tv Lectures in History Neutrality World War I America CSPAN February 26, 2022 11:00pm-12:07am EST
century and the debates over curators collections and the importance of certain historical objects over others. watch all this and more beginning now on american history tv find a full schedule at c-span.org/history or consult your program guide. and now lectures and history with sage matthew. good morning, everyone. so this morning we're going to be talking about or rather. we will begin our conversation about neutrality that conversation will last over the course of several lectures. so we'll wrap up other countries' neutralities, but this morning we're going to really focus on what neutrality looked like and meant for the americans especially in the first half of the war. so the thing that i want you to understand the most and this is really vital because it's it's a very different understanding of neutrality than we have today. neutrality at the beginning of the war.
did not mean in activity. it did not mean passivity. and it most certainly did not mean impartiality. so if it doesn't mean those things then what on earth doesn't neutrality mean. the definition of neutrality differs with each country some like belgium will say that they never gave up their neutrality. they were invaded right but they always remained officially neutral. so they were aggrieved against as a neutral country. others like switzerland will say we're neutral and to prove it. uh dylan, i'm gonna hold your wallet and kia. i'm gonna hold your wallet that's how i'm neutral. in the case of the united states neutrality will for the most
part mean that they will do business with whoever and the very willingness to do business with both germans or rather the central powers and the allies is proof of their neutrality. so a lot of people are surprised to learn that at the beginning of the war the us traded with and maintained. diplomatic relations with all of the belligerent nations now some of those relationships were strained to be sure. one of my favorite examples is the one of both the first and last ottoman empire ambassador appointed to the united states. alfred doublinski a polish turk and he is appointed to dc and he's given one instruction on his departure from constantinople and you know from our work earlier this semester that constantinople is itself a hotly contested zone, right?
so they tell him go to the states. and all you have to do is be charming. all you have to do is have fabulous parties. be a fabulous guest and by all means avoid any social or political tensions. to balinsky who was never very good at heating simple instructions. of course gets to to dc right about the time that news of crisis is happening in the ottoman empire armenians and other christians are being attacked. and so the american press is really pointing out that this is a problem. well debilinski, and certainly the ottomans felt. that wasn't very neutral. that was pretty judgy. and so he's so irritates woodrow wilson that would woodrow wilson has his privileges as an ambassador revoked how timely with our current news.
right, you don't behave you lose your office, but on his way out debilinski knew exactly how to annoy americans what the african-american press said to that that the bilinsky pressed on america's cancer spot and that was that he said how dare you americans who claim to be neutral judge. we ottomans about how we treat our minorities given how you treat your own minorities native americans african americans so until you stop segregation, you have no business telling us. about being violent or how to control our minorities and in order to ensure having lost his ambassadorship that he left woodrow wilson on the brink of a complete conniption. doobolinski was photographed in black churches in dc praying and singing with african-americans
and talking about how their plight and their suffering really helped him understand who americans truly were despite their browbeating all over the world as purported neutrals who were also morally superior. so what we see in the case of the united states, is that the question of race will already be part of this diplomatic tug of war the germans will do the same. right it'll return. so in the united states what we get from the very beginning of the war are a lot of the same kinds of concerns that had been weighing heavily on european empires that we've been talking about, right? so what were some of those concerns that there would be that their own countries were full of dissidents. who could set the place ablaze.
