordered life of the world must ultimately depend.

At home also we must see to it that the men who plan and develop and
direct our business enterprises shall enjoy definite and settled
conditions of law, a policy accommodated to the freest progress. We have
set the just and necessary limits. We have put all kinds of unfair
competition under the ban and penalty of the law. We have barred
monopoly. These fatal and ugly things being excluded, we must now
quicken action and facilitate enterprise by every just means within our
choice. There will be peace in the business world, and, with peace,
revived confidence and life.

We ought both to husband and to develop our natural resources, our
mines, our forests, our water power. I wish we could have made more
progress than we have made in this vital matter; and I call once more,
with the deepest earnestness and solicitude, upon the advocates of a
careful and provident conservation, on the one hand, and the advocates
of a free and inviting field for private capital, on the other, to get
together in a spirit of genuine accommodation and agreement and set this
great policy forward at once.

We must hearten and quicken the spirit and efficiency of labor
throughout our whole industrial system by everywhere and in all
occupations doing justice to the laborer, not only by paying a living
wage but also by making all the conditions that surround labor what they
ought to be. And we must do more than justice. We must safeguard life
and promote health and safety in every occupation in which they are
threatened or imperilled. That is more than justice, and better, because
it is humanity and economy.

We must coördinate the railway systems of the country for national use,
and must facilitate and promote their development with a view to that
coördination and to their better adaptation as a whole to the life and
trade and defense of the nation. The life and industry of the country
can be free and unhampered only if these arteries are open, efficient,
and complete.

Thus shall we stand ready to meet the future as circumstance and
international policy effect their unfolding, whether the changes come
slowly or come fast and without preface.

I have not spoken explicitly, Gentlemen, of the platform adopted at St.
Louis; but it has been implicit in all that I have said. I have sought
to interpret its spirit and meaning. The people of the United States do
not need to be assured now that that platform is a definite pledge, a
practical program. We have proved to them that our promises are made to
be kept.

We hold very definite ideals. We believe that the energy and initiative
of our people have been too narrowly coached and superintended; that
they should be set free, as we have set them free, to disperse
themselves throughout the nation; that they should not be concentrated
in the hands of a few powerful guides and guardians, as our opponents
have again and again, in effect if not in purpose, sought to concentrate
them. We believe, moreover,--who that looks about him now with
comprehending eye can fail to believe?--that the day of Little
Americanism, with its narrow horizons, when methods of "protection" and
industrial nursing were the chief study of our provincial statesmen, are
past and gone and that a day of enterprise has at last dawned for the
United States whose field is the wide world.

We hope to see the stimulus of that new day draw all America, the
republics of both continents, on to a new life and energy and initiative
in the great affairs of peace. We are Americans for Big America, and
rejoice to look forward to the days in which America shall strive to
stir the world without irritating it or drawing it on to new
antagonisms, when the nations with which we deal shall at last come to
see upon what deep foundations of humanity and justice our passion for
peace rests, and when all mankind shall look upon our great people with
a new sentiment of admiration, friendly rivalry and real affection, as
upon a people who, though keen to succeed, seeks always to be at once
generous and just and to whom humanity is dearer than profit or selfish

Upon this record and in the faith of this purpose we go to the country.


[Address delivered September 4, 1916, on the acceptance of a deed of
gift to the Nation, by the Lincoln Farm Association, of the Lincoln
Birthplace Farm, at Hodgenville, Kentucky.]

No more significant memorial could have been presented to the nation
than this. It expresses so much of what is singular and noteworthy in
the history of the country; it suggests so many of the things that we
prize most highly in our life and in our system of government. How
eloquent this little house within this shrine is of the vigor of
democracy! There is nowhere in the land any home so remote, so humble,
that it may not contain the power of mind and heart and conscience to
which nations yield and history submits its processes. Nature pays no
tribute to aristocracy, subscribes to no creed of caste, renders fealty
to no monarch or master of any name or kind. Genius is no snob. It does
not run after titles or seek by preference the high circles of society.
It affects humble company as well as great. It pays no special tribute
to universities or learned societies or conventional standards of
greatness, but serenely chooses its own comrades, its own haunts, its
own cradle even, and its own life of adventure and of training. Here is
proof of it. This little hut was the cradle of one of the great sons of
men, a man of singular, delightful, vital genius who presently emerged
upon the great stage of the nation's history, gaunt, shy, ungainly, but
dominant and majestic, a natural ruler of men, himself inevitably the
central figure of the great plot. No man can explain this, but every man
can see how it demonstrates the vigor of democracy, where every door is
open, in every hamlet and countryside, in city and wilderness alike,
for the ruler to emerge when he will and claim his leadership in the
free life. Such are the authentic proofs of the validity and vitality of

Here, no less, hides the mystery of democracy. Who shall guess this
secret of nature and providence and a free polity? Whatever the vigor
and vitality of the stock from which he sprang, its mere vigor and
soundness do not explain where this man got his great heart that seemed
to comprehend all mankind in its catholic and benignant sympathy, the
mind that sat enthroned behind those brooding, melancholy eyes, whose
vision swept many an horizon which those about him dreamed not of,--that
mind that comprehended what it had never seen, and understood the
language of affairs with the ready ease of one to the manner born,--or
that nature which seemed in its varied richness to be the familiar of
men of every way of life. This is the sacred mystery of democracy, that
its richest fruits spring up out of soils which no man has prepared and
in circumstances amidst which they are the least expected. This is a
place alike of mystery and of reassurance.

It is likely that in a society ordered otherwise than our own Lincoln
could not have found himself or the path of fame and power upon which he
walked serenely to his death. In this place it is right that we should
remind ourselves of the solid and striking facts upon which our faith in
democracy is founded. Many another man besides Lincoln has served the
nation in its highest places of counsel and of action whose origins were
as humble as his. Though the greatest example of the universal energy,
richness, stimulation, and force of democracy, he is only one example
among many. The permeating and all-pervasive virtue of the freedom which
challenges us in America to make the most of every gift and power we
possess every page of our history serves to emphasize and illustrate.
Standing here in this place, it seems almost the whole of the stirring

Here Lincoln had his beginnings. Here the end and consummation of that
great life seem remote and a bit incredible. And yet there was no break
anywhere between beginning and end, no lack of natural sequence
anywhere. Nothing really incredible happened. Lincoln was unaffectedly
as much at home in the White House as he was here. Do you share with me
the feeling, I wonder, that he was permanently at home nowhere? It seems
to me that in the case of a man,--I would rather say of a spirit,--like
Lincoln the question _where_ he was is of little significance, that it
is always _what_ he was that really arrests our thought and takes hold
of our imagination. It is the spirit always that is sovereign. Lincoln,
like the rest of us, was put through the discipline of the world,--a
very rough and exacting discipline for him, an indispensable discipline
for every man who would know what he is about in the midst of the
world's affairs; but his spirit got only its schooling there. It did not
derive its character or its vision from the experiences which brought it
to its full revelation. The test of every American must always be, not
where he is, but what he is. That, also, is of the essence of democracy,
and is the moral of which this place is most gravely expressive.

We would like to think of men like Lincoln and Washington as typical
Americans, but no man can be typical who is so unusual as these great
men were. It was typical of American life that it should produce such
men with supreme indifference as to the manner in which it produced
them, and as readily here in this hut as amidst the little circle of
cultivated gentlemen to whom Virginia owed so much in leadership and
example. And Lincoln and Washington were typical Americans in the use
they made of their genius. But there will be few such men at best, and
we will not look into the mystery of how and why they come. We will only
keep the door open for them always, and a hearty welcome,--after we have
recognized them.

I have read many biographies of Lincoln; I have sought out with the
greatest interest the many intimate stories that are told of him, the
narratives of nearby friends, the sketches at close quarters, in which
those who had the privilege of being associated with him have tried to
depict for us the very man himself "in his habit as he lived;" but I
have nowhere found a real intimate of Lincoln's. I nowhere get the
impression in any narrative or reminiscence that the writer had in fact
penetrated to the heart of his mystery, or that any man could penetrate
to the heart of it. That brooding spirit had no real familiars. I get
the impression that it never spoke out in complete self-revelation, and
that it could not reveal itself completely to anyone. It was a very
lonely spirit that looked out from underneath those shaggy brows and
comprehended men without fully communing with them, as if, in spite of
all its genial efforts at comradeship, it dwelt apart, saw its visions
of duty where no man looked on. There is a very holy and very terrible
isolation for the conscience of every man who seeks to read the destiny
in affairs for others as well as for himself, for a nation as well as
for individuals. That privacy no man can intrude upon. That lonely
search of the spirit for the right perhaps no man can assist. This
strange child of the cabin kept company with invisible things, was born
into no intimacy but that of its own silently assembling and deploying

I have come here to-day, not to utter a eulogy on Lincoln; he stands in
need of none, but to endeavor to interpret the meaning of this gift to
the nation of the place of his birth and origin. Is not this an altar
upon which we may forever keep alive the vestal fire of democracy as
upon a shrine at which some of the deepest and most sacred hopes of
mankind may from age to age be rekindled? For these hopes must
constantly be rekindled, and only those who live can rekindle them. The
only stuff that can retain the life-giving heat is the stuff of living
hearts. And the hopes of mankind cannot be kept alive by words merely,
by constitutions and doctrines of right and codes of liberty. The object
of democracy is to transmute these into the life and action of society,
the self-denial and self-sacrifice of heroic men and women willing to
make their lives an embodiment of right and service and enlightened
purpose. The commands of democracy are as imperative as its privileges
and opportunities are wide and generous. Its compulsion is upon us. It
will be great and lift a great light for the guidance of the nations
only if we are great and carry that light high for the guidance of our
own feet. We are not worthy to stand here unless we ourselves be in deed
and in truth real democrats and servants of mankind, ready to give our
very lives for the freedom and justice and spiritual exaltation of the
great nation which shelters and nurtures us.


[Address at the Suffrage Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey,
September 8, 1916.]


I have found it a real privilege to be here to-night and to listen to
the addresses which you have heard. Though you may not all of you
believe it, I would a great deal rather hear somebody else speak than
speak myself; but I should feel that I was omitting a duty if I did not
address you to-night and say some of the things that have been in my
thought as I realized the approach of this evening and the duty that
would fall upon me.

The astonishing thing about the movement which you represent is, not
that it has grown so slowly, but that it has grown so rapidly. No doubt
for those who have been a long time in the struggle, like your honored
president, it seems a long and arduous path that has been trodden, but
when you think of the cumulating force of this movement in recent
decades, you must agree with me that it is one of the most astonishing
tides in modern history. Two generations ago, no doubt Madam President
will agree with me in saying, it was a handful of women who were
fighting this cause. Now it is a great multitude of women who are
fighting it.

And there are some interesting historical connections which I would like
to attempt to point out to you. One of the most striking facts about the
history of the United States is that at the outset it was a lawyers'
history. Almost all of the questions to which America addressed itself,
say a hundred years ago, were legal questions, were questions of
method, not questions of what you were going to do with your Government,
but questions of how you were going to constitute your Government,--how
you were going to balance the powers of the States and the Federal
Government, how you were going to balance the claims of property against
the processes of liberty, how you were going to make your governments up
so as to balance the parts against each other so that the legislature
would check the executive, and the executive the legislature, and the
courts both of them put together. The whole conception of government
when the United States became a Nation was a mechanical conception of
government, and the mechanical conception of government which underlay
it was the Newtonian theory of the universe. If you pick up the
Federalist, some parts of it read like a treatise on astronomy instead
of a treatise on government. They speak of the centrifugal and the
centripetal forces, and locate the President somewhere in a rotating
system. The whole thing is a calculation of power and an adjustment of
parts. There was a time when nobody but a lawyer could know enough to
run the Government of the United States, and a distinguished English
publicist once remarked, speaking of the complexity of the American
Government, that it was no proof of the excellence of the American
Constitution that it had been successfully operated, because the
Americans could run any constitution. But there have been a great many
technical difficulties in running it.

And then something happened. A great question arose in this country
which, though complicated with legal elements, was at bottom a human
question, and nothing but a question of humanity. That was the slavery
question. And is it not significant that it was then, and then for the
first time, that women became prominent in politics in America? Not many
women; those prominent in that day were so few that you can name them
over in a brief catalogue, but, nevertheless, they then began to play a
part in writing, not only, but in public speech, which was a very novel
part for women to play in America. After the Civil War had settled some
of what seemed to be the most difficult legal questions of our system,
the life of the Nation began not only to unfold, but to accumulate. Life
in the United States was a comparatively simple matter at the time of
the Civil War. There was none of that underground struggle which is now
so manifest to those who look only a little way beneath the surface.
Stories such as Dr. Davis has told to-night were uncommon in those
simpler days. The pressure of low wages, the agony of obscure and
unremunerated toil, did not exist in America in anything like the same
proportions that they exist now. And as our life has unfolded and
accumulated, as the contacts of it have become hot, as the populations
have assembled in the cities, and the cool spaces of the country have
been supplanted by the feverish urban areas, the whole nature of our
political questions has been altered. They have ceased to be legal
questions. They have more and more become social questions, questions
with regard to the relations of human beings to one another,--not merely
their legal relations, but their moral and spiritual relations to one
another. This has been most characteristic of American life in the last
few decades, and as these questions have assumed greater and greater
prominence, the movement which this association represents has gathered
cumulative force. So that, if anybody asks himself, "What does this
gathering force mean," if he knows anything about the history of the
country, he knows that it means something that has not only come to
stay, but has come with conquering power.

