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writings and addresses entitled “The Foes of Our Own Household." (The George H. Doran Company, 1917.)
Two days after the President's action was announced, the veteran statesman of France, Georges Clemenceau, addressed to him through the press on May 27, 1917, this open letter of appeal to reconsider his decision:
“If I have the temerity of addressing you it is because it may be permitted me to throw light on certain aspects which perhaps are not sufficiently clear to you. Allow me to say, in all candor, that at the present moment there is in France one name which sums up the beauty of American intervention. It is the name Roosevelt, your predecessor, even your rival, but with whom there can now be no other rivalry than heartening success. I saw Roosevelt only once in my life. It was just after I left office and he returned from his lion hunt. He is an idealist, imbued with simple, vital idealism. Hence his influence on the crowd, his prestigeto use the right expression. It is possible that your own mind, inclosed in its austere legal frontiers, which has been the source of many noble actions, has failed to be impressed by the vital hold which personalities like Roosevelt have on popular imagination. But you are too much of a philosopher to ignore that the influence on the people of great leaders of men often exceeded their personal merits, thanks to the legendary halo surrounding them. The name of Roosevelt has this legendary force in our country at this time and in my opinion it would be a great error to ignore the force which everything counsels us to make use of as quickly as possible.
“Roosevelt was one of the greatest craftsmen in the great laborious work which will constitute your glory. It cannot displease you that your two names are coupled in our minds. He, moreover, followed your idea. He wished to raise four volunteer divisions of infantry to be incorporated in our armies. The Senate and Congress did not withhold consent. If the law has charged you, Mr. President, with all the practical issues of the undertaking, it is no less true that Roosevelt represents a vast potential factor which a statesman is unable to overlook. Roosevelt cannot come alone, for his prestige on our battlefields demands that he come with prestige conferred on him by his countrymen. I claim for Roosevelt only what he claims for himself-the right to appear on the battlefield surrounded by his comrades.
“We have just heard of the arrival of the first American unit on the front. All our hearts beat. With what joy our soldiers greeted the starry banner! Yet you must know, Mr. President, more than one of our poilus asked his comrade: "But where is Roosevelt? I don't see him.' It is to convey this remark to you, not knowing whether
mission will reach you, that I have written this letter. You will forgive me for this rule in democracies that each at his hour tries to make himself heard. No other impulse impels me but the idea of what occupies your mind.
“Eminent Americans have consulted our military leaders on the problems of our common campaign. It is not for me to dispute technical questions. My ambition is more modest. I have not consulted our soldiers, but it was not necessary, for I have seen them work and know them well. The cause of humanity, which is also your cause, will owe to them something approaching a miracle. Since it is in your power to give them before the supreme decision the promise of reward, believe me—send them Roosevelt. I tell you because I know it will gladden their hearts."
Commenting on this appeal from Clemenceau, Roosevelt said on May 28, 1917: “I am very grateful for the kind expressions in the letter, and, of course, it is a matter of the greatest sorrow and regret to me that I am not to have this opportunity to serve.
In a speech on May 28, 1917, he said:
“No American has the right to hold up his head if he has not sought with all his strength and ingenuity to get into this war. If a man is conscientious in not wanting to fight, I am equally conscientious in not wanting him to vote. The man who is not willing to fight for his country is not fit to work. I'd take him to the front anyway. I would not interfere with his conscience. If it does not permit him to shoot at the enemy, I would not make him shoot, but I would place him in a position where he would be shot at. I would put him at work digging kitchen sinks and doing other labor which would set other men of better fibre free for service which the unworthy manhood of the conscientious objector does not permit him to perform.
In May, 1917, Roosevelt received a letter from Captain de Rochambeau, of the Fifth Regiment of Erench Infantry at the front in France, congratulating him on the vote in Congress in favor of his proposed Roosevelt Division, and expressing the hope that he would be one of the first to salute him with the title of "My General" on the battlefields of France. In reply Roosevelt wrote under date of June 1, 1917:
“Your letter touched and pleased me very greatly. I remember well your elder brother, and I need hardly say that your name is one familiar to every American. My dear sir, you have nobly upheld your family tradition in this war; you say you were the sole survivor of the three Rochambeaus who have fought in the army during it; this is a record worthy of the ancient valor of France.
“I bitterly regret to say that my Government has refused to allow me to raise troops and take them to France. The reasons were not connected with patriotism, or with military efficiency, and so there is no use of my trying to get the decision altered. My four sons and one of my sonsin-law are now in the army that is being trained, and I hope that all five of them will not too long hence go to your country.”
MESSAGE TO SOLDIERS LEAVING FOR FRANCE-FAITH
IN GEN. LEONARD WOOD-REBUKE TO GOMPERS
WHEN the first detachment of American troops were ready to sail for France in June, 1917, the American Bible Society, which was supplying them with Pocket Testaments, asked Roosevelt to write a message in them. In compliance with the request he wrote:
"The teachings of the New Testament are foreshadowed in Micah's verse: 'What more doth the Lord require of thee than to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.'
“Do justice; and therefore fight valiantly against the armies of Germany and Turkey, for these nations in this crisis stand for the reign of Moloch and Beelzebub on this earth.
“Love mercy; treat prisoners well; succor the wounded; treat every woman as if she were your sister; care for the little children, and be tender with the old and helpless.
'Walk humbly; you will do so if you study the life and teachings of the Savior.
"May the God of Justice and Mercy have you in His keeping."
Soon after Gen. Leonard Wood had arrived at his station in the Southeastern Department of the army, to which he had been ordered, in June, 1917, he wrote a letter to Roosevelt in which he said he had met with a very cordial reception from the Southern people, and that if he were given a free hand he could have 100,000 men ready for final training in Europe by November, adding:
“The old fighting spirit of the South is waking up, and,
under proper leadership, they are going to give a splendid account of themselves.
Replying on June 22, 1917, Roosevelt wrote:
“I was immensely pleased with your note. I cannot help grinning over the way in which the attempt to exile you has turned out. You have had a really wonderful reception in the South, and have made a wonderful impression there. To my great amusement a British General, who is rather taking the Administration view, told me that the President had informed him that he had purposely sent you to the South, because of the great work he knew you would be doing down there! I asked him if that was the reason the President had tried to get you to go to the Hawaiian Islands. He expressed doubt whether our volunteers would have done well, and to my immense amusement, gave as a justification of the doubt the fact that he did not think the Australians and Canadians were as good as the British tommies, and expressed disapproval of their discipline.
“I am absolutely certain that if you were given a free hand, not merely in the South, but in the country at large, you would have instead of 100,000, 500,000 men ready for training in Europe by November. But, as you say, there never has been such effort as now to keep concentration and control in Washington, and the wooden-headed way in which they do this makes the situation one fraught with ugly possibilities of delay and disaster.
“I feel exactly as you do—I am trying to do the best that can be done. I have not criticized the President since April 2nd, but neither do I lie about him. I intend to tell the truth and point out the criminal folly of our having failed to prepare, and to speak plainly of the dangers ahead."
Roosevelt's strong disapproval of the use of violence and rioting in labor strikes found expression in a somewhat startling but eminently characteristic manner in the summer of 1917. The Russian Republic had been declared and a commission from its government to the United States,