by pointing out the fishers in american society. so hence our first picture here. so what are we looking at women? women protesting in front of the white house demanding the right to vote pointing out how american democracy is not perfect and again therefore, who are they? more so as a neutral state to go around the world telling other people. what's right and what's wrong? what are other some of dissident groups that we have in the country? well, just like in europe we have workers who are galvanizing around their right to a safe working space. a fair at living wage safe reasonable working hours, right? this is still a time when we work six and a half days a week. and on the half day that we're off our boss is supervising us
at church and in our various halls our ethnic halls. so workers are a problem. women are a problem. can anyone hazard a guess at other groups who might be a problem? yes, jenny. specifically what kind of minorities? so african-americans are a problem and how are they a problem? well for one thing there there they continue to say we want our civil rights. we want the right to vote. we are in fact americans we pay taxes we own land. we want the right to go to school wherever we actually qualify. right african-american women are also wanting very much to have the vote. we the most pressing problem for african americans was certainly lynching and other forms of racial violence. and so african-americans will say we want this to end indeed it must end immediately because
every incident of racialized violence and there were many and they took on different shapes every one of those incidents places us to precariously close to how the kaiser and other treat their colonial populations. so these various groups. we have a prohibitionists pointing out how immigrants are problems populations. there are simply too many of them. we have to have rules we have to have borders. we have to have walls we have to have medical screening to keep these undesirables pouring in from europe to continue coming and bringing with them. they're drinking habits, and they're weird religions. right catholics italians irish conveniently forgetting that plenty of germans and french and british are also catholics. but this idea that the cauldron that is the united states is having its own kind of bubbling
up of problems native americans who are demanding citizenship. they do not have it at this time, right? these are worrisome enough that americans should focus on themselves in order to control that population lest what happened over there also ends up happening over here. and will democracy be enough. to prevent what happened over there from also happening over here. one of the things that you're often taught in high school that is just plain wrong is the idea that americans are isolationists. they are not. the period between at the least the 1890s and certainly still through the 1920s. that window is one in which americans actually spread out
from the united states in. pretty spectacular ways so this some talked about an american imperialism being born? right and certainly an imperial vision. if not yet. it's full manifestation. so from the 1890s the us has now reached into hawaii. reached into cuba reached into puerto rico and most significantly reached into the philippines. so all the way into asia. it isn't that americans are isolationists. they very much want to get into your house. they just don't want you to come into theirs. and that is not then isolationism. we want to change other people. we just don't want them to have any say as to who we get to be. and so in that period in those early years of the war we talked about this a few weeks ago
americans have their attention completely trained on the americas. and so what's happening we talked about how what's happening on the canadian border? well canadians are getting ready to celebrate the centenary of the war of 1812 and 1814, right? that's where the activity is happening on the borders. will mainers go toe to toe with quebecois. who's gonna pipe up the band the loudest to show that they are the place that matters more that they thrived then in 1812 and 8 through 1814 and again in 1914. and again americans attention is completely trained on the mexican border. and why there because since at least 1910? truly earlier but since at least 1910 mexico had been undergoing several revolutions and those revolutions had only intensified in nature and grown closer to the american border.
and the source of the tension in many instances were americans who mexicans felt were too much of a presence in mexico owned too much of the land controlled too much of the capital and controlled and owned too much of the industry industrial footprint in mexico. and so part. it's a very complicated set of revolutions. it's not just one. but nonetheless that internal set of conflicts in mexico is working its way closest to the american border hence once again being very concerned about american safety. american protectionism with respect to what comes through that southern border. what we know is that people also came through that southern border. and so the idea that a central american migration pattern is
really contemporary mrs. what was happening a hundred plus years ago. that the border was quite porous it certainly like a valve opened and closed depending on american labor needs. right and so people are very surprised to find out that. at around this time. a quarter of the workforce in chicago meatpacking industries are mexicans. if you went skiing in colorado at this time, the ski patrol were mexicans and mexican americans. so we've continued this myth that somehow it's a population. that's a new wave when in fact, there's been a pretty constant stream. one that americans have welcomed and vilified depending on political and economic expediency. but that that border was of
tremendous concern in 1914. the concerns there is also framed around that eugenics language that we talked about that social darwinist language that we talked about so immigrants bring disease. and disease is as much political and in your mind. ideas like communism and autocracy and socialism catholicism but they also bring maladies. right and so part of the way that we make ourselves feel safer. is to screen for these maladies to tell ourselves that they are more inherent to one set of people and not another. that is the way that we're spending our energy in 1914. why is that southern border and the caribbean so important so i just want to take a slight step
back here and talk about again those problems constituencies and here. women in the polity women in public spaces felt that this was such an egregious act such a an incendiary act to put on your hat put on your full support girdle and leave the house to protest. 'cause it would be an embarrassment to you to your family and possibly land you in jail. this was not the time to mince words. so you'll note that language at the top of this banner right kaiser wilson. wilson who spent much of his career curating the notion that he was he functioned from a higher moral stance than even his own country could meet. my favorite quote about wilson's 14 points. comes from josh clemonsoul the french prime minister at the end of the war. and he says after wilson gets up and he goes through all 14 of
his points and his vision for for world peace after the war could also says buff even god only had 10. this is a picture of african-americans marching down. fifth avenue in new york and their banner reads the first blood for america for american independence was built by crispus addis addis. yeah. i can't say his name today. so reminding reminding the nation. that african americans have been part militarily part of defending this country at every turn. and so, how can we continue to have laws that limit their citizenship rights laws that limit where they can go laws that limit where they can go to school who they can marry how much they can earn etc. it's fundamentally not independence.
