16 - The United States and the Great War.doc

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30 Mar 2012
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THE UNITED STATES
AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR
(Feb 1)
I. Woodrow Wilson and the World
He did not have any foreign policy experience at this point
He finds himself running the U.S. at a time when foreign affairs is crucial
William Jennings Bryan becomes the Secretary of State; he is a pacifist
He believed in the Monroe Doctrine; subsequently authorizes the marines to intervene in
many Latin American countries; he considered these interventions the product of the
dedication to promote order and stability
- American Neutrality
Neutral nations may trade with whomever they wish
The declaration of neutrality meant the U.S. could take on a position of mediation
- Neutrality Put to the Test
A nation is full of people with ancestries from both sides of the conflict so
neutrality was problematic from the onset; the different ethnicities in the U.S.
are thinking sentimentally about whom they would like to win
Both sides try to test American neutrality
oBritish blockade (surface vessels) protested by the U.S.; but trade
exports ultimately escalated so they were not particularly hard hit
oGerman counter blockade; consisted of submarines meaning vessels
hiding under the water that you can’t see; any ship on the way to Britain
risks being torpedoed; this angered the U.S.
Wilson distances himself from war as an option
Bryan resigns in protest on a matter of principle
Robert Lancing replaces Bryan
There is an internal debate within the U.S.
- Peace vs. Preparedness
Bankers and industrialists organized parades
Wilson tries to walk a middle line once again; attacked by both sides
Preparedness advocates called him a coward
Peace advocates smacked him for any move towards war
J.P Morgan makes requests that the U.S. loan money to the allies
Wilson initially declines his requests; starts to be advised that unless credit is extended to
France and Britain this will hurt the U.S. economy as well as the war effort
Wilson authorizes that private citizens may make loans if they wish
- Peace and War Aims
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Wilson wants to broker peace and achieve a lasting peace
Ultimately thought the only thing that would work would be to base it upon a restoration of
a status quo prior to the war; nobody will gain from the war; no annexation or indemnities
etc.; only this way can there be a total peace
There was a hard time settling this; the allies don’t want a status quo; Britain and France
want to punish Germany
The Germans don’t like the plan either as they wish to keep the gains they had made
Wilson finds himself in a dilemma; must convince both sides to accept his vision
If neutrality and mediation fail the next best thing would be for the U.S. to have a seat at
the peace table to restore the new world order; this means the U.S. must enter the war
- “Peace without Victory”
“peace without victory”; “Only a peace among equals can last
“no nation should seek to extend its polity over any other nation or people
“all nations henceforth avoid entangling alliances”
“there must be not a balance of power but a community of power” →
collective security (League of Nations)
Germany attempted to convince Mexico to go to war against the U.S. so as to distract them from
the events in Europe (Zimmerman telegram)
American vessels are sunk; Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war
- The War Message
“the world must be made safe for democracy”
US fights for that “which we have always carried dear to our heats”
“for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own
governments”
“for the rights and liberties of small nations”
“for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free people as shall bring
peace and safety to all and make the world itself at last free
Going to war not as an allied power but as an associated power with France, Britain and Russia
America is basically waging a war to secure peace; vindication of right (principle)
II. The Progressive Stake in the War
The progressives saw in the war a potential for it to be an agent for social improvement
Determined that the training camps would create fighting men with the highest moral and civil
principles; Military Draft Act prohibited prostitution and alcohol at home and abroad
Mobilization for the war at home has a strong progressive aspect
- War Boards & the Progressive Spirit
Cooperation and regulation is crucial
- War Industries Board
oDirects all industrial production; government agency dictating what is
produced; brings industrial management together
- War Labor Board
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