Debating the Wars
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
As the world wars unfolded abroad, many Americans opposed U.S. involvement. Congress debated and enacted several neutrality laws to prevent the country from becoming entangled in the conflicts. When foreign nations increasingly threatened U.S. neutrality and national security, Congress used its constitutional authority to declare war. During World War I, Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917 and on Austria-Hungary in December 1917. During World War II, Congress declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy in December 1941 and on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania in June 1942.