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No Compromise Peace:
Electronic Edition.

Pou, James H. (James Hinton), 1861-1935


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First edition, 2002
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Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
2002.

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Source Description:
(caption title) No Compromise Peace
James H. Pou
199-206 p.
Greenville, N. C.
East Carolina Teachers Training School
1917
Call number C370.5 T76 v.4 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Appears In Training school quarterly. Vol. 4, no. 3 (Oct.-Dec. 1917)


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No Compromise Peace

(Speech delivered by JAMES H. POU of Raleigh on Founders' Day, Trinity College, Trinity Park, Durham, N. C., October 2, 1917.)

        PEACE is not near. Peace at this time would not be a blessing. Peace at this time could not be a good peace. Peace at this time would be peace only in name. At best, it would only be a compromise--a truce, in which to prepare for a recommencement of war. Peace now would be like those of Ryswick, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Amiens--a mere breathing spell before renewing the titanic struggle. Such a peace would be a calamity almost as great as the war; for soon as it were made every country would begin feverishly, and to the limit of its power, preparing for the war which all would know was just ahead. There would be no time to develop the occupations of peace, nor time to repair the ravages or assuage the sufferings of this war. We would work under the shadow of war; and in our sleep the nightmare of war would ever haunt us. If peace were a compromise, all the blood spilled and all the treasure spent will have been in vain. But if the Great Alliance shall win a complete victory, the war will be worth all it will have cost; for this world will have endured its supreme tragedy, and a better day and a better world will be at hand.

        A compromise peace would be an illogical conclusion to this war. This war is not merely a conflict between nations and peoples, on a collossal scale. It is this and more. It is an irrepressible struggle for world supremacy between two conflicting and irreconcilable ideas. If either of these ideas shall decisively win, this will be the last great war. The world will hereafter, in such case, live under the dominion of force, directed from Berlin; or it will live under the spirit of international fraternity regulated by a great world tribunal.

        If neither idea shall gain complete victory, the war must be fought again, with added horrors, and still more appalling carnage.

        The idea of government by force finds its highest expression in the Prussian system. Prussia is the one government that has not now, and never has had, a friend. From the day it was founded, to this day, it has never had, and apparently has never sought, the friendship of any other nation. Its plan for an alliance is first to attack and defeat its future partner, and, having shown its power, accept the defeated country as an ally or a partner.

        During my life Prussia has ruthlessly and without necessity, almost without excuse, overrun every other Teutonic nation; Holland and Switzerland (if they be called teutonic) alone excepted. She made


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war on and robbed Denmark in 1864. In 1866 she made war on Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, and the smaller states, and crushed and annexed Hanover and Brunswick. She then formed the North German Confederation and took control of all German states except Austria. Some years later she accepted Austria as an ally. Not one of these German states has any love for Prussia. And Prussia does not expect love.

        The very name, Prussia, carries such bitter memories that it is seldom used. Prussia rules Germany and all her allies with rods of iron and whips of scorpions. But she uses the name Germany whenever possible; and the name Prussia only when no other name can be used. The subjection of Germany to the will and power of Prussia was the most unfortunate development of the nineteenth century. From that cause grew this war. The conquest of Germany by Prussia made this struggle for world supremacy both inevitable and final.

        The world was slow to grasp the true significance of the Prussian spirit. In fact, the world refused to believe that this spirit was what Prussian publicists and writers declared it to be. Let us call some of the greatest Prussians and let them speak. General Blucher in 1815 visited London as the honored guest of a grateful nation. In viewing the city he exclaimed: "What a city to loot!" People thought it was a grim, rather coarse, Prussian joke; smiled, and passed it by.

        Three-quarters of a century later, Bismarck, writing of war, said that the civil populations of conquered or occupied countries should be so treated that they would have nothing left "but eyes to weep with."

        General Bernhardi, Prussia's greatest military writer, in his books declared that peaceful occupations were for common people, the lowly, and for serfs; that the only honorable pursuit is war. That war was the noblest pursuit of man, and, rightly conducted, the most profitable.

        Prussia's favorite and official historian, Professer Treitschke, taught in the universities, and advocated in his books, the dogma that the "will to power" is the highest manifestation of human intellect. He had contempt for the idea that any duty or obligation rested on the strong man, or the strong nation, to help the weak. On the contrary, it was the right and the duty of the strong to overcome the weak. If the weaker man or nation can be used by the stronger, then use him or it. If of no use, then destroy them from the face of the earth. He taught that to help the weak and feeble was wrong. He believed that the weak were abortions of nature, and that, instead of being helped, they had best be removed as useless cumberers of the earth, whose places should be taken by the strong. He taught that a strong nation must not be bound by treaty. A treaty might be made as a temporary expedient; but the moment the treaty became an obstacle to the development of a strong nation, that moment must the treaty be brushed aside. He said that it were the grossest sin for a nation to allow a treaty to stand in the way of manifest destiny.


