America Enters WWI

World War I
“The Great War”
By 1914…
• Most European nations had
divided themselves into alliances
that led to war when a Bosnian
nationalist shot & killed the heir to
the Austrian throne
– Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary,
Italy, and Bulgaria
– Triple Entente/Allied Powers: France,
Russia, Great Britain
• The US was NOT a member of an
alliance & DID NOT have to join
the war
Why did the US avoid WWI?
• Read Woodrow Wilson’s Speech from 1914
(Document A) & then discuss with your table
partner & record your answer:
1. Why did Wilson think the US should NOT enter
WWI? Provide evidence from the document to
support your answer.
• Read “Wilson and Mexico” on pp.774-775 in
your textbook
2. Why was Wilson so reticent to enter WWI when
recent American foreign policy (Manifest Destiny,
War with Spain, etc.) had been so imperialistic?
Why did the US choose this
course of action?
• It wasn’t our business
– Which Europeans would the US support?
– The US should push for peace
• Problems with neutrality (a la GW)
– Trade & connection to the British
– Freedom of the Seas
• Lusitania, 1915
• Arabic & Sussex pledges
• US Prepares…for war or peace?
– Army & Naval buildup
– Negotiations…
Why did the US join WWI?
• Read Woodrow Wilson’s Speech from 1917
(Document B)
• Discuss with your table partner & record your
answers. Be sure to provide evidence to
support your answers:
3. By 1917, why did Wilson think the US should
enter WWI? Provide evidence from the document to
support your answer.
4. What did Wilson accuse Germany of doing?
5. Do you think this is a good reason to go to war?
6. Re-read the last two paragraphs of the speech.
Why do you think Wilson added these paragraphs?
How do you think these words made Americans
• US Declaration of War…
– Make the world safe for democracy
– For the rights & liberties of small
– A war to end all wars
– Strengthen GB’s navy (a la Monroe
Doctrine )
• Turning the Tide
– War declared April 1917
– AEF arrives summer 1917
(American Expeditionary Force)
• Americans were VERY ready by 1917 to
go “Over There”
Why the
US Went
to War
Over There
• In 1917, George M. Cohen, wrote the song,
Over There. The 1942 movie Yankee Doodle
Dandy used the song to help tell its story
(Document C)
– 7. How is the song useful as evidence of
American life and attitudes during WWI? Explain.
– 8. How is this movie clip useful as evidence of
American life and attitudes during WWII? Explain.
– 9. Which is more useful, the song for to explain
attitudes during WWI or the video clip to explain
American attitudes during during WWII? Explain
• Why else did the US go to
– Zimmerman Note
– Return to Unrestricted
Submarine warfare
– GB broke
– Chaos in Russia
• Discuss with your table
10. What do you think are the
TWO biggest reasons why the
US entered the war?
11. Based on the reasons in
Wilson’s 1917 speech and
those given above, do you
think the US had good
reasons for entering the war?
Why or why not?
Pulling the
US into
A Little Bit about Historian
Howard Zinn
• Howard Zinn was a historian and activist
who was best known for his 1980 book, A
People’s History of the United States. His
book tells American history from the
perspective of minorities, women and poor
people. He was very critical of the United
States government.
Were those really the reasons?
• Read the excerpt from Zinn’s book, A
People’s History (Document D)
• Discuss with your table partner
12. Why did Zinn claim that Wilson made a
“flimsy argument?”
13. What did Zinn suggest were the real reasons
the US entered the war?
14. What evidence did Zinn provide to support
his claims that the US was motivated by other
reasons (besides German attacks of US ships)?
15. Do you find Zinn’s argument convincing?
Why or why not?
Primary Document Analysis
(Documents E- N)
• You will be given a set of primary documents to analyze that
relates to the US home front during WWI: Set 1 (E & F), Set 2
(G & H), Set 3 (I), Set 4 (J), Set 5 (K & L), Set 6 (M & N). 16.
Audience/Purpose: Why and for whom was the document
produced, and how might this affect the reliability of the
– 16. Main Idea: What was the document’s main idea or point
that the author was trying to make?
– 17. What does this document teach us about the US home
front during WWI?
– 18. In addition to analyzing your assigned documents,
please do some additional research on the document’s main
topic (listed after the document’s “letter”).
Please take notes regarding the other documents.
The Home Front…
• Wilson’s Preparedness Program
– “Mobilization of men, money,
machines & minds”
• Men (Docs E & F)
– Selective Service Act, 1917
• Money (Docs G & H)
– Liberty Bonds & Victory Loans
• Machines
– Ships, Guns, Jeeps…
• Minds (Doc I)
– Opposition to the war
– Committee on Public Information
Woodrow Wilson
Fighting the War at Home
• Conversion to Full Wartime
– War Industries Board (Doc J)
– Council of Defense
• Food Administration (Doc K)
• Fuel Administration (Doc L)
– The Labor Force
• National War Labor Board
• Attack on Civil Liberties
WWI US Propaganda Poster
• Espionage Act, 1917
• Trading with the Enemies Act,
• Sedition Act, 1918 (Docs M & N)
Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points
• Wilson’s Plan for World Peace (Doc O)
• 9 Points – Self Determination
– 19. What was said about the right
of people to govern themselves?
What people? How would territorial
disputes be settled?
• 4 Points – Causes of War
– 20. What restrictions were put in
place to make sure that war was
avoided in the future?
• 1 Point – League of Nations
– 21. What was the purpose of this
League? How would it “work”?
The Surrender
• German generals decide to surrender
– Can’t win with US entry into the war
– Hope the treaty will be based on the 14
– Kaiser abdicates
• The cease fire goes into place at 11 AM
on 11/11/1918 (Armistice Day)
– Peace Conference set for January 1919 in
Paris Peace Conference & the
Treaty of Versailles (Document P)
• Wilson leads US
– Wants to “end all wars”
• Treaty provisions
– 22. What did members of
the League of Nations
commit themselves to?
– 23. What kind of
punishments did Germany
The “Big Four” (L to R)
David Lloyd George – GB
Couldn’t be trusted
Georges Clemenceau – France
Wanted revenge
Vittorio Orlando – Italy
Demanded new ports
Woodrow Wilson – U.S.
1914: Before the Great War
• Russia
• AustriaHungary
• Ottoman
After the Great War: by 1924
• Finland
• Estonia
• Latvia
• Lithuania
• Poland
• Czechoslovakia
• Yugoslavia
• Syria
• Trans-Jordan
• Iraq
Fight Over the Treaty
• Wilson returns to US (Docs Q & R)
– 241. Why was Wilson so adamant that the Treaty
be approved?
• Senate has to approve treaty (Docs S & T)
– 25. What was Lodge’s reason for rejecting the
– 26. Do you agree or disagree with Lodge’s
• No compromise: Wilson vs. Congress
• League – set up in Geneva, Switzerland
without the U.S.
Reflection Questions
• 27. What do you think was the biggest
reason why Europe erupted into war?
• 28. What provisions would you have put in
the treaty of Versailles? What would you
have excluded?
• 29. What are two things that were new,
interesting, or you know that you will (or
should) remember a month from now?

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