John Wesley Hill.

Democracy versus autocracy, and other patriotic addresses : delivered in New York city, July 4, 1917 (Volume copy 1) online

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challenge, "I am in earnest; I will not equivocate; I will not excuse;
I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard!"

The South relied upon the bond, a barbarous clause that stained,
disfigured and defiled the federal pact, and made the monstrous claim
that slavery was the nation's ward.

The spot of shame grew red in Northern cheeks, and Northern
men declared that slavery had poisoned, cursed, and blighted soul and
soil enough, and that the territories must be free.

The Radicals of the South cried, "No Union without slavery."

The Puritans of the North responded, "No Union without liberty."

Upon the great issue of free homes for free men, a President
was elected by the free states, a man six feet four inches tall, of
serious aspect yet an air of command, inspired by a divine call as
direct as that which Moses heard from the burning bush, and Providen-


tially equipped for the great emergency, — Abraham Lincoln, the "Rail
splitter of Illinois."

He spoke to the sea, and its waves were crowned with an invincible
navy. He called for volunteers, and hundreds of thousands of brave
men sprang from the couch of ease and marched away beneath the
Stars and Stripes, keeping step to the grand, wild music of war,
resolved that this government "of the people, by the people and for
the people, should not perish from the face of the earth."

For the preservation of the Union, for the overthrow of slavery,
for the triumph of justice, these soldiers, disheartened by no danger,
discouraged by no difficulty, appalled by no defeat, never paused nor
swerved until they had marched from Paducah to Appomattox, thread-
ing every river and stream, climbing every hill and mountain, seizing
every harbor and inlet, sinking every gunboat and ironclad, con-
quering every legion and army, capturing every officer and soldier,
utterly annihilating the Southern Confederacy, and returning home with
a fag a thousand times more beautiful for its baptism in blood.

Another evidence we find of the permanency of the Republic, in
the maintenance of our national integrity and honor in the midst of
the third epoch through which we have passed, viz., the Spanish-
American War, resulting in the expansion of American commerce and

We are too near the scenes of this last struggle to fully and
finally interpret that intervention of providence by which it was pre-

We were in the midst of peace and plenty, — when suddenly the
wheel of industry was reversed, and we found ourselves in the midst
of a bloody war, a war forced upon us by circumstances which we were
unable to control, a war for humanity and the nation's honor.

Within less than one hundred days we drove Spanish despotism
from this Western Hemisphere, lifted the struggling people of Cuba
up to the level of liberty and nationality, emancipated the Filipinos
from the thralldom of despotic lust and cruelty, and planted the
Stars and Stripes in the mid-Pacific, as an object lesson in trium-
phant democracy, never to fade from the vision of the teeming mil-
lions of the far East.

Surely, these immortal achievements, together with countless other
signs of promise, should strengthen our faith in the durability of the
Republic, and our determination to defend it against all its foes.

And now we are engaged in another struggle which already marks
a new epoch in our national history. The struggle in which we are
today engaged, is cumulous, representing all the principles for which
we have fought in the past. It is the Wars of the Revolution,

1812, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War hammered into
one, re-enacted and ref ought upon a world-wide scale. We are en-
gaged in a struggle for Liberty and Justice — for the freedom of the
seas — the protection of American citizens at home and abroad, the
integrity of treaty compacts, the stability of international law and
morality, the defense of humanity and the spread of democracy.


That we are to win in this conflict no one can deny who believes
that right makes might. True the struggle is desperate. Savagery,
armed with modern scientific implements is challenging humanity and
civilization. Every device born of the spirit of cruelty and murder,
has been invoked. Military aristocracy is arrayed against Democracy
and the most cherished and sacred ideals and institutions of humanity
are in jeopardy. The entrance of our nation into the struggle was
through necessity rather than choice. We had stood aloof, clinging
to our shores, absorbed in our domestic affairs, praying that we might
escape the horrible catastrophe. The moment came, however, when self-
respect, national dignity, devotion to humanity and the sanctity of
our flag required our enlistment in this crucial struggle for the
preservation of liberty and human rights throughout the world.

