Part 3 of 3-part series

HOPKINTON – Disagreements about entering into war, registering non-American citizens, and voter fraud; major topics of 2017. However, 100 years ago, the headlines were the same. In June of 1917, with war on the horizon, Americans were divided on the subject of the country’s involvement. Nathan Barber Lewis, a resident of South Kingstown and a District Court judge, decided to speak out publically concerning his own opinion on the matter. The seventy-five-year-old was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in the 7th Regiment of Rhode Island volunteers. He had his feelings on the subject printed in Hope Valley’s newspaper. “I come in contact with a good many intelligent persons who are discussing the present war and our somewhat belated interest in it. Fairly well-informed people express an objection to the United States sending an army to fight in Europe, but express a willingness that our boys should fight here at home in case the soil of our own country should be invaded. They say it is alright for us to fight to protect our own homes and property but it is a disagreeable and uninviting proposition to send troops across the sea to participate in a war which other nations are more intimately concerned with than ourselves. Their sentiments arise, it seems to me, from want of thought or from very illogical thinking. In the late Civil War, the people of the north might just as well have said ‘We object to sending our boys to fight in the semi-tropical climate of the South, or the miasmatic swamps of Mississippi, but if the Confederates menace Providence or Boston, or even New York, we should be entirely willing for our boys to fight the invaders for the protection of our own homes.’ The wonderful resources of Germany and the ability of the German nation to continue the war have been greatly enhanced by the fact that they were able to push their armies over the border into the territory of their foes. So long as Germany can do this, so long as they can keep the contending forces off their own lands, they can keep up the fight with a fair prospect of success. The best way in which the United States can defend itself is to confine the fighting to Europe and help the Allies push back the German hordes upon German soil. When that time comes, if it ever does, Germany will begin to realize what war is, and from that moment they will perceive that they are playing a losing game.”

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