Obrázky stránek

many thousand miles away from Paris that we are not concerned in that matter?

That is what we thought for three years of this war, and then we were drawn into it. And even when we were drawn into it we did not realize it: it was still remote. I know what I am talking about. I was going around the country. Those in Washington and those in responsible positions began to realize what it meant. But it was a long time before the real spirit of earnestness entered into the people of the United States; and it spread west with a good deal of slowness. Finally it became the solidest public opinion that America ever had.

Now comes the reaction from the efforts made to win the war and we are looking around to get on a peace basis. We feel that the war is over and that Germany, under this armistice, cannot again come to the front as it did. Therefore we will let the world wag as it will and we will not concern ourselves about finishing a task in such a way as to make another war impossible.

I want to stir you up, men of business! The labor men are getting stirred up; they are receiving communications from their brethren over there and they are beginning to understand it. Now, I want you to study this thing, and take it to your hearts and souls, and understand that no one has a deeper interest in getting this League of Nations than you have.

The American people are intelligent, but the difficulty is to challenge their attention. They have got their minds on something else. That something else is the question of domestic readjustment, and this deliberation at Paris and the telegrams concerning it, though they fill the front page of the newspapers, do not bring home to you the issues that

are in Paris. The question is whether you are up to date; whether you sympathize with the forward-looking men that are trying to take a great step forward in civilization and end war or make it so remotely possible that you can say that the prospect is that it is ended; whether you are going to agree with men who believe that the sovereignty and the Constitution of the United States lend themselves to going forward with other nations, or whether you agree that they are to be perverted to defeat the plans of the world framed to benefit mankind.

Is it possible that we cannot agree to settle our differences peaceably and refrain from appealing to the arbitrament of war, which seldom results in justice but always in the victory of the strongest? Sometimes the strongest is right; sometimes it is wrong. Now let us adopt some means of settling differences that shall lean on justice as a guide, and not on force.

Our President, representing this country, and the thirteen nations there in Paris have agreed upon a League of Nations.

I wish you would study that covenant; I wish you would work out what it means. It is a well-conceived plan. It does not involve as much compulsory force as our League to Enforce Peace has recommended, but it comes very near it; and it carries with it an arrangement for amendment and for an elasticity that, as experience goes on, will enable the League to adopt other methods.

Those nations that are gathered at Paris are in the presence of a very serious problem. Study it; analyze it; see whether they can get along without a League; see whether they can get along without the instrumentality for deciding questions justly by a tribunal of judges; see whether

they can get along without a council of conciliation to adjust and readjust matters between the many new states there created.

We are interested in that problem. Our soldiers are over there to see that this peace is carried through. We are going to be involved in any mix-up that comes from an attempt to settle this war without having the instrumentality for making that settlement effective. It is not a remote thing. It is at your door. We have got the responsibility for this peace along with all the other nations. These nations have realized that responsibility and have established the League of Nations, founded now with fourteen members, with a view of enlarging it afterwards and letting in others as they shall show themselves fit.

The covenant provides a way for the nations constantly to confer, to get closer together, to bring about a better understanding and to resort to joint action, when necessary, to secure justice.

Can we avoid that? Are we going to retire into our shells and say, "We are all right; we have resources within ourselves; we can live against the boycott; we can go on chasing the dollar comfortably and keep our people prosperous. What is the use? Why should we bother ourselves about other nations?" That is what we thought before this war, but we thought wrong.

Now, merely on selfish grounds, in order to avoid the disasters that may come to us in another war, we ought to do everything we can in the way of reasonable contribution to the general safety — and, certainly, all that is asked of us here is reasonable contribution. We are asked to join in a boycott, to unite with the other members of the League to

say to any outlaw or recalcitrant nation that threatens to bring on war, "When you do, we will suspend all contracts and the payment of all monies which may be owing to your citizens; all the food, all the products, manufactures and raw materials, we are sending you will be stopped. We will withdraw our ambassadors and consular agents." And when all the world says that to a nation, that nation will occupy a position grand and gloomy, but peculiar.

We agree among ourselves that if there is any special loss to individual nations, all the other nations of the League will share that loss. The boycott may prove to be expensive. It may prove troublesome to some of our merchants who have dealings with the outlaw nation. But we can indemnify them, and doubtless the country would be entirely willing to do so.

So far as forcing this country into war is concerned, there is nothing in the constitution of the League that does this. Such a provision is found in the program of the League to Enforce Peace, and I should be glad to have it in the covenant. France wanted it. She is at the point of danger and she thinks she needs an obligation on the part of the other nations to come to her assistance; but the other nations did not agree to go so far. All they did was to provide that the executive council should recommend the number of forces that each country should contribute to make the League effective, and any neighbor of the outlaw nation is bound to allow the League's soldiers to go over its territory. The agreement does unite us with other nations; it does say that we shall live up to our ideals in dealing justly with other nations and respect their sovereignty; but that is all it entails.

We are told in a set of lurid speeches that we are sur

rendering our sovereignty and violating the Constitution. My friends, I recommend you to read the speeches that were made after the Constitution of the United States was framed, the speeches of George Mason and Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams, and of all those patriots who were vociferous in denunciation of the Constitution of the United States. You will find nothing in the present speeches in the Senate more startling.

Accompanying a forward movement there are always some who are looking backward. You always have those who see the difficulties without seeing the advantages. In the enthusiasm of debate they exaggerate difficulties; whereas, after the thing is done, they are very willing to forget it, and others have not time to look back to see how lacking in foresight these men were.

FEBRUARY 19, 1919

In addition to its functions in respect to peace and war and the administration of territories containing backward peoples formerly administered by the defeated Central Powers, there are to be gathered, to act under the auspices of the League, all existing international bureaus like the postal union and all future international bureaus, including a new international bureau of labor under which it is proposed that, by international agreement, more humane conditions in respect to labor of men, women and children may be effected.

They give the Paris covenant wider scope and are greatly

« PředchozíPokračovat »