Recruiting Posters in World War I
September 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
When war broke out in Europe in 1914, Americans referred to the conflict overseas as “the European Struggle,” in other words, not “our” war. We were happy to provide food, munitions, and to lend money, but saw no reason to join in battle. President Woodrow Wilson’s stance was strongly anti-war, and he spoke of the U.S. position as a moral decision to remain “too proud to fight.” He was reelected in 1916 on a platform that included “He kept us out of the war.”
Circumstances changed; the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, then Germany’s return to unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 contributed the President’s about face. Our military force was quite small at the beginning of the war, with fewer than 200,000 members in the active duty and reserve forces. Wilson urged men to sign up for service, but this only increased our numbers to 300,000 in 1917. Therefore Wilson signed the selective service act and instituted a draft. Recruiting posters show how the government appealed to the populace to join. The campaign was effective, and by the summer of 1918, the US was sending 10,000 troops per day to fight in Europe, and by the end of the war, our forces numbered 2 million.
This post was written by Elizabeth Norris, proprietor of Vintage European Posters
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