Opposition to Wilson’s War Message
SPEECH BY SEN. GEORGE W. NORRIS, APRIL 4, 1917
The resolution now before the Senate is a declaration of war. Before taking
this momentous step, and while standing on the brink of this terrible vortex,
we ought to pause and calmly and judiciously consider the terrible conse-
quences of the step we are about to take. We ought to consider likewise the
route we have recently traveled and ascertain whether we have reached our
present position in a way that is compatible with the neutral position which
we claimed to occupy at the beginning and through the various stages of this
unholy and unrighteous war.
No close student of recent history will deny that both Great Britain and Ger-
many have, on numerous occasions since the beginning of the war, flagrantly
violated in the most serious manner the rights of neutral vessels and neutral
nations under existing international law, as recognized up to the beginning of
this war by the civilized world.
It is unnecessary to cite authority to show that both [German and British]
orders declaring military zones [in the seas] were illegal and contrary to inter-
national law. It is sufficient to say that our government has officially declared
both of them to be illegal and has officially protested against both of them.
The only difference is that in the case of Germany we have persisted in our
protest, while in the case of England we have submitted.