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Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 11. WOODROW WILSON: A BIOGRAPHY~ CHAPTER 18 (390 -424) ~ JUNE 3rd - JUNE 9th, No Spoilers, Please

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Bryan Craig Hello Everyone,

For the week of June 3, 2013 - June 9, 2013, we are reading Chapter Eighteen of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography.

This week's reading assignment is:

WEEK ELEVEN: June 3, 2013 - June 9, 2013 (p 390 - 424)

Chapter 18. Waging War

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Bryan Craig will be moderating this discussion.




Woodrow Wilson A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr. John Milton Cooper Jr.



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Woodrow Wilson A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr. John Milton Cooper Jr.

Bryan Craig Chapter Overview and Summary

Chapter Eighteen: Waging War

For Wilson, the U.S. biggest asset was manpower but it would take a great effort to get men in uniform and focus the economy to war. Public opinion was crucial to win the war, so he sanctioned the Committee on Public Information headed by George Creel to handle opinion. McAdoo was working to raise bonds or Liberty Loans. A number of boards were set up to oversee certain development: Allied Purchasing Committee, General Munitions Board, and the War Industry Board. Congress passed a draft bill and draft selection was handled at the local levels with exemptions for farmers and key industry workers. Many blacks ended up serving in segregated units with white officers.

Foreign Secretary Balfour, General Joffre, French Prime Minister Viviani, House, and Wilson met to talk about peace aims and military affairs. Joffre wanted American troops in Europe quickly to boost morale and Viviani wanted U.S. ships. Later that spring, General John J. Pershing was selected to command U.S. forces and was instructed to set up a separate command and not put U.S. solders under French command that France hoped for. U.S. ships did help the British with convoys.

In June 1917, Wilson met with special British envoys Lord Reading and John Maynard Keynes to talk finance. Also, Wilson sent Elihu Root to Russia in the summer of 1917 but it was not productive as revolution still was going on.

The Espionage Act was not popular. Secretary Burleson stopped socialist mailings and German prejudice ran high. Attorney General Gregory also went after the Industry Workers of the World to stop strikes. Wilson did not stop these attacks on civil liberties although he worried about war's capacity to do so.

The Shipping Board was not as effective in ferrying troops as originally designed, and Wilson used the Adamson Act to take over the railroads as a strike was looming. Rationing started to be implemented to help ferry enough food to troops and the Allies. For example, there were "meatless days." The Fuel Administration faced coal shortages and a very cold winter and closed some factories to save on fuel. Industry began to expand and many black southerners migrated north to fill factory jobs. This caused hostility and in East St. Louis and Houston, there were race riots, but Wilson did not interfere. Lynchings were also increasing as more blacks were entering the army. Wilson did issue a statement by July 26 in a effort to slow the acts of racial hatred.

Women suffragettes were getting arrested and protesting for their cause. After some prominent women were arrested and the lobbying efforts of more moderate suffragettes, Wilson supported creating a special committee on suffrage. The House passed a constitutional amendment and Wilson came out in support of it. He lobbied Senators but it failed by 2 votes. In 1919, Congress did pass it and it was ratified in time for the 1920 election.

Wilson and House worked on a "peace without victory." House worked on developing a policy group outside of the State Department called the Inquiry to flesh out peace programs. During the Inter-Allied War Council (Rapallo Conference), the Allies set up a supreme war council to unify command, but it did not iron out any major peace program. By January 1918, House and Wilson began to flesh out a Inquiry memorandum that would become the 14 Points.

Wilson gave a speech on January 8, 1918 about the 14 points. Wilson did not use the term self-determination, but the speech was popular. Wilson hoped to woo Russia away from the negotiating table, rally war-weary Europeans, especially liberals, and encourage Germany to negotiate.

Bryan Craig I really thought the opening was interesting because Wilson said to a cousin that he did not want to repeat what Lincoln did.

What do you think he meant by that?

Tomerobber | 334 comments Welcome back Bryan . . .

I listened to this last noc and just replayed that part . . . Cooper never actually states what Wilson meant by this statement . . . so from the info provided I'm assuming that Wilson perhaps thought that Lincoln hadn't been successful in the Civil War . . . or hadn't been as decisive as he should have been . . .

It's as though Wilson has transformed from the Dove to the Hawk . . . and by G_d he was going to enter this conflict whole heartedly . . . and WIN it!

message 5: by Bryan (last edited Jun 04, 2013 06:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Well put Tomerobber. And if we link that to what House thought in the last chapter that he felt Wilson was not suited for war...

It seems Wilson thought Lincoln's way of fighting the war was deficient in some way. Yeah, maybe he saw Lincoln not putting in his full effort in the war right from the beginning.

Bryan Craig Cooper admits it was odd that right in the beginning of the war, he made fewer speeches, going against his usual plan to educate the public, especially about free speech and Committee of Public Information (CPI). This is an interesting quote:

"Instead, superheated patriots, fomented and abetted by the CPI and militants outside the government, would fill this void in public persuasion." (p. 393)

Bryan Craig Well said, Christopher, thanks. I suspect you are right. We know Lincoln had a big problem in finding the right general and had to poke and prod them to move onto the offensive, until Grant arrived. Wilson probably didn't want to repeat that mess.

