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The United States Since The Civil War by Charles Ramsdell Lingley

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rates of interest.[5] The major items, as well as the smaller ones in
the Democratic program were in line with many of the proposals made by
the Progressives in their platform in 1912. Attracted by these
accomplishments and by the forceful leadership of the President large
numbers of the Progressives made the transition into the Democratic
party, and from 1913 to 1916 much of the political strategy of both
Democrats and Republicans was devoted to attracting the insurgent wing
of the Republican organization.

The enactment of such a body of legislation, with the resulting
appointment of many officials and clerks, brought the President face
to face with the same civil service problem that had caused so much
trouble for Cleveland. Upon their accession in 1913 the Democrats had
been out of power so long that they exerted the pressure, usual under
such circumstances, for a share in the offices. The merit system,
however, was even more firmly entrenched than in 1897 when Cleveland
had made such additions to the classified lists, for both Roosevelt
and Taft had extended the merit principle to certain parts of the
consular and diplomatic service. Roosevelt had also made considerable
extensions in the application of the system to deputy collectors of
internal revenue, fourth-class postmasters, and carriers in the rural
free-delivery service; Taft had also increased the number of employees
who were appointed under the merit system, notably about 36,000
fourth-class postmasters not touched by his predecessor. Some of the
acts passed early in President Wilson's administration--the Federal
Reserve law, for example--expressly excepted certain employees from
civil service examinations. Bryan, as Secretary of State, showed a
lack of devotion to the cause of reform in the conduct of his
department. On the other hand the President took a most important step
in relation to postmasters of the first, second and third classes,
which had always been appointed by the president with the advice and
consent of the Senate, and had been among the plums in the gift of the
executive that had been most sought after. On March 31, 1917, Wilson
announced that thereafter the nominees for postmasters of the first
three classes would be chosen as the result of civil service
examination.

While the United States was absorbed, in these various ways, in the
task of internal construction, an event was occurring in a town in
Bosnia which was destined to affect profoundly the course of American
history. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir-apparent
to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was assassinated by a
youth of Serbian blood and sympathies in Sarajevo. In Austria the act
was looked upon as an incident in a revolutionary movement intended to
detach a part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and unite it with
Serbia. A month later Austria declared war on Serbia, and in a brief
time, such was the state of the European alliances, Austria and
Germany were opposed to Serbia, Russia, Belgium, France, Montenegro
and Great Britain in a devastating war. In August, Japan joined the
"Allies," as the nations on Serbia's side were known, and Turkey, in
November, took the side of the Teutonic powers. The act that brought
Belgium into the war was of interest to the United States. Germany had
declared war on Russia, the friend of Serbia, and expected that
France, Russia's ally, would step into the fray. Being thoroughly
prepared for war, Germany believed that she could crush France before
the latter could take any effective steps. The most convenient path
into France lay through Belgium, a small, neutral nation with no
interest in the conflict, and the German armies were thereupon poured
across the boundary. High German authority freely admitted the wrong
of the act, but excused it on the ground of military necessity.
Belgium felt that she could not do otherwise than resist the invader
and was thus drawn into the vortex. Her danger helped bring Great
Britain into the conflict.

The relation of the United States to the conflict seemed remote, and
President Wilson on August 4 issued a formal proclamation of
neutrality, which was soon followed by an address to the people of the
country urging them to be neutral both in thought and in act. For a
time it was not difficult for the country to obey the injunction.
Although stories of the ruthlessness, of the German soldiery in
Belgium poured into the columns of American periodicals, the people
found difficulty in believing them because they had long admired the
efficiency and virility of the Germans. Scarcely a year before the war
broke out, ex-Presidents Roosevelt and Taft had extolled the German
Emperor as an apostle of peace, and President Butler of Columbia
University had declared that the people of any nation would gladly
elect him as their chief executive. More than a month and a half after
the invasion of Belgium, Roosevelt published an article in _The
Outlook_ in which he expressed pride in the German blood in his veins,
asserted that either side in the European conflict could be sincerely
taken and defended, and continued:

When a nation feels that the issue of a contest in which ... it
finds itself engaged will be national life or death, it is
inevitable that it should act so as to save itself.... The rights
and wrongs of these cases where nations violate the rules of
abstract morality in order to meet their own vital needs can
be precisely determined only when all the facts are known and
when men's blood is cool.... Of course it would be folly to jump
into the gulf ourselves to no good purpose; and very probably
nothing that we could have done would have helped Belgium. We
have not the smallest responsibility for what has befallen her.

In view of the mass of conflicting rumors concerning the war, which
reached American attention, it was natural to take the neutral
position adopted by Roosevelt, but it was inevitable, because of our
racial diversities, that sympathies and opinions should soon differ
widely. Within a short time, pamphlets were published containing the
correspondence among the several European powers which had taken place
just before the outbreak of the war. These and other documents were
widely studied in the United States and led to the belief that
England, France and Russia had been the real peace lovers and that
Germany had been the aggressor.

The immediate economic effect of the war, in the meanwhile was the
unsettlement of American financial and industrial affairs, but when
the English navy obtained the mastery of the seas, the vessels of the
Teutonic powers were driven to cover in neutral ports or kept
harmlessly at home, and American trade with neutral nations and the
Allies took on new life. Moreover the latter were in need of food,
munitions and war materials of all kinds and they turned to American
factories. Manufacturers who could accept "war orders" began at once
to make fortunes; wages and prices rose, and it became evident that
the United States would be profoundly affected by the struggle.
England's control of the sea, moreover, early presented other
problems. According to international practice, both sides in the
European conflict might purchase munitions from neutrals, of which the
United States was the largest, but on account of her weakness on the
sea Germany was unable to take advantage of this opportunity, while
the Allies constantly purchased whatever supplies were needed. At
first, the German government protested through diplomatic channels,
but our government was able to show not only that international
practice approved the course followed by the United States, but also
that Germany had herself followed it in previous wars.

There then followed propaganda on a large scale by German agents
under the direction of Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, which was intended to
influence public opinion to demand the prohibition of the shipment of
munitions to the Allies. As this activity failed of its purpose,
resort was then had to fraudulent clearance papers by which military
supplies for German use were shipped from the United States without
conforming to our customs regulations; bombs were placed in ships
carrying supplies to England; fires were set in munitions factories;
strikes and labor difficulties were fomented by German agents and at
length the government had to ask for the recall of the Austrian
Ambassador, Dr. Dumba, and the German military and naval _attachés_
at Washington, Captain Franz von Papen and Captain Karl Boy-Ed.

Relations with the Allies, in the meantime, were far from
satisfactory. The unprecedented scale on which the war was being
fought made huge supplies of munitions, food and raw materials such as
copper and cotton absolute necessities. England was able to shut off
the direct shipment into Germany of stores having military value, but
this advantage was of little use so long as the ports of Holland and
the Scandinavian countries were open to the transit of such supplies
indirectly to Teutonic soil. When England attempted to regulate and
restrict trade with these countries, the United States was the chief
sufferer. Ships were held up and their cargoes examined-during 1915,
for example, copper valued at $5,500,000 was seized while on the way
from the United States to neutral nations. On December 26, 1914, the
United States protested against the number of vessels that were
stopped, taken into British ports and held, sometimes, for weeks; and
in reply England pointed out the large increase in the amount of
copper and other materials sent to countries near Germany, and
declared that the presumption was strong that these stores were being
forwarded to the enemy.

With her navy driven from the seas, Germany began to feel the effects
of the blockade, and accordingly turned to the submarine as the hope
for victory. On February 4, 1915, Germany declared the English channel
and the waters around Great Britain a war zone, in which enemy
merchant vessels would be destroyed "even if it may not be possible
always to save their crews and passengers." Great Britain replied on
March 11 by an order that merchant vessels going into Germany or out
of her ports, as well as merchant vessels bound for neutral countries
and carrying goods bound for the enemy, must stop at a British or
allied port. At these points the cargoes were looked over and any war
materials or goods which were regarded as "contraband" were seized.
Even though the owners were eventually reimbursed for the cargoes
taken, the delay and the interference with trade were burdensome, and
the United States accordingly protested that England was establishing
an illegal blockade and that the United States would champion the
rights of neutrals. Some slight retaliatory legislation aimed at the
Allies was passed by Congress, but for the most part interest in this
controversy died in the face of the growing irritation with Germany.
The German declaration of February 4, 1915, in regard to submarine
warfare caused an energetic protest by the United States on the ground
that an attack on a vessel made without any determination of its
belligerent character and the contraband character of its cargo would
be unprecedented in naval warfare. The American note declared Germany
would be held to a "strict accountability" for any injury to American
lives and property. Nevertheless, the results of the submarine
campaign began to appear at once, and in ten weeks sixty-three
merchant ships belonging to various nations were sunk, with a loss of
250 lives. On May 7 the United States was astounded to hear that the
passenger ship _Lusitania_ had been torpedoed, and 1,153 persons
drowned, including 114 Americans. The allied and neutral nations were
profoundly stirred, and from that moment there grew an increasing
demand in the United States for war with Germany. The President called
for a disavowal of the acts by which the _Lusitania _and other vessels
had been sunk, all possible reparation, and steps to prevent the
recurrence of such deeds.