so for much of the world europeans in particular this political cartoon, i think really captures it right. here's uncle sam selling stuff and europe has a very long shopping list. and basically they're asking how's my credit how much? can i borrow from you in order to keep fighting so if you were to ask? a german a british person. what are the americans doing in 1914? they would say fattening their pockets? and and do not ever forget that the fattening of those pockets comes at the cost of european lives. that american greed and their willingness in particular to sell to anyone could ultimately result in the collapse of european empires more so than europeans killing themselves. so to come back to the question that tom asked many many weeks
ago. how is it that the germans are always pinned the bad guys we can see that even as early as 1914 were starting to vilify. the roles of even some neutrals in this case the us that sells indiscriminately. in this political cartoon, we see that there's an image of of food apples in that barrel. and it's important to remember that 1914. was a real boom time for the american economy now like most countries when the war first began. there's a retraction people are concerned. they spend a little bit less. you don't have easy access to all the sources you would normally want to purchase, right? the stock exchange was closed in new york just as it had closed in vienna and london and paris and berlin. but once by december people start coming out of their caves
again the americans realize that this war is an amazing boon for their economy. because if nothing else while the europeans are fighting each other, they can't produce things and the country that produced the best and the most of things germany is especially unable to do so because it's fighting onto soon to be three fronts. we talked about the examples of the example of harmonicas in christmas of 1914, right the holidays are coming and we need things those things are chocolate. toys for children clothing remember most of the armies had not prepared for winter for the war spilling into winter. so now the americans are the ones who can sell all of their cotton. sell all of their wheat sell their corn and sell one of the first ways that we see americans making money has to do with
horses and mules. there is a robust. trade in american horses cattle and mules from the upper northwest through the midwest so kansas for example, its economy goes through the roof because it has huge stockyards where all these trains bringing in horses. could then be sorted? screened for a illness and then put on fast-moving trains up to chicago than across to philadelphia new york and boston. why are we so many horses? they need them at the front. who needs them at the front the british in particular you'll recall that i told you that the average lifespan of a horse is about two weeks, and that's a lucky horse. at the front so they're dying almost more quickly than we can get them over there and the
germans will say they will have a robust propaganda campaign saying you are responsible for killing my son because the horse that you're sending over and that you're making scores of money on right that horse is being used to pull artillery. to move cavalry even though cavalry wasn't really doing much. to for food right, so horses are vital. they're vital in terms of how the armies imagine themselves. but they're also vital for all the different things they can do in the war zone and the people who are shipping the most number of horses and at the same time saying that their neutral are the americans and because americans have a healthy transportation system railways ports deep ports. people are also sending the horses up from argentina and brazil and uruguay. they're coming down from canada.
fairly awful times in germany. we are selling to germany on occasion, but those horses have to make it past the british agenda. we are selling to germans. absolutely and when the germans float that sub that i told you guys about right that makes its way to philly spends two weeks being celebrated and partied. that's up goes back completely full of american products and germans will see that trip the successful nature of that trip as a continued partnership with american commerce. why would the germans think the us? potentially a good partner well for one thing there were a lot of germans here. we talked about that right about 25% of the population by some estimates higher still. we're either first generation or second generation german americans. the largest urban population of germans outside of berlin is in
new york most cities on the east coast will have some version of a german town. right, so germany at the very least would say well my cousin's not going to let them go nuts and go after us so quickly, right? we have a chance. we just have to convince them that we're paisans. besides the irish don't care about the british. there are no friends of theirs. the irish will also join us. french canadians hate the british we could get that started up there, too. so we have a pretty good chance of winning a media war if you will right public sentiment. and for a time that seemed to work. it worked because in part the germans were winning.
