United States House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs, Sixty-Fourth Congress, First Session, on the Bill to Increase the Efficiency of the Military Establishment of the United States, Thursday, January 13, 1916 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1916): 201-213.
The committee met at 10 o'clock a.m., Hon. James Hay (chairman) presiding.
The Chairman. The committee will hear first this morning from Miss Jane Addams.
Miss Addams. Mr. Chairman, I am speaking this morning as president of the Woman's Peace Party, and while I realize that it is more or less absurd for women to appear before the Committee on Military Affairs in connection with a bill concerning the Army, I also realize that the general policies of the United States are very largely determined by committees of this sort, and that women in time of war, as in peace, are very much affected by the national policies of the country. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we are glad to avail ourselves of your kind permission to come before you this morning representing women all over the United States, for our society has branches in almost every State in the Union. And I speak not only for the members of our organization, but for many women in all parts of the country, who feel that the talk so general throughout the country, urging a very marked increase of the Navy and the Army, is simply the result of what is happening in Europe; that the sentiment of the United States is unconsciously affected by the conditions on the other side of the Atlantic.
Our war contagion is a good deal like the case of a man living in the middle of Kansas who, hearing that there were a great many burglaries in New York City, thereupon immediately armed himself against the advent of burglars, although there were none in Kansas. His panic would be purely subjective and the result of what he read was happening elsewhere.
Mr. Chairman, there are two lines of presentation I would like to put forward in support of our contention. The first is that among many experience people in England and in Germany in and in other countries there is the belief that one of the results of this war will be a proportional reduction of armaments. Even before the war Germany and England were beginning to consider the increases in their navies in relation to maintaining a certain proportion. If such a thing as that could be done before the war started, when the finances of all the nations were in a good condition, it certainly would be easier to do such a thing after the war, when most of the nations now engaged in war are going to be bankrupt and we hope more or less convinced of the folly of attempting to settle any international difficulties through warfare.
It seems to the Woman's Peace Party, therefore, that the United States ought to wait until after the war is over before it adopts a new policy, for if there is a chance for pushing the matter of proportional disarmament the United States would be the natural nation to suggest it.
We are further away from the likelihood of war than any other nation; our traditions are against a large standing Army, and if the United States were at least to postpone this proposed policy of military expansion, we could go in for such an international program with clean hands. We could do that very easily if we had not previously increased our own Army and Navy, but if we had adopted that policy of increasing the Army and Navy which is being urged, it would be difficult for us to say to the countries of Europe, "We would like to take up with you the reasonableness of proportional disarmament."
Gentlemen of the committee, we suggest that you at least postpone this plan for a large increase of the Army and Navy until the war is over. If we proceed at this time to adopt this proposed policy of increase in the Army and Navy, the result will be that other nations will feel that they must copy us. We have heard already that Japan is discussing an increase in her navy because we are discussing an increase in ours. There is no doubt that the South American republics and other countries will feel that if the United States is going to set the pace for an increase in the Army and Navy that they, too, must follow. Such a policy, it goes without saying, increases the burdens of taxation for every country.
Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, at the close of this war we will have arrived at a turning point in the world's history. The nations must decide whether the world is going through another lengthy series of years of armed peace, or whether the world is going to make a sharp turn as a result of the lessons learned in this war, and evolve some kind of agreement for international adjudication.
At this particular moment, therefore, the Woman's Peace Party feels that it would be a great mistake if the United States did not take advantage of the opportunity which presents itself to turn the world, not toward a continuation of the policy of armed peace, but toward the beginning of an era of disarmament and the cessation of warfare.
I live in the city of Chicago in a section occupied by working people, many of whom are immigrants. I believe the diversity of immigrants is a source of great strength to this country in regard to keeping peace and averting war. We do not fear the so-called hyphenated Americans in that section of the city of Chicago. Immigrants, simply because they represent all the nations, and simply because they are a cosmopolitan population, have already achieved an international understanding. I lived among the Greeks and Bulgarians and other Balkan nationalities during both Balkan wars, and there was no serious trouble among them; they lived altogether as law-abiding citizens.
Many of the immigrants have come to America, of course, for economic reasons, but also, deep down in their hearts, they have come to America because they want to get away from military service; fathers and sons who dread the militarism of the European nations. They have come believing in the doctrine that in America the Government rests upon the consent of the governed and does not have to be backed up by military force, and they are utterly bewildered by all this sudden talk of the citizens arming and training for war. It upsets their notion of what America is and what they thought, before they came to this country, America was going to be.
