President Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (1918) (2023)


It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow now or at any other time the objects it has in view.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The programme of the world's peace, therefore, is our programme; and that programme, the only possible programme, as we see it, is this:

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

(Video) Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points | History

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

(Video) 8th January 1918: United States President Woodrow Wilson announces the Fourteen Points

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

(Video) Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points I THE GREAT WAR WEEK 181

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

(Video) Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points | The 20th century | World history | Khan Academy

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.

For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this programme does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, and there is nothing in this programme that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish to fight her either with arms or with hostile arrangements of trade if she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace- loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the world, -- the new world in which we now live, -- instead of a place of mastery.


President Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (1918)? ›

Wilson's 14 Points were designed to undermine the Central Powers' will to continue, and to inspire the Allies to victory. The 14 Points were broadcast throughout the world and were showered from rockets and shells behind the enemy's lines.

What were Wilson's 14 points summary? ›

Wilson's Fourteen Points primarily supported the idea of lasting peace. Many of the points focused on: trade equality, ending of secrete treaties, and alliances, freedom of the seas, and the establishment of the League of Nations.

Why did the 14 points fail? ›

The problem was that Wilson's vision did not take into account the claims of France and Britain and their allies. Its most noted legacy was in the establishment of the League of Nations (although unlike Wilson's ideal this was separate from the peace treaties and initially Germany was not admitted).

What was Wilson's 14 points called for? ›

The 14 Points called for a just peace for all parties involved in the Great War, the end of secret treaties between nations, free trade among nations, freedom of the seas, self-determination for people under colonial rule, and an international group like the League of Nations to deal with world security.

What did Woodrow Wilson's 14 points and the Treaty of Versailles have in common? ›

There were nevertheless some shared components between Wilson's 14 Points and the Treaty of Versailles. Namely, both called for a reduction of armed forces in Germany. German soldiers would also be removed from its territories, while any territories which were taken from France would be returned.

What were the 3 main ideas of the Fourteen Points? ›

The Points, Summarized
  • Open diplomacy without secret treaties.
  • Economic free trade on the seas during war and peace.
  • Equal trade conditions.
  • Decrease armaments among all nations.
  • Adjust colonial claims.
  • Evacuation of all Central Powers from Russia and allow it to define its own independence.

What was the impact of the 14 points? ›

Wilson subsequently used the Fourteen Points as the basis for negotiating the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war. Although the Treaty did not fully realize Wilson's unselfish vision, the Fourteen Points still stand as the most powerful expression of the idealist strain in United States diplomacy.

Why did the United States reject the Treaty? ›

In 1919 the Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I, in part because President Woodrow Wilson had failed to take senators' objections to the agreement into consideration. They have made the French treaty subject to the authority of the League, which is not to be tolerated.

Why was Wilson's 14 Points different from the Treaty of Versailles? ›

Wilson's 14 Points focused on a lasting peace after the end of World War I, while the Treaty of Versailles was a more punitive document. Wilson's points included ideas such as the abolition of secret diplomacy, freedom of the seas, disarmament, the protection of minority rights and the creation of a League of Nations.

What does Wilson's 14 Points mean quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (15) What were Wilson's fourteen points? They were listed in a speech delivered by President Woodrow Wilson on January 8th 1918, explaining to Congress and the nation that WWI as being fought for a just cause. It also set the foundations for peace plans and was the basis for the German armistice.

Why didn't Americans accept the League of Nations? ›

Motivated by Republican concerns that the League would commit the United States to an expensive organization that would reduce the United States' ability to defend its own interests, Lodge led the opposition to joining the League.

What parts of the Fourteen Points were ignored completely in the Treaty? ›

The Paris Peace Conference

Over Wilson's protests, they ignored the Fourteen Points one by one. Germany was to admit guilt for the war and pay unlimited reparations. The German military was reduced to a domestic police force and its territory was truncated to benefit the new nations of Eastern Europe.

Which country was harshly punished by the Treaty? ›

European countries dealt a harsh punishment to Germany for its role in the First World War—a move that would soon come back to haunt the world.

Why did the Germans reject the 14 Points? ›

The Germans rejected the Fourteen Points out of hand, for they still expected to win the war. The French ignored the Fourteen Points, for they were sure that they could gain more from their victory than Wilson's plan allowed.

Did the 14 Points work? ›

The 14 Points were broadcast throughout the world and were showered from rockets and shells behind the enemy's lines. When Allied leaders met in Versailles, France, to formulate the treaty to end World War I with Germany and Austria-Hungary, most of Wilson's 14 Points were scuttled by the leaders of England and France.

Were any of the Fourteen Points successful? ›

In the short term, the Fourteen Points were successful. But only two decades later, a new world war did break out nevertheless. Some parts of the Fourteen Points, especially those regarding territory, became a reality. Wilson knew that territorial disputes could spark new wars, so he wanted to settle them.

Why did so many Americans oppose the Treaty of Versailles? ›

The Senate opposition to the Versailles Treaty had arisen mainly in reaction to the collective security provisions in the Covenant of the League of Nations, which was to be established under the treaty. They saw these as an unconstitutional constraint on America's freedom of action in international affairs.

