The American Journey Modern Times © 2009

Chapter 9: World War I

Chapter Overviews

Section 1: War in Europe

Several factors led to the outbreak of World War I, including an increase in nationalism and militarism. Europe was also divided into a system of alliances, so when violence broke out in the Balkan Peninsula, the war spread quickly. Both the Allied and the Central Powers used new technologies and battle strategies, and neither immediately dominated, which made World War I long and deadly.

Section 2: America’s Road to War

Despite British and German propaganda aimed to gain American support, the United States tried to remain neutral. However, America’s relations with Germany worsened after a German submarine attack killed American citizens. President Woodrow Wilson was pushed further towards war after the discovery that Germany hoped to make Mexico its ally. Finally, the revolution in Russia, allowed Wilson to claim the war as a fight for democracy, and in 1917 he asked Congress to declare war against Germany.

Section 3: Americans Join the Allies

The Allied troops were exhausted and dwindling in numbers, in part because Russia pulled its troops out of the war to concentrate on stabilizing its new Communist government. This allowed the Germans to focus their attacks on the Western Front. American “doughboys” under General John J. Pershing, however, were able to stop the German offensive. After the Battle of the Argonne Forest the Allies pushed across the German border. By late 1918, Germany was losing the war and appealed for an armistice to end the fighting.

Section 4: The War at Home

In the United States the war affected all aspects of life. Women took jobs that men had held before they left to join the armed forces. Many African Americans moved from the rural South to Northern cities for better jobs. To provide for troops abroad, the government controlled food production and pricing, and encouraged Americans to consume less. To control public opinion, the government created the Committee on Public Information. The Committee used propaganda to promote the war as a battle for democracy and freedom. Other legislation was aimed at silencing those who opposed the war, including socialists and pacifists.

Section 5: Searching for Peace

Europe was in ruins when Wilson arrived in Paris to advance his Fourteen Point plan for peace. The Allies opposed the plan, but were able to agree on the Treaty of Versailles, which required Germany to disarm and make reparations to the Allies. The Treaty also called for the creation of the League of Nations to preserve peace. However, the U.S. Senate struggled with its own political disagreements and ultimately rejected the Treaty and voted against joining the League of Nations.

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