The Spirit of the States in the Great War
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The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 29 Nov 1917, p. 45-52
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Judson, Henry Pratt, Speaker
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Speeches
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Reference to the oft-asked question as to why the United States came into the War so late. Some knowledge of the historic ideas of the U.S. Republic required to answer that question adequately. A review of the early period of the history of the United States, and their policies. Policies of the fathers of the Republic with regard to involvement in foreign affairs. Unaccustomed international thinking in the United States. Contrasting this experience with that of Canada, always involved with the British Empire and accustomed from the first to think in terms of Imperial power, and therefore of the relations of nations one to another. The United States absorbed in its own questions when this War came on. A review of international relations that did or did not hold interest for the United States. The Monroe Doctrine, and what that means to Americans. A response to the belief by Canadians that they may someday be attached by the United States. Disbelief in the U.S. when the War broke out in 1914. An examination and review of events which finally led the U.S. to join in the War. The U.S. now determined that nothing shall stand in their way; that ordinary divisions shall disappear, shrivel in the heat of a national need. The speaker's responsibilities as Chairman of an Appeal Board in connection with the National Conscription Act. Members and activities of the Board. Details of U.S. participation in the War. U.S. intentions with regard to sending men into France and other war activities. The U.S. now organized for war first. Knowing that unless this War is won by the forces of civilization and liberty, this world will not be worth living in. Pride in "our Canadian brothers" in this cause. Assuring the audience that the two nations are one in this great cause of human liberty.
Date of Original
29 Nov 1917
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English
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Full Text
THE SPIRIT OF THE STATES IN THE
GREAT WAR
AN ADDRESS By HENRY PRATT JUDSON, LL.D.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
November 29, 1917

MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN, You have often asked why the United States came into the War so late. You have reason to ask it; and yet to answer it adequately involves some knowledge of the historic ideas of our Republic. In the early period of its history the United States formed a definite opinion that, as a matter of national policy, it should avoid all entanglements with European questions. The fathers of the Republic Washington, Jefferson and Munroe-all told us,-and in telling us they expressed the sentiment of the nation at large-that the European nations had a set of primary interests entirely unlike those prevailing on this side of the Atlantic, and that we should keep out of them altogether and attend simply to our own affairs. That has been the fundamental doctrine of the Republic from the beginning. I may put it this way,-that we in the States have not been accustomed to think internationally. We have been absorbed in the questions of settling a vast area of land, of developing the raw resources of his enormous country, of absorbing great masses of the new population coming to us from every quarter of the globe. We have had our internal disputes, arising at one time to the issue of civil war, but our eyes have seldom crossed

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Dr. Henry Pratt Judson is President of the University of Chicago, and is one of the outstanding authorities to whom the President of the United States looked more than to any other Educationist in the recent world crisis.

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our own boundary. You in Canada have not had that history, but are a part of the great British Empire, and you have been accustomed from the first to think in terms of Imperial power, and therefore of the relations of nations one to another. The United States, save that one period of its history, has not looked beyond its boundaries for aggression. After the fall of the slave power in 1865, and from that time, it had no thought to acquire territory or dominion. I say that advisedly; our acquisition of the Philippine Islands was an accident regarding the Spanish War, on the ground of the horrors in Cuba. Very few people in the States had ever heard of the Philippines until Dewey stumbled on them one day, and we found ourselves in possession of them, very much like a man who had the bear by the tail-he didn't like to hold on, and he couldn't let go safely. So when this War came on, the United States was absorbed in its own questions, and moreover was permeated with an intense conviction on another subject. All people who thought themselves to be thoughtful, were intensely convinced of the reality of what we called the progress of the world, and we watched with great interest the advance of civilization in different parts of the world; we believed in it; we thought the whole trend of international life was in a forward direction; we realized the enormous advances in man's control over the forces of nature and what that meant towards the progress of wealth; we realized the enormous advance in thought, the enormous advances in the control of health and of our efforts against disease; and we believed there was great progress in the handling of the question of humanity, the relations of man to man. Therefore we believed that the progress of the world was assured, and in that we believed in the moral progress of the world. We were convinced that in all civilized nations the primary thought was what was best for humanity; that every nation had a part in the welfare of humankind everywhere; that while there might be international differences, yet the civilized nations-every part of them-were one. We believed in the progress of the world. Of course we saw differences of opinion in regard to Constantinople, but we cared nothing for that. We cared very little for Constantinople. Some of us would have been very glad to have had the Turk driven out of Constantinople, and we cared very little who took his place, because any change would be for the better. We heard of the eastern part of Asia and its possible division among various powers, but that did not interest us. We sent money for missions and hospitals in China, but the American nation had no desire for China's property, and if China had been divided amongst the powers it would not have interested us very much.

