Woodrow Wilson photo

Address at the Princess Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming

September 24, 1919

Gov. Carey, my fellow countrymen, it is with genuine satisfaction that I find myself in this great State, which I have only too seldom visited, and I appreciate this close contact with a body of its citizens in order that I may make clear some of the matters which have emerged in the discussion in the midst of which we now find ourselves. Gov. Carey is quite right in saying that no document ever drew upon it more widespread discussion than the great treaty of peace with which your representatives returned from Paris. It is not to be wondered at, my fellow citizens, because that treaty is a unique document. It is the most remarkable document, I venture to say, in human history, because in it is recorded a complete reversal of the processes of government which had gone on throughout practically the whole history of mankind. The example that we set in 1776, which some statesmen in Europe affected to disregard and others presumed to ridicule, nevertheless set fires going in the hearts of men which no influence was able to quench, and one after another the Governments of the world have yielded to the influences of democracy. No man has been able to stay the tide, and there came a day when there was only one bulwark standing against it. That was in Berlin and Vienna—standing in the only territory which had not been conquered by the liberal forces of the opinion of the world, continued to stand fast where there was planted a pair of Governments that could use their people as they pleased, as pawns and instruments in a game of ambition, send them to the battle field without condescending to explain to them why they were sent, send them to the battle field to work out a dominion over free peoples on the part of a Government that had never been liberalized and made free.

The world did not realize in 1914 that it had come to the final grapple of principle. It was only by slow degrees that we realized that we had any part in the war. We started the forces in 1776, as I have said, that made this war inevitable, but we were a long time realizing that, after all, that was what was at issue. We had been accustomed to regarding Europe as a field of intriguing, of rival ambitions, and of attempts to establish empire, and at first we merely got the impression that this was one of the usual European wars, to which, unhappily, mankind had become only too accustomed. You know how unwilling we were to go into it. I can speak for myself. I made every effort to keep this country out of the war, until it came to my conscience, as it came to yours, that after all it was our war as well as Europe's war, that the ambition of these central empires was directed against nothing less than the liberty of the world, and that if we were indeed, what we had always professed to be, champions of the liberty of the world, it was not within our choice to keep out of the great enterprise. We went in just in time. I can testify my fellow countrymen, that the hope of Europe had sunk very low when the American troops began to throng overseas. I can testify that they had begun to fear that the terror would be realized and that the German power would be established. At first they were incredulous that our men could come in force enough to assist them. At first they thought that it was only a moral encouragement they would get from seeing that gallant emblem of the Stars and Stripes upon their fields. Presently they realized that the tide was real, that here came men by the thousands, by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions; that there was no end to the force which would now be asserted to rescue the free peoples of the world from the terror of autocracy; and America had the infinite privilege of fulfilling her destiny and saving the world. I do not hesitate to say, as a sober ?interpretation of history, that American soldiers saved the liberties of the world.

I want to remind you of all this, my fellow citizens, because it is pertinent to the discussion that is now going on. We saved the liberties of the world, and we must stand by the liberties of the world. We can not draw back. You remember what happened in that fateful battle in which our men first took part. You remember how the French lines had been beaten and separated and broken at Chateau-Thierry, and you remember how the gates seemed open for the advancement of the Germans upon Paris. Then a body of men, a little body of men—American soldiers and American marines—against the protests of French officers, against the command of the remote commanders, nevertheless dared to fill that breach, stopped that advance, turned the Germans back, and never allowed them to turn their faces forward again. They were advised to go back, and they asked the naive American question, "What did we come over here for? We did not come over here to go back; we came over here to go forward." And they never went in any other direction. The men who went to Chateau-Thierry, the men who went into Balleau Wood, the men who did What no other troops had been able to do in the Argonne, never thought of turning back, not only, but they never thought of making any reservations on their service. They never thought of saying, "We are going to do this much of the job and then scuttle and leave you to do the rest." I am here, I am on this journey, to help this Nation, if I can by my counsel, to fulfill and complete the task which the men who died upon the battle fields of France began, and I am not going to turn back any more than they did. I am going to keep my face just as they kept their face—forward toward the enemy.

