27 October 1920: An appeal for the United States to join the League of Nations

90 years ago on Page 7 of the Cumberland Evening Times appeared an appeal for the United States to join the League of Nations (which it never did). After the general appeal it goes into a huge amount of detail on what the League is and does, and due to the massive size I have only typed out the first part.


Its Purposes and Plans In Plain Terms
We have got to choose between military preparedness for future wars and political preparedness for future peace.
Vital international problems should be THOUGHT out, not FOUGHT out.
Another war would not only be diabolical; it would be unendurable.
It is a question of saving the mothers of future generations from sending their sons into war.
There is only one League and it is a going concern today, with budget, officers, and rapidly expanding functions.
81,000 REASONS
There are 81,000 reasons why the women of America will vote for a League of Nations to preserve Peace: They are your 81,000 sons and brothers and husbands who died in France and Flanders to end war.
Americans are not quitters. It is time to stop playing football with the Peace Treaty and the League Covenant. It is time to give short shrift to the false prophets who have been preaching a Gospel of Repudiation.
We are at the crossroads of our history. We have got to make up our minds whether we shall advance or retreat. One thing is certain: Unless we get busy and “consolidate our gains” pretty soon we stand to lose all we won in the war.
The peace of the world will once more be in jeopardy if the League of Nations is permitted to fall apart because of our failure to enter it and fulfill our pledges. We have made pledges we are not living up to — pledges to our allies, pledges to our dead, pledges to our children. During the war we announced repeatedly that we were fighting “a war to end war.” We promised again and again that when the war was won we would sign the death warrant of all future wars. We joined the Allies in defense of democracy — to make and keep the world safe.
It is not a question of pleasing our partners in the war. It is a question of saving the mothers of future generations from sending their sons to war. Thousands of our sons, sleeping tonight on the fields of France and Flanders, must not be robbed of their hard-won victory.
Today the League has become an imperative necessity no matter how much a dream it may have been a century ago. It became an immediate necessity when we had to meet the menace of German militarism. It is no less imperative as an instrument for insuring the fulfilment of the terms of the Treaty. And now the menace of Sovietism threatens the world. Trotzky propehies that “in one year all Europe will be Bolshevist.” No nation is immune from this fatal infection.
We have got to choose between military preparedness for future wars and political preparedness for future peace. Our choice will be made in November at the ballot box. If we vote to turn our backs on the League of Nations, the recent war will prove to have been but a drum-fire(?) preparing the way for the next great war.
And if, through our failure to assume our share of the burden of peace, another war of the nations be allowed to come a decade or two hence, nothing can save civilization from collapse. War today is very different from war as it was conducted in the days when a minimum percentage of the population constituted the fighting forces — today practically the only non-combatants are the conscientious objectors, and they must keep books or make maps in the War Office. The vastly extended application of chemistry, physics and electricity to the winning of another war would not only be diabolical: it would be unendurable. Civilization would be crushed and humanity blown to bits.
It is beside the point that for many centuries teh path of progress has been paved with cannon balls for cobble stones. We have turned a corner in history. We have come to the conclusion that vital international problems should be thought out and not fought out. No doubt there was a time when world peace was an academic problem for pale scholars. But times have changed and today a League of Nations to lessen the likelihood of war has become the most pressing problem of practical politics.
There is no alternative. Every other method for preserving peace has been weighed and found wanting. Unaided by such international machinery as the League provides, diplomacy, business, education, labor, voluntary courts of arbitration, even religion have proved unequal to the task of preventing war. The diplomatic expedient of a “balance of power,” with counter alliances forever competing in an armament race, has wretchedly failed. We cannot select between a League and some other way. Nor can we take our pick among a large assortment of leagues. There is only one League, and that is a going concern today, with budget, officers and rapidly expanding functions. Thirty-seven nations, including all the major nations except the United States, have ratified the Treaty and joined that League.
We cannot afford to remain ignorant of the character and constitution of the League. The following pages make sun-clear to any reader both the purpose of the League and the meaning of the Covenant.

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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