Chapter 23 America and the Great War,

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1 Chapter 23 America and the Great War, Chapter Summary Chapter 23 introduces the student to the American role in World War I. Among the topics covered in this chapter are the complexity of the American policy of neutrality during the early years of the war, the challenges of mobilization and controlling the homefront during the war, the controversies associated with the drafting the Treaty of Versailles, and Wilson s failed contest for ratification at home. I. Waging Neutrality A. The Origins of Conflict B. American Attitudes C. The Economy of War D. The Diplomacy of Neutrality 1. Submarine warfare E. The Battle over Preparedness F. The Election of 1916 G. Descent into War 1. Wilson commits to war II. III. IV. Waging War in America A. Managing the War Economy 1. Organizing industry 2. Assuring food supplies 3. Overseeing labor relations B. Women and Minorities: New Opportunities, Old Inequities C. Financing the War D. Conquering Minds 1. Government propaganda E. Suppressing Dissent Waging War and Peace Abroad A. The War to End All Wars B. The Fourteen Points C. The Paris Peace Conference Waging Peace at Home A. Battle over the League B. Economic Readjustment and Social Conflict 1. Postwar battles: gender and race 2. Fighting for industrial democracy C. The Red Scare D. The Election of 1920 V. Conclusion 105

2 Learning Objectives After a careful examination of Chapter 23, students should be able to do the following: 1. Briefly explain the European political events that led to World War I. 2. Explain the structure of the European alliance system on the eve of World War I and identify the member nations of the Central Powers and the Allies. 3. Define the term neutrality and explain what it means within the context of diplomatic relations during wartime. 4. List the factors that impacted the quality of American neutrality between 1914 and Identify two major ways in which World War I bolstered the American economy. 6. Outline the provisions of the Declaration of London and explain its relevance to United States diplomacy during the early years of World War I. 7. Describe the diplomatic problems that confronted the United States as a result of the German use of submarine warfare. 8. Discuss the American debate over neutrality in Identify the event that escalated debate over neutrality. Identify William Jennings Bryan and explain the significance of his role in the debate. Outline the provisions of the Gore-McLemore Bill and the Sussex Pledge and explain their connections to the debate over neutrality. 9. Explain the intent of the preparedness program. Distinguish between the beliefs of those who supported preparedness and those who did not. 10. Identify the issues and events occurring in fall 1916 and spring 1917 that finally culminated in the American entry into World War I. 11. Describe the Wilson administration s organization of the wartime economy and list the major government boards responsible for the economy during World War I. 12. Explain the impact of World War I on the lives of women and African Americans. 13. Identify the two amendments that were added to the United States constitution during World War I. 14. Explain the role of the Committee on Public Information during the war. 15. Identify two Congressional laws designed to suppress dissent against the American involvement in World War I. Discuss how federal efforts to suppress dissent impacted radical groups in America. Identify other means of suppression used by state and local governments as well as private groups. Discuss the connection between national concerns about loyalty and the treatment of labor unions during World War I. 106

3 16. Describe the provisions of the Selective Service Act and describe life in United States military training camps. 17. Outline the provisions of the Fourteen Points and describe the diplomatic philosophy Wilson brought to the Paris Peace Conference. 18. Identify the major players at the Paris Peace Conference. 19. Discuss the political divisions within Congress regarding the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. Distinguish between the Irreconcilables and the Reservationists. Briefly discuss the issues that led to the failure to ratify the treaty. 20. Briefly discuss the economic and social impact that the war s end had on women, African Americans, labor unions, and radicals. 21. Define the term Red Scare and identify the factors that led to the emergence of American fear of communism after World War I. Topics for Classroom Lecture 1. The Treaty of Versailles is often cited as one of the major causes of World War II. First, present an examination of the provisions of the treaty with an eye on World War II. Discuss the punitive clauses targeted at Germany. What psychological, social, and financial effects would the war guilt and reparations clauses have on postwar Germany. Second, look at the clauses that reorganized the European continent. What issues connected with the creation of new nations in Eastern Europe would aggravate future relations between Germany and the rest of the continent? Finally, consider the provision for the League of Nations. How effective would the League be in averting future wars? 2. Prepare a lecture examining the major American leftist movements of the twentieth century. Begin with the Lyrical Left of the early twentieth century. Who were the leaders of the movement? Why did they pursue a radical political agenda? How did World War I impact the Lyrical Left? Point out that the Red Scare after World War I was directed at another group of radicals who were considered even more dangerous than the Lyrical Left. Use this opportunity to set the stage for the emergence of the Old Left of the 1930s. Will there be a similar reaction against this leftist movement after World War II? Finally, project ahead to the New Left of the 1960s. 3. Discuss the evolution of American foreign policy from Look at Roosevelt and American imperialism. What was the goal of American foreign policy at this time? Review the ideals and philosophies that defined American imperial policy. Consider the role the United States hoped to play in world affairs. Then, examine Wilson and the philosophy of moral diplomacy. Examine the ways in which Wilson changed American foreign policy by the end of World War I. By this time, what ideals and philosophies defined American foreign policy? What role did the United States seek in foreign affairs? Henry Kissinger s Diplomacy (1994) provides an interesting look at the importance of Wilsonian moral diplomacy in the development of American foreign policy through World War II until the end of the Cold War. In light of the war in Iraq, is the United States currently experiencing another shift in long term foreign policy plans? Topics for Class Discussion and Essays 1. Conduct a class debate on American neutrality during the early years of World War I. Begin with a formal definition of the word neutrality and then have students consider the following issues: 107

