tv Woodrow Wilson World War I CSPAN November 5, 2018 10:01pm-10:41pm EST
is the great war weekend. we are having a complete program of world war i reenactors and soldiers reenacting programs as well as speakers here. our next speaker is will england, a veteran of the washington post. he is a winner of the pulitzer prize for reporting as well and presently he is a desk editor at the washington post. he will be taking leave this fall to teach princeton journalism, yes. he lives in baltimore with his wife who is also a journalist. in moscow, he became interested in the year 1917, the year the united states entered the war and the year the russians left the war. he wrote about the 1917 year
and how it change the world as well and haven't changed world war i. he is going to talk about woodrow wilson and how he is going to make the world safe for democracy by leading the united states into world war i. i will just throw it over to you, you can tell us all about it. speak i think you offer coming. >> what great day it is after this past week, the weather is really terrific. i want to talk about how we got into the war in march of april of 1917 and i'm going to talk about democracy a little. democracy is a question that americans have been dealing with since at least 1776 and in the spring of 1917 i would argue this question really came into really sharp focus but first, let me just cut this a little
bit, the war began in 1914, the u.s. stayed out of it, this is a picture of new york in the spring of 1917. money was pouring into the united states because of what we were selling to the europeans who were at war. we were selling bullets, barbed wire, molasses, milk, ham, bacon, mules were a big export because they were much sought after because they were much less skittish, exports tripled in the first couple years of the war, and the flow of money into the united states of course was creating very good economy, but as always when this happens, there were great disruptions going on at the same time and a lot of people felt the money was not being shared equitably. news that was also great.
evening papers can take advantage of the time difference and that that time warden is was ready after work. this is a photograph of boys in oklahoma city taken by a famous photographer. we will go to the next one now. this really is one of my favorite pictures, it is an ad from the saturday evening post, march 1917 advertising the saxon automobile. if you look really closely, you might think that is the white house. that looks very much like the white house up at the top of the hill and if you look even more closely, that could very well be president woodrow wilson driving the automobile in a stately fashion toward a brighter and more prosperous
future. the other thing i find ironic about this ad is it talks about saxon supremacy referring to the automobile but of course wilson was also a believer and anglo-saxons. introduced jim crow into that federal government and they became segregated. this get that what i wanted to talk about today in terms of his democracy was it? the war propelled african- americans for the first time in a big way, this is the beginning of the great migration. one reason was manufacturing goods for the europeans and secondly a flow of immigrants in the united states had been totally cut off by the war. 1.4 million immigrants had entered the united states before the war and by 1917 no one was there.
whites and blacks were being recruited to go north. this also gave a great boost to lesser organizations such as the naacp which had been funded 1909. this also created a lot of labor disputes that as i was saying the money was flowing into the country and it was not being shared equitably. never strikes all over the country that spring, far more than we would ever have today. this is a picture of a streetcar strike in washington dc, the crowd of people is trying to prevent what the management calls replacement workers from getting to the streetcars in the background to drive them away. let's get to the next site. 1917 was also the year of great ferment in the suffrage movement. women who were running this movement felt the time had come
to really press for constitutional amendments to extend the vote to women all across the country. they thought the time was ripe and the opportunity had presented itself. in the previous fall, 11 states out of the 48 than existed and were places where women could vote. there were two main suffrage organizations. they wanted to push for a national suffrage amendment and they began picketing at the white house every day starting on january 1 of 1917. every day there was a group of picketers on pennsylvania avenue and every day it was organized by some different affiliate organization. these are women from new york state, sometimes it was a college, the first college to send a group of picketers in baltimore, or sometimes they would be some other group that
would have people out there. wilson was cordial, not entirely opposed to the idea of women voting, but he felt strongly that it was an issue that should be left to the states and he did not support a constitutional amendment. he did however have the white house but listen not hot drinks and occasionally sandwiches for the picketers. wilson had something else in mind which was that he was getting more and more concerned about the effects of the war even though the u.s. was not in it. he felt that europe was tearing itself apart and if europe was tearing itself apart, in his mind that meant white civilization in his own words was tearing itself apart. he felt that america the last great white power as he put it had stayed out of the way, they needed to find a way to vote. in january 1917 he called for peace without victory. let's not worry about the
boundaries right now, the united states will guarantee that piece that will lead to a lasting settlement and out of this horrible war which artie killed millions of people, maybe we can have a better world come out of that. abettor will be created. this is the beginning of this idea. the germans reacted by declaring unrestricted warfare in the atlantic ocean, they were prepared to sink american ships and vessels headed for england or france and in late february it became clear that they had sent the famous zimmerman telegram asking mexicans if they would join them. and also will you invite the japanese to join us in fighting against the united states. let's get to the next site. you may recognize this guy,
