Woodrow Wilson photo

Address at the Reno Auditorium in Reno, Nevada

September 22, 1919

Gov. Boyle, Mr. Chairman, my fellow countrymen, the governor and your chairman have both alluded to the fact that it does not often happen that the President comes to Nevada. Speaking for this President, I can say that it was not because he did not want to come to Nevada more than once, because from the first, when I have studied the movements of the history of this great country, nothing has fascinated me so much or seemed so characteristic of that history as the movement to the frontier, the constant spirit of adventure, the constant action forward. A wit in the East recently said, explaining the fact that we were able to train a great army so rapidly, that it was so much easier to train an American army than any other because you had to train them to go only one way. That has been true of America and of the movement of population. It has always been one way. They have never been returning tides. They have always been advancing tides, and at the front of the advancing tide have always been the most adventurous spirits, the most originative spirits, the men who were ready to go anywhere and to take up any fortune to advance the things that they believed in and desired. Therefore, it is with a sense of exhilaration that I find myself in this community, which your governor has described as still a frontier community. You are a characteristic part of this great country which we all love.

And it is the more delightful to look at your individual aspect, because the subject that I have come to speak about is a forward-looking subject. Some of the critics of the league of nations have their eyes over their shoulders; they are looking backward. I think that is the reason they are stumbling all the time; they are always striking their feet against obstacles which everybody sees and avoids and which do not lie in the real path of the progress of civilization. Their power to divert, or to pervert, the view of this whole thing has made it necessary for me repeatedly on this journey to take the liberty that I am going to take with you to-night, of telling you just what kind of a treaty this is. Very few of them have been at pains to do that. Very few of them have given their audiences or the country at large any conception of what this great document contains or of what its origin and purpose are. Therefore, I want, if you will be patient with me, to set the stage for the treaty, to let you see just what it was that was meant to be accomplished and just what it was that was accomplished.

Perhaps I can illustrate best by recalling some history. Something over a hundred years ago the last so-called peace conference sat in Vienna—back in the far year 1815, if I remember correctly. It was made up, as the recent conference in Paris was, of the leading statesmen of Europe. America was not then drawn into that general family and was not represented at that conference, and practically every Government represented at Vienna at that time, except the Government of Great Britain, was a Government like the recent Government of Germany, where a small coterie of autocrats were able to determine the fortunes of their people without consulting them, were able to use their people as puppets and pawns in the game of ambition which was being played all over the stage of Europe. But just before that conference there had been many signs that there was a breaking up of that old order, there had been some very ominous signs, indeed. It was not then so long ago that, though there were but 3,000,000 people subject to the Crown of Great Britain in America, they had thrown off allegiance to that Crown successfully and defied the power of the British Empire on the ground that nobody at a distance had a right to govern them and that nobody had a right to govern them whom they did not choose to be their government; founding their government upon the principle that all just government rests upon the consent of the governed. And there had followed, as you remember, that whirlwind of passion that we know as the French Revolution, when all the foundations of French government not only, but of French society, had been shaken and disturbed—a great rebellion of a great suffering population against an intolerable authority that had laid all the taxes on the poor and none of them on the rich, that had used the people as servants, that had made the boys and men of France play upon the battle field as if they were chessmen upon a board. France revolted and then the spirit spread, and the conference of Vienna was intended to check the revolutionary spirit of the time. Those men met in order to concert methods by which they could make monarchs and monarchies safe, not only in Europe but throughout the world.

