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5 Point Essay

The US and World War I

War clouds in Europe. In 1914, long-standing problems among European nations led to the outbreak of World War I. In this fierce, destructive struggle, the Central Powers (Germany and a few other nations) lined up against the Allies (France, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, and many smaller countries). Before long, events would drag the United States into the war and test its new role as a world power.

World War I and the peace

The United States stayed out of World War I until 1917. But then, German acts of aggression convinced President Wilson and most other Americans of the need to join the war against Germany in order to make the world "safe for democracy." For the first time in its history, the United States mobilized for a full-scale war on foreign territory. About 2 million American fighting men soon crossed the Atlantic in troopships. The doughboys, as the troops were called, played an important role in the Allied victory in 1918.

The decade following World War I brought sweeping changes to American life. The economy entered a period of spectacular-though uneven-growth. Spurred on by the good times and a desire to be "modern," large numbers of Americans adopted new attitudes and lifestyles. The booming economy and fast-paced life of the decade gave it the nickname of the Roaring Twenties. But the good times ended abruptly. In 1929, a stock market crash triggered the worst and longest depression in America's history.

The United States in the war. After World War I began in 1914, the United States repeatedly stated its position of neutrality. But increasingly, German acts of aggression brought America closer to joining the Allies. On May 7, 1915, a German submarine sank the British passenger ship Lusitania. The attack killed 1,201 people, including 128 American passengers. Wilson and other Americans bitterly protested this killing of defenseless civilians, and Germany agreed to stop such attacks.

Wilson won reelection to the presidency in November 1916, using the slogan, "He Kept Us Out of War." But three months later, German submarines began sinking American merchant ships. This and other acts of aggression led the United States to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

The American people rallied around their government's decision to go to war. Almost 2 million men volunteered for service, and about 3 million were drafted. The doughboys fought valiantly in the trenches, forests, and fields of France and helped the battered Allies turn back a major German offensive. On the home front, the spirit of patriotism grew to a fever pitch. Americans willingly let the government take near full control of the economy for the good of the war effort. The people bought billions of dollars worth of Liberty Bonds to help pay the cost of the war. Movie stars, including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, toured the country to promote bond sales. Fiery patriotic songs such as George M. Cohan's "Over There" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" gave a lift to the spirits of the doughboys and the public alike.

World War I ended in an Allied victory with the signing of an armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. For a detailed account of the conflict, see WORLD WAR I..

The peace conference and treaty. In 1919, the Allies held the Paris Peace Conference to draw up the terms of the peace with Germany. Wilson viewed the conference as an opportunity to establish lasting peace among nations. He proposed a list of terms called the Fourteen Points to be used as a guide for the peace settlement. The terms included arms reductions and settlement of disputed territorial claims (see FOURTEEN POINTS). But the other leading Allies were chiefly interested in gaining territory and war payments from Germany. They adopted the Treaty of Versailles, which ignored almost all of Wilson's proposals. The treaty stripped Germany of its armed forces and much territory, and forced it to pay high war damages.

The Treaty of Versailles did make provision for one of Wilson's proposals-an association of nations (later called the League of Nations) that would work to maintain peace. But Wilson suffered a final blow to his peace plans when the United States Senate failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. Thus, the Senate rejected U.S. participation in the League of Nations. Failure of theUS to participate was due to; (1) Democractic president Wilson didn’t court the Republican Senate, (2) Wilson’s health was poor, (3)isolationism spread in US after WWI.
7. Analyze the impact of U.S. participation in World War II, with emphasis on the change from isolationism to international involvement including the reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Isolationism, pronounced y suh LAY shuh nihz uhm, is the doctrine of people who believe a nation should hold itself separate from other nations. Strict isolationists believe it is a mistake for their countries to become involved in international trade agreements or mutual-assistance pacts. Less radical isolationists argue that nations should limit international involvement so as not to draw themselves into undesirable and dangerous conflicts.

America First Committee, founded in September 1940, was the most powerful isolationist group in America before the United States entered World War II. It had over 800,000 members, who wanted to keep America neutral. It tried to influence public opinion through publications and speeches. America First disagreed with another powerful group, the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. Both groups wanted to build American defenses and keep America out of the war. But the Committee to Defend America argued that the best way to remain neutral was to aid Britain. America First thought it more important to stay out of the war than to assure a British victory. America First was dissolved four days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Cold War is the term used to describe the intense rivalry that developed after World War II between groups of Communist and non-Communist nations. On one side were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and its Communist allies, often referred to as the Eastern bloc. On the other side were the United States and its democratic allies, usually referred to as the Western bloc. The struggle was called the Cold War because it did not actually lead to fighting, or "hot" war, on a wide scale.

