Week 2: WWI and World Conflict

Reading:  Foner, Chapter 19 "Safe for Democracy:  The United States and World War I, 1916-20"

War and Revolution:  America Reengages the World 1914-1920
The delayed decision of the United States to enter the First World War is a turning point in American History.  It also followed a period of direct intervention in challenging or holding in check the Mexican Revolution by the Wilson administration.  In this period we find a series of domestic labor strikes and aggressive crackdowns by armed militias occurred at Ludlow Massacre in Colorado and at Bisbee, New Mexico. The victorious war effort in Europe was particularly bloody and resulted in heavy losses for those American troops who were sent to the front in 1918.  While the selections in this reader do not include documents on this phase, we shall use Alan Dawley’s Changing the World:  American Progressives in War and Revolution (2003) as a synthesis of the complex array of issues that were manifested in Wilson’s New Freedom initiatives, and his League of Nations proposals following the war.  While Wilson’s proposal for joining the League of Nations was rejected by an organized conservative countermovement at home, Wilson’s decision to occupy Haiti in 1915 also caused embarrassment for him at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.  Students interested in the League of Nations will profit from studying documents that have become available from the League of Nations archives now stored at the United Nations in Geneva, or at http://www.indiana.edu/~league/sites_documents.htm; or  http://www.unog.ch/library/archives/faq.htm.  In the aftermath of the withdrawal of US troops from Europe, Wilson engaged in an aggressive anti-communist tactics that included the landing of marines at Vladisvostock in Russia to support a counter-revolution against the Bolsheviks.  This period also witnessed the suppression of radical labor movements in 1919 in Seattle, Everett and in Centralia.  This was a harbinger of a trend to suppress and protect against the Red Scare, that saw the arrest, trial and execution of the anarchist bombers Sacco and Vanzetti, and the imprisonment of the Socialist Presidential candidate Eugene Debs.  

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