Woodrow Wilson: The Fourteen Points [January 8, 1918] - History

Woodrow Wilson: The Fourteen Points [January 8, 1918] - History

My Fellow-Citizens: WHEN we assembled here on the 4th of March, 1897, there was great anxiety with regard to our currency and credit. None exists now. Then our Treasury receipts were inadequate to meet the current obligations of the Government. Now they are sufficient for all public needs, and we have a surplus instead of a deficit. Then I felt constrained to convene the Congress in extraordinary session to devise revenues to pay the ordinary expenses of the Government. Now I have the satisfaction to announce that the Congress just closed has reduced taxation in the sum of $41,000,000. Then there was deep solicitude because of the long depression in our manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and mercantile industries and the consequent distress of our laboring population. Now every avenue of production is crowded with activity, labor is well employed, and American products find good markets at home and abroad. Our diversified productions, however, are increasing in such unprecedented volume as to admonish us of the necessity of still further enlarging our foreign markets by broader commercial relations. For this purpose reciprocal trade arrangements with other nations should in liberal spirit be carefully cultivated and promoted.

The national verdict of 1896 has for the most part been executed. Whatever remains unfulfilled is a continuing obligation resting with undiminished force upon the Executive and the Congress. But fortunate as our condition is, its permanence can only be assured by sound business methods and strict economy in national administration and legislation. We should not permit our great prosperity to lead us to reckless ventures in business or profligacy in public expenditures. While the Congress determines the objects and the sum of appropriations, the officials of the executive departments are responsible for honest and faithful disbursement, and it should be their constant care to avoid waste and extravagance.

Honesty, capacity, and industry are nowhere more indispensable than in public employment. These should be fundamental requisites to original appointment and the surest guaranties against removal. Four years ago we stood on the brink of war without the people knowing it and without any preparation or effort at preparation for the impending peril. I did all that in honor could be done to avert the war, but without avail. It became inevitable; and the Congress at its first regular session, without party division, provided money in anticipation of the crisis and in preparation to meet it. It came. The result was signally favorable to American arms and in the highest degree honorable to the Government. It imposed upon us obligations from which we cannot escape and from which it would be dishonorable to seek escape. We are now at peace with the world, and it is my fervent prayer that if differences arise between us and other powers they may be settled by peaceful arbitration and that hereafter we may be spared the horrors of war. Intrusted by the people for a second time with the office of President, I enter upon its administration appreciating the great responsibilities which attach to this renewed honor and commission, promising unreserved devotion on my part to their faithful discharge and reverently invoking for my guidance the direction and favor of Almighty God. I should shrink from the duties this day assumed if I did not feel that in their performance I should have the co-operation of the wise and patriotic men of all parties. It encourages me for the great task which I now undertake to believe that those who voluntarily committed to me the trust imposed upon the Chief Executive of the Republic will give to me generous support in my duties to "preserve, protect, and defend, the Constitution of the United States" and to "care that the laws be faithfully executed." The national purpose is indicated through a national election. It is the constitutional method of ascertaining the public will. When once it is registered it is a law to us all, and faithful observance should follow its decrees. Strong hearts and helpful hands are needed, and, fortunately, we have them in every part of our beloved country. We are reunited. Sectionalism has disappeared. Division on public questions can no longer be traced by the war maps of 1861. These old differences less and less disturb the judgment. Existing problems demand the thought and quicken the conscience of the country, and the responsibility for their presence, as well as for their righteous settlement, rests upon us all—no more upon me than upon you. There are some national questions in the solution of which patriotism should exclude partisanship. Magnifying their difficulties will not take them off our hands nor facilitate their adjustment. Distrust of the capacity, integrity, and high purposes of the American people will not be an inspiring theme for future political contests. Dark pictures and gloomy forebodings are worse than useless. These only becloud, they do not help to point the way of safety and honor. "Hope maketh not ashamed." The prophets of evil were not the builders of the Republic, nor in its crises since have they saved or served it. The faith of the fathers was a mighty force in its creation, and the faith of their descendants has wrought its progress and furnished its defenders. They are obstructionists who despair, and who would destroy confidence in the ability of our people to solve wisely and for civilization the mighty problems resting upon them. The American people, intrenched in freedom at home, take their love for it with them wherever they go, and they reject as mistaken and unworthy the doctrine that we lose our own liberties by securing the enduring foundations of liberty to others. Our institutions will not deteriorate by extension, and our sense of justice will not abate under tropic suns in distant seas. As heretofore, so hereafter will the nation demonstrate its fitness to administer any new estate which events devolve upon it, and in the fear of God will "take occasion by the hand and make the bounds of freedom wider yet." If there are those among us who would make our way more difficult, we must not be disheartened, but the more earnestly dedicate ourselves to the task upon which we have rightly entered. The path of progress is seldom smooth. New things are often found hard to do. Our fathers found them so. We find them so. They are inconvenient. They cost us something. But are we not made better for the effort and sacrifice, and are not those we serve lifted up and blessed?

