The War and National Life
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 12 Dec 1918, p. 417-427

Patton, Dr. Francis L., Speaker
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Some autobiographical notes first. The problem of reconstruction after the war not in the realm of the speaker's field, but to be addressed by people like those in the audience. Some philosophical thoughts on the policy of "laisser faire," of individualism. Recognizing that for good or for ill we have embarked upon the career of State Socialism. Difficulties in connection with the continuance of it. Ramifications to consider. State Socialism as a case where the capitalist has been stealing our thunder and getting ahead of us in the bargain. Questions of labour and capital. Only beginning to see the consequences of the War. The future foreign policy of the United States.
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12 Dec 1918
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Full Text
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
December 12, 1918

MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--I thank you for the honor of inviting me to address this most distinguished audience today. If I had any wish that has not been gratified, it would be that instead of giving the lecture which I propose to give on War and Democracy, it had been announced that a portion of that lecture, so much at least of it as might come within the limits assigned to the speaker at this meeting, might be given here instead of in Convocation Hall. However, I am sure I cannot do much better than give you perhaps a few elements and extracts from that lecture, as it is impossible for me to carry on two distinct lines of thought on the same subject, making the phraseology absolutely different, and in a way that will satisfy both audiences.

The gentleman who has been so kind as to introduce me as coming from the United States, has introduced me as though I were a citizen of the United States; and as I do not claim that honor I think it only fair that I begin by a sort of autobiographical reference that will put me before you in the plain facts of the case. I am not so fortunate, perhaps you would say not so unfortunate, as to be in the position of one who belongs to two countries, who is able, as far as his domiciliary circumstances will permit, to perform his patriotic duties in


Dr. Patton, after twenty-two years of service in connection with the University, retired from the Presidency of Princeton University a few years ago. During his period of retirement, he has devoted himself to a study of the great world problems brought about by the War.


two countries. There is seldom such a thing as a man being a citizen of two countries at the same time, though I have often debated that question, even with distinguished lawyers in the United States, without being able to convince them of its truth. But there is a citizenship in sorrow, a citizenship to which a man is entitled by virtue of the fact that he is born in a country, and there is a citizenship due also to the fact that a man born in one country may have had a father who was a citizen of another country, whose citizenship is imputed to him. Of course, I have a low opinion of the man who would use the citizenship of one country to enable him to shirk the obligations of another, and if I had my way I would treat with short shrift the man who would play the traitor to the country of his adoption out of a sentimental feeling for the country of his origin. Anyone, who is in doubt on the subject as to whether a man can be a citizen of two countries at the same time, at least under English law, can satisfy himself completely on the subject by reading Hall's Foreign Jurisdiction of the British Crown. But I am a citizen of the British Empire, a natural born citizen of that Empire. I am proud of my birth in what is one of three of the oldest colonies-we Bermudans say the oldest, but I do not like to enter upon debatable matters, and certainly all other colonies that dispute the claim are Barbadoes on one hand, and Newfoundland on the other. We, however, claim priority on the ground that we certainly are the oldest self-governing colony, and have the oldest parliament in the British Empire outside of Westminster; that is something to be proud of for a colony so small as to cover an extent of approximately nineteen and a half square miles.

Now you know that I speak on this subject with considerable feeling because I have lived all the years of my professional life, now nearly fifty-five, including my stay in the Theological Seminary as a student, in the United States. I have not shirked or tried to escape from the responsibilities, ecclesiastical and 'educational, that have devolved upon me. I have received with becoming gratitude the honors and responsibilities that they have placed upon me, and I owe it as a matter of obvious gratitude to that generous people, that although they knew I was a British subject, they did not hesitate to confer upon me the Presidency of one of the oldest of their Universities--the one in which the Continental Congress sat, and which was the headquarters of George Washington through the revolutionary struggle.

In all those years I have tried to behave myself in a way that would not discredit the confidence that they reposed in me. I never used the personal pronouns in any irritating way-"we" instead of "you" almost habitually; and although I have retired from all public life, I have returned to the place of my birth, expecting to spend so much of old age as may be given me in the house in which I was born, and under the British flag. Still I am free in the opinions I hold, and when I am among the people of the United States I act like a good American and still say "we" instead of "you." So when I come to Canada, there is a feeling that naturally comes over a man when, after long years of absence he returns to his old home-a feeling of gladness, not unmingled with sadness, too, for there are so few now who knew me then and whom I was so glad to know. Oh, I had a delightful time in Toronto during those years when as an undergraduate of University College and a student in Knox College, I pursued studies with the regularity and random thoughts so common to young men. I have a delightful recollection of that. It was my great privilege to sit in the class room of Dr. McCaul--and I remember him so well as he used to stand in Convocation Hall, the old Convocation Hall, where I used to try to give concrete expression to certain somnolent recollections of studies that I had pursued in the way of an examination paper. I remember him on Convocation Day, how radiant and glorious he was in his official robes, and how splendidly he launched his great oratorical sentences, Ciceronian periods of the finest water; how splendid his acts of aviation were as he rose and rose, you know, and rose. But then I used to think that the beauty of it was in rising. The other day in Princeton, I saw an aeroplane come to grief as it landed. Putting that fact along with certain experiences of my own in public speaking, I have since come to the conclusion that the great art was not in rising as it was in language.

