The reelection of Wilson in November, 1916, could hardly be interpreted in any other light than as an approval of his patient foreign policy. Nevertheless, for the ensuing five months the problem of our international relations, and especially the question whether we ought to enter the World War, continued to divide the American people into hostile camps. The opponents of the President, led by Roosevelt, contended that Wilson was lacking in "patriotism, courage and foresight"; that the failure of the administration to protest against Germany's march across Belgium was due to timidity and a "mean commercial opportunism" which caused the President to act in the spirit of refusing to perform a duty unless there was a pecuniary profit to be gained thereby; and that the interchanges of diplomatic notes with the German government were "benevolent phrase-mongering" which did not accomplish anything. When Germany used the submarine to sink vessels despite the President's "strict accountability" note and when the administration did not then take forceful action against the offender, his opponents declared that the President meant "precisely and exactly nothing" by his words. Late in 1915 Wilson became convinced of the necessity of an increase in our means of defense, and in order to arouse Congress to action he went out into the Middle West where he addressed large audiences on "preparedness." After long discussion Congress passed the National Defense Act by the provisions of which the military strength of the country was to be expanded to 645,000 officers and men during a period of five years. The President's conversion to preparedness was interpreted as a tardy recognition of an obvious duty, and his plan deprecated as no more than a "shadow program." And later, as his attitude became more warlike, the opposition declared that he had at last acted because of "pressure" and "criticism," rather than because of a definite and positive purpose of his own. In brief, then, a considerable portion of the country insisted upon America's early entrance into the European conflict, and judged Wilson to be a timid politician who lacked a courageous foreign policy and who was being driven toward war by the force of public opinion.

On the other hand, the traditional American disinclination to become entangled in foreign complications was the decisive force with the majority. In an address which the President delivered in New York he said that he received a great many letters from unknown and uninfluential people whose one prayer was, "Mr. President, do not allow anybody to persuade you that the people of this country want war with anybody." There were, moreover, Americans who still retained the traditional dislike of England and who hesitated to support an alliance with that nation; others did not relish association with Russia, which had long been looked upon as the arch-representative of autocracy; and others were indifferent or confused or inclined to the German side.

The attitude of the President, meanwhile, constantly found expression in addresses to Congress and the people, which were so widely read and discussed and which had so great an influence in forming public opinion that the more prominent of them must be mentioned. Beginning with the proclamation of neutrality on August 18, 1914, and a speech at Indianapolis on January 8, 1915, he asserted the belief that the United States should remain neutral, not only because it was the traditional policy to stand aloof from European controversies but also because "it was necessary, if a universal catastrophe was to be avoided, that a limit should be set to the sweep of destructive war ... if only to prevent collective economic ruin and the breakdown throughout the world of the industries by which its populations are fed and sustained." He also hoped that the time might quickly come when both sides would welcome mediation by a great people that had preserved itself neutral, self-possessed and sympathetic with the burdens of the warring powers. Before the close of 1915 he gave up his earlier opposition to military preparation, as has been seen, and while the project for a larger defensive force was being discussed, he made a significant address on May 27, 1916, to the League to Enforce Peace. With the causes and objects of the war, he declared, America was not concerned; the "obscure fountains" of its origins we were not interested to explore; in its spread, however, it had so "profoundly affected" America that we were no longer "disconnected lookers-on," but deeply concerned. "We are participants," he asserted, "whether we would or not, in the life of the world. The interests of all nations are our own also. We are partners with the rest." Oddly enough the statement that the origins of the war and the purposes for which it was started did not concern us was widely circulated, and misinterpreted as indicating a lack of sympathy with the ideals for which the Allies were fighting at the time speech, while the remainder of the address, which was far more significant, was largely overlooked. Nevertheless the declaration that the war had become our concern was an important part of Wilson's series of utterances on the issues of the day, and demands emphasis at this point because the President was representative, in holding this opinion, of a great body of his countrymen. The conviction that the European war had become our affair was deepened in the minds of many Americans when news arrived late in 1916, that the Teutonic military authorities were seizing and deporting Belgian workmen and compelling them to labor in German fields and factories.

In December, President Wilson again claimed the attention of the world by his reply to a proposal by Germany that peace negotiations be entered upon. He declared - and his note was sent to all belligerents - that the leaders of the two sides had stated their objects in general terms only:

But, stated in general terms, they seem the same on both sides. Never yet have the authoritative spokesmen of either side avowed the precise objects which would, if attained, satisfy them and their people that the war had been fought out.

The support of America in the war had long since become the great stake for which both sides in the conflict were playing, and the crisis of the game was at hand. On January 22, 1917, Wilson addressed the Senate and stated the results of his action. The reply of the Germans, he declared, had merely stated their readiness to meet their antagonists in conference to discuss terms of peace; the Allies had detailed more definitely the arrangements, guarantees and acts of reparation which would constitute a satisfactory settlement. He proceeded then to add that the, United States was deeply concerned in the terms of peace which would be made at the close of the conflict, and to enumerate some of those for which Americans would be most insistent: equality of rights among nations; the recognition of the principle that territories should not be handed about from nation to nation without the consent of the inhabitants of the territories; an outlet to the sea for every nation where practicable; the freedom of the seas; and the limitation of armaments. The interchange of notes had made two things clear; that the concern of the United States in the war was intimate, and that the people of this country would know definitely the purposes of the conflict before they decided to enter it.

