The Decade Of 1910 Essay, Research Paper
The decade of 1910 was a decade of important presidential decisions as well as a decade of establishing the United States as a world power. The outbreak of World War I in Europe in August 1914 created many challenges to Wilson s skill and leadership in foreign affairs. (Ferrell, 110) In spite of the appeals of propagandists for the rival Allies and Central Powers, most of the U.S. was neutral on the subject and felt involvement was unnecessary unless Americans rights and interests were being violated. Wilson also agreed with the public, and in August he issued an official Proclamation of Neutrality and two weeks later appealed to Americans to be impartial in thought as well as in action. (Bailey, 178) On January 22, 1917, the German government began unrestricted submarine warfare once again. Once five U.S. submarine s had been sunk by April, Wilson asked congress for a declaration of war. Immediately, the government began to gather its military resources. By October 1918, on the eve of allied victory, a U.S. army of over 1,750,000 soldiers had been deployed in France. President Wilson played a large part in creating an early end to the war by defining the war aims of the Allies, and by insisting that the struggle was being waged not against the German people but against their absolute government. His famous Fourteen Points, given to the Senate in January 1918 to be used as the basis for peace, asked for a guaranteed freedom of the seas as well as freedom of trade. It also called for a overall nicer world in general asking for Open negotiations, and the creation of the League of Nations so that foreign problems could be settled without war. (Ferrell, 125) Other points were in the interest of smaller countries attempting to make them equal and trying to guarantee that the earth would stay democratic. The Fourteenth Point constituted a major part of Wilson s Arch of Peace , the formation of an association of nations created mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. (Bailey, 245) The U.S. Navy was key in helping the British break the submarine blockade, and in the summer of 1918, a group of American troops, under the command of General John J. Pershing, Played a necessary role on land. In November, American forces took part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, which broke Germany s Hindenburg Line. By the summer of 1918, when Germany s armies were being beaten back, the German government appealed to Wilson to negotiate on the basis of the Fourteen Points. The president then spoke with the Allies, who agreed to the German proposal. An armistice between them was signed on November 11. The transition from war to peace was, for many, turbulent. A massive influenza epidemic, which had spread rapidly throughout Europe in 1917, broke out in the United States in the spring of 1918. Before it vanished a year later, as mysteriously as it had begun, it claimed the lives of more than half-a-million Americans. The immediate economic boom right after the war led to high expectations that were quickly sunk once the postwar economy returned to normal. In turn, labor became dissatisfied with the rising costs of living, long hours and unsympathetic management. In 1919 alone, over four million workers went on strike. During that summer, race riots broke out in both the North and South. Yet the event that triggered the greatest national concern had occurred two years earlier outside the United States: the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia. With morale low, Americans became fearful that, just as a small group had seized power in Russia, so could a similar group take over the United States. This fear came apparent when, in April 1919, the postal service intercepted nearly 40 bombs addressed to prominent citizens. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer set up a new office of general intelligence within the Justice Department, and appointed J. Edgar Hoover as its head. Hoover began collecting files on known radicals, and raids on various organizations led to deportations of scores of people. Although Palmer s dire warnings continued to fuel what became known as the Red Scare, the threats never materialized; and by the summer of 1920, the American people realized that the United States was safe from anarchy. In the election of 1912 republican activists were determined to prevent Taft s re-nomination in 1912. They found their leader in Roosevelt, who had become increasingly alienated from Taft and who made a strong campaign for the presidential nominations in the winter and spring of 1912. Democrats had taken the 1910 congressional and gubernatorial elections; and, after the disruption of the Republican Party in the spring of 1912, it was obvious that almost any passable Democrat could win the presidency in that year. Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton University, who had made a brilliant Progressive record as governor of New Jersey, was nominated by the Democrats on the 46th ballot. (Bailey, 95) The real contest was between Roosevelt and Wilson in the election of 1912, not Taft and Roosevelt for control of the Progressive majority. Campaigning on a platform that he called the New Nationalism, Roosevelt demanded control of big business through a strong federal commission and tax reform. (Bailey, 236) In contrast Wilson seemed conservative with a program he called the New Freedom; it was an effort to destroy monopoly and to open the doors of economic opportunity to small businessmen through drastic tariff reduction and banking reform. (Bailey, 237) As a result Wilson won a large majority of electoral votes, though receiving only about 42 percent of the popular vote resulting in his election to office.
