Chapter 31: The War to End War 1917-1918

  • Jan 1917 Wilson made peace message
  • Germans responded with decision to wage unrestricted submarine warfare on all ships in the war zone.
  • Wilson took back "diplomatic relations," but still would wait until Germans started something, and "overt act" to declare war.

War by Act of Germany:

  • Wilson moved to arm merchant ships (opposition from midwestern Senators)
  • German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann wrote letter proposing German-Mexican alliance and promising to recover NM, TX, and AZ to Mexico. The letter was published and Americans outraged!
  • German U-boats sank 4 American merchant ships - overt act!
  • April 2, 1917 - Wilson declares war to Congress
  • Wilson really had wanted to stay out of the war, 56 members of Congress voted against war - midwest especially was against it.
  • Wilson preached hat it was "a war to end war" and "to make the world safe for democracy"
  • The US would either be isolationists or crusaders - and they chose CRUSADERS!

Wilson's 14 Points:

  • Read handout w/ 14 points
  • Wilson = moral leader of Allied cause
  • Stressed self-determination for minority groups
  • 14th point foreshadowed League of Nations

Creel Manipulates Minds:

  • Committee of Public Information created - headed by George Creel -> Sell America on the war and the world on Wilsonian war aims
  • Propaganda: pep speeches, posters, pamphlets, anti-kaiser movies, songs "Over There"
  • Raised expectations too much

Enforcing Loyalty and Stifling Dissent:

  • Fear of German spies and hatred of Germans throughout US
  • Espionage Act of 1917, Sedition Act of 1918 - antiwar Socialists (Eugene V. Debs) and Industrial Workers of the World (William D. Haywood) were convicted
  • Schenck vs. US - 1919 - Supreme court ruled Espionage and Sedition acts legal - freedom of speech could be revoked when they posed "clear and present danger"

The Nation's Factories Go to War:

  • Wilson had created Council of National Defense in 1915. Launched shipbuilding program. Army.
  • Laissez-faire loving Americans were against federal economic control - even durhing war.
  • War Industries Board (Bernard Baruch) created -weak.

Workers in Wartime:

  • 1918: "work or fight" - unemployed men would be drafted (discouraged strikes).
  • National War Labor Board (Taft) - pressed employers to grant concessions to labor but didn't guarantee right of unions
  • Samual Gompers and AFL supported war. IWW ("I won't work's) - industrial sabotage (but in their defense, they did have pretty bad working conditions).
  • Mainstream laborers wages rose by 20% over prewar wages, but it was still hard for laborers because of wartime inflation
  • 1919 HUGE steel strike, wanted employers to recognize their right to organize and bargain. Replaced them with black workers and they lost the strike.
  • Blacks trekked North for war-industry jobs and became strike-breakers. Riots and interracial violence broke out, esp. in Chicago.

Suffering Until Suffrage:

  • Women took over men's jobs in factories and fields during war.
  • Progressive-era women pacifists: National Woman's Party (Alice Paul) => marches and hunger strikes.
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association supported war => women must take part in war effort
  • 1920: 19th amendment - woman suffrage (endorsed by Wilson as necessary war measure)
  • Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act of 1921 - provided federally financed instruction in maternal and infant health care.

Forging a War Economy:

  • Food Administration (Herbert Hoover) -> voluntary compliance to save food (propaganda): Wheatless Wednesdays and Meatless Tuesdays
  • Congress restricted use of foodstuffs to produce alcohol -> 18th amendment - prohibition -1919.
  • Farm production and food exports increased.
  • Hoover's "optional" method also used for feul saving.
  • Liberty Loan drives - 2/3 of US's war costs...the rest was paid with obligatory increased taxes
  • Pressure to buy war bonds
  • Federal government took over railroads in 1917
  • Needed ships! Seized enemy merchant vessels, wooden-ship program undertaken.

Making Plowboys into Doughboys:

  • America helped Allies with navy in seas and supplied $10 billion in loans, but they needed manpower
  • Contraversial (and reluctant by Wilson) draft bill went through Congress -> required registration of all males 18-45 - no buy your way out (although shipbuilders and such were exempt)
  • About 337,000 "slackers" escaped draft. Women were admitted to armed forces. Blacks had segregated units and usually did grunt work.

Fighting in France:

  • Now Communist Russia dropped out - Germans headed from Russia to France.
  • About 1 year after Congress declared war, US soldiers "trainees" started coming to France.
  • Small US detachments also sent to Belgium, Italy, Russia (Archangel N. Russia and Siberia to protect from Japs and such)

America Helps Hammer the "Hun":

  • 1918 - Germans marched to France. United Allies blocked with American troops! youthful Americans had replaced Russian as an Ally power
  • 2nd Battle of the Marne = beginning of German withdrawal.
  • US got their own front in northern France under John J. Pershing => Meuse-Argonne offensive (cute German railroad lines etc, 47 days, 1.2 million US troops, biggest battle in US history)
  • Germans ready to end it: their allies deserting them, British blockaed causing FOOD SHORTAGES, Allies had got 'em good

The Fourteen Points Disarm Germany:

  • Germany turned to Wilson in 1918, seeking peace based on 14 points. Kaiser go the boot.
  • Germans laid down guns 11/11/1918. Americans rejoiced.
  • US had mainly contributed foodstuffs, munitions, credits, oil, and manpower - not battlefield victories. The prospect of US troops is what demoralized Germans.