We will be consoled, too, with the fact that opposition has confronted every onward movement of the Republic from its opening hour until now, but without success. The Republic has marched on and on, and its step has exalted freedom and humanity. We are undergoing the same ordeal as did our predecessors nearly a century ago. We are following the course they blazed. They triumphed. Will their successors falter and plead organic impotency in the nation? Surely after 125 years of achievement for mankind we will not now surrender our equality with other powers on matters fundamental and essential to nationality. With no such purpose was the nation created. In no such spirit has it developed its full and independent sovereignty. We adhere to the principle of equality among ourselves, and by no act of ours will we assign to ourselves a subordinate rank in the family of nations. My fellow-citizens, the public events of the past four years have gone into history. They are too near to justify recital. Some of them were unforeseen; many of them momentous and far-reaching in their consequences to ourselves and our relations with the rest of the world. The part which the United States bore so honorably in the thrilling scenes in China, while new to American life, has been in harmony with its true spirit and best traditions, and in dealing with the results its policy will be that of moderation and fairness. We face at this moment a most important question that of the future relations of the United States and Cuba. With our near neighbors we must remain close friends. The declaration of the purposes of this Government in the resolution of April 20, 1898, must be made good. Ever since the evacuation of the island by the army of Spain, the Executive, with all practicable speed, has been assisting its people in the successive steps necessary to the establishment of a free and independent government prepared to assume and perform the obligations of international law which now rest upon the United States under the treaty of Paris. The convention elected by the people to frame a constitution is approaching the completion of its labors. The transfer of American control to the new government is of such great importance, involving an obligation resulting from our intervention and the treaty of peace, that I am glad to be advised by the recent act of Congress of the policy which the legislative branch of the Government deems essential to the best interests of Cuba and the United States. The principles which led to our intervention require that the fundamental law upon which the new government rests should be adapted to secure a government capable of performing the duties and discharging the functions of a separate nation, of observing its international obligations of protecting life and property, insuring order, safety, and liberty, and conforming to the established and historical policy of the United States in its relation to Cuba.

The peace which we are pledged to leave to the Cuban people must carry with it the guaranties of permanence. We became sponsors for the pacification of the island, and we remain accountable to the Cubans, no less than to our own country and people, for the reconstruction of Cuba as a free commonwealth on abiding foundations of right, justice, liberty, and assured order. Our enfranchisement of the people will not be completed until free Cuba shall "be a reality, not a name; a perfect entity, not a hasty experiment bearing within itself the elements of failure."

While the treaty of peace with Spain was ratified on the 6th of February, 1899, and ratifications were exchanged nearly two years ago, the Congress has indicated no form of government for the Philippine Islands. It has, however, provided an army to enable the Executive to suppress insurrection, restore peace, give security to the inhabitants, and establish the authority of the United States throughout the archipelago. It has authorized the organization of native troops as auxiliary to the regular force. It has been advised from time to time of the acts of the military and naval officers in the islands, of my action in appointing civil commissions, of the instructions with which they were charged, of their duties and powers, of their recommendations, and of their several acts under executive commission, together with the very complete general information they have submitted. These reports fully set forth the conditions, past and present, in the islands, and the instructions clearly show the principles which will guide the Executive until the Congress shall, as it is required to do by the treaty, determine "the civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants." The Congress having added the sanction of its authority to the powers already possessed and exercised by the Executive under the Constitution, thereby leaving with the Executive the responsibility for the government of the Philippines, I shall continue the efforts already begun until order shall be restored throughout the islands, and as fast as conditions permit will establish local governments, in the formation of which the full co-operation of the people has been already invited, and when established will encourage the people to administer them. The settled purpose, long ago proclaimed, to afford the inhabitants of the islands self-government as fast as they were ready for it will be pursued with earnestness and fidelity. Already something has been accomplished in this direction. The Government's representatives, civil and military, are doing faithful and noble work in their mission of emancipation and merit the approval and support of their countrymen. The most liberal terms of amnesty have already been communicated to the insurgents, and the way is still open for those who have raised their arms against the Government for honorable submission to its authority. Our countrymen should not be deceived. We are not waging war against the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. A portion of them are making war against the United States. By far the greater part of the inhabitants recognize American sovereignty and welcome it as a guaranty of order and of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit of happiness. To them full protection will be given. They shall not be abandoned. We will not leave the destiny of the loyal millions the islands to the disloyal thousands who are in rebellion against the United States. Order under civil institutions will come as soon as those who now break the peace shall keep it. Force will not be needed or used when those who make war against us shall make it no more. May it end without further bloodshed, and there be ushered in the reign of peace to be made permanent by a government of liberty under law!


Fourteen Points

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Fourteen Points, (January 8, 1918), declaration by U.S. Pres. Woodrow Wilson during World War I outlining his proposals for a postwar peace settlement.

What were the Fourteen Points?

The Fourteen Points were a proposal made by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in a speech before Congress on January 8, 1918, outlining his vision for ending World War I in a way that would prevent such a conflagration from occurring again. They also were intended to keep Russia fighting on the Allied side, to boost Allied morale, and to undermine the Central Powers.

How did the Fourteen Points seek to change the world?

While half of the Fourteen Points addressed specific territorial issues between the combatant countries, the remainder were a vision for peace. They prescribed a program of transparency in international relations, free trade, freedom of the seas, reductions in armaments, national self-determination, and adjustment of colonial claims that gave equal weight to the peoples of the colonized countries. Most important, they envisioned an international organization to guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of all member countries.

How important were the Fourteen Points?

In October 1918 Germany requested an armistice based on the Fourteen Points. Though the Armistice and Treaty of Versailles did not adhere to the idealistic Fourteen Points and World War II soon followed, those principles influenced the later world order. They informed all the decolonization movements and set a new standard of national identity. The idea of the League of Nations was the seed that led to the creation of the United Nations.

Why did the Fourteen Points fail?

In negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, the representatives of Britain, France, and Italy wanted to strengthen their own positions and felt it necessary to leave Germany too weak to start another war. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson accepted almost any compromise of the Fourteen Points as long as the treaty provided for the League of Nations. Many in the U.S. Senate thought joining that organization would sacrifice national sovereignty, so the body voted down the treaty.

On January 8, 1918, President Wilson, in his address to a joint session of the United States Congress, formulated under 14 separate heads his ideas of the essential nature of a post-World War I settlement. The text of the Fourteen Points is as follows:

1. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

2. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

3. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

4. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

5. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

6. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest coöperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

7. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

8. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

9. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

10. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.

11. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated occupied territories restored Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

12. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

13. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

14. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

On October 3–4, 1918, Prince Maximilian of Baden, the German imperial chancellor, sent a note, via Switzerland, to President Wilson, requesting an immediate armistice and the opening of peace negotiations on the basis of the Fourteen Points. Germans would later argue a “betrayal” when faced by the harsher terms of the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Jeff Wallenfeldt, Manager, Geography and History.


The Fourteen Points

In his war address to Congress on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson spoke of the need for the United States to enter the war in part to “make the world safe for democracy.” Almost a year later, this sentiment remained strong, articulated in a speech to Congress on January 8, 1918, where he introduced his Fourteen Points.

Designed as guidelines for the rebuilding of the postwar world, the points included Wilson’s ideas regarding nations’ conduct of foreign policy, including freedom of the seas and free trade and the concept of national self-determination, with the achievement of this through the dismantling of European empires and the creation of new states. Most importantly, however, was Point 14, which called for a “general association of nations” that would offer “mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small nations alike.” When Wilson left for Paris in December 1918, he was determined that the Fourteen Points, and his League of Nations (as the association of nations was known), be incorporated into the peace settlements.

Wilson's Fourteen Points


Pamphlet listing Wilson's Fourteen Points (Click image to enlarge.)

The Points, Summarized

President Wilson’s insistence on the inclusion of the League of Nations in the Treaty of Versailles (the settlement with Germany) forced him to compromise with Allied leaders on the other points. Japan, for example, was granted authority over former German territory in China, and self-determination—an idea seized upon by those living under imperial rule throughout Asia and Africa—was only applied to Europe. Following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Wilson returned to the United States and presented it to the Senate.


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Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points

In January 1918, Wilson issued what became known as his Fourteen Points, outlining the principles of world order that he believed should inform any peace settlement. Wilson spoke of a “peace without victory,” in which the victors would seek no unjust aggrandizement at the expense of the defeated nations. Among Wilson’s principles were an end to secret diplomacy, which was thought to have contributed to the war’s outbreak reduction of armaments among victor and vanquished alike the return of Poland to the map, in indisputably Polish lands free trade freedom of the seas an impartial settlement of all colonial claims and a League of Nations, an international body that Wilson believed could put an end to war once and for all. An additional principle informing Wilsonian diplomacy, though not expressly included in the Fourteen Points, was that of national self-determination: Every people should have the right to determine its own political fate.

Following the German surrender in November 1918, Wilson departed for the peace conference in Paris. In keeping with his uncompromising nature, he brought with him not a single influential Republican the one Republican in the delegation, lifetime diplomat Henry White, had little connection to the party.

The diplomatic wrangling that took place at the peace conference has been the subject of countless detailed studies. The important point to take away is that Wilson’s fond hopes of a “peace without victory”—a peace concerned more with justice than with vengeance, a peace taking into account all just claims, whether of victor or vanquished—were quickly dashed. In the closed-door negotiations among the Big Four (Britain, France, Italy, and the United States), Wilson saw only revenge and self-aggrandizement.

So wedded was Wilson to the idea of a League of Nations that the British and French delegations knew that all they had to do to persuade the American president to abandon any of the other Fourteen Points was to threaten not to join his beloved League. For his part, Wilson persuaded himself that as long as he got his League, that institution could modify any objectionable aspects of the peace treaty. Ultimately, for Wilson, it was the League that mattered.

With the drafting of the treaty complete, Wilson had to persuade the U.S. Senate to ratify it. Although in his public remarks Wilson insisted that the American people favored the treaty and that it was only an obstructionist minority in the Senate that objected, the reality was rather different. Huge crowds turned out for rallies against the treaty. There were GermanAmericans who considered it too harsh on Germany, Italian-Americans stunned that Wilson had rebuffed Italy’s demands, Irish-Americans aghast that Irish independence had not been secured at the conference, and liberals who considered it a betrayal of Wilson’s own principles.

The primary source of contention among Americans, however, was the covenant of the League of Nations, which had been included as part of the treaty. In particular, it was Article 10, which obligated League members to preserve the territorial integrity of other member states, that caused the controversy. Opponents were concerned that it might erode American sovereignty—that is, they feared that League membership could obligate the United States to become militarily involved in conflicts involving the obscure border disputes of other League members.

Many opponents of the Covenant were not “isolationists,” as supporters of American neutrality are misleadingly described, but were themselves internationalists, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts being among the best examples. Far from arguing that the United States should retreat from the world stage, they argued simply for written guarantees that Americans would have the right to decide when and where they would take action.

The Lodge Reservations state: “The United States assumes no obligation to preserve the territorial integrity or political independence of any other country. . . under the provisions of Article 10, or to employ the military or naval forces of the United States under any article of the treaty for any purpose”—except in any particular case in which Congress, which possessed the exclusive right to declare war, shall so provide. The preamble to the list of reservations also provided that American ratification of the Treaty of Versailles would not take effect until at least three of the four major Allied powers should officially accept the reservations.

Wilson remained convinced that any watering down of Article 10 would be fatal to the League. He explained to his fellow Americans, “I am not one of those who, when they go into a concert for the peace of the world, want to sit close to the door with their hand on the knob and constantly trying the door to be sure that it is not locked. If we want to go into this thing—and we do want to go into it—we will go in it with our whole hearts and settled purpose to stand by the great enterprise to the end.”


Contents

The immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War I in April 1917 was the German announcement of renewed unrestricted submarine warfare and the subsequent sinking of ships with Americans on board. But President Wilson's war aims went beyond the defense of maritime interests. In his War Message to Congress, Wilson declared that the United States' objective was "to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world." In several speeches earlier in the year, Wilson sketched out his vision of an end to the war that would bring a "just and secure peace," not merely "a new balance of power." [3]

President Wilson subsequently initiated a secret series of studies named the Inquiry, primarily focused on Europe, and carried out by a group in New York which included geographers, historians and political scientists the group was directed by Edward M. House. [4] Their job was to study Allied and American policy in virtually every region of the globe and analyze economic, social, and political facts likely to come up in discussions during the peace conference. [5] The group produced and collected nearly 2,000 separate reports and documents plus at least 1,200 maps. [5] The studies culminated in a speech by Wilson to Congress on January 8, 1918, wherein he articulated America's long-term war objectives. The speech was the clearest expression of intention made by any of the belligerent nations, and it projected Wilson's progressive domestic policies into the international arena. [4]

The speech, known as the Fourteen Points, was developed from a set of diplomatic points by Wilson [6] and territorial points drafted by the Inquiry's general secretary, Walter Lippmann, and his colleagues, Isaiah Bowman, Sidney Mezes, and David Hunter Miller. [7] Lippmann's draft territorial points were a direct response to the secret treaties of the European Allies, which Lippmann had been shown by Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. [7] Lippmann's task, according to House, was "to take the secret treaties, analyze the parts which were tolerable, and separate them from those which were regarded as intolerable, and then develop a position which conceded as much to the Allies as it could, but took away the poison. It was all keyed upon the secret treaties." [7]

In the speech, Wilson directly addressed what he perceived as the causes for the world war by calling for the abolition of secret treaties, a reduction in armaments, an adjustment in colonial claims in the interests of both native peoples and colonists, and freedom of the seas. [5] Wilson also made proposals that would ensure world peace in the future. For example, he proposed the removal of economic barriers between nations, the promise of self-determination for national minorities, [5] and a world organization that would guarantee the "political independence and territorial integrity [of] great and small states alike"—a League of Nations. [3]

Though Wilson's idealism pervaded the Fourteen Points, he also had more practical objectives in mind. He hoped to keep Russia in the war by convincing the Bolsheviks that they would receive a better peace from the Allies, to bolster Allied morale, and to undermine German war support. The address was well received in the United States and Allied nations and even by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, as a landmark of enlightenment in international relations. Wilson subsequently used the Fourteen Points as the basis for negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war. [3]

In his speech to Congress, President Wilson declared fourteen points which he regarded as the only possible basis of an enduring peace.: [9]

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The people of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development. [10]

