United States Declares War on Germany


Public Resolution No. 1
S. J. Res. 1 65th Congress

Sixty-fifth Congress of the United States of America; At the First Session, Begun and Held at the City of Washington on Monday, the Second Day of April, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventeen.


Declaring that a state of war exists between the Imperial German Government and the people of the United States and making provision to prosecute the same.

Whereas, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and 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 of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Champ Clark,Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Thomas R. Marshall, Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate.
Approved 6 April, 1917.

Text of the decoded and translated Zimmermann Telegram:

We intend to begin on the 1st of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace.

Signed, Zimmermann.

A joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States convened at 8:35 PM on the evening of April 2, 1917. The entire personnel of the Government was present. All day long the pacifists had been perniciously active, taking possession of the Capitol steps, up which the President was to go, and seeking to penetrate to the Vice-President's chamber, but they were dispersed by the police. One of these so-called pacifists attacked Senator Lodge, only to be sent crashing to the pavement by a blow from the Senator's doughty fist.

As a measure of precaution, the approaches to the Capitol were guarded with two troops of cavalry, while secret service agents patrolled the Capitol corridors. Another troop of cavalry acted as escort to the President while he journeyed from the White House to the Capitol. As the President entered the House Chamber, he was received with tumultuous applause, the senators, representatives and audience all waving miniature American flags.

Pale and nervous, President Wilson addressed the Congress, urging the adoption of a resolution declaring that a state of war existed between Germany and the United States; also proposing that a preliminary Army of 500,000 be raised, and that the United States co-operate with the Allied Powers as a belligerent in every effective way. Referring to Germany's ruthless submarine warfare, the President said :

"Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the prescribed areas by the German Government itself, and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it.

"We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend ; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know what purpose, can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept the gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty, and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included ; for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and obedience.

World Must be Made Safe for Democracy

"The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them."

Congress Declares War Against Germany

A Resolution declaring that a state of war existed between Germany and the United States, and authorizing the President to employ all the resources of America to carry on the War, was reported on April 3, 1917, by the Foreign Affairs Committees of both Houses. Senator Stone, chairman of the Senate Committee, alone opposed its adoption. When the resolve was reported to the Senate, Senator Hitchcock asked for unanimous consent to a suspension of the rules for its immediate consideration. Senator La Follette immediately blocked its passage by demanding the "regular order," which postponed action for an entire day. Upon reassembling April 4, 1917, the Senators agreed to sit without rest, recess or intermission, and without considering any other matter, until the War resolution was passed.

After a debate lasting 13 hours, the War resolution was passed by a vote of 82 to 6, those voting in the negative being Senators La Follette of Wisconsin, Gronna of North Dakota, Norris of Nebraska, Stone of Missouri, Lane of Oregon and Vardaman of Mississippi. On April 5, 1917, the War resolution came before the House. It was vigorously opposed by a group of pacifists led by Representative Kitchin of North Carolina. But on the following day, April 6, 1917, the resolution was passed by the overwhelming vote of 373 to 50. President Wilson signed the resolution the same day, at the same time outlining the regulations prepared for the conduct of "alien enemies" resident in America.

German Plots Bared Before Congress

The intrigues of German spies, agents, plotters, incendiaries, assassins and dynamitards were disclosed in a long report by the Foreign Affairs Committee — how Capt. von Papen and Capt. Boy-Ed directed the work of these destructive agents; how Dr. Chakrabarty received $60,000 from the German Embassy for Hindu revolutionary propaganda in this country; how the German Embassy employed Ernest T. Euphrat to carry information between Berlin and Washington under an American passport; how German officers of interned warships violated their parole, six of them escaping in a boat purchased with money supplied by the German Consul at Richmond ; how Hans von Wedell maintained an office for the procurement of fraudulent passports for German Reservists ; how James J. F. Archibald, a newspaper man, under cover of an American passport and while in the pay of Ambassador von Bernstorff, carried dispatches for Ambassador Dumba and committed other unneutral acts; how Albert 0. Sander and other German agents sent spies to England protected by American passports; how prominent officials of the Hamburg-American line, under the direction of Boy-Ed, attempted to supply German warships at sea; how vessels were sent from San Francisco ; how Werner Horn attempted to blow up the international bridge at Vanceboro, Me., and Albert Kaltschmidt tried to blow up a factory at Walkerville and the Armory at Windsor, Canada, all for German gold proffered by Capt. Franz von Papen.

German agents, too, had been convicted and sentenced for making bombs to be attached to the screws of certain Allied ships leaving New York. Captains von Kleist, Wolfert and Rode, working under direction of von Papen and von Igel, had manufactured incendiary bombs on the Friederich der Grosse and put them on board Allied ships. Capt. Franz Rintelen had come to this country to aid in preventing the exportation of munitions to the Allies. To aid him in provoking strikes in the munition factories he had organized and financed "Labor's National Peace Council."

Consul General Bopp at San Francisco and Vice Consul von Schaick had been convicted of sending agents into Canada to blow up bridges and tunnels, and wreck vessels sailing from Pacific Coast ports with war material for Russia and Japan. Paul Konig, head of the secret service of the Hamburg-American line, had sent spies to Canada to gather information concerning the Weiland Canal and the movement of troops; had bribed a bank employe to give information concerning shipments to the Allies; had sent spies to Europe with American passports to secure military information, and was involved with von Papen in his bomb plots.

The indignities heaped on American consular officials by German frontier authorities, who had ordered them stripped and searched, were recalled. The detention and maltreatment of the Yarrowdale prisoners; the detention of Ambassador Gerard and the American newspaper correspondents in Germany; and finally the Zimmerman note, revealing the plot to involve the United States in war with Mexico and Japan, were all passed in review. It was an indictment such as never before had been brought before Congress.