(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Two letters on the war"

UNIVERSITY^ 
PENNSYLVANIA 
LIBRARIES 




A Q ■ 



TWO LETTERS ON THE WAR 



.. V lki _ . ... .. .• 



Privately Printed for 
Members of the Princeton Faculty 



I. On the proposal to petition the President to put this nation in 
a position of definite moral approbation of the Entente Allies and 
in as definite moral disapprobation of the Central Teutonic 
Empires. 



Princeton University 

January 17th, 1916. 
Professor Frank A. Fetter, sj? 
Dear Professor Fetter: ^ 
I am hereby returning to you unsigned the proposed petition to,; 
the President submitted by your committee to members of the > 
Princeton faculty. While I cannot admit the right of any individual, ! 
be he private citizen or president, to put any other individual or 
group of individuals "in a position of definite moral approbation or 
definite moral disapprobation'' of any cause or country, I conceive 
it to be not only my right but my duty to express to your committee 
the reasons why your proposal meets with my very definite 
disapproval. 

I disapprove both on hypothetical and actual grounds. 
1. Even if I agreed with your premises I should most em- 
phatically disagree with so lame and impotent a conclusion as you 
come to. Your "whereasV rumble ominously and portend action, 
your "therefore" is mild and meaningless. You even diplomatically 
shrink fy>i the word "condemnation" which is the minimum of 
moral reaction your preambles demand. Parturiunt montes, et 
nascitujT ridiculus naus. If I believed, as you seem to, that the future 
^f our political ideals and our national safety are bound up with the 
xuse of the Entente Allies and that their defeat would mean event- 
pi moral and material disaster to our country, I should be ashamed, 



-?>- 
•< 

A 
\r\ 



■ 



for myself, to si£ petition asking the President for nothing more 
than to commit the nation to 4 ''definite moral disapprobation of the 
central Teutonic empires " If your premises are correct, you ought 
to have asked for much more than moral approbation or disapproba- 
tion. Your proposal to attack by official moral ostracism a group of 
nations whom others are giving their lives and treasure to disable, 
would only earn the contempt of both belligerents, £nd unite Allies 
and Teutonic Powers in saying to us and our government : 

Art thou afear'd 
To be the same in thine own act and valor 
As thou art in desire ? Wouldst thou have that 
Which thou esteemst the ornament of life, 
And live a coward in thine own esteem, 
Letting I dare not wait upon I would 
Like the poor cat in the adage. 

It is easy to have more respect for your moderation than for that of 
Colonel Roosevelt, it is difficult not to have more respect for his 
• consistency. 

: Definite. moral disapprobation is a poor weapon to fight the devil 
J with, and if he speak German, as according to your demonology he 
does exclusively, it is unlikely that he would understand the phrase. 
The devil ought to be damned not disapproved. Even among indi- 
viduals, definite moral disapprobation to be effective must be prac- 
tised from a considerable elevation. I would not constitute myself 
a judge of the moral elevation necessary to qualify an individual 
for such sweeping and general if ungenerous disapprobation as you 
propose. I am quite willing to admit that your committee for whose 
members individally I have the highest regard, is peculiarly quali- 
fied in many respects for international moral censorship ; and even 
though the "ceterum censeo Gerrnaniam delendam esse" of this type 
of censorship may become somewhat monotonous, no one can deny 
the right of any sincere man to be monotonous. Monotony is even 
a necessary concomitant of intense and sincere conation, as dis- 
tinguished from that disinterested and free play of thou^.'.t which 
is so admirable a characteristic of the French genius. ' But you ar£ ... 
asking the President to make moral beliefs and convictions* which 
probably a large majority of your fellow-citizens do not share with 
you, — for moral disapprobation of certain acts of the Teutonic 
powers is far from being equivalent to definite and unqualified ap- 



<\40 



■n 



2 

i 



5P'3 



TTnIvTSsTTT 

PENNSYLVANIA 



probation of the Entente Allies,— the basis of an international policy 
by imposing these moral judgments on the' whole nation. In the 
matter of moral censorship nations cannot rise above the level of 
the individuals that compose them. If you had asked for a dis- 
approbation of specific deeds you would undoubtedly have secured 
more signatures but they would have been even more ineffectual 
in any practical and political sense. 

