Woodrow Wilson photo

Address at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah

September 23, 1919

Gov. Bamberger, President Grant, my fellow countrymen, it is indeed inspiring to stand before this great audience, and yet I feel that I have come to present a theme which deserves the greatest of all audiences. I must admit to a very considerable degree of unaffected diffidence in presenting this theme, because the theme is so much bigger than any man's capacity to present it adequately. It is a theme which must engage the enthusiastic support of every lover of humanity and every man who professes Christian conviction, because we are now as a nation to make what I can not help characterizing as the most critical decision we have ever made in the history of -America. We sent our boys across the sea to defeat the purposes of Germany, but we engaged that after we had defeated the purposes of Germany we would complete what they had begun and effect such arrangements of international concert as would make it impossible for any such attempt ever to be made again. The question therefore is, Shall we see it through or shall we now at this most critical juncture of the whole transaction turn away from our associates in the war and decline to complete and fulfill our sacred promise to mankind?

I have now crossed the continent, my fellow countrymen, and am on my way East again, and I feel qualified, to render testimony as to the attitude of this great Nation toward the covenant of the league. I say without the slightest hesitation that an overwhelming majority of our fellow countrymen purpose that this covenant shall be adopted. One by one the objections to it have melted away. One by one it has become evident that the objections urged against it were without sufficient foundation. One by one it has become impossible to support them as objections, and at last we come to the point of critical choice as to the very heart of the whole matter.

You know it troubled some of our public men because they were afraid it was not perfectly clear that we could withdraw from this arrangement whenever we wanted to. There is no justification for doubt in any part of the language of the covenant on that point. The United States is at liberty to withdraw at any time upon two years' notice, the only restriction being that when it withdraws it shall have fulfilled its international obligations and its obligations under the covenant of the league, but it is left to its own conscience and to no other tribunal whatever to determine whether those obligations have been fulfilled or not. I, for one, am not afraid of the judgment of mankind with regard to matters of this sort. The United States never has failed to fulfill its international obligations. It never will fail, and I am ready, to go to the great jury of humanity upon that matter at any time that within our judgment we should withdraw from this arrangement. But I am not one of those who when they go into a great enterprise think first of how they are going to get out of it. I think first of how I am going to stay in it and how, with the power and influence I can command, I am going to promote the objects of the great concert and association which is being formed. And that is the temper of America.

I was quoting the other night the jest of an American wit who, commenting upon the extraordinary rapidity with which we had trained an army, said that it was easier to train an army in America than anywhere else; it took less time, because you had to train them to go only one way. They showed the effects of the training. They went only one way, and the issues that we are now debating were really decided at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood and in the Argonne. We are now put to the test by these men who fought, as they were put to the test by those of us who ordered them to the field of battle. And the people of the United States have the same training as their Army; they do not look back, they go only one way.

The doubt as to whether some superior authority to our own Congress could intervene in matters of domestic policy is also removed. The language of the covenant expressly excludes the authorities of the league from taking any action or expressing any judgment with regard to domestic policies like immigration, like naturalization, like the tariff, like all of those things which have lain at the center so often of our political action and of our choice of policy.

Nobody doubts any longer that the covenant gives explicit, unqualified recognition to the Monroe doctrine. Indeed, it does more than that. It adopts the principle of the Monroe doctrine as the principle of the world. The principle of the Monroe doctrine is that no nation has the right to interfere with the affairs or to impose its own will in any way upon another nation in the Western Hemisphere, and President Monroe said to the Governments of Europe, "Any attempt of that sort on the part of any Government of Europe will be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States." The covenant of the league indorses that. The covenant of the league says that nothing in that document shall be construed as affecting the validity of the Monroe doctrine, which means that if any power seeks to impose its will upon any American State in North America, Central America or South America, the world now acknowledges the right of the Government of the United States to take the initiative and check that action.

