The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 42
April 7-June 23, 1917
Edited by Arthur S. Link
As this volume begins, the United States has just entered the World War and Wilson and his administration face the awesome task of mobilization. Making the undertaking more difficult is the German submarine campaign, which during these months succeeds even beyond the earlier optimistic predictions of the German Admiralty and threatens to bring Great Britain to her knees. The documents here vividly illustrate the Wilson administration's early plans for nationwide mobilization and its actions to bring it about. More important, they reveal clearly that Wilson was the commander in chief as much in military affairs as in domestic mobilization.
By the time the volume ends, Wilson has pushed through a reluctant Congress a selective-service bill to raise a large National Army. American destroyers are on their way to Queenstown to participate in the war against the submarine, and Congress has approved a huge bond issue, part of which is used to rescue the Allies from bankruptcy. A large emergency shipbuilding program is mired in controversy, and Wilson is still struggling with Congress for price control legislation, but he has established a Committee on Public Information to rally public opinion behind the war and has won passage of the Espionage act. He has done all that he can to encourage the nascent Russian democracy but is still suspicious of Allied war aims.
Arthur S. Link is Professor of American History, Princeton University.