File No. 763.72/5374

The Ambassador on Special Mission to Russia ( Root ) to the Secretary of State


7. Mr. Root’s address to Council of Ministers Friday, June 15:

Mr. President and members of the Council of Ministers, the mission for which I have the honor to speak is charged by the Government and the people of the United States of America with a message to the Government and the people of Russia.

The mission comes from a democratic Republic; its members are commissioned and instructed by a President who holds his high office as Chief Executive of more than one hundred million free people by virtue of a popular election in which more than eighteen million votes were cast and fairly counted pursuant to law by universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.

For one hundred and forty years our people have been struggling with the hard problems of self-government. With many shortcomings, many mistakes, many imperfections, we have still maintained order and respect for law, individual freedom and national independence.

Under the security of our own laws we have grown in strength and prosperity but we value our freedom more than wealth. We love liberty and we cherish above all our possessions the ideals for which our fathers fought and suffered and sacrificed that America might be free. We believe in the competence and power of democracy and in our heart of hearts abides a faith in the coming of a better world in which the humble and oppressed in all lands may be lifted up by freedom to a heritage of justice and equal opportunity.

The news of Russia’s new-found freedom brought to America universal satisfaction and joy. From all the land sympathy and hope went out towards the new sister in the circle of democracies and this mission is sent to express that feeling. The American democracy sends to the democracy of Russia greeting, sympathy, friendship, brotherhood, and Godspeed.

Distant America knows little of the special conditions of Russian life which must give form to the Government and to the laws which you are about to create as we have developed our institutions to serve the needs of our national character and life. So we assume that you will develop your institutions to serve the needs of Russian character and life. As we look across the sea we distinguish no party and no class; we see great Russia as a whole, as one mighty striving and aspiring democracy; we know the self-control, the essential kindliness, the strong common sense, the courage and noble illustrations of Russian character; we have faith in you all; we pray for God’s blessings upon you all; we believe that you will solve your problems, that you will maintain your liberty, and that our two great nations will march side by side in the triumphant progress of democracy until the old order has everywhere passed away and the world is free.

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One fearful danger threatens the liberty of both nations—the armed forces of military autocracy are at the gates of Russia and of her allies. The triumph of German arms will mean the death of liberty in Russia. No enemy is at the gates of America but America has come to realize that the triumph of German arms means the death of liberty in the world; that we who love liberty and would keep it must fight for it and fight now when the free democracies of the world may be strong in union and not delay until they may be beaten down separately in succession.

So America sends another message to Russia; that we are going to fight and have already begun to fight for your freedom equally with our own and we ask you to fight for our freedom equally with yours. We would make your cause ours and our cause yours and with common purpose and the mutual helpfulness of firm alliance make sure the victory over our common foe.

You will recognize your own sentiments and purposes in the words of President Wilson to the American Congress, when, on the 2d of April last, he advised the declaration of war against Germany. He said:

We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government (the German Government) following such methods we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept the gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall if necessary spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no avail of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included; for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves; no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

And you will see the feeling towards Russia with which America has entered the great war in another clause of the same address. President Wilson further said:

Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia? Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude [Page 120] towards life. The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character, or purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice, and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a league of honor.

That partnership of honor in the great struggle for human freedom the oldest of the great democracies now seeks in fraternal union with the youngest.

The practical and specific methods and possibilities of our allied cooperation the members of the mission would be glad to discuss with the members of the Government of Russia.