I have no doubt individual members of your committee would 
have preferred to bring in. a resolution asking for action con- 
formable to the situation as stated in your preambles. In that case 
my dissent from your proposal would have been even stronger on 
objective national grounds, but much less strong on subjective moral 
grounds, for I^have had to recognize the force of your request, Qttj-^d 
granting the correctness of your premises. As it is I see little truth 
in your premises and no force in your conclusion. The thing you 
ask the President of the United States to do $eems to me both a 
supercilious and a pusillanimous thing, and to involve a more 
fundamental invasion of individual liberty than anything hitherto 
threatened by Cossacks, Turcos, Sikhs, Senegalese or other de- 
fenders of our political ideals. It is important in the present crisis 
to delimit the respective spheres of the individual's liberty of judg- 
ment and national obligation. If the President of the United States 
calls upon me to help defend the country against an alien foe, I 
shall obey; and my private judgment as to the rightness or wrong- 
ness of the issue, when a national decision has been reached by 
constitutional means, neither validates nor invalidates the obliga- 
tion of service to my country. As long as we recognize nationalism 
as a necessary organization of humanity for collective action this 
must be the foundation of our faith. Complete individualism and 
effective nationalism are at present mutually exclusive, but should 
the President of the United States call upon me to put myself "in 
a position of definite moral approbation of the Allies and of as 
definite moral disapprobation, not of certain deeds, but of the whole 
cause I should not obey, because I should have given up something 
without which "the whole fabric of modern civilization as expressed 
in free governments" would be a meaningless phrase. You believe 
that German collectivism threatens American ideals of individual 
liberty. And you propose to protect American liberty against 
German violation, by asking the President to strangle it himself. 
Majorities control action but not thought. Minorities may be right 

<* 



or wrong, but whether right or wrong they have rights even in a 
democracy. Writing letters is one of them. Moral ostracism of 
any individual or group of individuals on the basis of a difference 
of opinion as to the merits of the belligerents is not one of the 
rights of the majority. I may give my life but not my liberty of 
moral judgment for my country. 

Your proposal to have the President "put this nation in a position 
of definite moral approbation of the Entente Allies and in a definite 
moral disapprobation of the Central Teutonic Empires" involves 
processes of political reasoning and a conception of the constitutional 
authority of the executive that I find it difficult to follow or under- 
stand. During the crisis of the Civil War, where the moral issue 
was much clearer, Lincoln put the matter as follows : 

"If slavery is not wrong nothing is wrong. I cannot remember 
the time when I did not so think and feel, and yet I have never under- 
stood that the presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right 
to act on that judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that 
I would to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the 
Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without 
taking the oath, nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get 
power and break the oath in using that power. I understood, too, 
that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me prac- 
tically to indulge my private abstract judgment on the moral question 
(i.e. slavery). I did understand, however, also that my oath imposed 
upon me the duty of preserving to the best of my ability by every 
indispensable means, that government, that nation, of which the 
constitution was the organic law." 

Your proposal seems to me not only unconstitutional but theoreti- 
cally impossible and practically absurd. I can understand the possi- 
bility of a definite private moral approbation or disapprobation of the 
Central Teutonic Empires, because they are sufficiently organized 
and conscious of purpose to make moral approbation or disapproba- 
tion at any rate rational without regard to the question of its jus- 
tice. But how there can be any definite moral approbation of any- 
thing so indefinite, incoherent, vacillating, chaotically conglomerate 
and radiantly heterogeneous as the Entente Allies, it would be diffi- 
cult to imagine. With regard to England's great literary and political 
tradition it is impossible for me to be objective or "neutral." for 
they are part of my being. Toward British foreign policies, espe- 