I get a little impatient sometimes about the discussion of the channels
and methods by which it is to prevail. It is going to prevail, and that
is a very superficial and ignorant view of it which attributes it to
mere social unrest. It is not merely because the women are discontented.
It is because the women have seen visions of duty, and that is something
which we not only cannot resist, but, if we be true Americans, we do not
wish to resist. America took its origin in visions of the human spirit,
in aspirations for the deepest sort of liberty of the mind and of the
heart, and as visions of that sort come up to the sight of those who are
spiritually minded in America, America comes more and more into her
birthright and into the perfection of her development.

So that what we have to realize in dealing with forces of this sort is
that we are dealing with the substance of life itself. I have felt as I
sat here to-night the wholesome contagion of the occasion. Almost every
other time that I ever visited Atlantic City, I came to fight somebody.
I hardly know how to conduct myself when I have not come to fight
against anybody, but with somebody. I have come to suggest, among other
things, that when the forces of nature are steadily working and the tide
is rising to meet the moon, you need not be afraid that it will not come
to its flood. We feel the tide; we rejoice in the strength of it; and we
shall not quarrel in the long run as to the method of it. Because, when
you are working with masses of men and organized bodies of opinion, you
have got to carry the organized body along. The whole art and practice
of government consists not in moving individuals, but in moving masses.
It is all very well to run ahead and beckon, but, after all, you have
got to wait for the body to follow. I have not come to ask you to be
patient, because you have been, but I have come to congratulate you that
there was a force behind you that will beyond any peradventure be
triumphant, and for which you can afford a little while to wait.


[Address to the Senate of the United States, delivered January 22,


On the eighteenth of December last I addressed an identic note to the
governments of the nations now at war requesting them to state, more
definitely than they had yet been stated by either group of
belligerents, the terms upon which they would deem it possible to make
peace. I spoke on behalf of humanity and of the rights of all neutral
nations like our own, many of whose most vital interests the war puts in
constant jeopardy. The Central Powers united in a reply which stated
merely that they were ready to meet their antagonists in conference to
discuss terms of peace. The Entente Powers have replied much more
definitely and have stated, in general terms, indeed, but with
sufficient definiteness to imply details, the arrangements, guarantees,
and acts of reparation which they deem to be the indispensable
conditions of a satisfactory settlement. We are that much nearer a
definite discussion of the peace which shall end the present war. We are
that much nearer the discussion of the international concert which must
thereafter hold the world at peace. In every discussion of the peace
that must end this war it is taken for granted that that peace must be
followed by some definite concert of power which will make it virtually
impossible that any such catastrophe should ever overwhelm us again.
Every lover of mankind, every sane and thoughtful man must take that for

I have sought this opportunity to address you because I thought that I
owed it to you, as the council associated with me in the final
determination of our international obligations, to disclose to you
without reserve the thought and purpose that have been taking form in my
mind in regard to the duty of our Government in the days to come when it
will be necessary to lay afresh and upon a new plan the foundations of
peace among the nations.

It is inconceivable that the people of the United States should play no
part in that great enterprise. To take part in such a service will be
the opportunity for which they have sought to prepare themselves by the
very principles and purposes of their polity and the approved practices
of their Government ever since the days when they set up a new nation in
the high and honorable hope that it might in all that it was and did
show mankind the way to liberty. They cannot in honor withhold the
service to which they are now about to be challenged. They do not wish
to withhold it. But they owe it to themselves and to the other nations
of the world to state the conditions under which they will feel free to
render it.

That service is nothing less than this, to add their authority and their
power to the authority and force of other nations to guarantee peace and
justice throughout the world. Such a settlement cannot now be long
postponed. It is right that before it comes this Government should
frankly formulate the conditions upon which it would feel justified in
asking our people to approve its formal and solemn adherence to a League
for Peace. I am here to attempt to state those conditions.

The present war must first be ended; but we owe it to candor and to a
just regard for the opinion of mankind to say that, so far as our
participation in guarantees of future peace is concerned, it makes a
great deal of difference in what way and upon what terms it is ended.
The treaties and agreements which bring it to an end must embody terms
which will create a peace that is worth guaranteeing and preserving, a
peace that will win the approval of mankind, not merely a peace that
will serve the several interests and immediate aims of the nations
engaged. We shall have no voice in determining what those terms shall
be, but we shall, I feel sure, have a voice in determining whether they
shall be made lasting or not by the guarantees of a universal covenant;
and our judgment upon what is fundamental and essential as a condition
precedent to permanency should be spoken now, not afterwards when it may
be too late.

No covenant of coöperative peace that does not include the peoples of
the New World can suffice to keep the future safe against war; and yet
there is only one sort of peace that the peoples of America could join
in guaranteeing. The elements of that peace must be elements that engage
the confidence and satisfy the principles of the American governments,
elements consistent with their political faith and with the practical
convictions which the peoples of America have once for all embraced and
undertaken to defend.

I do not mean to say that any American government would throw any
obstacle in the way of any terms of peace the governments now at war
might agree upon, or seek to upset them when made, whatever they might
be. I only take it for granted that mere terms of peace between the
belligerents will not satisfy even the belligerents themselves. Mere
agreements may not make peace secure. It will be absolutely necessary
that a force be created as a guarantor of the permanency of the
settlement so much greater than the force of any nation now engaged or
any alliance hitherto formed or projected that no nation, no probable
combination of nations could face or withstand it. If the peace
presently to be made is to endure, it must be a peace made secure by the
organized major force of mankind.

The terms of the immediate peace agreed upon will determine whether it
is a peace for which such a guarantee can be secured. The question upon
which the whole future peace and policy of the world depends is this: Is
the present war a struggle for a just and secure peace, or only for a
new balance of power? If it be only a struggle for a new balance of
power, who will guarantee, who can guarantee, the stable equilibrium of
the new arrangement? Only a tranquil Europe can be a stable Europe.
There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not
organized rivalries, but an organized common peace.

Fortunately we have received very explicit assurances on this point. The
statesmen of both of the groups of nations now arrayed against one
another have said, in terms that could not be misinterpreted, that it
was no part of the purpose they had in mind to crush their antagonists.
But the implications of these assurances may not be equally clear to
all,--may not be the same on both sides of the water. I think it will be
serviceable if I attempt to set forth what we understand them to be.

They imply, first of all, that it must be a peace without victory. It is
not pleasant to say this. I beg that I may be permitted to put my own
interpretation upon it and that it may be understood that no other
interpretation was in my thought. I am seeking only to face realities
and to face them without soft concealments. Victory would mean peace
forced upon the loser, a victor's terms imposed upon the vanquished. It
would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable
sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon
which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon
quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last. Only a peace the very
principle of which is equality and a common participation in a common
benefit. The right state of mind, the right feeling between nations, is
as necessary for a lasting peace as is the just settlement of vexed
questions of territory or of racial and national allegiance.

The equality of nations upon which peace must be founded if it is to
last must be an equality of rights; the guarantees exchanged must
neither recognize nor imply a difference between big nations and small,
between those that are powerful and those that are weak. Right must be
based upon the common strength, not upon the individual strength, of the
nations upon whose concert peace will depend. Equality of territory or
of resources there of course cannot be; nor any other sort of equality
not gained in the ordinary peaceful and legitimate development of the
peoples themselves. But no one asks or expects anything more than an
equality of rights. Mankind is looking now for freedom of life, not for
equipoises of power.

And there is a deeper thing involved than even equality of right among
organized nations. No peace can last, or ought to last, which does not
recognize and accept the principle that governments derive all their
just powers from the consent of the governed, and that no right anywhere
exists to hand peoples about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they
were property. I take it for granted, for instance, if I may venture
upon a single example, that statesmen everywhere are agreed that there
should be a united, independent, and autonomous Poland, and that
henceforth inviolable security of life, of worship, and of industrial
and social development should be guaranteed to all peoples who have
lived hitherto under the power of governments devoted to a faith and
purpose hostile to their own.

I speak of this, not because of any desire to exalt an abstract
political principle which has always been held very dear by those who
have sought to build up liberty in America, but for the same reason that
I have spoken of the other conditions of peace which seem to me clearly
indispensable,--because I wish frankly to uncover realities. Any peace
which does not recognize and accept this principle will inevitably be
upset. It will not rest upon the affections or the convictions of
mankind. The ferment of spirit of whole populations will fight subtly
and constantly against it, and all the world will sympathize. The world
can be at peace only if its life is stable, and there can be no
stability where the will is in rebellion, where there is not
tranquillity of spirit and a sense of justice, of freedom, and of right.

So far as practicable, moreover, every great people now struggling
towards a full development of its resources and of its powers should be
assured a direct outlet to the great highways of the sea. Where this
cannot be done by the cession of territory, it can no doubt be done by
the neutralization of direct rights of way under the general guarantee
which will assure the peace itself. With a right comity of arrangement
no nation need be shut away from free access to the open paths of the
world's commerce.

And the paths of the sea must alike in law and in fact be free. The
freedom of the seas is the _sine qua non_ of peace, equality, and
coöperation. No doubt a somewhat radical reconsideration of many of the
rules of international practice hitherto thought to be established may
be necessary in order to make the seas indeed free and common in
practically all circumstances for the use of mankind, but the motive for
such changes is convincing and compelling. There can be no trust or
intimacy between the peoples of the world without them. The free,
constant, unthreatened intercourse of nations is an essential part of
the process of peace and of development. It need not be difficult either
to define or to secure the freedom of the seas if the governments of the
world sincerely desire to come to an agreement concerning it.

It is a problem closely connected with the limitation of naval armaments
and the coöperation of the navies of the world in keeping the seas at
once free and safe. And the question of limiting naval armaments opens
the wider and perhaps more difficult question of the limitation of
armies and of all programs of military preparation. Difficult and
delicate as these questions are, they must be faced with the utmost
candor and decided in a spirit of real accommodation if peace is to come
with healing in its wings, and come to stay. Peace cannot be had without
concession and sacrifice. There can be no sense of safety and equality
among the nations if great preponderating armaments are henceforth to
continue here and there to be built up and maintained. The statesmen of
the world must plan for peace and nations must adjust and accommodate
their policy to it as they have planned for war and made ready for
pitiless contest and rivalry. The question of armaments, whether on land
or sea, is the most immediately and intensely practical question
connected with the future fortunes of nations and of mankind.

I have spoken upon these great matters without reserve and with the
utmost explicitness because it has seemed to me to be necessary if the
world's yearning desire for peace was anywhere to find free voice and
utterance. Perhaps I am the only person in high authority amongst all
the peoples of the world who is at liberty to speak and hold nothing
back. I am speaking as an individual, and yet I am speaking also, of
course, as the responsible head of a great government, and I feel
confident that I have said what the people of the United States would
wish me to say. May I not add that I hope and believe that I am in
effect speaking for liberals and friends of humanity in every nation and
of every program of liberty? I would fain believe that I am speaking for
the silent mass of mankind everywhere who have as yet had no place or
opportunity to speak their real hearts out concerning the death and ruin
they see to have come already upon the persons and the homes they hold
most dear.

And in holding out the expectation that the people and Government of the
United States will join the other civilized nations of the world in
guaranteeing the permanence of peace upon such terms as I have named I
speak with the greater boldness and confidence because it is clear to
every man who can think that there is in this promise no breach in
either our traditions or our policy as a nation, but a fulfilment,
rather, of all that we have professed or striven for.

I am proposing, as it were, that the nations should with one accord
adopt the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world:
that no nation should seek to extend its polity over any other nation or
people, but that every people should be left free to determine its own
polity, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid,
the little along with the great and powerful.

I am proposing that all nations henceforth avoid entangling alliances
which would draw them into competitions of power, catch them in a net of
intrigue and selfish rivalry, and disturb their own affairs with
influences intruded from without. There is no entangling alliance in a
concert of power. When all unite to act in the same sense and with the
same purpose all act in the common interest and are free to live their
own lives under a common protection.

