HOUSE PASSES BILL GIVING PRESIDENT POWER TO ARM SHIPS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 100 years ago this evening, March 1, 1917, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill 403-13 to give President Woodrow Wilson the power to arm American ships and the appropriation of $100 million to accomplish that feat.
A provision to also give the President the authority to use "other instrumentalities" was not included in the House bill, but the United States Senate was expected to pass their version of the bill the following day with that provision included.
Minority Leader James Robert Mann*, who opposed America's entering the world war, voted for the House bill to protect American lives. The House legislation had bi-partisan support.**
*James Robert Mann (1856-1922) was born near Bloomington, IL & graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1856. JRM graduated from Union College of Law in 1881.
JRM served in the US House of Representatives from 1897 to 1922 & was minority leader from 1911 to 1919. He was co-sponsor of the Mann-Elkins Act which gave additional power to the ICC to regulate railroad rates. He was author of the Mann Act which forbade transport of women between states for purposes of prostitution.
**The Senate's Armed Ships Bill was killed by a filibuster led by Senator Robert LaFollette from Feb 28 to March 4, 1917.
"House Grants Wilson Power to Arm Ships, Bill is passed in a Burst of Patriotism," Chicago Daily Tribune, March 2, 1917, www.archives.chicagotribune.com/