The forces of objection being driven out of one position after another are now centering upon the heart of the league itself. I have come here to-night, my fellow countrymen, to discuss that critical matter that you constantly see in the newspapers, which we call "reservations." I want you to have a very clear idea of what is meant by reservations. Reservations are to all intents and purposes equivalent to amendments. I can say, I believe with confidence, that it is the judgment of the people of the United States that neither the treaty nor the covenant should be amended. Very well, then; look at the character of the reservations. What does a reservation mean? It means a stipulation that this particular Government insists upon interpreting its duty under that covenant in a special way, insists upon interpreting it in a way in which other Governments, it may be, do not interpret it. This thing, when we ratify it, is a contract. You can not alter so much as the words of a contract without the consent of the other parties. Any reservation will have to be carried to all the other signatories, Germany included, and we shall have to get the consent of Germany, among the rest, to read this covenant in some special way in which we prefer to read it in the interest of the safety of America. That, to my mind, is one of the most unacceptable things that could happen. To my mind, to reopen the question of the meaning of this clearly written treaty is to reopen negotiations with Germany, and I do not believe that any part of the world is in the temper to do that. In order to put this matter in such a shape as will lend itself to concrete illustration, let me read you what I understand is a proposed form of reservation:

The United States assumes no obligation under the provisions of article 10 to preserve the territorial integrity or political independence of any other country or to interfere in controversies between other nations, whether members of the league or not, or to employ the military and naval forces of the United States under any article of the treaty for any purpose, unless in any particular case the Congress, which under the Constitution has the sole power to declare war or authorize the employment of the military and naval forces of the United States, shall by act or joint resolution so declare.

That is a rejection of the covenant. That is an absolute refusal to carry any part of the same responsibility that the other members of the league carry. Does the United States want to be in on that special footing? Does the United States want to say to the nations with whom it stood in this great struggle, "We have seen you through on the battle field, but now we are done. We are not going to stand by you"? Article 10 is an engagement on the part of all the great fighting nations of the world, because all the great fighting nations are going to be members of the league, that they will respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and the existing political independence of the other members of the league. That is cutting at the heart of all wars. Every war of any consequence that you can cite originated in an attempt to seize the territory or interfere with the political independence of some other nation. We went into this war with the sacred promise that we regarded all nations as having the same rights, whether they were weak or strong, and unless we engage to sustain the weak we have guaranteed that the strong will prevail, we have guaranteed that imperialistic enterprise may revive, we have guaranteed that there is no barrier to the ambition of nations that have the power to dominate, we have abdicated the whole position of right and substituted the principle of might. This is the heart of the covenant, and what are these gentlemen afraid of? Nothing can be done under that article of the treaty without the consent of the United States. I challenge them to draw any other deduction from the provisions of the covenant itself. In every case where the league takes action the unanimous vote of the council of the league is necessary; the United States is a permanent member of the council of the league, and its affirmative vote is in every case necessary for every affirmative, or for that matter every negative, action.

Let us go into particulars. These gentlemen say, "We do not want the United States drawn into every little European squabble." Of course, we do not, and under the league of nations it is entirely within our choice whether we will be or not. The normal processes of the action of the league are certainly to be this: When trouble arises in the Balkans, when somebody sets up a fire somewhere in central Europe among those little nations, which are for the time being looking upon one another with a good deal of jealousy and suspicion, because the passions of the world have not cooled—whenever that happens, the council of the league will confer as to the best methods of putting out the fire. If you want to put out a fire in Utah, you do not send to Oklahoma for the fire engine. If you want to put out a fire in the Balkans, if you want to stamp out the smoldering flame in some part of central Europe, you do not send to the United States for troops. The council of the league selects the powers which are most ready, most available, most suitable, and selects them only at their own consent, so that the United States would in no such circumstances conceivably be drawn in unless the flame spread to the world. And would they then be left out, even if they were not members of the league? You have seen the fire spread to the world once, and did not you go in? If you saw it spread again, if you saw human liberty again imperiled, would you wait to be a member of the league to go in?

