- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 8 Apr 1916, p. 166-186
- Putnam, Major George Haven, Speaker
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- Item Type
- The speaker's belief that in this great contest not only sympathies, but practical and direct cooperation should be given to England and to England's Allies; and that he is expressing the opinion of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of his fellow citizens in the United States. His further belief that England and her Allies today are fighting not only for their own existence and in fulfilment of their obligations, but in defence of the principles of civilization; fighting to defend democracy against the assaults of military autocracy, fighting in defence of the liberties of the United States. Some of the speaker's personal background and history, and his ties to England. A detailed discussion follows with regard to both Canadian and American ties to the British Empire and its culture. A detailed report of the activities of the speaker and his group to encourage participation in the war effort. What the speaker and his group thinks ought to have been the position of the United States at the outset of the war. A review of political events in Europe, and American foreign relations. Utterances of imperialistic intentions by the Germans heard by the speaker on his trips to Germany. Mischief done by propaganda. The heavy burden being carried by the American President at the present time. Remembering that the Monroe Doctrine has been maintained through the past century by the British fleet. Urging again the Americans to give Great Britain cooperation in the maintenance of British policy for the world at large. What England and her Allies are fighting against. Britain, calling on her American cousins for help in maintaining righteous government throughout the world. France also calling, and with a rightful claim to American sympathy and help. Belgium as well calling to America, as does the old-time Germany. The speaker's group, determined to do its part to bring the American people to a sense of its responsibility to the end that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth."
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- 8 Apr 1916
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THE RELATION OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE ISSUES OF THE WAR
ADDRESS BY MAJOR GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM, D. LIT.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto April 8, 1916
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,-You gentlemen of the Empire Club stand to me, for the time, as representatives of the great Dominion of Canada. I am here to give a word of greeting from my fellow citizens on the other side of the border line. I may not venture to speak for the United States as a whole for I have no credentials as an Ambassador; but I am expressing the opinion of hundreds of thousands, yes, of millions, of my fellow citizens in the United States who hold, as I hold, that in this great contest not only our sympathies, but our practical and direct cooperation should be given to England and to England's Allies.
The men of my group hold that England and her Allies are today fighting not only for their own existence and in fulfilment of their obligations, but in defence of the principles of civilization. They are. fighting to defend democracy against the assaults of military autocracy, and they are fighting in defence of the liberties of the United States.
In coming among you here, I feel as if I were coming among kinsfolk. My father was the first American publisher to invade England, and I myself was born in London. It is one of the crimes charged against me by Germans and German sympathizers, that I am a "damned Briton." I am, however, none the less a Yankee because from my earliest years I have had sympathetic relations with London and with England. My forebears came to Plymouth in Massachusetts from Plymouth in England as far back as 1640, but that voyage of my ancestors did not break for me my ties with England. You are, most of you, familiar with that curious mixture of fog and soot and roast mutton that go to make up the atmosphere of London, the air that I breathed in during my first few years. Whenever I find myself again in London, and take another sniff of that wondrous combination, I feel at once at home. But for me, the incident of birth matured into a permanency of sympathetic relation. I was in London with my father in 185, and I heard the address with which that great statesman, Prince Albert, opened the Exhibition. I doubt whether any of you distinctive citizens of this division of the British Empire had the privilege of being present at the opening of the Exposition of 1851. It was Albert's beautiful ideal that this Exposition would prove to be the forerunner of better understanding and of closer relations between the peoples of Europe. He took the ground that the governments of the world were steadily coming into the hands of the peoples themselves; and that when the people understood that there was a good deal greater advantage in selling goods to your neighbour than could be secured from devastating his territory, wars would come to an end. Prince Albert was doubtless right, but his dreams were too early for his day. They will, I am confident, be fulfilled in the near future.
Since I got out of the army in 1864 I have been going to England every year. I doubt whether any American of my generation has been so regular a visitor. I know that no American has secured more value and more pleasure from associations with England. Some of my best friends in England have during the half century " joined the majority, " but I have added other friends to the circle, and I was in a position when this war broke out to talk with sympathy and with direct personal knowledge about England's task and England's duty; and, as far as opportunity has come to me, I have been telling my fellow citizens in the States what it is that the British Empire stands for.
