tv Woodrow Wilson World War I CSPAN August 26, 2018 3:20pm-4:01pm EDT
at the cost of the taxpayer. any other questions? thank you very much. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, 48-hour's of programming on american history every week and a east and 3. every week on- c-span 3. follow us on twitter. >> next, on american history tv, a look at president woodrow wilson's decision to enter world war i. will england is foreign desk editor for "the washington post." he talks about wilson's views on human rights, world affairs, democracy, and america's role in the world. the national
historic site in gettysburg, pennsylvania. this is 40 minutes. >> welcome, everyone. we are at the eisenhower national historic site at gettysburg, pennsylvania. war camp colt weekend. we have world war i reenactors and soldiers, reenacting programs, as well as speakers here. our next speaker is will england. he is a veteran correspondent. won the pulitzer prize for investigative reporting as well. presently, he is a foreign desk editor at the -- at "the washington post." he will be taking leave this staff -- this fall to be teaching at princeton. he lives in baltimore with his wife, who is also a journalist.
while in moscow, he became interested in the year 1917, the year that the united states entered the war and the year that the russians left of the war. the 1917 year and how it changed the world, as well as how it changed world war i. he will talk about woodrow wilson and how he was going to make the world safe for democracy by leave the -- leading the united states into world war i. i will just turn it over to you and you can tell us all about it here in >> thank you all for coming. [applause] what a 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 and april of 1917. in order to do that, we need to talk about democracy and little bit. the moxie is a question that americans have been dealing with
since at least 1776. in the spring of 1917, i would argue this question really came into sharp focus. let me just set the stage a little bit to 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 because we were selling to the europeans in the war. we were selling bullets, barbed wire, molasses, dried milk, bacon, mules. neil exports tripled -- mule exports tripled in the start of the war. the money flowing into the country coming to the united states, was creating a very good economy.
but as always as this happens, there were disruptions going on at the same time and a lot of people felt the money was not being shared equitably. let's go to the next slide. the war was also great for the news business in the united states. evening papers could take advantage of the six-hour time difference and have that day's war news ready for readers when they left work, get in the streetcars, and went home. -- newsboysotograph in obama city. in -- newsboys in oklahoma city. this is "the saturday evening post" advertising the sachsen automobile. if you look really closely, you might think that is the white house. if you look even more closely,
that could be president woodrow wilson driving the car, driving the automobile in a stately fashion toward a brighter and more prosperous future. the other thing i find erotic -- about ironic is talk sachsen supremacy, referring to the automobile. but of course, wilson was also a believer in anglo-saxon supremacy. he introduced jim crow into the government. this gets at what i wanted to talk about it today in terms of who's democracy is it. propelled african-americans for the first time, in a big way, out of the south. this was the beginning of the big migration. there was all this business in the north manufacturing goods for europeans.
and the flow of immigrants into the united states from europe had been totally cut off by the war. 1.4 million immigrants had oh -- had entered the u.s. the of before the war. by 1917, virtually no one was. whites and blacks from the south were being recruited to go to the north. this also great -- gave a great boost to civil rights realizations, such as the naacp, which had been founded in 1909. does go to the next picture. ofs era also created a lot labor disputes. as i was saying, the money was flowing into the country. there was a feeling it was not being shared equitably. and there were strikes all over the country in that spring, far more than we would ever have today. this is a picture of a streetcar strike in washington, d.c. the crowd of people is trying to prevent what the management called replacement workers, what the circus called scabs, from
getting to the streetcars. it was also a great year in the ferment of the women's suffrage movement. in this movement believed that time had come for a constitutional amendment to extend the vote to women all across country. they thought the time was really right and the opportunity had presented itself. in the previous fall, 11 states out of the 48 states that then where women places could vote. the suffrage organization, they wanted to push for a national suffrage amendment. they began picketing the white house every day, starting january 1, 1917. everyday, there was a group of picketers on pennsylvania avenue train to get into the white house. every day, it was organized by a different affiliate
