Page 4154

4154 HOW THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA

[Author's Note:-Upon the entrance of America into the Great War,

there were a large number of our people who were of the opinion that we could

have averted this crisis, that Germany had not intentionally violated our

rights, and that the President had not exhausted every honorable means

looking to a continuance of peace. These people were honest in their convictions and were patriotic, loyal Americans. They were either misinformed

or had not become conversant with all the facts leading up to our entering

the great maelstrom. For the enlightenment of these, as well as for all

patriotic Americans, we give a statement of all the facts by the Public

Information Committee. Every American citizen owes it to his country

and himself to read this statement carefully, so that he may see clearly that

America entered the Great War only after every honorable means had been

exhausted and that Germany had deliberately forced this action upon us.]

In the years when this Republic was still struggling for existence, in the

face of threatened encroachments by hostile monarchies over the sea, in

order to make the New World safe for democracy, our forefathers established

here the policy that soon came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. Warning the Old World not to interfere in the political life of the New, our Government pledged itself in return to abstain from interference in the political

conflicts of Europe; and history has vindicated the wisdom of this course.

We were then too weak to influence the destinies of Europe, and it was vital

to mankind that this first great experiment in government of and by the

people should not be disturbed by foreign attack.

Reinforced by the experience of our expanding national life, this doctrine

has been ever since the dominating element in the growth of our foreign

policy. Whether or not we could have maintained it in case of concerted

attack from abroad, it has seemed of such importance to us that we were at

all times ready to go to war in its defense. And though since it was first

enunciated our strength has grown by leaps and bounds, although in that

time the vast increase of our foreign trade and of travel abroad, modern

transport, modern mails, the cables and the wireless, have brought us close

to Europe and have made our isolation more and more imaginary, there has

been, until the outbreak of the present conflict, small desire on our part to

abrogate or even amend the old familiar tradition which has for so long given

us peace.

In both conferences at The Hague, in 1899 and 1907, We reaffirmed this

policy. As our delegates signed the first convention in regard to arbitration,

they read into the minutes this statement:

"Nothing contained in this convention shall be so construed as to require