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Elihu Root Quotes

Claims of right and insistence upon obligations may depend upon treaty stipulations, or upon the rules of international law, or upon the sense of natural justice applied to the circumstances of a particular case, or upon disputed facts.

Cruelty to men and to the lower animals as well, which would have passed unnoticed a century ago, now shocks the sensibilities and is regarded as wicked and degrading.

Gradually, everything that happens in the world is coming to be of interest everywhere in the world, and, gradually, thoughtful men and women everywhere are sitting in judgment upon the conduct of all nations.

Honest people, mistakenly believing in the justice of their cause, are led to support injustice.

Human life is held in much higher esteem, and the taking of it, whether in private quarrel or by judicial procedure, is looked upon much more seriously than it was formerly.

Human nature must have come much nearer perfection than it is now, or will be in many generations, to exclude from such a control prejudice, selfishness, ambition, and injustice.

In the first place, when there is a policy of intentional aggression, inspired by a desire to get possession of the territory or the trade of another country, right or wrong, a pretext is always sought.

It is not uncommon in modern times to see governments straining every nerve to keep the peace, and the people whom they represent, with patriotic enthusiasm and resentment over real or fancied wrongs, urging them forward to war.

It is to be observed that every case of war averted is a gain in general, for it helps to form a habit of peace, and community habits long continued become standards of conduct.

Men do not fail; they give up trying.

No nation now sets forth to despoil another upon the avowed ground that it desires the spoils.

Nobody knows through how many thousands of years fighting men have made a place for themselves while the weak and peaceable have gone to the wall.

Nothing is more important in the preservation of peace than to secure among the great mass of the people living under constitutional government a just conception of the rights which their nation has against others and of the duties their nation owes to others.

Prejudice and passion and suspicion are more dangerous than the incitement of self-interest or the most stubborn adherence to real differences of opinion regarding rights.

Secretary of War Stanton used to get out of patience with Lincoln because he was all the time pardoning men who ought to be shot.

The attractive idea that we can now have a parliament of man with authority to control the conduct of nations by legislation or an international police force with power to enforce national conformity to rules of right conduct is a counsel of perfection.

The growth of modern constitutional government compels for its successful practice the exercise of reason and considerate judgment by the individual citizens who constitute the electorate.

The law of the survival of the fittest led inevitably to the survival and predominance of the men who were effective in war and who loved it because they were effective.

The limitation upon this mode of promoting peace lies in the fact that it consists in an appeal to the civilized side of man, while war is the product of forces proceeding from man's original savage nature.

The line of least resistance in the progress of civilization is to make that theoretical postulate real by the continually increasing force of the world's public opinion.