Fellow citizens, the whole thing goes directly to the conscience of the Nation. If the fight is big enough to draw the United States in, I predict that they will be drawn in anyhow, and if it is not big enough to bring them in inevitably, they can go in or stay out according to their own decision. Why are these gentlemen afraid? There is no force to oblige the United States to do anything except moral force. Is any man, any proud American, afraid that the United States will resist the duress of duty? I am intensely conscious of the great conscience of this Nation. I see the inevitableness, as well as the dignity and the greatness, of such declarations as President Grant has made aligning all the great organized moral forces of the world on the same side. It is inconceivable they should be on different sides.

There is no necessity for the last part of this reservation. Every public man, every statesman, in the world knows, and I say that advisedly, that in order that the United States should go to war it is necessary for the Congress to act. They do not have to be told that, but that is not what this resolution says. This resolution says the United States assumes no obligation under the provisions of article 10 to preserve the territorial integrity or political independence of any other country—washes it hands of the whole business; says "We do not want even to create the presumption that we will do the right thing. We do not want to be committed even to a great principle, but we want to say that every time a case arises the Congress will independently take it up as if there were no covenant and determine whether there is any moral obligation; and after determining that, determining whether it will act upon that moral obligation or not, it will act." In other words, that is an absolute withdrawal from the obligations of article 10. That is why I say that it would be a rejection of the covenant and thereby a rejection of the treaty, for the treaty can not be executed without the covenant.

I appeal, and I appeal with confidence, my fellow countrymen, to the men whose judgment I am told has approved of reservations of this sort. I appeal to them to look into the matter again. I know some of the gentlemen who are quoted as approving a reservation of that sort; I know them to be high-minded and patriotic Americans. and I know them to be men whose character and judgment I entirely respect, and whose motives I respect as much as I respect the motives of any man, but they have not looked into the matter. Are they willing to ask the rest of the world to go into this covenant and to let the United States assume none of its obligations? Let us have all the advantages of it and none of the responsibilities? Are they willing that proud America should ask for special exemptions, should show a special timidity, should ask to go into an arrangement depending upon a judgment when its own judgment is a different judgment? I confidently believe, my fellow citizens, that they will do no such thing. This is not an interpretation of the covenant. I have been trying to interpret it to you. This is a rejection of the covenant, and if this is adopted, the whole treaty falls to the ground, for, my fellow citizens, we must realize that a great and final choice is between this people. Either we are going to guarantee civilization or we are going to abandon it, I use the word with perhaps the admission that it may carry a slight exaggeration, but nevertheless advisedly, when I say abandon civilization, for what is the present condition of civilization? Everywhere, even in the United States, there is an attitude of antagonism toward the ordered processes of government. We feel the evil influence on this side of the Atlantic, and on the other side of the Atlantic every public man knows that it is knocking at the door of his government.

While this unrest is assuming this menacing form of rebellion against authority, of determination to cut roads of force through the regular processes of government, the world is waiting on America, for —I say it with entire respect for the representatives of other governments, but I say it with knowledge—the Government of the United States is the only government in the world that the rest of the world trusts. It knows that the Government of the United States speaks for the people of the United States, that it is not anybody's master, but the servant of a great people. It knows that that people can always oblige its governors to be its servants. It knows that nobody has ever dared defy the public judgment of the people of the United States, and it knows that that public judgment is on the side of right and justice and of peace. It has seen the United States do what no other nation ever did. When we fought the war with Spain there was many a cynical smile on the other side of the water when we said that we were going to win freedom for Cuba and then present it to her. They said, "Ah, yes; under the control of the United States. They will never let go of that rich island which they can exploit so much to their own advantage? " When we kept that promise and proved our absolute disinterestedness, and, notwithstanding the fact that we had beaten Spain until she had to accept anything that we dictated, paid her $20,000,000 for something that we could have taken, namely, the Philippine Islands, all the world stood at amaze and said, "Is it true, after all, that this people believes and means what it says? Is it true, after all, that this is a great altruistic force in the world?"