XI. Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated occupied territories restored Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Ottoman rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

Allies Edit

Wilson at first considered abandoning his speech after Lloyd George delivered a speech outlining British war aims, many of which were similar to Wilson's aspirations, at Caxton Hall on January 5, 1918. Lloyd George stated that he had consulted leaders of "the Great Dominions overseas" before making his speech, so it would appear that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Newfoundland were in broad agreement. [11]

Wilson was persuaded by his adviser House to go ahead, and Wilson's speech overshadowed Lloyd George's and is better remembered by posterity. [12]

The speech was made without prior coordination or consultation with Wilson's counterparts in Europe. Clemenceau, upon hearing of the Fourteen Points, was said to have sarcastically proclaimed, "The good Lord had only ten!" (Le bon Dieu n'en avait que dix !). As a major public statement of war aims, it became the basis for the terms of the German surrender at the end of the First World War. After the speech, House worked to secure the acceptance of the Fourteen Points by Entente leaders. On October 16, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson and Sir William Wiseman, the head of British intelligence in America, had an interview. This interview was one reason why the German government accepted the Fourteen Points and the stated principles for peace negotiations. [ citation needed ]

The report was made as negotiation points, and the Fourteen Points were later accepted by France and Italy on November 1, 1918. Britain later signed off on all of the points except the freedom of the seas. [13] The United Kingdom also wanted Germany to make reparation payments for the war, and thought that should be added to the Fourteen Points. The speech was delivered 10 months before the Armistice with Germany and became the basis for the terms of the German surrender, as negotiated at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. [14]

Central Powers Edit

The speech was widely disseminated as an instrument of Allied propaganda and was translated into many languages for global dissemination. [15] Copies were also dropped behind German lines, to encourage the Central Powers to surrender in the expectation of a just settlement. [5] Indeed, in a note sent to Wilson by Prince Maximilian of Baden, the German imperial chancellor, in October 1918 requested an immediate armistice and peace negotiations on the basis of the Fourteen Points. [16]

United States Edit

Theodore Roosevelt, in a January 1919 article titled, "The League of Nations", published in Metropolitan Magazine, warned: "If the League of Nations is built on a document as high-sounding and as meaningless as the speech in which Mr. Wilson laid down his fourteen points, it will simply add one more scrap to the diplomatic waste paper basket. Most of these fourteen points. would be interpreted. to mean anything or nothing." [17]

Senator William Borah after 1918 wished "this treacherous and treasonable scheme" of the League of Nations to be "buried in hell" and promised that if he had his way it would be "20,000 leagues under the sea". [18]

Other countries Edit

Wilson's speech regarding the Fourteen Points led to unintentional but important consequences in regards to countries which were under European colonial rule or under the influence of European countries. In many of the Fourteen Points, specifically points X, XI, XII and XIII, Wilson had focused on adjusting colonial disputes and the importance of allowing autonomous development and self-determination. This drew significant attention from anti-colonial nationalist leaders and movements, who saw Wilson's swift adoption of the term "self-determination" (although he did not actually use the term in the speech itself) as an opportunity to gain independence from colonial rule or expel foreign influence. [19]

Consequently, Wilson gained support from anti-colonial nationalist leaders in Europe's colonies and countries under European influence around the globe who were hopeful that Wilson would assist them in their goals. Around the world, Wilson was occasionally elevated to a quasi-religious figure as someone who was an agent of salvation and a bringer of peace and justice. [19] During this 'Wilsonian moment', there was considerable optimism among anti-colonial nationalist leaders and movements that Wilson and the Fourteen Points were going to be an influential force that would re-shape the long established relationships between the West and the rest of the world. [19] Many of them believed that the United States, given its history (particularly the American Revolution) would be sympathetic towards the goals and aspirations they held. A common belief among anti-colonial nationalist leaders was the U.S., once it had assisted them in gaining independence from colonial rule or foreign influence, would establish new relationships which would be more favorable and equitable than what had existed beforehand. [19]

However, the nationalist interpretations of both the Fourteen Points and Wilson's views regarding colonialism proved to be misguided. In actuality, Wilson had never established a goal of opposing European colonial powers and breaking up their empires, nor was he trying to fuel anti-colonial nationalist independence movements. It was not Wilson's objective or desire to confront European colonial powers over such matters, as Wilson had no intention of supporting any demands for self-determination and sovereignty that conflicted with the interests of the victorious Allies. [19]

