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America in the Great War: Why Did We Go Over There? Volusia County Public Schools June 2012 Gary Armstrong, Ph.D. William Jewell College.

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Presentation on theme: "America in the Great War: Why Did We Go Over There? Volusia County Public Schools June 2012 Gary Armstrong, Ph.D. William Jewell College."— Presentation transcript:

1 America in the Great War: Why Did We Go Over There? Volusia County Public Schools June 2012 Gary Armstrong, Ph.D. William Jewell College

2 The Situation, 1917 French Army Exhausted Czarist Regime Collapses Germany Resumes Unrestricted Submarine War

3 Situation 1917

4 US Political Context Wilson’s 1916 Coalition

5 US Political Context: Balance of Power in Congress YearSenateHouse 1912 Democrats: 51 Republicans: 44 Democrats: 291 Republicans: Democrats: 56 Republicans: 40 Democrats: 230 Republicans: Democrats: 54 Republicans: 42 Democrats: 214* Republicans: Democrats: 47 Republicans: 49 Democrats: 192 Republicans: 240 * Or Dem 216, GOP 210, IND 6

6 The Progressives Lippmann Croly

7 The War Debate The Case Against Rankin LaFolletteNorris

8 American Intervention Precipitating Factors Zimmermann Telegram (Jan 1917) German U-boats –Germany’s calculation: 600 K tons = victory Intercepted Zimmermann Telegram

9 U-boat outrage May 1915Luisitania1500 dead (128 Americans) March 1916Sussex50 dead April 1916: Wilson ultimatum May : German “Sussex pledge”

10 German Warning

11 Uboat Outrage German Lusitania medal

12 Gore-McLemore Feb 1916 “Resolved… That it is the sense of the Congress, vested as it is with the sole power to declare war, that all persons owing allegiance to the United States should, in behalf of their own safety and the vital interest of the United States, forbear to exercise the right to travel as passengers upon any armed vessel of any belligerent power…and further…that no passport should be issued or renewed by the Secretary of State …to be used by any person owing allegiance to the United States for purpose of [such] travel…

13 The German Threat

14 “The Hinge” Of Modern US Foreign Policy

15 Woodrow Wilson President Only President to know personally what defeat in war was like Only President with PhD in Political Science Second President to win Nobel Prize President Princeton University, Domestic Policy Accomplishments: –Federal Reserve created –First graduated income tax –Labor legislation Massive Stroke, 1919

16 Theodore Roosevelt War with Spain, 1898 US President, First US President to win Nobel Peace Prize Breaks with Republican Party, 1912 Reunion with Republican Party, 1916 Expected Nominee, President 1920

17 Clash of Basic Principles Political Morality = Civilian Morality US Exceptional Peace from Liberal Democracy Peace from International Law Political Morality = Special Morality Political Morality = Special Morality US Normal Great Power Peace from Balance of Power Peace from Spheres of Influence

18 Wilson’s War Aims Complex or Contradiction? Feb 1917: Peace without Victory April 1917: War to Make World Safe for Democracy July 1918: Force, Force, Force to the Utmost! August 1918: Overthrow Every Arbitrary Power November 1918: Insists Germany be beaten, but accepts negotiations

19 Wilson’s War Aims Complex or Contradiction? “…it must be a peace without victory. It is not pleasant to say this…Victory would mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor’s terms imposed upon the vanquished. It would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last.” Woodrow Wilson February 1917

20 Wilson at William Jewell College

21 Wilson Sets Out to Reform the World Understanding the 14 Points Understanding the 14 Points

22 Secret Treaties Russia Gets Straits & Constantinople Gets Straits & Constantinople Free hand to redraw eastern frontiers of Germany and Austria Free hand to redraw eastern frontiers of Germany and Austria Annex including Armenia and Kurdistan Annex including Armenia and KurdistanFrance Alsace-Lorraine Alsace-Lorraine Left Bank of Rhine Left Bank of Rhine Saar Saar

23 Secret Treaties Britain Support for ambitions in Egypt and Persia Support for ambitions in Egypt and Persia German African colonies German African coloniesItaly Trieste, Gorizia, Istria, north Dalmatia, part of Albania, one-third of Anatolia Trieste, Gorizia, Istria, north Dalmatia, part of Albania, one-third of Anatolia

24 Secret Treaties Russia Italy

25 Lansdowne Letter Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5 th Marquis of Lansdowne : Negotiates Entente Nov 1917: Lansdowne Letter published (after secret treaties) Times refuses to run letter, Daily Telegraph publishes it Calls for negotiated peace, based on status quo ante Calls for “statement of intentions” from British government

26 Lansdowne Letter " We are not going to lose this war, but its prolongation will spell ruin for the civilised world, and an infinite addition to the load of human suffering which already weighs upon it...We do not desire the annihilation of Germany as a great power... We do not seek to impose upon her people any form of government other than that of their own choice... We have no desire to deny Germany her place among the great commercial communities of the world.

27 Wilson vs. Lodge WilsonLodge Fourteen Points 10 Minimum (Feb 1918)(Aug 1918)

28 Inferring Wilson’s War Aims Defeat but do not crush Germany Precipitate Internal Revolution in Germany Make British Empire and France dependent on US

29 Different War, Different Peace WilsonLodge & TR Cause of warTragedy & StupidityGerman drive for power US entry?German outragesUS cannot tolerate German-led Europe Main US war aimReform World PoliticsBalance of Power Moderate VictoryUnconditional Surrender Regime ReformRegime Change

30 Effect of Wilson’s War Aims Vive Wilson!

31 War Expenditures & Mobilization ExpendituresMobilized Countryin 1913 B$Forces (M) British Empire France Russia Italy USA Germany Austria-Hungary Turkey Kennedy, Rise & Fall of Great Powers

32 Military Deaths in World War I Total KilledTotal Killed Total Killed % of armed% of % of Countryforcesmen 15-49population Scotland France Britain Russia Serbia Germany Turkey USA Ferguson, Pity of War (1999), p. 299

33 Some Conclusions Why did we go Over There? Unpersuasive: Vindicate Rights Unpersuasive: Evangelical Reformism Better: Profound sympathy with Allies Better: Strong economic interests Better: German victory was unacceptable both for American ideals and interests


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