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U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I

U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I

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As World War I erupts in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaims the neutrality of the United States, a position that a vast majority of Americans favored, on August 4, 1914.

Wilson’s initial hope that America could be “impartial in thought as well as in action” was soon compromised by Germany’s attempted quarantine of the British Isles. Britain was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension arose between the United States and Germany when several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines.

In February 1915, Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake.

READ MORE: US Entry into World War I

In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement for the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool. On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning by a German submarine just off the coast of Ireland. Of the nearly 2,000 passengers, 1,201 were killed, including 128 Americans.

It was revealed that the Lusitania was carrying about 173 tons of war munitions for Britain, which the Germans cited as further justification for the attack. The United States eventually sent three notes to Berlin protesting the action, and Germany apologized and pledged to end unrestricted submarine warfare. In November, however, a U-boat sank an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In late March, Germany sank four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2, President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to six to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally entered World War I.

On June 26, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the Western Front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. By the time the war finally ended on November 11, 1918, more than 2 million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.

READ MORE: Should the US Have Entered World War I?

Examine how German U-boats and the Zimmerman Telegram pushed the United States into World War I

NARRATOR: Europe, 1914. Although its history and geography were studied in American schools, Europe seemed far away to most Americans in the days when ships were the only way to get across the Atlantic. To most Americans the problems of Europe seemed as remote as the continent itself. Since the days of Washington and Jefferson, the United States had held to a policy of "no entangling alliances" with European nations. There was indifference to the growing militarism and imperialism of the great powers of Europe as they competed for world markets and raw materials for new industries.

The crisis began in June, 1914, when Serbian patriots in Bosnia shot and killed the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, then visiting the capital, Sarajevo.

As news was flashed by overseas cable, each day's headlines kept the crisis immediate and alive for the American public. By August, 1914, the great powers of Europe were at war . . . the Central Powers against the Allies.

The German plan was to overwhelm France, then turn its full force on Russia. To reach France, Germany decided to march through neutral Belgium. When Belgium resisted, Germany let loose its guns on that small nation [sounds of gunfire]. Most Americans were shocked at what was labeled "the rape of Belgium."

But America remained behind its traditional wall of isolation, even though many were recent immigrants from Europe. The burden of defining American neutrality fell to the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson. At the war's start, he called upon Americans to be neutral in fact as well as in name, in thought as well as in action.

Early in the war the British navy cut off Germany from her colonies, and swept German ships off the surface of the sea. Britain impounded the cargoes of neutral ships, including those of the United States, if they were bound for German ports.

Wilson protested to Britain, and protested also against the German threat to torpedo any ships found in British waters.

Then, as so often happens, a single incident occurred which profoundly stirred American opinion. The British luxury liner, the Lusitania, sailed from New York in May, 1915. A German submarine sighted the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Hit without warning, the Lusitania exploded--more than 1,200 dead, 128 of them Americans.

The Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, held that British interference with American shipping was fully as unbearable as German submarine warfare.

When Wilson sent a sharp protest to Germany, without also protesting to Britain, Bryan resigned from the cabinet. But the United States was still legally neutral, and Wilson hoped it could act as mediator to end the war. In the middle of 1915, he sent his aide, Colonel House, to Europe as his personal envoy. The situation that Colonel House found there gave hope that the warring powers would consider a "peace with honor."

In 1916 Wilson ran for re-election on a platform of peace. His re-election reflected the wish of most Americans to stay out of what many still felt was Europe's war.

After re-election Wilson continued his efforts to rally world opinion behind his concept of a "just" peace.

Germany, desperately working against time, decided to risk renewal of "unrestricted submarine warfare," in violation of traditional international law. The step was taken with full knowledge that it might cause a break [music in] and possible war with the United States. During one month, March, 1917, five American ships were sunk.

The sinkings shocked the American people. War sentiment grew.

It was increased by the discovery in March, 1917, that the Kaiser's government had asked the aid of Mexico in case of war with the United States.

U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I - HISTORY

June 28, 1914 - The Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is killed by Yugoslav Nationalist Gavrilo Princip, igniting a series of events and alliances that would lead to war one month later. Two alliances were engaged the Allies (Russia, France, and Great Britain) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). And they were ready for war, with an arms race between Great Britain and Germany leading to a fifty percent increase in defense spending among European nations in the years leading up to conflict.

Other nations would join as the fight continued, but at the beginning of World War 1, the United States considered itself neutral, with President Woodrow Wilson providing the role of peacemaker through negotiator Colonel Edward Mandell House. Neither side at the beginning of the war wanted peace.

May 7, 1915 - As House and Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan attempted to broker peace, the stretch of American neutrality became strained when the British ocean liner Lusitania was sunk by the torpedoes of the German U-Boat U-20 with one hundred and twenty-eight Americans succumbing, including women and children. There had been warnings from the German embassy about a voyage on the Lusitania prior to the attack, but the ship left New York for Liverpool with 1,962 on board despite the possibility of attack by German submarines, who had stepped up their war zone activities in previous months.

Despite the attack, President Wilson still maintained a position against joining the battle, but forced Germany to abandon its position of attacking passenger ships, violating international law or incur the possibility of the United States joining the fight. Germany also claimed that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, which it was, and had the right to attack. Great Britain thought the U.S. should join the fight. The U.S. wanted an apology, compensation, and a change in German policy. The change in policy occured on September 9, 1915, but would not last through the end of the war.

Casualties on both sides of the war continued to mount, with Great Britain and France sustaining a higher number than their counterparts. In February of 1916, Germany attacked the French defensive position at Verdun. The battle lasted until November with between 700,000 and 975,000 casualties on both sides. The British and French went on the offensive in the Battle of the Somme. Its first day, July 1, saw Great Britain endure the greatest number of casualties in its history, 57,470 killed and wounded in one day.

In the United States, the flagging effort to gain peace, as well as the Lusitania incident, was causing Woodrow Wilson to alter his position, considering the possibility that the United States had to join the war to gain the peace and save the world for democracy. Public opinion in America was still divided through 1916, although two incidents would continue to erode the position of neutrality.

July 30, 1916 - The Black Tom Affair. German agents destroyed American munitions being built for use in World War I at Black Tom, New Jersey. Black Tom was an island next to Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty was located. It housed factories and warehouses where munitions destined for the Allies were stored. One thousand tons were housed there on July 30 when German agents caused the explosion, $20 million in damage, including damage to the Statue of Liberty, other buildings, and seven deaths.

January 11, 1917 - The second incident happened in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. The Kingsland explosion occurred at another munitions factory where a Canadian company made arms for Great Britain and Russia, three million shells per month. A fire started, four hours later five hundred thousand shells had exploded and the entire plant reduced to rubble. There were no casualites. It was assumed that German agents were to blame for this destruction, although a subsequent commission after the war concluded otherwise and Germany admitted no part in the attack. They did pay $50 million in reparations in 1934.

Wilson had begun to prepare for war with his Preparadness Movement in 1916, wishing to augment the size of the American army, which was considered weak by Germany and the Allies. A compromise at first saw less of an increase than he wanted, prompting Germany to step up its efforts for war against the United States. In 1917, Germany abandoned its submarine policy of only attacking defined military vessels, and started to engage in unrestricted submarine attacks. It also sent a letter to Mexico, the Zimmermann Telegram, which urged our southern neighbor to attack the United States, with Germany's help, in exchange for Germany later giving Mexico back Texas and other southwest states if they won. Mexico actually thought about it, but eventually decided they could not win.

The United States would declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917, and the Austria-Hungary Empire on December 17, 1917.

Note: Image above: Photograph of drawing of the sinking of the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland made for the New York Herald and London Sphere, 1915. Courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.

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United States troops entering Veracruz, Mexico on April 21, 1914, remaining in occupation until November. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.


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Poster Take Up the Sword of Justice, with image of lady representing Great Britain rising from the ocean with sword in hand with Lusitania sinking in the background, 1915. Drawing by Bernard Partrige for Parlimentary Recruiting Committee. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Two man tank manufactured by Ford, 1918. Photo: War Department/National Archives.

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American History: US Adopts Neutrality as World War One Begins

BOB DOUGHTY: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.

In nineteen fourteen, Europe exploded into the First World War. It was a war no nation really wanted. But no nation seemed able to stop it.

The assassination of Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the city of Sarajevo was the spark that set off the explosion.

This week in our series, Harry Monroe and Kay Gallant tell about the war and how it affected the United States under President Woodrow Wilson.

HARRY MONROE: The Austrian Archduke was murdered by Serbian nationalists. They opposed Austrian control of their homeland. After the assassination, Austria declared war on Serbia. One of Serbia's allies was Russia. Russia agreed to help Serbia in any war against Austria.

Austria had allies, too. The most important was Germany. Germany wanted Russia to stay out of the war. When Russia refused, Germany declared war on Russia. Then Germany declared war on Russia's close ally, France. Britain entered the war a few days later when Germany violated the neutrality of Belgium.

KAY GALLANT: One nation after another entered the conflict to protect its friends or to honor its treaties. Within a week, most of Europe was at war.

On one side were the Central Powers: Germany and Austria-Hungary. On the other side were the Triple Entente Allies: France, Britain, and Russia. Many other nations took sides. Bulgaria and Turkey joined the Central Powers. Italy, Romania, Portugal, and Greece joined the Allies.

