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World Wars

President Wilson In France
On December 14, 1918, President Wilson arrived in Paris. He ...

The Capture Of Dun
After the Americans had cleared the Saint Mihiel salient, Mar...

At The Front
What one soldier writes, millions have experienced. At f...

Joyce Kilmer
The first poet and author in the American army to give up his...

The First To Fall In Battle
During the trench warfare, it was customary to raid the enemy...

Song Of The Aviator
(This poem was written for an entertainment given by the Y.M....

Four Soldiers
THE BOCHE The boche was chiefly what his masters made him....

Nations Born And Reborn
In America, and in many other countries, people have listened...

The Thirteenth Regiment
The World War has shown clearly that all peoples are not alik...

The United States Marines
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze From dawn to setti...

The Soldiers Who Go To Sea
If the army or the navy ever gaze on Heaven's scenes, Th...

Waiting For The Flash
Not at once can the mind grasp the full significance of the w...

The Call To Arms In Our Street
There's a woman sobs her heart out, With her head agains...

November 11 1918
Sinners are said sometimes to repent and change their ways at...

Just Before The Tide Turned
On the 27th of last May the Germans broke through the French ...

Fighting A Depth Bomb
All who have read of the sinking of the Lusitania, by a torpe...

In Memoriam
[THE FIGHTING YEARS, 1914-1918] Ring out, wild bells, ...

The Tommy
John Masefield, the English writer, says, St. George did not ...

The Little Old Road
There's a breath of May in the breeze On the little ol...

The Searchlights
Political morality differs from individual morality, because ...



Why The United States Entered The War






The United States was slow to enter the war, because her people
believed war an evil to be avoided at almost any cost except honor. In
fact, Peace at any price seemed to be the motto of many Americans
even after two years of the World War.

[Illustration: The standard bearers and color guard leading a column of
the Fifth Artillery of the First American Division through Hetzerath,
Germany, on their way to the Rhine.]

President Wilson declared in a speech at Philadelphia on May 10, 1915,
that there is such a thing as being too proud to fight. He was
severely criticized for his statement, and yet it is very true, and for
more than a generation it had been taught to American boys and girls.
Peace societies had sent lecturers to the public schools to point out
the wickedness of war and the blessings of peace. Prizes had been
offered to high school, normal school, and college students for the
best essays on Peace, How to Maintain the Peace of the World, and
other similar subjects. To get ready for war by enlarging the army and
navy was declared to be the very best way to bring on war. School
reading books made a feature of peace selections, and school histories
were making as little of our national wars as possible. These
teachings and the very air of the land of freedom made people too proud
to fight, if there were any honorable way of avoiding it.

It is said that People judge others by themselves. So Americans,
being peaceful, contented, and not possessed with envy of their
neighbors, supposed all other civilized people were like themselves.
Therefore they could not at first believe that the Germans were
different and looked upon war as a glorious thing, because through it
they might get possession of the wealth and property of others.
Perhaps the Germans, judging other people by themselves, believed that
the French and Russians and English, like the Germans, stood ready to
go to war whenever through it they might gain wealth and territory; but
the Germans did not think this of the people of the United States.
They thought that they were a nation of traders and money-getters in
love with the Almighty Dollar. As events proved, this idea was a fatal
mistake on the part of the Germans.

In entirely different ways, both Americans and Germans were taught that
they were the people above all other peoples in the world. The German
insolently sang Germany above All while the American good-naturedly
boasted his land as the freest, the noblest and best, leading all the
other countries and showing them the way to become greater and better.
The American people, however, did not intend to force their beliefs
upon other nations. But the Germans were led by the idea that German
Kultur would be a blessing for all mankind and that it was their
destiny to conquer and improve all other nations.

Thor stood at the northernmost point of the world.
His hammer flew from his hand.
So far as my hammer this arm has hurled,
All mine are the sea and the land.
And forward flew the giant tool
Over the whole broad earth, to fall
At last in the southernmost pool
To prove that Thor's was all.
Since then 'tis the pleasant German way
By the hammer, lands to win,
And to claim for themselves world-wide sway,
As the Hammer-god's nearest kin.


But the American does not go this far. While he is inclined to believe
himself and his country better than any other people or nation, yet he
is content to let others live in their own way as long as they are
honest and do not interfere with him and his business. He is, to be
sure, desirous of improving them, but by peaceful means, by building
dams and railroads for them, and by giving them schools and sending
them missionaries.

It was difficult therefore for Americans to realize that the Germans
really planned and desired the war in order that they might rule the
world. It took months and even years of war for the majority of
Americans to come to a full realization of this truth. This should be
remembered when the question is asked, not why the United States
entered the war, but why she did not enter it earlier.

