So a nation that is not constantly renewed out of new sources is apt to have the narrowness and prejudice of a family. Whereas, America must have this consciousness, that on all sides it touches elbows and touches hearts with all the nations of mankind.
The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world and strife is not.
There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.
So, if you come into this great nation as you have come, voluntarily seeking something that we have to give, all that we have to give is this: We cannot exempt you from work. No man is exempt from work anywhere in the world. I sometimes think he is fortunate if he has to work only with his hands and not with his head. It is very easy to do what other people give you to do, but it is very difficult to give other people things to do. We cannot exempt you from work; we cannot exempt you from the strife and the heart-breaking burden of the struggle of the day—that is common to mankind everywhere. We cannot exempt you from the loads that you must carry; we can only make them light by the spirit in which they are carried. That is the spirit of hope, it is the spirit of liberty, it is the spirit of justice.
When I was asked, therefore, by the Mayor and the committee that accompanied him to come up from Washington to meet this great company of newly admitted citizens I could not decline the invitation. I ought not to be away from Washington, and yet I feel that it has renewed my spirit as an American.
In Washington men tell you so many things every day that are not so, and I like to come and stand in the presence of a great body of my fellow-citizens, whether they have been my fellow-citizens a long time or a short time, and drink, as it were, out of the common fountains with them and go back feeling that you have so generously given me the sense of your support and of the living vitality in your hearts, of its great ideals which made America the hope of the world.
AMERICA FOR HUMANITY.
[President Wilson’s address to the Mayor’s Committee in New York, May 17, 1915, on the occasion of the naval parade and review in the Hudson:]
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Secretary, Admiral Fletcher, and Gentlemen of the Fleet: This is not an occasion upon which it seems to me that it would be wise for me to make many remarks, but I would deprive myself of a great gratification if I did not express my pleasure in being here, my gratitude for the splendid reception which has been accorded me as the representative of the nation, and my profound interest in the navy of the United States. That is an interest with which I was apparently born, for it began when I was a youngster and has ripened with my knowledge of the affairs and policies of the United States.