Friday, April 07, 2017

Today -100: April 7, 1917: It’s War!!


Woodrow Wilson signs the war declaration, and it’s away we go. (Yes, Congress alone has the authority to declare war, but they wanted to do it in a form he’d also have to sign). The only actual acts of war seem to be the seizure of 91 German-owned ships, many of whose crews sabotaged them as soon as they heard about the declaration of war, and an order to arrest 60+ alleged spies. This is done without a court order under the president’s powers derived from the Alien Enemy Act of 1798, one of the Alien and Sedition Acts. FDR used it to intern Japanese-Americans.

The war proclamation warns non-naturalized Germans in the US to preserve the peace and says that if they do they won’t be rounded up. Oh, and they can’t have guns or radios or aircraft or ciphers or invisible writing materials or come within a half-mile of any fort, navy ship, munitions factory etc etc or write anything attacking the government or any of its policies. It will be pointed out that this half-mile radius includes the heart of Manhattan surrounding the state arsenal on 35th.

William Jennings Bryan, 57, asks Wilson to enroll him as a private.

Pro-war suffragist leaders forgive Jeanette Rankin for voting against the war. There is some debate about whether she cried after or while announcing her vote.

The Tobacco Merchants’ Association objects to a provision in the Chamberlain Military Bill banning the sale of tobacco at army and navy training facilities, contrasting it with the benevolent policy of European nations which “encourage” and even supply tobacco to their soldiers.


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