but the moment the war starts it becomes at the very least a little more dangerous being german in america. we see in iowa for example an attempt to pass an english only bill. making english the official language of iowa when the united states has no official language. english is not the official language of the united states. and in some parts of the united states like pennsylvania, they could just as well have made german the official language so much. is it spoken? some parts of west eastern, ohio very check so all of a sudden being seen speaking in german singing german songs those become suspect behaviors. so now remember the result the the suspicions that we have for people who are not like us who may be genetically defective
racially defective colonially defective. that muscle can easily be rerouted to a new cause. so what we see in 1914 certainly in 1915 is that it becomes downright dangerous being german being suspected of being german and doing consuming. celebrating things however, broadly german and my favorite example of this. is actually this set of images so we get reports. in the united states and moscow of people going out on the street with their baseball bats pounding to death little dachshund dogs, because now they represent aisa now kaiser had two homicidal dachshunds. i don't even know how they could kill that many animals. but they really did so that little tiny thing becomes an emblem of all that is wrong with
germans, even their animals are evil and murderous. right, so in your way of proving your positionality on that patriotism that ex public exercise of patriotism. club it it doesn't it's no longer sauerkraut. you're having freedom cabbage. right americans love rebranding food in times of war it's not french fries. it's liberty fries. right so american having a stein that's what they're called, right? okay, there are public stein crashing gatherings where you show that you're making that you know making real your distance from your ancestors by just publicly crashing that now if you're german those steins mean a lot they stay within the family for generations. they represent your military background, right your prussian
background your hessian background. so this public rejection of germanness is important and as with all things with this war children, always have a role note here the little boy pointing a gun at a dog and note the shadow behind them. in so doing it's not animal cruelty peta. patriotism that goes all the way back. right this german robert prager. was found to be suspect because he was allegedly speaking german in public. i believe it was an illinois. and he had responded entirely too slowly. to the call to enlist and worst of all had raised the derelict question of why are we doing this again? and his peers lost their minds. beat him up tard and feathered him. and then lynched him.
now lynching is not a practice uniquely reserved for african americans. it is a practice that is also being seen against. latinos in the us union workers people who are gay or suspected of being gay non-conforming in whatever way is suspect behavior, but now that we see that germans are being swept up and dealt with in a manner that we normally by this point reserve for african americans tells us a lot about the level of vitriol that we get in the united states, especially with respect to whoever we see as worrisomly different from us and raising any kind of question about the war what's happening
again? who's fighting again? where's the fighting happening? why are we getting involved all of those things would brand you? a suspect citizen and likely one who needs careful policing? so here's a fabulous other picture of how we use children. to have both we give them a role in the war. but we also use them to shame adults into action. so to hell with the kaiser like when you're three, what else can you curse? but if it's for the nation? um and her little sign says america forever so i'm just gonna step back back a little bit here. this is really important because in as part of the discussion about american isolationism or one of the ways that americans communicated not wanting to get
involved in other people's fights was to say we are the crusaders. we are the protectors of others. we're not fighters. we're lovers. right. we're so strong. we don't have to prove. it said wilson a few years later. and this idea that americans were going around the world being the protectors of usually people of color was. certainly amplified with the spanish-american war in 1898. but the us never really bothered to ask the people they were allegedly protecting. they would have had a very different answer. or response to the idea that we see romanticized here. so it is this, you know mixed-race virginal girl being protected by suspectly brown right but what we have to
remember is that during the war especially its first three years. the americans are using the distraction of war to broaden their imperial footprint. so between 1913 and 1917 the us acquires a bevy of countries here in the caribbean. and if it doesn't take control outright, it certainly has a de facto control thanks to its military. so like great britain like germany the american navy becomes the way that americans flex their muscles, although the american navy is not big. it's a distant third. i think it might even be seventh actually nonetheless americans think of themselves as having a navy that makes people afraid that ought to make people afraid and at least in the caribbean it does so the united states will purchase the danish islands. and with a 25 million dollar
check put an end to denmark as an empire. so, oh you buy out an empire. so the virgin islands that some of you may have enjoyed thus far or will at some point in your lives used to be part of denmark. and the us purchase it and by say and art makes the case for that expansion not. a pure imperialist act they say the danes another neutral country aren't going to be very good at keeping the germans at bay in europe. and if they fold we're going to have a german state. just off the coast of florida. that's not okay where they can park their warships and from that base lunge towards the panama canal in the bottom left hand corner. it's not quite on this map, but it would just be below nicaragua.
right so you'll recall that i mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the germans had moved two warships into the into north america one was parked. where near nope, not the east coast. dominican puerto rico, so one ship is parked moored right off the case right off the coast. of puerto rico dominican republic haiti and the other ship is off the coast of california. and in each instance, then there's a german warship on either side of the panama canal the canal that the americans have spent a ton of money a ton of time and a ton of scientific effort to make theirs the french had been trying they couldn't pull it off the americans arrived and like we're going to we're going to finish this.
