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Woodrow Wilson plans for peace
'Who will be the victor?' Cartoon asking whether war or peace will rule 1917. Only time will tell. Photo: Puck Magazine, December 1916. University of Michigan

Woodrow Wilson plans for peace

Washington, 12 January 1917 - The post-war proposals set out by American President Woodrow Wilson in a note before Christmas has now been fully considered by the Allies.

A reply to the note has now been delivered to the Americans and lays out ten points addressing the desire for peace, an acknowledgement of the suffering of neutrals and of atrocities inflicted, and accepts in a general way the need to guarantee the peace and principles of justice and liberty for Europe and the future of civilisation.

The note agrees with Wilson’s proposal to establish a League of Nations to prevent future violent conflict and ‘assure peace and justice throughout the world’.

Another cartoon from Puck magazine, December 1916. This one is optimistic that a lasting peace can come from all the bloodshed that has come before it. It refers to Wilson's message as 'a light that will not fail'. (Image: Puck Magazine, 30 December 1916. University of Michigan)

Nonetheless, the Allies are emphatic in their view that peace can only come with the defeat of Germany:

‘A discussion of future arrangements for assessing a durable peace presupposes a satisfactory settlement of the present conflict. The Allies cherish a desire as deep as that of the government of the United States to see an end put as soon as possible to the war for which the Central Empires are responsible, and which inflicts such cruel sufferings upon humanity.’

‘The Allied nations are convinced that they are not fighting for selfish interests, but above all to provide safeguards for the independence of peoples, for law and for humanity.’

Underpinning the Allied note is the fundamental assertion that the belligerents are not equal and that the Central Powers were at fault for the war and must pay for it. More than that, they assert that the Germans’ methods have been devoid of humanity and that, too, marks them as different.

The Allies conclude:

‘The allied governments are each and all determined to put forth all their strength and to endure every sacrifice in order that they may press to a victorious close a conflict on which they are convinced depend not only their own safety and prosperity, but the very future of civilisation.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

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Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.