Friday, June 1, 2012

The impact of the First World War

This post covers the time between 1914-1919.
The question being addressed:

The economic consequences of World War 1 on America..

I used a series of videos to help me get a better picture of the time period back then. 
There are 3 videos, which together make up one episode of a show (which I'm guessing) is called America's Time. 

Its not all that informative, but it helps you get a fairly clear picture of the war and it consequence on the people involved. 

These are some bullet points of the idea and events covered in each video

  • May 1915,Lusitania sets sail and is caught in a cross-fire between Germany and Britain
  • Assassination of the Archduke of Austria in Sarajevo
  • American economy in Boom with new technology, advanced transport system, immigrant labor force and huge corporations.
  • Cinema and cars rapidly gaining popularity in America.
  • America giving out loans and  war supplies to European countries involved in war.
  • Meanwhile, war is progressing from bad to worse.
  • War of Partition on the Western Front between France and Germany (trenches starting from the English Channel and ending near Switzerland!)
  • War got from worse to terrible, outcome looking bleak with the loss of millions of lives.
  • A War Industry erupted in America, maintaining its prosperity.
  • Humanity faced its first ever chemical warfare which had fatal consequence and scared the soldiers.
  • Russia on the home front is in a disastrous situation, they sent the Kaiser to exile and set up a Provisional Government, which fought the war despite the shortages and desperate situations. Enter Bolsheviks who sparked a communist takeover and pulled out of war! 
  • America was horrified by these turn of events.
  • Woodrow Wilson, President of America, tried his very best to retain their neutral stand and ensure peace until in April 1917 he joined the war in order to protect his interests- democracy and its wealth. 
  • The Americans went into war "badly armed, poorly trained and unprepared!"
  • War finally ended a year after the Americans came in 1918, November- an exhausted Germany surrendered. 
  • Treaty of Versailles in Paris June 1919
  • Democracy- Wilson symbolized peace at the conference as opposed to the Britons and French who wanted retribution. 
  • Finally, against most of Wilson's wished, they settled for a harsh treaty which crippled Germany and created resentment which later became a contributing factor in the next war!
  • War had shown the dark side of technology

So into an essay format...
To what extent did war affect the American economy?
1. Introduction: 
Decide to what extent. I would say large. 

Followed by a brief discussion about American prosperity before war- 
Main features of a prospering American economy
New technology and developments- Andrew Carnegie, J.P Morgan, Henry Ford, etc 
Immigration brought in more laborers to fill up the factories
Transport- a very advanced system which improved communication and movement of goods and services
Growth of corporation like Standard Oil, United States Oil Corporation etc, which reaped profits but at the same time got involved in unethical practices. 

The war affected each of these factors to different extents. At first it integrated the above to make profits. But after the war it all came to a temporary halt.
2. Main body: 
New technology meant improved and efficient production lines. This was soon turned into war effort. The creation of a War Industry. It helped maintain prosperity by making money off selling war supplies. 
But the downside, the Americans were supplying loans to European nation to buy these war supplies from America. So in the long run, when Europeans runs out of loan money and the war had crippled them so they are slow to repay and America that has run short of money! (Do you get what I mean?) 

Immigration: This kept the labor force filled up with workers to provide for the war. 
But when war got over and soldier returned home, there was overcrowding= unemployment. Since the nation had made-do without them using immigrants, the native soldiers had no jobs to fill up! 

Transport- this was a helped keep the industries efficient.
But fell into decline when the end of war brought about a general decline. This appears to be least affected. 

Growth of Corporation- made them more powerful since they had controlled most of the important supplies of the nation such as electricity, oil and steel. 
But after the war, they was a decline in demand, so they went into slump as well. 

The war also meant the agriculture sector went into decline. They had stock pile of supply which people couldn't afford to buy. 
3. Conclusion:
All sectors and factors of earlier prosperity had been influenced to a considerable extent. The preparedness and isolationist policy of America prevented the economy from going under, unlike other European countries that had suffered worse.
America was able to reap profits from the war but with a price which was duly paid. The war had short -term economic consequences which the successive government could fix. 

So that was my attempt to put the impact of war 1914-1917 into an essay. This not only helps develop essay skill but also serves as good revision of this period.

Note: This is only a prologue to the chose topic, since the period of study is 1917-154. But its always good to have a background before we dived into the depths of the topic. 


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