|Here in a thimble|
seed of Man
enough to fill every womb in the land
seed within seed
all in a thimble
what shall we
seed of Man
born and dead and
back in the land
still to be sown
and then one day Man
shall be grown
Man who shall be
Then he shall say
The draft constitution that follows is meant to make the proposed Union
clearer by illustrating how the democracies might unite. This draft is not
intended to be a hard and fast plan. Practically all of its provisions, however,
The draft is drawn entirely from the Constitution of the American Union,
except for (1) a few provisions that, although not drawn from it, are based on
American practice (notably Art. II, sections 1, 2, 4, 5), and (2) a few
innovations: These latter are given in italics so that they may be seen at once.
Most of the draft taken from the American Constitution has been taken textually,
though its provisions have sometimes been re-arranged with a view to greater
clarity and condensation, and once or twice they have been made more explicit
and somewhat expanded. The Preamble is the only serious example of this last. In
the American Constitution the Preamble reads:
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.
No important element in the American Constitution has been omitted. The
We the people of The Union of the Free, in order to secure freedom equally
to every man and woman now and to come, to lessen ignorance, poverty, and
disease, to insure our defense, to promote justice and the general welfare, to
provide government of ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves on the
principle of the equality of men, and to bring peace on earth and union to
mankind, do establish this as our Constitution.
THE RIGHTS OF MAN
ARTICLE I. -- IN THE INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM THIS CONSTITUTION IS MADE TO
SECURE WE INCLUDE:
- Freedom of speech and of the press and of conscience.
- Freedom to organize ourselves for any purpose except to change by violence
this Constitution and the laws made under it; freedom to assemble peaceably and
to ask redress of grievances and make proposals.
- Freedom of our persons, dwellings, communications papers and effects from
unreasonable searches and seizures and from warrants unless issued upon probable
cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
- Freedom from ex post facto law and from bills of attainder.
- Freedom from suspension of the writ of habeas corpus except when public
safety may temporarily require it in case of rebellion or invasion.
- Freedom from being held to answer for a capital or infamous crime except
on indictment of a grand jury -- save in the armed forces in time of war or
public danger -- and from being twice put in jeopardy of life or limb or liberty
for the same offence, and from being deprived of life, liberty or property
without due process of law and from having property taken for public use without
- The right when accused of any crime to have a speedy public trial by an
impartial jury of the country and district wherein the crime shall have been
committed, as previously ascertained by law, and to be informed in good time of
the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses
against one, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in one's favor,
to be under no compulsion to be a witness against oneself, and to have the
assistance of counsel for one's defense.
- Freedom from excessive bail or excessive fines or cruel and unusual
- Freedom from slavery, and from involuntary servitude and forced labor
except in legal punishment for crime.
- The right to equality before the law and to the equal protection of the
- The preceding enumeration is not exhaustive nor shall it be construed to
deny or disparage other rights which we retain.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNION
ARTICLE II.-- THE PEOPLE OF THE UNION.
- All persons born or naturalized in the self-governing states of The Union
are citizens of The Union and of the state wherein they reside. So, too, are
their children, wherever they may be born. All citizens above the age of 21,
except those in institutions for the feeble-minded or mentally deranged or in
prison, are entitled to vote in all Union elections, and to hold any Union
office for which their age qualifies them.
- All other persons in the territory of The Union shall enjoy all rights of
citizens except the right to vote in Union elections. The Union shall seek to
extend this right to them at the earliest time practicable by helping prepare
their country to enter The Union as a self-governing state.
- The self-governing states of The Union at its foundation are
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Union of South Africa, the United
Kingdom, and the United States of America.
- The non-self-governing territory of these states and of all states
admitted later to The Union is transferred to The Union to govern while
preparing it for self-government and admission to The Union.
- Before casting his or her first vote each citizen of The Union shall
take this oath in conditions to be prescribed by law: "I do solemnly
swear (or affirm) that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of
The Union of the Free against all enemies, foreign and domestic." 1
- Treason can be committed only by citizens against The Union and can
consist only in levying war against it or in adhering to its enemies, aiding and
comforting them. No one shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of
two witnesses to the same overt act or on confession in open court.
ARTICLE III. -- RIGHTS OF THE UNION AND OF THE STATES.
