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LABOR'S RELATION TO THE WORLD WAR.

ADDRESS BY W. B. WILSON, SECRETARY OF LABOR.

If I was to compress into a single sentence my belief of the greatest need of our country, I would say that our greatest need is the spirit of self-sacrifice for the common good-a sacrifice of our pride, sacrifice of our prejudices, sacrifice of our suspicions against each other, sacrifice of our material comforts, sacrifice of our lives, if need be, in order that the democratic institutions handed down to us by our forefathers may be continued unimpaired to our children so that they can continue to work out their own destiny as we have been working out ours, unimpeded by the autocratic powers of Europe.

PEACE-LOVING PEOPLE.

Our people is a peace-loving people. If we had not been a peaceloving people we would not have stood the indignities and wrongs that were heaped upon us as long as we stood them. We had dreamed of a continuation of peace. We had been inspired by the words of the poet, and longed for the time to come

When the war drums throb no longer and the battle flags are furled
In the parliament of man, the federation of the world.

But our dreams were rudely shattered, and, against our will, in spite of ourselves, we have been dragged into the great European conflict. When the war broke out in Europe your administration at Washington was anxious that we should keep clear of the entanglements. When Great Britain seized our vessels upon the high seas and haled them into courts as prizes, we believed it be in violation of international law. We entered a protest and claims for damages. When Germany seized some of our vessels and haled them into court we also entered a protest and laid our claims for damages.

LIKE QUARRELING NEIGHBORS.

We felt that these nations were like neighbors quarreling against each other, not for the moment susceptible to reason, but that when the war was over they would return to their normal conditions and then we could make our claim upon both of them for the damages they had done to our country. But Germany did not end with the hailing of our vessels into prize courts. She began a system of submarine warfare, sinking our vessels without warning, destroying the lives of our people without giving them an opportunity to save Sthemselves. That was an intirely different situation. There are

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methods by which we can indemnify for the loss of property; there are methods by which you can restore property once it has been destroyed, but there is no method known to man by which we can restore human life when that has been taken.

We protested vigorously to Germany against that system of warfare that destroyed the lives of our people, and Germany agreed to desist. Again we were hopeful that we would be able to get through without being engaged in the conflict. But in January, the very end of it, we were given a brief notice by the German Imperial Government that they would again resume their submarine warfare, again destroy the lives of our people without warning. There was no other course left to us but to defend the lives of these people.

PART OF THE PROBLEM.

I know that amongst our own people the claim was put forth that no man should be permitted to go upon these vessels as a passenger, taking the chance of having his life destroyed and thereby endanger ing the peace of his own country, and that our country should prohibit passengers from going upon vessels. But that was only a part of the problem. Suppose that we had as a Government, as a people, said to those who desired to travel upon those vessels as passengers, "You must not travel upon those vessels, or, if you do, you do so at your own risk." We would not then have solved the problem, because there were the seamen to take into consideration, the sailor upon the bridge, the fireman and the engineer in the hold, the cook and the steward, and the vast numbers of men who daily earned their bread in manning the vessels. Even if we had taken the passengers off, we would then have been placed in the position. of having to abandon our overseas trade altogether or of supporting, maintaining, and defending our sailors in their right to earn their bread in their daily vocation. I don't know what your judgment may be in the matter. I know what my judgment is, what the judgment of the administration was, and that is that the sailor earning his bread before the mast is just as much entitled to the protection of the United States Government as the most wealthy millionaire.

"ONE VESSEL A WEEK."

In the notice that Germany gave to us she very kindly said that she would permit us to send one vessel a week to England by way of Falmouth, provided that the vessel was striped like a barber pole and went by a given route. That was not our Government imposing its will upon us; that was not our Congress saying to us as a matter of precaution and safety that we must only send one vessel a week to England; it was not our Congress or our President speaking to us with authority granted to them by us, but it was the Kaiser, through his chancellor, undertaking to impose his will upon the people of the United States. No more autocratic action could have been taken by any autocratic Government on earth than the action of directing us how we should handle our business in its minutest details.

GERMAN ESPIONAGE.

But undertaking to impose its will upon us in that manner was not the only action on the part of the German Government that demonstrated the policy it desired to pursue toward our country. During the period of the European war it had systematically organized an espionage system in our country that not only sought to find out what we were doing, but it undertook to blow up and destroy our manufacturing institutions with the lives of the people who were working in them in order that the British Government and the French Government should not secure munitions and supplies. All over our country it was not safe for any workingman to be engaged in any of these institutions. His life was at stake. Some of the German representatives connected with that diplomatic corps were given their walking papers because of these actions; others of them. are serving time in our penitentiaries. So that it is no mere assertion to say that that line of policy was pursued by the German Government.

WHAT OF THE FUTURE?

I know that even then some of our people alleged that we should not manufacture those munitions; that we should not send those munitions abroad to Russia, to England, to France, to Italy, to any of the belligerents other than Germany. They said the quickest way to end the war was to prevent the sending of munitions. Did you ever hear the story of the band of men-bandits-who raided a town? They were armed to the teeth. The inhabitants were unarmed with the exception of a few small sidearms. The citizens of the town who had arms gathered themselves together to resist the bandits who had come for the purpose of looting the town. They were having difficulty in holding out, and they sent some of their neighbors to an adjoining town to get some arms and munitions, and the people of the adjoining town immediately divided and some of them said, "We are neutral in this quarrel; don't let these citizens have any guns or ammunition. The bandits will soon clean the other town out and the quarrel will be over." They succeeded. No munitions were sent to help the citizens defend their town. The bandits did raid the town, loot the town, then disappeared. But in a very short time they appeared in the town that considered itself neutral and refused to send the munitions to the aid of the neighboring town, and they looted that town also. Would you want our country to be placed in that kind of a position? Of course, with 40 or 50 years of preparation, with guns and munitions and trained men galore, Germany was in a position, if the other nations could find no guns or munitions, to override all other countries, and that would be the termination of the war. But what of the future? But that was not yet all.