I used to sit under the teaching of that great man, Professor--afterwards Sir-Daniel Wilson, who used to lecture to us in those mellifluent sentences. We always admired him; we always loved him, although we never got the trick of saying "reminder" instead of "remainder," or say "Shakspere" as he did, instead of "Shakespeare"; but that is a small matter after all. But when you come to think about the men who have influenced your intellectual life, you know you will make discriminations; you cannot help being partial; and I count it as one of the great privileges of my life that in Knox College it was my distinguished privilege, as it is one of my proudest memories, to have sat under the teaching of the greatest master of dialectics that it was ever my privilege to know. You know who I mean; but I may call his name in spite of that-it was George Paxton Young.

I do not come altogether a stranger among Canadians, because as I say, Toronto was an old home; but then, I have known Canadians since, I have seen Canadian regiments, and have talked with Canadian officers in Bermuda since this war began. I know something of what Canada has done for the war. Two men, at least, not of my own blood, it is true, but closely bound to me by marriage ties,-the ties of my children,-were students of McGill, and both of these went early to the war, simply because one of them said, and the other one felt like him "Mother, I cannot stay and let these other fellows fight for me; oh, I have got to go." And go they did, and they were among the first of whom tidings came to their mother in Bermuda that they had been killed in action. I know something of the magnificent patriotism of Canada; how, without waiting for conscription or any urging, she hurried her troops to the front. I know something of the valor of those men; and he is an ignorant man, devoid of sentimentality, devoid of patriotism, and of emotions, if he does not rise whenever that splendid work the men of Canada did at Ypres and in the capture of Mons is mentioned.

So, my friends, I am not a stranger when I speak to you today. A few men suggested to me that they would like me to say something about the problem of reconstruction. Why, the problems of reconstruction are those with which it would be impossible for me to deal. I would love to sit here and have you men of business tell me what those problems are and how you expect to deal with them, how this great dislocation of labor and capital which was brought about by the war, is to be remedied; how the new order of things is to be ushered in; what you are to do with the soldiers when they return; how you are to provide employment for them; how you are to deal with those who have taken their places, especially the women who have so nobly and magnificently stepped into the men's places and have done unwonted work--questions that belong to you; they do not belong to me,; they are not within the province of a man who is no man of business, but a mere writer of books, a quiet observer of the signs of the times.

But there are some things, perhaps, about which I can speak in the short time that is allowed me this morning, and I will endeavor to give such utterance to them as I may. I am one of those old-fashioned people that have not yet become completely weaned from the old Manchester idea of laisser faire, although I saw in the Quarterly Journal not so long ago,-that old Conservative journal,-that the doctrine of laisser faire was spoken of as mid-Victorian. It seems to me a pity, you know, that the most gracious Sovereign that ever sat on the British throne, should have her name associated with this universal term of disparagement; for whether it be poetry, or old china, or furniture, or literature of any form, or politics or political economy, the most damning thing you can now say about it is that it is mid-Victorian.

I feel somewhat that individualism -has received its death blow; it was dying before, but it has received its quietus through the war. Individualism is done, and collectivism apparently seems to run in its stead; but what a career individualism had and what a work it did! Oh, just think of it! It climbed into wealth, and it crept into the bourgeoisie; it was smug and selfish and safe, and it said "My money is my own, my lands are my own, I will do with them as I will." Then, so often, you know, to its great disadvantage perhaps to help its downfall -individualism, when it had grown fat and had been successful, gave itself over to pleasure; and one day there came into the feast an unbidden guest. Cleareyed, alert with life, and full of purpose, he announced his mission and said, "You must take care of the old, and you must give the poor man a chance;" and they looked up from their cups and they said "Who is this stranger? We have heard something about him, maybe, but we have never seen his face before." They had heard of the socialist claims before, but they had never come so close into personal contact with the socialist of the ballot-box. Now see what has happened. I am not talking of England alone, I am talking of the United States as well; and what has the States done? It has taken possession of the railroads, and requisitioned ships, and taken over factories, and passed sumptuary laws, and men have learned the lesson too; oh, they have learned this great lesson, that there are times when a man's money is not his own, when a man's land is not his own, when a man's life is not his own, when the great principle of salus populi suprema lex is realized, and he comes to understand that under those circumstances all that he is and all that he has, he is and he holds, subject to the great doctrine of eminent domain.

