Chapter 23 War and Society 1914–1920
How and why did World War I began? • Evaluate and discuss President Wilson’s decision • to enter the war in 1917. • Why World War I was considered a “total war”. • How he war affected economic affairs and social • relationships in America? • How and why President Wilson attempted to • shape the Treaty of Versailles? • The failures of the Settlement of • 1919–1920 to achieve a lasting peace in America • and in Europe.
World War I could be considered the first "modern" war. Aside from the debut of the machine gun (seen here), it also marked the advent of air forces, submarines, tanks, and chemical warfare. Casualties skyrocketed accordingly, due mostly to the new, ruthlessly efficient weaponry, but also because armies continued to use 19th century tactics like trench warfare.
Europe’s Descent into War • Precipitating factor was assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, June 1914 • Continental alliance system transformed into reason for war • Triple Alliance: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy • Italy soon replaced by Ottoman Empire • Tripe Entente: Britain, France, Russia • Competition between nations also contributed • Especially between Britain and Germany • By 1914, conflict settled into stalemate because two sides evenly balanced
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American Neutrality • U.S. would remain neutral and would trade with both camps • Nation, though, did favor Triple Entente in conflict • Close cultural ties to Britain • Stronger economic relationship with Britain than Germany
American Neutrality (cont) • Loans to Britain and France, but not to Germany • Little protest to British violations of U.S. neutral rights • German submarine warfare • Designed to combat British dominance of the seas • Lusitania, May 1915 • Led to sharp protest from Wilson • Government refused to yield unless Britain allowed cargo to reach German ports • Seemed to show that war with Germany was inevitable
In February 1915, Germany announced that it intended to sink on sight enemy ships en route to the British Isles. On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed the British passenger liner Lusitania, killing 1,198 passengers, 128 of them U.S. citizens. American newspapers featured drawings of drowning women and children, and some editorials demanded war. Propaganda posters like this one were used to encourage military enlistment once the United States entered World War I in 1917.
Arabic pledge • Germany would warn non-military ships 30 minutes before they sank them to make sure the passengers and crew got out safely. They broke this pledge on March 24, 1916
The Sussex • March 24th 1916 a German submarine in the English Channel attacked what it thought was a minelaying ship. • French passenger steamer called 'The Sussex' and, although it didn't sink and limped into port, fifty people were killed. Several Americans were injured and, on April 19th, the US President (Woodrow Wilson) addressed Congress on the issue. He gave an ultimatum: Germany should end attacks on passenger vessels, or face America 'breaking off' diplomatic relations.
Germany promised to alter their naval and submarine policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and stop the indiscriminate sinking of non-military ships. Instead, Merchant Ships would be searched and sunk only if they contained contraband, and then only after safe passage had been provided for the crew and passengers.
American Neutrality (cont) House-Grey Memorandum, February 1916 The so-called 'House-Grey Memorandum', noted in memo form by Grey, involved the U.S. 'inviting' German participation in a U.S. inspired peace convention; the failure of Germany to attend would lead to U.S. military involvement.
Won applause from many Americans • American Union Against Militarism • Campaign in 1916 based on his peace efforts • Plans for international organization to maintain peace • Laid out principles for a lasting peace in early 1917 • Constituted new world order based on equality of all nations
German Escalation • German push for victory on land and at sea, early 1917 • To counter effect of Russian exit from war • Zimmerman telegram dashed Wilson’s hopes for negotiated settlement
coded telegram dispatched by the Foreign Secretary of the German Empire, Arthur Zimmermann, on January 16, 1917, to the German ambassador in the United States of America, Johann von Bernstorff • January 19, Bernstorff, per Zimmermann's request, forwarded the Telegram to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt.
Zimmermann sent the Telegram in anticipation of the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by the German Empire on February 1, an act which German High Command feared would draw the neutral United States into war on the side of the Allies. • The Telegram instructed Ambassador Eckardt to propose a military alliance between Germany and Mexico against the United States. • Mexico was to receive material aid in the reclamation of territory lost during the Mexican-American War, specifically the American states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Eckardt was also instructed to urge Mexico to help broker an alliance between Germany and Japan.
