Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Today -100: January 9, 1918: Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s not polite to point?

Woodrow Wilson, as is his wont, calls Congress into session with almost no advance warning so he can make a speech at them. This is the 14 Points speech, in which he lays out the basis for peace and the post-war rearrangement of the map of Europe. These are:
1. Open peace treaties established by open diplomacy with no secret bits.
2. Freedom of navigation of the seas.
3. Free and equal trade conditions (Republicans are not so thrilled with the free trade bit).
4. Reduction of armaments.
5. Adjustment of colonial claims, with consideration of the interests of the colonial populations (guess who gets to decide what those interests are? not the colonial populations, that’s for sure).
6. Withdrawal of occupation troops from Russia.
7. The restoration of Belgium.
8. And France, to which Alsace-Lorraine will be returned.
9. Enlargement of Italy along lines of nationality.
10. “Autonomous development” of the peoples of the Austrian Empire (he’s being a bit vague on whether this means breaking up the Empire).
11. Restoration of Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro.
12. More autonomous development, this time for the peoples of the Ottoman Empire, which Wilson rather more clearly intends to break up.
13. An independent Poland.
14. A League of Nations.
This is the first time Wilson has publicly supported France and Italy’s aspirations to reclaim territories lost in the 19th century to Germany and Austria respectively.

George Creel, head the Committee on Public Information, decides that his remit now includes propagandizing abroad. Without asking the State Department, he sends Vira Boarman Whitehouse to Europe to spread the good news about the US’s war aims. Whitehouse’s previous experience in publicity was for the women’s suffrage movement in New York.

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