MoboReader> Literature > Kelly Miller's History of the World War for Human Rights


Kelly Miller's History of the World War for Human Rights By Kelly Miller Characters: 19768

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Troop Movement During the Year-Tribute to American Soldiers-Splendid Spirit of the Nation-Resume the Work of Peace-Outline of Work in Paris-Support of Nation Urged.

On December 2, 1918, just prior to sailing for Europe to take part in the Peace Conference, President Wilson addressed Congress, reviewing the work of the American people, soldiers, sailors and civilians, in the World War which had been brought to a successful conclusion on November 11th. His speech, in part, follows:

"The year that has elapsed since I last stood before you to fulfill my constitutional duty to give to the Congress from time to time information on the state of the Union has been so crowded with great events, great processes and great results that I can not hope to give you an adequate picture of its transactions or of the far-reaching changes which have been wrought in the life of our Nation and of the world. You have yourselves witnessed these things, as I have. It is too soon to assess them; and we who stand in the midst of them and are part of them are less qualified than men of another generation will be to say what they mean or even what they have been. But some great outstanding facts are unmistakable and constitute in a sense part of the public business with which it is our duty to deal. To state them is to set the stage for the legislative and executive action which must grow out of them and which we have yet to shape and determine.


"A year ago we had sent 145,918 men overseas. Since then we have sent 1,950,513, an average of 162,542 each month, the number in fact rising in May last to 245,951, in June to 278,760, in July to 307,182 and continuing to reach similar figures in August and September-in August 289,570 and in September 257,438. No such movement of troops ever took place before, across 3,000 miles of sea, followed by adequate equipment and supplies, and carried safely through extraordinary dangers of attack, dangers which were alike strange and infinitely difficult to guard against. In all this movement only 758 men were lost by enemy attacks, 630 of whom were upon a single English transport which was sunk near the Orkney Islands.

"I need not tell you what lay back of this great movement of men and material. It is not invidious to say that back of it lay a supporting organization of the industries of the country and of all its productive activities more complete, more thorough in method and effective in results, more spirited and unanimous in purpose and effort than any other great belligerent had ever been able to effect. We profited greatly by the experience of the nations which had already been engaged for nearly three years in the exigent and exacting business, their every resource and every proficiency taxed to the utmost. We were the pupils. But we learned quickly and acted with a promptness and a readiness of co-operation that justify our great pride that we were able to serve the world with unparalleled energy and quick accomplishment.


A member of the 369th (old 15th N.Y.) brought this picture back with him. He is wearing the smile which tells the story. The war is over.


This band was hailed with enthusiasm by the French. Five kettle drums in this band were presented by the French as a mark of esteem. Another drum, beaten by Willie Webb, of Louisville, Ky., was a trophy left by the Germans when they retreated.


Negro troops in a transport going over. No inconvenience marred their good cheer.


Members of the 15th Infantry being reviewed. A sturdy and determined line of fighting men.


These colored members of the 301st Stevedore Regiment were attached to the 23rd Engineers in France.


Members of the 15th Infantry. Note the serious and determined expression in their faces. They mean business and will obey orders.


These men had a great responsibility placed upon them. The sounding of the Gas Alarm quickly and accurately, when gas was detected, meant saving the lives of many men.


Mr. Kelly and his colored driver at work during the last German offensive.


A religious and very effective scene. These Christian men had faith and confidence in their religion.


A brilliant Fourth of July parade through Allen Street, San Juan, Puerto Rico.



Recently photographed in Kamerun, the last of the German provinces in Africa to surrender to the Allies. Illustrating child labor at the lowest possible cost.


These pictures were photographed in Fumban, the largest and most densely populated section of Kamerun, one of Germany's colonies in Africa captured by the Allies.


Kamerun was the last German province in Africa to hold out against the Allies. This picture was taken by the Allies since they captured the Colony. The natives were never before photographed.

Africa and the World Democracy



Country Sq. Miles Populat'n

British Empire 3,700,000 52,325,000

France 4,641,000 29,577,000

Germany 931,000 13,420,000

Portugal 749,000 8,244,000

Italy 593,000 1,579,000

Belgium (Belgian Congo) 909,000 15,000,000

Spain 88,000 660,000


Abyssinia 432,000 8,000,000

Liberia 40,000 1,800,000


These husky fighters are bound to deliver the goods.


