World War I - United States
CAUSES OF WORLD WAR I
Long term causes (M.A.I.N.)
New weapons: Maxim Gun, U-Boat, naval war (between Germany and Britain)
Triple Alliance (1882-1915) (G + A + I)
Secret agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy
Italy switched sides in May 1915
Became Central Powers
Triple Entente (1907) (R + B + F)
Agreement between Russian, Britain and France
Became Allied Powers
Europeans competed over colonies
Colonists joined war on sides of the colonizing country
Serbians wanted to enlarge Serbia
Short term causes
Austria-Hungary took over Bosnia 1908
Serbians angry because they wanted to expand Serbia
June 28, 1914
A Serbian nationalist killed Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne
Assassin, Gavrilo Princip
Member of Black Hand
A Serbian terrorist organization
One month later, Austria gave Serbia an ultimatum
Serbia had to let Austria conduct its own investigation in Serbia
Serbia had to suppress all anti-Austrian propaganda
Serbia had to eliminate all terrorist organizations
Or Austria would declare war.
Austria asked Germany for aid in the event of a war with Serbia and its ally, Russia
On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia
Russia deployed troops
Germany employed the Schlieffen Plan
Hoping to quickly defeat Russia's ally France by going through Belgium
Britain, France's ally, entered the war on Aug. 4th after Germany attacked neutral Belgium
Wilson declared U.S. neutrality.
Reasons for neutrality
U.S. businesses wanted to trade with all Europeans (grew rich from selling war supplies)
By 1914, more than 30% of Americans were immigrants
Including Germans, Italians, Irish, French, British etc.
Many Americans still had ties with Britain
American Pacifists objected to war (see below)
Challenges to neutrality
Britain controlled war news that was cabled daily to U.S. newspapers
British gave American press stories of German atrocities in Belgium and France
Wealthy Americans (like J.P. Morgan) had loaned money to Britain and France and wanted to protect their investments by helping Allies against Germans
Belligerent powers tried to stop aid from reaching the enemy.
Britain stopped supplies from reaching Germany through a naval blockade
Germany stopped supply ships by firing torpedoes from U-boats (submarines)
American War Hawks wanted war (see below)
Lusitania, May 7, 1915
First challenge to U.S. neutrality
Germany torpedoed a British passenger ship, the Lusitania
Which secretly also carried weapons
1,198 civilian passengers were killed, including 128 Americans
Wilson sent strong letter warning Germany not to sink unarmed ships
Theodore Roosevelt called German attack "piracy"
But Sec. of State William J. Bryan feared feared letter conflicted with commitment to neutrality - Bryan resigned as a result
August 1915 another U-boat attack killed 2 Americans
March 1916 U-boat torpedoes unarmed merchant ship, the Sussex
Injured several American passengers
Wilson threatened to cut off U.S. diplomatic relations with Germany
Germany backed own and pledged not to sink merchant or passenger ships without giving a warning.
AMERICAN PERCEPTIONS OF WAR
Americans in favor of war
Irish wanted war with Britain (supported 1916 Irish Easter Rebellion against Britain)
Some Republicans (including former president Theodore Roosevelt) wanted war
Some big corporations (like Bethlehem Steel which made armor and DuPont that made gunpowder) saw war as a way to make money as profiteers.
Americans against war
Socialists and IWW (Industrial Workers of the World)
Believed war was fought between capitalists who used proletarians (workers) as soldiers
Karl Marx had called on "workers of the world" to unite against their oppressors.
William Jennings Bryan
Wilson's secretary of state
Resigned after Wilson's note of protest after sinking of Lusitania
Because he believed the president was laying the foundation for military intervention.
Jews didn't want U.S. to help the Russian Czar (who had been responsible for pogroms)
Women's groups (including Jane Addams) were pacifists
Industrialist Henry Ford personally paid to send a peace ship to Europe to get European powers to negotiate (it didn't work)
Most Democrats were against the war
Congressional Democrats voted to cut the military budget in 1915.
After sinking of Lusitania, Republicans in eastern cities started "preparedness" movement arguing the US needed to build strong navy and land forces for defensive purposes.
Supported by people like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Stimson and many prominent bankers and industrialists.
They called for "universal military service" (mandatory six month training)
By end of 1915, Wilson "prepared" by expanding U.S. navy and army.
Woodrow Wilson (D)
Ran for reelection on slogan "He kept us out of war"
And "America First"
Charles Evans Hughes (R)
Republican party reunited after 1912 split
Charles Evans Hughes was endorsed by Taft and Roosevelt
Hughes also campaigned for neutrality but Democrats claimed he would lead the U.S. into war
Election was close (on 23 electoral votes)
Wilson won 10 of the 12 states that had adopted women's suffrage.
If Hughes had won, the U.S. would have had a lame duck president (Wilson) in time of war.
To avoid this, Wilson decided that if Hughes won, Wilson would make him Sec. of State
Then Wilson and the VP would resign making Hughes president by succession.
ROAD TO WAR
After election Germany announced it would resume unrestricted submarine warfare against ships sailing to and from British Islands
Several American merchant ships were sunk
Intercepted March 1917 by British spies and made public
German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman
Called on Mexico to join war on U.S.
