Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 January 2021
When war broke out in August 1914, it was viewed with a mixture of disbelief and disinterest by Americans The government’s official stance of neutrality was widely supported by the general public, but at the same time there were also voices arguing for preparedness, and once Congress declared war on Germany in 1917, voices against American involvement were quickly silenced. This fundamental shift in public opinion from neutrality to total support for the war effort is mirrored in American sheet music from 1914 to 1919. During the war over 30,000 songs were composed and copyrighted, many in editions of thousands of copies. Sung in parlors, theaters, and bars, these songs — though not a part of official propaganda — had an undeniable impact on the American public’s attitude toward the country’s involvement in the war.