The United States in the World War

By John Bach McMaster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
PREPAREDNESS AND PACIFISTS

WHILE the Department of State was busy with the case of the Ancona, Congress assembled and listened to the annual speech of the President. He had much to say concerning our policy towards Mexico; fuller justice for the Philippines and Porto Rico; a great merchant marine; more revenue that we might "pay as we go"; a commission to canvass the question of proper regulation of railroads; and the mobilization of the resources of the country, and asked for laws for the punishment of citizens who, "born under other flags, but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America," had "poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life," and sought "to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue."

But the portion of his speech which aroused the widest interest was that in which he asked for preparedness for national defense.

No one who understood the spirit of our people, he said, could fail to perceive "that their passion is for peace." Great democracies are not belligerent. They do not seek or desire war. We regard war merely as a means of asserting the rights of a people against aggression. We will not maintain a standing army except for uses as necessary in times of peace as in times of war. But we do believe in a body of free citizens ready and sufficient to take care of themselves and of the Government they have set up to serve them. But war has never been a mere matter of men and guns. If our citizens are to fight effectively they must know how modern fighting is done and what to do when the summons comes, and the Government

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