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Aired July 3, 2018

The Great War

A nation comes of age.

Film Description

"" -- The New York Times

"" -- The Wall Street Journal

"" -- TV Guide

Drawing on unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, The Great War tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.” The series explores the experiences of African-American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native American “code talkers” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten. The Great War explores how a brilliant PR man bolstered support for the war in a country hesitant to put lives on the line for a foreign conflict; how President Woodrow Wilson steered the nation through years of neutrality, only to reluctantly lead America into the bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen, thereby transforming the United States into a dominant player on the international stage; and how the ardent patriotism and determination to support America’s crusade for liberty abroad led to one of the most oppressive crackdowns on civil liberties at home in U.S. history. It is a story of heroism and sacrifice that would ultimately claim 15 million lives and profoundly change the world forever.

Credits

Part 1

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Edited By
Jon Neuburger And
Merril Stern

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrated By
Oliver for 1 last update 2020/06/07 PlattNarrated By
Oliver Platt

Produced By
Amanda Pollak

Written and Directed By
Stephen Ives

Series Producers
Stephen Ives
Amanda Pollak

Original Music By
Peter Rundquist
Tom Phillips

Co-Producer
Gene Tempest

Archival Producer
Lizzy McGlynn

Coordinating Producer
Nazenet Habtezghi

Post Production Supervisor
Bobby Johnson

Researchers
Eric G. Cotton
Kevina Tidwell

Production Associates
Lillie Fleshler
Julie Hurd

Voices
Jennifer Lee Andrews
Blythe Danner
Brandon J. Dirden
Josh Hamilton
Eric Loscheider
Campbell Scott

Voices Casting
Paul Fouquet, C.S.A./Elissa Meyers, C.S.A

Casting Associate
Karie Koppel

Cinematography
Buddy Squires, ASC
Andrew Young
Laurent Chalet, AFC
Michael Chin
Peter Nelson
Jack Burton
Cyrille Blanc

Field Producers
Maya Lussier-Séguin
Lucy Fauveau

Sound Recording
Mark Mandler
John Zecca
Alan Barker
Ned Hards
Baptiste Charvet

Assistant Camera
Jared Ames
Evan Kodani
Jason Lord-Castle
Guilhem Touzery
Kevin Walter

Additional Cinematography
Hérik Meyer
Olivier Mercier

Data Management
Léonard Rollin

Advisors
Christopher the 1 last update 2020/06/07 Capozzola
Edward A. Gutiérrez
Kimberly Jensen
Jennifer D. Keene
David M. Kennedy
Michael Neiberg
Chad Williams
Jay WinterAdvisors
Christopher Capozzola
Edward A. Gutiérrez
Kimberly Jensen
Jennifer D. Keene
David M. Kennedy
Michael Neiberg
Chad Williams
Jay Winter

Production Controller
Justin Baron

Lead Animator and Graphic Designer
Michael Dominic

Assistant Animator
Hank Muller

Associate Editor
Brittany Kaplan

Assistant Editors
Connor J. Culhane
Michael Pickett
Eric G. Cotton
Hannah Edizel
Anne L. Allen
Sergio Noriega

Additional Research
Katie Ebner-Landy
Joy Conley
Jenny Fichman
Katya Ungerman

Production Assistants
Brian Cunningham
Rives Elliot
Adam Finchler
Drake Roy
Pablo Vivas
Leroy Farrel
Romain Grandjean

Color Grading
Out of The Blue NY

Online Facility
Just Add Water

Davinci Resolve Colorist
Scott Burch

Online Editor
Rob Cabana

Post Producer
Steve Bodner

Additional Online Editing
Blerti Murataj

Sound By
701 Sound

Sound Effects Editor
Ira Spiegel

Dialogue Editor
Marlena Grzaslewicz

Additional Dialogue Editor
Matt Rigby

Mixing Facility
Sync the 1 last update 2020/06/07 Sound, Inc.Mixing Facility
Sync Sound, Inc.

Re-Recording Mixer
Ken the 1 last update 2020/06/07 HahnRe-Recording Mixer
Ken Hahn

Additional Sound Effects
Tony Pipitone

Musicians
Jodi Hagen, Violin
Donna Jerome, Viola
Michael Curry, Cello
Ian Greitzer, Clarinet
Andrew Price, Oboe
Kathleen Boyd, Flute
Andrew Borkowski, Cello
Scott Moore, Violin, Viola
Sangwon Lee, Clarinet
Thomas Wibble, Flute
Peter Rundquist, Guitars, Piano, and All Other Instruments
Tom Phillips, Piano And All Other Instruments

Recording Studio
City Vox

Narration and Voice Over Recording
Lou Verrico

Additional Voice Over Recording
Robin Hood Radio (WHDD AM/FM), Sharon, CT

Technical Assistance
Soho Post Office

Interns
Sarah Marie Ampil
Grace Brewster
Nicholas Brewster
Nick Covell
Cally Simmons-Edler
Stefan Hueneke
Bailey Johnson
Alistair Jones
Andriana Kahealani
Chris Messier
George Monard
Amelia Nierenberg
Caroline Nikchevich
Katherine O''Connell
Colleen O’Shea
Clare Redden
Emmanuel Rodriguez
Clare Stukel

Archival Materials Courtesy of
16th Infantry Regiment Association
Agentur Karl Höffkes
Alamy
Price Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
Anaheim Public Library
AP Images
Arkansas State Archives
Auburn University Libraries Special Collections & Archives Department
Australian War Memorial
Bibliothèque Nationale De France
Brett Butterworth
L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University
British Pathé
Brooklyn Public Library—Brooklyn Collection
The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, New York
Bundesarchiv/Transit Film GMBH
Canadian War Museum
Card Cow
California Historical Society
American Catholic History Research Center And Archives, The Catholic University Of America
Chicago Daily News Negatives Collection, Chicago History Museum
Chicago Tribune, © 1919
City Archives of Bruges - Collection Brusselle-Traen
Dudley Photograph Collection, Connecticut State Library
Critical Past
National Automotive History, Detroit Public Library
Établissement De Communication Et De Production Audiovisuelle De La Défense/Alfred Machin/Albert Moreau/Albane Brunel, Véronique Goloubinoff, Joséphine Kloeckner, Pascal Roussel/Lucien Le Saint/Albert Samana-Chikli/Jacques Agié/Maurice Boulay/Jacques Ridel/Léon Desserteaux
Fulton History
Gaumont Pathé
George Roland
Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection
Getty Images
Glen Cove Library
Glenbow Archives
The Granger Collection, New York
Harvard University Archives
Historic Films
History San José
Howard University Archives / Dr. Reid Badger
The Image Works
Imperial War Museum
Indiana Historical Society; Martin Collection
Indiana State University Special Collections
Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University
The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC / IMS Productions
The Indianapolis Star
Clarence Bruce Santee/International Center of Photography, Gift of Daniel Cowin
International Committee of The Red Cross Archives
Lewis Reed, Courtesy Jeanne Gartner
John E. Allen Archives
Jonathan Spence
Liberty State Park, NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Library and Archives Canada
Library of Congress
London School of Economics Library Collection
Los Angeles Public Library
Lynn County Public Library
Collections of Maine Historical Society
Maryland Historical Society
Michael Lewis
Minnesota Historical Society
Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Museum of The City of New York
National Archives and Records Administration
Nassau County Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Museums, Photo Archives Center
National Library of Ireland
National Library of Scotland
National Museum of Health And Medicine
National Museum of The U.S. Air Force
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
National World War I Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, MO U.S.A.
Naval History and Heritage Command
Palace of The Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA)
New-York Historical Society
New York Public Library
Nyack Library
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
Oddball Films
Research Division of The Oklahoma Historical Society
Old NYC Photos
Old Trails Museum/Winslow Historical Society
Onondaga County Public Library, Local History/Genealogy
Pat Rowe, Courtesy Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Peter Crosby
Photofest, Inc.
Piere Arcq Collection
Sammlung Eybl, Plakatmuseum Wien
Pond5
Pop Laval Foundation
Prints Old and Rare
Producers Library
Reuters
Rich McErlean
Russel Wolfe Jr.
Santa Clara Arts & Historical Consortium
Schenectady County Historical Society
Photo By Franklin F. Hopper, Schomburg Center
Service Historique De La Défense
Sewall-Belmount House And Museum
Shorpy
Shutterstock
Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum
Degolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
Nationaal Archief/Collectie Spaarnestad/Het Leven/Fotograaf Onbekend
Collection of James Crocker, Spartanburg County Public Libraries
State Historical Society of Missouri
Steve Wartik
Streamline Films
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Tennessee State Library And Archives
UCLA Special Collections
U.S. Marine Corps Archive
United States Army Heritage Command
Special Collections And Archives, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries
University of Louisville
Special Collections Dept., University of Nevada, Reno
Special Collections and University Archives at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Irvin Department Of Rare Books And Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, S.C.
University of Southern California Digital Library
University of Texas Center For American History
Utah State Historical Society
Villanova University/Joseph McGarrity Collection
Virginia Military Institute Archives
Washington And Lee University, Special Collections And Archives, James G. Leyburn Library
Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor And Urban Affairs, Wayne State University
Wisconsin Historical Society
Woodrow Wilson Museum And Presidential Library, Stanton VA
WPA Film Archives
Beinecke Library, Yale University

