More Notes:
It was called "The War to End All Wars", or "The Great War", because we believed that the advances in science and reasoning would prevent any future problems. This was going to be the last big fight... OOOOOPPPS!

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Extra Links:
This link takes a very comprehensive look at "The Great War".

Vocabulary:
Allied: implies that there was an agreement to formally assist another nation- and in this case it refers to the "team" that the U.S. joined during World War 1

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More Notes:
The United States was respected by Europe as an economically powerful nation, with the potential to have a powerful army. When the U.S. formally went to war- we were the deciding factor that ended the stalemate and we won this war!

Extra Links:
Who were the "Doughboys"? Find out here!

Vocabulary:
powder keg: a barrel used to store gun powder

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The Roots of War!

More Notes:
The conditions which developed in Europe created a dangerous situation. Like a powder keg, a simple "spark" would set it off into a terrible explosion. Most of the nations of Europe were on the brink of war...

Vocabulary:
(see above)

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More Notes:
The extreme nationalism and pride made the nations of Europe very dangerous... As they competed with each other for colonial influence, they tended to dislike each other as well (again, the competition for resources leads to prejudice). In order to protect their empires in Asia and Africa, the European countries needed protection... New battleships and submarines (U-boats) were being produced at an alarming rate!
Extra Links:
Africa was one of the areas being colonized by Europe during this period. Click here to see a map!

Vocabulary:
arms race: the rapid build-up of weapons

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More Notes:
Theodore Roosevelt was not the only one who believed in the "Big Stick". Nations of Europe also believed that if their military was big and powerful, it would prevent any other nation from attacking out of fear of the consequences (also called deterrence). The alliances also formed a deterrence, as an attack on one nation would be considered an attack on both. This collective security would allow smaller nations to "buddy up" with larger nations to prevent other larger nations from going after them. (Reminded of the little kid on the play ground- "If you do that I'm gonna tell my big brother an' he gonna beat you up!) Once two large alliance systems formed, a conflict between any two member nations would be enough to set the whole thing off. And it did!

In 1914, a Serbian nationalist (wanting independence from Austria-Hungary) assassinated Archduke Ferdinand. When Serbia refused to apologize, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Serbia, backed by France, declared war on Austria-Hungary. Germany, the Ottoman Empire and others jumped in against France, and then Russia and Great Britain jumped in to get France's back. Italy, originally members of both sides, eventually decided to join the Allies. WHAT A MESS!

Extra Links:
Take a look at some photos of naval power from this period.
This link shows a map of the alliance system at the outbreak of WW 1.
Read an account of the "spark" that started the Great War!

More Notes:
Look at that map above-- Notice that the Central Powers really had to split their forces and fight on two fronts. Russia did not have any major nations to assist on the "Eastern Front". Also notice the neutral nation right there in the middle of all the fighting- Switzerland!

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Vocabulary:
neutral: not taking an official or formal side during a conflict

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More Notes:
When the two sides opened up on each other in Europe, we thought it best to stay out of the mess. As long as they were not hassling us, we would be fine. Many immigrants had ties to homelands in both sides. We avoided involvement for 3 years. Woodrow Wilson ran for re-election in 1916, and part of his platform was the phrase "He kept us out of the war". BUT, events would slowly draw us into the conflict by changing America's public opinion!
Extra Links:
Here are some primary source readings that debate U.S. involvement in World War 1.

More Notes:
Germany viewed American trade with Britain as "aiding the enemy". Even though we claimed to be selling them only non-military items, Germany continued to sink our vessels. We were warned, but our neutrality was supposed to keep us safe. When we threatened to get involved, the Germans stopped. But, it was resumed in 1916, and that made us really mad!

One of the victims of the German U-boats was the passenger ship Lusitania. Carrying people from New York to England, the ship was attacked by a U-boat and sunk. Americans viewed this as MURDER- as many U.S. citizens were on this voyage!
Another thing that really upset us was that Zimmerman Telegram. Germany thought that if Mexico would declare war on the U.S., we would be distracted and unable to use our military in Europe. Germany was winning the war, and felt that they could soon win it all. Then, Zimmerman promised to turn on the U.S., and then return to Mexico all the land that it had lost in the Mexican War (1846-1848). The U.S. intercepted this telegram - yes, we read their mail- we published it in our newspapers, and the Central Powers looked really bad!

