A Congressional Message





FROM PRESIDENT WILSON'S ANNUAL ADDRESS TO



CONGRESS DECEMBER 2, 1918



GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS: The year that has elapsed since I last stood

before you to fulfill my Constitutional duty to give the Congress from

time to time information on the state of the Union has been so crowded

with great events, great processes, and great results, that I cannot

hope to give you an adequate picture of its transactions or of the

far-reaching changes which have been wrought in the life of our nation

and of the world. You have yourselves witnessed these things, as I

have. It is too soon to assess them; and we who stand in the midst of

them and are part of them are less qualified than men of another

generation will be to say what they mean or even what they have been.

But some great outstanding facts are unmistakable and constitute, in a

sense, part of the public business with which it is our duty to deal.

To state them is to set the stage for the legislative and executive

action which must grow out of them and which we have yet to shape and

determine.



A year ago we had sent 145,198 men overseas. Since then we have sent

1,950,513, an average of 162,542 each month, the number in fact rising

in May last to 245,951, in June to 278,760, in July to 307,182, and

continuing to reach similar figures in August and September--in August

289,570 and in September 257,438. No such movement of troops ever took

place before across 3000 miles of sea, followed by adequate equipment

and supplies, and carried safely through extraordinary dangers of

attack--dangers which were alike strange and infinitely difficult to

guard against. In all this movement only 758 men were lost by enemy

attacks--630 of whom were upon a single English transport which was

sunk near the Orkney Islands.



I need not tell you what lay back of this great movement of men and

material. It is not invidious to say that back of it lay a supporting

organization of the industries of the country and of all its productive

activities more complete, more thorough in method and effective in

results, more spirited and unanimous in purpose and effort than any

other great belligerent had ever been able to effect.



We profited greatly by the experience of the nations which had already

been engaged for nearly three years in the exigent and exacting

business, their every resource and every executive proficiency taxed to

the utmost. We were the pupils, but we learned quickly and acted with

a promptness and a readiness of cooeperation that justify our great

pride that we were able to serve the world with unparalleled energy and

quick accomplishment.



But it is not the physical scale and executive efficiency of

preparation, supply, equipment and dispatch that I would dwell upon,

but the mettle and quality of the officers and men we sent over and of

the sailors who kept the seas, and the spirit of the nation that stood

behind them. No soldiers or sailors ever proved themselves more

quickly ready for the test of battle or acquitted themselves with more

splendid courage and achievement when put to the test. Those of us who

played some part in directing the great processes by which the war was

pushed irresistibly forward to the final triumph may now forget all

that and delight our thoughts with the story of what our men did.



Their officers understood the grim and exacting task they had

undertaken and performed with audacity, efficiency, and unhesitating

courage that touch the story of convoy and battle with imperishable

distinction at every turn, whether the enterprise were great or

small--from their chiefs, Pershing and Sims, down to the youngest

lieutenant; and their men were worthy of them--such men as hardly need

to be commanded, and go to their terrible adventure blithely and with

the quick intelligence of those who know just what it is they would

accomplish. I am proud to be the fellow countryman of men of such

stuff and valor. Those of us who stayed at home did our duty; the war

could not have been won or the gallant men who fought it given their

opportunity to win it otherwise; but for many a long day we shall think

ourselves accurs'd we were not there, and hold our manhood cheap while

any speaks that fought, with these at St. Mihiel or Thierry. The

memory of those days of triumphant battle will go with these fortunate

men to their graves; and each will have his favorite memory. Old men

forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember with advantages

what feats he did that day!



What we all thank God for with deepest gratitude is that our men went

in force into the line of battle just at the critical moment when the

whole fate of the world seemed to hang in the balance and threw their

fresh strength into the ranks of freedom in time to turn the whole tide

and sweep of the fateful struggle--turn it once for all, so that

thenceforth it was back, back, back for their enemies, always back,

never again forward! After that it was only a scant four months before

the commanders of the Central Empires knew themselves beaten; and now

their very empires are in liquidation!



And through it all, how fine the spirit of the nation was. What unity

of purpose, what untiring zeal! What elevation of purpose ran through

all its splendid display of strength and untiring accomplishment. I

have said that those of us who stayed at home to do the work of

organization and supply will always wish that we had been with the men

whom we sustained by our labor; but we can never be ashamed. It has

been an inspiring thing to be here in the midst of fine men who had

turned aside from every private interest of their own and devoted the

whole of their trained capacity to the tasks that supplied the sinews

of the whole great undertaking! The patriotism, the unselfishness, the

thorough-going devotion and distinguished capacity that marked their

toilsome labors day after day, month after month, have made them fit

mates and comrades of the men in the trenches and on the sea. And not

the men here in Washington only. They have but directed the vast

achievement. Throughout innumerable factories, upon innumerable farms,

in the depths of coal mines and iron mines and copper mines, wherever

the stuffs of industry were to be obtained and prepared, in the

shipyards, on the railways, at the docks, on the sea, in every labor

that was needed to sustain the battlelines, men have vied with each

other to do their part and do it well. They can look any man-at-arms

in the face and say, We also strove to win and gave the best that was

in us to make our fleets and armies sure of their triumph!



And what shall we say of the women--of their instant intelligence,

quickening every task that they touched; their capacity for

organization and cooeperation, which gave their action discipline and

enacted the effectiveness of everything they attempted; their aptitude

at tasks to which they had never before set their hands; their utter

self-sacrifice alike in what they did and in what they gave? Their

contribution to the great result is beyond appraisal. They have added

a new luster to the annals of American womanhood.



The latest tribute we can pay them is to make them the equals of men in

political rights as they have proved themselves their equals in every

field of practical work they have entered, whether for themselves or

for their country. These great days of completed achievements would be

sadly marred were we to omit that act of justice. Besides the immense

practical services they have rendered, the women of the country have

been the moving spirits in the systematic economies by which our people

have voluntarily assisted to supply the suffering peoples of the world

and the armies upon every front with food and everything else that we

had that might serve the common cause. The details of such a story can

never be fully written, but we carry them at our hearts and thank God

that we can say that we are the kinsmen of such.



And now we are sure of the great triumph for which every sacrifice was

made. It has come, come in its completeness; and with the pride and

inspiration of these days of achievement quick within us we turn to the

tasks of peace again--a peace secure against the violence of

irresponsible monarchs and ambitious military coteries, and made ready

for a new order, for new foundations of justice and fair dealing.





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