I am proposing government by the consent of the governed; that freedom
of the seas which in international conference after conference
representatives of the United States have urged with the eloquence of
those who are the convinced disciples of liberty; and that moderation of
armaments which makes of armies and navies a power for order merely, not
an instrument of aggression or of selfish violence.

These are American principles, American policies. We could stand for no
others. And they are also the principles and policies of forward looking
men and women everywhere, of every modern nation, of every enlightened
community. They are the principles of mankind and must prevail.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
February 3, 1917.]


The Imperial German Government on the thirty-first of January announced
to this Government and to the governments of the other neutral nations
that on and after the first day of February, the present month, it would
adopt a policy with regard to the use of submarines against all shipping
seeking to pass through certain designated areas of the high seas to
which it is clearly my duty to call your attention.

Let me remind the Congress that on the eighteenth of April last, in view
of the sinking on the twenty-fourth of March of the cross-Channel
passenger steamer _Sussex_ by a German submarine, without summons or
warning, and the consequent loss of the lives of several citizens of the
United States who were passengers aboard her, this Government addressed
a note to the Imperial German Government in which it made the following

"If it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prosecute
relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by the
use of submarines without regard to what the Government of the United
States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of international
law and the universally recognized dictates of humanity, the Government
of the United States is at last forced to the conclusion that there is
but one course it can pursue. Unless the Imperial Government should now
immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of
submarine warfare against passenger and freight-carrying vessels, the
Government of the United States can have no choice but to sever
diplomatic relations with the German Empire altogether."

In reply to this declaration the Imperial German Government gave this
Government the following assurance:

"The German Government is prepared to do its utmost to confine the
operations of war for the rest of its duration to the fighting forces of
the belligerents, thereby also insuring the freedom of the seas, a
principle upon which the German Government believes, now as before, to
be in agreement with the Government of the United States.

"The German Government, guided by this idea, notifies the Government of
the United States that the German naval forces have received the
following orders: In accordance with the general principles of visit and
search and destruction of merchant vessels recognized by international
law, such vessels, both within and without the area declared as naval
war zone, shall not be sunk without warning and without saving human
lives, unless these ships attempt to escape or offer resistance.

"But," it added, "neutrals cannot expect that Germany, forced to fight
for her existence, shall, for the sake of neutral interest, restrict the
use of an effective weapon if her enemy is permitted to continue to
apply at will methods of warfare violating the rules of international
law. Such a demand would be incompatible with the character of
neutrality, and the German Government is convinced that the Government
of the United States does not think of making such a demand, knowing
that the Government of the United States has repeatedly declared that it
is determined to restore the principle of the freedom of the seas, from
whatever quarter it has been violated."

To this the Government of the United States replied on the eighth of
May, accepting, of course, the assurances given, but adding,

"The Government of the United States feels it necessary to state that it
takes it for granted that the Imperial German Government does not intend
to imply that the maintenance of its newly announced policy is in any
way contingent upon the course or result of diplomatic negotiations
between the Government of the United States and any other belligerent
Government, notwithstanding the fact that certain passages in the
Imperial Government's note of the fourth instant might appear to be
susceptible of that construction. In order, however, to avoid any
possible misunderstanding, the Government of the United States notifies
the Imperial Government that it cannot for a moment entertain, much less
discuss, a suggestion that respect by German naval authorities for the
rights of citizens of the United States upon the high seas should in any
way or in the slightest degree be made contingent upon the conduct of
any other Government affecting the rights of neutrals and
non-combatants. Responsibility in such matters is single, not joint;
absolute, not relative."

To this note of the eighth of May the Imperial German Government made no

On the thirty-first of January, the Wednesday of the present week, the
German Ambassador handed to the Secretary of State, along with a formal
note, a memorandum which contains the following statement:

"The Imperial Government, therefore, does not doubt that the Government
of the United States will understand the situation thus forced upon
Germany by the Entente-Allies' brutal methods of war and by their
determination to destroy the Central Powers, and that the Government of
the United States will further realize that the now openly disclosed
intentions of the Entente-Allies give back to Germany the freedom of
action which she reserved in her note addressed to the Government of the
United States on May 4, 1916.

"Under these circumstances Germany will meet the illegal measures of her
enemies by forcibly preventing after February 1, 1917, in a zone around
Great Britain, France, Italy, and in the Eastern Mediterranean all
navigation, that of neutrals included, from and to England and from and
to France, etc., etc. All ships met within the zone will be sunk."

I think that you will agree with me that, in view of this declaration,
which suddenly and without prior intimation of any kind deliberately
withdraws the solemn assurance given in the Imperial Government's note
of the fourth of May, 1916, this Government has no alternative
consistent with the dignity and honor of the United States but to take
the course which, in its note of the eighteenth of April, 1916, it
announced that it would take in the event that the German Government did
not declare and effect an abandonment of the methods of submarine
warfare which it was then employing and to which it now purposes again
to resort.

I have, therefore, directed the Secretary of State to announce to His
Excellency the German Ambassador that all diplomatic relations between
the United States and the German Empire are severed, and that the
American Ambassador at Berlin will immediately be withdrawn; and, in
accordance with this decision, to hand to His Excellency his passports.

Notwithstanding this unexpected action of the German Government, this
sudden and deeply deplorable renunciation of its assurances, given this
Government at one of the most critical moments of tension in the
relations of the two governments, I refuse to believe that it is the
intention of the German authorities to do in fact what they have warned
us they will feel at liberty to do. I cannot bring myself to believe
that they will indeed pay no regard to the ancient friendship between
their people and our own or to the solemn obligations which have been
exchanged between them and destroy American ships and take the lives of
American citizens in the willful prosecution of the ruthless naval
program they have announced their intention to adopt. Only actual overt
acts on their part can make me believe it even now.

If this inveterate confidence on my part in the sobriety and prudent
foresight of their purpose should unhappily prove unfounded; if American
ships and American lives should in fact be sacrificed by their naval
commanders in heedless contravention of the just and reasonable
understandings of international law and the obvious dictates of
humanity, I shall take the liberty of coming again before the Congress,
to ask that authority be given me to use any means that may be necessary
for the protection of our seamen and our people in the prosecution of
their peaceful and legitimate errands on the high seas. I can do nothing
less. I take it for granted that all neutral governments will take the
same course.

We do not desire any hostile conflict with the Imperial German
Government. We are the sincere friends of the German people and
earnestly desire to remain at peace with the Government which speaks for
them. We shall not believe that they are hostile to us unless and until
we are obliged to believe it; and we purpose nothing more than the
reasonable defense of the undoubted rights of our people. We wish to
serve no selfish ends. We seek merely to stand true alike in thought and
in action to the immemorial principles of our people which I sought to
express in my address to the Senate only two weeks ago,--seek merely to
vindicate our right to liberty and justice and an unmolested life. These
are the bases of peace, not war. God grant we may not be challenged to
defend them by acts of wilful injustice on the part of the Government of


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
February 26, 1917.]


I have again asked the privilege of addressing you because we are moving
through critical times during which it seems to me to be my duty to keep
in close touch with the Houses of Congress, so that neither counsel nor
action shall run at cross purposes between us.

On the third of February I officially informed you of the sudden and
unexpected action of the Imperial German Government in declaring its
intention to disregard the promises it had made to this Government in
April last and undertake immediate submarine operations against all
commerce, whether of belligerents or of neutrals, that should seek to
approach Great Britain and Ireland, the Atlantic coasts of Europe, or
the harbors of the eastern Mediterranean, and to conduct those
operations without regard to the established restrictions of
international practice, without regard to any considerations of humanity
even which might interfere with their object. That policy was forthwith
put into practice. It has now been in active execution for nearly four

Its practical results are not yet fully disclosed. The commerce of other
neutral nations is suffering severely, but not, perhaps, very much more
severely than it was already suffering before the first of February,
when the new policy of the Imperial Government was put into operation.
We have asked the coöperation of the other neutral governments to
prevent these depredations, but so far none of them has thought it wise
to join us in any common course of action. Our own commerce has
suffered, is suffering, rather in apprehension than in fact, rather
because so many of our ships are timidly keeping to their home ports
than because American ships have been sunk.

Two American vessels have been sunk, the _Housatonic_ and the _Lyman M.
Law_. The case of the _Housatonic,_ which was carrying food-stuffs
consigned to a London firm, was essentially like the case of the _Fry_,
in which, it will be recalled, the German Government admitted its
liability for damages, and the lives of the crew, as in the case of the
_Fry_, were safeguarded with reasonable care. The case of the _Law_,
which was carrying lemon-box staves to Palermo, disclosed a ruthlessness
of method which deserves grave condemnation, but was accompanied by no
circumstances which might not have been expected at any time in
connection with the use of the submarine against merchantmen as the
German Government has used it.

In sum, therefore, the situation we find ourselves in with regard to the
actual conduct of the German submarine warfare against commerce and its
effects upon our own ships and people is substantially the same that it
was when I addressed you on the third of February, except for the tying
up of our shipping in our own ports because of the unwillingness of our
shipowners to risk their vessels at sea without insurance or adequate
protection, and the very serious congestion of our commerce which has
resulted, a congestion which is growing rapidly more and more serious
every day. This in itself might presently accomplish, in effect, what
the new German submarine orders were meant to accomplish, so far as we
are concerned. We can only say, therefore, that the overt act which I
have ventured to hope the German commanders would in fact avoid has not

But, while this is happily true, it must be admitted that there have
been certain additional indications and expressions of purpose on the
part of the German press and the German authorities which have increased
rather than lessened the impression that, if our ships and our people
are spared, it will be because of fortunate circumstances or because the
commanders of the German submarines which they may happen to encounter
exercise an unexpected discretion and restraint rather than because of
the instructions under which those commanders are acting. It would be
foolish to deny that the situation is fraught with the gravest
possibilities and dangers. No thoughtful man can fail to see that the
necessity for definite action may come at any time, if we are in fact,
and not in word merely, to defend our elementary rights as a neutral
nation. It would be most imprudent to be unprepared.

I cannot in such circumstances be unmindful of the fact that the
expiration of the term of the present Congress is immediately at hand,
by constitutional limitation; and that it would in all likelihood
require an unusual length of time to assemble and organize the Congress
which is to succeed it. I feel that I ought, in view of that fact, to
obtain from you full and immediate assurance of the authority which I
may need at any moment to exercise. No doubt I already possess that
authority without special warrant of law, by the plain implication of my
constitutional duties and powers; but I prefer, in the present
circumstances, not to act upon general implication. I wish to feel that
the authority and the power of the Congress are behind me in whatever it
may become necessary for me to do. We are jointly the servants of the
people and must act together and in their spirit, so far as we can
divine and interpret it.

No one doubts what it is our duty to do. We must defend our commerce
and the lives of our people in the midst of the present trying
circumstances, with discretion but with clear and steadfast purpose.
Only the method and the extent remain to be chosen, upon the occasion,
if occasion should indeed arise. Since it has unhappily proved
impossible to safeguard our neutral rights by diplomatic means against
the unwarranted infringements they are suffering at the hands of
Germany, there may be no recourse but to _armed_ neutrality, which we
shall know how to maintain and for which there is abundant American

It is devoutly to be hoped that it will not be necessary to put armed
force anywhere into action. The American people do not desire it, and
our desire is not different from theirs. I am sure that they will
understand the spirit in which I am now acting, the purpose I hold
nearest my heart and would wish to exhibit in everything I do. I am
anxious that the people of the nations at war also should understand and
not mistrust us. I hope that I need give no further proofs and
assurances than I have already given throughout nearly three years of
anxious patience that I am the friend of peace and mean to preserve it
for America so long as I am able. I am not now proposing or
contemplating war or any steps that need lead to it. I merely request
that you will accord me by your own vote and definite bestowal the means
and the authority to safeguard in practice the right of a great people
who are at peace and who are desirous of exercising none but the rights
of peace to follow the pursuits of peace in quietness and good
will,--rights recognized time out of mind by all the civilized nations
of the world. No course of my choosing or of theirs will lead to war.
War can come only by the wilful acts and aggressions of others.

You will understand why I can make no definite proposals or forecasts
of action now and must ask for your supporting authority in the most
general terms. The form in which action may become necessary cannot yet
be foreseen. I believe that the people will be willing to trust me to
act with restraint, with prudence, and in the true spirit of amity and
good faith that they have themselves displayed throughout these trying
months; and it is in that belief that I request that you will authorize
me to supply our merchant ships with defensive arms, should that become
necessary, and with the means of using them, and to employ any other
instrumentalities or methods that may be necessary and adequate to
protect our ships and our people in their legitimate and peaceful
pursuits on the seas. I request also that you will grant me at the same
time, along with the powers I ask, a sufficient credit to enable me to
provide adequate means of protection where they are lacking, including
adequate insurance against the present war risks.

