The Draft • 1917: Selective Service Act gave the president the power to draft men into military service • The 100,000 volunteers the army had to start with wasn’t enough • All men between the ages of 21 and 30 had to register for the draft • 4.8 million men ended up serving in WWI; of those, 2.8 million had been drafted
The Homefront • Everyone had a part to play in the war • Those at home helped raise money and save materials • To raise enough money to fund the war, the government sold Liberty Bonds to the American people • War Industries Board: set up in 1918 to oversee war-related production • Lever Food and Fuel Control Act: gave the president the power to manage the production and distribution of food and fuels during the war • The Food Administration: “Food will win the war” • Meatless Mondays • Wheatless Wednesdays
Propaganda • Committee on Public Information: government board created to influence public opinion toward the war • 100% Americanism • Hostility toward foreigners, especially those from countries the US was fighting against • Fear of spies and sabotage, which is not good for a country full of foreigners • “Hate the Hun” (Germans= Huns in propaganda) • New literacy test for immigrants • Names were changed to make them less German • Hamburger became “Salisbury Steak” because Hamburg was a city in Germany (just like in the US after 9/11… Freedom Fries) • German shepherds became “Police Dogs” • Mueller became Miller • Düsseldorf became Dusel • German composers were banned (Bach, Handel, Beethoven)
Civil Liberties • First Amendment? What first amendment? • 1917: Espionage Act • illegal to interfere with the draft • 1918: Sedition Act • illegal to obstruct the sale of Liberty Bonds • Illegal to say anything “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive” about the army, navy, Constitution, or the American form of government • Conscientious Objectors- men who refused to fight due to religious or ideological convictions. • “enemies of the Republic, fakers, and active agents of the enemy.” – General Leonard Wood • Eugene V. Debs (socialist) saw war as a fight among imperialist capitalists with no gain for workers. • Industrial Workers of the World: • labor organization with the goal of overthrowing capitalism; tried to interfere with copper mining during the war • Nearly 200 members convicted, others lynched or horsewhipped by vigilantes
New Opportunities • The labor pool (number of available, capable, and willing workers) decreased during WWI • The flow of immigrants from Europe was severely slowed • Young men left their jobs to fight • War-related industries needed more workers, which resulted in more opportunities for women and African Americans. • “The Great Migration” • Flow of migrants from the South to the North in search of factory jobs • 500,000 or so African Americans went North
The Spanish Flu • A new strain of the influenza virus developed in 1918 that was frequently deadly • It was spread through the trenches and traveled to new areas by ship • Somewhere between 30 and 50 million people died worldwide from the flu • More Americans died from the flu than died from fighting in World War I!
Roles in the War • Doughboys • American soldiers got the nickname “Doughboys” • They supplemented the French troops and helped out where needed, but didn’t just sit around in trenches like the early days of the war • They fought along the Marne River and Argonne Forest to drive the Germans back • Women • Helped out on the homefront • If near the front lines, served as nurses • Served in support positions, like in kitchens or postal offices further back • There were a very few exceptions (the 250-strong Russian unit that fought alongside men!) that usually involved women pretending to be men
Roles in the War • African Americans • Many saw the war as a way to prove themselves to the racist people around them that thought them to be lesser people • Even before the draft, the African-American units were full of volunteers and couldn’t accept more people • African Americans were drafted at a higher rate than white draftees, especially in Southern districts • They were often given menialand service (non-combat) roles and not given the same opportunities for advancement • They served in segregated units • African American units were part of the American victory at the end of the war and the “Harlem Hellfighters” gained fame • They returned to the same racism, segregation, riots, and lynchings– at least 10 war veterans were lynched in 1919 and some were in uniform when it happened
The War in 1918 • Germany had become more successful and confident in the beginning of 1917 before America joined, but then… • Allied victories got more frequent as 1917 continued • 100 Days Offensive pushed Germans back (at one point, 7 miles in one day) • By the time actual US troops came in, it only took about 2 months to really start to defeat Germany • Some Germans at home were becoming disillusioned with the war but propaganda was strong and many didn’t realize they had begun to lose the war • By 1918, things were looking bad for the Central powers. • The Kaiser (leader of Germany) fled the country • New politicians took over and formed a new government • It was this new government that signed the armistice (agreement to stop fighting) • “Stabbed in the back” mentality: Many Germans thought that they were going to win and that victory had been taken from them by the new government…they were NOT happy • November 11, 11:00 am: Armistice signed and the war is over!
The End of the War • Death toll: • 60 million European soldiers were mobilized • 8 million were killed • 7 million were permanently disabled • 15 million seriously injured • Germany lost 15% of its active male population • 750,000 Germans died from starvation from the British blockade • Millions of deaths from typhus in Russia and the Spanish flu in Europe • Europe was messed up • Economically • Physically • Each major country had a different plan about how to deal with the post-war world