HARRY MONROE: The United States hoped to stay out of the war. President Wilson immediately declared American neutrality. He said: "It is a war with which we have nothing to do, whose causes cannot touch us."

Most Americans agreed with President Wilson. They did not want to get involved in the fighting. However, many found it difficult to remain neutral in their hearts. Some Americans had family roots in Germany. They supported the Central Powers. A greater number of Americans had family roots in Britain or France. They supported the Allies.

Yet the official American policy was neutrality. The United States planned to continue to trade with both sides.

KAY GALLANT: Germany and Austria expected a quick victory in the war. They were caught between two powerful enemies: Russia and France. But German military leaders were not worried. They had a battle plan they were sure would succeed.

The German generals planned to strike quickly at France with most of the German army. They expected to defeat France in a short time and then turn to fight Russia. In this way, the German army would not have to fight both enemies at the same time.

HARRY MONROE: At first, the plan worked. Two million German soldiers swept across Belgium and into France. They rushed forward toward Paris, hoping for a fast victory. But the German commanders made a mistake. They pushed their men too fast. When British and French forces struck back -- outside Paris -- the tired and worn German soldiers could not hold their positions.

The battle was fierce and unbelievably bloody. In the end, the Germans were forced to withdraw.

The German withdrawal gave the allies time to prepare strong defenses. There was no chance now for a quick German victory. Instead, it would be a long war, with Germany and Austria facing enemies on two sides. Britain and France were on the West. Russia was on the East.

KAY GALLANT: The Allies took immediate steps to reduce Germany's trade with the rest of the world. The British navy began seizing war supplies found on neutral ships sailing toward German ports. It then expanded its efforts to block food exports to Germany.

The blockade by Britain and the other allies was very successful. Germany faced possible starvation. Its navy was not strong enough to break the blockade with surface ships. Its only hope was to break the blockade with another naval weapon: submarines.

Germany announced that it would use its submarines to sink any ship that came near the coast of Britain. The threat included ships from neutral nations that tried to continue trading with the Allies.

HARRY MONROE: The United States and other neutral nations immediately protested the German announcement. They said it was a clear violation of international law.

When a German submarine sank a British ship in the Irish Sea, one of the victims was an American citizen. A few weeks later, an American oil ship was damaged during a sea battle between British navy ships and a German submarine. Then came the most serious incident of all. It involved a British passenger ship called the Lusitania.

The Lusitania was sailing from New York City to Britain when it was attacked by a German submarine. The Lusitania sank in eighteen minutes. One thousand two hundred persons were killed. One hundred twenty-nine were Americans.

KAY GALLANT: The sinking of the Lusitania shocked and horrified the American people. They called it mass murder. They turned against Germany. President Wilson warned that he might declare war on Germany, if Germany continued to sink civilian ships.

Germany did not want war with the United States. It already faced a strong fight against the European Allies. It promised not to sink any more civilian ships without warning. And it offered regrets for the Lusitania incident.

HARRY MONROE: President Wilson accepted Germany's apology. Like most Americans, he hoped to stay out of the bloody European struggle. And he also knew that the record of the Allies was not completely clean.

For example, he was troubled by reports of mass hunger in Germany. He and other Americans felt the British food blockade was cruel. They also were shocked by the way British forces brutally crushed a rebellion in Ireland at the time.

Most of all, the American people were sickened by reports of what was happening on the battlefields of Europe. The armies were using poison gas and other terrible weapons. Soldiers on both sides were dying by the millions. The war had become a bloodbath.

KAY GALLANT: The United States had a presidential election in nineteen sixteen. President Wilson won the nomination of the Democratic Party to seek re-election. Democrats around the country shouted their support with these words: "He kept us out of war!" Wilson himself did not like the words. He felt it raised false hopes. But people continued to say it, because they did not want war.

HARRY MONROE: The Republican Party nominated Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes as its candidate for president. Hughes was a moderate Republican. He supported a number of social reforms.

Like Wilson, Hughes promised to keep the United States neutral. However, one of his supporters was former President Theodore Roosevelt. And Roosevelt called for strong American policies that could lead to war. Roosevelt's words led many Americans to see Wilson as the candidate of peace. and Hughes as the candidate of war.

KAY GALLANT: Voting in the presidential election was very close. At first, it seemed Hughes had won. He went to bed on election night believing he would be America's next president. But voting results later that night confirmed Wilson as the winner. The election was so close the Republicans did not accept defeat for two weeks.

Woodrow Wilson had won another term. During that term, he would find it increasingly difficult to honor the words of the campaign. Finally, he would find it impossible. The United States entered World War One while Woodrow Wilson was president.

That will be our story next week.

BOB DOUGHTY: Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Harry Monroe and Kay Gallant.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and images at You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English.

CORRECTION: This program misidentifies Turkey as a nation in 1914. It was not established as the successor state to the Ottoman Empire until October 29, 1923. (An earlier version of this note incorrectly said October 23.)

Mobilizing the Nation for War

In April of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson received a declaration of war from Congress. Even as America prepared for war, the country remained split over the prospects of sending American troops to fight the nations that comprised the Central Powers. In an attempt to unify the nation, the Wilson administration undertook a remarkable propaganda campaign to sway American opinion toward intervention in the European conflict. The centerpiece of this campaign was the Committee on Public Information, also known as the Creel Committee.

The Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, worked to ensure the well being of the nation’s food supply. Hoover sought voluntary compliance for the food administration’s policies. To save food for export, Hoover asked Americans to observe “meatless Tuesdays” and “wheatless Wednesdays” in the name of patriotism. He also asked Americans to plant “victory gardens,” small gardens that sprouted up in backyards and empty lots, to help make Americans more self-sufficient and less dependent on the national food supply.

Hoover’s efforts paid off for both the U.S. and the Allies. Food produced in America increased in yield by 25 percent, while food exported to the Allied nations swelled to over three times the amount before the push of voluntary conservation. The success of the Food Administration did not go unnoticed by other agencies. The Fuel Administration enacted similar voluntary measures by proposing “heatless Mondays” and “gasless Sundays.”

During this time of conservation, Congress also restricted the use of food materials for manufacturing alcoholic beverages. The exercise of self-denial that emerged among citizens in reaction to the war accelerated the prohibition movement, which was already sweeping across the country.

As Americans struggled with conservation on the home front, the government struggled with how to provide the necessary food and munitions to troops. Although Wilson was a powerful and inspiring war leader, he found himself unable to build the necessary cooperation between military and civilian agencies. As a result of disorganized and often conflicting information about the amounts of food, munitions, and money required to wage the war, the American government found itself unable to provide troops and the other Allied Powers with much-needed supplies.

Wilson placed the task of organizing this crucial information into the hands of the War Industries Board, headed by stock speculator Bernard Baruch. The board was charged with effectively allocating scarce resources, standardizing the production of war goods, fixing prices, and coordinating American and Allied purchasing.

To minimize potential labor disputes that would hinder production, and therefore the country’s war efforts, Wilson formed the National War Labor Board. The board, chaired by former President William Howard Taft, was charged with maintaining order in the nation’s commercial sector by settling disputes between management and workers. The board used its power to strong-arm management into establishing higher wages and eight-hour workdays however, the board’s most significant contribution was its recognition of workers’ rights to unionize, which revolutionized management-labor relations. In fact, union membership had nearly doubled to three million by the war’s end.

To reassure American citizens and to quash the dissenting political opinions of the anti-war factions, the U.S. government established the Espionage Act of 1917. Under this act, anyone convicted of aiding the enemy, obstructing military recruiting, or inciting rebellion in the military was subject to fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 20 years.

Almost one year later, Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918. In an effort to expand the powers of the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act made it illegal to speak against the purchase of war bonds or to “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language” against the U.S. government or the Constitution.

These two acts provided the legal foundation for almost two thousand prosecutions, many of which involved antiwar Socialists and members of a radical group called the Industrial Workers of the World. In 1918, Socialist Eugene V. Debs was convicted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 10 years in a federal penitentiary for giving an anti-war speech. Industrial Workers of the World leader William D. Haywood and 99 of his associates were also convicted.

Many in America argued that the Espionage and Sedition Act were in violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment. The argument was ultimately debated in the Supreme Court in the case of Schenck v. U.S. in 1919. Charles Schenck was the general secretary of the Socialist Party. Schenck believed that the military draft was unlawful and mailed letters to draftees urging them not to report for military duty, an action clearly in violation of the Espionage Act. Like Debs and Haywood, Schenck was arrested, charged, and convicted for the crime of criticizing a government initiative.

During Schenck’s appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of his conviction, thereby supporting the structure and purpose of the Espionage Act. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes argued that during a time of war the nation had the right to protect its interest even if that meant suppressing certain freedoms.

Holmes argued that if Schenck had mailed his letters challenging the draft during peacetime, he would be safe from prosecution. During a time of war, however, Holmes contended that Schenck’s actions represented a “clear and present danger” to the United States. If words are used to create a clear and present danger to the nation, Justice Holmes said, the government has the right to suppress such behavior.

During World War I, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops land in France at the port of Saint Nazaire. The landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the "Doughboys," as the British referred to the green American troops, were untrained, ill-equipped, and far from ready for the difficulties of fighting along the Western Front.