4 



daily the politics of her Russian Alliance, I have the same feeling 
that many Americans who admire German literature and culture, 
have for German "Weltpolitik." The declared purpose of the 
Entente Allies, we are told, is the destruction of Prussian militarism 
for the benefit of humanity and themselves. The declared purpose 
of the Teutonic Powers, we are also told, involves the destruttion 
of British navalism for equally laudable ends. With both of these 
purposes America can afford heartily and equally to sympathize. 
If each had been successful to the extent of the above declared pur- 
pose, America might well send sea-congratulations to Germany and 
land-congratulations to the Allies, but they have both signally failed 
to damage each other where neutrals could best afford to have the 
damage done. Yet the real menace to the United States and to 
modern civilization, is neither the British navy, as the pro-German 
party in America would have us believe, nor the German army, as 
the pro-British party claim, but the present international organiza- 
tion or rather disorganization of Europe based on the folly of inter- 
national laissez-faire backed by competitive armaments, a folly that 
made necessary and in so far forth justifies the existence of both 
British navalism and German militarism. This is a much more 
difficult menace to reach and attack than either of the belligerents 
but the attempt is worth making for this is a menace that deserves 
and would get the united moral disapprobation of the civilized world 
which in my sense includes the Teutonic Empires. The statesman 
who could commit America to that policy would earn the moral 
approbation of the neutral nations immediately and of the belliger- 
ents eventually, for himself and his country. 

The main argument for your proposed policy of moral approba- 
tion and disapprobation is tjiat it is both cheap and safe. It costs 
nothing and risks nothing. If the whole fabric of modern civiliza- 
tion as expressed in free governments is to-day menaced by German 
aggression I suggest that some such resolution as the following is 
now justified: 

We do respectfully petition the President of the United States to 
call upon Congress to make such appropriations as he may deem 
expedient for the purchase of war-supplies for the Entente Allies, 
said appropriation to be met by special taxation on all incomes. 

This would be a practical and quick method of discovering whether 
a majority of the people of the United States are prepared for a 



policy of moral approbation of the Entente Allies and whether they 
are ready to back up their moral approbation with their cash if not 
their lives. Moral disapprobation, for which you risk nothing and 
sacrifice nothing, is not only cheap and safe, it is immoral in any 
sense of the word that has meaning to me. If the Allies are really 
fighting for our liberties and our national safety, is it not ignominious 
for us to charge them exorbitant prices for the munitions they are 
wasting so valiantly in our defense, a defense, moreover, that puts 
us under very special obligation because it has been undertaken 
without any request on our part? The only ones who could object to 
such a proposal are those who disagree with your premises and those 
who, while they agree, are making greater profits out of the needs 
of the allied governments than they could make by manufacturing 
directly for the United States Government at fair and reasonable 
prices. If I agreed with your premises I should certainly be willing 
to subscribe to some such proposal, and I am surprised that you did 
not make it. Perhaps you intended to do so later, but if you believe 
in democracy you ought to tell the people what you really intend and 
not blindfold them into a moral disapprobation that is worse than 
meaningless unless they understand what it involves. 

2. I have tried to show that on the assumption that your premises 
are correct your proposal falls far short of what is required in the 
present crisis. On the assumption that they are incorrect it is not 
necessary to prove, for it is self-evident that your proposal goes 
too far; for it practically asks the President of the United States 
formally to abandon his declared policy of neutrality for a policy of 
unneutrality that is cheap, safe and selfish and therefore worthy 
of definite moral disapprobation. 

I shall in conclusion briefly touch on the four preambles which 
you make the basis for your proposal. v The first states your belief, 
in the form of a sweeping generalization, "that the whole fabric of 
modern civilization as expressed in free government and diversity 
of nationality is to-day menaced by German aggression. " Leaving 
cut of consideration the vagueness of the phrase, "diversity of 
nationality,-' I believe that any conception of the whole fabric of 
modern civilization as expressed in free governments that omits 
Germany, is unfair both to German contributions to modern civiliza- 
tion and untrue to the actual facts of governmental organization in 
the German Empire. You have stated your belief, permit me to state 
mine. I believe that the whole fabric of modern civilization is to-day 

6 



menaced by the collision between British imperialism dedicated to 
the maintenance of the status quo by the combined influence of capi- 
talism and sea power on the one hand, and German imperialism 
dedicated to the challenge of the international status quo and the 
balance of power by a military nationalism representing the united^ 
intellectual, moral and material resources of the Teutonic Empire. 
I believe this challenge and Great Britain's answer to it to have been 
inevitable under the present system of European political industrial 
and commercial organization. Definite moral disapprobation will 
have no effect on the outcome. Whether a conference of neutral 
powers called by the President of the United States would effect 
anything at the present juncture it is difficult to say. Probably the 
President knows better than we, but I should be glad to subscribe to 
a petition asking him to call such a conference, and I feel sure that 
such a suggestion would be more pertinent to the present interna- 
tional situation and no more impertinent to him than yours. Such 
a conference could gain the confidence of the belligerents only if it 
divested itself resolutely of the function of moral censorship and 
applied itself to the task of preparing a ground for the reorganization 
of Europe by formulating general terms of settlement which both 
belligerents would agree to consider. In the event of the impracti- 
cability of such action at the present moment, I heartily approve 
the policy of aggressive defense of neutral rights foreshadowed in 
a statement by the Secretary of State in this morning's New York 
Times. 