and in 1914 you'll recall just as the war is starting the americans had been preparing to celebrate the grand opening of the panama canal. and could not. the darn fighting at the mound was taking away the attention from the american engineering marvel. that is the panama canal. but the americans then said in opening this canal and shortening trade routes mostly to asia. we've also made ourselves and by ourselves. we mean the caribbean so much more enticing for the germans. it's a question of time until they come over and pounce. because for one thing we know their subs can make it and they're worships can make it. and they're going to come into the caribbean. and they're gonna say they're here to stop a local conflict conflict on one of the islands. they're gonna say they're here because one of these islands especially haiti which is not an island, but but part of an island. katie owed them all this money
and so they have no choice they have to come in to defend their financial interests and the us said not no way not know how manifest destiny extends to the caribbean the caribbean is our lake said the united states. and thankfully we have a navy and marines who can much more quickly than europeans all of a sudden set foot in this region and in particular take control of islands with deep ports deep ports matter because our large warships need deep ports to come into now there's one other i mean there are multiple empires in the caribbean european empires present in the caribbean, but the biggest one would be great britain. right you've got jamaica. you've got any number of the smaller islands on your right? the smaller antilles uses they're called.
you've got important foothold at the northern part of south america again on your right and trinidad and tobago on the lower right hand corner are especially important as petro states. so britain does not like the idea that the americans are all of a sudden going around claiming for themselves some of the biggest islands in the caribbean. and saying we're just gonna hold it while you guys keep fighting over that. don't worry about it. don't worry about we're just gonna build some buildings. we're just gonna build some military bases. we're just gonna change some laws, but but don't worry about it. we're not looking at jamaica. but in the meantime great britain is saying hey, canada. as our mini-me on this side of the atlantic because canada is britain. right get down there. defend our property show some muscle float a boat or two out there and so the friend the
canadians send a military footprint in bermuda in jamaica. they say to also be there to as a defensive line. so that the us doesn't use world war one as a distraction to scoop up the entire caribbean. and one of the arguments that the canadians will make for being in the region is that they'll say we as a modern state. also need our own deep south the way that we prove that we're a modern state and therefore should have a little more autonomy in the british empire is to have our own people of color that we can control that we can civilize and so jamaica will do that work we get to show our ability to control ourselves by showing how we can control others ideally when those others are of color and considered defective and all the other ways that we've been talking about this semester.
so the caribbean becomes this alternative space for a tug of war not only between the united states and the people who inhabit the caribbean but very much the united states and the empires fighting on the other side that we will either at some point be friends or foes with and that we're still selling in either instance, too. so it's a much more complicated set of events happening here and where the united states is focusing. so it then makes even more sense for the germans to have sent their warships into the caribbean. because they can say well, if everyone's fighting over islands we should get ours as well. we're here to make sure the americans don't take the whole thing. so what we get? in those first couple of years of the war is a very important reminder that the united states is part officially and
unofficially of this colonial race around the world. the stuff of our lectures for the next two weeks, right? so the us their military has the guys with field experience before world war one breaks out are ones who had been sent to the philippines to patrol. the troublesome people there ones who had been sent to the caribbean. and ones who had been sent in american cities to crush unionists to crush protesting african americans to crush protesting women. and any other fill in the blank problem constituency? so they have colonial experience not unlike the french and the british soldiers that we've talked about their officer corps that got their experience. controlling colonial people's in africa and asia etc so one of the things that's always surprising to students. is that the head of the american
army general pershing? will for some years live in the philippines as they're trying to you know, crush the independence movement there. and he during his time in the philippines will dedicate himself to becoming an expert on islam. because the morrow people who fought the most against the americans or who the americans would have said were the most difficult to pacify. language that we use to refer to colonial expansion in other parts of the world. they were muslims and if americans were going to be good colonial controllers, then they needed to understand islam. so, huh? one of the people going into world war one who is a global expert on islam? is from neutral united states? most of the officers going into battle in world war one by 1917
on the american side. we'll have fought in the philippines will certainly have fought in mexico. will have you know spent some time in the caribbean? and those in the caribbean are the most frustrated because they feel like they're missing out on something much more exciting elsewhere. they're just doing this with their local folk. right so they will understand what it's like to stand between warring factions. so the defense of all of this activity in the united states this this concern about a domestic set of tensions and an international set of tensions will look like this in the case of the united states. we will immediately start to vilify our neighbor. right, and i have to say that has not disappeared. it really hasn't.
if you're in my neighborhood if i'm in the grocery store, and i'm talking to my kid in another language. we invariably get looks. and i'm quite certain. that the fact that those languages are french or german mean that the looks are a little less. i'm not i'm certain in fact not quite certain. i am absolutely certain that if i were speaking to her in arabic the looks would be different. they might even they would certainly be longer. right. so this idea this like sort of flinching that we still have at a reminder of how much people are from elsewhere has not gone away. it's intensified precisely in the moment that we're talking about and in some ways the war legitimizes that reflex. well you have to because that neighbor of yours who speaks english with no accent also speaks german so, how can you know? right so we have an erasure of
german culture. this is when people start anglicizing or in the case of this part of the country scandinavianizing if that's even a real word their last names. so while people in minnesota are always like, oh i'm you know, we're scandinavian there were not enough scandinavian immigrants who were also all male and never had female children to account for all of this scandinavians here now, what happens is that a lot of people become swedish and become norwegian because it is no longer safe to be german. so hanson becomes or hans become hanson? right so we distance ourselves from our german culture. we hide those germans think songs that we sing in the home or at school many schools have
you know again a public performance of getting rid of degermaphate germification of their lives and their schools. children are asked to do this is probably one of my favorite pictures. the peach pit campaign children all around america are given yet again away that they can do their part and that is that they are to go around collecting peach pits. by the barrels and it says reduce the peach pits ground grind them into a charcoal powder, which could then be used in gas masks to filter the poison? so children and women who before had been a problem in the polity if they're out picketing for their their their suffrage or to have their communities go dry. that is a place that women shouldn't be in but since they're out of the house now, at least they could be put to work for the war effort and now it is
respectable to be out because you're collecting peach pits. it's for you're collecting food you're dating for people in need. you're doing your part your patriotic act. and so all around americans all around the country people were also told initially that they were collecting these peach pits so that they could send him to the allies so they could throw them at germans as though that alone against the howitzer was going to do the job, right? but again, give a children a job of collecting something and they'll themselves into the job. so this for me is a great image of how american not not americans everyone else saw the americans as janice faced having two faced right having two sides on the one hand. they're all for peace on earth goodwill towards men. but in actuality and without much effort they would also sell you. pedal war ammunition ammunition sales etc.
so back to the things that we do domestically we also have a peculiar inversion or rebirth of the clan. because of the war now the clan is not the worst of the white supremacist organizations operating at this time. there are for one thing a lot of them. some would say the clan is kind of like, you know, hollywood. right there you you have if you were to look at say time magazine in 1921 klansman were not ashamed to show to hide their face so ashamed that they would hide their faces they would in fact walk around very publicly with their whatever flaps thrown back because the war tells us in this worry about other people hiding amongst us the the clan gets rebranded or
sanitized as the defenders the domestic crusaders. right, they're looking out for all of those problem populations that we've talked about and so the clan starts this campaign called 100% americanism. they're the ones who will always be a hundred percent american they're the ones who will find those who aren't and in so doing an adopting this new kind of campaign. they play some critical distance between themselves and the kinds of violence that had been getting a lot of bad publicity for the united states that had in some instances though. not nearly enough got some americans thinking is this really who we want to be because stories about people who kill other citizens on mass tend to come from autocratic places like russia. in the ottoman empire and
domestically part of what we had to you know, how we kept an eye on our population and kept things stable so that we could stay neutral was to increase dramatically the amount of policing that we do of normal american citizens. it's just that it's okay now. because it we're looking for spies. we're looking for ways that germans will infiltrate american society. poison our wells ruin our crops dump bull weevil onto our cotton anything to undermine us right pay our neighbors to the south to go to war with us. and so one of the things that we see is an uptick in the policing of again those populations that we talked about initially. so this is especially true for african americans. they'll say the germans are swarming urban spaces where
african-americans live and whispering in their ears that they should riot against segregation now our good black people. i've never had a problem with segregation and there's no reason they would protest except that foreigners got ideas in their minds that arthur zimmerman that you guys all know about from the telegram had as early as 1914 been getting into the minds of african americans. the minds of latino americans and so we explain away the continued demand for fair civil rights by women by pick a constituency and you've got it. we explain it away as the work of our enemies. i forget which historian said in effect if you had a cold they said it was the work of a german right if you're if there was a problem a flood in your farm a german must have done it. it becomes the german becomes
the boogeyman for all things bad at this period and that's even before we get the story of the lusitania even before we get any number of you know, the explosion at black tom in, new jersey. jersey new york, they're so close to each other at that point. i actually it might have been new york, but it was felt in new jersey. so two sides of the same coin. so this is a period then of high paranoia. and where do we see that already? in europe just before june of 1914 and gavilo princips decision to shoot the archduke. so conditions are not in fact that different in the united states, but some of the things that keep us from being swept up. are not necessarily i want you to remember a deep commitment to isolation because we're going out all over the place, right but in part that atlantic ocean is a cushion that we bank on.