On January 31, Germany announced an extension of her submarine warfare. A wide area surrounding the British Isles, France, and Italy, and including the greater part of the eastern Mediterranean Sea was declared to be a barred zone. All sea traffic, neutral as well as belligerent, the note warned, would be sunk, except that one American ship would be allowed to pass through the zone each week provided that it followed a designated, narrow lane to the port of Falmouth, England, that it was marked with broad red and white stripes, and carried no contraband. The President promptly broke off relations with Germany, sent the German ambassador home and appeared before Congress to state to that body and to the people the reasons for his decision. He recounted the substance of his earlier correspondence with Germany in regard to submarine warfare and recalled the promise of the German government that merchant vessels would not be sunk without warning and without saving human lives. He declared that the American government had no alternative but to sever relations, although refusing to believe that Germany would ruthlessly use the methods which she threatened, until convinced of her determination by "overt acts." Information of the move made by the United States was sent to American diplomatic representatives in neutral countries with the suggestion that they take similar action. Shortly afterward the President requested Congress to pass legislation enabling him to supply armament and ammunition to merchant vessels, and an overwhelming majority of both houses was ready to accede to the request. A small minority in the Senate, however, was able, under existing rules, to prevent Congressional action, although the President found authority in existing statutes and was able to proceed.[1]

Every important event in March, 1917, tended toward war between the United States and Germany. On the first day of the month the State Department made public a note from the German Secretary of State to the German minister in Mexico which suggested a German-Mexican alliance in case of the entry of the United States into the war. Germany was to contribute financial support to Mexico and the latter was to recover Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, which had been lost to the United States many years before. Knowledge of this intrigue gave a distinct impetus to the war spirit in all parts of the country. On March 5, President Wilson was inaugurated for the second time and took occasion to state again the attitude of the United States toward the war. Although disclaiming any desire for conquest or advantage, and reaffirming the desire of the United States for peace, he expressed the belief that we might be drawn on, by circumstances, to a more active assertion of our rights and a more immediate association with the great struggle. Once more he stated the things for which the United States would stand whether in war or in peace: the interest of all nations in world peace; equality of rights among nations; the principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; the freedom of the seas; and the limitation of armaments. Later in the month information reached America that there had been a revolution in Russia, that the Czar had been compelled to abdicate and that a republican government had been established. The news was gladly heard in the United States as it seemed to presage the overthrow of autocracy everywhere. On March 22, the new Russian government was formally recognized by the United States and later a loan of $100,000,000 was made.

In the meanwhile the "overt acts" which the President and the American people hoped might not be committed became sufficiently numerous to prove that Germany had indeed entered upon the most ruthless use of the submarine. Seven American vessels were torpedoed, with the loss of thirteen lives, and many more vessels of belligerent and neutral nations were sunk, in most cases without warning. The President accordingly summoned Congress to meet in special session on April 2. When that body assembled he again and for the last time explained the character of German submarine warfare, charging that vessels of all kinds and all nations, hospital ships as well as merchant vessels were being sunk "with reckless lack of compassion or of principle." International law, he complained, was being swept away; the lives of non-combatant men, women and children destroyed; America filled with hostile spies and attempts made to stir up enemies against us; armed neutrality had broken down in the face of the submarine, and he therefore urged Congress to accept the state of war which the action of Germany had thrust upon the United States. Such action, he believed, should involve the utmost cooperation with the enemies of Germany - liberal loans to them, an abundant supply of war material of all kinds, the better equipment of the navy and an army of at least 500,000 men chosen on the principle of universal liability to service. An important part of the President's address was that in which he distinguished between the German people and the German government. With the former, he asserted, we had no quarrel, for it was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering the war. But the latter, the Prussian autocracy, "was not and never could be our friend." Once more he disclaimed any desire for conquest or dominion:

    We are glad ... to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and 
    for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for 
    the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men 
    everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world 
    must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the 
    tested foundations of political liberty.

The response of Congress was prompt and nearly unanimous. In the House by a vote of 373 to fifty, and in the Senate by eighty-two to six, a resolution accepting the status of war was quickly passed and proclaimed by the President on April 6.[2] His position was a strong one. His patience and self-control, to be sure, had been carried to the extreme where they seemed like cowardice and lack of policy to the more belligerent East; but they had convinced the more pacific West that he could not be hurried into war without adequate reasons. All sections and all parties were united as the country had never been united before. His insistence that the United States had no ulterior motives in entering the war and his constant emphasis on ideals and the moral issues of the conflict placed the struggle on a lofty plane, besides giving him and his country at that time a position of leadership in the world such as no man or nation had ever hitherto enjoyed. Moreover the evolution through which the President went, from adherence to the traditional aloofness from European affairs to throwing himself enthusiastically into the conflict, was an evolution through which most of his countrymen were passing. Every public address which the President delivered, every message to Congress, every request to the legislative branch of the government was read widely, disagreed to or received with enthusiasm in one quarter or another and discussed everywhere with interest and energy. The result was the education of America in a new foreign policy. It was no slight matter to discard the traditions of a century and a quarter, and the brevity and inconsiderable size of the controversy was the marvel, rather than its length and bitterness.[3]

America had need of her unity and her enthusiasm. The size of the conflict, the number of men that must be raised and trained, the quantity of materials required, the amount of money needed, and, above all, the mental readjustment necessary in a nation that had hitherto buried itself in the pursuits of peace - all these considerations emphasized the importance of the task that the United States was undertaking. Into Washington there poured a bewildering stream of offers of assistance; organizations had to be built up over night to take hold of problems that were new to this country; men found themselves hurried into tasks for which they must prepare as best they might, and under crowded working conditions, changing circumstances and confusion of effort that beggar description. In many cases, America could learn valuable lessons from European experience, and to that end commissions of eminent statesmen and soldiers were sent to this country to give us the benefit of their successes and failures.