Right from the beginning, putting all resources together, a total effort fits into Wilson's idea of a active president.

Clayton Brannon | 128 comments When Wilson set down at his typewriter and started his memorandum titled "Programme" was when I realized how immense and how deep his understanding of how the US government functioned. He knew how to make the government respond to his program to carry on the war. I can not imagine any other President being able to set this down on paper and then carrying it out without a bunch of advisory. Truly remarkable.
Another thought that comes to mind is that FDR, then only a undersecretary of the Navy, must have been aware of how Wilson was handling the war. Years later when it was his turn I wonder how many times his thoughts turned to those days when he was the pupil watching the master at work.

Bryan Craig Yeah, Clayton, it is pretty incredible. I believe his typewriter is at the Washington, D.C. museum and it is amazing that he set out such complex thoughts in his head, then typed it out. I think this illustrates his view of "active president" in another way.

Clayton Brannon | 128 comments Toured his home in Washington a few years ago. It is really one of the great attraction in Washington. I believe there are very few visitors. There were two ladies working the day we visited. One worked the small gift shop and the other gave us a guided tour. We were the only people in the house.

Bryan Craig It is a great place to visit. I think there were 3 of us on my tour.

message 12: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) I am impressed with the big changes for our country that happen during Wilson's presidency -- many with his effort. Nice to see women's suffrage finally passing. It is still unfortunate that Wilson could not support equality for the blacks as well; or any other minority.

message 13: by Bryan (last edited Jun 06, 2013 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Indeed, Kathy. It seems it took the moderates to win Wilson over for the suffrage amendment, not the radical elements. It shows you how important the middle is in politics.

The South was a strong force in the Democratic Party, so I imagine his hands were tied even if he wanted to do something.

Here is a quote, though:

"Ironically, his learned, sophisticated Protestantism, which other wise influence him profoundly for the better, may have kept him from making the leap of faith of evangelicals who recognized African Americans as fellow children of God. This was perhaps Woodrow Wilson's greatest tragedy: the North Star by which he steered on his life's spiritual and intellectual journey may have prevented him from reaching his full stature as a moral leader and rendering still finer service to his nation and the world." (p. 411)

Bryan Craig What are your thoughts behind Wilson wanting to detach from the Allies to get peace.

Do you think peace without victory is a sound policy at the present time?

message 15: by Katy (last edited Jun 06, 2013 10:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) I think the time is past when we or others should conquer countries/territories. And the making of nations has not gone well -- consider the mess with Israel and Palestine.

But it will take a wiser person than I to figure out how to achieve peace in many parts of the world. Food and education?

Peter Flom Kathy wrote: "

But it will take a wiiser person than I to figure out how to achieve peace in many parts of the world. Food and education? ..."

I think those would be a good start, but probably not sufficient. In some ways, they might make things worse, depending on what was taught during the education.

Many warmongers have, after all, been quite well fed and quite well educated. ALL of the leaders of the nations that went into WW I were. (Not the troops, but the leaders).

Bryan Craig Great stuff, Kathy and Peter. Wilson seemed to intellectually understand that there were warmongers, but maybe he didn't get it in a deeper level...more idealism than realism.

Also, do you think if he was in Europe sooner and talking face to face with the Allies, maybe he would have a better grasp on what was going on?

Tomerobber | 334 comments Bryan,
Do you mean before the info about the Zimmermann telegram? That seemed to have been the last straw that propelled him to act . . . but if he had been more engaged face to face he would he would not have been so reserved and standoffish about involvement . . .

Tomerobber | 334 comments Kathy wrote: "I think the time is past when we or others should conquer countries/territories. And the making of nations has not gone well -- consider the mess with Israel and Palestine.

But it will take a wi..."

Hi Kathy,
Given human nature . . . the idea of ever having peace all over the planet at the same time is not likely . . .

The human animal is seems only capable of banding together as a whole when there is an external threat to all. Otherwise it wars from within and the baser instincts take over . . . power, greed and desire for more take over . . .

Bryan Craig Indeed, Tomerobber, human elements Wilson seemed to want to avoid in the beginning.

message 21: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) Yes, Tomerobber, I agree unfortunately. The lure of power is too tempting.

Bryan Craig Fifth Annual Message (December 4, 1917) Part One


Eight months have elapsed since I last had the honor of addressing you. They have been months crowded with events of immense and grave significance for us. I shall not undertake to detail or even to summarize those events. The practical particulars of the part we have played in them will be laid before you in the reports of the executive departments. I shall discuss only our present outlook upon these vast affairs, our present duties, and the immediate means of accomplishing the objects we shall hold always in view.

I shall not go back to debate the causes of the war. The intolerable wrongs done and planned against us by the sinister masters of Germany have long since become too grossly obvious and odious to every true American to need to be rehearsed. But I shall ask you to consider again and with a very grave scrutiny our objectives and the measures by which we mean to attain them; for the purpose of discussion here in this place is action, and our action must move straight toward definite ends. Our object is, of course, to win the war; and we shall not slacken or suffer ourselves to he diverted until it is won. But it is worth while asking and answering the question, When shall we consider the war won?

