“America is not anything if it consists of each of us. It is something only if it consists of all of us.”—W. Wilson #wilsonquotes #quotes
August 29, 1916—An address to Pittsburgh business leaders on “preparedness” This speech was one of many Wilson gave to business and industrial leaders in late-summer 1916. By this point, war was raging in Europe and Wilson was gearing up for his presidential campaign. Wilson clearly wanted to avoid American involvement in Europe, but he clearly recognized that America’s neutrality was in serious question. Thus, Wilson urged leaders of industry to be prepared if and when the call to war happens. A large standing army was not the solution; a flexible industrial workforce was. Wilson wanted American industry to continue its growth towards becoming the largest economy in the world, and Wilson was unwilling to sacrifice any of that growth for militaristic purposes (at least at this point).
“We want American character to be efficient. We want American character to display itself in what I may perhaps be allowed to call spiritual efficiency—clear, disinterested thinking and fearless action along the right lines of thought. America is nothing if it consists merely of each of us; it is something only if it consists of all of us. And it cannot consist of all of us unless our spirits are banded together in a common enterprise. That common enterprise is the enterprise of liberty and justice and right. There, I, for my part, have a great enthusiasm for rendering America spiritually efficient, and that conception lies at the basis of what seems very far removed from it, namely, the plans that have been proposed for the military efficiency of this nation. Those plans do not involve a great army, because that is not America’s way of being efficient in respect of her physical force. We do not intend, we never intend, to have a standing army great than is necessary for the ordinary uses of peace. But we want to have, back of that army, a people who can rally to its assistance in the most efficacious fashion at any time they are called on to do so, but who, in the meantime, are not professional soldiers, who do not take the professional soldier’s point of view in the respect of public affairs, whose thought is upon their daily tasks of peaceful industry, and who know that in the United States the civilian takes precedence of the soldier.”
Arthur S. Link, editor. The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Vol. 36. Pp. 26-35. Specific quote on p. 29.