The British representatives at that conference were alarmed because they heard it whispered that European governments, European monarchies, particularly those of the center of Europe, those of Austria and Germany—for Austria was then stronger than Germany—were purposing to extend their power to the Western Hemisphere, to the Americas, and the prime minister of Great Britain suggested to Mr. Rush, the minister of the United States at the Court of Great Britain, that he put it in the ear of Mr. Monroe, who was then President, that this thing was afoot and it might be profitable to say something about it. Thereupon, Mr. Monroe uttered his famous Monroe doctrine, saying that any European power that sought either to colonize this Western Hemisphere or to interfere with its political institutions, or to extend monarchical institutions to it, would be regarded as having done an unfriendly act to the United States, and since then no power has dared interfere with the self-determination of the Americas. That is the famous Monroe doctrine. We love it, because it was the first effective dam built up against the tide of autocratic power. The men who constituted the congress of Vienna, while they thought they were building of adamant, were building of cardboard. What they threw up looked like battlements, but presently were blown down by the very breath of insurgent people, for all over Europe during the middle of the last century there spread, spread irresistibly, the spirit of revolution. Government after government was changed in its character; people said, "It is not only in America that men want to govern themselves, it is not only in France that men mean to throw off this intolerable yoke. All men are of the same temper and of the same make and same rights." So the time of revolution could not be stopped by the conclusions of the Congress of Vienna; until it came about, my fellow citizens, that there was only one stronghold left for that sort of power, and that was at Berlin. In the year 1914 that power sought to make reconquest of Europe and the world. It was nothing less than the reassertion of that old, ugly thing which the hearts of men everywhere always revolt against, the claim of a few men to determine the fortunes of all men, the ambition of little groups of rulers to dominate the world, the plots and intrigues of military staffs and men who did not confide in their fellow citizens what it was that was their ultimate purpose. So the fire burned in Europe, until it spread and spread like a great forest conflagration, and every free nation was at last aroused; saw the danger, saw the fearful sparks blowing over, carried by the winds of passion and likely to lodge in their own dear countries and destroy their own fair homes; and at last the chief champion and spokesman of liberty, beloved America, got into the war, and said, "We see the dark plot now. We promised at our birth to be the champions of humanity and we have never made a promise yet that we will not redeem." I know how the tides of war were going when our men began to get over there in force, and I think it is nothing less than true to say that America saved the world.

Then a new congress of peace met to complete the work that the congress of Vienna tried to stop and resist. At the very front of this treaty of peace, my fellow citizens, is the covenant of the league of nations, and at the heart of that lies this principle, that no nation shall be a member of that league which is not a self-governing and free nation; that no autocratic power may have any part in the partnership; that no power like Germany—such as Germany was—shall ever take part in its counsels. Germany has changed her constitution, as you know—has made it a democratic constitution, at any rate in form—and she is excluded for the time being from the league of nations only in order that she may go through a period of probation to show that she means what she professes; to demonstrate that she actually does intend permanently to alter the character of her constitution and put into the hands of her people what was once concentrated as authority in Wilhemstrasse in Berlin. If she can prove her change of heart and the permanency of her change of institutions, then she can come into respectable society; but if she can not, she is excluded forever. At last the cycle is completed, and the free peoples who were resisted at Vienna have come into their own. There was not a single statesman at Paris who did not know that he was the servant, and not the master, of his people. There was not one of them who did not know that the whole spirit of the times had changed and that they were there to see that people were liberated, not dominated; that people were put in charge of their own territories and their own affairs. The chief business of the congress was to carry out that great purpose, and at last, in the covenant of the league of nations, the Monroe doctrine became the doctrine of the world. Not only may no European power impair the territorial integrity or interfere with the political independence of any State in the Americas but no power anywhere may impair the territorial integrity or invade the political independence of another power. The principle that Mr. Canning suggested to Mr. Monroe has now been vindicated by its adoption by the representatives of mankind.

When I hear gentlemen ask the question, "Is the Monroe doctrine sufficiently safeguarded in the covenant of the league of nations?" I can only say that it is, if I understand the English language. It says in plain English that nothing in that covenant shall be interpreted as affecting the validity of the Monroe doctrine. Could anything be plainer than that? And when you add to that that the principle of the Monroe doctrine is applied to the whole world, then surely I am at liberty to say that the heart of the document is the Monroe doctrine itself. We have at last vindicated the policy of America, because all through that treaty, and you will presently see all through the Austrian treaty, all through the Bulgarian treaty, all through the Turkish treaty, all through the separate treaty we must make with Hungary, because she is separated from Austria, runs the same principle, not only that no Government can impose its sovereignty on unwilling people, but that Governments which have imposed their sovereignty upon unwilling people must withdraw it. All the regions that were unwillingly subject to Germany, subject to Austria-Hungary, and subject to Turkey are now released from that sovereignty, and the principle is everywhere adopted that territories belong to the people that live on them, and that they can set up any sort of government they please, and that nobody dare interfere with their self-determination and autonomy. I conceive this to be the greatest charter—nay, it is the first charter—ever adopted of human liberty. It sets the world free everywhere from autocracy, from imposed authority, from authority not chosen and accepted by the people who obey it.