With the second preamble I concur as far as it goes, but the 
inclusion of similar violations of international law by the Entente 
Allies, an inclusion which candor and fairness would seem to have 
demanded, would hopelessly confuse your scheme of definite moral 
approbation and disapprobation. While economic strangulation 
is less violent, it is no more humane than the practices you describe. 
Some of the grossest inhumanities in the world to-day are prac- 
tised without any show of violence, and the worst of such invisible 
inhumanity is that its purpose is to provoke violence, and to arouse 
the moral indignation of those good people who are shocked by 
inhumanity only when it is visible, violent and Teutonic. 

The third preamble recites your conviction that "our political ideals 
and our national safety are bound up with the cause of the Entente 
Allies, and that their defeat would mean eventual moral and material 
disaster to our country." This would obviously be true if we 

7 



joined the Allies. Otherwise obviously not. Your preamble sug-, 
gests, what your conclusion shrinks from openly stating,— that we 
should make sure of the defeat of the Teutonic Empires, if Serbia, 
Russia, France, England, Japan and Italy cannot do it alone, on 
the ground that the Teutonic Empires might attack us if victorious. 

Then lest they may, prevent ; and since the* quarrel 
Will bear no color for the thing they are 
Fashion it thus: that what they are, augmented 
Would run to these and these extremities, etc. 

It would seem that " justice first" is a better guide in the formu- 
lation of international policy than "safety first," and its adoption . 
might also prevent the circulation of petitions analogous to yours 
in the German Universities. The defeat of the Allies would un- 
doubtedly now involve some financial loss to large interests in 
this country and this might be interpreted in some quarters as moral 
disaster or worse. 

Your fourth preamble holds the Teutonic governments respon- 
sible for a series of acts some of which they have disavowed and 
offered reparation for, thanks to a firm course of diplomatic pro- 
cedure by the President, and others of which they have disclaimed 
knowledge of and responsibility for. Insofar as the acts recited 
by. you have been proved, the President has already dealt with 
them in an effectual manner, and needs not now to be requested 
to put this nation into an attitude of definite moral disapprobation 
with reference to them. Many of these acts were breaches of 
neutrality rather than of morality, and insofar as they merit moral 
disapprobation, the President has expressed it in very emphatic 
language. Much of our trouble has been due to the inability of 
German subjects liable to military service to leave this country, 
owing to British control of the seas. Great Britain has compelled 
us to harbour her enemies and when, by use of the same sea 
power, a technical neutrality was converted into a de facto sup- 
port of the Allies without any breach of neutrality on the part of 
the American government, some of these marooned aliens became 
guilty of the crime of being patriotic in the wrong country. None 
should be quicker or more emphatic in condemnation of their 
lawless deeds and their invasion of the rights of American sov- 
ereignty than Americans of German derivation or sympathy who 



8 



have through these deeds been subjected to unjust suspicion and 
ungenerous denunciation. 

