On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 1917
There will be clear skies to start the day but clouds arrive this afternoon. There is the possibility of rain overnight and tomorrow. Today’s high will be 60° with the low about 44°. Philadelphia’s Home Defense Committee is proposing a force of 20,000 extra policemen as a home guard in the event of war. These extra policemen will be known as reservists and will be used to guard certain businesses and government buildings and also be called out in time of emergency to assist the police.
A serious incident was averted today by the quick thinking of Police Reserve Officer Bartleson when an unnamed German insulted the American flag. It occurred at the Post Office at 9th & Market Streets. A crowd of men were in line ready to enlist in the army when the German walked by and shouted “To hell with the flag”. The over 100 men in line became enraged with some shouting “lynch him”. As the German was being surrounded Officer Bartleson arrived. He broke through the crowd and grabbed the German. He took him to a nearby automobile which had an American flag in it. He commanded the man to “kiss the flag”. At first the man hesitated but as the crowd started moving closer, he obeyed. At that a great cheer arose and officer Bartleson told the German to “beat it” and he scurried away.
In Washington today there is heated debate in the Senate of the United States over the war bill. Charges of treason have been leveled against some Senators opposing the war measure. Senator Norris, Republican of Nebraska, said on the floor that a declaration of war would put a dollar mark on the American flag, implying this would be a war for commerce. The remark put the Senate in an uproar of indignation and Senator Norris was accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.
Senator Norris has been joined by 11 other Senators in opposition to war. These Senators are being called the “little group of willful men”. Some of these Senators wavered today announcing that although they oppose the war they will fully support the will of the people. A final vote on the bill in the Senate is expected this evening. The measure is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives tomorrow.
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