I have spoken of our commerce and of the legitimate errands of our
people on the seas, but you will not be misled as to my main thought,
the thought that lies beneath these phrases and gives them dignity and
weight. It is not of material interests merely that we are thinking. It
is, rather, of fundamental human rights, chief of all the right of life
itself. I am thinking, not only of the rights of Americans to go and
come about their proper business by way of the sea, but also of
something much deeper, much more fundamental than that. I am thinking of
those rights of humanity without which there is no civilization. My
theme is of those great principles of compassion and of protection which
mankind has sought to throw about human lives, the lives of
non-combatants, the lives of men who are peacefully at work keeping the
industrial processes of the world quick and vital, the lives of women
and children and of those who supply the labor which ministers to their
sustenance. We are speaking of no selfish material rights but of rights
which our hearts support and whose foundation is that righteous passion
for justice upon which all law, all structures alike of family, of
state, and of mankind must rest, as upon the ultimate base of our
existence and our liberty. I cannot imagine any man with American
principles at his heart hesitating to defend these things.


[Washington, March 4, 1917.]


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.

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.

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 coöperation 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:

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

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

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.

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.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
April 2, 1917.]


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 third 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. 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

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.
The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare
against mankind.

It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American
lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of,
but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been
sunk and overwhelmed in 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 twenty-sixth 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
only 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 no common wrongs;
they cut to the very roots of human life.

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 is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable
coöperation 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

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.

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 things in mind now that I had in mind when
I addressed the Senate on the twenty-second of January last; the same
that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the third of
February and on the twenty-sixth 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 ensure 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

We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards
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 out 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.

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 knew 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 towards life. The 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, character, or
purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian
people have been added in all their naïve 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 has 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 counsel, 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 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
towards 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.

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 gauge 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
peoples 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 tested 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 nations can make them.

Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish object, 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 endorsement 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. 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 towards 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 reëstablishment 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 towards 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 towards
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.

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.


[President Wilson's Address to his Fellow-Countrymen, April 16, 1917.]


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.

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 coöperating 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 worn-out 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
battlefield 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 coöperating is an
abundance of supplies, and especially of food-stuffs. 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. Upon the farmers of this country,
therefore, in large measure, rests the fate of the war and the fate of
the nations. May the nation not count upon them to omit no step that
will increase the production of their land or that will bring about the
most effectual coöperation in the sale and distribution of their
products? The time is short. It is of the most imperative importance
that everything possible be done and done immediately to make sure of
large harvests. I call upon young men and old alike and upon the
able-bodied boys of the land to accept and act upon this duty--to turn
in hosts to the farms and make certain that no pains and no labor is
lacking in this great matter.

I particularly appeal to the farmers of the South to plant abundant
food-stuffs as well as cotton. They can show their patriotism in no
better or more convincing way than by resisting the great temptation of
the present price of cotton and helping, helping upon a great scale, to
feed the nation and the peoples everywhere who are fighting for their
liberties and for our own. The variety of their crops will be the
visible measure of their comprehension of their national duty.

The Government of the United States and the governments of the several
States stand ready to coöperate. They will do everything possible to
assist farmers in securing an adequate supply of seed, an adequate force
of laborers when they are most needed, at harvest time, and the means of
expediting shipments of fertilizers and farm machinery, as well as of
the crops themselves when harvested. The course of trade shall be as
unhampered as it is possible to make it and there shall be no
unwarranted manipulation of the nation's food supply by those who handle
it on its way to the consumer. This is our opportunity to demonstrate
the efficiency of a great Democracy and we shall not fall short of it!

This let me say to the middlemen of every sort, whether they are
handling our food-stuffs or our raw materials of manufacture or the
products of our mills and factories: The eyes of the country will be
especially upon you. This is your opportunity for signal service,
efficient and disinterested. The country expects you, as it expects all
others, to forego unusual profits, to organize and expedite shipments of
supplies of every kind, but especially of food, with an eye to the
service you are rendering and in the spirit of those who enlist in the
ranks, for their people, not for themselves. I shall confidently expect
you to deserve and win the confidence of people of every sort and

To the men who run the railways of the country, whether they be managers
or operative employees, let me say that the railways are the arteries of
the nation's life and that upon them rests the immense responsibility of
seeing to it that those arteries suffer no obstruction of any kind, no
inefficiency or slackened power. To the merchant let me suggest the
motto, "Small profits and quick service"; and to the shipbuilder the
thought that the life of the war depends upon him. The food and the war
supplies must be carried across the seas no matter how many ships are
sent to the bottom. The places of those that go down must be supplied
and supplied at once. To the miner let me say that he stands where the
farmer does: the work of the world waits on him. If he slackens or
fails, armies and statesmen are helpless. He also is enlisted in the
great Service Army. The manufacturer does not need to be told, I hope,
that the nation looks to him to speed and perfect every process; and I
want only to remind his employees that their service is absolutely
indispensable and is counted on by every man who loves the country and
its liberties.

Let me suggest, also, that everyone who creates or cultivates a garden
helps, and helps greatly, to solve the problem of the feeding of the
nations; and that every housewife who practices strict economy puts
herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation. This is the time for
America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and
extravagance. Let every man and every woman assume the duty of careful,
provident use and expenditure as a public duty, as a dictate of
patriotism which no one can now expect ever to be excused or forgiven
for ignoring.

In the hope that this statement of the needs of the nation and of the
world in this hour of supreme crisis may stimulate those to whom it
comes and remind all who need reminder of the solemn duties of a time
such as the world has never seen before, I beg that all editors and
publishers everywhere will give as prominent publication and as wide
circulation as possible to this appeal. I venture to suggest, also, to
all advertising agencies that they would perhaps render a very
substantial and timely service to the country if they would give it
widespread repetition. And I hope that clergymen will not think the
theme of it an unworthy or inappropriate subject of comment and homily
from their pulpits.

The supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act, and
serve together!



[Speech in Washington Monument Grounds, June 14, 1917.]

We know now clearly, as we knew before we ourselves were engaged in the
War, that we are not enemies of the German people, and 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 themselves, as
well as our own. They themselves are in the grip of the same sinister
power that has stretched its ugly talons out and drawn blood from us.

The War was begun by the military masters of Germany, who have proved
themselves to be also the masters of Austria-Hungary. These men never
regarded nations as peoples of men, women, and children of like blood
and frame as themselves, for whom Governments existed and in whom
Governments had their life. They regarded them merely as serviceable
organizations, which they could, either by force or intrigue, bend or
corrupt to their own purpose. They regarded the smaller States,
particularly, and those peoples, who could be overwhelmed by force, as
their natural tools and instruments of domination.

Their purpose had long been avowed. The statesmen of other nations, to
whom that purpose was incredible, paid little attention, and regarded
what the German professors expounded in their class-rooms and the German
writers set forth to the world as the goal of German policy as rather
the dream of minds detached from practical affairs and the preposterous
private conceptions of Germany's destiny than the actual plans of
responsible rulers. But the rulers of Germany knew all the while what
concrete plans, what well-advanced intrigue, lay at the back of what
professors and writers were saying, and were glad to go forward
unmolested, filling the thrones of the Balkan States with German
princes, putting German officers at the service of Turkey, developing
plans of sedition and rebellion in India and Egypt, and setting their
fires in Persia.

The demands made by Austria upon Serbia were a mere single step in the
plan which compassed Europe and Asia from Berlin to Bagdad. They hoped
that these 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. Their plan was to throw a belt of German military
power and political control across the very center of Europe and beyond
the Mediterranean into the heart of Asia, and Austria-Hungary was to be
as much their tool and pawn as Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, or the
ponderous States of the East. Austria-Hungary, indeed, was to become a
part of the Central German Empire, absorbed and dominated by the same
forces and influences that originally cemented the German States

The dream had its heart at Berlin. It could have had its heart nowhere
else. It rejected entirely the idea of the solidarity of race. The
choice of peoples played no part at all in the contemplated binding
together of the racial and political units, which could keep together
only by force. And they actually carried the greater part of that
amazing plan into execution.

Look how things stand. Austria, at their mercy, 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
they 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 consented to its
will; Rumania is overrun by the Turkish armies, which the Germans
trained into serving Germany, and the guns of the German warships lying
in the harbor at Constantinople remind the 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. Is it not easy to
understand the eagerness for peace that has been manifested by Berlin
ever since the snare was set and sprung? "Peace, peace, peace" has been
the talk of her Foreign Office for a year or 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 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 a
slowly relaxing grasp, and practically the whole of Belgium. Its armies
press close on Russia and overrun Poland. 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 abroad and at home will fall to pieces. It is their
power at home of which they are thinking now more than of their power
abroad. It is that power which is trembling under their very feet.

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 advantage
still in their hands, 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 and 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 has
been the case in England, the United States, and France--in all great
countries of modern times 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, and 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.

Do you not now understand the new 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 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 liberalism are gathering out
of this war. They are employing Liberals in their enterprises. Let them
once succeed, and these men, now their tools, will be ground to powder
beneath the weight of the great military Empire; the Revolutionists of
Russia will be cut off from all succour and the coöperation of Western
Europe, and a counter-revolution will be fostered and supported; Germany
herself will lose her chance of freedom, and all Europe will arm for the
next final struggle.

The sinister intrigue is being no less actively conducted in this
country than in Russia and in every country of Europe into which the
agents and dupes of the Imperial German Government can get access. That
Government has many spokesmen here, in places both 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, and they declare that this is a foreign war, which can touch
America with no danger either to her lands or institutions. They set
England at the center of the stage, and talk of her ambition to assert
her economic dominion throughout the world. They appeal to our ancient
tradition of isolation, and seek to undermine the Government with false
professions of loyalty to its principles.

But they will make no headway. Falsehood betrays them in every accent.
These facts are patent to all the world, and nowhere more plainly than
in the United States, where we are accustomed to deal with facts, not
sophistries; and the great fact that stands out above all the rest is
that this is a peoples' war for freedom, justice and self-government
among all the nations of the world, a war to make the world safe for the
peoples who live upon it, the German people included, and that with us
rests the choice to break through all these hypocrisies, the patent
cheats and masks of brute force, and help set the world free, or else
stand aside and let it be dominated through sheer weight of arms and the
arbitrary choices of the self-constituted masters by the nation which
can maintain the biggest armies, the most irresistible armaments, a
power to which the world has afforded no parallel, in the face of which
political freedom must wither and perish.

For us there was but one choice. We have made it, and woe be to that
man, or that 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 nation. 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 are born, and a new glory shall shine in the face of our


[This important and eloquent document, though signed by the Secretary of
State, was of course authorized by the President, and indeed bears
internal marks of being his own composition. The Pope had made a plea
for peace, which was by our government deemed premature.]

AUGUST 27, 1917.


In acknowledgment of the communication of Your Holiness to the
belligerent peoples, dated August 1, 1917, the President of the United
States requests me to transmit the following reply:

Every heart that has not been blinded and hardened by this terrible war
must be touched by this moving appeal of His Holiness the Pope, must
feel the dignity and force of the humane and generous motives which
prompted it, and must fervently wish that we might take the path of
peace he so persuasively points out. But it would be folly to take it if
it does not in fact lead to the goal he proposes. Our response must be
based upon the stern facts and upon nothing else. It is not a mere
cessation of arms he desires; it is a stable and enduring peace. This
agony must not be gone through with again, and it must be a matter of
very sober judgment that will insure us against it.

His Holiness in substance proposes that we return to the status quo ante
bellum, and that then there be a general condonation, disarmament, and a
concert of nations based upon an acceptance of the principle of
arbitration; that by a similar concert freedom of the seas be
established; and that the territorial claims of France and Italy, the
perplexing problems of the Balkan States, and the restitution of Poland
be left to such conciliatory adjustments as may be possible in the new
temper of such a peace, due regard being paid to the aspirations of the
peoples whose political fortunes and affiliations will be involved.

It is manifest that no part of this program can be successfully carried
out unless the restitution of the status quo ante furnishes a firm and
satisfactory basis for it. The object of this war is to deliver the free
peoples of the world from the menace and the actual power of a vast
military establishment controlled by an irresponsible government which,
having secretly planned to dominate the world, proceeded to carry the
plan out without regard either to the sacred obligations of treaty or
the long-established practices and long-cherished principles of
international action and honor; which chose its own time for the war;
delivered its blow fiercely and suddenly; stopped at no barrier either
of law or of mercy; swept a whole continent within the tide of
blood--not the blood of soldiers only, but the blood of innocent women
and children also and of the helpless poor; and now stands balked but
not defeated, the enemy of four-fifths of the world. This power is not
the German people. It is the ruthless master of the German people. It is
no business of ours how that great people came under its control or
submitted with temporary zest to the domination of its purpose; but it
is our business to see to it that the history of the rest of the world
is no longer left to its handling.

