An ideal post would be two solid paragraphs (that includes a thesis statement, a body of supporting evidence, and a conclusion that summarizes the main points). The post should be well constructed and free of grammatical errors, and be between 250 and 300 words.You must cite your sources both in your response and below it (Bibliography), using the Chicago Style citation format. Please using the textbook as your only source.Choose one (1) question. (chapter22-23)1. How did President Wilson’s administration mobilize the home front during the Great War? How did these mobilization efforts affect American society?2. How did Wilson promote his plans for a peaceful world order as outlined in his Fourteen Points?3. What were the consequences of the World War I at home and abroad?4. What contributed to the growth of “mass culture” following the Great War?5. Discuss the sexual revolution, c. 1900s-1920s.Choose one (1) question. (chapter 24-25)1. How did the reactionary conservatism during the 1920s manifest itself in social life and governmental policies?2. How did the Great Depression impact the American people?3. How did President Herbert Hoover’s administration respond to the Great Depression?4. How did Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal evolve? How did it transform the role of the federal government in American life?Choose one (1) question. (chapter 26)1. What were the affects of the Second World War on American society?2. What were the major factors that enabled the United States and its allies to win the war in Europe?3. How did President Franklin Roosevelt and the Allies work to shape the postwar world?

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America and
the Great War
Make American History In this U.S. Navy recruiting poster in New York City, a sailor
encourages a young man to play an active role in the Great War.
hroughout the nineteenth century, the Atlantic Ocean had protected
America from the major land wars on the continent of Europe.
During the early twentieth century, however, the nation’s centurylong isolation from European conflicts ended. Ever-expanding
world trade meant that U.S. interests were becoming deeply entwined with
the global economy. In addition, the development of steam-powered ships
and submarines meant that foreign navies could directly threaten American
At the same time, the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 brought to the
White House a self-righteous moralist determined to impose his standards on
what he saw as renegade nations. This combination of circumstances made
the outbreak of the “Great War” in Europe in 1914 a profound crisis for the
United States. The war would become the defining event of the early twentieth
For almost three years, President Wilson maintained America’s stance of
“neutrality” in the war while providing increasing amounts of food and supplies to Great Britain and France. In 1917, however, German submarine attacks
on U.S. ships forced Congress into declaring war. The decision would turn the
tide in the fighting and reshape America’s international role as a dominant
world power.
focus questions
1. What caused the outbreak of the Great War, and why was the United
States drawn into it? What was distinctive about the fighting on the
Western Front?
2. How did the Wilson administration mobilize the home front? How did
these mobilization efforts affect American society?
3. What were the major events of the war after the United States entered
the conflict? How did the American war effort contribute to the defeat of
the Central Powers?
4. How did Wilson promote his plans for a peaceful world order as
outlined in his Fourteen Points?
5. What were the consequences of the war at home and abroad?
America and the Great War 1914–1920
An Uneasy Neutrality
Woodrow Wilson once declared that he had “a first-class mind,” and he was
indeed highly intelligent, thoughtful, principled, and courageous. Upon learning of death threats against him, for example, he refused to change his schedule
of public appearances. “The country,” he explained, “cannot afford to have a
coward for President.”
For all of his accomplishments and abilities, however, Wilson had no experience or expertise in international relations before he was elected president.
He confessed that “it would be an irony of fate if my administration had to deal
chiefly with foreign affairs”—a topic he did not even mention in his 1913 inaugural address. But from the summer of 1914, when war erupted in Europe,
Wilson was forced to shift his attention from the New Freedom’s progressive
reforms to foreign affairs.
Wilson did have strong beliefs and principles about global issues. “Sometimes people call me an idealist,” he once said. “Well, that is the way I know I’m
an American.” He saw himself as being directed by God to help create a new
world order governed by morality and ideals rather than by selfish national
interests. Both Wilson and William Jennings Bryan, his secretary of state,
believed that America had a duty to promote democracy and Christianity
around the world. “Every nation of the world,” Wilson declared, “needs to be
drawn into the tutelage [guidance] of America.”
The Great War
Woodrow Wilson faced his greatest challenge beginning in the summer of
1914, when a war that few wanted yet no one could stop broke out in Europe.
The “dreadful conflict” erupted suddenly, like “lightning out of a clear sky,” a
North Carolina congressman said. Wilson admitted that he was shocked by
“this incredible European eruption.” Unfortunately, it coincided with a sharp
decline in the health of his wife Ellen, who died on August 6. “God has stricken
me,” the president wrote a friend, “almost beyond what I can bear.”
Wilson would also have trouble bearing the accelerating horrors of the
war in Europe. Its scope and destruction shocked everyone. Lasting for more
than four years, from 1914 to 1918, it would become known as the Great War
because it would involve more nations and cause greater destruction than any
previous war: 20 million military and civilian deaths, and 21 million more
wounded. The Great War would topple monarchs, destroy empires, create new
nations, and set in motion a series of events that would lead to an even greater
war in 1939.
An Uneasy Neutrality
The Great War resulted from complex and long-simmering
national rivalries and ethnic conflicts in central Europe. At the core of the
tensions was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an unstable collection of eleven
nationalities that was determined to stop the expansionism of its neighbor and
longstanding enemy, Serbia, in the Balkan Peninsula. Serbia had long hoped
to create “Yugoslavia,” a nation encompassing all Serbs from throughout the
Austro-Hungarian Empire.
At the same time, a recklessly militaristic Germany, led by Kaiser (Emperor)
Wilhelm II, sought to assert its dominance against its old enemies, the Russian
Empire and France, while expanding its navy to challenge the British Empire’s
supremacy on the seas.
fighting erupts
War erupted after Gavrilo Princip, a nineteenyear-old Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo (the capital of Austrian Bosnia), shot
and killed the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, 50-year-old Archduke
Franz Ferdinand, and his pregnant wife Sophie, on June 28, 1914. The killings
in Sarajevo set Europe on fire.
To avenge the murders, Austria-Hungary, with Germany’s unconditional
approval, sought to bully and humiliate Serbia by demanding a say in its
internal affairs. Serbia gave in to virtually all of the demands, but AustriaHungary declared war anyway. In turn, Russia mobilized its army to defend
Serbia, which triggered reactions by a complex set of European military alliances: the Triple Alliance, or Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary,
and Italy), and the Triple Entente, or Allied Powers (France, Great Britain,
and Russia).
Germany, expecting a limited war and quick victory, declared war on Russia
on August 1, 1914, and on France two days later. Germany then invaded neutral Belgium, murdering hundreds of civilians. Events spiraled out of control.
The “rape of Belgium” brought Great Britain into the war against Germany on
August 4 on the Western Front, the line of fighting in northern France and Belgium. Despite the Triple Alliance, Italy at first declared its neutrality before joining the Allies in return for a promise of territory taken from Austria-Hungary.
On the evening of August 4, as five global empires—Austria-Hungary,
France, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia—mobilized for war, the British foreign minister, Sir Edward Grey, expressed the fears of many when he
observed that “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them
lit again in our time.”
On the Eastern Front, Russian armies began clashing with German and
Austro-Hungarian forces as well as those of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire.
Within five weeks of the assassination in Sarajevo, a “great war” had consumed
America and the Great War 1914–1920
Dover Strait
St. Petersburg
Central Powers (Triple Alliance)
Allied Powers (Triple Entente)
Neutral countries

500 Miles
500 Kilometers
How did the European system of military alliances spread conflict across all
of Europe?
was the Great War different from previous wars?
Figure M22_01
did the war in Europe lead to ethnic tensions in the United States?
First proof
all of Europe. (It would not be called the First World War until the second one
came along in 1939.)
An Industrial War
No one envisioned that a local conflict in the Balkans would develop into a
catastrophic war that would reshape the twentieth-century world. But by its
end, in November 1918, more than forty nations had joined the fighting.
The Great War was the first industrial war, involving the total mobilization of the economy and civilians as well as warriors. Of the approximately
An Uneasy Neutrality
70 million soldiers and sailors who fought on both sides, more than half were
killed, wounded, imprisoned, or unaccounted for. New weapons dramatically
changed the nature of warfare. Machine guns, submarines, aerial bombing,
poison gas, flame throwers, land mines, mortars, long-range artillery, and
armored tanks produced appalling casualties and widespread destruction, a
slaughter on a scale unimaginable to this day. An average of 900 Frenchmen
and 1,300 Germans died every day on the Western Front.