An important step had already been taken in the creation of the Council of National Defense on August 29, 1916, an act which indicated a realization that the United States might at any time be drawn into the European struggle. The body was composed of six members of the Cabinet, with the Secretary of War as chairman, and was assisted by an Advisory Commission composed of seven experts in the various industries that would be most essential to the prosecution of the war. The Council furnished the means of coordinating the industries of the country and getting them into touch with the executive departments of the government. State councils of defense were likewise organized to arouse the people to the performance of their share in the nation's work, to circulate information and to assist the several agencies of the federal government. A National Research Council mobilized the scientific talent of the country and brought it to bear on certain of the problems of warfare. A Naval Consulting Board examined inventions offered to the Navy Department. The Committee on Public Information furnished condensed war news to town and country papers, circulated millions of pamphlets explaining the causes of the war and upholding America's purposes in it, and directing speakers who aided in campaigns for raising money and educating the people in their duty during the crisis. The War Industries Board developed plans for the production of the multifarious supplies needed. The United States Shipping Board took hold of the problem of building sufficient ships to transport troops and cargoes, and to replace vessels sunk by submarines. By means of a Committee on Labor the laboring men gave their support to the conduct of the war and agreed to delay controversies until the war was over.

The exhausted condition of the supplies of food among the Allies, and the size of the armies which America decided to raise, made the Food Administration one of importance. At the time when the United States entered the war there was a dangerous shortage of food in Europe due to the decrease in production and to the lack of the vessels necessary to bring supplies from distant parts of the world. The problem centered mainly in wheat, meat, fats and sugar. The demand upon the United States was not only large but increasing. Accordingly, legislation was passed on August 10, 1917, which made it unlawful to destroy or hoard food; it provided for the stimulation of agriculture; and it authorized the President to purchase and sell foods and fix the price of wheat. Wilson appointed as the chief of the Food Administration Herbert C. Hoover, whose experience with the problem of Belgian relief enabled him to act promptly and effectively. Hoover's one great purpose was to utilize all food supplies in such a way as would most help to win the war. He cooperated with the Department of Agriculture which had already started a campaign for stimulating the cultivation of farms and gardens on all available land. Food administrators were appointed in the states and local districts. Speakers, posters, libraries and other agencies were utilized to urge the people to eat less wheat, meats, fats and sugar in order that more might be exported to the Allies. Millions of housewives hung cards in their windows to indicate that they were cooperating with the United States Food Administration. "Wheatless" and "meatless" days were set apart. These voluntary efforts were supplemented by government regulation, and dealers in food products were compelled to take out federal licenses which enabled the Administration to control their operations and to prevent prices from going to panic levels. The Food Administration established a Grain Corporation which bought and sold wheat; it placed an agency in Chicago to buy meat for ourselves and the Allies; it called a conference of the sugar refiners, who agreed to put in its hands the entire supply of that commodity. In a word, by stimulating voluntary efforts and by means of government regulations, the Food Administration increased production, decreased consumption, and coordinated the purchase of food for the army, the navy, the Allies, the Red Cross and Belgian relief. The Food Administration was hardly established before it became necessary to organize a Fuel Administration to teach economy in the use of coal, to stimulate production, adjust disputes between employers and employees, fix prices and control the apportioning of the supply among the several parts of the country.

The vital relation of the transportation system of the country to the winning of the war was apparent at the start. As soon as war was declared, therefore, nearly 700 representatives of the railroads formed a Railroads' War Board to minimize the individual and competitive activities of the roads, coordinate their operation, and produce a maximum of transportation efficiency. The attempt of the railroad executives, however, quickly broke down. In the first place, as has been seen, our entire body of railroad legislation is based upon the idea of separating the several systems and compelling them to compete rather than cooperate. The habits and customs thus formed could hardly be done away with in an instant. In the second place the cost of labor and materials was constantly mounting, and the demand for more equipment was insistent. The railroads could meet these greater costs only by raising rates, a process which involved obtaining the assent of the Interstate Commerce Commission and required a considerable period for its accomplishment. The roads were also embarrassed by an unprecedented congestion of traffic on the eastern seaboard, from which men and cargoes must be shipped to Europe. Accordingly, on December 26, 1917, the President took possession of the railroad system for the government and appointed the Secretary of the Treasury, William G. McAdoo, as Director General. As rapidly as possible the railroads were merged into one great system. The entire country was divided into districts at the head of which were placed experienced railroad executives. Terminals, tunnels and equipment were used regardless of ownership in the effort to get the greatest possible service out of existing facilities. The passenger service was greatly reduced in order to free locomotives and crews for freight trains, duplication of effort was done away with where possible, officials who were not necessary under the new plan were dropped, and equipment was standardized. Existing legislation allowed the government to change freight and passenger rates, and on May 25, 1918, these were considerably raised. The winter of 1917-1918 was memorable for its severity, and placed great difficulties in the way of the railroads; nevertheless, between January 1, 1918, and November 11 of the same year nearly six and a half million actual and prospective soldiers were carried for greater or smaller distances.

An important part of American preparation for war was the attention paid to the "morale" organizations, which were designed to maintain the courage and spirit of the fighting man. As far as legislation could do it, the most flagrant vices were kept away from the camps. Moreover the Commissions on Training Camp Activities attempted to supply wholesome entertainment and associations. Under their direction, various organizations established and operated theatres, libraries and writing-rooms, encouraged athletics in the camps, and offered similar facilities for soldiers and sailors when on leave in towns and cities near by. The Red Cross conducted extensive relief work both in this country and abroad; surgical dressings were made, clothing and comfort kits supplied, and money contributed. In France, Belgium, Russia, Roumania, Italy and Serbia the Red Cross conducted a fight against the suffering incident to war.

The legislation which established the system of allotments, allowances and War Risk Insurance was also designed in part to maintain the morale of the army and navy. The pay of the "enlisted man" or private was $30.00 per month. In the case of men with dependents, an "allotment" of $15.00 was to be sent home and the government thereupon contributed an "allowance" which normally amounted to $15.00 or more, and was graded according to the number of the man's dependents and the closeness of their relationship to him. Provision was made also for compensation for officers and men injured or disabled in the line of duty, and for training injured men in a vocation. In addition, the War Risk Insurance plan provided means by which both officers and men could at low cost take out government insurance against death or total disability. In this way, it was hoped, some of the distresses of war would be alleviated so far as possible and a repetition of the pension abuses of the Civil War somewhat guarded against.

