Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts Great War Exhibit Part 2  CSPAN  August 31, 2018 8:49am-9:33am EDT

8:49 am
8:50 am
8:51 am
8:52 am
8:53 am
8:54 am
8:55 am
test. test.
8:56 am
8:57 am
8:58 am
8:59 am
9:00 am
captioning performed by vitac there was a show on hbo that had a number of characters that were suffering from mental and physical disabilities from the war that occurred so that's one place today where you still see this echoing, persisting on. the hill was the first american-led offensive in september. it goes very well. don't want to spend too much time on it because while it's an important factor in the war, the fact of the matter is americans did not so much shift the tide of the war as much as they pushed it in a direction it was already moving. it is very likely, according to most historians, that the allied powers would have eventually emerged victorious. the entrance of the americans is
9:01 am
important because it gave an enormous boost to allied manpower which was very up lifting for the french and british soldiers and was very demeaning and just very frustrating for the german soldiers because they knew there was a million more men coming at them. the americans really kind of accelerate the allied cause. they don't really change the course of the war so much as push it forward in one direction so the war ends much faster with fewer casualties probably as a result of the american entrance. that is america's biggest contribution from the military side. that being said, the muse argon was the largest offensive in history and might still be to this day. you have a number of people who participated, including george patton, and i'd like to draw attention particularly to this item from our veterans history project. we have a number of items from the veterans history project throughout but particularly irving green wald.
9:02 am
i believe he was a printer in his life before the war. he meticulously narrated his experience at the front. he's part of the lost battalion which actually wasn't lost but in truth isolated from the allies and do find a way to make it out. so we're really proud to have this item, particularly one because he provides a very cogent and descriptive experience of what it was like up to that point, but also because they are physical remnants of a war that we fear is being forgotten, despite the fact it's had large effects, particularly on civil rights, women's rights and the military as we know it today. that being said, it is worth highlighting a couple of other things. here you have a number of -- these were recently acquired and given to the library. these are just postcards of african-american soldiers. now, this is common for both white and african-american soldiers. you often have pictures taken and then these pictures
9:03 am
converted into postcards. some of these are taken domestically, in the states, training camps. some of them are taken abroad in europe. these, we believe, were mostly taken in europe. what's significant about this is about 350,000 african-americans go overseas to serve in the military. mostly in stevedore, camp labor or clerical positions. americans were very -- of two minds of african-american military service. when they drafted them, on the one hand, whites, particularly in the south said, well, my white son, he's not going to war while you stay home and, you know, you slack. so, actually, african-americans were drafted at about roughly 13% -- about 13% of the military was african-americans despite the fact they only make up 10% of the population. you could say the same thing for immigrants as well. there was a big fear that immigrants were going to shirk their duties so even though they make up roughly, i think, drafted at like 18%, even though they only make up 15% of the population. so what this demonstrates is
9:04 am
this kind of two-mindedness. on the one hand, we're going to discriminate against you. on the other hand, there's no way we're not going to make you go to war also. what's notable is that they were wearing the uniforms. when they were in training camp in the south, they could not wear uniforms because there was a fear it would cause too much disruption among the jim crow residents, which is probably true, particularly when many soldiers returned home, wore their uniforms and were targeted for harassment, violence, and even lynching in many poli plac. while they're in the front in france, they have this different experience in regards to being black. france had its own racial issues. they had colonized parts of africa. they have a number of -- they have hundreds of thousands of colonial soldiers fighting in the war for them. they have, it's noted, they have their own issues about race. however, the lines of segregation in france were simply not as stark and really much looser so these african-american men go overseas
9:05 am
and instead of living under jim crow laws as they had in america, they have much more freedom. they can date white women rather freely. it's not a big deal to the french. it is a big deal to their white counterparts and you find dozens of accounts of white soldiers openly lamenting this fact and saying things like, they don't know their place. that sort of thing. this drives many of these african-american soldiers to a real place of consciousness in regards to races. many return home and join the civil rights movement, whether they join the ncaa or the league for democracy, which was a much more militant organization, that pushed for african-american rights and veterans' rights will be veterans. charles hampton houston is another prime example of this. so, we believe these postcards not only captured this experience at the front in their service to the military but also kind of hint at these larger changes that were unfolding even if they were unfolding in a
9:06 am
halting, unsatisfactory manner for our perspective today. related to this is the fact that there were about 40 or 50,000 soldiers that do serve in combat positions for the french. they were from the 369th, the 370th, 371st, and 372nd. the 369th, sometimes known as the harlem hell fighters also happened to house the band of lieutenant james. this was a regimental band that played a lot of jazz and rag time tunes and they are the most famous of a number of african-american bands, regimental bands from the military that go around france and basically play for not only french, italian, and american soldiers, and sometimes even german prisoners of war, but also visiting american journalists, such as irving cobb. ♪
9:07 am
>> the impact of this is that it spreads american jazz to europe and really popularizes this form of music. so, african-americans not only serve in the war, physically, they kind of convey what some, and this is a debatable point, but it is claimed what some argue is america's only cultural contribution to the international scene, which is jazz. so, in its own way, world war i not only facilitates a civil rights movement domestically, but culturally, because the idea of jazz was like now you have whites and blacks, europeans and americans, sharing space, enjoying the same kind of cultural moment, and that is significant for a number of reasons. you might care it to what rap was in the '90s for american culture in bringing white suburbanits into conversation with more urban african-american populations, and what that's done culturally as well.