Wilson Steps Down from Olympus:

  • Wilson had beomce a moral leader of the world
  • 1918 Congressional elections put Republican majority in Congress.
  • Wilson's decision to go to Paris himself for peace negociations infuriated Republicans.
  • The most logical choice to bring with him would be Senator Henry Cabot Lodge - a republican scholar in politics, but Wilson loathed him, and the feeling was mutual.

An Idealist Battles the Imperialists in Paris:

  • Paris Conference = "Big Four" - Wilson, Premier Vittorio Orlando (Italy), Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Britain), Premier Georges Clemenceau (France)
  • Wilson forced through a compromise between naked imperialism and Wilsonian idealism - victors would recieve conquered territories as 'trustees' of the League of Nations (Syria->France) (Iraq->Britain)
  • Wilson's brainchild: League of Nations - assembly with seats for all nations. February 1919 Old World Diplomats agreed to make the League Covenant.

Hammering Out the Treaty:

  • Back in US, Republican Senators (Lodge, William Borah, Hiram Johnson) against League of Nations. Republican majority refused to sign LoN bill until it was perfect -> put US at the mercy of France.
  • French Clemenceau wanted German Rhineland and Saar Valley - Wilson opposed this violation of self-determination, but compromised: Saar basin would remain under LoN for 15 years, and then popular vote would determine its fate.
  • Secturity Treaty: Britain and US pledged to come to France's aid in the event of another German invasion -> pact invalidated by US congress (they believed it obstructed Congress' right to declare war)
  • Italy wanted seaport Fiume, Wilson insisted it go to Yugoslavia, Italy got mad and went home
  • Japan wanted China's Shandong peninsula, Wilson opposed, but then accepted proposal that Japan would get it now and return it to China later.

The Peace Treaty That Bred a New War:

  • Completed Treaty of Versailles had only about 4 of Wilson's original points - Germans mad (forced to sign)
  • Compromise at Paris was necessary or there would be no agreement.
  • Wilson wasn't happy, he was aware of injustices and hoped to fix them later
  • Isolationists against LoN - wanted no alliances
  • Hun-hunters thought treaty no harsh enough, liberals though it too harsh. Irish-Americans thought it gave Britain too much power.

Wilson's Tour and Collapse (1919):

  • The Republicans in Congress had no real hope of defeating the Treaty of Versailles; they hoped to rather "Americanize" or "Republicanize" it so that the Republicans could claim political credit for the changes.
    In an attempt to speed up the passing of the treaty in the Senate, President Wilson decided to go to the country in a speechmaking tour. He would appeal over the heads of the Senate to the sovereign people. The speeches in the Midwest did not go as well as in the Rocky Mountain region and on the Pacific Coast.
    On his return to Washington, Wilson suffered a stroke and suffered from physical and nervous exhaustion.

Defeat Through Deadlock:

  • Senator Lodge, a critic to the president, came up with fourteen reservations to the Treaty of Versailles. These safeguards reserved the rights of the U.S. under the Monroe Doctrine and the Constitution and otherwise sought to protect American sovereignty.
    Wilson pushed the Senate to reject the Treaty twice, the Treaty of Versailles was defeated. WILSON WANTED ALL OR NOTHING.
  • The Lodge-Wilson personal feud, traditionalism, isolationism, disillusionment, and partisanship all contributed to the defeat of the treaty.

The "Solemn Referendum" of 1920:

  • Wilson proposed to settle the treaty issue in the upcoming presidential campaign of 1920 by appealing to the people for a "solemn referendum."
    The Republicans chose Senator Warren G. Harding as their presidential nominee for the election of 1920. Their vice-presidential nominee was Governor Calvin Coolidge. The Republican platform wasn't specific on their views - appealed to both pro-League and anti-League sentiment in the party. Promoted "an association of nations" but necessarily the League.
    Democrats nominated pro-League Governor James. M. Cox as their presidential hopeful and chose Franklin D. Roosevelt as their vice-presidential nominee.
    Warren Harding won the election of 1920. Harding's victory lead to the death of the League of Nations.

The Betrayal of Great Expectations:

  • The Treaty of Versailles was the only one of the four peace treaties not to succeed.
    After the war, America did not embrace the role of global leader. In the interests of its own security, the United States should have used its enormous strength to shape world-shaking events. It instead permitted the world to drift towards yet another war.