SHOULD U.S. FORCES GO TO THE FRONT GRADUALLY OR AS A WHOLE UNIT?
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) One hundred years ago today, April 30, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson met with French minister of justice Rene Viviani*, head of the French war mission, and French ambassador Jean Jusserand** to discuss the question of how American forces would be sent to the Western Front.
With a thousand American doctors already on their way, the President faces the question as to whether U.S. troops should be sent on a gradual basis and trained behind the firing line, or sent as a whole unit of half a million men next year.
Marshal Joseph Joffre***, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune, favored training Americans quickly near the firing line. That sentiment was supported by Mr. Viviani who indicated that France had reached the maximum limit of its manpower after three years of fighting.
President Wilson remained uncommitted on the issue, but expressed the view that the United States was "in the war to achieve victory." The Joffre plan, however, received a cold reception at the War Department.
*Rene Viviani (1863-1925) was born in French Algeria & became a prominent leader of the Socialist Party in France. RV served as Prime Minister 1914-1915 before leading the French Commission to the United States in 1917.
**Jean Jules Jusserand (1859-1932) was born in Lyon & studied at the University of Lyon. JJJ earned his PhD in history & law degree in Paris. He was French Ambassador to the U.S. during the administrations of TR, WW, WH & CC.
***Marshal Joseph Joffree (1852-1931) was born in Rivesaltes, France & served in the French Army from 1869 to 1916. JJ was Commander-n-chief of French forces in WWI 1914-1916.
"Small Units of U.S. Troops May Go Soon, Joffre thinks they can be trained quickly near the Firing Line," The Chicago Daily Tribune, May 1, 1917, www.archives.chicagotribune.com/