President Woodrow Wilson was elected for a second term to the United States Presidency in 1916 on the campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” After facilitating an unsuccessful a peace agreement between the Allied and Central Powers of WWI, Wilson signed the declaration of war against Germany on April 6, 1917, who threatened unrestricted submarine warfare in February of 1917.
To promote post WWI peace and stimulate moral among United States citizens, Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918. This address is essentially a post war peace plan is historically referred to as Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech. The first five points of the speech provided general guidelines and the remainder of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points were specific questions that needed to be settled at the end of the war.
The first of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points was in reference to the era of secret diplomacy that was taking place in Europe. Wilson called for open covenants and treaties between countries. This transparency would allow for accountability of all international understandings.
The second and third points of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points refer to the freedom of the seas and free trade. Wilson stated that all countries should have complete freedom in the seas outside of territorial waters and this should only be changed by an international agreement. Wilson argued that all economic barriers should be removed and free trade should be allowed among peaceful countries.
Points four and five require peaceful nation-states to give up power. In point four, Wilson announces that all peaceful nations must disarm and have only enough weapons for the purpose of domestic safety. Point five requires nations of an imperialistic nature to reject all colonial claims and work in conjunction with the interests of their colonial populations.
Points six, seven and eight of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points require Russia, Belgium and France to be evacuated and restored where necessary. Special emphasis is given to Russia. Wilson argues that they must be given a chance to prove good behavior and good will as a free nation.
The next three points tackle the issue of redrawing boundaries that were changed because of World War 1. Wilson ascertains that Italy, Austria-Hungary and the Balkans should have their territories evacuated, restored and redrawn based on lines of nationality. Points twelve and thirteen call for the independence and sovereignty of Turkey and Poland.
The final point of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points calls for an international association of nations that hears the voices of all nations. The League of Nations was created because of this point, which was later dismantled and the United Nations was formed.
Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points are taught to students of American Political Thought and International Relations. Wilson is considered to have contributed to American views on liberalism in foreign policy.