As president, Wilson s interest was in politics at home in the U.S., although he had to deal primarily with foreign affairs while in the White House; and before the end of his presidency he had become one of the most commanding figures in world affairs. He was a strong president in the conduct of foreign policy, writing most of the important diplomatic messages of his government and making all-important decisions himself. If Wilson had followed conventional policy and the urgings of Americans with interests in Mexico, he might have acted differently. Under Wilson s presidency the U.S. State Department sent several strong protests to London, particularly against British suppression of American exports of food and raw materials to Germany. Anglo-American blockade controversies were not small; however, because the British put their blockade controls into effect gradually, always paid for goods seized, argued persuasively that in a total war food and raw materials were as essential as guns and ammunition, and pointed out that they, the British, were simply following blockade precedents established by the United States itself during the American Civil War. As a result of the unspoken Anglo-American agreement, the United States soon became the chief external source of supply for the food, raw materials, and munitions that fed the British and French war machines. (Schmitt, 231) In addition, and in accordance with the strict rules of neutrality, the Wilson administration permitted the allied governments to borrow more than 2 billion dollars in order to finance the war trade. At the same time, the president resisted all efforts by German Americans for an arms embargo on the ground that such a measure would be largely unneutral toward the Allies. Many important events and developments also happened during the decade of 1910 other than the war and election of 1912. By 1910, advances in travel were becoming front-page news. The coming of the war gave a great stimulus to the development of the aircraft. On land, the railway was being challenged by the motor car, which was replacing horse-drawn transport on the roads. In the years before World War One, there was enormous confidence in science and technology. Marie Curie and her 17 year-old daughter Irene spent 1915 touring the battlefields in their radiological car, using X-rays to probe the bodies of injured soldiers. (Fisher, 41) Then, in 1912, came a disaster which shook this confidence the sinking of the Titanic. The Titanic was launched as the largest and most modern ship in the world. On April 10, 1912, the Titanic left Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York. The cruise across the Atlantic was uneventful until April 14, when the ship sailed into floating ice. The night was completely calm and clear, with plenty of stars but no moon. There was no wind which meant there were no small waves that would have helped show up icebergs in the darkness. (Fisher, 18) As a result the ship sank and 1500 people died. The mobilization of millions of men for the armed forces left so many jobs vacant at home that they could only be filled by employing women. The suffragettes, who had been attacking the government, swung around and demanded the right to serve the war effort. Before the war women had worked in only a very small number of occupations, mainly as servants, and had been told they were not strong enough to work in factories, or bright enough to work with their brains or even vote. (Fisher, 39) Now they were given all sorts of jobs to do, and astonished men by how well they worked. At this time the average U.S. workingman earns less than $15 per week, his working hours range from 54 to 60 hours, and there is wide irregularity of employment. (Trager, 733) Another important event was that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded at New York. Eight out of ten U.S. blacks still live in the 11 states of the Old Confederacy, but a great migration begins that will bring more than 2 million blacks to the North. (Trager, 733) In 1910 the U.S. population reaches 92 million with 13.5 million of it foreign born. Just over half live in cities and towns of 2,500 or more, up from 21 percent in 1860. (Trager, 738) In 1912 A new Homestead Act reduces from 5 years to 3 years the residence requirements of U.S. homesteaders. (Trager, 750) President Wilson s administration created a U.S. Department of Labor in response to many demands. (Trager, 751) During the early part of the decade the Supreme Court broke up James B. Duke s American Tobacco Company Trust of 1890 as well as John D. Rockefeller s Standard Oil Company trust. (Trager, 739) In conclusion, as you can see there were many important events which made the decade of 1910 one of important presidential decisions as well as a decade of establishing the United States as a world power. The arrival of World War I was one of the biggest events in U.S. world history so far, it was a main event which effected our power for the future. Without the war and the actions taken by Wilson during the war the United States may not have been in the same situation it is in today. Wilson s presidency as well as the election of 1912 also played a big part in the decade of 1910 and contributed to the essence of it. Many smaller events although not nearly as large scale as Wilson s presidency and the war were also important, such as the sinking of the Titanic which took 1500 lives. All these events I talked about contribute to the essence of the decade and make the decade of 1910 a decade I will never forget and I know you wont either.