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Monday Afternoon, April Fifteenth, at 3
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: You know it was written that, "He who governs himself is greater than he who governs a city." But, ladies and gentlemen, that was written before they knew anything about Greater New York. (Laughter.)
We have with us this afternoon the Mayor, who has kindly consented to appear and welcome our guests. A man who has governed the city well (applause), honestly, and who will retire from office possessing the confidence of all parties, and with a spotless reputation (applause). I have pleasure in presenting to you His Honor, the Mayor of Greater New York. (Applause.)
The Spirit of Nationality
HON. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN
I am exceedingly gratified to have this opportunity of meeting so many of you who have done, and are doing and will continue to do, so much for the purpose which you have met to further.
This assemblage, presided over by one of the foremost citizens of the United States, under his inspiration, is not striving for the impossible, but seeking by practical methods to serve the cause of international peace with honor.
That a movement for universal peace is considered seriously, that many practical men believe that it may, in God's good time and in God's own way, come to fruition, is because of a new spirit that influences mankind.
The dream of peace is no new thing. It was dreamed two centuries ago, and the dreamers awoke to the stern reality of the doctrine of the balance of power, which was but magniloquence for land-lust, and the glorification of highway robbery. A century later Castlereagh dreamed of disarmament, and awoke to join
the concert of Europe, which, ignoring natural boundaries, race, religion and nationality, existed for the maintenance of the status quo, which had been reached by the strict application of the doctrine, "to the victor belongs the spoils."
The century which was born amid the loud acclaim of the universal brotherhood of man, died with Europe one vast, armed camp. And yet the century which saw at its beginning Marengo and Austerlitz, saw at its close the meeting of the first Hague Conference.
The tattered soldiers of the French Revolution sowed a seed which under the great Napoleon took root and grew, and bore a flower, the spirit of nationality, which has revolutionized the world, enduring all things, doing all things, daring all things.
The nation is after all nothing more than a vast aggregation of individuals held together by a community of interests, with all the breadth and the limitations, with all the strength and the weaknesses, with all the virtues and the vices of its component parts.
Without community of interests States may flourish personified by their sovereigns, and held together by force of arms, but the spirit of nationality can exist only where purposes, ambitions and aspirations are shared by all. And because of this spirit the nations themselves, and not the sovereigns, are the dominant factors in world politics. In these days of triumphant democracy sovereignty is in the people, and it is their will which sways the world.
I am one of those who believe that the world was better yesterday than it was the day before; is better to-day than it was yesterday, and with God's blessing, will be better to-morrow than it is to-day. Mortal man is by instinct a fighting animal. Were he not so he would never have survived in the fierce struggle for existence, and would never have reached his present state of civilization. But fighting animal though he is, he realizes the advantages of peace, and as the world grows better he becomes more willing to hesitate before sacrificing peace for war. You can no more secure universal peace by resolution than you can make mankind perfect by act of Congress.
With the individual sinner a declaration of reform is often conclusive evidence of a sincere change of heart, but with the chanceries of the world, works meet for repentance must be
brought forth before they can be believed. It is not so much a matter of world importance what those taking part in international conferences agree to do or not to do, as it is whether or not after adjournment they really try to keep the peace.
There is no government on earth that is not influenced more or less by public opinion. If governments are to be made to appreciate thoroughly the advantages of peace, then the peoples of the earth must be taught to appreciate its blessings. If the nations sincerely desire peace, there is scarcely a difference that can arise among them that cannot be adjusted by peaceful arbitration.
Your duty, as that of every one who knows the difference between national honor and national land-lust, between true courage and swash-buckling, is to convince the world that man has a higher, nobler mission than to be forever at his brother's throat; that war should be resorted to only as a last desperate remedy for injustice and oppression. The task which you have set yourselves, and which can be accomplished, is to cultivate a spirit of sober common sense among men, a sense which will cause them to think twice before going to extremes, and to hesitate before glorifying the war spirit. To such a public opinion governments must bow. Putting into practice their high-sounding professions of mutual good-will they must, with due regard for each other's interests, live in harmony one with another.
