We shall, of course, try to determine them justly and to the best advantage of the nation as a whole. But justice is easier to speak of than to arrive at, and there are some considerations which I hope we shall keep steadily in mind while this particular problem of justice is being worked out.
I therefore take the liberty of stating very candidly my own view of the situation and of the principles which should guide both the Government and the mine-owners and manufacturers of the country in this difficult matter.
PATRIOTISM AND PROFITS APART
A just price must, of course, be paid for everything the Government buys. By a just price I mean a price which will sustain the industries concerned in a high state of efficiency, provide a living for those who conduct them, enable them to pay good wages, and make possible the expansions of their enterprises, which will from time to time become necessary as the stupendous undertakings of this great war develop.
We could not wisely or reasonably do less than pay such prices. They are necessary for the maintenance and development of industry; and the maintenance and development of industry are necessary for the great task we have in hand.
But I trust that we shall not surround the matter with a mist of sentiment. Facts are our masters now. We ought not to put the acceptance of such prices on the ground of patriotism. Patriotism has nothing to do with profits in a case like this. Patriotism and profits ought never in the present circumstances to be mentioned together.
It is perfectly proper to discuss profits as a matter of business, with a view to maintaining the integrity of capital and the efficiency of labor in these tragical months, when the liberty of free men everywhere and of industry itself trembles in the balance, but it would be absurd to discuss them as a motive for helping to serve and save our country.
Patriotism leaves profits out of the question. In these days of our supreme trial, when we are sending hundreds of thousands of our young men across the seas to serve a great cause, no true man who stays behind to work for them and sustain them by his labor will ask himself what he is personally going to make out of that labor.
No true patriot will permit himself to take toll of their heroism in money or seek to grow rich by the shedding of their blood. He will give as freely and with as unstinted self-sacrifice as they. When they are giving their lives, will he not at least give his money?
I hear it insisted that more than a just price, more than a price that will sustain our industries, must be paid; that it is necessary to pay very liberal and unusual profits in order to "stimulate production," that nothing but pecuniary rewards will do—rewards paid in money, not in the mere liberation of the world.
IS A BRIBE NECESSARY?
I take it for granted that those who argue thus do not stop to think what that means. Do they mean that you must be paid, must be bribed, to make your contribution, a contribution that costs you neither a drop of blood, nor a tear, when the whole world is in travail and men everywhere depend upon and call to you to bring them out of bondage and make the world a fit place to live in again amidst peace and justice?
Do they mean that you will exact a price, drive a bargain, with the men who are enduring the agony of this war on the battlefield, in the trenches, amid the lurking dangers of the sea, or with the bereaved women and pitiful children, before you will come forward to do your duty and give some part of your life, in easy, peaceful fashion, for the things we are fighting for, the things we have pledged our fortunes, our lives, our sacred honor, to vindicate and defend—liberty and justice and fair dealing and the peace of nations?
Of course you will not. It is inconceivable. Your patriotism is of the same self-denying stuff as the patriotism of the men dead or maimed on the fields of France, or else it is no patriotism at all. Let us never speak, then, of profits and of patriotism in the same sentence, but face facts and meet them. Let us do sound business, but not in the midst of a mist.
Many a grievous burden of taxation will be laid on this Nation, in this generation and in the next, to pay for this war; let us see to it that for every dollar that is taken from the people's pockets it shall be possible to obtain a dollar's worth of the sound stuffs they need.
HIGH FREIGHTS AID GERMANY
Let us for a moment turn to the ship-owners of the United States and the other ocean carriers whose example they have followed, and ask them if they realize what obstacles, what almost insuperable obstacles, they have been putting in the way of the successful prosecution of this war by the ocean freight rates they have been exacting.
They are doing everything that high freight charges can do to make the war a failure, to make it impossible. I do not say that they realize this or intend it.
The thing has happened naturally enough, because the commercial processes which we are content to see operate in ordinary times have without sufficient thought been continued into a period where they have no proper place. I am not questioning motives. I am merely stating a fact, and stating it in order that attention may be fixed upon it.
The fact is that those who have fixed war freight rates have taken the most effective means in their power to defeat the armies engaged against Germany. When they realize this we may, I take it for granted, count upon them to reconsider the whole matter. It is high time. Their extra hazards are covered by war-risk insurance.
