100 years ago in The Sarato­gian

Wed­nes­day, Nov. 14, 1917

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - COMMUNITY -

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

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