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Greenwich Faces the Great War

On June 28, 1914, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia, triggered a cascade of events turning into World War I—the Great War, the Forgotten War and the War to End All Wars! By its end in November 1918, over 50 countries had declared war on each other, a whole generation of young men was lost around the world and over 37 million people were killed or wounded.

America had a different experience due to its late official entry into the War on the side of the Allies in 1917. Between 1914 and 1917, President Woodrow Wilson exhorted Americans to be neutral in word and deed even as people in Greenwich and across the nation hotly debated whether or not to enter the conflict. Once Congress had declared war on Germany in 1917, the government reversed Wilson's original directive and demanded that all adopt a pro-war attitude.

The War impacted Greenwich earlier and more strongly than many other areas of the country due to Greenwich's physical proximity to New York City and the financial and artistic connections of its residents to Europe. While the world marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI in Europe, this exhibition invites you to explore the events of 1914 to 1918, as well as the issues it raised about the proper role of America in foreign wars and the limitations on individual freedom, through Greenwich residents whose lives were impacted in unexpected ways.