- The Union shall have the right to make and execute all laws necessary and
proper for the securing of the rights of man and of The Union and of the states
as set forth in this Constitution, and to lay and collect income and other
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, provided these be uniform throughout The
Union, and to incur and pay debt, provided that no money shall be drawn from the
treasury except by lawful appropriation and that an account of all receipts and
expenditures be published regularly.
The Union shall have the sole right to
- grant citizenship in The Union, admit new states into The Union and
regulate immigration from outside states and from the non-self-governing
territory of The Union;
- treat with foreign governments, provide for The Union's defense, raise,
maintain and control standing land, sea and air forces, make war and peace,
regulate captures, define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high
seas, call forth the militia to execute the laws of The Union, suppress
insurrections and repel invasions, organize, arm, discipline, and govern such
part of the militia as The Union may employ, and punish treason;
- regulate commerce among the member states and in The Union territory and
with foreign states;
- coin and issue money, regulate the value thereof and of foreign money,
provide for the punishment of counterfeiting, fix the standard of weights and
- own and operate the postal service and own, operate or control all other
inter-state communication services;
- grant authors and inventors exclusive right to their work for limited
- provide uniform Bankruptcy laws throughout The Union;
- govern any district The Union may acquire for its seat of government or for
forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful Union plant.
- The Union shall have no right to establish a Union religion, grant
hereditary or noble titles, levy any tax or duty on inter-state commerce,
subject vessels bound to or from one state to enter, clear, or pay duties in
another, grant preference by any regulation of commerce or revenue to one state
- The rights not expressly given to The Union by the Constitution nor
forbidden by it to the states or the people are reserved by it to the states
respectively, or to the people.
- The Union shall guarantee to every state in it a democratic form of
government and shall protect each of them and all the territory of The Union
against invasion; and on application of the state legislature or executive The
Union shall protect each state against domestic violence.
- Each state has the right to maintain a militia and a police force, but may
engage in war only if actually invaded or in such imminent danger as will admit
of no delay.
- Each state has the right to guarantee to the people in it greater rights
than those enumerated in this Constitution.
No state has the right to
- abridge the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens of The
- exercise, except temporarily by consent of The Union, any of the
rights given by this Constitution to The Union alone;
- raise any barriers to inter-state commerce or communications
without the consent of The Union;
- adopt any law impairing the obligation of contracts;
- enter without the consent of The Union into any pact or agreement
with another state or foreign power.
- Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts,
records and judicial proceedings of every other state in The Union.
- The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several states.
- A person charged in any state with crime who shall flee and be found in
another state shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which
he fled be delivered up to it.
ARTICLE IV. -- THE LEGISLATIVE POWER.
- The legislative power of The Union is vested in the Congress, which shall
consist of a House of Deputies and a Senate. Each shall choose its own officers,
judge the elections returns, and qualifications of its own members, determine
its rules of procedure, have the power to punish its members for disorderly
behavior, to compel their attendance, and to expel them by two-thirds majority;
keep and publish a record of its proceedings, meet and vote in public except
when two-thirds shall ask for a private meeting on a particular question, vote
by roll call when one-fifth of the members ask this, form with a majority a
quorum to do business though fewer may adjourn from day to day, act by majority
except where otherwise stipulated in this Constitution.
- The Congress shall meet at least once a year at a regular date it shall
fix. During a session neither branch shall adjourn more than three days or to
any other place without the other's consent.
- Members of Congress shall not be questioned outside their branch of it for
anything they said in it, nor shall they be arrested on any charge except
treason, felony, or breach of the peace, during attendance at a session of
Congress or while going to and from it.
No member of Congress shall hold other public office in The Union or in a
state during his term, except in the Cabinet.
The Deputies shall be at least 25 years old, and shall be elected directly
by the citizens every third year.
The number of Deputies from
each state shall be determined according to population, a census being taken at
least every ten years, and shall not exceed one for every 1,000,000
inhabitants or major fraction thereof, though each state shall have at least
Senators shall be at least 30 years old, shall have resided since at least
10 years in the State by which elected, and shall be elected at large from each
state directly by the citizens every eight years, except that in the first
election half the Senators of each state shall be elected for only four years.
