WILSON, Woodrow (1856-1924)
Message du President Wilson lu au Congres des États Unis d'Amerique Le 2 Avril 1917
Paris: Impremerie des Journaux officiel, . Broadside, text in two columns. 37 x 25 1/2 inches. (Small areas of paper loss in upper and lower margins from hanging).
America enters World War I: a French broadside printing of President Wilson's address to Congress asking for a declaration of war against Germany.
After years of insisting on neutrality, the sinking of the Lusitania and the infamous Zimmermann Note scandal persuaded Wilson that the time for action was at hand. On 2 April 1917, before a special joint session of Congress, Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany, and America entered World War I. Wilson's speech -- known as "The world must be made safe for democracy" speech -- would be a defining moment of his presidency, and America entering the war would, in turn, be the beginning of the end of the first World War. In the speech, printed here in French on a large sheet and no doubt hung in the streets of Paris, Wilson began with a harsh condemnation of German unrestricted submarine warfare and a review of the reasons why neutrality was no longer possible. He then continued: "With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it; and that it take immediate steps, not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the government of the German Empire to terms and end the war ... "The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them ... "It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other." An incredible relic of the war to end all wars.