The early weeks of the war involved fast-moving assaults as German armies
swept across Belgium and northeastern France. The casualties were appalling.
On a single day, August 22, 1914, the French army lost 27,000 men.
trench warfare
But the war on the Western Front soon bogged
down into hellish trench warfare, in which often inept generals sent masses of
brave soldiers (German generals referred to the British army as “lions led by
donkeys”) out of waterlogged, zigzagging trenches—some of them 40 feet deep
and swarming with rats—that had been dug along the Western Front from the
coast of Belgium across northeastern France to the border of Switzerland.
On either side, the attackers were usually at a disadvantage as they slogged
across muddy acres of devastated “no-man’s-land” between the opposing
Trench warfare American troops eat amid the reek of death and threat of enemy fire in
a frontline trench in France.
America and the Great War 1914–1920
entrenchments, where they encountered corpse-filled shell holes, webs of
barbed wire, and constant gunfire and artillery shelling that left the barren
landscape pockmarked with craters and whole forests shattered into nothingness. Along the Western Front, not a blade of grass was left, only ruin and
rubble, flooded trenches and thickets of barbed wire.
From 1914 to 1918, the opposing armies in northeastern France attacked
and counterattacked but gained hardly any ground, while casualties rose into
the millions. By the end of 1914, the Germans had captured 19,500 square miles
of territory in France and Belgium; by the end of 1915, the Allies had recaptured only 8 of those miles.
Words cannot convey the titanic scale of the fighting and its impact on
the home front as telegrams arrived telling families that their son would not
be returning. By 1918, the Allies (France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and the
United States, among others), had suffered 5.4 million killed and 7 million
wounded. “The War is everything,” a British diarist wrote. “It is noble, filthy,
great, petty, degrading, inspiring, ridiculous, glorious, mad, bad, hopeless yet
full of hope.”
Heroism was entangled with futility as battles were now determined not
so much by skillful maneuvers or courageous leadership but by overwhelming
firepower, the huge cannons and weighty shells that turned the ritual of close
combat into a long-distance contest of killing machines. Bayonets gave way to
bombardments. Two-thirds of the casualties in the Great War resulted from
long-distance artillery barrages.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides fell victim to “shell shock,” now known
as post-traumatic stress disorder, as they were bombarded into numbness.
Trenches shook, trees tumbled, and the ground trembled under the feet of
panicked combatants. The unprecedented firepower ravaged the landscape,
obliterated whole villages, and turned farmland and forests into cratered
wastelands. The scars of war are still visible 100 years later.
Trench warfare gave the Great War its lasting character. Soldiers often ate,
slept, lived, and died without leaving their crowded underground homes. A
French soldier described life in the trenches as a “physical, almost animal”
existence in which “the primitive instincts of the race have full sway: eating,
drinking, sleeping, fighting—everything but loving.”
The object in such a war of attrition was not so much to gain ground as
to keep inflicting death and destruction on the enemy until its manpower and
resources were exhausted. In one assault against the Germans at Ypres in
Belgium, the British lost 13,000 men in three hours of fighting—during which
time they gained 100 meaningless yards. As the war ground on, nations on
An Uneasy Neutrality
Total ruin German soldiers stand before the French Fort Souville between the Battles
of Verdun in September 1916. The constant artillery fire gouged out huge craters and
destroyed forests.
both sides found themselves using up their available men, resources, courage,
and cash.
Amid the senseless killing in the mucky trenches, the innocence about the
true nature of warfare died, too. “Never such innocence again,” wrote the English poet Philip Larkin. An American journalist covering the war in Europe
reported that the massive casualties changed the way men looked at war. In
earlier conflicts, soldiers were eager to fight and confident they would return
unscathed. Now, the new recruits seemed to have “left hope behind” and were
confident that they were “going to their death.” By 1915, the great powers were
engaged in a global war with no end in sight.
In 1917, George Barnes, a British official whose son had been killed in the
war, went to speak at a military hospital in London where injured soldiers were
being fitted with artificial limbs. At the appointed hour, the men, in wheelchairs and on crutches, all with empty sleeves or pants legs, arrived to hear the
speaker. Yet when Barnes was introduced and rose to talk, he found himself
speechless—literally. As the minutes passed in awkward silence, tears rolled
down his cheeks. Finally, without having said a word, he simply sat down.
