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THE CALL TO RIGHTEOUS BATTLE
Another Great Event in April, the Month of Great Events -- A Memorable Sesion of Congress - The President's Address Calling for a Declaration of War with Germany His Review of the Train of Events and Grievances which had Led to that Necessity - A War to be Waged for no Selfish Purpose, but for Humanity and for the Freedom of the World - Full Text of a Memorable Message
Its Favoral le Reception by Congress and the Nation How It was Regarded in Foreign Lands · Prompt Action by Congress in Adopting a Resolution Declaring that Germany had Begun War Against Us - The President's Proclamation of Our Entry into the World War.
IT WAS April, the most famous month in American History. It was in April, 1135, that the Norsemen discovered Greenland on their way to the pre-Columbian discovery of America, and it was in April, 1492, that Columbus was recalled to the Spanish Court and was commissioned to sail upon his epoch-making voyage. It was in that same month, the “Month of Openings," that Ponce de Leon landed in Florida; that Cortez began the conquest of Mexico; that the Virginia colony was chartered; that Henry Hudson began the voyage in which he discovered the river which bears his name; that the Plymouth Pilgrims received their patent; that La Salle took possession of the Mississippi Valley for France; that the French and Indian War was begun; that taxation of the Colonies by Parliament without their representation was first proposed. It was in April that our Revolution began at Lexington, Concord and Boston; that the American navy took its first prize in war; that Lafayette landed on our shores; that Arnold began his treason;
that the first American man-of-war was built; that the British Government sent peace commissioners to meet our own; that George III ratified the treaty of peace with America, and that the ending of the War for Independence was proclaimed. It was in April that Washington designed the Stars and Stripes, and that the flag in its present form was first displayed. It was in April that Washington was elected and inaugurated President; that Louisiana was purchased; that the United States Mint was established; that the Mexican War was begun; that the Civil War was begun, and ended; that the Spanish War was begun and that the treaty of peace at its end was proclaimed. It was in April that Putnam, Jefferson, Monroe, Clay and Grant were born, and that Lincoln suffered martyrdom.
It was the latest April in our history, in the year of our era 1917, and the second day of the month. Woodrow Wilson had less than a month before been installed as President of the United States for a second term. He had severed diplomatic relations with the German Empire, because of its atrocious and intolerable disregard of our rights and of the rights of humanity in the war which for two and a half years had been convulsing the continent of Europe; and he had called the newly elected Congress together in special session to consider what further steps were necessary for the safeguarding of American citizens and the vindication of the honor of the nation.
Washington was thronged with interested citizens of eminence and influence from all parts of the country. The streets were crowded with spectators as the President, accompanied by a glittering cavalcade of guards, passed from the White House to the Capitol on one of the most momentous errands ever undertaken by an American
Chief of State. The great hall of the House of Representatives was thronged with a brilliant company—the two Houses of Congress on the floor and diplomats, officials of civil and military service, and citizens, in the galleries—as at half-past eight the President stepped upon the Speaker's platform, and voiced the demand of the American nation for a war for the freedom of the world. This is what he said:
THE PRESIDENT'S WAR MESSAGE I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.
On the 3d of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government, that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe, or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.
That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the imperial government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its under-sea craft, in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk, and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.
FINAL INDICTMENT OF GERMAN FRIGHTFULNESS The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destina