Fourteen Points

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Fourteen Points,

formulation of a peace program, presented at the end of World War I by U.S. President Woodrow WilsonWilson, Woodrow
(Thomas Woodrow Wilson), 1856–1924, 28th President of the United States (1913–21), b. Staunton, Va. Educator

He graduated from Princeton in 1879 and studied law at the Univ. of Virginia.
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 in an address before both houses of Congress on Jan. 8, 1918. The message, though intensely idealistic in tone and primarily a peace program, had certain very practical uses as an instrument for propaganda. It was intended to reach the people and the liberal leaders of the Central Powers as a seductive appeal for peace, in which purpose it was successful. It was intended also to make it plain to the Allies that the United States would not be a party to a selfish peace, and it was planned to appeal for the support of the liberal elements in Allied countries in achieving an unselfish settlement. It was intended to stimulate moral fervor at home. Finally it was hoped that the points would provide a framework for peace discussions. The message immediately gave Wilson the position of moral leadership of the Allies and furnished him with a tremendous diplomatic weapon as long as the war persisted. In this period few stopped to analyze the practical implications of its far-reaching principles or realized that it cut across the secret treaties of the Allies. After the armistice, opposition to the points quickly crystallized, and the actual treaty (see Versailles, Treaty ofVersailles, Treaty of,
any of several treaties signed in the palace of Versailles, France. For the Treaty of Versailles of 1783, which ended the American Revolution, see Paris, Treaty of, 1783.
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) represented a compromise or defeat of many of them. The first five points were general in nature and may be summarized as follows: (1) "open covenants openly arrived at"; (2) freedom of the seas in peace and war; (3) removal of economic barriers between nations as far as possible; (4) reduction of armaments to needs for domestic safety; (5) adjustment of colonial claims with concern for the wishes and interests of the inhabitants as well as for the titles of rival claimants. The next eight points referred to specific questions: (6) evacuation and general restoration of conquered territories in Russia; (7) preservation of Belgian sovereignty; (8) settlement of the Alsace-Lorraine question; (9) redrawing of Italian frontiers according to nationalities; (10) the division of Austria-Hungary in conformance to its nationalities; (11) the redrawing of Balkan boundaries with reference to historically established allegiance and nationalities; (12) Turkish control only of their own peoples and freedom of navigation through the Dardanelles; (13) the establishment of an independent Poland with access to the sea. The last point (14) was a provision for "a general association of nations … under specific covenants." The League of Nations grew out of the last point.


See R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (1923, repr. 1960); T. A. Bailey, Wilson and the Peacemakers (2 vol., 1947, repr. 1963); K. Schwabe, Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and Peacemaking, 1918–1919 (1985).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fourteen Points


the conditions for peace, as formulated in 14 articles by President W. Wilson of the USA at the end of World War I in an address to Congress on Jan. 8,1918.

The Fourteen Points consisted of the following aims: (1) open covenants of peace openly arrived at; (2) absolute freedom of navigation (“freedom of the seas”); (3) abolition of trade barriers (“freedom of trade”); (4) establishment of disarmament guarantees; (5) settlement of colonial claims; (6) evacuation by Germany of all occupied Russian territories and the granting to Russia of the opportunity to determine its own political development; (7) evacuation and restitution of Belgium; (8) the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France and the restoration of occupied regions to France; (9) the readjustment of Italian frontiers along lines of nationality; (10) autonomous development for the peoples of Austria-Hungary; (11) evacuation by Germany of the occupied territories of Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro, with an outlet to the sea for Serbia; (12) opportunity for autonomous development for the non-Turkish portions of the Ottoman Empire and freedom of shipping through the Dardanelles for all nations; (13) the creation of a Polish state; and (14) the creation of the League of Nations.

The Fourteen Points represented an imperialist program for peace based on the establishment of the hegemony of the USA in international affairs. In particular, the “freedom of trade” was to open world markets for the economically most powerful country—the USA. The “freedom of the seas” was directed against the British Navy’s control over world trade routes. The slogan “disarmament” was calculated to weaken the military might of Great Britain and Japan. One of the essential goals of the Fourteen Points was to mask the expansionist aims of US foreign policy, which was especially necessary with regard to the enunciation by Soviet Russia of a democratic and just peace, which was contained in the Decree on Peace.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.