4 a. Was the United States ever neutral during the years prior to its entry into World War I? Why or why not? b. Should the United States have been strictly neutral through the entirety of the war? What issues justified its entry into the war? What issues might have prevented its involvement in the war? c. Who determined American foreign policy between 1914 and 1917? Was there a gap between what the Wilson administration wanted and what the majority of the American people wanted? 2. Discuss the links between the Progressive movement and World War I. Consider some of the following issues: a. Did reform groups tend to support American involvement in World War I? Why or why not? b. Once the United States entered World War I, what evidence of Progressivism was seen in the process of mobilization? Look into the federal government for examples of the Gospel of Efficiency, government bureaucracy, and the desire to control and dictate conformity. c. Would Progressives support moral diplomacy? Why or why not? 3. Have students discuss the issue of civil rights during a state of war. This discussion can be a continuation of issues considered earlier in the course in connection with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and Lincoln s handling of civil rights during the Civil War. Provide students with copies of the Sedition Act of 1918, and then have them consider the following: a. Do the provisions of the Sedition Act of 1918 violate the First Amendment freedoms of Americans? b. When the United States is at war, do issues of national security justify an alteration in the guarantee of civil liberties? c. American entry into World War I was preceded by years of debate regarding American neutrality and the propriety of American involvement in the war. In 1916, Wilson was reelected to the presidency largely based on a promise to keep the United States out of the war. Did Wilson betray the American people by breaking his promise to keep them out of war, or did Wilson have the right to promote unity and suppress dissent when he felt public support for the war was wavering? d. What should be done in the United States when the people oppose war and the government supports it? Should the government respect the democratic character of the American political system by only endorsing policies that reflect the people s will, or should the people bend to the republican aspect of the American political system by trusting important decisions to their elected officials? e. Compare and contrast the experience of the United States with loyalty and dissent during World War I and the Vietnam War. Remember to point out to students that the Vietnam War was never a formally declared war. Which was better for America: the suppression of dissent during World War I or the expression of dissent during the Vietnam War? f. How did the American public and the American government deal with issues of loyalty during the 2003 war in Iraq? Topics for Class Projects and Term Papers 1. Choose one of the figures associated with the Lyrical Left and examine his/her support of radical politics by focusing on his or her background and the issues that drew him or her to the left. Determine whether the individual remained a devotee of radicalism throughout his or her life. 108

5 2. Research the roles of African Americans in the military history of World War I. How were African Americans recruited? How were they treated in the armed forces? How were they treated in combat? What impact did the war have on the psychology of African Americans and their feelings about racism in America? 3. Have students research recent American policy in the Balkans. How were the events in Kosovo and Serbia in the 1990s connected to pre-world War I European affairs? Examine United States policy in the Balkans during the Bush and Clinton administrations. Do students agree with those policies? How has the 2003 war in Iraq changed the American role in European affairs? How does this role differ from 1914? Resources for Lectures and Research Projects Ross Gregory, The Origins of American Intervention in the First World War (1971). David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980). Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace (1979). Robert K. Murray, Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, (1980). H.C. Peterson and Gilbert C. Fite, Opponents of War, (1957). William Preston, Jr., Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals, (1963). David M. Smith, The Great Departure: The United States and World War I, (1965). Robert H. Zieger, America s Great War: World War I and the American Experience (2000). Audio-Visual Resources The Great War: 1918: The American Experience, Tom Weidlinger, 1989, 60 minutes. This video explores how the United States impacted World War I during its final year. The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century, KCET/BBC, 1996, 480 minutes. This eight-part series chronicles World War I and offers students insights into how this war impacted World War II, the Cold War, and current events in the Middle East and Bosnia. 109

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