And today we are engaged in this struggle. What the immediate
future holds in its mysterious keeping, we cannot fathom; but we do
know, that as we have triumphed in the past, as we have cleared the
way for human progress towards the promised land of freedom, as we
have stood among the nations as the lantern-bearer of Democracy, so
today in our devotion to these sacred principles we must triumph!
It is the doctrine of Lowell:

"Truth forever on the scaffold
Wrong forever on the throne;
But that scaffold sways the future
And behind the dark unknown
Standeth God amidst the shadows
Keeping guard above his own."


George Washington Headquarters, Jumel Mansion,
3:30 P. M.:

Ladies and Gentlemen: The stability of modern civilization rests
upon the integrity of contracts between individuals and nations. Peace
has been maintained among the English speaking nations for one
hundred years because they bound themselves by the treaty of Ghent
to keep the peace.

Here in this Western Hemisphere along a boundary line of three
thousand miles, tranquility has been maintained between Canada and
the United States, without fortifications or ships or armies or guns.
There have been occasions when the bond of friendship was severely
strained. The controversies of the Northeastern Boundary, the Ore-
gon Boundary and the Alaska Boundary were acute. The affair of
the Caroline on the Niagara River, the Fenian raid upon Lake Champ-
lain and the enforcement of the fisheries regions were trying and
serious but upon neither side of the boundary, neither sinister designs
nor territorial aggrandizement were harbored. The purpose of
each was merely to defend its own rights and the controveries were


ultimately settled by arbitration. Botb sides respected tbe integrity
of treaties and were bound by tbe compact into wbicb tbey had entered
to maintain tbe peace.

Years ago tbe representatives of Germany, tbe United States,
England, France and otber nations entered into a treaty, guaranteeing
the integrity of Belgium. Tbat treaty was regarded as sacred by tbe
civilized world. In August 1914 tbe civilized world was horrified to
learn tbat Germany bad ruthlessly violated that treaty, characterizing
it as a "scrap of paper."

In that act of repudiation Germany served notice upon the world
that her word was worthless. In the violation of that treaty Germany
plunged into moral bankruptcy and today Germany is execrated and
outlawed by civilization.

Why, my friends, if an international pledge is to be violated
at the caprice of a greedy and lawless nation, what guarantee can
there be for the peace and safety of the world? When Germany
violated the neutrality of Belgium, ours should have been the first
nation to protest for the reason that the United States was born in
the very concept of law. The American Revolution stands in striking
contrast with the bloody revolution which came a little later, the
French Revolution. Our Revolution was not ushered in with high-
sounding phrases but simply to enforce our rights under the law. That
was all that was demanded. Washington, at whose headquarters here
in New York, during the American Revolution, we are now assembled,
led in that Revolution because he declared that our rights under the
British constitution had been violated. Tbe French Revolution

stands in striking contrast with this. It was ushered in under the
battle cry of "Liberty, equality and fraternity." It faded in a short
time to the adulation of a memory and then disappeared at the Battle
of Waterloo, while the American Revolution proclaimed in the name of
law and legal rights arose higher and higher until it sounded the
keynote of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Now, I think you know and the world knows that no treaty can
be sacred so long as its execution depends upon the honor and hon-
esty of autocracy. Autocracy rests upon force; democracy rests upon
law. Respect for law is the spirit of democracy and for the reason
that in a democracy the law is an expression of tbe will of the people.
There is therefore, this essential distinction between the two forms of
government, namely, that while the government of an autocracy as-
sumes superiority to law and the right to violate any legal or moral
obligation which may interfere with its selfish interest, the government
of a democracy is subject to the law for the reason that democracy
rests upon law and depends upon law for its perpetuity.

