Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

National ideals and problems; essays for college English online

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is clear and the question is settled. The verdict of history is
already given in these negotiations. There was a dispute, a
somewhat artificial dispute, which could easily have been settled
by a little reasonableness on the part of the two principals. If
that failed, there was the mediation of friends, there was a con-
ference of the disinterested nations there was appeal to the
concert of Europe. There was the arbitration of The Hague
an arbitration to which Serbia appealed on the very first day
and to which the Czar appealed again on the very last. All
Europe wanted peace and fair settlement. The governments of
the two Central Powers refused it. Every sort of settlement was
overridden. You will all remember that, when every settlement
that we could propose had been shoved aside, one after another,
Sir Edward Grey made an appeal to Germany to make any
proposal herself any reasonable proposal and we bound our-
selves to accept it, to accept it even at the cost of deserting our
associates. No such proposal was made. All Europe wanted
peace and fair dealing except one Power, or one pair of Powers,
if you so call it, who were confident, not in the justice of their
cause, but in the overpowering strength of their war machine.


As the semi-official newspaper said: "Germany does not enter
conferences in which she is likely to be in a minority." By fair
dealing they might have got their rights or a little more than their
rights. By war they expected to get something like the suprem-
acy of Europe. In peace, with their neighbors reasonable, in
no pressing danger, Germany deliberately preferred war to fair
settlement; and thereby, in my judgment, Germany committed
the primal and fundamental sin against the brotherhood of man-
kind. Of course, ah 1 great historical events have complicated
causes, but on that fact almost alone I should base the justice
and the necessity of our cause in this war. Other objects have
been suggested; that we are fighting lest Europe should be
subject to the hegemony of Germany. If Germany naturally,
by legitimate means, grows to be the most influential power,
there is no reason for anyone to fight her. It is said we are fight-
ing for democracy against autocratic government. I prefer
democracy myself, but one form of government has no right to
declare war because it dislikes another form. It is suggested that
we are fighting to prevent the break-up of the Empire. In that
case, from motives of loyalty, of course we should have to fight,
and I think the break-up of the Empire would be a great dis-
aster to the world. But not for any causes of that description
would I use the phrase I have used, or say that in this war we
were undergoing a martyrdom. I do use it deliberately now, for
I believe no greater evil could occur than that mankind should
submit, or should agree to submit, to the rule of naked force.

Now I would ask again those who are following me, as I
say, with patience, but I have no doubt with difficulty, to re-
member that this situation, in spite of particular details, is,
on the whole, an old story. The Greeks knew all about it when
they used the word "Hubris" that pride engendered by too
much success which leads to every crime. Many nations, after
a career of extraordinary success, have become mad or drunk
with ambition. "By that sin fell the angels." They were not so
wicked to start with but afterward they became devils. We
should never have said a word against the Germans before this
madness entered into them. We liked them. Most of Europe


rather liked and admired them. But, as I said, it is the old story.
There have been tyrants. Tyrants are common things in history.
Bloody aggression is a common thing in history in its darker
periods. But nearly always where there have been tyrants and
aggressors there have been men and peoples ready to stand up
and suffer and to die rather than submit to the tyrant; the voice
of history speaks pretty clearly about these issues, and it says
that the men who resisted were right. So that, ladies and gentle-
men, as, with our eyes open, we entered into this struggle, I say,
with our eyes open, we must go on with it. We must go on with it
a united nation, trusting our leaders, obeying our rulers, minding
each man his own business, ref using for an instant to lend an ear to
the agitated whispers of faction or of hysteria. It may be that
we shall have to traverse it until the cause of humanity is won.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, that being the cause, we are
girt up in this war to the performance of a great duty; and there
are many things in it which, evil as they are, can in some way be
turned to good. It lies with us to do our best so to turn them.

If we take the old analogy from biology we are a community,
a pack, a herd, a flock. We have realized our unity. We are one.
I think most of us feel that our lives are not our own; they be-
long to England. France has gone through the same process to
an even greater degree. Mr. Kipling, who used certainly to be
no special lover of France, has told us that there "the men are
wrought to an edge of steel, and the women are a line of fire
behind them." Our divisions before the war it is a disgrace to
think of. They were so great that the enemy calculated upon
them, and judged that we should not be able to fight. These
divisions have not been killed as we hoped; the remnants of
them are still living. I cannot bear to speak of them. Let us
think as little as possible about them, and lend no ear, no patience
to the people who try to make them persist. As for the division
of class and class, I think there, at least, we have made a great
gain. I would ask you to put to yourselves this test. Remember
how before the war the ordinary workman spoke of his employer
and the employer of his workmen, and think now how the aver-
age soldier speaks of his officer and how the officer speaks of his


