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Chapter 30 - The War to End Wars

I. War by Act of Germany

  1. On January 22, 1917, Woodrow Wilson made one final, attempt to
    avert war, delivering a moving address that correctly declared only a
    “peace without victory” (beating Germany without
    embarrassing them) would be lasting.
    • Germany responded by shocking the world, announcing that it would
      break the Sussex pledge and return to unrestricted submarine warfare,
      which meant that its U-boats would now be firing on armed and unarmed
      ships in the war zone.
  2. Wilson asked Congress for the authority to arm merchant ships, but a band of Midwestern senators tried to block this measure.
  3. Then, the Zimmerman note was intercepted and published on March 1, 1917.
    • Written by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman, it secretly
      proposed an alliance between Germany and Mexico. It proposed that if
      Mexico fought against the U.S. and the Central Powers won, Mexico could
      recover Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona from the U.S.
  4. The Germans also began to make good on their threats, sinking
    numerous ships. Meanwhile, in Russia, a revolution toppled the tsarist
  5. On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war,
    which it did four days later; Wilson had lost his gamble at staying out
    of the war.

II. Wilsonian Idealism Enthroned

  1. Many people still didn’t want to enter into war, for America
    had prided itself in isolationism for decades, and now, Wilson was
    entangling America in a distant war.
    • Six senators and 50 representatives, including the first Congresswoman, Jeanette Ranking, voted against war.
  2. To gain enthusiasm for the war, Wilson came up with the idea of
    America entering the war to “make the world safe for
    • This idealistic motto worked brilliantly, but with the new American
      zeal came the loss of Wilson’s earlier motto, “peace
      without victory.”

III. Wilson’s Fourteen Potent Points

  1. On January 8, 1917, Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points Address to Congress.
  2. The Fourteen Points were a set of idealistic goals for peace. The main points were…
    • No more secret treaties.
    • Freedom of the seas was to be maintained.
    • A removal of economic barriers among nations.
    • Reduction of armament burdens.
    • Adjustment of colonial claims in the interests of natives and colonizers.
    • “Self-determination,” or independence for oppressed minority groups who’d choose their government
    • A League of Nations, an international organization that would keep the peace and settle world disputes.

IV. Creel Manipulates Minds

  1. The Committee on Public Information, headed by George Creel, was
    created to “sell” the war to those people who were against
    it or to just gain support for it.
    • The Creel organization sent out an army of 75,000 men to deliver
      speeches in favor of the war, showered millions of pamphlets containing
      the most potent “Wilsonisms” upon the world, splashed
      posters and billboards that had emotional appeals, and showed
      anti-German movies like The Kaiser and The Beast of Berlin.
  2. There were also patriotic songs, but Creel did err in that he
    oversold some of the ideals, and result would be disastrous

V. Enforcing Loyalty and Stiffing Dissent

  1. Germans in America were surprisingly loyal to the U.S., but
    nevertheless, many Germans were blamed for espionage activities, and a
    few were tarred, feathered, and beaten.
  2. The Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 showed
    American fears and paranoia about Germans and others perceived as a
    • Antiwar Socialists and the members of the radical union Industrial
      Workers of the World (IWW) were often prosecuted, including Socialist
      Eugene V. Debs and IWW leader William D. Haywood, who were arrested,
      convicted, and sent to prison.
    • Fortunately, after the war, there were presidential pardons (from
      Warren G. Harding), but a few people still sat in jail into the 1930s.

VI. The Nation’s Factories Go to War

  1. America was very unprepared for war, though Wilson had created the
    Council of National Defense to study problems with mobilization and had
    launched a shipbuilding program.
    • America’s army was only the 15th largest in the world.
  2. In trying to mobilize for war, no one knew how much America could
    produce, and traditional laissez-faire economics (where the government
    stays out of the economy) still provided resistance to government
    control of the economy.
    • In March 1918, Wilson named Bernard Baruch to head the War
      Industries Board, but this group never had much power and was disbanded
      soon after the armistice.

