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We exhibit the gauge-group independence ("universality") of all normalized non-intersecting Wilson loop expectation values in the large N limit of two-dimensional Yang-Mills theory. This universality is most easily understood via the string theory reformulation of these gauge theories. By constructing an isomorphism between the string maps contributing to normalized Wilson loop expectation values in the different theories, we prove the large N universality of these observables on any surface. The string calculation of the Wilson loop expectation value on the sphere also leads to an indication of the large N phase transition separating strong- and weak-coupling phases. © 1995.