My friends—I use the words advisedly—the only organized forces in this country, outside of Congressional Halls, against this treaty are the forces of hyphenated Americans. I beg you to observe that I say the only organized forces, because I would not include many individuals whom I know in any such characterization, but I do repeat that it is the pro-German forces and the other forces that showed their hyphen during the war that are now organized against this treaty. We can please nobody in America except these people by rejecting it or qualifying it in our acceptance of it. I want you to recall the circumstances of this Great War lest we forget. We must not forget to redeem absolutely and without qualification the promises of America in this great enterprise. I have crossed the continent now, my friends, and am a part of my way back. I can testify to the sentiment of the American people. It is unmistakable. The overwhelming majority of them demand the ratification of this treaty, and they demand it because, whether they have analyzed it or not, they have a consciousness of what it is that we are fighting for. We said that this was a people's war—I have explained to you that it was, though you did not need the explanation—and we said that it must be a people's peace. It is a people's peace. I challenge any man to find a contradiction to that statement in the terms of the great document with which I returned from Paris. It is so much of a people's peace that in every portion of its settlement every thought of aggrandizement, of territorial or political aggrandizement, on the part of the great powers was brushed aside, brushed aside by their own representatives. They declined to take the colonies of Germany in sovereignty, and said they would consent and demand that they be administered in trust by a concert of the nations through the instrumentality of a league of nations. They did not claim a single piece of territory. On the contrary, every territory that had been under the dominion of the Central Powers, unjustly and against its own consent, is by that treaty and the treaties which accompany it absolutely turned over in fee simple to the people who live in it. The principle is adopted without qualification upon which America was founded, that all just government proceeds from the consent of the governed. No nation that could be reached by the conclusions of this conference was obliged to accept the authority of a government by which it did not wish to be controlled. It is a peace of liberation. It is a peace in which the rights of peoples are realized, and when objection is made to the treaty, is any objection made to the substance of the treaty? There is only one thing in the substance of the treaty that has been debated seriously, and that is the arrangement by which Japan gets the rights that Germany had in Shantung Province in China. I wish I had time to go through the story of that fully. It was an unavoidable settlement, and nothing can be done for China without the league of nations.

Perhaps you will bear with me if I take time to tell you what I am talking about. You know that China has been the common prey of the great European powers. Perhaps I should apologize to the representatives of those powers for using such a word, but I think they would admit that the word is justified. Nation after nation has demanded rights, semisovereign rights, and concessions with regard to mines and railways and every other resource that China could put at their disposition, and China has never been able to say "No"—a great learned, patient, diligent people, numbering hundreds of millions; has had no organized force with which to resist, and has yielded again and again and again to unjust demands. One of these demands was made upon her in March, 1898, by Germany—unjustly made. I will not go into the particulars, but I could justify that word "unjustly." A concession was demanded of her of the control of the whole district around Kiaochow Bay, one of the open doors to the trade and resources of China. She was obliged to yield to Germany practically sovereign control over that great region by the sea, and into the interior of the Province Germany was privileged to extend a railway and to exploit all the deposits of ore that might be found for 30 miles on either side of the railway which she was to build. The Government of the United States at that time, presided over by one of the most enlightened and beloved of our Presidents— I mean William McKinley—and the Department of State, guided by that able and high-minded man, John Hay, did not make the slightest protest. Why? Not because they would not if they could have aided China, but because under international law as it then stood no nation had the right to protest against anything that other nations did that did not directly affect its own rights. Mr. McKinley and Mr. Hay did insist that if Germany took control of Kiaochow Bay, she should not close those approaches to China against the trade of the United States. How pitiful, when you go into the court of right, you can not protect China, you can only protect your own merchandise! You can not say, "You have done a great wrong to these people." You have got to say, "We yield to the wrong, but we insist that you should admit our goods to be sold in those markets!" Pitiful, but nevertheless it was international law. All nations acted in that way at that time. Immediately following these concessions to Germany, Russia insisted upon concessions and got Port Arthur and other territories. England insisted, though she had had similar concessions in the past, upon an additional concession and got Weihaiwai. France came into the game and got a port and its territory lying behind it for the same period of time that Germany had got her concession, namely, 99 years.

