1917: America Enters The World War
In reaction to Germany renewing its unrestricted submarine warfare in February of 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war: “The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind….it is a war against all nations.” Congress responded to Wilson’s appeal to “make the world safe for democracy” and declared war against Imperial Germany on 6 April.
Patriotic Americans flocked to recruiting offices like the one at left, and were cheered by enthusiastic crowds at parades like this one above in San Francisco. Americans of many nationalities and ethnic groups embraced the crusade against Germany—including these Native Americans posing next to a Colt machine-gun. A steady stream of recruits left on ships for Europe, buoyed by popular songs.
PERSHING LEADS AEF
General John “Black Jack” Pershing was chosen to lead the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). The first troops arrived on 26 June and Pershing announced “Lafayette we are here” to repay the debt America owed France for helping win U.S. independence from Britain.
More than two million Americans volunteered for service—and an additional 2.8 million men were drafted to fight.
1917: America Enters The World War Banner on view in the Veterans Building Lobby