There shall be two Senators from each state of less than 25,000,000
population, and two more for each additional 25,000,000 population or major
To begin with the apportionment of Deputies and Senators shall be:
|Union of So. Africa
To become law a bill must pass the House and the Senate and be approved and
signed by a majority of the Board. 2
If a majority of the Board shall return the bill with its reasons for
not signing it, the bill shall become law only if passed again by House and
Senate by two-thirds roll-call majority, and if a member of the Board
shall ask to be heard by House or Senate during its debate thereon he shall be
heard. A bill not returned by the Board within fifteen days (holidays and
Sundays excepted) after presentation to it shall be law, as if signed, unless
adjournment of Congress shall have prevented its return. This shall also apply
to every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the House or
Senate may be necessary, except on a question of adjournment, and to every
expression of The Union's will, unless otherwise provided herein.
- The Congress shall have the power to declare war, make peace, and exercise
all the other rights of The Union unless otherwise provided herein.
- The Congress shall have the right to admit new states into this Union; but
no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other
state nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states or parts of
states without the consent of the state or states concerned.
ARTICLE V. -- THE EXECUTIVE POWER.
The executive power of The Union is vested in the Board. It shall be
composed of five citizens at least 35 years old. Three shall be elected directly
by the citizens of The Union and one by the House and one by the Senate. One
shall be elected each year for a five-year term, except that in the first
election the citizens shall elect three, and the House shall then elect one for
two years and the Senate shall then elect one for four years, and the Board
shall then by lot assign terms of one, three, and five years respectively to the
three Members elected by the citizens.
- A majority of the Board shall form a quorum, and it shall act by
majority thereof unless otherwise provided herein.
- The Board shall establish a system of rotation so that each Member may
be President of it one year.
The Board 3 shall be
commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of The Union, shall commission all
officers of The Union and appoint ambassadors, ministers and consuls, may grant
reprieves and pardons for offences against The Union, shall have the power to
make treaties by and with the advice and consent of the Premier and Congress,
4 and to appoint with the advice and
consent of the Senate the justices of The High Court and of all lower Union
Courts, and to make any other appointments required of it by law.
Board 3 shall from time to time
report to the people and Congress on the state of The Union, its progress
toward its objectives, and the effects and need of change, and shall
recommend to their consideration such policies and measures as it shall judge
necessary and expedient; it may require the opinion of any one in the service of
The Union on any subject relating to the duties of his office.
3 may convene extraordinarily Congress,
adjourn it when its two houses cannot agree on adjournment, or dissolve it
or either branch of if for the purpose of having it elected anew as shall be
prescribed by law.
The Board 3
shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers.
- The Board shall delegate all executive power not expressly retained by
it herein to a Premier, who shall exercise it with the help of a Cabinet of his
choice until he loses the confidence of House or Senate, whereupon the Board
shall delegate this power to another Premier.
ARTICLE VI. -- THE JUDICIAL POWER.
The judicial power of The Union is vested in a High Court, and in such
lower courts as The Union may from time to time establish by law. All Union
judges shall be appointed for life. The number of High Court judges shall be
fixed by law, but shall not be less than 11.
- The judicial power extends to all cases in law and equity arising under
this Constitution, the laws of The Union, and treaties made by it; to all cases
affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to all cases of
admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies between two or more
states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of
different states, and between a state, or citizens thereof, and foreign states,
- The High Court shall have original jurisdiction in all cases affecting
ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, and those in which a state or
a foreign state shall be party; in all the other cases before-mentioned it shall
have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, under such regulations as
shall be made by law.
ARTICLE VII. -- THE AMENDING POWER.
The power to amend this Constitution is vested in the citizens of The
Union acting by a majority of those voting on proposals made by two-thirds
majority of the House and of the Senate with the approval of three-fifths of the
Board, or by two thirds majority of either House or Senate with the unanimous
approval of the Board, or by a special constituent assembly established by
law, or by petition signed by at least one-fourth the voters in one-half the
states. No state, however, shall be deprived without its consent of its right to
have its own language and its own form of democratic government.
ARTICLE VIII. -- GENERAL.
- This Constitution, and the laws of The Union which shall be made in
pursuance thereof; and all treaties which shall be made under the authority of
The Union, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state
shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the
- All persons in the service of The Union, and the legislative members and
executive and judicial officers of each state, shall at the beginning of each
term renew their oath to support this Constitution.
