1Chapter ElevenUNIT 11: TEXAS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR AND THE1920'STHE SITUATION IN EUROPE IN THE EARLY 1900'SThe early 1900's in Europe featured a wave of impassioned nationalism. Large armiesand powerful navies abounded. Nations lived in fear and jealousy of each other as theycompeted for colonies, international markets, and the military/economic "edge" inEurope. Entangling alliances maximized the risk that even a small conflict could spreadacross Europe and instigate a general war.The main Central Powers nations includedGermany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks. The major Allied Powers wereEngland, France, and Russia.On June 18, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary(Central Power), was assassinated by a Serbian (Allied Power). There was a "snowballeffect" that began when Austria attempted to punish Serbia by demanding that Serbiagive up its sovereignty and become a puppet state of Austria-Hungary. Serbia thencalled on her allies, France and Russia, for assistance. Russia mobilized its troops andmarched them to the western edge of the Russian border to be prepared in case of war.Austria then called upon her ally, Germany, which surmised that war was inevitable andthe only hope for victory was a quick thrust into France before the French defenseswere in place. Within days of this attack, all the Central powers were at war with all theAlliance.There was unprecedented ferocity in Europe, as both sides used every technique andweapon imaginable to kill. Flame throwers, poisonous gas, tanks, and aircraft took theirtoll, but the most devastating killer of all was the machine gun, which could fire 8 roundsper second. For much of the war, four million soldiers burrowed into the ground in atrench warfare, ravaged by tuberculosis, plagued with lice and rats, staring at eachother across barren expanses called "no man's land."Occasionally, the men would "go over the top" to dislodge the enemy. 100,000 could diein a matter of hours on such days. World War I was the first truly total war--aimed atdestroying civilian populations as well as military objectives. Eventually, the UnitedStates joined the Allied Nations and declared war on the Central Powers.As might be expectedgiven Texas’s pugnacious history, Texas sent a disproportionatenumber of volunteers (relative to the other states) to fight in World War I. About200,000 young Texans volunteered to "make the world safe for Democracy."Over5,000 would die.Texan women provided essential support to the war effort byincreasing their roles on the home front.
2Katherine Stinson being sworn in as an airmail pilot, San Antonio, Texas, May 14, 1915Texas enjoyed considerable influence in the White House during the war, holdingseveral cabinet-level positions and with Colonel E. M. House of Houston, generallyregarded as President Wilson's most trusted advisor.Partially because of these strongpolitical connections between Austin and Washington,D.C. and partly because of the wide-open skies andexcellent climate, Texas served as a major trainingground during the conflict. Over 250,000 men gainedtheir basic training in the state and additional militaryand aviation training bases were constructed asneeded. This federal spending greatly stimulated theTexas economy, as local regions provided enormousamounts of food, oil, and lumberto meet the military’sneeds.