US Coins

This Day in History: April 6

The American Numismatic Society issued a medal by Eli Harvey to commemorate the American entry into World War I, which became official on April 6, 1917.

Medal image courtesy of Stack’s Bowers.

President Woodrow Wilson pledged United States neutrality during World War I, but German hostilities toward American ships and a desire to support British and French allies eventually forced his hand.

Wilson finally asked Congress for a “war to end all wars” that would “make the world safe for democracy.” 

April 6, 1917, two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and the U.S. joined its allies in fighting World War I.

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Under the command of Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, more than 2 million U.S. soldiers fought on battlefields in France. 

The American Numismatic Society issued a uniface medal celebrating American entrance into the war, the 31st medal of the series issued by the ANS. 

The medal measures 88.9 millimeters in diameter and was struck by the Medallic Art Co. of New York. 

The design by Eli Harvey features an eagle, wings aloft, ready to defend itself, in obvious symbolism.

Gen. Pershing reportedly received an example of the medal in the theater of war, according to, and praised the design in a letter to Harvey. 

The medal has a reported mintage of one or two pieces in gold, 50 in silver and 117 pieces in bronze. 

A bronze example was offered in Stacks Bowers Galleries’ November 2015 Baltimore auction, where it realized $111.63 including the buyer’s fee.

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