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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1918

Wilson, Woodrow
Address of the President, December 2, 1918,   pp. IX-XVIII PDF (3.4 MB)

Page IX

DECEMBER 2, 1918 
 GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS: The year that has elapsed since I last stood
before you to fulfil my constitutional duty to give to the Congress from
time to time information on the state of the Union has been* so crowded with
great events, great processes, and great results that I cannot hope to give
you an adequate picture of its transactions or of the far-reaching changes
which have been wrought in the life of our nation and of the world. You have
yourselves witnessed these things, as I have. It is too soon to assess them;
and we who stand in the midst of them and are part of them are less qualified
than men of another generation will be to say what they mean, or even what
they have been. But some great outstanding facts are unmistakable and constitute,
in a sense, part of the public business with which it is our duty to deal.
To state them is to set the stage for the legislative and executive action
which must grow out of them and which we have yet to shape and determine.
 A year ago we had sent 145,918 men overseas. Since then we have sent 1,950,513,
an average of 162,542 each month, the number in fact rising, in May last,
to 245,951, in June to 278,760, in July to 307,182, and continuing to reach
similar figures in August and September—in August 289,570 and in September
257,438. No such movement of troops ever took place before, across three
thousand miles of sea, followed by adequate equipment and supplies, and carried
safely through extraordinary dangers of attack—dangers which were alike
strange and infinitely difficult to guard against. In all this movement only
seven hundred and fifty-eight men were lost by enemy attack, six hundred
and thirty of whom were upon a single English transport which was sunk near
the Orkney Islands. 
 I need not tell you what lay back of this great movement of men and material.
It is not invidious to say that back of it lay a supporting organization
of the industries of the country and of all its productive activities more
complete, more thorough in method and effective in result, more spirited
and unanimous in purpose and effort than any other great belligerent had
been able to effect. We profited greatly by the experience of the nations
which had already been engaged for nearly three years in the exigent and
exacting business, their every resource and every executive proficiency taxed
to the utmost. We were their pupils. But we learned quickly and acted with
a promptness and a readiness of cooperation that justify our great pride
that we were able to serve the world with unparalleled energy and quick accomplishment.
 But it is not the physical scale and executive efficiency of preparation,
supply, equipment and despatch that I would dwell upon, but the mettle and
quality of the officers and men we sent over and of the sailors who kept
the seas, and the spirit of the nation that stood be 

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