Millions for tribute not one cent for defense
- The Wrong of "Unpreparedness"
- A Reply to The Peace-at-any-Price Propaganda of Henry Ford
Differences of opinion among men are but the natural result of the differing mentalities with which nature has endowed them.
It is announced that "Henry Ford's wealth, gained in the pursuit of things of peace, will be given to aid the world in its effort for an unending peace." A splendid spirit of self-sacrifice in the interest of the welfare of the human race is thus exem- plified. I indeed wish Mr. Ford's wealth which he has created could accomplish the purpose he seeks. But how will he give his wealth to the work, and how soon, because indeed time presses?
Mr. Ford is quoted as saying, "I would teach the child at its mother's knee what a horrible, wasteful and unavailing thing war is."
I do not believe much expenditure on his part toward this end is necessary. It is obvious what war is. It has been many times painted, pictured and portrayed in all its horrors and wastes and all of Mr. Ford's millions would make but a small addition to the total already spent and being spent to the desired end.
The small boy is taught and has been taught the horrors of war through all time, but nature has provided that what may be the horrors of war to those it has endowed with peace-at-any- price ideas, are not by any means the views of war held by the young hopefuls of the world's people. In fact, nature has pro- vided that those youngsters look upon war as a pretty good prop- osition. They see lots of opportunities of proving their superior mettle and ability. I do not think Mr. Ford would get very far with the child at its mother's knee. I know I cannot with mine and the more dead and dreadful horrors there are in the war pictures of the day the more delighted he is with them, and the delay is irksome until he can get over to the neighbor's yard and engage in the sham battles which sometimes become real and now and then end disastrously for him.
To labor with a small boy over the horrors of war would be like seeking to carry water in a sieve and Mr. Ford is too good a mechanic to try that.
So we have, I assume, to start in on his campaign for peace
at some other place of beginning, leaving the mothers to overcome as best they may the instincts of nature. It is quite unfortunate that these instincts were put by nature into humans before my good friend Mr. Ford had a chance to modify them. But there they are, nevertheless.
I am inclined to think that circumstances and conditions and environment make some difference in a man's mental attitude. It may be that if Mr. Ford's factory instead of being just outside of Detroit, and if his home instead of being in the peaceful village of Dearborn were or had been located in the formerly prosperous state of Belgium, his views as to the desirability of military train- ing and preparedness might be tinged with a different coloring.
He might think more favorably of those men of strong fibre who were prepared to the best of their ability to resist the inroads of the invading hordes of an overwhelmingly prepared and trained nation seeking it is alleged "more room in the sun," whatever that may mean. At any rate we have the result an industrious nation utterly overrun, devastated and destroyed.
I think it would be better for Mr. Ford to adopt that as a point of beginning and seek to prevent a recurrence of such an unfortunate event in the world's history.
He frankly states that he does not know how or where to begin ; therefore I assume he will not resent a frank suggestion.
I suggest that he devote his forces to prevent a repetition of a Belgium destroyed. If he can do that then he would be well rewarded and recompensed by sacrificing his millions to that end, and the world would be bettered forever.
If a repetition of the Belgium devastation can be prevented, then indeed will the world have traveled far towards a cessation of wars.
There is a strong feeling in my mind that to talk for peace today in the United States, no matter how earnestly we all as a people may desire peace in the world, is to embarrass our govern- ment in its sincere efforts to maintain peace with honor and national self-respect, if indeed such a condition is at all possible under the circumstances which have developed and carried us on as a nation to the brink of international war.
And if circumstances beyond our control force us over the edge of the war precipice, we will find ourselves utterly unfitted, untrained and unprepared for war.
Mr. Ford says, "We do not want war. We will not have war." He says, "Surely the world is big enough for all to live in at peace with all."
But he does not seem to realize that there are always the big fellows, the big bullies that have to be curbed, who have to be regulated and limited by stronger authority than their own wills. He surely must know that the races of the earth never have lived at peace, and while the United States has had great immunity from war during the period of its existence, yet during that inter- val the world has been made to grow very small by improved transportation and that all nations now are very near neighbors. The ocean instead of a barrier of defense is the highway open to the invader.
It seems apparent also that our responsibility as a nation, if we are to be one at all, requires us to be able to take our share of the burdens of such a responsibility and be capable of joining others to enforce right and justice among nations, and to defend ourselves in the event some other power does not think our ideas of justice are correct ones. Some nation may be today looking with covetous eyes on our "place in the sun," which location has made Mr. Ford so prosperous under the wise laws which in the main through generations have controlled our international affairs and protected our industries and prosperity and peace.