Video Clip:

The Lusitania and the Zimmerman Telegram

America Joins the Ranks!

Extra Links:
Take a look at U-boats, the "assassins of the sea".
Take a closer look at the sinking of the Lusitania.
You can see the actual Zimmerman Telegram at this link!

More Notes:
The U.S. had historical, cultural and economic ties to the Allied Powers. A common theme in our history is that we make choices based on economic opportunity. At the time, the Allies participated in about 90% of our commerce with Europe, and the Central Powers only about 10%. It made economic sense.

In 1917, Russia fell to a communist Revolution led by Lenin. The Czar and his family were overthrown and murdered. Many Russians had grown tired of the war and blamed the Czar for the MILLIONS of Russian deaths. The Communists drew up a separate peace treaty with Germany, and were forced to give up vast areas of land. If you recall the map, now the Central Powers could concentrate their forces on the Western Front!
American sentiment to step in and save the Allies was pretty strong. Woodrow Wilson went before Congress in 1917 and asked for a war declaration- as only Congress can declare war according to the Constitution. In his speech, Wilson addressed our slow and deliberate decision to get involved- that the United States needed to make the world "safe for democracy"!
There is an interesting anecdote (little story) about this moment. When Congress rose and applauded the President's speech, he left the room with tears in his eyes. One of his advisors congratulated him, and told Wilson he should be happy that the speech was a success. Looking up, Wilson replied, "They really don't understand what I have asked them to do." Wilson did not like the idea of sending American boys to Europe to die.

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America's Role in the Great War

Extra Links:
This site has a ton of links to learn more about different aspects of the communist revolution in Russia!

Vocabulary:
armistice: an agreement by both sides to stop fighting

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A New Kind of War

African-Americans in World War I

More Notes:
America was now able to completely commit to the war effort. Supplies flowed to the Allies before our troops. The U.S. Navy began to engage in U-boat hunting- and they were good at it! Even though German forces were only 20 miles from Paris, the exhausted French and British soldiers seemed to fight even harder knowing that reserves were on the way. Under the command of General John Pershing, the American forces tipped the stalemate balance in the trenches and pushed back. Men and women were encouraged to help in the war effort, at home and abroad. Less than a year and a half later, Germany offered a cease-fire (armistice) to discuss terms of surrender.

On the 11th hour. of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns fell silent and the "Great War" was over!

Extra Links:
This link shows an interesting graphic of the death toll of WW1.

This site shows some of the more notable wartime posters. Scroll down to see the images.

More Notes:
"The War to End All Wars" was over. There was now the opportunity to work to solve the problems that led to the conflict, and find a way to prevent future wars. Obviously we failed- MISERABLY. But why?

Video Clip:

Germany Surrenders!

More Notes:
Just like the American Civil War, the terms of the Peace Treaty (like Radical Reconstruction) left the Central Powers bitter and angry- hungry for revenge!

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More Notes:
Woodrow Wilson introduced his plan for a lasting peace to Congress before the armistice. In his 14 Points, he tried to address the problems that led to the outbreak of war: nationalism, militarism, imperialism and alliances.

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Extra Links:
Read Wilson's speech where he outlined his plan for a lasting peace!

Vocabulary:
mandate: captured colonies

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More Notes:
Notice that each of these points deals directly with one of the situations that led to the "Great War":

Nationalism- self-determination and mandates
Imperialism- freedom of the seas and mandates
Militarism- arms reduction
Alliances- no secret treaties and the League of Nations


Maybe this would have worked, but the other Allies had other "plans" for the defeated Central Powers!
Extra Links:
Here's another 14 Points link.

More Notes:
Millions of lives had been lost by the Allied Powers. They had exhausted their economic resources. They wanted some "payback"! What good is beating up an enemy if you can't take his stuff and make him feel bad? France, Britain and Italy did not share Wilson's plan for a lasting peace. Their plan was to beat the Central Powers down so far that they could never be a threat again!