some people think this in itself was an act of war and that american honor was at stake but americans softness was being challenged and we had to step up and prove our manhood go to war against germany as allies. roosevelt was very strongly in favor of getting into the war. a lot of people within and without republican parties had just the opposite feeling. this is senator robert, also a republican from wisconsin and he was clearly opposed to getting into the war. his argument was the germans have done nothing to hurt us, they are not going to invade the united states, the zimmerman telegram is irrelevant and if the british want our goods so badly let them send their own ships ever. why do we have to go in harm's way, we have no qual with the
germans and people in the united states supported that the further west you got. there was a great sense that somehow people like teddy roosevelt and others in the east were trying to whip up war enthusiasm to maybe save wall street which had invested so much in the allies or maybe just to kind of establish stronger financial footing for the great things of the east. westerns didn't care for that so much. let's go to the next slide. in late february of 1917, the woman on your right who was head of the national american woman suffrage association suddenly announced without consulting with her colleagues that women would support wilson and the suffrage movement whatever course he chose to
take. he went to war in the women's group would support that. her calculation was getting the vote was the most important thing. war was a secondary issue, getting the vote is what matters and if women oppose the war as many of them philosophically did at that point. it undermined the suffrage movement entirely improve to men that women were not capable of being tough enough to take part in the democracy and so in order to fulfill her democratic vision, she said okay, whatever wilson does. now, a lot of people were shocked and appalled by that, they had not been consulted, they didn't like the idea, they thought it was counterproductive. all the pressure fell to the woman on the left, she is a republican, first woman to be elected to the united states congress from montana which was
one of the only states where women couldn't vote and she was a sensation. the whole country was interested in this idea of a woman congressman, what would that be like? she embarked on a 20 city speaking tour in the beginning of march, thousands of people came out to see her, to see what she was going to say. she believed very strongly in getting a suffrage amendment. her primary goal was to win across the country. she was also a strong opponent of the anaconda mining company which owned montana. people talked about politicians in montana wearing a copper collar. she was very much opposed to the rockefellers who various holding companies controlled. she believed in federal health or health care for young children and for new mothers. she believed in prohibition and she believed in help for
ranchers. she was quite popular in montana. i just want to give you a little bit of a sense of what it was like on her opening address of hurt 20 city speaking tour, this was in new york city and carnegie hall and there were about 3000 people in the audience, she talked about how wonderful montana was and how important it was to organize for the vote. the one thing she did not talk about was the war. she refused to even engage in a question of the war. new york tribune reported on her appearance at carnegie hall. the article read her white chiffon dress fluttered in the breeze of her own eloquence. her white satin pumps were small and dainty. she was on her way to the coming-out party of women into the class of real people.
i don't even know if she is a pacifist. in her article under the headline first congresswomen in u.s. is good cook and knows how to make own clothes won't commit herself on were question. that's the way it was. people like roosevelt argued that if you look at the war, you have england and france and italy, and then you look at the germans with their kaiser and their temple were -- emperor and it was obvious this was a war between the democracies and shouldn't the united states be stepping in to help the democracies? this was an argument that had some legitimacy in wilson's eyes so let's get to the next slide. this man and the country he ran
in russia was alive with the english and the french and the italian. one of your allies has an american mind for being dysfunctional and corrupt, unjust, and tyrannical. lenin called russia the prison house of nations but a lot of americans felt the same way about it. when americans thought of what's the worst kind of government you can have, russia was what came to mind back in those days. americans were particularly offended and outraged really by the anti-semitism which was so prevalent in russia. 1917, the grand central of anti- semitism is not germany, it was
russia. so, the war had not gone well for the russians, partly because of incompetence, mismanagement, and corruption, and by the early months of 1917, there were food shortages in the capital of st. petersburg today. this is a redline of the food shortages primarily coming about because so many shoulders -- soldiers had been conscripted. railroads were horribly mismanaged. on march 8, international women's day, a group of women met in a central square and began to protest. glory to the women who are fighting for freedom and other people began joining them and then more and more people began joining them and some factories went out on strike. that night, the protesters dispersed, the american
