National Archives Special Display Commemorates 100th Anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I
Press Release · Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Washington, DC

The United States declared war on April 6, 1917

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into World War I, the National Archives presents a special display of the Joint Resolution declaring war against the Imperial German Government, April 6, 1917.

Discover National Archives World War I Centennial activities on National Archives News.

On display in the East Rotunda Gallery of  the  National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, through May 3, 2017. Museum hours 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Free admission. Enter on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW.  Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

Making the World Safe for Democracy: The U.S. Enters World War I

President Woodrow Wilson signed this declaration of war on April 6, 1917, ending America’s neutral stance on the World War conflict and formally declaring war against Germany.

World War I was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. As war broke out across the European continent, the United States sought to remain neutral in the conflict through a policy of nonintervention.

American neutrality in the conflict ended after Germany committed several acts of aggression against the United States in early 1917. Germany first announced a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and its U-boats began attacking American ships. The final straw came when the secret Zimmermann Telegram—which Great Britain shared with the United States after it had intercepted and decoded the message—revealed that Germany had promised U.S. territory to Mexico in return for attacking the U.S. if it entered the war.

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson made a special address before a joint session of Congress asking for a declaration of war against Germany. Both houses overwhelmingly voted in favor of going to war, and on April 6 President Wilson signed this formal war declaration, stating “that a state of war exists between the Imperial German Government and the Government and the people of the United States.”

The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.


# # #

For media inquiries, please contact: National Archives Public and Media Communications at (202) 357-5300 or via email at

Connect with the National Archives on:

Facebook logo icon Facebook: USNationalArchives

Instagram logo icon Instagram: usnatarchives

LinkedIn icon LinkedIn: usnatarchives

Threads icon Threads: usnatarchives

Tumblr icon Tumblr: usnatarchives

X iconX: @USNatArchives

YouTube iconYouTube: usnationalarchives


This page was last reviewed on November 22, 2022.
Contact us with questions or comments.