9:08 am
it's also important to note that you had tens of thousands of women serving as nurses, not only for the french prior to the u.s. intervention but also for the americans at the front. marie is one example. dorothy kitchen o'neill is another featured in this exhibit. so what you have here is a kind of album put together by mary breckenridge. the breckenridges were an old line family in america, and mary had gone overseas to serve as a nurse, first for the british and then for the french in 1915 and 1916. she is actually working in the hospital in paris for the ambulance corps for the u.s. in 1916, and this is given to her in remembrance of her service. unfortunately, despite being very dedicated to her craft, she also had some health conditions, she's forced to come home no
9:09 am
1917 because she's having issues with her health and she literally dies that year from those complications. and yet, as you have here, a letter from the red cross thanking her family, thanking her for her dedication to the war and her service to the red cross and how much they're going to miss her presence and her contributions in the future. this is when the red cross, which had been around for a bit, really kind of lays its claim to international humanitarian aid in a way that it had not been able to before. and these women are part of that, and critical to that kind of growth in humanitarian international nongovernmental organizations. now, i'll take you to the last section of the over here section, and this is armistice. you see here, philanders field, no man's land. no man's land was called that because basically if you got caught there, you were in trouble. the war was large -- even though
9:10 am
you have 2 million american soldiers over there, millions of germans and french and british soldiers, the fact is artillery, this long kind of -- was really the main source of combat. you would make raids across this no man's land but it was fraught with danger. you were as likely to be killed as anything. so that no man's land really represents the carnage of the war for the landscape but also for the soldiers at the front in addition. here, you have a parade welcoming back soldiers, which was an issue of importance also, which we'll touch upon in a moment. particularly how do we reintegrate these soldiers into american society, even if they weren't physically injured, how do we get them back into the workforce and that's something that's very complicated process that the government engages in because it had not had to engage in it before. and behind us, the red cross. again, this is one of the most reproduced images of that period.
9:11 am
the greatest mother in the world. what you note throughout this exhibit and through much of the world war i letters and imagery is that women are at once the reason for going to war, to defend them, and their honor, and the children that they produce, but also they are the ones actually mobilizing the women's land army, the ymca, the red cross, they're the ones going overseas to care for the injured. they're the ones, domestically, raising funds so that we can pay for the war. so, it's this real -- and then simultaneously, you have suffragists on two different sides pushing for the right to vote. so in some ways, this leaning on the idea of traditional generals and motherhood is a little bit deceiving, because women are actually doing things at the time that they were not necessarily attributed to in that moment. so, world war i really kind of
9:12 am
gets at that tension. on the one hand, justification for the war but at the same time helping carrying out the war. so, much more involved and at the center of it than sometimes given credit. illiteracy rates in the aef, the american expeditionary force, were roughly 25%. so a quarter of the military could not read. there was a large worry that, one, what would american forces do in their down time. pershing was quite concerned about drinking and prostitution, not by the soldiers but them engaging in it, and so the idea that we needed to provide them with some kind of entertainment, whether it be films as occurs in some of the camps or reading materials. so, the ala and the library of congress set up a number of libraries across europe for servicemen so that they could take books, magazines out, and read them and spend their time
9:13 am
and learn, if they weren't able to read, maybe perhaps improve their reading skills or develop them, and in this particular card, we have a request for a number of books from one of the soldiers, just demonstrating how they would go about it. they would send a letter and then they would request these books and they would be sent to them at the front. with that, however, i'd like to take us over to the final section, world overturned, in which we kind of where else with the implications of the war in a number of ways, both internationally and domestically. one of the more interesting aspects of world war i is dealing with its implications domestically and internationally after armistice in november of 1918. we tried to do that in world overturned. i'm going to start with the international section and then come back to the domestic section in a moment. obviously, one of -- in terms of
9:14 am
international politics and economics, the 14 points, the paris peace conference, and the 14 points versailles treaty that wilson puts together, which basically lays out his vision of international affairs, going forward, after the war, is the -- one of the most famous and impactful aspects of world war i. here we have his idiosyncratic shorthand, which today is not very legible. this is the paris peace conference photo taken as these gentlemen, and they were only gentlemen in this day, regrettably, negotiate the peace. of course this was controversial among his european allies. the french minister famously said, wilson has 14 points. god has only 10. so, the larger point becoing th europeans were not so much on board with the 14 points. that said, the treaty does
