Modern History Sourcebook:
Speech on the Fourteen Points Jan 8, 1918
President Woodrow WiIson put forth his Fourteen Points proposal
for ending the war in a speech on January 8, 1918. In it he established
the basis of a peace treaty and the foundation of a League of
We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which
touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible
unless they were corrected and the world secured once for all
against their recurrence What we demand in this war, therefore,
is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made
fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe
for every peaceloving nation which, like our own, wishes
to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured
of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world
as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the
world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own
part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others
it will not be done to us. The programme of the world's peace,
therefore, is our programme; and that programme, the only possible
programme, as we see it, is this:
I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there
shall be no private international understanding of any kind but
diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial
waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed
in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement
of international covenants.
III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers
and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among
all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves
for its maintenance.
IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments
will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
V. A free, openminded, and absolutely impartial adjustment
of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the
principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty
the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight
with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to
VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement
of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and
freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining
for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent
determination of` her own political development and national policy
and assure her a sincere welcome into the society of free nations
under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome,
assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself
desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in
the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of
their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own
interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.
VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and
restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she
enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single
act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among
the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined
for the government of their relations with one another. Without
this healing act the whole structure and validity of international
law is forever impaired.
VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions
restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the
matter of AlsaceLorraine, which has unsettled the peace
of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order
that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.
IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected
along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
X. The peoples of AustriaHungary, whose place among the
nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded
the freest opportunity of autonomous development.
XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied
territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to
the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one
another determined by friendly counsel along historically established
lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees
of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity
of the several Balkan states should be entered into.
XII. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should
be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which
are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security
of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous
development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened
as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under
XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should
include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations,
which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and
whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity
should be guaranteed by international covenant.
XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific
covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political
independence and territorial integrity to great and small states
From Woodrow Wilson, "Speech on the Fourteen Points," Congressional Record, 65th Congress 2nd Session, 1918,
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997