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December 28

"One cool judgement is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to do is to supply light and not heat" ~ Woodrow Wilson, 28th US President

Woodrow Wilson has his grand vision of the multi-national European statein 1856, on this day in alternate history Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia. Over a thirty-year distinguished career as an American statesman and academic he served as the President of Princeton University, Governor of New Jersey and after winning the 32nd quadrennial election, became the first post Civil War Southerner elected to the presidency.

During his second term he asked Congress to declare war on Germany in order to make "the world safe for democracy". This was in response to German provocations such as the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmermann Telegram. He then sought a cessation of war on the basis of Fourteen Points that would define that peace. However the devil lay in the detail of point X, "The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development".

Because for all his idealistic rhetoric of fighting for a moral cause and postwar peace in Europe he had an incomplete perspective of reality on the ground. He was forced to radically adjust his thinking as a result of a meeting with a delegation representing the three million Sudeten Germans who would find themselves living under the jurisdiction of the new state of Czechoslovakia.

In response Wilson conceived a grand vision of a multi-national modern state that was most akin to the Swiss Confederacy. This model could reshape Central Europe much like a second Treaty of Westphalia. But inevitably he was in conflict with the strategic aims of the victor powers whose imperialistic view of self-determination was compromised by their colonial ambitions and land-grabbing war aims. Also, he was struggling to resolve compromise agreements back in the States via anxious telegrams to Colonel House. Of course it is pure speculation to imagine how such ideas might have worked out because the present moment was threatened by another deadly threat to civilisation, the outbreak of the Spanish Influenza, which took his life on 3rd, April 1919.

Author's Note: in reality he never met with the Sudenten Germans and [reports Wikipedia] on April 3 [he] fell violently ill during a conference meeting, in a narrow escape from influenza. Though his symptoms receded within a couple of days, those around him noticed a distinct, lasting deterioration