Within a few days of the _Lusitania _catastrophe and before the
protest of our government was made public, President Wilson spoke in
Philadelphia, and in the course of his remarks said, "There is such a
thing as a man being too proud to fight." The address had no relation
to the international situation, and moreover the objectionable phrase
carried an unexpected and different meaning when separated from its
context and linked to the _Lusitania_ affair. The words were seized
upon by the President's critics, however, as an indication of the
policy of the government in the crisis and were severely condemned. On
the other hand the formal protest was received with marked
satisfaction. It was understood to be the work of Wilson himself, who
practically took over the conduct of the more important foreign
affairs. When the German government replied without meeting the
demands of the President, he framed a second note which brought the
possibility of war so near that Secretary Bryan resigned rather than
sign it.[6] A second reply merely prolonged the controversy and Wilson
thereupon renewed his demands and declared that a repetition of
submarine attacks would be regarded as "deliberately unfriendly." The
statement brought the nation appreciably nearer war, but if the
comments of the newspaper press may be relied upon as an index of
public opinion, the President had again expressed the feelings of the
people. In the meanwhile German submarine warfare was modified in the
direction desired by the United States. Instead of sinking merchant
vessels on sight and without warning, the commanders of submarines
stopped them, visited and searched them, and gave the passengers and
crews opportunity to escape. On August 19, 1915, the _Arabic _was sunk
without warning, but the German government in conformity with its new
policy disavowed the act, apologized and agreed to pay an indemnity
for American lives lost. The negotiations concerning the _Lusitania_
continued to drag on, but otherwise relations between Germany and the
United States had reached the point where peace could be maintained if
no further accident or provocation intervened.

Despite the general approval of the President's firm stand against
Germany, there was an inclination in some quarters to do everything
possible to avoid a conflict, even if the effort necessitated the
relinquishment of rights that had hitherto been well recognized. In
February, 1916, Representative McLemore introduced a resolution
requesting the President to warn American citizens to refrain from
traveling on armed belligerent vessels, whether merchantmen or
otherwise and to state that if they persisted they would do so at
their own peril. The House, according to the Speaker, was prepared to
pass the resolution. The positions taken on this subject by the
administration had not been entirely consistent, but the President was
now holding that Americans had the right under international law to
travel on such vessels and that the government could not honorably
refuse to uphold them in exercising their right. "Once accept a single
abatement of right," he asserted, "and many other humiliations would
certainly follow, and the whole fine fabric of international law might
crumble under our hands piece by piece." Moreover he felt that the
conduct of international relations lay in the hands of the executive
and that divided counsels would embarrass him in dealing with Germany.
He therefore asked the House to discuss the McLemore resolution at
once and come to a vote. Under this pressure the House gave way and
tabled the resolution, ninety-three Republicans joining with 182
Democrats against thirty-three Democrats and 102 Republicans.

On March 24 the French channel steamer _Sussex_ was sunk, with the
loss of several Americans, and the submarine issue was thus brought
forward again. The President accordingly appeared before Congress and
reviewed the entire controversy. "Again and again," he reminded his
hearers, "the Imperial German Government has given this Government its
solemn assurances that at least passenger ships would not be thus
dealt with, and yet it has again and again permitted its undersea
commanders to disregard those assurances with entire impunity." He
asserted that America had been very patient, while the toll of lives
had mounted into the hundreds, and informed Congress that he was
presenting a warning that "unless the Imperial German Government
should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its
present methods of warfare against passenger and freight carrying
vessels this Government can have no choice but to sever diplomatic
relations with the Government of the German Empire altogether." The
_Lusitania _notes, the _Sussex_ address and other speeches made by the
President wore read all over the United States and, indeed, throughout
a great part of the world. He was attempting the novel and daring
experiment of framing a foreign policy in public view, and was thus
becoming the recognized spokesman of the neutral world.

