What is the rule of honor to be observed by a power so strongly and so advantageously situated as this Republic is? Of course I do not expect it meekly to pocket real insults if they should be offered to it. But, surely, it should not, as our boyish jingoes wish it to do, swagger about among the nations of the world, with a chip on its shoulder, shaking its fist in everybody’s face.
Of course, it should not tamely submit to real encroachments upon its rights. But, surely, it should not, whenever its own notions of right or interest collide with the notions of others, fall into hysterics and act as if it really feared for its own security and its very independence.
As a true gentleman, conscious of his strength and his dignity, it should be slow to take offense. In its dealings with other nations it should have scrupulous regard, not only for their rights, but also for their self-respect. With all its latent resources for war, it should be the great peace power of the world. It should never forget what a proud privilege and what an inestimable blessing it is not to need and not to have big armies or navies to support.
It should seek to influence mankind, not by heavy artillery, but by good example and wise counsel.
It should see its highest glory, not in battles won, but in wars prevented. It should be so invariably just and fair, so trustworthy, so good tempered, so conciliatory, that other nations would instinctively turn to it as their mutual friend and the natural adjuster of their differences, thus making it the greatest preserver of the world’s peace.
This is not a mere idealistic fancy. It is the natural position of this great republic among the nations of the earth. It is its noblest vocation, and it will be a glorious day for the United States when the good sense and the self-respect of the American people see in this their “manifest destiny.” It all rests upon peace. Is not this peace with honor? There has, of late, been much loose speech about “Americanism.” Is not this good Americanism? It is surely today the Americanism of those who love their country most. And I fervently hope that it will be and ever remain the Americanism of our children and our children’s children.
– Carl Schurz, “The True Americanism,” speech delivered on Jan. 2, 1896 in: Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 5, p. 258 (F. Bancroft ed. 1913)
Carl Schurz launched his political career at the side of his mentor, Abraham Lincoln, served as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, stood for office as a Republican candidate in Wisconsin, Illinois and finally became U.S. senator from Missouri. He served as a diplomat and as secretary of the interior.
Schurz’s vision of Americanism is based on the projection of individual civility embodied in the Scout Oath and law. Civility values the courage to maintain ones ideals while respecting those of others, to seek comity and cooperation based on common goals while maintaining the dignity of individual independance. Civility does not ignore our differences but recognizes the strength these differences can lend to a common cause.