The American Elections and the Great War
Agnes C. Laut
Author of “Lords of the North,” etc.
EDITOR’S NOTE.—The future policy of the United Slates with, reference to the war depends to a great degree on the result of the presidential elections, and the fight between Wilson and Hughes is being watched with intense interest on this side of the line. In this article Miss Laut makes the claim that the GermanAmerican vote is going to Wilson instead of Hughes. The result of the vote depends entirely on what the silent American voter thinks of the situation and in this connection Miss Laut deplores the fact that in the Middle-West the influence of the Germans on public opinion has been so marked. It will prove a big factor.
ALL the world knows now that the United States declared for neutrality. The fame, or the infamy, of that declaration is likely to go down ,to posterity as the watchword of a dollar-glutted democracy that could not see that the fight was not Germany versus England, but despotism versus freedom, might versus right. When Wilson coined his exquisite phrase —“a nation may be too proud to fight”— he little thought he was writing his own epitaph on the tomb-stones of history.
All the world knows the declaration of neutrality. What the outside world thought of that declaration, was best paraphrazed by a “Tommy,” who had as bed neighbor in a first line hospital one of thousands of Americans fighting under the aegis of the Allies. “Be good to that Yank, nurse,” he said. “He ain’t too proud to fight.” That expressed the outside world’s verdict on American neutrality.
The neutrality pleased neither Allies nor Teutons. It was execrated by both. It not only did not please the Germans., It aroused in them contempt, loathing, incentive to the countless crimes of the German plotters in the United States. Why? It is easy to give as an answer, because the belligerent always despises the bystander. It is easy superficially to give that as the explanation of Germany’s contempt for American neutrality; but that is not the real reason for Germany’s loathing of American neutrality. A very real reason for Germany’s maddened fury at American neutrality is this: Germany io-day knows — and every day the War goes-pn she knows with more tragic and terrible import— that she cannot fight the world. She to-day knows that in the long run she must be beaten, or exterminated. If the United States had intervened on one side or the other—Germany did not care which side when she tried to goad Uncle Sam to action by submarine outrage—if the United States had only taken sides one way or
the other, it would have given Germany the excuse she was seeking — “hell-deep-heaven-high”—to quit, to ask for truce, to parley for retreat, to get out of thé terrible cul de sac of fate in which she had involved herself when she lightly set out to crush Belgium and capture Paris. If she had known England would intervene, she would never have set out in her mad path of conquest. (This statement was made to me by one of the foremost Germans in America-) But having launched on the devilish fate that was to be her own destruction, the only power that could save her was the United States. Let the United States but join Germany, there was a better chance of winning! Let the United States but ;oin the Allies, there was an excuse to stop and save her face! To be aiccurate there was a chance to save herself from the fate she had brought on herself. This explanation, advanced at first in many quarters through sheer inability to comprehend the reason for Germany’s seemingly mad course, is now getting more or less genetal credence.
I WANT to make this very clear. You can’t understand the American elections unless you get it very clear:
Germany’s fury is because Uncle Sam did not come in, not because of munitions or loans or any other excuse used as a blind. This and this only is the true explanation of the sinking of the Lusitania, of the bomb plots and all the rest. At the time these outrages were being hatched, I met the hatchers; and they were moving Heaven and Earth, Colonel House and the Pope and Wilson and Bryan, to force somebody to intervene for a truce.
One step more! Get it clear! The fact that intervention was the sole motive of all Germany’s machinations in the United States is the sole and only excuse for the terrible blundering and duplicity of Wilson’s diplomacy• It is the sole and only excuse for his appalling blunders in Mexico, where he has jumped in and jumped out, sparred right and sparred left, marched forward, and then marched backward, accordingly as he found Germany pulling the Mexican strings. Don’t forget that one military commander in the Cactus Land — Obregon—was once called O’Brien ; and another military commander in the Cactus Land — ‘Trevino’ — is a German ; and the puppet chief Carranza is only a tool.