The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion, and misunderstandings by both the United States and the Soviet Union, and their allies. At times, these conditions increased the likelihood of a third world war. The United States accused the Soviet Union of seeking to expand Communism throughout the world. The Soviets, meanwhile, charged the United States with practicing imperialism and with attempting to stop revolutionary activity in other countries. Each bloc's vision of the world also contributed to East-West tension. The United States wanted a world of independent nations based on democratic principles. The Soviet Union, however, attempted to tightly control areas it considered vital to its national interest, including much of Eastern Europe. For a discussion of the principles of Communism and democracy, see COMMUNISM and DEMOCRACY.

The Containment Policy. In the fall of 1946, Greek Communists revolted against the Greek government. The United Kingdom had been giving military and economic aid to Greece. But the British told the United States they could no longer give enough help to the Greeks. The British also warned that they could not help Turkey resist Communist pressure.

In March 1947, President Truman declared that the United States would help any free nation resist Communist aggression (attack). Congress granted his request for $400 million for aid to Greece and Turkey. With this aid, both Greece and Turkey successfully resisted Communism. The new American policy became known as the Truman Doctrine. Aimed at Soviet expansion in Europe and the Middle East, the Truman Doctrine developed into the Containment Policy. The Containment Policy was designed to contain (hold back) the expansion of Communism throughout the world.

The foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union met in Moscow in March and April 1947. They tried to draw up a German peace treaty. But the ministers could not agree on ways to end the occupation or on how to unify Germany.

The failure of the conference convinced U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall that the U.S.S.R. would not help Europe recover from World War II. In June 1947, Marshall proposed giving U.S. economic aid to all European nations that would cooperate in plans for their own recovery. This proposal grew into the European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan, which began in 1948. The United States believed that a strong, stable Western Europe would block the spread of Communism. Meanwhile, in September 1947, the U.S.S.R. and eight other European Communist parties set up the Cominform, a new version of the Communist International. See MARSHALL PLAN.

Czechoslovakia and Poland wanted to take part in the Marshall Plan, but the U.S.S.R. would not let them accept U.S. aid. Instead, the Soviet Union set up the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) in January 1949. This organization was designed to unite the East European satellites economically and politically.

In June 1948, the Western Allies announced plans to unify their German occupation zones and establish the West German Federal Republic (West Germany). West Germany was formally established in September 1949. It had independence in some of its internal affairs, and it joined the Marshall Plan.

Also in June 1948, the U.S.S.R. harshly criticized Tito, the Communist leader of Yugoslavia. Tito then began to develop his own style of Communism for Yugoslavia, free from Soviet control.

The Berlin blockade was the Soviet answer to the West's plans for West Germany. In June 1948, Soviet troops blocked all railroad, highway, and water traffic through East Germany to West Berlin. The city lay 110 miles (177 kilometers) inside the Soviet occupation zone. The Soviet leaders thought their blockade would force the West to leave Berlin. Instead of pulling out of West Berlin, the Americans, British, and French set up the Berlin Airlift. For 11 months, West Berlin was supplied with food and fuel entirely by airplanes. The U.S.S.R. lifted the blockade in May 1949. The Allies ended the airlift in September.

The Cuban missile crisis. In October 1962, the United States learned that the U.S.S.R. had secretly installed missiles and missile bases in Cuba, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) from Florida. President Kennedy demanded that the U.S.S.R. remove them. He set up naval "quarantine" of Cuba. The U.S.S.R. said that it would not remove the missiles unless the
United States promised not to invade Cuba and removed its nuclear missiles from Turkey. Kennedy privately agreed to the first proposal and publicly agreed to the second. After a week of extreme tension, Khrushchev removed the Soviet missiles.

The Korean War. At the end of World War II, Soviet troops occupied North Korea and U.S. forces occupied South Korea. The North Koreans had a strong army. They got Soviet military aid even after Soviet troops withdrew from North Korea late in 1948. The United States withdrew its forces from South Korea in June 1949.

