THUS far Mr. Bacon had urged preparedness in his individual capacity. Wherever he went he spoke of it, and made converts. He felt that much more should be done, by others if possible, by himself if nobody "worthier" could be found.
Mr. Bacon had worked through the National Security League, of which he was the president. Of Mr. Bacon's connection with this great and influential body, organized to prepare America for the war while there was yet time, Mr. S. Stanwood Menken, its organizer, writes:
He gave a good deal of money toward building up the organization, and considerable time, much of which was devoted to conferences ... as to different steps we should take. He was indefatigable, these conferences taking place at all hours of the day and night and under conditions which greatly varied.
Mr. Bacon had one hobby and that was the unification of all societies devoted to preparedness . . . . He travelled about the country, going to Chicago, St. Louis, etc . . . . While he was doing this work he was also helping the Universal Training League.(204)
Public meetings are always a source of anxiety until they are over, and sometimes even then accidents happen that are tragic for the moment. Mr. Menken recounts one of which Mr. Bacon was the unfortunate hero---or victim.
Among the many painful incidents of his work, there was one amusing one which I recall. It was connected with the holding by the National Security League of two important meetings simultaneously---one in Carnegie Hall and the other at the New Theatre of this city. Mr. Bacon assumed the responsibility for the Carnegie meeting, at which Mr. Choate spoke and at which meeting there was booked as one of the chief orators a labour leader representing the American Federation of Labour.
There was a tremendous crowd at both meetings and the pressure of pulling them off simultaneously was extreme, inasmuch as we had to use certain of the speakers at both halls. Mr. Bacon very graciously invited the labour leader and his wife to be Mrs. Bacon's guests in the central box. The labour leader's speech was printed as evidence of labour's support of preparedness. The speaker waited, but through some oversight Mr. Bacon forgot all about him, with the result that as the meeting adjourned a bomb exploded and we found that he had not been called. I was at his side and undertook to retrieve the situation, as far as possible, by reading the speech amid the disappearing crowd and fading lights.
The next day, fortified with my affidavit that I had read the speech but having the echo of the labour leader's denouncement that it was evident that Mr. Bacon and the National Security League did not want the support of organized labour in the preparedness movement, Mr. Bacon sent to the headquarters of the American Federation of Labour in this city and actually spent five hours, exhausting his diplomatic skill in prevailing upon the gentlemen there to accept his apology in the varied forms in which he tendered it. I often wonder whether history will ever record the obligation of America to men such as Augustus P. Gardiner,(205) Joseph H. Choate, Theodore Roosevelt, and Robert Bacon, who made possible our efforts for preparedness not. withstanding the lack of leadership of our chief executive and legislators in Washington . . . . (206)
These men were all Republicans; the tribute to them is from a political opponent, for Mr. Menken is a Democrat.
In the summer of 1916 Mr. Bacon visited the troops in camp on the Mexican border because of the disturbed condition in that distracted and badly treated country. Two of his sons were serving as officers, Robert in the contingent from New York; Gasper in that of Massachusetts. Upon his return to New York he made a statement to the Press, urging universal service. In this he defined in general terms the meaning which he attached to preparedness, and incidentally mentioned the vast extent of ground he had covered in his advocacy of this great cause:
I am more than ever convinced that there is but one satisfactory solution for military preparedness of the nation, in fact, for the maintenance and endurance of the nation itself in a high place in the affairs of the world, and this is: Universal service---the spirit of service and sacrifice for the nation. Unless we learn to speak in terms of a nation, and subordinate our local and material ambitions; unless the nation, in claiming its international rights, learns to appreciate its duties and international obligations, the nation cannot endure as one of the respected members of the society of nations.
