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Just how long do you think Mr. Churchill would be Prime Minister of England, after he had made such a proposition to the democratic, liberty-loving people of that nation?
You may say that Winston Churchill is entrusted with great powers and has used them with discretion and effect. And I will agree. But, in the first place, his powers are as a whisper in a cyclone compared to what bill 1776 provides for the President. And Mr. Churchill cannot stay in power a moment longer than the English people want him. For remember the moment his policies become unacceptable, or his ability fails to meet the test of the hour, he can be removed by a plurality of a single vote in the House of Commons, and his whole administration goes out with him.
Since Franklin D. Roosevelt came into the Presidency, England has had 4 different Prime Ministers, Ramsay MacDonald, Standley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, and finally Mr. Churchill, the latter installed after the war began. And France, incidentally, has had 12. Also, the British system provides another protection for democracy and against dictatorship, in that the Prime Minister may at all times be hailed to the floor of Parliament, where he must submit to full interrogation, both as to his past acts and intentions for the future.
Here in the United States, on the other hand, the President is a sacred, untouchable personage, a sort of gilded demigod set high up on a pedestal, whom neither the people nor Congress can hold responsible for mistakes, incompetence, bad judgment, or abuse of power, except at the end of 4 years. The only remedy is impeachment. And impeachment, never attempted except in the case of President Johnson in 1868, is more than ever a dead letter. Because, with the enormous growth in his job and money patronage, a President's influence over Congress is terrific.
President Roosevelt promised solemnly and often during his campaign to keep this Nation out of war. This bill authorizes him to commit acts which would almost inevitably throw us into war. There is no question about that, acts violating the letter and spirit of international law and treaties.
Said President Roosevelt at Convention Hall in Philadelphia on October 23: "It is for peace I have labored. It is for peace that I shall labor all the days of my life.” “Said President Roosevelt at Hartford, Conn., on October 30: For 742 years, nearly 8, the United States not only has remained at peace, not only has kept free from any entanglement, but the United States today is at peace and is going to remain at peace.” Said the President at the great Madison Square Garden meeting 7 days before the election: "We shall continue to go forward in firm faith. We shall continue to go forward in peace."
And yet, although the President and the Cabinet refuse to disclose, but occasionally hint at, some unknown new danger to us, or to England, the situation abroad appears to be less rather than more critical than when the ballots were counted.
And, though on January 10, a Gallup Poll was published in Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox's Chicago paper, showing that throughout the United States only 12 percent of the population approves entry into the war, and 88 percent are firmly against it, the Government seems to be eager, yes, strangely eager, to slide this country into hostilities-without letting Congress have a chance to make the decision pro or con. Otherwise this bill never would have been drawn.
I think this is a terrible and tragic thing. It is wrong, if anything is wrong. It is a thing against which patriotic Americans should express full, firm, and allout opposition. Some of the supporters of this bill, and especially of sections 1 to 3, have speciously argued that a dictatorial form of government, amounting to an abdication by Congress, is required in time of war. Let me say right here that the magnificent record of Great Britain in this war rudely shatters that idea. For there is no dictatorship in a country where Parliament can depose the Prime Minister and fire the Cabinet, no matter how absolute may be the powers that were given to the executive branch.
Let me say also that, though dictatorship may be a good instrument for war in a country like Germany, where the people have had little freedom, and where both people and industry are used to regimentation and submission, dictatorship in this country, where cooperation and private initiative has been the rule, would stall and confuse our defense program as well as shrink aid for England. It would be a major disaster.
The fact is that every country must work, in war as in peace, in accordance with its own genius and history. To try to graft onto this nation, at this time, a Prussian organization of society such as this bill, deceptively spoken of as a
defense bill, and inappropriately labeled 1776, would set up, would be defeating the purposes and betraying the soul of America.
Mr. Chairman, this bill, if passed, would, I believe, launch this country, which we all love, whatever our differences of opinion on other matters may be, onto a dark and tragic stream. As to bill 1776, in its present form or any form resembling it, the motto of the American people should definitely read: “It shall not pass."
The CHAIRMAN. Capt. William J. Grace, representing the Citizens Keep America Out of War Committee, Chicago, Ill.
Mr. GRACE. Yes, sir.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM J. GRACE, CHAIRMAN, THE CITIZENS
KEEP AMERICA OUT OF WAR COMMITTEE, CHICAGO, ILL.
I am chairman of the Citizens Keep America Out of War Committee, which is a group of citizens called together as a result of a council of the Cook County Council of Veterans of Foreign Wars last June, who held a patriotic “keep America out of war” demonstration, in order to give evidence of the fact that their sentiment was more in favor of keeping out of war instead of getting into war, as the demonstration Senator Pepper had attempted to indicate at that time.