To deal with such a power by way of peace upon the plan proposed by His
Holiness the Pope would, so far as we can see, involve a recuperation of
its strength and a renewal of its policy; would make it necessary to
create a permanent hostile combination of nations against the German
people who are its instruments; and would result in abandoning the
newborn Russia to the intrigue, the manifold subtle interference, and
the certain counter-revolution which would be attempted by all the
malign influences to which the German Government has of late accustomed
the world. Can peace be based upon a restitution of its power or upon
any word of honor it could pledge in a treaty of settlement and

Responsible statesmen must now everywhere see, if they never saw before,
that no peace can rest securely upon political or economic restrictions
meant to benefit some nations and cripple or embarrass others, upon
vindictive action of any sort, or any kind of revenge or deliberate
injury. The American people have suffered intolerable wrongs at the
hands of the Imperial German Government, but they desire no reprisal
upon the German people who have themselves suffered all things in this
war which they did not choose. They believe that peace should rest upon
the rights of peoples, not the rights of Governments--the rights of
peoples great or small, weak or powerful--their equal right to freedom
and security and self-government and to a participation upon fair terms
in the economic opportunities of the world, the German people of course
included if they will accept equality and not seek domination.

The test, therefore, of every plan of peace is this: Is it based upon
the faith of all the peoples involved or merely upon the word of an
ambitious and intriguing government on the one hand and of a group of
free peoples on the other? This is a test which goes to the root of the
matter; and it is the test which must be applied.

The purposes of the United States in this war are known to the whole
world, to every people to whom the truth has been permitted to come.
They do not need to be stated again. We seek no material advantage of
any kind. We believe that the intolerable wrongs done in this war by
the furious and brutal power of the Imperial German Government ought to
be repaired, but not at the expense of the sovereignty of any
people--rather a vindication of the sovereignty both of those that are
weak and of those that are strong. Punitive damages, the dismemberment
of empires, the establishment of selfish and exclusive economic leagues,
we deem inexpedient and in the end worse than futile, no proper basis
for a peace of any kind, least of all for an enduring peace. That must
be based upon justice and fairness and the common rights of mankind.

We cannot take the word of the present rulers of Germany as a guaranty
of anything that is to endure, unless explicitly supported by such
conclusive evidence of the will and purpose of the German people
themselves as the other peoples of the world would be justified in
accepting. Without such guaranties treaties of settlement, agreements
for disarmament, covenants to set up arbitration in the place of force,
territorial adjustments, reconstitutions of small nations, if made with
the German Government, no man, no nation could now depend on. We must
await some new evidence of the purposes of the great peoples of the
central powers. God grant it may be given soon and in a way to restore
the confidence of all peoples everywhere in the faith of nations and the
possibility of a covenanted peace.


_Secretary of State of the United States of America_.


[Address to the American Federation of Labor Convention, Buffalo, New
York, November 12, 1917.]


I esteem it a great privilege and a real honor to be thus admitted to
your public counsels. When your executive committee paid me the
compliment of inviting me here I gladly accepted the invitation because
it seems to me that this, above all other times in our history, is the
time for common counsel, for the drawing together not only of the
energies but of the minds of the Nation. I thought that it was a welcome
opportunity for disclosing to you some of the thoughts that have been
gathering in my mind during these last momentous months.


I am introduced to you as the President of the United States, and yet I
would be pleased if you would put the thought of the office into the
background and regard me as one of your fellow-citizens who has come
here to speak, not the words of authority, but the words of counsel; the
words which men should speak to one another who wish to be frank in a
moment more critical perhaps than the history of the world has ever yet
known; a moment when it is every man's duty to forget himself, to forget
his own interests, to fill himself with the nobility of a great national
and world conception, and act upon a new platform elevated above the
ordinary affairs of life and lifted to where men have views of the long
destiny of mankind.

I think that in order to realize just what this moment of counsel is it
is very desirable that we should remind ourselves just how this war came
about and just what it is for. You can explain most wars very simply,
but the explanation of this is not so simple. Its roots run deep into
all the obscure soils of history, and in my view this is the last
decisive issue between the old principle of power and the new principle
of freedom.


The war was started by Germany. Her authorities deny that they started
it, but I am willing to let the statement I have just made await the
verdict of history. And the thing that needs to be explained is why
Germany started the war. Remember what the position of Germany in the
world was--as enviable a position as any nation has ever occupied. The
whole world stood at admiration of her wonderful intellectual and
material achievements. All the intellectual men of the world went to
school to her. As a university man I have been surrounded by men trained
in Germany, men who had resorted to Germany because nowhere else could
they get such thorough and searching training, particularly in the
principles of science and the principles that underlie modern material
achievement. Her men of science had made her industries perhaps the most
competent industries of the world, and the label "Made in Germany" was a
guarantee of good workmanship and of sound material. She had access to
all the markets of the world, and every other nation who traded in those
markets feared Germany because of her effective and almost irresistible
competition. She had a "place in the sun."


Why was she not satisfied? What more did she want? There was nothing in
the world of peace that she did not already have and have in abundance.
We boast of the extraordinary pace of American advancement. We show with
pride the statistics of the increase of our industries and of the
population of our cities. Well, those statistics did not match the
recent statistics of Germany. Her old cities took on youth and grew
faster than any American cities ever grew. Her old industries opened
their eyes and saw a new world and went out for its conquest. And yet
the authorities of Germany were not satisfied.

You have one part of the answer to the question why she was not
satisfied in her methods of competition. There is no important industry
in Germany upon which the Government has not laid its hands, to direct
it and, when necessity arose, control it; and you have only to ask any
man whom you meet who is familiar with the conditions that prevailed
before the war in the matter of national competition to find out the
methods of competition which the German manufacturers and exporters used
under the patronage and support of the Government of Germany. You will
find that they were the same sorts of competition that we have tried to
prevent by law within our own borders. If they could not sell their
goods cheaper than we could sell ours at a profit to themselves they
could get a subsidy from the Government which made it possible to sell
them cheaper anyhow, and the conditions of competition were thus
controlled in large measure by the German Government itself.


But that did not satisfy the German Government. All the while there was
lying behind its thought and in its dreams of the future a political
control which would enable it in the long run to dominate the labor and
the industry of the world. They were not content with success by
superior achievement; they wanted success by authority. I suppose very
few of you have thought much about the Berlin-to-Bagdad Railway. The
Berlin-Bagdad Railway was constructed in order to run the threat of
force down the flank of the industrial undertakings of half a dozen
other countries; so that when German competition came in it would not be
resisted too far, because there was always the possibility of getting
German armies into the heart of that country quicker than any other
armies could be got there.

Look at the map of Europe now! Germany is thrusting upon us again and
again the discussion of peace talks,--about what? Talks about Belgium;
talks about northern France; talks about Alsace-Lorraine. Well, those
are deeply interesting subjects to us and to them, but they are not the
heart of the matter. Take the map and look at it. Germany has absolute
control of Austria-Hungary, practical control of the Balkan States,
control of Turkey, control of Asia Minor. I saw a map in which the whole
thing was printed in appropriate black the other day, and the black
stretched all the way from Hamburg to Bagdad--the bulk of German power
inserted into the heart of the world. If she can keep that, she has kept
all that her dreams contemplated when the war began. If she can keep
that, her power can disturb the world as long as she keeps it, always
provided, for I feel bound to put this proviso in--always provided the
present influences that control the German Government continue to
control it. I believe that the spirit of freedom can get into the hearts
of Germans and find as fine a welcome there as it can find in any other
hearts, but the spirit of freedom does not suit the plans of the
Pan-Germans. Power cannot be used with concentrated force against free
peoples if it is used by free people.


You know how many intimations come to us from one of the central powers
that it is more anxious for peace than the chief central power, and you
know that it means that the people in that central power know that if
the war ends as it stands they will in effect themselves be vassals of
Germany, notwithstanding that their populations are compounded of all
the peoples of that part of the world, and notwithstanding the fact that
they do not wish in their pride and proper spirit of nationality to be
so absorbed and dominated. Germany is determined that the political
power of the world shall belong to her. There have been such ambitions
before. They have been in part realized, but never before have those
ambitions been based upon so exact and precise and scientific a plan of

May I not say that it is amazing to me that any group of persons should
be so ill-informed as to suppose, as some groups in Russia apparently
suppose, that any reforms planned in the interest of the people can live
in the presence of a Germany powerful enough to undermine or overthrow
them by intrigue or force? Any body of free men that compounds with the
present German Government is compounding for its own destruction. But
that is not the whole of the story. Any man in America or anywhere else
that supposes that the free industry and enterprise of the world can
continue if the Pan-German plan is achieved and German power fastened
upon the world is as fatuous as the dreamers in Russia. What I am
opposed to is not the feeling of the pacifists, but their stupidity. My
heart is with them, but my mind has a contempt for them. I want peace,
but I know how to get it, and they do not.


You will notice that I sent a friend of mine, Colonel House, to Europe,
who is as great a lover of peace as any man in the world; but I didn't
send him on a peace mission yet. I sent him to take part in a conference
as to how the war was to be won, and he knows, as I know, that that is
the way to get peace, if you want it for more than a few minutes.

All of this is a preface to the conference that I have referred to with
regard to what we are going to do. If we are true friends of freedom,
our own or anybody else's, we will see that the power of this country
and the productivity of this country is raised to its absolute maximum,
and that absolutely nobody is allowed to stand in the way of it. When I
say that nobody is allowed to stand in the way I do not mean that they
shall be prevented by the power of the Government but by the power of
the American spirit. Our duty, if we are to do this great thing and show
America to be what we believe her to be--the greatest hope and energy of
the world--is to stand together night and day until the job is finished.


While we are fighting for freedom we must see, among other things, that
labor is free; and that means a number of interesting things. It means
not only that we must do what we have declared our purpose to do, see
that the conditions of labor are not rendered more onerous by the war,
but also that we shall see to it that the instrumentalities by which the
conditions of labor are improved are not blocked or checked. That we
must do. That has been the matter about which I have taken pleasure in
conferring from time to time with your president, Mr. Gompers; and if I
may be permitted to do so, I want to express my admiration of his
patriotic courage, his large vision, and his statesmanlike sense of what
has to be done. I like to lay my mind alongside of a mind that knows how
to pull in harness. The horses that kick over the traces will have to be
put in corral.

Now, to stand together means that nobody must interrupt the processes of
our energy if the interruption can possibly be avoided without the
absolute invasion of freedom. To put it concretely, that means this:
Nobody has a right to stop the processes of labor until all the methods
of conciliation and settlement have been exhausted. And I might as well
say right here that I am not talking to you alone. You sometimes stop
the courses of labor, but there are others who do the same, and I
believe I am speaking from my own experience not only, but from the
experience of others when I say that you are reasonable in a larger
number of cases than the capitalists. I am not saying these things to
them personally yet, because I have not had a chance, but they have to
be said, not in any spirit of criticism, but in order to clear the
atmosphere and come down to business. Everybody on both sides has now
got to transact business, and a settlement is never impossible when both
sides want to do the square and right thing.


Moreover, a settlement is always hard to avoid when the parties can be
brought face to face. I can differ from a man much more radically when
he is not in the room than I can when he is in the room, because then
the awkward thing is he can come back at me and answer what I say. It is
always dangerous for a man to have the floor entirely to himself.
Therefore, we must insist in every instance that the parties come into
each other's presence and there discuss the issues between them, and not
separately in places which have no communication with each other. I
always like to remind myself of a delightful saying of an Englishman of
the past generation, Charles Lamb. He stuttered a little bit, and once
when he was with a group of friends he spoke very harshly of some man
who was not present. One of his friends said: "Why, Charles, I didn't
know that you knew so and so." "O-o-oh," he said, "I-I d-d-don't; I-I
can't h-h-h hate a m-m-man I-I know." There is a great deal of human
nature, of very pleasant human nature, in the saying. It is hard to hate
a man you know. I may admit, parenthetically, that there are some
politicians whose methods I do not at all believe in, but they are jolly
good fellows, and if they only would not talk the wrong kind of politics
to me, I would love to be with them.


So it is all along the line, in serious matters and things less serious.
We are all of the same clay and spirit, and we can get together if we
desire to get together. Therefore, my counsel to you is this: Let us
show ourselves Americans by showing that we do not want to go off in
separate camps or groups by ourselves, but that we want to coöperate
with all other classes and all other groups in the common enterprise
which is to release the spirits of the world from bondage. I would be
willing to set that up as the final test of an American. That is the
meaning of democracy. I have been very much distressed, my
fellow-citizens, by some of the things that have happened recently. The
mob spirit is displaying itself here and there in this country. I have
no sympathy with what some men are saying, but I have no sympathy with
the men who take their punishment into their own hands; and I want to
say to every man who does join such a mob that I do not recognize him as
worthy of the free institutions of the United States. There are some
organizations in this country whose object is anarchy and the
destruction of law, but I would not meet their efforts by making myself
partner in destroying the law. I despise and hate their purposes as much
as any man, but I respect the ancient processes of justice; and I would
be too proud not to see them done justice, however wrong they are.