There has been a great change in sentiment and opinion about universal service. Everywhere that I have been---in New England, the Middle States, the Mississippi Valley, the South, and the great Southwest as far as Arizona---I have found but one opinion: that universal service for the nation, whether it be enrollment for the military or for broader work of industrial efficiency for national purpose, is the only democratic principle of national life, and only by such service can we obtain justice and equality for all citizens of the great community. These are the undoubted facts, which have been emphasized by the lessons of this great world war, and which are proved beyond a question to the mind of any one who is brought in close contact with the army now encamped along our border, both regulars and militia.(207)
No one appeared to be willing to go before the people of New York on a platform which approved the stand of the Allies, which bespoke for them moral and material support; which insisted upon preparedness for the time, when near at hand, as Mr. Bacon thought, mock neutrality should be flung aside and America, radiant and soul redeemed, should send its young manhood to save the Old World which had discovered the New. Therefore Mr. Bacon announced his candidacy on August 23, 1916, for nomination as United States Senator from New York at the approaching primaries. He felt that the Honourable William M. Calder, then a member of the House of Representatives and candidate for the Senatorship, did not stand unequivocally for the principles of preparedness, and as principles, not the man, were the main thing, Mr. Bacon threw his modesty to the winds and "in his humble person" ---to quote his own words---" appealed to the people of New York to approve those principles and to have them carried to Washington by a man who so believed in them that he would live for them in America and die for them if need be in France." The cause was the thing, and nothing should be done that could injure it. "I could not become political or seem to do so." Therefore, Mr. Bacon resigned the presidency of the League in a letter to Mr. Menken.(208)
In resigning Mr. Bacon said:
During the last year and a half the National Security League has conducted successfully a national campaign of education for preparedness. You, as a Democrat, and I, as a Republican, have been of one mind that this issue vitally affects all the people, and we have kept the great work of the League free from any thought of partisan political bias.
After stating that he had become a candidate at the Republican primaries for the Senatorship and that his candidacy might "not be construed as affecting in any way the nonpartisan character of the league," he offered his resignation, which under the circumstances was properly accepted. But he was anxious that his severance of official relations should not be looked upon as desertion of the cause. "In awakening the spirit of sacrifice and service for their country in the souls of our citizens., the League has done, and I am sure will continue to do, work that is wholly admirable." And with this commendation on his lips, he pledged himself anew to the great cause. "With that work my sympathy will not be dismissed because I am no longer officially connected with the League, and I wish to assure the thousands of members throughout the country who are pledged to the cause that I shall always consider it a privilege to help in any way I can."
Mr. Bacon entered the campaign with the thought uppermost in his mind of making the issue of preparedness paramount. Indeed, it is not too much to say that such was his sole motive. Mr. Calder had been actively a candidate for two years or more and had received pledges of support from nearly every influential Republican organization. It was therefore a foregone conclusion, with the organized voters pledged to Mr. Calder, that Mr. Bacon's nomination was most unlikely. Personal victory or defeat was immaterial; his decision was based solely upon the public good which his candidacy might do in emphasizing the need of national preparedness for war.
The fact that he might poll an extremely small vote and thereby discredit in the popular mind the cause which he advocated made him delay his decision. He sought the advice of Mr. Root, Colonel Roosevelt, and other friends, and he returned from interviews with them in an unsettled frame of mind, for, of course, both Mr. Root and Colonel Roosevelt were too experienced not to appreciate fully the advantage it gave to Mr. Calder to have the party organizations working for him in the primary.
Mr. Calder had been non-committal on the subject of preparedness and showed, in Mr. Bacon's opinion, such a disposition to avoid or side-step this issue that Mr. Bacon felt it his duty to go into the campaign appealing to the unorganized, unpledged Republican voters for support.
His decision was not taken until the last moment. He had postponed as long as possible. The primary law requires that the petition of a candidate be filed a certain number of weeks before primary day. Mr. Bacon waited until there was just time to get his petition to Albany, and to file it in the office of the Secretary of State.
There was a dramatic, even amusing, final quarter of an hour before he announced his intention. The incident is typical of Mr. Bacon's remoteness from the self-interest of the practical politician.
The scene was at Mr. Bacon's home, 1 Park Avenue, at night. Mr. Bacon, Mr. Job E. Hedges, Mr. William, Barnes, and one or two others had gathered to learn Mr. Bacon's decision. Mr. Hedges, an eminent lawyer of New York City who had himself been Republican candidate for Governor of New York, was Mr. Bacon's political adviser. During the campaign this acquaintance ripened into an intimate friendship, Mr. Bacon placing complete reliance upon the wise and disinterested advice of his friend.