From one point of view it is not necessary to broach this fundamental matter. I do not doubt that the American people know what the war is about and what sort of an outcome they will regard as a realization of their purpose in it.

As a nation we are united in spirit and intention. I pay little heed to those who tell me otherwise. I hear the voices of dissent-who does not? I bear the criticism and the clamor of the noisily thoughtless and troublesome. I also see men here and there fling themselves in impotent disloyalty against the calm, indomitable power of the Nation. I hear men debate peace who understand neither its nature nor the way in which we may attain it with uplifted eyes and unbroken spirits. But I know that none of these speaks for the Nation. They do not touch the heart of anything. They may safely be left to strut their uneasy hour and be forgotten.

But from another point of view I believe that it is necessary to say plainly what we here at the seat of action consider the war to be for and what part we mean to play in the settlement of its searching issues. We are the spokesmen of the American people, and they have a right to know whether their purpose is ours. They desire peace by the overcoming of evil, by the defeat once for all of the sinister forces that interrupt peace and render it impossible, and they wish to know how closely our thought runs with theirs and what action we propose. They are impatient with those who desire peace by any sort of compromisedeeply and indignantly impatient-but they will be equally impatient with us if we do not make it plain to them what our objectives are and what we are planning for in seeking to make conquest of peace by arms.

I believe that I speak for them when I say two things: First, that this intolerable thing of which the masters of Germany have shown us the ugly face, this menace of combined intrigue and force which we now see so clearly as the German power, a thing without conscience or honor of capacity for covenanted peace, must be crushed and, if it be not utterly brought to an end, at least shut out from the friendly intercourse of the nations; and second, that when this thing and its power are indeed defeated and the time comes that we can discuss peace when the German people have spokesmen whose word we can believe and when those spokesmen are ready in the name of their people to accept the common judgment of the nations as to what shall henceforth be the bases of law and of covenant for the life of the world-we shall be willing and glad to pay the full price for peace, and pay it ungrudgingly.

We know what that price will be. It will be full, impartial justice-justice done at every point and to every nation that the final settlement must affect, our enemies as well as our friends.

You catch, with me, the voices of humanity that are in the air. They grow daily more audible, more articulate, more persuasive, and they come from the hearts of men everywhere. They insist that the war shall not end in vindictive action of any kind; that no nation or people shall be robbed or punished because the irresponsible rulers of a single country have themselves done deep and abominable wrong. It is this thought that has been expressed in the formula, "No annexations, no contributions, no punitive indemnities."

Just because this crude formula. expresses the instinctive judgment as to right of plain men everywhere, it has been made diligent use of by the masters of German intrigue to lead the people of Russia astrayand the people of every other country their agents could reach-in order that a premature peace might be brought about before autocracy has been taught its final and convincing lesson and the people of the world put in control of their own destinies.

But the fact that a wrong use has been made of a just idea is no reason why a right use should not be made of it. It ought to be brought under the patronage of its real friends. Let it be said again that autocracy must first be shown the utter futility of its claim to power or leadership in the modern world. It is impossible to apply any standard of justice so long as such forces are unchecked and undefeated as the present masters of Germany command. Not until that has been done can right be set up as arbiter and peacemaker among the nations. But when that has been done-as, God willing, it assuredly will be-we shall at last be free to do an unprecedented thing, and this is the time to avow our purpose to do it. We shall be free to base peace on generosity and justice, to the exclusions of all selfish claims to advantage even on the part of the victors.

Let there be no misunderstanding. Our present and immediate task is to win the war and nothing shall turn us aside from from it until it is accomplished. Every power and resource we possess, whether of men, of money, or of materials, is being devoted and will continue to be devoted to that purpose until it is achieved. Those who desire to bring peace about before that purpose is achieved I counsel to carry their advice elsewhere. We will not entertain it. We shall regard the war as won only when the German people say to us, through properly accredited representatives, that they are ready to agree to a settlement based upon justice and reparation of the wrongs their rulers have done. They have done a wrong to Belgium which must be repaired. They have established a power over other lands and peoples than their own--over the great empire of Austria-Hungary, over hitherto free Balkan states, over Turkey and within Asia-which must be relinquished.

Germany's success by skill, by industry, by knowledge, by enterprise we did not grudge or oppose, but admired, rather. She had built up for herself a real empire of trade and influence, secured by the peace of the world. We were content to abide by the rivalries of manufacture, science and commerce that were involved for us in her success, and stand or fall as we had or did not have the brains and the initiative to surpass her. But at the moment when she had conspicuously won her triumphs of peace she threw them away, to establish in their stead what the world will no longer permit to be established, military and political domination by arms, by which to oust where she could not excel the rivals she most feared and hated. The peace we make must remedy that wrong. It must deliver the once fair lands and happy peoples of Belgium and Northern France from the Prussian conquest and the Prussian menace, but it must deliver also the peoples of Austria-Hungary, the peoples of the Balkans and the peoples of Turkey, alike in Europe and Asia, from the impudent and alien dominion of the Prussian military and commercial autocracy.