Now go back to where we began!
All the world knows that American neutrality has won the contempt of the world. But what the tvorld doesn’t know, what you and I don’t know, what the Pacifists don’t know, what the Preparedness crowd don’t know is — what the American voter thinks about it.
Peace propaganda in the United States to-day is practically financed *>y German money. - A lady who helped to bring about the farce of the Peace Ship was just plainly a German spy—a German spy apparently living on a “peace society” salary of $1,200 a year, but spending about $25,000 a year with a retinue of followers and attendants and servants. I asked some of her admirers how a woman on $1,200 a year could live in $25,000 a year style. They told me a yarn of noble birth and pawned family jewelsI grinned! I happened to know that the pawning of those iewels had become a habit and that the jewels were like the widow’s cruise of oil—they were inexhaustibly replenished.
So don’t mistake the Peace Howl for the voice of the American voter! The world prays for peace; but the peace that chants over the blood of a world at slaughter has a hyena note in it to me. The side that began the murder, that outraged the women and bayonetted the children—and is doing it yet in Belgium —had best quit and take its lick like any other criminal.
BUT the point is that, when Uncle Sam declared his lofty neutrality and his desire to keep the U.S. on a pearly islet of peaceful bliss in a heaving sea of blood, he had no idea of the sad complications his desire for Peace at Any Price, would lead him into. He did not know that Germany would strive to force
That was why Wilson got himself and the country into one false position after another.
his hand. Even when the Lusitania was sunk, when Morgan’s assailant was murdered, when the bomb plots began to pop up, even then both political parties sent out the whisper, “Soft pedal — quick, or you’ll lose the German vote,” they still thought the foreign policy of the United States could be manipulated to serve party ends.
And now the presidential elections are going to be fought out on the lines of the Great War. The voice of the American voter will be heard on the subject for the first time.
AT the Presidential convention of the Democrats at St. Louis, Gov. Glynn, a Catholic, was chosen for political reasons to ring down the change on Mexico. The Peace Party stampeded the speech. They wante d : “More - more -
more.” They roared and yelled and ramped for “more.” More what? More Wilson, because, “He kept us out of the War.”
Wilson being a wise politician, and knowing the under plot, did not want that watch word. “Too
You begin to understand now the wicked wobbling in Mexico. When American citizens were murdered in Mexico, when shots were fired across the Border, when Americans were murdered on the U-S. side of the Border—Wilson had refused to intervene. Why? Germany. When the influence of the Catholic Church, owing to outrages against the Church in Mexico, was brought to bear for intervention to prevent further outrages, Wilson still refused to intervene, although the adherents of the Church have been preponderated Democratic. Why? Germany. But when the Peace Party rammed down the Democratic Party’s throat the catch phrase, “He kept us out of the War,” the President ordered the mobilization, ordered a
proud to fight” was bad enough; but this cry of the Peace Party put him where? Jiffet where the Republicans wanted him— off the fence—definitely one side or the other. But the rallying cry, “He kept us out of the War,” was literally rammed down Wilson’s throat. He had to take it for the Democratic watchword, whether he wanted it or not. military whoop that was to be heard round the world. You see—he already had the Peace Party. Perhaps a war whoop would get the Preparedness crowd. Certainly, it would placate the Catholic Church which had suffered much the same kind of outrage in Mexico at the hand of the bandits as Belgium suffered from the GermansAnd it would win back the South-West, which threatened to go Republican from Texas to California. You see, politics again.
Then, there was Wall Street. Now, both parties are supposed to execrate Wall Street, especially before elections; but both parties—strange to say—have to have funds. There are millions, if not billions, of American money invested in Mexico; and billions more are preparing to go in to South America. If Wilson would not protect investments in Mexico, would he protect investment in South America? There was a chance to win Wall Street by offering protection in the form of intervention.
