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Chapter 22: From Neutrality to War

Primary source analysis (AVMS):

Zimmerman Note

A: Arthur Zimmermann

M: Zimmermann note, secret telegram sent on Jan. 16, 1917, by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to the United States. In it Zimmermann said that in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the war as a German ally.

S: The Importance of the Zimmermann Note is that it was the last step that pushed the U.S to go war with Germany. The Zimmerman note caused anti-German feelings across the nation. Wilson had hopes that Germany would back down but his hopes were dashed. Germany said that they would help Mexico gain their territory in New Mexico Arizona and Texas.

Sussex Pledge

A: The Sussex Pledge made as an agreement between Germany and the U.S. is being summarized by the History Alive! Textbook.
M: The Sussex Pledge is an agreement made between the United States and Germany in 1916. The agreement promises that Germany would give warnings before attack ships with submarines and spare the lives of passengers or crew from then on, but only if the U.S. would stop Britain’s illegal naval-blockade.
S: Due to Germany’s start of unrestricted submarine warfare, many ocean-liners were often sunk with bunches of casualties, usually with no warnings and no consistent reason. As a result, Americans began losing their lives on the sea due to attacks such as on the British liner Lusitania where 128 Americans died, or on the Arabic where two Americans died. Growing tired of Germany’s “murder on the high seas”, the U.S. would stop diplomatic relations with Germany, so Germany responded with a promise to give warnings and save passengers, since America was an important business relation. However, the condition America was given to force Britain to take down their naval blockade was never carried out by Wilson.

Historical Identifications

Central Powers: The central powers were led by Germany and Austria-Hungary, later including the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. The central powers wanted to expand their empire overseas and become a world power. They believed in nationalism which was a strong feeling of pride toward a nation or ethnic group; leading some European countries to put their national interests first disregarding the consequences of other countries. This was the central powers beliefs and an influence on the start of the war.

Allied Powers: Allied powers were led by France, Britain, & Russia later including Portugal, Japan, and Italy. Allied powers believed in militarism: glorifying military power and values so when Germany improved its army and added to its navy, Britain felt that they had to do the same. Britain and France also had colonies in Africa and Asia that provided resources for their products this fueled the fire of Germany its own colonies. The belief of the Allied powers gave them a reason to fight Germany and start this war.

U-Boats: U-Boats were the creators of havoc in the fight of the Atlantic, they were German Submarines so dangerous that even Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister) commented that the release of the German Undersea Boats on January 31 1917 were the only thing that might cause Britain to contemplate surrendering.

Lusitania: On May-7-1915 the Lusitania was struck by torpedoes that were launched by German U-boats without warning. The Lusitania was carrying civilian passengers when they were struck by the Germans, 1,924 people were killed in the sinking and sudden blast of the ship, 128 of which were American citizens.

Unrestricted Submarine Warfare: Unrestricted Submarine Warfare was a type of naval warfare struck civilian and military ships without warning. After the sinking of Lusitania the United States was very frustrated with Germany because it killed 114 Americans, doing so restricted the trade of the United States and oppressed the right of traveling on British ships. Some believed that people should fight for this right and some believed that people shouldn't worry about it. So the United States wanted to restrict the attacks on civilian U-boats without warning to protect their people but Germany did not listen and continued their attacks leading the United States to declare war.

Preparedness Movement: Beginning in 1915, former president Theodore Roosevelt led the Preparedness Movement along with all other war supporters in the movement. Unhappy with the way Wilson’s handling of Neutrality during the war, although Roosevelt did not support the Central or Allied side. But Roosevelt toured the whole of the U.S. to point out that the U.S. was very ill-prepared for a war, with a small army and navy. Roosevelt also tried to use this to convince of the U.S.’s involvement being needed in the war. With being prepared for war for peace-reasons being on everyone’s mind, the movement called to increase the United States’ measly 80,000 man army and lack of equipment. However, Wilson eventually gave in with the submarine problem of Germany persuading him to prepare for war, and he called to Congress to gather the money to double the size at least, and to build the world’s largest navy. The increase of military power in the U.S. finally gave it the potential to fight in the war, which would begin after the propaganda spread soon after in the Allied and Central Powers.

