U.S. History Mr. Mintzes IMPACT OF WORLD WAR I ON UNITED STATES World war one had devastating effects on Europe. The Great War demolished the Austria- Hungary Empire and the Russian Empire. New states were established out of these former empires including Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Communism arose in Eastern Europe, and France and Britain gained many new territories from the defeated nations, as Germany, Austria, and Turkey lost most of their land and resources. However, the effects of the war were also felt across the Atlantic Ocean in America. Due to the war industry in the US grew, the women’s movement progressed, and the government adopted new diplomatic policies. The Great War affected all areas of life in America, and continued to have its effect for many years to come. As a result of the US joining the war in 1917, industry production in America boomed. Manufacturers had to keep production up to the pace needed to support the war. In order to produce more material in a short amount of time, new technologies were developed to help manufacturers meet the needs of the government and people. Also, more employment opportunities opened for women and African-Americans. In the absence of many of the able- bodied men in American, more women than ever went to work in the factories. Additionally, in what came to be known as “the Great Migration,” thousands of African-Americans migrated to the cities, especially northern cities to find jobs in the war industries. During this time, as industry boomed, so did the economy. More previously unemployed people held jobs, and the finances of the public, which had been poor since the recession of 1897, improved. However, as the war ended, and soldiers started to return home, the industry production began to slow, and there was less need for workers in factories. Many women stopped working, but even so there were not enough jobs for the men returning home from the military. The labor force just could not accommodate the four million discharged veterans, especially since war production has ended. This rising unemployment, after a time of industrial boom and economic prosperity, planted the seeds of the coming Great Depression. During the boom in industry, many of America’s men were serving overseas in the war, and therefore unable to uphold their jobs in the factories. In order to fill the vacancies, companies allowed women to work in previously male only jobs. Women began flocking to factories, and working in industries in order to support their families while their male relatives were away at war. This new independence experienced by working women carried over after World War I. Previous to the war, many women had embarked on campaigning for universal suffrage, but unfortunately America’s politicians were not ready to give women the right to vote. However, that attitude changed after the war, because so many women had shown that their strength and independence was equal to men, and they had helped the war effort in so many ways. President Wilson urged Congress to give women the same rights as men because they deserved it. “We have made partners of the women in this war; shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnerships of privilege and right?” (Woodrow Wilson). World War I hugely affected the politics of America due to the ratification of the nineteenth amendment. World War I had also been a display of new technologies and new types of warfare. The tactics and strategies of the nineteenth century proved to be obsolete, and incredibly costly, in the war. Instead trench warfare, machine guns, heavy artillery, tanks, airplanes and biological weapons were the legacy of the First World War, as were casualties at a scale never before seen in the history of the world. This war that ended with so many casualties, even for late joining America, prompted the United States government and its people to adopt a new position concerning war. After the war, Americans felt that they had been too hasty in joining a war in Europe. This sentiment caused a new era of diplomacy that re-adopted America’s pre-war isolationism. The American people made it clear they did not again intend to become involved with European conflicts. It became unofficial US policy that, unless attacked by a belligerent nation, America would not enter a war being fought by foreign nations. This antiwar sentiment lasted until December, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the United States entered the Second World War. Clearly, isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s, and the conscious decision to not become involved in European affairs, as well as, antiwar sentiment among the American people, was an effect of World War I. While the physical impact of the “Great War” on America was minimal, since the war had not been fought on American soil, the effects of the war on the American people, on the American economy, and on the American psyche in general, was substantial. The American people, and at least 2,000,000 of its men, had been exposed to modern warfare and all its horrors. America had, for a while at least, become a member of the world community and had joined with France, England and Italy in defeating the Central Powers. Its President had been a major player in the diplomacy that followed the war, and had been the catalyst and creator of the League of Nations – even though the US never joined the organization. Domestically, the women and minorities of America had proven their value during the war, and the cause of suffrage and civil rights would never be the same. Finally, the United States had proven to itself and to the world that it had the industrial capability and capacity to become a military giant and an “arsenal of democracy” in a very short time if called upon to do so. That realization – and that reality – would become even more apparent when the “War to End All Wars” failed in its goal and the world was plunged into an even larger conflagration only twenty-one years after the guns fell silent on “the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month” in the year 1918.
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