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The United States and the war ; The mission to Russia ; Political addresses online

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form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happi-
ness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all
experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while
evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to
which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpa-
tions, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them
imder absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off
such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So the Russian people, which for centuries have been enslaved
by a government which was not that which the feeling of
the nation wished or wanted, have so declared and shaken
off the fetters which bound them, and as the wind blows
away the leaves in autumn so the government which has
bound us for centuries has fallen, and nothing is left but the
free government of the people.

So the Russian people now stand before the world con-
scious of their strength and astonished at the ease with
which that revolution happened, and the first days of our
freedom indeed, brought surprise to us as well as to the rest
of the world, but the day which brought the revolution was
not only a day which brought freedom, for it brought us face
to face with two enormous problems which now stand before
the Russian people, and these problems are the creation of a


strong democratic force in the interior of Russia, and a fight
with the common foe without, with that foe which is fighting
you as well as us, and which is now the last form and last
strength of autocracy; and it was with a feeling of gladness
that we found you on the side of the Allies, and that after our
revolution there was no autocracy among those with whom
we found ourselves fighting. We found with joy that in the
high, lofty motives which have impelled your great republic
to enter this conflict there is no strain of autocracy or spirit
of conquest, and our free people shall be guided by those
same high, lofty motives and principles.

And now let us stand together, for we pursue the same
endeavor in the war and in the peace which is to follow. We
representatives of the Russian nation who have been placed
at its head to lead the Russian nation through its hardships
on its way to freedom, following these principles which have
always brought a nation from complete slavery into complete
freedom, are confident we shaU find the way which will lead
us side by side, not only the Russian peoples but its allies,
along that way which will bring us to future happiness.

The revolution of Russia is a moral factor which shows the
will of the Russian people in its endeavor to secure liberty
and justice, and these elements the Russian people show and
wish to show, not only in their internal affairs which we our-
selves have to lead and in which we wish to be guided by
these principles, but also in our international relations and in
our international policies.

This war, which was brought upon us three years ago and
which the Russian revolution foimd when it entered the
struggle of free nations, left but one door for us to enter, and
by that door we have entered and we shall continue in that
path. These Russian people strive to the end of militarism
and to a durable peace which would exclude every violence
from whatever side it may come and all imperialistic schemes.


whatever their form may be. The Russian people have no
wish of conquest or dominion and are opposed to those ideas
in others, and first of all they will not allow any of those
imperialistic desires which our enemy has formed, manifest
or hidden, to come to good in whatever sphere he may have
planned them, political, financial, or economic. This con-
stitutes the firm will or what Russia has to guard herself

There is also a second great thought which was expressed
by that memorable document by which the nation of the
United States and its people at the day of their independence
declared their desires and wishes, and which says that nations
should have a right to show themselves the way they wish
to go and to decide their own future, and this high principle
the Russian people have accepted and consider that it must
guide their politics; and they consider also that all nations,
however small or great, have the right to decide what their
future will be, and that no territory and no people can be
transferred from one country to another without their con-
sent. Human beings have the right to say for themselves
what they shall do and whose subjects they shall become.

I am happy to see you, and happy to say that there is no
idea or factor of a moral or material kind to divide us or to
prevent us from being hand in hand across the Pacific.
These two great people, the free people of Russia and the
free people of America, the great people of the United States,
the oldest, strongest, and purest democracy, hand in hand
will show the way that human happiness will take in the

Allow me, therefore, to greet you, to welcome you in the
name of my colleagues and of our government which repre-
sents our people and to say how happy we are to see you



JUNE 21, 1917

ON behalf of the Mission for which I have the honor to
speak, and in behalf of our country on the other side of
the world, I thank you sincerely and warmly for this hospi-
table and sympathetic reception. It is very grateful to us to
see upon this list of speakers the names of so many men dis-
tinguished in the active life of great Russia. It is very
encouraging to us to see represented here the Provisional
Government of Russia and the oiEcers of those local govern-
ments, for the merit and perfection of which the Russian
people have so long been known throughout the world, and
the representatives of those great branches of finance and pro-
duction and associated industries without which no modern
civilization can exist.