By the same token it removes the grounds of ambition. My fellow citizens, we never undertake anything that we do not see through. This treaty was not written, essentially speaking, at Paris. It was written at Chateau-Thierry and in Belleau Wood and in the Argonne. Our men did not fight over there for the purpose of coming back and letting the same thing happen again. They did not come back with any fear in their heart that their public men would go back on them and not see the thing through. They went over there expecting that the business would be finished, and it shall be finished. Nothing of that sort shall happen again, because America is going to see it through, and what she is going to see through is this, what is contained in article 10 of the covenant of the league. Article 10 is the heart of the enterprise. Article 10 is the test of the honor and courage and endurance of the world. Article 10 says that every member of the league, and that means every great fighting power in the world, Germany for the time being not being a great fighting power, solemnly engages to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of the other members of the league. If you do that, you have absolutely stopped ambitious and aggressive war. There is one thing you have not stopped, and that I for my part do not desire to stop, and I think I am authorized to speak for a great many of my colleagues, if not all of my colleagues at Paris, that they do not wish to stop it. It does not stop the right of revolution. It does not stop the choice of self-determination. No nation promises to protect any Government against the wishes and actions of its own people or of any portion of its own people. Why, how could America join in a promise like that? She threw off the yoke of a Government. Shall we prevent any other people from throwing off the yoke that they are unwilling to bear? She never will, and no other Government ever will, under this covenant. But as against external aggression, as against ambition, as against the desire to dominate from without, we all stand together in a common pledge, and that pledge is essential to the peace of the world.

I said that our people were trained to go only one way, that our soldiers were trained to go only one way, and that America will never turn about upon the path of emancipation upon which she has set out. Not once, but several times, German orders were picked up, or discovered during the fighting, the purport of which was to certain commanders, "Do not let the Americans capture such and such a post, because if they ever get there you can never get them out." They had got other troops out, temporarily at any rate, but they could not get the Americans out. The Americans were under the impression that they had come there to stay, and I am under that impression about American political purposes. I am under the impression that we have come to the place where we have got in order to stay, and that some gentlemen are going to find that no matter how anxious they are to know that the door is open and that they can get out any time they want to they will be allowed to get out by themselves. We are going to stay in. We are going to see this thing finished, because, my fellow citizens, that is the only possibility of peace; and the world not only desires peace but it must have it. Are our affairs entirely in order? Isn't the rest of the world aflame? Have you any conception of the recklessness, of the insubordinate recklessness, of the great population of Europe and of great portions of Asia? Do you suppose that these people are going to resume any sort of normal life unless their rulers can give them adequate and ample guaranty of the future? And do you realize—I wonder if America does realize—that the rest of the world deems America indispensable to the guaranty? For a reason of which we ought to be very proud. They see that America has no designs on any other country in the world. They keep in mind—they keep in mind more than - you realize—what happened at the end of the Spanish-American War. There were many cynical smiles on the other side of the water when we said that we were going to liberate Cuba and then let her have charge of her own affairs. They said, "Ah, that is a very common subterfuge. Just watch. America is not going to let that rich island, with its great sugar plantations and its undeveloped agricultural wealth, get out of its grip again." And all Europe stood at amaze when, without delay or hesitation, we redeemed our promise and gave Cuba the liberty we had won for her. They know that we have not imperialistic purposes.

They know that we do not desire to profit at the expense of other peoples. And they know our power, they know our wealth, they know our indomitable spirit; and when we put our names to the bond then Europe will begin to be quiet, then men will begin to seek the peaceful solutions of days of normal industry and normal life, then men will take hope again, then men will cease to think of the revolutionary things they can do and begin to think of the constructive things they can do, will realize that disorder profits nobody and that order can at last be had upon terms of liberty and peace and justice. Then the reaction will come on our own people, because, do you think, my fellow citizens, does any body of Americans think, that none of this restlessness, this unhappy feeling, has reached America? Do you find everybody about you content with our present industrial order? Do you hear no intimations of radical change? Do you learn of no organizations the object of which is nothing less than to overturn the Government itself? We are a self-possessed Nation. We know the value of order. We mean to maintain it. We will not permit any minority of any sort to dominate it. But it is rather important for America as well as for the rest of the world, that this infection should not be everywhere in the air, and that men everywhere should begin to look life and its facts in the face and come to calm counsels and purposes that will bring order and happiness and prosperity again. If you could see the stopped, the arrested factories over there, the untilled fields, the restless crowds in the cities with nothing to do, some of them, you would realize that they are waiting for something. They are waiting for peace, and not only for peace but for the assurance that peace will last, and they can not get that assurance if America withholds her might and her power and all the freshness of her strength from the assurance. There is a deep sense in which what your chairman said just now is profoundly true. We are the hope of humanity, and I for one have not the slightest doubt that we shall fulfill that hope.

