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Guided Reading Activity Answers. Supporting the war Effort – World War I. The United States Army .

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Supporting the war Effort – World War I

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the united states army
The United States Army

Surprisingly, there were only about 125,000 men in the United States Army in the early stages of World War I. The United States had always feared a standing army, and kept the army at low numbers. The US Navy, in charge of our new expansionist foreign policy in the Pacific and abroad, was much stronger. Now, the army had to expand, and quickly!

the selective service act of 1917
This law required all men between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for the draft. Many Americans were eager to volunteer to serve in the Great War, but even with hundreds of thousands of men signing up on their own, the United States was in need of more men. Because of the Selective Service Act, there were over four million men who served in the US Armed Forces by the end of World War I.The Selective service act of 1917
jane addams founder of the women s peace party of 1915
Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House in Chicago, was one of thousands of social advocates who came to the conclusion that World War I was not America’s war, and that American soldiers should not be sent to their deaths fighting abroad. She founded the Women’s Peace Party in 1915 to protest the war, and encouraged the United States not to enter the war under any circumstances. Said Addams: “"I believe that peace is not merely an absence of war but the nurture of human life, and that in time this nurture would do away with war as a natural process." Jane addams: founder of the women’s peace party of 1915
jeannette rankin on voting against us entry into world war i
Jeannette Rankin

“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”

“There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled; cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense, for war is the slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as possible.”

“I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war. I vote no.”

Jeannette Rankin: on voting against US entry into World War I
carrie chapman catt serve the war effort to win equality
Carrie Chapman Catt, on the other hand, believed that if women supported the war effort through their political influence, their work in factories, and their efforts at recruitment, they would be more likely to be invited into the political sphere. She hoped that women’s service during war time would result in support across the nation for the woman’s suffrage movement – which ultimately proved to be a successful position! Although many women in the suffrage movement were pacifists themselves, Catt offered to support Woodrow Wilson’s re-election efforts in 1916 and to support the war effort – winning broad public support for her organization, NAWSA, and the suffrage movement in general. Carrie chapman catt: serve the war effort to win equality!
african american soldiers in world war i
African American soldiers in World War I

Over 380,000 African-American men supported the United States in its war effort overseas, “Over There.” Blacks served in officially segregated units, not unlike the Buffalo Soldiers had in the Indian Wars and during the Spanish American war. They faced discrimination and were delegated to the lowest positions in the Army. When they arrived in France, African-American soldiers were the only group which was asked to fight under foreign commanders – in their case, under French leadership.

african american soldiers win the croix de guerre
African American Soldiers win the Croix de Guerre

The Croix de Guerre – the war cross – is the highest honor which can be bestowed upon a French Soldier in time of war. Several African-American soldiers won the medal, and African American soldiers fought bravely at the Battles of Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and in the Argonne Forest. Many gave their lives for a nation – the United States - which did not treat them as equals and denied them their civil rights.

herbert hoover and the food administration
Herbert hoover and the food Administration

The Food Administration was led by Herbert Hoover, an engineer who was moved by compassion for the Belgians to begin a food drive which ended up helping to save many Europeans from starvation. In the United States, he soon began finding ways to collect more food for the troops:

  • “Wheatless Mondays”
  • “Meatless Tuesdays”

became standard days of the week. He also encouraged Americans to plant “Victory Gardens” in order to grow their own food – and save more for the Allied troops!

the espionage act of 1917 and the sedition act of 1918
The Espionage Act of 1917

The sedition act of 1918

This law, passed as the United States entered into World War I, made it a crime to interfere in any way with the recruitment of soldiers into the United States Army or to act in such a way as to undermine American war efforts or support any of the Central Powers. Both Pacifists and radical thinkers were arrested under the law during WW I.

The Sedition Act was an amendment and addition to the Espionage Act which forbid disloyal or anti-government speeches delivered during the war. The law undermined the first amendment’s free speech provisions; it was repealed in 1920. More pacifists were arrested under this provision than enemy sympathizers.

The espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918
the arrest of eugene v debs 1918


Many union organizers and labor activists opposed the war, arguing that working men were forced to fight and kill one another for the benefit of rulers, bankers, and businessmen. Frank Little, picture to the right, was lynched in Butte, Montana while organizing anti-war protests which discouraged men to sign up for the draft. Little was a member of the I.W.W., or the “Wobblies.”

The arrest of Eugene V. Debs, 1918

“Let me emphasize the fact—and it cannot be repeated too often—that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. “Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die.” That is their motto and we object on the part of the awakening workers of this nation. If war is right let it be declared by the people. You who have your lives to lose, you certainly above all others have the right to decide the momentous issue of war or peace. “

- Eugene V. Debs, June 16, 1918, Canton, Ohio

eugene v debs

“It is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right to free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world.”

anti german behavior during world war i
Anti-German behavior during World War I

Some German-Americans were persecuted during the war, as well, particularly those who would not support the Liberty Loan drives or those who spoke the German language in public places. Teaching German in schools was sometimes forbidden, and common German foods, like frankfurters or sauerkraut, took on more American names, like “Liberty Sausages” and “Liberty Cabbage.” Dachshunds, like the one above, became “Liberty Hounds!”