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World War I: The US Homefront

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1 World War I: The US Homefront
IB History Americas Marusak

2 America at the Outbreak of War
Isolationist Woodrow Wilson elected in 1912 & 1916 ‘Americans thanked God for the ocean moats…and congratulated themselves having had ancestors wise enough to have abandoned the hell pits of Europe.’

3 A Precarious Neutrality
Wilson issues neutrality proclamation His wife, Ellen, had just died on Aug 6th, 1914 Wilson calls on Americans to be neutral ‘in thought and deed’

4 America Wooed Germany Britain
US huge population of transplanted Germans & Austro-Hungarians Kaiser had a poor image Mustache like a villain Ruthless autocrat Germany seen as aggressor Helpless, innocent for Belgium German spy left documents on a NY elevated train Documents detailed industrial sabotage Stronger cultural & linguistic ties Stronger economic ties Controlled most transatlantic cables Censors deleted negative stories of Allies but passed on all tales of German atrocities

5 US Population Statistics
Central Powers/Allies Country Total Foreign Born or 2nd generation in US (in millions) Central Powers Germany 8.3 Austria-Hungary 2.7 Allied Powers Great Britain (including Ireland) 7.7 Russia 2.8 Italy 2.1 France & Others ?


7 The Business of War British & French war orders pull US out of recession US bankers loan Allies money to purchase US goods $2.3 billion Germany complained but the trade was legal Germany could not trade because of British blockade Britain controlled sea lanes Britain blocked German ports Britain forced US ships to go to British ports

8 Trade Between US & War Powers
Belligerent 1914 1915 1916 1916 as % of 1914 Britain $594,271,863 $911,794,954 $1,526,685,102 257% Germany $344,794,276 $ 28,863,354 $ ,899 0.08% While trade with Britain > doubles from 1914 to 1916, trade with Germany becomes negligible

9 Germany announces submarine war area around Britain in Feb 1915 in response to blockade
Unterseeboat, or U-Boat Under international law a warship is required to stop & board a commercial vessel to search But subs could easily be sunk if they surfaced (shot or rammed) Few options except to sink or leave alone US warns Germany it will be held accountable for attacks on US ships or citizens War on the Seas

10 German Submarine War Zone Declared February 1915

11 German U-boats go to Work
1st months sank ~90 ships in war zone World War I era U-9 U-boat

12 German Warning Printed in NY Newspapers

13 German U-Boat Damages May 7, 1915 Lusitania
British ship 1200 drowned 128 Americans Ship carried war supplies manufactured in US 4,200 cases of small-arms bullets US swept by wave of shock at act of ‘mass murder’ & ‘piracy’

14 US Response Wilson remains committed to neutrality
But sent a series of stern notes to Germany Strongly criticized Deep division in US feelings towards war Sec of State Bryan resigned Felt Wilson was encouraging war Ex-President Teddy Roosevelt said the ‘pacifistic professor’ used ‘weasel words’ Strongly desired US to go to war East Coast in favor (closer to Europe) Rest of US against war

15 US Response August 1915 Germans sink British ship Arabic
2 US deaths Wilson gets Germany’s promise to not fire ‘without warning’ first March 1916 French passenger ship Sussex torpedoed Wilson ultimatum: no passenger ships or US will sever relations Germany agreed & unsteady neutrality remained for another year (until unconditional sub warfare declared) HMS Sussex 1916


17 Election of 1916 Wilson is re-elected in November 1916 in close race
(277 to 254) Defeats war hawk Charles Evans Hughes TR supported Evans Hughes Evans Hughes ran an ineffective campaign Wilson campaigned little on the theory: ‘One should not try to murder a man who is committing suicide Slogan, ‘he kept us out of war’

18 Wilson Attempts Peace ‘Peace without victory’
Speech given January 22, 1917 Beginning of 14 Points Germany announces they will begin unlimited submarine warfare Sink all ships, including US, in the war zone Wilson calls for arming US merchant ships Isolationists in Senate blocked measure US still not completely ready for war

19 Zimmerman Note Telegram Printed in US newspapers
From German Foreign Affairs Secretary Arthur Zimmerman To German ambassador to Mexico Intercepted by British Delivered to US government Printed in US newspapers If Mexico joins Germany in fighting the US Then, Mexico receives: TX, NM, & AZ Brings US closer to war


21 Germany Ups the Ante Germany declares unrestricted submarine warfare to resume February 1, 1917 Germany knew US would very likely now declare war Militarists believed it would take US 1 year to mobilize (correct) Militarists believed they could defeat Britain / France in 6 months (incorrect)

22 Germany Ups the Ante Germany sinks several more ships (military & commercial) Feb 1917: Germans sank 540,000 tons of shipping March 1917: 578,000 tons April 1917: 874,000 tons Many ships are US -- chipping away at American neutrality Philadelphia newspaper: ‘the difference between war and what we have now is that now we aren’t fighting back.’