Well, my friends, I think we shall have to recognize some of these things; I think we shall have to recognize that for good or for ill we have embarked upon the career of State Socialism. How long it will last, whether it is only for the war, or whether it will continue after the war, God only knows. There are difficulties in connection with the continuance of it, and there are obstacles in the way of stopping it now; but there we are. Men say, " Well, the State Socialism of the ownership of the railroads and the telegraphs and the ocean cables, and this and that and the other, are only steps in the direction of the State invading private business and undertaking to do business of its own that ordinarily belonged to private enterprise; and this is rank socialism, and we must stop it now, upon the principle of vested interests. Perhaps they are right, and perhaps they are wrong. I do not pretend to sufficient wisdom to give an absolutely conclusive answer upon that subject; but there it is; and I have a little comfort in the thought that, bad as State Socialism may be, it is not so dangerous as the socialist of another type, the socialist who plans revolutions, the socialist who really is looking for the upheaval of society, who is not satisfied with State Socialism, but says, "Why, this is not helping us a bit; what is the use of your old age pensions to me?-or what is the use of your legislation on child labor to me; what is the use of all your Employers' Liability Acts for me? What does it amount to?-it is simply making the poor people, the laboring men, satisfied, and if you make them satisfied with the conditions, of course they are not going to help us with a revolution."

I think, on the whole, you can see that State Socialism is a case where the capitalist has been stealing our thunder and getting ahead of us in the bargain. I read the other day the programme of the British workman, and it says that they want a minimum wage by legislative enactment. Well, gentlemen, the capitalist will say, "Well, I have no objection to a minimum wage; why should I object to a minimum wage? If every employer has got to give a minimum wage and cannot give any more, and my competitor wants to compete with me, he cannot do it by cutting wages, that is certain; the only thing he can do is to take it out of his profit, and if he takes it out of his profits to any great extent he will go into bankruptcy, and then I will have one competitor less." I can quite understand that. It does not take a man a life-time's reading in political economy to understand that much; oh no.

Mr. President, your friend has misreported me in saying that I have devoted four years to problems of reconstruction. I am one of those old-fashioned, Calvinistic theologians that lived in the sixteenth century, as we are supposed to do, you know, and I am not a man of this kind at all. I simply browse a little now and then in things outside of my particular business, and use some things that I think of; and seeing that I cannot read as much as I did, I spend a little more time in thinking than I otherwise would, to keep the average from being reduced to a minimum. But, you know, I do realize there is a danger; I fear there is a menace. I do not think it is peculiar to the United States; I am inclined to think that the United States is less likely to be troubled with it for the present than even Great Britain or perhaps Canada. I do not think you are going to be troubled with it here so much; there are so many opportunities for the intelligent individual man. If a man is sure that he is going to get out of the position of being a mere wage-earner, and can be a little capitalist, holding one of those five per cent. 1932 Bondswhich, by the way, I think are splendid investments-or 1921 either, which are going to be paid off a little sooner,-by so much as he has one of those bonds, by that much he is a capitalist. Every man who will buy a Liberty Bond in the United States, or a good Canadian War Bond, by that much the argument is taken out of his mouth for socialism, and he says "Well, now, I am just as much interested in having that $1,000 bond protected and made safe as my friend the millionaire is in having his millions of bonds protected and made safe. So I do not fear that altogether, although I do realize that maybe it is a greater menace than we suppose; and we will have to face that question.

Of course I realize the right of the laborer to combine and match the money of the few with the labor of the many, and say, "I won't work today." He has a perfect right to stop working, and if he stops working, and can get a million to stop working with him, he has a perfect right to do it. The objection I have to him is the selfish attitude he assumes when he says, "If I don't work, you shan't work either,"-which is another question. Then if one hundred stopped work, they have a perfect right to stop work; but then the employees of another department may stop work and still another department cognate with that, so that you may have the whole transportation agency and all the questions concerning the delivery of goods, whether it be by railway or canal-boat, or by ship, stopping simultaneously; and then I can see what dire results are within the keeping of those syndicalist strikes. Oh, you might just as well have an army surrounding New York as to have those strikes going on, when you cannot get milk for the babies, when the supply of food goes short, and when there is danger that the whole population will die of starvation. Then what are you going to do? Something has got to be done, and something will have to be done.

