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Reporting for Duty, drawing by Clifford Berryman, April 2, 1917

Clifford Berryman drew this cartoon on the day President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany. Figures representing the House and Senate salute in unison before Uncle Sam, while papers noting grievances against Germany lay on the desk. Berryman’s cartoon suggests that, despite ongoing disagreements between the legislative and executive branches, Congress backed the president in declaring war.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Reporting for Duty, drawing by Clifford Berryman

World War I: Declaring War on Germany

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked a joint session of Congress to declare war on Germany. The president cited Germany’s repeated submarine attacks on passenger and merchant ships and its attempt to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States as his reasons for Congress to declare war. On April 4, 1917, the Senate voted in support of the measure, and the House concurred two days later. The United States later declared war on German ally Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917.

We are going to war . . . to vindicate our honor and to maintain our independence as a great nation. We are going to war . . . in defense of humanity.

Senator Gilbert Hitchcock of Nebraska, Speech to the U.S. Senate, April 4, 1917