Page images

universal peace to be obtained by the prattle of weaklings and the outpourings of amiable enthusiasts who lacked the fighting edge. About 1850, for instance, the first large peace congress was held. There were numbers of kindly people who felt that this congress, and the contemporary international exposition, also the first of its kind, heralded the beginning of a régime of universal peace. As a matter of fact, there followed twenty years during which a number of great and bloody wars took place - wars far surpassing in extent, in duration, in loss of life and property, and in importance anything that had been seen since the close of the Napoleonic contest.

Then there came another period of nearly thirty years during which there were relatively only a few wars, and these not of the highest importance. Again upright and intelligent but uninformed men began to be misled by foolish men into the belief that world peace was about to be secured, on a basis of amiable fatuity all around and under the lead of the preachers of the diluted mush of make-believe morality. A number of peace congresses, none of which accomplished anything, were held, and also certain Hague conferences, which did accomplish a certain small amount of real good but of a strictly lim. ited kind. It was well worth going into these Hague conferences, but only on condition of clearly understanding how strictly limited was the good that they accomplished. The hysterical people who treated them as furnishing a patent peace panacea did nothing but harm, and partially offset the real but limited good the conferences actually accomplished. Indeed, the conferences undoubtedly did a certain amount of damage because of the preposterous expectations they excited among wellmeaning but ill-informed and unthinking persons. These persons really believed that it was possible to achieve the millennium by means that would not have been every effective in preserving peace among the active boys of a large Sunday-school- let alone grown-up men in the world as it actually is. A pathetic commentary on their attitude is furnished by the fact that the fifteen years that have elapsed since the first Hague conference have seen an immense increase of war, culminating in the present war, waged by armies, and with bloodshed, on a scale far vaster than ever before in the history of mankind.

All these facts furnish no excuse whatever for our failing to work zealously for peace, but they absolutely require us to understand that it is noxious to work for a peace not based on righteousness, and useless to work for a peace based on righteousness unless we put force back of righteousness. At present this means that adequate preparedmess against war offers to our Nation its sole guarantee against wrong and aggression.

Emerson has said that in the long run the most uncomfortable truth is a safer traveling companion than the most agreeable falsehood. The advocates of peace will accomplish nothing except mischief until they are willing to look facts squarely in the face.



It is with peculiar pleasure that I stand here to-day to express the deep appreciation I feel of the high honor conferred upon me by the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize. The gold medal which formed part of the prize I shall always keep, and I shall hand it on to my children as a precious heirloom. The sum of money provided as part of the prize by the wise generosity of the illustrious founder of this world-famous prize system, I did not, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, feel at liberty to keep. I think it eminently just and proper that in most cases the recipient of the prize should keep for his own use the prize in its entirety. But in this case, while I did not act officially as President of the United States, it was nevertheless only because I was President that I was enabled to act at all; and I felt that the money must be considered as having been given me in trust for the United States. I therefore used it as a nucleus for a foundation to forward the cause of industrial peace, as being well within the general purpose of your Committee; for in our complex industrial civilization of to-day the peace of righteousness and justice, the only kind of peace worth having, is at least as necessary in the industrial world as it is among nations. There is at least as much need to curb the cruel greed and arrogance of part of the world of capital, to curb the cruel greed and violence of part of the world of labor, as to check a cruel and unhealthy militarism in international relationships.

We must ever bear in mind that the great end in view is righteousness, justice as between man and man, nation and nation, the chance to lead our lives on a somewhat higher level, with a broader spirit of brotherly good will one for another. Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy. We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.


Moreover, and above all, let us remember that words count only when they give expression to deeds or are to be translated into them. The leaders of the Red Terror prattled of peace while they steeped their hands in the blood of the innocent; and many a tyrant has called it peace when he has scourged honest protest into silence. Our words must be judged by our deeds; and in striving for a lofty ideal we must use practical methods; and if we cannot attain all at one leap, we must advance towards it step by step, reasonably content so long as we do actually make some progress in the right direction.

Now, having freely admitted the limitations to our work, and the qualifications to be borne in mind, I feel that I have the right to have my words taken seriously when I point out where, in my judgment, great advance can be made in the cause of international peace. I speak as a practical man, and whatever I now advocate I actually tried to do when I was for the time being the head of a great nation, and keenly jealous of its honor and interest. I ask other nations to do only what I should be glad to see my own nation do.

The advance can be made along several lines. First of all there can be treaties of arbitration. There are, of course, states so backward that a civilized community ought not to enter into an arbitration treaty with them, at least until we have gone much further than at present in securing some kind of international police action. But all really civilized communities should have effective arbitration treaties among themselves. I believe that these treaties can cover almost all questions liable to arise between such nations, if they are drawn with the explicit agreement that each contracting party will respect the other's territory and its absolute sovereignty within that territory, and the equally explicit agreement that (aside from the very rare cases where the nation's honor is vitally concerned) all other possible subjects of controversy will be submitted to arbitration. Such a treaty would insure peace unless one party deliberately violated it. Of course, as yet there is no adequate safeguard against such deliberate violation, but the establishment of a sufficient number of these treaties would go a long way towards creating a world opinion which would finally find expression in the provision of methods to forbid or punish any such violation.

Secondly, there is the further development of the Hague Tribunal, of the work of the conferences and courts at The Hague. It has been well said that the first Hague Conference framed a Magna Charta for the nations; it set before us an ideal which has already to some extent been realized, and towards the full realization of which we can all steadily strive. The second Conferen made further progress; the third should do yet more. Meanwhile the American Government has more than

« PreviousContinue »