tv Americas Road to War 1914-1917 CSPAN January 7, 2018 2:55pm-4:01pm EST
it could be a piece of what week are white -- what we call white ware. a button here. pendants. just, everything. one area.ll from announcer: our cities to her staff recently traveled to springfield, missouri to learn about its rich history. learn more about springfield and other stops on our tour at c-span.org/cities tour. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. american history tv has been marking the centennial of a first world war with special programs, lectures, and conferences about the conflict. up next, a session from a two-day symposium at the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city. nybergry michael presents a talk called
"america's road to work, 1914-1917." author as well. this is about one hour. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. morning, my name is matt naylor. i serve as a president and ceo at the national world war i museum and memorial and we are delighted to welcome you. , 1917 americaum joins the fight. thank you for taking time out of your schedules to be at this important event. thank you to all of the presenters for the work you have team who haver brought their skills to create what is going to be i think, another remarkable symposium. we are so grateful for the rising tide of interest that there seems to be across the united states to match the
energy we are seeing from so many other countries. in thinking about and remembering the great war and its enduring impact. what i have observed is that since the commemoration began in 2014, is that there really has been a genuine increase in attention to the conversation. here at the national world war i museum and memorial, for the period, late 13 to the end of 16, our visitor ship, our attendance in gallery rose 50%. that is a significant growth. this year, we are at about 13%. we anticipate we will close out 2017 with a 60% growth in attendance prior to the centenary. last year, more than 525,000 people came here to the national world war i museum and memorial to learn and remember. that seems to me that that is something which indicates the rising tide of interest there is
in thinking about and better understanding the great war and its enduring impact. that tells me two things. the first, the importance for us to find ways to engage people in this. here at the museum, we have a robust public programming schedule. we have a robust exhibition schedules. we have a very aggressive collections strategy and approach. this year, we are required a record number of donated acquisitions and a small number of purchased ones. the need for us to engage the population. one of the efforts we have under -- undertaken have been an outdoor photographic session. intended for a non-museum, non-history audience.
this exhibition tells the story of the journey and sacrifice of the american soldiers in 1917, 1918, through the lens of contemporary photographs. that has been installed on the courtyard and will open next week in washington, d.c., to be followed by tours in other cities including new york and chicago. we have had the same exhibition touring in the united kingdom since april 6 where it opened. in that war, the foot traffic to the exhibition has been 2 million people. that is remarkable for an that is remarkable for an exhibition. we are proud to be partnering with the united states embassy in that tour, curated by the national world war i museum and memorial and funded by a variety
donors, including the grassroots at the museum, in order for us to help and commemorate the u.s. entry into world war i. today, we want to acknowledge the wonderful support of the museum that it has received, starting with our co-presenter, the united states world war i centennial commission, and our partners, the center for russian , east european, and eurasian studies at the university of kansas. the world war i historical society -- association, we are also grateful for the sponsorship of the child speak and fund, and our presenting sponsors, bill and laura brick. despite the fact that we carry the name national and our title, which is even to us congressionally through their
actions in 2004 in 2014, we receive no federal funds. the support of these groups and many others is of great value to us. i would be remiss if i did not extend to you the invitation to not only be involved intellectually but also to be involved philanthropically. as you consider your end of the year, we would invite you to be part of the mission of the national world war i museum and memorial through a gift or through membership. ladies and gentlemen, i anticipate this will be an exciting symposium. i am so pleased with the lineup of speakers we have. and the topics and competencies they bring to the conversation. i would like to invite a good friend of the museum, steve, the
suddaby, the vice president of the world war i historical association, to introduce our first speaker. steve? [applause] steve: good morning. it is my pleasure to introduce our first speaker, dr. michael neiberg, who is, i want to get the wording right, the inaugural chair of world studies in the department of national security and strategy at the u.s. army war college. dr. nyberg is also --neilberg is -- dr. neiberg is also part of the book prize which is awarded each year to the best book in english on world war i. his book, "dance of the theories," europe and the outbreak of world war i, is a very well known in the field, and it is also available-for-sale in the bookshop.
would you please join me in welcoming dr. neiberg? [applause] dr. neiberg: i want to start by thanking steve. i want to thank matt, and i want to thank laura who has done so much work to get us all here. to make sure that we have worked here in our stomachs to start the conversation. what i want to do today is talk about america's interaction with a first world war from the time the war began in europe in 1914 until american entry in 1917. can we have the slides, please? i want to start with this image. the famous poster. i want to remind everyone that this image is not from 1917.
