Chapter 30 Pg.696-701 The War to End Wars

Chapter 30
The War to End Wars
War by Act of Germany
On January 22, 1917, Woodrow Wilson made one final attempt to avert war, delivering
a moving address that correctly declared only a “peace without victory” (beating
Germany without embarrassing them) would be lasting.
– Germany responded by shocking the world, announcing that it would break the
Sussex pledge and return to unrestricted submarine warfare, which meant that its
U-boats would now be firing on armed and unarmed ships in the war zone.
Wilson asked Congress for the authority to arm merchant ships, but a band of
Midwestern senators tried to block this measure.
Then, a devious telegram was intercepted
by the British and published on March 1,
Written by German foreign secretary
Arthur Zimmerman, the so-called
“Zimmerman Note” proposed a secret
agreement between Germany and
Mexico. It proposed that if Mexico
joined Germany in a war against the
U.S., then Mexico could recover Texas,
New Mexico, and Arizona from the U.S.
– much of the land taken from it after
the Mexican War (1846-48)!
Also, the Germans began to make good on
their threats, sinking numerous American
ships. Meanwhile, in Russia, a revolution
toppled the tsarist regime.
On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked
Congress to declare war on Germany after
German U-boats sank four unarmed
American merchant vessels.
Four days later Congress obliged, and
Wilson had lost his gamble of staying out
of the war….
The Zimmerman Note
Wilsonian Idealism Enthroned
Many people still didn’t want to enter
into war, for America had prided itself
on isolationism for decades, and now,
Wilson was entangling America in a
distant war.
Six senators and 50
representatives, including the first
Congresswoman, Jeanette Rankin,
voted against war.
Thus, in an attempt to thwart such
opposition, Wilson persuaded the
American people to enter World War I
by coming up with the righteous and
patriotic idea of America entering the
war to “make the world safe for
democracy” and pledging that this
would be “a war to end all wars.”
This idealistic motto worked
brilliantly, but with the new
American zeal came the loss of
Wilson’s earlier motto, “peace
without victory.”
Wilson’s Fourteen Potent Points
On January 8, 1917, Wilson
delivered his Fourteen Points
Address to Congress.
The Fourteen Points were a set of
idealistic goals for peace. The
main points were…
An abolition of secret treaties.
Freedom of the seas was to be
Reduction of armaments.
“Self-determination,” or
independence for oppressed
minority groups who’d choose
their own government
A League of Nations, an
international organization that
would keep the peace and settle
world disputes.
Creel Manipulates Minds
The Committee on Public Information, headed by
George Creel, was created to “sell” the war to
those people who were against it or to simply gain
support for the war.
The Creel organization sent out an army of 75,000
men to deliver speeches in favor of the war,
saturated the public with patriotic tunes (most
notably “Over There” – probably the most famous
American war song ever), showered millions of
pamphlets containing the most potent “Wilsonisms”
upon the world, splashed posters and billboards that
had emotional appeals, and showed anti-German
movies like The Kaiser and The Beast of Berlin.
Yet, the major problem for Creel and his Committee
on Public Information was that he oversold Wilson’s
ideals and led the world to expect too much – in
effect, to believe that war WOULD forever be
banished from the earth (yeah, right).
Sadly, after the war was over, the result would be
disastrous disillusionment by the American people (as
we’ll examine when we get to the post-war era).'De
Enforcing Loyalty and Stifling Dissent
During WWI, civil liberties in America were
frankly denied to many, especially those
suspected of disloyalty.
German-Americans were extremely loyal
to the U.S., but nevertheless, many
Germans were blamed for espionage
activities, and a few were tarred,
feathered, and beaten.
The Espionage Act of 1917 and the
Sedition Act of 1918 showed American
fears and paranoia about Germans, as
well as others perceived as a threat.
Antiwar Socialists and the members of the
radical union Industrial Workers of the
World (IWW) were often prosecuted,
including Socialist Eugene V. Debs and
IWW leader William D. Haywood, who were
arrested, convicted, and sent to prison.
Fortunately, after the war, there were
presidential pardons (from Warren G.
Harding), but a few people still sat in jail into
the 1930s.
The Nation’s Factories Go to War
America was very unprepared for war, though Wilson had
already created the Council of National Defense to study
problems with mobilization and had launched a
shipbuilding program.
Evidence of our isolationist (ie. “head in the sand”, DuhNile is NOT a river in Egypt) mentality can be seen in
the fact that America’s army was only the 15th largest
in the world at that time, regardless of our position as
the #1 industrial power on the planet.
In trying to mobilize for war, no one really knew how
much America could produce, and traditional laissezfaire economics (where the government stays out of the
economy) still provided resistance to government
control of the economy. SO……
In March 1918, Wilson named
Bernard Baruch to head the
War Industries Board to get big
business on board for the war
effort (it was disbanded soon
after the armistice).
Fortunately, the industrial giants
“patriotically” rose to the
occasion anyway without much
resistance (as they realized the
potentially huge profits that could
be made through the production
and selling of war materials) and
swiftly produced incredible
amounts of supplies for the war
Indeed, a sleeping giant had