Our international relations were in a disturbed and critical condition
when the presidential campaign of 1916 came on. The Republicans and
the Progressives planned to meet in Chicago on June 7 for the
nomination of candidates, in the hope that the two parties might unite
upon a single nominee and platform, and thus defeat Wilson who was
sure to be the Democratic candidate. At first, however, the two wings
of the Republican party were in complete disagreement. As far as
principles went they had not thoroughly recovered from the schism of
1912. For their candidate the Progressives looked only to Roosevelt,
whom the Republicans would not have. Roosevelt himself refused to
enter any fight for a nomination and announced, "I will go further and
say that it would be a mistake to nominate me unless the country has
in its mood something of the heroic." After conferences between
Republican and Progressive leaders which failed to bring about
unanimity, the Republican convention nominated Justice Charles E.
Hughes of the Supreme Court, and the Progressives chose Roosevelt.
Hughes was a reformer by nature, recognized as a man of high
principles, courageous, able and remembered as a vigorous and popular
governor of New York.

The Republican platform called for neutrality in the European war;
peace and order in Mexico, preparedness for national defence, a
protective tariff and women's suffrage. It also advocated some of the
economic legislation favored by the-Progressives in 1912. The
Progressive platform laid most emphasis on preparation for military
defence-a navy of at least second rank, a regular army of 250,000 and
a system for training a citizen soldiery. It also urged labor
legislation, a protective tariff and national regulation of industry
and transportation. The Republican platform severely denounced the
administration, but the Progressives stated merely their own
principles.

In the course of his actions after the nomination, however, Roosevelt
indicated his belief that the public welfare demanded the defeat of
the Democrats. He declared that he did not know Hughes's opinions on
the vital questions of the day and suggested that his "conditional
refusal" be put into the hands of the National Progressive Committee
and that a statement of the Republican candidate's principles be
awaited. If these principles turned out to be satisfactory then
Roosevelt would not run; otherwise a conference could be held to
determine future action. Subsequently Roosevelt issued a declaration
expressing his satisfaction with Hughes, condemning Wilson and urging
all Progressives to join in defeating the Democrats. Such an action
would, of course, spell the doom of the Progressives as a political
organization, but he declared that the people were not prepared to
accept a new party and that the nomination of a third party candidate
would merely divide the Republicans and ensure a Democratic victory.
The action of Roosevelt commended itself to a majority of the National
Committee, but a minority were displeased and supported Wilson.

The Democrats met at St. Louis on June 14 and renominated President
Wilson in a convention marked by harmony and enthusiasm. For the first
time in many years the party could point to a record of actual
achievement and it challenged "comparisons of our record, our keeping
of pledges, and our constructive legislation, with those of any party
at any time." After recalling the chief measures passed during the
administration, the party placed itself on record as favoring labor
legislation, women's suffrage, the protection of citizens at home and
abroad, a larger army and navy and a reserve of trained citizen
soldiers.[7]

The campaign turned upon the question whether the country approved
Wilson's foreign policy, rather than upon the record of the Democratic
party and its platform of principles, and in such a contest each side
had definite advantages. As the candidate of the party which had been
in power most of the time for half a century, Hughes had the support
of the two living ex-presidents and the backing of a compact
organization with plenty of money. He had been out of the turmoil of
politics for six years as a member of the Supreme Court and hence had
not made enemies. His party was strong in the most populous portions
of the country and in the East where dissatisfaction with the
President's foreign policy was strongest. In particular the unhappy
Mexican difficulty, which has already been mentioned, had not been
settled, and it was an easy matter for Hughes to point out real or
alleged inconsistencies and mistakes in his opponent's acts. Wilson
had been elected four years before by a minority vote and had served
through a term of years that had brought forward an unusual number of
perplexing questions on which sincere men disagreed, and had,
therefore, aroused a host of enemies. On the other hand, he had the
advantage of being in power, and his supporters could urge the danger
of "swapping horses while crossing a stream." He had a foreign policy
which the people knew about, experience in the Presidency and a record
for leadership in constructive accomplishment.[8]

