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April 6, 1917: Congress Declares War on Germany

WHEREAS, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the people of the United States of America; therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has thus been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

The Declaration of War against Imperial Germany in 1917 was highly popular among the American people in general, so it is not surprising that the votes in each chamber of Congress were lopsided.  In the Senate on April 4 the vote was 82-6 with eight senators not voting.  On April 6 the House passed the Declaration of War 373 to 50.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

3 Comments

  1. Don

    My Grandmother, when she was a teenager, campaigned hard for Woodrow Wilson because he kept us out of war. A month and two days after the beginning of his sec0nd term we declared war.

    In all her 90 years she never voted for a democrat for President..

  2. My early 1960’s, HS US history text says that April 6, 1917 was Good Friday. The war declaration and subsequent League of Nations (Gross Britanien also would have its five Dominions voting) boondoggles were unpopular with Irish- and German-Americans, plus the extant isolationist bent.

    In November 1916, it was “He kept us out of war.” Hey, it’s what politicians, especially progressive politicians, do. Similarly in the run-up to November 1932, FDR promised not to do anything with US gold. In April 1933, by executive order, FDR confiscated, er, forced the surrender of, all monetary gold (coins) in the US and it a crime to possess it. Later in 1933 or 4, FDR ordered removed from Federal Reserve Notes (what you believe is money, but is the World’s reserve currency) the promissory statement, “Will Pay to The Bearer ## Dollars.”

    Wilson! What would we do without the Federal income tax and the Federal Reserve? They were necessary for WWI and WWII.

  3. Similarly in the run-up to November 1932, FDR promised not to do anything with US gold. In April 1933, by executive order, FDR confiscated, er, forced the surrender of, all monetary gold (coins) in the US and it a crime to possess it.

    There’s a reason you don’t announce a currency devaluation five months in advance. Even a rumor of one can induce a run, which is what the country was coping with for the four months prior to Roosevelt’s inauguration. A devaluation of the currency and expansion of the monetary base was very much in order in the Spring of 1933 and proved quite tonic. Britain devalued its currency in September 1931 and began it’s economic recovery right away. The U.S. economy careered downhill for another 18 months.

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