The United States and World War I (1914–1921) for AP U.S. History (page 4)

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Updated on Mar 3, 2011

The Consequences of American Actions After the War

The failure of the United States to join the League of Nations greatly affected European affairs in the succeeding decades. The League of Nations was never the organization it could have been with American involvement. Many European leaders felt that the United States could have been the "honest broker" in the League, and that with U.S. involvement, the League could have had more substance. In addition, Europeans expected the United States to be a major player in European and world affairs in the years following the war. Led by the Senate, the United States backed off from the commitment, and entered a period of isolationism that would last through the 1930s. It was only after World War II in 1945 that America finally took the role that many thought it would take in 1920.


To achieve the perfect 5, you should be able to explain the following:

  • World War I greatly impacted the American mind-set and America's role in world affairs; this was the fi rst time that America became directly involved in affairs taking place on the European continent.
  • Many Americans expressed support for the Allied powers from the beginning of the war; German U-boat attacks solidifi ed American support for Britain and France.
  • The sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmermann Telegram did much to intensify American anger against Germany.
  • Germany's decision to utilize unrestricted submarine warfare caused President Wilson to call for war in 1917; Wilson claimed that this policy violated America's rights as a neutral power.
  • The American Expeditionary Force did much to aid the Allied war effort, both militarily and psychologically.
  • The federal government did much to mobilize the American population at home for the war effort; Liberty Bonds were sold, voluntary rationing took place, and propaganda was used to encourage Americans to oppose the "Hun" however possible.
  • Many blacks moved to northern cities to work in factories during World War I; this migration would continue through the 1920s.
  • Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points met with opposition from French and English leaders at the Paris Peace Conference; many of them had to be abandoned to secure the creation of the League of Nations.
  • The Treaty of Versailles was opposed by U.S. senators who felt that America should pursue an isolationist policy after the war. As a result, the treaty was never signed by the United States and the United States never joined the League of Nations.
  • Many European leaders expected America to be active as a leader in world affairs after World War I. Instead, America adopted neo-isolationist policies that lasted until America entered World War II.

    Time Line

      1914:   Outbreak of World War I in Europe
          Woodrow Wilson offi cially proclaims American neutrality in World War I
          National Security League founded to prepare America for war
      1915:   Sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boat
      1916:   Germany torpedoes Sussex, then promises to warn merchants ships if they are to be attacked
          Woodrow Wilson reelected with campaign slogan of "He kept us out of war"
      1917:   Zimmermann Telegram
          Germany declares unrestricted submarine warfare
          United States enters World War I, stating that U.S. rights as a neutral had been violated
          Russian Revolution; Russian-German peace talks
          Conscription begins in United States
          War Industries Board formed to create a war economy
          Espionage Act passed
          American Expeditionary Force lands in France
      1918:   Military success by American Expeditionary Force at Chateau-Thierry
          Sedition Act passed; free speech limited (illegal to criticize government or American military forces)
          Wilson announces the Fourteen Points
          Armistice ends World War I (November 11)
      1919:   Paris Peace Conference creates Treaty of Versailles
          Race riots in Chicago
          Wilson suffers stroke during speaking tour promoting Treaty of Versailles
          Senate rejects Treaty of Versailles; United States does not join the League of Nations

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

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