Jesse Halsey | Lincoln Memorial University | 1920
The principal address during the exercises was delivered by Rev. Jesse Halsey, pastor of the Walnut Hills Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. His subject was “The Russian Situation as a Contrast to the True American Democracy.” He emphasized Lincoln in life and example as a true exponent of democracy.
Dr. Halsey was an active worker on the northern front in Russia for several months during the war. He was in Petrograd when the first convention of Russian democracy was held after the overthrow of Czar Nicholas. His intimate knowledge of the conditions in Russia made his address timely and fitting.
Some of the pertinent points are shown in the following paragraphs taken from his address:
“The Russians are between the upper and nether stones of Czarism: First, Nicholas Romanoff; second, Nicholas Lenine. Since the Revolution of November, 1917, Russia has been in the clasp of the new Czar, of this mania that has seized a great portion of humanity. I have seen it all, and have contrasted a bright picture of America with the dark regime of Bolshevism; America is a great high-house of just benighted peoples overall!
“On the fourth of July, 1818, the Serbian commander came as the representative of Yugoslavia and said that he had come to pay his respects to American on the anniversary of America’s birthday. He said, ‘We have done what we could, but it is up to America to finish the job. On the 11th of November 1918, we finished the job in a military way. But the job still remains unfinished so far as America is concerned. A great apathy has come over America; and unless America accepts her responsibility in the League of Nations, you can look for another war in five years. The Bolshevik Regime is drawn from the Baltic to the Pacific Front to the white side of the Black sea, with: a trained army of 1,500, 000. Without America, the League of Nations is bound to fail. Without America, Great Britain has realized her inability to cope with the Russian situation and King George has been talking of accessions to Bolshevism.
“In America we are asleep while autocracy and a new war threaten our civilization; the lack of a little schoolhouse and a Church that puts morality ahead of empire is largely responsible for the condition in Russia, eighty-five percent of her people are illiterate. There has been an expression of absolute confidence in America. Once a Pole said to me that this country was going to be free. I asked him why he thought so, and he replied, ‘Because of your country and your President, he has said that we are going to be free and we believe it, because he speaks for 100,000,000 people who believe in a Square deal.’”
When "Lincoln said on one occasion, 'Maybe my chance will come. I am going to get ready,” I hope that’s the American attitude, instead of the 'Nitschevo' attitude which: means, 'Nothing,' 'I should worry, ' 'Let George do it. ' When that becomes the American attitude, and we let someone else do the worrying we shall suffer grave consequences. Years ago we disregarded the controversies between capital and labor, and now we are reaping high prices as the harvest of our indifference. No American after the days of Abraham Lincoln can afford to say, 'Nitschevo.' It means for Russia, for any country, for any people, annihilation."