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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (April 1, 1917)
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.; WILLIAM J. BRYAN, EDITOR AND PROPRIETOR
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VOL 17, NO. 4
Lincoln, Nebraska, April, 1917
Whole Number 696
President Addresses Extra Session of Congress
Text of President Wilson's Address Before the Extraordinary Session at Washington, April 2, 1917
President Wilson, addressing the joint ex
traordinary session of congress at Washington,
April 2, spoke as follows:
'I have called the congress into extraordin
ary session because there are serious, very se
rious, choices of policy to be made, and made
immediately, which it was neither right nor
constitutionally permissible that I should as
sume tho responsibility of making.
On the 3d of February last I officially laid
before you the extraordinary annnouncement
of the imperial German govprnuient that on and
after the first day of February it was its pur
pose to put aside all restraints of law or of hu
manity and use its submarines to sink every
vessel that sought to approach either the ports
of Great Britain and Ireland or the" western
, coasts of-Europe, or any of the ports controlled
by the enemies of Germany within the Med
GERMAN PLEDGE -RECALLED
"That had seemed to be the object of the
German submarine warfare earlier in the war,
but since April of last year the imperial gov
ernment had somewhat restrained the com
manders of its undersea craft in conformity
with its promise then given to us that passenger
boats should not be sunk, and that due warn
ing would be given xto all other vessels which
its submarines might seek to destroy, when no
resistance was offered or escape attempted, and
care taken that their crews were given at least
a fair chance to save their lives in their open
"The precautions taken were meager and
haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing
instance after instauce in the progress of the
cruel and unmanly business, but a certain de
gree of restraint was observed.
"The new policy has swept every restriction
aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their
flag, their character, their cargo, their destin
ation, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent
to the bottom without warning and without
THE DEMOCRATIC POSITION.
. r. .
Columbus, Ohio, April 13, 1917.
. Editor Public Ledger,
You inquire whether I am 'in favor,
during the war, of turning the grain
now used for the making of liquor into
S food for the family. My reply without
reservation is yes. '
, xf JAMES M. COX, Governor.
thought of help or mercy for those on board,
the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those
"Even hospitaTlhips and ships carrying re
lief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people
of Belgium, though tho latter were provided
with safe conduct through tho prescribed areas
by tho German government itself, and wero dis
tinguished by unmistakable marks of identity,
have been sunk with the same reckless lack of
. "I was for a little while unable to believe that
such things would in fact be done by any gov
ernment that had hitherto subscribed to tho
humane practices of civilized nations.
"International law had its origin in tho at
tempt to sot up some lawuw.hicu wouldbo-lre-spected
nation had right of dominion and where lay
.the free highways of the world.
"By painful stage after stage has that law
been built up with meager enough results, in
deed, after all was accomplished that could bo
accomplished, but always with a clear view, at
least, of what the heart and conscience of man
"This minimum of right the German govern
ment has swept aside under tho plea of retalia
tion and necessity, and because it had no weap
ons which It could use at sea except these, which
it is impossible to employ as it is employing them
without throwing to tho winds all scruples of
humanity or of respect for the understandings
that were supposed to underlie the Intercourse
of tho world.
THINKING ONLY OF LIVES
. "I am not now thinking of the loss of prop
erty involved, immense and serious as that Is,
but only of the wanton and wholesale destruc
tion of the lives of non-combatants, men, wo
men and children, engaged in pursuits which
have always, even in the darkest periods of
modern history, been deemed innocent and le-
"Property can be paid for; tho lives of
peaceful and innopent people can not be.,
"The present German submarine warfare
f against commerce Is a warfare against man
kind. It is a war against all nations.
"American ships have been sunk, American
es vtaken, in ways which it has stirred us
very deeply to learn of, but the ships and peo
ple of other neutral and friendly nations have
been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the
"There has been no discrimination. Tho
challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must
. decido for Itself how it .will meet It. .
"The choico wo make for ourselves must bo
made with a moderation of counsel and a tem
peratencsH of judgment befitting our charactor .
and our motives as a nation.
MOTIVE NOT REVENGE
"Wo must put excited feeling away. Our
motive will not bo rovongo or tho victorious as
sertion of tho physical might of tho nation, but
only the vindication of right, of human right.
"When I addressed the congress on tho 20th
of February last I thought that it would sufflc
to assert our neutral rights with arms, our
right to uso tho seas against unlawful inter
ference, our right to keep our pooplo saf
against unlawful violonce.
44Butr-armcd noutrallty, it now appears, In
Impracticable. Because submarines are in ef
fect outlaws when used us tho German bu("
marines have been Used against merchant ship
ping, it is impossible to defend ships against
their attacks, as the law of nations has assumed
that merchantmen .would defend themselves
against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giv
ing chaso upon the open sea.
"It is common prudenco in such circum
stances, grim necessity, indeed, to endeavor to
destroy them before they have shown their
Intention. They must bo dealt with upon sight,
if dealt with at all.
"The Gerxnu. rnment denies tho right of
neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of
the sea which it has proscribed, even in the de
fense of rights which no modern publicist has
ever before questioned lb - right to defend.
"The intimation Is convo,, J that the armed
guards which we have placed on our merchant
ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law
PRESIDENT ADDRESSES EXTRA SES
SION OF CONGRESS
MR. BRYAN'S TENDER TO PRESIDENT
AN UNANSWERABLE ARGUMENT
SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
SELECTION OF POSTMASTERS
A BEAUTIFUL ENDING
TWO IMPORTANT DECISIONS
PRESIDENT WILSON CALLS UPON NA
TION FOR UNITED ACTION
PRESIDENT WILSON'S WAR PROC
LAMATION THE FfRST COMMANDMENT
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