Following that first meeting of the committee we held a demonstration in Soldiers Field in Chicago, which was addressed by Colonel Lindbergh and others, and attended by some 40,000 people. After that meeting we determined to make our organization permanent and go on with our work. Today we are circulating a petition throughout the country, and the provisions of this petition are as follows: To the President and to the Congress of the United States of America:
The undersigned citizens of the United States of America petition you to(1) Keep America, the United States of America, out of war.
(2) Use our resources of men, materials, and machines in building our own defenses so as to be able to meet the threat of any foreign invasion regardless of the victor overseas.
(3) Maintain the Neutrality Act and the Johnson Act unmodified.
(4) Keep free from taking sides and inviting war through encouraging the continuance of fighting or through inflammatory denunciations of belligerents.
(5) Maintain the honor of our country and the integrity of the pledged word of our Nation in dealing with neutrals and belligerents, by adherence to our treaty obligations and to our laws and to international law. We cannot successfully denounce any nation as an outlaw unless we ourselves respect the law in substance as well as in form.
(6) Plan and build against the insane delusion of war prosperity, to maintain which we will be dragged into war (as in 1917), and later suffer the ruin and starvation of depression, when peace finally comes.
(7) Under all circumstances keep the door open for all possible discussions of peace.
As chairman of the Citizens Keep America Out of War Committee, I have been asked to come here to explain what the people who are signing our petition to Congress and to the President by the thousands want regarding war threats and why they want it. The people of the United States were not given an opportunity to vote against war in the election last November. Both candidates declared they would not take the United States into a foreign war. But now we are on the road to war.
The lend-lease bill has activated our petition movement almost to fever heat. The people feel that they are being deceived—that this bill will make it possible for the President alone to force them into political, economic, and military ambush.
According to the belief of 95 percent of those whom we interview, this bill does set the decrees of the President above all the rights of the people, if in his mind alone these rights must be sacrificed to his ideas of defense- no matter what these ideas may be. It may be necessary to have one man to give the orders when we
But does this signify that our American Nation must have one man to do its thinking for it when we are at peace? Are we so puny and brainless and unpatriotic that our destiny is tied up in the brain of a fallible individual? People believe that this bill gives “Yes” as the answer.
There will be terrific resentment on the part of our citizenry if this bill is not killed. Passing it will not make for help in getting this country ready for war. It will not help in getting this country ready to defend itself against a foreign invader. People fear the loss of their civil rights. They fear these rights will be taken away from them under this bill. They fear they are being swindled out of these rights. They will be resentful against Congress for giving up their rights. But they will be most resentful against the author of this bill, under whom, if we get into a war, they will have to fight, as their Commander in Chief.
Resentment against the Commander in Chief on the part of a great majority of the people will not aid defense. The people of this country will be more resentful than any people in the world have been able to be. They have not been trained to regard their public officials as masters. Mr. Wilson had the people behind him almost as a unit. But he did not ask them for such powers as are conferred upon the President by this bill.
If the President wants unanimity of public opinion behind him in his defense measures, he must not have this bill. The public will be resentful toward those Congressmen who vote for it. The portion of the public who can do most toward furthering defense measures will not work with a will. They will be so surly for being dragooned and shanghaied that the work must suffer. The minds of people will be more on the loss of their rights at home than on any possible foreign danger.
The greatest danger faced by the nation is not now from abroad. It is here at home. This country is in more danger internally as regards the future than it was in 1861 when Lincoln took office. The dangerous question, gentlemen, is whether the people will supinely allow a legal dictatorship-let alone obey it.
This bill has provoked many question. Here are some that people are asking:
Would this measure give the President the right to disregard any law in the land that would in his opinion interfere with what he alone may decide to be necessary for the defense of the United States?
Would this bill deprive Congress of the power to impeach the President?
Would not this bill make the President accountable to himself alone?
Would it not deprive Congress of the right to protest against any acts of the President?
Under the powers asked in this bill could a Senator or Congressman be thrown into jail for expressing disapproval of any act of the President?
Would not the President be empowered to declare war anywhere or at any time without either the advice or consent of Congress?
Would the President need the approval of the Senate in any appointments he might wish to make?
Would not the President absolutely control the money, credit, and the taxing power of the United States Government if this bill is passed?
Would not Congress be reduced to the status of a group of private citizens if the President is given the powers outlined in this bill?
Does not this bill give the President exactly the power that is in the hands of Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin?
Does it not give him the right even to nominate his successor?
A proposed law that raises doubts and questions like these is indeed a serious matter.