Then came the war between Russia and Japan, and what happened? In a treaty signed on our own sacred territory, at Portsmouth in New Hampshire, Japan was allowed to take from Russia what had belonged to China, the concession of Port Arthur and of Talienwan, the territory in that neighborhood. The treaty was written here; it was written under the auspices, so to say, of our own public opinion, but the Government of the United States was not at liberty to protest and did not protest; it acquiesced in the very thing which is being done in this treaty. What is being done in this treaty is not that Shantung is being taken from China. China did not have it. It is being taken from Germany, just as Port Arthur was not taken from China but taken from Russia and transferred to Japan. Before we got into the war, Great Britain and France had entered into solemn covenant by treaty with Japan that if she would take what Germany had in Shantung by force of arms, and also the islands lying north of the Equator which had been under German dominion in the Pacific, she could keep them when the peace came and its settlements were made. They were bound by a treaty of which we knew nothing, but which, notwithstanding our ignorance of it, bound them as much as any treaty binds. This war was fought to maintain the sacredness of treaties. Great Britain and France, therefore, can not consent to a change of the treaty in respect of the cession of Shantung, and we have no precedent in our history which permits us even to protest against it until we become members of the league of nations.

I want this point to sink in, my fellow countrymen: The league of nations changes the international law of the world with regard to matters of this sort. You have heard a great deal about article 10 of the covenant of the league, and I will speak of it presently, but read article 11 in conjunction with article 10. Every member of the league, in article 10, agrees never to impair the territorial integrity of any other member of the league or to interfere with its existing political independence. Both of those things were done in all these concessions. There was a very serious impairment of the territorial integrity of China in every one of them, and a very serious interference with the political independence of that great but helpless King- dom. Article 10 stops that for good and all. Then, in article 11, it is provided that it shall be the friendly right of any member of the league at any time to call attention to anything anywhere that is likely to disturb the peace of the world or the good understanding between nations upon which the peace of the world depends, so that the ban would have been lifted from Mr. McKinley and Mr. Roosevelt in the matter of these things if we had the covenant of the league; they could have gone in and said, "Here is your promise to preserve the territorial integrity and political independence of this great people. We have the friendly right to protest. We have the right to call your attention to the fact that this will breed wars and not peace, and that you have not the right to do this thing." Henceforth, for the first time, we shall have the opportunity to play effective friends to the great people of China, and I for one feel my pulses quicken and my heart rejoice at such a prospect. We, a free people, have hitherto been dumb in the presence of the invasion of the freedom of other free peoples, and now restraint is taken away. I say it is taken away, for we will be members of the covenant. Restraint is taken away, and, like the men that we profess to be, we can speak out in the interest of free people everywhere.

But that is not all. America, as I have said, was not bound by the agreements of Great Britain and France, on the one hand, and Japan on the other. We were free to insist upon a prospect of a different settlement, and at the instance of the United States Japan has already promised that she will relinquish to China immediately after the ratification of this treaty all the sovereign rights that Germany had in Shantung Province—the only promise of that kind ever made, the only relinquishment of that sort ever achieved—and that she will retain only what foreign corporations have all over China—unfortunately but as a matter of fact—the right to run the railroad and the right to work the mines under the usual conditions of Chinese sovereignty and as economic concessionaires, with no political rights or military power of any kind. It is really an emancipation of China, so far as that Province is concerned, from what is imposed upon her by other nations in other Provinces equally rich and equally important to the independence of China herself. So that inside the league of nations we now have a foothold by which we can play the friend to China.

