Why We Fight Germany

Because of Belgium, invaded, outraged, enslaved, impoverished Belgium.

We cannot forget Liége, Louvain, and Cardinal Mercier. Translated into

terms of American history, these names stand for Bunker Hill,

Lexington, and Patrick Henry.

Because of France, invaded, desecrated France, a million of whose

heroic sons have died to save the land of Lafayette. Glorious, golden

France, the preserver of the arts,
he land of noble spirit, the first

land to follow our lead into republican liberty.

Because of England, from whom came the laws, traditions, standards of

life, and inherent love of liberty which we call Anglo-Saxon

civilization. We defeated her once upon the land and once upon the sea.

But Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Canada are free because of what

we did. And they are with us in the fight for the freedom of the seas.

Because of Russia--new Russia. She must not be overwhelmed now. Not

now, surely, when she is just born into freedom. Her peasants must have

their chance; they must go to school to Washington, to Jefferson, and

to Lincoln, until they know their way about in this new, strange world

of government by the popular will.

Because of other peoples, with their rising hope that the world may be

freed from government by the soldier.

We are fighting Germany because she sought to terrorize us and then to

fool us. We could not believe that Germany would do what she said she

would do upon the seas.

We still hear the piteous cries of children coming up out of the sea

where the Lusitania went down. And Germany has never asked the

forgiveness of the world.

We saw the Sussex sunk, crowded with the sons and daughters of

neutral nations.

We saw ship after ship sent to the bottom--ships of mercy bound out of

America for the Belgian starving, ships carrying the Red Cross and

laden with the wounded of all nations, ships carrying food and clothing

to friendly, harmless, terrorized peoples, ships flying the Stars and

Stripes--sent to the bottom hundreds of miles from shore, manned by

American seamen, murdered against all law, without warning.

We believed Germany's promise that she would respect the neutral flag

and the rights of neutrals, and we held our anger and outrage in check.

But now we see that she was holding us off with fair promises until she

could build her huge fleet of submarines. For when spring came, she

blew her promise into the air, just as at the beginning she had torn up

that "scrap of paper." Then we saw clearly that there was but one law

for Germany, her will to rule.

We are fighting Germany because in this war feudalism is making its

last stand against on-coming democracy. We see it now. This is a war

against an old spirit, an ancient, outworn spirit. It is a war against

feudalism--the right of the castle on the hill to rule the village

below. It is a war for democracy--the right of all to be their own

masters. Let Germany be feudal if she will. But she must not spread her

system over a world that has outgrown it.

We fight with the world for an honest world in which nations keep their

word, for a world in which nations do not live by swagger or by threat,

for a world in which men think of the ways in which they can conquer

the common cruelties of nature instead of inventing more horrible

cruelties to inflict upon the spirit and body of man, for a world in

which the ambition of the philosophy of a few shall not make miserable

all mankind, for a world in which the man is held more precious than

the machine, the system, or the State.