Check the 1800s

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”


Carl Schurz was our 13th Secretary of the Interior.

“The man who in times of popular excitement boldly and unflinchingly resists hot-tempered clamor for an unnecessary war, and thus exposes himself to the opprobrious imputation of a lack of patriotism or of courage, to the end of saving his country from a great calamity, is, as to “loving and faithfully serving his country,” at least as good a patriot as the hero of the most daring feat of arms, and a far better one than those who, with an ostentatious pretense of superior patriotism, cry for war before it is needed, especially if then they let others do the fighting.”

He fought to stop political appointments in government. Positions and promotions were based on merit, not politics and patronage, not ideology and lobbying. He propelled requiring a cause to be fired. He also pioneered forest preservation.

Speaking about a rule of honor in America, Carl Schurz said in 1898 [wiki]:

Carl Schurz, 13th United States Secretary of the Interior“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.”