VII. Workers in Wartime

  1. Congress imposed a rule that made any unemployed man available to enter the war and also discouraged strikes.
  2. The National War Labor Board, headed by former president William H.
    Taft, settled any possible labor difficulties that might hamper the war
  3. Fortunately, Samuel Gompers’ of the American Federation of
    Labor (AF of L), which represented skilled laborers, loyally supported
    the war, and by war’s end, its membership more than doubled to
    over 3 million.
  4. Yet, there were still labor problems, as price inflation threatened
    to eclipse wage gains, and over 6,000 strikes broke out during the war,
    the greatest occurring in 1919, when 250,000 steelworkers walked off
    the job.
    • In that strike, the steel owners brought in 30,000
      African-Americans to break the strike, and in the end, the strike
      collapsed, hurting the labor cause for more than a decade.
    • During the war, Blacks immigrated to the North to find more jobs.
      But the appearance of Blacks in formerly all-White towns sparked
      violence, such as in Chicago and St. Louis.

VIII. Suffering Until Suffrage

  1. Women also found more opportunities in the workplace, since the men were gone to war.
  2. The war the split women’s suffrage movement. Many progressive
    women suffragists were also pacifists and therefore against the war.
    Most women supported the war and concluded they must help in the war if
    they want to help shape the peace (get the vote).
    • Their help gained support for women’s suffrage, which was finally achieved with the 19th Amendment, passed in 1920.
  3. Although a Women’s Bureau did appear after the war to protect
    female workers, most women gave up their jobs at war’s end, and
    Congress even affirmed its support of women in their traditional roles
    in the home with the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act of 1921, which
    federally financed instruction in maternal and infant health care.

IX. Forging a War Economy

  1. Mobilization relied more on passion and emotion than laws.
  2. Herbert Hoover was chosen to head the Food Administration, since he
    had organized a hugely successful voluntary food drive for the people
    of Belgium.
    • He spurned ration cards in favor of voluntary “Meatless
      Tuesdays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays,” suing posters,
      billboards, and other media to whip up a patriotic spirit which
      encouraged people to voluntarily sacrifice some of their own goods for
      the war.
    • After all, America had to feed itself and its European allies.
  3. Hoover’s voluntary approach worked beautifully, as citizens
    grew gardens on street corners to help the farmers, people observed
    “heatless Mondays,” “lightless nights,” and
    “gasless Sundays” in accordance with the Fuel
    Administration, and the farmers increased food production by one-fourth.
  4. The wave of self-sacrifice also sped up the drive against alcohol,
    culminating with the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale,
    distribution, or consumption of alcohol.
  5. Money was raised through the sale of war bonds, four great Liberty Loan drives, and increased taxes.
  6. Still, the government sometimes flexed its power, such as when it took over the railroads in 1917.

X. Making Plowboys into Doughboys

  1. European Allies finally confessed to the U.S. that not only were
    they running out of money to pay for their loans from America, but also
    that they were running out of men, and that America would have to raise
    and train an army to send over to Europe, or the Allies would collapse.
  2. This could only be solved with a draft, which Wilson opposed but finally supported as a disagreeable but temporary necessity.
    • The draft bill ran into heated opposition in Congress but was grudgingly passed.
    • Unlike earlier wars, there was no way for one to buy one’s way out of being drafted.
  3. Luckily, patriotic men and women lined up on draft day, disproving
    ominous predictions of bloodshed by the opposition of the draft.
    • Within a few months, the army had grown to 4 million men and women.
    • African-Americans were allowed in the army, but they were usually
      assigned to non-combat duty; also, training was so rushed that many
      troops didn’t know how to even use their rifles, much less
      bayonets, but they were sent to Europe anyway.

XI. Fighting in France—Belatedly

  1. After the Bolsheviks seized control of Russia, they withdrew the
    nation from the war, freeing up thousands of German troops to fight on
    the Western Front.
  2. German predictions of American tardiness proved to be rather
    accurate, as America took one year before it sent a force to Europe and
    also had transportation problems.
  3. Nevertheless, American doughboys slowly poured into Europe, and
    U.S. troops helped in an Allied invasion of Russia at Archangel to
    prevent munitions from falling into German hands.
    • 10,000 troops were sent to Siberia as part of an Allied expedition
      whose purpose was to prevent munitions from falling into the hands of
      Japan, rescue some 45,000 trapped Czechoslovak troops, and prevent
      Bolshevik forces from snatching military supplies.
    • Bolsheviks resented this interference, which it felt was America’s way of suppressing its infant communist revolution.