One of U.S. General John J. Pershing's first duties as commander of the American Expeditionary Force was to set up training camps in France and establish communication and supply networks. Four months later, on October 21, the first Americans entered combat when units from the U.S. Army's First Division were assigned to Allied trenches in the Luneville sector near Nancy, France. Each American unit was attached to a corresponding French unit. Two days later, Corporal Robert Bralet of the Sixth Artillery became the first U.S. soldier to fire a shot in the war when he discharged a French 75mm gun into a German trench a half mile away. On November 2, Corporal James Gresham and privates Thomas Enright and Merle Hay of the 16th Infantry became the first American soldiers to die when Germans raided their trenches near Bathelemont, France.

After four years of bloody stalemate along the Western Front, the entrance of America's well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. When the war finally ended on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and more than 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.

Development of U.S. Neutrality Policy

I would be very much obliged if you would read the enclosed letter from Professor Munsterberg and send me a memorandum, if you would be so kind, of the answers and comments that might be made upon his statements. Here at last is a very definite summing up of the matters upon which German anti-administration feeling in this country is being built up, and perhaps it would be wise to take very serious notice of it. The case they make out is prima facie very plausible indeed.

Cordially and sincerely yours,
Woodrow Wilson

Cambridge, Mass., November 19, 1914.

A few days ago I wrote to you from New York in reply to your very kind letter of November 10th that I begged to postpone my reply until I reached my desk in Cambridge. Now after my return I indeed ask your permission to enter into some detail with regard to the neutrality question. But let me assure you beforehand that I interpret your inquiry as referring exclusively to the views which are expressed to me by American citizens who sympathize with the German cause or who are disturbed by the vehement hostility to Germany on the part of the American press.

My remarks refers in no way to the views of official Germany.

Let me emphasize three points to which my correspondents refer most frequently. First, all cables sent by and received by wire pass uncensored, while all wireless news is censored. This reacts against Germany, because England sends all her news by cable, whereas Germany alone uses the wireless. The matter is of grave importance. Second, the policy of the administration with regard to the holding up, detaining and searching of Germans and Austrians from neutral and American vessels is a reversal of the American policy established in 1812. It has excited no end of bitterness. Third, the United States permitted the violation by England of the Hague Convention and international law in connection with conditional and unconditional contraband. The United States, for instance, has not protested against the transference of copper from the conditional to the absolute list, although on former occasions the United States has taken a spirited stand against one-sided interpretations of international agreements. The United States, moreover, insisted that conditional contraband can be sent in neutral or in American bottoms even to belligerent nations, provided it was not consigned to the government, the military or naval authorities or to any contractors known to represent the belligerent government. By permitting this new interpretation the United States practically supports the starving out policy of the Allies. The nation by reversing its own policy thus seriously handicaps Germany and Austria in their fight for existence.

Many of the complaints refer more to the unfriendly spirit than to the actual violation of the law. Here above all belongs the unlimited sale of ammunition to the belligerents. The administration originally advised Mr. Morgan that the making of loans to the nations at war would not be looked upon with favor by the President, and Mr. Morgan cancelled the plans. This attitude has been given up the State Department has emphasized that money and arms may be sold to the belligerents, while evidently the friends of peace had firmly hoped that the President would denounce the sale of ammunition or any other sale which would be likely to prolong the war. Indeed our friends of peace must regret this encouraging attitude with reference to the sale of agencies of destruction, but the friends of Germany cannot forget that this sympathetic attitude of the State Department under the conditions which objectively exist is not only helpful to the prolongation of the war, but helpful exclusively to the Allies against Central Europe. The favorite interpretation of the Germans is even that the government makes itself a party to the violation of neutrality by giving clearance papers to vessels loaded with war material for England and France. They say, moreover, that the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy could and did restrain the shipment of war material into Mexico. Hence he has the same power to restrain the shipment of such material to Europe.

Secretary of State Bryan to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:

Washington, January 20, 1915

I have received your letter of the 8th instant, referring to frequent complaints or charges made in one form or another through the press that this Government has shown partiality to Great Britain, France, and Russia against Germany and Austria during the present war, and stating that you have received numerous letters to the same effect from sympathizers with the latter powers. You summarize the various grounds of these complaints and ask that you be furnished with whatever information the Department may have touching these points of complaint, in order that you may be informed as to what the true situation is in regard to these matters.

In order that you may have such information as the Department has on the subjects referred to in your letter, I will take them up seriatim.

(1) Freedom of communication by submarine cables versus censored communication by wireless.
The reason that wireless messages and cable messages require different treatment by a neutral government is as follows:

Communications by wireless can not be interrupted by a belligerent. With a submarine cable it is otherwise. The possibility of cutting the cable exists, and if a belligerent possesses naval superiority the cable is cut, as was the German cable near the Azores by one of Germany's enemies and as was the British cable near Fanning Island by a German naval force. Since a cable is subject to hostile attack, the responsibility falls upon the belligerent and not upon the neutral to prevent cable communication.

A more important reason, however, at least from the point of view of a neutral government is that messages sent out from a wireless station in neutral territory may be received by belligerent warships on the high seas. If these messages, whether plain or in cipher, direct the movements of warships or convey to them information as to the location of an enemy's public or private vessels, the neutral territory becomes a base of naval operations, to permit which would be essentially unneutral.

As a wireless message can be received by all stations and vessels within a given radius, every message in cipher, whatever its intended destination, must be censored otherwise military information may be sent to warships off the coast of a neutral. It is manifest that a submarine cable is incapable of becoming a means of direct communication with a warship on the high seas. Hence its use can not, as a rule, make neutral territory a base for the direction of naval operations.

(4) Submission without protest to British violations of the rules regarding absolute and conditional contraband as laid down in the Hague conventions, the Declaration of London, and international law.

There is no Hague convention which deals with absolute or conditional contraband, and, as the Declaration of London is not in force, the rules of international law only apply. A s to the articles to be regarded as contraband, there is no general agreement between nations. It is the practice for a country, either in time of peace or after the outbreak of war, to declare the articles which it will consider as absolute or conditional contraband. It is true that a neutral government is seriously affected by this declaration, as the rights of its subjects or citizens may be impaired. But the rights and interests of belligerents and neutrals are opposed in respect to contraband articles and trade and there is no tribunal to which questions of difference may be readily submitted.

The record of the United States in the past is not free from criticism. When neutral, this Government has stood for a restricted list of absolute and conditional contraband. As a belligerent, we have contended for a liberal list, according to our conception of the necessities of the case.

The United States has made earnest representations to Great Britain in regard to the seizure and detention by the British authorities of all American ships or cargoes bona fide destined to neutral ports, on the ground that such seizures and detentions were contrary to the existing rules of international law. It will be recalled, however, that American courts have established various rules bearing on these matters. The rule of "continuous voyage" has been not only asserted by American tribunals but extended by them. They have exercised the right to determine from the circumstances whether the ostensible was the real destination. They have held that the shipment of articles of contraband to a neutral port "to order," from which, as a matter of fact, cargoes had been transshipped to the enemy, is corroborative evidence that the cargo is really destined to the enemy instead of to the neutral port of delivery. It is thus seen that some of the doctrines which appear to bear harshly upon neutrals at the present time are analogous to or outgrowths from policies adopted by the United States when it was a belligerent. The Government therefore can not consistently protest against the application ofrules which it has followed in the past, unless they have not been practiced as heretofore.

(6) Submission without protest to interference with American trade to neutral countries in conditional and absolute contraband.

The fact that the commerce of the United States is interrupted by Great Britain is consequent upon the superiority of her Navy on the high seas. History shows that whenever a country has possessed that superiority our trade has been interrupted and that f ew articles essential to the prosecution of the war have been allowed to reach its enemy from this country. The Department's recent note to the British Government, which has been made public, in regard to detentions and seizures of American vessels and cargoes, is a complete answer to this complaint .

Certain other complaints appear aimed at the loss of profit in trade, which must include, at least in part, trade in contraband with Germany while other complaints demand the prohibition of trade in contraband, which appear to refer to trade with the Allies.

(7) Submission without protest to interruption of trade in conditional contraband consigned to private persons in Germany and Austria, thereby supporting the policy of Great Britain to cut off all supplies from Germany and Austria.

As no American vessel, so far as known, has at tempted to carry conditional contraband to Germany or Austria-Hungary, no ground of complaint has arisen out of the seizure or condemnation by Great Britain of an American vessel with a belligerent destination. Until a case arises and the Government has taken action upon it, criticism is premature and unwarranted. The United States in its note of December 28 to the British Government strongly contended for the principle of freedom of trade in articles of conditional contraband not destined to the belligerent's forces.

(9 ) The United States has not interfered with the sale to Great Britain and her allies of arms, ammunition, horses, uniforms, and other munitions of war, although such sales prolong the conflict.

There is no power in the Executive to prevent the sale of ammunition to the belligerents.

The duty of a neutral to restrict trade in munitions of war has never been imposed by international law or by municipal statute. It has never been the policy of this Government to prevent the shipment of arms or ammunition into belligerent territory, except in the case of neighboring American Republics, and then only when civil strife prevailed. Even to this extent the belligerents in the present conflict, when they were neutrals, have never, so far as the records disclose, limited the sale of munitions of war. It is only necessary to point to the enormous quantities of arms and ammunition furnished by manufacturers in Germany to the belligerents in the Russo-Japanese war and in the recent Balkan wars to establish the general recognition of the propriety of the trade by a neutral nation.