The Mission has no function to discharge in respect
to industrial or commercial life. That was intentionally
excluded from the scope of its duty. We came to Russia to
bring assurances of the spiritual brotherhood of the two great
democracies, and we came, moreover, to learn how we could
best do our part as allies of the Russian democracy by
material as well as spiritual aid, in the great fight for the
freedom of both our nations. But we did not wish that any
element of advantage for America, any project for profit to
America, any lower or more material motive should find its
place in the message that we bring to Russia. Yet, when the
war is over and the world is by victory made safe for democ-
racy, then, of course, as between brothers who have fought
together, mutual knowledge and confidence and friendship
will lead to all those relations of industrial and commercial


life which make up the peaceful activities of the civilized

It was not easy, my friends, for America to make up its
mind to enter the war. America is a peaceful people. We
love peace and we hate war. Far away from the conflict
across the ocean, it took us long to realize the true meaning
of this great war in which you have been fighting, and it was
not until we had slowly, step by step, reached the firm con-
clusion that our hberty was in danger with the liberty of the
rest of the world, that we nerved ourselves to enter the

We came to see that Germany had foresworn and repudi-
ated every principle of modern civilization. We came to see
that all those rules for the conduct of war which for centuries
civilized men have been formulating and agreeing upon to
make war less terrible, every one of them was violated
intentionally and systematically by Germany. We came to
see that the principle of action of the military autocracy that
rules Germany was based upon a repudiation of all moral
obligations of states. We came to see that Germany had
avowed that the faith of treaties was nothing to her unless it
was to her interest to keep them. We came to see that the
law of nations was as naught to Germany when it thwarted
her purposes. We came to see, finally, that the miHtary
power of Germany had brought back into the world the
principles of action of those dark and dreadful days of a bar-
barous past when there was no hberty in the world, and that
if mankind was to be free it must put an end to this powerful
and ruthless enemy of freedom. And so, cheered and encour-
aged by the freedom of Russia, to be henceforth our ally and
our friend, we entered the war, and we are going to fight until
the world is made safe for democracy. For your democracy
as well as ours. So that no arrogant, over-bearing, military
caste shall push us off the sidewalk.


We are new to war. We have a small army. We cannot
move at the beginning very rapidly, but we have enrolled for
military service ten million men, between the ages of twenty
and thirty. We have first to train officers, and the few thou-
sand officers of the regular army are now engaged in various
camps over the country in training some forty thousand
young men as officers. As soon as they are sufficiently
trained we shall call, and have ordered the call of five hun-
dred thousand men to be trained by those officers. Then we
shall repeat the operation, training more officers and having
them train more men, and go on so long as it is necessary to
win this war. We are mobilizing all the industries of the
country. Congress has by law put under the control of
the President over 250,000 miles of American railroads.
All the manufacturing establishments are put under the
direction of the general government and required to manu-
facture war materials, supplies, and munitions at no greater
profit than is allowed by the government as being fair and
reasonable. The entire food production of the country is
put under the direction of a chief of food control, and that
chief is the gentleman who has had charge of the Belgian
relief work during the past three years, Herbert C. Hoover.
We have set all the shipyards in the country at work
to build ships by the thousand to take the place in the
transport of supplies of those vessels which are destroyed
by the German U-boats. In the meantime, we are sending
a division to the lines in France and Belgium to fight there
as an advance guard of American soldiers, by the side of
the soldiers of Belgium, France, England, and Russia, who
are fighting there. In the meantime, our ships of war are
already in European waters engaged in the crusade against
the U-boats which are destroying the peaceful vessels of
commerce that are carrying supplies to Russia and Eng-
land and France and Italy.


We offer you no comradeship of ease, no grudging or
stinted cooperation, but the assurance of action, action,
action, until the time when the new democracy of Russia,
crowned with the greatest achievement of history, may
stand side by side with the old republic of the United States.

Now indulge me while I say a word to my American
friends here. It is not enough, my friends and brothers from
America in Russia, it is not enough that our Government
sends its message to Russia. It is not enough that the people
of America look from the other side of the world with hope
and courage to Russia. You Americans who are here in
Russia represent your country. Your attitude towards the
Russian democracy and your spirit will be interpreted as the
spirit of democracy in America. Your fathers and mine did
not win and maintain our liberty by pessimism. We won
our liberty and we have maintained it for these centuries by
confidence in the power of democracy, by faith in the
people. We have maintained peace and order and liberty by
respect for law and by holding up the hands of the Govern-
ment. Whether it was an established and settled govern-
ment, or a provisional government, or a revolutionary
government, that government which represents at the time
the will of the people for the maintenance of law and order
and associated effort in behalf of liberty and justice, that
government your fathers and mine have always maintained.
Upon your Americanism, upon your loyalty to your own
country, do it now, here. Carry no faint hearts about the
streets of Petrograd. Teach these people in Russia, who are
new to the government of democracy, that you, who are old
to it, have faith in it and they will gain added faith and
loyalty and support for their government from your faith;
and so you will be in harmony with the people you have left
at home, who believe in Russia and have hope and courage
for Russia and pray for Russia.


