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U.S. Hist. Ch. 7 and Ch. 8

Terms in this set (108)

When the war began, President Wilson immediately declared the United States to be neutral. Despite his plea, many Americans took sides. American public opinion generally favored the Allied cause, although many German Americans and Irish Americans were hostile to Britain. For more than two years, the United States officially remained neutral. During this time a great debate began over whether the United States should prepare for war. Some believed that preparing for war was the best way to stay out of the conflict. Others, including Jane Addams, founded organizations urging the president not to build up the military. Many government officials, however, were decidedly pro-British, though Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan favored neutrality. In addition, many American military leaders believed that an Allied victory was the only way to preserve the international balance of power. British officials worked diligently to win American support. One method they used was propaganda, or information designed to influence opinion. The British cut the transatlantic telegraph cable from Europe to the United States so most war news would be based on British reports. The American ambassador to Britain endorsed many of these reports, and American public opinion swayed in favor of the Allies. Companies in the United States also had strong ties to the Allies, and many American banks invested heavily in an Allied victory. By 1917, American loans to the Allies totaled over $2 billion. Although other banks, particularly in the Midwest where pro-German feelings were strongest, lent some $27 million to Germany, the country's prosperity was intertwined with the Allies. If the Allies won, the investments would be paid back; if not, the money might never be repaid.
Shortly after the war began, the British blockaded German ports. They forced neutral merchant ships sailing to Europe to land at British ports to be inspected for contraband. Although the U.S. government protested Britain's decision, the German response angered Americans even more. In February 1915, the Germans announced that they would use submarines called U-boats to sink without warning any ship they found in the waters around Britain. This decision went against an international treaty signed by Germany that banned attacks on civilian ships without warning. On May 7, 1915, a U-boat sank the British passenger ship Lusitania, killing over 1,000 passengers—including 128 Americans. The attack gave credibility to British propaganda and changed American attitudes about the war. Wilson tried to defuse the crisis by sending official protests to Germany insisting that it stop endangering noncombatants. But in March 1916, a U-boat torpedoed a French passenger ship. Wilson threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Germany, but then decided to issue one last warning demanding that the German government abandon its methods or risk war with the United States. Germany did not want to strengthen the Allies by drawing the United States into the war. It promised with certain conditions to sink no more merchant ships without warning. This pledge met the foreign policy goals of both Germany and President Wilson by delaying the entry of the United States into the war. President Wilson's efforts played an important part in his reelection bid in 1916. His campaign slogan, "He kept us out of war," helped the "peace" candidate win a narrow victory.
With so many men in the military, employers were willing to hire women for jobs traditionally held by men. Some 1 million women joined the workforce for the first time, and another 8 million switched to better industrial jobs. Women worked in factories, shipyards, and railroad yards and served as police officers, mail carriers, and train engineers. When the war ended, however, most women returned to their previous jobs or stopped working. Yet the changes demonstrated that women were capable of holding jobs that many had believed only men could do. World War I was the first war in which women officially served in the armed forces, although they served only in noncombat positions. As the military prepared for war in 1917, it faced a severe shortage of clerical workers because so many men were assigned to active duty. Early in 1917, the navy authorized the enlistment of women to meet its clerical needs. Women serving in the navy wore a standard uniform and were assigned the rank of yeoman. By the end of the war, more than 11,000 women had served in the navy. Although most performed clerical duties, others served as radio operators, electricians, pharmacists, chemists, and photographers. Unlike the navy, the army refused to enlist women. Instead, it began hiring women as temporary employees to fill clerical jobs. The only women to actually serve in the army were in the Army Nurse Corps. Women had served as nurses in both the army and the navy since the early 1900s, but as auxiliaries. They were not assigned ranks and were not technically enlisted in the army or navy. More than 20,000 nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps during the war, including more than 10,000 overseas.
Desperate for workers, Henry Ford sent agents to the South to recruit African Americans. Other companies quickly followed suit. Promises of high wages and plentiful work convinced between 300,000 and 500,000 African Americans to move north. This massive population movement became known as the Great Migration. The racial makeup of such cities as Chicago, New York, Cleveland, and Detroit changed greatly. Eventually, so did politics in the Northern cities, where African Americans were able to vote. The war also encouraged other groups to migrate. Between 1917 and 1920, more than 100,000 Mexicans migrated into the Southwest, providing labor for farmers and ranchers. Mexican Americans also found new opportunities in factory jobs in Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, and other American cities. Like other immigrant groups before them, they faced hostility and discrimination. Mexican Americans tended to settle in separate neighborhoods, called barrios, where they could support one another. Of the nearly 400,000 African Americans who were drafted, about 42,000 served overseas as combat troops. African American soldiers encountered discrimination and prejudice in the army, where they served in racially segregated units, almost always under the supervision of white officers. Despite these challenges, many African American soldiers fought with distinction. For example, the African American 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions fought in bitter battles along the Western Front. Many of the soldiers in those divisions won praise from the French commander, Marshal Henri Pétain, and the United States commander, General John Pershing. An estimated 12,000 Native Americans and about 20,000 Puerto Ricans served in the armed forces. Thousands of Mexican Americans also served in the war, volunteering for service more than any other minority group in the United States. Some Asian immigrants fought on the side of the United States even before they were citizens. Though they faced discrimination, many Asians served in the U.S. Army with distinction, being granted citizenship in recognition of their contributions.
