100 years ago in The Saratogian
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 1917
Syracuse University economics professor Frederick Roman visits Saratoga Springs today to warn Americans that their German enemy is “stronger than ever” after more than three years of war in Europe.
“Though German in blood and education, Professor Roman is an American in enthusiastic citizenship,” The Saratogian reports, “and consequently he was able to bring much first-hand knowledge of the psychology and philosophy of the German nation.”
The U.S. declared war on Germany last April, while the regime of Kaiser Wilhelm II has been fighting since the summer of 1914. In the latest local war news, twenty Saratoga County draftees stationed at Camp Devens in Ayer MA have been transferred to Camp Gordon in Georgia, presumably for more specialized training.
Roman tells the Saratoga Springs Club of College Women that it will be up to the U.S. to stop Germany, as “England and France cannot. Every American must grasp the stunning seriousness of the situation and his own responsibility.”
Thanks to its territorial gains, Germany “is fighting her enemies with Belgian iron, Serbian copper and French coal. She is feeding her armies with Rumanian wheat. She has 43,000,000 conquered people working for her without pay. She is stronger now than ever.”
Germany planned for a world war, Roman claims. “Every cable laid, every bridge and railroad built, every phase of diplomatic activity has been arranged with such an event in mind. Her youth have been carefully educated in the doctrine that might makes right, and that an end of German victory justifies any means of dishonorable dealing. Because of the amazing thoroughness of her preparations, Germany has been able to wage this war with marvelous economy of expense and effort.”
So far, Americans aren’t doing enough to match the German war effort. “We are conserving spasmodically and ostentatiously and enjoying our sense of virtue hugely,” Roman observes, “This is not a Fourth of July parade. It is a horrible, grim fight to the death and every man, woman and child must be ready to serve consistently, faithfully, and to the end, whether that end come three years or twenty.”
Roman elaborates on the pressing need for “a stiffening of the moral fibre of the American people” before the Christian Association at Skidmore School of Arts tonight.
Claiming that 10% of American military personnel are “regularly incapacitated for service by immorality,” Roman “considers the outlook exceedingly dark.
As more women gain voting rights — New York approved a suffrage referendum last week — they may decide the nation’s future. “Women’s citizenship must mean either a definite raising or a lowering of moral standard,” Roman says.
— Kevin Gilbert