The First World War represented a terrifying waste of youth and potential, a cruel squandering of the positive forces of our planet. The poetry of that era has a special significance for me because I first read it at a time when I was the same age as many of those young men who had to face the prospect of withering before they had barely blossomed. A young American fighting with the French Foreign Legion wrote before he was killed in action in 1916 that he would meet his death: “at some disputed barricade;” “on some scarred slope of battered hill;” “at midnight in some flaming town.” Youth and love and life perishing forever in senseless attempts to capture nameless, unremembered places. And for what? Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer.
1. What is liberal internationalism? 2. What was war socialism? 3. What was the Red Summer of 1919?
April 2, 1917 congress declared war on the Axis Powers.
It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy, 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 peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.
“THIS, THEN, MY FRIENDS, IS THE SIMPLE MESSAGE THAT I BRING TOYOU. LIFT YOUR EYES TO THE HORIZONS OF BUSINESS; DO NOT LOOKTO CLOSE AT THE LITTLE PROCESS WITH WHICH YOU ARECONCERNED, BUT LET YOUR THOUGHTS AND YOUR IMAGINATIONSRUN ABROAD THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD, AND WITH THEINSPIRATION OF THE THOUGHT THAT YOU ARE AMERICANS AND AREMEANT TO CARRY LIBERTY AND JUSTICE AND THE PRINCIPLES OFHUMANITY WHEREVER YOU GO, GO OUT AND SELL GOODS THAT WILLMAKE THE WORLD MORE COMFORTABLE AND MORE HAPPY, ANDCONVERT THEM TO PRINCIPLES OF AMERICA”
US Exports to England and France 1914 $753 million 1916 $2.75 billion US Exports to Germany 1914 $345 million 1916 $27 million US Loans to Europe in 1917 England and France, $2.3 billion Germany, $27 million