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Woodrow Wilson's Address To Congress [1919] - History

Woodrow Wilson's Address To Congress [1919] - History


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Now, as to the character of the document, while it has consumed some time to read this document, I think you will see at once that it is very simple, and in nothing so simple as in the structure which it suggests for a league of nations, a body of delegates, an executive council, and a permanent secretariat.

When it came to the question of determining the character of the representation in the body of delegates we were all aware of a feeling which is current throughout the world.

Inasmuch as I am stating it in the presence of the official representatives of the various governments here present, including myself, I may say that there is a universal feeling that the world can not rest satisfied with merely official guidance. There has reached us through many channels the feeling that if the deliberating body of the league of nations was merely to be a body of officials representing the various governments, the peoples of the world would not be sure that some of the mistakes which preoccupied officials had admittedly made might, not be repeated.

It was impossible to conceive a method or an assembly so large and various as to be really representative of the great body of the peoples of the world, because, as I roughly reckon it, we represent as we sit around this table more than twelve hundred million people.

You can not have a representative assembly of twelve hundred million people, but if you leave it to each Government to have, if it pleases, one or two or three representatives, though only with a single vote, it may vary its representation from time to time, not only, but it may [originate] the choice of its several representatives....

Therefore we thought that this was a proper and a very prudent concession to the practically universal opinion of plain men everywhere that they wanted the door left open to a variety of representation, instead of being confined to a single official body with which they could or might not find themselves in sympathy.

And you will notice that this body has unlimited rights of discussion.

I mean of discussion of anything that falls within the field of international relations—and that it is especially agreed that war or international misunderstandings or anything that may lead to friction or trouble is everybody's business, because it may affect the peace of the world.

And in order to safeguard the popular power so far as we could of this representative body it is provided, you will notice, that when a subject is submitted it is not to arbitration but to discussion by the executive council; it can, upon the initiative of either of the parties to the dispute, be drawn out of the executive council on the larger form of the general body of delegates, because through this instrument we are depending primarily and chiefly upon one great force, and this is the moral force of the public opinion of the world—the pleasing and clarifying and compelling influences of publicity—so that intrigues can no longer have their coverts, so that designs that are sinister can at any time be drawn into the open so that those things that are destroyed by the light may be promptly destroyed by the overwhelming light of the universal expression of the condemnation of the world.

Armed force is in the background in this program but it is in the background, and if the moral force of the world will not suffice the physical force of the world shall. But that is the last resort, because this is intended as a constitution of peace, not as a league of war.

The simplicity of the document seems to me to be one of its chief virtues, because, speaking for myself, I was unable to see the variety of circumstances with which this league would have to deal. I was unable, therefore, to plan all the machinery that might be necessary to meet the differing and unexpected contingencies. Therefore I should say of this document that it is not a straitjacket but a vehicle of life.

A living thing is born, and we must see to it what clothes we put on it. It is not a vehicle of power, but a vehicle in which power may be varied at the discretion of those who exercise it and in accordance with the changing circumstances of the time. And yet, while it is elastic, while it is general in its terms, it is definite in the one thing that we were called upon to make definite.

It is a definite guaranty of peace. It is a definite guaranty by word against aggression. It is a definite guaranty against the things which have just come near bringing the whole structure of civilization into ruin.

Its purposes do not for a moment lie vague. Its purposes are declared, and its powers are unmistakable. It is not in contemplation that this should be merely a league to secure the peace of the world. It is a league which can be used for cooperation in any international matter.

That is the significance of the provision introduced concerning labor. There are many ameliorations of labor conditions which can be effected by conference and discussion. I anticipate that there will be a very great usefulness in the bureau of labor which it is contemplated shall be set up by the league.

Men and women and children who work have been in the background through long ages and sometimes I seemed to be forgotten, while governments have had their watchful and suspicious eyes upon the maneuvers of one another, while the thought of statesmen has been about structural action and the larger transactions of commerce and of finance.

Now, if I may believe the picture which I see there, comes into the foreground the great body of the laboring people of the world, the men and women and children upon whom the great burden of sustaining the world must from day to day fall, whether we wish it to do so or not; people who go to bed tired and wake up without the stimulation of lively hope. These people will be drawn into the field of international consultation and help, and will be among the wards of the combined governments of the world. This is, I take leave to say, a very great step in advance in the mere conception of that.

Then, as you will notice, there is an imperative article concerning the publicity of all international agreements. Henceforth no member of the league can call any agreement valid which it has not registered with the secretary general, in whose office, of course, it will be subject to the examination of any body representing a member of the league. And the
duty is laid upon the secretary general to earliest possible time. .

There has been no greater advance than this, gentlemen. If you look back upon the history of the world you will see how helpless peoples have too often been a prey to powers that had no conscience in the matter. It has been one of the many distressing revelations of recent years that the great power which has just been, happily, defeated put intolerable burdens and injustices upon the helpless people of some of the colonies which it annexed to itself, that its interest was rather their extermination than their development; that the desire was to possess their land for European purposes, and not to enjoy their confidence in order that mankind might be lifted in these places to the next higher level.

Now, the world, expressing its conscience in law, says there is an end of that, that our consciences shall be settled to this thing. States will be picked out which have already shown that they can exercise conscience in this matter, and under their tutelage the helpless peoples of the world will come into a new light and into a new hope.


Woodrow of unregulated and unmonopolized markets. Obviously, from

Woodrow Wilson and The PresidencyFrom the beginning of the 1912 election, the people could sense the newideas of Woodrow Wilson would move them in the right direction. Wilson’s ideaof New Freedom would almost guarantee his presidential victory in 1912. Incontrast to Wilson’s New Freedom, Roosevelt’s New Nationalism called for thecontinued consolidation of trusts and labor unions, paralleled by the growth ofpowerful regulatory agencies.

Roosevelt’s ideas were founded in the HerbertCroly’s novel, The Promise Of American Life written in 1910. Although bothWilson and Roosevelt favored a more active government role in economic andsocial affairs, Wilson’s favored small enterprise, entrepreneurship, and thefree functioning of unregulated and unmonopolized markets. Obviously, from theresults of the 1912 election, the people favored Wilson’s New Freedom.Wilson entered office with a more clear cut plan of what he wanted toachieve than any other president before him. The new president called for anall out assault on what Wilson called “the triple wall of privilege”: the tariff,the banks, and the trusts.

In early 1913, Wilson attempted to lower the tariff.Wilson shattered the precedent set by Jeffer-son to send a messenger to addressCongress when Wilson himself formally addressed Congress. This had a hugeeffect on Congress to pass the proposed Underwood Tariff Bill, which provided asubstantial reduction of rates. The new Underwood Tariff substan-tially reducedimport fees.

It also was a landmark in tax legislation. Under authoritygranted by the Sixteenth Amendment, Congress enacted a graduated income tax. By1917, revenue from income tax was greatly more than from the tariff and wouldcontinue on this trend for many years.Next, Woodrow Wilson was determined to conquer the Bankers. The oldbanking system had been greatly outgrown by economic expansion. The country’sbanking was still under the old Civil War National Banking Act which revealedmany glaring defects.

In the Panic of 1907, many flaws of the banking system,including the inelasticity of the currency, were overwhelmingly obvious. Wilsonwas determined to fix these problems. In June of 1913, Wilson made his secondpersonal appearance to address Congress, this time for a plea to reform thebanking system. And in 1913, again appealing to the public, Wilson signed theFederal Reserve Act, now considered the most important piece of eco-nomiclegislature between the Civil War and the New Deal. The new Federal ReserveBoard, appointed by the president, oversaw a nationwide system of twelveregional re-served districts, each with its own central bank. The finalauthority over these banks was granted to the Federal Reserve Board, whichguaranteed a substantial measure of public control.

The board was alsoempowered to issue paper money called “Federal Reserve Notes.” The amount ofmoney in circulation could be swiftly increased as needed for the legitimaterequirements of business.In 1914, Woodrow Wilson tried to tame the trusts. Again making apersonal ap-pearance to address Congress with his propositions helped dramatizethe situation and sway the support towards his ideas. Congress responded withthe Federal Trade Commis-sion Act of 1914.

The new law empowered apresidentially appointed commission to toughen regulations on interstatecommerce. This was supposed to crush monopolies by wiping out unfair tradepolicies. Next came the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914, which was meant tofurther strangle the major monopolies. It lengthened the list of businesspractices deemed objectionable in the Sherman Act.

Now, price discriminationand inter-locking directorates were gravely forbidden.Wilson had caught the attention of the public by conquering the “triplewall of privilege.” With the full support of the public, Wilson pressed aheadwith further reforms.

The Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 made credit availableto farmers at low rates of inter-est. The Warehouse Act of 1916 authorizedloans on the security of staple crops. Other laws also benefited rural Americaby providing for highway construction and the estab-lishment of agriculturalextension work in the state colleges. In 1915, Wilson passed the La FolletteSeamen’s Act which required decent treatment and a living wage on Americanmerchant ships. Wilson further helped the workers with the Workingmen’sCompensation Act of 1916, granting assistance to federal civil-service employeesduring periods of dis-ability. In the same year the president approved an actrestricting child labor on products flowing into interstate commerce, though theSupreme Court deemed the law unconstitu-tional. And in 1916, the Adamson Act of1916 established an eight-hour work day for all employees on trains ininterstate commerce, with extra pay for overtime.

Wilson made giant steps inimproving the quality of life for Americans.Although Wilson had much success in America policies, Woodrow Wilson didlack the ability to achieve greatness when dealing with foreign policy. Wilsonstopped dollar diplomacy immediately after entering office. Then in 1914,Wilson persuaded Congress to repeal the Panama Canal Tolls Act of 1912, whichhad exempted American shipping tolls which provoked major protests from Britain.Wilson also signed the Jones Act in 1916 granting the Philippines independenceas soon they could operate a stable governmental system.

Wilson also partiallydefused a dangerous situation between Japan and California. California passed alaw prohibiting Japanese settlers from owning land. The main reason Californiadid this was to discourage Japanese from settling in California. Secretary ofState, William Jennings Bryan pleaded with California to ease its position.California gave in and the problem was partially defused for the time being.

But Wilson did have trouble in Haiti and Mexico. The climax ofdisorders was in 1914-1915 when the Haitian leader was overthrown. Wilson senttroops into Haiti to protect the American citizens living there.

Wilsonconcluded a treaty with Haiti under the conditions that the United Statesprovide supervision of finances and the police for the Haitian nation. In thesame year Wilson sent marines to stop rioting in the Dominican Re-public. Andin 1917, Wilson purchased from Denmark the Virgin Islands in the West In-dies.Wilson’s plan of anti-imperialism did not hold any more.In April, 1914, a small group of American sailors was mistakenlyarrested in the Atlantic Seaport of Tampico, Mexico. The Mexicans promptlyreleased the captives and apologized, but they to give the twenty-one gun salutethat the American admiral de-manded.

Wilson, determined to eliminate Huerta,asked Congress for authority to use forces against Mexico. Before Congresscould act, Wilson ordered the navy, which was seeking to intercept a German shipbearing arms to Huerta, to seize the Mexican port of Vera Cruz, Huerta as wellas Carranza condemned this American intervention. If it was for theintervention of the ABC PowersArgentina, Brazil, and Chile, America would havemost likely gone to war with Mexico over this ridiculous issue. But in January1916, “Pancho” Villa killed eighteen American citizens in Santa Ysabel, Mexico.Then in March 1916, Villa and his gang shot up Columbus, New Mexico, killingseventeen Americans. Under Wilson’s orders, General John J. (“Black Jack”)Pershing commanded his army into Mexico killing most of Villa’s gang andinnocent bystanders, but they never caught Villa himself.

This was not one ofAmerica’s finest moments.But Wilson’s greatest blunder in foreign policy was after the end ofWorld War I. Wilson’s fourteen points was a brilliant set of ideas to help boththe Allies and the Central Powers. Wilson was never out to hurt any country,unlike Britain and France who wanted revenge on Germany.

Wilson knew that ifthey punished Germany for World War I, that it would only come back to hauntthem. He was right. But many people did not listen to him. Wilson decided togo to Paris in person to fight for his fourteen points. This infuri-ated theRepublicans. The Republicans were even more infuriated with what Wilson didnext.