It seems to us that many American citizens have come to their present viewpoint in a moment of panic, resulting from the state of affairs in Europe, and that if we increase our military preparation at this time of war contagion, it is quite likely the Nation will live to regret it.
There are other aspects of the situation, Mr. Chairman, which I should like to present to the committee. Not only that we are not now in danger of being attacked, but that the lessons of the European war are not yet learned. We know that the great battleships called dreadnaughts have not proven to be of much use. In such a case, it would seem to be foolish to go ahead and spend a lot of money in building dreadnaughts, as is being urged. If there should be a prolonged naval battle between the fleets of England and Germany it is possible that they would both be destroyed; if they destroyed each other, that would relieve us of the necessity of spending our money for ships, as the United States would automatically be raised from the third naval power to the first. At any rate, no harm could come to us immediately from an exhausted Europe, and it seems a great pity that we cannot wait until the time when something is going to happen before we start to prepare for a hypothetical enemy who does not exist now and who many never exist. I do not like to say that men are more emotional than women, but whenever I go to a national political convention and hear men cheering for a candidate for 1 hour and 15 minutes, it seems to me that perhaps men are somewhat emotional. I think the same thing is true in regard to this war; men feel the responsibility of defending the country and they feel that it is "up to them" to protect the women and children, and therefore they are much more likely to catch this war spirit and respond to this panic. They think they must prepare to defend the country, even when there is no enemy to prepare against, because men in Europe have been called upon to defend their countries.
Women are not quite so easily excited. They go on performing their daily tasks, in spite of hypothetical enemies, and they are not so easily alarmed. I venture to say this in face of the fact that some women are organizing themselves into defense leagues. A woman in the midst of household duties, occupied with the great affairs of birth and death, does not so quickly have her apprehensions aroused because possibly sometime, somewhere, somebody might attack the shores of the American Republic.
In response to the statement that the preparation urged is for defense and not for attack, I can only say that every war is a defensive war. The world has reached a point in its development where no nation can make an aggressive war, because the people will not back up the Government in making an aggressive war.
When we were in Germany, people on every hand said to us, "Don't forget that Russia started this war; Russia mobilized and therefore it was necessary for Germany to defend herself against Russia and her allies." We heard in France, of course, that France is fighting for self-defense, and you hear in England that England is fighting in self-defense.
When a proposition is made in this country to increase the military forces it must of necessity be based upon the ground of self-defense. When the preparedness people say they are arming the county for defense, they are arming it under the only plea under which it could be armed. Preparedness for defense is the only possible reason men can adduce which would be accepted by the people of the country; the plea of self-defense is the only plea which the country would receive and act upon.
There is one other thing that the Woman's Peace Party would like to suggest, Mr. Chairman, and that is a commission appointed by Congress to investigate the present expenditure for the Army and Navy, to see whether the money is absolutely efficiently expended; that this commission have six months for its investigation and that during that time the members have the power to call before them anyone whom they deem necessary in order that they may make an intelligent analysis of present expenditures, an amount, by the way, which is by no means trifling. Thirty one per cent of the entire Federal income goes into the upkeep of the Army and Navy at the present time. We suggest that this proposed commission have power to bring before it the people who are asking most loudly for this increase in the Army and Navy. Let the commission find out what their motives are for this agitation. Doubtless many of these people would come with clean hands; doubtless some of them are inspired by self-interest. Let this commission find out in addition whether the Army and Navy are in good condition, and whether it is really an increase in the Army and Navy which is needed, because merely increasing the amount of money spent and the number of vessels and the number of men docs not make an Army or a Navy more effective, if it is not being efficiently managed.
If the commission has six months in which to make its investigation, possibly before the end of that time this panic which exists in the country to-day will have subsided. Indeed, it seems to be subsiding, even now. The papers are a little less vociferous about the necessity for the increase in the Army and Navy than they were six weeks ago. Let us have six months in which to soberly take up this matter before the nation decides whether it is necessary to abandon its traditional policy and to embark upon a period of great military expansion.
I think these are the suggestions which we desire to present to you this morning. I beg you, gentlemen, to believe that I am speaking not for myself alone, not even for the large membership of the Woman's Peace Party alone, but I am speaking for those women all over the country who cannot understand what has so suddenly turned public opinion in the direction of an increase for the Army and Navy when even our hypothetical enemies are across the ocean, and nobody knows really that we have any enemies. These women cannot understand why the Government should want to "prepare" before there is need to contemplate any war.
Perhaps our attitude indicates a survival of the old difference between the woman surrounded by a group of helpless children, who in case of supposed danger wants to move a little more slowly than the man who rushes out as soon as the bushes begin to move, quite convinced that an enemy is in ambush.
