Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points Speech

In his speech before a joint session of the United States Congress, President Wilson offered his view of war aims and peace terms. His plan not only dealt with territorial issues but offered principles upon which a long-term peace might be built, including the establishment of a association of nations to guard against future wars.  In articulating his idealistic vision he stated:

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 peace-loving 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.

Of the 14-point program which followed, the fourteenth point proposed:

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 alike.

With this speech, the idea of such an association entered into the diplomatic process which resulted in the founding of the League of Nations at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.