The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 358
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
be sunk, neutral or belligerent. It was the equivalent of a declaration
of war against the United States.
El Paso, like the rest of the nation, was aware of what was about
to happen and viewed the situation with the utmost seriousness. As
early as the fall of 1916 Preparedness with a capital P was the topic
of fiery speeches and editorials and the occasion for some impressive
parades, including one in which the womanhood of El Paso, gloved,
hatted, parasoled, and dressed in white, declared their sentiments to
all the world. By the end of March, when war was plainly inevitable,
the townspeople were united as never before and resolved to make
whatever sacrifices were necessary to defeat the Kaiser.
The story that he had proposed an alliance with Mexico and prom-
ised that Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona should be Mexican again
may have heightened the wave of patriotic resolve that swept the
Southwest, but more important was the universal conviction that we
must go to the assistance of our brothers in Europe. It was not exactly
a holy war, but the crusading spirit was strong in those who fought
and those who kept the economy going at home.
More than once the townspeople came together in mass meetings
for the spontaneous discharge of patriotic emotion. Six thousand of
them overflowed Cleveland Square just west of the Public Library
on March 26, 1917, as two bands dispensed military music, a couple
of field pieces fired cannon salutes, and the Boy Scouts lit up the
place with red fire. The speeches were keyed to the mood of the
crowd, and of the nation. "We are with you, Father Woodrow," Judge
Dan Jackson declaimed, "one hundred million strong." The cheering
could be heard for miles.'
A week before Congress declared war, another enormous crowd as-
sembled and called on Mayor Tom Lea to speak for them. The mayor
was a man of deep and strong feelings, and no mean orator. He rose
to the challenge, calling on every man and woman present to lift up
his heart and display his flag. "Let there be such a riot of red, white
and blue," he admonished them, "that our hearts will be thrilled and
our courage strengthened and our lives as men and citizens be made
better and nobler. We do not know what the future holds for us
either as a country or as individuals; we do not know just what sacri-
fices we may be called upon to make. All we know is that if sacrifices,
personal or otherwise, are necessary . . . we as citizens will measure
'El Paso Herald, March 27, 1917.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/370/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.