- All Union elective offices, unless otherwise stipulated herein, shall be
filled on the same day throughout The Union, to be fixed by law; the exact date
when their terms shall begin and end shall also be fixed by law, as well as the
manner for filling vacancies.
- All persons in the service of The Union shall be paid from The Union
treasury as shall be fixed by law, but the compensation of no judge shall be
decreased during his term nor shall that of any elected officer of The Union be
increased during the term for which he was elected.
Any one in the service of The Union, on impeachment for and conviction of
treason, bribery, or other high crimes, shall be removed from office and may be
disqualified from holding office again, and if convicted remains liable to
indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law.
shall have the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try an
impeachment, and it shall convict only by two-thirds majority of the Senators
present sitting under oath or affirmation. The Chief Justice shall preside when
a President or Member of the Board is tried.
- No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or
public trust under The Union, nor shall there be any official Union religion.
ARTICLE IX. -- RATIFICATION.
The ratification of this Constitution by ten states, or by
France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, shall suffice to
establish it among them.
- The American Union requires this oath
only of naturalized citizens or of citizens entering the Union service or
applying for a passport.
- The executive, see Art. V. The United
States Constitution gives to the President the powers this paragraph gives to
- President, in the United States
- Senate, in the United States
Annex 2: My Own Road to Union
The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon
the tested foundations of political liberty. -- President Wilson, April
It may be useful to retrace briefly the road by which I have come to dissent
now when "it is generally conceded that we should not have entered the last
war," and were duped into it mainly for economic motives, when it is the
fashion to jest bitterly of "making the world safe for democracy," as
if it were "a matter of no overwhelming importance to the United States"
-- when "my brethren," as in the time of Job, are "ashamed
because they had hoped." If I can not accept the basic premises and
conclusions of this school it is not from failure to give its arguments
consideration. It is rather because I happened to go through long ago the
evolution which many have undergone only recently, and because I have had more
time and been under greater pressure to evolve further.
On April 4, 1917, the Associated Students of the State University of Montana
where I was then editor of the college paper, Montana Kaimin, sent this
telegram to President Wilson:
Monster patriotic demonstration today by students of State University. A
united Student body, who, having faith and confidence in your wisdom and
judgment, pledges its enthusiastic support of your every undertaking.
The next day the college paper published under my signature the following:
I have been asked why I voted against sending the telegram to President
Wilson which was to say that the University students "stand behind him in
whatever he undertakes." I was opposed to it because I object to the
all-inclusiveness of the wording which I have just quoted.
When the war first began we condemned that very attitude among the Germans.
We criticized severely their blind obedience to the Kaiser. Now at the first
shadow of war, although we are not in the danger the Germans were with hostile
countries on both sides shall we lock up our brain and throw the key away?
To say that we are behind the President in everything he undertakes,
especially at this stage of the international situation, is to undermine the
very foundations of democratic government. It is an indication of mob-mindedness
and is least to be expected and most to be deplored when found in our colleges.
Instead of being a "glittering generality" the telegram should
have said something definite. If it had said, "We are behind you in every
move you make to aid the cause of democracy against autocracy, and we urge you
to make the entrance of the United States into the war dependent upon the
definite agreement of the allies to establish a league to enforce peace after
the conflict is over and while overpowering the German government to oppose
dismembering and economically crushing that nation and thus sowing the seeds of
future warfare" -- if the message had been of that order, I would have been
among the first to say aye.
When the college term ended I volunteered in June, 1917, in one of the
engineer regiments which Marshal Joffre on his visit to Washington urged the
United States to organize and dispatch at once to France; it was called at first
the 8th and later the 18th Railway Engineers. (I had been working summers as
transitman in the United States Public Land Surveys in Alaska and the Rockies.)
Six weeks after the regiment was organized we were sent to France where I
remained until discharged from service June, 1919. In June, 1918, I was
transferred to the Intelligence Service (G.2, S.O.S.) and in December was
attached in a confidential position to the American Peace Commission in Paris
where I remained for six months.
