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Address at the Hippodrome in Seattle, Washington

September 13, 1919

>Mr. Spangler, ladies, and gentlemen, it was agreed that I should make no address on this occasion, and I am not going to inflict upon you anything that can bear so dignified a name; but when Mr. Spangler asked me if I would extend a word of greeting to you I at once thought of the wonderful greeting that you and your fellow citizens have extended to me, and it would indeed be ungracious if I did not say how much I have appreciated your welcome and how delightful it is to be associated with you even for a few hours in this great city of Seattle.

I have been in Seattle before, when I attracted less attention. I admired the city then, as I admire it still, and I could see it better then than I have seen it to-day. To-day I had too much of an escort to be really able to see the new features of the city with which I was not familiar. I was reminded of some of our experiences on the other side of the water, when we had to be careful not to let anybody know we were coming to a particular place for fear we would be escorted by so many persons that we would not see the place; and I have found in Washington that I am not to see the interesting things in Washington until my term is over, because all the officials in public buildings feel it necessary to escort me all over the buildings, and I either see the things that I did not care to see, because they insist upon it, or I see nothing.

But, jesting aside, my fellow citizens, it was very delightful to see so many friendly faces on these beautiful streets. What I liked about it was not so much the cheers as the facial expressions that accompanied the cheers. They made me feel really welcome, and I could only fancy and hope that it was the reflection in their faces of the way I felt toward them. I suppose that a man in public life must renew himself constantly by direct contact with his fellow citizens, get the feel of the great power of opinion and of sentiment in this country, and nothing else heartened me so much as I have crossed the continent as to feel the uniformity of impulse and sentiment from one ocean to the other. There is no essential division in the thought or purpose of the American people, and the interesting thing to me is their steadiness. No amount of debate will set them off their balance in their thinking, because their thinking is based upon fundamental impulses of right, and what they want to know is not the difficulties, but the duties ahead of them, and if you point the duties out to them they have a contempt for the difficulties. It is that consciousness which I have so often gained in moving from one part of this beloved country to another that makes me so profoundly proud to be an American. It was not, indeed, my choice to be an American, because I was born here, and I suppose that I can not ascribe any credit to myself for being an American; but I do claim the profoundest pleasure in sharing the sentiments and in having had the privilege for a few short years of trying to express the sentiments of this free Nation, to which all the world looks for inspiration and leadership.

That is the dominating thought that I have. I will not say the dominating thought; it is the controlling knowledge that I have, for I learned to know on the other side of the water that all the world was looking to us for inspiration and leadership, and we will not deny it to them.

Woodrow Wilson, Address at the Hippodrome in Seattle, Washington Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/318005

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