FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

Our Sovereignty: Shall We Use It?

Thomas E. Dewey with Thomas J. Curran, Manhattan GOP leader, on return from a campaign tour. Library of Congress

Since the turn of the century we have lost the power of directing our own national destiny. We must regain it. To show how much we have lost control over our destiny I need only point to our unwilling participation in two world wars and to the instability of the American economy during the period between them. We have sought to escape war and to maintain our economy as a separate entity in the world by jealously guarding our sovereign rights. I am forced to the conclusion that something is wrong with what we have meant by the term "national sovereignty" if it produces Hawley-Smoot tariffs; the banking failures, depressions and misery of 1929 and ensuing years; highly nationalistic economic policies, with consequent deficit financing and violent discords among groups within our own society; agrarian unrest and farmers' strikes; and, finally, two decades after we brought our boys home from one war in Europe, the loading of transports to take their sons across submarine infested seas to fight in another.

I believe that if we are to avoid the same disastrous cycle when the present war in Europe and Asia has been won we shall have to give up the idea that sovereignty is something simply to be conserved, like the talent which was laid away in the earth in the biblical parable, and accept the idea that it is an active force to be used. That is the thesis of what I have to say here.

I want to see our Government and people use the sovereign power of the United States in partnership with the sovereign power of other peace-loving nations to create and operate an international organization which will give better protection to the rights of all nations, on a wider political, economic and social basis, than has ever yet been attempted in history. To my mind, mutuality of responsibility and service represents more real freedom, in the sense of freedom from wars and economic disaster, than can be

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