Summary;

After the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28, 1914, Europe exploded into war, with Russia siding with Serbia against Austria-Hungary, Germany declaring war against Russia and France, and finally Britain coming to France’s aid against Germany. Tensions in Europe had be high because of the system of alliances that divided Europe into two camps, the intense sense of nationalism that created Germany’s thirst for power and fostered the discontent of smaller ethnic groups, the militarism that glorified military strength, and the competition created by imperialism.

At the outbreak of the war, the United States chose to remain neutral because they had no real reason to go to join the fight. This stance also benefitted the U.S. by allowing them to make loans and sell supplies to both sides, helping the economy. Despite this, many Americans chose sides because of their heritage and most supported the Allies. This was evident through the actions of American business and even the government.

When Germany began to use U-boats to attack merchant ships heading to Britain, the U.S. began to favor the Allies even more: President Wilson protested the practice of sinking ships with the passengers and crew still aboard, and after Americans were killed by a German attack on the Lusitania, America demanded that they cease unrestricted submarine warfare. More Americans were killed later, so Wilson asked the Germans to accept the Sussex Pledge, which stated all lived must be spared on merchant ship attacks, if they wanted to maintain diplomatic relations. The Germans required that the U.S. end Britain’s illegal blockade if they were going to accept it, but Wilson rejected this condition.

Back in the states, many Americans became concerned about the war and started the preparedness movement, and although Wilson tried hard to keep the peace by speaking domestically and abroad, foreign propaganda, primarily against the Germans, added fuel to the fire.

Then, Germany returned to unrestricted warfare in an effort to win the war, and America broke off all relations as prescribed by the Sussex Pledge. To make matters worse, Germany sent the Zimmerman note, and Wilson felt he had no choice but to enter the war. This decision was only made easier by the fact that Russia was now under democratic rule, making them a fit partner in the war against German aggression. On April 2, 1917 Wilson spoke to Congress, and two days later--after much controversy--America entered the war.



23 - The Course and Conduct of World War I

Primary source analysis (AVMS):

Selective Service Act

A: The legislative branch along with the president, Woodrow Wilson, devised the Selective service act.

V: The Government had declared war on Germany, because Germany had sunk US passenger ships, and was urging Mexico to invade the US. They thought that they could no longer be involved with this war. Germany had provoked them to take action.

M: Once the US had declared war on Germany they needed more men to assist the allies, so they used the selective service act to issue a draft. They knew that many people may not comply with the draft so they used anti-German propaganda to convince the citizens to comply. By the end of the war 25 million men were registered and 2.8 million actually to war.

S: This document triggered the first time that a massive amount of Americans went to war, and showed that the US can be a world power. It would also set the table for more drafts to happen in the future as well. The US was starting to become a rising military power.

Historical Identifications

Convoy System: Nearing the end of the war, a convoy system was created by the Allies to help reduce the number of Allied deaths greatly, which succeeded. A convoy is a group of vessels or vehicles that travel together, often under the protection of an armed escort. The convoy system did many things: it reduced the effectiveness of the U-boat attacks, it protected merchant ships through escorting them, and it dropped the amount of material lost from U-boat attacks from more than 850,000 to a little over 200,000.

369th Regiment Convoy: Otherwise known as the Harlem Hell fighters the 369th regiment was a group of all black solders that fought in World War I. The group started in 1916 as the 15th regiment. After the war the 369th received some of the highest medals/awards a regiment can receive from both America and France. The 369th had a big impact on history as they were one of the first African American regiments to go to war for the United States and make such a huge impact on the war. The 369th also helped change the mind of many Americans about how they felt with racial integration.

