The State is Ready
This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of America’s entrance into World War I. President Wilson had campaigned on the promise of staying out of foreign wars, but he began to rethink his position as German submarines sank passenger vessels, including the Lusitania, killing many Americans. Wilson extracted a promise from the Germans that they would see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed ships, but in 1917 Germany announced resumption of unrestricted warfare. Hours after the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, a submarine sank the American liner Housatonic. After four more American merchant ships were sunk in March, Congress approved Wilson’s request for a declaration of war. The United States officially entered the war on April 6.
On this date in 1917, the Bismarck Tribune announced that North Dakota was ready, and it encouraged all North Dakotans to support the war effort. An article reminded men between the ages of 21 and 30 that registration day for the draft was approaching. Every man of draft age was required to register in their hometowns. Men who couldn’t be at home had to send a form to their county clerk. Anyone too sick to register would have to send a form signed by a doctor. A call went out for volunteers to assist with draft registration. The newspaper said this was an opportunity for men not eligible for the draft to answer their country’s call.
Another headline called for North Dakotans to join and support the Red Cross. The newspaper noted that Bismarck had done little to support the organization, which would soon be stretched to the limit. Readers were urged to “Mail your subscription today! Do it now!”
The Secretary of War sent a letter to all governors urging them to support the war effort. He proposed patriotic activities such as parades and flying the American flag from all buildings, public and private. Families should go with their men to the draft registration as a show of support.
Governor Frazier said that draft registration day should be a celebration. Calling it Loyalty Day, he urged every town to name a committee to oversee activities. The Governor was confident that every North Dakotan would rise to the occasion.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
History. “America Enters World War I.” "http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/america-enters-world-war-i" http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/america-enters-world-war-i Accessed 10 April, 2017.