9:15 am
create a league of nations, which is -- we have the kind of creation charter here, the covenant of league of nations in print, which is honestly a failure in the '20s and '30s. however, again, much like many of the other examples i've given, wilson's ideas may not have taken off immediately, but they do become what is the groundwork for the post-45 u.s. foreign policy. this idea of the league of nations is you could argue recreating the united nations after world war ii. wilson famously uses the term self-determination. he did not create that term. i could be incorrect but the british foreign minister had come up with it years earlier. but nonetheless, when he says that nations are deserving of self-determination, wilson had never intended it for people in asia and africa and certainly not for african-americans domestically, and yet once he puts that out into the world, it serves as a kind of a signifier for independence movements in india, africa, and other parts
9:16 am
of asia to say, look, if people in eastern europe, particularly the collapse of the austro-hungarian empire deserve freedom, so do we. poland is the only nation formally mentioned in the treaty and they are created. so is check szechoslovakia. so one thing the treaty tries to do is navigate this collapse of empire. the russian empire shrinks, the ottoman empire shrinks. whether or not those countries were created exactly as they should have been is another debate that margaret mcmillan and other historians have engaged in, and is fascinating, but whatever you think of that, the treaty is what kind of lays that groundwork for those debates and those countries to come to the fore. it's also worth noting from the international sense that w.e.b. dubois who had been a supporter of the war and is later
9:17 am
disillusioned by the inability of the war to bring permanent civil rights reforms to america does organize the pan-african conference. this is a letter to the naacp. what that was was a gathering of african-american leaders, whether they be from the west n indies or africa or the u.s. in which they gathered together to discuss what they could do to people -- we would say african-americans in america, africans, people of african descent around the world, what they could do to push forward their own civil rights and organize internationally. now, in the moment, much like many other things, it doesn't get a ton accomplished. somewhat controversial even within it. however, over the years, by the '50s and '60s, they keep holding this event, and by the '50s and '60s, it becomes a center of independence movements in ais sha and africa, so again, another example of this seed being planted and growing over the decades that follow. it also does create this
9:18 am
pan-african internationalist kind of political structure that will be extremely important in the '20s, '30s, '40s, and '50s. the last thing i would note, one, you have the nobel peace prize awarded to woodrow wilson. informally, i've had conversations with people like, what would this be worth? this is just kind of an aside. so, one of the curators, michael nor north, who helped us with this exhibit used to work at another institution where they oversaw nobel prizes in physics and things like that and made the comment that this quote, unquote obscure prize in physics had sold for a couple million dollars. to you can only imagine what the 1919 peace prize given to woodrow wilson, and the peace prize which is valued more because they get more publicity, is worth 100 years later. whether he deserved it or not is another debate and whether or not it's actually worth several -- like tens of millions
9:19 am
of dollars, in actuality, not up to me. it's up to capitalism. so it's one of those things. i would say to your left, though, you have what is the government of poland awarding woodrow wilson the order of the white eagle in recognition of the establishment of poland in the versailles teatreaty. he had to wait until after he was president to accept these because presidents cannot accept gifts from foreign entities while in office, i believe. so, that's an interesting kind of side bar. and behind that, you have basically the italian government awarding wilson this presidential award for his service at the versailles treaty -- creating the versailles treaty and at the paris peace conference as well. to give just kind of a visual of these changes, you see here, this map of the middle east. you see proposed turkey, extreme but undesirable limits of turkey. you see written there. we're not sure who wrote on
9:20 am
this. you also see what is today modern state of israel. it's worth noting that the balfour declaration which was written in 1917, by some historians' lights, represents the conflict that we still are experiencing in the middle east over who should live where and why and the creation of israel. these maps kind of get at that, and you know, if there's one thing that's undebatable about world war i, that its influence over the middle east continues to today. many of the kind of debates and issues about borders and peoples and who has the right to what really were unfolding in this moment. so, the treaty of versailles, though it tried to wrestle with these, did not solve them, even though it did attempt to address them. so, this brings us to two aspects of the war that we will conclude with. veterans and the legacy for leaders within the u.s.
9:21 am
let's start with veterans. what you have here is a picture from the crippled and disabled -- the institute for crippled and disabled men in new york. this was actually -- for psychological injuries. so you're talking about a large number of men who come away from the war if not as amputees, people who end up with permanent disabilities as a result, whether it be a limp or, you know, some persistent pain in a part of their body as a result. you have here images from these soldiers who are rehabilitating after the war. the american government does make efforts, through acts in 1917 and 1918, to address veterans. this is the first time that the american government really does that on this level. there were fears that veterans might, one, be a permanent drag
9:22 am
economically on the u.s. government. two, would they be able to reintegrate into an economy. there was a severe recession after the war. roughly in april of 1919, 40% of veterans are unemployed. so, you know, there is also worries about them bringing back european decadence. i won't go into what that meant but you can kind of imagine. and that there were fears that they would become political radicals, because they might be pushed to the margins. the bonus army march of 1932 is a good illustration of that when they camp on the mall to protest the fact they had not been paid their pension, even though the pension was supposed to come years later. they are protesting it for it early because of the depression. so in regard to returning veterans with disabilities, particularly those who had lost limbs in the war, what you have here is a gentleman being fitted for a prosthetic limb. the prosthetic limb industry was not nonexistent prior to the war because of industrialization, there were a number of injuries
9:23 am
for industrial workers, where prosthetic arms and legs and fingers and those sorts of things would be necessary. the war, however, predictably, really boosts the prosthetic limb industry where you have so many men, not only american men but allied soldiers as well coming back in need of this kind of rehabilitation and these kind of items so that they can return to living a normal life. and these films, which we have digitized thousands of feet of, come from janice allen. janice allen, formerly john allen, is a collector of film from the 20th century. she has done an incredible job of accumulating this film and we turn to her when we wanted to find film that coincided with many of the themes from world war i. and had them digitized. many of these films, we believe, have not been seen since 1917 or 1918, so are over 100 years old and have been living in reels
9:24 am
for all those decades. so we're very happy to be able to put them in each section to demonstrate visually, on film, many of the aspects of the war that we hope come through in each section. but you see here, these are examples of the department of labor. so, the united states employment service is created in 1917 or 1918, and they eventually place roughly 6 million men in 10 million jobs. now, many of those men were veterans so there was an effort by the government to literally connect veterans to work and much less today you see these campaigns to hire a veteran, the u.s. government produced posters to that effect as well. you kind of see it here. the nation owes a great debt of gratitude to the soldiers who fought in the first line of attack to those at home who backed them. let us work to perform these duties even more earnestly than when the war was on. and then you see the second ones. by keeping industry going, opening up jobs for soldiers,
9:25 am
employers and employees should forget personal aims for the country's sake. there you have to say there is this kind of -- you're doing this out of the goodness of your heart rather than just hiring good employees, which many veterans were. so that is slightly problematic. i would also note, too, there is no veterans organization representing returning veterans in 1918. 1919 is when you get the creation of the american region and within a year, they have 1 million members. the american legion will be at the forefront of pushing for veterans rights and even though it did suffer from racism and to some extent classicism within its ranks, the american legion is at the forefront of drawing attention to what we would call ptsd today. so, they do kind of raise the issue of disability rights, so on the one hand, they do create these veterans rights movements with a very nationalist tinge, admittedly, but to a lesser extent, disability rights because they are highlighting the disabilities the veterans
9:26 am
acquired while at the front. they do, however, shy away from equating those disabilities with civilian disabilities because they believe that would undermine kind of the value of the veterans' sacrifice. so, that is a limited -- must be admitted it's a limited advocation of disability rights but nonetheless, even putting it out there, it gets the idea of disability rights into the mainstream, even if it is in this modified way. and with that in mind, two things. memorialization of the war. above, you have the gold star mothers. that is the gun and they still persist to today. gold star mothers are women who lost sons in the war. they are actually paid to go overseas in the '20s and i believe in the '20s and '30s to visit the site of the war. again, they also suffer from segregation. the african-american women who had sons who died in the war had to take separate ships overseas, so again, you see race as a kind of threaded throughout in often disappointing ways in this