It may be added that on the 15th of December last, the German Ambassador, by direction of his Government, presented a copy of a memorandum of the Imperial German Government which, among other things, set forth the attitude of that Government toward traffic in contraband of war by citizens of neutral countries. The Imperial Government stated that "under the general principles of international law, no exception can be taken to neutral States letting war material go to Germany's enemies from or through neutral territory," and that the adversaries of Germany in the present war are, in the opinion of the Imperial Government, authorized to "draw on the United States contraband of war and especially arms worth billions of marks." These principles, as the Ambassador stated, have been accepted by the United States Government in the statement issued by the Department of State on October 15 last, entitled "Neutrality and trade in contraband." Acting in conformity with the propositions there set forth, the United States has itself taken no part in contraband traffic, and has, so far as possible, lent its influence toward equal treatment for all belligerents in the matter of purchasing arms and ammunition of private persons in the United States. . .

(11) British warships are permitted to lie off American ports and intercept neutral vessels.

The complaint is unjustified from the fact that representations were made to the British Government that the presence of war vessels in the vicinity of New York Harbor was offensive to this Government, and a similar complaint was made to the Japanese Government as to one of its cruisers in the vicinity of the port of Honolulu. In both cases the warships were withdrawn.

It will be recalled that in 1863 the Department took the position that captures made by its vessels after hovering about neutral ports would not be regarded as valid. In the Franco-Prussian war, President Grant issued a proclamation warning belligerent war ships against hovering in the vicinity of American ports for purposes of observation or hostile acts. The same policy has been maintained in the present war, and in all of the recent proclamations of neutrality the President states that such practice by belligerent warships is "unfriendly and offensive." . . .

(13) Change of policy in regard to loans to belligerents. War loans in this country were disapproved because inconsistent with the spirit of neutrality. There is a clearly defined difference between a war loan and the purchase of arms and ammunition. The policy of disapproving of war loans affects all governments alike, so that the disapproval is not an unneutral act. The case is entirely different in the matter of arms and ammunition, because prohibition of export not only might not, but in this case would not, operate equally upon the nations at war. Then, too, the reason given for the disapproval of war loans is supported by other considerations which are absent in the case presented by the sale of arms and ammunitions The taking of money out of the United States during such a war as this might seriously embarrass the Government in case it needed to borrow money, and it might also seriously impair this Nation's ability to assist the neutral nations which, though not participants in the war, are compelled to bear a heavy burden on account of the war, and, again, a war loan, if offered for popular subscription in the United States, would be taken up chiefly by those who are in sympathy with the belligerent seeking the loan. The result would be that great numbers of the American people might become more earnest partisans, having material interest in the success of the belligerent whose bonds they hold. These purchases would not be confined to a few, but would spread generally throughout the country, so that the people would be divided into groups of partisans, which would result in intense bitterness and might cause an undesirable, if not a serious, situation. On the other hand, contracts for and sales of contraband are mere matters of t rade. The manufacturer, unless peculiarly sentimental, would sell to one belligerent as readily as he would to another. No general spirit of partisanship is aroused -- no sympathies excited. The whole transaction is merely a matter of business.

This Government has not been advised that any general loans have been made by foreign governments in this country since the President expressed his wish that loans of this character should not be made . . .

(20) General unfriendly attitude of Government toward Germany and Austria. If any American citizens, partisans of Germany and Austria-Hungary, feel that this administration is acting in a way injurious to the cause of those countries, this feeling results from the fact that on the high seas the German and Austro-Hungarian naval power is thus far inferior to the British. It is the business of a belligerent operating on the high seas, not the duty of a neutral, to prevent contraband from reaching an enemy. Those in this country who sympathize with Germany and Austria-Hungary appear to assume that some obligation rests upon this Government in the performance of its neutral duty to prevent all trade in contraband, and thus to equalize the difference due to the relative naval strength of the belligerents. No such obligation exists it would be an unneutral act, an act of partiality on the part of this Government, to adopt such a policy if the Executive had the power to do so. If Germany and Austria-Hungary can not import contraband from this country, it is not, because of that fact, the duty of the United States to close its markets to the Allies. The markets of this country are open upon equal terms to all the world, to every nation, belligerent or neutral.

The foregoing Categorical replies to specific complaints are sufficient answer to the charge of unfriendliness to Germany and Austria-Hungary.


The American entry into World War I came on April 6, 1917, after a year long effort by President Woodrow Wilson to get the United States into the war. Apart from an Anglophile element urging early support for the British, American public opinion sentiment for neutrality was particularly strong among Irish Americans, German Americans and Scandinavian Americans, [1] as well as among church leaders and among women in general. On the other hand, even before World War I had broken out, American opinion had been more negative toward Germany than towards any other country in Europe. [2] Over time, especially after reports of atrocities in Belgium in 1914 and following the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania in 1915, the American people increasingly came to see Germany as the aggressor.

As U.S. President, it was Wilson who made the key policy decisions over foreign affairs: while the country was at peace, the domestic economy ran on a laissez-faire basis, with American banks making huge loans to Britain and France — funds that were in large part used to buy munitions, raw materials, and food from across the Atlantic. Until 1917, Wilson made minimal preparations for a land war and kept the United States Army on a small peacetime footing, despite increasing demands for enhanced preparedness. He did, however, expand the United States Navy.

In 1917, with the Russian Revolution and widespread disillusionment over the war, and with Britain and France low on credit, Germany appeared to have the upper hand in Europe, [3] while the Ottoman Empire clung to its possessions in the Middle East. In the same year, Germany decided to resume unrestricted submarine warfare against any vessel approaching British waters this attempt to starve Britain into surrender was balanced against the knowledge that it would almost certainly bring the United States into the war. Germany also made a secret offer to help Mexico regain territories lost in the Mexican–American War in an encoded telegram known as the Zimmermann Telegram, which was intercepted by British Intelligence. Publication of that communique outraged Americans just as German U-boats started sinking American merchant ships in the North Atlantic. Wilson then asked Congress for "a war to end all wars" that would "make the world safe for democracy", and Congress voted to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917. [4] On December 7, 1917, the U.S. declared war on Austria-Hungary. [5] [6] U.S. troops began arriving on the Western Front in large numbers in 1918.

After the war began in 1914, the United States proclaimed a policy of neutrality despite President Woodrow Wilson's antipathies against Germany.

When the German U-boat U-20 sank the British liner Lusitania on 7 May 1915 with 128 US citizens aboard, Wilson demanded an end to German attacks on passenger ships, and warned that the USA would not tolerate unrestricted submarine warfare in violation of "American rights" and of "international and obligations." [7] Wilson's Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, resigned, believing that the President's protests against the German use of U-boat attacks conflicted with America's official commitment to neutrality. On the other hand, Wilson came under pressure from war hawks led by former president Theodore Roosevelt, who denounced German acts as "piracy", [8] and from British delegations under Cecil Spring Rice and Sir Edward Grey.

U.S. Public opinion reacted with outrage to the suspected German sabotage of Black Tom in Jersey City, New Jersey on 30 July 1916, and to the Kingsland explosion on 11 January 1917 in present-day Lyndhurst, New Jersey. [9]

Crucially, by the spring of 1917, President Wilson's official commitment to neutrality had finally unraveled. Wilson realized he needed to enter the war in order to shape the peace and implement his vision for a League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference. [10]

American public opinion was divided, with most Americans until early 1917 largely of the opinion that the United States should stay out of the war. Opinion changed gradually, partly in response to German actions in Belgium and the Lusitania, partly as German Americans lost influence, and partly in response to Wilson's position that America had to play a role to make the world safe for democracy. [11]

In the general public, there was little if any support for entering the war on the side of Germany. The great majority of German Americans, as well as Scandinavian Americans, wanted the United States to remain neutral however, at the outbreak of war, thousands of US citizens had tried to enlist in the German army. [12] [13] The Irish Catholic community, based in the large cities and often in control of the Democratic Party apparatus, was strongly hostile to helping Britain in any way, especially after the Easter uprising of 1916 in Ireland. [14] Most of the Protestant church leaders in the United States, regardless of their theology, favored pacifistic solutions whereby the United States would broker a peace. [15] Most of the leaders of the women's movement, typified by Jane Addams, likewise sought pacifistic solutions. [16] The most prominent opponent of war was industrialist Henry Ford, who personally financed and led a peace ship to Europe to try to negotiate among the belligerents no negotiations resulted. [17]

Britain had significant support among intellectuals and families with close ties to Britain. [18] The most prominent leader was Samuel Insull of Chicago, a leading industrialist who had emigrated from England. Insull funded many propaganda efforts, and financed young Americans who wished to fight by joining the Canadian military. [19] [20]

By 1915, Americans were paying much more attention to the war. The sinking of the Lusitania aroused furious denunciations of German brutality. [21] By 1915, in Eastern cities a new "Preparedness" movement emerged. It argued that the United States needed to build up immediately strong naval and land forces for defensive purposes an unspoken assumption was that America would fight sooner or later. The driving forces behind Preparedness were all Republicans, notably General Leonard Wood, ex-president Theodore Roosevelt, and former secretaries of war Elihu Root and Henry Stimson they enlisted many of the nation's most prominent bankers, industrialists, lawyers and scions of prominent families. Indeed, there emerged an "Atlanticist" foreign policy establishment, a group of influential Americans drawn primarily from upper-class lawyers, bankers, academics, and politicians of the Northeast, committed to a strand of Anglophile internationalism. [22]