And the alternative? If you insist upon cutting out the Shantung arrangement, that merely severs us from the treaty. It does not give Shantung back to China. The only way you can give Shantung back to China is by arms in your hands, armed ships and armed men, sent against Japan and France and Great Britain. A fratricidal strife, in view of what we have gone through! We have just redeemed France. We can not with arms in our hands insist that France break a covenant, however ill judged, however unjust; we can not as her brothers in arms commit any such atrocious act against the fraternity of free people. So much for Shantung. Nobody can get that provision out of that treaty and do China any service whatever, and all such professions of friendship for China are empty noise, for the gentlemen who make those professions must know that what they propose will be not of the slightest service to her.

That is the only point of serious criticism with regard to the substance of the treaty. All the rest refers to the covenant of the league of nations. With regard to that, my fellow citizens, I have this to say: Without the covenant of the league of nations that treaty can not be executed. Without the adherence of the United States to that covenant, the covenant can not be made effective. To state it another way, the maintenance of the peace of the world and the execution of the treaty depend upon the whole-hearted participation of the people of the United States. I am not stating it as a matter of power. I am not stating it with the thought that the United States has greater material wealth and greater physical power than any other nation: The point that I want you to get is a very profound point; the point is that the United States is the only nation of the world that has sufficient moral force with the rest of the world. It is the only nation which has proved its disinterestedness. It is the only nation which is not suspected by the other nations of the world of ulterior purposes. There is not a Province in Europe in which American troops would not at this moment be welcomed with open arms, because the population would know that they had come as friends and would go so soon as their errand was fulfilled. I have had delegations come to me, delegations from countries where disorder made the presence of troops necessary, and beg me to order American troops there. They said, "We trust the; we want them. They are our friends." And all the world, provided we do not betray them by rejecting this treaty, will continue to regard us as their friends and follow us as their friends and serve us as their friends. It is the noblest opportunity ever offered to a great people, and we will not turn away from it.

We are coming now to the grapple, because one question at a time is being cleared away. We are presently going to have a show-down, a show-down on a very definite issue, and I want to bring your minds to that definite issue. A number of objections have been made to the covenant of the league of nations, but they have been disposed of in candid minds. The first was the question whether we could withdraw when we pleased. That is no longer a question in the mind of anybody who has studied the language and real meaning of the covenant. We can withdraw, upon two years' notice, when we please. I state that with absolutely no qualification. Then there was the question as to whether it interfered with self-determination; that is to say, whether there was anything in the guarantee of article 10 about territorial integrity and political independence which would interfere with the assertion of the right of great populations anywhere to change their governments, to throw off the yoke of sovereignties which they did not desire to live under. There is absolutely no such restraint. I was present and can testify that when article 10 was debated the most significant words in it were the words "against external aggression." We do not guarantee any government against anything that may happen within its own borders or within its own sovereignty. We merely say that we will not impair its territorial integrity or interfere with its political independence, and we will not countenance other nations outside of it making- prey of it in the one way or the other. Every man who sat around that table, and at the table where the conference on the league of nations sat there were 14 free peoples represented, believed in the sacred right of self-determination, would not have dared to go back and face his own people if he had done or said anything that stood in the way of it. That is out of the way. There was some doubt as to whether the Monroe doctrine was properly recognized, though I do not see how anybody who could read the English language could have raised the doubt. The covenant says that nothing contained in it shall be construed as affecting the validity of the Monroe doctrine, so that by a sudden turn in the whole judgment of the world the Monroe doctrine was accepted by all the great powers of the world. I know what their first impressions were about it. I know the history of their change of mind, and I know the heartiness and unanimity of the conclusion. Nothing can henceforth embarrass the policy of the United States in applying the Monroe doctrine according to her own judgment. But there was apprehension that some kind of a supergovernment had been set up which could some day interfere in our domestic affairs, say that our immigration laws were too rigorous and wrong; that our laws of naturalization were too strict and severe; that our tariff policy did not suit the rest of the world. The covenant expressly excludes interference with domestic questions, expressly states that it shall not be the right of any authority of the league to interfere in matters of that sort. That matter is cleared away by everybody who can understand the clauses in question.