ambassador sent a note to washington saying there is a protest today, it's no big deal, it's nothing to pay attention to, the communist in russia, the most radical reds had a meeting that night and they came to the same conclusion, russia is not ready for a revolution. the next day, the women came back, more protesters join, more strikers join, the next day and the next day and on march 11 on a sunday, tens of thousands perhaps hundreds of thousands were on the streets of pentagram. this is the day that the police opened fire. filled with rifles as you can see here, also with machine gun nests set up on the little bridges across canals and snipers were deployed on the ruins of buildings tissue down into the crowds below. never been quite clear how many died, but it was a signature
moment in the history of russia. get to the next slide. the russian army was based in petrograd made up of conscripts. instead of supporting the authorities who began affecting the protesters side, they sought revolutionary soldiers who join the protesters he-man barricades near where the u.s. embassy was at the time and when the army goes to war against athlete, the army generally wins. by march 15, the week after these protesters weren't going to amount to anything started advocating. the government was never thrown in a provisional government made up of liberal members of this little window parliament declared themselves the new government of russia and they declared moreover that they were going to pursue a
democratic future for russia. this idea hit americans like a thunderclap. russia has become a democracy and wilson in particular was taken by this idea. if russia of all countries to become a democracy, well who knows. maybe we are at the dawn of a new year. maybe we can start pushing for democratic future for all of the world. this right here, in the middle of march 1917 is when this idea arises that may be the united states has a role to play in the world, pushing democracy onto the rest of the world. ideas that we had not only an opportunity but maybe even an obligation to protect and extend democracy. protect the young fragile democratic government of russia
and expand it. who knows, maybe to germany or austria. maybe around the world. wilson had this idea of a league of honor as he called it at that time. all the great democracies of the world convening in a common session to discuss problems with solutions, avoiding war in the future. okay. suddenly with the russian revolution, we are heading much more quickly in the war. the german sunk a couple ships, first there were no casualties. the first three ships that went down, everyone could get off but right after they were overthrown a ship sank in about a dozen people were killed. the war began to really grips the whole country, let's get to the next slide. what about african-americans? they did not have a vote in most states so what was to be
the response? the guy on the left one of the founders argued that this war presents an opportunity for african-americans to organize, to demonstrate their patriotism , he had no illusions about germans being any less racist than anyone in the united states but an opportunity to step up and show what they can do, and thereby force white america to give african-americans a place at the democratic table. this was his idea. the counter argument comes from the guy on the right who is reverend adam clayton senior longtime congressman. he said wait a minute. a war is a time of crisis and a crisis is a moment to take advantage of. let's settle a few things here first before we stand up and make ourselves targets. let's get a federal government
who cares more about the well- being of colored men women and children for mississippi than it does about the fate of mules on ships bound for europe. this was the argument. when you look through the black press at that time, you see that argument playing out throughout the end of march, what should we do? i don't care, it is my war, we can make something of it, is a fierce debate, civilize movement like the labor movement cut right in half by this issue of shouldn't we go to war? the next picture is alice paul, head of the national women's party. she was personally opposed to getting into the war, opposed to what carrie chapman wanted to do but she did not make a public issue. she did say however if more comes, women will be drawn into
the manufacturing plants, they will work on the railroads and we will be called upon to make a sacrifice to do what we can for a democracy. if this is going to be a war about democracy, how hypocritical would it be if the vote were not extended to those of us who answered the call? this was her argument. the russians had their first complaints that women would have the boat. on march 28 the british parliament cleared the way for women to have the boat. alice paul said we had to be next. next slide. they were great royalty rallies across the country, but there were also antiwar rallies. a lot of people thought wait a minute, wire be -- why are we
being rushed into the most destructive war of the history of the war, i don't get it. what is it? this is a crowd of antiwar protesters gathering for a demonstration right on the steps of the u.s. capital at the end of march. there were ads in the papers both ways, there was a pro-war rally in new york city where the head of carnegie and international peace talked about how americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the democracy of britain, france, and thank god almighty the great democracy of russia. this pressure all comes down to jeanette rankin. she got into washington, congress is convening on april 2 , the eyes of the country are upon her there is a sense that as a woman maybe she is going to be against the war. maybe women are not so aggressive or not so tough. how
will she vote? she wouldn't say. she continues not to say, she really wanted to push or suffrage and she was under tremendous pressure from women in the group who wanted her to follow wilson and others in montana who were against the war. she understood that she represented not only the people of montana, but also in some sense all the women of the united states. she represented and stood in for all the women who would follow her and office in the years and decades to follow. she felt under tremendous pressure. here it is. wilson asks for war on april 2 and the most famous line from that speech is the world must be made safe for democracy and that is the most important point he wanted to make.