So I want to utter my earnest protest against any manifestation of the
spirit of lawlessness anywhere or in any cause. Why, gentlemen, look
what it means. We claim to be the greatest democratic people in the
world, and democracy means first of all that we can govern ourselves. If
our men have not self-control, then they are not capable of that great
thing which we call democratic government. A man who takes the law into
his own hands is not the right man to coöperate in any formation or
development of law and institutions, and some of the processes by which
the struggle between capital and labor is carried on are processes that
come very near to taking the law into your own hands. I do not mean for
a moment to compare them with what I have just been speaking of, but I
want you to see that they are mere gradations in this manifestation of
the unwillingness to coöperate, and that the fundamental lesson of the
whole situation is that we must not only take common counsel, but that
we must yield to and obey common counsel. Not all of the
instrumentalities for this are at hand. I am hopeful that in the very
near future new instrumentalities may be organized by which we can see
to it that various things that are now going on ought not to go on.
There are various processes of the dilution of labor and the unnecessary
substitution of labor and the bidding in distant markets and unfairly
upsetting the whole competition of labor which ought not to go on. I
mean now on the part of employers, and we must interject some
instrumentality of coöperation by which the fair thing will be done all
around. I am hopeful that some such instrumentalities may be devised,
but whether they are or not, we must use those that we have and upon
every occasion where it is necessary have such an instrumentality
originated upon that occasion.

So, my fellow-citizens, the reason I came away from Washington is that I
sometimes get lonely down there. So many people come to Washington who
know things that are not so, and so few people who know anything about
what the people of the United States are thinking about. I have to come
away and get reminded of the rest of the country. I have to come away
and talk to men who are up against the real thing, and say to them, "I
am with you if you are with me." And the only test of being with me is
not to think about me personally at all, but merely to think of me as
the expression for the time being of the power and dignity and hope of
the United States.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
December 4, 1917.]


Eight months have elapsed since I last had the honor of addressing you.
They have been months crowded with events of immense and grave
significance for us. I shall not undertake to retail or even to
summarize those events. The practical particulars of the part we have
played in them will be laid before you in the reports of the Executive
Departments. I shall discuss only our present outlook upon these vast
affairs, our present duties, and the immediate means of accomplishing
the objects we shall hold always in view.

I shall not go back to debate the causes of the war. The intolerable
wrongs done and planned against us by the sinister masters of Germany
have long since become too grossly obvious and odious to every true
American to need to be rehearsed. But I shall ask you to consider again
and with a very grave scrutiny our objectives and the measures by which
we mean to attain them; for the purpose of discussion here in this place
is action, and our action must move straight towards definite ends. Our
object is, of course, to win the war; and we shall not slacken or suffer
ourselves to be diverted until it is won. But it is worth while asking
and answering the question, When shall we consider the war won?

From one point of view it is not necessary to broach this fundamental
matter. I do not doubt that the American people know what the war is
about and what sort of an outcome they will regard as a realization of
their purpose in it. As a nation we are united in spirit and intention.
I pay little heed to those who tell me otherwise. I hear the voices of
dissent,--who does not? I hear the criticism and the clamor of the
noisily thoughtless and troublesome. I also see men here and there fling
themselves in impotent disloyalty against the calm, indomitable power of
the nation. I hear men debate peace who understand neither its nature
not the way in which we may attain it with uplifted eyes and unbroken
spirits. But I know that none of these speaks for the nation. They do
not touch the heart of anything. They may safely be left to strut their
uneasy hour and be forgotten.

But from another point of view I believe that it is necessary to say
plainly what we here at the seat of action consider the war to be for
and what part we mean to play in the settlement of its searching issues.
We are the spokesmen of the American people and they have a right to
know whether their purpose is ours. They desire peace by the overcoming
of evil, by the defeat once for all of the sinister forces that
interrupt peace and render it impossible, and they wish to know how
closely our thought runs with theirs and what action we propose. They
are impatient with those who desire peace by any sort of
compromise,--deeply and indignantly impatient,--but they will be equally
impatient with us if we do not make it plain to them what our objectives
are and what we are planning for in seeking to make conquest of peace by

I believe that I speak for them when I say two things: First, that this
intolerable Thing of which the masters of Germany have shown us the ugly
face, this menace of combined intrigue and force which we now see so
clearly as the German power, a Thing without conscience or honor or
capacity for covenanted peace, must be crushed and, if it be not
utterly brought to an end, at least shut out from the friendly
intercourse of the nations; and, second, that when this Thing and its
power are indeed defeated and the time comes that we can discuss
peace,--when the German people have spokesmen whose word we can believe
and when those spokesmen are ready in the name of their people to accept
the common judgment of the nations as to what shall henceforth be the
bases of law and of covenant for the life of the world,--we shall be
willing and glad to pay the full price for peace, and pay it
ungrudgingly. We know what that price will be. It will be full,
impartial justice,--justice done at every point and to every nation that
the final settlement must affect, our enemies as well as our friends.

You catch, with me, the voices of humanity that are in the air. They
grow daily more audible, more articulate, more persuasive, and they come
from the hearts of men everywhere. They insist that the war shall not
end in vindictive action of any kind; that no nation or people shall be
robbed or punished because the irresponsible rulers of a single country
have themselves done deep and abominable wrong. It is this thought that
has been expressed in the formula "No annexations, no contributions, no
punitive indemnities." Just because this crude formula expresses the
instinctive judgment as to right of plain men everywhere it has been
made diligent use of by the masters of German intrigue to lead the
people of Russia astray--and the people of every other country their
agents could reach, in order that a premature peace might be brought
about before autocracy has been taught its final and convincing lesson,
and the people of the world put in control of their own destinies.

But the fact that a wrong use has been made of a just idea is no reason
why a right use should not be made of it. It ought to be brought under
the patronage of its real friends. Let it be said again that autocracy
must first be shown the utter futility of its claims to power or
leadership in the modern world. It is impossible to apply any standard
of justice so long as such forces are unchecked and undefeated as the
present masters of Germany command. Not until that has been done can
Right be set up as arbiter and peace-maker among the nations. But when
that has been done,--as, God willing, it assuredly will be,--we shall at
last be free to do an unprecedented thing, and this is the time to avow
our purpose to do it. We shall be free to base peace on generosity and
justice, to the exclusion of all selfish claims to advantage even on the
part of the victors.

Let there be no misunderstanding. Our present and immediate task is to
win the war, and nothing shall turn us aside from it until it is
accomplished. Every power and resource we possess, whether of men, of
money, or of materials, is being devoted and will continue to be devoted
to that purpose until it is achieved. Those who desire to bring peace
about before that purpose is achieved I counsel to carry their advice
elsewhere. We will not entertain it. We shall regard the war as won only
when the German people say to us, through properly accredited
representatives, that they are ready to agree to a settlement based upon
justice and the reparation of the wrongs their rulers have done. They
have done a wrong to Belgium which must be repaired. They have
established a power over other lands and peoples than their own,--over
the great Empire of Austria-Hungary, over hitherto free Balkan states,
over Turkey, and within Asia,--which must be relinquished.

Germany's success by skill, by industry, by knowledge, by enterprise we
did not grudge or oppose, but admired, rather. She had built up for
herself a real empire of trade and influence, secured by the peace of
the world. We were content to abide the rivalries of manufacture,
science, and commerce that were involved for us in her success and stand
or fall as we had or did not have the brains and the initiative to
surpass her. But at the moment when she had conspicuously won her
triumphs of peace she threw them away, to establish in their stead what
the world will no longer permit to be established, military and
political domination by arms, by which to oust where she could not excel
the rivals she most feared and hated. The peace we make must remedy that
wrong. It must deliver the once fair lands and happy peoples of Belgium
and northern France from the Prussian conquest and the Prussian menace,
but it must also deliver the peoples of Austria-Hungary, the peoples of
the Balkans, and the peoples of Turkey, alike in Europe and in Asia,
from the impudent and alien dominion of the Prussian military and
commercial autocracy.

We owe it, however, to ourselves to say that we do not wish in any way
to impair or to rearrange the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is no affair
of ours what they do with their own life, either industrially or
politically. We do not purpose or desire to dictate to them in any way.
We only desire to see that their affairs are left in their own hands, in
all matters, great or small. We shall hope to secure for the peoples of
the Balkan peninsula and for the people of the Turkish Empire the right
and opportunity to make their own lives safe, their own fortunes secure
against oppression or injustice and from the dictation of foreign courts
or parties.

And our attitude and purpose with regard to Germany herself are of a
like kind. We intend no wrong against the German Empire, no interference
with her internal affairs. We should deem either the one or the other
absolutely unjustifiable, absolutely contrary to the principles we have
professed to live by and to hold most sacred throughout our life as a

The people of Germany are being told by the men whom they now permit to
deceive them and to act as their masters that they are fighting for the
very life and existence of their Empire, a war of desperate self-defense
against deliberate aggression. Nothing could be more grossly or wantonly
false, and we must seek by the utmost openness and candor as to our real
aims to convince them of its falseness. We are in fact fighting for
their emancipation from fear, along with our own,--from the fear as well
as from the fact of unjust attack by neighbors or rivals or schemers
after world empire. No one is threatening the existence or the
independence or the peaceful enterprise of the German Empire.

The worst that can happen to the detriment of the German people is this,
that if they should still, after the war is over, continue to be obliged
to live under ambitious and intriguing masters interested to disturb the
peace of the world, men or classes of men whom the other peoples of the
world could not trust, it might be impossible to admit them to the
partnership of nations which must henceforth guarantee the world's
peace. That partnership must be a partnership of peoples, not a mere
partnership of governments. It might be impossible, also, in such
untoward circumstances, to admit Germany to the free economic
intercourse which must inevitably spring out of the other partnerships
of a real peace. But there would be no aggression in that; and such a
situation, inevitable because of distrust, would in the very nature of
things sooner or later cure itself, by processes which would assuredly
set in.

The wrongs, the very deep wrongs, committed in this war will have to be
righted. That of course. But they cannot and must not be righted by the
commission of similar wrongs against Germany and her allies. The world
will not permit the commission of similar wrongs as a means of
reparation and settlement. Statesmen must by this time have learned that
the opinion of the world is everywhere wide awake and fully comprehends
the issues involved. No representative of any self-governed nation will
dare disregard it by attempting any such covenants of selfishness and
compromise as were entered into at the Congress of Vienna. The thought
of the plain people here and everywhere throughout the world, the people
who enjoy no privilege and have very simple and unsophisticated
standards of right and wrong, is the air all governments must henceforth
breathe if they would live. It is in the full disclosing light of that
thought that all policies must be conceived and executed in this midday
hour of the world's life. German rulers have been able to upset the
peace of the world only because the German people were not suffered
under their tutelage to share the comradeship of the other peoples of
the world either in thought or in purpose. They were allowed to have no
opinion of their own which might be set up as a rule of conduct for
those who exercised authority over them. But the congress that concludes
this war will feel the full strength of the tides that run now in the
hearts and consciences of free men everywhere. Its conclusions will run
with those tides.

All these things have been true from the very beginning of this
stupendous war; and I cannot help thinking that if they had been made
plain at the very outset the sympathy and enthusiasm of the Russian
people might have been once for all enlisted on the side of the Allies,
suspicion and distrust swept away, and a real and lasting union of
purpose effected. Had they believed these things at the very moment of
their revolution and had they been confirmed in that belief since, the
sad reverses which have recently marked the progress of their affairs
towards an ordered and stable government of free men might have been
avoided. The Russian people have been poisoned by the very same
falsehoods that have kept the German people in the dark, and the poison
has been administered by the very same hands. The only possible antidote
is the truth. It cannot be uttered too plainly or too often.

From every point of view, therefore, it has seemed to be my duty to
speak these declarations of purpose, to add these specific
interpretations to what I took the liberty of saying to the Senate in
January. Our entrance into the war has not altered our attitude towards
the settlement that must come when it is over. When I said in January
that the nations of the world were entitled not only to free pathways
upon the sea but also to assured and unmolested access to those pathways
I was thinking, and I am thinking now, not of the smaller and weaker
nations alone, which need our countenance and support, but also of the
great and powerful nations, and of our present enemies as well as our
present associates in the war. I was thinking, and am thinking now, of
Austria herself, among the rest, as well as of Serbia and of Poland.
Justice and equality of rights can be had only at a great price. We are
seeking permanent, not temporary, foundations for the peace of the world
and must seek them candidly and fearlessly. As always, the right will
prove to be the expedient.