XII. America Helps Hammer the “Hun”

  1. In the spring of 1918, one commander, the French Marshal Foch, for
    the first time, led the Allies and just before the Germans were about
    to invade Paris and knock out France, American reinforcements arrived
    and pushed the Germans back.
  2. In the Second Battle of the Marne, the Allies pushed Germany back
    some more, marking a German withdrawal that was never again effectively
  3. The Americans, demanding their own army instead of just supporting
    the British and French, finally got General John J. Pershing to lead a
  4. The Meuse-Argonne offensive cut German railroad lines and took 120,000 casualties.
    • Sgt. Alvin C. York became a hero when he single-handedly killed 20
      Germans and captured 132 more; ironically, he had been in an antiwar
      sect beforehand.
  5. Finally, the Germans were exhausted and ready to surrender, for
    they were being deserted, the British blockade was starving them, and
    the Allied blows just kept coming.
    • It was a good thing, too, because American victories were using up resources too fast.
    • Also, pamphlets containing seductive Wilsonian promises rained down on Germany, in part persuading them to give up.

XIII. The Fourteen Points Disarm Germany

  1. At 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Germans
    laid down their arms in armistice after overthrowing their Kaiser in
    hopes that they could get a peace based on the Fourteen Points.
    • This “Armistice Day” later became “Veterans’ Day.”
  2. It was the prospect of endless American troops, rather than the American military performance, that had demoralized the Germans.

XIV. Wilson Steps Down from Olympus

  1. At the end of the war, Wilson was at the height of his popularity,
    but when he appealed for voters to give a Democratic victory in 1918,
    American voters instead gave Republicans a narrow majority, and Wilson
    went to Paris as the only leader of the Allies not commanding a
    majority at home.
  2. When Wilson decided to go to Europe personally to oversee peace
    proceedings, Republicans were outraged, thinking that this was all just
    for flamboyant show.
    • When he didn’t include a single Republican, not even Senator
      Henry Cabot Lodge, a very intelligent man who used to be the
      “scholar in politics” until Wilson came along and was
      therefore jealous and spiteful of Wilson, the Republicans got even more

XV. An Idealist Battles the Imperialists in Paris

  1. At the Paris Conference in 1919, the Big Four—Italy, led by
    Vittorio Orlando, France, led by Georges Clemenceau, Britain, led by
    David Lloyd George, and the U.S., led by Wilson—basically
    dictated the terms of the treaty.
  2. Conflicting ambitions ruled the conference. Britain and France
    wanted to punish Germany, Italy wanted money, the U.S. wanted to heal
    wounds through Wilson’s League of Nations
    • Wilson’s baby was the League and so he bargained with Britain and France.
    • Britain and France agreed to go along with the League, Wilson reluctantly agreed to go along with punishment.
      • The War Guilt Clause was passed doing two things, (1) it formally
        placed blame on Germany, a proud and embarrassed people, and (2) it
        charged Germany for the costs of war, $33 billion.

XVI. Hammering Out the Treaty

  1. However, at home in America, the Republicans proclaimed that they
    would not pass the treaty, since to them, it would be unwise to turn
    American decision over to a group of foreign nations (the League of
    Nations). Opponents of the Versailles Treaty reasoned that America
    should stay out of such an international group and decide her decisions
    on her own.
    • Led by Henry Cabot Lodge, William Borah of Idaho and Hiram Johnson
      of California, these senators were bitterly opposed to the League.
    • Upon seeing Wilson’s lack of support, the other European
      nations had stronger bargaining chips, as France demanded the Rhineland
      and Saar Valley (but didn’t receive it; instead, the League of
      Nations got the Saar Basin for 15 years and then let it vote to
      determine its fate) and Italy demanded Fiume, a valuable seaport
      inhabited by both Italians and Yugoslavs.
  2. The Italians went home after Wilson tried to appeal to the Italian
    people while France received a promise that the U.S. and Great Britain
    would aid France in case of another German invasion.
  3. Japan also wanted the valuable Shantung peninsula and the German
    islands in the Pacific, and Wilson opposed, but when the Japanese
    threatened to walk out, Wilson compromised again and let Japan keep
    Germany’s economic holdings in Shantung, outraging the Chinese.

