Unit 2 Impact of WW1

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  • Created on: 10-06-15 19:05
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2: The Impact of the First World War
What was the impact on the economy both pre 1917 and after the US
declaration of war in April. (the changes to the economy as a result of
the war)
The social consequences e.g. Prohibition
The political consequences e.g. the growth in power of the Federal
Government, the enfranchisement of women.
Why did the USA declare war on Imperial Germany in April 1917?
What were the economic, social and political effects on the USA due to
the war?
Key events
o 1914 August GB, France and Russia at war with Germany and
o 1915 Tension with Germany rises as the Lusitania is sunk by German
U Boat with the loss of American lives, 128 killed.
o 1916 Vast exports of war material from the USA to GB and France
Woodrow Wilson reelected President
Council of National Defence established
o 1917 February Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare
April USA declares war on Germany.
June Espionage Act restricts traditional individual freedoms
o 1918 Prohibition introduced for duration of war
Hundreds of thousands of US troops reach France to play part
in final victory
o 1919 President Woodrow Wilson in France playing a leading role in
the Treaty of Versailles
Why did the US Join the war (and on the side of the allies)?
o 1914= Wilson announced that the USA would remain neutral during the
war. 1) Because it was during the time of elections, so this would win him
support. 2) Because of immigration, many US citizens were from Britain
and Germany. 3) This decision reflected the country's Isolationist nature.
o The Preparedness Policy of 1915= suggested that America may get
involved with the war. The policy suggested that America should prepare
for war and establish an army of 25,000 in case of crisis. The council of
defence was established in 1916, to help advise the President in how to
prepare for potential war.
o April 1917= Wilson addressed Congress, declaring the US had become
involved and declared war on the German Government's actions, not the
people which allowed him to remain in favour with the USA's German
descended people.
Key factors involved in the decision to joining the war:

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Close economic ties with the allies. The USA traded and invested in
them, more than with Germany. By 1916, $1290 million of munitions
were exported and $2.3 billion was loaned to Britain. Therefore, if they
joined Germany they would lose trade and profits as well as their
o A German Victory would threaten US policy of liberal democracy, which
Wilson strived for. The allies needed to win to establish peace so
Germany would not start more wars to invade and take over land.…read more

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The War Industry Board , which involved the government in economics
for the first time, established and advised on how to make business
efficient. E.g. a result was a uniform way of making bicycles, which
saved 200 tons of steel.…read more

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Even though the US became as creditor nation, it had to borrow money
to pay the costs of war. As a result, the level of national debt increased
by 658% between 1916 and 1919 when it stood at just over $27 million.
o In order to meet the cost of servicing the national debts, tax levels would
need to remain higher after the war they had been before the war but
they were lower than wartime levels.…read more

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Positive impact= the war gave a powerful push to the enfranchisement of
women. Their contribution to the war effort was recognised and the 19th
amendment of 1920 gave them the vote nationwide.
o The US was already making a considerable headway in its economic
development with it joined the war in 1917.…read more


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