FORGING a WAR ECONOMY Mobilization relied more on the heated emotions of patriotism than on laws. Compliance was largely voluntary. As the “breadbasket of democracy,” America had to feed itself and its allies. The man chosen to head the Food Administration was Herbert Hoover – what had already made him famous?
In common with other American waradministrators, Hoover preferred to rely onvoluntary compliance rather than on formal edicts.He rejected issuing ration cards, a practice usedin Europe. Instead, he waged a whirlwindpropaganda campaign through posters, billboards,newspapers, pulpits, and movies.To save food for export, Hoover proclaimedwheatless Wednesdays and meatless Tuesdays –all on a voluntary basis. Even children were urgedto be “patriotic to the core.”Victory gardens contributed to growing foodsurpluses. Thanks to the patriotic spirit, Hoover’svoluntary approach worked remarkably.How did the war accelerate the wave ofprohibition?
The Treasury Department sponsored huge paradesand invoked slogans like “Halt the Hun” to promotefour great Liberty Loan drives, followed by a VictoryLoan campaign in 1919.These efforts netted the then-fantastic sum ofapprox. $21 billion, or 2/3 of the cost of the war tothe U.S. The remainder was raised by increasedtaxes.
Washington also hustled to get itshands on ships. It seized enemymerchant ships trapped in America’sharbors and orchestrated a giganticdrive to construct new tonnage.
MAKING PLOWBOYS into DOUGHBOYSMost Americans believed that America’s contribution to the war would be primarily logistical andfinancial. But in the spring of 1917 the European allies confessed that they scraping the bottom, notonly of their money chests, but more ominously, of their manpower barrels. Thus, a huge Americanarmy would have to raised, trained, and transported to the western front before it collapsed. Conscription was the only answer for raising an immense army with all possible speed – was Wilson enthusiastic about a draft? Describe the draft act. Did the fears of anti- draft riots materialize? Within a few months, the army grew to over 4 million men. For the first time, women were admitted to the armed forces. African-Americans also served, albeit in segregated units. What was the primary duty assigned to black soldiers? Why? Recruits were supposed to receive 8 months of training before combat, but most were rushed into battle with hardly any training.
FIGHTING in FRANCE - BELATEDLYRussia’s collapse underscored the need for haste – why? Describe the Germanstrategy for victory?France gradually began to bustle with American doughboys. The first waves weregenerally deployed in quiet sectors with the British and the French. Describe themilitary operation at Archangel – why did the Bolsheviks resent this “capitalistic”intervention?
AMERICA HELPS HAMMER the “HUN”The dreaded German drive on the western front exploded in the spring of 1918 and it wasrolling within 40 miles of Paris. To be more effective the Allied forces united under asupreme commander, French marshal Foch. Newly arriving American troops were throwninto a breach at Chateau-Thierry, right in the teeth of the German advance. It was ahistoric moment – the first significant engagement of American troops in a European war.
The weight of American forces shifted the balance of battle in favor of the Allies. Alliedoffensives followed a German withdrawal that would mark the beginning of the end forthe Germans. The Americans, dissatisfied with merely bolstering the British andFrench, had meanwhile been demanding a separate army. Gen. John “Black Jack”Pershing was finally assigned a front of 85 miles.The tactics of trench warfare took a grisly toll on both sides. Throughout the war, thefront lines rarely shifted more than a few hundred yards.
“Modern” weapons allowed combatants to be deadlier than ever. The slow progress andsevere losses from machine guns and gas resulted in part from inadequate training and inpart from dashing open-field tactics.Victory was in sight – why was this fortunate for both the Americans/Allies and theGermans?
THE FOURTEEN POINTS DISARM GERMANYWarned of imminent defeat by the generals, Berlin was ready to surrender. Why didBerlin turn to Wilson in an attempt to negotiate a separate peace? What wasWilson’s response? The Germans laid down their arms at 11:00 on Nov. 11, 1918. Back home, America burst into street celebrations – the war to end all wars had ended. Identify the U.S.’s main contributions to the Allied victory. What role did Americans play on the battlefield? What key factor eventually demoralized the Germans? Ironically, how did General Pershing depend more on the Allies than they depended on him?
In nobody’s thoughts crept the possibility that there would be a second, even deadlierworld war two decades later.
WILSON STEPS DOWN from OLYMPUSWilson had helped to win the war – what part would he now play in shaping the peace?Expectations ran extravagantly high. Wilson towered at the peak of his popularity &power. He also had behind him the prestige of victory and the economic resources of themightiest nation on Earth. But at this fateful moment, his success of touch desertedhim, and he began to make a series of tragic fumbles.Why were the congressional elections of 1918 so important for Wilson? Whatpolitical gamble did he take in an attempt to win a Democratic majority? Did itwork? Why was this “defeat” significant for Wilson?