In reality, Wilson's calls for greater autonomous development and sovereignty had been aimed solely at European countries under the rule of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. He did not explicitly outline this, although it is clear that his calls for greater sovereignty in these regions was in an effort to try and destabilise those enemies' empires. [19] President Wilson's ambitions for the third world were rather to attempt to influence its development in order to transform it from 'backward' to 'sophisticated', the aim being to incorporate it into the commercial world, so that the U.S could further benefit from trade with the global south. [20] Furthermore, Wilson did not believe the third world was ready self governance, asserting that a period of trusteeship and tutelage from colonial powers was required to manage such a transition. Wilson viewed this approach as essential to the 'proper development' of colonised countries, reflecting his views about the inferiority of the non-European races. [20] Moreover, Wilson was not by character or background an anti-colonialist or campaigner for rights and freedoms for all people, instead he was also very much a racist, a fundamental believer in white supremacy. [20] For example, he had supported the 1898 U.S annexation of the Philippines whilst condemning the rebellion of the Philippine nationalist Emilio Aguinaldo, and strongly believed that the U.S was morally obliged to impose Western ways of life and governance on such countries, so that eventually they could govern independently. [20]

President Wilson contracted Spanish flu at the beginning of the Paris Peace Conference and became severely ill with high fevers and bouts of delirium [21] giving way to French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau to advance demands that were substantially different from Wilson's Fourteen Points. Clemenceau viewed Germany as having unfairly attained an economic victory over France because of the heavy damage German forces dealt to France's industries even during the German retreat, and he expressed dissatisfaction with France's allies at the peace conference.

Notably, Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, which would become known as the War Guilt Clause, was seen by the Germans as assigning full responsibility for the war and its damages on Germany however, the same clause was included in all peace treaties and historian Sally Marks has noted that only German diplomats saw it as assigning responsibility for the war. The Allies would initially assess 269 billion marks in reparations. In 1921, this figure was established at 192 billion marks. However, only a fraction of the total had to be paid. The figure was designed to look imposing and show the public that Germany was being punished, but it also recognized what Germany could not realistically pay.

Germany's ability and willingness to pay that sum continues to be a topic of debate among historians. [22] [23] Germany was also denied an air force, and the German army was not to exceed 100,000 men.

The text of the Fourteen Points had been widely distributed in Germany as propaganda prior to the end of the war and was well known by the Germans. The differences between this document and the final Treaty of Versailles fueled great anger in Germany. [24] German outrage over reparations and the War Guilt Clause is viewed as a likely contributing factor to the rise of National Socialism. By the time of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, foreign armies had only entered Germany's prewar borders twice: at the Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia and following the Battle of Mulhouse, the settlement of the French army in the Thann valley. These were both in 1914. This lack of any Allied incursions at the end of the War contributed to the popularization of the stab-in-the-back myth in Germany after the war.

Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his peace-making efforts.

Ukraine Edit

At the time Ukrainian delegations failed to receive any support from France and UK. Although some agreements were reached, neither of the states provided any actual support as in general their agenda was to restore Poland and unified anti-Bolshevik Russia. [25] Thus Ukrainian representatives Arnold Margolin and Teofil Okunevsky had high hopes for American mission, but in the end found it even more categorical than French and British:

This meeting, which took place on June 30, made a tremendous impression on both Okunevsky and me. Lansing showed complete ignorance of the situation and blind faith in Kolchak and Denikin. He categorically insisted that the Ukrainian government recognise Kolchak as the supreme ruler and leader of all anti-Bolshevik armies. When it came to the Wilson principles, the application of which was predetermined in relation to the peoples of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Lansing said that he knew only about the single Russian people and that the only way to restore Russia was a federation modeled on the United States. When I tried to prove to him that the example of the United States testifies to the need for the preliminary existence of separate states as subjects for any possible agreements between them in the future, he evaded answering and began again stubbornly urging us to recognise Kolchak. [. ] Thats how in reality these principles were implemented. USA supported Kolchak, England — Denikin and Yudenich, France — Galler. Only Petliura was left without any support.


Wilson’s Fourteen Points, 1918

The immediate cause of the United States’ entry into World War I in April 1917 was the German announcement of unrestricted submarine warfare and the subsequent sinking of ships with U.S. citizens on board. But President Woodrow Wilson’s war aims went beyond the defense of U.S. maritime interests. In his War Message to Congress, President Wilson declared that the U.S. objective was “to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world.”

In several speeches earlier in the year, President Wilson sketched out his vision of an end to the war that would bring a “just and secure peace,” not merely “a new balance of power.” He then appointed a committee of experts known as The Inquiry to help him refine his ideas for peace. In December 1917, he asked The Inquiry to draw up specific recommendations for a comprehensive peace settlement. Using these recommendations, Wilson presented a program of fourteen points to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918. Eight of the fourteen points treated specific territorial issues among the combatant nations. Five of the other six concerned general principles for a peaceful world: open covenants (i.e. treaties or agreements) openly arrived at freedom of the seas free trade reduction of armaments and adjustment of colonial claims based on the principles of self-determination. The fourteenth point proposed what was to become the League of Nations to guarantee the “political independence and territorial integrity [of] great and small states alike.”