Meuse-Argonne Offensive: Before the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, World War One had been raging for over four years. Eight-million soldiers had been killed. Russia had already surrendered, and The Meuse Argonne Offensive was part of the final effort of the allies to defeat the Germans, and end World War One. The battle was fought from September 26th, 1918 to November 11th, and took place in the German controlled Argonne forest and Meuse River. 37 French and American divisions tried to reach Sedan to destroy the railroad there, which were Germany’s main source of communication and supplies, and they were ultimately successful. In these weeks, over 26,000 men were killed, and about 100,000 were wounded. This was the largest offensive attack by Americans in WW1, which caused the end of the war because the Germans were forced to surrender. This led to the “peace” treaty of Versailles, soldiers returning home, and the world reeling from so much hardship. Without the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the war would have continued, so even more soldiers would have been killed.

Combatants: During World War 1 (1914- 1918) people who were physically fighting in the war were called combatants. These soldiers were used to fighting wars in hand-to-hand combat, but due to the advancements of technology (flame throwers, trenches, and cannons) Combatants didn't have to be face-to-face with the enemy during fighting. Advancements in artillery also made wounds more deadly and harder to heal than regular rifle wounds from previous wars. Newer technology made the war both easier and dangerous for the combatants fighting during World War 1.

American Expeditionary Force (AEF): The American Expeditionary Force came into existence during World War 1. They fought under General John. J. Pershing when they were on French ground, and are also widely known as the ‘dough-boys’, and were also mainly infantry. The AEF fought in order to aid the French soldiers against Germany, and they boosted their moral. But, after Russia gave up large amounts of territory to Germany due to the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Germany threw all of its troops onto the western front; causing allies to ask put the AEF in the western front to counter attack. General John J. Pershing resisted the request and insisted that the AEF goes over seas. Pershing got his way and the AEF were successful. The AEF has played a major role in World War 1, since they have caused Germany to back off. This war also boosted the production of new technology because a lot of the strategies during WW1 required new technology’s in order to win, making advancements in technology go by faster.

Chemical Weapons: Chemical weapons were first used in WWI around August 1914 by the French against Germans and others used by in 1915 and 1917 and many other times. Chemical weapons consist of toxic gasses there are four that were used during WWI. Tear Gas first used in 1914 by the French against Germans that irritates mucous membranes in the eyes, mouth, throat, and lungs that leads to coughing difficulty breathing and temporary blindness, Chlorine first used in september1915 by the Germans against the British forces in Loos that reacts with water in lungs and creates hydrochloric acid that causes coughing vomiting and irritation to the eyes in low concentration and rapid death at high concentrations, Phosgene first used in December 1915 by the Germans against the British at Ypres reacts with proteins in the lungs that causes difficulty breathing along with irritation to the eyes that often lead to death by suffocation, and Mustard gas first used in July 1917 by the Germans against the British at Ypres was a powerful irritant and blistering agent that damaged eyes skin and the respiratory tract it burns on contact with skin and lead to cell death. The significance of the use of these chemical weapons was that they were a major advance in the technology of warfare, and they were very effective at achieving their goal of incapacitating the people of the receiving end.


24 - The Home Front

Primary source analysis (AVMS):

Sedition Act

Author: The United States government during World War I

Voice: Formal

Message: All of those that are caught trying to go against the US government such as writing letters of propaganda against the US or trying to cause mutiny among the Army will receive fines and possible imprisonment for trying to incite mutiny among the military branches. Basically, any attempt to not root for the US in the war will result in fines and jail time.

Significance: Sedition: conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch. Sedition targeted people who did not root for the war such as pacifists and wobblies. This caused a rise in arrests for people who even slightly mocked the war or war-time events. The significance is that the government attempted to influence people’s ideas towards the war with propaganda in a similar fashion to 1984: those who didn’t follow specific ideals were arrested.