it is from 1915, which is reflective of two things. first, the involvement of the united states and the war with the united states. when we think of america's relationship with the first world war as being from 1917 to 1918, we are missing the main point. united states was deeply involved in this war in a variety of ways. much earlier than american entry in 1917. the other thing this poster is attempting to get across is it is part of the movement that began -- that was known as preparedness. but the united states should or should not do to change its own society. to change its way of thinking. in response to events with -- that were going on in europe. the question of how the united states interacted with the first world war before entry is something we have a lot of conventional wisdom on, half-baked ideas, but not really a lot of solid research. the book i worked on, "path to war," was an attempt to do this. to understand how a large, diverse, complicated society, like the united states, was responding to the events in europe, and how that response conditioned not only american entry in the war, but how americans responded to what it
wanted to accomplish in the war europe, and how that response and what it wanted to do with post war world. i am aware in a 45 minute lecture, i have to generalize and group in a lot of things together. i will be up front and say that is what i am going to do. if anybody wants to talk about specific things in the q&a, i will be happy to try. it is not my intent to cover every element of american society. it is my intent to cover the standard deviation. i want to start with the guy who came up in the discussion last night. my daughter has been studying probability, so that is why that is on my mind. can i have the next slide? lester was a north carolina was a northnes page
carolina newspaperman who supported woodrow wilson for the presidency in 1912. wilson rewarded him by sending him to great britain as an ambassador in london. page had no concession that his job as ambassador to great britain would involve anything having to do with war or conflict. when the war began in august of 1914, he was not only surprised in the war had begun, he wrote this letter to president wilson. he said now and ever, i thank heaven for the atlantic ocean. thank god we are out of it. this war really has little to do with us. he spent the next couple of weeks and months helping americans who were stranded in europe to get money so they could come back home. he spends the bulk of his time trying to care for the property of germans and belgian refugees , who were coming out of belgium and coming into britain. when interested me is a just over a year later in october of 1915, he wrote a second letter to woodrow wilson. it read, if germany wins, the monroe doctrine will be shot through. we will have to have a great army and navy. page meant this negatively. he meant that the perfect security the united states had taken for granted would now no
longer come without a cause. the united states would have to do things that it did not like about the european system. it was going to have to build a standing army, it might have to have a peacetime conscription. because of a threat that this war was posing on the united states. suppose england wins, we shall then have purely an academic dispute with her. it is a matter of life and death for english-speaking civility -- civilization. i'm interested in that journey that page took from thank heaven we are out of it, to life and death. i think the journey that page took is a journey that many americans took. i think page's taking it earlier than most americans. he certainly is not alone. i could've used the words of any one of a number of people. i will do that through the course of the lecture here today. page was so worried that woodrow wilson was not take in the event in europe seriously that in the summer of 1916, page came back to the united states, came to
to the white house and tried to get a meeting with wilson, who avoided him. page took the extraordinary step of going down to shadow long, which was president wilson's home near long beach, new jersey on the jersey shore, and waited on the president's front porch to impress upon him the need to get the united states ready for a war, nothing he wanted the united states to get involved in, but a war that page believed would involve the united states. whether we wanted it to or not. what i want to do is track the journey. page be in of course just one person. from america saying this is not our fight, nothing to do with us, to a point where think the american people by april of 1917 have come to the conclusion that it is not that we want this war, it is that we have run out of options. as i hope to show you, that
neutrality and non-belligerence has made the united states less safe, not more. i hope to do that with you in the next 45 minutes or so. that is why in the book and in the lecture, when i talk about america entering the war, i don't use words like enthusiasm. i use words like determination and duty. by the time we get to 1917, there are few americans who are ecstatically happy we are involved in this war. they have realized the united states is out of options. now one easy thing to do or one thing that happened to me a lot, as i would go to a place, typically a place i was going to anyway, i would say i want to look at your local records on how your community responded to the first world war from 1914 until 1917. the standard response i got was, we have lots of stuff about the war in the mobilization of the community of the war in 1917, 1918. we don't have anything before 1917. what i found, is there is mountains of paper. nobody has bothered to look at it. go to your local newspaper's archives, and look at what was being reported in the newspaper. the war is the single most
important event in any newspaper that you want to go to in these times. this is an ad, i just picked it from the "pittsburgh gazette times," after the outbreak of the war. advertising that the pittsburgh had contracted with the new york sun to get the writings of richard harding davis, who was by far, the best-known american journalist of this time period. he had been in the spanish-american war, he had covered the russian-japanese war. he was a war correspondent, very well-known. this is advertising that we have davis. buy our newspaper. we have the most famous guy. it is easy to do. americans knew what was happening in europe was affecting the lives. they knew what was going on on the other side of the ocean was critical to their own well-being. one event that surprised me, i and i think i understand the
macro economics of it, when the war broke out, european governments tried to cash in the securities, the stocks and bonds that they owned in the united states, and take that money and converted to gold and take the gold back to europe. the u.s. government was so worried this would empty the united states of gold that in late august of 1914, the u.s. government took the extraordinary step of ordering the closing of the new york, philadelphia, and chicago stock markets. they did not reopen until after thanksgiving. if you think this war is not impacting americans, it absolutely is. i will show you the economic impacts that are going on right away. most americans did not react the way woodrow wilson wanted them to. wilson gave that famous neutrality speech in which he said i want the american people to be neutral in thought and deed. most americans were absolutely sympathetic to the british and french. even if they understood that what the british and french wanted from this war was not necessarily what america wanted
from this war. i will talk more about that. wilson himself had a bit of this. he wanted the government to be neutral, but his sentiments were also pro-british. in fact, the way wilson defined american neutrality is interesting. there is a number of ways you could have done this. he could have said, neutrality means we do not trade with either side. he could have said, neutrality means we trade with each side equally. instead, the definition of neutrality the united states took was american companies were free to do business with whomever they wanted. for a lot of reasons, that means the american economics structure will be pro-british. we rely on british credit, insurance, shipping, what that means to my mind is early on in the war, where america's wallet and where america's heart wanted to go are going in the same direction. that is important. i will talk about that more as i go forward.
