Countdown to retirement: 14 days

The Fourteen Points were listed in a speech delivered by President Woodrow Wilson of the United States to a joint session of the United States Congress on January 8, 1918. This speech was intended to assure the country that the war was being fought for a moral cause and for peace in Europe after World War I. The common people of Europe welcomed Wilson as a hero but his Allied colleagues (Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and Orlando) remained skeptical of the applicability of Wilsonian idealism.

The speech was delivered over 10 months before the Armistice with Germany ended World War I, but the Fourteen Points became the basis for the terms of the German surrender, as negotiated at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and documented in the Treaty of Versailles. However, the United States Senate did not then ratify the Treaty of Versailles.

Opposition to the Fourteen Points among British and French leaders became clear after hostilities ceased: the British were against freedom of the seas; the French demanded war reparations.

Wilson was forced to compromise on many of his ideals to ensure that his most important point, the establishment of the League of Nations, was accepted. In the end, the Treaty of Versailles went against many of the principles of the Fourteen Points, both in detail and in spirit. Rather than "peace without victory," the treaty sought harsh punishment of Germany both financially and territorially. The resulting bitterness in Germany laid the seeds for the rise of Nazism in the 1930s which resulted, in part, from the economic depression of the 1920s in Germany which the Versailles Treaty helped create.