23 US Declares War News from Russia of revolution
Cruel regime of the tsars ended US now fighting on side of democracy against despotism Sub warfare + Zimmerman + Russian revolution = US entry into WWI April 6, 1917 US declares war

24 Wilson Selling the War Wilson had to sell the war to many who remained isolationist He used idealism ‘Crusade’ “to make the world safe for democracy” ‘a war to end war’ ‘peace without victory’ US quickly converted to war mentality ‘Hang the Kaiser’

25 Wilson Issues 14 Points January 8, 1918
At this point Congress enthusiastic Inspired allies to make a greater effort Demoralized Central Powers by inspiring their dissatisfied minorities

26 Wilson Issues 14 Points Abolish secret treaties Freedom of seas
Remove trade barriers Reduce arms Adjust colonial claims Self-determination League of Nations

27 US Psychological Effects of Declaring War for Allies
Germans believe US will take 12 months to mobilize Basically correct Allies must hold out until help arrives British & French must continue to hold the line “I am waiting for the Americans and the tanks” --French Marshall Philippe Petain

28 U-Boat Countermeasures
Allies respond with U-Boat countermeasures Sonar, mine barges, depth charges, airplane recon, & convoy Convoy--100 or more commercial ships escorted by military ships End of 1917 U-boats lose effectiveness

29 Manipulating Minds Lyrics to ‘Over There’ CPI formed
Over there, over there Send the word, send the word over there, That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming The drums rum-tumming ev’rywhere CPI formed Committee on Public Information Led by George Creel Basically large-scale propaganda 150,000 employees Including 75,000 ‘4-minute men’: patriotic speech-givers Posters, leaflets, pamphlets, movies, songs

30 Stifling Dissent German-Americans Rumors No:
8 million (8%) of Americans Overwhelmingly loyal Rumors Spying, sabotage, etc No: Beethoven or Wagner German language in schools Sauerkraut became ‘liberty cabbage’ Hamburger became ‘liberty steak’





35 Stifling Dissent Espionage Act 1917 Sedition Act of 1918
Spying Sedition Act of 1918 Inciting rebellion 1,900 prosecutions Socialists Labor unions Eugene V. Debs Received ~1,000,000 votes for president in 1920 from prison Censorship

36 US Preps for War US army slowly grew to 100,000 men
15th in the world About the size of Persia’s US had resources but did not know how to ‘tap’ them War Industries Board (WIB), 1917 Headed by Bernard Baruch Encouraged: Mass production, especially ships (from 1 to 10 million tons) Elimination of waste Standardization Established price controls

37 War & Industry ‘Labor Will Win the War’ slogan ‘work or fight’
Any unemployed male available for immediate draft National War Labor Board Led by former President Taft Cooperation with unions 8 hour day Higher wages


39 War Production & Unions
Most unions supported war Union membership doubled Some radical groups sabotaged industry Industrial Workers of the World, ‘Wobblies’ or IWW Despite gains in wages, inflation ran high Strikes were numerous & often severe 1919, 250,000 workers went on strike in steel Steel companies replaced with African Americans Violence killed more than a dozen

40 War & African Americans
Massive northern migration Ex-plantation slave descendants Extreme racial tensions Many northern cities were almost all-white Race riots Many deaths sparked by blacks at beaches or breaking strikes

41 The Great Migration From 1910 to 1930
~4.1 million African-Americans moved out of the southern US 12 states largest net loss (red) and net gain (blue)

42 Women in Factories 1,000s enter factories to replace men who went to war Contribution convinced Wilson to support woman suffrage 19th amendment right to vote for women Passed in 1920 In reality after WWI most women went back to housewife role But Constitution allowed the vote & precedent had been set



45 Forging the Economy Gov’t encouraged voluntary:
Meatless Tuesdays Wheatless Wednesdays Heatless Mondays Lightless nights Victory Gardens Some items also rationed Canned meat, milk, vegetables Chocolate Alcohol production limited Many German owned Led to prohibition amendment in 1919





50 Victory Loan Campaign Government promoted purchase of war bonds
Netted $21 billion Citizens also pressured others, especially German-Americans to contribute House painted in yellow if no bonds One man signed for bond with a rope around his neck


52 Canadian German

53 Selective Service Act Conscription or draft Males 18-45 must register
24 million men registered Draft went smoothly No violence Few ‘dodgers’ Army #s: ,000 1918 4,000,000 2 million to Europe Many with little training due to necessity


55 Famous British ‘Join the War’ Campaign Poster w/Lord Kitchener

56 Uncle Sam recruiting poster modeled after Lord Kitchener’s poster
Created 1917

57 Irish France Encouraging US pilots to come to France to fight Germany (Flyboys) Germany

58 US Troops to Europe Bolsheviks surrender to Germans
German focuses on western front Massive assault reaches ~40 miles from Paris in spring 1918 American ‘doughboys’ begin pouring in ‘an inexhaustible flood of fresh and gleaming youth’ Late summer 1918 Germany on the defensive Germany never recovered

59 Leadership Allies accept Marshall Foch as supreme commander
‘to make war is to attack’ US allowed separate army Attacking 85 mile front near Switzerland Led by General John J. ‘Blackjack’ Pershing

60 Sergeant Alvin York US infantry Originally from anti-war sect
Single-handedly killed 20 Germans & captured 132 more Made a movie (of course)

61 Victory It was the US reserves moreso than actual US military men fighting that discouraged Germany i.e., they knew what was coming Germans running out of supplies German allies fell apart Propaganda rained down Extolling ‘Wilsonian peace’ Surrendered November 11, 1918


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