Wilson needed people from Congress to attend the Paris Peace Conferencewith him. He neglected to bring one Republican from the Senate. Little did heknow that the Republicans would not sign the treaty because of Wilson’spolitical blunder. In Paris, Wil-son was extremely disappointed with Britainand France. They did not agree with his fourteen points and at the end Wilsonhad to sacrifice many of his ideas to get the League of Nations in the treaty.


U.S. President Woodrow Wilson gives Flag Day address

On June 14, 1917, as the soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) travel to join the Allies on the battlefields of World War I in France, United States President Woodrow Wilson addresses the nation’s public on the annual celebration of Flag Day.

Just the year before, on May 30, 1916, Wilson had officially proclaimed June 14 𠇏lag Day” as a commemoration of the “Stars and Stripes,” adopted as the national flag on June 14, 1777, when the design featured just 13 stars representing the original 13 states.

In his Flag Day address on June 14, 1917, barely two months after the American entry into World War I, Wilson spoke strongly of the need to confront an enemy–Germany–that had, as he had said in his April 2 war message to Congress, violated the principles of international democracy and led the world into “the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance.” In the June 14 speech, after repeating the distinction he had made in earlier speeches between the German people and their leaders, Wilson absolved the former of guilt and listed the numerous transgressions of the latter—U-boat warfare, espionage, the attempt to build an alliance with Mexico against the U.S.—that had provoked the U.S. into declaring war.

The “military masters of Germany,” Wilson declared, were a “sinister power that has at last stretched its ugly talons out and drawn blood from us.” He also asserted that Germany, at the head of the Central Powers, had started the war to create 𠇊 broad belt of power across the very center of Europe and beyond the Mediterranean into the heart of Asia.” Most disturbingly for pacifist listeners and critics of the speech, Wilson dismissed all previous peace proposals, given the fact that they had all been based on terms favorable to Germany. As journalist Philip Snowden wrote in the Labour Leader, “Six months ago President Wilson was the greatest hope for peace. Today he is probably the greatest obstacle to it.”


Washington: the Evergreen State

On November 11, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison declared Washington the forty-second state in the Union. Less than fifty years after pioneers began entering the Pacific Northwest via the Oregon Trail, the United States borders extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Spanish and British explorers landed on the Northwest coast in the 1770s American explorers followed. In 1818, the United States and Britain jointly occupied the “Oregon Country” of which Washington was a part.

Lake Chelan, in the Cascade Mts., Wash. Pillsbury Picture Co., c 1908. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

In 1844, presidential candidate James K. Polk urged an aggressive stance with regard to ownership of the land below the 54th parallel. The slogan “Fifty-four Forty or Fight” became a rallying cry of the Polk campaign. Two years later, the U.S. and Great Britain signed the Oregon Treaty setting the Canadian-American border at the 49th parallel and granting the United States territory that included present-day Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. In 1848, Congress designated this newly acquired area the “Oregon Territory.”

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Olympia…. E.S. Glover, lithographer San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft & Co., c1878. Panoramic Maps. Geography & Map Division

Racial exclusion laws prompted the first settlers to venture into the Washington region. In 1844, George W. Bush, a man of African-American or possibly East Indian ancestry on his father&rsquos side (his mother was Irish), was among the early pioneers to Oregon Country. He and his family left Missouri, a slave state, which forbid nonwhites from possessing land and becoming citizens. They set off with their friend, Michael Simmons and his family, along with three other white families on the Oregon Trail.

The Bush and Simmons parties soon learned that the Oregon Provisional Government also prohibited black people from owning property. Bush’s party evaded control of the provisional government by crossing the Columbia River and heading north—away from the American settlers and their government. They settled in late 1845 on land that was under the purview of Britain’s Hudson’s Bay Company—where the restrictive laws were not actively enforced. This land was later named Tumwater, of which Olympia, the state capital of present-day Washington, traces its settlement. The 1846 Treaty of Oregon, however, brought this land under the Oregon Territory’s discriminatory laws.

Bush, a generous man and friends with many of the new territory’s legislators, was now without a clear legal claim on land that he and his family had cultivated. Members of the first session of the Washington Territorial Legislature voted unanimously to petition Congress to validate Bush’s title to his land. Congress read twice and committed a bill on January 30, 1855, “An Act for the Relief of George Bush, of Thruston County, Washington Territory.” The bill passed on February 10, 1855.

