American History: Civil War and World War I

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I. Causes of World War I

Major Factors Leading to the War

  • Militarism: The build-up of military forces by nations to safeguard their interests and resources.
  • Imperialism: The expansion of larger nations by taking over smaller nations and their territories.
  • Nationalism: Extreme pride in one's country, often at the expense of international cooperation.
  • Entangling Alliances: A complex web of treaties and agreements that obligated nations to support each other in times of war, drawing multiple countries into the conflict.

II. The U.S. Before World War I

Events Leading to U.S. Involvement

  • The Lusitania Incident: The sinking of a British passenger ship with American citizens on board by a German U-boat, sparking anti-German sentiment in the U.S.
  • The Zimmerman Telegram: A secret message from Germany to Mexico proposing an alliance against the U.S., further fueling tensions.
  • German U-Boat Activity: German submarines targeted merchant ships, including those carrying American goods, leading to calls for intervention.
  • Initial Neutrality: The U.S. initially attempted to remain neutral but was gradually drawn into the conflict due to the aforementioned events.

III. World War I

Key Aspects of the War

  • Trench Warfare: A brutal and stagnant form of combat characterized by opposing armies fighting from fortified trenches.
  • The Schlieffen Plan: Germany's strategic plan to avoid a two-front war by quickly defeating France before turning its attention to Russia.
  • Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand: The assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo triggered the start of the war.
  • The Allied Powers: Initially consisting of France, Britain, and Russia, with Italy and the U.S. joining later. The leaders of France, Britain, Italy, and the U.S. were known as the "Big Four."
  • The Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.

IV. The U.S. During World War I

The Home Front

  • The Great Migration: A significant movement of African Americans from the South to the North and coastal areas in search of better opportunities.
  • Wartime Measures: The government implemented various measures to support the war effort, including controlling production, introducing daylight saving time, and establishing the Creel Committee to promote patriotism.
  • Selective Service Act: Required all men aged 21-30 to register for military service.
  • Technological Advancements: The war saw the introduction of new weapons such as airplanes, tanks, zeppelins, machine guns, flamethrowers, poison gas, and artillery.
  • Espionage and Sedition Acts: Laws that restricted freedom of speech and were used to suppress dissent against the war.
  • Schenck v. United States: A Supreme Court case that established the "clear and present danger" test for limiting free speech.
  • Women's Roles: Women took on jobs traditionally held by men, contributing to the war effort and paving the way for the 19th Amendment granting women's suffrage.
  • German Starvation: The British blockade of Germany led to widespread food shortages and hardship.

V. After World War I

The Aftermath and Legacy

  • Wilson's Fourteen Points: President Woodrow Wilson's plan for a lasting peace, which was ultimately rejected by European powers.
  • Treaty of Versailles: The treaty that officially ended the war, imposing harsh penalties on Germany and contributing to the rise of Adolf Hitler.
  • Total Casualties: An estimated 22 million people lost their lives during the war.

VI. The American Civil War

Key Figures and Events

  • Charles Sumner: A Republican politician and staunch abolitionist from the North.
  • John C. Calhoun: A Southern politician and advocate for slavery.
  • Hiram Revels: The first African American senator in U.S. history.
  • Ulysses S. Grant: A successful Union general who later became President of the United States.
  • William Tecumseh Sherman: A Union general known for his "total war" strategy, which involved destroying Southern infrastructure and resources.
  • Harriet Tubman: A conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom.
  • Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President of the United States, who led the Union to victory and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in Confederate-held territory.
  • Robert E. Lee: The commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe: The author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a novel that exposed the horrors of slavery.

Major Issues and Events

  • Compromise of 1850: A series of measures intended to address the issue of slavery in newly acquired territories.
  • Popular Sovereignty: The principle that the people of a territory should decide whether to allow slavery.
  • Fugitive Slave Act: A law that required the return of escaped slaves to their owners, even in free states.
  • Dred Scott Decision: A Supreme Court ruling that declared slaves were not citizens and had no legal rights.
  • Advantages of the North and South: The North had advantages in terms of industrial capacity, manpower, and resources, while the South had better military leadership and the advantage of fighting on familiar terrain.
  • Battle of Gettysburg: A turning point in the war, marking the Confederate Army's last major offensive.
  • Gettysburg Address: A famous speech by Abraham Lincoln that redefined the purpose of the war as a fight for equality and national unity.
  • Reconstruction: The period following the Civil War, during which the South was rebuilt and former slaves were integrated into society.
  • Confederate States vs. Union: The Confederate States of America, also known as the Confederacy, fought against the United States of America, or the Union.
  • John Brown's Raid: An attempt by abolitionist John Brown to start a slave rebellion.
  • Union Strategies: The Union employed strategies such as the Anaconda Plan, which aimed to blockade Southern ports and control the Mississippi River, and total war, which involved targeting civilian infrastructure.
  • Lincoln's Vision for Reconstruction: Lincoln advocated for a lenient approach to Reconstruction, aiming for a peaceful reunification of the country.
  • Manifest Destiny and Slavery: The concept of Manifest Destiny, the belief that the U.S. was destined to expand across the continent, exacerbated tensions over slavery as new territories were acquired.
  • Lee and Stonewall Jackson: Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson were two of the most successful Confederate generals.
  • Siege of Vicksburg: A key Union victory that gave them control of the Mississippi River.

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