War At Home: World War I Teacher/ Student notes/ study page
Main idea: WWI spurred social, political, and economic change in the US
Why it matters now: Such changes increased government powers and expanded economic opportunities
I. Congress Gives Power to Wilson
a. The wartime need for labor brought over a million more women into the work force
b. Not just soldiers – industry needed
c. WWI: the entire economy had to be refocused on the war effort
d. Shift from producing consumer goods to producing war supplies – complicated and too important for private industry – business and government collaborated
i. Because of this – the power of government was greatly expanded
ii. Congress gave Wilson direct control over much of the economy, including the power to fix prices and to regulate/nationalize war-related industries
e. War Industries Board
i. Main regulatory body: War Industries Board
1. Established in 1917 – reorganized in 1918 under Bernard M. Baruch (businessman)
2. What did they do?
a. Encourage companies to use mass-production techniques to increase efficiency
b. Urged them to eliminate waste by standardizing products
c. Set production quotas, allocated raw materials
ii. Under the WIB – industrial production in the US increased by about 20%
1. they applied price controls only at the wholesale level
a. result: prices soared, 1918 – they were almost double what they had been before the war
i. corporate profits soared – especially in such industries as chemicals, meatpacking, oil, and steel
iii. WIB: Not the only fed agency to regulate the economy
1. Railroad Administration: railroads
2. Fuel Administration: Fuel (coal, gasoline, oil – monitored and rationed)
a. “gasless Sundays”/”lightless nights” to conserve fuel, daylight-saving time – take advantage of the longer days of summer
f. War Economy
i. Wages in most industries rose during the war years
1. Hourly wages for blue-collar workers – those in the metal trades, shipbuilding, meatpacking – rose about 20%
2. Households income – largely undercut, however, by rising food prices and housing costs
3. Stockholders in large corps – enormous profits
a. Example: DuPont company – stock multiplied 1600 percent
i. Unions also boomed. Why?: Uneven pay between labor and management, increasing work hours, child labor, dangerously “sped-up” conditions”
1. 6000 strikes
a. Naitonal War Labor Board in 1918
i. Wilson developed to deal with the disputes between m and l
ii. Workers who refuse dto obey? They could lose their draft exemptions, “Work of fight” – they were told.
iii. BUT the board wasn’t all bad – they also worked to improve factory conditions, pushed for an 8 hour workday, promoted safety inspections, and enforced the child labor ban.
4. Question: Why would labor disputes affect the war effort?
5. Answer: Labor disputes would slow down production and jeopardize the American war effort.
g. Food Administration
i. To help produce and conserve food (under Herbert Hoover)
1. instead of rationing – he called on people to follow the “gospel of the clean plate”
2. one day a week: meatless
3. another: sweetless
4. two days: wheatless
5. two days: porkless
6. Restaurants: removed sugar bowls from the table and served bread only after the first course
7. Homeowners: planted “victory gardens”
a. School children – grew tomatoes, cucumbers
b. As a result of these/similar efforts – American food shipments to the allies tripled
i. Hoover also set a high government price on wehat and other staples – Farmers responded by putting an additional 40 million acres into production – this increased their income by almost 30%
II. Selling the War
a. 2 major tasks: raising money, convincing the public to support the war
b. War Financing
i. 35.5 billion on the war effort
ii. Raised about one-third of this thorugh taxes,
1. progressive income tax, war-profits tax, higher taxes on tobacco, liquor, luxury goods
2. bonds: “Liberty Loan” “Victory Loan”
a. “Only a friend of Germany would refuse to buy war bonds”
i. Question: How did the government raise money for the war effort?
ii. Answer: The government raised some money through taxes and some through the sale of bonds.
