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the world, German banks had been serving German merchants all over the world, and no national bank of the United States had been serving American merchants anywhere in the world except in the United States. We had, as it were, deliberately refrained from playing our part in the field in which we prided ourselves that we were most ambitious and most expert, the field of manufacture and of commerce. All that is past, and the scene has been changed by the events of the last two years, almost suddenly, and with a completeness that almost daunts the planning mind. Not only when this war is over, but now, America has her place in the world and must take her place in the world of finance and commerce upon a scale that she never dreamed of before.
My dream is that she will take her place in that great field in a new spirit which the world has never seen before; not the spirit of those who would exclude others, but the spirit of those who would excel others. I want to see America pitted against the world, not in selfishness, but in brains. The first thing that brains have to feed upon is knowledge, and when I hear men proposing to deal with the business problems of the United States in the future as we dealt with them in the past, I do not have to inquire any further whether they are equipped with knowledge. I dismiss them from the reckoning, because I know that the facts are going to dominate and they know nothing about the facts. And the most that we can supply ourselves with just now is, not the detailed program of policy, but the instrumentalities of gaining thorough knowledge of what we are about. Every man of us must for some time to come be "from Missouri!” We must want to know what the facts are, and when we know what the facts are we shall know what the policy ought to be. ***
*** It has always been a fiction,—I don't know who invented it or why he invented it,—that there was a contest between the law and business. There has always been a contest in every government between the law and bad business, and I do not want to see that contest softened in any way; but there has never been any contest between men who intended the right thing and the men who administered the law. * * *
You know that we have just now done what it was common sense to do about the tariff. We have not put this into words, but I do not hesitate to put it into words: We have admitted that on the one side and on the other we were talking theories and managing policies without a sufficient knowledge of the facts upon which we were acting, and, therefore, we have established what is intended to be a nonpartisan tariff commission to study the conditions with which legislation has to deal in the matter of the relations of American with foreign business transactions. Another eye created to see the facts! And I am hopeful that I can find the men who will see the facts and state them, no matter whose opinion those facts contradict. For an opinion ought always to have a profound respect for a fact; and when you once get the facts, opinions that are antagonistic to those facts are necessarily defeated. I have never found a really courageous man who was afraid to put his opinion to the test of facts, or a morally sincere man who was not ready to surrender to the facts when they were contrary to his opinion. The Tariff Commission is going to look for the facts no matter who is hurt. We are creating one after another the instrumentalities of knowledge, so that the business men of this country shall know what the field of the world's business is and deal with that field upon that knowledge.
Then, when the knowledge is obtained, what are we going to do? One of the things that interests me most about an association of this sort is that the intention of it is that the members should share a common body of information, and that they should concert among themselves those operations of business which are beneficial to all of them; that, instead of a large number of dealers in grain acting separately and each fighting for his own hand, you are willing to come together and study the problem as if you were partners and brothers and co-operators in this field of business. That has been going on in every occupation in the United States of any consequence. Even the men that do the advertising have been getting together, and they have made this startling and fundamental discovery, that the only way to advertise successfully is to tell the truth. There are many reasons for that. One of the chief reasons is that when you get found out, it is worse for you than it was before; but the great reason, the sober reason, is that business must be founded on the truth, and you men get together in order to create a clearing house for the truth about your business.
