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United States prepares for war
Uncle Sam sending his ships to war Photo: Puck, 10 March 1917

United States prepares for war

Wilson calls for special session of Congress

New York, 27 March 1917 - America is on the brink of joining the Great War.

Continuing attacks on American vessels by German submarines has brought President Woodrow Wilson to sign an order increasing Navy numbers from 62,000 to 87,000. The President has also called the National Guard up for service.

It is widely understood that the special session of Congress called by President Wilson for 2 April will go down in history as a ‘War Congress’ and will bring immediate action against Germany.

By March 1917, American magazine Puck was convinced that the US would join with the Allies in the First World War (Images: Puck, 24 Feb & 10 March 1917)

The price of peace is war
With American officials privately acknowledging that there is no hope of avoiding conflict, a mass meeting has been held in Madison Square Garden, attended by 13,000 people.

Among the speeches was one from the President of Princeton University, John Hibben, whose words encapsulated the great change underway in American public opinion:

‘I am here as a pacifist. I believe in peace at any price, and the price at the present time is war. Let us recognize our enemy. We have been a long time finding him out, but we know him now. I hope the day will come when the stars and stripes will be seen somewhere along Von Hindenburg’s line in France.’

The rally passed a resolution calling on Congress to declare a state of war when it reconvenes for its special sitting on 2 April.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.