I had access there to many highly secret official documents, not only the
daily record of the secret meetings of Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, etc.,
but daily despatches between the President and American generals on all fronts,
our diplomats, and Washington (on the home and Senate situation). I was in an
unusual position to see daily what was really happening, and how little the
press or public knew of this, and to see, too, from the inside how propaganda
was being handled abroad and at home. I was also one of those chosen to guard
President Wilson on his return to Paris from Washington until the secret service
men he brought with him could take over, my job being mainly to "smell"
the bouquets sent him to see they hid no bombs. I mention these details to show
the degree to which my functions encouraged a skeptical attitude -- in one
already born a Missourian.
My mental evolution during the war and armistice period does not need to be
reconstructed now from memory; it can be followed in these excerpts from what I
March, 1918. [Letter published in the Missoulian, Missoula, Mont.]
"I can not understand the wave of intolerance, with its determination
to suppress the least expression of non-conformity, which seems to have spread
over the country which has always acclaimed its freedom of speech and press,"
writes Private Clarence K. Streit, formerly of the Missoulian staff, from "Somewhere
in France." "I suppose the country is only going through the same
psychological stage as that experienced by England and France at the beginning
of the war. May they pass through it quickly. When they have, they will realize
that in a country fighting to make the world safe for democracy, intolerance,
hate and forced conformity are among the enemies of the cause."
Oct. 26, 1918. [Letter]
It is going to be mighty easy to lose this war in winning it. By that I mean
that I think the war will have been lost to democracy no matter what the
decision on the field if the prime motive in the making of peace is not the
safe-guarding of the world against another catastrophe such as this war. If only
a quarter of the zeal paid in each country to the protection of its "national
interests" were devoted to the interests of humanity!
Dec. 22, 1918. [Paris, Letter]
I reached Paris about 9 a.m. Saturday Dec. 14th.... Soon came the boom of a
cannon. The President had arrived.... I arrived at the Champs Elysees
just in time to hear the cheers and see the handkerchiefs and hats waving.... He
received a magnificent reception. ... The French recognize the greatness of
Wilson, even if a portion of the American public, perhaps too close to him and
certainly too far distant from the late front, can't seem to appreciate him....
Dec. 23, 1918. [Diary, Paris, Record Room, American Peace Commission]
I made the usual inspection to see what important papers had been left out.
Found a great deal of valuable information lying around. Also all the keys to
the filing cabinets. Among other things, a document dated Nov. 29, 1918, from
the French Republic to the U.S. Government giving plans for Peace conference
drawn up by French Govt.
One learns a great deal at this station. Surprising the way things are left
accessible. This record room contains all the files and documents of the Peace
Commission.... It is enough to give one an idea of the immensity of the problems
confronting the coming conference -- to see the universal scope of the documents
and books in this room.
Jan. 9, 1919. [Diary, Paris]
So many diverse peoples of the world are expecting so many diverse benefits
from Wilson and America at the Peace Conference that the many inevitable
disappointments are likely to have a boomerang effect in the world's opinion of
the U.S. There is such a thing as setting up too great expectations.
Before the Armistice the Allied press was filled with stories of the lack of
food and raw materials in Germany, paper suits, etc. Since the Armistice the
press is filled with stories of the comfortable situation of the Germans, of the
plenitude of food in Germany, and no one has yet spoken of seeing a paper suit.
The answer is -- Propaganda. Germany is menaced by famine, yet the idea of
feeding their enemies grates upon some Christian folk and they try to prove that
said enemies need no food....
No doubt German historians will prove the war was a victory for Germany or,
at least, that she was not beaten. And millions of Germans will be brought up to
believe that. Just as millions of other children will be brought up to believe
another "truth." Each group of belligerents used its press for four
years to instill into the majority of its people its own particular "truths,"
these "truths" being as absolutely opposed to each other as the
soldiers of the two camps during a bayonet charge.
It would be idle to suppose that the effects of this persistent propaganda
should die out with the Armistice and that now Truth should shake off her
shackles, reveal herself to all people of the world so that no one could longer
doubt her identity. Even in times of continued peace we cannot decide just what
is this much referred to "Truth." What chance is there for her to be
Jan. 18, 1919. [Diary, Paris]
The grand conference of Paris has at last opened, ushered in with some well
chosen platitudes from the mouth of President Poincaré .... Surround the
peace conference with a halo of high and noble thoughts, and then do your dirty
work behind closed doors. Same old scheme that they worked in Vienna in 1815....