men. The change is almost immeasurable. Inside the country
we have gained that unity; outside, in our relations with foreign
countries, we have also made a great gain. Remember, we have
allies now, more allies, and far closer allies than we have ever
had. We have learned to respect and to understand other nations.
You cannot read those diplomatic documents of which I spoke
without feeling respect for both the French and Russian diplo-
matists for their steadiness, their extreme reasonableness, their
entire loyalty, and, as you study them, you are amused to see
the little differences of national character all working to one end.
Since the war has come on we have learned to admire other
nations. There is no man in England who will ever again in his
heart dare to speak slightingly or with contempt of Belgium or
Serbia. It is something that we have had our hearts opened;
that we, who were rather an insular people, welcome other
nations as friends and comrades. Nay, more, we made these
alliances originally about a special principle on which I would like
to say a sentence or two. That is the principle of entente, or
cordial understanding, which is specially connected with the
name of our present Foreign Secretary, and, to a slighter extent,
with that of his predecessor. The principle of entente has been
explained by Sir Edward Grey several times, but I take two
phrases of his own particularly. It began because he found that
all experience had shown that any two great empires who were
touching each other, whose interests rubbed one against another
frequently in different parts of the world, had no middle course
open to them between continual liability to friction and cordial
friendship. He succeeded in establishing that relation of per-
fect frankness and mutual friendship with the two great empires
with whom our interests were always rubbing. Instead of fric-
tion, instead of suspicion and intrigue, we established with our
two old rivals a permanent habit of fair dealing, frankness and
good will. The second great principle of entente was this, that
there is nothing exclusive in these friendships. We began it
with France, we continued it with Russia, we achieved it in
reality, although not in actual diplomatic name, with the
United States, and practically also with Italy, and anyone who


has read the diplomatic history will see the effort upon effort
we made to establish it with our present enemies. I think we
have here some real basis for a sort of Alliance of Europe that
sort of better concert for which we all hope. One cannot guess
details. It is very likely indeed that at the beginning Germany
will stay outside and will refuse to come into our kind of concert.
If so we must "take our enemies as we find them." The fact of
there being an enemy outside will very likely make us inside hold
together all the better for the first few years. When we are once
thoroughly in harness, and most nations have the practice of
habitually trusting one another and never intriguing against one
another, then, no doubt, the others will come in.

Now I spoke at the beginning about the possible dangers
of reaction, but there is a very good side also in the reaction.
Part of it is right. It is a reaction against superficial things,
superficial ways of feeling, and perhaps also superficial ways of
thought. We have gone back in our daily experience to deeper
and more primitive things. There has been a deepening of the
quality of our ordinary life. We are called upon to take up a
greater duty than ever before. We have to face more peril; we
have to endure greater suffering; death itself has come close to
us. It is intimate in the thoughts of every one of us, and it
has taught us in some way to love one another. For the first tune
for many centuries this "unhappy but not inglorious generation,"
as it has been called, is living and moving daily, waking and
sleeping, in the habitual presence of ultimate and tremendous
things. We are living now in a great age.

A thing which has struck me, and I have spoken of it else-
where, is the way in which the language of romance and melo-
drama has now become true. It is becoming the language of our
normal life. The old phrase about "dying for freedom," about
"death being better than dishonor" phrases that we thought
were fitted for the stage or for children's stories, are now the
ordinary truths on which we live. A phrase which happened to
strike me was recorded of a Canadian soldier who went down, I
think hi the Arabic, after saving several people; before he sank
he turned and said, "I have served my King and country and this


is my end." It was the natural way of expressing the plain fact.
I read yesterday a letter from a soldier at the front about the
death of one of his fellow-soldiers, and the letter ended quite
simply: "After all he has done what we all want to do die for
England." The man who wrote it has since then had his wish.
Or, again, if one wants a phrase to live by, which would a few
years ago have seemed somewhat unreal, or "high falutin'," he
can take those words that are now in everybody's mind: "I
see now that patriotism is not enough I must die without hatred
or bitterness toward anyone."

Romance and melodrama were a memory, broken fragments
living on of heroic ages of the past. We live no longer upon
fragments and memories; we ourselves have entered upon a
heroic age. As for me, personally, there is one thought that is
always with me, as it is with us all, I expect the thought that
other men are dying for me, better men, younger, with more
hope in their lives, many of them men whom I have taught and
loved. I hope you will allow me to say, and will not be in any
way offended by the thought I want to express to you. Some of
you wUl be orthodox Christians and will be familiar with that
thought of One who loved you dying for you. I would like to say
that now I seem to be familiar with the feeling that something
innocent, something great, something that loves me has died, and
is dying daily, for me. That is the sort of community that we are
now a community in which one man dies for his brother and
underneath all our hatreds, all our little angers and quarrels,
we are brothers who are ready to seal our brotherhood with
blood. It is for us that these men are dying, for us, the women,
the old men, and the rejected men, and to preserve the civiliza-
tion and the common life which we are keeping alive and reshap-
ing toward wisdom or unwisdom, toward unity or discord. Well,
ladies and gentlemen, let us be worthy of these men; let us be
ready, each one, with our sacrifice when it is asked. Let us try,
as citizens, to live a life which shall not be a mockery to the faith
these men have placed hi us. Let us build up an England for
which these men, lying in their scattered graves over the face of
the green world, would have been proud to die.