I think there is something of that antithesis in this situation, the conservation, calmer element of the community versus those who are quickly paralyzed with fear and rush into danger before they are quite sure that the danger is there. I am saying this in regard to men in general, and I want to assure you, of course, that I am not addressing myself to the gentlemen of this committee whom, I am sure, are exceptions to any such unbalanced tendency. I shall be glad to answer any questions which any members of the committee may desire to ask.
Mr. Gordon. Miss Addams, did you read the interview with ex-President Roosevelt in the newspaper recently?
Miss Addams. No.
Mr. Gordon. In substance he charges that this administration has disgraced the Nation by its failure to enforce the rights of American citizens in Europe and in Mexico. In substance he charges the President with the responsibility for this because of his alleged failure to take up and push this preparedness program with sufficient vigor. As I understand it, you supported Mr. Roosevelt in the last presidential campaign?
Miss Addams. Yes; I did, but we had nothing about preparedness in our platform. I am a Progressive because the Progressive Party has a program of what seems to me to be a very remarkable political expression of social justice.
Mr. Gordon. But as you understand it, a great many other citizens supported Mr. Roosevelt—
Miss Addams.(interposing). He was not talking as he is now.
Mr. Gordon. But he was the same Roosevelt.
Miss Addams. But he was talking minimum wages, the protection of children and women in the industry, and this of that sort.
Mr. Gordon. He talks as the political exigencies require. But I want to call you attention to his attitude as reflecting the sentiment of a more or less large number of people in the United States. Do you think he is saying these things purely for the purpose of discrediting the administration in power or does he mean what he says?
Miss Addams. I think he means it; it is in line with his general policies — so-called "big stick."
Mr. Gordon. The very policy he enforced when he was President?
Miss Addams. I do not think so.
Mr. Gordon. Do you remember the circumstances of his going to Panama and invading the territory of the United States of Colombia?
Miss Addams. That is past history.
Mr. Gordon. Yes, but it is history.
Miss Addams. Let us say that as President he did that. I think there have been thousands of people ready to protest against it, as there are certainly thousands of people protesting against similar action now. There are people of a certain type of mind, such as Colonel Roosevelt, who are ready for a challenge and who think that the only way to defend the national honor is to fight for it. I do not think that type represents a large body of people.
Mr. Quin. Miss Addams, in line with what you stated a few moments ago in regard to the newspapers pushing this campaign for an increased Army and Navy, do you think that the makers of munitions of war have something to do with this unseen force that is causing this newspaper talk and these newspaper editorials favoring great preparations for war?
Miss Addams. I think there are all sorts of motives. Doubtless many of the editors are convinced that the protection of the Nation lies in the direction of an increased Army and Navy; but I do not think that the bulk of the people are convinced of that fact. I hear a great deal of criticism in Chicago among people of all classes against this newspaper tendency to rush us into a position which we are not ready to take. I think the newspapers are distinctly misleading; they are not interpreting public sentiment but are trying to make it for motives of their own.
Mr. Kahn. Miss Addams, did you see a cable dispatch in yesterday's newspapers giving what purported to have been a part of a speech made by a French Senator in regard to the question of preparedness.
Miss Addams. No, I did not see that.
Mr. Kahn. Let me read it to you. It says:
REGRET FOR UNPREPAREDNESS - "FRENCH CABINETS," SAYS SENATOR, "TOO BUSY CURING HUMANITY'S ILLS."
Paris, January 11.
The 1916 session of Parliament opened this afternoon in the Chamber of deputies with Baron de Mackay, dean of the chamber, presiding. Paul Deschanel was reelected president of the Chamber. A stirring address was delivered in the Senate, where the veteran Senator Latappy, who presided, attributed France's state of unpreparedness for a German invasion to a long series of ministerial catastrophes, with which every change of ministry had the effect of interrupting the work of national defense and neglecting that supreme work owing to "their being hypnotized by a too ardent desire to cure the suffering and ills of humanity." If France had had at the beginning of the war only half the armament she has at the present time, he said, the Germans would never have entered France.
Miss Addams. I think that is a very fair sample of the kind of statement that the leader of every party in every parliament is obliged to indulge in when his country is engaged in a war. It is the only way to keep up the enthusiasm for war. France has had a hereditary enemy in Germany ever since 1872. That is an entirely different situation from the one which confronts us. One danger of the present situation arises from bringing over into America analogies which do not hold here.
Mr. Kahn. Did you hear Lady Barlow make her statement in regard to the suddenness of the present war?
Miss Addams. Yes.
Mr. Kahn. Do you not concede that a condition of that kind may confront this country?
