Monday, January 8, 2018

Fourteen Points -- January 8, 2018

Rock Island Argus, 08-January-1918
US President Woodrow Wilson delivered a speech to Congress on 08-January-1918 about US war aims and peace terms.  Many people saw the Fourteen Points as a good basis for peace.  

President Lays Down Laws to Govern Peace of World

Washington, Jan. 8. -- With a new statement of war aims, approving the recent declarations of the premier, Lloyd George, President Wilson presented to congress and the world a specific declaration of the terms on which it would be possible to make peace with the German military autocracy.

The president's program for world peace is composed of 14 separate articles and provides for restoration and reparation, guarantees for territory and national life, freedom of the seas and access to them, reductions of armaments and guarantees for the sanctity of agreements between nations.

The president presented the following as necessary elements of world peace:

"1 Open covenants of peace without private international understandings.
"2 Absolute freedom of the seas in peace or war except as they may be closed by international action.
"3 Removal of all economic barriers and establishment of equality of trade conditions among nations consenting to peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
"4 Guarantees for the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point possible with domestic safety.
"5 Impartial adjustment of all colonial claims based upon the principle that the people concerned have equal weight with the interest of the government.
"6 Evacuation of all Russian territory and opportunity for Russia's political development.

Freedom of Belgium.

"7 Evacuation of Belgium without any attempt to limit her sovereignty.
"8 All French territory to be freed and restored and reparation for the taking of Alsace-Lorraine.
"9 Readjustment of Italy's frontiers along clearly recognized lines of nationality.
"10 Freest opportunity for autonomous development of peoples of Austria-Hungary.
"11 Evacuation of Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro, with access to the sea for Serbia, and international guarantees of economic and political Independence and territory integrity of the Balkan states.
"12 Secure sovereignty for Turkey's portion of the Ottoman empire, but with other nationalities under Turkish rule assured security of life and opportunity for autonomous development with the Dardanelles permanently opened to all nations.
"13 Establishment of an independent Polish state, including territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, with free access to the sea and political and economic independence and territorial integrity guaranteed by international covenant
"14 General association of nations under specific covenants for mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to large and small states alike.

Willing to Fight.

"For such arrangements and covenants," said the president, in conclusion, "we are willing to fight and continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace."

Such a program, he said, removed chief provocations for war.

"The moral climax of this, the culminating and final war for human liberty, has come," said the president in ending his address, "and they (people of the United States) are ready to put their own strength, their own highest purpose, their own integrity and devotion to the test"

The practical agreement of fundamentals in the president's program with those expressed by the British premier made an immediate and profound impression upon all who heard him.

Coming at a moment when Germany faces the demands of her Socialists for an abandonment of any program of annexations and indemnities and also faces the failure of the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk, the president's pronouncement developed its tremendous importance as he spoke it word by word to a crowded chamber of legislators, diplomats and officials, who gave him the closest attention. Although the address was punctuated liberally by applause, there was one great demonstration when the president declared France must have right for the wrong in Alsace-Lorraine. At that, the entire assembly rose, applauded and cheered loudly.

Delivered in Silence.

Otherwise, the president's address was delivered in the silence which denotes the rapt attention of an audience which realized that it was passing through a great quarter of an hour in the life of the world.

To the German people the president gave a reassurance that there was no aim to impair their peaceful greatness.

Not Jealous of  Germans.

"We have no jealousy of German greatness," he said, "and there is nothing in this program that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish to fight her, either with arms or hostile arrangements of trade, if she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace-loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealings. Neither do we presume to suggest to her any alteration or modification of her institutions. But it is necessary, we must frankly say, and necessary as a preliminary to any intelligent dealings with her on our part, that we should know who the spokesmen speak for when they speak to us, whether for the German reichstag majority or for the military party and the men whose creed is imperial domination."

Responds With Candor.

The president made clear at the outset that the German statesmen have again challenged their adversaries to a restatement of war aims, he undertook to respond to it with the utmost candor. The British premier's declaration, the president referred to as having been spoken with "admirable candor and in admirable spirit for the people and government of Great Britain."

"The only secrecy of counsel," he added, "the only lack of fearless frankness, the only failure to make statement of the objects of the war, lies with Germany and her allies."

The voice of the Russian people, prostrate and all but helpless, with power shattered, but souls not subservient,1 called for a statement of aims and, the president added, he responded, "with utter simplicity and frankness."

All Join In Approval.

The president occupied just 23 minutes in delivering his address. Each statement of the program was greeted with some applause as the president read it, and there was no division of approval apparent between the parties.

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