McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1863-1941




1918 April 15


Speech by William G. McAdoo stating he has no ambition for public office and that the only person who deserves to be elected president in 1920 is Woodrow Wilson.


Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia




Extract from Speech made by Secretary McAdoo at Houston, Texas

But, ladies and gentlemen, this war cannot be won unless there is at this time developed in America more than it has already been developed that unity of purpose that comes from the subordination of every personal and private interest, the squaring of every individual action with the noble standard of a perfectly selfless Americanism. It is no time for politics, it is no time for personal ambitions -- and that impels me to refer to the suggestion your Chairman made in introducing me.

He mentioned my name in connection with the most exalted office in the gift of the American people. I have a keen sense of humor and I take that humorously, but for fear that the Chairman was not altogether humorous, I want to allude to it because it illustrates what I have in mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would have infinite contempt for the man who in this great time sought to take advantage of any phase or aspect of this war to promote a personal ambition. I have no ambition for public office. I want nothing from my fellow-countrymen except the opportunity to do this job with all my power and capacity and then go back to private life. I am proud to say that I have three sons in the Navy of the United States. I am in no different category from thousands of American fathers and thousands of American mothers, who in this great time are making the supremest sacrifice that any man or woman can make, aside from dying themselves upon the battlefield -- I am giving all my sons to my country. How can any man want anything in this time except to serve with all his might and main and give his very blood, in addition, if he can shorten this war and save the life of some American boy?

I speak feelingly about this, my fellow-countrymen, because I cannot serve you as I want to serve you if my motives are ever suspected or if it ever should be supposed that I had a personal end in view. I must have your confidence and I must have the confidence of the American people if I am to do this job thoroughly, and if I have it, I want to keep it. I cannot keep it and I would not deserve to if I have any selfish purpose to serve. In my humble judgment, as things stand today and as they may stand in 1920, there is only one man in America who deserves the great and exalted office of the Presidency, and he is holding that office now.





McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1863-1941, “Speech,” 1918 April 15, WWP15470, Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.