The Central Powers, obviously were not given representation at the conference- they were the big LOSERS! But, the new U.S.S.R. was not allowed representation either, because they had left the war early (even though they lost millions of people) and had turned "commie".
Wilson fought for a lasting peace, but was defeated at each of his ideas-- except one-- the League of Nations!

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The Treaty of Versailles

Extra Links:
Here is a link to a photo of the peace conference at Versailles. Check out how many people were there!

Vocabulary:
reparations: monetary damages as punishment

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More Notes:
As new nations were formed, little attention was given to ethnic groups living in the areas. National boundaries often divided groups of people. The Allies reasoned that if nations were split apart, they would not be strong enough to rise up and fight. The mandates were distributed among the Allied countries to govern- many of these colonies were denied their right to self-rule and independence. Many problems associated with Africa, the Middle East and Asia can be traced back to poor decisions made at Versailles!

The Treaty of Versailles, ending World War 1, was particularly harsh on Germany. Germany had to accept full responsibility for the war (even though it started with Austria and Serbia). Germany was forced to pay war reparations- and it had no money or any ability to make money as the manufacturing centers were destroyed and Germany was stripped of its colonies. Germany was also punished by a strict limitation of its military! Germany was left broke, defenseless, embarrassed and angry!
Even the bright spot, the creation of the League of Nations, was also considered a failure!
Extra Links:
This site has a lot of background info on the treaty talks, as well as the provisions of the treaty. Notice which aspects were particularly harsh on Germany.

More Notes:
The map above is a bit fuzzy- but you can still make out the new national boundaries! The people within these new nations still owed allegiance to their old empires. More differences among the populations led to bitter arguments within these new countries. This instability would make them difficult to defend.

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Extra Links:
Here is a better look at Europe in 1914.

Here is a better look at Europe after 1919.

More Notes:
According to the U.S. Constitution, the President has the authority to negotiate a treaty, but the treaty must be ratified (approved) by two-thirds of the Senate (part of checks and balances). The Senate did not like the Treaty of Versailles, mostly citing the treatment of Germany. And,
in spite of Wilson's pleas, the U.S. never joined the League of Nations. There was a desire in America to return to isolationism- and we feared that an international organization could force us into an agreement that would not benefit us. Ultimately, the United States never joined the League of Nations


"Interrupting the Ceremony"- the political cartoon:
The ceremony is a wedding between Uncle Sam (representing the United States) and foreign entanglements. The preacher is reading from a book named "League of Nations" and he is standing on a rug labeled "Peace Proceedings". The preacher is saying, "If any man can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together, let him now speak---". Breaking through the glass window is the U.S. Senate, holding a document labeled "Constitutional Rights".

How does the artist feel about the League of Nations? Well, this artist would support the Senate's opposition to the U.S. joining the League of Nations out of fear that it would draw America into foreign problems. The artist is an isolationist!

Video Clip:

League of Nations Debate

Extra Links:
Here's a map that shows which nations joined the League of Nations!
This link has a "League of Nations Timeline".

More Notes:
Well, many Americans felt that we did our part. We had saved France (for the first time) and repaid that "debt" from our own Revolution. We had saved democracy across Western Europe, and enjoyed an economic boom in the meantime. So, we had done our part. Millions of Europeans had died, and the U.S. began to limit immigrants (Immigration Restriction Act, 1921). As President Warren G. Harding put it, we needed to return to "normalcy".

Germany wanted revenge- and the new Soviet Union distrusted the governments of Western Europe. The problems were not solved-

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Extra Links:
Click here to learn more about President Warren G. Harding and his return to "normalcy".

More Notes:
The failures of the Treaty of Versailles allowed dictators to rise to power in Europe and attempt to rebuild their empires. Facing economic ruin and military limitation, these fascist leaders took control, played on people's pride and prejudices, to gain popularity. The actions of these leaders in the 1930's would climax in another global conflict!

Video Clip:

The Roaring 20's

The Birth of Jazz

Extra Links:
What about African-Americans during World War 1 and the 1920's? Click here to learn more!

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