Woodrow Wilson’s speech Final Address in Support of the League of Nations



The paper presents a critical analysis of Woodrow Wilson’s speech as a persuasive discourse necessitates an in-depth understanding of the various aspects of a persuasive speech. Persuasive speeches are governed by both communicative intentions and persuasive intentions and the ultimate goal of such a discourse is to exert favorable responses in the minds of the audience. Any persuasive speech aims at “influencing values, ideas, beliefs and attitudes of the audience” and as such persuasive speeches try “to convince people to come a different idea, attitude and belief, react to something, consider doing things they were previously unwilling to do.” All throughout the speech Woodrow Wilson’s attempts to persuade a target audience are clearly evident. He repeatedly addresses the audience as “fellow countrymen” and “my fellow citizens.” In the very beginning of the speech itself he tries to make a rapport with the audience by explicitly stating that they are not far from him. Towards the second paragraph of his speech Woodrow Wilson introduces the issue of League of Nations by emphasizing that there are ‘organized propaganda against the League of Nations’ and that there are men who “have been busy creating an absolutely false impression of what the treaty of peace and the Covenant of the League of Nations contain and mean.” He goes on to purport that it is people who are sympathetic towards certain bodies of foreign nations who protest against the treaty. Wilson also takes conscious efforts to adapt the content of the speech to the ideas, attitudes and values of the audience. He was quite aware that many of the senators and the Americans regarded the treaty as a mere settlement with Germany. He purports: “It is not merely a settlement with Germany. it is a readjustment of those great injustices which underlie the whole structure of European and Asiatic society.”4 He also argues that the treaty is the people’s treaty and that there are several treaties to follow the same line as that of League of Nations. Historical evidences show that Woodrow Wilson toured the whole nation in order to turn the American public opinion in favor of the League of Nations. He paid great value to the settlements agreed at the Paris Peace Conference and it was a very difficult task for him to convince the U.S. Congress and get their approval for the treaty of League of Nati