World War I

"The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the
 tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire
 no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material
 compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make."


"Small use it will be to save democracy for the race if we cannot save the race for
 democracy. I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war."



   I. Problems with Mexico
       A. Mexican Revolution (1910)
            1. Massive chaos (Diaz...Madero...Huerta)
            2. Wilson refused to recognize
       B. Tampico incident (1914)
            1. Group of U.S. sailors arrested
            2. Promptly released, but no formal apology
       C. Veracruz occupation (1914)
            1. German ship w/ munitions for Huerta
            2. Mexicans resisted (400+ casualties)
            3. War w/ Mexico seemed forthcoming
       D. Niagara Falls Conference (1914)
            1. Argentina, Brazil, Chile
            2. Huerta refused agreement; replaced by Carranza
            3. War avoided, but relations remained tense
       E. Pershing Expedition (1916-17)
            1. Pursued "Pancho" Villa (w/ Carranza's approval)
                  • bandit/revolutionary
                  • killed 19 Americans in Columbus, N Mex
            2. Mission failed; troops recalled amidst world war
       F. Relations improved under Obregon after WWI
       G. Taco Time, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Taco John's
  II. Outbreak of World War I
       A. Underlying causes (the "camel's back")
            1. Nationalism (= extreme patriotism)
            2. Imperialism (= insatiable territorial hunger)
            3. Militarism (to support nationalism & imperialism)
            4. Mad search for alliances (exhaustive; overlapped)
            5. International rivalries (all of the above +)
            6. Global anarchy
       B. Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated (the "straw")
            1. Heir to Hapsburg throne of Austria-Hungary
            2. Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914
            3. Serbs wanted Bosnia to reject Austria-Hungary
       C. Network of alliances set in motion
            1. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia
            2. Germany (Wilhelm II) backed Austria-Hungary
            3. Russia (Nicholas II) came to Serbia's aid
            4. Most of Europe at war within 5 weeks
       D. Europe chooses sides
            1. Central Powers
                  • led by Germany & Austria-Hungary
                  • major allies were Turkey & Bulgaria
                  • initially Italy, but switched in 1915
            2. Allied Powers (aka Triple Entente)
                  • led by Great Britain, France, Russia
                  • 25+ others (inc. Belgium, Greece, Portugal)
            3. United States
                  • issued Proclamation of Neutrality
                  • joined Allies as "associated power" in 1917
       E. Schlieffen Plan = Germany's design for quick victory
            1. Divide army, hurling greatest force against France
                  • meant giving up ground in the east
                  • surge thru Belgium in 6 days
                  • block English Channel to prevent British aid
                  • capture Paris, then shift effort against Russia
            2. Belgium resisted for 18 days
                  • German high command lost its nerve
                  • sent forces east; British able to land in France
 III. America Moves from Neutrality to War
       A. Br. liner Lusitania = 120+ Americans lost (May 1915)
       B. Sec. of State = Bryan resigned; replaced by Lansing
       C. More U.S. lives lost = Arabic (1915) & Sussex (1916)
       D. Election of 1916
            1. Wilson (D) vs. Charles Evans Hughes (R)
            2. Wilson's campaign: "He Kept Us Out Of War"
       E. Events of 1917 compelled U.S. to enter war
            1. Wilson's "peace w/o victory" speech (Jan)
            2. Germany renewed U-boat warfare w/ vigor (Jan)
                  • U.S. immediately severed diplomatic relations
                  • 8 U.S. vessels sunk during next 2 months
            3. Zimmermann telegram intercepted/exposed (Feb)
            4. Bolshevik Revolution (March)
                  • Kerensky...Trotsky...Lenin
                  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918)
            5. Congress votes overwhelmingly for war (Apr)
                  • "The world must be made safe for democracy"
                  • "War?" Jeannette Rankin (Mont): "No tanks!"
                       ✓ first female elected to Congress
                       ✓ dual causes = pacifism + feminism
 IV. Mobilization: America's Home Front
       A. Espionage Act (1917) & Sedition Act (1918)
       B. Public hysteria against "hyphenated Americans"
            1. Orchestras refused to play Bach, Beethoven, etc.
            2. Librarians removed books by German authors
            3. German measles changed to "liberty measles"