i want to introduce you to another american. someone i had not heard of before i started doing this research. i may have heard her name, but that is it. this is mary roberts rinehart, who was an american mystery story writer. this is her famous book, "the circular staircase." she later became known as the american agatha christie. she is an extremely well known writer. she is known for the social commentary she was writing, mostly for the "saturday evening post." she was a republican progression ve.
in late 1914, she was invited to come to new york city to attend an event. the editor of the post made her an extraordinary offer. he had a range for her to go -- he had arranged for her to go to europe, to meet the king and queen of england, and go to france and meet the president and his wife along with other vip's, and then, to give her the opportunity to be the first woman to go into the trenches and report what was going on. on top of this, he would pay her the extraordinary sum of $1000 -- $1000 per article. "the post" made her this offer, her husband stood up and said i refuse to allow my wife to do this, and she calmly put her hand on her husband's shoulder and said "i do not intend to let the biggest thing of my life go by without having been a part of it." her husband got the "saturday evening post" to take out a $10,000 life insurance policy on her and said she could go. what is interesting to me about her and richard harding davis and other americans, they all go to europe to report on the war. they come back with very similar kinds of themes. i want to highlight four themes that are prevalent in mary roberts rinehart. many of the other reporters that
are covering the war. the first, before they left for europe, they all said we want to write a plague on your houses, kind of article. we want to talk about the ways in which europe has screwed this up. all of them get to europe and began to write. we still think this is a disastrous, avoidable war, but it is clearly germany that is responsible. it is clearly germany that pushed this minor crisis into a continental war. they have used it as an excuse to invade belgium, which was no threat to germany. they have used it to invade france, as well. clearly, this is germany that is doing this. second, like richard harding davis, she said, that notwithstanding, you have to be careful with the british media. they are trying to trick you. they are trying to feed you propaganda. they are trying to feed you stories we cannot confirm. however, what we can confirm is bad enough. richard harding davis was present when the germans burned the belgium town. he wrote back his impressions. the german officers locked him in a railway car to stop him from observing it.
they are saying, you don't have to believe what the british are telling you. you can believe us. we are americans. we are neutral. you can believe what we wrote instead. third, she wrote, early on that the united states had a clear interest in allied victory. a german victory in europe was not good for the united states. however, she also understood that what britain and france wanted to get out of this war was not necessarily what the united states would want to get out of this war. but a humbled and destroyed germany was not necessarily in america's interest, either, so therefore if the united states were to get involved, the united states had to be careful that it did not just become an armed agent of british and french interests. fourth, she argued in an essay that the united states had to start thinking about what it was going to do in relationship to this war. pretending that it was not point to touch us was not good enough.
she came back to the united states in march of 1915 before the sinking of the lusitania, and after the lusitania, she wrote a couple articles pressing this preparedness thing. then she got so upset at the lack of response from the wilson administration to the crisis ongoing that she had stopped writing about the war. she went west and wrote articles on the american west. in 1916, she covered the two medical conventions. there were -- this man is the most interesting. some of you may have heard of him. a professor of psychology at harvard university. he came to the united states and never attained u.s. citizenship. munsterberg never called himself a german-american. he always calls him a german living in america. in the years before world war i, he was critical of the government, saying they were focusing too much on the militaristic aspect. what he wanted them to focus on
was german advance in science and literature, and especially in his view, in cinema. he thought it was the chance for germany to be the leading light of the world. when the war broke out, he wrote newspaper articles. he published quick books that united states did not understand. that what germany was doing was czarnting the russians from taking over central europe. what is interesting to me is two things. the first, the response he got from the harvard community. from the boston community and american community more generally. which was intensely negative. there are letters in the boston public library from his colleagues telling him, we defend your right to say what you want, but we are questioning the wisdom of what you are saying. you get letters like this one from a law school colleague.
