On this date, 6 April 1917, in response to a request by President Wilson on 2 April, the United States Congress approved America’s entry into the Great War, which came to be known as World War I.
Joint Resolution Passed by the United States Senate and
House of Representatives
Effective April 6, 1917, at 1:18 p.m.
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.
While American troops have been deployed overseas many times since 1776, the United States Congress has only officially declared a State of War 11 times. This first time was 1812. Two were for World War I (Germany & Austria-Hungary) in 1917. The last six were for World War II (Japan, Germany, Italy) in 1941 and (Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania) in 1942. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. were never declared states of war.
Three years on from the start of Europe’s Great War, Woodrow Wilson had campaigned on a peace platform in 1916, and in his academic heart I believe he thought the United States would be able to keep to the sidelines. Yet peace was not to be. Under increasing public pressure—in particular due to unrestricted submarine warfare and especially after the infamous Zimmerman telegram, and with the February Revolution deposing the Tzar in Russia—Wilson came around 180 degrees in a matter of months and to War it was.
p.s. The Denver Post wrote a nice little squishy piece in their 6 April 2017 edition, with the graphic above.