I do not raise the question. I do not like to face the issue; but the issue is one of those ghosts that sometimes rise up, and you say to yourselves, "What would you do?" You know what Briand did at the time that 50,000 men struck in Paris. The President of the French Republic has a weak Presidency; it is a very different kind of Presidency from that of the United States, which is by no means weak; but it was strong enough in Briand's hands to bring the letter-carriers to terms; and sometimes it may happen that even syndicalist strikers will have to be brought to terms-just how, I do not see. Oh, the power is in the people, but when the people oppose, what are you going to do? When the water pipes are choked, what are you going to drink? There you are. Well, I mention that as one of the evils, one of the menaces, one of the serious things that affect society the world over.

But that is not the only thing. I think of other great changes that this war is going to bring about. The war is over, but the consequences of the War, we are only beginning to see. You know, I think it is a wonderful thing in the history of the world that this nation of recluses, this hermit nation of the United States, that lived so comfortably under aegis of the Monroe doctrine, so suddenly had to come out of its shell and take part in this great war. Do you think they were slow? Well, may be they were. We do not always appreciate the difficulties that they had to contend with. The large foreign population, and the importance of that foreign population in regard to a great many questions of a political kind. But they did come out; and when they came out, didn't they build ships, and didn't they raise armies, and didn't they transport troops, defying obstacles, and defeating the machinations of the enemy, and has it not been splendidly accomplished, and would it not have been a dreadful thing if they had not come? Might not the Germans have taken the armies on those Channel ports, or Paris, if they had not come? Oh, let us forget the things that are behind, and reach forward to the things that are before, and thank God that in the most fortunate moment, the great Republic of the United States joined bands with the Allies in the defence of liberty and justice. Yes, they have done so.

Well, you know, I don't believe that this condition of things can ever occur again. But when I say this, I run counter to the opinions of friends of mine who are more competent to speak on political questions in the United States or anywhere else than I am, for they say to me "No, this is an exigency, this is an emergency, this is only this time, you know; we will never do it again, because the United States has its career on this Western Continent, and we do not intend to mix ourselves up with European politics, and we remember Washington's farewell address, and are not going to have ourselves troubled with any entangling alliances." But there you are. For the first time in history the President of the United States has left the United States for a great journey, but he is over there, and the United States is over there in the President's entourage, and the question is, "Is not that a precedent that is likely to be followed?" And can you imagine a time when the world will again be in conflict, and great questions representing world politics will have to be settled, can you imagine the time when the United States through some responsible representative will not sit at the world's council table?

Then I think there is another great question. I do not pretend to speak with much wisdom, and I can excuse myself the more readily for pretending to any wisdom upon a subject when such a man as Lord Milner has confessed in a public statement, that he did not know how it was going to be settled; but I know some things that are not going to be done; I know that hereafter the Little Englanders are not going to talk much about "Cutting the painter." Not they. They are not going to do it; and I know that the Canadians are not going to sympathize-and they never did in any large majority or overwhelming minority, for that matter-with the statement to the effect that falling into the lap of the United States was the manifest destiny of Canada.

There was a splendid man over here, Goldwin Smith, and I will say nothing in disparagement of his memory, for I am too much interested in his work for that-but he had not the sympathy of the Canadian people. There is going to be some sort of federation of the British Empire. I do not know how it is going to be brought about; but I know that Mr. House made a great statement when he said, with respect to possible wars in future in which Canada, Australia and New Zealand and South Africa and India were expected to take part and contribute their quota of men and money, that when it came to the next time, the United States was to be consulted. I do not know just how that consultation will take place, whether by representation in the cabinet, or whether there will be an Imperial Parliament for the specific purpose of dealing with Imperialistic affairs. Though I am not by any manner of means in the confidence of British statesmen, I can quite well understand that they might not like that, because if you should have an Imperial Parliament made up of representatives of all parts of the Empire, in which India would be one unit, England another unit, Scotland another, and Ireland another, and Canada another unit, it might dwarf the glory of the House of Commons, and they might be slow to accept any such view.

I do not entirely see how this great federation is going to take place, but this I do know; I believe that General Smutz gave the true key to the answer when he said "It is impossible to hold these great nations together, separated by diverse interests and wide gulfs of sea, upon any other basis than that of the monarchy."

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The War and National Life

Some autobiographical notes first. The problem of reconstruction after the war not in the realm of the speaker's field, but to be addressed by people like those in the audience. Some philosophical thoughts on the policy of "laisser faire," of individualism. Recognizing that for good or for ill we have embarked upon the career of State Socialism. Difficulties in connection with the continuance of it. Ramifications to consider. State Socialism as a case where the capitalist has been stealing our thunder and getting ahead of us in the bargain. Questions of labour and capital. Only beginning to see the consequences of the War. The future foreign policy of the United States.