Although the fighting had stopped, World War I was not over. In January 1919, delegates from 27 countries traveled to the peace conference at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris. The treaty with Germany that resulted came to be called the Treaty of Versailles. The conference also negotiated the Treaty of Saint-Germain, ending the war with Austria-Hungary. Negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles lasted five months. The most important participants were the so-called "Big Four": President Wilson of the United States, British prime minister David Lloyd George, French premier Georges Clemenceau, and Italian prime minister Vittorio Orlando. Russian representatives were not invited to the conference because Allied leaders refused to recognize Lenin's government as legitimate. The Treaty of Versailles, reluctantly signed by Germany on June 28, 1919, included many terms designed to punish and weaken Germany. Germany's armed forces were greatly reduced and its troops were not allowed west of the Rhine River. The treaty also specifically blamed "the aggression of Germany" for the war. This allowed the Allies to demand that Germany pay reparations. A commission decided that Germany owed the Allies about $33 billion. This sum far exceeded what Germany could pay all at once and was intended to keep its economy weak for a long time. Wilson had somewhat better success in promoting national self-determination. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, the German Empire, and the Ottoman Empire were dismantled, and new nations created. In general, the majority of people in each new country were from one ethnic group. But both Poland and Czechoslovakia were given territory where the majority of the people were German, and Germany was split in two in order to give Poland access to the Baltic Sea. This arrangement helped set the stage for a new series of crises in the 1930s. The Treaty of Versailles ignored freedom of the seas, free trade, and Wilson's goal of a fair settlement of colonial claims. No colonial people in Asia or Africa received independence. France and Britain took over colonial areas in Africa and the Middle East, and Japan assumed responsibility for colonies in East Asia. The treaty did, however, call for the creation of a League of Nations. League members promised to reduce armaments, to submit all disputes that endangered the peace to arbitration, and to aid any member who was threatened with aggression.
President Wilson arrived in Paris in 1919 with a peace plan known as the Fourteen Points. It was based on "the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities." In the first five points, Wilson proposed to eliminate the causes of the war through free trade, freedom of the seas, disarmament, an impartial adjustment of colonial claims, and open diplomacy. The next eight points addressed the right of national self-determination, the idea that the borders of countries should be based on ethnicity and national identity. Supporters of this idea believed that when borders are not based on national identity, nations are more likely to go to war to resolve border disputes. This principle also meant that no nation should keep territory taken from another nation. This required the Central Powers to evacuate all invaded countries and Germany to restore the French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, taken in 1871. The fourteenth point called for the creation of a League of Nations. The League's members would help preserve peace by pledging to respect and protect each other's territory and political independence. Wilson was willing to give up his other goals in exchange for support for the League. Wilson's popularity in Europe put him in a strong negotiating position. The peace conference decided to use the Fourteen Points as the basis for negotiations. But not everyone was impressed by Wilson's ideas. Premier Clemenceau of France and British prime minister Lloyd George wanted to punish the Germans for the suffering they had inflicted on the rest of Europe. Additionally, Britain refused to give up its sizable naval advantage by agreeing to Wilson's call for freedom of the seas.
Postwar economic turmoil also contributed to widespread racial unrest. Many African Americans had moved north during the war to take factory jobs. As people began to be laid off and returning soldiers found it hard to find work and affordable housing, many blamed African Americans for taking their jobs. Frustration and racism combined to produce violence. In the summer of 1919, 25 race riots broke out across the nation. The riots began in July, when a mob of angry whites burned shops and homes in an African American neighborhood in Longview, Texas. A week later in Washington, D.C., gangs of African Americans and whites fought each other for four days before troops got the riots under control. The worst violence occurred in Chicago. On a hot July day, African Americans went to a whites-only beach. Both sides began throwing stones, and an African American teenager drowned as a result. A full-scale riot then erupted. Angry African Americans attacked white neighborhoods while whites attacked African American neighborhoods. The riot lasted for almost two weeks until the government sent in National Guard troops to impose order. By the time the rioting ended, 38 people had been killed—15 white and 23 African Americans—and more than 500 had been injured. The race riots of 1919 disillusioned some African Americans who felt their wartime contributions had been for nothing. For others, however, the wartime struggle for democracy encouraged them to fight for their rights at home. For the first time, African Americans organized and fought back. The NAACP experienced a surge in membership after the war, and in 1919 it launched a new campaign for a federal law against lynching.
In April the postal service intercepted more than 30 parcels containing homemade bombs addressed to prominent Americans. The next month, a parade in Cleveland to protest the jailing of American Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs turned into a series of riots. Two people were killed and another 40 were injured. In June eight bombs in eight cities exploded within minutes of one another, suggesting a nationwide conspiracy. One of these bombs damaged the home of United States attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer. Palmer took action, establishing a special division within the Justice Department, the General Intelligence Division, which eventually became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Although evidence pointed to no single group, Palmer's agents targeted the foreign-born. On November 7, 1919, Palmer ordered a series of raids on offices of the Union of Russian Workers in 12 cities. Less than seven weeks later, a transport ship left New York for Russia carrying 249 immigrants who had been deported or expelled from the country. In January 1920, Palmer ordered another series of raids on the headquarters of various radical organizations. Nearly 6,000 people were arrested. Palmer's raids continued until the spring of 1920, and authorities detained thousands of suspects. Palmer's agents often ignored the civil liberties of suspects. Officers entered homes and offices without search warrants. Some suspects were jailed indefinitely and were not allowed to talk to their attorneys. Many of the nearly 600 immigrants who were deported never had a court hearing. For a while, Palmer was regarded as a national hero. But his raids failed to turn up any hard evidence of revolutionary conspiracy. The Red Scare, however, greatly influenced people's attitudes during the 1920s. The New York state legislature expelled five members of the Socialist Party in January 1920, and within a few months, nearly 30 states passed sedition laws making it illegal to join groups advocating revolution. Many linked radicalism with immigrants, which led to calls to limit immigration.
Colonel Charles R. Forbes, an Ohio acquaintance of Harding's, sold scarce medical supplies from veterans' hospitals and kept the money for himself. He cost the public about $250 million. In June 1923, while traveling from Alaska to California, Harding became ill with what was probably a heart attack. He died in San Francisco on August 2, shortly before the news of the Forbes scandal broke. Early the next morning, the vice president, Calvin Coolidge, took the oath of office and became president. The most famous scandal, known as Teapot Dome, began in early 1922. Harding's secretary of the interior, Albert B. Fall, secretly allowed private interests to lease lands containing U.S. Navy oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California. In return, Fall received bribes from these private interests totaling more than $300,000. After the Wall Street Journal broke the story, the Senate launched an investigation that took most of the 1920s to complete. In 1929 Secretary Fall became the first cabinet secretary to go to prison. Attorney General Harry Daugherty was investigated for accepting bribes from a German agent seeking to buy a German-owned company that had been seized by the U.S. government during World War I. Daugherty refused to open Justice Department files to a congressional committee. He also refused to testify under oath, claiming immunity, or freedom from prosecution, on the grounds that he had had confidential dealings with President Harding. Daugherty was later dismissed by President Coolidge.
American farmers did not share in the prosperity of the 1920s. On average, they earned less than one-third of the income of other American workers. Technological advances in fertilizers, seed varieties, and farm machinery allowed them to produce more, but higher yields without an increase in demand meant that they received lower prices. Between 1920 and 1921, corn and wheat prices declined considerably. Costs for improved farming technology, meanwhile, continued to increase. Many factors contributed to this "quiet depression" in American agriculture. During the war, the government had urged farmers to produce more to meet the great need for food in Europe. Many farmers borrowed heavily to buy new land and new machinery to raise more crops. Sales were strong, prices were high, and farmers prospered. After the war, however, European farm output rose, and the debt-ridden countries of Europe had little money to spend on American farm products. In addition, Congress passed the Fordney-McCumber Act in 1922, making matters worse by raising tariffs dramatically. This dampened the American market for foreign goods and sparked a reaction in foreign markets against buying American agricultural products. Congress tried to pass legislation to help farmers sell their surpluses, but President Coolidge vetoed the bills. He argued that with money flowing to farmers under the proposed law, they would be encouraged to produce even greater surpluses. Agriculture remained in recession throughout the 1920s.
Writers of the 1920s varied greatly in their styles and subject matter. Illinois poet and writer Carl Sandburg used common speech to glorify the Midwest. So did the novels of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, such as The Song of the Lark. Sinclair Lewis poked fun at small-town life in Main Street. Edith Wharton criticized upper-class ignorance and pretensions in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Age of Innocence. In Greenwich Village, another Pulitzer Prize winner, Edna St. Vincent Millay, wrote about women's inner lives. Several poets influenced poetic style and subject matter. Some—such as Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams—used clear, concise images to express moments in time. Others, such as T. S. Eliot, criticized what they saw as a loss of spirituality in modern life. Among playwrights, Eugene O'Neill was probably the most innovative. His plays, filled with bold artistry and modern themes, portrayed realistic characters and situations, offering a modern vision of life that often touched on the tragic. Long Day's Journey Into Night is a memorable example. Some American writers, disillusioned by World War I and the emerging consumer society, moved to Paris, a center of artistic activity. American experimental writer Gertrude Stein dubbed them a "Lost Generation." Her Paris apartment became a home away from home for many writers. Among them was Ernest Hemingway, who wrote moving novels about war and its aftermath, such as A Farewell to Arms. Another visitor was F. Scott Fitzgerald. He criticized society's superficiality in The Great Gatsby