We owe it, however, to ourselves, to say that we do not wish in any way to impair or to rearrange the AustroHungarian Empire. It is no affair of ours what they do with their own life, either industrially or politically. We do not purpose or desire to dictate to them in any way. We only desire to see that their affairs are left in their own hands, in all matters, great or small. We shall hope to secure for the peoples of the Balkan peninsula and for the people of the Turkish Empire the right and opportunity to make their own lives safe, their own fortunes secure against oppression or injustice and from the dictation of foreign courts or parties.

And our attitude and purpose with regard to Germany herself are of a like kind. We intend no wrong against the German Empire, no interference with her internal affairs. We should deem either the one or the other absolutely unjustifiable, absolutely contrary to the principles we have professed to live by and to hold most sacred throughout our life as a nation.

The people of Germany are being told by the men whom they now permit to deceive them and to act as their masters that they are fighting for the very life and existence of their empire, a war of desperate self defense against deliberate aggression. Nothing could be more grossly or wantonly false, and we must seek by the utmost openness and candor as to our real aims to convince them of its falseness. We are in fact fighting for their emancipation from the fear, along with our own-from the fear as well as from the fact of unjust attack by neighbors or rivals or schemers after world empire. No one is threatening the existence or the independence of the peaceful enterprise of the German Empire.

The worst that can happen to the detriment the German people is this, that if they should still, after the war is over, continue to be obliged to live under ambitious and intriguing masters interested to disturb the peace of the world, men or classes of men whom the other peoples of the world could not trust, it might be impossible to admit them to the partnership of nations which must henceforth guarantee the world's peace. That partnership must be a partnership of peoples, not a mere partnership of governments. It might be impossible, also, in such untoward circumstances, to admit Germany to the free economic intercourse which must inevitably spring out of the other partnerships of a real peace. But there would be no aggression in that; and such a situation, inevitable, because of distrust, would in the very nature of things sooner or later cure itself, by processes which would assuredly set in.

The wrongs, the very deep wrongs, committed in this war will have to be righted. That, of course. But they cannot and must not be righted by the commission of similar wrongs against Germany and her allies. The world will not permit the commission of similar wrongs as a means of reparation and settlement. Statesmen must by this time have learned that the opinion of the world is everywhere wide awake and fully comprehends the issues involved. No representative of any self-governed nation will dare disregard it by attempting any such covenants of selfishness and compromise as were entered into at the Congress of Vienna. The thought of the plain people here and everywhere throughout the world, the people who enjoy no privilege and have very simple and unsophisticated standards of right and wrong, is the air all governments must henceforth breathe if they would live.

message 23: by Bryan (last edited Jun 07, 2013 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Fifth Annual Message (December 4, 1917) Part Two

It is in the full disclosing light of that thought that all policies must be received and executed in this midday hour of the world's life. Ger. man rulers have been able to upset the peace of the world only because the German people were not suffered under their tutelage to share the comradeship of the other peoples of the world either in thought or in purpose. They were allowed to have no opinion of their own which might be set up as a rule of conduct for those who exercised authority over them. But the Congress that concludes this war will feel the full strength of the tides that run now in the hearts and consciences of free men everywhere. Its conclusions will run with those tides.

All those things have been true from the very beginning of this stupendous war; and I cannot help thinking that if they had been made plain at the very outset the sympathy and enthusiasm of the Russian people might have been once for all enlisted on the side of the Allies, suspicion and distrust swept away, and a real and lasting union of purpose effected. Had they believed these things at the very moment of their revolution, and had they been confirmed in that belief since, the sad reverses which have recently marked the progress of their affairs towards an ordered and stable government of free men might have been avoided. The Russian people have been poisoned by the very same falsehoods that have kept the German people in the dark, and the poison has been , administered by the very same hand. The only possible antidote is the truth. It cannot be uttered too plainly or too often.

From every point of view, therefore, it has seemed to be my duty to speak these declarations of purpose, to add these specific interpretations to what I took the liberty of saying to the Senate in January. Our entrance into the war has not altered out attitude towards the settlement that must come when it is over.

When I said in January that the nations of the world were entitled not only to free pathways upon the sea, but also to assured and unmolested access to those-pathways, I was thinking, and I am thinking now, not of the smaller and weaker nations alone which need our countenance and support, but also of the great and powerful nations and of our present enemies as well as our present associates in the war. I was thinking, and am thinking now, of Austria herself, among the rest, as well as of Serbia and of Poland.

Justice and equality of rights can be had only at a great price. We are seeking permanent, not temporary, foundations for the peace of the world, and must seek them candidly and fearlessly. As always, the right will prove to be the expedient.

What shall we do, then, to push this great war of freedom and justice to its righteous conclusion? We must clear away with a thorough hand all impediments to success, and we must make every adjustment of law that will facilitate the full and free use of our whole capacity and force as a fighting unit.

One very embarrassing obstacle that stands hi our way is that we are at war with Germany but not with her allies. I, therefore, very earnestly recommend that the Congress immediately declare the United States in a state of war with Austria-Hungary. Does it seem strange to you that this should be the conclusion of the argument I have just addressed to you? It is not. It is in fact the inevitable logic of what I have said. Austria-Hungary is for the time being not her own mistress but simply the vassal of the German Government.

We must face the facts as they are and act upon them without sentiment in this stern business. The Government of Austria and Hungary is not acting upon its own initiative or in response to the wishes and feelings of its own peoples, but as the instrument of another nation. We must meet its force with our own and regard the Central Powers as but one. The war can be successfully conducted in no other way.

The same logic would lead also to a declaration of war against Turkey and Bulgaria. They also are the tools of Germany, but they are mere tools and do not yet stand in the direct path of our necessary action. We shall go wherever the necessities of this war carry us, but it seems to me that we should go only where immediate and practical considerations lead us, and not heed any others.

The financial and military measures which must be adopted will suggest themselves as the war and its undertakings develop, but I will take the liberty of proposing to you certain other acts of legislation which seem to me to be needed for the support of the war and for the release of our whole force and energy.

It will be necessary to extend in certain particulars the legislation of the last session with regard to alien enemies, and also necessary, I believe, to create a very definite and particular control over the entrance and departure of all persons into and from the United States.

Legislation should be enacted defining as a criminal offense every wilful violation of the presidential proclamation relating to alien enemies promulgated under section 4067 of the revised statutes and providing appropriate punishments; and women, as well as men, should be included under the terms of the acts placing restraints upon alien enemies.

It is likely that as time goes on many alien enemies will be willing to be fed and housed at the expense of the Government in the detention camps, and it would be the purpose of the legislation I have suggested to confine offenders among them in the penitentiaries and other similar institutions where they could be made to work as other criminals do.

Recent experience has convinced me that the Congress must go further in authorizing the Government to set limits to prices. The law of supply and demand, I am sorry to say, has been- replaced by the law of unrestrained selfishness. While we have eliminated profiteering in several branches of industry, it still runs impudently rampant in others. The farmers for example, complain with a great deal of justice that, while the regulation of food prices restricts their incomes, no restraints are placed upon the prices of most of the things they must themselves purchase; and similar inequities obtain on all sides.

It is imperatively necessary that the consideration of the full use of the water power of the country, and also of the consideration of the systematic and yet economical development of such of the natural resources of the country as are still under the control of the Federal Government should be immediately resumed and affirmatively and con.structively dealt with at the earliest possible moment. The pressing need of such legislation is daily becoming more obvious.

The legislation proposed at the last session with regard to regulated combinations among our exporters in order to provide for our foreign trade a more effective organization and method of co-operation ought by all means to be completed at this session.

And I beg that the members of the House of Representatives will permit me to express the opinion that it will be impossible to deal in any but a very wasteful and extravagant fashion with the enormous appropriations of the public moneys which must continue to be made if the war is to be properly sustained, unless the House will consent to return to its former practice of initiating and preparing all appropriation bills through a single committee, in order that responsibility may be centered, expenditures standardized and made uniform, and waste and duplication as much as possible avoided.

Additional legislation may also become necessary before the present Congress again adjourns in order to effect the most efficient co-ordination and operation of the railways and other transportation systems of the country; but to that I shall, if circumstances should demand, call the attention of Congress upon another occasion.

If I have overlooked anything that ought to be done for the more effective conduct of the war, your own counsels will supply the omission. What I am perfectly clear about is that in the present session of the Congress our whole attention and energy should be concentrated on the vigorous, rapid and successful prosecution of the great task of winning the war.

We can do this with all the greater zeal and enthusiasm because we know that for us this is a war of high principle, debased by no selfish ambition of conquest or spoiliation; because we know, and all the world knows, that we have been forced into it to save the very institutions we five under from corruption and destruction. The purpose of the Central Powers strikes straight at the very heart of everything we believe in; their methods of warfare outrage every principle of humanity and of knightly honor; their intrigue has corrupted the very thought and spirit of many of our people; their sinister and secret diplomacy has sought to take our very territory away from us and disrupt the union of the states. Our safety would be at an end, our honor forever sullied and brought into contempt, were we to permit their triumph. They are striking at the very existence of democracy and liberty.

It is because it is for us a war of high, disinterested purpose, in which all the free peoples of the world are banded together for the vindication of right, a war for the preservation of our nation, of all that it has held dear, of principle and of purpose, that we feel ourselves doubly constrained to propose for its outcome only that which is righteous and of irreproachable intention, for our foes as well as for our friends. The cause being just and holy, the settlement must be of like motive and equality. For this we can fight, but for nothing less noble or less worthy of our traditions. For this cause we entered the war and for this cause will we battle until the last gun is fired.

I have spoken plainly because this seems to me the time when it is most necessary to speak plainly, in order that all the world may know that, even in the heat and ardor of the struggle and when our whole thought is of carrying the war through to its end, we have not forgotten any ideal or principle for which the name of America has been held in honor among the nations and for which it has been our glory to contend in the great generations that went before us. A supreme moment of history has come. The eyes of the people have been opened and they see. The hand of God is laid upon the nations. He will show them favor, I devoutly believe, only if they rise to the clear heights of His own justice and mercy.

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Bryan Craig Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech (January 8, 1917), Part One

Gentlemen of the Congress:

Once more, as repeatedly before, the spokesmen of the Central Empires have indicated their desire to discuss the objects of the war and the possible basis of a general peace. Parleys have been in progress at Brest-Litovsk between Russsian representatives and representatives of the Central Powers to which the attention of all the belligerents have been invited for the purpose of ascertaining whether it may be possible to extend these parleys into a general conference with regard to terms of peace and settlement.

