MADISON, NJ – On Tuesday, March 21st, Dr. James Carter will speak at the Madison Historical Society on the “America’s Entry into WW I”. Carter’s presentation will take place in the Chase Room of the Madison Public Library beginning at 7:15 PM. Light refreshments will be available from 7:00. The presentation is open to the public, and there is no admission charge.
“This will be our first of two presentations in the Society’s 2016 – 2017 program year offered in recognition of the 100th Anniversary of America’s entrance and participation in World War I,” stated society vice president and program chairman Jim Malcolm. In this meeting, the focus will be on “America’s entrance and participation in World War I”. In May, Dr. Perry Leavell, Professor Emeritus in History of Drew University, will speak on “Woodrow Wilson and the Treaty of Versailles”.
On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress asking for a declaration of War against Germany. Apart from an Anglophile element supporting the British, American public opinion had initially gone along with the concept of neutrality. However, the citizenry increasingly came to see the German Empire as the villain after news of atrocities in Belgium in 1914, and the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania in May 1915. During these years, Wilson made all the key decisions and kept the economy on a peacetime basis, while allowing banks to make large-scale loans to Britain and France. To preclude making any military threat President Wilson made only minimal preparations for war and kept the U.S. Army on its small peacetime basis, despite increasing demands for preparedness. However, he did enlarge the U.S. Navy.
Like the rest of the country, the citizens of Madison also did not appear to have any great interest in America getting militarily involved in the conflict during the first two years of the war. Within the borough the more important “national” issue seemed to focus on women’s suffrage. In early 1917, as America moved closer to war, so too did the Borough of Madison. During the first week in March, plans were put in motion for the creation of The Madison Home Defense League in order to muster resources, “...whether it be in peace or war”.
Dr. James M. Carter is Department Chair of History at Drew University. He specializes in American foreign relations, the Vietnam War, the United States and East Asia, the Cold War, modernization theory, political economy, and nation building. Carter’s book, “Inventing Vietnam: The United States and State Building, 1954-1968”, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2008. He has also written articles on war profiteering in Vietnam and Iraq and the US advisory effort in Vietnam, and he has published reviews and essays in The Journal of Military History, Peace & Change, Education About Asia, Itinerario, History News Network, The Asia Times, and the BBC. Currently, Carter is pursuing two research projects. The first focuses on US-China relations during the Boxer Rebellion and the second examines the relationship between the government and private corporations in the realm of foreign policy from World War II through the 1960’s.