Woodrow Wilson: Fourteen Points

(1918)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Introduction

In his opening, Wilson seizes the moral high ground by reminding his listeners that, unlike the other warning nations, the United States is participating in the war not for selfish purposes such as acquiring new territory but rather to make the world “safe for every peace-loving nation.” He establishes the United States as a moral example and implicitly challenges other nations to follow its example and to look beyond their own selfish interests. Wilson then declares that his intention is to change the international system. The old age, he declares, in which nations pursue their interests through force of arms is “dead and gone.” So, too, is the network of competing alliances and secret treaties aimed at preserving a balance of power that had failed to prevent World War I. In their place Wilson offers a new system, one that would preserve peace and allow the prosperous development of all nations around the world. In this...

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Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points (National Archives and Records Administration)

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