Wilson's Fourteen Points (1918)

Wilson's Fourteen Points (1918)

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The fourteen Wilson points are proposals made by the President of the United States Thomas Woodrow Wilson in the run-up to the Allied victory in World War I. The purpose of these proposals was to define the war goals of the Allies and to lay the foundations for a just and lasting peace. Formulated by President Wilson in a speech to the United States Congress on January 8, 1918, the principles contained in the "fourteen points" were largely reflected in the founding charter of the League of Nations.

Wilson's fourteen points

On January 8, 1918, the President of the United States delivered a speech during a session of the United States Congress. In fourteen points, it sums up the various measures to be put in place to return to and preserve peace. Wilson's idealistic inspiration is widely acclaimed and gives the president a position of moral leader among Allied officials.

These “fourteen points” were: 1) renunciation of secret diplomacy; 2) freedom of the seas; 3) abolition of economic barriers; 4) reduction of armaments; 5) equitable readjustment of colonial possessions; 6) evacuation of Russian territory by the Germans; 7) evacuation of Belgium by the Germans; 8) evacuation of Germany occupied by the Germans and return of Alsace-Lorraine; 9) rectification of Italian borders in accordance with clearly recognizable limits of nationalities ”; 10) autonomous development of the peoples of Austria-Hungary; 11) evacuation of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and access of Serbia to the sea; 12) autonomous development of the non-Turkish peoples of the Ottoman Empire and free passage through the Straits; 13) creation of an independent Poland with free access to the sea; 14) creation of a League of Nations.

These fourteen points were supplemented, during the year 1918, by other declarations of President Wilson, in particular the declaration of July 4, 1918 on the "four goals of war" of the Allies. Wilson said in particular that no question of territory or sovereignty could be resolved without the free consent of the populations concerned. It was on this basis that the German government of Max de Baden called for peace, in a message to the American president (night of Oct. 3-4, 1918).

Consequences and fate of the 14 points

However, the fourteen points had not been accepted without reluctance by the allied governments: they were already bound by secret commitments concluded during the war, without taking into account the opinions of the populations, in particular by the famous treaty. of London in April 1915 which promised Italy important positions in the Balkans (Albania) and in Asia Minor. During the peace conference, when Italy demanded the application of the Treaty of London, Wilson resolutely opposed it. On the other hand, Germany maintained that the principle of the free determination of the peoples, laid down by Wilson, had been violated by the Allies, which attached West Prussia and Posnania to Poland without consultation, and which, despite the desire manifested then by the Austrians, prohibited the union of Germany and Austria.

Even if some of Wilson's proposals meet the opposition of the European winners because they contradict the particular interests of the latter and the agreements made between them during the war (in particular the first point), the fourteen points, which set out the expectations of the latter United States after their engagement in the war, is largely taken over thereafter. On the one hand, during the armistice signed between the belligerents in Rethondes (forest of Compiègne) on November 11, 1918 and on the other hand, at the Peace Conference which opened in Paris in January 1919, where the fourteenth point of Wilson's program materializes in the creation of the League of Nations (League of Nations).

For further

- The damnation of Woodrow Wilson, by André Bayens. Xenia, 2014.

- Woodrow Wilson and World Peace, by George Davis. Nabu press, 2010.

Video: On January 8, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points.