Read the stenographic report of the afternoon's session.
Jan. 25, 1919. [Diary, Paris]
Gave the peace conference the once over ... from the outside. Populo
is not very popular with the peace commissioners. He is useful as a background
for the splendid limousines which roll by and up to the door of the Quai
d'Orsay, carrying his "servants." ... There were two or three hundred
of populo, representing most of the Allied nations, many soldiers
anxious to see the "fathers of the victory," the "premier poilus,"
the select few who "won the war."
Many of them, I gathered from phrases overheard, were waiting especially to
see Pres. Wilson.... I recognized Balfour, and I think I saw Winston Churchill.
... Marshal Foch ... drew a cheer.... The President ... also drew a cheer, and
the crowd pressed to the fence to see him descend from his car.... They could
only get a glimpse of him. Cold weather, nipping wind. But crowd stuck. I see in
the morning papers that Pres. Wilson made an important speech on the Society of
Nations at this session.
Feb. 19, 1919. [Paris, Letter to a French girl]
President Wilson's speeches were all that reconciled me in the least toward
this war as a war. The patriotic speeches only disgusted me. The men who were
the strongest supporters of the United States entering the war "for
democracy," why, they were all the worst reactionaries in America, men who
all their lives had bitterly opposed democracy at home. And the men, most of
them at least, who protested against our entering the war and were called
traitors and maligned in the press -- they were the men who had been abused for
years by the same press because they advocated democratic reforms.
I detested the German government and the German idea, wherever I found it.
And I found plenty of Prussianism in the U.S. I put little faith in the Allied
protestations of democracy. And, in the last three months, I have seen enough of
the secret inside workings to know that the heads of the Allied Governments are
not sincerely democratic, they are only as democratic as they feel compelled to
be by public opinion. Some of them are cynically un-democratic, though in their
public speeches they usually hide this.
[I would here give a general warning to the reader. I was only 21 when I
enlisted and had never been east of the Mississippi. I was much impressed in
Paris by the fact that I was then in a better position to judge what was really
going on than most contemporaries, more impressed by this than by the facts that
the picture was, even so, very incomplete and that I was young and
Nor did I then realize what strange chameleons documents are. A passage in a
document read when it is fresh and in the light of one's impression of the whole
situation then may seem to one cynical and significant, while if read years
later when quite removed from the context of events it may seem innocent and
ordinary. Conversely, documents that raised no eyebrows when written can take on
a most sinister meaning when read years after the contemporary atmosphere has
gone, and facts not common knowledge then have come to light, or viewpoints have
We tend to assume that the picture we get of a given event will be the one
the future will get of it or that the past got. Yet how many of the factors that
influenced President Wilson and other leaders of his day are lost to us, and how
many factors that we know now were unknown to them?]
March 3, 1919. [Paris, Letter]
Part of the Louvre museum is now open.... I've visited it twice. What did I
go back to see the second time? Especially the Venus de Milo. And also the
Victory of Samothrace.... The Victory of Samothrace has no head. Did Victory
ever have a head? Perhaps. But it always loses it....
No doubt these letters of mine from Paris are rather disappointing to you.
So little about this epoch-making Peace Conference -- this great historical
I might say, however, that this is not a Peace Congress but an inter-allied
Victory meeting, with indignation as the guiding general force and Individual
Economic Interest as the chief counselor of each nation. If you want to cling to
your opinion of the greatness of a number of gentlemen much in the public's eye
why, stay home and read the newspapers. Don't hang around here.
But still, this conference is an enlightened body compared to some of the
vociferous Senators back home, for whom political thinking ended when the
Constitution was written and the Monroe Doctrine enunciated. The world is moving
mighty fast these days, but just where it is going I would not venture to say.
Ah, these piping days of -- the armistice.
But I'll re-iterate that President Wilson, in my opinion, is far ahead of
the others. But he is handicapped by lack of support at home and I doubt if he
will be able to accomplish much.
March, 1919. [Paris, Letter]
The opinions of the American press these days show a lamentable ignorance of
world conditions. To read the papers, and the speeches of ... [various] ...
senators, one would think that they have been asleep for the last five or ten
years. They talk about ... keeping out of European affairs. Were we able to keep
out of this war? The world isn't as big as it used to be. And it is getting
smaller all the time.
