, Research Paper
The Effects of the Great War The Great War has been called by many the most destructive war in history. The Great War brought a different kind of war to America. The Great War effected America in so many different ways culturally, economically. The Great War was predicted to be a short war, but waged on for four long and bloody years, destroying and reshaping the map of Europe. The war the world powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy known as the central powers. Also known, as the Allies were Great Britain, France, and Russia. The U.S. had many battles to fight before its involvement into The Great War. America lead by Woodrow Wilson brought forth a proclamation of neutrality, urging the citizens to be impartial. With this Wilson found himself in a battle at the home front with so many different ethnic that were directly tied to the war. With a population of 92 million in 1914 about one-third were either foreign born or having parents that were immigrants. The U.S. was being bombarded with propaganda campaigns from both sides. Great Britain used the advantage of a common language with reports of the Germans looting, raping, and killing innocent civilians. Germany used the propaganda trying to use the tension between the U.S. and Russia knowing that there was no love loss between the two. One very important factor with America trying to stay neutral was the trade barriers between the two sides. At first the neutrality was toward both sides, but with the British placing a naval blockade on shipping to Germany the neutrality became one-sided. Britain and France raised the value of trade from $82 million in 1914, to $3.2 billion in 1916. America saw that increased trade had produced a great economic boom. Thus making the neutrality one-sided. With the U.S. trading with Great Britain we knew this was going to cause problems in the long run. Several reasons caused the U.S. to start preparing for war. One was on May 7, 1915 a German U-boat sunk the Lusitania, a British liner, off the coast of Ireland. With 128 Americans dying Wilson denounced the act as inhuman, and the press called the act barbaric. Almost a year later in March another U-boat sank the Sussex, which was a French passenger ship that was carrying four Americans. The effects of the two German attacks caused the U.S. to start preparing for the Great War, the regular Army more than doubled in size with the passing of the National Defence Act. Also increased spending on battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. Like many wars not all Americans approved of the preparation for war. The U.S. was torn between large German communities, the political side, and even the women of the U.S. all protesting the strong build up. Along with war Wilson found himself in the middle of a presidential campaign. During this campaign the Democrats adopted the winning slogan “He kept us out of war.” While armed with this slogan Wilson pulled many votes out of the west and the Antiwar Socialists Party. Wilson also used the booming prosperity of the country to defeat the opposition.
Wilson knew that the involvement of the U.S. in the Great War was soon coming with Germany announcing a new policy of unrestricted submarine warfare with no warning, against all neutral and belligerent shipping. Knowing that it might bring the U.S. into the war. On April 2, Wilson reviewed the escalation of submarine warfare, which he called “warfare against mankind” and said the neutrality could no longer be ignored. Wilson won over most of his critics, the congress, and the press. President Wilson signed the declaration of war on April 6, 1917. Wilson knew that with him signing the declaration he would have to win over the public, and pull them together and unify to make this mobilisation work. The Committee on Public Information was organized to get the public opinion. The CPI had three major themes: America as a unified moral community; the war was an idealistic crusade for peace and freedom; and the image of the despicable enemy. The CPI also urged ethnic groups to abandon their Old World ties and the Americans for freedom. Along with pulling the country together, organizing the economy became very important. In 1917 Congress was battling not only the war oversees, but also the war of the economy. With the price of the war around $33 billion and rising congress was faced with its biggest challenge. In August Congress passed the Food and Fuel Act. The Food and Fuel Act allowed the regulation of the production and distribution of the food and fuel necessary for the war. Herbert Hoover, a millionaire who was famous for directing the Belgian relief, was placed in charge of the Food Administration. The Great War became a business for the U.S. The war meant high profits and expansion for many American businesses. U.S. Manufacturers jumped from $600 million to over $2.5 billion in three years. Many companies doubled their profits in a matter of years, an example of these businesses are United States Steel, Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Du Pont and also many farm industries. Another very important aspect of the rapid growth of the industries was the involvement of women workers. While the men were oversees fighting for freedom the women had been moved from domestic workers to industrial workers. Women were involved in munition plants, train engineers, drill press operators, streetcar conductors, and mail carriers. The involvement of the U.S. in the Great War might appear to be slight, but it had a huge impact on the home front. The war pulled the American citizens together for one general purpose and succeeded. The war proved to the public the great uses of the government with new social issues such as women working out of the house, organized labor, prohibition, and the desire for “normalcy”. It also provoked what many call the second industrial revolution. Overall the nation endured a great economic change. We saw greater production, a steady climb in wages, and average work week declined.
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