Woodrow Wilson's War Message

This study guide will help you analyze “Woodrow Wilson’s War Message” speech. In addition to help with your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and ideas for putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Woodrow Wilson’s War Message” (1917)

Sender: Woodrow Wilson

Genre: Speech

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was the 28th president of the United States. Wilson was a member of the Democratic Party and, as president, he led the USA into World War I in 1917. In 1919, Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as the leading architect of the League of Nations, an organization whose mission was maintaining world peace. In his 1917 War Message delivered to the US Congress, Wilson announced the ending of all diplomatic ties with Germany. As a result, the US Congress voted for the United States to enter World War I. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Direct Address

Wilson uses direct address when he speaks to members of Congress: “It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us”. In this example, as well as in several other instances in the speech, Wilson acknowledges the political authority of the members of Congress.

Then, Wilson uses direct address when he speaks to all Americans:

The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion...

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Woodrow Wilson's War Message

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