The total direct money cost of the war from April, 1917, to April, 1919, was estimated by the War Department at $21,850,000,000, an average of over a million dollars an hour, and an amount sufficient to have carried on the Revolutionary War a thousand years. In addition, loans were extended to the Allies at the rate of nearly half a million dollars an hour. This huge amount was raised in part through increased taxes. Income taxes were heavily increased; levies were made on such profits of corporations as were in excess of profits made before the war, during the three years 1911-1913; additional taxes were laid upon spirits and tobacco, on amusements and luxuries; and the postage rates were raised. In part, also, the cost of the war was defrayed through loans. A portion of the amount borrowed was by the sale of War Savings This expedient was designed doubtless not merely to encourage persons of small means to aid in winning the war - a beginning could be made with twenty-five cents - but also to encourage thrift among all classes. Most of the borrowed money, however, was raised through the five "Liberty Loans," a series of popular subscriptions to the needs of the government. In each case the government called upon the people to purchase bonds, ranging from two billions at first to six billions at the time of the fourth loan. There were four and a half million subscribers for the first loan, but after a little experience the number was readily increased until 21,000,000 people responded to the fourth call. Popular campaigns such as never had been seen in America, campaigns of publicity, house-to-house canvassing and appeals to the win-the-war spirit resulted in unprecedented financial support. Isolated communities in the back country and people of slender means in the cities, no less than the great banks and wealthy corporations cooperated to make the Liberty loans of social and economic as well as financial importance.

Evidence seems to be sufficient to indicate that the resources of the United States were thrown into the conflict none too soon. When it was determined to place armed guards on merchant ships, Rear Admiral W.S. Sims was sent to Great Britain to keep the Navy Department informed on problems connected with the possible entry of the United States into the conflict. After the American declaration of war the Admiral was placed in charge of the naval forces of the United States abroad and thereafter worked in close cooperation with our European associates. The German submarine policy had been put fully into effect; no solution of the submarine menace had been reached; and English officials were fearful that England could not last longer than November 1. In taking this view the British were probably in harmony with the Germans who expected to crush England before the weight of the United States could be felt. Although insufficient for so great a conflict, the American navy was thoroughly prepared for active service, and six destroyers were sent to European waters for a prolonged stay, within eighteen days of the declaration of war. This early force was quickly followed by others until, at the close of the war, 5,000 officers and 70,000 enlisted men were serving abroad. A three-year naval construction program which had been adopted in 1916 was pushed forward and somewhat expanded; new craft were commandeered wherever they could be found; private citizens loaned vessels or leased them at nominal sums; and German ships interned in American ports were taken over. Existing stations for the training of seamen were enlarged and new ones established, and schools were set up in colleges and at other points for radio operators, engineers and naval aviators. By such means the number of vessels in commission was increased from 197 to 2,003 and the personnel from 65,777 to 497,030.

The most dreaded enemy of the navy, the submarine, was successfully met by two devices. When transports and merchant-vessels were being sent across the ocean, they were gathered into groups or convoys and were protected by war vessels, especially torpedo-boat destroyers. The depth charge was also used with telling effect. This consisted of a heavy charge of explosive which was placed in a container and dropped into the sea where the presence of a submarine was expected. The charge was exploded at a pre-determined depth by a simple device, and any under-seas craft within 100 feet was likely to be destroyed or to have leaks started that would compel it to come to the surface and surrender.

Aside from combatting the submarine, the greatest activity of the navy was the transportation of men and supplies to France. First and last more than 2,000,000 troops were carried to Europe, and although Great Britain transported more than half the men, yet 924,578 made the passage through the danger zones under the escort of United States cruisers and destroyers. The cargo fleet was substantially all American. The transportation of supplies alone required the services of 5,000 officers and 29,000 enlisted men, and involved the accumulation of a vast fleet, the acquisition of docks, lighters, tugs, and coaling equipment, as well as the establishment of an administrative organization, at the precise time when the shipping facilities of the world were being strained to the breaking point by submarines.

On the other side of the ocean naval bases were established in England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy; a considerable force operated from Gibraltar and others from Corfu, along the Bay of Biscay, in the North Sea and at Murmansk and Archangel. Besides cooperating with the navy of the Allies in keeping the Germans off the seas, the American navy laid about four-fifths of the great mine barrage which extended from the Orkney Islands to Norway, a distance of 230 miles. This astonishing enterprise - America alone laid 56,000 mines - together with a similar chain laid across the Strait of Dover was intended to pen the submarine within the North Sea.

In the main the raising of an army for European service rested upon the act of May 18, 1917. It provided for the Increase of the regular army from approximately 200,000 to 488,000; for the expansion of the strength of the National Guard; and for the selection of a National Army by draft from men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty years inclusive. The determination to raise a draft army was based upon the belief that in this way successive and adequate supplies of men could be found without disproportionate calls on any section of the country and without undue disturbance of the industrial life of the nation. Although the plan ran counter to American practice during most of our history, the draft army became deservedly popular as a democratic and efficient method of finding men. Officers were supplied mainly through training camps, of which the best known was that at Plattsburg, New York. A novelty in the new army was a plan for the appointment and promotion of officers on a scientific rating system which took account of ability and experience, thereby doing away with some of the favoritism formerly connected with our military system. At a later time an organization was perfected by which enlisted men were grouped according to their ability and occupations, so that each division of the army might have assigned to it the number of mechanics, carpenters, clerks and the like that it might require. For the housing and training of the enlarged National Guard, sixteen tent-camps were established in the South; and for the National Army, sixteen cantonments, built of wood and capable of housing 40,000 men each. A cantonment comprised 1,000 to 1,200 buildings, and was virtually a city with highways, sewers, water supply, laundries and hospitals.[4] The problem of obtaining supplies was as great as that of housing and training the army. An entire city was erected in West Virginia for the making of part of the smokeless powder required; the British Enfield rifle was modified to use American ammunition so that machinery already making arms for England could be utilized with a minimum of change; and European experience having indicated the value of the machine gun, a new and improved type was invented by John M. Browning. In many cases, however, it was impossible immediately to equip both the soldiers in training here, and those who could be sent abroad. Hence surplus equipment of certain kinds was supplied by France and England. Furthermore, actual combat had emphasized the vital importance of aviation and had developed warfare with poisonous gases and with tanks, so that it became necessary to establish new branches of the service to meet these needs.

