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citizens, whether they have been my fellow-citizens a long time or a short time, and drink, as it were, out of the common fountains with them and go back feeling what you have so generously given me—the sense of your support and of the living vitality in your hearts of the great ideals which have made America the hope of the world.
White House Pamphlet.
27. SINKING OF THE “LUSITANIA”
(May 13, 1915)
DESPATCH OF PROTEST THROUGH SECRETARY BRYAN TO
* * * Recalling the humane and enlightened attitude hitherto assumed by the Imperial German Government in matters of international right, and particularly with regard to the freedom of the seas; having learned to recognize the German views and the German influence in the field of international obligation as always engaged upon the side of justice and humanity; and having understood the instructions of the Imperial German Government to its naval commanders to be upon the same plane of humane action prescribed by the naval codes of other nations, the Government of the United States was loath to believe it can not now bring itself to believe—that these acts, so absolutely contrary to the rules, the practices, and the spirit of modern warfare, could have the countenance or sanction of that great Government. It feels it to be its duty, therefore, to address the Imperial German Government concerning them with the utmost frankness and in the earnest hope that it is not mistaken in expecting action on the part of the Imperial German Government which will correct the unfortunate impressions which have been created and vindicate once more the position of that Government with regard to the sacred freedom of the seas.
The Government of the United States has been apprised that the Imperial German Government considered themselves to be obliged by the extraordinary circumstances of the present war and the measures adopted by their adversaries in seeking to cut Germany off from all commerce, to adopi methods of retaliation which go much beyond the ordinary methods of warfare at sea, in the proclamation of a war zone from which they have warned neutral ships to keep away. This Government has already taken occasion to inform the Imperial German Government that it can not admit the adoption of such measures or such a warning of danger to operate as in any degree an abbreviation of the rights of American shipmasters or of American citizens bound on lawful errands as passengers on merchant ships of belligerent nationality; and that it must hold the Imperial German Government to a strict accountability for any infringement of those rights, intentional or incidental. It does not understand the Imperial German Government to question those rights. It assumes, on the contrary, that the Imperial Government accept, as of course, the rule that the lives of noncombatants, whether they be of neutral citizenship or citi zens of one of the nations at war, can not lawfully or rightfully be put in jeopardy by the capture or destruction of an unarmed merchantman, and recognize also, as all other nations do, the obligation to take the usual precaution of visit and search to ascertain whether a suspected merchantman is in fact of belligerent nationality or is in fact carrying contraband of war under a neutral flag. * * *
Department of State, White Book, No. I, 75.
28. WHAT THE FLAG MEANS
(June 14, 1915) ADDRESS AT FLAG DAY EXERCISES, WASHINGTON I know of nothing more difficult than to render an adequate tribute to the emblem of our nation. For those of us who have shared that nation's life and felt the beat of its pulse it must be considered a matter of impossibility to express the great things which that emblem embodies. I venture to say that a great many things are said about the flag which very few people stop to analyze. For me the flag does not express a mere body of vague sentiment. The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history, and no man can rightly serve under that flag who has not caught some of the meaning of that history.
Experience, ladies and gentlemen, is made by men and women. National experience is the product of those who do the living under that flag. It is their living that has created its significance. You do not create the meaning of a national life by any literary exposition of it, but by the actual daily endeavors of a great people to do the tasks of the day and live up to the ideals of honesty and righteousness and just conduct. And as we think of these things, our tribute is to those men who have created this experience. Many of them are known by name to all the world,-statesmen, soldiers, merchants, masters of industry, men of letters and of thought who have coined our hearts into action or into words. Of these men we feel that they have shown us the way. They have not been afraid to go before. They have known that they were speaking the thoughts of a great people when they led that great people along the paths of achievement. There was not a single swashbuckler among them. They were men of sober, quiet thought, the more effective because there was no bluster in it. They were men who thought along the lines of duty, not along the lines of selfaggrandizement. They were men, in short, who thought of the people whom they served and not of themselves.
But while we think of these men and do honor to them as to those who have shown us the way, let us not forget that the real experience and life of a nation lies with the great multitude of unknown men. It lies with those men whose names are never in the headlines of newspapers, those men who know the heat and pain and desperate loss of hope that sometimes comes in the great struggle of daily life; not the men who stand on the side and comment, not the men who merely try to interpret the great struggle, but the men who are engaged in the struggle. They constitute the body of the nation. This flag is the essence of their daily endeavors. This flag does not express any more than what they are and what they desire to be.
As I think of the life of this great nation it seems to me that we sometimes look to the wrong places for its sources. We look to the noisy places, where men are talking in the market place; we look to where men are expressing their individual opinions; we look to where partisans are expressing passion: instead of trying to attune our ears to that voiceless mass of men who merely go about their daily tasks, try to be honorable, try to serve the people they love, try to live worthy of the great communities to which they belong. These are the breath of the nation's nostrils; these are the sinew of its might.
How can any man presume to interpret the emblem of the United States, the emblem of what we would fain be among the family of the nations, and find it incumbent upon us to be in the daily round of routine duty? This is Flag Day, but that only means that it is a day when we are to recall the things which we should do every day of our lives. There are no days of special patriotism. There are no days when we should be more patriotic than on other days. We celebrate the Fourth of July merely because the great enterprise of liberty was started on the Fourth of July in America, but the great enterprise of liberty was not begun in America. It is illustrated by the blood of thousands of martyrs who lived and died before the great experiment on this side of the water. The Fourth of July merely marks the day when we consecrated ourselves as a nation to this high thing which we pretend to serve. The benefit of a day like this is merely in turning away from the things that distract us, turning away from the things that touch us personally and absorb our interest in the hours of daily work. We remind ourselves of those things that are greater than we are, of those principles by which we believe our hearts to be elevated, of the more difficult things that we must undertake in these days of perplexity when a man's judgment is safest only when it follows the line of principle.
I am solemnized in the presence of such a day. I would not undertake to speak your thoughts. You must interpret them for me. But I do feel that back, not only of every public official, but of every man and woman of the United States, there marches that great host which has brought us to the present day; the host that has never forgotten the vision which it saw at the birth of the nation; the host which always responds to the dictates of humanity and of liberty; the host that will always constitute the strength and the great body of friends of every man who does his duty to the United States.
I am sorry that you do not wear a little flag of the Union every day instead of some days. I can only ask you, if you lose the physical emblem, to be sure that you wear it in your heart, and the heart of America shall interpret the heart of the world.
White House Pamphlet.
PREPAREDNESS FOR DEFENSE
(October 6, 1915)
ADDRESS TO THE CIVILIAN ADVISORY BOARD OF THE NAVY
AT THE WHITE HOUSE
* * * I think the whole nation is convinced that we ought to be prepared, not for war, but for defense, and very adequately prepared, and that the preparation for defense is not merely a technical matter, that it is not a matter that the Army and Navy alone can take care of, but a matter in which we must have the coöperation of the best brains and knowledge of the country, outside the official service of the Government, as well as inside.
For my part, I feel that it is only in the spirit of a true democracy that we get together to lend such voluntary aid, the sort of aid that comes from interest, from a knowledge of the varied circumstances that are involved in handling a nation. * * *
I do not have to expound it to you; you know as well as I do the spirit of America. The spirit of America is one of peace, but one of independence. It is a spirit that is prò