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        Nietzche, son of a minister, renounced religion, deified power, and taught that war was the supreme good; that men were made to be soldiers; that soldiers should take what they would; that the function of women were to gratify the passions of soldiers and to raise children to be soldiers. He said that ignorant people in the market places sometimes spoke of God. But they were foolish people; for God was dead.

        In 1900 when the emperor was bidding farewell to the expeditionary force, leaving for China to put down the Boxer uprising, he told his soldiers to take no prisoners; to slay men, women, and children, and to so act that no Chinaman for a thousand years would dare look askance at a German.

        The world heard and read these things, but did not grasp their terrible significance. Rather, the world regarded them as figures of speech, grossly out of harmony with the age; in exceeding bad taste; but not seriously intended; and certainly never to be put in practice. We know now that these were true expressions of Prussian spirit. We know now that Prussia does not joke, bluff, exaggerate, or utter idle threats. Every word was uttered or written in absolute earnestness and in the deepest sincerity. They have become the creed of Prussia; and this war and its horrors are the fruition of this creed.

        Germany has accepted as gospel these vile principles. This war and its conduct are the concrete expressions of this belief. So fully do the German people seem to believe this creed that they are, or seem to be, surprised that civilization is shocked by their conduct. They seem to believe that their attack on Belgium was no sin. They believed it was to their advantage. According to Professor Trietschke, it was not only right to violate the treaty, but it would have been a mortal sin not to have done so. Hence Bethman-Hollweg's impatience with the British minister on August 3, 1914, when the minister reminded Hollweg that both England and Prussia had recognized and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium. England had never been at war with Prussia; had often been her ally; and Bethman-Hollweg could not understand how any country would feel compelled to go to war for a mere promise. He said with wonder and impatience: "Will you go to war for a scrap of paper?"

        In obedience to these teachings, Germany has made war in the fashion of the dark ages. Her conduct in this war is a combination of the efficiency of the twentieth with the savagery of the tenth century. And Germany is surprised that the world is horrified. Germany has made scraps of paper of her treaties, and she has cast to the winds all rules of civilized warfare, and all agreements respecting the decencies and humanities of war. Hence the destruction of all property; the devastation of peaceful countrysides; the cutting down of orchards; the poisoning of wells; the shooting of priests; the burying alive of civil officers


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suspected of secreting public money or records; the killing of wounded and of prisoners; the wholesale outrage of womanhood; fighting with burning oil and poisonous gas; scientific distribution of disease germs; bombing hospitals and Red Cross establishments. These things reveal Germany as Prussia has made her in the last half century: a curse to mankind, the negation of all religion and of all civilization. She is an outlaw nation, ruled by criminals. Her generals are literally highwaymen; her officers, confirmed thieves stealing from private houses; the soldier brave, but constrained to act as a brutish savage. This is the Germany of today. God help us to clothe her and restore her to her right mind. Germany, under Prussian rule, is today the most malign and dangerous power which has existed since the world began.

        Before Prussia subjected Germany to her will Germany was as other nations. She took her full part in the spiritual and moral life of the world. In some lines she was a leader. But in the last half century nothing that is not material, grossly material, has come out of Germany. Books by the thousand have been written in Germany; but they are all of science, trade, chemistry, socialism, atheism, war, and the worship of power and success. And like the books, the men--Scientists, Materialists, Anarchists, Socialists, Atheists, Soldiers, Sycophants, Spies, by the tens of thousands; strong, efficient men and captains of industry, but without conscience or soul.

        She has not produced in a generation a man or a book with any helpful message or any word of comfort to mankind. No appeal to the spirit can be found in German life or literature since Prussia became Germany.

        Note that I have quoted from none but Germans. I am letting Germans give expression to their ideals. Let me now call as witnesses two Germans of a former generation. About a century ago Baron Fouque, a Prussian officer, wrote a little book--an allegory--which is entitled to a place in every library along with Rasselas, Fior de Alisa, Paul and Virginia and Picciola. He called the book Undine. It is the story of a wood sprite, captured in infancy, adopted and reared as a human being. She developed into a beautiful and intellectual woman. But she was incapable of affection, gratitude, kindness, or humanity. She was cynical, cruel, mocking, and almost vicious. The good people by whom she was reared were distressed and sent for the village priest. He said that Undine was not a woman; that she was without soul and without conscience.

        Prussia is today the Undine of nations.

        Goethe, the greatest of German poets (and one of the world's great poets), born in Prussia, and knowing Prussians as they are, described them with the accuracy of a demonstration in science. He said: "The Prussian is a savage, and education makes him ferocious."


