The Nation in Arms

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The Nation in Arms
by Franklin Lane

We are fighting Germany because she sought to terrorize us and then to fool us. We could not believe that Germany would do what she said she would do upon the seas. Yet, we still hear the piteous cries of children coming out, out of the sea where the Lusitania went down, and Germany has never asked forgiveness of the world. We saw the Sussex sunk crowded with the sons and daughters of neutral nations. We saw ship after ship sent to the bottom -- ships of mercy bound out of America for the Belgian's starving -- ships carrying the Red Cross, and laden with the wounded of all nations -- ships carrying food and clothing to friendly, harmless, terrorized people -- ships flying the stars and stripes sent to the bottom hundred of miles from shore, manned by American seamen, murdered against all law, without warning.

We believed Germany's promise that she would respect the neutral flag and the rights of neutrals, and we held our anger and outrage in check. But now we see that she was holding us off with fair promises until she could build her huge fleet of submarines. For when spring came, she blew her promise into the air, just as at the beginning of the war she had torn up that scrap of paper. Then we saw clearly that there was but one law for Germany -- her will to rule. We are fighting Germany because she violated our confidence. Paid German spies filled our cities. Officials of her government, received as the guests of this nation, lived with us to bribe and terrorize, defying our law and the law of nations. We are fighting Germany because while we were yet her friends, the only great power that still held hands off, she sent the Zimmermann note, calling to her aid Mexico, our southern neighbor, and hoping to lure Japan, our western neighbor, into war against this nation of peace.

The nation that would do these things proclaims the gospel that government has no conscience. And this doctrine cannot live or else democracy must die. For the nations of the world must keep faith. There can be no living for us in a world where the state has no conscience, no reverence for the things of the spirit, no respect for international law, no mercy for those who fall before its force.