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1917

Jan 28  The US ordered General Pershing to end his drive against Pancho Villa. Pershing is unhappy about it. He has the same macho sentiments that have been displayed by German and French military leaders. He complains that we "are now sneaking home under cover, like a whipped curr with its tail between its legs." His troops will cross into the United States in eight days.

Feb 1  Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm has been under pressure from his military to let them have the tools they need for victory. He gives in to the call from his admirals to unleash their submarines, which they claim will win the war. Germany announces that its submarines will engage in unrestricted submarine warfare.

Feb 3  The US severs diplomatic relations with Germany, of little concern to German military strategists. They want to end the war before the US can have a greater impact. They see the US as already on the side of their enemies, supplying them as it does.

Feb 5  Mexico establishes a liberal political constitution.

Feb 22  Italy's Benito Mussolini has finally made it near the front opposite the Austrians. He is wounded in a training exercise by an accidental explosion of a mortar. So much for his combat experience. He is sent to a hospital.

Mar 1  Germany has sent the secret message – the Zimmermann Telegram – offering to return to Mexico border states that the US took from Mexico after the US-Mexican War if Mexico joins Germany against the US. The British have intercepted the telegram, and the US government makes the text of the telegram public.

Mar 2  The US Congress grants citizenship to Puerto Ricans.

Mar 4  In the US, Woodrow Wilson begins his second term as president. Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first woman member of the House of Representatives.

Mar 5  Hitler has been on duty in Munich after having been wounded and hospitalized. He is appauled by the apathy and anti-war sentiment among German civilians. He eagerly returns to his regiment at the front to fight the Battle of Arras which begins in little more than a month.

Mar 8  On International Woman's Day, Russian women demonstrate for women's issues and are joined by women who are just hungry and by a few labor union males. The demonstrations will grow day by day and focus on the nation's leader, Tsar Nicholas.

Mar 11  Carranza is elected President of Mexico. The United States gives de jure recognition of his government.

Mar 15  Tsar Nicholas lacks the support from his military that he would need to remain in power. He abdicates. Councils (soviets) spring up as democratic gatherings and a spontaneous government grass roots.

Apr 2  Wilson is overwhelmed by public opinion. His advisors favor war against Germany, and now that Russia has overthrown its tsar it is argued that the US would be fighting a war against autocracy. Wilson tells Congress that the US will not choose "the path of submission." He asks Congress for a declaration of war on Germany to make the world "safe for democracy."

Apr 6  In the US, the House of Representatives votes 373 to 50 in favor of declaring war, and the Senate votes in favor by 82 to 6. Congress goes wild with joy.

Apr 16  Lenin arrives by train from Switzerland in Russia's capital, Petrograd (formerly Saint Petersburg), and speaks to people fed up with war, hunger and exploitation. It will be months before troops will be put on transport ships for Europe.

Apr 16  France's General Nivelle has been commander-in-chief of the French Armies on the Western Front since December. He thinks he knows how to make an offensive work. With 1.2 million soldiers he launches France's new offensive which he claims will break through the German line and end the war.

May 9  Nivelle's offensive has failed and is abandoned. French casualties are 187,000 including 29,000 killed. German casualties are 163,000 including more than 15,000 killed. Nivelle is replaced as commander-in-chief.

May 18  The US Congress passes the Selective Service Act, giving the President the power to draft people into the military.

May 23  In Milan, Italy, loyal soldiers end a month of anti-war rioting. Fifty people are killed and 800 arrested.

May 27  As many as 30,000 French soldiers refuse to man their trenches. Troops refuse to go to the trenches. They want their superiors to realize that offensives are futile. In eleven days there will be arrests, trials and executions of soldiers randomly selected. It is to be dramatized by a book and movie titled "Paths of Glory."

Jul 1  Russia's Provisional Government follows urging from Allies and a promise of aid from the US to launch an offensive. Some who are wealthy or devout support the Provisional Government and look forward to winning back Constantinople from the Turks and for their Christianity.

Jul 7  Alexander Kerensky, a believer in Russia staying in the war and the new offensive, which he helped organize, becomes premier of the Russian Provisional Government.

Jul 16-17  Russia's new offensive, led by General Brusilov, doesn't repeat his 1916 successes. Failure is accompanied by troop mutinies with soldiers abandoning the front lines. Hundreds are shot by their commanding officers, and officers are shot by their troops.

Jul 17 Britain's King George V responds to wartime passion by issuing a royal proclamation that changes the name of his family's royal house to the House of Windsor. It had been the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. King George and his relatives in British relinquish their German titles and styles and adopt British-sounding surnames.

Jul 16-18  There is fighting in the streets of Petrograd. A coup is attempted against the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government goes after radicals opposed to the war. Lenin, who has considered the coup premature, escapes to Finland. The government arrests Leon Trotsky, a leader in the Petrograd Soviet.

Jul 28  A parade in silence is organized by the NAACP in New York to protest the East St. Louis Riot of July 2 and lynchings in Texas and Tennessee.

Aug 10  In Spain a strike organized by socialists and with some anarchist participants is in its third day. Barricades have been erected and trolleys stopped. Government forces with machine guns crush the strike, leaving 70 dead and hundreds wounded. Around 2,000 are arrested.

Sep 16  Trotsky is released from prison.

Sep 18  The Bolsheviks are leading the anti-war movement in Russia. Voting gives them a majority in the Moscow Soviet.

Sep 23  Voting gives the Bolsheviks a majority in the Petrograd Soviet.

Oct 8  Trotsky is elected President of the Petrograd Soviet.

Oct 12  New Zealand troops have their greatest loss of life in one day, losing over 800 men at the First Battle of Passchendaele.

Oct 26  A German U-boat has sunk a Brazilian ship. Brazil declares war against the Central Powers.

Nov 2  Britain's government is looking forward to removing Ottoman authority in Palestine, and it wants to appeal to Germany's Jews. Britain's Balfour Declaration proclaims support for "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." It adds, "that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities."

Nov 7  With Trotsky's blessing and In the name of the Soviets, armed revolutionary soldiers led by Bolsheviks occupy Petrograd's communication centers: the telegraph exchange, post office and telephone exchange. They surround the state bank and then take over the Winter Palace, which contains offices of the Provisional Government, now proclaimed defunct. Lenin comes out of hiding.

Nov 8  Lenin gives his keynote address to the Soviet assembly. "We shall now proceed to the construction of the socialist order," he declares and is wildly applauded. During a four-day convocation, democracy is proclaimed, including complete democratization of the army. Local power is to be put in the hands of workers' and peasants' Soviets. The eight-hour work day is proclaimed. Anti-Jewish pogroms or incidents are declared illegal. All nationalities that have been under tsarist rule are declared as having self-determination. Newspapers hostile to the revolution are to be closed because, it is said, newspapers have been under the control of wealthy persons who should be prevented from "poisoning and confusing" the minds of the masses.

Nov 23  The Bolsheviks have gained access to secret government documents and they release the full text of the Sykes-Picot Agreement to carve up the Middle East.

Dec 6  Finland declares independence from Russia.

Dec 18  in the new atmosphere of righteousness in war and creation of a more perfect and moral United States, the US Congress passes a law amending the US Constitution – the 18th Amendment – prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcoholic beverages. The Amendment now needs ratification by the states.

Dec 30  The Battle of Jerusalem, on-going since November 17, ends with a British victory.

to 1916 | to 1918

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