BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


by Jaroslav J. Zmrhal


By Harry Pratt JuJson, LL. D..
President of the University of Chicago.

T has long been the settled policy of the United States not to interfere with European international affairs. Indeed, President Monroe's famous message of 1823, which laid the foundation of the Monroe Doctrine, specifically included this principle: "In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it crmport with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparations for our defense." Mr. Jefferson, in his letter to Monroe at that time, said: "Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe." So Washington, in his farewell address, in like manner had made clear his view: "Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concern. Hence therefore it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics. Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course."

Here we have the traditional American doctrine as regards European questions. It plainly may be enunciated in three propositions:

1. Differences among the European powers will almost never have any bearing on American interests.

2. With such differences therefore we will scrupulously avoid meddling.

3. Only in the remote contingency that our rights are seriously menaced should we prepare for defense.

Our experience of more than a century of national life has convinced us of the soundness of these principles, and further of the extreme unlikelihood of our having any direct concern in the questions that divide Europe. We have cared nothing for the balance of power, for the contro of Constantinople, or even for the partition of Africa. We have complacently looked on at the rivalries and collisions which these and other questions have involved, quite as if Europe were on another planet. The Atlantic is three thousand miles wide.

But now, suddenly we find that ancient wrongs in Europe are vitally involved with the very safety of our republic. We find that this vast war is not by any means a merely European concern. And these truths have come to us, as Jefferson said of the Missouri question, "like a fire-bell in the night." In short, we find, to use Monroe's words, that our rights have been invaded and are seriously menaced.

It is strange that serious international wrongs very seldom end in oblivion. Poland was torn to pieces by her piratical neighbors more than a century ago — and the question of Polish independence is a very real perplexity to the chancellories of belligerent nations today. There can be no safe settlement after this war unless there shall be a free Poland, dominated by no other power. In the early days of the last century Venice was shorn of Independence and with her Dalmatian provinces was turned over by Napoleon to Austria; the heel of the Hapsburg despot was on many of the fair Italian provinces; as Metternich said, Italy was a mere geographical expression. But Italy has become a nation and there can be no stable equilibrium until the remaining wrongs are righted. Alsace-Lorraine, again, was the German booty of 1871, and the Berlin Treaty of 1878 crippled the Balkan states just emerging from the long nightmare of Turkish oppression. Justice then would have saved the tranquillity of the world today.

So with Bohemia. An independent and vigorous state in the middle ages, early in the sixteenth century the Kingdom of the Czechs unhappily chose the Hapsburg Duke of Austria as king. From that error came three great wrongs to Bohemia.

The elective king made his rule that of a hereditary despotism.

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