America’s Great War: World War I and the American Experience by Robert H. Zieger

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America’s Great War: World War I and the American Experience by Robert H. Zieger In the book, America’s Great War: World War I and the American Experience, Robert H. Zieger discusses the events between 1914 through 1920 forever defined the United States in the Twentieth Century. When conflict broke out in Europe in 1914, the President, Woodrow Wilson, along with the American people wished to remain neutral. In the beginning of the Twentieth Century United States politics was still based on the “isolationism” ideals of the previous century. The United States did not wish to be involved in European politics or world matters. The U.S. goal was to expand trade and commerce throughout the world and protect the borders of North America. The American belief at the beginning of the war was that it would be short conflict reminiscent of the fight between Germany and France in 1870(Zieger, 9). At the time both the Allies and the Central Powers, along with Americans, miscalculated the impact the involvement of American forces could have for either side. The U.S. Navy was expanded and upgraded during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt but the Army was still a minimal force. To keep with the “true neutrality” the United States initially refused to aid either side with supplies or economic assistance. Once the battles became entrenched and a “war of attrition” began, the European nations continued to look toward the United States for aid. As American financial institutions and exporters sought guidance from Wilson’s administration they received a different answer: “short term loans and credits by American financial institutions to belligerents in connection with trade were acceptable” (Zieger, 11). Americans could not over look the potential economic boost that could be achieved by supplying the European nations with food, supplies and weapons orders being requested. Both sides accepted the United States’ aid but they also sought to cut-off each other’s supply chain. While the Allies barricaded Germany’s ports with the British Navy, Germany began attacking merchant ships using their submarines, or U-boats. While Wilson was angered by the British tactics he was even more infuriated by the German’s. This would be the ultimate end of U.S. neutrality as Wilson would sternly address Germany’s actions and not Britain’s. In 1915 a German U-boat sank a Brit... ... middle of paper ... ... to be President afterwards. His unwillingness to compromise with the Senate caused the Treaty of Versailles along with the League of Nations never to be ratified by the United States. The notion of the League of Nations that won Wilson a Noble Peace Prize in 1920 was never joined his own country. After the election of 1920 America would return to its isolationism roots and watch as the nations of Europe headed down a path for another world war. As Americans watched Communism rise in Russia they questioned for the first time the patronage of their fellow Americans. Economic and social reforms that started up during the war were set to a status-quo mentality. The actions set forward from the Treaty of Versailles and stance the U.S. Congress took on the League of Nations would eventually lead the world in the worst depression ever and ultimately to a second world war in a mere twenty years. Works Cited: Zieger, Robert H. (2000). America’s Great War: World War I and the American Experience. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc. Davidson, J. (Ed.). (2002). Nation of nations: A concise narrative of the American republic. (3rd ed., Vol. 2). New York: McGraw-Hill

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