Film Transfers
TK One Ltd.
Video & Film Solutions
Metropolis Post
Nuray Digital

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Music
"" by The American Quartet
"" by Bill Murray
Courtesy of Smith & Co.

""
Performed by Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Courtesy of Words & Music, a division of Big Deal Music, LLC

"" and ""
As performed by James Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters

Special Thanks
Serge Avery
Ashley Kehrig
Jane Conway
Robert Laplander
Texas Military Forces Museum
Paul Mateyunas
Tom Baldwin
Paul Infranco
Carol Stern
Joan Harrison
Paul & Robert Pennoyer
Brown County Historical Society Archives
William J. Layer
Chuck Hess & Charley Roberts
Debra Keck
Thomas Grillot
Peter N. Nelson
Julia C. Ott
David Traxel
Steven Trout

Original Funding For This Program Was Provided By
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Corporation For Public Broadcasting
The Documentary Investment Group:
Gretchen Stone Cook Charitable Foundation
Marjie And Robert Kargman

For American Experience

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Post Production Editor
Paul Sanni

Assistant Editor
Lauren Noyes

Business Manager
Mary Sullivan

Senior Contracts & Rights Manager
Susana Fernandes

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Development Producer
Charlotte Porter

Administrative Coordinator
Kyla Ryan

Legal
Jay Fialkov
Janice Flood

Director Of Audience Development
Carrie Phillips

Marketing Manager
Chika Offurum

Audience Engagement the 1 last update 2020/06/07 Editor
Katharine Duffy TarvainenAudience Engagement Editor
Katharine Duffy Tarvainen

Historian In Residence
Gene Tempest

Digital
Cori Brosnahan
Eric Gulliver
Tsering Yangzom

Publicity
Mary Lugo
Cara White

Series Theme
Joel Goodman

Managing Editor, Digital Content
Lauren Prestileo

Coordinating Producer
Nancy Sherman

Series Producer
Vanessa Ruiz

Senior Producer
Susan Bellows

Executive Producer
Mark Samels

An Insignia Films for 1 last update 2020/06/07 Production For American ExperienceAn Insignia Films Production For American Experience

American Experience Is A Production Of WGBH, Which Is Solely Responsible For Its Content.

© 2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
All Rights Reserved.

Part 3

Edited for 1 last update 2020/06/07 By
R.A. FeddeEdited By
R.A. Fedde

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrated By
Oliver Platt

Written and Directed By
Rob Rapley

Series Producers
Stephen Ives
Amanda the 1 last update 2020/06/07 PollakSeries Producers
Stephen Ives
Amanda Pollak

Original Music By
Peter Rundquist
Tom Phillips

Co-Producer
Gene Tempest

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Archival for 1 last update 07 Jun 2020 Producer
Lizzy McGlynnArchival Producer
Lizzy McGlynn

Coordinating Producer
Nazenet Habtezghi

Post Production Supervisor
Bobby Johnson

Researchers
Eric G. Cotton
Kevina Tidwell

Production Associates
Lillie Fleshler
Julie Hurd

Voices
Christopher Gorham
Josh for 1 last update 2020/06/07 HamiltonVoices
Christopher Gorham
Josh Hamilton

Voices Casting
Paul Fouquet, C.S.A./Elissa Meyers, C.S.A

Casting Associate
Karie Koppel

Cinematography
Buddy Squires, ASC
Andrew Young
Laurent Chalet, AFC
Michael Chin
Peter Nelson
Jack Burton
Cyrille Blanc

Field Producers
Maya Lussier-Séguin
Lucy Fauveau

Sound Recording
Mark Mandler
John Zecca
Alan Barker
Ned Hards
Baptiste Charvet

Assistant Camera
Jared Ames
Evan Kodani
Jason Lord-Castle
Guilhem Touzery
Kevin Walter

Additional Cinematography
Hérik Meyer
Olivier Mercier

Data Management
Léonard Rollin

Advisors
Christopher Capozzola
Edward A. Gutiérrez
Kimberly Jensen
Jennifer D. Keene
David M. Kennedy
Michael Neiberg
Chad Williams
Jay Winter

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Production Controller
Justin Baron

Lead Animator and Graphic Designer
Michael Dominic

Assistant Animator
Hank Muller

Associate Editor
Brittany Kaplan

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Assistant Editors
Connor J. Culhane
Michael for 1 last update 2020/06/07 Pickett
Eric G. Cotton
Hannah Edizel
Anne L. Allen
Sergio NoriegaAssistant Editors
Connor J. Culhane
Michael Pickett
Eric G. Cotton
Hannah Edizel
Anne L. Allen
Sergio Noriega

Additional Research
Katie Ebner-Landy
Joy Conley
Jenny Fichman
Katya Ungerman

Production Assistants
Brian Cunningham
Rives Elliot
Adam Finchler
Drake Roy
Pablo Vivas
Leroy Farrel
Romain Grandjean

Color Grading
Out of The Blue NY

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Online Facility
Just the 1 last update 2020/06/07 Add WaterOnline Facility
Just Add Water

Davinci Resolve Colorist
Scott Burch

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Online Editor
Rob Cabana

Post Producer
Steve Bodner

Additional Online Editing
Blerti Murataj

Sound By
701 the 1 last update 2020/06/07 SoundSound By
701 Sound

Sound Effects Editor
Ira Spiegel

Dialogue Editor
Marlena Grzaslewicz

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Additional Dialogue Editor
Matt Rigby

Mixing Facility
Sync Sound, Inc.

