Over Here: The First World War and American Society

By David M. Kennedy | Go to book overview

3

"You're in the Army Now"

Shortly after the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, Major Palmer E. Pierce, an aide to Secretary of War Baker, settled uncomfortably into a chair under the inquisitorial gaze of the Senate Finance Committee. Before the Senators lay a bulky sheaf of documents, presenting in fine detail how the War Department anticipated spending the three-billion- dollar appropriation it was requesting. What, inquired Chairman Thomas S. Martin of Virginia, were the principal items in this unprecedentedly vast and confusing budget? Major Pierce began to recite: "Clothing, cots, camps, food, pay.... And we may have to have an army in France."

"Good Lord!" interjected Martin. "You're not going to send soldiers over there, are you?" 1.

Martin had reason to be startled. With other Americans he was still absorbing the President's unexpected request for an army to be raised by conscription, a radical departure from the traditional reliance on volunteering, and from Wilson's own previously expressed position. Now came the suggestion that the conscript army was to be sent overseas—a yet more drastic step that few, whether civilian or strategist, had seriously contemplated. Those two questions—how to bring a large

____________________
1.
Frederick Palmer, Newton D. Baker: America at War, 2 vols. (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1931), I, 120.

-144-

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Over Here: The First World War and American Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Over Here - The First World War and American Society *
  • Preface *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Prologue: - Spring, 1917 3
  • 1 - The War for the American Mind 45
  • 2 - The Political Economy of War: the Home Front 93
  • 3 - "You'Re in the Army Now" 144
  • 4 - Over There - and Back 191
  • 5 - Armistice and Aftermath 231
  • 6 - The Political Economy of War: the International Dimension 296
  • Epilogue: - Promises of Glory 348
  • Bibliography 371
  • Index 389
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