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Historical Highlights

The Knox-Porter Resolution

June 30, 1921
The Knox-Porter Resolution Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Serving ten terms in the House, Stephen Porter of Pennsylvania chaired the Committee on Foreign Affairs from the 66th through the 71st Congresses (1919–1930).
On this date, the House of Representatives approved the Knox–Porter Resolution (S.J. Res. 16) with a staggering vote of 263 to 59, officially concluding the United States’ involvement in the First World War. The bill had been derived from two separate resolutions drafted by Senator Philander Knox and Representative Stephen Porter, both Republicans from Pennsylvania. The Senate approved the resolution on July 1, 1921, and President Warren G. Harding signed it into law on the next day. Congress decided that the United States would not repeal the declaration of the state of war between the U.S. and the Imperial German Government signed April 6, 1917, but simply declare the state of war to be at an end. Representative Ross Collins of Mississippi concluded that “with the exception of the United States of America, all the nations that were at war with the Central Powers are now at peace with them. This country alone remains in a state of war . . . the people in all parts of our Nation are hungry for actual peace.” The Knox–Porter resolution also declared peace with the recently separated nations of Austria and Hungary. By declaring peace, the U.S. hoped to consolidate its power in the postwar world and play a prominent role in the treaty-making process. “We will ask only for a just, equitable, and honorable disarmament, no more, and will accept no less; as we will ask for only a just and honorable peace,” said Representative Robert Maloney of Massachusetts. The Knox–Porter resolution also guaranteed the rights and privileges of American citizens by protecting them from government seizures of property. During the war, the U.S. seized German property from American citizens through the office of the Alien Property Custodian. While the government retained this property, the resolution paved the way for trade resumption between the United States and previously hostile Germany, Austria, and Hungary.

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