With fertile rivers, dense forests, and a natural harbor, the land offered riches to those willing to work. Yet, the region gained slowly in population. Friction with the Cayuse Indians discouraged some settlers while discovery of gold in California lured others. By 1850, natural resources and ready access to California’s growing market spurred migration to Washington. Officially a part of Oregon Territory, popular agitation resulted in the organization of Washington Territory in 1853.

A view across Keechelus Lake in the Snoqualmie Pass of the Northern Cascade Mountains, north of Whittier, Washington. Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, May 30, 2018. Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive. Prints & Photographs Division.

Visiting the West in 1865, newspaper editor Samuel Bowles admired Washington’s lush forests and economic potential. He called the area around Puget Sound, already dotted with saw mills, the “great lumber market of all the Pacific Coast.” Little Olympia he wrote, “puts on the airs and holds many of the materials of fine society and entertained us at a most comfortable little inn.” Noting the delicious meals he enjoyed there, Bowles joked:

If there is one thing, indeed, more than another, among the facts of civilization, which the Pacific Coast organizes most quickly and completely, it is good eating….When the Puritans settled New England, their first public duty was to build a church with thrifty thought for their souls. Out here, their degenerate sons begin with organizing a restaurant, and supplying Hostetter’s stomachic bitters and an European or Asiatic cook. So the seat of empire, in its travel westward, changes its base from soul to stomach, from brains to bowels.

Samuel Bowles. Our New West. Hartford, CT: Hartford Publishing Co., 1869). 462.

During the period 1878-89, Congress consistently rejected appeals for Washington statehood despite its growing population. Denial of statehood was largely due to a concern that the lack of an interstate railroad connection would interfere in the effective governance of Oregon as a state. More significantly, the legislators hesitated to disturb the delicate balance of Democrats and Republicans in Congress by creating another state. Finally, a decade after its initial request, Congress admitted Washington into the Union along with Montana and the Dakotas.

The Pacific Squadron at Puget Sound Navy Yard. Romans Photographic Company, 1908. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

“California as I Saw It”: First Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849 to 1900 contains personal accounts of travels in the West, including one by journalist Edward S. Parkinson. His Wonderland or, Twelve Weeks In and Out of the United States details a cross-country trip he took during the spring and summer of 1892. Parkinson admired Washington’s natural beauty:

The shore of Puget’s Sound, on each side, is densely wooded with forests of pine, fir and hemlock, beginning at the water’s edge and reaching to the snow-line on the high mountains. The landscape forms a most beautiful picture of water, forest and snow-capped mountains.

Edward S. Parkinson. Wonderland or, Twelve Weeks In and Out of the United States. Trenton, NJ: MacCrellish & Quigley, 1894. p169. “California as I Saw It”: First Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849 to 1900. General Collections


April 2, 1917: Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War Against Germany

Transcript

I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making. On the 3rd of February last, I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German government that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.

That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the Imperial government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meager and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.

The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the proscribed areas by the German government itself and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle.

I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up, with meager enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view, at least, of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded.

This minimum of right the German government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world. I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of noncombatants, men, women, and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be.

The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind.

Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.

When I addressed the Congress on the 26th of February last, I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable. Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea.

It is common prudence in such circumstances, grim necessity indeed, to endeavor to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all. The German government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defense of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be.

Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual: it is likely only to produce what it was meant to prevent it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents. There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making: we will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are no common wrongs they cut to the very roots of human life.

With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it and that it take immediate steps, not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.

What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable cooperation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with Germany and, as incident to that. the extension to those governments of the most liberal financial credits, in order that our resources may so far as possible be added to theirs. It will involve the organization and mobilization of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant and yet the most economical and efficient way possible. It will involve the immediate full equipment of the Navy in all respects but particularly in supplying it with the best means of dealing with the enemy's submarines. It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States already provided for by law in case of war at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service, and also the authorization of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training.

It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained by the present generation, by well-conceived taxation. I say sustained so far as may be equitable by taxation because it seems to me that it would be most unwise to base the credits which will now be necessary entirely on money borrowed. It is our duty, I most respectfully urge, to protect our people so far as we may against the very serious hardships and evils which would be likely to arise out of the inflation which would be produced by vast loans.

