The United States and World War I (1914–1921) for AP U.S. History

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Updated on Mar 3, 2011

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The United States and World War I (1914–1921) Review Questions  for AP U.S. History 

Summary: The United States was officially neutral in the first two years of World War I; in 1916, one of President Woodrow Wilson's campaign slogans was "he kept us out of war." However, America was soon drawn into this conflict on the side of the British and French against the Germans (and the Austro-Hungarians). The 1915 sinking of the British passenger ship the Lusitania infuriated many Americans, as did the publication of the Zimmerman Note, in which Germany tried to entice Mexico to go to war against the United States. In January of 1917 Germany announced a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, and several American ships were sunk. These events caused President Wilson to call for a declaration of war against Germany. American entry into the war was a tremendous psychological lift for the British and the French. On the American home front, the government imposed unprecedented controls on the economy and on the spreading of news. The war ended with an armistice in November 1918. At the subsequent Paris Peace Conference, Wilson attempted to convince the Allies to accept his peace plan, called the "Fourteen Points." Britain and France were generally not enthusiastic about Wilson's proposals, but they did support the creation of a League of Nations. However, the League was opposed by isolationist members of the U.S. Senate, and the United States never became a member of the League. Instead, U.S. foreign policy became isolationist and remained largely so through the 1930s.


American Expeditionary Force: American force of 14,500 men that landed in France in June 1917 under the command of General John J. Pershing. Both women and blacks served in the American army during the war, although black units were segregated and usually had white officers.

War Industries Board: board that regulated American industry during World War I; it attempted to stimulate war production by allocating raw materials to factories that aided the war effort.

Committee on Public Information: agency created during the war whose mission was to spread pro-Allied propaganda through the press and through newsreels; newspapers were asked to print only articles that were helpful to the war effort.

Fourteen Points: plan for the postwar world that Woodrow Wilson brought to the Paris Peace Conference; Wilson's plan proposed open peace treaties, freedom of the seas, arms reductions, and a League of Nations. Britain and France were openly suspicious of these plans, but they supported the creation of a League of Nations.

League of Nations: The world body proposed by Woodrow Wilson as part of his 14-point peace plan. The League was created but without the participation of Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States (isolationists in the Senate ensured that the treaty creating the League was never signed). As a result, the League remained a relatively ineffective body throughout its existence.

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