Very well; that is a picture in small of what we must do in the large. We must coöperate in the whole field of business, the Government with the merchant, the merchant with his employee, the whole body of producers with the whole body of consumers, to see that the right things are produced in the right volume and find the right purchasers at the right place, and that, all working together, we realize that nothing can be for the individual benefit which is not for the common benefit. * * *
And it is absolutely necessary now to make good our new connections. Our new connections are with the great and rich Republics to the south of us. For the first time in my recollection they are beginning to trust and believe in us and want us, and one of my chief concerns has been to see that nothing was done that did not show friendship and good faith on our part. You know that it used to be the case that if you wanted to travel comfortably in your own person from New York to a South American port, you had to go by way of England or else stow yourself away in some uncomfortable fashion in a ship that took almost as long to go straight, and within whose bowels you got in such a temper before you got there that you did not care whether she got there or not. The great interesting geographical fact to me is that by the opening of the Panama Canal there is a straight line south from New York through the canal to the western coast of South America, which hitherto has been one of the most remote coasts in the world so far as we are concerned. The west coast of South America is now nearer to us than the eastern coast of South America ever was, though we have the open Atlantic upon which to approach the east coast. Here is the loom all ready upon which to spread the threads which can be worked into a fabric of friendship and wealth such as we have never known before!
The real wealth of foreign relationships, my fellow-citizens, whether they be the relationships of trade or any other kind of intercourse, the real wealth of those relationships is the wealth of mutual confidence and understanding. If we do not understand them and they do not understand us, we can not trade with them, much less be their friends, and it is only by weaving these intimate threads of connection that we shall be able to establish that fundamental thing, that psychological, spiritual nexus which is, after all, the real warp and woof of trade itself. We have got to have the knowledge, we have got to have the coöperation, and then back of all that has got to lie what America has in abundance and only has to release, that is to say, the self-reliant enterprise.
There is only one thing I have ever been ashamed of about in America, and that was the timidity and fearfulness of Americans in the presence of foreign competitors. I have dwelt among Americans all my life and am an intense absorbent of the atmosphere of America, and I know by personal experience that there are as effective brains in America as any where in the world. An American afraid to pit American business men against any competitors anywhere! Enterprise, the shrewdness which Americans have shown, the knowledge of business which they have shown, all these things are going to make for that peaceful and honorable conquest of foreign makets which is our reasonable ambition. * * *
White House Pamphlet.
48. A SOCIETY OF NATIONS
(October 26, 1916)
ADDRESS AT CINCINNATI
*** What I intend to preach from this time on is that America must show that as a member of the family of nations she has the same attitude toward the other nations that she wishes her people to have toward each other : That America is going to take this position, that she will lend her moral influence, not only, but her physical force, if other nations will join her, to see to it that no nation and no group of nations tries to take advantage of another nation or group of nations, and that the only thing ever fought for is the common rights of humanity.
A great many men are complaining that we are not fighting now in order to get something---not something spiritual, not a right, not something we could be proud of, but something we could possess and take advantage of and trade on and profit by. They are complaining that the Government of the United States has not the spirit of other Governments, which is to put the force, the army and navy, of that Government behind investments in foreign countries. Just so certainly as you do that, you join this chaos of competing and hostile ambitions.
Have you ever heard what started the present war? If you have, I wish you would publish it, because nobody else has, so far as I can gather. Nothing in particular started it, but everything in general. There has been growing up in Europe a mutual suspicion, an interchange of conjectures about what this Government and that Government was going to do, an interlacing of alliances and understandings, a complex web of intrigue and spying, that presently was sure to entangle the whole of the family of mankind on that side of the water in its meshes.
Now, revive that after this war is over and sooner or later you will have just such another war, and this is the last war of the kind or of any kind that involves the world that the United States can keep out of.
I say that because I believe that the business of neutrality is over; not because I want it to be over, but I mean this, that war now has such a scale that the position of neutrals sooner or later becomes intolerable. Just as neutrality would be intolerable to me if I lived in a community where everybody had to assert his own rights by force and I had to go around among my neighbors and say: "Here, this cannot last any longer; let us get together and see that nobody disturbs the peace any more.” That is what society is and we have not yet a society of nations.
We must have a society of nations, nosuddenly, not by insistence, not by any hostile emphasis upon the demand, but by the demonstration of the needs of the time. The nations of the world must get together and say, "Nobody can hereafter be neutral as respects the disturbance of the world's peace for an object which the world's opinion can not sanc