The Preparedness movement had what political scientists call a "realism" philosophy of world affairs—they believed that economic strength and military muscle were more decisive than idealistic crusades focused on causes like democracy and national self-determination. Emphasizing over and over the weak state of national defenses, they showed that the United States' 100,000-man Army, even augmented by the 112,000-strong National Guard, was outnumbered 20 to one by the German army similarly in 1915, the armed forces of Great Britain and the British Empire, France, Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Japan and Greece were all larger and more experienced than the United States military. [23]

They called for UMT or "universal military service" under which the 600,000 men who turned 18 every year would be required to spend six months in military training, and then be assigned to reserve units. The small regular army would primarily be a training agency. Public opinion, however, was not willing to go that far. [24]

Both the regular army and the Preparedness leaders had a low opinion of the National Guard, which it saw as politicized, provincial, poorly armed, ill trained, too inclined to idealistic crusading (as against Spain in 1898), and too lacking in understanding of world affairs. The National Guard on the other hand was securely rooted in state and local politics, with representation from a very broad cross section of the US political economy. The Guard was one of the nation's few institutions that (in some northern states) accepted black men on an equal footing with white men.

Democrats respond Edit

The Democratic party saw the Preparedness movement as a threat. Roosevelt, Root and Wood were prospective Republican presidential candidates. More subtly, the Democrats were rooted in localism that appreciated the National Guard, and the voters were hostile to the rich and powerful in the first place. Working with the Democrats who controlled Congress, Wilson was able to sidetrack the Preparedness forces. Army and Navy leaders were forced to testify before Congress to the effect that the nation's military was in excellent shape.

In reality, neither the US Army nor US Navy was in shape for war in terms of manpower, size, military hardware or experience. The Navy had fine ships but Wilson had been using them to threaten Mexico, and the fleet's readiness had suffered. The crews of the Texas and the New York, the two newest and largest battleships, had never fired a gun, and the morale of the sailors was low. The Army and Navy air forces were tiny in size. Despite the flood of new weapons systems unveiled in the war in Europe, the Army was paying scant attention. For example, it was making no studies of trench warfare, poison gas or tanks, and was unfamiliar with the rapid evolution of aerial warfare. The Democrats in Congress tried to cut the military budget in 1915. The Preparedness movement effectively exploited the surge of outrage over the "Lusitania" in May 1915, forcing the Democrats to promise some improvements to the military and naval forces. Wilson, less fearful of the Navy, embraced a long-term building program designed to make the fleet the equal of the British Royal Navy by the mid-1920s, although this would not come to pass until World War II. [25] "Realism" was at work here the admirals were Mahanians and they therefore wanted a surface fleet of heavy battleships second to none—that is, equal to Great Britain. The facts of submarine warfare (which necessitated destroyers, not battleships) and the possibilities of imminent war with Germany (or with Britain, for that matter), were simply ignored.

Wilson's decision touched off a firestorm. [26] Secretary of War Lindley Garrison adopted many of the proposals of the Preparedness leaders, especially their emphasis on a large federal reserves and abandonment of the National Guard. Garrison's proposals not only outraged the provincial politicians of both parties, they also offended a strongly held belief shared by the liberal wing of the Progressive movement, that was, that warfare always had a hidden economic motivation. Specifically, they warned the chief warmongers were New York bankers (such as J. P. Morgan) with millions at risk, profiteering munition makers (such as Bethlehem Steel, which made armor, and DuPont, which made powder) and unspecified industrialists searching for global markets to control. Antiwar critics blasted them. These selfish special interests were too powerful, especially, Senator La Follette noted, in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. The only road to peace was disarmament in the eyes of many.

National debate Edit

Garrison's plan unleashed the fiercest battle in peacetime history over the relationship of military planning to national goals. In peacetime, War Department arsenals and Navy yards manufactured nearly all munitions that lacked civilian uses, including warships, artillery, naval guns, and shells. Items available on the civilian market, such food, horses, saddles, wagons, and uniforms were always purchased from civilian contractors.

Peace leaders like Jane Addams of Hull House and David Starr Jordan of Stanford University redoubled their efforts, and now turned their voices against the President because he was "sowing the seeds of militarism, raising up a military and naval caste." Many ministers, professors, farm spokesmen and labor union leaders joined in, with powerful support from a band of four dozen southern Democrats in Congress who took control of the House Military Affairs Committee. Wilson, in deep trouble, took his cause to the people in a major speaking tour in early 1916, a warm-up for his reelection campaign that fall.

Wilson seemed to have won over the middle classes, but had little impact on the largely ethnic working classes and the deeply isolationist farmers. Congress still refused to budge, so Wilson replaced Garrison as Secretary of War with Newton Baker, the Democratic mayor of Cleveland and an outspoken opponent of preparedness. [27] The upshot was a compromise passed in May 1916, as the war raged on and Berlin was debating whether America was so weak it could be ignored. The Army was to double in size to 11,300 officers and 208,000 men, with no reserves, and a National Guard that would be enlarged in five years to 440,000 men. Summer camps on the Plattsburg model were authorized for new officers, and the government was given $20 million to build a nitrate plant of its own. Preparedness supporters were downcast, the antiwar people were jubilant. The United States would now be too weak to go to war. Colonel Robert L. Bullard privately complained that "Both sides [Britain and Germany] treat us with scorn and contempt our fool, smug conceit of superiority has been exploded in our faces and deservedly.". [28] The House gutted the naval plans as well, defeating a "big navy" plan by 189 to 183, and canceling the battleships. The battle of Jutland (May 31/June 1, 1916) saw the main German High Seas Fleet engage in a monumental yet inconclusive clash with the far stronger Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy. Arguing this battle proved the validity of Mahanian doctrine, the navalists took control in the Senate, broke the House coalition, and authorized a rapid three-year buildup of all classes of warships. [ citation needed ] A new weapons system, naval aviation, received $3.5 million, and the government was authorized to build its own armor-plate factory. The very weakness of American military power encouraged Germany to start its unrestricted submarine attacks in 1917. It knew this meant war with America, but it could discount the immediate risk because the US Army was negligible and the new warships would not be at sea until 1919 by which time the war would be over, Berlin thought, with Germany victorious. The notion that armaments led to war was turned on its head: refusal to arm in 1916 led to war in 1917.

In January 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in hopes of forcing Britain to begin peace talks. The German Foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann invited revolution-torn Mexico to join the war as Germany's ally against the United States if the United States declared war on Germany in the Zimmermann Telegram. In return, the Germans would send Mexico money and help it recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona that Mexico lost during the Mexican–American War 70 years earlier. [29] British intelligence intercepted the telegram and passed the information on to Washington. Wilson released the Zimmerman note to the public and Americans saw it as a casus belli—a justification for war.

At first, Wilson tried to maintain neutrality while fighting off the submarines by arming American merchant ships with guns powerful enough to sink German submarines on the surface (but useless when the U-boats were under water). After submarines sank seven US merchant ships, Wilson finally went to Congress calling for a declaration of war on Germany, which Congress voted on April 6, 1917. [30]

As a result of the Russian February Revolution in 1917, the Tsar abdicated and was replaced by a Russian Provisional Government. This helped overcome Wilson's reluctance to having the US fight alongside a country ruled by an absolutist monarch. Pleased by the Provisional Government's pro-war stance, the US accorded the new government diplomatic recognition on March 9, 1917. [31]

Congress declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on December 7, 1917, [32] but never made declarations of war against the other Central Powers, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire or the various small co-belligerents allied with the Central Powers. [33] Thus, the United States remained uninvolved in the military campaigns in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

The home front required a systematic mobilization of the entire population and the entire economy to produce the soldiers, food supplies, munitions, and money needed to win the war. It took a year to reach a satisfactory state. Although the war had already raged for two years, Washington had avoided planning, or even recognition of the problems that the British and other Allies had to solve on their home fronts. As a result, the level of confusion was high at first. Finally efficiency was achieved in 1918. [34]

The war came in the midst of the Progressive Era, when efficiency and expertise were highly valued. Therefore, the federal government set up a multitude of temporary agencies with 50,000 to 1,000,000 new employees to bring together the expertise necessary to redirect the economy into the production of munitions and food necessary for the war, as well as for propaganda purposes. [35]

Food Edit

The most admired agency for efficiency was the United States Food Administration under Herbert Hoover. It launched a massive campaign to teach Americans to economize on their food budgets and grow victory gardens in their backyards fort family consumption. It managed the nation's food distribution and prices and built Hoover's reputation as an independent force of presidential quality. [36]

