Fred Hutchinson James Delmage Ross Dixy Lee Ray George W. Bush Hazel Wolf Henry M Jackson Warren G. Magnuson Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7100 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

U.S. Congress declares war on Germany and enters World War I on April 6, 1917. Essay 5731 : Printer-Friendly Format

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. Congress declares war on Germany after that government resumes unrestricted submarine warfare. Great Britain, France, Italy, and Russia have been at war with Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire since August 1914. The declaration of war triggers a wave of patriotic feeling across the country and hundreds of thousands of men volunteer for military service. Civilian women and men sign up for duty with the American Red Cross and with community defense organizations. The state of Washington, particularly Seattle, will experience an economic boom. Camp Lewis near Tacoma will grow to a major military post of 40,000.

Although the U.S. was officially neutral in the European war, arms, munitions, and other strategic materials flowed across the Atlantic to Great Britain from the Americas. The German government, cut off from its own overseas sources of raw materials, announced that it would attempt to sink any vessels, even those of neutral powers, found within the war zone. This put American ships directly at risk and President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for the declaration of war.

At the University of Washington, 600 men, 30 percent of the student body, enlisted. To show his patriotism, UW President Henry Suzzallo removed the head of the German Department, Professor F. W. Meisnest, because the scholar had, several months before, given a speech opposing the U.S. entry into the war. Suzzallo asked the U.S. Secret Service to "watch all men in the German Department and all members of German birth or descent" (Berner, 246).

A vigilante group of businessmen and professionals calling themselves the Minute Men and enjoying the endorsements of Seattle Mayor Hiram Gill and the police chief organized to suppress efforts to embarrass the government in prosecuting the war. (They considered dissent to be unpatriotic. Others would term their efforts to suppress dissent war hysteria.) They focused their attention on pacifists, labor leaders, and political radicals. The Minute Men secured the dismissal of six teachers for failing to impress patriotism on their students as required by the school code.

Even before the Congressional action, Seattle received military orders for ships, which added two new shipyards to the waterfront. Tacoma also benefited from military contracts and the sprawling training reservation named Camp Lewis. The Navy built a training camp on the campus of the University of Washington. Thousands of new war workers crammed into Seattle and Tacoma, which raised rents and helped labor unions press for higher wages. Workers in a wide range of sectors, from logging to metal trades to crackers and candy, struck for pay increases.

Richard C. Berner, Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration (Seattle: Charles Press, 1991), 230-259.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: War & Peace | Government & Politics |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Skinner and Eddy Shipyard, Seattle, 1918
Courtesy MOHAI (Neg. No. 83.10.PA5.20)

U.S. Navy recruits training at University of Washington, 1918
Courtesy MOHAI (Neg. 1983.10.1217)

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email