In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.
On June 26, 1917, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict marked a major turning point in the war and helped the Allies to victory. When the war finally ended, on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives.
Mike Jacobs, Associate professor of history at UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, will take us through America's entrance into The Great War.
Second Saturdays is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.
Second Saturdays- Journeys Into Local History is made possible by a donation from the John and Hilda Holden Memorial Fund.
Second Saturdays began its new season in September.
All presentations begin at 9:30am.
In the 1920s and early '30s, the Holyland east of Fond du Lac was a bootlegger’s paradise. The Depression made it hard for the German-Catholic immigrants who settled in the area to make a living, but Prohibition created a market for illegal booze, and some of these pious churchgoers jumped at the chance.
As stills fired up and the moonshine flowed out of barns and faux cheese factories, family secrets, attacks by federal agents, Al Capone sightings and even murder were the result.
John Jenkins, who researched the subject for his thesis at Marian University in Fond du Lac, said residents from these sleepy farm communities were lured to the lucrative brewing, distilling and selling of illegal moonshine to make ends meet during difficult times. Jenkins will analyze why this area was such a center of moonshine production.