Re-Recording Mixer
Ken Hahn

Additional Sound Effects
Tony Pipitone

Musicians
Jodi Hagen, Violin
Donna Jerome, Viola
Michael Curry, Cello
Ian Greitzer, Clarinet
Andrew Price, Oboe
Kathleen Boyd, Flute
Andrew Borkowski, Cello
Scott Moore, Violin, Viola
Sangwon Lee, Clarinet
Thomas Wibble, Flute
Peter Rundquist, Guitars, Piano, and All Other Instruments
Tom Phillips, Piano And All Other Instruments

Recording Studio
City Vox

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narration and Voice Over Recording
Lou Verrico

Additional Voice Over Recording
Margarita Mix, Hollywood, CA

Technical Assistance
Soho Post Office

Interns
Sarah Marie Ampil
Grace Brewster
Nicholas Brewster
Nick Covell
Cally Simmons-Edler
Stefan Hueneke
Bailey Johnson
Alistair Jones
Andriana Kahealani
Chris Messier
George Monard
Amelia Nierenberg
Caroline Nikchevich
Katherine O''t get much further forward. [But] each side is trying to get the advantage. And in that process, which goes on for two months, what they''s stalemate.

Narrator: The “Western Front”, as it was called, consisted of deep gashes in the mud, dug in a zig-zag pattern to protect against enemy attacks. The lines were separated by a blasted landscape of shell holes, barbed wire, and decaying corpses known as No Man’s Land. The new fortifications provided protection from the murderous carnage of open warfare. But efforts to break out of the stand-off still sent hundreds of thousands of casualties flooding into hospitals just behind the lines. One of the nurses that struggled to cope with the onslaught was an American heiress from Chicago named Mary Borden.

Voice: Mary Borden: . . . . the hospital looks like an American lumber town, a city of huts, and the guns beyond this hill sound like the waves of the sea, pounding — pounding — and the sky is a-whirr with aeroplanes, and, sometimes, we are bombarded, and all the time troops and troops and more troops stream past. All day and often all night I am at work over dying and mutilated men. There is such a tremendous inflow of wounded that I can’t often sit down from 7 a.m. to midnight. Impossible to tear one’s self away from the men who are crying for a drink, whose blood is dripping in pools on the floor

Narrator: Despite its horrors, Alan Seeger and his fellow volunteers could not get to the front fast enough.

Voice: Alan Seeger: Dear Mother: we are actually going at last to the firing line. By the time you receive this we shall already perhaps have had our baptism of fire . . . . How thrilling it will be tomorrow and the following days, marching toward the front with the noise of battle growing continually louder before us. . . . The whole regiment is going . . . about 4,000 men. You have no idea how beautiful it is to see the troops undulating along the road . . . as far as the eye can see.

Pacifism

Song:
I didn''s darling boy?          

Narrator: The most popular song in America in the spring of 1915 was “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.” 700,000 copies — on 78 r.p.m. records, and as sheet music — flew out of stores. It was sung in bars and dance-halls, in concerts, schools, and in for 1 last update 2020/06/07 homes all across the country.Narrator: The most popular song in America in the spring of 1915 was “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.” 700,000 copies — on 78 r.p.m. records, and as sheet music — flew out of stores. It was sung in bars and dance-halls, in concerts, schools, and in homes all across the country.

Richard Rubin, Writer: This was a time remember when in a city like New York, there were a great many daily newspapers being published. But an awful lot of the population didn’t read or didn’t read English. And they got their news from songs. You would go to your local saloon after work and there’d be somebody there playing a piano, singing a song about something that had just happened in the news. Songwriters would pick up a few newspapers on their way into the office in the morning. They would read stories and they would sit down and write a couple of songs about them before lunch. They’d be published by the end of the day and for sale on the street.

Song: Ten million soldiers to the war have gone,
Who may never return again.
Ten million mothers''d be no war today, if mothers all would say,
“I didn''s sake . . .” she wrote to a friend, “proclaim everywhere, and as publicly as possible . . .what it will mean to all that we Americans cherish if England and France go under.” In June, Wharton arrived in Dunkirk immediately after the town had been shelled by the Germans. The “freshness of the havoc seemed to accentuate its cruelty,” she wrote. The hospitals in Dunkirk were struggling to absorb the casualties from artillery, but they were also confronting the effects of a shocking new weapon that had just been introduced. A month before Wharton had arrived, not far from Dunkirk, French and Canadian troops had looked across No Man’s Land and seen a greenish haze drifting towards them. Soon the unsuspecting men were writhing in agony, choking to death as chlorine gas burned their throat and lungs. In a panic, the survivors abandoned their positions. More than a thousand soldiers were killed, most of them slowly drowning as their lungs filled with fluid.

Helen Zoe Veit, Historian: World War I used a combination of really traditional fighting techniques with all these brand new technologies that turned traditional battle into slaughter or things like poisonous gas which seemed like this insidious and unpredictable new weapon that just killed indiscriminately, that had nothing to do with individuals fighting each other and that was really just about mass death.

Dan Carlin, Podcast Producer: Gas was something that was a new horror. And for people that already thought that the Germans were evil personified, it just played in to those sorts of attitudes.

Richard Rubin, Writer: Gas in a way was as terrifying to people as the submarine. Gas could blind you, very quickly. It could make you cough up blood very quickly. It could break down your lungs very quickly.  

Dan Carlin, Podcast Producer: Eventually both sides would use gas. It would just be part of something that was a descent into 20th Century warfare. And so gruesome. And truthfully to take things to a level that had never been seen before.

Narrator: Edith Wharton wasn’t shy about telling the world what she thought of the German army’s tactics. “The ‘atrocities’ one hears of are true,” she wrote in a letter “I know of many, alas, too well authenticated. . . .  It should be known that it is to America’s interest to help stem this hideous flood of savagery by opinion if it may not be by action. No civilized race can remain neutral in feeling now.”

Andrew Carroll, Writer: Edith Wharton really wanted to create kind of a sympathetic character in the French people and in France itself and she was even accused by some of her fellow authors of being a propagandist. But she was writing in a way that I think she knew would have as powerful an effect as possible. I think she was changing the tide of how people viewed the war and whether America should at long last get involved. 

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Dan Carlin, Podcast Producer: The way that German atrocities were played up in the media helped create a good guy-bad guy scenario. This is the idea of the Germans as Huns, as destroyers, as barbarians.

Jay Winter, Historian: The moral depravity of German soldiers suggested a moral cause. It made it about the sons of light against the sons of darkness. It became a sacred bill of indictment against them for behavior of a kind that no one could justify.

The Poison of Disloyalty

Narrator: On the morning of July 3rd, 1915, an intruder holding two pistols barged into the Long Island mansion of America’s most powerful banker, J.P. Morgan, Jr. In the ensuing struggle, the attacker was subdued, but not until he wounded Morgan twice in the thigh. The gunman turned out to be a former German teacher at Harvard, who had set off a bomb at the U.S. Capitol the day before. Although no direct link to the German government was proven, the attack on Morgan appeared to be part of a larger effort by Germany to stop American support for the allies.  

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: If you sympathized with Germany then Morgan was your ultimate enemy. And because he was so powerful as an individual, it was actually possible to believe that assassinating him could actually stop the war. 

Narrator: As the conflict dragged on, the French and British had required larger and larger loans to keep themselves afloat. Morgan, a committed Anglophile, had been more than happy to oblige. He also served as a purchasing agent, helping to procure the millions of pounds of food and armaments the Allies required every month. President Wilson turned a blind eye to this financial lifeline to the Allies. Morgan would eventually secure a $500 million dollar line of credit for the French and British — the biggest foreign loan in Wall Street history.