Espionage Act

Author: The United States government during World War I

Voice: Formal and Serious

Message: Any person found guilty of espionage, or the act of spying on a country, against the United States will receive fines and/or possible imprisonment. Acts of espionage can include disclosing classified or open source information to other countries, misusing government research, and selling or giving away any documents or research regarding national defense.

Significance: The Espionage Act made people wary of expressing their opinions for fear of being prosecuted of being a spy. This made life for immigrants very difficult, as many people were suspicious of which country they really were loyal to. Many people believed this act was a violation of freedom of speech, as anything that could possibly interfere with the United States’ war effort against Germany could lead to a heavy punishment from the government.

Historical Identifications

Committee of Public Information: The Committee of Public Information (CPI) was an agency/ group created as a way for the government to promote propaganda towards the general public. Led by George Creel, the group would hire movie producers, composers and music directors and would create media creations such as movies, songs, and symphonies that would promote America’s “greatness” and its liberty. Also, they would make speeches throughout America every ten days in order to promote America and cause Germany to seem like savages. The significance of this committee was that patriotic fervor spread across America and caused recruitment levels to rise.

Women’s Peace Party: The women’s peace party was an organization established by a group of pacifist women in 1915 in response to the start of World War 1 so that they could call for arms limitations and mediation to take the place of combat in Europe. A group of women led by Jane Addams held a peace conference in Washington D.C., believing that progressive social reforms would help eliminate the economic causes of war. Conference leaders formed the Women’s peace party, which grew rapidly but was broken into factions throughout the U.S. after entering the war. The significance in the opposition is that the first female member of Congress had urged the U.S. not to fight, setting an example for other pacifists to step and act upon their beliefs.

Great Migration :During World War I, the need for ample war materials rose - creating a large need for workers in the north. This then caused the movement of a large population of African American citizens to the north following the opening of those positions and factories, which was called the Great Migration. The African American population was very supportive of the war overall and fought in the army or worked in the factories as a way to show their loyalty to their country. Cities such as Chicago, New York City and Cleveland all saw a large increase in African American citizens; this increase brought competition for jobs and heightened racial tension between Whites and African Americans that resulted in riots in many cities. The summer of 1919, remembered as the ‘Red Summer’ was a perfect example of the violent riots and excess of blood spilled in the cities during these riots. The Great migration was a shift in labor locations and the many families that followed to support their country and show loyalty to it as well.

Wobblies: “Wobblies” was the term used for members of the Industrial Workers of the World, a Chicago Labor organization founded in 1905. They were anti-war, which many people saw as disloyal to the United States. Their enemies used this as a platform to attack them, and over 1,500 Wobblies were arrested under the espionage and sedition acts. Approximately 1,000 were convicted, and More than 100 members were sent to jail, something the IWW never recovered from. Though they were ultimately unsuccessful, the IWW represented an important part of the population, and is a group that remained staunchly opposed to the war.

Schneck v. U.S.: In 1919, Charles Schneck was tried by the Supreme Court for circulating antiwar pamphlets, giving them to men who had just enlisted. He was tried under the Espionage act, and argued that he had been denied the right of free speech. However, it was unanimously upheld that his conviction was constitutional, as it was decided that his actions represented a “clear and present danger” as the US was actively engaged in a war. This showed that there was a limit to freedom of speech if it was decided that said speech endangered national security.

Liberty Bonds: Liberty Bonds were used to help finance the war effort, and to build patriotism, the US treasury issued securities called “Liberty Bonds” in June and October 1917, and in May and October 1918. They issued them 1 more time in May 1919 to consolidate the short term debt issued during the war.

25 - The Treaty of Versailles: To Ratify or Reject?

Primary source analysis (AVMS):

Fourteen Points:

A: President Woodrow Wilson

M: The fourteen points were a collect of ideas that he would like to enact with the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. These points encouraged:


  • Peace and collective security between all who joined the league of nations

  • The restoration of and sovereignty for all nations that were occupied and/or damaged by Germany

  • Border redefined and formed with consideration for the ethnicity of the people of the regions.