Thus, while a democracy preserves itself through the exercise of
these qualities, it is better adapted to apply the same methods in the
conduct of its international affairs and the result is an ever increasing
certainty that international law will be observed as the foundation of
international order and civilization. This characteristic of democracy
leaves no option in its attitude toward autocracy. The two types of
government cannot live permanently side by side. So long as there


is an autocracy anywhere in the world democracy is not safe from the
attacks which are sure to come from time to time, not as the re-
sult of international misunderstandings — questions which might be
settled by arbitration, — but as the result of the spirit of rapacity
and aggression which constitutes the very soul of autocracy. To be
safe, democracy must destroy autocracy whenever and wherever it can.
The world cannot be half democratic and half autocratic. It must be
all democratic or all autocratic. There can be no compromise. If
autocratic, there can be no international law, no treaty integrity; if
democratic, national law will be observed and peace will be enthroned.
The democracies of the world are arrayed today against the last
stronghold of autocracy and are engaged in the conflict imposed upon
them by policies advanced by ambitious rulers under claim of divine
right, for their own aggrandizement without regard to law or order or
justice. The issue may seem uncertain but the end is not. Autocracy
is doomed; beyond its destruction arises the dream of universal peace,
a peace rooted in righteousness and crowned with justice, a peace
which will be guaranteed by an international tribunal, where national
controversies will find judicial settlement and the principles of law
will be applied to world problems and international treaties
will bind in peace and brotherhood all the nations of mankind'!

Such a struggle as this, may well inspire the heart and hope of
humanity. Today, it entails infinite cost. Tomorrow, mankind will par-
take of the fruit of the great sacrifice and unborn generations will re-
joice in the sacred heritage we hand down to them.


IshamPark, 5 P. M.:

My Friends: I am happy to appear on this program this after-
noon with Borough President Marks. He has been telling me of the
patriotic and progressive spirit of the people in this part of greater
New York and as I look into your faces I see that your virtues have
not been overdrawn.

The careful preparation which you have made for this patriotic
meeting and these beautiful and impressive decorations, together with
the spirit of enthusiasm which is everywhere apparent, stamps you as
worthy of all that President Marks has said and I congratulate my-
self upon the opportunity of addressing you. And right here in the
beginning of what I may have to say I desire to pay tribute to the
integrity and efficiency of the administration of the Borough President
of New York. Its statistical story reads like the romance of muni-
cipal administration. It is little wonder with such a record of
economy, progress and prosperity that so many people throughout
our city feel and believe that President Marks should be promoted
lo a still higher and more responsible position of public service.

He has spoken to you of patriotism. I know of no man more
qualified to discuss the subject. He exemplifies it, makes it real,
practical and possible. Why, you cannot look into his face nor listen


to his words without feeling the very inspiration of patriotism.
Patriotism is a lichen clinging to its own rock. It grows by the
century defying alike the frost and ice of the frigid zone and the
suns and sands of equatorial deserts. It resists transplanting. The
captive Israelites with their harps hanging upon the willows of Baby-
lon were songless in a strange land. In our own land at the con-
fluence of all the great races, where we have foreign cities only
second in size to the great foreign capitals, we are under special need
to cultivate the virtue of patriotism which is the religion of the soil.
The religion of the soil is the handmaid of the religion of the soul.
It is true that a man may have patriotism and not have religion, but
it is hard to see how he can have religion and not have patriotism.

Thus it is important in our republic that religion and patriotism
should grow side by side. Patriotism can be maintained by a country
only when its fires are kindled from the altars of religion. Under-
stand, I am not speaking of sectarianism. Religion is basic. Sec-
tarianism is secondary. Righteous war is possible only when the
principles involved spring from the consciousness of accountability to
Almighty God.

