Woodrow Wilson Really, Really Worried About Germans Getting Silencers
The president named Maxim's silencer in his 1917 war declaration
The United States’ declaration of war on the German Empire in 1917 mentions by name the U.S.-made Maxim silencer.
On April 6, 1917, Pres. Woodrow Wilson issued Presidential Proclamation #1364, declaring war on Germany and putting the United States on a war footing.
The proclamation includes sections specifying items that non-citizens and “alien enemies” may not possess in the United States.
“An alien enemy shall not have in his possession, at any time or place, any firearm, weapon or implement of war, or component part thereof, ammunition, Maxim or other silencer, bomb or explosive material used in the manufacture of explosives.”
In the run-up to the declaration of war, Wilson had expressed concern about the potential use of silencers by enemy spies to kill guards and sabotage factories and important infrastructure.
While the War Department and Department of Justice had assured Wilson that silencers were not a major national threat, it seems Wilson continued to worry.
The president threatened to round up civilian-owned silencers, but ultimately didn’t follow through on his threat.