There is another matter in that connection I want to speak of. The constitution of the league of nations is not often enough explained. It is made up of two bodies. One body, which is a comparatively large body, is called the assembly. The assembly is not an originative body. The assembly is, so to say, the court of the public opinion of the world. It is where you can broach questions, but not decide them. It is where you can debate anything that affects the peace of the world, but not determine upon a course of action upon anything that affects the peace of the world. The whole direction of the action of the league is vested in another body known as the council, and nothing in the form of an active measure, no policy, no recommendation with regard to the action of the governments composing the league can proceed except upon a unanimous vote of the council. Mark you, a unanimous vote of the council. In brief, inasmuch as the United States of America is to be a permanent member of the council of the league, the league can take no step whatever without the consent of the United States of America. My fellow citizens, think of the significance of that in view of the debates you have been listening to. There is not a single active step that the league can take unless we vote aye. The whole matter is, in that negative sense, in the ability to stop any action, in our hands. I am sometimes inclined to think that that weakens the league, that it has not freedom of action enough, notwithstanding that I share with all of my fellow countrymen a very great jealousy with regard to setting up any power that could tell us to do anything, but no such power is set up. Whenever a question of any kind with regard to active policy—and there are only three or four of them—is referred to the assembly for its vote, its vote in the affirmative must include the representatives of all the nations which are represented on the council. In the assembly, as in the council, any single nation that is a member of the council has a veto upon active conclusions. That is my comment upon what you have been told about Great Britain having six votes and our having one. I am perfectly content with the arrangement, since our one offsets the British six. I do not want to be a repeater; if my one vote goes, I do not want to repeat it five times.

And is it not just that in this debating body, from which without the unanimous concurrence of the council no active proceeding can originate, that these votes should have been given to the self-governing powers of the British Empire? I am ready to maintain that position. Is it not just that those stout little Republics out in the Pacific, of New Zealand and Australia, should be able to stand up in the councils of the world and say something? Do you not know how Australia has led the free peoples of the world in many matters that have led to social and industrial reform? It is one of the most enlightened communities in the world and absolutely free to choose its own way of life independent of the British authority, except in matters of foreign relationship. Do you not think that it is natural that that stout little body of men whom we so long watched with admiration in their contest with the British Crown in South Africa should have the right to stand up and talk before the world? They talked once with their arms, and, if I may judge by my contact with them, they can talk with their minds. They know what the interests of South Africa are, and they are independent in their control of the interests of South Africa. Two of the most impressive and influential men I met in Paris were representatives of South Africa, both of them members of the British peace delegation in Paris, and yet both of them generals who had made British generals take notice through many months of their power to fight—the men whom Great Britain had fought and beaten and felt obliged to hand over their own government to, and say, "It is yours and not ours." They were men who spoke counsel, who spoke frank counsel. And take our neighbor on the north—do you not think Canada is entitled to a speaking part? I have pointed out to you that her voting part is offset, but do you not think she is entitled to a speaking part? Do you not think that that fine dominion has been a very good neighbor? Do you not think she is a good deal more like the United States than she is like Great Britain? Do you not feel that probably you think alike? The only other vote given to the British Empire is given to that hitherto voiceless mass of humanity that lives in that region of romance and pity that we know as India. I am willing that India should stand up in the councils of the world arid say something. I am willing that speaking parts should be assigned to these self-governing, self-respecting, energetic portions of the great body of humanity.