making sure that we keep the caribbean lake. free of those european presences is another way that we then put up those borders put up those barriers. and we lean on that navy to keep those other ships out of the way. so this is why we're going to have an intensification of immigration laws. right. this is why it's not enough to say we don't want catholics to come. we have to actually look at catholics really closely inspect them thoroughly in order to ensure that they aren't also concealing other ways of being defectives. so people are always surprised that the amount of time that border inspectors will once we get these new laws on the other side of the war how much they'll spend like measuring the distance between your eyes. the size of your ears the
curvature of a man's -- the length of their legs their limbs etc. because we're always looking out. for something that could ultimately take us out from the inside. now internationally and will end there. what did it look like for the united states? well, the us spends the first part of the war and woodrow wilson in particular trying to sell the notion that the americans are peacemakers right their brokers. so on occasion when the germans are saying you know what? maybe we should end this fight before it gets any worse. they reach out to the pope and they reach out to the woodrow wilson to broker a piece. this i remind you as they continue to sell on both sides. the us will be the nation that patrols or polices. spaces overseas especially where americans or american interests
exist so that will be mexico. that will be the caribbean. that will continue to be the philippines. if you remember. well, you should come on the 29th of october remembering that in 1914 when world war one is raging in europe. the us is also at war in two locations. mexico and where would the second place be? the philippines they'll never say that they won't call it a war. they'll call them expeditions. right missions, but they are nonetheless at war. they'll call for more borders. they'll call for more more ways of keeping people out where we had had few of those ways before. and in so doing they will spend a lot of time countering
accusations that the united states is in fact, not all that different and certainly not better than europeans. if only if one needs only to look at native americans and african-americans in the kinds of violence atrocities that we're having reported back from mexico. so some those opposed to americans joining the war will say i'm not that concerned about making belgium safe, but i'm very much invested in making georgia safe. making new mexico safe. making the shop floor safe in chicago. i'll go to war for that. but i don't actually and not sure how what's happening? to belgium of all places one of the worst countries at the time why that is a reason that i should stop making my money. stop expanding into the caribbean stop. raising cotton so we need a
compelling reason to stop. the tremendous economic boom that we are experiencing, especially in those first 18 months of the war, and i'm sorry to tell you. i'm sorry to give the lie to what your high school teachers told you but the lusitania was not reason enough. right and by this point, i think it was wrong who brought up. that the battle of tannenberg alone had roughly how many 250,000 on the other side but in a week roughly a week. 10 days so when we have that number there that number on the western front. we're about to have that kind of number in the middle east. a couple of thousand you know almost 2,000 people. dying at sea would barely have made the news had it happened to anyone else but the americans
but the british understood that by 1915 logic didn't work. morals didn't work. appeals at saving your ancestors the british didn't work. so maybe having the americans bleed a little bit might work. eric larson has a book about the lusitania. it's alright. it's a bestseller. you know, i'm glad i read it but as a historian it has slightly different ways of doing things than we might but one of the things that he alleges in his book. is that churchill had claimed that what we needed to get the americans off. the sidelines was a proper calamity. and he he argues that the british knew that the germans. had not only i mean everybody knew the germans had warned the americans not to get on that ship the americans did. so anyway. but churchill he larson claims
that churchill knew exactly where the sub was and said nothing because it was a small cost to pay to lose 2000 lives to get the americans finally involved and still it did not so on that fine note i shall end on thursday. we'll talk about what neutrality was like for the other european countries. so you might want to come in with a knowing what those countries are and having their names listed on your notes preemptively because we'll have to move quickly through that and that will be on the midterm. um any before we go? about the lecture not mechanics with our class because now we have time to move around with a mic if you want. it's so weird. you guys are so quiet. i'm not used to it being this way. but thank you for making that easier. yes, we're coming down. how was it so easy for the us to do business with both the
germans and with the british and french wouldn't they have blockaded? goods going to germany initially. no, but certainly by 1915, but there isn't necessarily a blockade initially because language of a blockade would not have worked for the british either right? do you see what i mean? kind of because the british needed goods just as much so they can't say hey neutral argentina. you can't sell to the germans. we need a good reason not to sell to the germans, which is argentina. they're shooting down your ships, too. you're losing money, too, because the ship that they just sunk. all those horses that you sold to the americans you're never going to see that money. so our british blockade is really a protection of all of you not just our british interests, and so a lot of the products float on neutral ships like dutch norwegian and swedish ships. and the germans will say it's
