Carrie Chapman Catt

Address at Denver - circa May 1917

Carrie Chapman Catt
May 01, 1917— Denver, Colorado
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A few weeks ago, the Premier of England made a speech before the American luncheon club. It will always be considered a remarkable speech, but it contained a paragraph which I predict will pass into the world’s literature as one of the great sayings of great men. We have all observed that the sayings the world loves most to quote, are those which represent sentiments which all the world feels but no one else has been able to express. So Lloyd George happily phrased in definite fashion the feeling in everyone’s mind when the news came that the Russian autocracy had fallen. Said he “There are times in history when this world spins so leisurely along its destined course that it seems for centuries to be at a standstill. Then there come awful times when it rushes along at so giddy a pace that the track of a century is covered in a single year. Those are the times we are living in now. Six weeks ago Russia was an autocracy. Today she is a democracy. Today we are waging one of the most devastating wars that the world has ever seen. Tomorrow, tomorrow but perhaps a distant tomorrow war may be abolished forever from the category of human crimes.”

We saw one by one the nations of the world drawn into the maelstrom of the great war, as a whole, our nations sympathized with the cynicism of Bernard Shaw who said it was “a war of Kings and Kaisers, emperors and czars, with which the people had nothing to do. If by chance the junkers should fall out then the common men might come into their own.” What had we to do with the quarrels of kings we asked. What concern of ours was it, that other nations would win (pg. 3) territory or a place in the sun?

But by and by as we watched the grim and terrible tragedy we began to understand that if the fathers and mothers of the future were to be exempt from paying the price of future wars with the lives of their sons; if the sons of the future were to be guaranteed the liberty of living out their own destiny according to their own desires militarism must come to an end. We saw more that if militarism was to come to an end autocracy must end too. There can be no autocracy without militarism to uphold it and no militarism without autocracy to direct it.

Why even here we cannot go to war without putting autocratic power in the hands of our President. It is as Wellington said

A good army may go to victory under a poor general; or a poor army under a good general, but no army can go to victory under a debating society!

So we have to eliminate the debate and make a temporary autocrat of our president.

But when we Americans got the conviction thoroughly into our heads we asked. But how can autocracy and. There is no use in saying that the defeat of Germany end it – for there is Russia. Russia with a territory much greater than ours, with a population as great, but the majority illiterate, superstitious, servile – we saw the average Russian as the kind, primitive man who belongs to the military stage in human development. We saw another great military empire rising up to threaten the peace of the world even tho’ Germany was beaten.

Then came the sudden fruits of the century old revolution in Russia and with it came a new hope an exaltation, a vision, that tremendous great forces were at work in the worlds cataclysm. We began to sympathize a bit with Germany's position. We saw that she occupied what has been called the "cockpit" of Europe, but with military powers around she too was unsafe and that they might cross her territory and devastate her lands and she has has defenseless little Belgium and so she built up a terrible machine which could defy the world. We said that it is not Germany, but the whole scheme of militarism which is the enemy of the world. We saw that it was not Germany but the systems which must be destroyed.

Then came the unexpected fruits of the Russian revolution. We watched the exultation of the new government as it gathered home the exiles in Siberia and the political prisoners from the prisons. We thrilled with their joy and knew that a new time had come to the world. But when Prof. Morosoff [Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov] for 23 years confined in a cell in the Shlisselburg fortress said

A new era has come which will transfigure Russia and irradiate the world. We held our breath for we who know democracy at short range sympathize with the Aus[trian] philosopher who said the test of democracy is, does it [illegible]. We were prepared for that heart break of Minister Kerensky when he said I am sorry I did not die two months ago when the dream of a new life was glowing in the hearts of the Russian people when I was sure the country could govern itself without the whip. Now, I do not know.

Again the world held its breath and at last came the assurance that the new government was in control. We know that she has a rocky road ahead.

It is not an easy task for people used to slavery to assume freedom, But order will come, democracy is coming into it own. The Romanoff has gone forever.

It is a democracy with all the latest improvements for it includes women.

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