Transcript of Newton D. Baker’s famous League of Nation’s Speech delivered at the Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 28, 1924.
From William Allen White’s book, “Politics: The Citizen’s Business” White, William Allen, 1868-1944. New York, The Macmillan company, 1924
Here is final portion of speech:
At the outset I stated that no subject on earth was of so much importance to me as this (League of Nations). Why? I am a middle-aged man and I shall never be called upon again for any profitable service in any other war, even though one were to come tomorrow. I am past the military age, but I have memories.
On battlefields in Europe I closed the eyes of soldiers in American uniform who were dying and who whispered to me messages to bring to their mothers. I talked with them about death in battle, and oh, they were superb and splendid; never a complaint; never a regret; willing to go if only two things might be, —one that mother might know that they had died bravely and the other that somebody would pick up their sacrifice and build on this earth a permanent temple of peace in which the triumphant intellect and spirit of man would forever dwell in harmony, taking away from the children of other generations the curse and menace of that bloody fight. If I could have kept those boys in this country I would have done it.
The accident of a strange and perverse fate called upon me, who loved the life of youth, called upon me to come to your homes and ask you to give me your sons that I might send them into these deadly places. And I watched them and shrank with fear and anxiety for them, and I welcomed the living back, oh, with such unutterable relief and joy, and I swore an obligation to the dead that in season and out, by day and by night, in church, in political meeting, in the market place, I intended to lift up my voice always and ever until their sacrifices were really perfected.
I have one other debt—I beg your patience while I pay it. I served Woodrow Wilson for five years. He is standing at the throne of a God whose approval he won and has received. As he looks down from there I say to him: “I did my best. I am doing it now. You are still the captain of my soul.”
I feel his spirit here palpably about us. He is standing here, speaking through my weak voice. His presence—not that crippled, shrunken, broken figure that I last saw—but the great, majestic leader is standing here, using me to say to you, “Save mankind! Do America’s duty!”