The United States in the World War

By John Bach McMaster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
WE ENTER THE WAR

WHAT the President thought of the situation was made manifest when, on March 21, he recalled his proclamation of March 9 and summoned Congress to meet in extraordinary session at noon on April 2, instead of April 16, "to receive a communication concerning grave matters of national policy which should be taken immediately under consideration."

To the Sixty-fifth Congress, when it assembled on the appointed day, the President delivered his war message at the unusual hour of half-past eight in the evening. All day long the pacifists had been active in their opposition. They sought to get possession of the Capitol steps up which the President was to go; but were dispersed by the police. Some entered the room of the Vice-President, behaved in an unseemly manner and were put out. Others attacked Senator Lodge. It became necessary as a means of precaution to guard the approaches to the Capitol with two troops of cavalry, and put secret service men and police on guard in the corridors. Another troop of cavalry guarded the President while on his way to the Capitol from the White House. Never on any former visit had he met with such applause, such cheering, as greeted him as he entered the Chamber of the House, walked to the Speaker's desk and looked out upon an excited audience almost every member of which was waving or wearing a national flag. It was some minutes before he was able to begin his address. He said:

"GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:

I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.

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