What the mutilated soldiers heard was not a war-glorifying speech but the
muted sound of grief. The war’s mindless horrors had come home.
America and the Great War 1914–1920
Initial American Reactions
Disbelief in the United States over the bloodbath in Europe mingled with relief
that a wide ocean stood between America and the killing fields. President Wilson, an avowed pacifist, maintained that the United States “was too proud to
fight” in Europe’s war, “with which we have nothing to do, whose causes cannot touch us.” He repeatedly urged Americans to remain “neutral in thought as
well as in action.” Privately, however, Wilson sought to ensure that the United
States could provide Great Britain and France as much financial assistance and
supplies as possible.
That most Americans wanted the nation to stay out of the fighting did not
keep them from choosing sides. More than a third of the nation’s citizens were
first- or second-generation immigrants still loyal to their homelands. Eight
million German-born Americans lived in the United States in 1914, and most
of the 4 million Irish-born Americans detested England, which had ruled
the Irish for centuries. For the most part, these groups supported the Central
Powers, while other Americans, largely of British origin, supported the Allied
supporting the allies
By the spring of 1915, the Allied Powers’
need for food and supplies had generated an economic windfall for American businesses, bankers, and farmers. Exports to France and Great Britain
quadrupled from 1914 to 1916. To finance their record-breaking purchases
of American supplies, the Allies, especially Britain and France, needed loans
from U.S. banks and “credits” from the U.S. government that would allow
them to pay for their purchases later.
Early in the war, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, a strict pacifist, took advantage of Wilson’s absence from Washington after the death of
his wife to tell J. Pierpont Morgan, the world’s richest banker, that loans to any
nations at war were “inconsistent with the true spirit of neutrality.” Upon his
return, an angry Wilson reversed Bryan’s policy by removing all restrictions
on loans to the warring nations (“belligerents”). American banks and other
investors would eventually send more than $2 billion to the Allies before the
United States entered the fighting, and only $27 million to Germany. What
Bryan feared, and what Wilson did not fully realize, was that as Britain and
France borrowed and purchased more from the United States, it became
harder for America to remain neutral.
Despite the disproportionate financial assistance provided to the Allies, the
Wilson administration maintained its official neutrality for thirty months. In particular, Wilson tried valiantly to defend the age-old principle of “freedom of the
An Uneasy Neutrality
seas.” As a neutral nation, the United
States, according to international law,
should have been able to continue to
trade with all the nations at war.
On August 6, 1914, Bryan urged
the warring nations to respect the
rights of neutral nations to ship goods
across the Atlantic. The Central Powers agreed, but the British refused. In
November 1914, the British ordered
the ships of neutral nations to submit
to searches to discover if cargoes were
bound for Germany. A few months
later, the British announced that they
would seize any ships carrying goods
to Germany.
neutral rights and submarine attacks With its war-
“The Sandwich Man” To illustrate
America’s biased brand of neutrality,
this political cartoon shows Uncle
Sam wearing a sandwich board that
advertises the nation’s conflicting
ships bottled up by a British blockade,
the German government announced a
“war zone” around the British Isles. All
ships in those waters would be attacked by submarines, the Germans warned,
and “it may not always be possible to save crews and passengers.” The Germans’ use of submarines, or U-boats (Unterseeboot in German), violated the
long-established wartime custom of stopping an enemy vessel and allowing
the passengers and crew to board lifeboats before sinking it. During 1915, German U-boats sank 227 British ships in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
The United States called the submarine attacks “an indefensible violation
of neutral rights,” and Wilson warned that he would hold Germany to “strict
accountability” for the loss of American lives and property. Then, on May 7,
1915, a German submarine sank the Lusitania, an unarmed British luxury
liner. Of the 1,198 persons on board who died, 128 were Americans.
The sinking of the Lusitania, asserted former president Theodore Roosevelt, was mass murder that called for a declaration of war. Wilson at first
urged patience: “There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There
is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince
others by force that it is right.”
Critics scolded Wilson for his bloodless response. Roosevelt dismissed it as
“unmanly,” called the president a “jackass,” and threatened to “skin him alive
America and the Great War 1914–1920
if he doesn’t go to war.” Wilson privately admitted that he had misspoken. The
timid language, he said, had “occurred to me while I was speaking …
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