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US President arrives in Paris for Peace Conference
President Wilson driving through Paris with French President Henri Poincaré Photo: Illustrated London News, 21 December 1918

US President arrives in Paris for Peace Conference

Paris, 18 December 1918 - President Woodrow Wilson arrived in Paris on 16 December and has since received the Freedom of the City.

The honour was conferred upon Wilson at the Hôtel De Ville, to which he travelled in an open carriage through the streets of the city accompanied by President Poincaré and other dignitaries, including the American ambassador, Mr Sharp.

The President travelled to Europe on board the great liner George Washington and arrived to a tremendous reception in the town of Brest, which was bedecked in flags and crowded with well-wishers for hours in advance of his arrival.

His journey took him past the south Irish coast and the scene of the Lusitania tragedy of 1915, which resulted in the death of more than a thousand of his fellow countrymen. A number of ships sailed out from Queenstown, Co. Cork, to partake in a salute as the President’s liner passed.

The Cork Examiner, in an editorial devoted to President Wilson’s European mission, has observed that the strength of the welcome for the US leader can be read as an endorsement of the principles he has advanced for the future peace of the world. These principles are rooted in justice and a ‘reverence for the right of genuine liberty’.

Here, the case of Ireland – ‘a small oppressed nation that is denied the right of genuine liberty, but which voluntarily sent hundreds of thousands of her sons to fight for European freedom – should strongly appeal to President Wilson’s unbiased judicial mind’.

In order to impress upon President Wilson the Irish case for self-determination, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Laurence O’Neill, has urged that a series of mass meetings be held around the country on the same day ‘in order that an invitation may go out from all Ireland to the President’ to visit this country. Mr O’Neill will host such a meeting in Dublin. 

President Wilson is scheduled to leave Paris tomorrow by motor car in order to visit the main battle fronts of the recent war. Before Christmas, he is also scheduled to meet the Pope.

[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.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

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