See the play ! This is how the political managers figured it out: “He kept us out of the War”—Peace Party and Middle West-
Then, whoop. He intervened in Mexico. Preparedness Crowd, the South West, the Catholic vote and Wall Street.
Just there, the plans of “mice and men went agley.”
The whoop went off half-cock. It was just the kind of wailing little whoop you’d expect from a man “too proud to fight-” (But don’t forget right here, Wilson was refusing to fight because Germany was trying to make him fight. Wilson was attempting the impossible task of being a hybrid between the lion and the lamb.)
ANYWAY, the whoop went off at half cock.
The troops were ordered mobilized to the border.
It was three weeks before they reached the border.
The Preparedness crowd hugged themselves—with glee. “What did we tell you?” they shouted“You’ve been bluffing the Peace Party that we could raise a citizen army of millions over night; and here is almost a month past, and not 100,000 men on the border. Here are cavalry regiments with nothing mountable, not to mention sit-able, except one sick horse, one mule—and the mule kicked a rider to death. Here are regiments that would not have had horses if they had not bought them out of their own money. Here are men without rifles and rifles without bullets and marchers without boots.”
And then, to make matters worse, old
Carranza got up on his hind legs and told Wilson to get out of Mexico; and there isn’t an army officer who doesn’t know Wilson has had to obey orders and “get out”—though they call it diplomacy—because he has not the fighting force for the job.
The result can be summed up in just one word — fiasco! Wilson neither dare send his troops into Mexico nor call them
TO make matters yet worse, that submarine came chugging under seas into Baltimore! Wilson thought the British Navy had bagged all the submarines and his diplomacy was claiming the credit. It doesn’t matter much whether the Deutschland gets away or the Bremen is bagged—both will have met their fate before these words see print—The point is that the Deutschland put Wilson on the horns of the dilemma again. If the submarine warfare began again, one can lay a wager that Wilson would be praying for the British Navy. If the submarine warfare began again, what about “He kept us out of the War?” What about the victories of diplomacy? Wilson’s diplomacy would be discredited. If American lives were lost, he would have to go to war, or How many votes
home. Which ever way he goes, he loses votes. If they go in and are defeated, he loses the Peace Party at one whack. If they stay on the border and do nothing, the militia men are kept off their regular jobs and their friends and their employers are going to speak up at the
could he command if he did not?
I met one of the leading German propagandists the day after the big submarine came to Baltimore. He laughed. So did I. He thought it a great achievement. I thought it the biggest joke on Wilson that had ever happened. “You have been blackguarding Wilson for two years,” I said. “Yes,” he said, “but we aren’t any more.” “No you are going to turn yourselves inside out and support him with a solid German vote—the first time the German vote has ever gone Democratic.”
And there you have the results of Wilson’s strict neutrality in a world of blood—both the big American parties have changed their coats; and the presidential elections will be fought out on the lines of the Great War. Circumstances have forced the Republicans to line up with the Allies. This, although far from apparent on the surface, is easily understandable when it is realized that Roosevelt is endorsing Hughes — Roosevelt, who is strongly pro-ally. Circumstances are forcing the Teutons to line up with the Democrats, despite expectations to the contrary. The German vote is normally Republican. This year, it will be Democratic.
BUT there are, of course, side issues which no prophet can foretell on the silent vote.
The U.S. has been amazingly prosperous. Prosperous people don’t swap présidents. Will prosperity weigh against the cry of Europe for freedom?
Then, there is the Jewish vote. It is a tremendous power; and it is a power no boss can sway. It is the money power of the United States. Both parties are wooing it. Up to recent years, it has been a solidarity. It is so no longer; but I venture to say there is no Gentile living who knows what has split the Jewish vote. Ordinarily, the German Jew votes Republican; but the Russian Jew hates Russia and prays for Germany’s success; so do the crimes of Russia come down to plague us. This explains why Morgenthau, the ambassador to Turkey, left his splendid work to come back and electioneer for Wilson.
