The Treaty of Versailles
*Wilson said he was going to war to make the world safe for democracy. At first, Americans hoped that the Navy could win the war, but it soon became apparent that we needed doughboys in
accomplish this, Congress passed the
Selective Service Act in May, 1917, allowing the
government to draft men to
fight in the war. 2.8 million men were eventually
drafted, and 2 million
more volunteered. 4 out of 4.8 million went to
Roosevelt offered to raise a
volunteer regiment (and went ahead and picked out
many ways, the war was a great blessing
*American manufacturers sold weapons to both sides when they could, although the British blockade ensured that most of them went to the Allies.
*This was a problem for them, because when the war began Treasury Secretary William McAdoo closed the New York Stock Exchange so that European governments could not liquidate their assets there (which would have caused a stock market crash). However, this meant that they quickly used up their gold reserves, and had to borrow money to buy American food and equipment.
was just fine, for the
stupendous exports of food,
manufactured goods, and loans helped
*To pay for the War, the government borrowed money by selling bonds called Liberty Bonds (redeemable for the face value plus interest). These raised over $20 billion, as Americans invested their new prosperity in them, saving money that they could spend to fuel the economy in the 1920s.
everyone supported the war.
There were protests and strikes, as
socialists and some unions accused Wilson of leading
1917, the Espionage Act (later made more
powerful by amendments in 1918 called the Sedition Act)
made it illegal to
interfere with the war effort in any way, whether through
in the sale of War Bonds, or through making disparaging
*Although the parts of the Espionage Act created by the Sedition Act were overturned in 1920, parts of the Espionage Act remain part of US law, and some Senators in the 21st Century have suggested adding to its powers.
*Charles Schenck, a Socialist Party leader, was arrested under the Sedition Act for printing and distributing flyers encouraging young men to resist the draft. He appealed, but in 1919 in Schenck v. United States, it was determined that Freedom of Speech could be limited when it presented a ‘clear and present’ danger to public safety, for example, ‘the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.’
V. Debs was arrested for speaking out
against the war, too, although he went on to run for the
Presidency in 1920 and
win 913,693 votes (3.41%).
Industrial Workers of the World were harassed, and Big
Bill Haywood fled the
country in 1918, going to communist
*On the other hand, Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor supported the war effort.
imprisoning his detractors,
*To whip up support for the war, the Committee of Public Information, led by George Creel, produced propaganda to encouraged people to support the war, sometimes by exaggerating or inventing German atrocities (although not too often, as Creel preferred to be positive). The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes (the average length of a political sound bite today is 9 seconds). It also staged different presentations for different ethnic groups, finding speakers and performers from that group to promote patriotism. Americans were told that the war was a Great Crusade.
Food Administration under Herbert Hoover
asked Americans to eat less in order to save food to send
to soldiers. He
had already been involved in relief
efforts based out of the
*Because so many American men went off to fight, many women went to work in the factories, even middle-class women of the sort who had not worked before. Others joined the Red Cross or worked as nurses for other organisations. After the war ended, most of them went back home to their traditional roles as wives and mothers, but their service was one of the main reasons that Congress and the states were convinced to ratify the XIX Amendment in 1920.
African-Americans fought in the war,
trying to earn respect through their sacrifices, as W.E.B.
Du Bois encouraged
them to do (and Booker T. Washington would have done so
had he not died in
1915). Others moved north in the Great Migration to
work in factories
(where workers were needed after so many men went overseas
to fight) and to
live in areas where they might face less discrimination.
*These workers were managed by the War Industries Board under Bernard Baruch, which controlled the production and prices of many things manufactured during the war. It promoted the use of mass production and standardisation, set quotas for factory output, allotted raw materials to different companies, used psychological testing to find the best jobs for workers, and increased manufacturing production by 20% before ceasing operations in 1920.
*To keep workers efficient, drinking was officially discouraged, which was greatly appreciated by the Prohibition movement. Americans were told that drinking was unpatriotic, because Germans brewed a lot of beer.
Railway Administration, under
revolutions shook the great empires of
*In 1919, Wilson, David Lloyd-George of Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France, Vittorio Orlando, and representatives of the defeated powers and the minor allies and interested neutral countries met in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, the old palace of the French kings outside of Paris. The other Allied leaders were not impressed by
*Germany lost large sections of territory in the east, including everything gained in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Polish Corridor, and the now-Free City of Danzig. This cut East Prussia off from the rest of Germany.
the most symbolic loss for
*Germany lost most of her military, being permitted only 100,000 soldiers in the army, a very small navy, and no air force, tanks, chemical weapons, or submarines.
and most humiliating,
*The other Central Powers lost territory, too.
sections of the Ottoman Empire were
carved off and given to the Allies (although it later
*With the exception of limited self-determination in Europe, Wilson did not get any of his Fourteen Points except one, the League of Nations.
Wilson got home to present the treaty
(with which he was not particularly pleased, but which he
supported in order to
get the United States into the League of Nations), he
found that the
Republicans in Congress opposed it, partly out of partisan
politics (Wilson had
deliberately excluded any Republicans from his negotiating
team) and partly
because they did not want America tied into the League of
Nations which might
have interfered with American independence.
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass) suggested some
changes to the treaty,
War I was devastating to all the
countries involved in it. Most of the major
countries involved lost over
3% of their entire population. Just as the war was
ending, the world
suffered another deadly tragedy, known as the Spanish Flu
(a strain of H1N1)
(so-called because Spanish newspapers gave it the first
major coverage, even
though the first known cases appeared in the
*It is estimated that a third of the world’s population, on all inhabited continents (and even remote Pacific Islands) was infected, and between 50 million and 100 million people died—more than died in World War I (about 14 million). Over 25% of Americans were infected; over half a million died (far more than the 53,000 Americans killed in battle in World War I or the 63,000 who died outside of combat).
*World War I changed the world. New nations were created, a generation of young men was nearly wiped out, and the survivors felt lost in the world around them. In many countries, the generation that survived World War I was known as the Lost Generation, which had a reputation for being cynical, short-sighted, and unreligious (as religious belief declined in countries who had all thought they were fighting with God on their side). In
this sense of gloom in much of the