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Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/135

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UNITED STATES

107

UNITED STATES

minutes and was listened to with breathless attention. He recited the offenses of Germany against this Government, and recommended Congress to declare “the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States” and that Congress “formally accept the status of belligerent that had thus been thrust upon it.” A notable passage of the speech was that in which he defined the issue as one between autocracy and 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 compensations for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind.”

At the conclusion of the President's address, he was wildly cheered, the whole audience rising to its feet and waving flags. Immediately after the President's withdrawal, both Houses assembled in separate session, and bills were introduced embodying the President's recommendations. On April 4, by a vote of 82 to 6, the war resolution was passed by the Senate. On April 6 it was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 373 to 50. At 1.18 p. m., it was signed by the President, thus making the United States and Germany officially at war. Simultaneously the President issued an address to the American people, announcing the existence of a state of war and prescribing rules for the behavior and treatment of enemy aliens.

The text of the Declaration of War was as follows:

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 the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

The declaration was received by the nation without any outburst of hysterical excitement. Its coming had been too apparent to have in it any element of surprise. But except in some pacifist quarters, it was received with the heartiest approval and a whole-souled determination to bend every effort toward securing victory. It had been feared that riots would be instigated by some of the 10,000,000 citizens of Teutonic birth and sympathies, but although there were some minor disorders, less than 100 arrests in all were made. The Socialist party alone expressed formal opposition to the war, and lost a considerable part of its following in consequence. Rarely has a nation facing a great conflict been so united in spirit and purpose. It is true that the great body of the people failed to realize the great part that America was to take in the war. It was generally expected that our participation would be limited to the navy and to the furnishing of money, munitions and food. That we should be called upon to raise an army of 5,000,000 men, of whom more than 2,000,000 would be actually carried overseas was probably believed by none. But even if it had been, there would have been no softening of the national purpose to prosecute the war to a successful termination.

By the nations of the Entente, the decision of the United States was received with the greatest relief and enthusiasm. They saw certain victory in the accession of so formidable an ally. By the neutral nations also, who had so many causes for grievance against Germany, the declaration was in general approved, though from motives of discretion their expressions were restrained. Some of them, however, deemed the action regrettable, because they had pinned their hopes to America's mediation in securing the world's peace.

Germany received the news with blended feelings. In many influential quarters there was a frank acknowledgment of the seriousness of the step that placed the richest and most powerful nation in the world on the side of her enemies. Others ridiculed the military power of this country, and predicted that our opposition would prove negligible. It was urged that redoubled efforts be made to crush the forces of the Entente, before America's help could be made available. It was freely prophesied that the submarines would prevent any American transport from landing troops in France. And even if this hope failed and American troops were brought into ac-