One hundred and forty years ago, we Yankees broke away from political relations with the British Empire. As we all know, it was not practicable to break away altogether, and it is very fortunate that we could not. We share with you the English language and we distribute the literature of England. Some of us Yankees got into the habit of making repeated visits to England and continued closer relations with English friends and English kin. We were dependent, particularly in our eastern states, upon the common law precedence of England, and, in the development of our political institutions, we always had upon us requirements of studying the history and the example of our English kin across the sea. In spite, therefore, of the cleavage of one hundred and forty years back, and in spite of misunderstandings which appeared serious at the time, during the years of our Civil War, we have during the past twenty-five years, and particularly during the past eighteen months, felt ourselves coming closer and closer to England. The issues on which our political relations were severed one hundred and forty years ago were issues not so much with Great Britain as with George III. and with his erratic Minister, Lord North. You will pardon me for criticizing a British Minister but he was in authority a long time back, and it is possible that he has no very personal friends in this audience. As sturdy an Englishman and as good a historical authority as my friend Sir George Otto Trevelyah writes that when we Americans fought through those seven years against the authority of George III. and Lord North we were fighting the fight of liberalism; we were contending for representative government, not only for men of English heritage on this side of the Atlantic, but for men of English race throughout the world. That, says Trevelyan, was the purpose and was the result of what we called the Revolution, a contest that looms rather large in history on our side of the world but which you gentlemen have forgotten all about. Our so-called "Revolution" was, from the point of view of Trevelyan and other English liberals, merely a step in the development of representative government.
I think that Sir Edward Grey, a good fellow with a great task on his hands, is a good deal better statesman than Lord North ever was, and that he has a much better understanding of government problems. On our side of the water, we have a cordial appreciation for the skill, the recommendations and the sense of historic justice with which Sir Edward Grey has handled the tremendous problems that have come upon him. We have a cordial appreciation also of Mr. Asquith, whom I had the honour of knowing in Balliol, which is my home and sojourning place when I am in Oxford. Balhol has during a long series of years fallen into the habit of sending out good men to help to rule the world. From year to year it is my privilege to sit at the high table in Balliol College and I have been able, even with no little difficulty, to pull the story out from some modest youngster sitting next, who had been doing service at some point of friction on the edge of the Empire; and who had shown the good judgment and the quiet pluck that characterize the younger men of England when the Empire calls upon them for service. The youngster that I have in mind for the moment, had at the time of his emergency, been hundreds of miles from any point where he could secure help or counsel. He had had a local princeling to take care of, with the general instruction that the young prince must feel that he was not being interfered with in his control of his dominion, but it was for the Balliol man to see that the prince did not get into mischief. That is not an easy task for any man and certainly not for an inexperienced young collegian, but I gather in the experience of these British youngsters, and I feel an increasing respect for what the British stock can do.
This great independent Dominion of Canada and the similarly independent Dominion of Australasia have, during the past half century, strengthened their foundations, increased their wealth and population and widened their responsibilities. They have been making an increasing contribution to the civilization of the world. They have already become in themselves empires with enormous potential capacity for material development. I have, however, come to feel, in meeting during my annual visits to London, Canadian and Australian friends, that the stronger they have grown in their own dominions, the nearer they have felt themselves coming to the Empire of Britain. They have given an imperial character to the feeling of kinship and to the common purpose that, in this time of stress, has shown that the British Empire is a real thing, a power that counts for its imperial citizens and for the civilization of the world.
On our side of the line, we Americans, or at least, the great mass of us are, in like manner, feeling that we are again coming nearer not only in sympathy but in desire for joint action, to our English kin; that the political separation, more or less of an accident, of one hundred and forty years ago, is a bit of history long past, and that what we Americans of today are considering is that we have with our English kin, the same general problems, the maintenance of civilization as expressed in representative government, in the protection of the smaller peoples, in the maintenance of justice throughout the world, in the great fight of democracy in the wider sense of the term, against autocracy in the Berlin sense, what Berlin calls "divine government." In this so-called "divine government," the claim of a little group that thinks it should rule because the Emperor says that the Lord is speaking through him, most of us can find very little that is divine. If it is the Lord who is speaking through William, He is certainly using a very curious language.
