World War I
“The Great War”
U.S. History & Government
Causes of WWI
• Nationalism – Strong
pride/belief in your country
• Imperialism – Quest for
colonial empires
• Militarism – Glorification of
military strength
– Arms race
• Alliances – Promise to aid
each other
– Central Powers: Germany,
Austria-Hungary, Italy, and
– Triple Entente/Allied Powers:
France, Russia, Great Britain
The Beginnings in Europe
• Balkan feuds
• June 28, 1914 Austrian
Archduke assassinated
• Ultimatum by AustriaHungary
• Alliances bring war
The European War
• Stalemate on the Western Front
– Trenches
• Networks of supply & command
– Machine Gun
– Poison Gas
– (Tanks & Airplanes)
• North Atlantic Deadlock
– Submarines
– Mines
• Surrender on the Eastern Front
Trench Warfare
– Russia nearly “unarmed”
– Revolution = Russian surrender
– Germans sense victory
Why did the US Enter WWI?
Document A
• Read Woodrow Wilson’s Speech #1
• Discuss with your table partner &
record your answer:
1. Did Wilson think the US should enter
WWI? Why or why not? Use evidence from
the document to support your answer.
US Neutrality in WWI?
• Not our war
• But tied to Europe anyway…
• Problems with neutrality
– Trade
– Freedom of the Seas
• Lusitania, 1915
• Arabic & Sussex Pledges
• US Prepares…for war or peace?
– Army & Naval buildup
– Negotiations…
Document B
• Read Woodrow Wilson’s Speech #2
• Discuss with your table partner & record your
answers. Be sure to provide evidence to
support your answers:
2. By 1917, did Wilson think the US should enter
WWI? Why or why not?
3. What did Wilson accuse Germany of doing?
4. Do you think this is a good reason to go to war?
5. Re-read the last two paragraphs of the 1917
speech. Why do you think Wilson added these
paragraphs? How do you think these words made
Americans feel?
• US Declaration of War…
– Make the world safe for democracy
– For the rights & liberties of small
– A war to end all wars
– Strengthen GB’s navy (a la Monroe
Doctrine )
• Turning the Tide
– AEF arrives summer 1917
(American Expeditionary Force)
– “Over There”
The US
Goes to
• Why else did the US go to war?
– Zimmerman Note
– Return to Unrestricted Submarine
– GB broke
– Chaos in Russia
• Discuss with your table
6. What do you think are the TWO
biggest reasons why the US
entered the war?
7. Based on the reasons in Wilson’s
1917 speech and those given
above, do you think the US had
good reasons for entering the war?
the US
A Little Bit about Historian
Howard Zinn
• Howard Zinn was a historian and activist
who was best known for his 1980 book, A
People’s History of the United States. His
book tells American history from the
perspective of minorities, women and poor
people. He was very critical of the United
States government.
Document C
• Read the excerpt from Howard Zinn
• Discuss with your table partner
8. Why did Zinn claim that Wilson made a “flimsy
9. What did Zinn suggest were the real reasons
the US entered the war?
10. What evidence did Zinn provide to support
his claims that the US was motivated by other
reasons (besides German attacks of US ships)?
11. Do you find Zinn’s argument convincing?
Why or why not?
The Home Front…
• Wilson’s Preparedness Program
– “Mobilization of men, money,
machines & minds”
• Men
– Selective Service Act, 1917
• Money
– Liberty Bonds & Victory Loans
• Machines
– Ships, Guns, Jeeps…
• Minds
– Opposition to the war
– Committee on Public Information
Woodrow Wilson
Over There
• In 1917, George M. Cohen, wrote the song,
Over There. The 1942 movie Yankee Doodle
Dandy used the song to help tell its story.
– 12. How is the song useful as evidence of
American life and attitudes during WWI? Explain.
– 13. How is this movie clip useful as evidence of
American life and attitudes during WWII? Explain.
– 14. Which is more useful, the song for WWI or
the video clip for WWII? Explain
Fighting the War at Home
• Conversion to Full
Wartime Economy
– War Industries Board
– Council of Defense
• Food Administration
• Fuel Administration
– The Labor Force
• National War Labor Board
• Attack on Civil Liberties
WWI US Propaganda Poster
• Espionage Act, 1917
• Trading with the Enemies
Act, 1917
• Sedition Act, 1918
Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points
• Wilson’s Plan for World Peace
• 9 Points – Self Determination
– The right of people to govern
– Settles territorial disputes
• 4 Points – Causes of War
– No more secret diplomacy
– No more arms race
– No more violation of freedom
of the seas
– No more trade barriers
• 1 Point – League of Nations
– Set up an international body
designed to prevent offensive
Death and Destruction:
Before WWI
Death and Destruction
WWI Casualties
The Surrender
• German generals decide to surrender
– Can’t win with US entry into the war
– Hope the treaty will be based on the 14
– Kaiser abdicates
• The cease fire goes into place at 11 AM
on 11/11/1918 (Armistice Day)
– Peace Conference set for January 1919 in
Paris Peace Conference
• Wilson leads US delegation
– Wants to “end all wars”
• Big Three (from L to R)
– David Lloyd George – Great
• Couldn’t be trusted
– Georges Clemenceau – France
• Wanted revenge
– Vittorio Orlando – Italy
• Demanded new ports
– + Woodrow Wilson – U.S.
– Other nations were there too
• Six months of debate until
decision reached
The “Big Four”
Treaty of Versailles
“Harsh and Humiliating” Terms
• Europeans wanted as much as possible from the
• Treaty provisions
Each victor received land as promised in secret treaties
Germany disarmed & colonies parceled out
Meant to weaken communist Russia
New Countries formed
Rejected claims for independence outside of Europe
Germany forced to admit full responsibility for the War
Germany charged billions of dollars in reparations
League of Nations established…
League of Nations
• League covenant
embedded in the Treaty
– Article X
• Purpose
– To resolve disputes
– To “respect and preserve”
all other member nations
– Established a
waiting/cooling off period
– Economic pressure to be
– Use of force only if
1914: Before the Great War
• Russia
• AustriaHungary
• Ottoman
After the Great War: by 1924
• Finland
• Estonia
• Latvia
• Lithuania
• Poland
• Czechoslovakia
• Yugoslavia
• Syria
• Trans-Jordan
• Iraq
Fight Over the Treaty
• Wilson triumphantly returns to US
• Problem: Senate has to approve treaty
• US fearful of treaty “alliances”
– The U.S. would be forced to go to war in
defense of any League member
• No compromise: Wilson vs. Congress
• League – set up in Geneva, Switzerland
without the U.S.
Reflection Questions
• 15. What do you think was the biggest
reason why Europe erupted into war?
• 16. What provisions would you have put in
the treaty of Versailles? What would you
have excluded?
• 17. What are two things that were new,
interesting, or you know that you will (or
should) remember a month from now?