THE LAW TO DEAL WITH OFFENDERS
I know, and you know, what response to this great challenge of duty and of opportunity the Nation will expect of you; and I know what response you will make. Those who do not respond, who do not respond in the spirit of those who have gone to give their lives for us on bloody fields far away, may safely be left to be dealt with by opinion and the law—for the law must, of course, command those things.
I am dealing with the matter thus publicly and frankly, not because I have any doubt or fear as to the result, but only in order that, in all our thinking and in all our dealings with one another we may move in a perfectly clear air of mutual understanding.
And there is something more that we must add to our thinking. The public is now as much part of the Government as are the Army and Navy themselves. The whole people, in all their activities, are now mobilized and in service for the accomplishment of the Nation's task in this war. It is in such circumstances impossible justly to distinguish between industrial purchases made by the Government and industries. And it is just as much our duty to sustain the industries of the country, all the industries that contribute to its life, as it is to sustain our forces in the field and on the sea. We must make the prices to the public the same as the prices to the Government.
PRICES MEAN VICTORY OR DEFEAT
Prices mean the same thing everywhere now. They mean the efficiency or the inefficiency of the Nation, whether it is the Government that pays them or not. They mean victory or defeat. They mean that America will win her place once for all among the foremost free Nations of the world, or that she will sink to defeat and become a second-rate Power alike in thought and action. This is a day of her reckoning, and every man among us must personally face that reckoning along with her.
The case needs no arguing. I assume that I am only expressing your own thoughts—what must be in the mind of every true man when he faces the tragedy and the solemn glory of the present war, for the emancipation of mankind. I summon you to a great duty, a great privilege, a shining dignity and distinction.
I shall expect every man who is not a slacker to be at my side throughout this great enterprise. In it no man can win honor who thinks of himself.
REPLY OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE COMMUNICATION OF THE POPE TO THE BELLIGERENT GOVERNMENTS
(August 27, 1917)
To His Holiness Benedictus XV., Pope.
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 what will insure us against it.
THE PROPOSAL FROM THE VATICAN
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 new-born 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 accommodation?
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 TEST THAT 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.
THE GERMAN RULERS CANNOT BE TRUSTED
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 guarantees 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.
A MESSAGE TO TEACHERS AND SCHOOL OFFICERS
(September 30, 1917)
The war is bringing to the minds of our people a new appreciation of the problems of national life and a deeper understanding of the meaning and aims of democracy. Matters which heretofore have seemed commonplace and trivial are seen in a truer light. The urgent demand for the production and proper distribution of food and other national resources has made us aware of the close dependence of individual on individual and nation on nation. The effort to keep up social and industrial organizations, in spite of the withdrawal of men for the army, has revealed the extent to which modern life has become complex and specialized.
These and other lessons of the war must be learned quickly if we are intelligently and successfully to defend our institutions. When the war is over we must apply the wisdom which we have acquired in purging and ennobling the life of the world.
THE COMMON SCHOOL HAS A PART TO PLAY
In these vital tasks of acquiring a broader view of human possibilities the common school must have large part. I urge that teachers and other school officers increase materially the time and attention devoted to instruction bearing directly on the problems of community and national life.
Such a plea is in no way foreign to the spirit of American public education or of existing practices. Nor is it a plea for a temporary enlargement of the school program appropriate merely to the period of the war. It is a plea for a realization in public education of the new emphasis which the war has given to the ideals of democracy and to the broader conceptions of national life.
In order that there may be definite material at hand with which the schools may at once expand their teachings, I have asked Mr. Hoover and Commissioner Claxton to organize the proper agencies for the preparation and distribution of suitable lessons for the elementary grades and for the high-school classes. Lessons thus suggested will serve the double purpose of illustrating in a concrete way what can be undertaken in the schools and of stimulating teachers in all parts of the country to formulate new and appropriate materials drawn directly from the communities in which they live.
WOMAN SUFFRAGE MUST COME NOW
(October 25, 1917)
The President received at the White House a delegation from the New York State Woman Suffrage Party. Answering the address made by the chairman, Mrs. Norman de R. Whitehouse, the President spoke as follows:
Mrs. Whitehouse and Ladies,—It is with great pleasure that I receive you. I esteem it a privilege to do so. I know the difficulties which you have been laboring under in New York State, so clearly set forth by Mrs. Whitehouse, but in my judgment those difficulties cannot be used as an excuse by the leaders of any party or by the voters of any party for neglecting the question which you are pressing upon them. Because, after all, the whole world now is witnessing a struggle between two ideals of government. It is a struggle which goes deeper and touches more of the foundations of the organized life of men than any struggle that has ever taken place before, and no settlement of the questions that lie on the surface can satisfy a situation which requires that the questions which lie underneath and at the foundation should also be settled and settled right. I am free to say that I think the question of woman suffrage is one of those questions which lie at the foundation.
The world has witnessed a slow political reconstruction, and men have generally been obliged to be satisfied with the slowness of the process. In a sense it is wholesome that it should be slow, because then it is solid and sure. But I believe that this war is going so to quicken the convictions and the consciousness of mankind with regard to political questions that the speed of reconstruction will be greatly increased. And I believe that just because we are quickened by the questions of this war, we ought to be quickened to give this question of woman suffrage our immediate consideration.
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT
As one of the spokesmen of a great party, I would be doing nothing less than obeying the mandates of that party if I gave my hearty support to the question of woman suffrage which you represent, but I do not want to speak merely as one of the spokesmen of a party. I want to speak for myself, and say that it seems to me that this is the time for the States of this Union to take this action. I perhaps may be touched a little too much by the traditions of our politics, traditions which lay such questions almost entirely upon the States, but I want to see communities declare themselves quickened at this time and show the consequence of the quickening.
I think the whole country has appreciated the way in which the women have risen to this great occasion. They not only have done what they have been asked to do, and done it with ardor and efficiency, but they have shown a power to organize for doing things of their own initiative, which is quite a different thing, and a very much more difficult thing, and I think the whole country has admired the spirit and the capacity and the vision of the women of the United States.
It is almost absurd to say that the country depends upon the women for a large part of the inspiration of its life. That is too obvious to say; but it is now depending upon the women also for suggestions of service, which have been rendered in abundance and with the distinction of originality. I, therefore, am very glad to add my voice to those which are urging the people of the great State of New York to set a great example by voting for woman suffrage. It would be a pleasure if I might utter that advice in their presence. Inasmuch as I am bound too close to my duties here to make that possible, I am glad to have the privilege to ask you to convey that message to them.
It seems to me that this is a time of privilege. All our principles, all our hearts, all our purposes, are being searched; searched not only by our own consciences, but searched by the world; and it is time for the people of the States of this country to show the world in what practical sense they have learned the lessons of democracy—that they are fighting for democracy because they believe it, and that there is no application of democracy which they do not believe in.
I feel, therefore, that I am standing upon the firmest foundations of the age in bidding godspeed to the cause which you represent and in expressing the ardent hope that the people of New York may realize the great occasion which faces them on Election Day and may respond to it in noble fashion.
THE THANKSGIVING DAY PROCLAMATION
(November 7, 1917)
It has long been the honored custom of our people to turn in the fruitful autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a Nation. That custom we can follow now, even in the midst of the tragedy of a world shaken by war and immeasurable disaster, in the midst of sorrow and great peril, because even amidst the darkness that has gathered about us we can see the great blessings God has bestowed upon us; blessings that are better than mere peace of mind and prosperity of enterprise.
We have been given the opportunity to serve mankind as we once served ourselves in the great day of our declaration of independence, by taking up arms against a tyranny that threatened to master and debase men everywhere and joining with other free peoples in demanding for all the nations of the world what we then demanded and obtained for ourselves. In this day of the revelation of our duty not only to defend our rights as a Nation, but to defend also the rights of free men throughout the world, there has been vouchsafed us in full and inspiring measure the resolution and spirit of united action. We have been brought to one mind and purpose. A new vigor of common counsel and common action has been revealed in us.
We should especially thank God that, in such circumstances, in the midst of the greatest enterprise the spirits of men have ever entered upon, we have, if we but observe a reasonable and practicable economy, abundance with which to supply the needs of those associated with us as well as our own.
A new light shines about us. The great duties of a new day awaken a new and greater national spirit in us. We shall never again be divided or wonder what stuff we are made of.