German would help Mexico recovering territory lost in Mexican-American War (1846-48)
Wilson asked for declaration of war against Germany
To make the world "safe for democracy"
War resolution passed Senate 82 to 6 and House 373-50
Jeanette Rankin - 1st woman elected to Congress, voted against war
Russia's February Revolution (February 1917)
Tsar of Russia was overthrown by Bolsheviks led by Lenin
Made it easier to join the war without having to ally with an absolutist monarch.
WILSON'S FOURTEEN POINTS
A selection (see document)
List of reasons why U.S. was fighting:
No secret treaties - instead, "open covenants of peace"
Freedom of navigation on the seas/Removal of economic barriers to trade.
Reduction in national arms to lowest point possible
German evacuation of Russian territories, Belgium, French territories, Italy, Rumania, Serbia, Montenegro.
An independent Polish state should be recreated
A "general association of nations must be formed"
Future League of Nations
100s of temporary wartime agencies and commissions created
Staffed by experts
War Industries Board
Headed by Bernard Baruch
Presided over all elements of war production
Distribution of raw materials to the price of manufactured goods.
Established standardized specifications for everything from car tires to shoe colors (black, brown, white only)
Headed by Herbert Hoover
Encouraged U.S. households to eat less meat and bread so that food could be shipped abroad.
In two years, US overseas shipment of food tripled.
Headed by Harry Garfield
Directed efforts to save coal
Nonessential factories closed
Daylight savings time into effect for first time.
Headed by Treaty Secretary William McAdoo
Took public control of the railroads to coordinate traffic and promote standardized railroad equipment
War Labor Board
Headed by former president William Howard Taft
Including representatives of government, industry and American Federation of Labor
Pressed for establishment of minimum wage, 8 -hour workday, right to form unions
During war, wages rose substantially
Working conditions improved
Union membership doubled.
FINANCING THE WAR
Federal Reserve Board 1914
Founded the same year as the beginning of WWI
William McAdoo, Sec. of the Treasury
Determined there were three ways to pay for the war
Printed money (rejected because it would cause inflation like Greenbacks during Civil War)
Raise taxes (used for 1/3 of the money)
Borrow money (2/3 of funding came from bonds)
$33 billion was raised in two years through combination of loans and taxes
Corporate and individual income taxes rose enormously.
By 1918, the wealthiest Americans paying up to 77% of their income over $1 million.
Poor didn't pay taxes.
Also enacted an excise tax on luxury goods
Four massive drives conducted
To convince Americans to put savings into federal government Liberty Bonds.
And create a sense of nationalism
Americans were "investing" in the war together.
Rates of interest on the bonds from 3.5-4.2%
Lower than interest that could be gained from banks.
Bonds were sold by armies of volunteers
Bonds were sold for $50 and above.
But people could buy a "subscription" paying for the bonds in 25 cent installments
Stamps were affixed to "War Savings Certificates."
Tens of millions of Americans bought Liberty bonds.
Up until 1917, Americans wanted to stay out of war.
After Zimmerman Telegram
The government had to change the minds of constituents.
Committee on Public Information
Headed by investigative journalist, George Creel
Enlisted artists, writers, vaudeville performers, movie stars
To depict heroism of U.S. soldiers
And villainy of the German kaiser (king)
And convince Americans to be patriotic and buy bonds.
Created posters, pamphlets, films, volunteer speakers
Americans told to watch out for German spies and "do your bit"for the war.
American Protective League
Mounted "Hate the Hun" campaign
Attacked all things German
Forbade people from performing Beethoven
Sauerkraut = "liberty cabbage"
Frankfurters (hot dogs) = "liberty sausages"
Manufactures of war materials could refuse to hire German-Americans
ESPIONAGE AND SEDITION
Espionage Act 1917
Imprisoned anyone who tried to incite rebellion in the armed forces or obstructed the draft.
Sedition Act 1918
Prohibited anyone from making "disloyal" or "abusive" remarks about the U.S. government
About 2,000 people prosecuted under these laws
1/2 were convicted or jailed.
Including Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs (10 years in prison)
Schenck v. United States 1919
Supreme Court (Oliver Wendell Holmes) upheld constitutionality of Espionage Act
Schenck was imprisoned for distributing pamphlets against the draft
Holmes said free speech could be limited when it represented a "clear and present danger" to public safety
Selective Service Act May 1917
Secretary of War, Newton Baker devised "selective service" system to draft (conscript) men into military
Required all men between 21 and 30 (later 18 to 45) to register for possible draft.
24 million men required to register with the draft.
2.8 million men called by lottery
In addition to 2 million who volunteered to serve.
1/2 on Western Front
Racial segregation applied to the army
Almost 400,000 African Americans served in WWI in segregated units.
Only a few were permitted to be officers
All were barred from Marine Corps
W.E.B. Du Bois believed this would earn blacks equal rights at home when the war ended.
LABOR AT HOME
Took vacated jobs
Convinced Wilson and Congress to support 19th Amendment (women's suffrage)
Thousands of Mexicans went across border to U.S to work in agriculture and mining
Great migration of African-Americans to war jobs in the north