Ronald Schaffer's America in the Great War

Topics: United States, World War II, World War I Pages: 10 (1507 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Ronald Schaffer's America in the Great War gives new insights into World War I.

The book gave historical accounts about the war that other books negated to included.

The thesis that Schaffer tries to prove that the Great War was the start of the American

welfare state and the beginning of "big" government. America in the Great War was

structured in chronological order of the war, from America's mobilization to the actual

fighting. What the book did not include is a detail account of the fighting. This was the

biggest draw back in a otherwise well thought book.

The book begins with the mobilization of the United State's industry and man

power. The first two chapters dealt with how the Federal Government shaped the view of

the war in America's minds. The methods that the Federal Government used varied from

propaganda to coercion. The point behind the Federal Government's involvement in

propaganda was to rally the country to fight the war. The first step in shaping the

people's mind was to get the labor and industry to work together. The Federal

Government established committees and teams to persuade the minds of the United States.

One of these committees were the Committee on Public Information established in April

13 1917 by order on the President of the United States. The committee was led by

George Creel, former social reformer. He had great power in what the United States saw

and heard for the next few years. His first order was to manage American minds without

directly using propaganda and censorship. Other nations fighting the war practiced wide

spread censorship of all war related material. Creel realized that this would not work in

the United States, instead he flooded Americans with news. The news released to the

public was in such large numbers and in such great detail that Americans could not

understand all of it. The Committee on Public Information also produced films. The films

were designed to rally Americans behind the war effort. The films were nothing else but

propaganda, but Creel designed the films to not come across as propaganda. The

committee was very successful in hiding the fact that they were engaging in propaganda.

Many Americans believed in the films and supported the war effort, but there were many

people who did not. The committee was aware of growing dissent among Americans and

took steps to keep that dissent in check.

Congress passed many acts that prevented and punished dissent in the Untied

States. Three of these acts were the Espionage Act of 1917, the Trading with the Enemy

Act of 1917, and the Sedition Act of 1918. These acts were successful in limiting the

amount of discontent towards the war. The price of this limited discontent was the

suspension of rights of American citizens. Thousands of Americans suspected of

dissension were arrested and convicted of sedition. Americans were encouraged to tell

government officials of any kind of anti-war activities that they know about. The

government arrested people and sent them to jail for even hinting about anti-war feelings.

This created fear among Americans towards the Federal Government, but did succeeded

in stopping dissension.

The next three chapters focused on the mobilization of American industry to fight

the war. In the years before the Great War, America was making the work place a safer

and better place to work. Labor unions had power to control wages, hours and working

conditions. The Great War for the most part suspended the labor movement. The United

States needed to fight a war, and American industry was key in winning that war. The

Federal Government became heavily involved in controlling industry. The level of control

that the government used was on heard of a few years ago. American labor suffered

during the...
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