organization. these were women from new york state, sometimes a college. the first house to send a group of picketers. -- wilson was not opposed to the idea women voting, that felt it was an issue that should be left to the states and did not support a constitutional amendment. he did have the white house butler send out hot drink some cold there -- cold drinks and occasionally sandwiches for the picketers. inson had some thing else mind. he was getting more and more concerned about the effects of the war, even the u.s. was not in it. he felt europe was tearing itself apart. if europe was tearing itself apart, in his mind, what did that mean? it meant that white civilization -- in his own words -- was tearing itself apart. he felt america, the last great white power -- as he put it --
needed to find a way to broker a peace. he called for peace without victory. let everybody put down their arms, wherever they are, not worry about the boundaries right now, and have a piece for that victory. the united's dates well guarantee that these -- the united states will guarantee that peace. and out of this horrible, horrible war, maybe we can help a letter world come out of it. this was the beginning of this wilsonian idea. how does the germans react? undereacted by declaring submarine warfare in the atlantic ocean. they were prepared to sink even american ships, american merchant vessels headed for england or france. in late february, it became clear that they sent the famous zimmerman telegram to mexico,
mexicans, if there is war, will you join us and invite the unit -- and invite the japanese to fight against the united states. some people felt that this in itself was an act of war and that american honor was at stake, that american softness was being challenged, and we had to step up and prove our manhood and go to war against germany and its allies, austria and the ottoman turks. was strongly in favor of getting into the war. people within and without the republican party had the opposite feeling. this is a republican from wisconsin. he was completely opposed to getting into the war. his argument was the germans have done nothing to hurt us. they will not invade the united states. do zimmerman telegram is
irrelevant. our goods soh want badly, let them send their own ships over here. why do we have to go in harm's way? we have no quarrel with the germans. and there were not -- there were a lot of people in the united states who supported that, particularly the further with you got. there was this great sense that somehow people like teddy roosevelt and others in the big cities in the eez were trying to to savewar enthusiasm wall street, which had invested so much in the allies, or maybe just to establish a stronger financial footing for the great banks of the east. westerners did not care for that so much. let's go to the . in late february, 1917, the woman on your right, terry chapman cat, head of the national american women severed just association, suddenly
announce, without consulting any of her colleagues, that women would support wilson and the women's support -- suffrage movement would support wilson whatever course he took. if he went to war, the women's group with support that moved to war. her calculation was getting the vote was the most important thing. war was a secondary issue. getting the vote was what mattered to her. war, as opposed the many of them philosophically did at that point, it would undermine the suffrage movement entirely. it would prove to manner women were not capable of being tough enough to take part in a democracy. to fulfill her democratic vision, she said, ok, we are with wilson whatever he does. a lot of people in the women's movement were shocked and appalled by that. they had not been consulted. they did not like the idea.
they thought it was counterproductive. all of the pressure fell on the , jeannettee left rankin, also a republican, first woman to be elected to the united states congress, from montana, one of the 11 states where women could vote. and she was a sensation. the whole country was interested in this idea of a woman congressman. what will that be like? she embarked on a 20-city speaking tour in the beginning of march. crowds, thousands came out to her, to seehear what she was going to say. she believed very strongly in getting a suffrage amendment. her primary goal was to get the vote for women across the country. opponentlso a strong of the anaconda mining company. it owned montana. she was very much opposed to the rockefellers through various
holding companies. she believed in federal help for health care for young children and for new mothers. she believed in probation 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 on her opening address of her 20-city speaking to her. this was in new york city, at connie hall. 3000 people in the audience. she talked about how wonderful montana was and how important it was to organize for the vote. but the one sitting -- but the one thing she did not talk about was a war. she refused to even engage in a thetion of the war here so new york tribune reported on her appearance at carnegie hall. read "her white chiffon dress fluttered in the breeze of her own eloquence.
