history buff logo  Home Button
If History Interests You, then This Section of the Site is For You
Back Calvin Coolidge's Kellogg-Briand Pact" Speech
Wausau, Wisconsin, August 15, 1928 
It is now ten years since the events were taking place which brought your organization into existence. They have been years necessarily attended by a great deal of hardship , but they have also been years when the world has made a great deal of progress. The war left the chief nations utterly exhausted. How many people directly and indirectly lost their lives by reason of that conflict will never be known. It ran into many millions. The cost in treasure was so great that it can never be counted. It ran into hundreds of billions. The material resources of several of the powers involved were so far exhausted as to require almost complete reconstruction.

Our own loss of life, happily, was comparatively small, but the cost in direct outlay to the national Treasury ran between $30,000,000,000 and $40,000,000,000 and is still going on. Of all the countries engaged, the United States has proceeded furthest toward recovery, although we are yet a long distance from its completion.

While the war proved a stupendous catastrophe for all those who were in it, and in eighteen months destroyed values which it had taken us generations to create, on the other hand its lessons can be made a great advantage to us. It gave us an opportunity to know the world and afforded us a place in the world which we did not have before. It revealed to us to a large extent both our powers and our responsibilities. It demonstrated so clearly the interdependence of all people that we are not likely to hear again in responsible quarters that what other nations do is no concern of ours.

It is also easier for us to remember that what we do has its effect on other nations. Quite properly, under international law, one people is debarred from interfering in the strictly domestic affairs of another people. The first law of liberty, which was one of the principles for which we were fighting, requires that each people should be free to manage their own affairs so long as they observe the rights of others. In the domain of foreign relations there can be no doubt that throughout civilization a new disposition was created to discard the old rule of force and adopt more exclusively the rule of law, relying for enforcement upon its own moral power.

This has brought about among the nations of the world a new sympathy for each other and a new forbearance toward each other which did not before exist. It has eliminated a great deal of selfishness and produced a desire for mutual helpfulness, even at the cost of considerable sacrifice. In their foreign relations all over the world a very distinct manifestation can be seen in the attitude of the great powers of wholesome restraint and an effort to conclude by patient negotiation what but a short time ago would have been determined with an iron hand.

Another result which the United States very much hoped to see secured was a broader application to the peoples of the different nations of the principle of self-government. On the whole the movement may be said to be strongly in that direction. Arbitrary rule applied under a system of hereditary monarchy has almost disappeared. While it was not possible for all people at once successfully to make the transition into a republican form of government yet I believe that even among those nations which have appeared to be finding that experience very difficult they are laying the preliminary foundations, and are so strongly imbued with the spirit of nationality under freedom that ultimately they will be successful in accomplishing the desired ends.

As the nations of the earth have come to see each other in a new relationship so there has been revealed to the people of our own country the existence of a relationship which they did not before fully comprehend. During the war we heard much about man power. We found that it was a matter not only of quantity but of quality. The draft demonstrated to us our strength, but also our weakness. We found a very disquieting lack of education which reached into every state in the Union. Too many of our newer citizens did not understand the English language. These disadvantages were in some ways compensated by the wonderful spirit of loyalty and devotion that was manifest in the heart of the whole nation. We learned not only the importance which we are to each other but the necessity for individual development.

We found that we needed not only a large number of people, but a large number of trained and educated people capable of putting forth a common effort through being able to arrive at a common understanding. We came to a new sense of our dependence on the individual and a new realization of the obligation of society to him and his worth to society. This has immeasurably raised both the economic and spiritual standards of our country. A citizen of the United States holds a new position, higher than that which was ever held in any past time. The opportunities which are enjoyed by our countryman are far superior to those which ever came to any other people.

One of the most wide-reaching impressions that came out of our war experience was the duties and responsibilities of citizenship . We came to see that each citizen might be called upon by the government in time of need for his life and his property. Those who went into the armed service offered their lives and those who contributed to the wartime charities, to the purchase of liberty bonds and to the payment of taxes contributed their property. Those who possessed very large incomes paid into the national Treasury about 80 percent of it which with their state and local taxes, came very close to a taking over by the government of their entire property for use during the war. It was, in fact, a practical conscription for an indefinite time of the property of those of very large incomes. While some of our people were in the service, others were producing food, turning out munitions, looking after the affairs of government, and carrying on the necessary activities of commerce and transportation.

We saw that the individual did not belong wholly to himself, but must respond to the requirements of his government. Stated another way, the individuals who make up this nation found that for their self-preservation they must cooperate with each other under a unified leadership and control and contribute their services and their property in order to save themselves from destruction. Self-preservation meant then, as it always does, response to the call of duty.

Adequate defense meant the proper functioning of the entire organic life of the nation. That lesson carried over into our peace-time activities has been one of the chief factors in the enormous progress which the last ten years have seen. It is a process that is as yet only in its beginnings, but which is being perfected from day to day and which ultimately holds the chief hope of our material, intellectual, and spiritual progress and prosperity. The foundation of it all rests on the extermination of waste and the waster, and on the elimination of slackness and the slacker. It means the coordination of national effort through an adequately trained citizenship , which will result in a scientific production and distribution of commodities that will raise the standard of living around every fireside in the land.

