“The Yanks Are Coming”

Glenn Watkins

in Proof through the Night

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927896 | DOI:
“The Yanks Are Coming”

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American entertainers and politicians alike maintained an uneasy neutrality following the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914. In April 1915, the Cunard liner Lusitania sailed from New York. Before America's entrance into the war, the young Cole Porter wrote his first professional musical, “See America First,” which opened for a short run in March 1916. When America finally joined the Allies in April 1917, Theodore Roosevelt belligerently told an audience at Oyster Bay, Long Island, that Germany had become a menace to the whole world. When the United States entered the war, American musical theater suddenly seemed to come of age, prompted in large measure by the need to develop an alternative to Viennese operetta. Ingredients from operetta, musical comedy, and revue—all of European origin—were now amalgamated into an identifiably more American form that relied heavily upon the spirit of ragtime. Once America declared war, the American Red Cross became the ultimate symbol of compassion.

Keywords: America; Great War; Cole Porter; Germany; musical theater; ragtime; American Red Cross; operetta; revue; musical comedy

Chapter.  8760 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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