100 Years Ago Today, the United States Declared War on Germany

On April 6, 1917, 100 years ago today, the United States declared war on Germany, entering the Great War and ultimately tipping the scales in favor of the Allied powers.

In the spring of 1917, the US armed forces were little more than a regional power. "In military terms, the U.S. Army was small and out-of-date, hardly more than a constabulary designed to subjugate Native Americans," writes John Schindler; "it was not a serious fighting force in German eyes."

By the time the Americans entered the war, the European powers had been fighting to a standstill for almost three years. Slaughters at the Somme and at Verdun were well known. US troops experienced their own battlefield horror show during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, at which some 26,000 American soldiers perished--more than in any other battle in US history except for Normandy.

Schindler calls the decision to enter the Great War "the most important foreign policy decision made by Washington in the entire 20th century," since the First World War set the stage for its infinitely more horrific sequel: Nazis, Communists, Fascists...one can make the argument that all of the tensions in the Middle East derive from the Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France in 1916, also a vestige of the Great War.

A little known fact about World War I is that American troops were stationed in Russia. The American Expeditionary Force Siberia played a role in the Russian Revolution and the Great War, from 1918 to 1920. While not a military success, the AEF Siberia was a sticking point with the new Bolshevik government, which did not trust the US afterwards.

Here is a 50 kopek banknote issued in 1919 by the Provisional Siberian Administration, a temporary rightist government based in Vladivostok:

 

For wholesale supplies of this note, please inquire.