Mr. Barnes dominated the Republican political situation at Albany. He was a forceful, aggressive, and powerful political leader at that time, out of harmony and touch with other leaders of the Republican "machine" in the State. Almost as soon as Mr. Bacon's name was mentioned as a possible candidate Mr. Barnes volunteered his support. This was probably the first close personal association in Mr. Bacon's experience with one who was generally described as a political "boss." It should be stated in this connection that Mr. Barnes won Mr. Bacon's admiration not only for the capacity which he displayed for organizing in the primary campaign, but even more for his constant and faithful adherence to the standard of public good, upon which Mr. Bacon had put his candidacy. On the evening in question, as the hour grew late, Mr. Barnes, facing Mr. Bacon, said: "The time has come when we must have your decision. We cannot wait any longer."
It was a moment which Mr. Bacon would gladly have postponed, but he was fully aware that he had already waited too long. He looked for a moment at Mr. Hedges, and then said quietly to Mr. Barnes: "I shall give you my decision in ten minutes, but if you will pardon me saying so, I prefer to make my decision when you are not in the room."
Probably no one more than Mr. Barnes appreciated the simplicity, the naïve sincerity of such a confession. In making up his mind, Mr. Bacon wanted to be beyond the presence of a dominating and strong-willed politician whom he knew but slightly and whose advice might be influenced by personal motives. Mr. Barnes controlled Mr. Bacon's sole organized party support at that time, yet he had no hesitation in jeopardizing that help to be sure he was right. Mr. Barnes rose, smiled slightly, and said: "I shall go to my house." "And I shall telephone you in ten minutes," Mr. Bacon answered.
Alone with his friend Hedges, the decision was taken, and Mr. Barnes learned over the telephone that Mr. Bacon had decided to become a candidate.
Immediately following Mr. Bacon's decision, all appearance of procrastination disappeared, and there began at once, under his personal inspiration, the most aggressive, active campaign New York had ever known in a senatorial primary. Speeches were delivered in many parts of the state, interviews were freely granted, all honourable means were taken to spread wide the principles for which Mr. Bacon stood.
He did not avoid issues, but his mind was fixed on one thing---the peril to this country spiritually and materially in pretending indifference to the great battle for right waged in France by the Allies, and in failing to get ready here in order to meet the danger which so clearly threatened us. In it all Mr. Bacon never wavered.
It is difficult at this time to appreciate the courage it required of a political candidate to speak openly, unreservedly, on the questions of loyalty, neutrality, international duty, and national preparedness. We now wonder how the people could have been of two minds on these matters, but it is only necessary to recall that a few weeks later President Wilson was reelected on the popular cry, "He kept us out of war," to realize the divided opinion of the people in regard to our obligations and interests at home and abroad.
Mr. Joseph H. Choate, full of years and rich in wisdom, stood sponsor for Mr. Bacon as the chairman of his committee. Mr. Job E. Hedges, whom Mr. Bacon had unsuccessfully urged to make the fight in his stead, offered his services as manager of the campaign. Mr. Elihu Root, friend and associate, confessed his faith in Mr. Bacon and his candidacy. Mr. David Jayne Hill, who had been Ambassador in Berlin when Mr. Bacon was Ambassador in Paris, pledged his services, and Mr. Roosevelt advised the good people of New York to vote for him. They would have chosen him as the Republican candidate had Mr. Bacon had a few more days to meet them, to lay his programme before them and to justify the cause for which he asked their support. As it was, he did not lose a district in which he spoke.
Mr. Bacon lost, but his cause had won. The people were ready to respond to the call of duty and of sacrifice if only the voice were clear and the tone sincere.
What was the platform which Mr. Bacon stated in announcing his candidacy on August 23rd, and for which more than 140,000 of his countrymen of the Republican Party in the State of New York gave their approval on September 19, 1916? It was, of course, in accord with the national platform of the Republican Party, whose candidate for the Presidency was Charles Evans Hughes of New York.
