Woodrow Wilson’s Speech analyzed
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It was the year 1917 when, the 28th President of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson appeared before a joint session of Congress in Washington, D. C. To address a major issue in the world. This was the start of America’s involvement in World War I. Many things led to U. S. Involvement in the European mess; such as the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in the city of Sarajevo, and the eighteen minute sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915.
This was a major conflict that cannot be ignored. He came to the gentlemen of congress to take on this issue. In his speech to declare war against Germany, his thesis statement was this:
“Property can be paid for, the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.”
This was a speech to inform and persuade the U. S. Congress and the Senate who had the authority to declare war as stated in The Constitution in section 8 of Article 1. This speech was also to tell the people of the nation of what appalling conflicts had occurred on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean such as the Battle of Somme and the Battle of Verdun just the year before the speech was given. Former President Wilson was asking to protect what is good in this world without expecting anything in return such as money or land. A sacrifice made by troops for those who have suffered and to make the world a better place for democracy. Otherwise the world today would be much worse as the Germans would rule the world.
Former President Wilson has these main points: Germany was being hostile to neutral countries, such as Denmark and Luxembourg, and their ships, how should the United States get involved and how some nations should have acted and what they have done. The first point was how Belgium’s neutral state (as decided in the London Conference of 1831) was violated because a scrap of paper didn’t have any meaning. The next point was how many troops to send over to Europe and how to finance the supplies. He also explained that being an armed neutral state didn’t work. Also the German U-boats sunk many ships and Austria-Hungry allied themselves with the Imperial German Government. Thus, all these events made the case for the people of the United States to get involved. Former President Wilson used these topics to persuade the Congressmen to resolve these crimes against innocent people.
In this speech, he used stories of Germany invading Belgium, espionage and the Zimmerman note. These stories were to provoke emotions in the heart to make a transition of one point to another. Former President Wilson said this to stir up feeling in the congress:
“American ships have been sunk, American lives have been taken, in ways which it was stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ship and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelm in the waters in the a same way.”
Also, Former President Wilson used claims of power of democracy and inhumane actions of the German military. Here Former President Wilson shows the people of America to combat wicked forces. One of the transitions was made in this speech was with line for foreign policy of this: “A steadfast concern for peace can never maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations.”
Former President Wilson has achieved his goal of protecting the good in the world by getting the United States involved. The proof is World War I which is written about in history textbooks all around the world, novels like Anne of Green Gables or All Quiet on the Western Front, the various monument all over the world dedicated to the lives that have been lost in defending and the Untied Nation which has actual power unlike Former President Wilson’s League of Nations mentioned in his Fourteen Points.
From what I have read, Former President Wilson used the English language very well. Some words in his speech I had to look up, but it was understandable ans showed massive amount of patriotism. The flow was smooth and graceful as a hawk in the sky. I had felt I should have enlisted into the military to fight for the people who were in the ship that sank at the hands of the German people but, it was the war ended more than eighty years ago.
It was my education background that made this speech a great interest to me. This speech had forced me to go back to the days of high school. I had to remind myself of the policies of that time. Luckily, I had kept my notes from European History for reference.
In this speech many events were alluded. These events he had mentioned had been in the papers at that time and made history. He used these events as warrants to re-enforce the ideas of a German rising of hostility. The American people understood the pain of Belgium and the outrage of Britain. The words “He kept us out of war” would no longer apply after this speech as he made his strongest point of all of not being an armed neutral nation. He drove home the idea of being the protector of the world.
I have learned a lot from this speech. I can see how the vocabulary is used to strengthen the credibility of an orator. Among the words that have been said on April 2, 1917 the current events of the world have major effects on a speech. Some things can be so small alter the position of a speech.
Great American Speeches. (n. d.) Retrieved February 22, 2004 from
Fuller, B. (2003, March 3) World War I. Lecture presented at Granger High School,
West Valley, UT