The War Between Germany And Austria Hungary Essay

The War Between Germany And Austria Hungary Essay

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In 1917, as the United States prepared to go to war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, there was little more dangerous for a politician than to stand alone against entering the conflict. Yet Representative Meyer London of New York, a Socialist, chose to stand by his principles and oppose entering the war. In doing so, he incurred attacks from President Woodrow Wilson, former president Theodore Roosevelt, the pro-war movement, both the Democratic and Republican parties, and some parts of his own Socialist Party, resulting in his defeat in his 1918 reelection campaign. London, despite recognizing the unpopularity of his votes, showed “courage…stronger than his desire to maintain his office” and refused to bury his convictions in the name of political expedience (Kennedy 218).
London, the second Socialist ever sent to Congress and the only serving at the time, strongly opposed all wars, a belief rooted in his socialist principles. Originally elected to Congress in 1914 with a plurality of votes in a three-way race between Socialists, Democrats, and Republicans, Meyer spoke out against going to war, which, he said, was “wrong, inexcusable, indefensible” (qtd. in Goldberg 156). Such strong anti-war views were difficult to uphold as the country became increasingly supportive of war. The United States had long attempted to stay neutral in the European conflict, but the sinking of several American ships by German U-boats in March 1917, which newspapers termed an “overt act” of war, resulted in a spike in support for going to war (qtd. in Doenecke 280). Wilson “observed that the Eastern United States had become indignant” and was especially supportive of entering the conflict (Doenecke 281). The president called a special session of Cong...


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...London” (Epstein 183).
London “demonstrated courage through…unyielding devotion to absolute principle,” refusing to alter his views despite their political unpopularity (Kennedy 221). In spite of a unified offensive from the sitting president of the United States, a former president, his fellow congressmen, the press, the pro-war lobby, both major parties, and many in his district, London did not bow to popular opinion. He was willing to stand alone if his conscience demanded it, and in doing so refused to compromise his principles and refused to value his political career over his moral and philosophical principles. Meyer London, in choosing to stand by his principles instead of pleasing any of the parties responsible for his defeat, stands as an example of all that a courageous politician in a democracy must be, a “monument of individual conscience” (Kennedy 223).

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