The particular characteristics of the campaign were mainly the results
of the activities of Hughes, Roosevelt and Wilson. In his speech
accepting the nomination Hughes attacked the record of the
administration in regard to the civil service, charged the President
with interfering in Mexican affairs without protecting American
rights, and asserted that if the government had shown Germany that it
meant what it said by "strict accountability" the Lusitania would not
have been sunk. He also announced that he favored a constitutional
amendment providing for women's suffrage. Later he made extended
stumping tours in which he reiterated his attacks on the
administration, but he disappointed his friends by failing to reveal a
constructive program. Roosevelt, meanwhile, assisted the Republican
candidate by a series of speeches, one of the earliest of which was
that of August 31, in Maine. That state held its local elections on
September 11 and it was deemed essential by both parties to make every
effort to carry it so as to have a good effect on party prospects
elsewhere. Roosevelt's speech typified his criticisms of the
administration. He declared that Wilson had ostensibly kept peace with
Mexico but had really waged war there; he asserted that the President
had shown a lack of firmness in dealing with Mexico and had kissed the
hand that slapped him in the face although it was red with the blood
of American women and children; he compared American neutrality in the
European War with the neutrality of Pontius Pilate and believed that
if the administration had been firm in its dealings with Germany there
would have been no invasion of Belgium, no sinking of vessels and no
massacres of women and children.

Wilson followed the example of McKinley in 1896 and conducted his
campaign chiefly through speeches delivered from the porch of "Shadow
Lawn," his summer residence in New Jersey. In this way he emphasized
the legislative record of the Democrats, defended his foreign policy
and attacked the Republicans as a party, although not referring to
individuals. An important part of his strategy was an attempt to
attract the Progressives to his support. He met his opponent's
vigorous complaints in regard to his attitude toward Mexico and the
European War by pressing the question as to the direction in which the
Republicans would change it. As Hughes was apparently unwilling to
urge immediate war on Germany, he could only retort that a firm
attitude in the beginning would have prevented trouble, and there the
matter rested throughout the campaign. Supporters of Wilson also
defended his foreign policy, summing up their contentions in the
phrase, "He kept us out of war."

Foreign policy as a political issue was pressed temporarily into the
background by the sudden demand of the railroad brotherhoods for
shorter hours and mote pay, threatening a nation-wide strike if their
plea was unheeded. Neither party wished to risk the labor vote by
opposing the unions, and the public did not desire a strike, much as
it deprecated the attitude of the labor leaders in threatening trouble
at this juncture. The President took the lead in pressing a program of
railroad legislation, part of which was a law granting the men what
they desired. This was immediately passed, although the remaining
recommendations were laid aside. In the House the Republicans joined
with the Democrats in putting the law through, although nearly thirty
per cent. of the members refrained from voting at all, but in the
Senate party lines were more strictly drawn. In many quarters the
President was vigorously condemned on the ground that he had
"surrendered" to a threat. Hughes joined in the dissent, but somewhat
dulled its effect by giving no evidence of opposition until the law
was passed and by stating that he would not attempt to repeal it if
elected. During the closing days of the campaign Hughes issued a
statement declaring that he looked upon the presidency as an executive
office and stated that if chosen he would consider himself the
administrative and executive head only, and not a political leader
commissioned with the responsibility of determining policies. At the
close of the campaign, also, the benefits of a protective tariff were
urged as a reason for electing Hughes.

[Illustration:
Election of 1916, by Counties]

The result of the balloting on November 7 was in doubt for several
days because the outcome hinged on the votes of California and
Minnesota, either of which would turn the scale. In the end Wilson was
found to have received 9,128,837 votes and Hughes, 8,536,380. The vote
in the electoral college was 277 to 254. The outcome was remarkable in
several respects. Each candidate received a larger popular vote than
had ever before been cast; Wilson won without New York or any of the
other large eastern states, finding his support in the South and the
Far West; each side was able to get satisfaction from the result, the
Republicans because their party schism was sufficiently healed to
enable them to divide the House of Representatives evenly with their
opponents, and the Democrats because their candidate was successful in
states which elected Republican senators and governors by large
majorities.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

In the nature of the case, any bibliography which concerns the events
of so recent and important a period is of temporary value only. Ogg
presents an excellent one, but many important volumes have been
printed since 1917, his date of publication.