While the government can be a large contributing factor in providing the opportunities which will lead to this high ideal, yet, our whole experience during the war tells us that if it is to be attained it will come through the private enterprise of each individual. Its consummation requires that each citizen should do his duty.

Another fact which shines forth with a renewed brilliance is that many of the most precious rewards of life do not lie on the side of material gain. We have had a great deal of discussion concerning the injustice of one person going into the service at a very small remuneration, while another remained at home in the enjoyment of very high wages. But I wonder how many of you who put on the uniform and went into action overseas would not be willing to exchange that experience for the few dollars of extra compensation that some one else was able to earn at home during the latter months of the war. Which one is now in possession of the most valuable treasure-the one who was at the front or the one who was securing high wages? By reason of the draft both were doing the duty assigned to them and both lived up to the full requirements of their citizenship , but I think the conclusion must be that the one who was in the place of greater peril is really in possession of the greater reward. What we found in war we shall continue to find in peace.

As with many of our most important services, many of our greatest compensations cannot be measured in dollars and cents. You are greater men for what you have given to your country. You hold a higher place of honor in the estimation of your fellow citizens which no money could ever buy. You have a place and a name and a glory which you will hand down as a priceless heritage.

One of the most gratifying of all revelations was that the strength of character of our citizenship was universal. It was all-embracing. It was not limited to any locality, to any class, to any nationality, or to any creed. We found as sturdy and inspiring examples among the foreign-born as among the oldest native stock. It came from some obscure mountain home, some isolated dwelling on the broad prairie, or some tenement of a great metropolis, as well as from those who enjoyed the most favored circumstances. We cannot contemplate it without increasing our respect for our people and renewing our faith in our institutions. It was another demonstration that we are all Americans.

As we contemplate these past ten years, we have every justification for increasing our sentiment of patriotism. But while we are doing that we should also remember that other nations during that period have displayed qualities of a high character. They also are entitled to our respect and admiration in their successes and our sympathy and consideration in their trials. While it is our privilege and duty as citizens to place our regard for America first, if we are to justify that position we must make America right.

Because we believe in our country it will always be our desire and our duty to defend it. It cannot be too often stated that we cherish no sentiment of aggression toward any other people. But the obligation to resist evil, to be prepared to maintain the orderly authority of the rule of law in both our domestic and our foreign relations is one which cannot be avoided. For the government to disregard the science of national defense would expose it to the contempt of its citizens at home and of the world abroad. It would be an attempt to evade bearing our share of the burdens of civilization. For this reason we maintain according to our resources, our population, our position and our responsibilities, a moderate army and navy based on what we believe to be our requirements for national security.

While it is incumbent upon us to secure such advantages as we can from our adversity, we all recognize that we should take every precaution to prevent ourselves or the rest of the world from being involved again in such a tragedy as began in 1914. While the country's national defense should never be neglected, preparation for the maintenance of peace is likewise required by every humane impulse that stirs the hearts of men. Those of you who have seen service would be the first to say that if the country needed you, you would respond again. But you will also be the first to say that you require of your government that it should take every possible precaution that human ingenuity can devise to insure the settlement of its differences with other countries through diplomatic negotiations and mutual concessions according to the dictates of reason, rather than by appeal to force.

It is in accordance with our determination to refrain from aggression and build up a sentiment and practice among nations more favorable to peace, that we ratified a treaty for the limitation of naval armaments made in 1921, earnestly sought for a further extension of this principle in 1927, and have secured the consent of fourteen important nations to the negotiation of a treaty condemning recourse to war, renouncing it is an instrument of national policy, and pledging each other to seek no solution of their disagreements except by pacific means. It is hoped other nations will join in this movement. Had an agreement of this kind been in existence in 1914, there is every reason to suppose that it would have saved the situation and delivered the world from all the misery which was inflicted by the great war.

By taking a leading position in security this agreement, which is fraught with so much hope for the progress of humanity, we have demonstrated that when we have said we maintained our armaments, not for aggression, but purely for defense, we were making a candid statement which we were willing to verify by our actions.

I shall not now go into a discussion of the details or the implications of this agreement other than to point out that, of course, it detracts nothing from the right and obligation of ourselves or the other high contracting parties to maintain an adequate national defense against any attack, but it does pledge ourselves not to attack others in consideration for their agreement not to attack us, and to seek a settlement of our controversies one with another through peaceful means.

While it would be too much to suppose that was has been entirely banished yet a new and important barrier, reasonable and honorable, has been set up to prevent it. This agreement proposes a revolutionary policy among nations. It holds a greater hope for peaceful relations than was ever before given to the world. If those who are involved in it, having started it will finish it, its provisions will prove one of the greatest blessings ever bestowed upon humanity. It is a fitting consummation of the first decade of peace.
American History Related Photos World War 1 & World War 2 Photos
Punk rock Cartoon Characters. Free Desktop Wallpapers, Comic Strip & More!
Bob Craypoe's Site Craypoe.com Merchandise Top of This Page Home