Shortly after the declaration of war, General John J. Pershing, who had already experienced active operations in the Philippines and on the Mexican border, was sent to France to act as Chief of the American Expeditionary Force - the A.E.F. as it was commonly called. General Pershing was followed by a division of regulars in June, 1917, and by the "Rainbow" division of the National Guard, a body composed of guardsmen from various states so as to distribute widely the honor of early participation in the war. In France the American troops were detailed either for the Service of Supply or for combat. The former, with headquarters at Tours, developed port facilities, constructed ship berths, built railroads and warehouses, and took care of the multifarious duties that have to be performed behind the lines. Divisions destined for combat were usually given one or two months of training in France before going to the front, and were then kept for another month in a quiet sector before engaging in more active service.

Between April, 1917, when America declared war, and approximately a year later when her weight began to be felt, the Allies suffered reverses that were thoroughly disheartening and were almost disastrous. Russia, who had conducted a powerful offensive in 1916, began to retreat in the summer of 1917 and was thereafter no longer a military factor.[5] Italy had driven back the Austrians in the summer of 1916, but in the fall of 1917 was compelled to conduct a retreat that became all but a disaster. Allied conferences were accordingly held in Paris in November and December, 1917, for the purpose of bringing about closer unity in the prosecution of the war. Nation after nation, on the other hand, had severed relations or declared war on the Teutonic powers until a great part of the world had ranged itself on the side of the Allies. In March, 1918, the Germans precipitated a series of crises - the final ones as it turned out. In that month they began a terrific drive on a fifty-mile front against their opponents in the western theatre of the war. In order to meet this thrust the Allies decided to give over the supreme command of all their forces to Marshal Ferdinand Foch, chief in command of the French army, and General Pershing thereupon offered him all the American troops in France. American efforts were redoubled, in the face of the new danger, and forces were transported across the ocean in numbers which had not been anticipated and which soon began to give the Allies a substantial advantage. One vessel, the Leviathan, landed in France the equivalent of a German division each month. The enemy, nevertheless, continued to advance and on May 31 were at Chateau-Thierry, only forty miles from Paris, where the American Third Division assisted in preventing any further forward movement. The leading military experts in the United States, meanwhile, with the support of a large portion of the public were demanding a still larger army and the Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, accordingly laid before Congress a plan which developed eventually into the "Man Power" act of August 31, 1918. It changed the draft ages and added more than 13,000,000 registrants to the available supply of men. A clause of this law, designed in part to provide further supplies of officers, allowed the Secretary of War to send soldiers to educational institutions at the public expense, thus establishing the Students' Army Training Corps.[6]

At the time when General Pershing placed his forces at the disposal of Marshal Foch, the Americans numbered 343,000 and were used mainly to relieve the French and British at quiet parts or "sectors" on the western front. In April, 1918, however, the First Division was placed in a more active position, and on May 28 took Cantigny; the Second Division was on the Marne River early in June, and later in the month helped prevent a German advance at Belleau Wood. Other forces were sent to operate with the British, a regiment was sent to Italy, and a small force to northern Russia and Siberia. In mid-July the Germans renewed their attacks but were shortly turned back again at Chateau-Thierry, and Marshal Foch judged this to be the time for the Allies to make a general offensive movement. On the 18th the First and Second Divisions, with picked French troops, made a successful drive toward Soissons. On August 30 the Americans were given a permanent portion of the front, and two weeks later came the first distinctly American action in the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient - a wedge driven by the Germans into the allied line. Infantry, artillery, aircraft, tanks and ambulances were gathered - about 600,000 men all told - mostly under cover of darkness. Preceding the drive a heavy artillery fire was directed upon the enemy for four hours, during which brief period thirty times as many rounds of ammunition were fired as were used by the Union forces at Gettysburg in three days. Then at five o'clock in the morning, on September 12, the troops fell upon an enemy which had been demoralized by the artillery, and routed them. The American losses were 7,000 - injuries for the most part - and the gains, 16,000 prisoners, 443 guns and a great quantity of war materials, together with an advantageous position for further advance. The "American Army was an accomplished fact."

The most important action in which the Americans participated was the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The goal of this attack was the Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres railroad, which ran parallel to the front and comprised the main supply line of the enemy. The drive began late in September and continued with greater or less intensity and with increasing success until November 11, when it became evident that the Germans were in serious difficulties. Their line was cut, and only surrender or an armistice could prevent thorough-going disaster.[7]

While the allied armies were first stemming the German advance and later making their counter-offensive, the statesmen were attempting to preserve the morale of the Allies and break down that of the enemy by means of a wide-spread peace offensive. Because of his position as President of the United States and his skill in the expression of the purposes of the Allies, Wilson became by common consent the spokesman of the enemies of Germany, much as he had earlier been the representative of the neutral nations. In August, 1917, the Pope proposed peace on the basis of "reciprocal condonation" for past offenses, and the reciprocal return of territories and colonies. In reply Wilson contended that the suggested settlement would not result in a lasting peace. Peace, he believed, must be between peoples, and not between peoples on the one hand and "an ambitious and intriguing government" on the other. "We cannot," he declared, "take the word of the present rulers of Germany as a guarantee of anything that is to endure unless explicitly supported by such conclusive evidence of the will and purpose of the German people themselves as the other peoples of the world would be justified in accepting." The reply continued, of course, the attempt made in the address to Congress calling for a declaration of war - the attempt to drive a wedge between the German people and their rulers, but for the moment the attempt was fruitless.