A reliable account of the chief events is contained in the _American
Year Book_. The numerous biographies of President Wilson are written
under the difficult conditions that surround the discussion of recent
events. Available ones are: E.C. Brooks, _Woodrow Wilson as President_
(1916), eulogistic, but contains extracts from speeches; W.B. Hale,
_Woodrow Wilson, The Story of His Life_ (1912); H.J. Ford, _Woodrow
Wilson_ (1916); A.M. Low, _Woodrow Wilson, an Interpretation_ (1918),
a friendly and substantial analysis by an English newspaper
correspondent; W.B. Dodd, _Woodrow Wilson and His Work_ (1920),
sympathetic, written in the spirit of the investigator, and the best
life up to the time of its publication. Better than any biography is a
careful study of Wilson's addresses and speeches, editions of which
have been prepared by A.B. Hart, J.B. Scott, A. Shaw and others.

Periodical literature concerning the legislative program of the first
Wilson administration is especially abundant. On the tariff, in
addition to Taussig, consult: _Quarterly Journal of Economics_ (1913),
"The Tariff Act of 1913"; _Journal of Political Economy_ (1914), "The
Tariff of 1913." On the federal reserve system, _Political Science
Quarterly_ (1914), "Federal Reserve System"; _Quarterly Journal of
Economics_ (1914), "Federal Reserve Act of 1913"; _American Economic
Review_ (1914), "Federal Reserve Act"; _Journal of Political Economy_
(1914), "Banking and Currency Act of 1913"; H.P. Willis, _The Federal
Reserve_ (1915); E.W. Kemmerer, _The A B C of the Federal Reserve
System_ (1918). On the anti-trust acts, _Political Science Quarterly_
(1915), "New Anti-Trust Acts"; _Quarterly Journal of Economics_
(1914), "Trust Legislation of 1914"; _American Economic Review_
(1914), "Trade Commission Act." For the early stages of the European
conflict see the references under Chapter XXV.

The best accounts of the election of 1916 are in the _American Year
Book_, and in Ogg. Other readable accounts are: _Nineteenth Century_
(Dec., 1916), "The Re-Election of President Wilson"; W.E. Dodd,
_Woodrow Wilson_ (1920).

* * * * *

[1] The cabinet, 1913-1920, was as follows: Secretary of State, W.J.
Bryan (to 1915), R. Lansing (to 1920), B. Colby; Secretary of the
Treasury, W.G. McAdoo, C. Glass, D.F. Houston; Secretary of War, L.M.
Garrison, N.D. Baker; Attorney-General, J.C. McReynolds, T.W. Gregory,
A.M. Palmer; Postmaster-General, A.S. Burleson; Secretary of the Navy,
J. Daniels; Secretary of the Interior, F.K. Lane, J.B. Payne;
Secretary of Commerce, W.C. Redfield, J.W. Alexander; Secretary of
Labor, W.B. Wilson.

[2] On Apr. 23, 1920, the amount of federal reserve notes outstanding
was $3,068,307,000.

[3] On Apr. 23, 1920, the reserves deposited by member banks reached a
total of $2,083,568,000.

[4] The Commission superseded the Bureau of Corporations.

[5] The appointment of Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court brought
to that body a well-known proponent of the newer types of social and
economic theory. At first the opposition to confirming his nomination
in the Senate, based upon certain facts in his career and allegations
concerning them, was uncommonly pronounced. Dissent diminished,
however, in the face of investigation, and the nomination was
confirmed by a large majority on June 1, 1916.

[6] Bryan remained in sympathy with the administration in other
respects, and aided in the campaign of 1916.

[7] Despite Roosevelt's refusal to run, the Progressive
Vice-Presidential candidate continued the campaign. The Socialist
Labor party, the Socialist party and the Prohibitionists also
presented candidates.

[8] The Republican campaign fund was $2,445,421 contributed by 34,205
persons; the Democratic fund, $1,808,348 given by 170,000 persons.

CHAPTER XXV

THE UNITED STATES AND THE WORLD WAR

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.

[Illustration:
The Western Front]

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]

[Illustration:
Strength of the American Expeditionary Force
July 1, 1917-Nov. 1, 1918]

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-Mézières 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.

[Illustration:
The Cost of Food
Jan. 1913-Jan. 1920]

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

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.

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