World War I and Its Aftermath

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This chapter examines the events that led the United States into World War I and looks at how the war impacted American society.

6.1 The United States Enters World War I

Section 1 discusses the events that pushed the United States into World War I. While President Wilson struggled with political turmoil in Mexico, tensions in Europe led to a delicate system of alliances. In 1914 the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated, and the alliances launched into the First World War. The Allies-Russia, France, Italy, and Britain-squared off against the Central Powers-Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. Wilson was determined that the United States would remain neutral even though American ties to Allied heritage, business, and finances swayed many to sympathize with the Allied cause. When German U-boats sank passenger liners with Americans onboard, Wilson issued strong warnings and secured a pledge from Germany that kept the peace a little longer. His peacekeeping efforts won him reelection, but the peace would not last long. A message indicating a Mexican-German alliance and another series of U-boat attacks finally pushed Wilson to ask for a declaration of war on April 2, 1917.

6.2 The Home Front

Section 2 describes how the United States mobilized to fight World War I. When the United States declared war on Germany, Americans at home united to support the war. Congress created special boards to coordinate the efforts of business and labor. To fund the war effort, the government raised taxes, instituted new taxes, and sold bonds. While soldiers fought the war overseas, the Committee on Public Information used propaganda to urge cooperation at home. With large numbers of white workers being drafted, a "Great Migration" of African Americans and Mexican Americans headed north to take wartime factory jobs. In their eagerness to support the war, legislators passed laws that curtailed citizens' civil liberties, and a climate of suspicion settled over not only German Americans, but also labor activists, socialists, and pacifists.

6.3 A Bloody Conflict

Section 3 looks at the battles of World War I and the end of the war. New technologies and old-fashioned strategies resulted in heavy casualties and a devastated Europe by the spring of 1917. When American soldiers marched into the European stalemate, Allied morale lifted. The Bolshevik Revolution pulled Russia out of the war and allowed Germany to focus its forces in the west. A massive German offensive pushed into French territory, but American and French forces blocked the German drive. Massive counterattacks and an American offensive in the Argonne Forest pushed the Germans back and shattered their defenses. As the Central Powers crumbled, Germany signed an armistice. While the Treaty of Versailles treated Germany more harshly than Wilson's Fourteen Points plan for peace, it still called for the creation of the League of Nations-an international peacekeeping organization. Wilson returned home anxious to win approval for the treaty, but the Senate rejected the treaty along with his League of Nations.

6.4 The War's Impact

Section 4 reviews the turbulent aftermath of World War I. When the government removed its economic restrictions from businesses and consumers, demand increased and inflation set in. Workers wanted increased wages to keep up with inflation, and a series of strikes broke out. The rise of communism in Europe caused many Americans to wonder if Communists or foreign radicals had inspired the strikes. A Red Scare spread nationwide as Americans worried that Communists would seize power. A special government division investigated thousands of foreign residents and deported nearly 600 of them, often disregarding their civil liberties. As the Red Scare influenced attitudes about immigrants, frustration and racism led to violence between whites and African Americans. Weary of reform and reeling from the events of recent years, voters hoped to return to "normalcy" with the election of Warren G. Harding in 1920.

Chapter 6 Project
Imagine that you are an American war correspondent in Paris, working for a U.S. radio network.
#1 Write the script for a radio news broadcast telling Americans about
  1. the results of WWI,
  2. the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and
  3. the role of the League of Nations.
  4. At the end, predict how you think the Senate will react to the treaty.

#2 RECORD your news broadcast/podcast
  1. minimum of 2 minuts (plan accordingly)
  2. give radio call sign (four random letters starting with a "W" and your name reporting from Paris, France
  3. your podcast is current (assume it is 28 June 1919 and the treaty has just been signed)
  4. no images are necessary
  5. upload completed podcast in MP3 foremat onto your wiki
  6. (there is a 20MB file limit)

    • Working with a partner - you may work with a partner or partners for a more discussion style radio-cast however for each additional person you have with your project you must add 2 additional minutes (2 people = 4 minutes / 3 people = 6 minutes)


Part 1
The United States Enters World War I

Vocabulary Define: stability, guerrilla, nationalism, emphasis, self-determina- tion, propaganda, erode, contraband, U-boat.
People and Terms Identify: Pancho Villa, Franz Ferdinand, Allies, Central Powers, Sussex Pledge, Zimmermann telegram.

Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (09/18/1947 - 02/28/1964)
ARC Identifier 25045 / Local Identifier 111-H-1545 1916
War As It Really Is - Reel 2
7 Reels. Reel 2 shows rubbled buildings and defenses at Verdun; wounded French soldiers; corpses; German prisoners in a stockade; and Pres. Poincare and Gen. Joffre decorating and reviewing French and Russian troops.
DVD Copied by Thomas Gideon.
This movie is part of the collection: FedFlix

  1. Write one or two paragraphs: discuss Woodrow Wilson’s policy of moral diplomacy, arguing either for or against his belief that the United States is morally obligated to intervene in the governments of other countries “to put good people in power.” Use examples from Wilson’s time and/or from current events to illustrate your point of view.
  2. Explain, in your own words, the crisis in Mexico during President Wilson’s first year in office.
  3. List the events from that led to the beginning of World War I.
  4. List three reasons that many Americans supported the Allies when World War I began.
  5. Write a conclusion about how these reasons influenced U.S. policy.

Place the following events in the order in which they occurred
  • American newspapers report the discovery of the Zimmermann telegram.
  • President Wilson appears before a special session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war.
  • Germany issues the Sussex Pledge.
  • Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.
  • Germans sink the Lusitania.

  1. What were the causes and results of American intervention in Mexico and the Caribbean?
  2. What were the causes of World War I, and why did the United States enter the war?

Part 2
The Home Front

Vocabulary Define: draft, conscription, victory garden, migrate, espionage, constitute.
People and Terms Identify: War Industries Board, Bernard Baruch, Liberty Bond, Victory Bond, Committee on Public Information.

  1. Do you know anyone who has served in a war or conflict in recent years, such as the Gulf War or the war in Afghanistan or Iraq? How would you feel about a return to the draft during times of war? Write your thoughts in a paragraph.
  2. Create two new advertising slogans (create two keynote slides and embed them on your wiki) to encourage Americans to conserve food or fuel or to buy bonds to support World War I.
  3. What are your thoughts on some of the restrictions of civil liberties Americans faced during the war (World War I)?
  4. How did the United States raise an army and win support for World War I?
  5. How was the economy controlled to support the war?

Part 3
A Bloody Conflict

Vocabulary Define: network, convoy, adequately, armistice, resolve, reparations.
People and Terms Identify: Vladimir Lenin, Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Fourteen Points, League of Nations, Treaty of Versailles.

  1. List the important battles in 1918 that led to the Allied victory in World War I.
  2. Describe the reasons that this is called “A Flawed Peace.”
  3. What fighting techniques were used in World War I?
  4. What was the American response to the Treaty of Versailles?

Part 4
The War’s Impact

Vocabulary Define: cost of living, gen- eral strike, widespread, authorities, deport, restoration.
People and Terms Identify: Red Scare, A. Mitchell Palmer, J. Edgar Hoover.

Before reading this lesson, think about your knowledge of American history.
  1. What do you predict happened as the United States began to move forward after World War I?
  1. List the effects of the end of World War I on the American economy.
  2. Imagine that the year is 1920, the time of the Red Scare, (this would be the first red scare if you are using web resources) and you are a member of a radical immigrant organization in New York City. Write a paragraph describing the scene of a bank bombing and your feelings about raids on the headquarters of groups such as yours by agents of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer.
  3. Explain, in your own words, the reason for the wave of strikes after World War I.
  4. Write a paragraph about how the fear of communism affected the United States. Include the origins of this fear and the policies the federal government put in place in reaction to it.
  5. What were the causes of and the reaction to the Red Scare?