The Russian representatives presented not only a perfectly definite statement of the principles upon which they would be willing to conclude peace but also an equally definite program of the concrete application of those principles. The representatives of the Central Powers, on their part, presented an outline of settlement which, if much less definite, seemed susceptible of liberal interpretation until their specific program of practical terms was added. That program proposed no concessions at all either to the sovereignty of Russia or to the preferences of the populations with whose fortunes it dealt, but meant, in a word, that the Central Empires were to keep every foot of territory their armed forces had occupied -- every province, every city, every point of vantage -- as a permanent addition to their territories and their power.

It is a reasonable conjecture that the general principles of settlement which they at first suggested originated with the more liberal statesmen of Germany and Austria, the men who have begun to feel the force of their own people's thought and purpose, while the concrete terms of actual settlement came from the military leaders who have no thought but to keep what they have got. The negotiations have been broken off. The Russian representatives were sincere and in earnest. They cannot entertain such proposals of conquest and domination.

The whole incident is full of significances. It is also full of perplexity. With whom are the Russian representatives dealing? For whom are the representatives of the Central Empires speaking? Are they speaking for the majorities of their respective parliaments or for the minority parties, that military and imperialistic minority which has so far dominated their whole policy and controlled the affairs of Turkey and of the Balkan states which have felt obliged to become their associates in this war?

The Russian representatives have insisted, very justly, very wisely, and in the true spirit of modern democracy, that the conferences they have been holding with the Teutonic and Turkish statesmen should be held within open, not closed, doors, and all the world has been audience, as was desired. To whom have we been listening, then? To those who speak the spirit and intention of the resolutions of the German Reichstag of the 9th of July last, the spirit and intention of the Liberal leaders and parties of Germany, or to those who resist and defy that spirit and intention and insist upon conquest and subjugation? Or are we listening, in fact, to both, unreconciled and in open and hopeless contradiction? These are very serious and pregnant questions. Upon the answer to them depends the peace of the world.

But, whatever the results of the parleys at Brest-Litovsk, whatever the confusions of counsel and of purpose in the utterances of the spokesmen of the Central Empires, they have again attempted to acquaint the world with their objects in the war and have again challenged their adversaries to say what their objects are and what sort of settlement they would deem just and satisfactory. There is no good reason why that challenge should not be responded to, and responded to with the utmost candor. We did not wait for it. Not once, but again and again, we have laid our whole thought and purpose before the world, not in general terms only, but each time with sufficient definition to make it clear what sort of definite terms of settlement must necessarily spring out of them. Within the last week Mr. Lloyd George has spoken with admirable candor and in admirable spirit for the people and Government of Great Britain.

There is no confusion of counsel among the adversaries of the Central Powers, no uncertainty of principle, no vagueness of detail. The only secrecy of counsel, the only lack of fearless frankness, the only failure to make definite statement of the objects of the war, lies with Germany and her allies. The issues of life and death hang upon these definitions. No statesman who has the least conception of his responsibility ought for a moment to permit himself to continue this tragical and appalling outpouring of blood and treasure unless he is sure beyond a peradventure that the objects of the vital sacrifice are part and parcel of the very life of Society and that the people for whom he speaks think them right and imperative as he does.

There is, moreover, a voice calling for these definitions of principle and of purpose which is, it seems to me, more thrilling and more compelling than any of the many moving voices with which the troubled air of the world is filled. It is the voice of the Russian people. They are prostrate and all but hopeless, it would seem, before the grim power of Germany, which has hitherto known no relenting and no pity. Their power, apparently, is shattered. And yet their soul is not subservient. They will not yield either in principle or in action. Their conception of what is right, of what is humane and honorable for them to accept, has been stated with a frankness, a largeness of view, a generosity of spirit, and a universal human sympathy which must challenge the admiration of every friend of mankind; and they have refused to compound their ideals or desert others that they themselves may be safe.

They call to us to say what it is that we desire, in what, if in anything, our purpose and our spirit differ from theirs; and I believe that the people of the United States would wish me to respond, with utter simplicity and frankness. Whether their present leaders believe it or not, it is our heartfelt desire and hope that some way may be opened whereby we may be privileged to assist the people of Russia to attain their utmost hope of liberty and ordered peace.

It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other time the objects it has in view.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The program of the world's peace, therefore, is our program; and that program, the only possible program, as we see it, is this:

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

XI. 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.

XII. The Turkish portion 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.

Bryan Craig Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech (January 8, 1917), Part Two

XII. The Turkish portion 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.

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.

In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this program does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, 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 with 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 dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the world, -- the new world in which we now live, -- instead of a place of mastery.

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 whom her spokesmen speak for when they speak to us, whether for the Reichstag majority or for the military party and the men whose creed is imperial domination.

We have spoken now, surely, in terms too concrete to admit of any further doubt or question. An evident principle runs through the whole program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak.

Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of international justice can stand. The people of the United States could act upon no other principle; and to the vindication of this principle they are ready to devote their lives, their honor, and everything they possess. The moral climax of this the culminating and final war for human liberty has come, and they are ready to put their own strength, their own highest purpose, their own integrity and devotion to the test.

message 26: by Bryan (last edited Jun 07, 2013 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig You can really image how his words of justice, equality, etc. can inspire many people.

Cooper writes, "The Fourteen Points put flesh and on the skeleton of peace without victory, and Wilson was once again inviting both friend and foe to accept a liberal, non punitive settlement. Such a settlement could end the war without him and millions of others having to tread further down this grim and passion-racked path of waging war." (p. 424)

Sherry (directorsherry) | 129 comments I am glad to see this back up. I was sad yesterday when I found it "frozen." More later from me.

Bryan Craig Goodreads has had issues of late

Theresa | 84 comments Bryan wrote: "You can really image how his words of justice, equality, etc. can inspire many people.

Cooper writes, "The Fourteen Points put flesh and on the skeleton of peace without victory, and Wilson was on..."

He is very captivating and has a great command of syntax. I wonder if he would be a more popular President to future generations if like FDR he was able to address the people more directly. It's too bad that technology was a few decades away.

Bryan Craig Good points. Coolidge was the first to effectively use radio, not that far away in time. Wilson's mind and typewriter are impressive.

He really knew going to the people was effective. Too bad he didn't do it enough at times.

Sherry (directorsherry) | 129 comments Bryan wrote: "What are your thoughts behind Wilson wanting to detach from the Allies to get peace.

Do you think peace without victory is a sound policy at the present time?"

Is there any real victory in war these days? I don't see it. It seems to only perpetuate itself.

Bryan Craig Indeed, Sherry, so many losers.

"peace without victory" sounds like a great ideal. Then you have to face Allies and people at home who are clamoring for "unconditional surrender."

Peter Flom The whole thing reminds me of a quote from Jeannette Rankin, the first woman in congress, who I believe is mentioned in the book (but not this quote):

You can no win a war than you can win an earthquake

message 34: by Bryan (last edited Jun 10, 2013 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Great quote. The men in the trenches saw this.

The Civil War definitely raised this concept of "unconditional surrender." It seems some politicians like TR and Lodge brought this in, while Wilson saw it differently.

Peter Flom Some thoughts on this chapter:

p. 391, 397 - How much do restrictions on free speech actually help anything? OK, leaking military secrets to the enemy is one thing. But is the nation helped by, say, forbidding people to discuss the merits of war? Or is it hurt? Does driving such speech underground make it more dangerous?

p. 392 - At least Wilson realized (unlike some more recent POTUS) that you had to pay for the war somehow - e.g. by raising taxes.

p 399 - Did Wilson's failure to speak out (and act against) the persecution of German-Americans pave the path to internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII? And just what in the **** were people thinking by banning Beethoven? And, re book burning, a quote from Heinrich Heine:

Where they begin by burning books, they will end by burning people

p 406 - Re Hoover - interesting that such an able person became such a poor president.

p. 407 - Again we see Wilson's failure to act on issues concerning civil rights. Wilson, who lead the nation in many ways, signally failed to lead here.

message 36: by Sherry (last edited Jun 10, 2013 11:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sherry (directorsherry) | 129 comments Bryan wrote: "Great quote. The men in the trenches saw this.

The Civil War definitely raised this concept of "unconditional surrender." It seems some politicians like TR and Lodge brought this in, while Wilso..."

I re-read my great Uncle Elmer Sherwood's book Diary of a Rainbow Veteran as part of this process. The Rainbow division was the first to go to the front in France. My uncle was a communications specialist. It was his job to run the wire from the front line to the back so that commanders, etc could stay in contact with the front line. He kept a journal. Toward the end of the war, Oct. 11, 1918 he had this to say:

Paul and I wnt in search of a little warmth at midnight as we were chilled through. We found it in a first aid station where many wounded were being given treatment before being sent to hospitals by ambulance. It was a horrible scene, some of the fellows groaning, some with limbs shot off, others blinded. "C'est la Guerre." (it is the war).
I could not help thinkiing of Joyce Kilmer, buried near Seringes, and his lines:

From humble home and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There's nothing worth the wear of winning.
Save Laughter and the love of friends.

Why cannot nations settle their differences by arbitration? Will earth ever be cursed with war?" Elmer W. Sherwood entry: Oct 11, 1918

A Soldier in World War I: The Diary of Elmer W. SherwoodElmer W. Sherwood no photo -- but the book cover is him on his horse, Rabbits.

My father's family were huge Teddy Roosevelt enthusiasts. But in the end, he wonders why this cannot all be settled in another way. I think Wilson did have his hand on the people's pulse. A Soldier in World War I The Diary of Elmer W. Sherwood by Elmer W. Sherwood

Okay, moderators, I know this is wrong! (LOL) but if I do it wrong (leave out the book Jacket)and then try to edit it back in, it only seems to go to the end of the post. Better next time!!

message 37: by Bryan (last edited Jun 10, 2013 11:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Peter wrote: "Some thoughts on this chapter:

p. 391, 397 - How much do restrictions on free speech actually help anything? OK, leaking military secrets to the enemy is one thing. But is the nation helped by, sa..."