North Korean troops invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, and the Korean War began. On June 27, President Truman sent U.S. forces to aid the South Koreans. At the request of the United States, the United Nations Security Council voted to send UN troops to help South Korea. The Soviet delegation was boycotting (not attending) the council, and missed a chance to veto the decision. Sixteen UN member nations sent troops to help South Korea, and Chinese Communist troops aided the North Koreans.

Peace talks began in July 1951. They went on for two years while bloody fighting continued. Finally, in July 1953, representatives of the UN and the Communists signed an armistice. In 1954, representatives of both sides met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a political settlement. But they could not agree on a way to unite North and South Korea.

The Korean War was the first war in which troops of a world organization fought an aggressor nation. For the first time, Americans fought a "hot war" against Communism. Some historians believe the Korean War was a major turning point in the Cold War. It extended the Containment Policy to the Far East. It also introduced limited warfare to the East-West conflict as a substitute to all-out-and possibly nuclear-war. Each side avoided attacking targets that could have led to expansion of the war. And each side limited the weapons it used and the territory in which it would fight.

The Vietnam War threatened to turn the Cold War into a general hot war. During the early 1960's, the United States stepped up its support of South Vietnam against the Communist Viet Cong forces. The United States blamed the struggle on Communist North Vietnam, viewing the war as "aggression from the north."

The United States gradually escalated (increased) its military effort. In 1965, it began large-scale bombing of North Vietnam. By 1968, over 500,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese received war materials from the Soviet Union and China.

The fighting spread throughout Indochina. Cambodia and Laos, both of which bordered South Vietnam, tried to stay neutral. But Communist forces used both countries as bases for raids into South Vietnam, and the two nations were drawn into the war. Thailand backed the West in the struggle. The United States used bases there for bombing raids on North Vietnam.

Peace talks started in Paris in May 1968. But the talks stalled, and the fighting went on. In 1969, the United States established new training programs to help the South Vietnamese take over most of the fighting. This policy became known as Vietnamization. Also in 1969, President Richard M. Nixon began to gradually reduce the number of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. In 1973, the United States completed its withdrawal of ground forces. The war ended in 1975, after Communist troops conquered South Vietnam.

Distrust of foreigners also set off a nationwide panic called the Red Scare. Many Americans blamed what they regarded as an international Communist conspiracy for various protest movements and union activities in 1919 and 1920. More than 2 million rural Americans joined a secret organization called the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan terrorized not only foreigners but also blacks, Jews, and Roman Catholics.

Woman suffrage is the right of women to vote. Today, women in nearly all countries have the same voting rights as men. But they did not begin to gain such rights until the early 1900's, and they had to overcome strong opposition to get them. The men and women who supported the drive for woman suffrage were called suffragists.

The 19th Amendment. A woman suffrage amendment was first introduced in

Congress in 1878. It failed to pass but was reintroduced in every session of Congress for the next 40 years.

During World War I (1914-1918), the contributions of women to the war effort increased support for a suffrage amendment. In 1918, the House of Representatives held another vote on the issue. Spectators packed the galleries, and several congressmen came to vote despite illness. One congressman was brought in on a stretcher. Representative Frederick C. Hicks of New York left his wife's deathbed--at her request--to vote for the amendment. The House approved the amendment, but the Senate defeated it. In 1919, the Senate finally passed the amendment and sent it to the states for approval.

By late August 1920, the required number of states had ratified what became the 19th Amendment. The amendment says, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

The black migration to the North. The efforts of new black leaders and of the NAACP did little to end the discrimination, police brutality, and lynchings suffered by Southern blacks during the early 1900's. In addition, Southern farmers had great crop losses because of floods and insect pests. All these problems persuaded many Southern blacks to move to the North.

During World War I (1914-1918), hundreds of thousands of Southern blacks migrated to the North to seek jobs in defense plants and other factories. The National Urban League, founded in New York City in 1910, helped the newcomers adjust to city life. Over 360,000 African Americans served in the armed forces during World War I. They were put in all-black military units.

Between 1910 and 1930, about 1 million Southern blacks moved to the North. Most of them quickly discovered that the North did not offer solutions to their problems. They lacked the skills and education needed for the jobs they sought. Many of them had to become laborers or servants and thus do the same kinds of work they had done in the South. Others could find no work at all. Numerous blacks were forced to live crowded together in cheap, unsanitary, run-down housing. Large all-black slums developed in big cities throughout the North. The segregated housing promoted segregated schooling. Poverty, crime, and despair plagued the black communities, which became known as ghettos.

After World War I, race relations grew increasingly tense in the Northern cities. The hostility partly reflected the growing competition for jobs and housing between blacks and whites. In addition, many African American veterans, after fighting for democracy, returned home with expectations of justice and equality. The mounting tension helped the Ku Klux Klan recruit thousands of members in the North. In the summer of 1918, 10 people were killed and 60 were injured in racial disturbances in Chester and Philadelphia, Pa. A series of riots erupted in the summer of 1919. By the end of the year, 25 race riots had broken out across the country. At least 100 people died and many more were injured in the riots.

After the end of World War I, many Americans were left with a feeling of distrust toward foreigners and radicals, whom they held responsible for the war. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the founding of the communists' Third International in 1919 further fanned American fears of radicalism. Race riots and labour unrest added to the tension. Thus, when a series of strikes and indiscriminate bombings began in 1919, the unrelated incidents were all assumed—incorrectly in most cases—to be communist-inspired. During the ensuing Red Scare, civil liberties were sometimes grossly violated and many innocent aliens were deported. The Red Scare was over within a year, but a general distrust of foreigners, liberal reform movements, and organized labour remained throughout the 1920s. In fact, many viewed Harding's landslide victory in 1920 as a repudiation of Wilson's internationalism and of the reforms of the Progressive era.

Changing attitudes toward foreign relations, society, and leisure revolutionized American life in the 1920's. After World War I, many Americans demanded that the United States stay out of European political affairs. The Senate refused to approve the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the war with Germany anprovided for the establishment of a League of Nations. Some senators argued that League membership could involve the United States in future European wars.

Distrust of foreigners also set off a nationwide panic called the Red Scare. Many Americans blamed what they regarded as an international Communist conspiracy for various protest movements and union activities in 1919 and 1920. More than 2 million rural Americans joined a secret organization called the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan terrorized not only foreigners but also blacks, Jews, and Roman Catholics.

Roaring Twenties
In many ways, the 1920's marked the point at which the United States began developing into the modern society it is today. During and after World War I, people continued to move from farms to cities in record numbers. The 1920 United States Census reported that, for the first time, a majority of Americans lived in urban areas. By the end of the Roaring Twenties, such features of modern life as the automobile, telephone, radio, and electric washing machine had become part of millions of American households. In 1927, aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh helped launch the modern air age when he made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

The role of American women changed dramatically during the 1920's. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which became law on Aug. 26, 1920, gave women the right to vote in all elections. In addition, many new opportunities for education and careers opened up to women during the decade.

The Harlem Renaissance. During the early 1900's, particularly in the 1920's, black literature began to flourish in Harlem, a district of New York City. This movement became known as the Harlem Renaissance. It was also called the New Negro after the title of an anthology collected by educator and writer Alain Locke. The major writers of the Harlem Renaissance were Sterling A. Brown, Countee Cullen, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Alain Locke, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer.

Investments, speculation, and the crash. The economic growth of the 1920's led more Americans than ever to invest in the stocks of corporations. The investments, in turn, provided companies with a flood of new capital for business expansion. As investors poured money into the stock market, the value of stocks soared. The upsweep led to widespread speculation, which pushed the value of stocks far beyond the level justified by earnings and dividends. Much of the speculation involved buying stocks on margin; that is, paying a fraction of the cost and borrowing the rest.

Such unsound investment practices led to the stock market crash of 1929. In late October, a decline in stock prices set in. Panic selling followed, lowering stock prices drastically and dragging investors to financial ruin. When the year ended, the government estimated that the crash had cost investors $40 billion. The stock market crash combined with the other weaknesses in the nation's economy to bring on the Great Depression of the 1930's.

The Great Depression
In October 1929 the stock market crashed, wiping out 40 percent of the paper values of common stock. Even after the stock market collapse, however, politicians and industry leaders continued to issue optimistic predictions for the nation's economy. But the Depression deepened, confidence evaporated and many lost their life savings. By 1933 the value of stock on the New York Stock Exchange was less than a fifth of what it had been at its peak in 1929. Business houses closed their doors, factories shut down and banks failed. Farm income fell some 50 percent. By 1932 approximately one out of every four Americans was unemployed.