"But it is not the physical scale and executive efficiency of preparation, supply, equipment and dispatch that I would dwell upon, but the mettle and quality of the officers and men we sent over and of the sailors who kept the seas, and the spirit of the Nation that stood behind them. No soldiers, or sailors, ever proved themselves more quickly ready for the test of battle or acquitted themselves with more splendid courage and achievement when put to the test. Those of us who played some part in directing the great processes by which the war was pushed irresistibly forward to the final triumph may now forget all that and delight our thoughts with the story of what our men did. Their officers understood the grim and exacting task they had undertaken and performed with audacity, efficiency, and unhesitating courage that touch the story of convoy and battle with imperishable distinction at every turn, whether the enterprise were great or small-from their chiefs, Pershing and Sims, down to the youngest lieutenant; and their men were worthy of them-such men as hardly need to be commanded, and go to their terrible adventure blithely and with the quick intelligence of those who know just what it is they would accomplish. I am proud to be the fellow-countryman of men of such stuff and valor. Those of us who stayed at home did our duty; the war could not have been won or the gallant men who fought it given their opportunity to win it otherwise; but for many a long day we shall think ourselves 'accursed we were not there, and hold our manhoods cheap while any speaks that fought' with these at St. Mihiel or Thierry. The memory of those days of triumphant battle will go with these fortunate men to their graves; and each will have his favorite memory. 'Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember with advantages what feats he did that day!'

"What we all thank God for with deepest gratitude is that our men went in force into the line of battle just at the critical moment, and threw their fresh strength into the ranks of freedom in time to turn the whole tide and sweep of the fateful struggle-turn it once for all, so that henceforth it was back, back, back for their enemies, always back, never again forward! After that it was only a scant four months before the commanders of the Central empires knew themselves beaten, and now their very empires are in liquidation!


"And throughout it all how fine the spirit of the Nation was; what unity of purpose, what untiring zeal! What elevation of purpose ran through all its splendid display of strength, its untiring accomplishment. I have said that those of us who stayed at home to do the work of organization and supply will always wish that we had been with the men whom we sustained by our labor; but we can never be ashamed. It has been an inspiring thing to be here in the midst of fine men who had turned aside from every private interest of their own and devoted the whole of their trained capacity to the tasks that supplied the sinews of the whole great undertaking! The patriotism, the unselfishness, the thoroughgoing devotion and distinguished capacity that marked their toilsome labors, day after day, month after month, have made them fit mates and comrades of the men in the trenches and on the sea. And not the men here in Washington only. They have but directed the vast achievement. Throughout innumerable factories, upon innumerable farms, in the depths of coal mines and iron mines and copper mines, wherever the stuffs of industry were to be obtained and prepared, in the shipyards, on the railways, at the docks, on the sea, in every labor that was needed to sustain the battle lines men have vied with each other to do their part and do it well. They can look any man-at-arms in the face, and say, we also strove to win and gave the best that was in us to make our fleets and armies s

ure of their triumph!


"And what shall we say of the women-of their instant intelligence, quickening every task that they touched; their capacity for organization and co-operation, which gave their action discipline and enhanced the effectiveness of everything they attempted; their aptitude at tasks to which they had never before set their hands; their utter self-sacrificing alike in what they did and in what they gave? Their contribution to the great result is beyond appraisal. They have added a new luster to the annals of American womanhood.

"The least tribute we can pay them is to make them the equals of men in political rights, as they have proved themselves their equals in every field of practical work they have entered, whether for themselves or for their country. These great days of completed achievement would be sadly marred were we to omit that act of justice. Besides the immense practical services they have rendered, the women of the country have been the moving spirits in the systematic economies by which our people have voluntarily assisted to supply the suffering peoples of the world and the armies upon every front with food and everything else that we had that might serve the common cause. The details of such a story can never be fully written, but we carry them in our hearts and thank God that we can say we are the kinsmen of such.


"And now we are sure of the great triumph for which every sacrifice was made. It has come, come in its completeness, and with the pride and inspiration of these days of achievement quick within us we turn to the tasks of peace again-a peace secure against the violence of irresponsible monarchs and ambitious military coteries and made ready for a new order, for new foundations of justice and fair dealing.

"We are about to give order and organization to this peace, not only for ourselves, but for the other peoples of the world as well, so far as they will suffer us to serve them. It is international justice that we seek, not domestic safety merely....

"So far as our domestic affairs are concerned the problem of our return to peace is a problem of economic and industrial readjustment. That problem is less serious for us than it may turn out to be for the nations which have suffered the disarrangements and the losses of war longer than we. Our people, moreover, do not wait to be coached and led. They know their own business, are quick and resourceful at every readjustment, definite in purpose and self-reliant in action. Any leading strings we might seek to put them in would speedily become hopelessly tangled because they would pay no attention to them and go their own way. All that we can do as their legislative and executive servants is to mediate the process of change here, there and elsewhere as we may. I have heard much counsel as to the plans that should be formed and personally conducted to a happy consummation, but from no quarter have I seen any general scheme of reconstruction emerge which I thought it likely we could force our spirited business men and self-reliant laborers to accept with due pliancy and obedience.


"While the war lasted we set up many agencies by which to direct the industries of the country in the services it was necessary for them to render, by which to make sure of an abundant supply of the materials needed, by which to check undertakings that could for the time be dispensed with and stimulate those that were most serviceable in war, by which to gain for the purchasing departments of the government a certain control over the prices of essential articles and materials, by which to restrain trade with alien enemies, make the most of the available shipping and systematize financial transactions, both public and private, so that there would be no unnecessary conflict or confusion-by which, in short, to put every material energy of the country in harness to draw the common load and make of us one team in accomplishment of a great task.

"But the moment we knew the armistice to have been signed we took the harness off. Raw materials upon which the government had kept its hand for fear there should not be enough for the industries that supplied the armies have been released, and put into the general market again. Great industrial plants whose whole output and machinery had been taken over for the uses of the government have been set free to return to the uses to which they were put before the war. It has not been possible to remove so readily or so quickly the control of foodstuffs and of shipping, because the world has still to be fed from our granaries and the ships are still needed to send supplies to our men oversea and to bring the men back as fast as the disturbed conditions on the other side of the water permit; but even there restraints are being relaxed as much as possible, and more and more as the weeks go by.

"Never before have there been agencies in existence in this country which knew so much of the field of supply of labor, and of industry as the War Industries Board, the War Trade Board, the Labor Department, the Food Administration and the Fuel Administration have known since their labors became thoroughly systematized; and they have not been isolated agencies; they have been directed by men which represented the permanent departments of the government and so have been the centers of unified and co-operative action. It has been the policy of the Executive, therefore, since the armistice was assured (which is in effect a complete submission of the enemy) to put the knowledge of these bodies at the disposal of the business men of the country and to offer their intelligent mediation at every point and in every matter where it was desired. It is surprising how fast the process of return to a peace footing has moved in the three weeks since the fighting stopped. It promises to outrun any inquiry that may be instituted and any aid that may be offered. It will not be easy to direct it any better than it will direct itself. The American business man is of quick initiative....


"I welcome this occasion to announce to the Congress my purpose to join in Paris the representatives of the governments with which we have been associated in the war against the Central Empires for the purpose of discussing with them the main features of the treaty of peace. I realize the great inconveniences that will attend my leaving the country, particularly at this time, but the conclusion that it was my paramount duty to go has been forced upon me by considerations which I hope will seem as conclusive to you as they have seemed to me.

"The Allied governments have accepted the bases of peace which I outlined to the Congress on the 8th of January last, as the Central Empires also have, and very reasonably desire my personal counsel in their interpretation and application, and it is highly desirable that I should give it, in order that the sincere desire of our government to contribute without selfish purpose of any kind to settlements that will be of common benefit to all the nations concerned may be made fully manifest. The peace settlements which are now to be agreed upon are of transcendent importance both to us and to the rest of the world, and I know of no business or interest which should take precedence of them. The gallant men of our armed forces on land and sea have consciously fought for the ideals which they knew to be the ideals of their country; I have sought to express those ideals; they have accepted my statements of them as the substance of their own thought and purpose, as the associated governments have accepted them; I owe it to them to see to it, so far as in me lies, that no false or mistaken interpretation is put upon them, and no possible effort omitted to realize them. It is now my duty to play my full part in making good what they offered their life's blood to obtain. I can think of no call to service which could transcend this....


"May I not hope, gentlemen of the Congress, that in the delicate tasks I shall have to perform on the other side of the sea in my efforts truly and faithfully to interpret the principles and purposes of the country we love, I may have the encouragement and the added strength of your united support? I realize the magnitude and difficulty of the duty I am undertaking. I am poignantly aware of its grave responsibilities. I am the servant of the Nation. I can have no private thought or purpose of my own in performing such an errand. I go to give the best that is in me to the common settlements which I must now assist in arriving at in conference with the other working heads of the associated governments. I shall count upon your friendly countenance and encouragement. I shall not be inaccessible. The cables and the wireless will render me available for any counsel or service you may desire of me, and I shall be happy in the thought that I am constantly in touch with the weighty matters of domestic policy with which we shall have to deal. I shall make my absence as brief as possible and shall hope to return with the happy assurance that it has been possible to translate into action the great ideals for which America has striven."


In accordance with this message, President Wilson broke the traditions of more than a century, and took upon himself the deep responsibility of a diplomatic mission. He went as the representative of one of the great belligerent powers to confer with the premiers and leading diplomats of Europe to frame, not only a peace of justice to terminate the World War, but-if possible-to organize a League of Nations, henceforth making such cataclysms an impossibility.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top