Yet, in order to reassure you about some of the things about which you have been diligently misinformed, I want to speak of one or two details. I have set the stage now, and I have not half described the treaty. It not only fulfills the hopes of mankind by giving territories to the people that belong to them and assuring them that nobody shall take it from them, but it goes into many details. It rearranges, for example, the great waterways of Europe, so that no one nation can control them, so that the currents of European life through the currents of its commerce may run free and unhampered and undominated. It embodies a great charter for labor by setting up a permanent international organization in connection with the league of nations which shall periodically bring the best counsels of the world to bear upon the problem of raising the levels and conditions of labor for men, women, and children. It goes further than that. We did not give Germany back her colonies, but we did not give them to anybody else. We put them in trust in the league of nations, said that we would assign their government to certain powers by assigning the powers as trustees, responsible to the league, making annual report to the league and holding the power under mandates which prescribe the methods by which they should administer those territories for the benefit of the people living in them, whether they were developed or undeveloped people. We have put the same safeguards, and as adequate safeguards, around the poor, naked fellows in the jungles of Africa that we have around those peoples almost ready to assume the rights of self-government in some parts of the Turkish Empire, as, for example, in Armenia. It is a great charter of liberty and of safety, but let me come to one or two details.

It sticks in the craw of a great many persons that in the constitution of the league of nations, as it is said, Great Britain has been given six votes and the United States only one. That would be very interesting if true, but it does not happen to be true; that is to say, it is not true in this sense, that the one American vote counts as much as the British six. In the first place, they have not got six votes in the council of the league, which is the only body that originates action, but in the assembly of the league, which is the debating and not the voting body. Every time the assembly participates in any active resolution of the league that resolution must be concurred in by all the nations represented on the council, which makes the affirmative vote of the United States in every instance necessary. The six votes of the British Empire can not do anything to which the United States does not consent. Now—I am mistaken—there is one thing they can do. By a two-thirds vote they can admit new members to the league, but I do not think that is a formidable privilege since almost everybody is going to be in the league to begin with, and since the only large power that is not in the league enjoys, if I may use that word, a universal prejudice against it, which makes its early admission, at least, unlikely. But aside from admission of any members, which requires a two thirds vote—in which the six British votes will not count a very large figure—every affirmative vote that leads to action requires the assent of the United States, and, as I have frequently said, I think it is very much more important to be one and count six than to be six and count six. So much for this bugaboo, for it is nothing else but a bugaboo. Bugaboos have been very much in fashion in the debates of those who have been opposing this league. The whole energy of that body is in the council of the league, for whose every action in the way of formulating policy or directing energetic measures a unanimous vote is necessary. That may sometimes, I am afraid, impede the action of the league; but, at any rate, it makes the sovereignty and the sovereign choice of every nation that is a member of that league absolutely safe. And pray do not deceive yourselves. The United States is not the only Government that is jealous of its sovereignty. Every other Government, big or little or middle sized, and that had to be dealt with in Paris, was just as jealous of its sovereignty as the United States. The only difference between some of them and us is that we could take of our sovereignty and they could not take care of theirs, but it has been a matter of principle with the United States to maintain that in respect of rights there was and should be no difference between a weak State and a strong State. Our contention has always been, in international affairs, that we should deal with them upon the principle of the absolute equality of independent sovereignty, and that is the basis of the organization of the league. Human society has not moved fast enough yet or far enough yet, my fellow citizens, for any part of that principle of sovereignty to be relinquished, by any one of the chief participants at any rate.