Jay Winter, Historian: The war turned the United States into a creditor power, not a debtor power, for the first time in its history. That’s a big argument. We’re in the war and we have an economic interest to make sure that the allies win it. 

Dan Carlin, Podcast Producer: It’s not just the fact that the U.S. is loaning money to the allies, but that they’re spending it in the U.S. for stuff so all of a sudden hiring picks up, manufacturing picks up. Americans were working again, and nobody wanted to cut that off.

Richard Rubin, Writer: Our economic support for the allies started out at the very beginning of the war and quickly became a vicious cycle. Because we could only sell to the allies, they became our main market. Because the allies could only buy from us, they quickly became indebted to us. And so it was in our best interest to send them more armaments so that they could win the war. Great Britain during the war spent fully half of its war budget in the United States of America.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrator: The attack on J.P. Morgan drew attention to the nation’s largest ethnic group, German Americans.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: German for 1 last update 2020/06/07 cultural life was everywhere. There were German churches, German language newspapers. German was the most commonly studied foreign language in American high schools. What we now call classical music was German music, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms played by symphonies, sung by ordinary people in choirs and in churches. They were particularly visible in certain parts of the country, particularly the Midwest, [and] they wielded enormous political power in some cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee.Christopher Capozzola, Historian: German cultural life was everywhere. There were German churches, German language newspapers. German was the most commonly studied foreign language in American high schools. What we now call classical music was German music, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms played by symphonies, sung by ordinary people in choirs and in churches. They were particularly visible in certain parts of the country, particularly the Midwest, [and] they wielded enormous political power in some cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee.

Narrator: In response to what they saw as a hypocritical and blatantly one-sided neutrality policy, the National German-American Alliance — which boasted more than 2 million members and chapters in 44 states — held mass demonstrations calling for an arms embargo. Former Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan was their featured speaker. The American Women’s League for Strict Neutrality collected over one million signatures — written on a scroll more than 15 miles long — endorsing an “embargo on the things which kill.” While many of the nation’s leading magazines and newspapers clearly sided with the Allied cause, the German-American magazine The Fatherland promoted what it called “fair play for Germany and Austria-Hungary.” But the paper was fighting an uphill battle. In the first days of the war, the British had cut the transatlantic cables connecting America to the European continent. The only remaining cable was from London.  

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: Now this may not sound like much, but what it means is that all the news that Americans get about the European war is coming through Britain over British cables which means from the very beginning they’re getting one side of the story and so if there is one single event that the British do to guarantee that the Americans will not be really neutral, it’s that action. 

Narrator: Increasingly frustrated by the one-sidedness of American neutrality, the German government began to fight back. Only a month after Morgan’s close call, in New York, a German diplomat’s briefcase fell into the hands of American officials. They were shocked at what they found inside. The Germans were secretly supporting newspapers sympathetic to their side, paying corrupt union leaders to stage strikes, and setting up shadow companies to disrupt the munitions trade. They had even planned a coup in Mexico that would bring a pro-German strong-man to power. The raft of incriminating evidence revealed that Germany was willing to risk almost anything to undermine America’s support for the Allies. Sensational exposés in the American press fanned hysteria about German subversives. Soon, almost any accident or strange occurrence was attributed to Berlin. The mounting paranoia began to implicate German-Americans as well. Even the president took up the theme. In a speech to Congress in December 1915, Wilson warned that, “There are citizens of the United States . . . born under other flags . . . who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life. . . . Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out. . . . They are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once.”

Michael Neiberg, Historian: What Wilson is really trying to do is say, look, if you’re German, if you stand with us, you’re okay. But if your loyalties are on the side of the Europeans, then we have a problem.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: This is a criticism of political radicals, anarchists and others. But he frames it not as a political opposition, but an ethnic one, that these are ethnic outsiders, they’re immigrants, they’re not Americans. And by doing this he’s making it possible for Americans to see their immigrant neighbors as threats to national security. 

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrator: Eight months after Wilson’s speech, two fires broke out on the small island of Black Tom in New York Harbor. The island was a railroad yard and munitions depot where two million pounds of armaments, bound for the Allies, were being stored. The detonation shattered windows in downtown Manhattan, lodged shrapnel in the Statue of Liberty, and was heard as far away as Philadelphia. If it had been an earthquake, the blast would have measured 5.5 on the Richter scale. “I am sure . . . the country is honeycombed with German intrigue and infested with German spies,” Wilson wrote to one of his advisors, “the evidence of these things [is]  multiplying every day.""You have invited me to make myself the master of your life and heart,” the President wrote, “the rest is now as certain as that God made us.” “This is my pledge, Dearest One,” she replied. “No matter whether the wine be bitter or sweet we will share it together and find happiness in the comradeship.”

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for A. Scott Berg, Writer: Edith Galt had this incredibly tonic effect on the president. He came to life again. And it allowed him really to focus on his work with so much more ease. And he had somebody to share all this with. She knew part of the job of being Woodrow Wilson’s wife was to be a great promoter, was to be out there rooting for him and, and supporting him.

Narrator: With the nation so deeply divided, the for 1 last update 2020/06/07 presidential race remained close. In the end Wilson barely won a second term.Narrator: With the nation so deeply divided, the presidential race remained close. In the end Wilson barely won a second term.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: It’s a razor thin margin. Wilson really wins with a squeaking victory through a couple of western states, where if the vote had gone just slightly in the other direction, Charles Evans Hughes would have been president.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Jay Winter, Historian: The election of 1916 was in good part a referendum on the war and the Wilson balancing act of what I would call neutrality with a tilt. The idea that the country was not going to [make it its mission to end the war] was attractive. On the other hand, the notion that the United States had many interests in common with the allies, that makes sense.

Narrator: For the moment, Woodrow Wilson had held together the slender consensus that he was the best man to guide America through a dangerous world. Still, he sensed that his nation might not be able to remain on the sidelines forever. “We live in a world which we did not make, which we cannot alter, which we cannot think into a different condition from that which actually exists,” the president declared “It would be a hopeless piece of provincialism to suppose that, because we think differently from the rest of the world, we are at liberty to assume that the rest of the world will permit us to enjoy that thought without disturbance.”

Volunteers Part Three: Seeger

Narrator: As the bloody year 1916 drew to a close, Americans were transfixed by the scale of the suffering that had been unleashed on the European continent. Two epic battles, at Verdun and along the river Somme, had raged on and on. When they were over, the strategic balance of the war remained virtually unchanged.

Jay Winter, Historian: The battle of the Somme, [was] Britain’s attempt to break through the German lines in the north of France by sheer industrial power. It’s the first battle in history with one million casualties. But I do believe that the two battles changed the meaning of the word battle. They were so big that they crossed the threshold of suffering.

Alan Axelrod, Writer: The war became a war of attrition such as the world has never seen. It became a war of two powers annihilating one another. How do you understand that? How do you write about that? How do you explain that? How do you do anything but recoil in horror from that because it makes no sense? As one young French lieutenant said at the battle of Verdun, humanity must be mad to do what it’s doing. And it’s true, what other answer was there?

Narrator: At a hospital near the Somme battlefield, the American nurse Mary Borden often met the procession of ambulances and their cargo of grievously wounded soldiers.

