It was called the “Great War” - the first global conflict in human history.
It caused the fall of three empires - and the emergence of the Unites States as a world power. The armies of Europe shocked themselves with the killing power of new military weapons.
It sparked a revolution in world politics… and technology.
The war changed the world—and Texas—forever.
is the end and the beginning of an age.
- H.G. Wells, 1916
Texas, in the early 1900s, was largely unchanged in the 50 years since the Civil War. To the rest of America, Texas was cattle, cowboys, and open spaces. And people here, they were more “Texan” than “American”; the “capitol” was in Austin, not Washington DC.
The United States entered the war in 1917 - but for Texans, the war began years earlier. The border with Mexico had always been more theory than reality; but when the Mexican Revolution erupted in 1910, Texans worried the violence would spread.
In 1916, Mexican rebel Pancho Villa attacked the American town of Columbus, New Mexico. And as the Great War raged in Europe, rumors spread here in Texas - about German conspiracies in Mexico.
In January 1917, Texans’ worst fears were confirmed.
A secret telegram from Germany to Mexico was intercepted, urging
Mexico to attack the United States, and in exchange, Germany would return the
entire southwestern US - including Texas - back to Mexico.
The “Zimmerman Telegram” was a turning point – turning American public opinion in favor of war.
Texans, with the unrest on the border, were especially vocal. And the Lone Star State had the ear of President Woodrow Wilson: his closest advisor - Colonel Edward House - was a native Texan.
On April 6, 1917, the US officially entered the Great War.
Texas became an epicenter of military training. Resources, people and technology flowed into the state, transforming a post-Civil War backwater into a modern, industrial power… seemingly overnight.
Today, little remains to remind us of the Great War; those Army barracks and landing strips are long gone. But now, it’s time to tell this epic story - the story of Texas in the Great War.