On January 8, 1918, President Wilson again explained the attitude of the United States, in an address to Congress in which he gave expression to the famous "fourteen points." "The program of the world's peace," he stated, must include: the beginning of an era of "open diplomacy" and the end of secret international understandings; the freedom of the seas in peace and war; the removal of economic barriers between nations; the reduction of armaments; the impartial adjustment of colonial claims; the evacuation of territories occupied by Germany, such as Russia, Belgium, France and the Balkan states; the righting of the wrong done to Alsace-Lorraine, the provinces wrested from France by Germany in 1871; an opportunity for peoples subject to Austria and Turkey to develop along lines chosen by themselves; the establishment of a Polish state which should include territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations; and an association of nations to guarantee the safety of large and small states alike. Both Austria and Germany replied to this address, but not in a manner to make possible a cessation of warfare. In setting these replies before Congress, as well as in later speeches both to that body and to public audiences, the President reiterated the peace program of the Allies.

In the meanwhile conditions in the Teutonic countries were reaching a serious point. Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey were facing an enraged world. Their man power was almost exhausted, the numbers of killed and wounded in Germany alone being estimated at 6,000,000 men; famine, agitation and mutiny were at the door and revolution on the horizon; food was scarce and of poor quality; Austria was disintegrating; signs were evident of dissensions in the German government and suggestions were even made that the Kaiser abdicate. Allied pressure in the field together with insistent emphasis on the Allied distrust of the German government were at last having their combined effect; the Teutonic morale was breaking down. On October 4 the German chancellor requested President Wilson to take steps toward peace on the basis of the "fourteen points." An interchange of notes ensued which indicated that the Teutonic powers were humbled and that the Chancellor was speaking in behalf of the people of Germany. The Inter-allied Council then met at Versailles and drew up the terms of an armistice which were delivered to Germany on November 7. That nation was already in a tumult, in the midst of which demonstrations in favor of a republic were prominent, and while the German government was considering the terms of the armistice the Kaiser abdicated and fled to Holland, and a new cabinet was formed with a Socialist at the head. The end was evidently at hand and on November 11 the world was cheered with the news that Germany had signed the armistice and the war was over.[8]

As far as the United States was concerned the questions of greatest public interest after the close of the conflict, fell into two categories: one connected with the complicated question of the exact terms of settlement between the Allies and the Teutonic powers, including modifications of the foreign policy of the United States; the other, that concerning the readjustments necessary in the internal affairs of the nation - economic, social and moral, as well as political. Any adequate discussion of these matters requires so much more information and perspective than can now be had, that only the barest outlines can be given.

The conference for the determination of the settlements of the war was to meet in Paris. The American representatives were to include Robert Lansing, the Secretary of State, Henry White, who had represented the United States in many diplomatic matters, especially as ambassador to Italy and to France, Colonel Edward M. House, a trusted personal advisor of the President, and General Tasker H. Bliss, the American military representative on the Inter-allied Council. President Wilson himself was to head the delegation.

In November, 1918, shortly before the departure of the President for Paris, occurred the Congressional elections, which were destined to have an important effect on the immediate future. Until late October the usual display of partisan politics had been, on the surface at least, uncommonly slight. On the 25th, however, the President urged the country to elect a Democratic Congress, declaring that the Republican leaders in Washington, although favorable to the war, had been hostile to the administration, and that the election of a Republican majority would enable them to obstruct a legislative program. The Republicans asserted that the request was a challenge to the motives and fidelity of their party, and a partisan and mendacious accusation. As a result of the ensuing contest the control of both Senate and House were won by the Republicans. It is impossible to judge whether the President's appeal recoiled seriously against his own party or whether the tendency to reaction against the administration at mid-term, which has been so common since the Civil War, was the decisive force. In any case, however, Wilson was compelled to go to Paris encumbered with the handicap of political defeat at home.

Nevertheless he was received with unbounded enthusiasm by the French people and at once became one of the central figures among the leaders at Paris. Not only did the American delegates work in conjunction with the representatives of the Allies, but Wilson became a member of an inner council, the other participants in which were Premier Lloyd George of England, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France and Premier Orlando of Italy. The "Big Four," as the group was known, led the conference and made its most important decisions. The day of the aloofness of the United States from international affairs, which had been ended only temporarily by the war with Spain, was apparently brought to a final close.[9]

At length the treaty with Germany was completed, President Wilson returned to America, and on July 10, 1919, he appeared before the Senate to outline the purposes and contents of the agreement and to offer his services to that body and to its Committee on Foreign Relations in order to enable them intelligently to exercise their advisory function as part of the treaty-making power. The Treaty was seen to contain two general features: a stern reckoning with Germany which commended itself to all except a small minority of the Senate; and a plan for a League of Nations which provided for concerted action on the part of the nations of the world to reduce armaments and to minimize the danger of war. President Wilson's interest in the League was intense and of long standing. He had hoped - and in this he was supported doubtless by the entire American people - that the European conflict might be a "war to end war," and to this conclusion he believed that a world association was essential. Public interest in the project was indicated by the efforts put forth in its behalf by Ex-President Taft, George W. Wickersham, who had been Attorney-General in the Taft cabinet, President Lowell of Harvard University, and other influential citizens.

