Rhetorical Analysis of President Woodrow Wilsons War Message

2466 Words Dec 19th, 2011 10 Pages
With the status of the country’s belligerency heavily in question, an apprehensive President Woodrow Wilson prepared to request from an unmotivated and unprepared country a declaration of war against Germany. After exerting every attempt possible to retain the peace and honor of the United States, the President was finally forced to choose between the two, in which he opted for the latter (Seymour 26). As he sat down to compose his congressional address proposing war, the uncertainty of his decision overwhelmed him. He confided to a member of his cabinet, Frank Cobb, that he had never been as unsure about anything in his life as the judgment he was making for the nation (Baker 506). Through a rhetorical analysis of Wilson’s points of …show more content…
He labeled the conflict as “a war against all nations” exemplifying the distress that other countries have experienced due to the unbiased and relentless bombing of their own neutral ships (Safire 111). By associating the United States with other friendly countries who are also at odds with Germany, Wilson’s cry for war seemed more convincing. He went on to assert that the choice made by the U.S must be befitting to the singular characteristics of the country and that they must be very clear what their motives upon entry into the war were: not vengeance or profession of physical might, but to defend the principles of peace and justice and “to set up amongst the free people of the world an observance of these ideals” (Safire 113). We were entering the war not to battle with the German people, but to combat a greater menace, the system that had impended these violations (Baker 512). The president proceeded with regard to his stance on neutrality. Aware of pacifists like Henry Cabot Lodge in the audience, Wilson appealed to those who had not forgotten his promises of keeping America out of war. He admitted that his assumption that armed neutrality would be adequate in “safeguarding his people from unlawful violence” was in fact impossible and he had failed to “assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence”
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