There was one bit of international relations that interested us very much, and that we have sometimes called the Monroe Doctrine. That means to us simply that for a century now we have not thought it advisable for the great military powers, at any rate, to effect a lodgment on the continent of America. We wanted to retain the independent republics to the south, believing that if they were let alone they would work out a good government and a good civilization; but partly also because we believed in 1823 that the military powers then controlling,--the so-called Holy Alliance--which had conquered those colonies that had declared their independence, would make our Republic the base from which these independent republics would be endangered; and that was true; therefore our Monroe Doctrine was partly altruistic and partly selfish. We believed that the great military despotism of Europe ought not to be entrenched on the American continent, and that is all the Monroe Doctrine. And that is all we have considered internationally--I am speaking of the nation as a whole, the hundred millions of people in its factories and its farms, and thinking little beyond the national boundary.

Some years ago I asked a military gentleman who sat next me at dinner, why the Canadian troops were organized so largely, and he replied that some day they expected to be attacked by the United States. I looked at him in profound amazement, and was still more amused when I found he believed it. Why, gentlemen, there is not a man in the States that I ever saw that ever had the remotest notion of that sort. Occasionally we have a politician make a speech, and we merely smile at it, but for one hundred years there has been no talk of a war on either side.

In 1914, to our profound amazement, this War broke out. We could not believe it. I happened then to be in the far East; I had been in China on certain educational affairs, and was going through Japan, and the ship was at Shanghai. A young Englishman who was at the head of the Reuter Telegraph Agency told me there was going to be a great European War, but I scoffed at it and did not believe it; however, when I got to Japan I found the War had broken out, As a matter of fact I did not know what kind of men were responsible for the two great nations of Europe. I had supposed they had the same notions of the world at large as we had in .our Republic, as you had in Canada, and as men had in England and France, but it was a mistake. Of course I had seen various documents issued by the Pan-German Union; some of their books and pamphlets had come to me; I had read them and smiled at them as cranks such as we have in the United States, who do not, thank God, represent the settled sentiments of the American people. But it took the United States a very long time to become awake to the realities of things, for the reasons I have given you. We began to think of international relations; we began to change our whole fundamental conception of international life, to believe really that the progress of the world was not the real thing back of all the nations, to find out that there were nations which were and are essentially piratical in their essence. We find it hard to believe that and realize it, but it is true. We found it hard to believe that the nations could do the kind of things that have been done in the last two or three years. We had taken part gladly in the various Hague Conferences, and signed treaties and offered other treaties to other nations; we always favored arbitrations as the way of settling international disputes, and we considered that all treaties were obligatory on their signers; we had known that among gentlemen the word of honor is equal to a bond; we had supposed that among nations a treaty obligation was equal to a bond. We found out that that is not true. Then we found that our own country was permeated with intrigue; that people there were hired to obey the mandates of a foreign power, that they were engaged in destroying our factories and in trying to destroy the ships on which our people were sailing; that they were engaged in levying war on peoples with whom we were in amity, with our land as a base. We found it hard to believe that, but we found that it was true, and all those things involved a complete reconsideration of all our essential national ideas of the world. We have learned that there are nations in the world who are not bound by any obligations whatever. They tried to prevent us from selling munitions of war to their enemies, and in doing so they violated the admitted and well-known rules of international law. They were also acting in plain and definite violation of an existing treaty between the United States and Prussia which provides that if either contracting party is at war, the other party shall be at entire liberty to carry on its trade with a special power, including contraband of war, providing only that they are willing to conduct the same trade with both belligerents; yet they were violently angry at us for dealing with munitions of war that is contraband, with their enemies. They could have bought ammunition in the United States; it was not our fault that the British fleet was in existence.

At last the United States became thoroughly convinced that things could not go along any further. We found very thoroughly that the German Empire is, and for forty years has been determined on the conquest of the world, and on subjecting it to Prussian domination. We know that in the course of that conquest they intend to overthrow the existing canons of humanity and substitute for them the theory of the state which to us is unthinkable-that whatever the state wills is right. Ethics apply perhaps to individuals, but not where the state is a party; treaties are no longer binding than they are useful; that the state has an end to attain which humanity would perhaps somewhat impede. We found out, in short, that liberty, with every free nation in the world, is not safe; that liberty is not safe in the United States; and at last-slowly, reluctantly, perhaps sluggishly-we have become convinced that this is a war to the death between liberty on the one hand and absolute tyranny on the other, and that is all there is of it. We are convinced that a peace that is anything short of the greatest victory for the forces of human liberty, will be a tremendous disaster; it will mean simply a truce, and that every nation must go on for the next decades arming themselves to the teeth for defence against the next War that will come in a very short time. It means that unless we put our lives and our money into this War to the last man and the last dollar, the time will come when the lives and the money of our people will be taken away from us without our consent. It means that if we, in the United States, do not put our money into the Liberty Loan, and you here into the Victory Loan, we will pay ten-fold more in indemnities to Germany. We in the States would rather pay it to our own government than to the government of Germany. I want to say to you, gentlemen, that this conviction is now as deep in our country as it was slow in coming. I believe that our entire nation is united solid in the determination to see this thing through to the end. We are determined that nothing shall stand in our way; that our ordinary divisions shall disappear, shrivel in the heat of a national need.