Though Wilson’s idealism pervades the Fourteen Points, he also had more practical objectives in mind. He hoped to keep Russia in the war by convincing the Bolsheviks that they would receive a better peace from the Allies, to bolster Allied morale, and to undermine German war support. The address was immediately hailed in the United States and Allied nations, and even by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, as a landmark of enlightenment in international relations. Wilson subsequently used the Fourteen Points as the basis for negotiating the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war. Although the Treaty did not fully realize Wilson’s unselfish vision, the Fourteen Points still stand as the most powerful expression of the idealist strain in United States diplomacy.


Paris Peace Conference

As the Paris Peace Conference began in January 1919, Wilson quickly found that actual support for the Fourteen Points was lacking on the part of his allies. This was largely due to the need for reparations, imperial competition, and a desire to inflict a harsh peace on Germany. As the talks progressed, Wilson was increasingly unable to garner acceptance of his Fourteen Points.

In an effort to appease the American leader, Lloyd George and Clemenceau consented to the formation of the League of Nations. With several of the participants' goals conflicting, the talks moved slowly and ultimately produced a treaty which failed to please any of the nations involved. The final terms of the treaty, which included little of Wilson's Fourteen Points on which German had agreed to the armistice, were harsh and ultimately played a key role in setting the stage for World War II.


This week in history: Pres. Wilson offers the Fourteen Points

On Jan. 8, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson put forth a new moral standard for international relations with his Fourteen Points. A peace plan to end World War I, the Fourteen Points was also intended to ensure that no such conflict occurred ever again. Much of the substance of the Fourteen Points, however, was ultimately sidelined at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

World War I began in the summer of 1914 when the great powers of Europe unleashed the full fruits of the Industrial Revolution toward killing. Each belligerent's army suffered horrendous losses, with millions of young men slaughtered on the battlefield and millions more returning to civilian life physically and emotionally shattered. The financial cost, which many had predicted would necessitate only a short, sharp war, had reached astronomical proportions relatively quickly.

In April 1917, the United States entered the war alongside Britain, France and a tottering, quasi-democratic Russian regime. When Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany, the president stated firmly, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Having dispatched Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing to France, the United States quickly began to build up a major military force in Europe.

Wilson desired to the see a speedy conclusion to the war. Many of the Allied states, however, had proclaimed that they intended territorial annexation, indemnities and other conditions. Wilson feared that the nationalist goals of America's allies would make peace difficult to conclude. Certainly Germany would not lay down its arms if it was expected to hand over sizable territories and pay huge sums of money.

Also, Wilson appreciated that despite the new level of technological barbarity, World War I was essentially being waged as a 19th century conflict — one in which "might made right," and where the winner made the loser pay heavily for the defeat. Wilson hoped, some believed naively, to introduce a new level of idealism into international relations and end World War I in such a manner as to radically alter the way nations conducted themselves. Critically, Wilson hoped, war itself could be abolished from the civilized world.

In Henry Kissinger's book, “Diplomacy,” the former secretary of state wrote: “In late October 1917, Wilson dispatched (Col. Edward M.) House to ask the Europeans to formulate war aims which would reflect his proclaimed aim for a peace without annexations or indemnities safeguarded by a world authority. For several months, Wilson refrained from putting forward his own views because, as he explained to House, France and Italy might object if America expressed doubts about the justice of their territorial aspirations.”

Moving forward on his own, Wilson decided to proclaim America's war aims on Jan. 8, 1918. With sweeping, elegant language, Wilson enumerated the points of his plan to end the war and to secure a free, safe and prosperous post-war world.

Wilson's first point dealt with diplomacy itself. He called for “Open covenants, openly arrived at” and that “diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.” Many believed that the outbreak of World War I owed much to the secret machinations of the European states involved, secret treaties and agreements that often conflicted with others. Plain speaking and honesty, Wilson believed, could do much to prevent future wars.

The second point dealt with freedom of the seas. This was a direct challenge to Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare that began with the outbreak of war, but was suspended after the 1915 sinking of the British passenger liner Lusitania. Over 1,200 people went down with the ship, including 128 Americans. The German reactivation of the policy in February 1917 was one of the reasons why America went to war that year. The point also addressed, perhaps, the British practice of mining the seas.

Point three called for free trade between nations and the removal of tariffs. The conventional belief, then and now, was that nations are less likely to go to war with each other if they trade heavily with one another. (As historian Margaret MacMillan has pointed out in her book “The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914,” however, Britain and Germany were each other's greatest trading partners before the Great War.)

The fourth point dealt with arms reductions. Another belief was that World War I began because European armies were too large. Point five called for impartial adjustment of each powers' colonial claims around the globe, the hope being that a small colonial conflict in Africa or the Pacific would not ignite Europe once again. Point six called for all nations to withdraw their militaries from Russia, then in the grip of the communist revolution, and allow that state to decide its own future. Its own actions would determine how it would be treated by the international community.

Belgium, which had been overrun by the German army in 1914, was the subject of point seven. Wilson called for the small state to be reconstituted as an independent nation, free from annexation or territorial readjustment from any nation. Germany's invasion of the neutral nation had been the catalyst for Britain's entry into the war, and now Wilson stated that, “Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.”