German Escalation • Benevolent nature of war demonstrated by overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II in Russia • Helped Wilson justify intervention on side of democratic powers • April 2, Congress voted to enter war • Wilson war speech, April 1917 • Grand experiment to remake the world
American Intervention(cont) • Impact of American entry • U.S. troops separate from Allied forces • American Expeditionary Force • John J. Pershing • Eased pressure on British and French on Western front • Wilson’s Fourteen Points, January 1918 • To encounter effect of secret Allied treaties • Demonstrated that war was being fought for just purposes • Germany launched huge offensives in March and April of 1918 • War ended in November 1918
Mobilizing for “Total” War • All of nation’s resources committed to war effort • Organizing American industry • Food Administration • Railroad Administration • Aircraft Production Board • Emergency Fleet Corporation • War Industries Board
Herbert Hoover headed the Food Administration during World War I. Sober and tireless, he led remarkably successful "Hooverizing” campaigns for "meatless” Mondays and "wheatless” Wednesdays and other means of conserving resources. Guaranteed high prices, the American heartland not only supplied the needs of U.S. citizens and armed forces but also became the breadbasket of America's allies.
Mobilizing for “Total” War (cont) • Organizing American Labor • National War Labor Board • Organizing the American Military • Selective Service Act • Organizing American economy • Sharp increases in taxes • Fell hardest on wealthy, corporations • Liberty Bond sales • Mobilizing the American public • Committee on Public Information
Nothing could make living in the trenches anything better than miserable, but a decent shave with a Gillette safety razor could offer temporary relief.
While trenches could be dry, rains brought mud so deep that wounded men drowned in it. By the time American doughboys arrived in Europe, troops had faced one another for more than three years, burrowed into a double line of trenches, protected by barbed wire, machine gun nests, and mortars, backed by heavy artillery. A pair of dry boots was perhaps one of the greatest comforts a soldier could experience in the trench.
About 16,000 Native Americans served in the U.S. armed forces during World War I. This magazine cover, entitled "The Warrior's Return" offers a romanticized reconstruction of one homecoming. The young soldier, still in uniform and presumably fresh from France, rides his painted pony to the tepee of his parents, where they proudly welcome the brave warrior. Their tepee even has a star, a national symbol that families with sons in the military displayed on their homes. The painting sought to demonstrate that all Americans, even those on the margins of national life, were sufficiently assimilated and loyal to join the national sacrifice to defeat the enemy.
After the triumphal parades ended, attention turned to the question of what the heroes would do at home. The Department of Labor poster tries to convey a strong image of purposefulness and prosperity by portraying a soldier in front of a booming industrial landscape. The U.S. Employment Service had little to offer veterans beyond posters, however, and unions were unprepared to cope with the massive numbers of former soldiers who needed retraining. As workplace conditions deteriorated, the largest number of strikes in the nation's history broke out in 1919.
American officials were adamant that all sectors of the population be reached by the propaganda campaigns that urged Americans to buybonds, conserve food, enlist, and support the war effor in countless other ways. They targeted immigrants with posters such as this one for Liberty Bonds in the hopes no only that the foreign-born would buy bonds, but in doing so they would become more Americanized and more deeply committed to their adopted home.
Promoting National Unity • Committee on Public Information headed by George Creel
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Even as posters encouraged women to participate in war activities by buying Liberty Bonds, supporting the Red Cross, knitting socks for soldiers, or conserving food, the images rarely challenged traditional ideas of women's proper place. This is a recruitment poster for the Land Army, a voluntary organization formed to mobilize women as temporary farmworkers. Notice how it links labor on the home front to the war.
Images of women have been used to represent the United States since the nation was founded. Posters used female representations to give a feminine face to war aims. A beautiful woman flanked by the United States flag or dressed in "the stars and stripes" represented the patriotism of a nation at war. This poster depicts a beseeching woman wearing a cap that clearly echoes the American flag. In the backdrop is a European city with its church towers in flames, a potent reminder to Americans safe at home of the devastating war across the Atlantic.
Women's efforts were central to the nation's call for patriotism. In the midst of the final stages of their drive for citizenship, many women saw themselves, if not quite as regular soldiers, as members of a volunteer army that blanketed the nation in support of various wartime mobilization drives. These activities required exceptional administrative skills, and for some leisure-class women, this became full-time work. Given the eagerness with which women rushed into the public sphere to support the war, it is ironic that the majority of these images depicted traditional notions of womanhood. This poster features a female form to indicate that America's honor needed fighting men to protect it.
