Decisive Day: April 6, 1917

Send signed letters to [email protected]

To the Editor:

It came and went with very little reference.  The day in question being April 6, which marked the centennial of America’s entry into what is generally referred to as the First World War.  In essence one of THE most decisive days in the history of this Nation.  A day of greater significance than either December 7, 1941 or September 11, 2001.  For April 6, 1917 is the day Congress codified the fact that America was a Global Power.
By 1917, the economic-political-strategic posture of the globe was in the throes of change of the most irrevocable type.  The British and French Empires were mired in irreversible decline; while at the same time, America, a young and virile power, was emerging ascendant,   For instance in 1865, America boasted 144,000 factories and centers of production.  By 1900, 335,000.  In 1860, this nation produced some $2 billion in manufactured goods; by 1900, $11.5 billion.
Already by the mid-1890s, America had displaced Britain as the world’s ranking economic power.  In 1898, the United States, having linked Chesapeake Bay with the Golden Gate stood on the precipice of redefining Manifest Destiny; that from a program of Continental expansion to that of an agenda for Globalism.  For in 1898, the United States defeated a declining colonial power, Spain.  The result was the aggrandizement of the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and the political and economic bondage of Cuba.  The long, slow decline of America as a Republic was now assured as the Nation took its place within that inglorious clique of imperialist powers. 

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched sixteen battleships on a fourteen month six day cruise; a trek which saw 14,500 sailors and marines traverse a dozen oceans and seas, crisscross the Equator six times, call on more than 30 ports and log over 46,000 miles.  This was President Roosevelt’s announcement to the world that America was now a Global Power.  And from whistle to gun, this epic circumnavigation of the globe was led by a battleship named Connecticut.
In 1914, the European colonial powers descended into a conflict most internecine, the European Civil War; a struggle from which, in the end, none of the European powers would win; but which would draw into its swirling vortex nations from around the globe.  One of these, the United States.  And on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson petitioned Congress for a Declaration of War (an element of Rule of Law which chief executives no longer observe).  It took Congress four days to deliberate before finally granting the power for war which Wilson had requested.  Of course, the question is why?  Why did America get into this conflict?
German unrestricted submarine warfare was certainly a cause, since Wilson had warned Berlin that persistent use of same would force his hand.  Another major reason was economic; which in the end, accentuates the political.
The day of Big Government in America had arrived.  For the short time this Nation was a combatant, central government would grow some 500 percent.  In less than two years, Washington would spend some $22 billion, which according to some economists was costing this Nation $2 million per hour (in doing some research on the Vietnam conflict, in 1968 and 1969, that losing effort cost the American taxpayer some $14 million per hour).  Washington’s spending on the War to End All Wars was more than it had spent from 1791 to 1914.  Then there were the banks.  Wall Street had loaned the Allies–mostly the British and French–some $10 to $12 billion . . . and they wanted it back.  However the the Russian Revolution saw the fiery demise of the Romanovs.  If the Germans could transfer massive numbers of troops from the Eastern Front to France, they could possibly defeat the tired British and French armies before Americans showed up en mass.  And what guarantee was there that, in the case of a German victory, Berlin would see to that $10 to $12 billion was paid back.  So Washington assembled the collection squads, doughboys and marines.
But America was reaping a profit at the expense of the British and French.  The former, in 1914, enjoyed $3.7 billion in assets and investments in this Nation.  By 1918, $1.1 billion.  France, too, liquidated holdings to pay America, some 75 percent of its assets and investments stateside.  And a number of American companies reaped huge gains.  DuPont comes to mind here, a producer which will eventually supply the Allies with some 40 percent of its munitions.  The stock went from $20 per share in 1914 to $1,000 per in 1918.  Power was flowing from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
Yet, Congress, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty, which meant that America would not take part in the League of Nations.  The United States, now a Global Power, was failing to live up to its obligations as a Global Power.  And since the Versailles Treaty was the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on modern man, the continuation of the European Civil War was more or less assured.  Joseph Stalin understood this concept very well.  For in 1927, he began his crash program of collectivization of the peasantry and the forced industrialization of the Soviet Union; to the extent, that by 1941, the Soviet Union became one of the globe’s ranking industrial powers.  And so the two nations which could have helped to prevent a continuation of the conflict had been ostracized from Continental politics; the United States because Americans wanted to be, and the Russians because they had fallen prey to godless Communism.
Yet in the end, it is the two powers that had been ostracized from Continental politics that would eventually win the war in 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union.  For what began as a European Civil War had evolved into a global conflict.  A conflict spurred on to its global proportions by the Industrial Revolution, then greased by America’s and the Soviets’ indigenous supplies of oil and powered by America’s financial muscle.  And by 1945, the European colonial powers no longer determined the globe’s political, economic and strategic agenda, that mantle was now reserved for the victors, the United States and the Soviet Union.
The noted British general and historian, J.F.C. Fuller, observed, that April 6, 1917 not only changed American history, but that of Europe and in turn, the world.  But it also changed America.  The Republic was on its way to its tragic demise, as warned by George Washington and accurately forecast by Ben Franklin.  The monolithic Military-Industrial Complex was now ascendant.  And with it, Pax Americana.  For the United States was the only power able to see to the colonial interests of the West after 1945.  And armed with the world’s Reserve Currency, the ubiquitous Dollar, the United States would claim its place under the sun.
Mark Albertson


Rem April 14, 2017 at 8:34 am

A poignant and very well written piece. The Guardian also ran an op-ed “America’s Forgotten War” recently that mentioned that WW1 was the last war declared on moral principle. So it was interesting reading the financial angle, Thank you. And I had never known there was a USS Connecticut; it is a great pity she was scrapped in 1923 as I would have liked to stand on her decks imagining the forward momentum for freedom a century ago.

Piberman April 14, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Norwalk and the rest of the nation has largely forgotten WWI and its 112,000 American casualties. Thanks for article.

Isabelle Hargrove April 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Thank you for this piece. It is indeed sad to see how little coverage and interest with centennial has generated.

Many fantastic commemorations are taking place. For example, the French Air Force aerobatic jet team, La Patrouille de France, is on an exhibition tour of the US to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I and to reaffirm the historic ties and enduring friendship between France and the United States.

During this month-and-a-half long journey, the Patrouille de France is performing 30 transit flights and 12 demonstration flights and flying over 9 symbolic monuments of the Franco-American relationship, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York, Monument valley or the grand canyon.

The pictures are stunning! Go check them out. Here is a link to their facebook page.


Michael McGuire April 14, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Makes you wonder why “they” want to do away with teaching American History on the High School and College level.

Just 23 of 76 top schools (universities) in the U.S. surveyed by the American Council of Trustees require history majors to take an American history class (Fortune June 30, 2016)

And who is “they” anyway….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>