The day before, April 4, 1917, the U.S. Senate ended twelve hours of debate to adopt a resolution that a state of war exists between the U.S. and Germany. The final vote was 82 to 6, with 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats opposing the measure. Crowds crammed into the Senate galleries, and US House members stood in the rear of the room witnessing the event. After the decision was announced, senators and spectators emptied the chambers in a somber silence.
On April 5, 1917 the U.S. House of Representatives voted 373 to 50 in favor of the war resolution. Their debate continued for 17 hours, with a decision coming shortly after 3 am in the morning. The only woman serving in the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, reluctantly voiced her opposition. She was quoted saying,” I want to stand by my country but I cannot vote for war.”
After the congressional votes, the legislators faced the request to immediately provide more than $3.5 million for the first year of America’s participation.
President Woodrow Wilson declared that he would sign the resolution the next day, April 6.
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XV castigated President Wilson’s embrace of the war: “The man who las December championed peace today champions a vaster war and is leading the new world participation in the horrors of the greatest human butchery ever witnessed by the old world.”
PUBLIC EVENT - APRIL 19
World War I Centennial Series
Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Av, Portland, OR
Dissent and World War I in the U.S. and Oregon
Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 7pm-8:30pm, free, open to public
Mr. Michael Helquist and Dr. Michael Kazin
Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions
Oregon State University Press, 2015