A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 33: “The War to End War”
~ 1917 – 1918 ~
War by Act of Germany
On January 22, 1917,
made one final, futile attempt to avert war, delivering
a moving address that declared that only “peace without victory” would be lasting.
Germany responded by shocking the world, announcing that it would not be engaging
warfare, which meant that its
would now be firing on armed
and unarmed ships in the war zone.
Wilson asked Congress for the authority to arm merchant ships, but a band of Midwestern
senators tried to block this measure.
was intercepted and published on March 1, 1917.
Written by German foreign secretary
, it secretly proposed an
alliance between Germany and Mexico, and if the
could recover Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona from the U.S.
The Germans also began to make good on their threats, sinking numerous ships, while in
Russia, a revolution toppled the tsarist regime.
On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked for Congress to declare war, which it did four days
later; Wilson had lost his gamble.
Wilsonian Idealism Enthroned
Many people still didn’t want to enter into war, for America had prided itself in isolationism
for decades, and now, Wilson was entangling America in a distant war.
Six senators and 50 representatives, including the first Congress
, voted against war.
To gain enthusiasm for the war, Wilson came up with the idea of America entering the war to
“make the world safe for democracy.”
This idealistic motto worked brilliantly, but with the new American zeal came the loss
of Wilson’s earlier motto, “peace without victory.”
Fourteen Potent Wilsonian Points
On January 8, 1917, Wilson delivered his
Fourteen Points Address
were a set of idealistic goals for peace:
No more secret treaties.
Freedom of the seas was to be maintained.
A removal of economic barriers among nations.
Reduction f armament burdens.
Adjustment of colonial claims in the interests of natives and colonizers.
Other points included: “
,” or independence for oppressed minority
groups, and a
League of Nations
, an international organization that would keep the
peace and settle world disputes.
Creel Manipulates Minds
Committee on Public Information
, headed by
, was created to “sell” the
war to those people who were against it and gain support for it.
The Creel organization sent out an army of 75,000 men to deliver speeches in favor of
the war, showered millions of pamphlets containing the most potent “Wilsonisms”
upon the world, splashed posters and billboards that had emotional appeals, and
showed anti-German movies like
The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin