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 – FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 1917
AMERICA IS AT WAR
At 3:08am this morning the House of Representatives by a vote of 373 to 50 passed the joint resolution declaring war against the German Empire. The Senate passed the measure yesterday. When the Senate convened today at Noon the resolution was formally presented to that body by the Clerk of the House. With somber decorum the resolution was handed by the Clerk of the House to the Clerk of the Senate who then recorded it in the official ledger. It was then brought to Vice President Marshall who stood at the Rostrum as President of the Senate. Mr. Marshall took out a pen, his hand trembling just a bit as he signed the document. It was then delivered by special messenger to the White House.
Upon receipt of the resolution at 1:13pm the President signed the document and issued a Proclamation declaring that a state of war exists against Germany and calling the nation to the colors. From a window in the White House executive offices a signal was sent across the street to the Navy Department to alert all ships at port and at sea that America was at war. Army posts around the country are being informed by wireless. The State Department contacted the Swiss Embassy in Washington which handles German interests in this country. The Swiss will inform Berlin of the passage of the declaration.
All German ships in American ports will be seized as prizes of war. This includes the two German ships interned at the Navy Yard and two Hamburg-American liners in port at pier 40 at Catherine Street. Locally, all Naval Coastal Defense Reservists have been ordered to report to the Navy Yard. The Pennsylvania National Guard is being mobilized. From this city the 2nd Pennsylvania Field Artillery and the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry have been told to report. The 1st and 3rd infantry were previously called. Secretary of War Baker has presented a plan to raise an army of 1,000,000 men within a year and 2,000,000 in two years.
It must not be forgotten that today is Good Friday. A day observed by Christians with solemnity, fasting and prayer. For Jews it is also the first day of Passover where they will gather with family and friends for the “Seder” meal and the giving of thanks to God for their deliverance from Egypt. Around the city at locations were the President’s Proclamation was read aloud there was little cheering or outbursts of patriotic enthusiasm. Philadelphians, Christian and Jew, appeared somber but with a silent determination to bear the coming trial with the help of God.
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