I take leave to say that the deck is cleared of these bugaboos. We can get out if we want to. I am not interested in getting out. I am interested in getting on. But we can get out. The door is not locked. You can sit on the edge of your chair and scuttle any time you want to. There are so. many who are interested first of all in knowing that they are not in for anything that can possibly impose anything on them. Well, we are not in for anything that we do not want to continue to carry. We can help in the matters of self-determination, as we never helped before. The six votes of the British Empire are offset by our own, if we choose to offset them. I dare say we shall often agree with them; but if we do not, they can not do anything that we do not consent to. The Monroe doctrine is taken care of. There is no danger of interference with domestic questions.

Well, what remains? Nothing except article 10, and that is the heart of the whole covenant. Anybody who proposes to cut out article 10 proposes to cut all the supports from under the peace and security of the world, and we must face the question in that light; we must draw the issue as sharply as that; we must see it through as distinctly as that. Let me repeat article 10. I do not know that I can do it literally, but I can come very near. Under article 10 every member of the league engages to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of the other members of the league. That cuts at the taproot of war. The wars of the past have been leveled against the liberties of peoples and territories of those who could not defend them, and if you do not cut at that taproot that upas tree is going to grow again; and I tell you my fellow countrymen, that if you do not cut it up now it will be harder to cut it up next time. The next time will come; it will come while this generation is living, and the children that crowd about our car as we move from station to station will be sacrificed upon the altar of that war. It will be the last war. Humanity will never suffer another, if humanity survives. My fellow countrymen, do you realize that at the end of the war that has just closed new instruments of destruction had been invented and were about to be used that exceeded in terrible force and destructive power any that had been used before in this war? You have heard with wonder of those great cannon from which the Germans sent shells 70 miles into Paris. Just before the war closed shells had been invented that could be made to steer themselves and carry immense bodies of explosives a hundred miles into the interior of countries, no matter how great the serried ranks of their soldiers were at the border. This war will be child's play as compared with another war. You have got to cut the root of that upas tree now or betray all future generations.

And we can not without our vote in the council, even in support of article 10, be drawn into wars that we do not wish to be drawn into. The second sentence of article 10 is that the council shall advise as to the method of fulfilling this guaranty, that the council which must vote by unanimous vote, must advise—can not direct— what is to be done for the maintenance of the honor of it's members and for the maintenance of the peace of the world. Is there anything that can frighten a man or a woman, or a child, with just thought or red blood, in those provisions? And yet listen. I understand that this reservation is under consideration. I ask your very attentive ear.

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.

In other words, my fellow citizens, what this proposes is this: That we should make no general promise, but leave the nations associated with us to guess in each instance what we were going to consider ourselves bound to do and what we were not going to consider ourselves bound to do. It is as if you said, "We will not join the league definitely, but we will join it occasionally. We will not promise anything, but from time to time we may cooperate. We will not assume any obligations." Observe, my fellow citizens, as I have repeatedly said to you and can not say too often, the council of the league can not oblige us to take military action without the consent of Congress. There is no possibility of that. But this reservation proposes that we should not acknowledge any moral obligation in the matter; that we should stand off and say, "We will see, from time to time; consult us when you get into trouble, and then we will have a debate, and after two or three months we will tell you what we are going to do." The thing is unworthy and ridiculous, and I want to say distinctly that, as I read this, it would change the entire meaning of the treaty and exempt the United States from all responsibility for the preservation of peace. It means the rejection of the treaty, my fellow countrymen, nothing less. It means that the United States would take from under the structure its very foundations and support.

I happen to know that there are some men in favor of that reservation who do not in the least degree realize its meaning, men whom I greatly respect, men who have just as much ardor to carry out the promises of the United States as I have, and I am not indicting their purpose, but I am calling their attention to the fact that if any such reservation as that should be adopted I would be obliged as the Executive of the United States to regard it as a rejection of the treaty. I ask them, therefore, to consider this matter very carefully, for I want you to realize, and I hope they realize, what the rejection of the treaty means—two isolated and suspected people, the people of Germany and the people of the United States. Germany is not admitted to respectable company yet. She is not permitted to enter the league until such time as she shall have proved to the satisfaction of the world that her change of government and change of heart is real and permanent. Then she can be admitted. Now, her dearest desire, feeling her isolation, knowing all the consequences that would result, economic and social, is to see the United States also cut off its association with the gallant peoples with whom side by side we fought this war. I am not making this statement by conjecture. We get it directly from the mouths of authoritative persons in Germany that their dearest hope is that America will now accomplish by the rejection of the treaty what Germany was not able to accomplish by her arms. She tried to separate us from the rest of the world. She tried to antagonize the rest of the world against the United States, and she failed so long as American armies were in the field. Shall she succeed now, when only American voters are in the field? The issue is final. We can not avoid it. We have got to make it now, and, once made, there can be no turning back.

