America's Choice and Opportunity

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America's Choice and Opportunity
by Newton D. Baker

America has chosen—nay, she chose in 1776—that she intended to be democratic in her policies and in her government. And our whole history of more than one hundred years justifies the statement that our people are wedded and devoted to the idea of international justice as the rule upon which nations shall live together in peace and amity upon the earth.

So that when we entered this war, we entered it in order that we and our children's children might fabricate a new and better civilization, under better conditions, enjoying liberty of person, liberty of belief, freedom of speech, and freedom as to our political institutions. We entered this war to remove from ourselves, our children, and our children's children, the menace which threatens to deny us that right. I want to appeal to you and to all Americans: never during the progress of this war let us for one instant forget the high and holy mission with which we entered it, no matter what the cost, no matter what the temptation. Let us bring out of this war the flag of our country as untarnished as it goes in—sanctified and consecrated to the establishment of liberty, for all men who dwell on the face of the earth.

Nobody knows what the world is going to be like when this war is over. No imagination is able to picture the sort of civilization the world will have after this conflict. But we do know that when this war is over, the rehabilitation of a stricken if not paralyzed civilization is going to be a long, drawn out, and uphill task, and that there will be need on every hand for trained minds—for trained and schooled men.

When the reconstruction of the world takes place, and a finer and better civilization has been worked out, when the human race puts its shoulders to the wheels of industry and begins to spread abroad the incalculably valuable discoveries of science, I can imagine that a new history of the world will begin to be written. And it will date, I think, from this great war, when men realize, perhaps for the first time in a fundamental way, that the waste in conflict is an unrecoverable waste—that the upkeep of enormous armies is too great a burden to bear—and that the real happiness of mankind is based upon those peaceful pursuits which aim to make available the great resources of the world. When peace comes, America will have a special opportunity for a great service.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).