• World War One: At first the United States followed George Washington's advice and stayed neutral.  However, when the nation joined the war America's identity would be challenged and the results of the war would be felt for decades.

    Class Notes
    Class Activities
    Essential Questions 
    How did the "Great War" start?
    Why did the USA intially remain neutral?
    How was the USA pulled into the war?
    How was life impacted in the USA by the War?
    Interesting Websites
    Key Content
    Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria- Hungary
    Alliance System
    Sinking of the Lusitania
    German Practice of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
    Zimmerman Telegraph (Note)
    War (Liberty , Freedom, Victory) Bonds
    Selected Service Act
    Espionage and Sedition Act
    Schenck v US Supreme Court Case
    Red Scare- fear of COMMUNISM
    Some thoughts on the war.
    Causes of WWI from a Global Perspective
    Aliance Syatem
    The chain reaction of events started when Archduke Ferdinand of Austria- Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian
    Nationalist who wanted Serbian Independence from A-H. This led to Russia declaring war on Austria Hungary,
    Germany declaring war on Russia, France declaring war on Germany and Britain declaring War on Germany
    US Initial Reaction
    The US at first stayed neutral. President Wilson was still following George Washington's Advice of avoiding entangling alliances. This, however, proved difficult. The Germans were using submarines called U- Boats to interfere with international trade between the USA and European nations on the Atlantic Ocean. The Germans eventually made pledges (Arabic and Sussex) to not sink any ships carrying civilians or materials going to neutral nations. But when the British and French started arming merchant ships and sinking German U- Boats, the Germans called off their pledge and declared "unrestricted submarine warfare". Then several 100 Americans died aboard the passenger ship Lusitania when it was sunk by a German U-Boat. This increased tensions between the US and Germany but President Wilson did not declare war. Perhaps this was because the US government was secretly violating its public stance on neutrality and was sending military supplies to Great Britain via the ship. Still Wilson won re-election with the promise to keep the US out of the war. Then early in 1917 the British turned over a telegram they said they intercepted from the Germans to Mexico called the "Zimmerman Telegraph". The message stated that Germany wanted Mexico to attachk the USA to keep the US army out of Europe and when the Germans won the war Mexico would get back all the land that they had lost to the United States during the Mexican War in the 1840s. When Congress found out about this they declared war on Germany.
    The war in Europe was disasterous for both sides. Modern technology made the war brutal for all involved. The British and French were hurt worse when the Russian dropped out due to their Bolshevik (Communist) Revolution and the Germans could move all of their troops to Western Europe. When the American troops arrived, their "fresh legs" turned the tide of the war. The French Government even gave a group of African American soldiers a medal of honor for liberating France. This group, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, were heros in France but not recognized for decades later in the USA.
    The war eventually ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which was mostly comprised of a plan by Woodrow Wilson known as the 14 points. Although he wanted all nations involved to take mutual responsibility for the war Britain and France insisted that Germany take all the war guilty and pay all the war debt. Many historians believe that this condition made World War Two inevitable. As for the United States, the President signed the treaty but the Senate, led by Henry Cabot Lodge,  refused to ratify it because it called for the USA to join an international peace keeping organization called the League of Nations.  Many in the Senate believed that the USA would be limiting its autonomy by joining so instead the U.S.A. began a 20 year foreign policy of Isolationism.  It is often stated that the Treaty of Versailles, due to the blame it put on Germany, the weakness of the League of Nations as well as America's refusal to sign the Treaty and join the League of Nations established the conditions which led to the outbreak of World War Two.
    1920s American Foreign Affairs
    Washington Naval Conference
    Immigration Restriction
    Kellogg- Briand Pact
    The Hawley- Smoot Act (Return of protective tariffs!)
    • 1917
    • War Horse
    • Wonder Woman- Some of the scenes 
Last Modified on May 6, 2020