Before World War I


Before World War I, of the United States was suppressed from reaching its great economic potential considering its dysfunctional financial structure, ineffective political system, and violent racial and labor conflicts. In 1913, the United States was suffering from depression. And as a result, it produced a need for jobs, a need for money, and a need for a new market. And the war was a solution to address all of that (Corey). World War I affected all areas of life in America. Some of the most significant changes include progress in the women’s movement, the effect of shell shock on its culture, and the adoption of new diplomatic policies by the government.
World War I served as an opportunity in a certain way where the United States began to take orders for war materials which promised an economic recovery. New technologies were created to assist manufacturers in order to keep up with the demand in war materials in a short amount of time. The increase in manufacturing, production, and efficiency opened up opportunities in the labor market as it was growing rapidly, and hence, more people were moving into the market place (Corey). When the U.S. entered the war, many of her men had to serve overseas in the war, resulting in a shortage of labor in factories. Consequently, there was a massive influx of people who moved to the cities. From the south, African Americans migrated to the northern cities to take advantage of new job opportunities. In addition, many women took on the jobs of men and thus, changed the role of women during the First World War.
Prior to the war, women were only involved in the domestic sphere, within the home. The public sphere was widely seen as only for men. Progress towards a change in this attitude was slowly improving. Because the war industry in the U.S. grew so rapidly, companies needed to fill vacancies as the men had left to serve in the war. Therefore, women were allowed to take those jobs. This freedom of working women continued into the after effects of World War I, increasing the expectations and influence of women and their roles in society. Previously, many women embarked on campaigning for universal suffrage, however, America was not ready to give women the right to vote. This changed after the women contributed to the war in many ways. They showed that their independence and strength was equal to that of a man’s. President Wilson urged Congress to grant women the same rights as men: “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?” (Eleanor). World War I is seen as a positive turning point in this aspect of progressivism in America due to the ratification of the nineteenth amendment.
The First World War shattered the lives of many young men. By the end of the war, thousands of soldiers return from the trenches and battlefield of the war were affected negatively not just physically, but also psychologically. A new kind of psychological disorder, these soldiers suffered shell shock to a degree that was never experienced in any war before. They were basically out of their minds and did not know there was anything wrong with them besides being suicidal (Corey). The sequelae of the war that was the impact on these young soldiers, returning after experiencing sheer horror, trying to live normally in a nation that has not share the same experience was extremely damaging. The war had an impact on the future of the people and on the future of the nation in which the way it was divided up. Groups of people were separated out because the society was not working for them (Corey). To them, the society did not and could not understand them and their stories of despair. For this reason, they felt a sense of displacement. There was a lot of people suffering from mental health problems as a result of the war (Corey).
The United States stayed out of the war, steadfast on neutrality. President Wilson won the re-election in 1916 mainly because he was anti-war at the time, his campaign featured slogan “he kept us out of war” even though he was pro-British and hated German militarism. He was determined to maintain the peace as long as he could simultaneously protecting the nation’s honor and power (Corey). However, he began to change his viewpoint when the German U-boats started sinking American merchant ships. With the horrendous rising death tolls came a crucial moral decision that could no longer be ignored, the United States needed to take on a leadership role in keeping and promoting freedom, sovereignty, and self-determination for all nations. The U.S. finally declared war on Germany. Wilson was determined that it would be “the war to end all wars”, and believed that America would be fighting to make “the world safe for democracy”. Thus, this intervention in the First World War radically altered U.S. foreign policy and helped form America’s standing as a self-proclaimed defender and protector of freedom and democracy globally.
The League of Nations, envisioned by President Wilson, was meant to be an international organization designed to facilitate cooperation, to help ensure a global “permanent peace”, and to promote negotiation and mediating disputes (History.com). However, due to many casualties that resulted from the ruthless war, the United States government and its people prompted a new position concerning war. Americans, reeling from the emotional and financial costs of war, felt that joining the war effort was a mistake. This sentiment caused a new era of diplomacy of not getting involved with European conflicts. America turned to isolationism (Corey).
The First World War had a drastic impact on many nations. The effects of the war on America were wide-ranging. It can be seen as a turning point in American life – in economy, culture, and politics. Thanks to the high demand in war materials, profits were increasing and the U.S. economy was booming resulting in becoming the world’s leading economic strength. The women’s movement progressed much more as they earned the right to vote. Its society faced challenges as people and the nation were divided up due to the war, and called for isolationism as America adopted a new policy in its position in global affairs.