Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 January 2021
On April 2nd, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson entered the halls of Congress and requested a declaration of war against Germany; however, pressure to intervene in the Great War had begun in 1914. This chapter focuses on this pressure. Specifically, it examines the military preparedness movement, and the cultural and political anxieties that fueled this movement. Spearheaded by Theodore Roosevelt and Leonard Wood, the movement established volunteer training camps across the United States. While the movement never led to the universal military training that Roosevelt and Wood hoped for, it exerted significant influence in the United States. Through the camps, Roosevelt’s and Wood’s lecture circuits, and literature such as the poetry collection Rookie Rhymes, the movement popularized militarist attitudes, which functioned as a panacea for broader problems of gender, class, and modernity. Most notably, the movement shaped thousands of elite men who held important positions in politics, finance, the media, and other spheres of American society—before, during, and after the war. This chapter unpacks the movement’s influence, as it illuminates the significance of preparedness to the historical record of the First World War.