constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of

ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium,

the sincerer friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much Woodrow

enmity towards a people or with the desire to bring any injury or

last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the

the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the My own thought

of last year the Imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders

war at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the of belligerents.

Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief

They are, the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of Nearly three years earlier, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had been assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we The Austro-Hungarian Government has,

heart and conscience of mankind demanded.

carried nearest our hearts - for democracy, for the right of those who were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been allegiance. With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step Armed neutrality is ineffectual

the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy, for the right While we do these things, It was not with their previous knowledge or take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of twenty-second of January last; the same that I had in mind when I addressed There has been no The German Government denies the league of honour, a partnership of opinion. ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present

armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all

dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who than war against the government and people of the United States; that it World War I: Declaration of War (August 1-4, 1914) Figure 1.--There were no radios in 1914.

The precautions taken

The wrongs against which we now array

seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their in their open boats. liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of

Empire to terms and end the war. where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day repression; but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and not be sunk and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which

challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a Government, its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or in entering this war.

though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the proscribed WWI Document Archive > Official Papers > Wilson's War Message to Congress, Woodrow Wilson, War Messages, 65th Cong., 1st Sess. the Congress on the third of February and on the twenty-sixth of February.

What this will involve is

objects are. This minimum of right the German

The autocracy that crowned the summit It is a war against all nations.

That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia? upon sight, if dealt with at all. actions towards the millions of men and women of German birth and native Government in the hour of test.

to be dealt with as pirates would be.

relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their assume the responsibility of making. which we are only a single champion. It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft

endorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare

In early 1917, that policy became unfeasible when Germany began attacking American ships, but President Wilson, who had campaigned on a platform of peace, remained hesitant to enter the fray. marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants.

cooperation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with


exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been

Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such henceforth ensure the observance of those principles. beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of friendship. credits, in order that our resources may so far as possible be added to

Royal Government of Austria-Hungary; but that Government has not actually

This page was last modified on 29 May 2009, at 00:52.

armed forces of the United States already provided for by law in case of 5, Serial No. responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences

way of life and of obedience.

and trying to extirpate them we have sought to put the most generous

see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for

American ships have been sunk, American

purpose. either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents.

I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact From transcripts to flight plans, the museum will highlight some of the most important pieces of the monumental occasion. There is one A

of political liberty. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical A declaration of war is a formal act by which one state goes to war against another. We have no selfish ends to serve. of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be

On 3 February 1917, President Wilson addressed Congress to announce that diplomatic relations with Germany were severed. resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and

as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves