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The world must be made safe for democracy

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Words used by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 to justify his call for a declaration of war on Germany. The words implied that Germany's militarism threatened democracy everywhere.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

BEHIND THE PHRASE

What does The world must be made safe for democracy mean?

The world must be made safe for democracy is a quote from American President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson made this statement in 1917 during a speech before the US Congress, in support of the United States declaring war on Germany during World War I.

The world must be made safe for democracy is one of Wilson’s most famous quotes and is often mentioned in discussions of him. With this statement, Wilson was declaring that governments run by just one person (an autocracy), such as Germany’s during World War I, threatened democracy worldwide and must be stopped. Wilson’s speech and America’s entry into World War I is often remembered as a turning point in world history.

In modern times, public and historical opinion of Woodrow Wilson has severely worsened due to his white supremacist beliefs. His statement is still quoted, however, especially in discussions about the United States’ military actions.

Where does The world must be made safe for democracy come from?

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech in front of both houses of Congress. Wilson argued that the United States should declare war on Germany and officially enter World War I. As part of his argument for this, Wilson stated The world must be made safe for democracy. 

In the years prior to Wilson’s speech, Americans were completely against entering the war and wanted to remain neutral. Wilson in particular did not want America to join the war, and his 1916 reelection campaign slogan proudly declared “He kept us out of the war.”

Beginning in 1915, though, Germany began sinking any and all ships in British waters in an attempt to isolate the island country. The constant killing of American sailors changed the public’s view, which would eventually lead to Wilson’s famous speech. Congress would ultimately agree with the president and America would formally declare war on Germany four days after he gave his speech.

Did you know … ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with The world must be made safe for democracy

What are some words that often get used in discussing The world must be made safe for democracy?

How is The world must be made safe for democracy used in real life?

Because it is one of his most well-known quotes, The world must be made safe for democracy is almost always mentioned alongside Woodrow Wilson.

Try using The world must be made safe for democracy!

President Woodrow Wilson stated that The world must be made safe for democracy to justify America’s involvement in which war?

A. World War II
B. World War I
C. The Korean War
D. The Vietnam War

How to use The world must be made safe for democracy in a sentence

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