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The Great War Begins

President Wilson Asking Congress to Declare War on German, 2 April 1917.

President Wilson Asking Congress to Declare War on German, 2 April 1917. Library of Congress # 2002716887. GGA Image ID # 180fff37da

Great Britain and France had been fighting since the beginning of the war in 1914, while Italy had joined in May 1915 and the United States in April 1917. On the other hand, all the European Powers had reached, if not passed, their meridian of strength, whereas the United States could, with a corresponding effort, raise her forces to over ten million. Potentially, she was the most powerful of the associated nations, and only the British fleet's existence brought any rival up to anything like equality. Together the United States and the British Empire were irresistible. So long as they were agreed, any concessions they might make to others would be due, not to fear, but to their sense of justice, desire for peace, and consideration for others' susceptibilities.

Historic Documents Which Marked the Beginning of Our War with Germany.

America Joins the War - 1917

The American President, Woodrow Wilson, wisely allowed matters to move slowly, so that when the Germans had filled up the cup of their offenses, it was at the head of a united nation that, on April 6, 1917, he declared war.

Map of European Countries Engaged in the Great War, An Advanced History of Great Britain, 1920.

Britain Joins the War - 4 August 1914

The only question still open was what Britain was to do. To prevent the war, Sir Edward Grey proposed to refer all disputes to a European conference; but the Central Powers contemptuously rejected his suggestion.

President Wilson Addressing Congress About the Intervention of The United States of America.

The United States Intervenes - 1917

Thus by April, 1917, the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany had brought the United States, the last of the world’s Great Powers, into the war on the side of the Allies.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and His Family.

Origin of the Great War - 1918

The greatest war in history resulted from Germany's claim to dominate the world and the inevitable resistance, which such a pretension excited.

German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann Sent This Encoded Message to the President of Mexico on January 16, 1917

Prelude to War: The Zimmermann Telegram - 1917

German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent an encoded message to the President of Mexico. The Germans revealed plans to begin unrestricted submarine warfare, and Germany proposed an alliance with Mexico on January 16, 1917.

U.S. Council of National Defense and Advisory Committee. The Great War, 12 May 1917.

President Wilson’s Address as the US Joins The Great War - 1917

President Wilson was deeply stirred by the unexpected Russian miracle. He at once shortened, by two weeks, the date for the convening of Congress and the declaration of war against Germany.

President Woodrow Wilson, Who Led the United States Into the Fight for Civilization. The Great War, 12 May 1917.

President Wilson's War Address - 1917

Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.

The Lusitania Leaving Her Pier at New York.

Why We Went to War - 1919

During two years preceding our entrance upon war, Germany had been carrying on open warfare against us, within our own borders. For more than thirty years, Germany’s policy of preparatory penetration had been in course.


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The Folks Behind the GG Archives

The GG Archives is the work and passion of two people, Paul Gjenvick, a professional archivist, and Evelyne Gjenvick, a curator. Paul earned a Masters of Archival Studies - a terminal degree from Clayton State University in Georgia, where he studied under renowned archivist Richard Pearce-Moses. Our research into the RMS Laconia and SS Bergensfjord, the ships that brought two members of the Gjønvik family from Norway to the United States in the early 20th century, has helped us design our site for other genealogists. The extent of original materials at the GG Archives can be very beneficial when researching your family's migration from Europe.