her white satin cloak lay over the back of the chair. and her white satin pumps were small and dainty. she was a debutante on her way of a coming out party of women into the class of real people. wrotew york evening world -- i don't even know if she is a article.-- in an so that's the way it was. people like roosevelt were arguing, if you look at the war, you've got england and france and italy. they are analyze -- they are allies. they are more or less democracies. and thek at germany iners, it was obvious roosevelt's view that it was a against democracies by the
audit processes -- by the atop tocracies.the au nicholas the second of russia, how can you enter a war for democracy when one of your allies is the most renowned tyrant on the face of the earth? russia was famous in american minds for being dysfunctional, corrupt, unjust, and to radical. russia thed prisonhouse of nations. i think a lot of americans felt the same way about it. the americans thought of worst type of government can have, russia is what came to mind in those days. americans were particularly offended and outraged by the
anti-semitism which was so prevalent in russia in those days. in 1917, the ground central of anti-semitism was not germany. it was russia. the war had not gone well for of russians, partly because incompetence, mismanagement, and corruption. by 1917, by the early months of that year, there were food shortages in the capital petrograd's. this is a food line of the food shortages. so many soldiers had been conscripted from the farming villages. the railroads were horribly mismanaged. on march 8, international women's day, a group of women met on a central square in petrograd and began to protest. it says glory to the women who are fighting for freedom.
that is with that sciences. them people began joining and then other and then more and more people began joining them and some entries went out on strikes. that night, the protesters dispersed. the american ambassador sent a note to washington saying, you know, there was a protest today. there's no big deal, nothing to be concerned about, nothing to pay attention to it. the bolsheviks, the communists in russia, the most radical reds , had a meeting that night and came to the same conclusion. russia is not ready for revolution. nothing will come from this. the next day, the women came and and more joined them the next day and the next a print on march 11, sunday, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, were on the streets of petrograd. this is the day the police opened fire, both with rifles, as you can see her, -- c here, also with machine gun nests on
little bridges across the canal and snipers were on the rooftops to shoot at the crowds below. it was never quite clear how many died, but it was a signature moment in the history of russia and let's go to the next slide. army, mostly made up of conscripts, instead of supporting the authorities that then defecting en masse to protesters side, the soldiers are revolutionary soldiers. they joined their protesters. they are manning a barricade of the u.s. embassy at the time. when the army goes to war against the police, the army generally wins. so what happened? by march 15, a week after these protests they were not going to --unt to anything started his government was overthrown and a provisional government, made up of liberal members of this little windowdressing
parliament that the russians had called the duma, they declared themselves a new government of russia and they declared moreover they would pursue a democratic future for russia. let's go to the next slide. this idea hit americans like a thunderclap. a democracyecome and wilson, in particular, was taken with this idea. if russia come of all countries, the most radical country, can become a democracy, who knows? maybe we are at the dawn of a new era. maybe we can separate for a democratic future for all of the world. here, in the middle of march of 1970, 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.
not only do we have an opportunity, but may be even an obligation to protect and extend democracy, protect the young fragile government of russia and extend it, who knows, maybe to germany, maybe to austria, maybe around the world are wilson had this idea of a league of honor. all the great democracies of the world convening in a common session to discuss problems come up with solutions, avoid more in the future. suddenly, with the russian revolution, we are heading much more quickly into war. the germans have sent a couple of ships. no casualties. the czar was overthrown, a ship sank and several, about a dozen people were killed, a dozen americans were killed.
really fervor began to gripped the whole country. what about african americans? african-americans did not have the vote in most states. what was to be their response? w.e.b. dubois, the guy in the left, when of the founders of the naacp, argued that this war presents an opportunity for african-americans to organize to demonstrate their patriotism. he had no illusions about germans being less racist than anybody in the united aids. but it's enough of an opportunity to step up and show what american do. and of course, give s a place at the dinner table. adam clayton all senior, longtime congressman, he said, wait a minute, a war is a time
of crisis and a crisis is a of.nt to take advantage let's get a few things settled here first before we stand up and make ourselves targets for german bullets. let's get the vote. let's get a federal government that shows and cares -- it cares more about the well-being of black or color, as he put it, men, women, and children from maine to mississippi, then it with molasseses on ships bound for europe from new york. you see that argument playing out throughout the end of march. what should we do? i don't care. it is not my work. yes, it is my war. it fears debate. of the civil rights movement, like the women's movement, like the labor movement, cut right in half by this issue of should we go to war or should we not? this is alice paul, head of the national women's party.