In speaking of my countrymen, I have used the word "Americans" because there is no good descriptive term for the citizens of the United States. I suggest that you Canadians had better continue to call yourselves Canadians and let us have the monopoly of the other name. We have no desire to be greedy but really we have nothing else that is available, and, further, if in saying " we Americans," I am also including you, I am not troubled about that. That is all right.
Some of us have been trying, particularly during the past eighteen months, to crystallize into expression in the old American town meeting fashion, the belief that we have the right to express our own opinions. We have been endeavouring to formulate American conclusions in regard to the real issues of this great struggle. This is not an easy task. You have here a well organized commonwealth; on our side of the line we have forty-eight commonwealths, and the men of the west charge us fellows in New York with ignorance of what goes on in other parts of the country. I remember a chap coming from Tennessee to the Honest Money Committee of the Chamber of Commerce in New York with the purpose of securing money that would help his election to Congress. He was talking to some of the financial magnates, men who thought themselves to be great citizens. He began his remarks with the words "the trouble with you Yorkers is that you are too damned provincial; you think that the sun rises on one side of the Brooklyn Bridge and sets on t'other." That was a pretty introduction of himself to the great men of New York ! but the fellow from Tennessee got his funds, and he went back and was elected, and did good service in Congress for the cause of honest money. We may admit, however, that it is difficult for one section of our big country, a country made up of many communities, to have satisfactory knowledge of the other sections. The work of our American Rights Committee, a Committee that organized itself in my office a month or two back, has been thus far mainly in the east. I have myself been speaking, principally in towns within twentyfour hours' reach of New York, three or four times a week; one week I spoke six times and had an engagement for the seventh, but the wife revolted on the seventh day and I had to get a substitute.
I have not been able to make time to go further west from New York than Ann Arbor. I have had audiences ranging from fifty people to thirty-five hundred, and from these audiences I have met with nothing but a cordial response to my word that England's fight is our fight and that we ought to be in it.
Three weeks ago we had a meeting of 2,500 people in Tremont Temple, Boston. In response to my word from the platform that we ought to take part with England, the whole 2,500 arose and we carried our resolutions by a vote of 2, 500 to one. I said to the one man " I may respect your courage, but I cannot think much of your judgment."
On the thirteenth of March we had a meeting that filled Carnegie Hall in New York to the topmost gallery. The hall holds 3,500 people and our resolutions were passed by a vote of 3,400 to 40. I received before the meeting a number of threatening letters, and there had been articles in "The Herold" and "The Staats-Zeitung " calling upon self-respecting Germans to break up the meeting. I sent these letters and paragraphs to the Police Commissioner. One of the writers said that there would be bombs under the platform, but I assumed that this was balderdash, as proved to be the case. .Commissioner Woods had a few plain clothes men scattered through the audience and as the interruptions came (and they came pretty regularly) things happened. The Sergeant in charge told me afterwards "you see, Major, I put out one a minute as long as they lasted" and there was real regret in his voice that they had not lasted longer.
We have a branch of our Committee in Boston, and just before I left New York for Toronto, several groups came together and constituted a national organization, of which they have made me the head. I said that they had better get a youngster but they responded that they thought I was young enough for their purpose. We have correspondence now in train for the organization of branches in Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis and San Francisco. We have a meeting in train for the evening of Sunday, the 7th of May, the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania. We expect to give to this meeting a memorial character. We certainly want to emphasize that we must do what may be possible so that those who died on the Lusitania shall not have died in vain. We must make their deaths count towards civilization.
Our group has taken the ground that the United States ought at the outset of the war, to have placed itself at the head of a league of neutral nations. This action ought yet to be taken and, in addition, I contend that the time has now come to bring about a final break with the Teutonic powers who axe fighting in behalf of barbarism.
