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  1. America in the Great War:Why Did We Go Over There? Volusia County Public Schools June 2012 Gary Armstrong, Ph.D. William Jewell College

  2. The Situation, 1917 • French Army Exhausted • Czarist Regime Collapses • Germany Resumes Unrestricted Submarine War

  3. Situation 1917

  4. US Political ContextWilson’s 1916 Coalition

  5. US Political Context: Balance of Power in Congress * Or Dem 216, GOP 210, IND 6

  6. The Progressives Lippmann Croly

  7. The War DebateThe Case Against Rankin LaFollette Norris

  8. American InterventionPrecipitating Factors • Zimmermann Telegram (Jan 1917) • German U-boats • Germany’s calculation: 600 K tons = victory Intercepted Zimmermann Telegram

  9. U-boat outrage • May 1915 Luisitania 1500 dead (128 Americans) • March 1916 Sussex 50 dead • April 1916: Wilson ultimatum • May 4 1916: German “Sussex pledge”

  10. German Warning

  11. Uboat Outrage German Lusitania medal

  12. Gore-McLemoreFeb 1916 “Resolved… That it is the sense of the Congress, vested as it is with the sole power to declare war, that all persons owing allegiance to the United States should, in behalf of their own safety and the vital interest of the United States, forbear to exercise the right to travel as passengers upon any armed vessel of any belligerent power…and further…that no passport should be issued or renewed by the Secretary of State …to be used by any person owing allegiance to the United States for purpose of [such] travel…

  13. The German Threat

  14. “The Hinge”Of Modern US Foreign Policy

  15. Woodrow WilsonPresident 1913-1921 • 1856-1924 • Only President to know personally what defeat in war was like • Only President with PhD in Political Science • Second President to win Nobel Prize • President Princeton University, 1902-1912 • Domestic Policy Accomplishments: • Federal Reserve created • First graduated income tax • Labor legislation • Massive Stroke, 1919

  16. Theodore Roosevelt • 1858-1919 • War with Spain, 1898 • US President, 1901-1909 • First US President to win Nobel Peace Prize • Breaks with Republican Party, 1912 • Reunion with Republican Party, 1916 • Expected Nominee, President 1920

  17. Clash of Basic Principles • Political Morality = Civilian Morality • US Exceptional • Peace from Liberal Democracy • Peace from International Law Political Morality = Special Morality US Normal Great Power Peace from Balance of Power Peace from Spheres of Influence

  18. Wilson’s War AimsComplex or Contradiction? Feb 1917: Peace without Victory April 1917: War to Make World Safe for Democracy July 1918: Force, Force, Force to the Utmost! August 1918: Overthrow Every Arbitrary Power November 1918: Insists Germany be beaten, but accepts negotiations

  19. Wilson’s War AimsComplex or Contradiction? “…it must be a peace without victory. It is not pleasant to say this…Victory would mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor’s terms imposed upon the vanquished. It would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last.” Woodrow Wilson February 1917

  20. Wilson at William Jewell College

  21. Wilson Sets Out to Reform the World • Understanding the 14 Points

  22. Secret Treaties Russia • Gets Straits & Constantinople • Free hand to redraw eastern frontiers of Germany and Austria • Annex including Armenia and Kurdistan France • Alsace-Lorraine • Left Bank of Rhine • Saar

  23. Secret Treaties Britain • Support for ambitions in Egypt and Persia • German African colonies Italy • Trieste, Gorizia, Istria, north Dalmatia, part of Albania, one-third of Anatolia

  24. Secret Treaties Russia Italy

  25. Lansdowne Letter • Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquis of Lansdowne 1845-1927 • 1904: Negotiates Entente • Nov 1917: Lansdowne Letter published (after secret treaties) • Times refuses to run letter, Daily Telegraph publishes it • Calls for negotiated peace, based on status quo ante • Calls for “statement of intentions” from British government

  26. Lansdowne Letter "We are not going to lose this war, but its prolongation will spell ruin for the civilised world, and an infinite addition to the load of human suffering which already weighs upon it...We do not desire the annihilation of Germany as a great power ... We do not seek to impose upon her people any form of government other than that of their own choice... We have no desire to deny Germany her place among the great commercial communities of the world.

  27. Wilson vs. Lodge WilsonLodge Fourteen Points 10 Minimum (Feb 1918) (Aug 1918)

  28. Inferring Wilson’s War Aims • Defeat but do not crush Germany • Precipitate Internal Revolution in Germany • Make British Empire and France dependent on US

  29. Different War, Different Peace Wilson Lodge & TR Cause of war Tragedy & Stupidity German drive for power US entry? German outrages US cannot tolerate German-led Europe Main US war aim Reform World Politics Balance of Power Moderate Victory Unconditional Surrender Regime Reform Regime Change

  30. Effect of Wilson’s War Aims Vive Wilson!

  31. War Expenditures & Mobilization Expenditures Mobilized Country in 1913 B$ Forces (M) British Empire 23.0 9.5 France 9.3 8.2 Russia 5.4 13.0 Italy 3.2 5.6 USA 17.1 3.8 Germany 19.9 13.3 Austria-Hungary 4.7 9.0 Turkey 0.1 2.9 Kennedy, Rise & Fall of Great Powers

  32. Military Deaths in World War I Total Killed Total Killed Total Killed % of armed % of % of Country forces men 15-49 population Scotland 26.4 10.9 3.1 France 16.8 13.3 3.4 Britain 11.8 6.3 1.6 Russia 11.5 4.5 1.1 Serbia 37.1 22.7 5.7 Germany 15.4 12.5 3.0 Turkey 26.8 14.8 3.7 USA 2.7 0.4 0.1 Ferguson, Pity of War (1999), p. 299

  33. Some ConclusionsWhy did we go Over There? • Unpersuasive: Vindicate Rights • Unpersuasive: Evangelical Reformism • Better: Profound sympathy with Allies • Better: Strong economic interests • Better: German victory was unacceptable both for American ideals and interests