Woodrow Wilson’s Request to the US Congress to Grant a Mandate Over Armenia

Woodrow Wilson's Request to the US Congress

Message from US President Woodrow Wilson to Congress requesting the authority of the United States to adopt a mandate for Armenia. May 24, 1920.

“Dear congressmen,

On May 14, the Presidential Commission received an official message from the Secretary of the United States Senate, containing the following preamble paragraphs and resolutions:

Because the evidence provided at the hearings held by the Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee clearly established the truth about the beatings and other atrocities that the Armenian people suffered, and because the people of the United States are deeply shocked by the deplorable situation in Armenia – by insecurity, hunger, and suffering;

Because the independence of the Republic of Armenia was duly recognized by the Supreme Council of the Peace Conference and the Government of the United States of America, we decide that the United States Senate sincerely congratulates the people of Armenia on the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Armenia without prejudging its territorial borders;

We also state that the United States Senate expresses the hope that the Armenian people will soon achieve the creation of a stable government, the proper protection of individual rights and freedoms, and the full realization of their national aspirations.

I received and read this document with great interest and true satisfaction not only because it embodied my own beliefs and feelings towards Armenia and its people but, in particular, because it seems to me to be the voice of the American people expressing its true convictions and deep Christian sympathy, as well as a declaration that our duty in the eyes of Americans has been committed.

Sympathy for Armenia comes not from a local share of our people but manifests itself in this country with surprising spontaneity and sincerity among a huge mass of Christians – men and women, whose voluntary donations practically save Armenia at the most critical moment of its existence. In their hearts, these generous people perceived the cause of Armenia as their own.

It is these people and its government that the hopes and the most serious expectations of the struggling people of Armenia appeal to while emerging from a period of indescribable suffering and trials, and I hope that Congress will consider it reasonable to meet these hopes and expectations with utmost generosity.

I know from the obvious evidence given by the responsible representatives of many nations fighting for independence and restoring a peaceful life that the United States Government is viewed with extraordinary confidence, and I believe that we, at the very least, would have delayed the encouraging process of civilizational development if we refused the request to become useful friends and advisers of such peoples in cases where they can authoritatively and officially ask us to give advice and support.”

66th Congress, 2nd Session, House of Representatives, Document No. 791. (Allocated by us. – Yu.B.).

US Senator Philip Marshall Brown on the threat of complete annihilation of Armenia by the Turks and Azerbaijanis.

“Under all these circumstances, it is not at all surprising that the American people show a great unwillingness to be closely involved in the Eastern Question, having placed such a heavy burden on themselves as a mandate to govern Armenia. Nevertheless, the hearts of Americans were deeply touched by the tragic fate of this unfortunate people, whose miserable remains even now are not protected from complete extermination by the Turks, the Kurds, and their Tatar neighbors in Azerbaijan.

A very significant amount of money goes to the fund to support the Middle East, and many courageous Americans in difficult and dangerous conditions participate in different capacities in matters related to the provision of urgent assistance to these desperate people.

The issue of the mandate for Armenia clearly highlights the broader problem of the obligations of the whole family of nations towards nations and countries that are at a delayed stage of development.

There are many such situations in the world, but the sufferings of Armenia are certainly the most painful. However, the fact remains that after the end of the terrible war which, we hoped, could legitimize the rights of all peoples and lay a solid foundation of international law, the world seems indifferent to the rights of an ancient race still in bondage.

No matter how justified this refusal to accept the mandate for Armenia is, it is doubtful that the American people could remain passive and allow to completely eradicate this country while the rest of the world, cynically pursuing its own selfish goals, refused to take the necessary steps to prevent such an unimaginable catastrophe. Honest citizens of the world must probably demand that the United States establish its moral leadership in the name of the fundamental rights of nations.”

Philip Marshall Brown, The mandate over Armenia – “The American Journal of International Law”. Vol. 14. № 3. October 1920.

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