I don't think the proposed League of Nations is by any means perfect....
What discourages me with so much of American criticism of the League -- it is so
plainly caused by nothing more than personal or party hostility to the man
Wilson. Or it is urged by a selfish nationalism. It is not helping the cause of
future world peace.
March 20, 1919. [Paris. Letter to a French girl]
I think parents are rather under obligation to the child. The same reasoning
I apply to man's relation to the state. A man owes a state nothing because of
the fact that he happened to be born in it. It was through no choice of mine
that I am an American. I could be naturalized now as citizen of some other
country? True, but the state, in educating me, was fitting me for a life within
that state, its object was to train me into being a good citizen of it. And the
very accident of birth gave me dear associations, friends, memories in America,
made me prejudiced in her favor. I would not change. With all her faults, I
prefer America to any other country.
But -- had I been born in Prance, say, of French parents -- I would no doubt
prefer to be French, would be proud of my French nationality just as you are.
And if the fates had willed that I should have been born an Englishman, a
Russian, a German, a Chinaman, a Turk or any other nationality, I would
undoubtedly be just as happy in my state and prefer it to any other.
And yet, this simple accident of birth under one flag instead of another
colors the mental attitude and distorts the intellectual processes of most men,
including most of the men whom I used to look up to as intellectuals, men of
science and philosophy, men whose sole concern was the truth. This war showed
the stuff of which the world's "elite" or "intelligenzia" is
made -- and it a sight enough to make one despair.
For my part, I love America -- aside from the accident of birth -- because
of the ideals on which the Republic was founded (not all of them, however), I
love American life for its boundless energy, its freedom from tradition, because
it is facing the future and not the past. But that isn't going to keep me from
trying to see things as they really are. I am an intelligent man first, an
American afterwards. The United States is now undoubtedly the most powerful
single nation on the globe. All the more need then for men in America whose
allegiance is to the human race.
My Evolution after 1919
My evolution, then, has not been from unthinking acceptance of the war to
disillusioned belief that it was a monstrous mistake into which we the people
were led through no fault of ours but through sinister influences. My evolution
has been from doubtful acceptance of the war as being, on balance, more right
than wrong, to a bitter feeling as early as 1919 that it had been botched. After
this interlude of disillusionment I have slowly grown to the deep conviction
that with all their mistakes Wilson and the American people chose the lesser
evil in all their essential choices.
Though I went into the war favoring a league to enforce peace, I thought of
it then only vaguely. When President Wilson talked of making the world safe for
democracy I did not then understand that the real problem was not that of doing
justice at once, but of providing the means of doing justice, the machinery of
world self-government. I lost interest in his League in 1919 because it was
coupled with so bad a treaty and because I thought it was too weak. I have since
become convinced that, considering all he had to face and choose between,
President Wilson showed high statesmanship in tying the Covenant to the Treaty
of Versailles, and that he got as strong a world organization founded as was
practically possible then. Though I have since come also to believe that the
League is no solution for us because its basic working principle -- which I
never questioned then -- is wrong, I am nonetheless convinced that this League
was practically essential for the necessary transition to world organization on
a sound basis. But when I left the army I was so disappointed with Woodrow
Wilson and his works, and so opposed to the irreconcilables, that I took no part
in the ensuing fight over the League at home.
I went to work as a reporter and then in January, 1920, returned to Europe
as a Rhodes Scholar. After covering the Turco-Greek war, during vacation, for
the Philadelphia Public Ledger, I left Oxford in the Fall of 1921 to
become the Ledger's Rome correspondent. My interest in the League had so
ebbed that though I was in Lausanne for months in 1922-23 reporting the Turkish
peace conference I never bothered to make the trip of only one hour needed to
visit Geneva. I never saw the League in action, in fact, before The New York
Times sent me in 1929 from New York to Geneva to be its correspondent there.
Meanwhile, however, my life and work in many parts of Europe and especially in
the territory of the Central Powers had helped persuade me that we had not made
a mistake in entering the war.
The reasons that split Americans for and against the League in 1920 were, of
course, paper reasons, for the League then existed only on paper. Yet to this
day only a relative handful of Americans have had or taken occasion to test
their theories by studying on the spot how the League of Nations really works in
practice. Most of the leading American opponents of the League have such faith
in pure theory that they have never so much as laid eye on a League meeting. My
own theories about the League have had to face the facts.
