Woodrow Wilson, twenty-eighth President
- Signed copy ("Woodrow Wilson") of Address of the President of the United States; Delivered to the Senate of the United Senate of the United States; January 22, 1917. Washington, D.C.: [Government Printing Office], 1917
- Paper, Ink
On January 22, 1917, Wilson addressed the Senate in a version of the speech he gave to the Europeans a month before, arguing for “peace without victory” because insistence on victory was one of the main reasons for the continuation of the war.
Wilson’s plea fell on deaf ears in Europe, and Germany escalated their submarine warfare, sinking any ship flying enemy colors. One of those ships was the British luxury ocean liner RMS Lusitania, which was torpedoed and sunk nearly 2,000 people, including 198 Americans on board. The loss of American lives outraged the nation, and Wilson went back to Congress just three months after the address to ask for war with Germany.
The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, injecting fresh troops into the stalemate and bringing the war to a quick conclusion. Wilson’s address proved prescient: despite containing a proviso for the creation of the League of Nations, the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on a defeated Germany and sowed the discontent largely responsible for the rise of fascism and the second World War.