In carrying out the measures by which these things are to be accomplished, we should keep constantly in mind the wisdom of interfering as little as possible in our own preparation and in the equipment of our own military forces with the duty-for it will be a very practical duty-of supplying the nations already at war with Germany with the materials which they can obtain only from us or by our assistance. They are in the field and we should help them in every way to be effective there.

I shall take the liberty of suggesting, through the several executive departments of the government, for the consideration of your committees, measures for the accomplishment of the several objects I have mentioned. I hope that it will be your pleasure to deal with them as having been framed after very careful thought by the branch of the government upon which the responsibility of conducting the war and safeguarding the nation will most directly fall.

While we do these things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear, and make very clear to all the world, what our motives and our objects are. My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and normal course by the unhappy events of the last two months, and I do not believe that the thought of the nation has been altered or clouded by them. I have exactly the same things in mind now that I had in mind when I addressed the Senate on the 22nd of January last the same that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the 3rd of February and on the 26th of February.

Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up among the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth ensure the observance of those principles. Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances. We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states.

We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellowmen as pawns and tools.

Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbor states with spies or set the course of intrigue to bring about some critical posture of affairs which will give them an opportunity to strike and make conquest. Such designs can be successfully worked out only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions. Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class. They are happily impossible where public opinion commands and insists upon full information concerning all the nation's affairs.

A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honor, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away the plottings of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart. Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honor steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.

Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia? Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude toward life. The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character, or purpose and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice, and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a League of Honor.

One of the things that has served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of counsel, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce. Indeed, it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began and it is unhappily not a matter of conjecture but a fact proved in our courts of justice that the intrigues which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction of official agents of the Imperial government accredited to the government of the United States.

Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them, we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people toward us (who were no doubt as ignorant of them as we ourselves were) but only in the selfish designs of a government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing. But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that government entertains no real friendship for us and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience. That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted note to the German minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence.

We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept gauge of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience.

The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.

I have said nothing of the governments allied with the Imperial government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honor. The Austro-Hungarian government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified endorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the Imperial German government, and it has therefore not been possible for this government to receive Count Tarnowski, the ambassador recently accredited to this government by the Imperial and Royal government of Austria-Hungary but that government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.

It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck. We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early reestablishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us-however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts.

We have borne with their present government through all these bitter months because of that friendship-exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible. We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions toward the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live among us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it toward all who are in fact loyal to their neighbors and to the government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose. If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there and without countenance except from a lawless and malignant few.

It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts-for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.

To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.


There's no set date for the State of the Union

The Constitution doesn’t specify when or how often this address should be given. George Washington interpreted “from time to time” as “once a year.” Subsequent presidents followed his example.

In the 20th century, several presidents—most recently Barack Obama and Donald Trump—did not give official State of the Union addresses in the same year they began their terms in office. They often did give speeches to a joint session of Congress, but they were not official State of the Union addresses.


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The President Woodrow Wilson House is the home to which President and Mrs. Wilson retired from the White House in 1921. President Wilson lived here until his death in 1924, and Mrs. (Edith) Wilson lived in the home until her death in 1961, at which time she bequeathed the home and its furnishings to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to serve as a monument to President Wilson.

The home and gardens were designed by architect Waddy Butler Wood and were completed in 1915.The President Woodrow Wilson House is situated in the Kalorama – Embassy Row area that has long featured stately mansions and town homes. The home is executed in a Georgian Revival style and is sympathetic in design to two adjacent buildings constructed in the same era, one designed by John Russell Pope and the other by Mr. Wood. The home was originally built as a private residence of Henry Parker Fairbanks, an executive of the Bigelow Carpet Company.

The President Woodrow Wilson House includes many remarkable features, including a marble entryway and grand staircase, Palladian window, book-lined study, dumb waiter and butler’s pantry, and solarium overlooking the formal garden. The home has been maintained much as it was in 1924, including furniture, art, photographs, state gifts, and the personal effects of President and Mrs. Wilson. The drawing room includes a century-old Steinway piano that President Wilson had in the White House, a framed mosaic that Wilson received on his trip to Italy in 1919 from Pope Benedict XV, and a wall-sized Gobelin tapestry presented by the people of France following World War I.

