World War I how does the First World War (also known as the Great War or ww1) change the us? Politically, economically, and socially? Wwi’s Importance for us

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World War I
How does the First World War (also known as the Great War or WW1) change the US? Politically, economically, and socially?
WWI’s Importance for US

  • State power increases- administrative agencies created to coordinate war effort

  • World leader- US becomes world leader (not after WWII as commonly believed)

  • Industrial growth increases- massive military buildup; government partnership to coordinate war effort

  • Inclusive-blacks and women absorbed into workforce for war effort

  • Mass culture- use of propaganda and mass media

General Causes of World War I

  • France/Britain traditional military powers; industrialization increases military/naval power

  • Germany unifies in 1870- relatively new nation-state formed out of the old Holy Roman Empire


  • Imperialism brought about European hostilities and war; tensions beneath the surface

  • British in Boer War, South Africa 1899-02

  • German demands in French controlled Morocco, 1905


  • Alliances solidify around 1907

  • France, Britain, Russia form the Allies

  • Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy form the Central Powers

  • France and Britain mostly afraid of Germany


  • Time of great nationalist fervor

  • Jingoism; fervent nationalism leads to war- idea my country is better than your country

  • Nationalism fuels hostilities

Immediate Causes (Spark) of WW1
Ottoman Succession/Balkans

  • Ottoman Empire’s (present day Turkey) power diminishes throughout 19th century, recedes from Balkans

  • Creates power vacuum

  • Balkan region often called a powder keg


  • Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina 1908

  • Enrages Serbia and Russia, both Slavic nations (wanted Bosnia-Herzegovina)

  • Russian and Austria-Hungary vie for control in Balkan region

  • Serbian nationalist (Black Hand), Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Archduke Ferdinand, heir to Austria-Hungary throne, 1914

  • Austria-Hungary places an ultimatum on Serbia; Serbia rejects

War Declared

  • Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia July 28, 1914

  • Russia mobilized to defend Serbia

  • Germany then declares war on Russia, which involves the Entente- Britain and France

  • Alliances activated

US Involvement

  • Wilson claimed US neutrality “neutral in fact as well as in name, impartial in thought as well as in action”.

  • Wilson’s idea was to keep US out of war to influence settlement

  • US policy neutrality/isolation

Antiwar divisions:

  • Pacifists

  • Progressives

  • Political left/labor

  • Henry Ford/Carnegie

  • African American leaders “white man’s war”

High Seas

  • US may have remained neutral but…..

  • Britain applied blockade on Central Power, preventing trade with neutral nations

  • Clear violation of international law (Declaration of London, 1909)

  • Intent to starve Germany

  • Trade with Allies 1914: $824 million 1916: $3.2 million

  • May 1, 1915, Germans sink British luxury ship Lusitania, killing 128 Americans

  • Germans stop U-boat attacks keeping US out of war


  • Germany declares unrestricted U-boat attacks

  • US broke off diplomatic relations

  • Release of the “Zimmerman telegram” – telegram intercepted from Germany to Mexico. Germans told Mexico that they attack the US and win they will get back lost lands.

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