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National Geographic Magazine/Volume 31/Number 6/Our Second Alliance

Our Second AllianceEdit

By J. J. Jusserand, Ambassador from France to the United States

The following impromptu address by Ambassador Jusserand was delivered at the reception by the United States Congress to M. Viviani, President of the French Commission, and Marshal Joffre, in the House of Representatives on May 3. The occasion was unique in that it was the first and only time that a resident ambassador of any foreign country has addressed the United States Congress.

Underwood & Underwood


Americans, as long as the United States endures, will reverence the name of Lafayette, who, though inheriting immense wealth and, as head of one of the oldest and most distinguished families, assured of an influential career in France, deliberately abandoned the advantages of birth to fight in our country for the liberation of mankind.

Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives: I might repeat only the words of Marshal Joffre, though I have not the same excuse for not making a longer speech; but the words interpret my feelings as well as his and those of all my compatriots. Gentlemen, I thank you.

This occasion is a very great one, and I am sure that those two men whose portraits adorn this Hall—Washington and Lafayette—those two friends who fought for liberty, would, if they could, also applaud, and say to their descendants, their American and their French ones, “Dear people, we thank you.”

What you have been doing, the laws you have passed, the decisions you have taken, touch us deeply, and touch the French people in a very particular fashion, because what you have done is a sort of counterpart of what we did long ago.

What we did was to come to the rescue of men who wanted to be free, and our desire was to help them and to have no other recompense than to succeed, and that liberty should be established in this new continent.

What we did was unique then in the history of the world. We expected nothing for ourselves but your friendship, and that we got. We did not know that ever a time would come when the same action would be taken by another of the nations of the world; and yet that time has come, the same action has been taken, with the same energy, the same generosity, the same disinterestedness that characterized the conduct of those other men many years ago. It has been taken by the United States.

What you do now is to come to Europe to take part in the fight for liberty, a fight in which you expect no recompense, no advantage, except that very great advantage, that in the same way that we helped to secure liberty—human liberty, individual liberty, national liberty—on this continent, you will fight to see that liberty be preserved in the broad family of nations.

Thanks to you, we shall see the calamities of this struggle shortened, and a new spirit of liberty grow greater and stronger, pervade all countries and indeed fill the world.

Source: J. J. Jusserand (June 1917), “Our Second Alliance”, The National Geographic Magazine 31(6): 565. (Illustration is from page 566.)


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1932, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also 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.