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Remarks at the Opening of the Peace Conference in Paris, France

January 18, 1919

Mr. Chairman:

It gives me great pleasure to propose as permanent chairman of the conference M. Clemenceau, the president of the council. I would do this as a matter of custom. I would do it as a tribute to the French Republic. But I wish to do it as something more than that. I wish to do it as a tribute to the man. France deserves the precedence not only because we are meeting in her capital and because she has undergone some of the most tragical sufferings of the war, but also because her capital, her ancient and beautiful capital, has so often been the center of conferences of this sort upon which the fortunes of large parts of the world turned. It is a very delightful thought that the history of the world, which has so often centered here, will now be crowned by the achievements of this conference. Because there is a sense in which this is the supreme conference of the history of mankind. More nations are represented here than were ever represented in such a conference before. The fortunes of all peoples are involved. A great war is ended which seemed about to bring a universal cataclysm. The danger is passed. A victory has been won for mankind, and it is delightful that we should be able to record these great results in this place.

But it is the more delightful to honor France because we can honor her in the person of so distinguished a servant. We have all felt in our participation in the struggles of this war the tine steadfastness which characterized the leadership of the French people in the hands of M. Clemenceau. We have learned to admire him, and those of us who have been associated with him have acquired a genuine affection for him. Moreover, those of us who have been in these recent days in constant consultation with him know how warmly his purpose is set toward the goal of achievement to which all our faces are turned. He feels as we feel, as I have no doubt everybody in this room feels, that we are trusted to do a great thing, to do it in the highest spirit of friendship and accommodation, and to do it as promptly as possible, in order that the hearts of men may have fear lifted from them and that they may return to those pursuits of life which will bring them happiness and contentment and prosperity. Knowing his brotherhood of heart in these great matters, it affords me a personal pleasure to propose not only that the president of the council of ministers, but M. Clemenceau, shall be the permanent chairman of this conference.

APP Note: The President referred to Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau who was Chairman of the Peace Conference.

Woodrow Wilson, Remarks at the Opening of the Peace Conference in Paris, France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/317814

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