Why did Wilson’s decision to go personally to Paris create controversy and infuriateRepublicans? How did Wilson further anger Republicans? How would these moves onWilson’s part impact Senate support on upcoming negotiations?
AN IDEALIST BATTLES the IMPERIALISTS in PARISWoodrow Wilson received tumultuous welcomes from the masses of France, England, andItaly late in 1918 and early in 1919. The statesmen of France and Italy were careful tokeep Wilson at arm’s length from worshipful crowds – why?Identify the Big Four. At the conference, what was Wilson’s chief goal? Whatwere the Allies main goals? What particular problems did Wilson encounter withClemenceau? What was the outcome? Why were the French obsessed withpunishment?
HAMMERING OUT the TREATY In the middle of the complex negotiations, Wilson was forced to return home to address a brewing storm with Senate Republicans. What was their view of the League of Nations?
Who were the chief Republican antagonists?What was the message that Senate Republicansgave to Wilson?Why did this delight Wilson’s Allied adversaries inParis?Through the subsequent compromises, did Wilsonenhance his image, or hurt it?
THE PEACE TREATY THAT BRED a NEW WARWere the Germans satisfied with the treaty? Why did they sign it? Did Wilsonlike the final treaty? Was there anything commendable about the treaty? What isthe historical significance of the treaty?
The Treaty of Versaille also re-drew the map of Europe, whichcreated resentment and was yetanother future contributor toanother world war.
THE DOMESTIC PARADE of PREJUDICE Returning home from Paris for the final time, Wilson sailed straight into a political typhoon. Isolationists protested against the treaty, especially Wilson’s commitment to the League of Nations. Other critics showered the Treaty of Versailles with abuse. Rabid Hun- haters regarded the pact as not harsh enough. Hyphenated-Americans felt the treaty was too harsh. Why did Irish-Americans especially denounce the treaty?
WILSON’S TOUR and COLLAPSE (1919)Despite partisan opposition, a strong majority of the American people seemed to favorthe treaty. Sen. Lodge had no real hope of defeating the Treaty of Versailles. Describehis strategy to either defeat it, or transform it?Faced with catastrophic delay in the Senate, Wilson set out on a spectacularspeechmaking tour. He would appeal over the heads of the Senate to the sovereignpeople – as he had in the past.How was Wilson received on his national tour? What happened to him? Whatwould be the impact on Wilson?
DEFEAT THROUGH DEADLOCK With Wilson ailing, Lodge was now taking the leading role. He devised fourteen formal reservations to the treaty – what did these safeguard? What part of the treaty was especially alarming to Lodge and other Republicans? Wilson, hating Lodge, saw red at the mere suggestion of the Lodge reservations. He was quite willing to accept somewhat similar reservations sponsored by Democrats, but he insisted that Lodge’s reservations “emasculated” the entire pact.
So when the treaty came up for a vote in the Senate for ratification on Nov. 19, 1919, Wilsoninstructed Democrats to vote against the treaty – what was Wilson’s strategy? The treaty was thusvoted down. There was only one possible path to success. Unless the Senate approved the pact withthe reservations, the entire document would be rejected. Wilson would have to be willing tocompromise with Lodge.But Wilson refused to compromise with his arch-political enemy. He thus signed thedeath warrant for the treaty as far as America was concerned. On March 19, 1920, thetreaty netted a simple majority but failed to get the necessary 2/3 majority (49 yes to35 nays).Who defeated the treaty?
THE “SOLEMN REFERENDUM” of 1920Rejected in the Senate, Wilson’s strategy was to settle the treaty issue in theforthcoming presidential election by appealing to the people for a “solemn referendum.”The Democratic candidate was Gov. James Cox; the Republican candidate was Sen.Warren Harding. With TR’s death, the Republicans were not split as they had been.How did Harding stymie the Democrats and proceed to convincingly defeat Cox?What did the election turn out to be a referendum of? What did Harding’s victorymean for the League of Nations?
THE BETRAYAL of GREAT EXPECTATIONSAmerica’s spurning of the League of Nations was tragically short-sighted – it may have averted WWII.The Treaty of Versailles tied in with four other peace treaties through the League Covenant, whosestructure was designed to rest on a four-legged table. The fourth leg, the U.S., was never put intoplace.Identify the other ominous U.S. actions that would contribute to dangerousinstability in Europe. Unintentionally and unknowningly, the U.S. indirectlycontributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler.