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Emily Siebach

Professor Macias
14 April 2014
Writing Assignment #3
WWI Significance
Dont Read American History- Make It! reads a beautifully colored naval recruiting
poster that pictures a sailor talking to a civilian, with a liberty angel in the background.
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This and
other posters are everywhere, because America has declared war with Germany. The Great War
will change America in ways the people had never expected, food trade and finances will be
directly affected. U.S. culture, films and advertising, will unite the minds of the people against
the common enemy in Europe. Women and minorities will take advantage of the countries need
for labor to gain more equality, and this will change the face of society drastically. World War I
is incredibly significant to American history because it heavily impacted the people of the United
States economically, culturally, and socially.
At home in America, the new economy that citizens had to adjust to inspired people to
identify with the altruistic behavior of sacrifice, while at the same time, stimulating an inborn
sense of fairness. No country produced more food than America.
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This statement is important
because during the war, England and Germany were trying to blockade each other into
starvation. Neither of these countries were self-sufficient agriculturally, like the U.S. was; this
meant that because America joined with the Allies, they would get the benefit of American food

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World War I Propaganda Posters, last modified April 14, 2014,
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/ww1posters/5069.
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World War I: United States Food Administration, last modified April 11, 2014,
http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww1/cou/us/food/w1cus-usfa.html.
as well as military support. To the American people at home, this meant rationing of food in
order to send more overseas. Herbert Hoover was appointed as United States Food
Administrator, he would oversee and design programs to coordinate conservation of food in the
U.S. By creating promotion such as Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays, Hoover
would convince the American public to voluntarily ration themselves. This was so successful
that food rationing did not have to be federally mandated at all throughout the war years. The
American public had caught the same vision that Hoover had: sacrifice would not only help them
at home but also help their loved ones across the ocean. Historians agree that food resources
were significant in turning the tides of the war in favor of the Allied Powers
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; Hoovers vision
and the American publics sacrifice had helped to win the First World War. In contrast to this
huge sacrifice that the public was willing to make voluntarily, was the idea of fairness. Many
citizens were upset about private companies profiting from the country being at war. Private
munitions manufacturers were getting rich off of sales made to the government. This disturbed
many citizens, but especially those who were fond of Progressivism and believed that there
should be regulation of economy to benefit public interest. In this case, that would mean heavily
taxing those companies that profited from the war and lowering other taxes that had been raised
to finance the war effort
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. Even though no legislature was ever passed to more heavily tax the
profiteers, the records tell that this was at the forefront of American worries. The people of this
nation have always valued their sense of fairness even when some views of fairness contradict
each other. Being an American in World War I meant finding power to help their loved ones
serving overseas by sacrificing or rationing at home; and being an American also meant wanting
laws to be more fair to everyone.

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World War I: United States Food Administration.
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David E. Shi and Holly A. Mayer, America and the Great War,in For the Record: A Documentary History of
America, ed. Jon Durbin (New York: W.W. Norton and Company Inc, 2013), 157-158.
Films and advertising helped to culturally unify the American public not only in news
and entertainment but also in a hatred for the enemies in Europe. Films made during the First
World War could be grouped into three main categories: first was news and information, second
entertainment, and finally war dramas. Many updates of the war in Europe could be seen in short
clips played at certain times in movie theatres, this helped keep the public informed about
international crisis that were affecting them at home. Communications from national leaders
could also be seen and this helped Americans feel connected to far away causes and calamities.
These broadcastings were necessary and helpful to American civilians. However, directors in the
film industry debated whether it was better for the public to see wartime fiction or unrelated
comedies. Some said it was more relevant to real life to show wartime dramas, but others
contested that people went to the movies to get away from reality
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. Whatever the directors felt
their duty was to the American public, the public loved the movies. Whether they were full of
news, war related, or just fun to watch; the public went to see the films and were united as a
people in going. At the same time, advertising depicting monstrous enemies united the American
people against the enemies of the country. This kind of propaganda created hatred at the same
time it brought the country together to work even harder to defeat the enemy. Posters depicted
monsters that were not human or foreign-looking men that were scary, and sometimes bloody
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to
spur the public into action at home that would help the country win the war. Unfortunate and
unwanted effects of these advertisements included increasing nativism and suspicion of
immigrants. In all of these ideas the country was united because of mass broadcasting and
communications such as advertising.