And while we render thanks for these things, let us pray Almighty God that in all humbleness of spirit we may look always to Him for guidance; that we may be kept constant in the spirit and purpose of service; that by His grace our minds may be directed and our hands strengthened, and that in His good time liberty and security and peace and the comradeship of a common justice may be vouchsafed all the nations of the earth.
Wherefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the 29th day of November next, as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and invite the people throughout the land to cease upon that day from their ordinary occupations and in their several homes and places of worship to render thanks to God, the Great Ruler of nations.
LABOR MUST BEAR ITS PART
(November 12, 1917)
In his address before the American Federation of Labor, assembled in convention at Buffalo, New York, the President spoke as follows:
Mr. President, Delegates of the American Federation of Labor, Ladies and Gentlemen,—I esteem it a great privilege and a real honor to be thus admitted to your public councils. 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 your history, is the time for common counsel, for the drawing not only of the energies, but of the minds of the nation together. I thought that it was a welcome opportunity for disclosing to you some of the thoughts that have been gathering in my mind during the 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, elevated 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 principles of power and the new principles of freedom.
GERMANY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WAR
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. 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, and 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 achievements.
Her men of science had made her industries perhaps the most competent industries in 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 man 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, 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 had not laid its hands to direct it and, when necessity arose, control it.
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 international 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 decided 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, 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.
SUCCESS BY AUTHORITY
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 to 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, in thrusting upon us again and again the discussion of peace, talks about what? Talks about Belgium, talks about northern France, talks about Alsace-Lorraine. 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 provision 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 with all the people 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.
THE POLITICAL POWER OF THE WORLD
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 domination.
May I not say it is amazing to me that any group of people 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 who 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 of 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 did not send him on a peace mission. 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.
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 ought to be allowed to stand in the way, I don't mean that they shall be prevented by the power of 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 in the world, then we must stand together night and day until the job is finished.
LABOR MUST BE FREE
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, his statesman-like sense and a mind that knows how to pull in harness. The horses that kick over the traces will have to be put in a 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. I am speaking of my own experience 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 haven't 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 got to transact business, and the 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 with a man much more radically when he isn't in the room than I can when he is in the room, because then the awkward thing is that 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. And, 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 like to remind myself of a delightful saying of an Englishman of a past generation, Charles Lamb. He was with a group of friends and he spoke harshly of some man who was not present. I ought to say that Lamb stuttered a little bit. And one of his friends said, "Why, Charles, I didn't know that you knew So-and-so?" "Oh," he said, "I don't. I can't hate a man I know."
There is a great deal of human nature, of very pleasant human nature, in that 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 would not talk the wrong kind of politics with me I would love to be with them. And 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.
AMERICANS MUST CO-OPERATE
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 co-operate with all other classes and all other groups in a 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 that take their punishment into their own hands; and I want to say to every man who does join such a mob that I recognize him as unworthy of the free institutions of the United States.
There are some organizations in this country whose object is anarchy and the destruction of the law. I despise and hate their purpose 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. And 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 co-operate in any form of orderly 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 of the manifestations of the unwillingness to co-operate. 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.
BETTER CONDITIONS MAY BE 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 shall not go on. There are various processes of the dilution of labor and the unnecessary substitution of labor and bidding in different 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 into this some instrumentality of co-operation 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 to have such an instrumentality, originated upon that occasion, if necessary.
And so, my fellow-citizens, the reason that I came away from Washington is that I sometimes get lonely down there—there are so many people in Washington who know things that are not so, and there are so few people in Washington who know anything about what the people of the United States are thinking about. I have to come away to get reminded of the rest of the country. I have 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. 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 American people.
ADDRESS TO CONGRESS (December 4, 1917)
Gentlemen of the Congress,—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 detail or even to summarize these 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 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 toward 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 nor 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 about their uneasy hour and be forgotten.
WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR
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, but the defeat once and 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 arms.
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."
THE PEOPLE OF RUSSIA LED ASTRAY
Just because this crude formula expresses the instinctive judgment as to the 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 peacemaker 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.
JUSTICE AND REPARATION
We shall regard the war only as won 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 domination 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 nor 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.
OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD GERMANY
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 nation.
