United States and American History: 1917

About the history of the United States in 1917, Pulitzer Prize started, the Zimmermann Note leads to America declaring war on Germany, Espionage Act is passed.


-The Columbia School of Journalism submitted its 1st list of candidates for the Pulitzer Prize, to the Columbia College trustees. On the list and an eventual winner for 1917: Herbert Bayard Swope, for his war reporting in Germany as a foreign correspondent for the New York World.

Mar. 1 The Associated Press published the full text of the "Zimmermann Note," sent from Berlin to the German Ambassador in Mexico. It informed him that unrestricted submarine warfare would begin on February 1, although Germany would continue efforts to keep the U.S. neutral, and proposed a full alliance with Mexico. President Carranza was to be encouraged to woo Japan away from the Allies, perhaps with Hawaii as the reward if she were to attack the U.S.

The U.S. State Department, baffled beyond belief, spent days trying to determine whether the original German text in one section was a hoax. It read:

Einverstandnis unsurerseits dass Mexico in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona friiher verlorenes Geibiet zuruck erobert.

The words promised Mexico a full recovery of its lost territory in the States mentioned.

Apr. 4 The U.S. declared war against Germany. It became the 13th country to fight the Central Powers. Six senators and 50 congressmen voted against the declaration.

May 18 Proclamation Day. President Wilson, following Secretary of War Baker's advice, issued a formal proclamation to announce universal conscription. This affected 10 million men between the ages of 21 and 30. The wording was shrewdly chosen to infuse the nation with a maximum upsurge of patriotic spirit, to ready it for a great adventure, a joyous pilgrimage-and some heroic sacrifices.

June 15 Congress passed the Espionage Act, providing a $10,000 fine and 20 years in prison for anyone who encouraged disloyalty or interfered with the draft. Over 1,500 were eventually arrested and charged with its violation. Among them: Eugene V. Debs, Socialist party candidate for President, who threatened that his followers would refuse to support the war, and Victor Berger, the 1st Socialist ever elected to Congress. Rose Pastor Stokes received a 10-year sentence for writing a letter to the Kansas City Star in which she said, "No government which is for the profiteers can also be for the people, and I am for the people while the Government is for the profiteers."

July 20 Lottery Day. Secretary of War Newton Baker, reaching into a large glass bowl, withdrew #258, the number of the 1st man to be called up in each draft office. His group continued to draw, one by one, the 10,500 black capsules with their numbered slips inside for the next 16 hours, to determine the order of the draft, and the 2,702,687 men finally sworn into the Army.

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