It is certain that no other nations are particularly devoting their efforts to the promoting of American international or domes- tic trade, and if we propose to develop and expand and protect our trade it will be because of our wilful intent and preparedness to do so, and to maintain the prosperity of our country.
It is not beyond the realm of reason, it is indeed very possible, even probable, that Germany may, in the event of her being vic- torious, lay a heavy tribute on the United States for our having shipped supplies and munitions of war to her enemies.
The levying of unfair tribute, as it was then viewed, led the American Colonies to break away from England and set up the nation of red-blooded people that have grown and developed to a condition of prosperity so that Mr. Ford has created for him- self a mighty industry out of that prosperity, the foundations of which were laid by Washington and his half-starved, half- clothed, armed citizenry, aided to the point of success by France and Lafayette. France crossed what was then a very wide ocean
to come to our aid. The records show that in 1780, after a voyage of seventy days, forty French vessels arrived at Rhode Island with fifty-five hundred French soldiers placed directly under Washington's command, and bringing eight million livres of French gold to pay for their supplies and other wants. Today a hundred times as many troops could be landed in this United States in one-tenth of seventy days to enforce any tribute asked.
Would Mr. Ford have been a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Would he have been a soldier in Washington's army?
Mr. Ford says "In all the history of civilization I cannot find one man who has justified war!"
Were the signers of the Declaration of Independence justi- fied? Was the war that followed justified? I am sure Mr. Ford will not say that we were not justified in the war of 1812 ! Were we justified in the Mexican war? Was the war prevent- able which was unfortunately precipitated because we in the United States could not understand each other as to the menace of slavery to our nation? Those who took part in that war on both sides now all agree that it made of us again a united, vig- orous people.
Were we justified in sending our men and ships to protect Americans and aid in protecting those of other nationalities in the Boxer troubles in China? We could not have done it if we had not had the armed ships and trained armed men ready on the instant, which is what Mr. Ford so violently opposes as a policy.
When the U. S. S. Maine, of sacred memory, while making a friendly call in Havana harbor, was escorted by the Spanish auth- orities to a "safe" mooring buoy and blown up and our flag dis- honored and several hundred red-blooded, good American sailors' lives snuffed out, ought we to have apologized for having been there at all? Were our actions in undertaking the war unjusti- fied ? Many of us who went to the Spanish War felt that we were justified in answering the call of our government for men. Does Mr. Ford believe in the words of the song, "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier ?" I am sure he cannot, though he flatly says so.
Mr. Ford believes in peace as do all his fellow countrymen. He believes in unpreparedness, in which I hope all his fellow countrymen disagree with him, as I certainly do. Indeed I should be grieved more than I can express if my good friend can or does
array himself on the side of Bryan and his followers. There has never been, it seems to me, a more conspicuously disgraced man since Benedict Arnold's day than Mr. Bryan. Mr. Bryan saw fit to desert his post of duty, the most important office next to that of the Presidency itself, in a time of serious international negotiations, being carried on in an effort to secure peace and respect to Americans. He saw fit to compel us to show a divided front to a possible enemy. Could such a desertion of the post of duty at a critical moment be called less than traitorous to the cause of America "Peace with honor?"
Mr. Ford goes further and authoritatively speaks for Mr. Edison, who has been asked by the Government to co-operate in war plans and who has accepted the Chairmanship of the Com- mittee working to that end. Mr. Ford says "Mr. Edison will never use his great brain to make anything which would destroy human life or human property." Yet Mr. Edison is actually on the work as Chairman in seeking to upbuild our military effi- ciency. Mr. Edison is truly a man of great brain. He has devised wonderful things. He has said many strong patriotic things. I believe Mr. Edison would have signed the Declaration of Independence and been in Washington's army. At any rate, I feel that Mr. Edison can speak for himself as an American as he has done in the past. Does Mr. Edison accept Mr. Ford as his spokesman? If he does, he should instantly be asked to resign from the Committee in aid of war plans. As a matter of fact Mr. Edison is now supplying his storage batteries for our sub- marines the most deadly of our war devices !
Mr. Ford's desire to accomplish permanent peace is a very laudable object. We should all join forces to that end, but will not Mr. Ford's attitude urging strict non-preparedness, and therefore necessarily the acceptance uncomplainingly of any -demand for tribute or indemnity, or any insult or harm to Amer- icans by the victors in the European conflict, only tend to pro- mote the recurrence of war? Will any peace, which is only a peace during which to repair and recuperate, be a beneficial peace ?
The nations of Europe are doing more to establish permanent peace than is the United States of America, or Mr. Ford. They are struggling, fighting, sacrificing, dying for that very object.
Their citizens are dying by thousands that permanent peace may be restored and the invader held back to the limitations of his own country.