not one american has appeared to be unfriendly to the german people as a whole. everyone has expressed the hope that -- what is interesting to me is he began to realize that the german-american community was not necessarily behind the german cause. he understood that the german-american community was divided. catholics less likely to a ford thanort prussia then protestants. those born in the united states consulate did not understand what this war was about. they had become american. they had become individualistic. they had stopped seeing the world through germany's eyes. he complained about this. he talks about the way in which it was difficult for germany to make its case to the united states. germany did not understand the american mind, either. in 1915 in 1916, the office in and hunt garyn hungarian offices
in the united states close their d their doors. the austrians are upfront in saying it is not working. what we are selling, they do not want to buy. after the sinking of the lusitania, he stopped writing his articles, stopped giving public lectures, stopped talking about the war. i don't know whether it is because he was appalled at the sinking of the lusitania, or whether he did not want to engage with the wave of anti-germanism that came after the sinking of the lusitania. we will never know because he died of an aneurysm in the middle of delivering a lecture at harvard a couple of months after the sinking of the lusitania. the lusitania is critical. it does not leave the -- lead the united states into war. it does do two important things. it takes a lot of the people who had been making germany's case and it puts them on the defensive. the second thing it does is brings that question to the forefront. what do you want to do about
this war that is ongoing in europe? what should be our response to what is happening in europe? it is creeping closer and closer. i can talk more about that a bit. attitudes toward germany began to grow harsher after the lusitania. this is a cartoon from the new "new york tribune" in 1914. blaming germany for the armenian genocide. the caption reads "allah mit uns," the impression here, the idea united states, is the ottomans would never have done this. if the germans had not been pushing them. the same way germans had pushed austria-hungry. armenia through tremendous sympathy in the united states. a christian population living inside a muslim community. philadelphia held an armenian day in which they took black crates and they put it over the doors of every public building until enough money had been raised to remove the crates for
armenian relief. and there were sabotaged campaigns that we know about. german government sabotaged campaigns per wilson had grown tired of them that he declared to german diplomats and have them send back to germany. there was an attempted assassination of j.p. morgan and in long island. there was a bomb in the vice president's office in the capitol building. and lo and behold, there were allegations of a foreign government trying to buy american newspapers and the rig american elections. the germans attempted to buy a newspaper, "the smart set." he replied by saying not only would he not sell, he said i am german-american. he actually said "i never understood the contradiction of the two sides of the hyphen before." for reasons i will be happy to talk about. private americans began to take up the cause. the moment we called preparedness is as much a movement of american private citizens as it is of the united states government.
wilson, because of the presidential election, wanted to move slowly because there was opposition in congress to major military reform. it became a private matter. some of you know about the plattsburgh movement in upstate new york. theodore roosevelt and general leonard woods. that is a private movement where young men volunteered, and in some cases paid, in order to go to upstate new york and be yelled at by retired army officers. roosevelt and wood did not think this would create the nucleus of an american army. what they hoped it would do is shame president wilson into doing something himself. he didn't. many of the people dead. this is one of my favorite examples. this is an ad from at&t. it says, we are prepared -- you can see paul revere making his midnight ride in 1775. the rest of the image is a telephone in front of a map that reads, the bell telephone system. the ad reads in part "in its
wonderful preparedness to inform its citizens of a national lead, the united states stands alone. it commands the entire bell telephone system, which completely covers our country with its network of wires." in other words, we will do it. private citizens will do it. kyle evans, one of the pennsylvania railroad vice presidents, and industrialist, decided he would raise a bunch of money. another industrialist said any american worker who wanted to volunteer for military training, this fund would pay their salary while they undertook that military training. thomas edison created a committee for american scientific preparedness. charles mayo of the mayo clinic created a factory of preparedness. others decided to go out and do calisthenics at lunch to motivate the columbia students to get involved. columbia had a pacifist president. nevertheless in 1916, he passed out a memo to every member of facultymbia
which explained the chief , system, he asked the columbia faculty to note on that chart where their services could serve the army in an event of a national crisis. every single member of the columbia faculty did so. for reasons i can discuss better in the question and answer, preparedness on the government side produced a few half measures. it produced a larger navy, the modern system which was designed to undercut the preparedness, and it produced a lot of parades. it produced the essential question. what should the american military look like? what ought it do? that question remains unresolved. it is part of the reason the united states is unprepared for war in 1917. economics are an enormous factor. the economy was in recession when the first world war broke
out. the war immediately changed that. this is a cartoon from john mccutcheon, who won the first. prize for political cartooning. please note the date. april, 1915. the dots of new york city are quite literally magnets with uncle sam having his arms open to welcome the marks, pounds, francs, and euros. the boat has sale reading the money center of the world. i would not argue that american money and finance pull the united states into the war. however, the war makes the american economy turn around overnight. i will show you that in just a bit. it is for two reasons. one, of course, is the ability of the american people to sell anything they want to sell, especially to the allies. because they need everything. kansas starts selling cotton. wheat prices go through the roof.
