Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Preparedness Fever: The Parades of 1916

American's Preparedness Movement spontaneously began in 1914 as it became apparent to many that the country was not prepared for the type of war sweeping across Europe. Its biggest boost came in May 1915 after the loss of 128 Americans on the RMS Lusitania. With Theodore Roosevelt and General Leonard Wood as spokesmen, the  Preparedness Movement pushed an agenda that included an expanded navy and army for defensive purposes, universal military service for a period of six months for all men turning 18, and an expanded standing reserve force in lieu of the National Guard.

It gained moment in 1916 with the president shifting his policies and deciding to personally advocate preparedness. The disturbances on the Mexican border in March, especially the raid on Columbus, NM,  further energized the advocates. Around the nation, there was a series of parades organized to draw attention to the need for preparedness. As one flyer put it, "The parade was held to demonstrate in a successful manner the overwhelming sentiment of the citizens of St. Louis in favor of Preparedness.” 

Below are some images of those parades held all over America in the spring and summer of 1916. Click on the images if you would like to see them in larger formats.

Washington, DC
President Wilson Leads the Parade

Spokane, WA

St. Louis, MO

San Francisco, CA
Ten Would Be Killed and Many Wounded by a Terrorist Bombing

Boston, MA

Chicago, IL

Los Angeles, CA

Providence, RI

Seattle, WA

Norfolk, VA

New York City


  1. This had to be on the young people still in high school or just out that added to the fever to sign up after war was declared.

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  3. I wonder what the story was with "Ten Would Be Killed and Many Wounded by a Terrorist Bombing".

  4. Hi Bryan, go here for the story:

    1. Many thanks, Diane. Good to learn about that.
      Another unsolved mystery, eh?