he voted in the russian revolution. the senate took a couple of days to approve war resolutions and held it up in procedural matters interestingly enough. went to the house on april 5 and the house spent all day talking about it. rankin spent most of that day at her new apartment in washington with a couple of colleagues and in the evening she went over to the house and took her seat. as you can see, spoiler alert the house voted. a couple of things about this page that surprise me. wonders, the houseboats for war but in our modern digital age, no newspaper could have news and that morning's paper yet in those days when everything was much more manual, you probably can't read it but the main secondary headline under the big headline mentions ms. ranke
and votes and she claimed for years afterwards that she wasn't sobbing that she had been crying for three days and she had no tears left. members of the house also voted no. what happened let's get to the next slide. rosie the riveter in world war ii did the same exact thing and those women were sent home again when the war was over. let's get to the next picture quickly. women joined the military, the first woman was march 1917 in pennsylvania she was a designer
and there were 13,000 women in the united states navy. there were women in the army as well working telephone operators and i just read this morning that they were denied veterans benefits when the war was over. once the war was declared, they did not do their duty as they were called upon in the national guard so since we have some music playing i will show you this one. this is the band. they were there in the years before the war. they were led by the guy sitting at the piano on the right who believe very strongly in the powers and beauties of african-american music and the fact that only african-american
musicians can really play correctly. his bands were playing in saratoga springs and newport, palm beach, new york city, he was a musician and composer. he had dreams of what he called a [null] symphony orchestra. he integrated carnegie hall and had a very successful career for decades after. he was the martin luther king of music. this is in a couple months after that other picture in the united states army. he thought with the legendary helen hill fighters group so what happened? women didn't get veterans benefits, they didn't get to vote till 1920 which was a considerable delay.
the general agreement was the war would present an opportunity to african-americans , lynching went up in the 1920s, the ku klux klan had its heyday in that era, there was great resentment against black americans, particularly in the north where there were newcomers . let's get to the next picture. the world was not made safe for democracy, particularly russia. the russian government had promised the united states and the other allies that it would renew the fight against germans but what they neglected to understand was that the russian people had no interest in that whatsoever. the russian army demobilized itself. millions of deserters throughout the summer of 1917 in the communist revolution based on the idea of war took place in the fall of that year.
next picture please. americans learned over the decades the fall of the war really had not made the world safe for democracy this was december 1941. jeanette rankin was unable to win reelection of congress in 1918 because of her vote against the war, 1940 she finally won election in time to be the only member of congress to vote against japan in that area. let's go to the next picture. in 1968, she was still at it. she felt her vote was against the war of vietnam. this is an antiwar group that called themselves that jeanette rankin brigade. what i find interesting here is the banner says to end the social crisis at home. the issue here is in the social crisis at home, how can we
perfect democracy? how can we expand and improve this democratic experiment? they are arguing they were very successful examples of moments when america really stepped up to the plate and created a terrific opportunity. one of the most memorable of course was the marshall plan under harry truman which put europe back on its feet and another was 1975, president general ford on the left and soviet leader on the right, interestingly was a summit that took place in helsinki finland between the american and russian leaders. europeans were there as well. their finding of the helsinki
accord which many people at that time thought was a great soviet diplomatic victory because it established the boundaries in europe at that point but it also recognized that human rights were an international concern and recognized freedom of conscience and gave interestingly enough. this agreement led to the establishment of groups that called themselves helsinki watch , not only in the west but in eastern europe as well. it gave them a foundation to stand upon. i would argue that the movement that got this great boost from the agreement of 1975 led to the downfall of communism in eastern europe eventually even the soviet union in the decades that followed. both of these things, the
marshall plan and the helsinki clerks were examples of america promoting democracy without using military as a means of doing so. if i've learned anything in my career as a journalist. once you solve a problem, it tends not to stay solve so let's get to the next picture. russia today is not a democracy. it is not a place recognized for human rights. americans have a tendency when places like russia have a regime change to say russia is a democracy, we did it in 1917 and we did it in 1991 with the soviet union and i will bet you anything that when he leaves office there will be people in this country who say that god almighty russia cannot become a democracy. the lesson here is that a
country that is corrupt and dysfunctional and unjust cannot become competent and functional and just overnight. democracy is a process. democracy is something that takes a great long time to build. let's go to the last line here. my argument would be 1917 allowed us really to face the question his democracy is it? it is a question that we have been working on trying to answer . i will leave it at that, thank you very much for your attention. >> i just had a quick question, you mentioned the united states supported the allies in europe, britain, france, but they didn't do so would germany.
didn't sell a whole lot of materials to germany, is that correct? speak out yes, the reason is the naval blocking germany. >> was there a movement in the united states that said yeah we should be selling supplies and ammunition to germany as well as britain?>> not really. there were some sales of materials that went to scandinavia and worshiped to germany but the approaches to germany are so constricted that the british were able to maintain a ship proof blockade. this was something that the senator said. what is the difference between the blockades and people thought the submarines were underhanded. any other questions? british march right now.