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1916 National Defense Act

Woodrow Wilson

1916 National Defense Act: Woodrow Wilson was the 28th American President who served in office from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921. One of the important events during his presidency was the passage of the 1916 National Defense Act.

Definition and Summary of the 1916 National Defense Act

Summary and definition: The 1916 National Defense Act was passed on June 3, 1916 in response to the campaign by the Preparedness Movement championed by former president Theodore Roosevelt and General Leonard Wood.

The 1916 National Defense Act provided major restructuring of the U.S. Army expanding the size and scope of the National Guard and establishing the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to train and prepare high school and college students for Army service. The 1916 National Defense Act was drafted by James Hay of Virginia, the Chairman of the House Committee on Military Affairs.

1916 National Defense Act Facts for kids: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the 1916 National Defense Act.

When was the National Defense Act passed? The National Defense Act was passed on June 3, 1916.

Why did Congress pass the National Defense Act in 1916? The reasons Congress passed the 1916 National Defense Act were:

In response to the pressure of the Preparedness Movement and opinion polls supporting the increase of the US army and navy.

To strengthen the military of the United States following the outbreak of the Great War in Europe on July 28, 1914.

In response to the outrage of public opinion over the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare which had led to the sinking of the British ocean passenger liner, the Lusitania which was sunk by a German U-Boat (submarine) on May 7, 1915, and the German attack on 'The Sussex' passenger ferry on March 24, 1916.

The deteriorating relations between Germany and the United States and the fear of sabotage and threats at home.

The border raids by Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution highlighted the need to reinforce the nation's armed forces

Facts about 1916 National Defense Act
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on 1916 National Defense Act.

The Great War began in Europe on July 28, 1914. The United States adopted a policy of neutrality at the start of the war and did not enter conflict until two and a half years after the war had begun on April 6, 1917.

Congress passed the National Defense Act in June 1916 due to pressure by the Preparedness Movement and public outrage following the sinking of the Lusitania, the attack on the Sussex by Germany and concerns for safety at home.

Public fears were fueled further  by the 1915 silent movie the 'Battle Cry of Peace' which featured enemy agents conspiring with pacifists to keep the American defense appropriations down at a time when enemy forces were preparing to invade America. The invasion comes, and Washington, New York and other American cities are devastated.

Before the American entry to WW1 the US army only numbered 190,000 and they were spread across America

Opinion polls in the newspapers indicated almost unanimous support for increasing the US army and navy.

The law was drafted by James Hay, the Chairman of the House Committee on Military Affairs.

The law brought the states' militias more under federal control and gave the president authority, in case of war, to mobilize the National Guard for the duration of the emergency.

The law provided for a four-fold expansion of the National Guard and mandated that the term National Guard be used to refer to the combined network of states' militias which became the primary reserve force for the U.S. Army.

The number of yearly National Guard drills increased from 24 to 48 and annual training from 5 to 15 days. Drill pay was authorized for the first time.

The law provided for the creation of an Officers' and an Enlisted Reserve Corps and formally established the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to train and prepare high school and college students for Army service.

The United States Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) also came into being with the passage of the 1916 National Defense Act in which high schools were authorized the loan of federal military equipment and the assignment of active duty military personnel as instructors.

The Act also allowed President Woodrow Wilson to establish the Council of National Defense (CND) on 24 August 1916.  The council  consisted of the Secretaries of War, Navy, Labor, Agriculture, Interior and Commerce and was responsible for investigating and advising the president on the strategic placement of industrial goods and services for potential and future use in times of war.

The Naval Act of 1916, a massive naval appropriations bill,  was passed authorizing 10 battleships, 10 Omaha-class scout cruisers, 6 Lexington-class battle cruisers, 50 Wickes-class destroyers and numerous other smaller warships to be built over a period of just three years.

On  April 6, 1917 President Wilson  declared war on Germany and fought with the allies in WW1 during which 126,000 Americans died and 234,000 Americans were wounded. tHE Espionage and Sedition Acts were also passed before WW1 ended on 11 November 1918.

The National Defense Act Amendments of 1920 allocated over $17 million for the Army to field 375 new airplanes, and created the Army's first Air Division, based at Langley Field, Virginia. The National Defense Act Amendments of 1920

Facts about the 1916 National Defense Act: American entry and US role World War I
On April 6, 1917 the United States Senate declared war on Germany and fought with the allies in WW1.

US American History
1913-1928: WW1 & Prohibition
Outbreak and Causes of World War 1
US Entry into World War I

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