The President is a patriotic man who has given conscientious thought and labour to his task. He has had serious burdens to carry and not the least of these burdens have been the three "baneful and bothersome B's"-Bryan, Bernstorff, and Berlin. We have got rid of Bryan. We are trying to send ofd Bernstorff, and we shall be well satisfied to break relations with Berlin.
We ought to have made protest with the first act of infamy with which the war began, the invasion of Belgium, and we should have continued to protest against the continued atrocities in Belgium and against the deliberate warfare waged on non-combatants, in England with Zeppelins, and on the sea with submarines. I am myself an old soldier and I know what devastation war brings in its train, but the things I have been speaking of, what has been done in Belgium, in England and in Armenia, are not the incidental results of war. They are crimes committed under official orders from Berlin. Many of you have read the report of Viscount Bryce on the atrocities in Belgium. I have had the honour of knowing Viscount Bryce for many years. Anything that bears his signature, anything that has been under his supervision, carries a weight that counts with all nations. Some of you have read the report printed in Paris under the editorship of Bedier in which the German orders are given in facsimile on one page and in French translation on the other. I do not know of any history, ancient or modern, in which have been committed not incidentally but under official orders, such damnable things as have been done in this war.
We should have protested in such fashion that these damnable things could not come to be accepted or even thought of as precedent. I may say in all frankness, that, in my judgment, it would have been wise, if only to make clear that we were fighting for the rights of neutrals, to have included in our protests a protest against certain things that have been done -by Great Britain. I think further, however, that having made such protest in order to prevent bad things from crystallizing into precedent (Great Britain is herself often a neutral and would find bad precedents very inconvenient) they should have been put on the shelf for consideration later at some court of The Hague or the Geneva Convention. We know that when the time comes and there is opportunity for judicial investigation, we shall be paid for all the cargoes that ought to be paid for; and I, for one, am not willing to be discussing cargoes when we ought to be protecting lives. When my friends talk to me about this interference with our cargoes (some of my own have been interfered with) and interruption of our mails, and new precedents about blockades, I say two things : These practices are inconvenient and troublesome, I may have said "damned troublesome "-I beg the Lord Bishop's pardon (bowing to the Bishop of Toronto)but one uses such a term not frivolously but as an expression of sacred conviction. But these things can all be adjusted, and when Great Britain is fighting for its life, is fighting for its obligations and for civilization, is fighting for the liberties of the United States, I say "don't bother Great Britain. Put your protest on record and let it wait." That is my counsel and I find that my auditors are generally in sympathy with me rather than with the anti-English suggestions of Bryan and Hoke Smith and their gang. I have taken the ground that we should have taken action not merely for the defence of American citizens (that, of course, is the first duty of an American government) but in behalf of the rights. and duties of non-combatants. The Zeppelins, for instance, have been used hardly at all in the work of campaigning. They have not ventured to take Zeppelins over the battle lines nor have soldiers been attacked from them. These have been used for what ? For the killing of women and children. Three weeks back there was a pathetic report (think of an officer putting such a report on record) of a Zeppelin raid which might, I think, be called a failure. "Killed one baby; mortally wounded one woman." It is difficult to understand how a soldier could accept orders for this kind of work, or to imagine the character of the official who gives the order.
I was presiding the other night over a meeting called in behalf of Armenia. I took the ground that the Treaty of Berlin was one of the great mistakes of Great Britain, even though so good a man as Lord Salisbury, with Lord Beaconfield, was responsible for it. This treaty, which held back Russia from Constantinople, was a mistake. Constantinople ought to have been occupied in 1878. The Turks ought then to have been sent back to Asia and never again allowed a footing on the territory of Europe: If the Christian States had not, in 1853, been quarrelling among themselves, the Greek Empire would never have been overthrown.
In 1823, the Turks were murdering Greeks, and the American people were so indignant at the murder in the Isle of Scio of five thousand Greeks that a protest on behalf of the United States was worded by a man who knew how to use the English language, Daniel Webster. At that time we had no responsibilities in Europe, no army and no navy, and we were but a little people, but we could not sit still and allow such a murder to go on without making utterance of the protest, which bore the name of President Monroe and was approved without a dissenting vote in Congress and by successive State Legislatures, -beginning with Massachusetts. We protested not only against the atrocity of the Turks but against the European States which permitted such atrocities, and they were all more or less responsible. England did finally do its part in helping to shape the kingdom of Greece, and the Greeks ought today to carry a better memory of England's service. I hope the Greeks will yet wake up.