[William Howard Taft (1857 ), twenty-seventh President of the

United States, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating from Yale
University, he entered upon the practice of law in his native city, rising
steadily into positions of public trust and usefulness. Among the most nota-
ble of these were judge of the Sixth United States District, the first civil
governor of the Philippine Islands, secretary of war in the cabinet of President
Roosevelt. In November, 1908, he was elected to the Presidency, and was
renominated at the close of his term. He was, however, defeated by Woodrow
Wilson, and has been, since 1913, Kent professor of law in Yale University.
He has always taken a great interest in the questions of arbitration and world-
wide peace. This selection gives an account of one of the most widely dis-
cussed schemes for reducing the probability of war as much as possible.]

This is an assembly of those who direct the forming of char-
acter of the youth of the country and who, because of their in-
telligence and attention to the issues of the day and their stand-
ing in the community, exercise a substantial influence in fram-
ing and making effective the popular will. This meeting, there-
fore, gives an exceptional opportunity to spread to the four
corners of the United States the consideration of a constructive
plan for national and human betterment. I seize this chance to
bring before you the program of an association already organ-
ized and active to promote a league to enforce world peace.

Our program is limited to the establishment of such a league
after the present world war shall close. We are deeply interested
in bringing this war to a close, and we would rejoice much in
successful mediation, but, in order to be useful, we limit our
plan to the steps to be taken when peace comes, and to an inter-
national arrangement between the powers after war ceases.

iFrom Proceedings of the National Education Association, 1916.



The league was organized on Bunker Hill Day, a year ago,
in Independence Hall, at Philadelphia. Its program contem-
plates a treaty between the great powers of the world, by which
the signatories agree to be bound to four obligations: the first
is that all questions arising between the members of the league
shall be submitted to a judicial tribunal for hearing and judg-
ment; the second, that all questions which cannot be settled on
principles of law and equity shall be submitted to a council of
conciliation for hearing and a recommendation of compromise;
the third, that if any member of the league commits acts of hos-
tility against another member before the question between
them shall be submitted as provided in the first two articles the
remainder of the members of the league shall jointly use forth-
with their economic and military forces against the member pre-
maturely resorting to war and in favor of the member prema-
turely attacked; the fourth, that congresses between the mem-
bers of the league shall be held from time to time to formulate
and codify rules of international law to govern the relations
between the members of the league, unless some member of the
league shall signify its dissent within a stated period.

1. Considering the fourth clause first, the question arises:
What is international law? It is the body of rules governing the
conduct of the nations of the world toward one another, acqui-
esced in by all nations. It lacks scope and definiteness. It is
found in the writings of international jurists, in treaties, in the
results of arbitration, and in the decisions of those municipal
courts which apply international law, like the Supreme Court of
the United States and courts that sit in prize cases to determine
the rules of international law governing the capture of vessels
in naval warfare. It is obvious that a congress of the league,
with quasi-legislative powers, could greatly add to the efficacy
of international law by enlarging its application and codifying
its rules. It would be greatly in the interest of the world and of
world peace to give to such a code of rules the express sanction
of the family of nations.

2. Coming now to the first proposal, involving the submission
of all questions at issue, of a legal nature, to a permanent inter-


national court, it is sufficient to point out that the proposal is
practical and is justified by precedent. The Supreme Court of
the United States, exercising the jurisdiction conferred on it by
the Constitution, sits as a permanent international tribunal to
decide issues between the states of the Union. The law govern-
ing the settlement of most of the controversies between the
states cannot be determined by reference to the Constitution, to
statutes of Congress, nor to the legislation of the states. Should
Congress in such cases attempt to enact laws, they would be
invalid. The only law which applies is that which applies be-
tween independent governments, to wit, international law. Take
the case of Kansas against Colorado, heard and decided by the
Supreme Court. Kansas complained that Colorado was using
more of the water of the Arkansas River which flowed through
Colorado into Kansas than was equitable, for purposes of irri-
gation. The case was heard by the Supreme Court and decided,
not by a law of Congress, not by the law of Kansas, not by the
law of Colorado, for the law of neither applied. It was decided
by principles of international law.