Though disapproving, — I should prefer to say condemning, many 
acts of the Teutonic Powers, I consider their successful resist- 
ance to the powers united against them essential not only to the 
preservation of the whole fabric of modern civilization but also to 
the future growth and free development of the United States as an 
independent nation. The United States have as much to fear as 
Germany from a use of British sea power for the exclusive interest 
of British trade expansion. I would go so far as to say. that the only 
thing that can prevent a clash of British and American interests in 
the near future, with the balance of sea-power immensely in Eng- 
land's favor when that clash comes, is a successful challenge of 
England's monopoly of the sea, by the Central Teutonic Powers. To 
that extent I believe our national interests to be bound up with the 
cause of the Teutonic Allies. But with Germany, England, France 
and the United States, as the standard-bearers of western civilization, 
united in a league of peace, based on a policy of mutual concession - 
where their interests conflict, and of mutual support where their 
interests coincide, based further on a world policy of justice to all 
and malice toward none, the progress of western civilization for 
some time to come would be assured. Any league or alliance that 
omits any one of these powers is sure to jeopardize agairf the peace 
of the world and to menace anew the whole fabric of civilization. 
American, even pan-American isolation seems no longer possible. 
^ Though I have strongly dissented from your advocacy of- an offi- 
cial governmental policy based on a moral approbation or disappro- 
bation of the cause of any of the belligerents I agree with you in 
placing moral factors above cultural-intellectual and economic-ma- 
terial factors in estimating the final contribution of any nation to 
the cause of humanity and civilization. It is precisely because the 
people of the central Teutonic Empires have in this war shown to an 
eminent degree the possession of such moral qualities as devotion to 
duty, self-sacrifice, love of truth, honesty, thoroughness, conscien- 
tious workmanship, industry, faithfulness to fact, the achievement of 
freedom through self-discipline, the willingness to subordinate pri- 
vate gain and pleasure to national safety and welfare, that as an 
American citizen, valuing our great Anglo-Saxon tradition of free 
government, I advocate the recognition of these qualities as shown 
by the Teutonic Empires, without asking for or expecting any na- 

9 



tional, moral or other approbation of the German cause. And 
finally, as a teacher of youth in an American University, I conceive 
it to be my duty to emphasize the importance of cultivating in our- 
selves these moral qualities if we are to hand down to posterity 
unmenanced by private greed, and unjeopardized by public indiffer- 
ence, the precious heritage of our free institutions. , 

My respect for the personal character and professional standing 
of the members of your committee must be my apology for the length 
of this letter, and the strength of convictions which I cannot but be 
conscious of as moral, must be my apology for the emphasis of 
its tone. 

Very sincerely yours, 

J. Duncan Spaeth. 



II. On the Submarine Controversy. 
Reprinted from the New York Times. 

Princeton University, June 4, 1915. 
To the Editor of the New York Times: 

There is a disposition in many quarters to criticize the note of the 
German Government as an attempt to evade the issue because it 
seeks to reach agreement on the facts in the case before the princi- 
ples involved are discussed, the responsibility fixed, and the decision 
reached. Only the intensity of our feelings, our sense of outraged 
humanity, our sympathy with the sufferers of undeserved woe pre- 
vent us from recognizing in the German note an appeal to essential 
principles of justice as conceived by the Anglo-Saxon mind.. 

The fact that one is willing to serve on a jury and listen to 
evidence does not mean that he condones crime or lacks conscience. 
The law recognizes the establishment of motive as an important 
element in reaching a just verdict. To insist on the execution of 
sentence before the establishment of facts that bear essentially on 
the question of motive is equivalent to hanging first and hearing 
evidence afterward. There is danger that public opinion in America 
in its just and swift condemnation of the fearful sacrifice of innocent 
lives by the sinking of the Lusitania, be swept by Impulses of 
humanity from the solid ground of justice. Every judge knows 



10 



how difficult it is to combine justice with humanity. To write them 
together is not to unite them. 

We may well heed at this time the sober words of President H. A. 
Garfield of Williams College (New York Evening Post, June 2) : 

"America is united in its condemnation of killing women and 
children. Moreover, in condemning we ought to discriminate be- 
tween things worthy of condemnation and things not to be con- 
demned. The United States rightly insists that the killing of 
women and children is one thing, and the destruction of commerce 
quite another. Both must be stopped ; but the President wisely deals 
with the two things separately— one at a time. We ought also to 
recognize that these offenses are one thing and the apportionment 
of the blame another, and that the blame cannot be fixed until certain 
facts are cleared up. This the German reply seeks to do. Her 
reply is not final, and she has not said that she fails to appreciate or 
refuses to concede the President's main point. It seems to me, there- 
fore, unjust to impute to the German Government unworthy motives 
or moral callousness on the basis of its reply." 

While there may be disagreement as to the facts alluded to in the 
German note, there are certain other facts of paramount importance 
at the present juncture which are fortunately not open to challenge. 
An excellent summary of them is to be found in the Washington 
despatch to the New York Times of June 2, under th'e caption, 
"Chronological Review of Correspondence with the Belligerents. ,, 
From the summary as given by the Times, it appears that at the 
beginning of 'the war (August 6) our government asked the bellig- 
erents whether they intended to abide by the Declaration of London 
of 1909. Germany and Austria answered in the affirmative, condi- 
tional on a like observance on the part of the enemy. Russia and 
France awaited the decision of the British Government, which was 
(August 27) to the effect that they decided to adopt generally the 
rules of the declaration in question, subject to certain modifications 
and additions which they judge indispensable to the efficient conduct 
of their naval operations. (The plea of military necessity.) 

These modifications and additions so interfered with American 
rights at sea that on December '26 Secretary Bryan sent a note to 
Great Britain protesting against the seizure and detention of Ameri- 
can cargoes. As an answer to this protest Great Britain sent her 
notes of January 7 and February 10, "explaining the reasons for 



these seizures and detentions." Meanwhile, the Government of the 
United States having failed in its effort to protect against seizure by 
Great Britain American wheat and cotton cargoes bound for Ger- 
many, the German Government, following the precedent of Great 
Britain's proclamation of a mined war zone around the North of 
Ireland and Scotland, gave warning of the establishment of a naval 
war zone around the British Isles to prevent the importation of sup- 
plies to England. February 18 this policy went into effect. Febru- 
ary 20 the American Government suggested that a modus vivendi be 
entered into by England and Germany by which submarine warfare 
and the sowing of mines at sea might be abandoned if food-stuffs 
were allowed to reach the German civil population under American 
consular inspection. March 15 the British Government "flatly re- 
fused" (Times summary) the arrangement proposed by the United 
States, and published the British Order in Council, the object^ of 
which was and is to prevent commodities of all kinds from reaching 
or leaving Germany. This order has never been recognized by the 
American Government as in accord with international law. 

These are the facts. What light do they throw on the present 
relations between the United States and Germany? On two occa- 
sions our government made proposals to Great Britain and Germany 
to secure their adherence to those "rules of fairness, reason, justice 
and humanity which all modern opinion regards as imperative." 
On each of these occasions Germany accepted and Great Britain 
refused the proposals of the Government of the United States. 
Having failed to secure Great Britain's assent to our interpre- 
tation of international law, can we now consistently ask Ger- 
many's assent to an interpretation of international law which 
has Great Britain's unqualified approval because it throws upon us 
the responsibility of securing for all her merchant ships immunity 
from attack by German submarines? 

It is to be remembered that it would be unjust to our government 
to suggest that the proposals above referred to were pro-German. 
They were made in the interest of justice and humanity to both 
sides. When Germany agreed to abandon submarine attacks on 
merchantmen on condition of Great Britain's allowing the entry of 
foodstuffs, Germany's willingness to accede to our suggestion was 
sneered at in many quarters as an "empty concession" on the ground 
that her submarine policy was mere bluff. Having proved at terrible 



12 



cost that she had an effectual if desperate weapon of defense and 
retaliation, the substantial character of the concessions she was 
willing to make to the demands of the United States ought to be in 
fairness recognized in our negotiations with her now. 

Moreover, the export of ammunition to the Allies from America 
has assumed such enormous proportions since February that attacks 
on merchantmen laden with ammunition have increased in frequency, 
culminating May 7 in the sinking of the Lusitania. It is too late for 
any but the governments involved to discuss the question of the 
reparation owed to this country for the loss of American lives. But 
the question of the future of submarine warfare is still open to 
discussion, and international law must take cognizance of it. 

Our government might have confined itself to demanding protec- 
tion for the lives and interests of American citizens only. It has 
taken higher ground. But when once we leave the ground of our 
technical rights under international law, and take our stand on uni- 
versal principles of humanity and justice, can the question of our 
manufacture of ammunition for European belligerents be entirely 
ignored, and can we in fairness demand of Germany that she deprive 
herself absolutely and unconditionally of the only means she has of 
preventing American shrapnel from destroying the defenders of her 
women and children? On the necessity of protecting the lives of 
non-combatants at sea, all Americans of whatever sympathies are 
united. The only question is how shall it be done. If we were not 
manufacturing arms for the enemies of Germany, it would be easier 
for us to ask, it would be easier for Germany to grant the entire 
cessation of submarine warfare against merchantmen. 

Is it inconsistent with our national honor and with humanity to 
suggest: (1) That we guarantee that no ammunition or arms of any 
kind shall be part of the cargo of passenger-carrying ships out of 
United States ports? 

