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You do not come here with a long tradition of military pride back of you.
You are picked from the citizens of the United States to be that part of the force of the United States which makes its polity safe against interference. You are the part of American citizens who say to those who would interfere, “You must not” and “You shall not.” But you are American citizens, and the idea I want to leave with you boys to-day is this: No mattter what comes, always remember that first of all you are citizens of the United States before you are officers, and that you are officers because you represent in your particular profession what the citizenship of the United States stands for. There is no danger of militarism if you are genuine Americans, and I for one do not doubt that you are. When you begin to have the militaristic spiritnot the military spirit, that is all right—then begin to doubt whether you are Americans or not.
You know that one thing in which our forefathers took pride was this, that the civil power is superior to the military power in the United States. Once and again the people of the United States have so admired some great military man as to make him President of the United States, when he became commander-in-chief of all the forces of the United States, but he was commander-in-chief because he was President, not because he had been trained to arms, and his authority was civil, not military. I can teach you nothing of military power, but I am instructed by the Constitution to use you for constitutional and patriotic purposes. And that is the only use you care to be put to. That is the only use you ought to care to be put to, because, after all, what is the use in being an American if you do not know what it is?
You have read a great deal in the books about the pride of the old Roman citizen, who always felt like drawing himself to his full height when he said, "I am a Roman," but as compared with the pride that must have risen to his heart, our pride has a new distinction, not the distinction of the mere imperial power of a great empire, not the distinction of being masters of the world, but the distinction of carry
ing certain lights for the world that the world has never so distinctly seen before, certain guiding lights of liberty and principle and justice. We have drawn our people, as you know, from all parts of the world, and we have been somewhat disturbed recently, gentlemen, because some of those though I believe a very small number—whom we have drawn into our citizenship have not taken into their hearts the spirit of America and have loved other countries more than they loved the country of their adoption; and we have talked a great deal about Americanism. It ought to be a matter of pride with us to know what Americanism really consists in.
Americanism consists in utterly believing in the principles of America and putting them first as above anything that might by chance come into competition with it. And I, for my part, believe that the American test is a spiritual test. If a man has to make excuses for what he had done as an American, I doubt his Americanism. He ought to know at every step of his action that the motive that lies behind what he does is a motive which no American need be ashamed of for a moment. Now, we ought to put this test to every man we know. We ought to let it be known that nobody who does not put America first can consort with us.
But we ought to set them the example. We ought to set them the example by thinking American thoughts, by entertaining American purposes, and those thoughts and purposes will stand the test of example anywhere in the world, for they are intended for the betterment of mankind.
So I have come to say these few words to you to-day, gentlemen, for a double purpose; first of all to express my personal good wishes to you in your graduation, and my personal interest in you, and second of all to remind you how we must all stand together in one spirit as lovers and servants of America. And that means something more than lovers and servants merely of the United States. You have heard of the Monroe Doctrine, gentlemen. You know that we are already spiritual partners with both continents of this hemisphere and that America means something which is bigger even than the United States, and that we stand here with the glorious power of this country ready to swing it out into the field of action whenever liberty and inde
pendence and political integrity are threatened anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. And we are ready“nobody has authorized me to say this, but I am sure of it—we are ready to join with the other nations of the world in seeing that the kind of justice prevails everywhere that we believe in.
So that you are graduating to-day, gentlemen, into a new distinction. Glory attaches to all these men whose names we love to recount who have made the annals of the American Army distinguished. They played the part they were called upon to play with honor and with extraordinary character and success. I am congratulating you, not because you will be better than they, but because you will have a wider world of thought and conception to play your part in. I am an American, but I do not believe that any of us loves a blustering nationality, a nationality with a chip on its shoulder, a nationality with its elbows out and its swagger on.
We love that quiet, self-respecting, unconquerable spirit which does not strike until it is necessary to strike, and then strikes to conquer. Never since I was a youngster have I been afraid of the noisy man. I have always been afraid of the still man. I have always been afraid of the quiet man. I had a classmate at college who was most dangerous when he was most affable. When he was maddest he seemed to have the sweetest temper in the world. He would approach you with the most ingratiating smile, and then you knew that every red corpuscle in his blood was up and shouting. If you work things off in your elbows, you do not work them off in your mind; you do not work them off in your purposes.
So my conception of America is a conception of infinite dignity, along with quiet, unquestionable power. I ask you, gentlemen, to join with me in that conception, and let us all in our several spheres be soldiers together to realize it.
New York Times, June 14, 1916.
41. DEMOCRACY OF BUSINESS
(July 10, 1916)
ADDRESS AT SALESMANSHIP CONGRESS, DETROIT
* * * Some Democrats had noticed that the inclination to suppose that only some persons understood the business of America had a tendency to run into the assumption that the number of persons who understood that business was very small, and that there were only certain groups and associations of gentlemen who were entitled to be trustees of that business for the rest of us. I have never subscribed, in any walk of life, to the trustee theory. I have always been inclined to believe that the business of the world was best understood by those men who were in the struggle for maintenance not only, but for success. The man who knows the strength of the tide is the man who is swimming against it, not the man who is floating with it. The man who is immersed in the beginnings of business, who is trying to get his foothold, who is trying to get other men to believe in him and lend him money and trust him to make profitable use of that money, is the man who knows what the business conditions in the United States are, and I would rather take his counsel as to what ought to be done for business than the counsel of any established captain of industry. The captain of industry is looking backward and the other man is looking forward. The conditions of business change with every generation; change with every decade; are now changing at an almost breathless pace, and the men who have made good are not feeling the tides as the other men are feeling them. The men who have got into the position of captaincy, unless they are of unusual fiber, unless they are of unusually catholic sympathy, unless they have continued to touch shoulders with the ranks, unless they have continued to keep close communion with the men they are employing and the young men they are bringing up as their assistants, do not belong to the struggle in which we should see that every unreasonable obstacle is removed and every reasonable help afforded that public policy can afford.
So I invite your thoughts, in what I sincerely believe to be an entirely nonpartisan spirit, to the democracy of business. An act was recently passed in Congress that some of the most intelligent business men of this country earnestly opposed,-men whom I knew, men whose character I trusted, men whose integrity I absolutely believed in. I refer to the Federal Reserve Act, by which we intended to take, and succeeded in taking credit out of the control of a small number of men and making it available to everybody who had real commercial assets, and the very men who opposed that act, and opposed it conscientiously, now admit that it saved the country from a ruinous panic when the stress of war came on, and that it is the salvation of every average business man who is in the midst of the tides that I have been trying to describe. What does that mean, gentlemen? It means that you can get a settled point of view and can conscientiously oppose progress if you do not need progress yourself. That is what it means. I am not impugning the intelligence even of the men who opposed these things, because the same thing happens to every man if he is not of extraordinary make-up, if he can not see the necessity for a thing that he does not himself need. When you have abundant credit and control of credit, you, of course, do not need that the area should be broadened.
The suspicion is beginning to dawn in many quarters that the average man knows the business necessities of the country just as well as the extraordinary man does. I believe in the ordinary man. If I did not believe in the ordinary man I would move out of a democracy and, if I found an endurable monarchy, I would live in it. The very conception of America is based upon the validity of the judgments of the average man, and I call you to witness that there have not been many catastrophes in American history. I call you to witness that the average judgments of the voters of the United States have been sound judgments. I call you to witness that this great impulse of the common opinion has been a lifting impulse, and not a depressing impulse. What is the object of associations like that which is gathered here to-day, this Salesmanship Congress? The moral of it is that a few men can not determine the interests of a large