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 – SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1917
The city saw its first real snowfall overnight and this morning. Over 2 inches fell in some parts of Philadelphia. The temperature will warm up this afternoon and reach almost 50° but this evening it will drop again to 23°.
Yesterday the United States Congress passed a Declaration of War against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It will be recalled that on December 4, President Wilson in his State of the Union Address requested such action. In the early afternoon the Senate passed the Declaration 74 to 0. Later in that day the House passed the Declaration, 365 to 1. The sole opponent in the House was Meyer London, Socialist from New York.
Today agents of the Department of Justice began arresting Austrians believed to be sympathetic to Austria or suspected of conspiring to hamper America’s war efforts. Even those against whom no definite evidence is available will be interned until trial. Also in accord with the Presidential Proclamation concerning Germans aliens in this country, Austrians and Hungarians are now also banned form piers, docks and businesses conducting war work. There are thought to be over 1,000,000 Austrians in the United States.
In this city today, Federal agents raided the offices of the Lithuanian language newspaper Kova located at 225 North 6th Street. Six employees of the newspaper were arrested including Joseph Stilson, also known as Stilsonas. Stilson is charged with willfully obstructing the recruiting and enlistment of men into the service. The Kova is a Socialist weekly newspaper distributed to Lithuanians throughout the state. The paper allegedly printed disloyal, scurrilous and false statements against the United States. United States Commissioner Howard Long stated this was the most serious case of alleged treason in this city since the war began.
On a more pleasant note, a committee has been formed to ensure that Philadelphia’s boys in training at Camp Meade have a merry Christmas. The men of the 315th Infantry Division, known as “Philadelphia’s Own” are in training there and most of them will not be able to return home for Christmas. Therefore plans are being made to give them a Christmas party to let them know they are not forgotten. A fund has been set up to raise $2,000.00 which will go towards food, refreshments, smokes, cakes, cookies and musical entertainment. And every member of the regiment, all 3,200 of them, will receive a Christmas gift. The party will be held the Saturday or Sunday before Christmas at the Y.M.C.A. club at the camp. Anyone wishing to donate can send their money to the West End Trust Company, Broad Street and South Penn Square. Former Governor Edwin Stuart is heading the effort.
GET YOUR COPY BY CLICKING HERE: PHILADELPHIA: THE WORLD WAR I YEARS