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        I will call another German witness; not a Prussian, a Saxon--Wagner. He was a reformer, almost a republican, a revolutionist. After 1848 he became an exile and fled to France for life and refuge. After years he was permitted to return to Germany, if he would not go to Saxony, but live in Bavaria. He accepted the terms, and spent the remainder of his life in Bavaria and became the favorite poet and composer of his race. His work will live as long as German language or German music will be heard by man.

        While in exile he conceived the idea, and partly wrote, his great Tetralogy. He used the gods of German Mythology as the personages of his drama.

        The gods desired a new and greater palace, and made a contract with the giants to build the palace. As compensation the giants were to have the daughters of the gods for wives. The palace was built, but the gods refused to premit their daughters to marry men. To satisfy the giants, the gods robbed the Rhine maidens of their mystic, miraculous, magic hoard of gold--the gold which was a blessing to its rightful owners, but which brought a curse to any one who held it wrongfully. Soon as the giants obtained the gold, their power became immense, but all happiness vanished. As the stolen gold passed from one to another both power and evil increased. Crime after crime, each of deeper villainy, followed fast. All who touched the gold or came within its influence, became enmeshed in sin and crime. However much power increased, evil was always greater. Gods, heroes, giants, valkyrs, volsungs, nibelungs, dwarfs, all who came near were drawn into the whirlpool of sin. Every promise became perjury, every act a fraud, every marriage a tragedy, every feast had its poison cup, every hunting party an assassination. The land was foul with crime and red with murder. Gods and men saw that it must end. Here the magic gold, the unbreakable sword, the spear which knew no brother and which no man could splinter; the invisible helmet; the enchanted horse; and the knowledge of the language of the birds (whereby they knew what was happening over the entire world). But all failed. The sword was broken. The spear was shivered. The invisible helmet lost its potency; and the bird spies brought evil news. The very earth was sick of crime. The stolen gold is returned to the Rhine maidens. And the daughter of the god least guilty decrees the doom of all who took part in the crime. She rides the enchanted horse into the blazing funeral pyre of her murdered husband, but not until she has taken a torch and set fire to the palace of the gods. The last scene shows the palace in flames, and every god clothed in royal robes sitting around the council table, crown on head, scepter in hand, sword beside, calmly, bravely awaiting his fate in the burning palace, around which has been piled the limbs and the wood riven from the trunk of the world-spreading ash tree. The funeral pyre consumes the


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hero and his spouse. The palace burns with every heathen god. As they burn, the curtain falls, and Wagner pronounces this epilogue:


                         "At last the dreadful day of doom has dawned,
                         The curse has worked its wrath, despair and death,
                         At last the twilight of the gods has come,
                         And Wotan's loveless kingdom is at end.
                         At last the gathering night has covered all,
                         And the cruel reign of loveless law is done.
                         Now dawns the day of nobler men and deeds,
                         And a new world under Love's great law begins."

        We thought forty years ago when the tetralogy was rendered, that Wagner had given us a drama of mythology. We know now it was prophecy set to music. Instead of portraying the remote past, he was giving us what was then beginning, and what would soon come to pass. He showed that evil could not be permanent, and that power based on fraud and crime, however strong, must inevitably fall. He described the present German Empire and he cast its horoscope.

        We are now at war with the Spirit of Prussianism.

        There can be no compromise. The war must be fought to a finish now or hereafter. This is a fight to the death. The Spirit of Force or the Spirit of Fraternity must win. The earth is too small to contain both. The government of Germany is the incarnation of evil. It is Antichrist in the flesh. If it be not crushed, this world will not be fit for the habitation of man, and civilization as we understand it must perish.

        We are at war because Germany made war on us. She made war on us long before we accepted the gage of battle. She began in February, 1915. She sank our ships; drowned our people; covered our land with spies; corrupted industry; subsidized newspapers; attempted to debauch public opinion; blew up our ships with bombs secretly placed; destroyed factories; made her diplomatic service in this country a syndicate of crime; plotted with Mexico to make war upon us, and asked her to arrange with Japan to do likewise; parceled out American States as gifts to her allies; and finally prescribed certain narrow lanes across the ocean and forbade us under penalty of death to travel elsewhere; and she even prescribed the colors we must display when we used those lanes.

        Germany knew this was war, because soon as the note of January 31, 1917, was delivered, German officers and crews of interned vessels in our harbors from Norfolk, Va., half around the globe to Manila, P. I., obeying orders already in hand, destroyed, sank, or disabled their ships full two months before we recognized that war existed.

        We entered the war regretfully, reluctantly. We wished to avoid it. We did our best to stay out. We risked much for peace. We were deaf


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to the call of safety; and slow, fearfully slow in answering the call to duty. God called us in May, 1915; and we did not answer. Far better would it have been if we had gone to war when the Lusitania was sunk. Our task, accepted then, would have been far lighter than when it was forced upon us two years later.