The petition to keep America out of war which was started only a short time ago has been signed by over a hundred thousand people. More than 95 percent of those in all walks of life who were asked have signed. The petition is spreading throughout the Union and we are getting more requests for petitions than our small office force can keep up with. We expect to have millions of signatures in 2 months time at the rate they are coming in now.
All those we have talked to about the present lend-lease bill are of the opinion that it definitely destroys the rights of the people and Congress. We believe that under its present wording it will turn this country into a despotism under the absolute control of President Roosevelt.
There is great fear spreading over the country that we are about to lose our protection under the Constitution and that the citizen of this Nation will be as thoroughly under the control of the head of the State as is the resident of Germany, Italy, or Russia.
The people of this country are not afraid to fight. They will fight to the death against any invader or attacker. Nor will they be afraid to fight for their freedom and liberty even if it be attacked from within. They are afraid of deception only. People are afraid they are being deceived by this bill that is now being discussed.
We ask questions about this bill and at the same time we have definite opinions on it. For one thing, most of our people believe this is not a defense bill. Its title says that it is to promote defense, but actually it promotes war instead-it is a war-making bill. It is an aid-to-Britain bill based on the theory that Britain is a line, if not the first line, of our defense. But this is no new theory and it is just as bad as it is old. This morning while driving by the Archives Building I saw two legends: "Study the Past”; “What is Past is Prologue. Back in 1806 John Rutledge wrote:
I have long considered England as but the advanced guard of our country * * * If they fall we do.
And in 1803 Fisher Ames wrote:
Great Britain is fighting our battles and the battles of mankind, and France is combating for the power to enslave and plunder us and all the world.
But there were Americans then who believed as we do today and they proved to be right. Jefferson said.:
We believe no more in Bonaparte's fighting for the liberty of the seas than in Great Britain's fighting for the liberties of mankind.
Richard Peters, writing to Timothy Pickering in 1807, said:
I think myself sometimes in a hospital of lunatics when I hear some of our politicians eulogizing Bonaparte because he humbles the English; and others worshipping the latter, under an idea that they will shelter us, and take us under the shadow of their wings. They would join, rather, to deal us away like cattle.
John Adams, in 1808, wrote:
Our gazettes and pamphlets tell us that Bonaparte * * * will conquer England, and command all the British Navy, and send I know not how many hundred thousand soldiers here and conquer from New Orleans to Passamaquoddy. Though everyone of these bugbears is a phantom, yet the people seem to believe every article of this bombastical creed and tremble and shudder in consequence. Who shall touch these blind eyes?
Today we are sailing the same stormy seas and dangerous waters through which our ship of state sailed in its youthful days. If we follow the chart that was used in those days, we shall outsail the storm and dodge the reefs and shoals; but if we throw that chart away and adopt this new chart, the bill under consideration, our ship of state is surely doomed to disaster.
The terms of this bill put the United States right into the middle of the diplomacy game of European power politics. It will make the United States more than ever before--and that's a lot—the object of European propaganda and visiting, begging diplomats, to tell us the great things we can do in solving Europe's problems. Regarding the solving of Europe's problems, Hillaire Belloc said:
We of Europe shall solve our own problems * it is our own affair; we alone understand it. And let me add this: Every public man from Europe, especially every professional politician, who approaches the people of the United States, begging them to interfere in our affairs, is a liar, and knows that he is a liar
the inducements offered, the flattering phrases chosen, are lies. When the power of the United States is thus involved, it is invoked in order to help one competing European unit against another * * and the fine phrases about peace and justice and humanity and civilization and the rest of it, are hypocrisy and a poison.
This bill would practically make the people of this country a Crown colony of the British Empire. It erases American history and puts us back before the year 1775. In fighting this bill now we are making the same fight for freedom as the colonists made in 1775 and 1776. Then the cry was "No taxation without representation.” The colonists complained because they had no voice in Britain's war making or peace making; and that regardless of the outcome of wars they had to pay for them in blood and taxes. They fought their war of the Revolution to establish their own self-respect and freedom and to establish an international respect for their independence and their new governmental philosophy.
Today the people of the United States have no voice—so far as they know-in the decisions on Britain's war making; but when things become critical, Brittania crooks her finger, John Bull pushes a button, and all the batter-conscious marionettes dance and sing and weep and pray for us to come and fight the war and pay for it. It is time to serve notice of the liveness of the Declaration of Independence and there is no better way than to defeat this abdication bill decisively.
They talk about aid to Britain "short of war.” Gentlemen and ladies—there is no jumping half way down Niagara Falls. At least that is my belief. I never tried it. If some “short of war" enthusiast