Sphinx-like, in the midst of the web which his insincerity has spun round him, sits Wilson — a lonely figure, a figure that would be pathetic if conscious of unworth, which he isn’t; sphinx-like sits Wilson alone in council but for Colonel HouseWho is House? An insignificant type of man of whom no one knows anything except that he comes from Texas and is very close to Standard Oil; and though Wall Street is for Hughes—its aforetime enemy—Standard Oil is for Wilson. Why I do not know — for Standard Oil has suffered in Mexico.
THE vote of 1916 will demonstrate to the world whether the United States is American or polyglot. We call the United States “a melting pot.” It isn’t. It is “a seething pot;” and the pot is likely to seethe for a century before it settles.
On his domestic policy, Wilson has much to his creditHe has reformed the currency. He has reduced the tariff. He has put business on the square. He has enacted rural credits for farmers; but these are things of material prosperity. They are dollar arguments. A nation may gain the whole world and lose its own soul; and some of us think that the fight in Europe is not England versus Germany, but right versus might, and that he who side-steps that issue for temporary gain, sells his soul like Judas for silver and crucifies freedom on a cross of gold.
How the American silent vote views it—on that point hinges the result of the elections-
AT time of writing, Hughes is about to issue his acceptance of the Republican nomination and his declaration of principles. Personally, I know from friends of Mr. Hughes that, when he was on the Supreme Court, he individually execrated the course Germany has followed. Will he say so; or will he, too, play for the German vote? His declaration will be the most crucial thing in American public life since the days of Lincoln . and Washington. When one knows of both parties issuing orders “to soft pedal” after such crimes as the Lusitania, one seriously wonders if there is any of the old-time American spirit left? Does the United States realize this is a world fight for freedom, for democracy, for the right to self-rule?
Hughes is to attack Wilson on his Mexican policy; and that is a very black page of the Wilson Administration. Mr. Wilson must either accept the blame, or come out in the open and acknowledge his blundering was to avoid the plots of Germany to involve him in the War; and this would lose him the German vote. Wilson has declared from the first he would not interfere with Mexico. i He would let the sister republic work out her own destiny; but he has never ceased tacit and secret interference for
Yet, Mr. Wilson recognized Villa — the as-> s a s s i n . the plundering bandit and raider — and permitted ammunition and arms to go to him — ammunition and arms, by the way, which have since been used against
one moment; and he has committed the terrible blunder of siding with and recognizing the party of jail birds, bandits and murderers. It is doubtful
if world history records a more terrible monster or blatant ignorant criminal than Pancho Villa. American lives. There was a stage in the game when Villa, Carranza, Zapata and the rest of the murderous leaders offered to quit, if Wilson would put up an embargo on arms from the United States. It was an unfortunate co-incidence that the firms shipping the arms were supporters of Wilson’s Administration and that Wilson refused to restore the embargo. This co-incidence makes bad Pacifist propaganda. Mexico is to-day a land prostrate in ruins—swept clean of foods, of crops, of corn, of bullion, of stock, of all possessions which can be looted. Customs revenues are pledged for interest on indebtedness to foreign bond holders. When the European War is over European bond holders are going to go in and collect the debts, or compel Uncle Sam to collect for them. That is —Uncle Sam’s Monroe Doctrinedeclares foreign powers shall not enter on a war of conquest or colonization in America. Very well — Uncle Sam must give up his Monroe Doctrine and permit European nations to collect at bayonet point bad debts in Mexico; or else Uncle Sam must go in and pacify Mexico and collect those debts.
Mexico will be the Republican centre of attack on Wilson. But the Middle West is the centre of the big doubtful vote, and peace propagandists, German propagandists and German-American alliances have literally ploughed, seeded and harrowed the Middle West with pfoGerman, anti-British argumentsThe true facts have literally been suffocated with tainted news. The mistake of all lovers of freedom has been to keep so silent; for it is on the silent vote of the Middle West that the 1916 elections will be decided.