        But the war can yet be won. The military situation is this: Germany cannot, in this war, win a complete victory. She hopes for a compromise peace. She is confident she can win completely in the next war, and become mistress of the world. The Allies can win a complete victory in this war, if they be willing to pay the price. The weight of numbers and of materials is still overwhelmingly with the Allies. Despite their repeated blunders, both in action and in diplomacy, they still retain the power to beat Germany. If the German Armies be beaten, a revolution at home will overturn every throne in the Central Alliance. The rulers of Germany live on military success and prestige. Defeated in the field, their power at home vanishes. They are fighting for their existence. They are fighting with the coolness of desperate resolve. They are fighting after long training and thorough preparation. They are fighting with singleness of purpose and under an unified command. They possess certain great advantages which they are using to the uttermost. They no longer expect victory, but they believe they can bring about a compromise. In that hope they are fighting bravely, and they are carrying on behind the lines in every enemy country carefully planned and well financed propaganda to create and vocalize sentiment for peace by compromise. Herein lies our danger. These German emissaries, under varying disguises and names, are at work among us. They are accomplishing something. Their efforts are covert. They use magazines and newspapers. They have used the pulpit. They have tried to corrupt labor, but they have failed. I do not consider the L. W. W. a labor organization. It is a band of fanatics, anarchists, and criminals. Germans and their active sympathizers have their hands in politics, as evidenced by the late primaries in New York City. America faces foes across the water--open, brave, strong. And she faces foes at home--covert, treacherous, disguised, desperate, and venomous. Those at home are the viler and more dangerous. Let us hope the Government at Washington will deal with spies and traitors at home this fall and winter as bravely and as effectively as our Army and Navy will deal next spring with our open enemy across the sea. The danger is here. German spies have been and are in North Carolina. We have their names and numbers. We know that in North Carolina germs of anthrax have been soaked into bandages knit by the Red Cross for our wounded. We know that German sympathizers here in North Carolina are doing all they dare do to discourage patriotism and to obstruct the Government. We need not lull ourselves into fancied security. The danger is great. It is imminent. It is at our door.


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        Grievous and numerous have been the blunders of our allies; and but for these blunders the victory long ago would have been theirs. Nevertheless, the resources of negotiation and diplomacy are not yet exhausted.

        Power to win complete victory can still be thrown into the battle line. Japan is ready; and her terms are reasonable; her terms are just. She wishes assurances that Eastern Asia shall no longer be exploited by white man's selfishness. If Japan will agree not to claim any selfish advantage or exclusive privilege in China, the Allies should consent to a Japanese Monroe Doctrine in Eastern Asia. We should ask Japan to promulgate such a doctrine as England asked President Monroe to announce in 1823. The Allies should agree that hereafter no nation shall violate the territory of China. They should agree that violation of Chinese territory shall be regarded as an act unfriendly alike to Japan and to the Great Alliance. They should guarantee assistance, moral and financial, and military if necessary, to Japan in maintaining this new Monroe Doctrine. With this promise, Japan will enter the war with us next spring, and the campaign of 1918 will bring final and complete victory. Every crowned head in the Central Empires will become an exile or a prisoner. The Prussian devil will be cast out of Germany. The German people will taste freedom. The greatest and the last of wars will have been ended. The reign of perpetual peace, if not at hand, will at least be in sight.

        We who do not go to the front have duties just as plain and just as imperative as those our soldiers must perform. We must see that our Government lacks for nothing it can use in defeating the enemy. The Government needs money in almost countless millions. It is building huge military and naval machines. The more effective these machines become the fewer American lives will be lost. Our Government must be supplied with money so freely that it can use machinery instead of men. With greater guns, greater and more numerous aeroplanes, better equipment, we can beat down the German defenses with machines and metal instead of with men. We must pay taxes and buy bonds to the extent of our ability, and beyond. We must give and pay until we feel it. We must not be content to use only our surplus, or to consult only our convenience. We must place at the disposal of our Government ourselves and all we have. It is a duty and a privilege to help in this war. I can hardly understand a man who is now content to pile up money while the world is passing through the valley and shadow of death.

        I would be ashamed of money hoarded now. We should say to the Government at Washington: "Take all that you need. Take our money, our boys; take us. If you don't want us at the front, tell us what to do at home. We will instantly obey your commands." All we ask in return is that the Administration shall be strong, resolute, and effective, and that it will throw into battle the full weight of American


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power in men, money, and diplomacy. We ask that our nation strike with all its power and thus bring this terrible war to an end with a complete victory for civilization.

        I propose that we take upon ourselves five simple but solemn pledges I have personally taken each and all, and, God being my helper, I will keep all. Here they are: