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America in the World War

Course Code
Dr.Liamvan Beek

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HIS271 America in World War I February 2nd 2011
What impact did the coming of war have on domestic reform movements?
Why was a country so concerned with expanding its empire in the late 19th and early
20th centuries reluctant to engage in international conflicts in 1914?
Was Woodrow Wilson too much of an idealist when it came to justifying war?
Did he succeed in his lofty goals?
Legacy from the Progressive Era: sense of responsibility of the people to act on
behalf of the community?
The coming of WWI caused the Progressive Era, shifting focus from social reform
The coming of war offered some reformers the first great opportunity to put these
reforms into action
Woodrow Wilson saw a civilization in crisis and felt reform was necessary
Today: the reasons why Americans first resisted calls to join WWI and the forces
that finally compelled them to join, as well as the ways in which participation in the
war helped shape American foreign policy and outlook
American intervention took on three new trends, as mentioned in the last lecture:
1.More aggressive nationalism at home and abroad.
2.Americans were finding new ways to rationalize intervention. Social
Darwinism, racism, calls for global hemispheric stability, etc.
3.American foreign and domestic concerns reflected a desire for expansion.
Oversees markets for example.
Very often these three trends were intertwined
Roosevelt and Taft shaped foreign policy
William Taft and Dollar Diplomacy
He believed that instability would breed conflict

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HIS271 America in World War I February 2nd 2011
In some ways, he was building on some of Roosevelts strategy
Taft proposed that the US could substitute dollars for bullets
The emphasis was on economic rather than military sanctions
The goal was to use private investments to promote American diplomatic goals
For example, 1909-1913 saw increased investments in the Caribbean, the idea being
that it would tie weaker nations to the US (like Roosevelt and the Dominican
He attempted in varying degrees to apply his dollar diplomacy throughout Latin
America and Asia, was rejected in China and caused Americans to ridicule him
Critics of these kinds of approaches and of imperialism in general were really
hopeful with the election of Woodrow Wilson
Wilsonian Diplomacy
Entered office on a platform of anti-imperialism
He promised in 1913 to:
1.Prove that the US was a friend to Latin America
2.Wanted to show that it was dangerous to determine American foreign
policy only in terms of material gain
3.Suggested that the US should have a goal in protecting constitutional
liberty, human rights, national integrity, and human opportunity
4.Emphasized community, not competition
Actually set this in to motion. A different outlook than Roosevelt and Taft
However, Wilson eventually started to reverse himself on issues of foreign policy
His policies eventually werent that different from Taft or Roosevelt

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HIS271 America in World War I February 2nd 2011
Declared that US would no longer offer special support to US investors in Latin
America and Asia
Repealed the Panama Canal Tolls Act, which had exempted American ships from
paying tolls in the Canal
He did this in an effort o say that the Panama Canal wasnt just for Americans, it
could be used on equal terms for all countries
1916, approved the Jones Act, a promise to recognize sovereignty as soon as a stable
government can be established in the Philippines and provided for an elected Senate
in the Philippines
Both the Jones Act and the Jones-Shafroth Act (promising Puerto Rico freedom) gave
the appearance of anti-imperialism but they werent
A stipulation of the Jones Act was that the Philippines had to prove that they had a
stable government
The Jones-Shafroth Act, although making the Dominican more democratic, gave the
US the power to veto any action that the Dominican government did
Problems in Haiti forced American intervention
1917, Wilson who was worried about potential European intervention in the area
bought a Dutch colony and renamed it the Virgin Islands
Wilson also ordered troops in to Mexico in 1914 and 1916 under the guise of
protecting democracy in Mexico, but in reality it was to sway Mexican economics and
politics in the favour of American interests
At the end, we can say that Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson all contributed to
Progressive Diplomacy
Progressive Diplomacy refers to the fact that in the US, expansion and the protection
of American interests abroad, though justified on moral grounds, were often backed
increasingly by military strength
Intervention was framed in terms of maintaining global stability and order, but at
the same time had to be enforced
This idea of Progressive Diplomacy determined how Americans responded to the
growing crisis in Europe as well
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