World War I, 1914-1917
In the summer of 1914, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ignited a continental war between the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of France, Great Britain, Russia, and Italy. By the war's end in 1918, the war would span the globe, claim more than 16 million lives, and change the world forever.
Germany planned to quickly defeat the British and French to the west before turning its full force east to Russia, but its initial thrusts into Belgium and northern France were checked. By the end of 1914 four hundred miles of trench lines — the Western Front — stretched from Switzerland to the North Sea.
Over the next three years, a series of bloody offensives failed to overcome the stalemate of trench warfare. In 1916 the Battle of the Somme lasted 140 days with more than a million casualties and moved the front lines six miles, while the German assault on Verdun yielded little gain at a cost of 700,000 dead and wounded. By 1917 both sides were nearing exhaustion.
The United States initially remained neutral. But reports
In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson won re-election on the slogan "He kept us out of war." But in April 1917, Germany's resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, along with its offer to help Mexico recover territories lost to the Untied States in 1848, led Wilson to ask Congress to declare war on Germany. American entry came none too soon. The British were running out of men, almost half of the French army had mutinied, and the Russian Revolution in 1917 would lead to Russia's withdrawal from the war, allowing Germany to shift troops to the Western Front.
Although the first American soldiers landed in France in June 1917, it would take a year to create, train, and equip an army and ship it across the Atlantic. The outcome of the war would turn on whether Germany could defeat Britain and France before the Americans arrived in force.
"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace."
President Woodrow Wilson, April 2, 1917
Erected 2021 by World War I Centennial Commission, American Battle Monuments Commission.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: War, World I • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #28 Woodrow Wilson series list. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1917.
Location. 38° 53.762′ N, 77° 1.958′ W. Marker is in Federal Triangle in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest just west of 14th Street Northwest, in the median. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Beyond the AEF (here, next to this marker); The AEF in the Great War, 1917-1918 (here, next to this marker); World War I Memorial (here, next to this marker); From Homefront to Battlefront (here, next to this marker); Americans All (here, next to this marker); Armistice and Legacy (here, next to this marker); A Soldier's Journey (here, next to this marker); World War I Remembered (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Federal Triangle.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photo 1. submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker in context. • Can you help?