War posters traded on images of female sexuality. The saucy young woman dressed in a military uniform in this an image created by well-known artist Howard Chandler Christy, provocatively exclaims, "I Wish I Were a Man." What does this image suggest about modern notions of female sexuality emerging in the prewar years? Consider how the cross-dressed figure communicates the proper roles of men and women in wartime.
On occasion, war posters acknowledged women who crossed conventional gender barriers when they took jobs in war work. These images were usually issued by the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), which produced its own posters. During the war, the YWCA continued its prewar activism on behalf of young working women and distributed the poster depicted here as part of its fund-raising campaign. In keeping with YWCA literature that praised women factory workers' vital contribution to defense, this image emphasizes female strength and solidarity. Note too the graphic style of this image.
Women took on new jobs during the war, working as mail carriers, polic officers, drill-press operators, and farm laborers attached to the Women's Land Army. These women are riveters at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington. Black women in particular, who customarily were limited to employment as domestic servants or agricultural laborers, found that the war opened up new opportunities and better wages in industry. When the war ended, black and white women alike usually lost jobs deemed to be men's work
Before the war ended, some 25,000 American women made it to France, all as volunteers. Ex-president Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed war the "Great Adventure,” and some women were eager to share in it. About half became nurses, where as one said, they dealt with "a sea of stretchers, a human carpet.” Women also drove ambulances, acted as social workers, and ran canteens for the Red Cross and the YMCA. One YMCA worker, Mary Baldwin, hoped that a few hours in her canteen would "make life, and even death, easier ‘out there.'” A handful of female physicians worked as contract surgeons for the U.S. army. Dr. Loy McAfee wore this uniform in France.
Hollywood joined in the government's efforts to work up war rage against the "brutal Huns,” as Germans were often called. In a film made for the British and French governments by America's leading filmmaker, D. W. Griffith, a hulking German is about to whip a defenseless farm woman (Lillian Gish, one of the nation's favorite stars) innocently carrying potatoes from a field. When the film premiered in Washington, D.C., in 1918, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson wrote Griffith pleading with him to cut or soften the violent whipping scene. Her plea was one of the few acts coming from the nation's capital that sought to moderate the hate campaign.
Mobilizing for “Total” War (cont) • Anti-German propaganda and harassment • Trading with the Enemy Act • Immigration Restriction Act • Espionage, Alien, and Sedition Acts • Crackdown on radical labor unions • Role of National Americanization Committee
Failure of International Peace • Paris Peace Conference, January 1919 • Wilson believed Fourteen Points would shape peace • His allies had other ideas • Some points totally jettisoned • Some accepted in part • Some compromised or watered down
Treaty of Versailles • 14 Points • Georges Clemenceau stated Moses only had to have 10 Commandments – Wilson has to have 14
Treatment of Germany also a subject of disagreement • Wilson favored leniency • Britain and France demanded harsh settlement • League of Nations would be vehicle for redressing treaty’s shortcomings • Usher in Wilson’s new world order • Covenant establishing League attached to peace treaty
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Failure of International Peace (cont) • Wilson had to ratify treaty, and U.S. membership in the League—in the U.S. Senate • Senate dominated by Republican Party • “Irreconcilables” opposed to treaty, the League • “Reservationists” wanted revisions before assent • Constitutional concerns • Hatred of Wilson
Wilson went on offensive when Republicans opposed amendments to treaty • Took case directly to the American people • Suffered stroke on speaking tour • Treaty finally defeated • U.S. did not join League of Nations
Postwar Period: A Society in Convulsion • Labor management conflicts • Paralyzing postwar strikes • Authorities portrayed as anti-American and possibly Communist-inspired • Postwar Red Scare • Appeal of Socialism • Ideological affinity with Bolsheviks in Russia • Government crackdown in dissent and radicalism • Helped by newly formed American Legion • Palmer raids against suspected radicals and subversives Web
Postwar Period: A Society in Convulsion (cont) • Racial conflict and the rise of black nationalism • War aroused expectations in black soldiers that were not fulfilled • Immediate postwar period rife with race riots • Role of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association • Fostered black nationalism, separatism, and self-sufficiency • Left enduring legacy