INTRIGUE EXPOSED.

Shortly after that time the correspondence was laid bare relative to the intrigue between Germany and Mexico and Japan. Germany sought to engage the Government of Mexico to come to her assistance, and as a bait held out to the Mexican Government it proposed to hand back to Mexico all of the territory now part of the United

States that formerly belonged to Mexico. That included Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. And then Germany held out as a bait to Japan, to get her assistance in making war upon the United States, that Germany would hand over all of the balance of the territory that formerly was Mexico-that is, the State of California, and in addition to that all of the Pacific coast of the United States and back into the interior as far as the eastern line of Montana. Fortunately for us, the Governments of Mexico and Japan were friendly toward us, and the scheme of the Imperial German Government failed of execution.

GERMANY'S DESIGNS.

Now, what was the purpose of endeavoring to secure Mexico and Japan to come to her assistance? First, that she might dismember the United States of America, that she might parcel it up, that she might take from the United States that young, vigorous manhood and womanhood of the West and place them under another governmental jurisdiction. Then if Germany succeeded in carrying out her design of a great central European empire with great overseas colonies, if Germany succeeded in winning the present war and taking over the British, the French, the Italian, and the Russian fleets, naval and commercial, it would then be in position to dominate the commerce of all the seas of the world, and if the United States would not submit to that domination would be in a position to bring her great trained army onto our shores, and compel us to submit. Under those circumstances there was only one course left for the United States to pursue in defense of democracy, in defense of our own democracy and that of the other democracies of the world. That was to take up the cudgel and declare war upon the barbarism that was seking to impose itself upon us and to carry that war, as we will carry it, to a successful termination.

HUMAN INSTITUTIONS.

We have no quarrel with the German people. The German people have no quarrel with us. Our quarrel is with the Imperial German Government that has sought to impose the power of militarism upon the people of the world rather than the will of the majority. Our institutions are dear to us. Our forefathers sacrificed much to establish them. They are not perfect by any means. They are human institutions. They have the imperfections of human institutions. We do not move as fast as some people think we ought to move; we move faster than other people think we should move; but from the time of the Declaration of Independence until the present moment, whenever a majority of our people have seriously and earnestly desired that any proposition be enacted into law we have always found a method by which that majority could have its will expressed. To those people who believe that we are not moving fast enough I simply have to say that the difficulty is that you have not convinced the majority that the course you are suggesting is the course that should be pursued. To those of you that think we are moving too fast I have this to say: Whatever your individual judgment may be, the majority has expressed its will, and the will of the majority should rule in democracies.

NOT CAPITALISTS' WAR.

There have been some of our people here and there who have asserted that this is a capitalists' war, that it is a Wall Street war, that it is a munitions manufacturers' war. I wonder if those people have stopped to examine the policy that has been pursued by the Government since war was declared, and before it was declared, before they made utterances of that kind. If this is a capitalists' war, then it follows that the administration at Washington-Congress and the President-have been dominated by capitalism, and, if they were dominated by capitalism in declaring war, it would follow that they would be dominated by capitalism in pursuing the war. And yet, what are the facts? Instead of permitting the capital of the country to secure profits at will, one of the first powers granted to the war administration was to fix the prices at which capitalists should sell the products of labor, the selling price of coal at the mines was fixed, the price of wheat was fixed, the prices of certain metal products were fixed, the price of copper was fixed, but in no instance has there been any attempt on the part of the administration to fix the maximum price that should be paid for labor. And when it came to fixing the price of copper at 231 cents per pound the only stipulation that was included by the War Industries Board handling the proposition was that the fixing of the price at 233 cents per pound must not result in the lowering of the rate of wages that was established under the former prices. And yet there are people who, in the face of these facts and hundreds more that I might cite if I would take time, want to intimate that this is a capitalists' war, a Wall Street war, and a war of the munitions manufacturers. My friends, this is a war of the people of the United States for the preservation of their institutions. And for the purpose of preserving these institutions we are gathering together armies. We are sending the flower of our youth into the training camps and over the seas into France to protect those who remain at home.

CONDITIONS CHANGED.

Under former methods of warfare, the methods pursued in years. gone by, an army might travel through an enemy's country and sus tain itself while it marched, receiving a comparatively small amount of munitions needed for the employment of a small number of people at home. To-day the condition is changed. We not only need the fighting forces at the front, we not only need the boys in the trenches, who are willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of our institutions, but we need the organization of the forces at home for the protection of the material necessary for their defense, and if those boys are willing to go there and make the sacrifice of their all, the sacrifice of their lives, if need be, in defense of your home and my home, of your liberties and my liberties, surely we who remain at home ought to be willing to make some sacrifices of our pride, of our prejudices and of our suspicions in order that we may have the full benefit of our man power in preparing the material by which the boys of our country may defend themselves. As I said to a portion of your people here the other day, I have three sons and eight nephews who are to-day under the colors. They are likely to be sent to the trenches

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