everything but cotton, which is why the u.s. has a slightly different relationship with the war in these years. the price of cotton goes down. everything else goes up. for reasons i am able to talk about. the second reason, all the things that american people used to buy from europe they now buy in the united states. 1916 was the biggest year in the history of american bible sales. why? americans can no longer do what middle-class americans used to do, which was buy their bibles from germany. same thing is true for bicycle sales. eyeglasses. fountain pens. all things that used to be fashionable to buy from europe, americans are buying in the united states. in 1915, there are senior american industrialists and economists who are making the argument that the united states can use this war to reorient to the financial capital from the city of london to wall street in new york. it will take one more war to do that. that idea is out there. in 1914, america per capita
income was $1164. by 1916, america per capita had risen to $1868. it is not just the duponts and the morgans, the really rich people who are making money. although they are making phenomenal amounts of money. it is everyone who is making money. everyone except the cotton farmers. this is what it looks like. the american trade balance of 1914. you can see america's balance to europe is negative. look at what it does by christmas. this is great for america's pocketbooks. it is not so great for american morality. here, you can see mary roberts rinehart, westinghouse had picked up an enormous contract, and this was her response. pittsburgh was fattening on catastrophe. there was a minister in tennessee who began to preach sermons under the title, have we a right to our present prosperity? the question was, if the united
states believes britain and france are on the side of the right, and if our relationship to this war is to make money, what does it say about us as a people? what does it say about america? what are we? who are we? this is a question, again, this series of tennessee sermons that i found in nashville, this is the theme he comes back to. who are we? there is a terrible thing going on on the other side of the world. we all agree that the german army has to be destroyed. what are we doing about it? the easiest way to answer that is to give some of that money away to the charities you believe in. there was a proposal to take the 1916 ivy league football season and donate all the profits to belgium and france. even then, college football ran the show. so the university president said no. but they did pass buckets around for people to put money in. this is my favorite example.
this is an ad in "pittsburgh press" advertising serbia day at kennebunk park that i still take the kids to every summer. they have a polish day, ukrainian day, right now it is an event for picnics that the community can have. this is where it starts. it starts with serbia days. they began it in 1914 and 1915 to raise money to go to the assistance of serbia. americans donated enormous amounts of money to charities. john wanamaker, the great philadelphia industrialist, raised $100 million for belgium alone. philadelphia raised money for two hospitals in france for one day in three hours. americans gave enormous amounts of money. what is interesting about it is where that money disproportionately went. it disproportionally went to france, to belgium, serbia, and to the extent that the americans could do it, to jewish communities and poland.
that is more complicated because the armys keep running over the jewish parts of eastern europe. some americans offered more than their money. these guys are the lafayette as eska drill. these are americans who volunteered to fly in a squadron dedicated to the french. they are really interesting guys. they are led by billy thought, that guy behind one of the lion cubs. there is billy. these are americans, wealthy americans, some with own private airplanes, that fight in the squadron dedicated to the french. they are a public relations dream on both sides of the atlantic ocean. the french love them, of course. the americans love them. theodore roosevelt wrote articles about them. cornelius vanderbilt gave them a blank check to live as exotic and as rich a lifestyle as they wanted to live. and they did. i suspect this is where fighter pilot culture comes from. the americans could not discipline them. the french had no incentive to
do so, as long as they were both flying well, and as long as they represented this kind of link between the united states and france. as you know, they are not alone. there are others. dylan star, the great football player for harvard, died as a member of the guards for great britain in 1916. other americans that served, there is a canadian researcher who estimates 80,000 members of the canadian army in world war i were born in the united states. that is the easiest way to join the british army was simply to walk across the border into canada and join the british army there. even if he is off by a factor of four, that is an unbelievably high number. there are researchers doing similar studies, living in the united states. these are not foreign nationals of those countries. these are american citizens fighting in those armies. there is nothing comparable to what goes on in germany, austria, hungary. there are people in the united states who were living in
germany and austria who go back to their home country. there are almost no records of american citizens doing the same thing. this is why we have photographs on our passports, by the way. the germans were buying up people's passports and using them to get german reserve officers back to germany through london. as long as they were carrying american passports, the british would not arrest him. the state department said, maybe it's a good idea we put pictures of his passports. i have explained to you why the united states had pro-allies of these. i have not explained why that translate into us getting into the war. i am going to show you an image that is the cover image of "life" magazine. in february of 1916. not the same life magazine we have today. it is a satirical thing. this is it. there's the image. i want to break this down. if there is any canadians in the room, i promise, i will explain this in a bit.
[laughter] dr. neiberg: this is the cover image. again, please note the date. february 10, 1916. here is what i think this map is reflecting. there is no text that explains it. it is easy to get from the context of what americans are talking about more generally. here is the fear, the bottom line. this is what the american people, at least a portion, are afraid could happen if the united states remains neutral. here is the fear. if, in 1916, germany puts a enough pressure on great britain and france that britain and france need to get out of the war, one way the british and french could do it is by trading pieces of their empires in north america to germany. this is the way european wars had ended for centuries. it is how my hometown goes from being french to becoming american. i'm sorry, french to british, then american.
there is a fear that one thing that might happen is britain might offer to the germans, toronto, the naval base in british columbia. there is a fear the french might offer martinique, there is a fear that some parts of the caribbean might become german. in 1916, the united states bought the danish virgin islands from denmark for this reason. for fear that germany would invade or threatened to invade denmark. and take the virgin islands as a prize. the panama canal opened in 1914. this is a serious fear. there is also the concern, the basic concern, this is the reference to barbarians. it does not refer, i don't think, to the canadians, who are by and large lovely people. the fear is that canada, then fully a part of the british empire, could become german. this then is a strategic situation the united states
can't abide. i don't think there are many americans who worried the rest of the country would be taken over by the germans. there is, however, a common thread running through american popular culture in 1915 and 1916 that we as americans had not done anything to stop it. there is a series of pulp fiction novels that came out on exactly this fear that the germans are going to invade the united states. or that the united states will become the next china, a wealthy country picked apart by european great powers because it cannot defend itself. that fear is absolutely in the american ether. another fear that is that germany will ally with mexico. there was a civil war going on in mexico. it is what we would today call a failed state. the german spies that the united states secret service uncovered in new york city left new york and went to mexico and set up an operation there. the fear is that the appearance will do in mexico what america knew they were already doing in
places like arabia and ireland. stir up trouble. side with the people we do not want them siding with. there is a fear that germany might ally with japan and offer japan part of this deal. this is a major time of intense anti-asian racism in the american west coast. there are reports in the u.s. south of the germans are riling up african-americans, promising them things like social equality if they will rise up. if they will leave the factories. there is a fear of turkey being involved. austria being involved. what i think this is expressing is not so much an actual fear that kansas city will become whatever this is here. there is a lot of racist names on here. you can break this map down for a long, long time. the fear is that the united states is not in a position to do anything about this. again that america is becoming , less safe because of our neutrality, not more safe.
please keep this in mind as i move forward. in february of 1916, pancho villa invaded new mexico. he brought with him an american woman who was living in mexico that he kidnapped and brought with him and released. the reason he released her was he wanted her to deliver the following message to journalists. he wrote, villa plans to kill everyone in the united states and that he would be helped by germany and japan. the fear is this war is coming closer to our own borders. the american ambassador to germany wrote "most germans think america's mexico troubles are to their advantage. i'm sure that villa's attacks are made in germany. every night, 50 million germans cry themselves to sleep because mexico has not risen against us." there are surely americans who are saying this is crazy. this is nuts. this is not going to happen. then in march of 1917 comes a
telegram, which of confirms many of the same things that are on this map. it is a promise from germany to mexico that if war begins be between germany and the u.s., and mexico invades from the south, they can have arizona, new mexico, and texas back. the telegram says, we want you to talk to japan about getting in on this as well. it is written evidence of this visual threat. now, the zimmerman telegram, many americans read as a declaration of war. the governor of new york, the governor of massachusetts, both call out their state militias. they consider it an act of war. theodore roosevelt considered it an act of four. -- an act of war. mary roberts rinehart considered it an act of war.
wilson waited for the overt act. we know what germany had said, but we do not think they are actually going to do it. we are going to wait until they do something. there is a famous incident of an american journalist lloyd givens who was on the laconia, he is sitting in a row boat waiting to be rescued when a british passenger on it rose up in another rowboat and screams at him, is this your bloody overt act or not?
gibbons turns to the british, and says, i don't know. i don't know what the president is going to do. wilson's advisors have a meeting in which they tell him, it is possible that the senate will declare war without you. they have that power. two members of his cabinets, in including his son-in-law, decide that if the president does not declare war, they will resign from the cabinet. there is a lot of pressure building on wilson. to center the story about -- around wilson is to miss a lot of what is going on in this time period. if i am right about this, it means that in april of 1917, what the american people want is to eliminate this threat. part of the threat recedes a little when the mexican and japanese governments say we do not want part of this. we are not going to sign an alliance with germany. the reason the american people want to go in march of 1917 is they want this threat to their communities to go away. i think i am right about that. that threat went away on november 11, 1918. the date we consider the end of the first world war in the united states. the date we mark to commemorate the end of the first world war. in my mind, i think of this as like an hourglass. in 1914, the american people are of different opinions. by april, 1917, they have come to the realization that by doing nothing, they have, in fact, made themselves less safe.
once the armistice is signed in 1918, the idea from americans, the message from the people is the war is over. give us back our husbands, sons, brothers. then the hourglass starts to separate out again. with americans having different ideas about what the united states should do next. i want to end before i take your questions by coming back to mary roberts rinehart. when she read the zimmerman telegram, she sat down and wrote a piece that was published in the "saturday evening post" of 1917. in which she argued, because this was an existential war to the united states, because he the united states itself was threatened, the united states could not under any circumstances use a system like we used in the civil war where people could buy their way out of military service. she wrote, if in this war we allow the few to fight for us, and as a nation we have died and
our ideals have died with us, though we win, if we have not all born this burden alike, do we all lose? she had two sons, she wrote, i am willing for them to die for this cause. this is not, in her mind, a war of choice. this is a war that is now caused by american neutrality and american incompetence over the past couple of years. because of that, she writes, my sons will go into an army that is not ready for the missions it will have to undertake. we have wasted two years. i thought, fascinatingly, she wrote, we are virtually at war. by the time this is published, perhaps the declaration will have been made. by the time this was published, no declaration had been the made. leaving people like mary roberts rinehart, theodore roosevelt, and millions of americans to wonder what wilson was doing and what he was thinking. roosevelt wrote, "if wilson does not declare war now, i will go
to the white house and i will skin him alive." mary roberts rinehart wrote, if britain and france share the ideal and have been fighting for it since 1914, they had been fighting for "the ideal in which my country was founded under the dominations of the prussians, the distinction germans made as well -- if you can get rid of the prussians, then germany can be fine." under the domination of the prussians, imperial germany threaten those values. not only in europe but america itself. it must be terrible. it must be killed, or the world dies. to mary roberts rinehart and millions of americans of all walks of life, the united states now had no choice but to enter into the war that was the first world war. thank you, and i will be happy to take questions you might have. i [applause]
>> very, very good. enjoyed that. i am interested in cotton. [laughter] >> tell us about the south and cotton. dr. neiberg: sure. cotton is the one american commodity that takes an incredible hit. it drops by 60%. the initial reason is cotton -- the british declare cotton as contraband. the germans pack artillery in order to keep the shells from banging against each other. when the british will not let it be shipped out to market, the price plummets. there is a glut of cotton. there are two senators in the united states who start yelling and screaming at the british. there have been studies where the anti-british tenor in the american press correlates exactly inversely to the price of cotton.
to lower the price of cotton, the more intense anti-british sentiment is in the u.s. there is a debate. david would be able to speak to this better than i can. there is a debate inside the british government where there are senior british officials, including the british ambassador to the united states make the argument, let the cotton go through. it is not worth the fight. there are others like the british army saying yes, you have to contraband it. by late 1916, that argument goes away. the british are letting enough cotton go through and the government is doing other things to prop up the south. cotton is the one exception. you get this weird anomalous situation where tobacco farmers in the u.s. are getting rich. cotton farmers are becoming impoverished. there are all kinds of mechanisms they used to even that out. that is as quick as i can do it. that is all i know about cotton. >> terrific talk.
terrific book. i wonder if you could talk about your research journey doing this book? it is a very diverse country. how did you decide where to go, what sources to consult? it is amazing, really, this book. dr. neiberg: i had a couple people when i was talking about doing this book who said, this is going to be a hard project to research. i admit that. i finally decided, i can either not do it because it is hard, or i can do the best job i can as a historian. i decided on the latter. what i try to do is get as much geographical diversity as i could. i did work in iowa, tennessee, florida, boston, all over the place. again, what i was trying to look for, i was thinking of this in probability terms. when i was thinking as most of the research we have done, are most appropriately as historians, are the whiskers, the outliers.
what i was trying to do is get as clear a picture as possible of what was in the box. i made a decision that i was not so interested in the iww. i was not so interested in what would have been called the aggressive pro-irish. jeremiah o'leary and those folks. i was interested in more of the center. my research methodology was to look for publications which are , like "life magazine," which are aiming at a centrist audience. and accept that i would have to generalize and i was going to have to paint a lot of gray instead of using the entire palette. i am sure there are specialists that can give a lot more detail into those things than i could. what i did not want to do is what some folks have done, it which is to say, steady i am just going to study pittsburgh. you could make the very logical argument that you are doing a local study. it is not representative. i decided to do it the hard way. >> thank you very much, thanks
for that talk. i would like you to address a little bit on the pacifist movement. i did not hear in your talk anything about jane adams, or robert la follette, or the resignation of jennings, the secretary of state. i also struggled with why amerco went into the war. when i read, i read a lot of what you are saying, but i also read there was a tremendous movement of people who felt that even with the zimmerman telegram , etc., that was still wrong. lafollette,ple like i think he spoke for something like two hours. dr. neiberg: there are two critical moments. one is the sinking of the lusitania, when even jane adams -- i was surprised. many of the suffragettes, who were trying to push for women suffrage, the lusitania is the
moment when they switch and they become pro-preparedness. i would not say pro-war. the lusitania puts people like jane adams on the defensive. the other point is after the election of wilson and reelection of wilson, when he went to the european great powers and say, tell us what your war aims are, we want to negotiate this, the europeans either cannot express what the war aims are, or they are so , like in the german case, so ridiculous that it is obvious that if you let this thing burn out the way it will burn out, it will only benefit the germans. it will only benefit the people you think should not benefit. it is not to say the pacifist movement goes away. it puts them on the defensive. it puts them, i think, in a position where they are not dominating the discourse. they look like people that do not understand what is happening. henry ford does this. he tries this grand mission where he outfits a ship and he will go to europe and and the war. the american people ridicule him. you do not understand what is happening here. stay making cars. this is not to deny the existence of the pacifists. there is a difference between looking retrospectively and saying, i admire what those