The conscience of the people must be enlisted before their
patriotism reaches white heat. War cannot be ordained and maintained
on a mere financial issue. It defeats itself. It costs more than it
comes to. It consumes its own motive. Only the conscience of the
people can maintain the public spirit up to the fighting point. Con-
science has to do with morality. Morality is at the foundation of good
government. This opens the field of ideas and ideals. Patriotism
cannot be measured in square miles. National solidarity and democracy
are things to be measured in terms of the spirit, not in terms of trade
and superficial area. Patriotism means more than glorified geography,
more than majestic mountains and fertile fields and inexhaustible mines.
It is not visible but invisible. It means more than anything that
can be said about it. Indeed, it means more than the flag. It is
the quickening spirit of the flag. One may salute the flag without
feeling the thrill of patriotism. He may be able to quote the Dec-
laration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States
and still know nothing of the quickening spirit of those immortal
documents. Some people only see the material — the lower side of
things. They are like the old farmer who visited Niagara Falls and
after gazing a few moments upon that mighty waterfall exclaimed, "My,
my, what a place to wash sheep." That is the lower plane and I fear
that some of us have moved but little higher in the appreciation of our
national heritage. "My, my what a place to make money," voices
the ruling passion of not a few. "How much is there in it," has stifled
our national conscience and substituted the eagle eye of greed for the
vision of duty!

We have become so occupied with prosperity that we have for-
gotten the debtorship of prosperity. With God quality is more than
quantity. It is not a thing of size but of fitness. Power is but
another word for responsibility. We have gathered power and wield-
ed it to our material aggrandizement but we have forgotten the ne-


cessity of exercising power over power or in other words the right
use of power.

Patriotism means sacrifice. It is the still small voice of fidelity
to duty, service to humanity. It is a great thing to have our hearts
and minds expanded but they should be expanded along large and
generous lines.

We have entered upon a new era, the era of world democracy.
This is the true goal of internationalism. Yesterday we could not
quite see where we were going. We were a little doubtful as to our
next step. We took refuge in the adage that "God takes care of
idiots, infants, drunkards and the United States."

But, my friends, the day of trusting to luck, of muddling along
without chart or compass or guiding star has passed. The time
has arrived when we must formulate our national purpose, think out
great policies for human uplift and betterment, for the spread of
liberty and justice among the nations, and, having thought these
policies out and developed a program, we must adhere to that pro-
gram. In other words, the time has come when, as a full grown nation,
we must abandon the dreams of childhood and put our faith in policies
which represent the best that we are able to do, — for ourselves and the
world. To accomplish this we must breathe the spirit of patriotism.
Events adhere to this. Mankind instinctively honors the Greek mother
who gave her son a short sword saying, "If it is short take a step
forward"; also that other Greek mother who gave her son a shield
saying, "Return with it or upon it."

In service to humanity every path leads upward. This is the
secret of the uplift of democracy. The genius of our liberties, like
the sun, shines upon the mountain-side and in the lowly valley. It
warms and quickens the oak on yonder crag and cheers the
tiniest flower down in the vale. This genius inspires patriotism.

It calls for heroes and heroism. It cannot be deceived by cheap
models. It can transform a surveyor into a Washington, a rail-splitter
into a Lincoln, a tanner into a Grant, a mule-driver into a Garfield,
an humble lawyer into a McKinley and a scbool-teacher into a Wilson,
— the humblest citizen into a patriot.

Surveying these wondrous transformations she says, "Look, see
what I can do ! I have made these out of the common clay of hu-
manity, — richer treasures than can be found among the crown jewels
of all the courts and palaces of the world. It is this uplifting power
of liberty quickened with the spirit of patriotism, which is transforming
our Republic today from an isolated, self-centered, fortune-building
nation into a great humane, compassionate, inspiring defender and
preserver of democracy throughout the world.

This is the transformation which Ave are now undergoing, the new
and higher era upon which we have entered and as we contemplate the
destiny which it presents, there comes to us an enlarged vision of
our responsibility among the nations of the earth and guided by the
inner light of patriotism, we move forward to the "mark of our high
calling" rejoicing that providence has called and patriotism points the
way to such a glorious immortality.



City Hall, 8 P.M.:

At the Battle of Marathon, the Athenians outnumbered ten to
one by the Persians, achieved a memorable victory and the salvation of
their country, because, as the fable runs, the spirits of Castor and
Polieux, their national heroes, led the Grecian charge.