Voice: Mary Borden: There are no men here, so why should I be a woman? There are chests with holes as big as your fist, and pulpy thighs, shapeless; and stumps where legs once were fastened. There are eyes — eyes of sick dogs, sick cats, blind eyes, eyes of delirium; and mouths that cannot articulate; and parts of faces — the nose gone, or the jaw. There are these things, but no men; so how could I be a woman here and not die of it? Sometimes, suddenly, all in an instant, a man looks up at me from the shambles, a man''t want to fight this war and you''t call it conscription and he doesn''s one short step for him thinking that he should fight for his rights at home.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrator: Although millions registered, not everyone agreed to serve in the new American Army. On his draft card under the question “Do you claim exemption from draft?” Alvin C. York wrote, “Yes, don’t want to fight.” Another man was even more direct, asserting that war was “murder.” In the end, 64,000 men claimed exemptions as conscientious objectors. More than three million others, known as slackers, evaded the call to arms altogether. The resistance did nothing to stop the Wilson administration’s plans. On July 20th, a crowd of dignitaries and journalists filled a hearing room in the Senate Office Building. As the newsreel cameras rolled, the first draft of the Great War began. By the end of day, more than 680,000 men had been selected. 

Edward A. Gutiérrez, Historian: The composition of draftees is as mixed as America. Poles, Scandinavians, Germans. There are African-American soldiers, Native American soldiers, Latino soldiers. There are Mexican-Americans from New Mexico and Texas — Tejanos — and, also, Puerto Ricans.

Narrator: José de la for 1 last update 2020/06/07 Luz Sáenz, a schoolteacher from Realitos, Texas, was not called up in the first round of the draft, but he tried to enlist anyway.Narrator: José de la Luz Sáenz, a schoolteacher from Realitos, Texas, was not called up in the first round of the draft, but he tried to enlist anyway.

Voice: José de la Luz Sáenz: I was hungry for adventure and accustomed to hard times. I welcomed anything…I knew that in the midst of the ruinous world war it was necessary to show everyone that I was a true representative of our people.

Narrator: John Lewis Barkley was told to report to Camp Funston, in northeastern Kansas.

Voice: John Lewis Barkley: I didn’t have many good-bys [sic] to say. There were my dogs, and my old horse (Charley), and my family, and a girl . . . Just before leaving for camp I got really engaged to my girl, with a ring and everything . . . It was the most important thing that had ever happened to me. Except getting in the army.

Narrator: In the face of determined opposition, Woodrow Wilson had succeeded in laying the groundwork for the biggest armed force the United States had ever seen. And yet, Wilson knew that millions of men in uniform alone would not be enough to bring America’s power to bear on the conflict. “It is not an army that we must shape and train for war,” he proclaimed, “It is a nation.”

Selling the War

Song:
“Let’s All Be Americans Now”
Now is the time,
to fall in line;
You swore that you would,
so be true to your vow:
Let’s all be Americans now!

Narrator: Not since the arrival of the Ringling Brothers Circus could New Yorkers remember so many elephants marching down Fifth Avenue. They were part of a huge rally to sell Liberty Bonds, an innovation created to get the American public to not only support the war, but to invest in it too. In charge of selling these new bonds was George Creel, and his Committee on Public Information.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: Liberty Bond drives opened up a fire-hose of propaganda. The CPI mobilized movie stars for the Liberty Loan message. Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, all of the greatest stars of their day. Celebrity culture is just starting to emerge, and they can turn out crowds, and those crowds then become some of the biggest rallies that you see on the home front during the war.

Narrator: Hollywood studios were also happy to help, staging one of their war pictures in New York’s Van Cortlandt Park. Theaters across the country showed films like “The Kaiser: The Beast of Berlin,” “The Prussian Cur,” and “The Claws of the Hun.” Creel even found a way to push his message when the movie screens were dark.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: In between every reel of film, there was a four-minute break when the projectionist had to change the reels. Somewhere along the way, someone at the CPI hit on the idea that this was a perfectly captive audience for the delivery of the war message.

Narrator: Night after night, prominent members of the local community would stand up and deliver short patriotic speeches. They became known as the “Four-Minute Men,” and what began in movie theaters quickly spread to any venue where an audience assembled. In New York, Creel’s volunteer army addressed half a million people each week. Ten men gave talks in Yiddish, seven in Italian. President Wilson himself gave a Four-Minute speech.

A. Scott Berg, Writer: These four-minute men would give a talk on some aspect of Americanism — why we are fighting, what are the principles we’re fighting for?

Narrator: The appearance of spontaneity masked a carefully scripted government message.  “These were no haphazard talks by nondescripts,” Creel insisted, “but the careful, studied, and rehearsed efforts of the best men in each community, each speech aimed as a rifle is aimed, and driving to its mark with the precision of a bullet.”

Alan Axelrod, Writer: They were guided by a central authority, but always in the own words of the individual giving the speech and he was usually a person who was known in the community. He was not saying this is what the government says. He was saying I’m an intelligent person, successful person, this is what I think, you should think this way too.

Jennifer D. Keene, Historian: The federal government figures out ways to come to you. Want to watch a movie? Up pops a Four-Minute Man to give you a little speech about the war. Go to the county fair? As you’re walking in, somebody comes up to you, “Would you like to subscribe to war bond?” Go to work, you’re going to have to agree to donate a portion of your paycheck to buying a war stamp. There are a myriad of ways in which the federal government inserts this propaganda into your daily life. It’s impossible to escape from it.

Camp Upton

Narrator: The success of the first round of the draft presented the Wilson administration with a problem. They had nowhere to put their new soldiers. In the summer of 1917, the government embarked on a crash program to build sixteen Army compounds that would accommodate up to a half million draftees from every corner of the country. Camp Funston was carved out of a meadow in just five months. It encompassed 3,000 buildings sprawling over 2,000 acres, mostly two-story barracks, but also a library, hospitals, an arcade filled with stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and the biggest pool hall in the state of Kansas. John Barkley and his fellow recruits had little time to enjoy the amenities.

Voice: John Lewis Barkley: Camp Funston was a dismal place . . . They started us out at once on close order drill and calisthenics, and they gave it to us on a fourteen-hour-a-day for 1 last update 2020/06/07 schedule . . . I didn’t mind the drilling half as much as I did the monotony.Voice: John Lewis Barkley: Camp Funston was a dismal place . . . They started us out at once on close order drill and calisthenics, and they gave it to us on a fourteen-hour-a-day schedule . . . I didn’t mind the drilling half as much as I did the monotony.

Narrator: Barkley found himself surrounded by a babel of strange accents, exotic languages, and alien customs.

Voice: John Lewis Barkley: The bunks were only a few inches apart, and there was a Mexican in the one next to mine. He was pretty sick, but he never complained, and I got to like him.

Edward A. Gutiérrez, Historian: While the army is segregated for African Americans, Native Americans and Mexican Americans are still seen as white. So they’re included with the rest of the white soldiers.

Richard Rubin, Writer: Before this time most Americans associated only with people who were just like them in terms of background. But all of a sudden you’ve got this National Army and people don’t have the luxury or the liberty of sticking to their own kind anymore.

Narrator: No place typified the teeming diversity of the new army like Camp Upton on Long Island. It received thousands of men from what was known as the Metropolitan Division, all drawn from the streets of New York.

Richard Slotkin, Historian: It’s also called the Melting Pot division, Statue of Liberty division, it’s said that the enlisted men speak 42 different languages not counting English.

Narrator: The officers came from the city’s upper class, including Wall Street lawyers, prominent businessmen, and members of the political elite.

