Woodrow Wilson's Address to Congress

Essay by emmawareusUniversity, Bachelor'sB, November 2014

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Emma Wareus


US Diplomatic History

Paper 1: Wilson War Message

In a message urging Congress to declare war on Germany, the progressive understanding of foreign policy that President Woodrow Wilson presented was that America has the obligation to spread liberty and peace across the world, and he articulates this when he states that "the world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty". It can be said that Wilson was reelected because of his ability to keep America out of the European war, but the state of war through unrestricted submarine warfare, created by the Germans, had thus intensified the need for American intervention. Nevertheless, careful to reject the justification of war as self-defense, Wilson's view was that the national interest alone could not guide the American policy. He believed that when the nation acted in world matters, it would be not be for the interest of the nation itself but rather for the universal good of mankind.

This was a contrasting view with that of Washington who believed that whether peace or war, the interests of the nation through justice would be counsel. Through this paper, we shall examine and explain the war message to congress and understand the ideology behind the involvement of the US diplomatic ideology in world affairs. [1: Woodrow Wilson War Message, 65th Congress, Senate Doc 5, Washington DC, 1917. Pg 4/5][2: Washington Farewell Speech 1796. Washington did not assume the USA would always be weak. Here he foresaw a time when the nation would be strong enough to enforce its own neutrality. ]

Throughout the address, appealing to humanity, mankind, the freedom of people and a "League of Honor," Wilson wanted to have America assert the desire of mankind that was voiced...