Causes of U. S. involvement German atrocities and Allied Propaganda

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Causes of U.S. involvement

  • German atrocities and Allied Propaganda; German invasion of Belgium and treatment of their people

  • U.S. closer to Britain and France; language, political system

  • U.S. had little or no contact with triple Alliance; only heard one side of story

  • Triple Alliance- Germany Austria-Hungary, and Italy; Triple Entente- Britain, France, and Russia

  • Sinking of Lusitania – May 7, 1915 more than 1000 passengers killed- 128 Americans, 94 children

  • Germany declares unlimited submarine warfare 1917- German leaders thought they could defeat Britain and France before U.S. could enter and be effective

  • Zimmerman Telegram- march 1917; Arthur Zimmerman German Foreign minister sends telegraph to Mexico telling them to join Germany and they will get Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona back after war

  • Germany sinks several U.S. unarmed merchant ships-March 1917

  • Wilson Addresses congress and obtains declaration of War

  • April 1917- U.S. enters war

How U.S. Prepared

  • Mobilization- keep American troops together AEF (American Expeditionary force) under command of General Pershing

  • Selective Service Act- conscription (the draft); 10 million men registered; 3 million men were drafted; another 2 million volunteered

  • Committee of Public Information- created posters, printed pamphlets; propaganda- one-sided information designed to persuade listeners

  • Espionage Act 1917; Censorship of mail; punish those who interfere with the draft

  • Sedition Act; prohibited use of disloyal language; Supreme court in Schenck v. U.S. ruled that free speech could be restricted whenever a clear and present danger was evident.

  • War Industries Board- coordinated Americas wartime manufacturing

  • Food Administration- production and distribution of food; headed by Herbert Hoover

  • Railroad Administration- Gov’t took over the railroads

  • War Labor Board- mediated disputes between owners and workers

  • War Bonds also known as Liberty Bonds- patriotic act to buy bonds

  • War cost over $30 Billion

New Technology

  • Tanks- were not very effective but provided information for future use

  • Airplanes- new invention; often used for reconnaissance; sometimes dogfights; did not play big role

  • Submarines- used in WW1 very effective by Germans; U-boats

  • Convoy system- used to protect ships in Atlantic- had naval and air escorts

  • Larger ships with longer range guns

  • Trench Warfare- due to new machine guns- trenches provide protection

  • Machine guns

  • Flamethrowers- innovative design to be carried by one person- neutralize large amounts of soldiers in trenches

  • Depth charges- to destroy submarines

Experience of Minorities

  • Women:

  • January 1917 Jeanette Rankin became first woman in congress

  • Sold war bonds, served as nurses overseas,

  • took men’s jobs in factories

  • German Americans:

  • Faced prejudice in America; ¼ population was from German descent

  • American Indians:

  • About 6,000 volunteered; another 6,000 were drafted; they were integrated into white units

  • Citizenship Act 1919- Indians who served in armed forces could become U.S. citizens

  • Jewish Americans:

  • Faced prejudice- Formed Anti-Defamation League to oppose anti-Semitism and religious prejudice

  • Although they represented only 3% of total population- they made up 5% of the Army

  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee raised over $63 million in relief funds

  • African Americans:

  • July 1917 New York 15,000 marched to protest Jim Crow laws and lynchings in the south

  • Not integrated with other units

  • First two Americans to receive French Croix De Guerre for heroism were African Americans- Henry Johnson & Needham Roberts

  • Great Migration- Thousands of African Americans left south to move north for jobs in factories and Midwest for jobs on farms

  • Asian Americans:

  • 1917- about 180,000 living in America- 3 major groups- Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos

  • Those who served could become naturalized citizens

  • Immigration Act of 1917- barred ant further Japanese or Chinese immigration


  • U.S. enters war April 1917

  • German submarines aggressively attack allied ships

  • Convoy system helps significantly reduce shipping losses

  • Russia drops out of war November 1917- Bolshevik Revolution (Lenin becomes leader)

  • Germany concentrates all their efforts on the western front- launch massive offensive March 1918- unable to reach Paris

  • American troops begin arriving June 1918- 10,000 a day

  • Germans surrender November 1918

Treaty of Versailles

  • Treaty Harsh on Germany

  • Germany lost territory to France and Poland, and lost all of its colonies

  • Germany lost its navy; army reduced to size of police force

  • Germans forced to sign “war guilt” clause accepting blame for starting war- had to pay massive reparations to allies

  • Austria-Hungary divided into smaller national states

  • Turkey became a republic; Ottoman empire lost most of its territories

  • U.S. rejects Treaty of Versailles and does not join League of Nations- signed separate peace treaty with Germany 1921

  • League of Nations; An organization of nations that would defend each other against aggressors- Wilson returned home from Versailles and needed 2/3 of senate to ratify the treaty. 1918 Republicans gained control of senate; They rejected the treaty

  • Other

  • Entangled Alliances- prior to WW1:

  • Tripple Alliance- Austria-Hungary, Germany, & Italy

  • Tripple Entente- Britain, France, & Russia

  • Big Four- Woodrow Wilson(U.S.), David Lloyd George (Britain), Vittorio Emanuele Orlando(Italy) & Georges Clemenceau (France)

  • Central Powers- Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, & Ottoman Empire

  • Allied Powers- Serbia, Russia, France, U.S., Britain, Italy, & Belgium

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