Richard Slotkin, Historian: These guys are dealing with the ghetto rats, the Italians from Little Italy, the Jewish tailors and pants pressers from the Lower East Side, the Chinese from Chinatown and they’re supposed to not only make them into soldiers, they’re supposed to make them Americans.

Narrator: In the decades leading up to the Great War, as many as 23 million immigrants had poured into the United States.  By 1917, a third of Americans had been born in a foreign land, or had a parent who had emigrated from abroad.

David M. Kennedy, Historian: This was a moment of massive immigration in our society and there were lots of questions in the air about just how well could this society absorb immigrants on this scale. Some people saw mobilization for the war as a way to accelerate their assimilation.

Narrator: “This process will be going on for weeks,” The New York Sun declared, “[and] Uncle Sam . . . will have accomplished the biggest part of [his] task . . . welding a great national army from . . . this tremendous melting pot at Camp Upton.”

David M. Kennedy, Historian: Some of the officers used to say that a shared military service, sharing the same pup tent, would yank the hyphen out of all these immigrant communities. That was the phrase that they used. So they would no longer be Italian-Americans or Polish-Americans, they’d just be plain old Americans.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrator: “This will be the greatest army of them all,” The Sun boasted, “Millionaires bunk next to lads from the East Side, and they both like it and men who were earning $25,000 a year on Wall Street lock arms with boys who used to make their 18 a week, and sing their hearts out. Tell me they won’t make soldiers! Just watch ’em.”

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: If you look at the American army in 1917, you see young men from all these different countries around the world, [including] immigrants from the countries against which the United States is now fighting. For many during the war the hyphen became the real enemy, it was the sign of divided loyalties and the sign of an obstacle to American national unity. The real challenge, of course, is for people whose ancestors came from Germany.

Narrator: Immediately after the US had declared war, local governments, civic organizations, and even ordinary citizens began an attack on German Americans and their culture.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: There are children who are instructed by their teachers to cut German songs out of the music books that they use in their classrooms. There is a public stein-breaking fest at one point, to keep people from drinking German beer. There’s even, in one town in Ohio, a really gruesome slaughter of German dog breeds. But it’s important not to let these ridiculous stories overshadow what is really a wholesale destruction of an ethnic culture in the United States.

Richard Rubin, Writer: Germans were pressured to stop playing German music, to stop going to German plays. And when I say Germans, I mean German-Americans whose ancestors might have been in this country since before the revolution.

Narrator: The anti-German hysteria even extended to the federal government. The CPI published an article with tips on how to identify people who were pro-German. The president issued a decree that made any German living in the United States register as an “enemy alien.” Almost 500,000 men and women were for 1 last update 2020/06/07 photographed, fingerprinted, and interrogated about their loyalty to the United States. The program was administered by a 22-year old member of the Department of Justice, J. Edgar Hoover. By the fall, a new series of camps capable of housing thousands of people had sprung up — in Utah, Georgia and North Carolina — not to train new recruits but to imprison anyone that the government considered a threat to its security.Narrator: The anti-German hysteria even extended to the federal government. The CPI published an article with tips on how to identify people who were pro-German. The president issued a decree that made any German living in the United States register as an “enemy alien.” Almost 500,000 men and women were photographed, fingerprinted, and interrogated about their loyalty to the United States. The program was administered by a 22-year old member of the Department of Justice, J. Edgar Hoover. By the fall, a new series of camps capable of housing thousands of people had sprung up — in Utah, Georgia and North Carolina — not to train new recruits but to imprison anyone that the government considered a threat to its security.

Richard Rubin, Writer: There was tremendous pressure on new immigrants to conform, to have American flags, to sing American songs; we welcomed you here, now you’re here, you''re only with us.

Harlem Hellfighters Part One

Narrator: While newly drafted soldiers stabbed dummies with bayonets in camps all across the country, another group of recruits practiced their drill steps on the streets of Harlem. The African-American Fifteenth National Guard was mustered into service in July of 1917. Community leaders in Harlem had lobbied for the creation of an all-black regiment for years.

Richard Slotkin, Historian: [They] petitioned the state legislature of New York. The legislature comes back and says okay, but you have to raise the money to equip the unit, and you also have to accept white officers.

Narrator: A prominent lawyer named William Hayward took command, and set about recruiting to get the regiment up to full strength.

Jeffrey Sammons, Historian: Hayward wasn’t going to be able to command any other regiment, that’s for sure. And, in fact, many of the officers, in the 15th New York who were white could not get high-ranking officer positions in other units. The 15th was this, sort of, place of last resort for many of these rich, white men.

Narrator: The New York Fifteenth was forced to beg for equipment from other units, and train in the backyards and empty lots of Harlem. Still, the regiment was able to attract some of the black community’s prominent athletes and entertainers, including the celebrated rag-time conductor and band-leader James Reese Europe.

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: James Reese Europe is an eminent musician in New York. Starts an orchestra that’s the first black orchestra to play at Carnegie Hall. When the 15th New York National Guard is formed, though, he decides that he wants to join for the same reason that a number of African-American men joined. They see it as this potent symbol of African-American manhood.

Voice: James Reese Europe: Our race will never amount to anything . . . unless there are strong organizations of men who stand for something in the community. . . it will build up the moral and physical negro manhood of Harlem. But to accomplish these results, the best . . . men in the community must get in the move.

Narrator: Europe convinced his writing partner Noble Sissle to enlist. When Hayward asked them to form a regimental band, the two took up the challenge.

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: The band is just huge. Europe argues for at minimum, 40 men, I think gets a few more than that. Realizes that he needs a stronger wind section, so goes down to Puerto Rico and recruits Afro-Puerto Rican clarinetists mostly, but trombone players as well. So he’s got this crazy, super American mix of the black diaspora. Spanish speakers, English speakers, folks with a nutty southern dialect, all wrapped up.

Narrator: Wilson’s declaration of war brought a new urgency to the New York Fifteenth’s mission. By the summer of 1917, Noble Sissle watched as the regiment began to attract recruits in record numbers.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Voice: Noble Sissle: Our . . . daily procedure was to put the band on top of the bus and ride down in a colored section. Then we would start the band playing the ‘Memphis Blues’. . . once we got the bus crowded we would make a '' for the recruiting office…A pen put in their hands…. and before they were aware of the 1 last update 2020/06/07 what was going on, . . . they had raised their right hand and found themselves jazz time members of Uncle Samuels army.Voice: Noble Sissle: Our . . . daily procedure was to put the band on top of the bus and ride down in a colored section. Then we would start the band playing the ‘Memphis Blues’. . . once we got the bus crowded we would make a '' for the recruiting office…A pen put in their hands…. and before they were aware of what was going on, . . . they had raised their right hand and found themselves jazz time members of Uncle Samuels army.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrator: Young African-American men from all across the country were drawn to the new unit from Harlem: Henry Johnson was a baggage-handler from Albany; Needham Roberts, a drugstore clerk from Trenton; Leroy Johnston, a minister’s son from Arkansas.

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: When Wilson frames the war as a war for Democracy, he offers up something that seems to promise for African-Americans expanded possibility. They go into the war thinking if we demonstrate that we are capable, that we have this ability, the country won’t be able to help but redeem their promise to us.

Narrator: Faith in Wilson’s assurances, however, were hard to reconcile with the brutal reality of race relations in America.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Jeffrey Sammons, Historian: New York was a segregated city. Blacks have no political power. So [some Blacks are] saying, why should we be fighting for this nation and these you know white people who are oppressing us? 