Wilson called for Germany to pull its army out of French territory in point eight. Further, he stated that the German, then known as Prussian, annexation of the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, which had occurred following the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, needed to be addressed. As he called the annexations a “wrong,” one must assume he intended for Germany to give the provinces back.

Point nine dealt with defining Italy's borders “along clearly recognized lines of nationality,” a prod to the Austrian-Hungarian empire to give up its regions in northern Italy. Point 10 called for the peoples of Austria-Hungary to develop autonomously. The multinational state boasted dozens of languages and peoples, many of whom wanted their countries independent from Vienna's rule. Wilson supported their desires.

The Balkans was the focus of point 11. Wilson called for foreign armies to evacuate the nations of southeastern Europe and for those states to develop autonomously as well. Point 12 called for Turkey to remain sovereign, but other peoples throughout the Middle East, long under the Ottoman yolk, should also be allowed to develop autonomously. Wilson also demanded that the Dardanelles, the straits that connect the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea, should be open to navigation by all nations.

Point 13 addressed Poland, which had not been a sovereign state since the 1790s and had been under the domination of Russia until overrun by Germany during World War I. The ancient state was to be reconstituted as a free and independent nation with access to the sea for trade.

Finally, Wilson's 14th and last point called for the establishment of an international organization to keep the peace, a gathering of permanent ambassadors that could discuss international issues and work out deals before a conflict between nations could escalate into a war. This organization, when eventually given form, would be known as the League of Nations.

In the book “Paris: 1919: Six Months that Changed the World,” MacMillan wrote: “Wilson's League would be powerful because it would represent the organized opinion of humanity. Its members would guarantee, he said in his Fourteen Points, each other's independence and borders. It might use force to protect these but would probably not need to. The war had shown that ordinary people longed for such an organization it was what they had fought for.”

Though initially indifferent to the Fourteen Points, by late summer 1918, the German government began to see Wilson's plan as a life preserver. With their army faltering on the field under massive American reinforcements and supplies, and fearing a communist revolution on the home front, the Germans saw the Fourteen Points as a way to end the war with honor, a basis upon which peace could be negotiated. Just as the Allies had needed America to win the war, so too now did the Germans need America to help turn the war off.

America's allies, however, did not think much of the Fourteen Points. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau stated, “Mr. Wilson bores me with his Fourteen Points why, God Almighty has only 10!” In fact, Clemenceau, the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and others were deeply troubled by Wilson's call for a fair peace without annexations or indemnities.

In fact, many Allied leaders had run for office during the war on campaign platforms that called for a harsh peace against Germany. Every wife who had lost a husband and every child who had lost a father in the war was to be taken care of by the state, and Germany would pay for it. The Allied leaders of Europe paid lip service to Wilson's idealism, but when the Paris Peace Conference commenced in 1919, much of Wilson's idealism went out the window. The resulting Treaty of Versailles did indeed punish Germany unfairly, largely by singling it out as being solely responsible for the war.

Wilson, unhappy that so much of his peace plan had been abandoned, nevertheless went along with his allies largely because they agreed to support the creation of the League of Nations, the tool Wilson always considered the most important when it came to preventing future wars. Never popular with the American people, the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty and America did not join the League of Nations.

Wilson's idealistic vision of international diplomacy set a new standard for conduct between nations. It is this standard that makes the world take notice when aggressor nations threaten peace, such as when Adolf Hitler invaded the rump of Czechoslovakia in 1939, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 or when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.


In 1815, the last major engagement of the War of 1812 came to an end as U.S. forces defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans, not having gotten word of the signing of a peace treaty.

In 1867, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in overriding President Andrew Johnson’s veto of the District of Columbia Suffrage Bill, giving black men in the nation’s capital the right to vote.

In 1935, rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss.

In 1968, the Otis Redding single “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released on the Volt label almost a month after the singer’s death in a plane crash.

In 1987, for the first time, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 2,000, ending the day at 2002.25.

In 1998, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was sentenced in New York to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Emergency personnel treat a shooting victim outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011, where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others were shot as the congresswoman was meeting with constituents. (Photo: James Palka / Associated Press)

In 2011, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot and critically wounded when a gunman opened fire as the congresswoman met with constituents in Tucson six people were killed, 12 others were also injured. (Gunman Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced in November 2012 to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.)

Ten years ago: U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the only officer charged in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

Five years ago: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence as her Arizona hometown paused to mark the second anniversary of the deadly shooting rampage.

One year ago: A Palestinian truck driver rammed his vehicle into a crowd of Israeli soldiers, killing at least four people in one of the deadliest attacks of a year-and-a-half-long wave of violence (the driver was shot dead).

QUOTE UNQUOTE

"Elvis is everywhere / Elvis is everything / Elvis is everybody / Elvis is still the king / Man o man / What I want you to see / Is that the big E's / Inside of you and me."


Watch the video: Woodrow Wilson 14 points