President and Mrs. Wilson moved from the White House to the S Street home on the last day of his presidency, March 4, 1921. President Wilson is the only President to have made Washington his permanent home following his term in office. In retirement, President Wilson received dignitaries and guests at the home, including former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.

President Wilson made a radio address to the American People from The House on November 11, 1923, the fifth anniversary of Armistice Day – the first nationwide remote radio broadcast. The House opened as a museum in 1963.

RESIDENTS of S Street

President and Mrs. Wilson were not the only people living at the S Street home. Mrs. Wilson's brother John Randolph Bolling lived in a 3rd floor bedroom that is now our office and worked as the Wilson's private secretary. Isaac and Mary Scott were the full time staff and lived in a small apartment on the fourth floor. Isaac Scott filled the role of butler and valet to Wilson while his wife Mary Scott acted as housekeeper and lady's maid. Learn more about the Scotts here.

In addition to the Scotts, there were part-time staff people who lived elsewhere and commuted to S Street when needed. In 1921, these included Mr. George Howard, the chauffeur, Mr. Rupple, the night nurse, a laundress once a week and probably a cook for all but the simplest meals. As Wilson's health deteriorated there were additional nurses who rotated in and out. In later years, various relatives of Mrs. Wilson lived with her at different times.

THE KALORAMA NEIGHBORHOOD

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson described a section of northwest Washington called “Belair” to his friend Joel Barlow as “a lovely seat … on a high hill commanding a most extensive view of the Potomac.” Barlow, America’s first popular author and a diplomat, purchased the estate in 1807 and renamed it “Kalorama” -- Greek for “beautiful view.” Barlow lived on his Kalorama estate until he traveled to France in 1811 as the United States Ambassador. He died in Poland in 1812 of pneumonia, the first American diplomat to die at his post.

The land had originally been part of a 600-acre land grant made to John Longworth by King Charles II of England. After Barlow’s widow sold the property it changed hands many times. During the Civil War there was a hospital for smallpox patients on the property which took advantage of the cooling breezes and the good view on the hillside overlooking Washington. In the 1890s, developers began putting large homes in the area. Over the years, the neighborhood held the homes of several Presidents in addition to Woodrow Wilson, including Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft and a young Franklin Roosevelt, as well as Supreme Court Justices, Members of Congress, writers, and other luminaries.

The neighborhood also became a home for diplomats. The first embassy, Thailand, was built in 1920. Today Kalorama is part of Embassy Row and is known for having many embassies and diplomatic residences, as well as private homes and museums.


Document for April 2nd: Joint Address to Congress Leading to a Declaration of War Against Germany

President Wilson's Declaration of War Message to Congress, April 2, 1917 Records of the United States Senate Record Group 46 National Archives.

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson delivered this address to a joint session of Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. The resulting congressional vote brought the United States into World War I.
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Woodrow Wilson's Address To Congress [1919] - History

(From The New York Times, April 3, 1917.)

I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.

On the third of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government that on and after the first day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.

I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. This minimum of right the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for all understandings that were sup posed to underlie the intercourse of the world. I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of non-combatants, men, women, and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.

It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgement befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.

With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.

We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellow men as pawns and tools.

We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a Government, following such methods, we can never have a friend and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic Governments of the world. We are now about to accept gauge of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity towards a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck. We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early reestablishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us,–however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present Government through all these bitter months because of that friendship,–exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible. We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions towards the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live amongst us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it towards all who are in fact loyal to their neighbors and to the Government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty of allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose. If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there and without countenance except from a lawless and malignant few.

It is a distressing and oppressive duty, Gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts,–for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.


Woodrow Wilson, “War Message to Congress,” (1917)

I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making….

…The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.

…With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it, and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.

….We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their Government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellow men as pawns and tools….

…We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.


Watch the video: Will US President Joe Biden recognize the Armenian Genocide in 2021? (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Immanuel

    I think this - the wrong way.

  2. Bearn

    I heard recently that this is possible

  3. Vudogor

    The walker will overcome the road. I wish you never stop and be a creative person - forever!

  4. Fabian

    I think they are wrong. I propose to discuss it.

  5. Mikat

    Of course, he is not human



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