Miss Addams. No, because our situation is so very different. I think the wireless would tell us when an expedition was started to this country; it would require a good many days to get here.
Mr. Kahn. Take, for instance, the Russian-Japanese War; they had cable and telegraphic communication, but Port Arthur and Chemulpo were not far from Japan, and yet Japan struck at both Port Arthur and Chemulpo without giving Russia any chance to defend them.
Miss Addams. We are not quite as sleepy as Russia.
Mr. Kahn. The Russians themselves would not admit they are sleepy.
Miss Addams. I am afraid they would have to admit they are sleepy along the Siberian coast.
Mr. Kahn. You would not find many Russians who would admit that. Mark you, I have a great deal of respect for what you have said, and while I hope we may never have any war, I do believe that this country ought to be prepared. How far it ought to be prepared is a question. How far we ought to go is a matter for discussion. I do not believe in an enormous standing army, or in anything of that kind, but how far this country ought to go in the matter of preparedness is a question.
Miss Addams. May I go back to the French Chamber of Deputies? I talked with a number of members of the French Chamber of Deputies, and while I am not at liberty to quote them by name I will refer to one who has a traditional interest and understanding of America. They were fervently hoping that America would keep its herd and not become infected with the militaristic spirit. They said if the United States comes in, the militarists will have the field. They will have control over the leading nations of the earth and there is no telling for how many generations they will keep that control.
Mr. Kahn. I do not think there is any danger of the United States being drawn into the war. You are familiar with world history?
Miss Addams. Modestly.
Mr. Kahn. You know there were wars long before there were munition makers, and very big wars?
Miss Addams. I suppose there were arrow makers in the very beginning.
Mr. Kahn. Each man made his own arrows in those days, as I understand.
Miss Addams. I think we would have to get an anthropologies to give us the exact information on that subject.
Mr. Kahn. The Romans had their wars and the doors of the Temple of Janus were seldom closed, and there was no munition trust there that we have ever heard of.
Miss Addams. I did not claim that that was the only reason for war, nor even the chief reason.
Mr. Kahn. You heard Mr. Gordon refer to Col. Roosevelt's grabbing the United States of Colombia at Panama? If Roosevelt recognized the Republic of Panama and kept our pledge to keep transit across the Isthmus of Panama clear, was that any worse than the invasion of Mexico and the assault on Haiti or Nicaragua by the present administration?
Miss Addams. Far be it from me to offer to defend Col. Roosevelt's policies; that would be the last thing he would care to have me do. It might have been much better, however, if the Panama Canal and its concession had been internationalized from the beginning. The United States would then be in a position to push the complete neutralization of all trade routes. There is a proposition, to make a beginning, that we will throw in the Panama Canal, and England will throw in the Suez Canal, and Germany will throw in the Kiel Canal, in just such a scheme. It might be that if the United States had done that sort of thing at the start of the Panama Canal we would be in some position of leadership now.
Mr. Kahn. I think if the whole world would come together and agree to disarm, and do away with armies and navies almost entirely, the world would be much better off.
Miss Addams. We do not press that at this moment; all we ask is that there be no increase in the Army and Navy at this moment.
Mr. Anthony. Miss Addams, I take it you are opposed to what is known as the program of the military alarmists?
Miss Addams. We are opposed to any large increase in the expenditures for the Army and Navy.
Mr. Anthony. But you are not opposed to the maintenance of the Navy in a reasonable degree of proper preparedness?
Miss Addams. We should like to keep it as it is now, or rather increasing no more rapidly than it has been doing, and to have it made absolutely effective.
Mr. Anthony. You want our Army and Navy kept up to date?
Miss Addams. Certainly, until we see what Europe is going to do in regard to "armed peace"; then we may take a chance and reduce our armament proportionately with other countries.
Mr. Anthony. You do not believe that the time has arrived to disarm?
Miss Addams. No; we are desirous that a commission be appointed to find out how nearly the present Army and Navy are efficient.
Mr. Anthony. Do you believe this country should afford protection to its citizens abroad or on the high seas?
Miss Addams. One of the things we are advocating before the Committee on Foreign Relations is a program of substitution for military increase. We believe that citizens of this country who seek concessions in unsettled or backward countries, as for example Mexico, under conditions which would not stand the scrutiny of American courts, should not be able to claim the military and naval protection of this Nation. If this principle had been adopted the South African War, for instance, would not have been waged.
Mr. Anthony. How about the case of an American citizen who worked for wages in a foreign country, for instance, in a country like Mexico?
