by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
“Oregon and Washington Count Heavy Vote Against the Saloon” read the lead headline in the Thursday Oregon Statesman. “It Begins to Appear Like a Dry Landslide” and “State has Gone Dry by 30,000 Is Prediction” read the headlines. On the war front, the paper reported that “Germans Believed Making A Supreme Effort to Reach Dunkirk” describing a battlefield triangle of Dixmude-Roullers-Ypres.
Ypres would go on to become part of the memory of war that would live for generations. The first battle of Ypres was the last open field battle prior to 1918. From this point on, war would be fought in the trenches.
On another page, the paper printed the photograph of a French soldier, shot by his comrades for having been found signaling to the Germans the positions of French guns. “He was at once arrested and tied to a stake erect.” the paper reports. “A squad of soldiers fired at him, and he slipped down a limp mass at the foot of the stake. They did not bother to bury him.”
An editorial addressed Woman Patriots:
It used to be a stock argument with anti-suffragists that women should not have the ballot because they couldn’t go to war, military service being regarded as the highest duty and test of citizenship. With war falling into disrepute and citizenship gauged by higher standards, that taunt has died away. But if anybody still wants an answer to the ancient argument, here it is.
Women are shedding their blood for their country in the present war – not on the firing line, in the heat of battle, but calmly and bravely in hospitals where the wrecks of barbarous militarism come to be patched up into human semblance again.
In the November 5th, 1914 Oregon Statesman, an editorial entitled “The Cash Value of Patriotism” addressed German contributions to the war effort:
The people of Germany, confronted by the necessity of financing a great war, dug down into their pockets and raised over one thousand million dollars in less than three months – a sum larger than the vast ten-year tax imposed on France at the close of the Franco-German war – the biggest fund ever collected in the same length of time for any purpose by any nation.
This money was contributed at a time when domestic industry was paralyzed, when most of the usual processes whereby men and women make a living or rep profits were suspended indefinitely. The rich invested their capital in war bonds when they needed it to carry their own tottering enterprises; the poor turned over their savings and took the chance of starving. The individual fearlessly staked his fortune on the success of the nation.
It’s rather humiliating for Americans to think of that just now. For there is a situation in this country that we have not risen to. The crisis, to be sure, is not so momentous as Germany’s. But neither are we called upon for so huge a sacrifice. Germany’s national existence is at stake; here nothing is at stake except our prosperity.
The war has given us grave problems of finance and industry to solve. And with a tithe of Germany’s sacrifice we could turn our misfortune into advantage. All we have to do is to mobilize our money and credit for domestic and foreign business conquest.
This calls for patriotic faith in American business. It calls for courage and initiative on the part of business men. It calls for confidence on the part of every citizen with money in his pocket.
This is the time to pay debts, to spend, to expend, to invest, to order goods, to make contracts, to branch out in new lines, to develop resources, to improve equipment, to open fresh markets. It is the time to fight for a self-sufficient and triumphant America.
It is dollars, not bullets, that are to win this year. Money is needed everywhere. Too many men are idle, too many people are hoarding their savings, too many goods lie unsold on the shelf on in the warehouse, too many factories are shut down, merely because we have been afraid.
The need of the time is investment. If our capitalists, rich and poor alike, will invest their funds and their faith in American industry as Germany is investing it its war, we need have no fear of the outcome.
A second opinion, “Our Booming Export Trade” addressed how we could profit from the war through trade with the belligerents:
The chronicling of facts marking our foreign trade revival threatens to become monotonous. Every week brings its story of reopened markets and record breaking shipments.
The export figures for the last few days in the port of New York establish a high water mark. The last four weeks for which a complete report has been given show that there were exported from New York nearly $12,000,000 more of goods than during the same period last year. The federal treasury department reports that the total shipments of food products from all American ports in September was nearly three times as great as in September of last year, making a gain of $28,000,000. Exports of all sorts are now running over $5,000,000 a day, and the department estimates that the total for October will be about $170,000,000. That rate, if maintained, without increase, would mean a yearly total greater than any ever attained up to 1911.
This showing is the more remarkable when we consider that Germany, which next to Great Britain has been our best customer, has been absolutely cut off from our trade. With Ambassador Gerard’s assurance that Germany and Austria will now take at least 75,000 bales of cotton a month, and with the gradual opening of the German market to other non-contraband commodities, our position will improve still more rapidly.
It has been evident for some weeks that there would be no lack of foreign buyers for all the foodstuffs we cared to sell. Now many of our bid industries are beginning to feel the stimulus of war orders. Obviously, while the war lasts and for some time afterward, we are destined to feed the world and to be the world’s workshop.
The position of the United States that it ought to be able to trade freely in non-contraband goods would be tested throughout the period of our neutrality. The belligerents sought to control America’s trade relationships. Britain, which largely controlled the North Atlantic declared that all cargo in neutral waters was contraband, and they would soon begin to seize American goods. The effect this would have on American trade and relationships with the belligerents will be a major theme as war comes to Marion County.