And now look what has happened, my fellow citizens. Poland, Bohemia, the released parts of Roumania, Jugo-Slavia—there are kinsmen, I dare say, of these people in this audience—these could, none of them, have won their own independence any more than Cuba could have won hers, and they were under an authority just as reckless in the exercise of its force, just as regardless of the people and of humanity, as the Spanish Government ever was in Cuba and the Philippines; and by the force of the world these people have been liberated. Now the world is waiting to hear whether the United States will join in doing for them what it sanely did for Cuba, guaranteeing their freedom and saying to them, "What we have given to you no man shall take away." It is our final heroic test of character, and I for one have not the slightest doubt as to what the result of the test is going to be, because I know that at heart this people loves freedom and right and justice more than it loves money and material prosperity or any of the things that anybody can get but nobody can keep unless they have elevation of spirit enough to see the horizons of the destiny of man.

Instead of wishing to ask to stand aside, get the benefits of the league, but share none of its burdens or responsibilities, I for my part want to go in and accept what is offered to us, the leadership of the world. A leadership of what sort, my fellow citizens? Not a leadership that leads men along the lines by which great nations can profit out of weak nations, not an exploiting power, but a liberating power, a power to show the world that when America was born it was indeed a finger pointed toward those lands into which men could deploy some of these days and live in happy freedom, look each other in the eyes as equals, see that no man was put upon, that no people were forced to accept authority which was not of their own choice, and that out of the general generous impulse of the human genius and the human spirit we were lifted along the levels of civilization todays when there should be wars no more, but men should govern themselves in peace and amity and quiet. That is the leadership we said we wanted, and now the world offers it to us. It is inconceivable that we should reject it. It is inconceivable that men should put any conditions upon accepting it, particularly—for I speak this with a certain hurt pride, my fellow citizens, as an American—particularly when we are so safeguarded that the world under the covenant can not do a thing that we do not consent to being done. Other nations, other governments, were just as jealous of their sovereignty as we have been, and this guarantees the sovereignty of all the equal members of this great union of nations. There is only one nation for the time being excluded. That is Germany, and Germany is excluded only in order that she may go through a period of probation, only in order that she may prove to the world that she has made a real and permanent change in her constitution, and that hereafter, not Wilhelmstrasse but the votes of the German people will determine the policy of the German Government.

If I may say so without even by implication involving great public men whom I entirely respect, I want to say that the only popular forces back of serious reservations, the only popular forces back of the impulse to reject any part of this treaty, proceed from exactly the same sources that the pro-German propaganda proceeded from.

I ask the honorable and enlightened men who I believe thoughtlessly favor reservations such as I have read to reflect upon that and examine into the truth of it, and to reflect upon this proposition: We, by holding off from this league, serve the purposes of Germany, for what Germany has sought throughout the war was, first, to prevent our going in, and, then, to separate us in interest and purpose from the other Governments with which we were associated. Now, shall we by the vote of the United States Senate do for Germany what she could not do with her arms? We shall be doing it, whether we intend it or not. I exculpate the men I am thinking of entirely from the purpose of doing it; it would be unworthy of me to suggest such a purpose, but I do suggest, I do state with confidence, that that is the only end that would be gained, because Germany is isolated from the other nations, and she desires nothing so much as that we should be isolated, because she knows that then the same kind of suspicion, the same kind of hostility, the same kind of unfriendliness—that subtle poison that brings every trouble that comes between nations— will center on the United States as well as upon Germany. Her isolation will be broken; she will have a comrade, whether that nation wants to be her comrade or not, and what the lads did on the fields of France will be undone. We will allow Germany to do in 1919 what she failed to do in 1918!

It would be unworthy of me, my fellow citizens, in the responsible position into which you have put me, if I were to overstate any of these things. I have searched my conscience with regard to them. I believe, I am telling you the sober truth, and I am telling you what I get, not by intuition, but through those many voices that inevitably reach the Government and do not always reach you from over sea. We know what the leading men of Germany are thinking and saying, and they are praying that the United States may stand off from the league. I call upon you, therefore, my fellow citizens, to look at this thing in a new aspect, to look upon it not with calculations of interest, not with fear of responsibility, but with a consciousness of the great moral issue which the United States must now decide and which, having decided, it can not reverse. If we keep out of this league now, we can never enter it except alongside of Germany. We can either go in now or come in later with our recent enemies, and to adopt a reservation such as I have read, which explicitly renounces responsibility under the central engagement of the covenant, is to do nothing less than that.

