World War I and the Home Front

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World War I began in 1914 but America remained neutral until its entrance into the war in 1917. The U-boats sinking of the British liner Lusitania in 1915, the sinking of five American ships in 1917, and the “Zimmerman telegram” sent from Germany to Mexico led up to America’s declaration of war. America’s involvement in World War I not only impacted the war front but also the home front.

When America entered World War I in 1917 the U.S. Government enforced many measures on its citizens. Some of these measures violated constitutional rights. The biggest measure inflicted on the American population was censorship. The formation of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) and the passing of the Espionage Act and Sedition Amendment were the biggest contributors.

In April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson recruited George Creel to head the CPI, a government agency established to spread pro-war propaganda to the country. The CPI defined patriotism as supporting the government’s policies, sacrificing for the good of the nation, and defending the country against its enemies. Creel sought the most talented and popular writers, artist, speakers, and singers to help inflame patriotism in the hearts and minds of the American people. The CPI’s propaganda used emotional appeal and demonization to win over Americans and promote patriotism. The success of the CPI’s propaganda ignited great dissension towards those opposed to the war. This led to an ideology that any American not in support of the war must be a traitor. Citizens took it upon themselves to enforce patriotism to those accused of disloyalty. Such enforcement included wrapping a woman in a flag and the deportation of striking copper miners in Arizona to the New Mexico de...

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Works Cited

Boyer, Paul S. et al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Volume II: Since 1865, 7th ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2011, 2008), 682-692.

Digital History. “America at War: World War I.” Last modified April 4, 2011. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display_printable.cfm?HHID=531.

Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress. “Loyalty.” Gerard, James W. Accessed April 5, 2011. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/nfor:@field%28SUBJ+@od1%28World+War,+1914-1918--Collaborationists--United+States+%29%29#text.

Snider, Christy Jo. "Patriots and Pacifists: The Rhetorical Debate about Peace, Patriotism, and Internationalism, 1914-1930," Rhetoric & Public Affairs Volume 8, Number 1 (Spring 2005): 59-83, accessed July 19, 2010, doi: 10.1353/rap.2005.0048
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