WEFOUNDWorld War I: The American Soldier Experience


Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I .

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia
An article by James D. Startt that appeared in NARA's publication, Prologue , Fall 1998.

The Great War: World War I and the American Century
An article by James Kratsas from the NARA publication, The Record , September 1998.

Photographs of the 369th Infantry and African Americans during World War I
A 'Teaching with Documents' lesson that details the role played by African Americans in World War I.

That was the headline screaming from newspapers around the country on April 6, 1917, as the United States declared war on the German empire.

The United States had avoided being drawn into what was then known as “The Great War,” which had been raging in Europe since 1914. But German unrestricted submarine warfare – which U.S. leaders regarded as war on civilians – led to this juncture. President Woodrow Wilson, who had just been re-elected under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War,” felt he had no other option.

“The United States was in it, but they had to define what ‘it’ meant,” said Brian Neumann, a historian at the Army’s Center of Military History . Neumann, who edited a series on the Army during World War I, said it wasn’t a done deal that Americans would go to France to help man the Western Front.

"I feel in the profoundest sense that nothing can ever be the same -- that, as artists, we are traitors if we feel otherwise: we have to take it into account and find new expressions, new moulds for our thoughts and feelings." -- Katherine Mansfield

You may also enjoy Civil War Stories and American History to better understand historical events from authors who were there.

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I .

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia
An article by James D. Startt that appeared in NARA's publication, Prologue , Fall 1998.

The Great War: World War I and the American Century
An article by James Kratsas from the NARA publication, The Record , September 1998.

Photographs of the 369th Infantry and African Americans during World War I
A 'Teaching with Documents' lesson that details the role played by African Americans in World War I.

That was the headline screaming from newspapers around the country on April 6, 1917, as the United States declared war on the German empire.

The United States had avoided being drawn into what was then known as “The Great War,” which had been raging in Europe since 1914. But German unrestricted submarine warfare – which U.S. leaders regarded as war on civilians – led to this juncture. President Woodrow Wilson, who had just been re-elected under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War,” felt he had no other option.

“The United States was in it, but they had to define what ‘it’ meant,” said Brian Neumann, a historian at the Army’s Center of Military History . Neumann, who edited a series on the Army during World War I, said it wasn’t a done deal that Americans would go to France to help man the Western Front.

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I .

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia
An article by James D. Startt that appeared in NARA's publication, Prologue , Fall 1998.

The Great War: World War I and the American Century
An article by James Kratsas from the NARA publication, The Record , September 1998.

Photographs of the 369th Infantry and African Americans during World War I
A 'Teaching with Documents' lesson that details the role played by African Americans in World War I.

That was the headline screaming from newspapers around the country on April 6, 1917, as the United States declared war on the German empire.

The United States had avoided being drawn into what was then known as “The Great War,” which had been raging in Europe since 1914. But German unrestricted submarine warfare – which U.S. leaders regarded as war on civilians – led to this juncture. President Woodrow Wilson, who had just been re-elected under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War,” felt he had no other option.

“The United States was in it, but they had to define what ‘it’ meant,” said Brian Neumann, a historian at the Army’s Center of Military History . Neumann, who edited a series on the Army during World War I, said it wasn’t a done deal that Americans would go to France to help man the Western Front.

"I feel in the profoundest sense that nothing can ever be the same -- that, as artists, we are traitors if we feel otherwise: we have to take it into account and find new expressions, new moulds for our thoughts and feelings." -- Katherine Mansfield

You may also enjoy Civil War Stories and American History to better understand historical events from authors who were there.

Women have long been involved in the military during times of war, though not always in a capacity that we might recognize as “traditionally” military.  For centuries women have followed armies, many of them soldiers’ wives, providing indispensable services such as cooking, nursing, and laundry—in fact, “armies could not have functioned as well, perhaps could not have functioned at all, without the service of women.”  1

Another significant change to women’s service during the Great War is that American civilian women donned uniforms. The uniforms allowed women to look the part and claim credibility for their services, as well as to be taken seriously by others; many women saw their wartime service as a way to claim full citizenship, and the uniforms symbolized “their credentials as citizens engaged in wartime service.”  2

Other women donned uniforms because of their association with the military—World War I was the first time in American history in which women were officially attached to arms of the American military and government agencies.  Yeomen (F) served with the Navy and the Marine Corps, while the Army Nurse Corps was attached to the Army.  In France, 223 American women popularly known as “Hello Girls” served as long-distance switchboard operators for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I .

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia
An article by James D. Startt that appeared in NARA's publication, Prologue , Fall 1998.

The Great War: World War I and the American Century
An article by James Kratsas from the NARA publication, The Record , September 1998.

Photographs of the 369th Infantry and African Americans during World War I
A 'Teaching with Documents' lesson that details the role played by African Americans in World War I.

That was the headline screaming from newspapers around the country on April 6, 1917, as the United States declared war on the German empire.

The United States had avoided being drawn into what was then known as “The Great War,” which had been raging in Europe since 1914. But German unrestricted submarine warfare – which U.S. leaders regarded as war on civilians – led to this juncture. President Woodrow Wilson, who had just been re-elected under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War,” felt he had no other option.

“The United States was in it, but they had to define what ‘it’ meant,” said Brian Neumann, a historian at the Army’s Center of Military History . Neumann, who edited a series on the Army during World War I, said it wasn’t a done deal that Americans would go to France to help man the Western Front.

"I feel in the profoundest sense that nothing can ever be the same -- that, as artists, we are traitors if we feel otherwise: we have to take it into account and find new expressions, new moulds for our thoughts and feelings." -- Katherine Mansfield

You may also enjoy Civil War Stories and American History to better understand historical events from authors who were there.

Women have long been involved in the military during times of war, though not always in a capacity that we might recognize as “traditionally” military.  For centuries women have followed armies, many of them soldiers’ wives, providing indispensable services such as cooking, nursing, and laundry—in fact, “armies could not have functioned as well, perhaps could not have functioned at all, without the service of women.”  1

Another significant change to women’s service during the Great War is that American civilian women donned uniforms. The uniforms allowed women to look the part and claim credibility for their services, as well as to be taken seriously by others; many women saw their wartime service as a way to claim full citizenship, and the uniforms symbolized “their credentials as citizens engaged in wartime service.”  2

Other women donned uniforms because of their association with the military—World War I was the first time in American history in which women were officially attached to arms of the American military and government agencies.  Yeomen (F) served with the Navy and the Marine Corps, while the Army Nurse Corps was attached to the Army.  In France, 223 American women popularly known as “Hello Girls” served as long-distance switchboard operators for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Voices
Jennifer Lee Andrews
Blythe Danner
Brandon J. Dirden
Josh Hamilton
Eric Loscheider
Campbell Scott

Cinematograph y
Buddy Squires, ASC
Andrew Young
Laurent Chalet, AFC
Michael Chin
Peter Nelson
Jack Burton
Cyrille Blanc

Advisors
Christopher Capozzola
Edward A. GutiƩrrez
Kimberly Jensen
Jennifer D. Keene
David M. Kennedy
Michael Neiberg
Chad Williams
Jay Winter

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I .

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I .

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia
An article by James D. Startt that appeared in NARA's publication, Prologue , Fall 1998.

The Great War: World War I and the American Century
An article by James Kratsas from the NARA publication, The Record , September 1998.

Photographs of the 369th Infantry and African Americans during World War I
A 'Teaching with Documents' lesson that details the role played by African Americans in World War I.


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