            4. Sauerkraut called "liberty cabbage"
       C. Famous Uncle Sam "I Want You" recruiting poster
       D. Voluntary rationing ("___less ___days")
       E. Fed'l agencies created
            1. Committee on Public Info / Geo. Creel
            2. War Industry Board / Bernard Baruch
            3. Food Administration / Herbert Hoover
            4. Railroad Administration / Wm. Gibbs McAdoo
       F. Woman worked jobs previously male-dominated
       G. War financed = 1/3 taxes & 2/3 war bonds
       H. Great Migration = southern blacks to northern cities
  V. Combat
       A. Trench warfare engulfed Europe (25,000+ mi.)
       B. Old ways of waging war met w/ new tech
            1. Machine guns → fired on mass infantry charges
            2. Planes → reconnaissance (first) & bombing (later)
            3. Germany → gas-filled airships (zeppelins) to bomb
            4. Germany → cannon ("Big Bertha") w/ 75-mi. range
            5. Poison gas intro'd by Germany, but used by all
            6. Armored tanks intro'd by Britain
       C. American Expeditionary Force (AEF)
            1. Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing
            2. Marshal Ferdinand Foch = supreme commander
            3. U.S. "doughboys" fought as separate Allied units
       D. American naval forces = Adm. Wm. S. Sims
       E. Cpl. Alvin York & Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker
       F. Major engagements
            1. First Marne (1914) → Germans halted at Paris
            2. Tannenburg (1914) → German victory vs. Russia
            3. Verdun (1916) → French victory vs. Germany
            4. Somme (1916) → 1st use of tanks by British
            5. Château-Thierry (1918) → 1st key battle for AEF
            6. Second Marne (1918) → war's turning point
            7. Saint-Mihiel (1918) → 1st major U.S. offensive
            8. Meuse-Argonne (1918) → largest U.S. engagement
 VI. Peace Negotiations: Treaty of Versailles
       A. Wilson's "Fourteen Points" = plan for lasting peace
            1. Presented to Congress on Jan 8, 1918
            2. Points 1-5: broad concerns
            3. Next 8: land claims & postwar boundaries
            4. 14: "general association of nations"
       B. Armistice signed on Nov 11, 1918
       C. 27 nations represented at Versailles
            1. "Big Four" = England, France, Italy, U.S.
            2. U.S. less vindictive than others
            3. Bolshevik gov't of Russia angry w/ exclusion
            4. Germany (no attendance) forced to comply
                  • war guilt clause
                  • reparations ($50 billion +)
                  • mandate system (no U.S. participation)
                  • junked entire military & naval establishment
                  • covenant of League of Nations
       D. League of Nations rejected by Congress
            1. Treaties must be ratified by 2/3 vote of Senate
                  • "Irreconcilables" = Borah (ID) & La Follette (WI)
                  • "Strong Reservationists" = Lodge (MA)
                  • "Mild Reservationists"
            2. Senate's reluctance to approve League
                  • less power to decide U.S. level of isolationism
                  • mirrored public's wish of withdrawal/pacifism
            3. Wilson's failure to sell League
                  • no key Republican in peace talks delegation
                  • public angered about Wilson's overseas trip
                  • refused to consider any compromise
                  • nationwide 8,000-mi. campaign to rally support
                  • rendered politically ineffective due to stroke
                  • vetoed joint resolution to formally end war
            4. Wilson awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1919
            5. Senate twice defeated Treaty + League
                  • 1920 election final mandate against League
                  • 1921 resolution ended war (under Harding)
VII. Legacy of World War I
       A. Germany
            1. Economic conditions esp. devastating
            2. Search for scapegoats
            3. Adolf Hitler (former Austrian corporal) appears
       B. United States
            1. 130,000 dead (½ battle/disease) + 200 wounded
            2. General public disillusionment
                  • no vast international peace & democracy
                  • desire for "return to normalcy" (re: 1920s)
            3. Undermined world peace by rejecting League
            4. Adopted stance of "independent internationalism"
            5. Isolationism (theory & practice) = imbalanced
       C. Other nations
            1. Weak countries fell prey to imperialistic regimes
            2. Many reverted to similar actions that caused WWI
            3. Geographical changes
                  • Russian losses = Finland, ½ Poland, more
                  • Austria-Hungary split = Czech, ½ Poland, more
                  • Germany = land to Belgium, France, Poland
                  • neutrals (Denmark, Spain, etc.) not affected