According to Mr. Ford's religion, no resistance should be offered to the invader. No state of preparedness should have been available to the nations to resist one of their number who might seek to expand and conquer.
Would it have been better if France had not sent us General Lafayette and his troops without whose aid the war would no doubt have been ended favorably to the English in the days when our early colonists resisted the burdens sought to be placed on them?
Should we not now as a nation be able to resent any insults and injuries extended to, or burdens of tribute levied on our nation and our citizens, as our forefathers did for us in similar circumstances? Would not such a course tend more to the ces- sation of wars for all time, if all nations today joined together to stand for the right as God gives them light to see the right, and backed by guns and not by "scraps of paper" treaties ?
Is the heritage left to us by those who have fought and died that America might exist as a free and righteous people a heritage of disgrace? Are we a changed people? Is our blood turned to water? Are we always hereafter to exist by permission of other nations whose blood is red? Is our oversea trade always to be in the ships of other nations and by permission of other nations as it is today ?
It is even a serious question whether as a people serving our own ends as a nation, we should not aid in defending the weak against the strong. Should we not possibly even aid those nations who have followed our example and Mr. Ford's advice, and not maintained a condition of complete preparedness, and who are now consequently the victims of the impossible attitude of dis- armament and unpreparedness for defense of their industries and their homes ? What is our duty as a people ?
Has there ever been a time in our history when such insults, if we may call them such, by foreigners both at home and abroad have been extended to the President of the United States?
Does Mr. Ford realize that his statement broad and long
throughout, rings with the same embarrassments to those whom we have put in authority, the President and others, as do the resolutions of the German-Alliances and other similar foreigners and foreign publications among us?
I think and feel that if Mr. Ford had had the whole picture before him, he would not have by thought or act tended to aid those who are obviously seeking to embarrass the American peo- ple in the performance of the plain duty they owe themselves as a people, to instantly plan and put in force a scheme for effi- cient military preparedness commensurate with the ability of this nation so to do, and fully and amply in proportion to our national military and naval requirements as urged by those who know, and they are not civilians, namely, the General Boards of the Army and Navy.
It is obvious that our international relations are critical. Any American who in these times wittingly seeks to embarrass and prevent the President and the Congress from insisting on and obtaining every respect for American rights which it is right- ful should be ours from any and every nation of the earth, is, whether he knows it or not, deliberately tending to precipitate this country into a war a righteous war to protect its honor, compel respect and defend its citizens, who have a right to look to their flag and their American passports as an adequate protec- tion in their lawful affairs.
Mr. Ford is quoted as saying:
"I could make vast sums from warfare if I so chose, but it would be better to die a pauper than that anything that I have helped to make, or that any thought, word or act of mine should be used for the furtherance of this slaughter."
An impression might be drawn from this statement that Mr. Ford would discountenance supplying the belligerents with Ford cars or any other supplies necessary to contending armies or nations. Yet at the plant of the Ford Motor Co., Ltd., of England, at Manchester, there is being filled now a war order for fifteen thousand Ford ambulance cars for the English Government alone. This fact was stated by Mr. P. L. D.
Perry, manager of the English Company, recently to a Detroit newspaper and I have quoted from that paper.
Further, I quote as follows another newspaper item :
"The British Government sends one hundred soldiers from the Army Transport Service to the Ford works at Manchester, England, for two weeks at a time to learn how to repair machines in the field."
These facts only go to show how far the ramifications of Mr. Ford's business extend, probably without his knowledge, into the belligerent armies, and that Mr. Ford's very small and reasonable profit derived therefrom is obtained by and with the consent only of the British Navy, which so efficiently has kept open the highways of the sea to Mr. Ford's oversea commerce.
If this nation is saved from war, with honor and prestige retained, it will be due to the almost solidly united front pre- sented by the patriotic press of the nation in educating the people in the just doctrines of the rights of Americans travelling on the high seas, and in the pursuit of our lawful trade and commerce between nations.
It should, however, be ever uppermost in our minds that whatever oversea commerce this nation is enjoying today is by virtue of the strong arm extending over the seas of the world of the armed fleets of the allied nations, especially that of Great Britain, and not by virtue of our own intelligence and prepared- ness to demand and defend our rights against those who might see fit to curtail them.
This country is placed directly in the position of trying to compel respect for its rights by mere words, by the mere asking rights which no self-respecting nation should surrender except to a superior power after a contest of arms.
We cannot under our existing unpreparedness obtain and retain our own national rights if seriously opposed therein, much less make effective the very able protest of the President against the wanton destruction on the seas of the lives of innocent non- combatants, even of women and of babies.
HENRY B. JOY. August 28th, 1915.
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.
The longest-living author of this work died in 1936, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 86 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.