”This nation owes it to itself to refuse to be neutral between right and wrong... We are false to the memory of the great Americans of the past, if we sit by with our hands folded, and fail to make an effective protest when such hideous enormities are practiced as those practiced by Germany in Belgium..."No such infamy has been perpetrated in any war between civilized powers for over two centuries. It is for us, as the largest neutral nation, to remember that when neutrals fail to protest against action of this kind, they become accomplices in wrong-doing....”REMARKABLE AND IMPASSIONED LETTER BY ROOSEVELT ON THE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY OF AMERICANS TO ENTER THE FIRST WORLD WAR. The letter, typed on Roosevelt’s Metropolitan Office stationery and dated January 8, 1917, is addressed to Judge Daniel J. Kenefick, the Chairman of the Committee of Protest on Enslavement of Belgians and Poles and reads in full:My dear Judge Kenefick:I wish I could be present at the Buffalo meeting to speak on behalf of the Belgians and Poles, and against their enslavement. As that is impossible, may I, through you, express my deep sympathy with your meeting and its purpose. This nation owes it to itself to refuse to be neutral between right and wrong. Our prime duty, of course, is the duty of self-defense, the duty of protecting the honor and the interest of this country, and of guaranteeing our own people against wrong. But second only to this duty, comes the duty of making our views heard, and, if possible, our weight felt, on the side of righteousness and against iniquity in international affairs. We are false to the memory of the great Americans of the past, if we sit by with our hands folded, and fail to make an effective protest when such hideous enormities are practiced as those practiced by Germany in Belgium. I believe that similar deeds have been done in Poland, but as regards the Belgians, and as regards the men and women deported from northern France, we have not had merely ample, but minute information. These men and women in northern France have been sent into state slavery in Germany, and over 100,000 Belgians have suffered the same fate. They are sent to Germany so that by their labor they are aiding Germans in killing their fellow country-men. No such infamy has been perpetrated in any war between civilized powers for over two centuries. It is for us, as the largest neutral nation, to remember that when neutrals fail to protest against action of this kind, they become accomplices in wrong-doing. A private individual, who sees some powerful law breaker knock down a helpless woman or child, and who himself makes no protest and no effort at rescue of any kind, is rightly regarded as being tainted in some manner with the crime. Exactly the same kind of condemnation should be meted out to this nation for not having interfered to the extent of its power, in the effort to prevent the hideous iniquity that has just been perpetrated. I am very glad that this meeting of protest has been called. Sincerely yours, [signed] Theodore RooseveltJanuary, 1917, was a critical time in the evolution of US opinion over the war in Europe. As late as January 22, 1917, President Wilson argued, in his “peace without victory” address, that the US should not engage in military action. However, “Germany's decision to begin unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917 ended Wilson's pursuit of impartial U.S. neutrality... and in mid-March 1917, when German submarines sank three U.S. ships, Wilson was forced to make a choice. No longer able to remain at peace and protect the nation's maritime and commercial interests, Wilson led the United States into the European conflict shortly after the inauguration of his second term. At a special session of the new Congress on 2 April 1917, denouncing Germany's autocratic government and its submarine warfare, he called for war to liberate all nations from this threat, including the Germans themselves. He proclaimed that 'the world must be made safe for democracy.' Four days later, Congress declared war against Germany" (American National Biography).Roosevelt, in this letter, powerfully argues for US involvement on moral grounds, and reveals much about his philosophy with regard to one nation’s responsibility to the suffering people of another nation.Quarto, two pages (typed on rectos only) on Roosevelt’s Metropolitan letterhead. Signed in full in ink and with numerous manuscript corrections in Roosevelt’s hand. Expected folds, otherwise fine. ROOSEVELT LETTERS WITH SUCH EXTRAORDINARY CONTENT ARE VERY RARE.