April 7: Hartford Residents Gather to Show Support for WWI


On this day in 1917, citizens of Hartford gathered in the streets for a “mass patriotic meeting” to show their support for America’s formal entry into World War I.  Even though the Great War had been raging in Europe for three years, the United States had been reluctant to officially join the fight against the Germans until they formed a naval blockade against Great Britain — one of America’s closest ally and trading partners — and sank several American ships without warning.

A photo from the Hartford Courant’s coverage of the city’s patriotic rally on April 7, 1917.

On April 6, Congress approved President Woodrow Wilson’s resolution to enter the war.  The next day, Hartford mayor Frank Hagarty, Governor Marcus Holcomb, and other dignitaries addressed a crowd of thousands that had gathered in the streets amid the pealing bells of the Old State House, reading aloud declarations of American loyalty and proclaiming support for the decision to join the Allied war efforts in Europe.  According to the Hartford Courant, the crowd erupted into patriotic song, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America” as the men in attendance respectfully removed their hats, and broke out into enthusiastic cheers for President Wilson.

Banners urging men to enlist during WWI, hanging in downtown Hartford, CT.  (Connecticut State Library)

Two days after Hartford’s impressive demonstration of patriotism, Mayor Hagarty sent a message to President Wilson that declared:

“Acting under the authority of the people of Hartford, assembled in mass meeting in this city on Saturday afternoon, April 7, I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a resolution adopted by the unanimous vote of said meeting, pledging to the President and Congress their loyalty, devotion, and support to bring the war to a successful conclusion.”

This significant show of support from Connecticut’s capital city was more than just a flash in the pan; Hartford’s rally inspired numerous recruitment drives over the next several months that were answered by over 60,000 state residents who served overseas during the war.  Patriotism on full display, today in Connecticut history.

Further Reading

Connecticut In World War I,” Connecticut State Library

World War I Primary Source Gallery,” Teach It CT online resource