THE Mission for which I speak was sent to Russia to
express the sympathy of the United States, of the entire
democracy of the Unit'^d States, for the Russian people in
their new found freedom, and their struggle to create and
maintain orderly self-government. It is not in prosperity and
ease that one's sympathies go out to a friend, but in struggle,
in conflict, when the hard tasks of life are to be accomplished.
There is no phase or part of Russian life with which the
people of America sympathize more deeply than they do with
you in the work that you are now striving to accomplish.
We can sympathize with it because we have been through it
ourselves. We have made many mistakes, we still are imper-
fect in our government, and we know how hard it is for a
people to govern themselves in accordance with the laws of
justice and humanity. And we have had more than one
hundred and thirty years to accomplish our task, while you
have had but three months.

It is not, Mr. President, that we see in the happenings in
Russia since we came cause for criticism, but we marvel at
the self-control, the kindliness of spirit, and the sound com-
mon sense that the Russian people have displayed. Believe
me, we feel that in the work that you are doing in these
committees you are on the right path towards an assured
and permanent democracy. For popular self-government
must come not from above; not by fine theories; not by
formulas, but it must come from the willing participation of
all the people who govern themselves. That independence
of individual character which is cultivated and developed by


individual effort for the public good is the solid foundation
for free government. It is the hope and prayer of the Ameri-
can people that you may have full scope and opportunity to
develop yourselves, your free government, in accordance
with the needs of your character and your life in Russia. It
is a cause of joy to the democratic people of the United
States if they can help to give to the Russian people the
opportunity to work out their own system of government in
accordance with the genius of Russian character. It is a
cause of joy to us if we can help to keep the new Russian
democracy from being prevented, by the terrible military
power of Germany, from establishing and developing their
own free government. We have learned in free America
that the system of government, the principles, the motives,
and the methods of German military autocracy will be fatal
to our hberty and fatal to yours; and we rejoice that we can
help to save both great democracies from that frightful
danger. The government of Germany, the social system of
Germany, the socialism of Germany, are aU militaristic in
their essential nature. They shall not find control in free
America, and if we can help you to prevent their finding
control in free Russia, we shall be happy in feeling that we
have done something towards perpetuating the ideals of our
fathers who fought and sacrificed to make us free.

I thank you for Hstening so kindly to me and for permitting
me to come before you to speak. I will close by saying that
the people of America are all a working people; they work
hard, early and late; they love liberty and they work for it;
and their hearts go out to you who are working for the liberty
and honor of your country, because they recognize you as
brothers in a common cause. Long live Free Russia and
Free America !

JUNE 22, 1917

I THANK you heartily in the name of the Mission from
America for your hospitable and flattering reception. I
thank you for your kind references to the President of the
United States and to that free democracy of America which
we represent to the democracy of Russia. You say, Mr.
Mayor, that Russia is ill and infirm. I have heard from
many lips since reaching Russia expressions of anxiety and
despondency for the fate of the new democracy, but I refuse
to believe them. Russia is not infirm; Russia is young in
her democracy, and with sincerity of purpose is groping to
find the right way, that she may do the right thing.

We in the United States of America have faith in Russia,
and as the representatives of our country, we carry with us
that faith in Russia firm and unchanged. Let me tell you
why we have faith in you. First; because we know that you
have practiced the art of local self-government, through such
institutions as this Duma, with success and fidelity to justice
and with distinguished honor to your country. That is the
true basis of national self-government; practice in local self-
government. And so, although you have been deprived of
the opportunity for national seK-government, deprived of the
opportunity to apply your ideas of democratic free seK-
government in the nation as a whole, nevertheless you will
find the way to expand your experience in local seK-govern-
ment until it is adapted to the great task of guiding and
governing the entire nation. You who have respected your
own customs and local laws, and by the force of your local
public opinion have enforced them, will establish national



laws, and by the union of all the cities and sections of Russia
in a universal public opinion, you will give respect to the law
of the nation and will enforce it. That is the true method
of self-government; not to receive it from above by consti-
tutions, however skillfully prepared; by theories, however
brilliant; but to build it up from below by individual self-
government; by habits of respect for law, and by a healthy
public opinion.

The second reason why we have confidence in your success
is that we know the kindly heart of the Russian people, the
common sense of the Russian people, the innate respect
for the rights of others that dwells in the Russian people.
The members of our Mission, sir, have frequently spoken to
each other of the marvelous spectacle we have witnessed
since we landed upon the shores of Russia several weeks ago,
of this vast people practically without any enforcement of
law, practically without policemen to compel observance
of the rights of others, yet in the main, with few exceptions,
remaining peaceable, orderly, respecting each other's rights,
considerate of each other's feelings and interests, and waiting
only for the construction of a government under which their
extraordinary qualities of self-control can make a firm and
perpetual structure of law and order. You will make mis-
takes; you will have to retrace your steps here and there;
you will find imperfections, but you will step by step go on
to develop a structure of competent and successful free
self-government. I speak with confidence because I know
how many mistakes we have made in America during the one
hundred and forty years through which we have been
developing our free self-government; and to us who know
how hard the task is, how many mistakes we have made, it
is not a wonder that you have not made greater progress in
the three months of your freedom, but it is a wonder that
you have done so well.


A third reason why we have faith in you is because we
know the capacity of the Russian character for self-sacrifice
for an ideal. Many Russians have given up their lives in
years past; many Russians have lingered in prison; many
Russians have suffered hardship, in order that Russia might
sometime be free; and we know it cannot be possible that
Russians now are unwilling to make further sacrifices that
Russia may remain free. We know that Russia cannot fail to
value the prize that has been won at so high a price of suffer-
ing and of death. We know you must love liberty. We know
that Russia cannot be materialistic, wedded to ease and com-
fort, indifferent to the higher good of her people, indifferent
to the ideals of liberty which are to make over the world
and lift up the poor and the oppressed who labor and suffer
in many lands, to a heritage of opportunity and freedom.
We know you cannot fail to love liberty when it has been
bought at such a price as Russians have paid for it. We
know that hundreds of thousands of Russians have given
up their lives fighting for the Czar, and we do not for a
moment believe that Russians now will not be willing to
risk their lives fighting for Russia and Russia's freedom.
That is the test of a people's power to maintain liberty;
that they are willing to make sacrifices for liberty. No
people can have liberty without paying the price. There is
an old saying, " eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
More than that, it is an eternal truth that constant struggle
is the price of liberty. And we are sure that Russia will not
give over the struggle until her liberty is secure. We know
that in the Russian heart there are cherished ideals that
are far above the material, gross, daily needs of life. We
know that Russia, free, with high ideals, with courage un-
surpassed, jealous of her liberty, will never begin the career
of the new democracy by being false to the ideals of liberty
in the world.


There is another and broader reason for our faith. It is a
reason that has grown with our people in America from the
days of their early struggles against cold, hunger, and
savage foes; through all the trials by which they have won
and maintained their freedom; it is that we have faith in the
triumph and perpetuity of Russian freedom, because we have
an abiding faith in the power of democracy. You are not
alone. You do not walk alone upon the pathway of self-
government. One of those great movements of the human
mind that no man can control or measure is taking place
throughout the whole world. The conception of government
solely by command of a superior power is fading from the
minds of men throughout the world; and the new conception
of government by the will of the governed, imposing the
limitations of justice and right conduct upon themselves, is
taking its place the world over. Yesterday was the day of
emperors and kings; today is the day of the plain and
humble man who works and endures. The progress of that
majestic movement of mankind, that great development of
civilization, cannot be turned back. It may be retarded
here and there; it may be held for the moment by an obstacle
here and an obstacle there; but that irresistible progress of
mankind cannot be turned back in Russia, in America, any-
where on earth. It must and will proceed to work out its
final fruition. No man can measure the time or the place
where that fruition shall be reached. You are not alone;
your history in Russia during the last two months is but one
chapter in the great history of the advance of the human race
along the pathway to this higher civilization which comes
with freedom and universal opportunity and enlightenment.

The one obstacle that holds that progress for the moment,
and only for the moment, is the sinister power of the mili-
tary autocracy of Germany. That power which repudi-
ates the faiths of treaties; that power which avows its


purpose to violate the laws of nations whenever it finds it
to its interest to do so; that power which has erected among
the peaceable people of the earth a vast military machine
against which no unorganized peaceable people can stand;
that power which avows that no moral laws control the
state, but that the morality which you and I acknowledge as
obligatory upon us in our relations to each other, has no con-
trol of the state, and that the supposed interest of the state
is superior to all moral law; that power which has revived

Online LibraryElihu RootThe United States and the war ; The mission to Russia ; Political addresses → online text (page 9 of 28)