c. Committee on Public Information
i. Committee on Public information (CPI) – propaganda agency (biased communication designed to influence people’s thoughts and actions
ii. The head of the CPI was a former muckraking journalist – George Creel
1. Effective BUT – inflamed hatred and violations of the civil liberties of certain ethnic groups na doppponents of the war
III. Attacks on Civil Liberties Increase
a. Conformity – became the order of the day
b. Anti-Immigrant Hysteria
i. Main targets – immigrants from Germany and AH or descent of Germany/AH
1. refused to play Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms
2. Some towns with German names changed them
3. Schools stopped teaching German
4. librarians removed books by German authors
a. violence – flogging German Americans with tar and feathers, lynched – jury cleared mobs leader in one instances
b. Changed German measles to liberty measles – just like freedom fries
c. Hamburger – Salisbury steak or “liberty sandwich”
d. Sauerkraut – liberty cabbage, dachshunds - liberty pups.
c. Espionage and Sedition Acts
i. June `1917: Espoionage Act
ii. May 1918: Sedition Act
1. a person could be fined up to 10,000 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for interfering with the war effort or for saying anything disloyal profance or abusive about the government or the war effort.
a. These laws clearly violated the first amendment
i. Led to over 2,000 prosecutions of “antiwar activities” – half resulted in convictions
1. Newspapers and magazines opposing the war – lost their mailing privileges
a. Refused to seat Victor Berger – antiwar views
b. Columbia U – fired those opposing war.
iii. Who did these acts target?
1. socialist and labor leaders
a. Eugene Debs (remember him?!) – ten-year prison for speaking out against the war and the draft
b. IWW members – accused of sabotaging the war effort because they urged workers to strike for better conditions/higher pay.
i. Question: What Impact did the Espionage and Sedition Acts have on free speech?
1. Answer: The Acts led to thousands of prosecutions; people were fired from their jobs; antiwar newspapers and magazines lost their mailing privileges
IV. The War Encourages Social Change
a. African Americans and the War
i. Public opinion split among the black community
1. WEB Du Bois: believed that blacks should support the war effort (would strengthen calls for racial justice)
2. William Monroe Trotter: victims of racism should not support a racist government. Called Du Bois an accommodationist (interesting – think back to Booker T. Washington). Trotter favored protest.
a. Most African Americans backed the war
b. The Great Migration
i. The greatest effect of WWI on Af Am’s lives: accelerated the Great Migration – the large-scale movement of hundreds of thousands of Southern blacks to cities in the north.
1. this had already started before the war (blacks moving up to the north to escape the Jim Crow laws)
ii. What caused the Great Migration?
1. Escape racial discrimination (made it hard to make a living, threatened lives)
2. Boll weevil infestation, floods, droughts – ruined south’s cotton fields.
3. North – more job opportunities
a. Outbreak of WWI, drop in Euro immigrants – increased job opportunities
i. Steel mills
ii. Munitions plants
1. Northern manufacturers wanted these workers, gave them free railroad passes, wrote articles contrasting Dixieland lynching with the prosperity of Af Ams in the North.
iii. Racial Prejudice in the North
1. overcrowding/racial tension/race riots
c. Women in the War
i. Women – moved into jobs that used to be held only by men:
1. railroad workers
5. coal miners
a. also filled more traditional roles:
iv. volunteers – Red Cross
v. encouraging the sale of bonds
vi. planting victory gardens
ii. Peace Movement
1. Some women were involved in the peace movement
a. Women’s Peace Party 1915 founded
i. Jane Addams
ii. Jeannette Rankin
1. Woodrow Wilson acknowledged the sacrifice women made
2. this did not help the “equal pay for equal work” movement, but it did help bolster public support for woman suffrage
d. The Flu Epidemic, “Spanish Flu”
i. Home front crisis
1. one-quarter of the US population
a. had a negative effect on the economy
i. mines shut down
ii. telephone service cut
iii. factories and offices staggered hours to avoid contagion
iv. corpses – lay unburied for as long as a week
ii. People who were thought to be in the best of shape would drop den in a matter of days
1. Doctors – they were confused; could just suggest cleanliness and quarantine
2. Army – more than a quarter of the soldiers caught the disease
a. In some AEF units – 1/3rd of the troops died
b. Germans especially
c. Possibly spread around the world by soldiers
i. 500,000 Americans died before it disappeared in 1919
1. world wide – killed 30 million people
2. Fun fact: Edward Cullen had the Spanish Flu and that is why he was turned into a vampire.