Dust Bowl refers to a series of destructive wind and dust storms that struck the United States during the 1930's. These storms ranked among the worst environmental disasters in world history. Most of the damage occurred from 1935 to 1938 in the southern Great Plains, and so this area also became known as the Dust Bowl. Altogether, the storms damaged about 50 million acres (20 million hectares) of land, mainly in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. An additional 50 million acres were endangered before conservation measures began to take effect.

New Deal was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's program to pull the United States out of the Great Depression in the 1930's. The New Deal did not end the depression. But it relieved much economic hardship and gave Americans faith in the democratic system at a time when other nations hit by the depression turned to dictators. Roosevelt first used the term new deal when he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in 1932. "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people," he said.

World War II began on Sept. 1, 1939, when German troops overran Poland. The United Kingdom, France, and other countries (called the Allies) went to war against Germany. At first, America stayed out of the war. But on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, and on Germany and Italy-Germany's chief ally-three days later.

The war effort. The American people backed the war effort with fierce dedication. About 15 million American men served in the armed forces. They ranged from teen-agers to men well over 40. About 338,000 women served in the armed forces. At home, automobile plants and other factories were converted into defense plants where airplanes, ships, weapons, and other war supplies were made. The country had a shortage of civilian men, and so thousands of women worked in the defense plants. With a combination of humor and admiration, people called the women defense workers "Rosie the Riveter." Even children took part in the war effort. Boys and girls collected used tin cans, old tires, and other "junk" that could be recycled and used for war supplies.

Japanese internment. Japan's surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, caused the United States to enter World War II. It also stirred hostility against Japanese people in the United States. Many Americans associated Japanese Americans with the Japanese pilots who had destroyed U.S. Navy ships.

In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized military commanders to designate military areas from which "any or all persons may be excluded." The military chose to establish curfews for Japanese Americans, to remove all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast and southern Arizona, and to confine them in detention camps until their loyalty could be determined. About 110,000 Japanese were confined in 10 detention camps scattered over seven states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. They lost their homes and their jobs as a result.

Today many scholars believe these restrictive measures against Japanese Americans were both unnecessary and discriminatory. However, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the curfew in 1943 and the evacuation order in 1944, both on grounds of military necessity. But in another decision in 1944, the court ruled that holding admittedly loyal U.S. citizens in detention camps against their will was unlawful.

About 800 young Japanese Americans from the camps volunteered and served in the U.S. armed forces during the war. Most of them were part of the U.S. Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Unit. The unit fought bravely in Europe and suffered many casualties. Public opinion changed as Japanese Americans showed their loyalty to the nation.

In 1948, Congress passed the Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act. The law authorized a maximum payment of $2,500 to individual Japanese Americans as compensation for what they had lost while confined.

In 1980, Representative Norman Y. Mineta of California and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii sponsored a bill that resulted in the establishment of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. After holding numerous hearings across the country, the commission recommended that the president offer a national apology to Japanese Americans. It also called for a compensatory payment of $20,000 to surviving Japanese Americans who had been in the camps. These and other commission recommendations became law under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

1. Why did the US enter WWI?

2. What was President Wilson's Fourteen Points?

3. How did the Treaty of Versailles treat the 14 Points?

4. Why didn't the US join the League of Nations after the First World War?

5. What was isolationism? What pulled the US out of this position?

6. What was the Cold War? Why did it developed after WWII?

7. What was the purpose of containment?

8. What was the purpose of the Marshall Plan?

9. What was the Truman Doctrine?

10. Why did the USSR build the Berlin Blockade? How did the Allies react the it?

11. How was the Cuban Missile Crisis resolved?

12. Was the Korean War a Cold War success? Explain your answer.

13. Was the Vietnam War a Cold War success? Explain your answer.

14. What caused the Red Scare in the United States in the 1920's?

15. How does woman's suffrage relate to the 19th Amendment?

16. Why did many African-Americans move from the South to the North after WWI?

17. What caused racism and nativism in the post WWI time period?

18. Why did race riots develop during the period?

19. Why secret organization peaked in the 20's as a symbol of America's general intolerance?

20. Why is the decade of the 1920’s labeled as the "Roaring Twenties?"

21. What was the Harlem Renaissance?

22. How did stock speculation lead to the market crash of 1929?

23. What made the Depression of the 1930's so &"Great?"

24. What was the Dust Bowl?

25. How did the New Deal fight the Depression?

26. Why kinds of efforts were required at home in the US during WWII?

27. How is the issues of Japanese internment during WWII viewed today versus the 1940’s?