We either go in with the other free peoples of the world to guarantee the peace of the world now, or we stay out and on some dark and disastrous day we seek admission to the league of nations along with Germany. The rejection of this treaty, my fellow citizens, means the necessity of negotiating a separate treaty with Germany. That separate treaty between Germany and the United States could not alter any sentence of this treaty. It could not affect the validity of any sentence of this treaty. It would simply be the Government of the United States going, hat in hand, to the assembly at Weimar and saying, "May it please you, we have dissociated ourselves from those who were your enemies; we have come to you asking if you will consent to terms of amity and peace which will dissociate us, both of us, from the comradeship of arms and liberty." There is no other interpretation. There is no other issue. That is the issue, and every American must face it.

But I talk, my fellow citizens, as if I doubted what the decision would be. I happen to have been born and bred in America. There is not anything in me that is not American. I dare say that I inherit a certain stubbornness from an ancient stock from which I am remotely derived; but, then, all of you are derived, more or less remotely, from other stocks. You remember the exclamation of the Irishman who said, when he was called a foreigner," You say we are furriners; I'd like to know who sittled this kintry but furriners!" We were all foreigners once, but we have undergone a climatic change, and the marvel of America is its solidarity, is its homogeneity, in the midst of its variety. The marvel about America is that, no matter what a man's stock and origin, you can always tell that he is an American the minute he begins to express an opinion. He may look sometimes like a foreigner, but tap him and you will find that the contents is American. Having been bred in that way myself, I do not have to conjecture what the judgments of America are going to be about a great question like this. I know beforehand, and I am only sorry for the men who do not know. If I did not know the law of custom and of honor against betting on a certainty, I would like to bet with them. But it would not be fair; I would be taking advantage of them.

If I may close with a word, not of jest, but of solemnity, I want to say, my fellow citizens, that there can be no exaggerating the importance of this peace and the importance of its immediate ratification, because the world will not and can not settle down to normal conditions, either in America or anywhere else, until it knows what the future is going to be. If it must know that the future is going to be one of disorder and of rivalry and of the old contests of power, let it know it at once, so it can make its arrangements and its calculations and lay its taxes and recruit its armies and build its ships for the next great fight; but if, on the other hand, it can be told that it will have an insurance against war, that a great body of powerful nations has entered into a solemn covenant to substitute arbitration and discussion for war, for that is the heart of the covenant, that all the great fighting peoples of the world have engaged to forego war and substitute arbitration and discussion—if it can know that the minds will be quieted, the disorders will presently cease; then men will know that we have the opportunity to do that great, that transcendent duty that lies ahead of us, sit quietly down in council chambers and work out the proper reforms of our own industrial and economic life. They have got to be worked out. If this treaty is not ratified, they will be worked out in disorder throughout the world. I am not now intimating, for I do not think, that disorder will shake the foundations of our own affairs, but it will shake the foundations of the world, and these inevitable, indispensable reforms will be worked out amongst disorder and suspicion and hatred and violence, whereas if we can have the healing influences of assured peace they will be worked out in amity and quiet and by the judgment of men rather than by the passions of men. God send that day may come, and come soon! Above all, may God grant that it may come under the leadership of America!

APP Note: Robert D. Carey (R), Governor of Wyoming introduced the President.

Woodrow Wilson, Address at the Princess Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/318165

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