"The Chicago platform proclaims the formal tenets of our party faith. To them, and to the party nominees, we are bound in loyalty and effort." This is the sole reference to it in Mr. Bacon's statement. His platform was personal, and it was a single word---America.(209)
We are an intensely personal people---America first, America prepared, America sympathetic with the weak and wrongly oppressed, America intrepid and fearless before wrongful encroachment by the strong---is the America of my vision and the goal of my efforts.
This America cannot be wrought alone by law. It requires a national spirit, commanding service, imposing sacrifice, ungrudging and unrestrained. It demands an Americanism so intense as to fuse race, birth, and social condition into a common inspiration and faith, disloyalty to which is dishonour and disgrace.
What was the duty of this America, strong and sympathetic, fused and indivisible? "In this convulsion of the world we have a part to play." What is this part and how shall we prepare for it? Mr. Bacon's answer is that of a Secretary of State, of an Ambassador, as well as a patriot:
In the immediate future and throughout the coming years, we shall be confronted with problems for which this nation is wholly unprepared. The issues which to-day are vital to this nation have not as yet received the serious attention nor awakened the serious interest of our people.
For generations, we have lived in isolation and safety, and we are only beginning to be conscious of our rights, duties, and dangers as a member of the society of nations.
The rights and duties make up what is international law: the expression of the simple rules of conduct which should govern any community of individuals. It is necessary that people should know these rules. There should be widespread popular knowledge of the laws which govern our foreign relations, just as every man knows the laws which govern his relations with his neighbour, to whose observance he is compelled by the very force of public opinion embodied in the policeman or the sheriff. No national administration will be able thoroughly to interpret the will of the people unless the people know the rules which should govern international conduct. It is the lack of knowledge of these things which has brought about the serious---almost fatal---mistake of our foreign policy.
The trained and instructed will of the people: "This should be the touchstone of our foreign policy." But what are these rules of conduct which the people should know and which should govern international conduct?
We must insist that the large powers shall treat a small nation as the United States has treated Cuba and we must aim to establish the rule that every nation, like every human being living under the American Constitution which vitalizes the language of the Declaration of Independence, has the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to the pursuit of happiness, and that every nation,, like every individual in America, must be respected and protected in the enjoyment of these rights.
History is, it is said, philosophy teaching by example. Here was a foreign policy based upon a concrete example. How was this informed will of the people to be specifically applied in the convulsion of the world? "First of all, we cannot tolerate, without protest, violation of treaties to which we as a nation are a party. We should not make treaties, to the letter of which we are not prepared to stand." This was a note of caution, applicable then, now, always. He illustrates these two principles, which are really one with a high-minded people, by the case of Belgium:
The rights of the smaller nations should be as sacred to us as the rights of a child among strong men: and to protect these rights in words, while refusing to protest them in the concrete, is to work disaster to our own soul. This is the essence of the law of nations.
But there are protests and protests. Protests of the pocketbook, we have indeed had, but a dearth of protests for the higher things.
If there have been violations of our trade rights as neutrals, it is our right to protest, it is our duty to protest. A nation sinks low when its protests are directed against acts which interfere with commercial and material prosperity alone, and when at the same time it fails to protect the honour and lives of its citizens and the ideals and principles of its civilization.
The Mexican policy of President Wilson has been doomed to failure from the beginning, and the attitude of the United States toward South America does not satisfy the peoples of those countries, because it is bottomed on dollars and not on ideals:
With the policy---or lack of policy---in regard to Mexico, I have totally disagreed for three years. The destruction of life and property, the outrages and anarchy which have resulted were inevitable in the eyes of every student of Mexican conditions and history. It was inevitable from the moment that the administration, contrary to the opinion and advice of other great powers, intervened and prevented the continuity of government in Mexico without providing the moral and physical support which was absolutely necessary if any other course were to be followed.
What of preparedness? Mr. Bacon has saved this subject nearest his heart for this last word to the electorate:
I am convinced that there is only one satisfactory solution of the military preparedness of the nation---in fact, for the maintenance of the nation itself in a high place in the affairs of the world. This is universal service, the spirit of service and sacrifice for the nation. Unless we learn to think in terms of a nation, and subordinate our local and material ambitions; unless the nation, in claiming its international rights, learns to appreciate its duties and international obligations, the nation cannot endure.