Miss Addams. I think that same principle might be extended to citizens living in a disordered country, if they have been guilty of any acts that are illegal according to the laws of this country, or if, in taking up employment there, they incur, for any reason, excessive and unreasonable risks, those facts should be considered before protection is granted them.
Mr. Anthony. Do you think there is any obligation on the part of the Government of the United States to maintain peace and order in a territory of a neighboring country where peace and order are lacking?
Miss Addams. I do not want to get into a discussion of the Mexican policy.
Mr. Anthony. Do you think any duty of that kind devolves upon this great strong Government to carry light into dark places?
Miss Addams. I think it is always easy for the strong to see a duty to the weak when the proposed action is of advantage to the strong. I think that is something to be guarded against in all national undertakings.
Mr. Anthony. You do not believe that should be avoided?
Miss Addams. I think we should wait until the moment has arrived and we are quite sure that we are disinterested.
Mr. Anthony. When would you consider that the moment had arrived?
Miss Addams. I should say it had not arrived yet. I admire the President for keeping peace with Mexico. [Applause)
Mr. McKenzie. Miss Addams, what do you think of the advisability of introducing military training into our public schools?
Miss Addams. I think it is outrageous and that it is very much to be deplored. May I refer, in that connection, to an experience of ours at Hull House. We had a troop of Boy Scouts there, although instead of guns they had staves. The Russians, the Italians, and other immigrants who lived about us came to us and said, "We did not come to American for this; this is what we came to America to get away from, and we gave up the drilling because it gave the impression that we were standing for the sort of thing which is against American traditions. I think to get in the minds of the boys of the high schools, and even the children in the grade schools, that they are exercising with the ultimate intent of war, when they might be exercising in games for their mutual benefit and good will, is a very grave mistake.
Mr. McKenzie. You think that the physical advantage to the pupils could be obtained without arousing a military spirit in them?
Miss Addams. It could be obtained in many ways without having a military drill. At the present time in Europe, the soldiers are digging trenches. You might set the children to digging.
Mr. McKenzie. Evidently from the experience of the European armies, a man who had had experience on a section would make a good solider.
Miss Addams. We are told that the men in the muddy trenches have very little marching to do; that the rifle is becoming more or less obsolete as it is being replaced by machine guns; that the old-fashioned military drill is not being called into play very much.
Mr. Greene. As a student of history, Miss Addams, you recognize the fact that the doctrine of physical force has played a tremendous part in the evolution of civilization.
Miss Addams. Certainly.
Mr. Greene. And that one of the peculiarly difficult factors in the study of the evolution of civilization as produced through the doctrine of physical force is the question as to when and how and why this physical force may be exerted by somebody?
Miss Addams. Yes; but somebody has to begin to utilize his moral energy and his wits. The experiment will have to be made some time; of course, war has persisted but society may get rid of it as it has gotten rid of other things, the black plague, for instance. The black plague in the ninth century changed the whole face of Europe quite as much as wars are doing now. Certain old diseases have been done away with; any civilized nation to-day would be ashamed to be devastated by the black plague or cholera, and I think it is but a short step from that to the point when nations will be ashamed of war. In fact, from a certain point of view they are ashamed of it now in Europe.
The people say that the diplomats are indicted by this war, that they ought to have kept peace, that something is wrong with those in charge of international relations when such a war can happen. Just when European nations are getting ready to give up their expensive preparation for war and consider substitutes, the United States gets panicky and proceeds to get ready for it; we are late in the day. In this matter of preparedness we are attaching ourselves to an outgrown creed, instead of seizing our chance and leading the advance guard in another direction. It is as an American citizen that I speak, Mr. Chairman, and in regard to a national policy. I do not know anything about the position of military experts, of course; that is to be considered after the Nation has determined upon its general policy.
Mr. Greene. You would not, of course, want to leave the impression with the committee that you placed diseases on the same plane, as attributable to the same causation as the motives and elements which inspire human intelligence to make or not to make war?
Miss Addams. Not at all; you spoke of war having been inevitable and I made the illustration that certain diseases, at one time considered inevitable, are now obsolete. Of course, I think war a very different thing from a disease. There becomes attached to it the very highest possible human motives of heroism and patriotism. A people united as one is an imposing spectacle, but we can get these virtues in other ways, and war is too high a price to pay for them.
Mr. Tilson. As I understand, Miss Addams, your plan would be to have our Army and Navy remain as they are at present until after the war in Europe has come to a close?
Miss Addams. What we ask is to have a six months' investigation by a commission, so that the present Army and Navy may be put upon the most efficient basis possible, and we urge no increase so long as the war lasts; we contend that at present we cannot look at the question calmly.