Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of America during World War I. It opens with a definition of Woodrow Wilson's concept of a moral foreign policy through what he called "liberal internationalism." Promising to bring the Progressive agenda to the world, Wilson fell short and the war forced Americans to once again debate the true extent of liberty. Quickly looking at the foreign policies of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, the chapter embarks on the road toward war. Wilson initially took the stance of neutrality, but when he was pushed into war his Fourteen Points outlined for the world his vision that this war should make the world safe for democracy. At home, the war was sold to the American public via the Committee on Public Information. Progressives used the war to expand their agenda, culminating in the eighteenth and nineteenth Amendments. However, freedom of speech was not a cause taken up by Progressives as Eugene Debs's powerful statement in Voices of Freedom illustrates.

The war also forced Americans to define who was an American. "Race" had earned a legitimate place in science through eugenics, which fueled the anti-immigrant sentiment of the era. Anti-German hysteria ran particularly high during the war, as German-Americans were forced to prove their loyalty. Blacks too were asked to work in defense industries and serve in the army, only to face continued discrimination and violence. Asking Wilson to make America safe for democracy, W. E. B. Du Bois emerged as a leader of the black community through his Niagara Movement and NAACP. Seen as an alternative to Du Bois, Marcus Garvey launched a separatist movement.

The chapter ends with the events of 1919. In the face of a worldwide revolutionary upsurge, American labor was attacked during the Red Scare as dangerous and part of a communist conspiracy. Finally, Wilson's dreams for the peace were shattered when the United States Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles.

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