Then there is another matter, that lies outside the league of nations, that I find my fellow citizens, in this part of the continent particularly, are deeply interested in. That is the matter of the cession of certain German rights in Shantung Province in China to Japan. I think that it is worth while to make that matter pretty clear, and I will have to ask you to be patient while I make a brief historical review in order to make it clear. In the first place, remember that it does not take anything from China, it takes it from Germany, and I do not find that there is any very great jealously about taking things from Germany. In 1898 China granted to Germany for a period of 99 years certain very important rights around Kiaochow Bay, in the rich and ancient Province of Shantung, together with the right to penetrate the interior with a railway and exploit such ores as might be found in that Province for 30 miles on either side of the railway. We are thinking so much about that concession to Germany that we have forgotten that practically all of the great European powers had exacted similar concessions of China previously; they already had their foothold of control in China; they already had their control of railways; they already had their exclusive concessions over mines. Germany was doing an outrageous thing, I take the liberty of saying, as the others had done outrageous things, but it was not the first; at least, it had been done before. China lay rich and undeveloped and the rest of the world was covetous and it had made bargains with China, generally to China's disadvantage, which enabled the world to go in and exploit her riches. I am not now going to discuss the merits of that question, because it has no merits. The whole thing was bad, but it was not unprecedented. Germany obliged China to give her what China had given others previously. Immediately thereafter China was obliged, because she had done this thing, to make fresh concessions to Great Britain of a similar sort, to make fresh concessions to France, to make concessions of a similar kind to Russia. It was then that she gave Russia Port Arthur and Talien-Wan. Now, remember what followed. The Government of the United States did not make any kind of protest against any of those cessions. We had at that time one of the most public-spirited and humane men in the Executive Chair at Washington that have ever graced that chair—I mean William McKinley—and his Secretary of State was a man whom we have all always delighted to praise, Mr. John Hay. But they made no protest against the cession to Germany, or to Russia, or to Great Britain, or to France. The only thing they insisted on was that none of those powers should close the door of commerce to the goods of the United States in those territories which they were taking from China. They took no interest, I mean so far as what they did was concerned, in the liberties and rights of China. They were interested only in the rights of the merchants of the United States. I want to hasten to add that I do not say this even to imply criticism on those gentlemen, because as international law stood then it would have been an unfriendly act for them to protest in any one of these cases. Until this treaty was written in Paris it was not even proposed that it should be the privilege of anybody to protest in any such case if his own rights were not directly affected. Then, some time after that, followed the war between Russia and Japan. You remember where that war was brought to a close—by delegates of the two powers sitting at Portsmouth, N.H., at the invitation of Mr. Roosevelt, who was then President. In that treaty, Port Arthur— China's Port Arthur, ceded to Russia—was ceded to Japan, and the Government of the United States, though the discussions were occurring on its own territory, made no suggestion even to the contrary. Now, the treaty in Paris does the same thing with regard to the German rights in China. It cedes them to the victorious power, I mean to the power that took them by force of arms, the power which was in the Pacific victorious in this war, namely, to Japan, and there is no precedent which would warrant our making a protest. Not only that, but, in the meantime, since this war began, Great Britain and France entered into solemn covenants of treaty with Japan that if she would come into the war and continue her operations against Germany in the Pacific they would lend their whole influence and power to the cession to Japan of everything that Germany had in the Pacific, whether on the mainland or in the islands, north of the Equator, so that if we were to reject this provision in the treaty Great Britain and France would not in honor be at liberty to reject it, and we would have to devise means to do what, let me say with all solemnity only war could do, force them to break their promise to Japan.

Well, you say, "Then, is it just all an ugly, hopeless business?" It is not, if we adopt the league of nations. The Government of the United States was not bound by these treaties. The Government of the United States was at liberty to get anything out of the bad business that it could get by persuasion and argument, and it was upon the instance of the Government of the United States that Japan promised to return to China what none of these other powers has yet promised to return—all rights of sovereignty that China had granted Germany over any portion of the Province of Shantung—the greatest concession in that matter that has ever been made by any power that has interested itself in the exploits of China—and to retain only what corporations out of many countries have long enjoyed in China, the right to run the railroad and extend its line to certain points and to continue to work the mines that have already been opened. Not only that, but I said a minute ago that Mr. Hay and Mr. McKinley were not at liberty to protest. Turn to the league of nations and see what will be the situation then. Japan is a member of the league of nations, all these other powers that have exploited China are members, and they solemnly promise to respect and preserve the territorial integrity and existing political independence of China. Not only that, but in the next article the international law of the world is revolutionized. It is there provided that it is 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. If we had had the covenant at that time, Mr. McKinley could, and I venture to say would, have said to Germany, "This is directly none of our business, for we are seeking no competitive enterprise of that sort in China, but this is an invasion of the territorial integrity of China. We have promised, and you have promised, to preserve and respect that integrity, and if you do not keep that promise it will destroy the good understanding which exists between the peaceful nations of the world. It will be an invasion, a violation of the essential principle of peace and of justice." Do you suppose for one moment that if the matter had been put in that aspect, with the attention of the world called to it by the great power of the United States, Germany would have persisted in that enterprise?