Many other instances of similar decisions by the Supreme
Court could be cited. But it is said that such a precedent lacks
force here because the states are restrained from going to war
with each other by the power of the National Government.
Admitting that this qualifies the precedent to some extent, we
need go no farther than Canada to find a complete analogy and
a full precedent. There is now sitting, to decide questions of
boundary waters (exactly such questions as were considered in
Kansas versus Colorado), a permanent court, consisting of three
Americans and three Canadians, to settle the principles of inter-
national law that apply to the use of rivers constituting a boun-
dary between the two countries and of rivers crossing the boun-
dary. The fact is that we have got so into the habit of arbitra-
tion with Canada that no reasonable person expects that any
issue arising between us and that country, after a hundred years
of peace, will be settled otherwise than by arbitration. If this
be the case between ourselves and Canada, and England, why
may it not be practicable with every well-established and ordered


government of the great powers? The second Hague conference,
attended by all nations, recommended the establishment of a
permanent international court to decide questions of a legal
nature arising between nations.

3. The second proposal involves the submission to a com-
mission of conciliation of all questions that cannot be settled hi
court on principles of law or equity. There are such questions
which may lead to war, and frequently do, and there are no
legal rules for decision. We have such questions giving rise to
friction in our domestic life. If a lady who owns a lawn permits
children of one neighbor to play upon that lawn and refuses to
admit the children of another neighbor, because she thinks the
latter children are badly trained and will injure her lawn or her
flowers, it requires no imagination to understand that there may
arise a neighborhood issue that will lead to friction between the
families. The issue is, however, a non-justiciable one. Courts
cannot settle it, for the reason that the lady owning the lawn
has the right to say who shall come on it and who shah 1 be ex-
cluded from it. No justiciable issue can arise, unless one's im-
agination goes to the point of supposing that the husbands of
the two differing ladies came together and clashed, and then the
issue in court will not be as to the comparative training of the
children of the families.

We have an analogous question in our foreign relations, with
reference to the admission of the Chinese and Japanese. We dis-
criminate against them in our naturalization and immigration
laws and extend the benefit of those laws only to whites and
persons of African descent. This discrimination has caused much
ill-feeling among the Japanese and Chinese. We are within our
international right in excluding them, but it is easy to understand
how resentment because of such discrimination might be fanned
into a flame, if, through lawless violence or unjust state legisla-
tion, the Japanese might be mistreated within the United States.

We have had instances of the successful result of commissions
of conciliation where the law could not cover the differences
between the two nations. Such was the case of the Behring Sea
controversy. We sought to prevent the killing of female seals


in the Behring Sea and asserted our territorial jurisdiction over
that sea for this purpose. The question was submitted to inter-
national arbitrators, and the decision was against us, but the
arbitrators, hi order to save to the world the only valuable and
extensive herd of fur seals, recommended a compromise by
treaty between the nations concerned, and, accordingly, treaties
have been made between the United States, Great Britain,
Russia, and Japan, which have restored the herd to its former
size and value. So much, therefore, for the practicable charac-
ter of the first two proposals.

The third proposal is more novel than the others, and gives
to the whole plan a more constructive character. It looks to the
use of economic means first, and military forces if necessary, to
enforce the obligation of every member of the league to submit
any complaint it has to make against another member of the
league, either to the permanent international court or to the
commission of conciliation, and to await final action by that
tribunal before beginning hostilities. It will be observed it is
not the purpose of this program to use the economic boycott or
the jointly acting armies of the league to enforce the judgment
declared or the compromise recommended. These means are
used only to prevent the beginning of war before there has been
a complete submission, hearing of evidence, argument, and de-
cision or recommendation. We sincerely believe that in most
cases, with such a delay, such a winnowing out of the issues, and
such an opportunity for the peoples of the differing countries to
understand one another's positions, war would generally not be
resorted to. Our ambition is not to propose a plan, the perfect
working out of which will absolutely prevent war, first, because
we do not think such a plan could perfectly work, and, secondly,
because we are willing to concede that there may be govern-
mental and international injustice which cannot be practically
remedied except by force. If, therefore, after a full discussion
and decision by impartial judges or a recommendation by earnest,
sincere, and equitable compromisers, a people still thinks that
it must vindicate its rights by war, we do not attempt in this
plan to prevent it by force.


Having thus explained what the plan is, let us consider the
objections which have been made to it.

The first objection is that, in a dispute between two members
of the league, it would be practically difficult to determine which
one was the aggressor and which one, therefore, in fact began
actual hostilities. There may be some trouble in this, I can see,

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonNational ideals and problems; essays for college English → online text (page 35 of 39)