To maintain intact and unimpaired the nation, with its rights and duties as proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence, with the system of government devised by the framers of the Constitution,. we must adopt the method of the founders.
I place my faith in the wisdom of the Fathers of this country, as expressed in the Act of Congress of May 8, 1792, which imposed obligatory military training and service upon the nation; and I believe that Congress should immediately reënact the principle of that law which reads as follows: "Every able-bodied male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years, shall be enrolled in the Militia."
I place my faith in the wisdom of Washington, who said that "A free people ought not only be armed, but disciplined."
I place my faith in the wisdom of Jefferson, who said that "the country could never be safe until military instruction was made a regular part of collegiate instruction, and that every citizen be made a soldier."
This policy is not only right, just, and necessary, but it is in accordance with the true spirit of democracy and of equality.
With this kind of a platform it is easy to understand why Mr. Root addressed Mr. Joseph H. Choate(210) a letter from his summer home in Clinton, New York, under date of August 18, 1916, saying in its opening sentences:
I think you are rendering still another public service in acting upon Mr. Robert Bacon's committee for his nomination as United States Senator in the Republican primaries. Not only is Mr. Bacon a citizen of the highest type, high-minded, generous, and public-spirited, but he has special qualifications. He was long Assistant Secretary of State, then for a short time Secretary of State, then for a number of years Ambassador to France. He filled all of those positions with distinction and success. He has both theoretical and practical familiarity with international history, the foreign policies of the United States, and the business of diplomacy.
He has a wide acquaintance with the public men in the foreign offices of other nations and has the knowledge necessary to estimate the weight of their words and to forecast their probable actions. He has special relations of friendship and personal regard with the leading statesmen in all the principal South American countries and has personal familiarity with the conditions in those countries and their feelings toward the United States. His service in the United States Senate would be of immense value to Mr. Hughes in the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.
Although the Senate is the constitutional adviser of the President in regard to foreign affairs, there are comparatively few Senators who have really studied the subject or acquired practical familiarity with it. Increased strength in that direction is much needed. If the people of the State of New York can put into the Senate a man of the highest character who understands the business of foreign affairs they will have rendered a very great service to the President who is about to be elected and to the people of the United States. They can do that by electing Mr. Bacon.
The letter to Mr. Choate was inclosed in a personal one to Mr. Bacon, which speaks for itself and shows the affection of the elder for the younger man:
I got your telegram, and I wish you luck. My guess is that you will have a good vote---not a majority, but respectable---and it will really introduce you into political life. I think that it is probably no injustice to the friends of Hughes(211) who were anxious not to have a contest to say that they were probably affected by an unconscious desire to avoid anything which might shake their control of party machinery. . . .
I am inclosing a letter to Choate as chairman of your committee. I have tried to make it so that it will do the most good, not as a general recommendation to be filed with Saint Peter but to state the principal irrefutable reason why you should be preferred to Calder and put it in brief and pointed form so that it will stand a chance to be carried by the newspapers and to be read. If you have any improvement or change to suggest, send it back and I shall do it over.
On the same day Mr. David Jayne Hill wrote a warm letter of approval, giving even more briefly than that of Mr. Root the reasons why New York should be represented in the Senate of these United States by Mr. Bacon:
I have been greatly pleased to learn that you have accepted the invitation of your friends to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in the coming primaries.
Your presence in that body would do honour to the State of New York and be of real service to the American people. Your knowledge of public affairs, acquired in the course of a large experience in responsible office, and especially the results of your intimate acquaintance with foreign relations should be of immense value to the country at a time when our position in the world is as uncertain as it now is and confronted by so many delicate international problems which the nation will certainly have to solve.
Permit me, therefore, to express to you my great interest in the success of your candidacy, to which I am glad to have the privilege of pledging such support as I am able to give.
