Page images

determine to keep our promises. Above all, let us treat any such agreement or covenant as a mere addition or supplement to and never as a substitute for the preparation in advance of our own armed power.

There is no limit to the greatness of the future before America, before our beloved land. But we can realize it only if we are Americans, if we are nationalists, with all the fervor of our hearts and all the wisdom of our brains. We can serve the world at all only if we serve America first and best. We must work along our own national lines in every field of achievement. We must feel in the very marrow of our being that our loyalty is due only to America, and that it is not diluted by loyalty for any other nation or all other nations on the face of the earth. Only thus shall we fit ourselves really to serve other nations, to refuse ourselves to wrong them, and to refuse to let them do wrong or suffer wrong.1

1 From The Great Adventure. Copyright, 1918. Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers.



I Tho.MONROR DOCTRINE is not international law, and though I think one day it may become such, this is not necessary as long as it remains a cardinal feature of our foreign policy and as long as we possess both the will and the strength to make it effective. This last point, my fellow citizens, is all-important, and is one which as a people we can never afford to forget. I believe in the Monroe Doctrine with all my heart and soul; I am convinced that the immense majority of our fellow countrymen so believe in it; but I would infinitely prefer to see us abandon it than to see us put it forward and bluster about it, and yet fail to build up the efficient fighting strength which in the last resort can alone make it respected by any strong foreign power whose interest it may ever happen to be to violate it.

Boasting and blustering are as objectionable among nations as among individuals, and the public men of a great nation owe it to their sense of national self-respect to speak courteously of foreign powers, just as a brave and self-respecting man treats all around him courteously. But though to boast is bad, and causelessly to insult another, worse; yet worse than all is it to be guilty of boasting, even without insult, and when called to the proof to be unable to make such boasting good. There is a homely old adage which runs: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American Nation will speak softly, and yet build, and keep at a


pitch of the highest training. & thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far. I ask you to think over this. If you do, you will come to the conclusion that it is mere plain common sense, so obviously sound that only the blind can fail to see its truth and only the weakest and most irresolute can fail to desire to put it into force 1

I We want the friendship of mankind. We want to get on well with the other nations of mankind, with the small nations and with the big nations. We want so to carry ourselves that if (which I think most unlikely) any quarrel should arise, it would be evident that it was not a quarrel of our own seeking, but one that was forced on us. If it is forced on us, I know you too well not to know that you will stand up to it if the need comes; but you will stand up to it all the better if you have not blustered or spoken ill of other nations in advance. We want friendship, we want peace. We wish well to the nations of mankind. We look with joy at any prosperity of theirs; we wish them success, not failure. We rejoice as mankind moves forward over the whole earth. Each nation has its own difficulties. We have difficulties enough at home. Let us improve ourselves, lifting what needs to be lifted here, and let others do their own; let us attend to our own, keep our own hearthstone swept and in order. Do not shirk any duty; do not shirk any difficulty that is forced upon us, but do not invite it by foolish language. Do not assume a quarrelsome and unpleasant attitude toward other

1 Address at Chicago, Illinois, April 2, 1903.


people. Let the friendly expressions of foreign powers be accepted as tokens of their sincere good-will, and reflecting their real sentiments; and let us avoid any language on our part which might tend to turn their good-will into ill-will. All that is mere common sense; the kind of common sense that we apply in our own lives, man to man, neighbor to neighbor; and remember that substantially what is true among nations, is true on a small scale among ourselves. The man who is a weakling, who is a coward, we all despise, and we ought to despise him. If a man cannot do his own work and take his own part, he does not count; and I have no patience with those who would have the United States unable to take its own part, to do its work in the world. But remember that a loose tongue is just as unfortunate an accompaniment for a nation as for an individual. The man who talks ill of his neighbors, the man who invites trouble for himself and them, is a nuisance. The stronger, the more self-confident the nation is, the more carefully it should guard its speech as well as its action, and should make it a point, in the interest of its own self-respect, to see that it does not say what it cannot make good, that it avoids giving needless offense, that it shows genuinely and sincerely its desire for friendship with the rest of mankind, but that it keeps itself in shape to make its weight felt should the need arise.

That is in substance my theory of what our foreign policy should be. Let us not boast, not insult any one, but make up our minds coolly what it is necessary to say, say it, and then stand to it, whatever the consequences


may be. 1

1 Address at Waukesha, Wisconsin, April 3, 1903.

MI THERE are certain elementary facts to be grasped by this people before we can have any [foreign] policy at all. The first fact is a thorough understanding of that hoary falsehood which declares that it takes two to make a quarrel. It did not take two nations to make the quarrel that resulted in Germany trampling Belgium into the mire. It is no more true that it takes two to make a quarrel in international matters than it is to make the same assertion about a highwayman who holds up a passer-by or a black-hander who kidnaps a child. The people who do not make quarrels, who are not offensive, who give no cause for anger, are those who ordinarily furnish the victims of highwaymen, black-handers and white-slavers. Criminals always attack the helpless if possible. In exactly similar fashion aggressive and militarist nations attack weak nations where it is possible. Weakness always invites attack. Preparedness usually, but not always, averts it.


IV The policy of milk and water is an even worse policy than the policy of blood and iron.

The advocates of world-wide peace, like all reformers, should bear in mind Josh Billings's astute remark that

1 This and the following section are from Fear God and Take Your Own Part. Copyright, 1916. George H. Doran Company, publishers.

« PreviousContinue »