"Too Proud To Fight"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: On May 7, 1915, the Germans sank the British steamship Lusitania, and many American passengers aboard lost their lives. President Wilson had been an ardent supporter of neutrality, to such a point that now severe criticism from allied nations was imminent if the United States did not change its stand and enter the war against Germany. Wilson had promised to speak in Philadelphia on May 10 before a large group of recently naturalized citizens, and, in spite of the crisis of the moment, he fulfilled the engagement. It was expected that he would make some comment on the events of the past few days. In his address, Wilson explains that now each new citizen must consider himself an American first. Then alluding to the recent disaster and his own decision in the matter, he says:

". . . The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world and strife is not. There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right."