  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Czar Nicholas II
  • Central Powers
  • Triple Entente
  • Schlieffen Plan
  • U-boat
  • Proclamation of Neutrality
  • Lusitania incident
  • Robert Lansing
  • Sussex Pledge
  • Zimmermann telegram
  • Bolshevik Revolution
  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  • James Montgomery Flagg
  • Charles Evans Hughes
  • Jeannette Rankin
  • Selective Service Act
  • War Industries Board
  • Bernard Baruch
  • Food Administration
  • Committee on Public Information
  • George Creel
  • "Liberty" bonds
  • Espionage Act
  • Schenck v. United States
  • Sedition Act
  • American Expeditionary Force
  • John J. Pershing
  • William S. Sims
  • Ferdinand Foch
  • Eddie Rickenbacker
  • Alvin York
  • Saint-Mihiel Offensive
  • Meuse-Argonne Offensive
  • "Big Four"
  • Treaty of Versailles
  • Fourteen Points
  • League of Nations
  • "irreconcilables"
  • "strong reservationists"
  • "mild reservationists"
  • William E. Borah
  • Hiram Johnson
  • Henry Cabot Lodge


  • Woodrow Wilson: "Peace Without Victory" Speech (1917)


1.  Describe President Woodrow Wilson's efforts as a peacemaker between 1914 and
     1917, and account for America's entry into World War I.

2.  Assess the relative influence of any three of the following in the American decision
     to declare war on Germany in 1917—German naval action; American economic
     interests; President Woodrow Wilson's idealism; Allied propaganda; America's claim
     to world power.

3.  To what extent did the United States achieve the objectives that led it to enter World
     War I?

4.  Explain the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on World War I and the reaction of the
     Allies to the event.

5.  "The blame for America's refusal to join the League of Nations may be placed upon
     President Woodrow Wilson's narrow partisanship." Evaluate this statement.

6.  How well did Woodrow Wilson master the use of power as President? Compare his
     political shrewdness with that of any two of the following—George Washington;
     Thomas Jefferson; Andrew Jackson; Abraham Lincoln; Theodore Roosevelt. Cite
     specific examples within each President's administration to support your arguments.


  1. Before World War I broke out:
    1. the European countries had stopped obtaining colonies
    2. only Germany had built up its armed forces
    3. the European nations distrusted one another
    4. the United States and Great Britain signed a pact of alliance

  2. President Woodrow Wilson faced troubles with Mexico from the beginning of his first term because Mexico:
    1. declared war on the United States
    2. violated American waters with warships
    3. was torn by revolution
    4. invaded several Central American nations

  3. The incident that marked a turning point in American feeling about maintaining neutrality in the war was the:
    1. sinking of the Lusitania
    2. British blockade of neutral countries
    3. German invasion of Belgium
    4. assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian nationalists

  4. The most distressing news to the Allies in 1917 was:
    1. the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia
    2. disclosure of the Zimmermann note
    3. the mid-war alliance switch by Italy
    4. failure of the Pershing Expedition in Mexico

  5. President Woodrow Wilson was hindered in his campaign for the League of Nations because of:
    1. serious illness
    2. corruption within his administration
    3. the resignation of William Jennings Bryan as Secretary of State
    4. impeachment proceedings

The selection of what personalities would appear on Mount Rushmore was purely the decision of Gutzon Borglum. Some other figures were proposed.  Eleanor Roosevelt, supported by the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, wanted Susan B. Anthony to be included among the sculptures. Democrats, feeling that Borglum's choices showed Republican favoritism, lobbied for Woodrow Wilson to be carved. Click on the faces to TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE further.


George M. Cohan's "Over There"   performed by Glenn Miller and His Army Air Force Band