I hope that in order to strengthen this impression on your minds you will take pains to read the treaty of peace. You need not read all of it; a lot of it is technical and you can skip that; but I want you to get a picture of what is in this great document. It is much too narrow a view of it to think of it as a treaty of peace with Germany it is that, but it is very much more than a treaty of peace with Germany; it is a treaty in which an attempt is made to set up the rights of peoples everywhere, for exactly the lines of this treaty are going to be projected—have been projected—into the treaty with Austria, into the treaty with Bulgaria, into the treaty with Hungary into the treaty with Turkey. Everywhere the same principle is adopted, that the men who wrote the treaties at Versailles were not at liberty to give anybody's property to anybody else. It is the first great international agreement in the history of civilization that was not based on the opposite principle. Every other great international arrangement has been a division of spoils, and this is an absolute renunciation of spoils, even with regard to the helpless parts of the world, even with regard to those poor benighted people in Africa, over whom Germany had exercised a selfish authority which exploited them and did not help them. Even they are not handed over to anybody else. The principle of annexation, the principle of extending sovereignty to territories that are not occupied by your own people, is rejected in this treaty. All of those regions are put under the trust of the league of nations, to be administered for the benefit of their inhabitants—the greatest humane arrangement that has ever been attempted—and the rules are laid down in the covenant itself which forbid any form of selfish exploitation of these helpless people by the agents of the league who will exercise authority over them during the period of their development.

Then see how free course is given to our sympathies. I believe that there is no region of the world toward which the sympathies of the United States have gone out so abundantly as to the poor people of Armenia, those people infinitely terrified and infinitely persecuted. We have poured out money, we have sent agents of all sorts to relieve their distress, and at every turn we have known that every dollar we spent upon them might be rendered useless by the cruel power which had authority over them, that under pretense of not being able to control its own forces in those- parts of the empire, the Turkish Government might say that it was unable to restrain the horrible massacre which have made that country a graveyard. Armenia is one of the regions that are to be under trust of the league of nations. Armenia is to be redeemed. The Turk is to be forbidden to exercise his authority there, and Christian people are not only to be al lowed to aid Armenia but they are to be allowed to protect Armenia. At last this great people, struggling through night after night of terror, knowing not what day would see their land stained with blood, are now given a promise of safety, a promise of justice, a possibility that they may come out into a time when they can enjoy their own rights as free people, as they never dreamed they would be able to exercise them before. All of the great humane impulses of the human heart are expressed in this treaty, and we would be recreant to every humane obligation if we did not lend our whole force and, if necessary, make our utmost sacrifice to maintain its provisions. We are approaching the time in the discussions of the Senate when it will be determined what we are going to say about it, and I am here making this public appeal to you and, through you, to gentlemen who have favored such utterances as I have read to you to-night, to take a second thought upon the matter, to realize that what they are after is already accomplished. The United States can not be drawn into anything it does not wish to be drawn into, but the United States ought not to be itself in the position of saying, "You need not expect of us that we assume the same moral obligations that you assume. You need not expect of us that we will respect and preserve the territorial integrity and political independence of other nations."

Let me remove another misapprehension about the clause, my fellow citizens. Almost every time it is quoted the words "external aggression" are left out of it. There was not a member of that conference with whom I conferred who wanted to put the least restraint upon the right of self-determination by any portion of the human family, who wished to put the slightest obstacle in the way of throwing off the yoke of any Government if that yoke should become intolerable. This does not guarantee any country, any Government, against an attempt on the part of its own subjects to throw off its authority. The United States could not keep its countenance and make a promise like that, because it began by doing that very thing. The glory of the United States is that when we were a little body of 3,000,000 people strung along the Atlantic coast we threw off the power of a great empire because it was not a power chosen by or consented to by ourselves. We hold that principle. We never will guarantee any Government against the exercise of that right, and no suggestion was made in the conference that we should. We merely ourselves promised to respect the territorial integrity and existing political independence of the other members of the league and to assist in preserving them against external aggression.