(2) That we demand from Germany absolute immunity from 
attack by submarines for all such unarmed passenger-carrying ships 
sailing from our ports, under whatever flag? 

(3) Whether the crews of merchant vessels carrying munitions 
of war to any belligerent are non-combatants in any essential sense is 
open to question. But if ammunition and explosives were carried on 
slow cargo boats instead of on swift passenger steamers, our in- 
sistence on visit and search would be more likely to be complied with. 

In insisting, and insisting rightly, on the elimination of the sub- 

13 



. marine as an indiscriminate menace to innocent lives at sea, is it wise 
to estop ourselves for all future time from the use of our own 
invention as a commerce destroyer and a legitimate weapon of de- 
fense against economic strangulation or the importation of ammuni- 
tion from abroad? Is it wise to put ourselves into a position where, 
if at any future time our own existence is threatened, we shall have 
to depend on the friendship of other nations ratlier than on the 
justice of our own cause and our own right arm; where we shall 
have to substitute the doctrine of foreign alliance for the American 
doctrine of self-reliance? Ought not a nation that is as proud of 
its rectitude of purpose and as conscious of its power as the Ameri- 
can nation, to be too proud to profit by the fighting of others, too 
proud to cement its own prosperity with the blood of kindred peoples 
across the sea, too proud to be driven by fear of loss or hope of gain 
into alliances foreign to America's great tradition, and, in the words 
of Washington, "calculated to create dissensions, disturb the public 
tranquillity, and destroy, perhaps forever, the cement which binds 
the Union"? The cement that binds' the Union will never be des- 
troyed. Too much German blood has been shed in the kneading of 
that cement for Americans of German descent or sympathy ever to 
permit its destruction. 

The American people are a unit behind their government in all 
its efforts to defend and safeguard the lives, property, and interests 
of American citizens. They are a unit behind their government in 
all its efforts to enable America to render disinterested service to hu- 
manity. But they are far from a unit in wishing to see the material 
and moral power of this country used to render successful the most 
gigantic conspiracy in restraint of trade ever organized by wealth 
and power against a nation which has in all its dealings with the 
United States shown an attitude characterized by the President of 
5 the United States in his note to Germany as "humane and enlight- 
ened/' a characterization that will be borne out by a study of the 

• correspondence between our government and Germany since the 
beginning of the war. 

If it be argued that the British Order in Council is not a con- 
spiracy in restraint of trade the answer may be made that our gov- 
ernment in its notes to England has so construed it. And the Amer- 
ican people are not united in wishing the United States to use its 
power and influence to deprive Germany now, and perhaps ourselves 
in the future, of the most effectual weapon of defense against a form 

14 



of embargo we held and stilt hold to be in violation of international 
law. 

The writer of this letter was born in America, and owes no alle- 
giance but to America. By ties of blood he is bound both to Great 
Britain and Germany, but his deepest loyalty is to that spirit of 
liberty which is the breath of American institutions. When he 
hears on all' sides counsels of safety first and the wisdom of conform- 
ing to an over-powering majority opinion he remembers the brave 
words of the American poet : 

'Tis man's perdition to be safe 
When for the Truth he ought to die. 

President Wilson, in his noble Memorial Day address, used these 
words: "Duty for a nation is made up of so many complicated 
elements that no man can determine it. No group of men, without 
wide common counsel, can possibly determine what the duty of the 
day is. That is the strength of a democracy because there daily rises 
tn the great body of democracy the expression of an untrammeled 
opinion which seems to fill the air with its suggestions of duty, and 
those who stand at the head of affairs have it as their bounden duty 
to endeavor to express in their own actions those things that seem to 
rise out of the conscience and hope and purpose of the great body of 
the people themselves." In praying that the President in his hour of 
grave responsibility may voice the conscience and purpose of a 
united people it is the solemn duty of all of us that have convictions, 
to express those things that rise out of our conscience and our hope 
for America, so that those who stand at the head of affairs may 
hear, not indeed a note of sullen discord, but, amid the general loud 
acclaim, the deep undertone of a loyal minority, dedicated not less 
passionately than the majority to the hope that when the verdict of 
history upon America's part in this tragic woe comes to be written 
it may be: "Her thoughts were Freedom; her words were Truth; 
her deeds were Justice." 

J. Duncan Spaeth. 



15