she was personally opposed to getting into the war, opposed to wantedrrie chapman cat to do but she did not make a public issue of it. she did say, however, if war comes, women will be drawn into the many fracturing plants in the mission factories and work on the railroads and the streetcar lines of this country area we will be called upon desk country. we will be called upon to do a sacrifice for democracy. if this will be a war about democracy, how hypocritical would it be if the vote were not extended to those of us who answer the call. this was her argument. the russians, one of its first acts was to proclaim that women would have the vote there. therch 28, the bird -- parliament led the way. alice paulson we had to be next. paul said we had to
be next. so there were huge rallies here in philadelphia. but there were also antiwar rallies. why are we being pushed into the most violent and destructive war in the history of the world? what is this about? antiwar protesters gathered for a demonstration ride on this upset the u.s. capital. there were ads in the papers both ways. there was a peru -- a pro-war .ally in new york city americans need to stand shoulder to shoulder with the democracies of britain, of france, and, as he put it, thank god almighty the democracy of russia. this pressure all comes down on this person. this is jeanette rankin. she has gone to washington. congress is convening on april 2.
the eyes of the country are upon her. sense, maybe as a woman, she will be against the war. maybe women are not so aggressive or not or tough as men are. how will she vote. she really wanted to push for suffrage and was under tremendous pressure from women group carrie chapman cats -- katz group. she understood she represented not only the people of montana, but also, in some sense, all women of the united states. and in another sense, as she put in for all those women who would follow her into office in the decades and years to follow. so here it is, wilson asks for
war in april 2 in the evening. in his most famous line in that is the world must be made safe for democracy. that was the most important point he wanted to make. he invoked the russian revolution before he made that point. the senate took a couple of days .o approve it 5.went to the house on april the house spent all day talking about it. was met in washington with a couple of colleagues. in the evening, she went to the house and took her seat. as you can see, the house voted for war. spoiler alert. there were a couple of things that surprised me. house of three: 12:00 a.m. codes for war. in the modern digital age, no newspaper can have news from
3:12 in the morning. then the headline mentions miss rankin votes no and sobbing. been crying for three days and had no tears left. the focus was on her way 49 other members of the house also voted no. we are competing with the brass band. i will go quickly. what happened after that? alice paul was right. women were drawn into the factories of the country. we all know about rosie the riveter in world war ii. same exact thing happened in world war i. those women were sent home again when the war was over. military, thehe first women to hold a military -- military post other than
a nurse. she was from pennsylvania. she was a human -- a yelm and -- a yoeman. she had to design her own uniform. there were women in the army as well, working as telephone operators. this morning that they were denied veterans benefits when the war was over. african-americans, once war was declared, pretty much did flock to the callers. they did their duty. this is a national guard unit in new york state. since we have music playing, i will show you this one. this is the press club band. they were the preeminent society dance band in america in the years before the war.
they were led by the guys sitting at the piano, brian ries , who believed in the powers and beauty of african-american music and that only african-american musicians could play it correctly. he was an emperor syria and a musician, ragtime composer. -- hewas an empress serio empresario and a musician, a ragtime composer. many years later, it would be said of that jim europe was the martin luther king of music. this is a couple of months after that of the picture. he fought with the legendary harlem hill siders group.
get veterans benefits. they did not get the vote until 1920, which was a considerable delay. with w.e.b.greed -- that thewould war was wrong. lynchings went up. the ku klux klan had its heyday. there was great resentment against black americans, particularly in the north where they were seen as newcomers and interlopers. and the world was not made safe for democracy. russia was not made safe for democracy. the russian government had promised that the united states and other allies that he would renew the fight against germans with even more vigor to protect democracy. that what they neglected to understand was the russian people had no interest in that whatsoever. the russian army demobilized
itself. millions of visitors in the summer of 1917 and the communist revolution -- millions of 1917.ers in the summer of vladimir lenin came to power. americans learned over the decades that the war had not made the world safe for democracy. this is december 1941. jeanette rankin had been unable to win reelection to congress in 1918 because of her vote against the war. in 1940, she finally won election, in time to be the only member of congress to vote against war against japan. it and, she was still at she felt that her vote against world war i demanded consistency. she also was against the war in vietnam. this is a peace march in january 1968.
