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قراءة كتاب Germany, The Next Republic?

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Germany, The Next Republic?

Germany, The Next Republic?

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

The State Department was flooded with telegrams. Senators and Congressmen were urged to use their influence to get money to stranded Americans to help them home. The 235 U.S. diplomatic and consular representatives were asked to locate Americans and see to their comfort and safety. Not until Americans realised how closely they were related to Europe could they picture themselves as having a direct interest in the war. Then the stock market began to tumble. The New York Stock Exchange was closed. South America asked New York for credit and supplies, and neutral Europe, as well as China in the Far East, looked to the United States to keep the war within bounds. Uncle Sam became the Atlas of the world and nearly every belligerent requested this government to take over its diplomatic and consular interests in enemy countries. Diplomacy, commerce, finance and shipping suddenly became dependent upon this country. Not only the belligerents but the neutrals sought the leadership of a nation which could look after all the interests, except those of purely military and naval operations. The eyes of the world centred upon Washington. President Wilson, as the official head of the government, was signalled out as the one man to help them in their suffering and to listen to their appeals. The belligerent governments addressed their protests and their notes to Wilson. Belgium sent a special commission to gain the President's ear. The peace friends throughout the world, even those in the belligerent countries, looked to Wilson for guidance and help.

In August, 1914, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, the President's wife, was dangerously ill. I was at the White House every day to report the developments there for the United Press. On the evening of the 5th of August Secretary Tumulty called the correspondents and told them that the President, who was deeply distressed by the war, and who was suffering personally because of his wife's illness, had written at his wife's bedside the following message:

"As official head of one of the powers signatory to The Hague Convention, I feel it to be my privilege and my duty, under Article III of that Convention, to say to you in the spirit of most earnest friendship that I should welcome an opportunity to act in the interests of European peace, either now or at any other time that might be thought more suitable, as an occasion to serve you and all concerned in a way that would afford me lasting cause for gratitude and happiness.


The President's Secretary cabled this to the Emperors of Germany and Austria-Hungary; the King of England, the Czar of Russia and the President of France. The President's brief note touched the chord of sympathy of the whole world; but it was too late then to stop the war. European statesmen had been preparing for a conflict. With the public support which each nation had, each government wanted to fight until there was a victory.

One of the first things which seemed to appeal to President Wilson was the fact that not only public opinion of Europe, but of America, sought a spokesman. Unlike Roosevelt, who led public opinion, unlike Taft, who disregarded it, Wilson took the attitude that the greatest force in the world was public opinion. He believed public opinion was greater than the presidency. He felt that he was the man the American people had chosen to interpret and express their opinion. Wilson's policy was to permit public opinion to rule America. Those of us who spent two years in Germany could see this very clearly.

The President announced the plank for his international policy when he spoke at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association, at Washington, shortly after the war began.

First page of the author's passport
[Illustration: First page of the author's passport.]

"The opinion of the world is the mistress of the world," he said, "and the processes of international law are the slow processes by which opinion works its will. What impresses me is the constant thought that that is the tribunal at the bar of which we all sit. I would call your attention, incidentally, to the circumstance that it does not observe the ordinary rules of evidence; which has sometimes suggested to me that the ordinary rules of evidence had shown some signs of growing antique. Everything, rumour included, is heard in this court, and the standard of judgment is not so much the character of the testimony as the character of the witness. The motives are disclosed, the purposes are conjectured and that opinion is finally accepted which seems to be, not the best founded in law, perhaps, but the best founded in integrity of character and of morals. That is the process which is slowly working its will upon the world; and what we should be watchful of is not so much jealous interests as sound principles of action. The disinterested course is not alone the biggest course to pursue; but it is in the long run the most profitable course to pursue. If you can establish your character you can establish your credit.

"Understand me, gentlemen, I am not venturing in this presence to impeach the law. For the present, by the force of circumstances, I am in part the embodiment of the law and it would be very awkward to disavow myself. But I do wish to make this intimation, that in this time of world change, in this time when we are going to find out just how, in what particulars, and to what extent the real facts of human life and the real moral judgments of mankind prevail, it is worth while looking inside our municipal law and seeing whether the judgments of the law are made square with the moral judgments of mankind. For I believe that we are custodians of the spirit of righteousness, of the spirit of equal handed justice, of the spirit of hope which believes in the perfectibility of the law with the perfectibility of human life itself.

"Public life, like private life, would be very dull and dry if it were not for this belief in the essential beauty of the human spirit and the belief that the human spirit should be translated into action and into ordinance. Not entire. You cannot go any faster than you can advance the average moral judgment of the mass, but you can go at least as fast as that, and you can see to it that you do not lag behind the average moral judgments of the mass. I have in my life dealt with all sorts and conditions of men, and I have found that the flame of moral judgment burns just as bright in the man of humble life and limited experience as in the scholar and man of affairs. And I would like his voice always to be heard, not as a witness, not as speaking in his own case, but as if he were the voice of men in general, in our courts of justice, as well as the voice of the lawyers, remembering what the law has been. My hope is that, being stirred to the depths by the extraordinary circumstances of the time in which we live, we may recover from those steps something of a renewal of that vision of the law with which men may be supposed to have started out in the old days of the oracles, who commune with the intimations of divinity."

Before this war, very few nations paid any attention to public opinion. France was probably the beginner. Some twenty years before 1914, France began to extend her civilisation to Russia, Italy, the Balkans and Syria. In Roumania, today, one hears almost as much French as Roumanian spoken. Ninety per cent of the lawyers in Bucharest were educated in Paris. Most of the doctors in Roumania studied in France. France spread her influence by education.

The very fact that the belligerents tried to mobilise public opinion in the United States in their favour shows that 1914 was a milestone in international affairs. This was the first time any foreign power ever attempted to fight for the good will--the public opinion--of this nation. The governments themselves realised the