Narrator: The situation in the Jim Crow South was even worse: a toxic mixture of rigid segregation, and almost daily episodes of racially motivated brutality. In July, in East St. Louis, Illinois, an exchange of gunfire between blacks and local police provoked an explosion of mob violence that reduced entire black neighborhoods to ashes and left hundreds of men, women and children dead. Seven weeks later, a battalion of black troops stationed outside Houston encountered a campaign of harassment and violence from local whites. They responded by marching into the city and engaging in a pitched battle with local police.

Chad Williams, Historian: This was the worst fears of white southerners come true. A group of black soldiers taking up arms and killing white people. There was a hasty trial. 13 soldiers were executed without the opportunity to appeal their convictions. And they very quickly became martyrs.

Narrator: Throughout for 1 last update 2020/06/07 the summer of bloodshed, the president said nothing.Narrator: Throughout the summer of bloodshed, the president said nothing.

A. Scott Berg, Writer: Woodrow Wilson grew up in the south. By any measure Woodrow Wilson was a racist. He introduced Jim Crow to Washington, D.C. At a time when it was just starting to loosen up, he brought it back and it became for all intents and purposes the law of the land.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: Wilson is so disappointing. Because on the one hand he’s got this abstract vision of a more just world that has all of this potential and possibility in it. And then on the flip side, for all of his big ideals, he is such a narrow-hearted little man.

Narrator: Angered by Wilson’s refusal to speak out against the violence, 8,000 demonstrators conducted a “Silent Protest Parade” down Fifth Avenue. They marched to the sound of muffled drums, carrying signs that read: “Mother, Do Lynchers Go to Heaven?” and “Mr. President, Why Not Make America Safe for Democracy?” In the midst of this atmosphere of racial violence and protest, the men of Harlem’s Fifteenth were sent to Spartanburg, South Carolina to receive their final training before shipping out to France.

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: They show up in Spartanburg a month after black soldiers in Houston had marched on the town. And so the folks of South Carolina are determined to make sure that this particular set of black soldiers, Yankees, come down, right, stay in their place. And the military leadership is incredibly jittery. They don’t want another Houston on their hands.

Richard Slotkin, Historian: For a couple of weeks, they walk the edge of possible violence in the town. They manage it pretty well. What they’re fighting here is, if they get into trouble, the army will have an excuse not to send them overseas. On the other hand if the white officers let the local whites abuse their troops, they lose face with their men.

Narrator: To try and diffuse tensions, William Hayward organized a band concert in the town’s public square. He also asked his men to pledge that they would avoid violence of any kind, even if provoked. The regiment responded with a “sea of hands.”

Richard Slotkin, Historian: Noble Sissle, goes to buy a newspaper in the lobby of a hotel and gets into an altercation with the white man behind the counter. A crowd gathers and not only are the blacks squaring off against the 1 last update 2020/06/07 the whites in the room, but the white national guardsmen from New York are backing their fellow Yankees against the local Confederates and James Reese Europe says, halt, stop. Brings the whole incident to an end, marches his men out of there and averts violence.Richard Slotkin, Historian: Noble Sissle, goes to buy a newspaper in the lobby of a hotel and gets into an altercation with the white man behind the counter. A crowd gathers and not only are the blacks squaring off against the whites in the room, but the white national guardsmen from New York are backing their fellow Yankees against the local Confederates and James Reese Europe says, halt, stop. Brings the whole incident to an end, marches his men out of there and averts violence.

Narrator: The Fifteenth emerged stronger because of its ordeal in Spartanburg. But there were other reminders of blacks’ second-class status in the American army. Anxious to burnish the reputation of his regiment, Hayward petitioned to have it included in the famous Rainbow Division, drawn from National Guard units from more than half the states in the nation.

Jeffrey Sammons, Historian: Hayward asks the Rainbow Division if the 15th could join them and the response to his request is black is not a color of the rainbow. And of course neither is white.

Alice Paul

Narrator: By the fall of 1917, the scale of the challenge confronting American mobilization was beginning to sink in. The Quartermaster Corps estimated it would need 17 million woolen trousers, 22 million flannel shirts, 26 million shoes. The U.S. would need more than 2 million new Enfield rifles, 5.6 million gas masks, and a flotilla of merchant ships to transport it all across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the nation’s newest soldiers were mustered into service as quickly as possible. On September 4th, 1917, President Wilson, members of his cabinet, and the leadership of Congress led a parade from the Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue. They were there to honor 1,400 newly drafted men from the District of Columbia. When he reached the White House, Wilson stepped onto a reviewing stand, and the new recruits, still in their civilian clothes, marched past. “Tears stood in the president’s eyes,” reported the New York Sun, “as he looked down the irregular, undisciplined ranks”. As Wilson walked back to the White House, he saw a familiar sight: members of the National Woman’s Party, maintaining an angry vigil outside the Executive Mansion. They were led by the radical suffragist Alice Paul. The child of devout Quakers from Philadelphia, and armed with a doctorate in sociology, Paul was a formidable adversary. One reporter wrote that she was “as incapable of deviation from a set purpose as the tides are of altering their dedication to the moon.” Back in January, Paul and her small band of a dozen suffragists had been the first Americans to actively picket the White House. When war was declared in April, most mainstream suffrage groups suspended their efforts. Not Alice Paul. “If the lack of democracy at home weakens the . . .  fight for democracy 3,000 miles away,” she declared, “the responsibility . . .  is with the government and not with the women of America.”

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: Alice Paul is deeply critical of Wilson. She turns his language back on him, and says, we are going to continue pushing for the vote, through the war.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: At first, Wilson sort of ignored them. Condescended to them. Had hot chocolate sent out from the White House kitchen to keep them warm on winter days, but it became increasingly embarrassing that these protests were happening. And over time Wilson wanted the protesters gone.

Narrator: The president came to see the defiant women outside his window as a threat to the war effort, and conspired with the Washington police to crack down on them. In June, when the suffragists raised a banner reading “This Nation is Not Free,” mobs of angry men and women assaulted them, throwing eggs and tomatoes, and shredding their signs. Police and Secret Service men on the scene did nothing to stop the violence, intervening only to arrest the women for “obstructing traffic” and “loud and boisterous talking.”

Jennifer D. Keene, Historian: You got for 1 last update 2020/06/07 to love these women because you know they’re jailed, bad press for Wilson. He says, go ahead, let them out. They get released, boom, right back in front of the White House. It’s like they are not going to be deterred, right. They’re the radical voice.Jennifer D. Keene, Historian: You got to love these women because you know they’re jailed, bad press for Wilson. He says, go ahead, let them out. They get released, boom, right back in front of the White House. It’s like they are not going to be deterred, right. They’re the radical voice.

Narrator: When the women unveiled a new sign that proclaimed “Kaiser Wilson,” the violence against them only increased. On October 20th, Paul herself was arrested and sentenced to seven months in a Virginia prison. The suffragist press made heroes and martyrs out of Paul and her fellow prisoners. “In spite of the dampness and chill of the old stone building, which forces the women to wrap themselves in newspapers” one article proclaimed, “their spirit is undaunted.”

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: Alice Paul knows that imprisoned women suffragists, particularly young, middle-class women, make very good newspaper copy. So she encourages women to stay arrested, to refuse to pay bail.