what i find interesting is the banner against the war. it also says end the social prices at -- social crisis at home. how can we perfect democracy? that in effect is what they are saying. how can we expand and improve this democratic experiment? arguing that this idea of american promoting democracy around the world is foolish or not, there are successful whenles of moments americans really stepped up to the plate and created some terrific opportunities for people elsewhere in the world. one of the most memorable was the marshall plan under harry back onwhich put europe its feet. another one was this -- another one was this next slide, 1975 and gerald
ford. it was a summit in helsinki in andand between american russian leaders. europeans were there as well. but they're signing of the helsinki accords, which many people at that time thought was a great soviet diplomatic victory because it recognized the established boundaries in europe at that point. but it will also recognize that human rights were an international concern and recognize freedom of conscience and gave interestingly enough, this summit, this agreement, led to the establishment of groups that called themselves helsinki watch, not only in west, but in eastern europe as well. it gave dissidents a foundation to stand upon. the dissidentthat movement got this great boost from the agreement of 1975,
which led to the downfall of communism in eastern europe and eventually even the soviet union in the decade that followed. both of these things, the marshall plan and the helsinki accords were examples of america promoting democracy without using military as a means of doing so. if i have learned anything in my career as a journalist, was used all the problem, taking down the soviet union, instance, it tends to not stay salt. russia today -- stay solved. russia today is not a democracy. it does not recognize human rights. americans have a tendency to say russia is a democracy. we did it in 1917 and we were wrong. in the 1980's.
putin leaves when office, people will say, think on almighty, russia can be a democracy again. become competent overnight. democracy is a process. democracy takes a great long time to build your -- build. 1917 allowed us to face the question whose democracy is it? it is a question we have been working on and trying to answer ever since. i will leave it at that. thank you very much for your attention. [applause] questions? mentioned that the united
states supported the allies in europe, britain, france, and they did not do so with germany. they did not selling whole lot of germany. is that correct? >> that is absolutely correct. the reason was there is a reddish naval campaign -- naval blockade. >> was there anyone in the united states saying we should be selling supplies to germany as well as the allies? >> not really. there were some sales that went to scandinavia and were transshipped to germany as a way of avoiding the british blockade. but the sea approach to germany was so constricted that the british were able to maintain a ship-proof blockade. this is what a senator brought up. people thought summer rains or underhanded.
any other questions? ♪ the british march right now. >> thank you all. >> thank you very much. appreciate it. hope you enjoy the rest of your day. >> senator john mccain has died. arizona, he from was first elected to the u.s. house of representatives in 1982 and elected to the senate 1986. last fall, on the 50th anniversary of being shot down over north vietnam as a navy fire, american history tv interviewed him about the war's impact on his life in the country. here is some of our conversation. >> we know a lot about torture. what has been harder for you? living through the torture or living through the cancer? >> well, i think, you know,
living through cancer is a challenge that i have. living through torture, you never know what's going to happen the next morning, whether they will come around and open yourself door and say, on out -- and say come on out. at least now i know the enemy and what we have to do and we take the consequences. brian, thatlso say, i have had -- we are talking out 50 years -- i am the most fortunate person of all the thousands you have interviewed that you will ever know here and i have had the best in full at that anybody could possibly have. withlook at this challenge joy, with happiness, and with gratitude, gratitude that i have had the opportunity to serve this country a little bit. >> to watch the entire interview
with senator mccain, you can visit our by the summer of 19 40, nazi germany had conquered most of europe and hitler was making plans to invade england. railamerica, from 1943, the battle of britain, the why we fight series. it is a 53 minute u.s. war department film which was shown to war department members and in theaters. ofdetails august and the end december 1940. hollywood director and a team of veterans and army signal corps technicians show how the british defeated hitler's air force at a cost of more than 40,000 civilians and vast destruction on the ground.