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Remarks to the Press Representatives in Rome, Italy

January 04, 1919

Let me thank you, gentlemen, very warmly, tor this stirring address, because it goes straight to my heart as well as to my understanding. If I had known that this important delegation was coming to see me, I would have tried to say something worthy of the occasion. As it is, speaking without preparation, I can only say that my purpose is certainly expressed in that paper, and I believe that the purpose of those associated at Paris is a common purpose. Justice and right and big things, and in these circumstances they are big with difficulty. I am not foolish enough to suppose that our decisions will be easy to arrive at, but the principles upon which they are to be arrived at ought to be indisputable, and I have the conviction that if we do not rise to the expectation of the world and satisfy the souls of great peoples like the people of Italy, we shall have the most unenviable distinction in history. Because what is happening now is that the soul of one people is crying to the soul of another, and no people in the world with whose sentiments I am acquainted wishes a bargaining settlement. They all want settlements based upon what is right, or as nearly right as human judgment can arrive at, and with this atmosphere of the opinion of mankind to work in, it ought to be impossible to go very far astray. So that so long as the thought of the people keeps clear, the conclusions of their representatives ought to keep clear. We need the guidance of the people; we need the constant expression of the purposes and ideals of the people.

I have been associated with so many of your fellow countrymen in America, and I am proud to call so many of them my own fellow- countrymen, that I would be ashamed if I did not feel the pulse of this great people beating in these affairs. I believe there are almost as many Italians in New York City as in almost any city in Italy, and I was saying to-day that in redistributing sovereignty we could hardly let Italy have these valued fellow-citizens. They are men who have done some things that the men of no other nationality have done. They have looked after the people coming from Italy to the United States in a systematic way, to see that they were guided to the places and occupations for which they were best prepared, and they have won our admiration by this thoughtfulness for us. It is with a feeling of being half at home that I find myself in this capital of Italy.

Woodrow Wilson, Remarks to the Press Representatives in Rome, Italy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/317618

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