What shall we do, then, to push this great war of freedom and justice to
its righteous conclusion? We must clear away with a thorough hand all
impediments to success and we must make every adjustment of law that
will facilitate the full and free use of our whole capacity and force
as a fighting unit.

One very embarrassing obstacle that stands in our way is that we are at
war with Germany but not with her allies. I therefore very earnestly
recommend that the Congress immediately declare the United States in a
state of war with Austria-Hungary. Does it seem strange to you that this
should be the conclusion of the argument I have just addressed to you?
It is not. It is in fact the inevitable logic of what I have said.
Austria-Hungary is for the time being not her own mistress but simply
the vassal of the German Government. We must face the facts as they are
and act upon them without sentiment in this stern business. The
government of Austria-Hungary is not acting upon its own initiative or
in response to the wishes and feelings of its own peoples but as the
instrument of another nation. We must meet its force with our own and
regard the Central Powers as but one. The war can be successfully
conducted in no other way. The same logic would lead also to a
declaration of war against Turkey and Bulgaria. They also are the tools
of Germany. But they are mere tools and do not yet stand in the direct
path of our necessary action. We shall go wherever the necessities of
this war carry us, but it seems to me that we should go only where
immediate and practical considerations lead us and not heed any others.

The financial and military measures which must be adopted will suggest
themselves as the war and its undertakings develop, but I will take the
liberty of proposing to you certain other acts of legislation which seem
to me to be needed for the support of the war and for the release of our
whole force and energy.

It will be necessary to extend in certain particulars the legislation
of the last session with regard to alien enemies; and also necessary, I
believe, to create a very definite and particular control over the
entrance and departure of all persons into and from the United States.

Legislation should be enacted defining as a criminal offense every
wilful violation of the presidential proclamations relating to alien
enemies promulgated under section 4067 of the Revised Statutes and
providing appropriate punishments; and women as well as men should be
included under the terms of the acts placing restraints upon alien
enemies. It is likely that as time goes on many alien enemies will be
willing to be fed and housed at the expense of the Government in the
detention camps and it would be the purpose of the legislation I have
suggested to confine offenders among them in penitentiaries and other
similar institutions where they could be made to work as other criminals

Recent experience has convinced me that the Congress must go further in
authorizing the Government to set limits to prices. The law of supply
and demand, I am sorry to say, has been replaced by the law of
unrestrained selfishness. While we have eliminated profiteering in
several branches of industry it still runs impudently rampant in others.
The farmers, for example, complain with a great deal of justice that,
while the regulation of food prices restricts their incomes, no
restraints are placed upon the prices of most of the things they must
themselves purchase; and similar inequities obtain on all sides.

It is imperatively necessary that the consideration of the full use of
the water power of the country and also the consideration of the
systematic and yet economical development of such of the natural
resources of the country as are still under the control of the federal
government should be immediately resumed and affirmatively and
constructively dealt with at the earliest possible moment. The pressing
need of such legislation is daily becoming more obvious.

The legislation proposed at the last session with regard to regulated
combinations among our exporters, in order to provide for our foreign
trade a more effective organization and method of coöperation, ought by
all means to be completed at this session.

And I beg that the members of the House of Representatives will permit
me to express the opinion that it will be impossible to deal in any but
a very wasteful and extravagant fashion with the enormous appropriations
of the public moneys which must continue to be made, if the war is to be
properly sustained, unless the House will consent to return to its
former practice of initiating and preparing all appropriation bills
through a single committee, in order that responsibility may be
centered, expenditures standardized and made uniform, and waste and
duplication as much as possible avoided.

Additional legislation may also become necessary before the present
Congress again adjourns in order to effect the most efficient
coördination and operation of the railway and other transportation
systems of the country; but to that I shall, if circumstances should
demand, call the attention of the Congress upon another occasion.

If I have overlooked anything that ought to be done for the more
effective conduct of the war, your own counsels will supply the
omission. What I am perfectly clear about is that in the present session
of the Congress our whole attention and energy should be concentrated on
the vigorous, rapid, and successful prosecution of the great task of
winning the war.

We can do this with all the greater zeal and enthusiasm because we know
that for us this is a war of high principle, debased by no selfish
ambition of conquest or spoliation; because we know, and all the world
knows, that we have been forced into it to save the very institutions we
live under from corruption and destruction. The purposes of the Central
Powers strike straight at the very heart of everything we believe in;
their methods of warfare outrage every principle of humanity and of
knightly honor; their intrigue has corrupted the very thought and spirit
of many of our people; their sinister and secret diplomacy has sought to
take our very territory away from us and disrupt the Union of the
States. Our safety would be at an end, our honor forever sullied and
brought into contempt were we to permit their triumph. They are striking
at the very existence of democracy and liberty.

It is because it is for us a war of high, disinterested purpose, in
which all the free peoples of the world are banded together for the
vindication of right, a war for the preservation of our nation and of
all that it has held dear of principle and of purpose, that we feel
ourselves doubly constrained to propose for its outcome only that which
is righteous and of irreproachable intention, for our foes as well as
for our friends. The cause being just and holy, the settlement must be
of like motive and quality. For this we can fight, but for nothing less
noble or less worthy of our traditions. For this cause we entered the
war and for this cause will we battle until the last gun is fired.

I have spoken plainly because this seems to me the time when it is most
necessary to speak plainly, in order that all the world may know that
even in the heat and ardor of the struggle and when our whole thought is
of carrying the war through to its end we have not forgotten any ideal
or principle for which the name of America has been held in honor among
the nations and for which it has been our glory to contend in the great
generations that went before us. A supreme moment of history has come.
The eyes of the people have been opened and they see. The hand of God is
laid upon the nations. He will show them favor, I devoutly believe, only
if they rise to the clear heights of His own justice and mercy.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
January 4, 1918.]


I have asked the privilege of addressing you in order to report to you
that on the twenty-eighth of December last, during the recess of the
Congress, acting through the Secretary of War and under the authority
conferred upon me by the Act of Congress approved August 29, 1916, I
took possession and assumed control of the railway lines of the country
and the systems of water transportation under their control. This step
seemed to be imperatively necessary in the interest of the public
welfare, in the presence of the great tasks of war with which we are now
dealing. As our own experience develops difficulties and makes it clear
what they are, I have deemed it my duty to remove those difficulties
wherever I have the legal power to do so. To assume control of the vast
railway systems of the country is, I realize, a very great
responsibility, but to fail to do so in the existing circumstances would
have been a much greater. I assumed the less responsibility rather than
the weightier.

I am sure that I am speaking the mind of all thoughtful Americans when I
say that it is our duty as the representatives of the nation to do
everything that it is necessary to do to secure the complete
mobilization of the whole resources of America by as rapid and effective
means as can be found. Transportation supplies all the arteries of,
mobilization. Unless it be under a single and unified direction, the
whole process of the nation's action is embarrassed.

It was in the true spirit of America, and it was right, that we should
first try to effect the necessary unification under the voluntary action
of those who were in charge of the great railway properties; and we did
try it. The directors of the railways responded to the need promptly and
generously. The group of railway executives who were charged with the
task of actual coördination and general direction performed their
difficult duties with patriotic zeal and marked ability, as was to have
been expected, and did, I believe, everything that it was possible for
them to do in the circumstances. If I have taken the task out of their
hands, it has not been because of any dereliction or failure on their
part but only because there were some things which the Government can do
and private management cannot. We shall continue to value most highly
the advice and assistance of these gentlemen and I am sure we shall not
find them withholding it.

It had become unmistakably plain that only under government
administration can the entire equipment of the several systems of
transportation be fully and unreservedly thrown into a common service
without injurious discrimination against particular properties. Only
under government administration can an absolutely unrestricted and
unembarrassed common use be made of all tracks, terminals, terminal
facilities and equipment of every kind. Only under that authority can
new terminals be constructed and developed without regard to the
requirements or limitations of particular roads. But under government
administration all these things will be possible,--not instantly, but as
fast as practical difficulties, which cannot be merely conjured away,
give way before the new management.

The common administration will be carried out with as little disturbance
of the present operating organizations and personnel of the railways as
possible. Nothing will be altered or disturbed which it is not necessary
to disturb. We are serving the public interest and safeguarding the
public safety, but we are also regardful of the interest of those by
whom these great properties are owned and glad to avail ourselves of the
experience and trained ability of those who have been managing them. It
is necessary that the transportation of troops and of war materials, of
food and of fuel, and of everything that is necessary for the full
mobilization of the energies and resources of the country, should be
first considered, but it is clearly in the public interest also that the
ordinary activities and the normal industrial and commercial life of the
country should be interfered with and dislocated as little as possible,
and the public may rest assured that the interest and convenience of the
private shipper will be as carefully served and safeguarded as it is
possible to serve and safeguard it in the present extraordinary

While the present authority of the Executive suffices for all purposes
of administration, and while of course all private interests must for
the present give way to the public necessity, it is, I am sure you will
agree with me, right and necessary that the owners and creditors of the
railways, the holders of their stocks and bonds, should receive from the
Government an unqualified guarantee that their properties will be
maintained throughout the period of federal control in as good repair
and as complete equipment as at present, and that the several roads will
receive under federal management such compensation as is equitable and
just alike to their owners and to the general public. I would suggest
the average net railway operating income of the three years ending June
30, 1917. I earnestly recommend that these guarantees be given by
appropriate legislation, and given as promptly as circumstances permit.

I need not point out the essential justice of such guarantees and their
great influence and significance as elements in the present financial
and industrial situation of the country. Indeed, one of the strong
arguments for assuming control of the railroads at this time is the
financial argument. It is necessary that the values of railway
securities should be justly and fairly protected and that the large
financial operations every year necessary in connection with the
maintenance, operation and development of the roads should, during the
period of the war, be wisely related to the financial operations of the
Government. Our first duty is, of course, to conserve the common
interest and the common safety and to make certain that nothing stands
in the way of the successful prosecution of the great war for liberty
and justice, but it is also an obligation of public conscience and of
public honor that the private interests we disturb should be kept safe
from unjust injury, and it is of the utmost consequence to the
Government itself that all great financial operations should be
stabilized and coördinated with the financial operations of the
Government. No borrowing should run athwart the borrowings of the
federal treasury, and no fundamental industrial values should anywhere
be unnecessarily impaired. In the hands of many thousands of small
investors in the country, as well as in national banks, in insurance
companies, in savings banks, in trust companies, in financial agencies
of every kind, railway securities, the sum total of which runs up to
some ten or eleven thousand millions, constitute a vital part of the
structure of credit, and the unquestioned solidity of that structure
must be maintained.

The Secretary of War and I easily agreed that, in view of the many
complex interests which must be safeguarded and harmonized, as well as
because of his exceptional experience and ability in this new field of
governmental action, the Honorable William G. McAdoo was the right man
to assume direct administrative control of this new executive task. At
our request, he consented to assume the authority and duties of
organizer and Director General of the new Railway Administration. He has
assumed those duties and his work is in active progress.

It is probably too much to expect that even under the unified railway
administration which will now be possible sufficient economies can be
effected in the operation of the railways to make it possible to add to
their equipment and extend their operative facilities as much as the
present extraordinary demands upon their use will render desirable
without resorting to the national treasury for the funds. If it is not
possible, it will, of course, be necessary to resort to the Congress for
grants of money for that purpose. The Secretary of the Treasury will
advise with your committees with regard to this very practical aspect of
the matter. For the present, I suggest only the guarantees I have
indicated and such appropriations as are necessary at the outset of this
task. I take the liberty of expressing the hope that the Congress may
grant these promptly and ungrudgingly. We are dealing with great matters
and will, I am sure, deal with them greatly.


[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress,
January 8, 1918.]


