United States and American History: 1917 World War I Dissent

About the history of the United States in 1917, a dissenting voice against U.S. involvement in World War I by George Norris in Congress.


Apr. 4 Republican senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, who ultimately represented his State in Congress for 39 years, delivered an indignant speech opposing a declaration of war:

There are a great many American citizens who feel that we owe it as a duty to humanity to take part in this war....This has brought us to the present moment, when Congress, urged by the President and backed by the artificial sentiment, is about to declare war and engulf our country in the greatest holocaust that the world has ever known.

In showing the position of the bond-holder and the stockholder, I desire to read an extract from a letter written by a member of the N.Y. Stock Exchange to his customers. This writer says:

"Regarding the war as inevitable, Wall Street believes that it would be preferable to this uncertainty about the actual date of commencement. Canada and Japan are at war, and are more prosperous than ever before. The popular view is that stocks would have a quick, clear, sharp reaction immediately upon outbreak of hostilities, and that then they would enjoy an old-fashioned bull market such as followed the outbreak of war with Spain in 1898....If the U.S. does not go to war, it is nevertheless good opinion that the preparedness program will compensate in good measure for the loss of the stimulus of actual war!"

...Here we have the cold-blooded proposition that war brings prosperity to that class of people who are within the viewpoint of the writer...

To whom does war bring prosperity? Not to the soldier who for the muniticient compensation of $16 per month shoulders his musket and goes into the trench, there to shed his blood and to die if necessary; not to the broken-hearted widow who waits for the return of the mangled body of her husband; not to the mother who weeps at the death of her brave boy; not to the little children who shiver with cold; not to the babe who suffers from hunger; not to the millions of mothers and daughters who carry broken hearts to their graves. War brings no prosperity to the great mass of common and patriotic citizens. It increases the cost of living of those who toil and those who already must strain every effort to keep soul and body together. War brings prosperity to the stock gambler on Wall Street-to those who are already in possession of more wealth than can be realized or enjoyed...

We are taking a step today that is fraught with untold danger. We are going into war upon the command of gold.

...By our act we will make millions of our countrymen suffer, and the consequences of it may well be that millions of our brethren must shed their lifeblood, millions of broken-hearted women must weep, millions of children must suffer, and millions of babes must die from hunger, and all because we want to preserve the commercial right of American citizens to deliver munitions of war to belligerent nations.

You Are Here: Trivia-Library Home » United States History: 1917 » United States and American History: 1917 World War I Dissent
« United States and American History: 1917
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ - By printing, downloading, or using you agree to our full terms. Review the full terms at the following URL: /disclaimer.htm