Although interest in the Treaty and the League of Nations overshadowed all other issues, nevertheless many problems relating to internal reconstruction pressed forward for settlement. It was commonly, if not universally felt that somehow the United States would be different after the war, but in what ways and to what degree remained to be determined. Reconstruction in the world of industry was complicated by the demobilization of several millions of men from the army and navy, as well as the freeing of a still larger number of both men and women from various kinds of war work.[10] When the armistice was signed, the industries of the country were under contract with the War Department to provide supplies valued at six billion dollars, and these contracts had to be terminated with as little dislocation of industrial life as might be consistent with the necessity of stopping the production of materials which the government could not use. The laboring classes had loyally supported the war and had largely relinquished the use of the strike for the time being. In the meantime the cost of living had doubled, while wages in most industries had not responded equally. After the war, therefore, it was inevitable that the laboring classes should become restive under prevailing economic conditions. No more important question faced the country, a keen observer declared, than that concerning the wages of the laboring man: "How are the masses of men and women who labor with their hands to be secured out of the products of their toil what they will feel to be and will be in fact a fair return!"

The huge purchases of war materials in the United States by European nations had transformed this country to a creditor nation to which the chief countries of the world owed large interest payments. The situation was a distinct contrast to the past, for the industrial development of the country especially since the Civil War, had been made possible in considerable measure by capital borrowed in European countries. Hitherto, therefore, the United States had been a debtor nation sending large yearly interest payments abroad. Moreover, America was being increasingly looked to for raw materials as well as manufactured articles, and was likely to become more than ever an exporting nation.

The mobilization of the large armies required for the war proved the need of energetic reforms in fields that had earlier been too much neglected. The fact that so many as twenty-nine per cent. of the young men examined for the army between the ages of twenty-one and thirty had to be rejected because of physical defects was a cause of astonishment. The need of greater efforts in behalf of education was proved by the large number of illiterates discovered, and the necessity of training immigrants in the fundamentals of American government was so clearly demonstrated as to give rise to wide-spread plans for Americanization.

More definite were the effects of the war on the prohibition movement. For many years a small but growing minority of reformers had urged the adoption of means for stopping the use of intoxicating liquors and they had been successful in procuring constitutional amendments in about half the states by the close of 1916. The war presented an opportunity for further progress. In September, 1918, they procured the passage of a resolution in Congress allowing the President to establish zones around places where war materials were manufactured; liquors were not to be sold within these areas. Soon afterward the manufacture of beer and wine was forbidden until the conclusion of the war, on the ground that the grains and fruits needed for the production of these beverages could better be used as foods. In the meantime a federal constitutional amendment establishing prohibition had been referred to the states for ratification. By January 16, 1919, it had received the necessary ratification by three-fourths of the states and took effect a year later.[11]

The railroads constituted another difficult problem. Agreement seemed to be general that they could not be relinquished by the government to private control without significant changes in existing legislation, and several forces, especially the insistence of the President and of the opponents of government ownership, combined to spur Congress to act on the matter at an early date. The Esch-Cummins law of February 28, 1920, was an important addition to the body of interstate commerce legislation. It enlarged and increased the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission; it authorized the Commission to recommend government loans to the railroads; established a Railroad Labor Board to settle disputes between the carriers and their employees; empowered the Commission to require the joint use of track and terminal facilities in emergencies; forbade the construction of new lines and the issuance of stocks and bonds without the consent of the Commission; directed the preparation and adoption of plans for the consolidation of the railway properties into a limited number of systems; permitted pooling under the authorization of the Commission; and provided for the accumulation of reserve funds and a fund for purchasing additions to railway equipment. Whether a final solution of the transportation problem or not, the new act embodied much of the experience gained since the passage of the law of 1887.

In the field of politics and government an important part of reconstruction was the readjustment of relations between the federal executive and Congress. During the war it was inevitable that the President should provide most of the initiative in legislation; but it was likewise inevitable that the legislative branch should reassert itself as soon as possible. The fact that the consideration of the Treaty of Versailles necessarily concerned the Senate rather than the House of Representatives, gave the upper chamber an opportunity to attempt the repression of executive power to the proportions which had characterized it immediately before the war. Moreover if the members of the Senate should imitate the example of their predecessors in the conflict with President Johnson in 1867, that body might attempt to regain for itself the primacy in the federal government which had been partially lost under Cleveland's regime and completely superseded through Roosevelt's development of the presidential office.

The course of the Treaty in the Senate was such as to stimulate any friction which might result from the difficult process of reconstruction. Despite the early sentiment favorable to prompt ratification, that part of the Treaty which related to a League of Nations met a variety of opposing forces. Some of them were based on personal, political and partisan considerations, and some of them founded upon a sincere hesitancy about adventuring into new and untried fields of international effort. In the main, party lines were somewhat strictly drawn in the Senate, the Democrats favoring and the Republicans opposing ratification of the treaty as it stood.[12] All debates in the Senate relating to the treaty were for the first time in our history open to the public, and popular interest was keen and sustained. Among people outside of Congress party lines were more commonly broken than in the Senate, and members of that body were deluged with petitions and correspondence for and against ratification. At length it appeared that a considerable fraction of the Senate desired ratification without any change whatever, a smaller number desired absolute rejection and a "middle group" wished ratification with certain reservations which would interpret or possibly amend portions of the plan for a League of Nations - portions which they felt were vague or dangerous to American interests. After long-continued discussion, the friends of the project were unable to muster the necessary two-thirds for ratification, and its enemies failed to obtain the majority required to make amendments, and the entire matter was accordingly postponed, pending the results of the presidential election of 1920.

The United States, therefore, found itself after the close of the World War in much the same position that it had been in more than half a century earlier at the end of the Civil War. The unity of purpose and the devotion to ideals which had overcome all difficulties during the combat had seemingly, at least, given way to partisan diversity of endeavor, to strife for supremacy in government and to the avoidance of the great problems of reconstruction. Time, patience and controversy would be necessary to bring about a wise settlement. The United States was face to face with the greatest problems that had arisen since the Civil War.