9:27 am
period. last thing i would draw your attention to is, i mentioned joel t. boone earlier. there he is being awarded a congressional medal of honor. i don't know if you recognize the gentleman giving him the award. that is a pre-illness franklin delano roosevelt, a very tall man in his youth. he was assistant secretary of the navy in the war and i've been banging on and on about how many figures cut their teeth during world war i and go on to greater prominence and use their experiences from world war i in other aspects of their life professionally in america. there is no better example than fdr, who takes his experience in the navy as the secretary of the navy and his vision of what wilson did and will use that in his new deal policies and his prosecution over world war ii, just to give you one example. we did not draft a military until we had actually entered the war in world war i. as world war ii was raging in europe, fdr remembered this, and we actually prepare the military and enlarge it before we enter
9:28 am
the bar because he recognized that was a difficulty that had occurred in world war i. so he draws upon his experience as to countless others as i've demonstrated from world war i to shape american society and government following the war in the years that unfolded afterwards. i think the things i learned in this exhibit as i put this together were threefold. one, i don't think i fully appreciated that the idea of citizenship, what it meant for not only citizens but if government in terms of obligation and rights, world war i really helps crystallize what that meant, and it really does usher us into this era of an expanded federal government that we've come to know, particularly in the post-world war ii period. secondarily, i would say in terms of rights, i don't think i realized that it played a central role in creating the naacp as the kind of, yes, august silver rights organization that some people say is too moderate but
9:29 am
nonetheless in its day was at the forefront of pushing for anti-lynching and other civil rights reforms that were quite dangerous in the jim crow era and in regards to women in the same way, i don't think i realizeed how important the war was for suffrage. there were states that gave them voting rights but if not for the war, it's questionable as to when women would have gotten the national amendment for voting. it would have happened eventually, i don't know if it would have happened in 1919 and the war plays a critical role in facilitating that process to an end. and finally, immigration. immigration was a major issue in 1917. it's a major issue in 2017, and we still are talking about many of the same issues that we did then. we still have noncitizens serving in the military gaining citizenship. i believe something like 240,000 men gained citizenship through the military during the war. even asian-americans, not until 1935, through a later bill, do gain citizenship, even though the 1917 immigration act banned them from naturalization previously. so, it also demonstrates the centrality of military service
9:30 am
as a means to civil rights and as a means to citizenship in this country. now, whether or not one thinks that's a good or bad thing is a different debate but nonetheless places that at the forefront. and the idea of a country and immigrants being either from this country to their home nation is something we talk about today. as much as we're 100 years on from that debate, it's a central debate of the war itself. ♪ over there, over there, send the word, send the word, over there ♪ ♪ that the yanks are coming, the yanks are coming, the drums rum-tumming everywhere ♪ ♪ so, prepare, say a prayer this weekend, c-span city store takes you to flagstaff, arizona, with the help of our sudden link cable partners, we'll explore the literary life and history of flagstaff, located 80 miles south of the grand canyon, saturday at
9:31 am
7:00 p.m. eastern on book tv. author don lego discusses his book, "grand canyon." >> a quarter of the way into the grand canyon, it starts about 70 miles east of here and from here, it has another 200 miles to run to the west. and so right here is when the canyon first starts to really widen and deepen and turn into the classic views that you see in most photographs or calendars, or famous images. >> on sunday, at 2:00 p.m. eastern, on american history tv, a visit to the lowell observatory to hear about astronomical discoveries and moon mapping for the apollo program. then a tour of the national monument. >> some people might think of this site as abandoned and completely empty but it is still a very important and living site for a lot of the descendants of the ancestral puebloan people
9:32 am
that live in the area. hopi people might come here to do ceremonies and pay homage to their ancestors because they believe their ancestors are still here so this is still a very important site for many people in the southwest. >> watch c-span cities tour of flagstaff, arizona, saturday at 7:00 p.m. eastern. on c-span2's book tv. and sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3, working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. this labor day weekend, american history tv on c-span3 has three days of featured programming, starting saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern with lectures in history as colorado state university pueblo professor matt harris discusses the anti-slavery movement before the civil war. sunday at 10:00 a.m. on oral histories our women in congress series continues with

23 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on