Title: Somerville Republican City Committee
Date: August 7, 1918
Location: Somerville, MA
Context: Massachusetts Governor Coolidge gives strong support for the equal rights of African Americans and for the American effort in fighting World War I
(Original document available here)
Coming into your presence in ordinary times, gentlemen of the committee, I should be inclined to direct your attention to the long and patriotic services of our party, to the great benefits its policies have conferred upon this Nation, to the illustrious names of our leaders, to our present activities, and to our future party policy. But these are not ordinary times. Our country is at war. There is no way to save our party if our country be lost. And in the present crisis there is only one way to save our country. We must support the State and National Governments in whatever they request for the conduct of the war. The Constitution makes the President Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy. What he needs should be freely given. This has been and will be the policy of the Republican administration of Massachusetts and of her Senators and Representatives in Congress. We seek no party advantage from the distress of our country. Among Republicans there will be no political profiteering.
It is a year and four months now since we declared the German Government was making war on America. We are beginning to see what our requirements are. We had a small but efficient standing army, and a larger but less efficient National Guard. These have been increased by enlistments. We have a new national force, — never to be designated as Conscripts, but as the accepted soldiers of a whole Nation that has volunteered, of almost unlimited numbers. By taxation and by three Liberty Loans, each over-subscribed by more than fifty per cent, we have demonstrated that there will be no lack of money. The problem of the production and conservation of food is being met, though not yet without some inconvenience, yet so far with very little suffering. The remaining factor is the production of the necessary materials for carrying on the war. We lack ships and military supplies. Whether these are secured in time in sufficient quantity will depend in a large measure upon the attitude of the people managing and employed in these industries. The attitude of the leaders of organized labor has been patriotic. They realize that this is a war to preserve the rights that have been won for the people, and they have at all times advised their fellow workmen to remain at work. There must be forbearance on all sides. Where wages are too low they should be increased voluntarily. Where there is disagreement the Government has provided means for investigation and adjustment. Our industrial front must keep pace with our military front.
We are demonstrating the ability of America. Within the last few days the report has come to us that our soldiers have defeated the Prussian Guard. The sneer of Germany at America is vanishing. It is true that the German high command still couple American and African soldiers together in intended derision. What they say in scorn, let us say in praise. We have fought before for the rights of all men irrespective of color. We are proud to fight now with colored men for the rights of white men. It would be fitting recognition of their worth to send our American negro, when that time comes, to inform the Prussian military despotism on what terms their defeated armies are to be granted peace.
While the victories that have recently come to our arms are most encouraging, they should only stimulate us to redoubled efforts. The only hope of a short war is to prepare for a long one. In this work the States play a most important part. Massachusetts must be kept so organized and governed as to continue that able, effective, and prompt coöperation with the National Government that has marked the past progress of the war. In this we have a great part to do here. It was for such a task that the Republican Party came into being sixty-four years ago. One of the resolutions adopted at its birth peculiarly dedicates it to the requirements of the present hour.
“Resolved, that in view of the necessity of battling for the first principles of republican government and against the schemes of an aristocracy, the most revolting and oppressive with which the earth was ever cursed, or man debased, we will cooperate and be known as ‘Republicans’ until the contest be terminated.”
This great work lies before our party in Massachusetts. We shall go on battling for the first principles of Republican government until it has been secured to all the people of the earth.
Our American forces on sea and land are proving sufficient to turn the tide in favor of the Allied cause. They could not succeed alone, we could not succeed alone. We are furnishing a reserve power that is bringing victory.
But America must furnish more than armies and navies for the future. If armies and navies were to be supreme, Germany would be right. There are other and greater forces in the world than march to the roll of the drum. As we are turning the scale with our sword now, so hereafter we must turn the scale with the moral power of America. It must be our disinterested plans that are to restore Europe to a place through justice when we have secured victory through the sword. And into a new world we are to take not only the people of oppressed Europe but the people of America. Out of our sacrifice and suffering, out of our blood and tears, America shall have a new awakening, a rededication to the cause of “Washington and Lincoln, a firmer conviction for the right.
Calvin Coolidge, Have Faith in Massachusetts: A Collection of Speeches and Messages, 2nd ed.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919
The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Craig Eyermann, who prepared this document for digital publication.