What event caused Russia to exit World War I? ›

Russian Communists (Bolsheviks), supported primarily by low-income factory workers, gained popularity, arguing for immediate peace with Germany. In November 1917, Bolsheviks took power in a military coup and, in March 1918, signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, officially ending Russian participation in WWI.

What ultimately happened to the Treaty of Versailles? ›

Despite Wilson's efforts, including a nationwide speaker tour, the Treaty of Versailles was rejected by the United States Senate twice, in 1919 and 1920. The United States ultimately signed a separate peace treaty with Germany in 1921, although it never joined the League of Nations.

Who did the 14 points benefit? ›

The promise of the Fourteen Points helped to bring the Germans to peace talks at the end of the war. However, the actual results of the Treaty of Versailles were much harsher against Germany than the Fourteen Points.

Which of the Fourteen Points do you think are the most important and why? ›

Point 14 was the most important on Woodrow Wilson's list; it advocated for an international organization to be established that would be responsible for helping to keep peace among the nations.

What was point 5 of the 14 points? ›

One of the most controversial points was number five, which called for “a free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight ...

Why did the US wait so long to enter ww1? ›

When WWI began in Europe in 1914, many Americans wanted the United States to stay out of the conflict, supporting President Woodrow Wilson's policy of strict and impartial neutrality. “The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name during these days that are to try men's souls.

Who were known as the Big Four? ›

Though nearly thirty nations participated, the representatives of Great Britain, France, the United States, and Italy became known as the "Big Four." The "Big Four" would dominate the proceedings that led to the formulation of the Treaty of Versailles, a treaty that articulated the compromises reached at the conference ...

Which country proposed the Fourteen Points? ›

The Fourteen Points were a proposal made by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in a speech before Congress on January 8, 1918, outlining his vision for ending World War I in a way that would prevent such a conflagration from occurring again.

What does Wilson's 4th point mean? ›

4. The reduction of arms worldwide to the lowest point consistent with maintaining domestic (home) safety.

Why did the League of Nations fail? ›

There were a variety of reasons for this failure, many connected to general weaknesses within the organization, such as voting structure that made ratifying resolutions difficult and incomplete representation among world nations. Additionally, the power of the League was limited by the United States' refusal to join.

Why did the Allied leaders not support Wilson's proposal of ending the war with a just peace? ›

The European leaders were not interested in a just peace. They were interested in retribution. Over Wilson's protests, they ignored the Fourteen Points one by one. Germany was to admit guilt for the war and pay unlimited reparations.

What were some of the weaknesses of the Treaty of Versailles? ›

It is widely agreed that the Treaty of Versailles failed because it was filled with harsh punishment and unrealistic expectations of massive reparations payments and demilitarization imposed on Germany for its wrongdoing.

Which empire was the first to collapse as a result of the strains of the Great War? ›

While the Russian Empire was the first to fall, it “was not the only great power to collapse under the strains of war”. None of the other powers was a match for the German Army in operations, tactics, and speed of reaction. .

What was the main goal of the League of Nations? ›

The League of Nations (1920 – 1946) was the first intergovernmental organization established “to promote international cooperation and to achieve international peace and security”.

Why was the League of Nations weak without the US? ›

American absence defanged the League, making it unable to effectively enforce its decisions, as without America's military presence the League lost the ability to create a formidable standing army, and so none was established.

Why did Woodrow Wilson push the League of Nations? ›

Answer and Explanation: Woodrow Wilson pushed the idea of the League of Nations due to his vision and hopes that the world could come together to prevent future conflicts like the First World War.

Why did Britain disagree with the 14 Points? ›

Why were England and France opposed to the Fourteen Points? England and France opposed the Fourteen Points because they disagreed on freedom of the seas and war reparations, respectively.

Did Germany reject the Fourteen Points? ›

Central Powers

The German government rejected the 14 Points as the basis of a peace settlement.

Did Wilson's 14 Points include reparations? ›

Convinced that a harsh peace treaty would sow the seeds of future wars, Wilson opposed stripping Germany of territory or imposing reparations, huge financial penalties by the losers. To ensure economic future prosperity, he called for free trade and freedom of the seas.

Which leader wanted the Treaty to be the harshest? ›

End result: Lloyd-George was unhappy with the final Treaty- he thought it was too harsh and that Germany would want revenge.

Which country hated the Treaty of Versailles? ›

The Treaty of Versailles was hated by Germans. Rathenau, the foreign minister, was assassinated in 1922 for signing the treaty. The Armistice had not led to a fair settlement. The Weimar politicians who signed it were called November Criminals because people felt they had betrayed Germany.

Which country was most humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles? ›

Germany was responsible for the outbreak of war under the Treaty of Versailles. Far from the United States' "peace without victory". The Versailles Treaty was the most significant of the peace treaties that brought an end to World War I.


1. Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points Explained | Primary Source Close Read
(Bill of Rights Institute)
2. The Treaty of Versailles, What Did the Big Three Want? 1/2
(Simple History)
3. USA in WWI: Wilson's Fourteen Points
(Reconciliations Of Nations)
4. Woodrow Wilson announces the Fourteen Points
5. Woodrow Wilson | The Great War
(American Experience | PBS)
6. Wilson's 14 Points & League of Nations Explained
(Jocz Productions)


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