The opposition to the Wilson foreign policy is best expressed in Theodore Roosevelt, Fear God and Take Your Own Part (1916). Roosevelt's condonation of the invasion of Belgium is in The Outlook(Sept., 1914), "The World War." Wilson's changing attitude toward the war is explained in A.M. Low, Woodrow Wilson, an Interpretation (1918), but is best followed in his addresses and messages. The early stages of the war and American interest in it are described in Ogg; The American Year Book; J.B. McMaster, The United States in the World War (1918); J.W. Gerard, My Four Years in Germany(1918), superficial but interesting and written by the American Ambassador; Brand Whitlock, Belgium (2 vols., 1919), verbose, but well written by the United States minister to Belgium; Dodd, already mentioned; J.S. Bassett, Our War with Germany (1919), written in excellent spirit. The President's address calling for a declaration of war is contained in the various editions of his addresses, and in War Information Series, No. 1, "The War Message and Pacts Behind It," published by the Committee on Public Information.

The subject of federal agencies for the prosecution of the war is fully discussed in W.F. Willoughby, Government Organization in War Time and After (1919); there is no adequate account of the Committee on Public Information. On the government and the railroads, consult F.H. Dixon in Quarterly Journal of Economics (Aug., 1919), "Federal Operation of Railroads during the War." E.L. Bogart,Direct and Indirect Costs of the Great World War (1918), is useful.

Combat operations are described in the general histories of the war already mentioned, and in "Report of General Pershing" in War Department, Annual Report, 1918.

Accounts of the Peace Conference, the Treaty and the League of Nations labor under the attempt to prove President Wilson right or wrong, in addition to such insurmountable difficulties as lack of information and perspective. J.S. Bassett, Our War with Germany (1919), has some temperate chapters; Dodd is friendly to Wilson, but not offensively partisan; R.S. Baker, What Wilson did at Paris (1919) is readable; J.M. Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920), is interesting and designed to prove a point; see also C.H. Haskins and R.H. Lord, Some Problems of the Peace Conference(1920); the account in the American Year Book for 1919 lacks something of its usual non-partisan balance. On the League of Nations a thorough study is S.P.H. Duggan, The League of Nations (1919). Material opposing the treaty may be found in The New Republic, The Nation, and the North American Review; favorable to it is the editorial page of the New York Times, whose columns contain the best day-to-day accounts of the debates in the Senate.

A full bibliography is A.E. McKinley (ed.), Collected Materials for the Study of the War (1918).

       * * * * *

[1] As a result of this incident the Senate decided to limit somewhat its rule allowing unlimited debate. Under the "closure" rule adopted March 8, 1917, a two-thirds majority may limit discussion on any measure to one hour for each member.

[2] War was declared against Austria on December 7, 1917. The United States was followed immediately by Cuba and Panama, and before the close of the year by Siam, Liberia, China and Brazil. Many other Central and South American states severed relations with Germany and before the close of the struggle several of them declared war.

[3] The purpose and effect of Wilson's patient foreign policy were briefly expressed by Joseph H. Choate, a Republican advocate of early entry into the war, in a speech in New York on April 25, 1917. Choate declared that a declaration of war after the sinking of the Lusitania would have resulted in a divided country and remarked: "But we now see what the President was waiting for and how wisely he waited. He was waiting to see how fast and how far the American people would keep pace with him and stand up for any action that he proposed."

[4] An official of the War Department estimated that the lumber used in the sixteen cantonments if made into sidewalks would go four times around the world.

[5] Roumania had entered the conflict in August, 1916, but had been immediately overrun, her capital Bucharest taken in December, and that country rendered no longer important before the entrance of America.

[6] The earlier draft law resulted in about 11,000,000 registrants. The draft ages were 21-30 years. Under the later law the ages were 18-45.

The so-called Training Detachments had already been established, providing for the training of mechanics, carpenters, electricians, telegraphers, and other necessary skilled artisans at a number of colleges and scientific institutions.

Almost coincidently with the expansion of the army came an epidemic of the Spanish influenza. Hitherto the health of the army had been extraordinarily good, but the epidemic was so widespread and so malignant in its attack that during eight weeks there were more than twice as many deaths as in the entire army for the year preceding.

[7] By November 11, 26,059 prisoners and 847 guns had been captured and at one point near Sedan the American advance had covered twenty-five miles. 1,200,000 American troops had been engaged and the weight of the ammunition fired was greater than that used by the Union armies during the entire Civil War. In November the American army held twenty-two per cent. of the western front. The losses of the A.E.F. during the entire period of its activities up to November 18, 1918, were by death 53,160; the wounded numbered 179,625.

[8] An armistice had been signed with Turkey on October 31, and with Austria on November 4.

[9] Something little short of a revolution in American international relations was taking place when the President of the United States received in Paris lists of callers such as that mentioned in the newspapers of May 17, 1919:

    Prince Charron of the Siamese delegation; Dr. Markoff, of the 
    Carpatho-Russian Committee; M. Ollivier, President of the French 
    National Union of Railwayman; M. Jacob, a representative of the 
    Celtic Circle of Paris; Messrs. Bureo and Jacob of the Uruguyan 
    delegation; Turkhan Pasha, the Albanian leader; Enrique Villegas, 
    former Foreign Minister of Chile; Foreign Minister Benez and M. 
    Kramer, of the Czecho-slovak delegation, to discuss the question 
    of Silesia and Teschen; Deputy Damour, concerning the American 
    commemorative statue to be erected in the Gironde River; a 
    delegation from the Parliament of Kuban, Northern Caucasus; the 
    Archbishop of Trebizond, Joseph Reinach, the French historian, and 
    Governor Richard L. Manning of South Carolina.

[10] The Secretary of War estimated the total of all these groups at 13,650.000

[11] The Eighteenth Amendment is as follows: Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

[12] As the Congress that which had been elected in 1918, the Senate was controlled by the Republicans.