Finance Edit

In 1917 the government was unprepared for the enormous economic and financial strains of the war. Washington hurriedly took direct control of the economy. The total cost of the war came to $33 billion, which was 42 times as large as all Treasury receipts in 1916. A constitutional amendment legitimized income tax in 1913 its original very low levels were dramatically increased, especially at the demand of the Southern progressive elements. North Carolina Congressman Claude Kitchin, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee argued that since Eastern businessman had been leaders in calling for war, they should pay for it. [37] In an era when most workers earned under $1000 a year, the basic exemption was $2,000 for a family. Above that level taxes began at the 2 percent rate in 1917, jumping to 12 percent in 1918. On top of that there were surcharges of one percent for incomes above $5,000 to 65 percent for incomes above $1,000,000. As a result, the richest 22 percent of American taxpayers paid 96 percent of individual income taxes. Businesses faced a series of new taxes, especially on "excess profits" ranging from 20 percent to 80 percent on profits above pre-war levels. There were also excise taxes that everyone paid who purchased an automobile, jewelry, camera, or a motorboat. [38] [39] The greatest source of revenue came from war bonds, which were effectively merchandised to the masses through an elaborate innovative campaign to reach average Americans. Movie stars and other celebrities, supported by millions of posters, and an army of Four-Minute Men speakers explained the importance of buying bonds. In the third Liberty Loan campaign of 1918, more than half of all families subscribed. In total, $21 billion in bonds were sold with interest from 3.5 to 4.7 percent. The new Federal Reserve system encouraged banks to loan families money to buy bonds. All the bonds were redeemed, with interest, after the war. Before the United States entered the war, New York banks had loaned heavily to the British. After the U.S. entered in April 1917, the Treasury made $10 billion in long-term loans to Britain, France and the other allies, with the expectation the loans would be repaid after the war. Indeed, the United States insisted on repayment, which by the 1950s eventually was achieved by every country except Russia. [40] [41]

Labor Edit

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) and affiliated trade unions were strong supporters of the war effort. [42] Fear of disruptions to war production by labor radicals provided the AFL political leverage to gain recognition and mediation of labor disputes, often in favor of improvements for workers. They resisted strikes in favor of arbitration and wartime policy, and wages soared as near-full employment was reached at the height of the war. The AFL unions strongly encouraged young men to enlist in the military, and fiercely opposed efforts to reduce recruiting and slow war production by pacifists, the anti-war Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and radical socialists. To keep factories running smoothly, Wilson established the National War Labor Board in 1918, which forced management to negotiate with existing unions. [43] Wilson also appointed AFL president Samuel Gompers to the powerful Council of National Defense, where he set up the War Committee on Labor.

After initially resisting taking a stance, the IWW became actively anti-war, engaging in strikes and speeches and suffering both legal and illegal suppression by federal and local governments as well as pro-war vigilantes. The IWW was branded as anarchic, socialist, unpatriotic, alien and funded by German gold, and violent attacks on members and offices would continue into the 1920s. [44]

Women's roles Edit

World War I saw women taking traditionally men's jobs in large numbers for the first time in American history. Many women worked on the assembly lines of factories, assembling munitions. Some department stores employed African American women as elevator operators and cafeteria waitresses for the first time. [45]

Most women remained housewives. The Food Administration helped housewives prepare more nutritious meals with less waste and with optimum use of the foods available. Most important, the morale of the women remained high, as millions of middle class women joined the Red Cross as volunteers to help soldiers and their families. [46] [47] With rare exceptions, women did not try to block the draft. [48]

The Department of Labor created a Women in Industry group, headed by prominent labor researcher and social scientist Mary van Kleeck. [49] This group helped develop standards for women who were working in industries connected to the war alongside the War Labor Policies Board, of which van Kleeck was also a member. After the war, the Women in Industry Service group developed into the U.S. Women's Bureau, headed by Mary Anderson. [50] [49]

Propaganda Edit

Crucial to US participation was the sweeping domestic propaganda campaign. In order to achieve this, President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information through Executive Order 2594 on April 13, 1917, which was the first state bureau in the United States that's main focus was on propaganda. The man charged by President Wilson with organizing and leading the CPI was George Creel, a once relentless journalist and political campaign organizer who would search without mercy for any bit of information that would paint a bad picture on his opponents. Creel went about his task with boundless energy. He was able to create an intricate, unprecedented propaganda system that plucked and instilled an influence on almost all phases of normal American life. [51] In the press—as well as through photographs, movies, public meetings, and rallies—the CPI was able to douse the public with Propaganda that brought on American patriotism whilst creating an anti-German image into the young populace, further quieting the voice of the neutrality supporters. It also took control of market regarding the dissemination of war-related information on the American home front, which in turn promoted a system of voluntary censorship in the country's newspapers and magazines while simultaneously policing these same media outlets for seditious content or anti-American support. [ citation needed ] The campaign consisted of tens of thousands of government-selected community leaders giving brief carefully scripted pro-war speeches at thousands of public gatherings. [52] [53]

Alongside government agencies were officially approved private vigilante groups like the American Protective League. They closely monitored (and sometimes harassed) people opposed to American entry into the war or displaying too much German heritage. [54]

Other forms of propaganda included newsreels, large-print posters (designed by several well-known illustrators of the day, including Louis D. Fancher and Henry Reuterdahl), magazine and newspaper articles, and billboards. At the end of the war in 1918, after the Armistice was signed, the CPI was disbanded after inventing some of the tactics used by propagandists today. [55]

Children Edit

The nation placed a great importance on the role of children, teaching them patriotism and national service and asking them to encourage war support and educate the public about the importance of the war. The Boy Scouts of America helped distribute war pamphlets, helped sell war bonds, and helped to drive nationalism and support for the war. [56]

Proclamation of Neutrality

The outbreak of the French revolution coincided with the beginning of George Washington's first administration, but by 1793, warfare had engulfed Europe, pitting England, Prussia, Austria, and Spain against the new French Republic. In the cabinet Thomas Jefferson opposed any expression of neutrality while Alexander Hamilton supported it. Washington eventually sided with the latter and issued a proclamation of neutrality that barred American ships from supplying war matériel to either side. The proclamation stated that the United States would not offer protection to Americans who violated neutrality laws, and that the United States would actively prosecute anyone within its jurisdiction who violated international law with respect to neutrality. The issue was very sensitive. The United States had won the War of Independence largely through the military and financial support of France, but that was before the French Revolution. Hamilton and his fellow "aristocratic" supporters were not in symnpathy with the revolution. Their argument, which ultimately persuaded Washington, was that France had helped in a war in which they had an interest in the outcome. France's new war was entirely of a European nature and the United States had no interest. Hamilton said as much in newspaper articles written under the name "Pacificus". In the third Pacificus letter, he suggested that France was not due American support since she had to a degree brought the situation on herself. Jefferson and his adherents, to the contrary, were inspired by the revolution and felt that neutrality was a betrayal. Jefferson wrote to Hamilton that:

U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I - HISTORY

Unit - From Neutrality to War: The United States and Europe, 1921-1941
(adapted from EDSITEment! lesson)

  1. How did Americans' disillusionment with World War 1 help to shape US Foreign policy during the 1920's?
  2. Did the neutrality laws of the 1930's represent an effective US response to world affairs?
  3. How did the American conception of "neutrality" change during the first fifteen months of World War II in Europe? Was this change a positive or negative development?
  4. Which side offered the better approach to US foreign relations - the "internationalists" or the "isolationists"?

Lesson 1 - Postwar Disillusionment and the Quest for Peace, 1921-1929
Having experienced the horrors of modern war during one world war, many Americans in the 1920's concluded that there must not be another. A number of antiwar organizations had existed even before the war, but during the interwar period pacifism became the fastest growing movement in America.

The United States may have refused to join the League of Nations, but this did not prevent numerous American politicians, businessmen, journalists, and activists from making proposals for multilateral agreements on arms control and collective security.

Through an examination of memoirs, photographs, and other primary source documents, you will examine the rise of antiwar sentiment in the United States as well as some of the concrete measures taken during the 1920s to prevent the outbreak of future wars.

Guiding Question for this Lesson:
How did Americans' disillusionment with World War I help to shape US foreign policy during the 1920s?

Read lesson background handout.

Activity 1: Postwar Disillusionment
In this activity you will learn about the disillusionment that set in after World War I, and encouraged the spread of pacifism during the 1920s. Pacifism is "the belief that disputes between nations can and should be settled peacefully".

Answer the following questions in your notebook:

  1. Based on the definition of pacifism quoted above, do you consider yourself a pacifist?
  2. Under what circumstances do you believe it is acceptable for the country to go to war?

    Excerpt from Raymond B. Fosdick, "The League of Nations as an Instrument of Liberalism," Atlantic Monthly 126:4 (October 1920): 553-563.

Read "Activity 1: Postwar Disillusionment (part 2)" handout. After reading, complete the following:

Imagine that you are a member of the National Council for the Prevention of War, one of the country's leading pacifist organizations during the 1920s. Use the document excerpts in the above handout to create a political cartoon that will encourage people to embrace pacifism.

Activity 2: The Quest for Peace
Complete "Activity 2: The Quest for Peace" handouts (2) including briefing papers for both packets.

Write a 5-7 paragraph paper directly addressing the following question:

How did Americans' disillusionment with World War I help to shape U.S. Foreign policy during the 1920s?

Write a paragraph for each of the following, identifying and explaining their significance:

In this lesson you will examine a series of primary source documents that will help you understand why these laws were passed, and how they were applied in the mid- to late-1930s.

Guiding Question for this Lesson:
Did the neutrality laws of the 1930s represent an effective US response to world affairs?

