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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)


stand ready and anxious to release the roads from the present control and
1 must do so at a very early date if by waiting until the statutory limit
of time is reached I shall be merely prolonging the period of doubt and uiicertainty
which is hurtful to every interest concerned. 
 I welcome this occasion to announce to the Congress my purpose to join in
Paris the representatives of the governments with which we have been associated
in the war against the Central empires for the purpose of discussing with
them the main features of the treaty of peace. I realize the great inconveniences
that will attend my leaving the country, particularly at this time3 but the
conclusion that it was my paramount duty to go has been forced upon me by
considerations which I hope will seem as conclusive to you ~s they have seemed
to me. 
 The Allied governments have accepted the bases of peace which I outlined
to the Congress on the eighth of January last, as the Central empires also
have, and very reasonably desire my personal counsel in their interpretation
and application, and it is highly desirable that I should give it in order
that the sincere desire of our Government to contribute without selfish purpose
of any kind to settlements that will be of coinnion benefit to all the nations
concerned may* be made fully manifest. The peace settlements which are now
to be agreed upon are of transcendent importance both to us and to the rest
of the world, and I know of no business or interest which should take precedence
of them. The gallant men of our armed forces on land and sea have consciously
fought for the ideals which they knew to be the ideals of their country;
I have sought to express those ideals; they have accepted my statements of
them as the substance of their own thought and purpose, as the associated
governments have accepted them; I owe it to them to see to it, so far as
in me lies, that no false or mistaken interpretation is put upon them, and
no possible effort omitted to realize them. It is now my duty to play my
full part in making good what they offered their life's blood to obtain.
I can think of no call to service which could transcend this. 
 I shall be in close touch with you and with affairs on this side the water,
and you will know all that I do. At my request, the French and English Governments
have removed the censorship of cable news which until within
a fortnight they had maintained and there is now no censorship whatever exercised
at this end except upon attempted trade communications with enemy countries.
It has been necessary to keep an open wire constantly available between Paris
and the Department of State and another between France and the Department
of War. In order that this might be done with the least. possible interference
with the other ases of the cables, I have temporarily taken over the control
of both cables in order that they may be used as a single system. I did so
at the advice of the most experienced cable officials, and I hope that the
results will justify my hope that the news of the next few months may pass
with the utmost freedom and with the least possible delay from each side
of the sea to the other. 
 May I not hope, Gentlemen of the Congress, that in the delicate tasks I
shall have to perform on the other side of the sea, in my efforts truly and
faithfully to interpret the principles and purposes of the country we love,
I may have the encouragement and the added 

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