Within the last fifteen months, over one million Armenians have been killed, and it is mortifying to me, as an American, that no protest has been made by the United States. I heard pitiful stories from two or three of the women who survived the awful migration of the exiles driven out from Armenia southward to the desert. The young men had been drafted off before the massacre began and put on the front at Caucasus, where they have been largely shot down by the Russians. The old men paid sums to escape the sentence of death but nevertheless, many of them were shot. The women and children were sent south on those awful long marches, where they perished from starvation, fatigue and heat. Women and children were murdered in front of the German Consulates in Armenia and no German lifted a hand to prevent. The German Consuls are efficient and they do as they are told to do. Without question, their reports about the massacres went to the authorities in Constantinople. If the German Ambassador in Constantinople had lifted his hand, these awful crimes would have been stayed; but neither from the Ambassador in Constantinople nor from authorities anywhere, did there come a protest or a question. The existence of Constantinople depends upon Berlin. The Turks have for fourteen months done nothing that Berlin did not approve and little that Berlin did not command. I hold Berlin responsible for the massacre of Armenia, and I contend that a protest should have gone from Washington on behalf of the whole people, not only to Constantinople but to Berlin, for the greatest crime of the century.
I am mortified to realize that our President should (as is inevitable as long as diplomatic relations continue) be in diplomatic and in social relations with the representatives of Turkey and of Prussia, nations responsible for murder. The Ambassador from Berlin and the Charge from Constantinople ought to have been sent home.
I have been going to England from year to year for fifty years and I think I know my England. I have never heard or read an utterance of an Englishman wanting anything that belonged to Germany. I have friends in the eastern counties, and I have been in personal touch with the apprehension on the part of the residents there of invasion of the eastern coast. There has been some natural annoyance at the expansion of German commerce at the expense of English trade, an annoyance natural in any case, that the general training given to the German employees, better than that given to many English employees, (I speak with experience for I have used them both and I am using them still) should have taken away much work that otherwise would have been retained for Englishmen. Nothing, however, has been permitted to stand in the way of carrying out the old-time British policy of "a fair field and no favour." The Germans have had free access to all parts of the Empire and have been permitted to make money out of the British Empire for the benefit of Germans owners in Germany. The Germans talk of a naval tyranny of the seas. The British fleet has maintained the peace of the seas on which seas the German commercial marine, developed with a full measure of enterprise, has made money under the protection of the British flag. It is the greatest balderdash possible for the Germans to talk of British tyranny throughout the world. The British Empire protects everybody and stands in the way of nobody. I am myself a free trader and I have contended in talking to fellow citizens, many of whom are protectionists, that it is not through any artificial system of tariff that the world can be brought together in peaceful relations. There must be a breaking down 'of the old barriers, an acceptance of the British principle of "a fair field and no favour." Citizens all over the world must be permitted to do what they can do best and to make what they can make best and to buy where they can buy best. Under such relations, the peoples of the world will be much more likely to come together and to stay together in friendly relations. The barriers of protection bring friction and quarrels and jealousies. I think that the world is tending toward a relation of free exchange although it will not come in my time.
The exceptional enterprise and the excellent business training of the Germans were, before the war, securing for Germany an enormous advantage and great progress. If Germany had waited a few years she would have secured a commercial position throughout the world that is not now likely to be secured for many years to come; but it is the fault of Berlin that the results of her commercial enterprise are being undermined by war conditions.
