World War I
|1908||Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina|
|1914||June 28||Gavrilo Princip assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary|
|August||World War I begins in Europe|
|1915||May 7||German U-boats sink Lusitania|
|Trench warfare begins|
|United States begins giving fi nancial support to Allies|
|Great Migration (1915–1930)|
|1916||National Defense Act|
|1917||Selective Service Act|
|February 3||United States severs diplomatic relations with Germany|
|March 1||Publication of Zimmermann Telegram|
|April 6||United States declares war on Germany|
|June 9||Espionage Act|
|October 21||U.S. troops arrive on Western Front|
|November 7||Russian Revolution|
|1918||January 8||“Fourteen Points” speech|
|September-October||Massive infl uenza epidemic|
|November 11||Germany surrenders; armistice signed|
|1919||June 28||Peace conference and signing of Treaty of Versailles|
|September||Wilson suffers severe stroke|
World War I and Its Aftermath
The United States had entered the twentieth century an isolated nation, both geographically and politically. It had played no role in conflicts between other nations, but simply pursued its own territorial conquests and fought wars involving its own direct concerns.
The Spanish-American War marked the beginning of the end of this splen- did isolation. For the first time, the United States fought in a war that was no concern of its own—a rebellion of a colony against the dominant nation that controlled it. Even in this case, however, the United States had territorial aims of its own to pursue.
World War I—called at the time “the Great War”—marked the United States’ first major entry into world affairs. The war began in 1914, but the United States did not become directly involved in it until three years of fighting had gone by. The United States supplied money and arms to the Allied or Entente powers (Britain, France, and Russia) as early as 1915, but did not declare war on the Central powers until 1917. The first American troops did not enter the trenches until 1918.
The United States came out of the war in a strong position. The traditional European powers—Britain, France, Germany, and Russia—were severely weakened. Millions of their young men had been slaughtered, their armies and navies were destroyed, their economies were devastated, and much French land and many villages lay in ruins. By contrast, the United States had lost relatively few soldiers and ships, and its home front was far away from the fighting. The war effort had had a positive effect on the American economy.
The fact that the war might easily have been avoided led President Woodrow Wilson to insist on the creation of a League of Nations—an international organization in which representatives of member nations would discuss conflicts over a table, attempting to resolve them peacefully. In Wilson’s vision, armed conflict should be only a last resort. If one nation behaved aggressively, all other nations should unite against it, thus effectively putting a stop to its attacks or encroachments. This vision became a reality in 1920, but without U.S. participation. A full-scale United Nations, which all the great powers of the world would join, had to wait until after World War II—a war that might have been prevented had Wilson’s dream of a modern Round Table come true.
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