I remember Cooper talking about Wilson's strong desire to get public opinion behind the war effort and one way to try is sedition act. He should have remembered his history of 1798. It is a very, very fine line he was walking and he and his AG should have stepped in.

Do you think there is plenty of blame to go around, especially locals with anti-radical hysteria among the people? Wilson was right...war brings out the less noble elements of man at home and the front.

Bryan Craig Sherry wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Great quote. The men in the trenches saw this.

The Civil War definitely raised this concept of "unconditional surrender." It seems some politicians like TR and Lodge brought this i..."

Interesting, quote, Sherry, thanks for sharing. You are close to the citation. Add it at the end and put all the elements together of bookcover and author link:

A Soldier in World War I The Diary of Elmer W. Sherwood by Elmer W. Sherwood by Elmer W. Sherwood

Peter Flom Bryan wrote: "Peter wrote: "Some thoughts on this chapter:

p. 391, 397 - How much do restrictions on free speech actually help anything? OK, leaking military secrets to the enemy is one thing. But is the nation..."

Certainly there is blame to go around. But the president leads.

Sherry (directorsherry) | 129 comments Bryan wrote: "Sherry wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Great quote. The men in the trenches saw this.

The Civil War definitely raised this concept of "unconditional surrender." It seems some politicians like TR and Lodge..."

Hey, nice job! Hopefully I'll get it right next time!

Tomerobber | 334 comments Sherry wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Sherry wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Great quote. The men in the trenches saw this.

The Civil War definitely raised this concept of "unconditional surrender." It seems some politicians lik..."

Hi Sherry,
That's so nice that you have this connection with your uncle . . . what a great memory even though it was a less than great time.

Tomerobber | 334 comments Unfortunately it seems that the only way to justify funding for all this murder and mayhem is to rouse feelings of nationalism by flag waving and making statements about the opposition . . . .

those offering a different view and who believe they have the freedom to voice it are swept away by the fervor of patriotism.

It seems to me that the very ideals that we as a nation supposedly believe in get lost in the fray . . .

The more I read of history . . . this seems to occur over and over.

Bryan Craig Sad, but true, Tomerobber. Super-patriotism played a part in the hysteria and it is not isolated situation in history.

Herbert Hoover launched his career in anti-radical activities:

Young J. Edgar Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties by Kenneth D. Ackerman by Kenneth D. Ackerman (no photo)

Sherry (directorsherry) | 129 comments Tomerobber wrote: "Sherry wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Sherry wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Great quote. The men in the trenches saw this.

The Civil War definitely raised this concept of "unconditional surrender." It seems some ..."

Tomerobber, thanks for your comment. The whole book is upbeat really. These guys had to be up-beat to keep it together and they had to believe in their country and why they were there. The alternative was unacceptable.

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments This was a very interesting chapter and the views you, my fellow readers have expressed, have to a great extent been similar to mine.

I did find Wilson's seeming almost lack of interest or feeling of obligation to protect individual rights as weak - the lack of defense of German - Americans (pg 399 - I think Peter brought this up b4) - the violence suffered upon the blacks - (the indication page 411 as quoted by Bryan) that only the Evangelicals among christians could seem to see African Americans as children of god.- the implication that his support of women's suffrage )pgs 411 - 412 finally was brought out for political reasons of election.
I found that real reading of the 14 points (first time I have done this) shows a very practical approach of calling out real individual problems that had to be solved to make it work in the end (sort of similar to Jefferson listing the various British inflamatory actions in our Declaration) .
I felt that his indication that he would not be like Lincoln was that he would not tolerate men such as McClennan, but with Pershing not having these failings he did not have to do anything.
I don't think that our Civil War spurred the wish on the continent for "unconditional surrender" - it is just that it is so different from a surrender in the atmosphere of the 14 points - but the Brits and the French and likely the Belgiums felt not much good will towards Germany. The Germans had been in France in 1878 at least too.
I think Wilson did a good job preparing for the war. I assume his attitude towards the minorities were OK for a man of his class and upbringing at that time in America.
I feel a bit like a judge at an antique car show. I do that sometimes. I don't know so much about the cars but I have learned that you look for defects (chipped paint, worn or torn upholstery, rusting trim, etc.) and deduct points rather than giving points for the good aspects - that is how I think of my commentary on this chapter.
Page 403 says US shipping was putting out 100 ships a day after mid 1917 - I have to look into that. Will let you know if I find anything of interest

message 46: by Bryan (last edited Jun 14, 2013 06:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Thanks Vince. Yeah, Wilson did have a real practical streak about him. I think you are right that the Allies were worn down by the war and not open to listen to follow through with the points.

You compare WWI with WWII, WWII was longer and we were able to run up our industrial engine to full capacity. WWI ran too short or we would have done even more.

Ann D Rereading the 14 points again, I noted Wilson's demand for complete freedom of the seas. I wonder if this had been implemented, would it prevent blockades like the very effective one that Britain imposed on Germany during World War I.

Bryan Craig Ann wrote: "Rereading the 14 points again, I noted Wilson's demand for complete freedom of the seas. I wonder if this had been implemented, would it prevent blockades like the very effective one that Britain ..."

It might have, Ann. The countries would have to enforce it, though. There was little mechanism to do that.

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