I have during a long series of years had occasion to make visits to Germany from time to time at the gatherings of the International Copyright League and of the Publishers' Association, and I have, while in Berlin and Leipzic, taken the opportunity of listening from time to time to the utterances of the German historians. I have continually heard the very frank statement to the effect that "while the eighteenth century was under the influence of France and the nineteenth, mainly owing to its big navy, was largely controlled by England, the twentieth century belongs to us in Germany. It is time the British Empire should be broken up and we, the Germans, are the natural inheritors. We are going to organize an empire that will not be a mere military episode like that of Napoleon, but that will remain through the ages. It will be organized with German system and it will spread and enforce German Kultur. It will have the qualities of the Roman Empire with the advantages of German civilization. The British Empire has outlived its day. It is decadent and is no longer needed. Its citizens are not willing to make the sacrifices required to maintain their imperial control. We Germans have got the army, the strongest force in the world, we are rapidly constructing thenavy and we shall shortly be in a position to enforce our imperial policies. The sooner these policies and the necessary results are understood by you Amricans the better for you. Your interests will best be cared for by co-operation with Germany. If you decide upon any other course you will, like tie British Empire, have to accept German domination. When we have taken such of the British colonies as we require we shall be in a position to exert our rightful influence in the western hemisphere."
The utterance reminded me of a word given in the Memoir of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. His father said to him one day "Richard, you are getting to be a pretty big boy; it is time you took a wife." "Certainly," said Richard, " whose wife shall I take ? " That is the German theory of action. There are in Germany thousands of decent Germans, and I have come to know not a few of them as personal friends, but I feel now as if good old Germany and not a few German-Americans in the States have been poisoned by the fumes of the prussic acid pouring out from Berlin. I am, however, not willing to believe that the great German-American population, the largest element in the States outside of the old English stock, is prepared to accept the contentions of the Hohenzollerns, the theory of imperial military government, the divine right of emperors. These Germans in the States are largely the sons of the men who in 1848 fought against this same imperial domination. My dear old brother-in-law, now eighty years of age, and the last of the Forty Eighters, Abraham Jacobi, was a comrade and close friend of Carl Schurz. He has said to me and he has said in print " Haven, we fought against this damned business in 1848 and are not going to approve of it now; if my friend Schurz were living, and I have the right to speak for Schurz, I know he would oppose it as sternly as I do."
The attitude and the heritage of such men is an important fact in shaping the political opinion and the political action of the United States. We believe that the noisy group who are making threats and writing abusive letters, constitute but a faction of our German population. The faction that has been yelling for Berlin and spending money secured from the German Embassy, for burning our munition factories, for inciting strikes, for buying papers and for the manufacturing of bombs for the destruction of our ships, this is but a small faction, and the great mass of our German-American citizens are loyal to the Republic.
There is no other important group in the States of foreign heritage who will give us trouble in this issue. The Hungarians are not particularly loyal to Berlin; and the Bohemians and Moravians and Slovaks are fiercely antagonistic both to Berlin and to Vienna. They were in a rebellious frame of mind when they came away and they have no desire to be called back to fight for imperialism. The Italians with us are, of course, all right, although not very many of them have gone home to fight. I wish the fighting in Italy were a little fiercer and more successful, but it will still be made useful. We have a big colony of Greeks and as far as I understand the matter, the Greeks want to have their share in the final settlement though they are not anxious to do any fighting now. The men in the Roumanian colony in New York say that want to have Roumania go into the war, but if you ask them whether they are ready to go back and do their part, the response is "no, they have got enough without me, we are all right where we are."
The issues that are being fought out come up from century to century. If I had been alive in 1812 I should have wanted to take part with England and Germany in the war of liberation fought to save Europe from the imperial domination threatened by Napoleon; and if I were a younger man I should be today on the staff of the British army, doing what was in my power to save Europe from the imperial. domination of the Hohenzollerns.
There has from time to time been ground for anxiety about friction and irritation that is being instituted in the States against Great Britain in connection with cotton shipments and with other things. These attempts were, in large part, paid for with German money and were under the direction of the German Embassy, which has been the hotbed of mischievous doings of all kinds. It has been a pleasure to note, in connection with the pernicious activities of Bernstorff and his staff, the quiet reticence and dignity of Sir Cecil SpringRice and of Jusserand and of Kavernith, the Minister from Belgium. Think what he might have said if he had felt himself free to talk to the American public.