And if we do not do that the taproot of war is still sunk deep into the fertile soil of human passion. I am for cutting the taproot of war. I am for making an insurance against war, and I am prudent enough to take 10 per cent insurance if I can not get any more. I would be very pleased to get 25 per cent. I would be delighted to get 50 per cent, and here, in conscience, I believe we are getting 99 per cent. No man, no body of men, can give you absolute 100 per cent insurance against war any more than they can give you 100 per cent insurance against losing your temper. You can not insure men against human passion, but notice what this covenant does: It provides nine months as a minimum for the cooling off of human passion. It is pretty hard to be crazy mad for nine months. If you stay crazy mad, or crazy anything else, for nine months, it will be wise to segregate you from your fellow citizens. The heart of this covenant, to which very few opponents ever draw attention, is this, that every great fighting nation in the world engages never to go to war without first having done one or the other of two things, without having either submitted the point in controversy to arbitration, in which case it promises absolutely to abide by the verdict or submit it to the council of the league of nations, not for decision but for discussion; it agrees to lay all the documents and all the pertinent facts before the council and agrees that the council shall publish the documents and the facts to mankind, that it will give six months to the council for the consideration of the matter, and that, even if it does not accept the result, it will not go to war for three months after the opinion is rendered. You have nine months in which to accomplish all the gentle work of mediation, all the same work of discussion, all the quieting work of a full comprehension of what the result of bringing the matter to the issue of war would be upon the nations immediately concerned and upon the nations of the world. And in article 11, which follows article 10, it is made the right of any member of the league to call attention to anything, anywhere, which is likely to affect the peace of the world or the good understanding between nations upon which the peace of the world depends. So that, after the storm begins to gather, you can call the attention of the world to it, and the cleansing, purifying, cooling processes of public opinion will at once begin to operate.

When a very important part of Shantung Province was ceded by China to Germany in March, 1898, the Government of the United States uttered not a single protest. One of the most enlightened and humane men that have ever sat in the executive chair was President of the United States William McKinley. One of the ablest Secretaries of State in the long list of distinguished men who have occupied that office was associated with him as Secretary of State, the Hon. John Hay. They made not a single intimation of protest. Why? Because under international law as it was, and as it is until this covenant is adopted, it would have been a hostile act for them to do any such thing unless they could show that the material or political interest of the United States was directly affected. The only ground which they insisted upon was that Germany should not close Shantung Province to the trade of the United States. They could not lift a little finger to help China. They could only try to help the trade of the United States. Immediately after that cession China made similar cessions to England, to Russia, to France, and again no protest, only an insistence that the door should be kept open to our goods—not to our moral ideas, not to our sympathy with China, not to our sense of right violated, but to our merchandise. You do not hear anything about the cessions in that year to Great Britain or to France, because, unhappily, they were not unprecedented, as the cession to Germany was not unprecedented. Poor China had done the like not once but many times before. What happened afterwards? In the treaty between Japan and Russia, after the Japanese- Russian war, a treaty signed on our own territory—in Portsmouth, N.H. —Port Arthur, the Chinese territory ceded to Russia, was transferred to Japan. Here were our own people sitting about, here was our own Government that had invited these gentlemen to sit at Portsmouth—did they object to Port Arthur being not handed back to China but handed to Japan?

I am not going to stop, my fellow citizens, to discuss the Shantung provision in all its aspects, but what I want to call your attention to is that just so soon as this covenant is ratified every nation in the world will have the right to speak out for China. And I want to say very frankly, and I ought to add that the representatives of those great nations themselves admit, that Great Britain and France and the other powers which have insisted upon similar concessions in China will be put in a position where they will have to reconsider them. This is the only way to serve and redeem China, unless, indeed, you want to start a war for the purpose. At the beginning of the war and during the war Great Britain and France engaged by solemn treaty with Japan that if she would come into the war and continue in the war, she could have, provided she in the meantime took it by force of arms, what Germany had in China. Those are treaties already in force. They are not waiting for ratification. France and England can not withdraw from those obligations, and it will serve China not one iota if we should dissent from the Shantung arrangement; but by being parties to that arrangement we can insist upon the promise of Japan—the promise which the other governments have not matched—that she will return to China immediately all sovereign rights within the Province of Shantung. We have got that for her now, and under the operations of article 11 and of article 10 it will be impossible for any nation to make any further inroads either upon the territorial integrity or upon the political independence of China. I for one want to say that my heart goes out to that great people, that learned people, that accomplished people, that honest people, hundreds of millions strong but never adequately organized for the exercise of force, therefore always at the mercy of anyone who has effective armies or navies, always subject to be commanded, and never in a position unassisted by the world to insist upon its own rights.

It is a test—an acid test: Are you willing to go into the great adventure of liberating hundreds of millions of human beings from the threat of foreign power? If you are timid, I can assure you you can do it without shedding a drop of human blood. If you are squeamish about fighting, I will tell you you will not have to fight. The only force that outlasts all others and is finally triumphant is the moral judgment of mankind. Why is it that when a man tells a lie about you you do not wince, but when he tells the truth about you, if it is not creditable, then you wince? The only thing you are afraid of is the truth. The only thing you dare not face is the truth. The only thing that will get you sooner of later, no matter how you sneak or dodge, is the truth; and the only thing that will conquer nations is the truth. No nation is going to look the calm judgment of mankind in the face for nine months and then go to war. You can illustrate the great by the little. I dare say you have taken time to cool off sometimes. I know I have. It is very useful for a person, particularly with a Scotch disposition like mine, to withdraw from human society when he is mad all through and just think about the situation and reflect upon the consequences of making a conspicuous ass of himself. It is for that reason that I have always said that if you have an acquaintance whom you suspect of being a fool, encourage him to hire a hall. There is nothing that tests a man's good sense like exposure to the air. We are applying this great healing, sanitary influence to the affairs of nations and of men, and we can apply it only by the processes of peace which are offered to us after a conference, which I can testify was taken part in in the knowledge and in the spirit that never obtained before in any such conference; that we were not at liberty to work out the policy and ambition of any nation, but that our single duty and our single opportunity was to put the peoples of the world in possession of their own affairs.

So, as much of the case, my fellow citizens, as I can lay before you on a single occasion—as much of this varied and diversified theme—is laid before you, and I ask your assistance to redeem the reputation of the United States. I ask you to make felt everywhere that it is useful to make it felt, not by way of threat, not by way of menace of any sort, but by way of compelling judgment, that the thing for us to do is to redeem the promises of America made in solemn presence of mankind when we entered this war, for I see a happy vision before the world, my fellow countrymen. Every previous international conference was based upon the authority of governments. This, for the first time, was based upon the authority of peoples. It is, therefore, the triumphant establishment of the principle of democracy throughout the world, but only the establishment of the principle of political democracy. What the world now insists upon— order and peace in order to consider and in order to achieve—is the establishment of industrial democracy, is the establishment of such relationships between those who direct labor and those who perform labor as shall make a real community of interest, as shall make a real community of purpose, as shall lift the whole level of industrial achievement above bargain and sale, into a great method of Cooperation by which men, purposing the same thing and justly organizing the same thing, may bring about a state of happiness and of prosperity such as the world has never known before. We want to be friends of each other as well as friends of mankind. We want America to be united in spirit as well as the world. We want America to be a body of brethren, and if America is a body of brethren, then you may be sure that its leadership will bring the same sort of comradeship and intimacy of spirit and purity of purpose to the counsels and achievements of mankind.

APP Note: The President was introduced by Utah Governor Simon Bamburger. Heber Grant was President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Woodrow Wilson, Address at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/318159

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives