Behind Inaugural Speeches, Meaningful Words- page 5 | History | Smithsonian
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Behind Inaugural Speeches, Meaningful Words

What words do presidents focus on most in their inaugural addresses? Explore speeches, from Washington to Obama

Woodrow Wilson's Second Inaugural Address

Woodrow Wilsons second Inaugural Address

President Woodrow Wilson had campaigned for re-election on the slogan “He kept us out of war.” But by the time he delivered his second inaugural address on March 5, 1917, war with Germany seemed inevitable. In his speech, Wilson declared: “The tragic events of the thirty months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. Our own fortunes as a nation are involved whether we would have it so or not.” Wilson also enunciated a list of principles—such as freedom of navigation on the seas and the reduction of national armaments—that foreshadowed the “Fourteen Points” speech he would deliver to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918.

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