Mischief has been done by propaganda on which millions of dollars were spent, not on the east-certainly not in New England, but in the south and southwest. There are regions where the folks hardly knew until six months after the fighting that there was any war; and these people do not yet understand the responsibilities that the United States has in the war. I think that German money that has been spent in these back-country regions has made mischief and we are now trying in the American Rights Society and in the National Security League to combat this -mischief.
I have heard merchants and shipping men denouncing the interference with American trade brought about by orders in council and by their regulations. I have reminded some of these men that when the Republic was fighting for its life half a century back, we did some things ourselves towards stretching the rights of combatants against neutrals. We certainly extended the theory of the continuous voyage and we seized certain cargoes from British vessels which were well outside of our coast line. I remember being in Georgia at a time when one million ball-cartridges were taken off an English vessel which was at that time some hundred miles from the Bahamas. The captain swore that these cartridges were to be utilized for shooting snipe in the West Indies, and we refused to believe it. When I have emphasized these troublesome precedents in our own record, my shipping friends have been prepared to admit that England has now, as we had in 1862, a hard task on its hands and that we ought to be sympathetic and patient with interference brought upon American trade.
Our President, for whose nomination I worked and for whore I voted, has during the past eighteen months. been carrying a heavy burden. He is a conscientious and patriotic citizen. The individual opinions of a President on an international issue can, of course, never be known, except, possibly, by his wife. Nobody knows from any utterance of Mr. Wilson what his views are in regard to the rights and wrongs of the European war. I have myself had personal relations with Mr. Wilson in the years before he was a political leader, on the Short Ballot Committee and in other public work. It is my own impression (I give this simply as my personal guess and not for quotation) that Woodrow Wilson (I am not now speaking of the President, but of the man) has no more affection for the Hohenzollern theory of government than you and I have, and you may suspect that I am myself not quite neutral, although I claim to be as neutral as any self-respecting American ought to be. With full consideration for the burdens that the President has been bearing, and with cordial approval of most of his utterances and of certain things that he has done in regard to the protection of American rights, I can but feel that he has been unduly patient during the months since the sinking of the Lusitania in the maintenance of those rights. He uttered a good word when he said "To forbid Americans from the exercise of their assured rights in the dread lest we might be called upon to vindicate those rights, that would indeed be a humiliation." Our Committee has given in public its approval to Wilson's demand that the men in Congress, some groups of whom were trying to give to Europe the impression that we had divided counsels in the nation, and that we could not be depended upon to take decisive action, should stand up and be counted. We commended the President's letter to Senator Stone of Missouri, in which he said that no American rights would be or could be waived. Having given this word of praise where praise was due, we then set forth in our Carnegie Hall meeting, being careful to use parliamentary language, that our President had been unduly patient in regard to well assured grievances; unduly patient in the maintenance of the rights of American citizens, the rights of neutrals and the rights of non. combatants. I will not venture, gentlemen, in speaking of my own President and outside of the borders of my own country, to use any stronger criticism.
You gentlemen doubtless agree with me that a German pledge is not worth very much, and yet a German pledge is all that he is in a position to demand. In the documents issued by our Committee we are taking the ground that German pledges cannot be accepted. We are telling the American people that they have rights but that they also have duties. They have the right to secure proper protection for their lives, not only at home but abroad; to secure safety for their property, for their coast lines and for the wealthy cities of the coast. It was to that end that the American Security League, of which I was one of the organizers, was brought into existence. We pointed out that the nation had urgent duties to perform and that for the performance of those duties our national resources must be organized. Steps are now being taken to that end and in the belief that American men will be ready to fight when called upon by the Republic. We are now emphasizing with the public that the United States has but one logical and reasonable course of action. We must take direct part with England and with England's Allies who are fighting our fight and also the fight of civilization.
I have been reminding my fellow citizens that the socalled Monroe Doctrine which is, of course, not a doctrine at all but only a policy, has been maintained through the past century by the British fleet; and that it is the Monroe Doctrine with the British fleet back of it, that has preserved the peace of the western hemisphere. If there had been German colonies in Brazil and in the West Indies, the United States would have been obliged to sit up and take notice; and I think it wiser to begin to take notice now. As long, however, as we have been in direct cooperation with Great Britain (only Britain has contributed much the larger portion of the force), as long as we have accepted for our hemisphere the general policy of Great Britain, it is in order for us to give Great Britain our cooperation in the maintenance of British policy for the world at large.
