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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Address of President Wilson to Joint Session of Congress, April 2, 1917. Bound typescript reading copy. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (021.00.00)
"President Wilson Addressing Congress" in President Wilson's War Address to Congress and Proclamation, Together with Joint Resolution of House and Senate, Giving Names of Those Voting For and Against the Measure, 1917. General Collections, Library of Congress (019.01.00)

Wilson Before Congress

On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. He condemned German submarine attacks on U.S. and other neutral shipping. He also argued that autocratic governments, such as the German regime, with their habitual intrigue, unrestrained by the will of their people, were a threat to free and self-governing nations. The president asserted, "The world must be made safe for democracy."


The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We see no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make.