The people of this city have always been among the first to take up arms in defence of the flag, when it has been in danger. But they believe that our country can best be served by a national policy so just and so righteous that the flag will never be assailed. They believe that justice and righteousness require a spirit of tolerance, of respect and of amity among the nations, a spirit which will not only insure the peace of the world but will permit man in his evolution to move always onward and upward.
The people of New York believe that this Congress is a part of a great world movement toward a better international understanding, and that its influence must be felt for good. Through me, their Mayor, they wish you God-speed upon your mission, and bid you welcome to their city.
Letter from President Roosevelt
Read by the Secretary of the Congress, ROBERT ERSKINE ELY.
I much regret my inability to be present with you. Mr. Root will speak to you at length, and no man in the country is better fitted than he to address you on the subject you have so much at heart; for no man has in keener or more practical fashion, or with a nobler disinterestedness of purpose, used the national power to further what I believe to be the national purpose of bringing nearer the day when the peace of righteousness, the peace of justice, shall obtain among nations.
In this letter of mine, I can do little more than wish you and your association God-speed in your efforts. My sympathy with the purpose you have at heart is both strong and real, and by right of it I shall make to you some suggestions as to the practical method for accomplishing the ends we all of us have in view. First and foremost, I beseech you to remember that tho it is our bounden duty to work for peace, yet it is even more our duty to work for righteousness and justice. It is "Righteousness that exalteth a nation," and tho normally peace is the handmaid of righteousness, yet, if they are ever at odds, it is righteousness whose cause we must espouse. In the second place, I again earnestly ask that all good and earnest men who believe strongly in this cause, but who have not themselves to bear the responsibility of upholding the nation's honor, shall not by insisting upon the impossible, put off the day when the possible can be accomplished. The peoples of the world have advanced unequally along the road that leads to justice and fair-dealing, one with another (exactly as there has been unequal progress in securing such justice by each within its own borders); and the road stretches far ahead even of the most advanced. Harm and not good would result if the most advanced nations, those in which most freedom for the individual is combined with most efficiency in securing orderly justice as between individuals, should by agreement disarm and place themselves at the mercy of other peoples less advanced, of other peoples still in the stage of military barbarism or military despotism. Anything in the nature of general disarmament would do harm and not good if it left the civilized and peace-loving peoples, those with the highest standards of muni
cipal and international obligation and duty, unable to check the other peoples who have no such standards, who acknowledge no such obligations.
Finally, it behooves all of us to remember, and especially those of us who either make or listen to speeches, that there are few more mischievous things than the custom of uttering or applauding sentiments which represent mere oratory, and which are not, and cannot be, and have not been, translated from words into deeds. An impassioned oration about peace which includes an impassioned demand for something which the man who makes the demand either knows or ought to know, cannot, as a matter of fact, be done, represents not gain, but loss, for the cause of peace; for even the noblest cause is marred by advocacy which is either insincere or foolish.
These warnings that I have uttered do not mean that I believe we can do nothing to advance the cause of international peace. On the contrary, I believe that we can do much to advance it, provided only we act with sanity, with self-restraint, with power; which must be the prime qualities in the achievement of any reform. The nineteenth century saw, on the whole, a real and great advance in the standard of international conduct, but as among civilized nations and by strong nations toward weaker and more backward peoples, the twentieth century will, I believe, witness a much greater advance in the same direction. The United States has a right to speak on behalf of such a cause, and to ask that its course during the half dozen opening years of the century be accepted as a guaranty of the truth of its professions.
During these six years we can conscientiously say that without sacrificing our own rights, we have yet scrupulously respected the rights of all other peoples. With the great military nations of the world, alike in Europe and in that newest Asia, which is also the oldest, we have preserved a mutually selfrespecting and kindly friendship. In the Philippine Islands we are training a people in the difficult art of self-government, with more success than those best acquainted with the facts had dared to hope. We are doing this because we have acted in a spirit. of genuine disinterestedness-of genuine and single-minded purpose to benefit the islanders-and, I may add, in a spirit