England and her Allies are fighting against the German theory of the "divine. state." They are fighting for representative government; for the protection of the smaller peoples; for the maintenance of peace with justice (and any other peace is a rotten peace) throughout the world. The Allies are calling on us Americans for cooperation. Britain calls-Britain, the most beneficent Empire with all its blunders and all its misdeeds, that the world has ever known. The British Empire has done more for the peoples under its control than has ever been done by any Empire in history. I think of India, with its three hundred millions of people loyal now not under authority but pimply to the imperial idea as represented by the flag. The soldiers are gone, fighting in France, fighting for the Empire, but the Union Jack is there. The loyalty is assured because the East Indians recognize what has been done by the English in maintaining throughout that great peninsula peace with justice; in giving opportunity for education; in making increasing openings for the Indians themselves to take part in local government and in so doing, to secure training as citizens. During the first six months of the war I read in my Lokal Anzeiger from Berlin that India was in a state of unrest, that tomorrow it would be in rebellion; but Berlin did not know arid could not understand.
I think of Egypt where, for the first time in its history, a recorded history that goes back nearly ten thousand years, the fellah, the peasant of the Nile, like the ryot on the Ganges, is able to gather in the fruit of his own labours. He realizes the value of British law and of British justice. He feels that he hag been well served by Britain, and the fellah on the Nile is as loyal to Great Britain as is the yyot on the Ganges.
I may refer also to South Africa. Gentlemen, a few years back I had my hands somewhat full in defending British action in South Africa. Not a few of my American friends were honestly critical. They spoke of the crushing of the poor Boers. I took the ground that there was something to be said for the rights of the natives who had been dominated by the Boers; and that Britain was standing for general justice and that when Britain won out, justice and not domination would be secured. And now I am beautifully triumphant. I point to South Africa ruled not by Britain but by its own people, mainly Boers, and remind the old-time critics that these Boers have been fighting for the privilege of remaining in the British Empire and that they have won out.
Britain calls to her American cousins for help in maintaining righteous government throughout the world. And France calls-that great Republic, standing as it does, for intellectuality and light and leading, for a charming civilization; always ready to give sympathetic recognition to the rights and interests of other people. France, now putting up one of the pluckiest fights ever known in history, a fight not merely for its own existence, but for Europe, for civilization and for America. France has a rightful claim to our sympathy and to our help.
And little Belgium, the murdered state, the devastated state, calls to America. Think of that little Belgian army fighting when it knew that it could not be saved, that it could not protect Belgian territory, fighting simply to gain time, and by gaining three weeks' time, saving Paris, saving Calais, possibly saving Europe. I think that King Albert and his loyal Queen, pacing that bit of yellow sand in the northwestern corner of Belgium, all that is left of their heritage, and looking over the devastated region to which I hope they may speedily return, I think this King and Queen are the most heroic figures in modern history.
And Germany calls; not the Germany. that has been dominated by the Hohenzollerns and obsessed by the dream of imperial control, but the old-time Germany, the Germany of ideals, the Germany that in 1848 fought against this same imperialism; the Germany of Goethe, of Koerner, of Richter, of Heine; the Germany which has given to my own country some of the best citizens we have had; great leaders like Schurz and scientists like Jacobi : I hold that the future welfare of the true Germany depends upon the defeat of the dreams of the Hohenzollerns. The true Germany, to which the United States owes much, is rightfully entitled to the sympathetic help and service of Americans.
Gentlemen, we are working on our side of the line to organize the forces of the Republic so that help may be given. We hold that the issues of civilization are at stake. The men with whom I am associated have a missionary and educational task on our hands, but old and young, we are determined to do our part to bring the American people to a sense of its responsibility to the end that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth."
Vote of thanks was moved by Sir John Willison and seconded by President Dr. Falconer, of Toronto University.