Of all the major events of the 20th Century, which affected the United States (apart from their impact on the world), World War I is ranked as one of the most influential, if not the most influential events, which had the most significant effect on the United States. We are not discussing the details of the four-year war – nor – we are narrating the chronology of the events, which took place from 1914-1918. We are going to analyze the impact of World War I on the United States.
Although World War I was not fought on US soil and it is true that the United State remained neutral during the first three years of the war i.e. 1914-1917, however, the war had a long-lasting impact on the social, economic and political fronts. These implications mainly contributed to the greatest economic crisis the US had ever faced termed the Great Depression. Europe at that time was divided into two groups. On one side were the Allies (Britain, France Russia) and on the other side were the Central Powers (Germany, Australia / Hungry and Turkey).
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The prominent causes of the World War I were imperialistic nationalism and economic rivalries. The Central Powers had thrashed out the Allies being victorious on many fronts including Belgium, France, Russia and Italy. The United States entered World War I in 1917 on the Allies Side, after frequent interruptions, especially by the German submarine warfare, which interrupted sea trade and travel. With the entry of the United States, the Allied Forces were victorious and the Central Power faced a humiliating defeat resulting in the disintegration of Turkey and Austro-Hungarian empires.
The war ended with major treaties like Armistice, the Treaty of Versailles and the formation of the League of Nations. The United States, however, showed an inward attitude and refused to participate in the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. This indifferent attitude and non-participation on the critical post-war platforms led to the unsettlement of many issues, which later led to World War II. The United States entered an era of isolation following a non-partisan behaviour in post war treaties and the League of Nations. The Allies suffered huge losses; around 10 million people were killed and approximately 20 million had suffered injuries, of which the US share was very minimal.
The American society was in a period of mobilization, during wartime, which brought great prosperity and decreased unemployment. However, the government failed to plan strategically to tackle the kind of laissez-faire post-war situation. The American society was growing as a purely materialistic society because of the change in the attitude led by the highly optimistic feelings. The post-war period saw growth in many areas such as technology and media promotion. Credit was easily available and the average spending increased, whereas the taxes on the rich were reduced. All this was setting the stage for an economic disaster, which we remember as the period of the Great Depression.
There were far-reaching social implications due to the wartime slogans aimed at gaining support for the war. The Americans developed a sense of hatred against foreigners including the communists. The immigrants and the blacks were highly discriminated against and were held responsible for the increasing unemployment in the post-war period. All this led to the violation of Civil rights. To conclude, World War I had a lasting impact on the American (and the world) society, which ended leaving many of the issues unsettled resulting in the period of the Great Depression and World War II.
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