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Fourteen Points

Fourteen Points, formulation of a peace program, presented at the end of World War I by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in an address before both houses of Congress on Jan. 8, 1918. The message, though intensely idealistic in tone and primarily a peace program, had certain very practical uses as an instrument for propaganda. It was intended to reach the people and the liberal leaders of the Central Powers as a seductive appeal for peace, in which purpose it was successful. It was intended also to make it plain to the Allies that the United States would not be a party to a selfish peace, and it was planned to appeal for the support of the liberal elements in Allied countries in achieving an unselfish settlement. It was intended to stimulate moral fervor at home. Finally it was hoped that the points would provide a framework for peace discussions. The message immediately gave Wilson the position of moral leadership of the Allies and furnished him with a tremendous diplomatic weapon as long as the war persisted. In this period few stopped to analyze the practical implications of its far-reaching principles or realized that it cut across the secret treaties of the Allies. After the armistice, opposition to the points quickly crystallized, and the actual treaty (see Versailles, Treaty of) represented a compromise or defeat of many of them. The first five points were general in nature and may be summarized as follows: (1) "open covenants openly arrived at" ; (2) freedom of the seas in peace and war; (3) removal of economic barriers between nations as far as possible; (4) reduction of armaments to needs for domestic safety; (5) adjustment of colonial claims with concern for the wishes and interests of the inhabitants as well as for the titles of rival claimants. The next eight points referred to specific questions: (6) evacuation and general restoration of conquered territories in Russia; (7) preservation of Belgian sovereignty; (8) settlement of the Alsace-Lorraine question; (9) redrawing of Italian frontiers according to nationalities; (10) the division of Austria-Hungary in conformance to its nationalities; (11) the redrawing of Balkan boundaries with reference to historically established allegiance and nationalities; (12) Turkish control only of their own peoples and freedom of navigation through the Dardanelles; (13) the establishment of an independent Poland with access to the sea. The last point (14) was a provision for "a general association of nations … under specific covenants." The League of Nations grew out of the last point.

See R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (1923, repr. 1960); T. A. Bailey, Wilson and the Peacemakers (2 vol., 1947, repr. 1963); K. Schwabe, Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and Peacemaking, 1918–1919 (1985).

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Fourteen Points

Fourteen Points (1918). President Woodrow Wilson's statement of January 1918 was the most important on war aims advanced during World War I. Based on his anti‐imperialist “Peace without Victory” formula of the previous year, Wilson made his address owing primarily to the revolutionary upheaval that had seized Russia. By the end of 1917, Lenin and Trotsky had pulled their ravaged homeland out of the war, thus permitting Germany to transfer huge numbers of troops to the western front. They also published the Allies' secret treaties (signed by the czarist regime) for parceling out territory after victory. The Bolsheviks then summoned the soldiers of both the Allied and Central Powers to lay down their arms and repudiate plans for conquest. Because many liberal and socialist groups among the Allies had already begun to question the continuation of the carnage, it fell to Wilson to remove the suspicions hanging over their cause and explain why the conflict was any longer worth fighting.

The president argued that German militarism must be crushed, first, in order to create a new and better world. He then outlined the American peace program. Seven of the points dealt with territorial readjustments, including the “unembarrassed opportunity” for Russia to shape its own destiny. The others were characteristically Wilsonian—open covenants openly arrived at; free trade; self‐determination; disarmament; impartial adjustment of colonial claims; freedom of the seas; and a league of nations.

Wilson's progressive response to the Bolshevik challenge provided the ideological cement that held the Allied coalition together for the remainder of the war. The Fourteen Points also set the public agenda for the Paris Peace Conference, but became a source of controversy when they were only partially fulfilled in the Treaty of Versailles.
[See also League of Nations; World War I: Postwar Impact.]

Bibliography

Arno J. Mayer , Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, 1959.
Thomas J. Knock , To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order, 1992.

Thomas J. Knock

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"Fourteen Points." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Fourteen Points

FOURTEEN POINTS

FOURTEEN POINTS. Nine months after the American declaration of war on Germany, President Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress on 8 January 1918, to declare America's terms of peace. Briefly, they were as follows: (1) "open covenants of peace openly arrived at"; (2) freedom of the seas; (3) freedom from trade barriers; (4) reduction of armaments; (5) impartial adjustment of colonial claims; (6) evacuation of Russian territory and Russian self-determination; (7) evacuation and restoration of Belgium; (8) evacuation of France and restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France; (9) readjustment of Italian frontiers; (10) autonomous development for the peoples of Austria-Hungary; (11) readjustments in the Balkans; (12) autonomous development for the non-Turkish nationalities of the Ottoman Empire and the opening of the Dardanelles; (13) restoration of an independent Poland with access to the sea; and (14) establishment of a general


association of nations. The Allied Powers refused to agree to Wilson's terms until the German government began peace negotiations on the basis of the fourteen points in October 1918. After Col. Edward M. House, Wilson's chief foreign policy adviser, warned Britain and France that the United States might make a separate peace with Germany, the Allies accepted the fourteen points on 4 November 1918—with the reservation that they did not accept a blanket principle of freedom of the seas and with the further caveat that they demanded financial compensation from Germany for wartime damages. After Germany's formal surrender one week later, the fourteen points became the legal basis for the ensuing treaty of peace.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

Knock, Thomas J. To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Bernadotte E.Schmitt/a. g.

See alsoGermany, Relations with ; House-Grey Memorandum ; League of Nations ; Treaties with Foreign Nations ; World War I ; andvol. 9:The Fourteen Points .

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Fourteen Points

Fourteen Points Programme presented (January 1918) by US President Woodrow Wilson for a just peace settlement of World War I. In general, the programme required greater liberalism in international affairs and supported the principle of national self-determination. It made useful propaganda for the Allies, and was the basis on which Germany sued for peace in 1918. Some points found expression in the Treaty of Versailles, others were modified or rejected at the peace conference. The 14th Point laid the basis for the League of Nations.

http://state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/51.htm

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