A further word of support may be added from the very head and front of the Republican Party, the advice of Theodore Roosevelt to the voters of New York unfortunately only given on the eve of the election(212):
Mr. Bacon has come out squarely for universal military service, and Mr. Calder against it. This raises what I regard as a vital issue of principle, an issue which accordingly as it is now decided one way or the other may mean within a very few years whether the next generation of Americans is to walk with heads held high before the world, or with heads bent by crushing disgrace and disaster. I have studiously refrained from taking any part in the primary campaign, but when this issue is raised with such clearness and emphasis, it is impossible for me, holding the convictions I do, not to support Mr. Bacon.
I suppose that it is too late for my support to be of use to him; but when this vital issue is raised in good faith, and is one real issue between the two candidates, I am bound by every consideration of patriotism and public duty to support Mr. Bacon. This issue relates to the most important plank in the platforms of the two candidates, and puts them in sharp and thoroughgoing opposition on a matter literally vital to the welfare of the Republic.
Mr. Bacon's platform and the reasons which forced him to enter the primaries have been given in considerable detail and in the form of extracts from his appeal to the voters, that his views may be given in his own language and not blurred by paraphrase or summary. A few paragraphs would have sufficed if Mr. Bacon's candidacy had been one of persons, not principles: if it had not been in a presidential year, and if it had not been in New York, which was and is looked upon as a pivotal State. The interest in the contest which Mr. Bacon was waging was larger than the man; interest in it transcended the State: it was national. It was the one election in which a candidate voiced his sympathy for the Allies, insisted that their cause was our cause, that President Wilson's policy of neutrality was a policy of indecision and mistake, that the war was at our doors, and that we must prepare and that without delay, for the war which was thrust upon us and into which we must sooner or later enter, not merely to help the Allies, but to preserve America and American ideals.
Mr. Bacon heartened the multitudes in other States of the Union who inclined to his views but who had never heard them expounded from the platform. Mr. Bacon's example encouraged them to speak out. It showed the politicians that there was a strong tendency toward action, instead of inaction, as it was clear from the notices of Mr. Bacon's candidacy in the press and the editorials after his tremendous vote in the primaries (the largest with the exception of Mr. Calder's ever given in a primary), that ten days or two weeks more would have won him the election.
The New York Times of September 21, 1916,(213) had an editorial on the aftermath of the election which put the case clearly and drew the moral from the facts. It is headed "The Popular Side." It begins by stating that neither the Democratic nor the Republican nominee for the Senatorship should "ignore the lesson of Robert Bacon's phenomenal run." What Mr. Bacon did was a thing which before he accomplished it would have been called impossible. After stating that Mr. Calder had been a candidate for the nomination in 1914, that failure then only spurred him to redoubled effort in the two years intervening, that he had control of the organization and would apparently receive the nomination by a unanimous vote, the editorial adds that "then, only about a week before the time for filing nominations expired, Mr. Bacon entered the field . . . Yet this last-minute candidate polled an immense vote and nearly defeated him; and if the contest had been on even terms there is no question that Bacon would have been victorious, as he was nearly victorious in spite of Calder's long lead."
How did it happen? What was the reason? The Times answers: "He made that run, he got that vote, he frightened the organization nearly out of its wits, simply by letting everybody know where he stood, and thus he demonstrated that his view of the issues was the popular one. . . 'I am an avowed unneutral' declared Bacon at the outset; he repelled the German vote where Calder merely did not invite it; he even ran as the friend of France . . . The votes against Calder were cast for a man who fairly shrieked his sympathy with the Allies, his detestation of the man who brought on the war, his belief in straightout Americanism as a foreign policy, and who even advocated compulsory military service."
"The moral is," continues the Times, "that 'pussyfooting' does not pay, that it does not attract votes, that . . . it is not only patriotic to repel the hyphen vote and speak out flatly for Americanism; it is also profitable in the matter of votes."
One passage from a paper published outside of New York may be taken as an example of the effect of Mr. Bacon's platform and campaign on the States at large. The Baltimore Sunday News, of October 8, 1916,(214) had an editorial entitled "Not Afraid of a Change of Policy," in the course of which it said:
Mr. Bacon was an eleventh-hour candidate for the Senate, entering the field against a man who had the backing of the regular organization, who had been a candidate before and who had spent the past two years building his fences. Mr. Bacon had the additional handicap of being a man who was closely allied to "Big Business" and against whom prejudice could be easily aroused in those who dislike the "silk-stocking" fellow. Nevertheless, his vigorous demand for upholding the national honour, his earnest support of universal military training, and his emphatic denunciation of the Wilson Administration's course with Germany and Mexico were popular enough with the electorate to gain for him a vote that simply astonished New York.
It was not considered possible that a candidate could accomplish so much in the short space of a three-weeks campaign. Mr. Calder won by a scant margin, which would have disappeared entirely, it was generally believed, had the election been held a fortnight later.
The editorial concluded that "if New York is any criterion of public sentiment" it indicated "a change of national policy. . . with no fear . . . that a return to the traditional belief that American citizens have rights that should be respected means war with anybody, unless it is a just war that only a craven nation would shirk."
Opposition to President Wilson's policy of "watchful waiting" in Mexico, as it was generally called at the time, and dissatisfaction with the failure to put the country on a war footing if it should be found essential to American interests to enter the war, were bringing the wings of the Republican Party together. It was necessary that it should present a united front if the Democratic Party was to be beaten. In working together and thinking of the things we have in common, differences are often overlooked if they are not forgotten. Mr. Bacon felt that the success of preparedness required the sacrifice of personal prejudice and indeed of convictions. He therefore strove to bring about a meeting of Colonel Roosevelt and Mr. Root, who had parted company in the unsuccessful campaign of 1912, in preparation for a successful campaign of 1916.
These two great leaders agreed, Colonel Roosevelt saying it would give him great pleasure "to consult as to the vital needs of this nation at this time in the matter of preparedness. It is appalling," he added, "to realize our impotence to-day in the face of any serious menace."(215)
This was on March 28, 1916, and shortly thereafter Colonel Roosevelt, Mr. Root, Senator Lodge, and General Wood sat down to luncheon with Mr. Bacon at his house in New York. It was the first time that ex-President Roosevelt and his Secretary of State, Elihu Root, had met since their estrangement. "I would leave less heavy in my heart," Mr. Bryce had said on leaving the United States as Ambassador, "were Roosevelt and Root working together. Their estrangement is a national calamity."(216)
Their meeting made for preparedness and their reconciliation was not the least service which Mr. Bacon rendered to the cause.
Preparedness for this moment, when it should arrive (and Mr. Bacon knew it could not be long delayed), formed but a part, although a very large part, of his activity, from the fateful week of August, 1914, to the week of April, 1917, when the United States cut its neutral moorings and as a belligerent put boldly to sea to join the Allies "somewhere in France."
Although his devotion to the Allies was boundless, Mr. Bacon's first and only allegiance was to America. But in serving the Allies, he felt he was serving America, for he knew they were maintaining the cause of America, although many loyal Americans did not know it. Indeed, his motives and his activities were alike misunderstood and assailed. One instance---the most notable among many---may be given, as it shows that Mr. Bacon was no respecter of persons when personal truth and international right were involved.
In the summer and fall of 1916 President Wilson was conducting his campaign for reëlection to the Presidency on the plea that he had kept the country out of war, to which Colonel Roosevelt wittily, and somewhat sharply, replied, after we had entered the war in 1917: "Keep us out of war! I am the only man he has kept out of war," alluding to the refusal of President Wilson to give him a commission in the army then forming for service overseas.
After Mr. Bacon's failure to secure the nomination for Senator in the Republican primaries, although he received 144,366 in a total vote of 297,739, Mr. Wilson made a statement to the press, in which he spoke of Mr. Bacon as "a man whose avowed position in respect of international affairs was unneutral, and whose intention was to promote the interests of one side in the present war in Europe."(217) The effect of Mr. Bacon's platform and the enormous vote was not lost upon President Wilson, who further said that "if the Republican Party should succeed, one very large branch of it would insist upon . . . a reversal from peace to war."
This criticism was made only a few months before President Wilson himself, discarding the peace slogan, appeared before the Congress of the United States on April 2, 1917, and advocated the declaration by Congress of a state of war by the United States against Germany, which Congress did on the memorable day of April 6, 1917
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