How had she begun it? She had made the excuse of the death of two German missionaries at the hands of irresponsible mobs in certain Province's of China an excuse for taking this valuable part of China's territory. All, my fellow citizens, it makes anybody who regards himself as a Christian blush to think what Christian nations have done in the name of protecting Christianity! But it can not be done any more under the league of nations. It can not be done without being cited to the bar of mankind, and if Germany had been cited to the bar of mankind before she began her recent tragical enterprise she never would have undertaken it. You can not expose such matters to the cool discussion of the world without disclosing all their ugliness, their illegitimacy, their brutality. This treaty sets up, puts in operation, so to say, puts into commission the moral force of the world. Our choice with regard to Shantung, therefore, is to keep out of the treaty, for we can not change it in that respect, or go in and be an effective friend of China. I for one am ready to do anything or to cooperate in anything in my power to be a friend, and a helpful friend, to that great, thoughtful, ancient, interesting, helpless people—in capacity, in imagination, in industry, in numbers one of the greatest peoples in the world and entitled to the wealth that lies underneath their feet and all about them in that land which they have not as yet known how to bring to its development.

There are other things that have troubled the opponents of the league. One thing is they want to be sure they can get out. That does not interest me very much. If I go into a thing, my first thought is not how I can get out. My first thought is not how I can scuttle, but how I can help, how I can be effective in the game, how I can make the influence of America tell for the guidance and salvation of the world—not how I can keep out of trouble. I want to get into any kind of trouble that will help liberate mankind. I do not want always to be thinking about my skin or my pocketbook or my friendships. Is it just as comfortable to die quietly in your bed, never having done anything worth anything, as to die as some of those fellows that we shall always love when we remember them died upon the field of freedom? Is there any choice? Do you think anybody outside the family is going to be interested in any souvenir of you after you are dead? They are going to be interested in souvenirs of the boys in khaki, whether they are of their family or not. They are going to touch with reverence any sword or musket or rapid-fire gun or cannon that was fired for liberty upon the fields of France. I am not thinking of sitting by the door and keeping my hand on the knob, but if you want to do that you can get out any time you want to. There is absolutely nothing in the covenant to prevent you. I was present at its formulation, and I know what I am talking about, besides being able to understand the English language. It not only meant this, but said it, that any nation can, upon two years' notice, withdraw at any time, provided that at the time it withdraws it has fulfilled its international obligations and its obligations under the covenant, but it does not make anybody judge as to whether it has fulfilled those obligations, except the nation that withdraws.

The only thing that can ever keep you in the league is being ashamed to get out. You can get out whenever you want to after two years' notice, and the only risk you run is having the rest of the world think you ought not to have got out. I, for my part, am not very sensitive about that, because I have a memory. I have read the history of the United States. We are in the habit of keeping our international obligations, and I do not believe that there will ever come a time when any just question can be raised as to whether we have fulfilled them or not. Therefore, I am not afraid to go before the jury of mankind at any time on the record of the United States with regard to the fulfillment of its international obligations; and when these gentlemen who are criticizing it once feel, if they ever should feel, the impulse of courage instead of the impulse of cowardice, they will realize how much better it feels. Your blood is at least warm and comfortable, and the red corpuscles are in command, when you have got some spunk in you; but when you have not, when you are afraid somebody is going to put over something on you, you are furtive and go about looking out for things, and your blood is cold and you shiver when you turn a dark corner. That is not a picture of the United States. When I think of these great frontier communities, I fancy I can hear the confident tread, tread, tread of the great hosts that crossed this continent. They were not afraid of what they were going to find in the next canyon. They were not looking over their shoulders to see if the trail was clear behind them. They were making a trail in front of them and they had not the least notion of going back.

What I have come to suggest to you, my fellow citizens, is that you do what I am sure all the rest of our fellow countrymen are doing— clear the deck of these criticisms, that really have nothing in them, and look at the thing in its large aspect, in its majesty. Particularly, look at it as a fulfillment of the destiny of the United States, for it is nothing less. At last, after this long century and more of blood and terror, the world has come to the vision that that little body of 3,000,000 people, strung along the Atlantic coast of this continent, had in that far year 1776. Men in Europe laughed at them, at this little handful of dreamers, this little body of men who talked dogmatically about liberty, and since then that fire which they started on that little coast has consumed every autocratic government in the world, every civilized autocratic government, and now at last the flame has leaped to Berlin, and there is the funeral pyre of the German Empire.

APP Notes: Emmet D. Boyle (D) was Governor of Nevada. The President was introduced by Charles Chandler, a Republican lawyer. The Los Angeles Times reported that "by an electrical device" The President's words were carried to three other theaters at the same time.

Woodrow Wilson, Address at the Reno Auditorium in Reno, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/318148

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