— Woodrow Wilson American politician, 28th president of the United States (in office from 1913 to 1921) 1856 - 1924
Context: Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America, my fellow citizens — I do not say it in disparagement of any other great people—America is the only idealistic Nation in the world. When I speak practical judgments about business affairs, I can only guess whether I am speaking the voice of America or not, but when I speak the ideal purposes of history I know that I am speaking the voice of America, because I have saturated myself since I was a boy in the records of that spirit, and everywhere in them there is this authentic tone of the love of justice and the service of humanity. If by any mysterious influence of error America should not take the leading part in this new enterprise of concerted power, the world would experience one of those reversals of sentiment, one of those penetrating chills of reaction, which would lead to a universal cynicism, for if America goes back upon mankind, mankind has no other place to turn. It is the hope of nations all over the world that America will do this great thing.
Address at Sioux Falls (8 September 1919), as recorded in Addresses of President Wilson (1919), p. 86; the first portion of this quote has sometimes been paraphrased: "Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world."