World War I and the Twenties – The Great Transformation and the Great Illusions

Unit 2 does not have a traditional test. Click here for how it works. Example from the link: your questions ask you to recognize the difference between World War I and World War II and what broad period the social movement occurred.

Lesson 2 ----------------------------------------------------------
Tips: You must recognize which are traits of WWI and WWWII. Use the maps in the Learning Quizzes.

8.       1914- Outbreak of the Great War in Europe

·        Allies–Great Britain, France, Russia

·        Central Powers-Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire

9.       War traits & tech - trench warfare, submarine warfare (key for Germany), convoys; flame throwers, land/sea mines, tanks, submarines, poison gas

10.    US & the war

·        Entry into the war in 1917 (Zimmerman Note or Telegram)

·        Wilson’s major proclaimed goals

-         League of Nations  (Nation not joining –the US)

-         Self-determination of nations (Look at the maps.)

-         Freedom of seas (American shipping)

·        Draft; control of agriculture, industry, railroads & speech – increased federal power, agencies, and employees

11.    American entry at crucial time for food supplies, for soldiers

12.    1917 Czar Nicholas, Nicholai Lenin. Bolshevik/Russian Revolution

13.    Treaty of Versailles (not signed by US Senate/Henry Cabot Lodge)

·        War guilt clause forced on Germany

·        Reparations forced on Germany plus British/French debt

14.    World War I & groups (2nd Wilson administration)

·        African Americans-Great Migration- war jobs in the North

·        Farmers- some increased income with the War

·        Racists-Birth of a Nation, slow rebirth of the Klu Klux Klan

·        Temperance-the 18th Amendment

·        Unions- decline (especially industrial unions) except for the American Federation of Labor

·        Women-support for war & therefore 19th amendment

15.    1920s Presidents (Also called the Jazz Age/Roaring Twenties)

·        Warren G. Harding (Rep), 1920-1923 - Most known for “normalcy” & corruption (not public until after his death)

·        Calvin Coolidge (Rep), 1923-1924, 1924-1928 –Most known for tax reduction for wealthy; response to debt-reparations cycle, vetoing a farm bill & the Bonus Bill

16.    Post- War traits (1919-1921): isolationism, inflation, racial hostilities, strikes (industrial union), unemployment (and veterans), bombings.

17.    The 1920s & groups

·        African Americans-Harlem Renaissance (Examples: Zora Neale Hurston/Langston Hughes)

·        Farmers-1/2 of income; 1929, Farmers’ Holiday Association

·        Racists- Klu Klux Klan growth to 4+ million (DC parade)

·        Red Scare (the 1st-- another in the 1950s)

·        Scopes Monkey Trial (W.J. Bryan, Clarence Darrow)

·        Unions-in decline

·        Women-flappers

·        Youth-adolescence; rise of high school/start of junior college

18.    1920 trends in the 1920s/causes of Great Depression–wage gap rich & poor; productivity up, but not wages; market saturation (more products than consumers); decline in unionization, stock market/buying on margin


Traits of World War I and World War II

If given at least 3 facts about these traits, recognize whether the trait applied to World War I or World War II:

·        What nations fought each other?

·        What technologies were used?

·        What was the initial US response to the war in Europe?

·        What was the US role in the war?

·        ·What happened to vets after the war?

·        What international organization was created after the war to try to reduce the likelihood of war? Are there any additional international organizations created for this purpose?


World War I

1.      What was and is still haunting us today

·        The Maps – before and after

·        The nations of empire versus the nationalist movements

2.      What was and continues

·        Age of racism and nativism

·        Women and the push for suffrage and participation

·        Wilson’s traits and this war

3.      Rules of war and the traits

·        At sea, submarine war and convoys

·        On land, varieties of new technology from tanks to flame throwers to poison gas

·        Mining of the seas and land and war against civilians

·        Liberty bonds, liberty cabbage, and 4-minute men – psychology

·        Massive growth of big government at federal level—in quantity, in power, in reach into local affairs

4.      Selective war events and the ending of the war

·        Allied Powers (initially Great Britain, France, Russia)

·        Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire)

·        US Involvement

5.      If you want see interconnections, click here for key war events and the peace Link Address: This link shows you:

·        Official neutrality--but U.S. Bankers’ loans going only to the Allies

·        Official neutrality—but U.S. government only complaining about technologies of war that benefit the Germans.

·        Famous rejection--By 1915, William Jennings Bryan resigns as Secretary of State because of what he believes are pro-Allies’ policies. (Who was he before? Notice who he is in the 1920s.)

·        1917—Zimmerman Note

·        1917—What happened to Russia?

·        Entry into the war, draft (Selective Service), and great rise in federal power, agencies, and employees

6.      Wilson’s major proclaimed goals

·        League of Nations  (Nation not joining? the United States)

·        Self-determination of nations (Look at the maps for Lesson 2 showing pre- and post-war Europe)

·        Freedom of seas (American shipping)

- Reality of the results of the treaty in the nations and US

·        War guilt clause

·        Reparation and reparation-debt cycle


The Great Transformation and the Great Illusions
The consequences are greater because the changes are interconnected.


1.      Results of the World War I in the United States (with more results showing over time)

·        Rejection of the positive view of war that had existed with  the Spanish-American War

·        Distrust of government, especially large government


2.      General economic changes in the United States (and illusions)

·        Consumerism increases

·        Buying on credit

·        Buying as a virtue

·        Creation of adolescence

·   Reduction in child labor

·   Rise of the high school

·   Rise of the junior college

·        Decline in unionism

·        High profits for employers and businesses

·        Pay for workers higher but not proportional to their productivity

If you doubt the last three items:

Click here for pages 2 and 3 to compare the Gilded Age, Progressive Era, and the 20s Link Address:

·        Decline in farmers’ income and power

If you doubt the fourth item, also look at farming in the middle of page 4. These economic issues are both traits of the Jazz Age and causes of the Great Depression.


3.      Changes in mass production, mass marketing, mass advertising, and common, vicarious experiences

·        Automobiles, changes - Henry Ford as initial example of mass production and mass sales on credit but GM and others follow

·        Movies (silent in the 1910s and “talkies” in 1929) – Example: the racist Birth of a Nation

·        Phonographs

·        Radio (ABC, NBC, CBS) and “soap” operas as example


4.      Changes in society

·        Enthusiasm for urban and rejection of rural

·        Separation of the urban and rural (Example: Scopes Trial, including William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow and the radio coverage)

·        Shift from “new immigration” of the Gilded Age to prohibiting immigration

·        Shift to movement to the cities

·        Shift from segregation in the South (separate and unequal and dangerous) to segregation in the North (separate but opportunity)n- Example: Harlem Renaissance and these 2 representative individuals:

·   In The Nation Magazine in 1926, Langston Hughes: “it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering ‘I want to be white,’ hidden in the aspirations of his people, to ‘Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro--and beautiful’?” Click here for the source. Link Address:

·   In “Their Eyes Were Watching God” in 1937, Zora Neale Hurston wrote “I AM NOT tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all but about it. Even in the helter skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seem that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world?? I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” Click here for the source. Link Address:

·        Shift from suffragette to flapper.

·        Shift from Social Darwinism and Social Gospel to the new symbols of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud


5.      Government and the Economy and Great Illusions

·        Buying on margin - Tip: term used on page 532 of your textbook.

·        Reparations/debt cycle - Tip: Covered in your textbook on pages 541-542.

·        Tax policy and the Revenue Acts Tip: Covered in your textbook on pages 533.


Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2020


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