Once more, as repeatedly before, the spokesmen of the Central Empires
have indicated their desire to discuss the objects of the war and the
possible bases of a general peace. Parleys have been in progress at
Brest-Litovsk between Russian representatives and representatives of the
Central Powers to which the attention of all the belligerents has been
invited for the purpose of ascertaining whether it may be possible to
extend these parleys into a general conference with regard to terms of
peace and settlement. The Russian representatives presented not only a
perfectly definite statement of the principles upon which they would be
willing to conclude peace but also an equally definite program of the
concrete application of those principles. The representatives of the
Central Powers, on their part, presented an outline of settlement which,
if much less definite, seemed susceptible of liberal interpretation
until their specific program of practical terms was added. That program
proposed no concessions at all either to the sovereignty of Russia or to
the preferences of the populations with whose fortunes it dealt, but
meant, in a word, that the Central Empires were to keep every foot of
territory their armed forces had occupied,--every province, every city,
every point of vantage,--as a permanent addition to their territories
and their power. It is a reasonable conjecture that the general
principles of settlement which they at first suggested originated with
the more liberal statesmen of Germany and Austria, the men who have
begun to feel the force of their own peoples' thought and purpose, while
the concrete terms of actual settlement came from the military leaders
who have no thought but to keep what they have got. The negotiations
have been broken off. The Russian representatives were sincere and in
earnest. They cannot entertain such proposals of conquest and

The whole incident is full of significance. It is also full of
perplexity. With whom are the Russian representatives dealing? For whom
are the representatives of the Central Empires speaking? Are they
speaking for the majorities of their respective parliaments or for the
minority parties, that military and imperialistic minority which has so
far dominated their whole policy and controlled the affairs of Turkey
and of the Balkan states which have felt obliged to become their
associates in this war? The Russian representatives have insisted, very
justly, very wisely, and in the true spirit of modern democracy, that
the conferences they have been holding with the Teutonic and Turkish
statesmen should be held within open, not closed, doors, and all the
world has been audience, as was desired. To whom have we been listening,
then? To those who speak the spirit and intention of the Resolutions of
the German Reichstag of the ninth of July last, the spirit and intention
of the liberal leaders and parties of Germany, or to those who resist
and defy that spirit and intention and insist upon conquest and
subjugation? Or are we listening, in fact, to both, unreconciled and in
open and hopeless contradiction? These are very serious and pregnant
questions. Upon the answer to them depends the peace of the world.

But, whatever the results of the parleys at Brest-Litovsk, whatever the
confusions of counsel and of purpose in the utterances of the spokesmen
of the Central Empires, they have again attempted to acquaint the world
with their objects in the war and have again challenged their
adversaries to say what their objects are and what sort of settlement
they would deem just and satisfactory. There is no good reason why that
challenge should not be responded to, and responded to with the utmost
candor. We did not wait for it. Not once, but again and again, we have
laid our whole thought and purpose before the world, not in general
terms only, but each time with sufficient definition to make it clear
what sort of definitive terms of settlement must necessarily spring out
of them. Within the last week Mr. Lloyd George has spoken with admirable
candor and in admirable spirit for the people and Government of Great
Britain. There is no confusion of counsel among the adversaries of the
Central Powers, no uncertainty of principle, no vagueness of detail. The
only secrecy of counsel, the only lack of fearless frankness, the only
failure to make definite statement of the objects of the war, lies with
Germany and her Allies. The issues of life and death hang upon these
definitions. No statesman who has the least conception of his
responsibility ought for a moment to permit himself to continue this
tragical and appalling outpouring of blood and treasure unless he is
sure beyond a peradventure that the objects of the vital sacrifice are
part and parcel of the very life of society and that the people for whom
he speaks think them right and imperative as he does.

There is, moreover, a voice calling for these definitions of principle
and of purpose which is, it seems to me, more thrilling and more
compelling than any of the many moving voices with which the troubled
air of the world is filled. It is the voice of the Russian people. They
are prostrate and all but helpless, it would seem, before the grim power
of Germany, which has hitherto known no relenting and no pity. Their
power, apparently, is shattered. And yet their soul is not subservient.
They will not yield either in principle or in action. Their conception
of what is right, of what it is humane and honorable for them to accept,
has been stated with a frankness, a largeness of view, a generosity of
spirit, and a universal human sympathy which must challenge the
admiration of every friend of mankind; and they have refused to compound
their ideals or desert others that they themselves may be safe. They
call to us to say what it is that we desire, in what, if in anything,
our purpose and our spirit differ from theirs; and I believe that the
people of the United States would wish me to respond, with utter
simplicity and frankness. Whether their present leaders believe it or
not, it is our heartfelt desire and hope that some way may be opened
whereby we may be privileged to assist the people of Russia to attain
their utmost hope of liberty and ordered peace.

It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they
are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and
permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of
conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret
covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and
likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It
is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose
thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which
makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with
justice and the peace of the world to avow now or at any other time the
objects it has in view.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which
touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible
unless they were corrected and the world secured once for all against
their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing
peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live
in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation
which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own
institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other
peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the
peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for
our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others
it will not be done to us. The program of the world's peace, therefore,
is our program; and that program, the only possible program, as we see
it, is this:

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall
be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy
shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial
waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in
whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of
international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the
establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations
consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be
reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all
colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in
determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the
populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims
of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all
questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest
coöperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an
unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent
determination of her own political development and national policy and
assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under
institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance
also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The
treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come
will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her
needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their
intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and
restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys
in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as
this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws
which they have themselves set and determined for the government of
their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole
structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions
restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter
of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for
nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more
be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along
clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish
to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest
opportunity of autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied
territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea;
and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined
by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance
and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and
economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan
states should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be
assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now
under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and
an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development and the
Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships
and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include
the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which
should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose
political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be
guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific
covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political
independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of
right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments
and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be
separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the

For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to
continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the
right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be
secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this
program does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, and there
is nothing in this program that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement
or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made
her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her
or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish
to fight her either with arms or with hostile arrangements of trade if
she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace-loving
nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealing.
We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the
world,--the new world in which we now live,--instead of a place of

Neither do we presume to suggest to her any alteration or modification
of her institutions. But it is necessary, we must frankly say, and
necessary as a preliminary to any intelligent dealings with her on our
part, that we should know whom her spokesmen speak for when they speak
to us, whether for the Reichstag majority or for the military party and
the men whose creed is imperial domination.

We have spoken now, surely, in terms too concrete to admit of any
further doubt or question. An evident principle runs through the whole
program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples
and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and
safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak. Unless this
principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of
international justice can stand. The people of the United States could
act upon no other principle; and to the vindication of this principle
they are ready to devote their lives, their honor, and everything that
they possess. The moral climax of this the culminating and final war for
human liberty has come, and they are ready to put their own strength,
their own highest purpose, their own integrity and devotion to the test.


[Speech at the Opening of the Third Liberty Loan Campaign, delivered in
the Fifth Regiment Armory, Baltimore, April 6, 1918.]


This is the anniversary of our acceptance of Germany's challenge to
fight for our right to live and be free, and for the sacred rights of
freemen everywhere. The nation is awake. There is no need to call to it.
We know what the war must cost, our utmost sacrifice, the lives of our
fittest men, and, if need be, all that we possess.

The loan we are met to discuss is one of the least parts of what we are
called upon to give and to do, though in itself imperative. The people
of the whole country are alive to the necessity of it, and are ready to
lend to the utmost, even where it involves a sharp skimping and daily
sacrifice to lend out of meagre earnings. They will look with
reprobation and contempt upon those who can and will not, upon those who
demand a higher rate of interest, upon those who think of it as a mere
commercial transaction. I have not come, therefore, to urge the loan. I
have come only to give you, if I can, a more vivid conception of what it
is for.

The reasons for this great war, the reason why it had to come, the need
to fight it through, and the issues that hang upon its outcome, are more
clearly disclosed now than ever before. It is easy to see just what this
particular loan means, because the cause we are fighting for stands more
sharply revealed than at any previous crisis of the momentous struggle.
The man who knows least can now see plainly how the cause of justice
stands, and what is the imperishable thing he is asked to invest in. Men
in America may be more sure than they ever were before that the cause is
their own, and that, if it should be lost, their own great nation's
place and mission in the world would be lost with it.

I call you to witness, my fellow-countrymen, that at no stage of this
terrible business have I judged the purposes of Germany intemperately. I
should be ashamed in the presence of affairs so grave, so fraught with
the destinies of mankind throughout all the world, to speak with
truculence, to use the weak language of hatred or vindictive purpose. We
must judge as we would be judged. I have sought to learn the objects
Germany has in this war from the mouths of her own spokesmen, and to
deal as frankly with them as I wished them to deal with me. I have laid
bare our own ideals, our own purposes, without reserve or doubtful
phrase, and have asked them to say as plainly what it is that they seek.

We have ourselves proposed no injustice, no aggression. We are ready,
whenever the final reckoning is made, to be just to the German people,
deal fairly with the German power, as with all others. There can be no
difference between peoples in the final judgment, if it is indeed to be
a righteous judgment. To propose anything but justice, even-handed and
dispassionate justice, to Germany at any time, whatever the outcome of
the war, would be to renounce and dishonor our own cause, for we ask
nothing that we are not willing to accord.

It has been with this thought that I have sought to learn from those who
spoke for Germany whether it was justice or dominion and the execution
of their own will upon the other nations of the world that the German
leaders were seeking. They have answered--answered in unmistakable
terms. They have avowed that it was not justice, but dominion and the
unhindered execution of their own will. The avowal has not come from
Germany's statesmen. It has come from her military leaders, who are her
real rulers. Her statesmen have said that they wished peace, and were
ready to discuss its terms whenever their opponents were willing to sit
down at the conference table with them. Her present Chancellor has
said--in indefinite and uncertain terms, indeed, and in phrases that
often seem to deny their own meaning, but with as much plainness as he
thought prudent--that he believed that peace should be based upon the
principles which we had declared would be our own in the final

At Brest-Litovsk her civilian delegates spoke in similar terms;
professed their desire to conclude a fair peace and accord to the
peoples with whose fortunes they were dealing the right to choose their
own allegiances. But action accompanied and followed the profession.
Their military masters, the men who act for Germany and exhibit her
purpose in execution, proclaimed a very different conclusion. We can not
mistake what they have done--in Russia, in Finland, in the Ukraine, in
Rumania. The real test of their justice and fair play has come. From
this we may judge the rest.

They are enjoying in Russia a cheap triumph in which no brave or gallant
nation can long take pride. A great people, helpless by their own act,
lies for the time at their mercy. Their fair professions are forgotten.
They nowhere set up justice, but everywhere impose their power and
exploit everything for their own use and aggrandizement, and the peoples
of conquered provinces are invited to be free under their dominion!

Are we not justified in believing that they would do the same things at
their western front if they were not there face to face with armies
whom even their countless divisions cannot overcome? If, when they have
felt their check to be final, they should propose favorable and
equitable terms with regard to Belgium and France and Italy, could they
blame us if we concluded that they did so only to assure themselves of a
free hand in Russia and the East?

Their purpose is, undoubtedly, to make all the Slavic peoples, all the
free and ambitious nations of the Baltic Peninsula, all the lands that
Turkey has dominated and misruled, subject to their will and ambition,
and build upon that dominion an empire of force upon which they fancy
that they can then erect an empire of gain and commercial supremacy--an
empire as hostile to the Americas as to the Europe which it will
overawe--an empire which will ultimately master Persia, India, and the
peoples of the Far East.

In such a program our ideals, the ideals of justice and humanity and
liberty, the principle of the free self-determination of nations, upon
which all the modern world insists, can play no part. They are rejected
for the ideals of power, for the principle that the strong must rule the
weak, that trade must follow the flag, whether those to whom it is taken
welcome it or not, that the peoples of the world are to be made subject
to the patronage and overlordship of those who have the power to enforce

That program once carried out, America and all who care or dare to stand
with her must arm and prepare themselves to contest the mastery of the
world--a mastery in which the rights of common men, the rights of women
and of all who are weak, must for the time being be trodden underfoot
and disregarded and the old, age-long struggle for freedom and right
begin again at its beginning. Everything that America has lived for and
loved and grown great to vindicate and bring to a glorious realization
will have fallen in utter ruin and the gates of mercy once more
pitilessly shut upon mankind!

The thing is preposterous and impossible; and yet is not that what the
whole course and action of the German armies has meant wherever they
have moved? I do not wish, even in this moment of utter disillusionment,
to judge harshly or unrighteously. I judge only what the German arms
have accomplished with unpitying thoroughness throughout every fair
region they have touched.

What, then are we to do? For myself, I am ready, ready still, ready even
now, to discuss a fair and just and honest peace at any time that it is
sincerely purposed--a peace in which the strong and the weak shall fare
alike. But the answer, when I proposed such a peace, came from the
German commanders in Russia and I cannot mistake the meaning of the

I accept the challenge. I know that you accept it. All the world shall
know that you accept it. It shall appear in the utter sacrifice and
self-forgetfulness with which we shall give all that we love and all
that we have to redeem the world and make it fit for free men like
ourselves to live in. This now is the meaning of all that we do. Let
everything that we say, my fellow-countrymen, everything that we
henceforth plan and accomplish, ring true to this response till the
majesty and might of our concerted power shall fill the thought and
utterly defeat the force of those who flout and misprize what we honor
and hold dear.

Germany has once more said that force, and force alone, shall decide
whether justice and peace shall reign in the affairs of men, whether
right as America conceives it or dominion as she conceives it shall
determine the destinies of mankind. There is, therefore, but one
response possible from us: Force, force to the utmost, force without
stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant force which shall make
right the law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down in the


     "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an
     exact man."


     "'Tis the good reader that makes the good book."


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