“Thus before very long a world fate should befall England. The trees do not grow up to heaven. England, through her criminal Government, has stretched the bow too tight, and so it will snap.”
In New York at the annual luncheon of The Associated Press on April 20, 1915; at Philadelphia in Convention Hall on May 10, in an address to 4,000 newly naturalized citizens, and again at New York in his speech on the navy, May 17, delivered at the luncheon given for the President by the Mayor’s Committee formed for the naval review, Mr. Wilson set forth the principles on which he would meet the crises of the European war as they affect the United States. The texts of the three speeches appear below.
[President Wilson’s address on April 20, 1915, to the members of The Associated Press at their annual luncheon in New York:]
I am deeply gratified by the generous reception you have accorded me. It makes me look back with a touch of regret to former occasions when I have stood in this place and enjoyed a greater liberty than is granted me today. There have been times when I stood in this spot and said what I really thought, and I pray God that those days of indulgence may be accorded me again. But I have come here today, of course, somewhat restrained by a sense of responsibility that I cannot escape.
For I take The Associated Press very seriously. I know the enormous part that you play in the affairs not only of this country, but the world. You deal in the raw material of opinion and, if my convictions have any validity, opinion ultimately governs the world.
It is, therefore, of very serious things that I think as I face this body of men. I do not think of you, however, as members of The Associated Press. I do not think of you as men of different parties or of different racial derivations or of different religious denominations, I want to talk to you as to my fellow-citizens of the United States. For there are serious things which as fellow-citizens we ought to consider.
The times behind us, gentlemen, have been difficult enough, the times before us are likely to be more difficult because, whatever may be said about the present condition of the world’s affairs, it is clear that they are drawing rapidly to a climax, and at the climax the test will come, not only of the nations engaged in the present colossal struggle, it will come for them of course, but the test will come to us particularly.
Do you realize that, roughly speaking, we are the only great nation at present disengaged? I am not speaking, of course, with disparagement of the greater of those nations in Europe which are not parties to the present war, but I am thinking of their close neighborhood to it. I am thinking how their lives much more than ours touch the very heart and stuff of the business; whereas, we have rolling between us and those bitter days across the water three thousand miles of cool and silent ocean.