The annals of every people are full of instances showing how the
inspiration of the heroic dead has stirred the hearts of patriots to noble
and triumphant action.

It has remained for America to produce a figure which embodying
the typical characteristics of our democracy, makes appeal to the
sympathies and the aspirations of all mankind, wherever and whenever
engaged in the struggles of liberty against despotism.

In a very true sense, and it is perhaps the most striking fact in the
entire history of the present war, the cause of the Allies finds its
deepest inspiration in the character, the principles, the convictions, the
utterance and the achievements of Abraham Lincoln.

Lloyd George, the foremost English statesman of the day, finds
the most perfect expression of the soul of the present contest for the
enfranchisement of Europe in the words of our backwoods President,
which he quotes as the justification of the Entente policy.

In the opening paragraph of his innaugural address as Premier, he
says : "I would like to quote the well-known words of Abraham Lincoln,
'We accepted the war for an object, a worthy object, the war will end
when that object has been attained. Under God I hope it will never end
until that time.' "

Those were the words uttered by Lincoln at the height of our
own Civil War, and those are the words which are ringing out today
over the world-wide battlefields of the present incomparable struggle,
sounding the death knell of tyranny and ushering in the reign of liberty.

It is noteworthy that the great Premier in making this quotation
did not speak of "Lincoln, the American." Lincoln has outgrown the
boundaries of nationality and towers as a world figure, standing in the
forefront of a world crisis, his words full of world wisdom.

When the eyes of the immortal emancipator closed in death, Stan-
ton, his Great War Secretary, exclaimed, "Now he belongs to the ages"
which was but another way of declaring, "Now he belongs to humanity,
because he is the enshrined reality of democracy."

And today the nations enlisted in the grim and final struggle
against autocracy find their sustaining inspiration in the spiritual
leadership of Abraham Lincoln.

France, who copied our institutions in 1790; England, who has
enfranchised her subjects ; China, who arose against the Manchurian
Dynasty and built a Republic moulded on the Constitution of the
United States, gladly acclaim the democracy of Lincoln; while in the
midst of the successful strivings of Russian democracy, up from the


night of centuries of oppression, the bright guiding star which il-
lumines its pathway and glorifies its goal, has been the deeds and
political creed of Abraham Lincoln.

And, my fellow citizens, it is the spirit of Lincoln which leads the
United States today in the holy crusade of freedom in which we have
enlisted, and Sir, it will be the "Spirit of Lincoln in Arms" that will
lead the allied hosts to a glorious and final victory over the foes of

And if you would know the secret of this invisible leadership; if
you would find the only explanation behind this new and thrilling up-
rising among our own people for the protection of humanity, I have
but to refer you to the two-minute address that Lincoln delivered at
Gettysburg, which today belongs to the world.

You remember those immortal words: "The world will little note
nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what was
done here." And then he went on to express the hope that out of the
blood of those who had given their lives for their country, "this nation
might have a new birth of freedom" concluding with those words which
President Wilson has already quoted and which every speaker every-
where during this war will quote. You remember them: "That gov-
ernment of the people, by the people and for the people shall not
perish from the earth."

Ah! If Lincoln were here today — and I believe he is.

Somehow I seem to see his serene spirit looking down upon us
from the summit of these American centuries, and thus looking and
listening, he hears that prayer which he offered at Gettysburg now
trembling upon the lips of all the liberty loving nations of the
world, the prayer for a "new birth of freedom", and "that government
of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from
the earth."

In the light of that prayer, my friends, it is not difficult to un-
derstand the meaning of this war, nor is it difficult to understand why
we have enlisted in it.

It is a war for the fulfillment of that prayer for a new birth of
freedom, not only for our own land, but for all the nations of the
earth — the allied nations, the neutral nations, yes, and even for Germany
itself. Let us hope that this war will not cease until that prayer is


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Online LibraryJohn Wesley HillDemocracy versus autocracy, and other patriotic addresses : delivered in New York city, July 4, 1917 (Volume copy 1) → online text (page 3 of 4)