It has been my duty for some four months past to sit in Chicago as Chairman of an Appeal Board in connection with our National Conscription Act, which was one of the first passed by Congress in connection with the prosecution of the War. The Board consists of five men. On my right sits a very prominent Labor leader. At my left sits a captain of industry, a man of large wealth, leader of one of our great steel corporations. On the other side of the table is a lawyer, and by him is a medical man; and I want to say to you that in all those four months, in all questions before that Board on the fundamental issue, I cannot tell the difference between those five men.

Our colleges in the United States have been to me a source of very great pride. The principal classes in our colleges have lost a fifth of their men to start with; they are going into the camps; they are already found on the battlefields abroad and in the great camps of this country; they are forming officers of our national army. Since April last among our alumni there is only one question-what can I do for the cause? I believe that the spirit in which the States have entered into the War is one of stern determination. We are bound that nothing shall stand in our way. We are glad to fight side by side with the gallant soldiers of France, of Italy, of England and of Canada. They have been fighting our battle for three years, and we know it; it is our turn now to fight the battles. In Chicago I have seen what I never saw before--State Street lined with the Union Jack. The flags of the Allies are found everywhere.

I am often asked how many men we will send into France. I can only answer, that depends on the number of ships available. When War was declared, we found a number of German ships in our ports; they are all now flying the American flag, and have American names, and they are all busy carrying American troops across the Atlantic. W e have sent to the camps already about half a million men. We enlisted in our registration ten million men, and are now preparing the registration under a new system whereby we will have five classes. This is our selective conscription law, which in our judgment is the only democratic, wise and fair law. We are going to use every man where he can be of the most advantage. When the Government calls one of the men from our faculty, we feel it is necessary to answer that call. The Government gives him a small salary, and we make up the difference; if the Government wants him and does not pay him any salary, we give him leave of absence on full pay. All our laboratories are at the service of the Government. We have a distinguished professor of English literature who is over 50 years old, and he is a Captain in the army; it happens that he became enormously interested in mediaeval ciphers, and therefore is a master on that whole question, and the War Department last summer was puzzled with some ciphers, and happening to know of this professor's special knowledge, they called him in and he deciphered them. He has now charge of the ciphers in the Intelligence Department, which has a large number of ciphers on hand. You know that this is a war of nations where every man and every woman and every child can do something, and we feel that it is a war in which our whole nation is committed. We have organized the entire nation for war first, everything else second. We all know that unless this War is won by the forces of civilization and liberty, this world will not be worth living in. Unless we give our lives and property to this great cause, the lives and property of our descendants not far in the future will all be gone. Better give it now, right now. You can count on us to the end.

May I say that I rejoice unspeakably at one thing more; here we have two great nations, the British Empire and the American Republic, essentially one in fundamental ideas, in legal basis-for the American laws are English laws-and essentially one in their ideas of humanity and civilization. Why should they not be together in this War and beyond this War, for the security of civilization? I believe the old foolish days of international jealousies between the nations are gone, and gone forever. I know that we in the States are intensely proud of the magnificent record of our Canadian brothers in this cause. We know that record, and we shall be extremely proud if we can follow in its footsteps; we ask nothing better; and when we have given our blood in torrents, as we shall before this thing is ended, we know that you will feel that we Americans are yours also, for I know whereof I speak when I assure you that the two nations are one in this great cause of human liberty.

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The Spirit of the States in the Great War


Reference to the oft-asked question as to why the United States came into the War so late. Some knowledge of the historic ideas of the U.S. Republic required to answer that question adequately. A review of the early period of the history of the United States, and their policies. Policies of the fathers of the Republic with regard to involvement in foreign affairs. Unaccustomed international thinking in the United States. Contrasting this experience with that of Canada, always involved with the British Empire and accustomed from the first to think in terms of Imperial power, and therefore of the relations of nations one to another. The United States absorbed in its own questions when this War came on. A review of international relations that did or did not hold interest for the United States. The Monroe Doctrine, and what that means to Americans. A response to the belief by Canadians that they may someday be attached by the United States. Disbelief in the U.S. when the War broke out in 1914. An examination and review of events which finally led the U.S. to join in the War. The U.S. now determined that nothing shall stand in their way; that ordinary divisions shall disappear, shrivel in the heat of a national need. The speaker's responsibilities as Chairman of an Appeal Board in connection with the National Conscription Act. Members and activities of the Board. Details of U.S. participation in the War. U.S. intentions with regard to sending men into France and other war activities. The U.S. now organized for war first. Knowing that unless this War is won by the forces of civilization and liberty, this world will not be worth living in. Pride in "our Canadian brothers" in this cause. Assuring the audience that the two nations are one in this great cause of human liberty.