people were doing. and looking retrospectively and saying, they were driving the discourse. those are two different things. in my own mind, i admire what they are trying to do. i don't see them as driving the discourse. andrew preston, a canadian researcher working in britain, has done a study of american religious leaders. my research would confirm what he argued, which is that after the lusitania, american religious leaders go from being pacifists, to saying, this is a war that crisis would support. this is a war that christians of good conscience can support. especially at the lusitania and armenia. >> i am from the forgotten part of texas, which is the western part. everything west of i-35. you spoke to cotton, could you speak to beef cattle? dr. neiberg: i cannot speak to beef cattle. [laughter] dr. neiberg: except to say that i know that the price goes up. that is about it. >> thanks. second part is, you talked about the effect on the south through
cotton. can you speak about the effect on resurrection of the loss caused in the south that world war i presented, especially post -reconstruction? dr. neiberg: i found this magazine in tennessee. there was a magazine, i do not publishing, stopped it is called "confederate veteran monthly" which was a forum to these guys. it has some lost cause elements. it has things that are not quite there. its tone follows this track, before the lusitania, before the middle of 1915, they are arguing, look at how idiotic the europeans are. they are tearing themselves apart. america should pick up the mantle when it is over. really 1916, they start making the same case. they make the argument that there is a sectional difference. that there is a distinctive threat. when the zimmerman telegram comes out, it is a direct threat to at least texas, if not to the rest of the south. you get people making the argument, we are more in the
line of fire than new york or boston. why aren't we being involved in this? there is an element in the south that i must note, led by the north carolina senator claude kitchen, who is not necessarily opposed to preparedness, but he thinks preparedness is a scheme that funnels more money into the industrial northeast. this is a strain of thought into the american south. that what preparedness is is a way for theodore roosevelt to make new york, boston, philadelphia, richer at the expense of the good american s here growing cotton and tobacco. they are ok with preparedness of the money is diverted out. the only government-funded factory before 1917 is in alabama for exactly this reason. it is an attempt to say, look, we can spread the benefits of this throughout the country. but i know nothing about cattle prices. [laughter]
dr. neiberg: you might be able to find out. it might not be hard to find out. >> did any of your research show if there was some sort of anti-prussian sentiment prior to the war? dr. neiberg: absolutely. i'm glad you asked that. there is this concept that is a european concept and american concept called the to germany's concept. a lot of german-americans fully bought into. a german-american newspaper editor, said these guys, they argue that the unification of germany in the 1870's, took the prussians and allow them to dominate the germans. and that that was entirely to the negative. the non-prussian germans, the people they would say, that is the good germany. the argument that many -- the senior german-american, we do not want to see the united states and germany go to war. but if the war results in the kaiser and his crew going away,
and allows for german democracy so that everyone in germany is equally well-represented, then that might be something that is worth doing. that is why woodrow wilson declaration of war speech hits that theme so hard. he says we are going to war with germany. we are not going to war with the people. we are going to war to get rid of the terrible government they have so that the natural energies of the german people can come up to the floor. there is an absolute distinction that is made. in today's world, post-1945, there is no geographic entity called prussia. we don't think about the distinction between prussia and germany. but they thought about it a lot. a large percentage of the american-german community came to the united states to get away from the unification of germany and its dominance by prussia. so excellent question. i'm glad you brought that up. >> thank you. >> i know there will be more questions. fortunately, dr. neiberg will be
with us for the entire symposium. i also see that some of you have his books in hand. you might be able to convince him to sign a copy during the break. he will be back at our starting time at 10:00 a.m. we look forward to seeing you again. please join us again, and thank neiberg. michael nm [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> a tweet at c-span history from a madman across the water, a tweet that resounds today, and the question is about how many people were followed by u.s. g.i.'s in the anon, how are they treated 45 years after their your lis u.s. departure. on ourcan be featured live program, go to facebook at
facebook.com/c-spanhistory. "after words," john newman looks back at his 38-year judicial career in his book "benched." he is interviewed by senator richard blumenthal. sen. blumenthal: as a judge of 35 years, after having the active life of going to court and advocating a case and judging, was that a difficult transition for you, and did you ever miss the life of advocacy, so to speak? judge newman: it was not difficult. it has been for some. in fact, i know people who became judges and so disliked the decision-making process that they left the bench. i was an advocate. i was glad to be an advocate. i found the decision-making process different, enormously challenging, and enormously satisfying.
i love being aay judge because the opportunity to resolve disputes, large and small -- they all matter to somebody -- large public significance, and that is a very satisfying role. " atatch "after words 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv. monday night on "the onmunicators," we are location at bell labs in missouri for the first of a two-part interview series. bell labs provides work in radio astronomy, laser, and information theories. the president discusses what is new at the communications technology and research. we have a time of information but not necessarily knowledge. you actually connect everything to your environment, you,
infrastructure -- buildings, bridges -- so we begin to see what is going on and then automate that. think about your house with jets that automatically cleans. your car is automatically german for you. -- driven for you. a cloud has to move into that network to make it work. the cloud will come of age, the and it is a big change coming. i think that is the increase in productivity. >> watch "the communicators" monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> 75 years ago on january 15, 1943, the pentagon building was dedicated after only 16 months of construction. is one of the largest office buildings in the world with only 23,000 military and civilian employees. l america,""ree