Read lesson background handout.

Activity 1: Merchants of Death
Read the excerpt from the deeply influential 1934 book Merchants of Death (in your handout packet). After reading, imagine that you are an average citizen in 1934. Write a five paragraph (minimum) letter to your congressman or senator in which you give your reaction to what you have just read, then suggest some means of ensuring that the United States remain neutral in any future wars.

It may be helpful, before writing your paper, to review what you've previously learned about the causes of US Involvement in World War I.

After writing your paper, answer the following question in your notebook:

How do you think this book would likely have affected Americans' perceptions of the Great War?

Activity 2: The Neutrality Acts, 1935-1937
In response to public demand generated in part by Merchants of Death, Congress in the mid-1930s passed a series of neutrality laws to prevent US involvement in another war. In this activity, you will look at these neutrality laws and determine their effectiveness.

Read the following excerpts, located in your printed packet:

Neutrality Act of August 31, 1935
Bennett Champ Clark's defense of the First Neutrality Act, December 1935
Excerpts from an address to the Senate by Tom Connally (D-TX), August 24, 1935
Statement by President Roosevelt, August 31, 1935
Neutrality Act of February 29, 1936
Neutrality Act of May 1, 1937

After reading, answer the following questions, located on pages 4-5 of your packet:

  1. What were the key provisions of the Neutrality Act of 1935? Why do you think they were included?
  2. Why did Bennett Champ Clark believe that the Neutrality Act was necessary?
  3. Who, according to Clark, would lose if the Neutrality Act was passed and why?
  4. What problem did Senator Connally and President Roosevelt see in the 1935 Neutrality Act? Why do you think Roosevelt signed it, in spite of this problem?
  5. What provisions were added by the Neutrality Act of 1936? Why do you think these were included?
  6. What provisions were added by the Neutrality Act of 1937? Why do you think these were included?
  1. Click on the link above to start the interactive timeline.
  2. Choose "Enter Europe"
  3. Read the page that opens, then click on "Select a Course of Action"
  4. Choose a course of action from the list provided (right side of the page). If you select the incorrect course of action, choose again until you choose the correct course of action.
  5. When you have chosen the correct course of action, read the excerpt that appears, then click on "Click to read a contemporary document"
  6. Read this document, then click on "Advance to Next Event"
  7. Repeat until you have completed the entire interactive timeline.

After completing the interactive timeline, answer the questions found on page 11 of your printed packet.

Use the printed map included in your packet to note the following locations:

Finally, write a few paragraphs in your notebook on the following:

Do you think the neutrality laws had their intended effect of keeping the United States out of the war during the 1930s? Why or why not?

Consider the larger implications of the neutrality laws. What was their effect on the role of the United States in foreign affairs? How likely was it that, in the absence of the Neutrality Acts, the United States might have been drawn into the Italo-Ethiopian War, the Spanish Civil War, or a war arising over the Rhineland, Austria or the Sudetenland? Might the United States have been able to play a more productive role in European politics had these laws not been passed?

Final Activity - Wrap Up
Write an essay in response to the following question:

Although President Roosevelt signed the Neutrality Act of 1935, he indicated that it "might have exactly the opposite effect from that which was intended". In light of the actual events of 1933-1939, do you think his concerned was warranted?

Write a paragraph for each of the following, identifying and explaining their significance:

Lesson 3 - US Neutrality and the War in Europe, 1939-1940
The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 posed a serious challenge to the US Neutrality, since Americans' sympathies lay overwhelmingly with Great Britain and its allies. The task of remaining neutral became even more formidable in mid-1940 when it appeared as though Hitler's Germany might actually win the war. Public sentiment overwhelmingly favored staying out of the war, yet at the same time most Americans believed that a German victory would pose a threat to national security.

Through a study of contemporary documents, you will learn the difficult choices faced by the Roosevelt administration during the first fifteen months of World War II, culminating in the decision to provide direct military aid to Great Britain.

Guiding Question for this Lesson:
How did the American conception of "neutrality" change during the first fifteen months of World War II in Europe? Was this change a positive or a negative development?

Read lesson background handout.

Activity 1: Revision of the Neutrality Acts
The Neutrality Acts passed in 1935, 1936 and 1937 were an attempt to keep the United States out of foreign conflicts. After war broke out in Europe in 1939, however, President Roosevelt asked Congress to lift the arms embargo provisions of those laws. In this activity, you will look at three contemporary documents to determine whether this revision was justified.

Read excerpts from the President's radio address of September 3, 1939, in which he officially declared the neutrality of the United States (pages 1-2 of your printed packet). As you read, answer the questions on page 1 of your printed packet.

Next, read excerpts of the following documents (located on pages 3-6 of your printed packet):

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address before Congress, September 21, 1939
Radio Address by Charles Lindbergh, "Neutrality and War", October 13, 1939

As you read, complete the worksheet (page 6 of your printed package), listing reasons for and against lifting the arms embargo.

Finally, write a few paragraphs in your notebook addressing the following:

Activity 2: Should Aid be Sent to Great Britain?
By late 1940 all of Great Britain's European allies had gone down to defeat, and England faced not only aerial attacks on its cities and submarine attacks on its shipping, but the very real possibility of a full-scale naval invasion. This led to a growing demand that the United States take more positive action to assist the British.

Return to "America on the Sidelines: The United States and World Affairs, 1931-1941" interactive timeline. Begin at September 1939 (Germany Invades Poland: World War II Begins) and continue through December 1940. Make sure to review the documents that go with each section.

Read the documents included in your printed packet (pages 8-11). Based on your understanding of world conditions, and on the contents of these documents, imagine that you are President Roosevelt. Write a five-paragraph (minimum) letter to Winston Churchill responding to his request for aid. Your letter should make reference to each of the things Churchill asks for, explaining why the United States will or will not do as he asks. Remember that your options as president as constrained by the provisions of the neutrality laws, as amended in 1939.

Final Activity - Wrap Up
Write a brief essay (minimum 7 paragraphs) in response to the following:

Lesson 4 - The Great Debate: Internationalists vs. Isolationists
President Roosevelt's proposal to provide direct military aid to Great Britain launched a nationwide debate over foreign policy that lasted through most of 1941. Should the United States observe its traditional policy of non-involvement in European affairs (to which World War I had been a notable exception), or should the United States take whatever steps were necessary (up to and, perhaps, including direct involvement in the war) to prevent a German victory? It was a bitter, passionate debate that in a sense was never adequately resolved - after the Japanese

In this lesson you will be introduced to the main arguments used by both sides in this great debate. Through the use of an interactive map and primary source documents, you will trace the events of 1941, and think critically about what foreign policy would have best served national needs.

Guiding Question for this Lesson:
Which side offered the better approach to US foreign relations - the "internationalists" or the "isolationists"?

Read lesson background handout.

Activity 1 - The Debate over Lend-Lease
President Roosevelt's Lend-Lease proposal deeply divided the nation in the early months of 1941. Supporters insisted that the United States must take any measures necessary to prevent Great Britain from being defeated. Critics, on the other hand, objected that the United States could not be neutral if it were openly assisting one side in a war over another.

First, read Franklin D. Roosevelt's Eighth Annual message to Congress, January 6, 1941 in your printed packet (pages 1-2). As you read, make a list of the key points included in this proposal (on pages 2-3 of your printed packet). When finished, choose a "side" - "internationalists" (members of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies) or "isolationists" (members of the America First Committee). You will complete a presentation to convince the American people either that the Lend-Lease Act would be a dangerous step toward war or a critical measure for national security (depending on the side you take). Your presentation should include the following:

A 5-7 page written "argument" stating your viewpoint

Graphic aids - these can be posters, political cartoons, fliers, etc. They should be both factually accurate and graphically appealing.

In order to understand what your side stands for, read the following from your printed packet:

America Fist Committee - Isolationists

Radio Address by Sen. Burton K. Wheeler, December 31, 1940 (page 6-8 of packet)

Charles A. Lindbergh testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 6, 1941 (pages 9-10 of packet)

Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies - Interlationalists

Radio Address by Sen. James Byrnes, January 17, 1941 (pages 12-14 of packet)

Radio Address by Sen. Tom Connally, February 17, 1941 (pages 14-16 of packet)

NOTE: You should read ALL of these speeches, not just the ones associated with the side you have chosen, in order to gain a better understanding of the great debate of this time.

Return to "America on the Sidelines: The United States and World Affairs, 1931-1941" interactive timeline. Begin at December 1940 and continue through the end of 1941. Make sure to review the documents that go with each section.

After completing the interactive timeline, write a five paragraph essay responding to the following question:

Final Activity - Wrap Up
Write a five paragraph essay in response to the following question:

Could the United States have stayed out of the war in Europe? Should it have?

Write one paragraph for each of the following identifying and explaining their significance:

Interesting Fact!
The battle over US intervention was fought with political cartoons as well as speeches and radio broadcasts. One of the most prolific American cartoonists on this issue was Theodore Geisel - better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss! See his political cartoon collection at Dr. Seuss Went to War.

U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I - HISTORY

The Neutrality Act of 1935
Digital History ID 4057

Annotation: The Neutrality Act of 1935.

Between 1935 and 1937, Congress passed three separate neutrality laws that clamped an embargo on arms sales to belligerents, forbade American ships from entering war zones and prohibited them from being armed, and barred Americans from traveling on belligerent ships. Clearly, Congress was determined not to repeat what it regarded as the mistakes that had plunged the United States into World War I.

Document: "Neutrality Act" of August 31, 1935, Joint Resolution 49 stat. 1081 22 U.S.C. 441 note

Providing for the prohibition of the export of arms, ammunition, and implements of war to belligerent countries the prohibition of the transportation of arms, ammunition, and implements of war by vessels of the United States for the use of belligerent states for the registration and licensing of persons engaged in the business of manufacturing, exporting, or importing arms, ammunition, or implements of war and restricting travel by American citizens on belligerent ships during war.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That upon the outbreak or during the progress of war between, or among, two or more foreign states, the President shall proclaim such fact, and it shall thereafter be unlawful to export arms, ammunition, or implements of war from any place in the United States, or possessions of the United States, to any port of such belligerent states, or to any neutral port for transshipment to, or for the use of, a belligerent country.

The President, by proclamation, shall definitely enumerate the arms, ammunition, or implements of war, the export of which is prohibited by this Act.

The President may, from time to time, by proclamation, extend such embargo upon the export of arms, ammunition, or implements of war to other states as and when they may become involved in such war.

Whoever, in violation of any of the provisions of this section, shall export, or attempt to export, or cause to be exported, arms, ammunition, or implements of war from the United States, or any of its possessions, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, and the property, vessel, or vehicle containing the same shall be subject to the provisions of sections 1 to 8, inclusive, title 6, chapter 30, of the Act approved June 15, 1917 (40 Stat. 223-225 U. S. C., title 22, sees. 238-245).

In the case of the forfeiture of any arms, ammunition, or implements of war by reason of a violation of this Act, no public or private sale shall be required but such arms, ammunition, or implements of war shall be delivered to the Secretary of War for such use or disposal thereof as shall be approved by the President.

When in the judgment of the President the conditions which have caused him to issue his proclamation have ceased to exist he shall revoke the same and the provisions hereof shall thereupon cease to apply.

Except with respect to prosecutions committed or forfeitures incurred prior to March 1, 1936, this section and all proclamations issued thereunder shall not be effective after February 29, 1936.

That for the purpose of this Act- (a) The term "Board" means the National Munitions Control Board which is hereby established to carry out the provisions of this Act. The Board shall consist of the Secretary of State, who shall be chairman and executive officer of the Board the Secretary of the Treasury the Secretary of War the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Commerce. Except as otherwise provided in this Act, or by other law, the administration of this Act is vested in the Department of State (b) The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense, includes the several States and Territories, the insular possessions of the United States (including the Philippine Islands), the Canal Zone, and the District of Columbia (c) The term "person" includes a partnership, company, association, or corporation, as well as a natural person.

Within ninety days after the effective date of this Act, or upon first engaging in business, every person who engages in the business of manufacturing, exporting, or importing any of the arms, ammunition, and implements of war referred to in this Act, whether as an exporter, importer, manufacturer, or dealer, shall register with the Secretary of State his name, or business name, principal place of business, and places of business in the United States, and a list of the arms, ammunition, and implements of war which he manufactures, imports, or exports.

Every person required to register under this section shall notify the Secretary of State of any change in the arms, ammunition, and implements of war which he exports, imports, or manufactures and upon such notification the Secretary of State shall issue to such person an amended certificate of registration, free of charge, which shall remain valid until the date of expiration of the original certificate. Every person required to register under the provisions of this section shall pay a registration fee of $500, and upon receipt of such fee the Secretary of State shall issue a registration certificate valid for five years, which shall be renewable for further periods of five years upon the payment of each renewal of a fee of $500.

It shall be unlawful for any person to export, or attempt to export, from the United States any of the arms, ammunition, or implements of war referred to in this Act to any other country or to import, or attempt to import, to the United States from any other country any of the arms, ammunition, or implements of war referred to in this Act without first having obtained a license therefore.

All persons required to register under this section shall maintain, subject to the inspection of the Board, such permanent records of manufacture for export, importation, and exportation of arms, ammunition, and implements of war as the Board shall prescribe.

Licenses shall be issued to persons who have registered as provided for, except in cases of export or import licenses where exportation of arms, ammunition, or implements of war would be in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States, or of a treaty to which the United States is a party, in which cases such licenses shall not be issued.

The Board shall be called by the Chairman and shall hold at least one meeting a year.

No purchase of arms, ammunition, and implements of war shall be made on behalf of the United States by any officer, executive department, or independent establishment of the Government from any person who shall have failed to register under the provisions of this Act.

The Board shall make an annual report to Congress, copies of which shall be distributed as are other reports transmitted to Congress. Such report shall contain such information and data collected by the Board as may be considered of value in the determination of questions connected with the control of trade in arms, ammunition, and implements of war. It shall include a list of all persons required to register under the provisions of this Act, and full information concerning the licenses issued hereunder.

The Secretary of State shall promulgate such rules and regulations with regard to the enforcement of this section as he may deem necessary to carry out its provisions.

The President is hereby authorized to proclaim upon recommendation of the Board from time to time a list of articles which shall be considered arms, ammunition, and implements of war for the purposes of this section.

This section shall take effect on the ninetieth day after the date of its enactment.

Whenever the President shall issue the proclamation provided for in section 1 of this Act, thereafter it shall be unlawful for any American vessel to carry any arms, ammunition, or implements of war to any port of the belligerent countries named in such proclamation as being at war, or to any neutral port for transshipment to, or for the use of, a belligerent country.

Whoever, in violation of the provisions of this section, shall take, attempt to take, or shall authorize, hire, or solicit another to take any such vessel carrying such cargo out of port or from the jurisdiction of the United States shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both and, in addition, such vessel, her tackle, apparel, furniture, equipment, and the arms, ammunition, and implements of war on board shall be forfeited to the United States.

When the President finds the conditions which have caused him to issue his proclamation have ceased to exist, he shall revoke his proclamation, and the provisions of this section shall thereupon cease to apply.

Whenever, during any war in which the United States is neutral, the President, or any person "hereunto authorized by him, shall have cause to believe that any vessel, domestic or foreign, whether requiring clearance or not, is about to carry out of a port of the United States, or its possession, men or fuel, arms, ammunition, implements of war, or other supplies to any warship, tender, or supply ship of a foreign belligerent nation, but the evidence is not deemed sufficient to justify forbidding the departure of the vessel as provided for by section 1, title V, chapter 30, of the Act approved June 15, 1917 (40 Stat. [221[22]] U. S. C. title 18, sec. 31), and if, in the President's judgment, such action will serve to maintain peace between the United States and foreign nations, or to protect the commercial interests of the United States and its citizens, or to promote the security of the United States, he shall have the power and it shall be his duty to require the owner, master, or person in command thereof, before departing from a port of the United States, or any of its possessions, for a foreign port, to give a bond to the United States, with sufficient sureties, in such amount as he shall deem proper, conditioned that the vessel will not deliver the men, or the cargo, or any part thereof, to any warship, tender, or supply ship of a belligerent nation and, if the President, or any person thereunto authorized by him, shall find that a vessel, domestic or foreign, in a port of the United States, or one of its possessions, has previously cleared from such port during such war and delivered its cargo or any part thereof to a warship, tender, or supply ship of a belligerent nation, he may prohibit the departure of such vessel during the duration of the war.

Whenever, during any war in which the United States is neutral, the President shall find that special restrictions placed on the use of the ports and territorial waters of the United States, or of its possessions, by the submarines of a foreign nation will serve to maintain peace between the United States and foreign nations, or to protect the commercial interests of the United States and its citizens, or to promote the security of the United States, and shall make proclamation thereof, it shall thereafter be unlawful for any such submarine to enter a port or the territorial waters of the United States or any of its possessions, or to depart therefrom, except under such conditions and subject to such limitations as the President may prescribe. When, in his judgment, the conditions which have caused him to issue his proclamation have ceased to exist, he shall revoke his proclamation and the provisions of this section shall thereupon cease to apply.

Whenever, during any war in which the United States is neutral, the President shall find that the maintenance of peace between the United States and foreign nations, or the protection of the lives of citizens of the United States, or the protection of the commercial interests of the United States and its citizens, or the security of the United States requires that the American citizens should refrain from traveling as passengers on the vessels of any belligerent nation, he shall so proclaim, and thereafter no citizen of the United States shall travel on any vessel of any belligerent nation except at his own risk, unless in accordance with such rules and regulations as the President shall prescribe: Provided, however, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to a citizen traveling on the vessel of a belligerent whose voyage was begun in advance of the date of the President's proclamation, and who had no opportunity to discontinue his voyage after that date: And provided further, That they shall not apply under ninety days after the date of the President's proclamation to a citizen returning from a foreign country to the United States or to any of its possessions. When, in the President's judgment, the conditions which have caused him to issue his proclamation have ceased to exist, he shall revoke his proclamation and the provisions of this section shall thereupon cease to apply.

In every case of the violation of any of the provisions of this Act where a specific penalty is not herein provided, such violator or violators, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If any of the provisions of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the remainder of the Act, and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected thereby.

The sum of $25,000 is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to be expended by the Secretary of State in administering this Act.

Watch the video: America in World War I: Crash Course US History #30 (August 2022).