Unlike most of those who have been in close contact with the League and its
problems, I have never been responsible for any part of the League machinery or
for producing results in any of its fields for any government. My
responsibility, instead, has been that of reporting objectively, accurately and
understandingly to all who cared to read what these others were doing. This
function required close continual contact with the permanent officials of the
League, I.L.O. and Bank, with the policies and special problems and delegations
of all important member and non-member countries, and with all big world
questions, political, economic, monetary, social -- and yet sharp detachment
always from each of these. No one present but the reporter had this function.
Nor was any one under more pressure to see each day's development in every field
in terms of living men and women, and to judge correctly the essentials in it
interesting laymen and experts far removed in distance or occupation. I have
enjoyed the further and immense advantage of reporting for The New York
Times. Mr. Ochs said to me, as my only instructions on being appointed
League correspondent in early 1929: "Remember always to lean backwards in
being fair to those whose policies The New York Times opposes."
Such, briefly, was the road which I took at the age of 21 and by which I
have come in 21 years to propose Union now.
On all great subjects much remains to be said. -- Mill.
One must not always finish a subject so completely as to leave nothing for
the reader to do. The object is not to make others read but to make them think.
-- Montesquieu, De l'Esprit des Lois.
When Aristide Briand proposed his European Federation the similarity of many
of the responses impressed me. They applauded, they said: "This is noble,
this is what we all want," and they added, "But there is this
difficulty and that difficulty, and how is he going to meet them?" They
acted as if the veteran French statesman, though in a much better position than
they to see the difficulties his proposal faced, had not foreseen them and
needed their help in seeing rather than in solving them. They implied that all
these difficulties were for him to overcome; they assumed the role of spectators
who would not be affected if his project came to naught through his failure to
overcome every difficulty himself. These waiters-for-a-perfect-plan could not
see that in this enterprise they were willy-nilly involved, that they too would
be punished -- swiftly, mercilessly, increasingly -- for failure to solve in
time the problems on which Aristide Briand had made so brave a beginning.
I am aware of many of the difficulties confronting The Union, and I have no
doubt that there exist more than I realize. I know that this book has led me
into fields where others have a much greater knowledge than I. No one needs to
take time to convince me that this book falls far short of what it should be,
that it is weak indeed compared to the great enterprise it would promote. I
regret that this book is not as clear, short, complete, well-organized, free
from error, easy to read and hard to controvert on every page as I -- perhaps
more than any one -- desire it to be. I feel, however, that I have reached the
point of diminishing return for isolated work on its problem, and that time
presses for an agreed if imperfect answer. My hope is that the book can now make
at least the friends it needs, for if it can then I am sure that they can do far
more than I to correct its faults and advance its purpose.
One can not believe as I do in democracy and fail to believe that the surest
way to bring out the true from the false and to accomplish any great enterprise
is to get the greatest number of individual minds to working freely on it. The
variety in our species is so rich that one can be sure in any such undertaking
that one can do almost no detail in it so well as can some one else.
Democracy taps this rich vein. It recognizes that Man can not foresee which
obscure person or lowly thing may suddenly become of the greatest value to Man.
And so it sets an equal value on every man and on every thing, and seeks to give
equal freedom to every man to do the thing he best can do and trade it in the
commonwealth for all the billion things he can not do so well. That is the
meaning of democracy's great declaration, All men are created equal, and
the reason why the rise of democracy has led to the discovery of more and more
truths and to the doing of greater and greater enterprises.
And so I ask you not merely to make known any error you have found in this
book but to try yourself to solve the problem that it leaves. Since it was you
who found the fault how can you know that you are not the one who can overcome
it better than I, better than anyone?
After all, are not your freedom, your prosperity, your security, your
children at stake as well as mine? Is not the problem of world government your
individual problem as well as mine? Can I alone organize the world for you any
more than you for me? Can any dictator do it for us? If you and I and the other
man and woman working freely and equally together can not gain our common end,
then how on earth can it be gained?
For Man's freedom and vast future man must depend on man. It is ours
together, or no one's and it shall be ours.
Contents -- Chapter XIII