not fertilizer. it's just bird poop. i need it for my garden. but in actuality we know that it can be used for any number of things. yep, good question. back over here my question is what were we? just buying time to pick sides. with our neutrality or was it a matter of we saw benefit to us to stay neutral as and and then why did we eventually pick excellent question. so i think that there's never just one answer right? there's a substantial population in the united states that are who are pacifists who do not want to be at a war. it doesn't matter if it's with canada or if it's with germany and that voice while demonized as an american and unpatriotic at this time, right is nonetheless powerful and that voice is diverse because it works for german americans to be a part of that pacifist voice even if they're not deeply
wedded to passivism itself because we still were aware that it is nonetheless my brother who lives over there my cousin who lives over there. i think that americans had their hands full with their own lives. and the main arguments for going to war, you know a violation of imperial lines did not apply to americans. do you see what i mean? but at the same time americans are trying to promote this moral stance about war and people in europe say i call --. which you might have to burp leap out, but but that's what they do. they say you're not any better than us. look at let's ask a filipino what they think let's ask a mexican. let's ask an african american. let's ask a woman. and so you can decide that you're selling to both sides, but call it what it is. it's good for your economy. it's not because you have a
moral stance about making sure that the the central powers can fight as fairly in battle as the british if that were truly the case there would not be such a huge disparity between who you sell and what you sell to each side. so we'll talk about what ultimately tips the americans into battle in a few like next month. but i can say that it comes back to the economy. there's a question over here and over here and then if we have time peter, we probably might i might have time for just one more question because we do have to get out of the room. can you talk a little bit about the like american volunteers before the us actually gets efficiently involved great question. so a lot of americans served in the war in other countries before the us goes into war formally in 1917. and some were americans who had
already been living in europe for some time many came from ivy league schools and felt either they were you know, franco files or anglophiles or germanophiles sometimes and felt that they were fighting for that honor that we've been talking about ideals but plenty plenty plenty more simply over the canadian border. signed up they were tall enough and had enough teeth. and signed up because that $1 a day wage was a correction to unemployment, especially in the great lakes area. many african americans in fact 30 to 40 percent of the black soldiers in canada were actually african americans who are like, yeah. i'm not afraid of the kaiser. or the western front but i am very much afraid of the lynching posse. that just came through my town. so i'm out.
and i was going to move to canada anyway. and i'm going to prove to you canada how much i'm a fantastic new citizen. by fighting in your army from the very beginning. so once the us joins the war in 1917 it tries to get those other people to come back and fight on the american side and some say no. thank you. right, but yes americans did fight in all of the other belligerent camps including in for germany and for austria-hungary because they were there there or they were from there. okay. thank you very much. folks. have a good rest of the day. i'll see you thursday. join us next weekend for more lectures in history with iowa state university professor carmen bain who teaches a class on women's work on family farms
during the 20th century. american history tv brings you historical perspectives on current affairs and events next a look at some history in the news. once during the heady days of the moscow summit nancy and i decided to break off from the entourage one afternoon to visit the shops on arbat street. that's a little street just off. moscow's main shopping area. even though our visit was a surprise. every russian there immediately recognized us and called out our names and reached for our hands. we were just about swept away by the warmth. you could almost feel the possibilities in all that joy. but within seconds a kgb detail pushed their way toward us and began pushing and shoving the people in the crowd. it was an interesting moment. it reminded me that while a man in the street in the soviet union yearns for peace. the government is communist. and those who run it are
communists and that means we and they view such issues as freedom and human rights. very differently. we must keep up our guard. but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust. my view is the president gorbachev is different from previous soviet leaders. i think he knows some of the things wrong with his society and is trying to fix them. we wish him well. and we'll continue to work to make sure that the soviet union that eventually emerges from this process. is a less threatening. but it all boils down to is this. i want the new closeness to continue. and it will as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. even when they don't that first pull your punches. if they persist. pull the plug.
still trust but verify still play but cut the cards. still watch closely. and don't be afraid to see what you see. follow us at c-span history for more history in the news. greetings from the national archives flagship building in washington dc which sits on the ancestral lands of the nokache tank peoples. i'm david ferio archivist of the united states as a pleasure to welcome you to today's conversation with kevin boyle and suzanne e smith about boyle's new book the shattering before we begin i'd like to tell you about two programs coming up soon on our youtube channel. on wednesday, january 26th at 1 pm. david mckean will tell us about his new book watching darkness fall which recounts the rise of the third reich in germany and the road to war from the perspective of four american ambassadors in key western european capitals, london berlin rome paris and mosco