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Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, The Films of World War I: 1917-1918, in Reel Patriotism: The Movies of World War
I, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997), 41-43.
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World War I Propaganda Posters
During World War I, minorities and women took advantage of the countries need and
were able to take leaps and bounds in the battle for equality. Minorities, specifically Native
Americans, were in a strange middle ground; they tried to be sovereign nations while at the same
time relying on the U.S. government. The Iroquois Nation used WWI as a way to further
enhance their sovereignty by declaring war on Germany independently from the U.S. They had
taken the initiative and were, Iroquois soldiers fighting for the American Army.
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In this way
the Iroquois tribe made themselves more free and paved the way for other tribes to follow in
their footsteps. African Americans also sought more freedom, but they sought it in the form of
increased rights. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was newly
formed and ready to fight state-side for rights that included economic, political and educational
equality with whites. The NAACP specifically fought against the grandfather clause, which
stated that a man could only place a vote if his grandfather had also been able to vote, and that
fight ended in a win when the Supreme Court voted the grandfather clauses in Oklahoma and
Maryland were unconstitutional. Abroad in Europe, many African Americans found peace and
respect from white counterparts because they shared their musical talents. These wonderful
entertaining abilities often closed racial gaps, while at the same time heightening overall moral
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.
African Americans were pushing for equality and WWI gave them an opportunity to succeed.
Women at home also were given an opportunity to succeed when the men were enlisted and left
no one to fill jobs that still needed to be done. This was where women stepped in. Before the
war, women had important duties in the home, but rarely outside of it; because almost all of the
men had left, employers turned to women and were surprised at what they found. Intelligent,

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The American Indian in the Great War: Real and Imagined, last modified April 14, 2014,
http://www.gwpda.org/comment/Cmrts/Cmrt5.html#2.
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African American Odyssey: World War I and Postwar Society, last modified April 14, 2014,
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart7.html
confident, and competent workers; women were ready to learn and easy to teach. They often
excelled and did better than employers imagined, sometimes doing better than the men they had
replaced. They worked in every aspect of running the country from heavy equipment to
munitions, while also maintaining work in their homes and volunteering for the Red Cross.
Feminist organizations took the opportunity to try and create labor unions for women because of
the long hours worked and women receiving half the pay of the men they replaced
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. Being an
American female in WWI meant breaking traditional gender roles and stigmas as well as
excelling in environments never before opened to women. Minorities and women may have been
the countrys largest untapped resource before the war.
World War I proved to be a catalyst to change in the United States. Without the war,
American economy, culture and society would never have been so efficiently of quickly
catapulted into their own revolutions. World War I was good for Americans at home because it
positively modified many of the ways people lived and worked.





Bibliography

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Where Women Worked During World War I, last modified April 11, 2014,
http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/kim.shtml.
African American Odyssey: World War I and Postwar Society, last modified April 14,
2014, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart7.html
David E. Shi and Holly A. Mayer, America and the Great War,in For the Record: A
Documentary History of America, ed. Jon Durbin (New York: W.W. Norton and Company Inc,
2013), 157-158.
Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, The Films of World War I: 1917-1918, in Reel Patriotism:
The Movies of World War I, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997), 41-43.
The American Indian in the Great War: Real and Imagined, last modified April 14,
2014, http://www.gwpda.org/comment/Cmrts/Cmrt5.html#2.
Where Women Worked During World War I, last modified April 11, 2014,
http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/kim.shtml.
World War I Propaganda Posters, last modified April 14, 2014,
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/ww1posters/5069.
World War I: United States Food Administration, last modified April 11, 2014,
http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww1/cou/us/food/w1cus-usfa.html.