XVII. The Peace Treaty That Bred a New War

  1. The Treaty of Versailles was forced upon Germany under the threat
    that if it didn’t sign the treaty, war would resume, and when the
    Germans saw all that Wilson had compromised to get his League of
    Nations, they cried betrayal, because the treaty did not contain much
    of the Fourteen Points like the Germans had hoped it would.
  2. Wilson was not happy with the treaty, sensing that it was
    inadequate, and his popularity was down, but he did make a difference
    in that his going to Paris prevented the treaty from being purely

XVIII. The Domestic Parade of Prejudice

  1. Returning to America, Wilson was met with fierce opposition, as
    Hun-haters felt that the treaty wasn’t harsh enough while the
    Irish denounced the League
  2. The “hyphenated” Americans all felt that the treaty had not been fair to their home country.

XIX. Wilson’s Tour and Collapse (1919)

  1. When Wilson returned to America, at the time, Senator Lodge had no
    hope to defeat the treaty, so he delayed, reading the entire 264-page
    treaty aloud in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held hearings
    for people discontent with the treaty to voice their feelings, and
    basically stalled, bogging the treaty down.
  2. Wilson decided to take a tour to gain support for the treaty, but
    trailing him like bloodhounds were Senators Borah and Johnson, two of
    the “irreconcilables,” who verbally attacked him.
  3. However, in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast regions, reception
    was much warmer, and the high point came at Pueblo, Colorado, where he
    pleaded that the League was the only hope for peace in the future.
    • That night, he collapsed form physical and nervous exhaustion, and several days later, a stroke paralyzed half of his body.

XX. Defeat Through Deadlock

  1. Lodge now came up with fourteen “reservations” to the
    Treaty of Versailles, which sought to safeguard American sovereignty.
    • Congress was especially concerned with Article X, which morally
      bound the U.S. to aid any member of the League of Nations that was
      victimized by aggression, for Congress wanted to preserve its
      war-declaring power.
  2. Wilson hated Lodge, and though he was willing to accept similar
    Democratic reservations and changes, he would not do so from Lodge, and
    thus, he ordered his Democratic supporters to vote against the treaty
    with the Lodge reservations attached.
    • On November 19, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was defeated by a vote of 55 to 39.
  3. About four-fifths of the senators actually didn’t mind the
    treaty, but unless the Senate approved the pact with the Lodge
    reservations tacked on, it would fail completely.
    • Brought up for a vote again, on March 19, 1920, the treaty failed
      again, due in part to Wilson telling Democrats to vote against the
    • Wilson’s feud with Lodge, U.S. isolationism, tradition, and
      disillusionment all contributed to the failure of the treaty, but
      Wilson must share the blame as well, since he stubbornly went for
      “all or nothing,” and received nothing.

XXI. The “Solemn Referendum” of 1920

  1. Wilson had proposed to take the treaty to the people with a national referendum, but that would have been impossible.
  2. In 1920, the Republican Party was back together, thanks in part to
    Teddy Roosevelt’s death in 1919, and it devised a clever platform
    that would appeal to pro-League and anti-League factions of the party,
    and they chose Warren G. Harding as their candidate in the
    “smoke-filled room,” with Calvin Coolidge as the vice
    presidential candidate.
  3. The Democrats chose James M. Cox and Franklin D. Roosevelt as VP,
    and they also supported a League of Nations, but not necessarily the
    League of Nations.
  4. Warren G. Harding was swept into power

XXII. The Betrayal of Great Expectations

  1. U.S. isolationism doomed the Treaty of Versailles and indirectly
    led to World War II, because France, without an ally, built up a large
    military force, and Germany, suspicious and fearful, began to illegally
    do the same.
  2. The suffering of Germany and the disorder of the time was used by
    Adolf Hitler to seize power in Germany, build up popularity, and drag
    Europe into war.
  3. It was the U.S.’s responsibility to take charge as the most
    powerful nation in the world after World War I, but it retreated into
    isolationism, and let the rest of the world do whatever it wanted in
    the hopes that the U.S. would not be dragged into another war, but
    ironically, it was such actions that eventually led the U.S. into WWII.
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