S: These points represented the vision Wilson had to create a more unified Europe after its near destruction after the First World War. He hoped to join all of the world powers in through the League of Nations and eliminate the chances of facing another catastrophic conflict between them in the future.  
Treaty of Versailles:

A: Big Four (see below)


M: The Treaty of Versailles sent out the message that Germany was to be held accountable for the damages done in its futile attempts to expand the German Empire. This document stated that Germany must give up all occupied territories acquired during the war and limited its armament to an army of 100,000 men and placed bans on heavy artillery, gas, tanks, and aircrafts. These measures were taken in order to prevent Germany from re-entering war with France. Also, the Treaty formed a League of Nations that was supposed to ensure peace and security among all league powers.
S: This treaty was supposed to bring peace and unification among the European powers and yet it was drafted without the input of Russia or Germany. France, especially, was seeking revenge of Germany and through the conditions of the treaty brought Germany great poverty and humiliation. Ultimately, this “peace treaty” failed when the WWII broke out about 30 years later.

Historical Identifications

Big Four: In 1919 The "Big Four" which included, President Wilson of the United States, Prime Minister Lloyd George of Great Britain, Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau of France and Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando of Italy, dominated the Paris peace conference and made the important decisions. Wilson pushed for inclusion of his Fourteen Points especially the League of Nations. Many of his proposals, however, clashed with the secret treaties and territorial rearrangements already made by the other three European powers, thus causing conflict between the four main powers.  
War-guilt clause: In 1919 the treaty of Versailles had an opening article that held   Germany responsible for World War I and required it to make reparations to the Allied nations to pay for losses and damages they suffered during the war. Lloyd George insisted that Germany accept responsibility for starting the war. The treaty required Germans to pay $33 billion in reparations to the Allies. The significance of this clause in the path to WWII is mainly that Germany took on paying damages, but there is also the fact that this clause infuriated many Germans. The Germans resented the war-guilt clause, fearing that the payments would cripple their economic recovery from war.
Reservationist:  After the close of World War 1 the US senate was trying to ratify the treaty of Versailles.  The US senate was divided on their view of the treaty and separated into different groups one of the groups being the reservationists. The reservationists believed in the treaty and its cause but wanted changes to be done to certain segments of it. This group was important because they did support the treaty and would vote yes for it but the changes they wanted to the treaty would make it so the US could not be dragged into European affairs without senate approval.

Irreconcilable: The Irreconcilable was a group of 16 republican senators in 1919 who were firmly against the treaty of Versailles. The irreconcilables were against the treaty because they felt that the US should not be involved in European affairs. This group was important because they were a section of senate that would vote no against the two-thirds vote needed and would actively take part in campaigning against President Wilsons speech’s to get the public’s support of the treaty.
Internationalist: In the 1919 treaty of Versailles there was a group of mostly US Senate Democrats which were known as internationalists. They supported everything the Treaty of Versailles had to offer and believed it would be a huge benefit to the United States to take its “rightful” place in the world community by becoming a member of the league of nation, even if that meant they'd have to go to war. While other groups of people were very against the Treaty of Versailles they opposed the fact that it might bring the US into an international organization leading to war.
Reparations: In 1919 the treaty of Versailles had article 231 put in which had put the blame for all damages and losses from World War I on the Germans and their allies. In 1921 the price that Germany would have to pay was set and had been decided that they would pay 13 billion euros which is the equivalent to 64 billion us dollars. This had all been decided on by the governments of the allied forces after assessing the damage of each country affected during the war. This threw Germany into a large scale depression throughout most of the 1920’s. Later on this debt would be added on with the debt from World War II and would throw Germany into a debt that wouldn’t be paid off until October 4, 2010.
League of Nations: The League of Nations was an international organization that was headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. This organization was put together in hopes of stopping another World War from happening. The organization started to break apart as tension grew between nations in Europe. After many nations lost faith in the organization working they had broken apart and once World War II had started the organization had been destroyed.



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