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HIST212: Introduction to United States History - Reconstruction to the Present

Unit 5: World War I and the 1920s   When the nations of Europe declared war on each other in the summer of 1914, few observers expected the conflict to last more than a few months. President Woodrow Wilson declared American neutrality and attempted to keep the nation isolated from the violent conflict. As the war gradually expanded throughout much of the world, both sides suffered millions of casualties. Wilson continued to champion American neutrality and won reelection in 1916 on an anti-war platform, but less than a year later, German attacks on American shipping convinced him to declare war on the Central Powers. Fresh American soldiers joined weary English and French troops along the Western Front and eventually forced Germany to declare an armistice on November 11, 1918. In this unit, we will discuss how the war affected the United States and examine why Woodrow Wilson’s plans for a League of Nations failed to receive Congressional approval. In the decade following this war, many Americans feared foreign influences that could, in their view, undermine the American way of life, and this period witnessed a “Red Scare,” a resurgence of nativism and race riots. We will also examine how Americans lived, worked, and played during this decade of economic and technological abundance.

Unit 5 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 15 hours.

☐    Subunit 5.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 5.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.4: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 5.5: 2.5 hours

☐    Unit 5 Assessment: 2 hours

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this unit, you will be able to: - identify how and why America became involved in World War I and assess the impact of American involvement on the postwar peace settlement; - identify the causes of the Red Scare, nativism, and racism in the 1920s and assess their impact on American society; - identify the factors behind the emergence of a consumer economy in the 1920s; and - analyze and interpret primary source documents from the twentieth century, using historical research methods.

  • Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “World War One and the United States” Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “World War One and the United States (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this lecture, which focuses on the causes of the First World War and discusses how the United States reacted to the crisis in Europe. The presentation explains how and why the United States eventually entered the war in 1917 and the consequences of the conflict for the nation.

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 20 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Reading: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 10: War, Prosperity, and Depression” Link: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 10: War, Prosperity, and Depression” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the entire article except for the final section titled “The Great Depression.” 

    Note on the Text: This chapter from America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History focuses on how the United States was gradually drawn into World War One. The chapter goes on to discuss President Woodrow Wilson’s role in the peace negotiations at Versailles and the turbulent period that followed the conflict. The later part of the chapter addresses the economic, political, and social forces that influenced the lives of many Americans during the 1920s.

    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

5.1 Woodrow Wilson and American Isolationism   5.1.1 Origins of the Conflict   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Lecture: YouTube: Open Yale Courses: HIST 202: Professor John Merriman’s “The Coming of the Great War” Link: YouTube: Open Yale Courses: Professor John Merriman’s “The Coming of the Great War” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this lecture, in which Professor Merriman discusses the events leading to World War I. Many experts believed the war would be short and decisive, but British, French, and German armies on the Western Front quickly bogged down and began constructing massive trench lines along the entire front. Each side fought a bloody war of attrition for the next three years as the armies tried to wear out the industrial and military capacities of the opposing side.
     
    Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. The linked material above has been reposted, and can be found in its original form here.
     
    Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

5.1.2 American Neutrality   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 56—US Entry into WWI” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 56—US Entry into WWI” Presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the presentation. Then, focus on sections 1 (“US Neutrality”) and 2 (“Subs”) of the video presentation and read the accompanying text.
     
    Note on the Media: Sections one and two of the presentation focus on American efforts to maintain political neutrality from 1914 through 1916 as World War One raged in Europe. The presentation also discusses how German submarine warfare and other militant actions threatened to undermine America’s neutrality and pull the nation into the conflict.

    Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2 America Enters the War   5.2.1 Declaring War: Making the World “Safe for Democracy”   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 56—US Entry into WWI” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 56—US Entry into WWI” Presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Focus on section 3 (“Mobilizing the Nation for War”) of the video presentation. Be sure to read the accompanying text.
     
    Note on the Media: The third section focuses on President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to enter World War One on the side of Great Britain and France in order to “make the world safe for democracy.” The presentation examines national, state, and local efforts to mobilize the country and put American industry on a wartime footing.

    Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Brigham Young University Library’s The World War I Document Archive: Woodrow Wilson’s “War Message to Congress” Link: Brigham Young University Library’s The World War I Document Archive: ** Woodrow Wilson’s “War Message to Congress” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the primary-source document on the webpage.
     
    Note on the Text: In his “War Message,” President Woodrow Wilson presents specific arguments as to why the United States can no longer remain neutral. He argues that Germany and its allies have violated American neutrality and the United States must respond militarily in order to make the world “safe for democracy.” After reading this document, consider the following questions: What recent historical events did Wilson touch on as grounds for war with Germany? Why would a war against Germany be a war to advance democracy? How did Wilson characterize the government of Germany at this time? What actions, according to Wilson, did the United States need to implement to prosecute this war?

    Reading this primary resource should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

5.2.2 The War in Europe   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Lecture: YouTube: Open Yale Courses: HIST 202: Professor John Merriman’s “War in the Trenches” Link: YouTube: Open Yale Courses: Professor John Merriman’s “War in the Trenches” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this lecture, in which Professor Merriman discusses the war in Europe and the nature of trench warfare.
     
    Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. The linked material above has been reposted, and can be found in its original form here.

  • Reading: United States Library of Congress: African American Odyssey: “Fighting at Home and Abroad” and “Theodore Roosevelt’s Address to the Circle for Negro War Relief” Link: United States Library of Congress: African American Odyssey: “Fighting at Home and Abroad” (HTML) and “Theodore Roosevelt’s Address to the Circle for Negro War Relief” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read these two articles.

    Note on the Text: These readings focus on the contributions of African-Americans to American military efforts in World War One and efforts by African Americans to achieve equal rights.

    Reading these two resources should take approximately 30 minutes.
      
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2.3 The Home Front   - Reading: Brigham Young University Library’s The World War I Document Archive: Arthur L. Frothingham’s “Handbook of War Facts and Peace Problems” Link: Brigham Young University Library’s The World War I Document Archive: Arthur L. Frothingham’s “Handbook of War Facts and Peace Problems” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Chapter V, “Our Government’s Conduct of the War” from the 1919 pamphlet regarding the actions taken by the United States government to channel the nation’s resources for the war effort. How does the author justify the vast expansion of executive power of the president and the federal government during the war?

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 45 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “America and World War I” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “America and World War I” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage up to the subsection, “World War I on the Home Front.” Note that this reading concerns the domestic impact of World War I, discusses growing anti-German sentiments in the United States and the federal government’s actions to silence political opponents of the war through legal prosecution and intimidation.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.3 Failure at Versailles   - Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “World War I's Domestic Legacy” Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “World War I's Domestic Legacy (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this lecture. This multimedia presentation
discusses the domestic impact of World War I on American politics
and society.  

 Watching this lecture should take approximately 20 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.1 The Versailles Negotiations   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 57—Peace Conferences” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 57—Peace Conferences” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the presentation. Focus on the first section of the video presentation titled “Wilson’s 14 Points” and read the accompanying text.  
 
Note on the Media: This first section of the presentation focuses on Woodrow Wilson’s peace proposals that he tried to convince French and British leaders to adopt in the Treaty of Versailles.

 Exploring this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.2 The Versailles Treaty   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 57—Peace Conferences” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 57—Peace Conferences” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the presentation. Then, watch section 2 of the video presentation titled “Treaty of Versailles.” To access this section of the video, click the circle above the title at the top of the webpage. Be sure to read the accompanying text.  
 
Note on the Media: This section focuses on the outcome of the Treaty of Versailles and Woodrow Wilson’s negotiating successes and failures.

 Exploring this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.3 Wilson’s Agenda Fails   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 57—Peace Conferences” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course“Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 57—Peace Conferences” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the video presentation. Then, watch section 3 of the video presentation titled “Defeat of Treaty in US.” To access this, click on the circle above the title at the top of the webpage. Be sure to read the accompanying text.
 
Note on the Media: This section focuses on Woodrow Wilson’s efforts to secure approval of the Versailles Treaty by the United States Senate. It addresses the Senate’s rejection of the Treaty and the consequences of this action for the United States and the Western World.

 Reading this text and watching the brief video should take
approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.4 Prelude to Future Conflict   - Lecture: YouTube: Open Yale Courses: HIST 202: Professor John Merriman’s “Fascists” Link: YouTube: Open Yale Courses: Professor John Merriman’s “Fascists” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch this video. In this lecture Professor Merriman discusses how important provisions of the Versailles Treaty led to political and economic instability in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s, which led to the emergence of the Nazi movement in Germany and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
 
Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour.
 

Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/). The
linked material above has been reposted, and can be found in its
original form
[here](https://itunes.apple.com/itunes-u/european-civilization-1648/id341651110?mt=10.).

5.4 The “Roaring Twenties”   - Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “American Society in the 1920s” Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “American Society in the 1920s (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this video.   

 Note on the Lecture: This multimedia presentation focuses on
three dominant trends in American society during the 1920s:
Consumption, Prohibition, and the Great Migration.  

 Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 25 minutes.

5.4.1 The Red Scare and Labor Turmoil   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: ** “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the presentation. Then, watch the first section of the video presentation titled “Red Scare” and read the accompanying text. 
 
Note on the Text: This presentation focuses on the roots of the postwar Red Scare. The federal government feared that Socialist and Communist organizations were trying to challenge the American democratic system and instituted a period of intense political repression directed by the U.S. Justice Department against radical political organizations.

 Reading the text and watching the brief video should take
approximately 20 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.2 Political Conservatism—Republican Domination   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “The Roaring Twenties” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “The Roaring Twenties (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage which focuses on American politics during the 1920s. The Republican Party controlled the White House and Congress during these years and strongly favored business interests over working-class Americans. Republican presidents worked to reverse many of the social and political reforms made during the Progressive Era. Prohibition, the legal ban on alcohol production and sales, also played an important role in shaping life during this decade by empowering organized crime and driving alcohol consumption underground.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes. 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video presentation. Then, watch section 4 (“Prohibition”) of the video presentation and read the accompanying text.  
     
    Note on the Media: This portion of the presentation examines the political, social, and cultural impact of Prohibition on the United States in the 1920s.

    Reading the text and watching the brief video should take approximately 25 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.3 Social and Cultural Tensions: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: ** “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Focus on sections 2 (“Nativism and Racism”) and 3 (“Religion”) of the presentation, and read the accompanying text.
 
Note on the Media: These sections of the video presentation focus on American anti-immigration policies of the 1920s and the growing public divisions between evangelicalism and secular humanism in America society.

 Reading this text and watching the brief video should take
approximatley 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.4 Mass Production and Mass Consumption   - Lecture: YouTube: TheEnglishfaculty.org: University of Leeds: Andrew Warnes’ “The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties, Pt. 1” and “The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties, Pt. 2” Link: YouTube: TheEnglishfaculty.org: University of Leeds: Andrew Warnes’ “The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties, Pt. 1” and “The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties, Pt. 2” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch these lectures. The classic American novel, The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald was set in America in the 1920s. In these lectures Warnes discusses the historical context of this novel, focusing on mass consumption and materialism of this era. Consumption of retail goods, such as ready-to-wear clothing, automobiles, and other products, increasingly came to define the “American way of life.” For the first time, many Americans purchased consumer products on credit rather than saving for them. By the end of the decade, consumer spending made up a significant portion of the American economy.

 Watching these lectures should take approximately 20 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: MIT Open Course Ware: Science, Technology, and Society’s “Henry Ford and the Advent of Mass Production” Link: MIT Open Course Ware: Science, Technology, and Society’s “Henry Ford and the Advent of Mass Production” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Scroll down on this page and click the link, “Henry Ford and the Advent of Mass Production”. Read the PDF file.

    Reading this resource should take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.5 The Changing Face of American Culture   5.5.1 Mass Culture   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course“Unit 8: The U.S. at War, Chapter 19: World War One and the Roaring 20s, Lesson 58—Social Tensions” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch the final section of the video presentation (“New Culture”) and read the accompanying text. 
 
Note on the Media: This section of the presentation focuses on new cultural trends in the 1920s such as the emergence of an African-American art and literary movement in New York and the rise of feminist writing. It also discusses the changing role of women in American society and young women’s newfound social and cultural liberation.

 Reading this text and watching the brief video should take
approximately 50 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Learn NC’s “The Flapper” and “Going to the Movies” Link: Learn NC: “The Flapper” and “Going to the Movies” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read both of these webpages and consider the questions posed by each author. Note that these webpages discuss new mass cultural forms, such as movies and advertising, that consumed many Americans’ free time in the 1920s. Try to focus on the place of women in America’s rapidly evolving society. 

    Reading these two webpages should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.5.2 Minority Cultural Expressions: The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance   - Reading: The Library of Congress’s African American Odyssey: “The Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of Creativity” Link: The Library of Congress’s African American Odyssey: “The Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of Creativity” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage. Click on the images to examine larger versions of the primary-source documents and photos.
 
Note on the Text: This webpage by the Library of Congress discusses the Harlem Renaissance, a period of vibrant cultural activity centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. African-American poets, writers, artists, and scholars contributed to this era of cultural expression and introduce African-American culture to mainstream America. The mass exodus of African-Americans from the South to the industrial North beginning in the 1910s and lasting through the 1920s changed the demographics of America’s northern cities dramatically. New, vibrant African-American communities emerged in cities like New York, as well as Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. 

 Reading this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 5 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “World War I and the 1920s” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “World War I and the 1920s (PDF)

 Instructions: Complete this written assessment. When you are
finished, check your work against this [“Guide to
Responding](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HIST212-Guide-to-Responding-Unit-5.FINAL_.pdf)[”](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HIST212-Guide-to-Responding-Unit-5.FINAL_.pdf)
(PDF).  

 Completing this assessment should take approximately 2 hours.