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 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 RIGHTS OF THE CENTRAL POWERS
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 toward an ordered and stable government of free men might have been avoided.
TRUTH AS THE ANTIDOTE
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 toward 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.
THE WAR AGAINST AUSTRIA
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.
A STRICTER GRIP ON ENEMY ALIENS
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 enemy aliens promulgated under Section 4067 of the Revised Statutes and providing appropriate punishment; 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 do.
A FURTHER LIMITING OF PRICES
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 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 co-operation, 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 way 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 adjourns, in order to effect the most efficient co-ordination 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 Congress upon another occasion.
THE WINNING OF THE WAR
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 and 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 people 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 we will 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.
PROCLAMATION OF WAR AGAINST AUSTRIA-HUNGARY
(December 12, 1917)
The President's proclamation, after citing the resolution of Congress authorizing the war with Austria, says:
Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim to all whom it may concern that a state of war exists between the United States and the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, and I do specially direct all officers, civil or military, of the United States that they exercise vigilance and zeal in the discharge of the duties incident to such a state of war.
And I do, moreover, earnestly appeal to all American citizens that they, in loyal devotion to their country, dedicated from its foundation to the principles of liberty and justice, uphold the laws of the land and give undivided and willing support to those measures which may be adopted by the constitutional authorities in prosecuting the war to a successful issue and obtaining a secure and just peace.
NEED ONLY OBEY THE LAWS
And, acting under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the United States, and the aforesaid sections of the Revised Statutes, I do hereby further proclaim and direct that the conduct to be observed on the part of the United States toward all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of Austria-Hungary, being males of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, shall be as follows:
All natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of Austria-Hungary, being males of fourteen years and upward who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, are enjoined to preserve the peace toward the United States and to refrain from crime against the public safety and from violating the laws of the United States and of the States and Territories thereof.
And to refrain from actual hostility or giving information, aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States.
And to comply strictly with the regulations which are hereby or which may be, from time to time, promulgated by the President.
And so long as they shall conduct themselves in accordance with law, they shall be undisturbed in the peaceful pursuit of their lives and occupations and be accorded the consideration due to all peaceful and law-abiding persons, except so far as restrictions may be necessary for their own protection and for the safety of the United States.
A FRIENDLY ATTITUDE IS URGED
And toward such of said persons as conduct themselves in accordance with law, all citizens of the United States are enjoined to preserve the peace and to treat them with all such friendliness as may be compatible with loyalty and allegiance to the United States.
And all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of Austria-Hungary, being males of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, who fail to conduct themselves as so enjoined, in addition to all other penalties prescribed by law, shall be liable to restraint or to give security, or to remove and depart from the United States in the manner prescribed by Sections 4069 and 4070 of the Revised Statutes and as prescribed in regulations duly promulgated by the President:
And pursuant to the authority vested in me, I hereby declare and establish the following regulations, which I find necessary in the premises, and for the public safety:
1. No native, citizen, denizen or subject of Austria-Hungary, being a male of the age of fourteen years and upward and not actually naturalized, shall depart from the United States until he shall have received such permit as the President shall prescribe, or except under order of a court, judge or justice, under Sections 4069 and 4070 of the Revised Statutes.
2. No such person shall land or enter the United States except under such restrictions and at such places as the President may prescribe.
3. Every such person, of whom there may be reasonable cause to believe that he is aiding or about to aid the enemy, or who may be at large to the danger of the public peace or safety, or who violates or attempts to violate, or of whom there is reasonable ground to believe that he is about to violate any regulation duly promulgated by the President, or any criminal law of the United States, or of the States or Territories thereof, will be subject to summary arrest by the United States Marshal or his deputy, or such other officers as the President shall designate, and to confinement in such penitentiary, prison, jail, military camp or other place of detention as may be directed by the President.
This proclamation and the regulations herein contained shall extend and apply to all land and water, continental or insular, in any way within the jurisdiction of the United States.
THE GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER THE RAILROADS
(A Statement by the President, December 26, 1917)
I have exercised the powers over the transportation systems of the country which were granted me by the Act of Congress of August, 1916, because it has become imperatively necessary for me to do so.
This is a war of resources no less than of men, perhaps even more than of men, and it is necessary for the complete mobilization of our resources that the transportation systems of the country should be organized and employed under a single authority and a simplified method of co-ordination which have not proved possible under private management and control.
The committee of railway executives who have been co-operating with the Government in this all-important matter have done the utmost that it was possible for them to do; have done it with patriotic zeal and with great ability; but there were differences that they could neither escape nor neutralize.
IN FAIRNESS TO THE RAILROADS
Complete unity of administration in the present circumstances involves upon occasion and at many points a serious dislocation of earnings, and the committee was, of course, without power or authority to rearrange changes or effect proper compensations and adjustments of earnings. Several roads which were willingly and with admirable public spirit accepting the orders of the committee have already suffered from these circumstances and should not be required to suffer further. In mere fairness to them the full authority of the Government must be substituted.
The Government itself will thereby gain an immense increase of efficiency in the conduct of the war and of the innumerable activities upon which its successful conduct depends.
The public interest must be first served, and in addition the financial interests of the Government and the financial interests of the railways must be brought under a common direction. The financial operations of the railways need not then interfere with the borrowings of the Government, and they themselves can be conducted at a great advantage.
INVESTORS TO BE PROTECTED
Investors in railway securities may rest assured that their rights and interests will be as scrupulously looked after by the Government as they could be by the directors of the several railway systems. Immediately upon the reassembling of Congress I shall recommend that these definite guarantees be given:
First, of course, that the railway properties will be maintained during the period of Federal control in as good repair and as complete equipment as when taken over by the Government, and, second, that the roads shall receive a net operating income equal in each case to the average net income of the three years preceding June 30, 1917; and I am entirely confident that the Congress will be disposed in this case, as in others, to see that justice is done and full security assured to the owners and creditors of the great systems which the Government must now use under its own direction or else suffer serious embarrassment.
The Secretary of War and I are agreed that, all the circumstances being taken into consideration, the best results can be obtained under the immediate executive direction of the Hon. William G. McAdoo, whose practical experience peculiarly fits him for the service, and whose authority as Secretary of the Treasury will enable him to co-ordinate, as no other man could, the many financial interests which will be involved and which might, unless systematically directed, suffer very embarrassing entanglements.
A RECOGNITION OF FACTS
The Government of the United States is the only great Government now engaged in the war which has not already assumed control of this sort. It was thought to be in the spirit of American institutions to attempt to do everything that was necessary through private management, and if zeal and ability and patriotic motive could have accomplished the necessary unification of administration, it would certainly have been accomplished; but no zeal or ability could overcome insuperable obstacles and I have deemed it my duty to recognize that fact in all candor, now that it is demonstrated, and to use without reserve the great authority reposed in me.
A great national necessity dictated the action, and I was therefore not at liberty to abstain from it.
* * * * *
The text of the proclamation follows:
Whereas, the Congress of the United States, in the exercise of the constitutional authority vested in them, by joint resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives, bearing date April 6, 1917, resolved:
"That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared, and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government, and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States."
And by joint resolution bearing date of December 7, 1917, resolved:
"That a state of war is hereby declared to exist between the United States of America and the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States."
And whereas, it is provided by Section 1 of the act approved August 29, 1916, entitled "An act making appropriations for the support of the army for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1917, and for other purposes," as follows:
"The President, in time of war, is empowered, through the Secretary of War, to take possession and assume control of any system or systems of transportation, or any part thereof, and to utilize the same, to the exclusion as far as may be necessary of all other traffic thereon, for the transfer or transportation of troops, war material and equipment, or for such other purposes connected with the emergency as may be needful or desirable."
And whereas, it has now become necessary in the national defense to take possession and assume control of certain systems of transportation and to utilize the same, to the exclusion as far as may be necessary of other than war traffic thereon for the transportation of troops, war material and equipment therefor, and for other needful and desirable purposes connected with the prosecution of the war.
Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, under and by virtue of the powers vested in me by the foregoing resolutions and statute, and by virtue of all other powers thereto me enabling, do hereby, through Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, take possession and assume control at 12 o'clock noon on the twenty-eighth day of December, 1917, of each and every system of transportation and the appurtenances thereof located wholly or in part within the boundaries of the continental United States and consisting of railroads, and owned or controlled systems of coastwise and inland transportation, engaged in general transportation, whether operated by steam or by electric power, including also terminals, terminal companies and terminal associations, sleeping and parlor cars, private cars and private car lines, elevators, warehouses, telegraph and telephone lines and all other equipment and appurtenances commonly used upon or operated as a part of such rail or combined rail and water systems of transportation, to the end that such systems of transportation be utilized for the transfer and transportation of troops, war material and equipment to the exclusion so far as may be necessary of all other traffic thereon, and that so far as such exclusive use be not necessary or desirable, such systems of transportation be operated and utilized in the performance of such other services as the national interest may require and of the usual and ordinary business and duties of common carriers.
It is hereby directed that the possession, control, operation and utilization of such transportation systems hereby by me undertaken shall be exercised by and through William G. McAdoo, who is hereby appointed and designated Director-General of Railroads.
Said director may perform the duties imposed upon him, so long and to such extent as he shall determine, through the boards of directors, receivers, officers and employees of said systems of transportation. Until and except so far as said director shall from time to time by general or special orders otherwise provide, the boards of directors, receivers, officers and employees of the various transportation systems shall continue the operation thereof in the usual and ordinary course of the business of common carriers, in the names of their respective companies.
Until and except so far as said director shall from time to time otherwise by general or special orders determine, such systems of transportation shall remain subject to all existing statutes and orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and to all statutes and orders of regulating commissions of the various States in which said systems or any part thereof may be situated. But any orders, general or special, hereafter made by said director shall have paramount authority and be obeyed as such.
Nothing herein shall be construed as now affecting the possession, operation and control of street electric passenger railways, including railways commonly called interurban, whether such railways be or be not owned or controlled by such railroad companies or systems. By subsequent order and proclamation, if and when it shall be found necessary or desirable, possession, control or operation may be taken of all or any part of such street railway systems, including subways and tunnels, and by subsequent order and proclamation possession, control and operation in whole or in part may also be relinquished to the owners thereof of any part of the railroad systems or rail and water systems, possession and control of which are hereby assumed.
The director shall as soon as may be after having assumed such possession and control enter upon negotiations with the several companies looking to agreements for just and reasonable compensation for the possession, use and control of the respective properties on the basis of an annual guaranteed compensation, above accruing depreciation and the maintenance of their properties, equivalent, as nearly as may be, to the average of the net operating income thereof for the three year period ending June 30, 1917—the results of such negotiations to be reported to me for such action as may be appropriate and lawful.
But nothing herein contained, expressed or implied, or hereafter done or suffered hereunder, shall be deemed in any way to impair the rights of the stockholders, bondholders, creditors and other persons having interests in said systems of transportation or in the profits thereof, to receive just and adequate compensation for the use and control and operation of their property hereby assumed.
Regular dividends hitherto declared, and maturing interest upon bonds, debentures and other obligations, may be paid in due course, and such regular dividends and interest may continue to be paid until and unless the said director shall from time to time otherwise by general or special orders determine, and, subject to the approval of the director, the various carriers may agree upon and arrange for the renewal and extension of maturing obligations.
Except with the prior written assent of said director, no attachment by mesne process or on execution shall be levied on or against any of the property used by any of said transportation systems, in the conduct of their business as common carriers; but suits may be brought by and against said carriers and judgments rendered as hitherto until and except so far as said director may, by general or special orders, otherwise determine.
From and after 12 o'clock on said twenty-eighth day of December, 1917, all transportation systems included in this order and proclamation shall conclusively be deemed within the possession and control of said director without further act or notice, but for the purpose of accounting said possession and control shall date from 12 o'clock midnight on December 31, 1917.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done by the President, through Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, in the District of Columbia, this twenty-sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventeen, and of Independence of the United States the one hundred and forty-second.
NEWTON D. BAKER, Secretary of War.
By the President:
ROBERT LANSING, Secretary of State.
GOVERNMENT OPERATION OF RAILROADS
(Address to the Congress, January 4, 1918)
Gentlemen of the Congress,—I have asked the privilege of addressing you in order to report that on the 28th of December last, during the recess of 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 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 much greater. I assumed the less responsibility rather than the weightier.
NEED OF UNITED DIRECTION
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 a 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 co-ordination 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.