Americans are honorable and look upon the breaking of a pledge or an
agreement as a shameful thing. It was almost impossible for them to
believe that a nation, far advanced in science and learning of all
kinds, could look upon a treaty as a scrap of paper and consider its
most solemn promises as not binding when it was to its advantage to
break them. Americans in their homes, their churches, and their
schools had been taught that an honest man is the noblest work of
God. They had heard the old saying that All is fair in love and
war; but they could not think for a moment that a whole nation of men
and women had been taught that lies and treachery and broken promises
were fair because they helped the Fatherland work out its destiny and
rule the world.

They knew that Chancellor Bismarck falsified a telegram to bring on the
war with France in 1870, and they learned to their dismay that
Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg in 1914 declared the treaty with Belgium
only a scrap of paper when Germany wished to cross that country to
strike France. Americans kept learning that Germany's promises to
respect hospitals and hospital ships, stretcher-bearers and the Red
Cross, not to interfere with non-combatants, not to use poison gas, not
to bombard defenseless cities and towns were all scraps of paper.
They discovered even the naturalization papers which Germans in America
took out in order to become American citizens were lies sworn to, for
the German who declared his loyalty to his new mother country was still
held by Germany as owing his first fealty and duty to her. It must be
said, however, that many Germans who became naturalized in the United
States did not agree with these secret orders of their Fatherland; but
many others did, and the rulers of Germany encouraged such deception.

It was many months after the beginning of the World War before the
large body of American citizens would believe that the German nation
and the German people made a business of lies and deception, and
considered such a business just and proper when in the service of the
Fatherland. But when Germany--after having promised the United States
on May 4, 1916, that merchant ships would not be sunk without warning
or without giving the crews and passengers an opportunity for
safety--on January 31, 1917, informed Washington that she was not going
to keep her promise and told the German people that she had only made
it in order to get time to build a great submarine fleet which would
bring England to her knees in three months--then the American people
saw Germany as she was and in her shame.

Of all the peoples of the earth, the Americans are probably the most
sympathetic and helpful to the weak and the afflicted. They are the
most merciful, striving to be kind not only to people but even to
animals. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children,
another for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the numberless
Bands of Mercy show the feeling of the people of America toward the
helpless. Americans supposed that other people were like them in this
respect. They knew of the German pensions to the widows and to the
aged, and they supposed that the efficient and enlightened Germans were
among the merciful and sympathetic to the weak and dependent. The
people of the United States knew, of course, of the Zabern incident
where two German soldiers held a crippled Alsatian cobbler while a
German officer slashed his face with his sword for laughing at
him,--they knew that the German army officers were haughty and
overbearing, but they thought this came from their training and was not
a part of the German character. Americans had read the Kaiser's
directions to the German soldiers going to China during the Boxer
uprising to Show no mercy! Take no prisoners! Use such frightfulness
that a Chinaman will never dare look at a German again. Make a name
for yourselves as the Hun did long ago. But the Americans, or most of
them, did not believe that in the twentieth century a nation classified
among the civilized nations could or would adopt Frightfulness as a
policy. But when they read of the devastation of Belgium and northern
France; of the destruction of Louvain; of whole villages of innocent
men, women, and children being wiped out; of the horrible crimes of the
sinking of the Lusitania, the Falaba, and the Laconia; of the
execution of Edith Cavell; of the carrying off into slavery, or worse
than slavery, of the able-bodied women and men from the conquered
territory--when Americans learned these horrors one after another, they
at last were forced to acknowledge that, like the brutal Assyrian kings
who sought to terrify their enemies into submission by standing as
conquerors upon pyramids of the slain, the modern Huns sought mastery
by Frightfulness.

When most Americans came to realize that Germany was fighting a war to
conquer the world, first Russia and France, then England, and then the
United States--for she had written Mexico that if she would attack the
United States, Germany and Mexico would make war and peace
together--when they came to know the German nature and the idea of the
Germans, that Might makes Right and that truth, honesty, and square
dealing like mercy, pity, and love are only words of weaklings; that
they were a nation of liars and falsifiers and the most brutal of all
people of recorded history; when, added to this, the Americans realized
that for over two years France and England had really been fighting for
everything for which the United States stood and which her people held
dear, for her very life and liberty, then America almost as one man
declared for war.

Meanwhile Germany had declined to recognize the laws of nations which
allowed America to sell munitions to the Allies. She had scattered
spies through the United States to destroy property and create labor
troubles. She had challenged the right of peaceful Americans to travel
on the high seas. She had sunk the Lusitania with a loss of one
hundred twenty-four American lives; the Sussex, the Laconia with a
loss of eight Americans, the Vigilancia with five, the City of
Memphis, the Illinois, the Healdton, and others. She had tried to
unite Mexico and Japan against us.

Not until then, after the American people had become fully aware of the
German character and purposes, did Congress on April 6, 1917, declare a
state of war existed between Germany and the United States. On that
day the outcome of the war was decided. Through her hideous
selfishness, her stupidity, and her brutality, Germany, after having
spent nearly fifty years in preparation, lost her opportunity for world
dominion. The resources and the fighting power of what she looked upon
as a nation of cowardly, money-loving merchants decided the conflict.





Next: America Comes In




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