“Let us, as a nation, understand that peace is worthy only when it is the handmaiden of international righteousness and of national self-respect.”
[By The Associated Press.]
MILWAUKEE, May 8.—“The news of the sinking of the Lusitania as it comes this morning is most distressing,” said former President Taft on his arrival from Madison today. “It presents a situation of the most difficult character, properly awakening great national concern.
“I do not wish to embarrass the President of the Administration by a discussion of the subject at this stage of the information, except to express confidence that the President will follow a wise and patriotic course.”
That it is possible for the United States to hold Germany “strictly accountable” for the destruction of American lives on the Lusitania without resort to war is Mr. Taft’s opinion, reported in the following dispatch from Philadelphia to THE NEW YORK TIMES on May 11:
“We must bear in mind that if we have a war it is the people, the men and women, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, who must pay with lives and money the cost of it, and therefore they should not be hurried into the sacrifices until it is made clear that they wish it and know what they are doing when they wish it.”
This was the keynote of a speech by ex-President Taft at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Union League’s occupancy of the historic home which it occupies in this city.
“Is war the only method of making a nation accountable? Let us look into our own history. England connived at the fitting out of armed vessels, to prey on our commerce, to attack our navy, and to kill our sailors. We protested, and what did we do then? We held her strictly accountable in the Geneva Conference. Was not our honor as much preserved by this method as it would have been had we declared war?
“I agree that the inhumanity of the circumstances in the case now presses us on, but in the heat of even just indignation is this the best time to act, when action involves such momentous consequences and means untold loss of life and treasure? There are things worse than war, but delay, due to calm deliberation, cannot change the situation or minimize the effect of what we finally conclude to do.
“With the present condition of the war in Europe, our action, if it is to be extreme, will not lose efficiency by giving time to the people, whose war it will be, to know what they are facing.
“A demand for war that cannot survive the passion of the first days of public indignation and will not endure the test of delay and deliberation by all the people is not one that should be yielded to.”
By Ex-President William H. Taft.