Narrator: Shortly after arriving at the prison, Alice Paul went on a hunger strike. Doctors forced a tube down her throat three times a day. When she became too weak to stay in her cell, she was transferred to the hospital, then the psychiatric ward. By November 24th, Paul had gone weeks without food.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Christopher Capozzola, Historian: Most Americans, I think, thought that Alice Paul was crazy. That she had the 1 last update 2020/06/07 gone too far. But then, a crucial thing happened. Late one night in prison, Alice Paul is visited by a close Wilson confidante. Now, we don’t know why he went. We don’t know what they said. But we do know that very soon after this visit, Alice Paul encouraged the National Women’s Party to call off their protests. And we also know that very soon after that, Woodrow Wilson came out in support of women’s suffrage.Christopher Capozzola, Historian: Most Americans, I think, thought that Alice Paul was crazy. That she had gone too far. But then, a crucial thing happened. Late one night in prison, Alice Paul is visited by a close Wilson confidante. Now, we don’t know why he went. We don’t know what they said. But we do know that very soon after this visit, Alice Paul encouraged the National Women’s Party to call off their protests. And we also know that very soon after that, Woodrow Wilson came out in support of women’s suffrage.

Kimberly Jensen, Historian: Wilson understands that these are women who are resilient, who will not give up. Alice Paul is a force of nature. The publicity was destroying the credibility of the Wilson administration in many people’s minds. So a deal is struck. There are images, and a lot of press coverage of the women leaving that prison in blankets, many of them skeletal because they’ve been on hunger strikes. There’s the political reality for politicians like Wilson and others, that women are a force.

Narrator: Despite the possibility of progress, Alice Paul continued to accuse the government of hypocrisy. “We are. . . imprisoned, not because we obstructed traffic,” she said, “but because we pointed out to the President … that he was obstructing the cause of democracy at home, while Americans were fighting for it abroad.”

Food

Narrator: During the war years, visitors to the White House had cause to be concerned about their own safety. An aggressive ram, with a penchant for chewing tobacco, kept jealous guard over Woodrow and Edith Wilson’s flock of 18 sheep that grazed on the grounds. It regularly attacked members of the White House staff. But the ewes produced fine wool, so he remained a menacing presence on the South Lawn. The sheep were part of the Wilsons’ effort to set an example by personally supporting the war. The sale of White House wool raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Red Cross, and Edith knitted socks for soldiers. She also signed a Food Pledge, vowing to forego meat, wheat, and sugar, so more of these vital supplies could be sent overseas. The First Lady’s conservation efforts helped launch a campaign to mobilize the nation around food. With most of Belgium and large parts of France under German occupation, and farmers off at the front, millions of Europeans were struggling to survive. America, on the other hand, was an agricultural powerhouse, whose output of food could become as important as its manpower or its financial resources. In December 1917, Herbert Hoover, America’s first Food Administrator, proclaimed “food will win the war.”

Helen Zoe Veit, Historian: It became evident that food was going to be a weapon in the war. Herbert Hoover immediately worked to get Americans to think that saving food and conserving food was the most important thing that they could do as individuals to help the effort.

Narrator: As many as 500,000 women volunteers fanned out across their communities, urging neighbors to join Edith Wilson and sign a food pledge. Fourteen million families put a sign in their window showing that they were behind the campaign.

Helen Zoe Veit, Historian: There was no rationing, but there were suggested days where people should give up certain foods. Tuesday was a meatless day, Monday was a wheat-less day, Saturday was a pork-less day. So if someone was buying meat on a Tuesday, if you could smell meat coming from your neighbor’s house on a Tuesday, I think it helped with the informal surveillance of friends and neighbors.

Kimberly Jensen, Historian: They were very sophisticated in the ways that they tried to persuade people. Local newspapers published the names of people who contributed or not. There was a tremendous amount of pressure, visiting of houses. And there were lots of consequences. Firing from jobs, being ostracized in a community.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: Americans came to feel watched and came to live as if they were watched. There’s a real sense of unease and also maybe of distrust on the home front. In some communities, when they did Liberty Loan drives, a Liberty Loan committee might be composed of bankers of a town who knew who had how much money, and if they knew that someone hadn’t bought a bond, the committee might pay a friendly visit to see why you hadn’t bought a bond. And if you still didn’t, then another group of people might come later at night, with a less friendly visit.

Narrator: Volunteer organizations sprang up to help enforce the new conformity. The largest was the American Protective League, with over 600 branches and 250,000 card-carrying members across the country.

Richard Rubin, Writer: These vigilante groups were there to make sure that every American was doing his for 1 last update 2020/06/07 or her patriotic duty. Imagine that you''re saying is being listened to.Richard Rubin, Writer: These vigilante groups were there to make sure that every American was doing his or her patriotic duty. Imagine that you''re saying is being listened to.

 Christopher Capozzola, Historian: At times it was an official in a uniform, but as often as not, it was your teacher, your minister, the president of the women’s club who was keeping an eye on you.

Narrator: Even the famous community organizer and committed pacifist Jane Addams could not resist the pressure. After weathering a storm of harsh criticism in the press, she embarked on a government sponsored speaking tour to rally support for the food effort.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Nancy K. Bristow, Historian: To oppose the war was a very difficult position to take and a dangerous position. To be an activist, even of a respectable type like Jane Addams was very difficult. You became a public enemy if you refused to step in line in support of the war.

Harlem Hellfighters Part Two

Narrator: In late December, 1917, an aging tramp steamer named Pocahontas, carrying James Europe and the rest of the New York Fifteenth, sailed past the Statue of Liberty. Anxious to avoid any more racial incidents, the Army had shipped the regiment overseas. They were now on their way to join some of the first Americans in France. General Pershing had only four divisions stationed in relatively quiet sectors of the Western Front, where they were undergoing training alongside French and British units. They participated in reconnaissance patrols, and endured artillery bombardments and sniper fire. Already, 162 Americans had been killed and 475 wounded. But when the Fifteenth arrived at the port of Brest on January 1st, they were promptly assigned to the logistical arm of the military, known as the Services of Supply, and given the dirty work of the army — clearing swamps, unloading ships, digging graves. The overwhelming majority of the men in these labor battalions were black.

Chad Williams, Historian: Most black troops who served in the Services of Supplies recognized that this was not what they signed up for. This was not their ideal of what a soldier meant. They were manning shovels instead of rifles.

Jeffrey Sammons, Historian: If you’re not in a position to show bravery and courage as a fighter, then you’re not really a complete soldier. These are the things of which soldiers are made and heroes are made and what we write about. We don’t write about those who are digging ditches or burying the dead.

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: On the one hand, these soldiers are so proud that they are serving. At the same time, the army leadership is not excited about having black soldiers. They are determined that black soldiers won’t see combat. And their fellow soldiers, are really concerned that military service doesn’t give them any big ideas about democracy at home.

Narrator: For two months, the Fifteenth worked as laborers in France and became increasingly disillusioned. William Hayward pulled strings to try and get his unit to the front lines, while the regiment’s band played concerts for the men to keep up their spirits. One day a pair of talent scouts, looking for entertainment for soldiers on leave, heard them play. It was an “organization of the very highest quality,” they reported, “led by a conductor of genius.” Europe and his band were sent south to a rest camp, stopping all along the way to give concerts. When the band relaxed their military reserve and launched into “The Memphis Blues,” Noble Sissle witnessed the reaction.

Voice: Noble Sissle: Colonel Hayward has brought his band over here and started ragtimitis in France; ain’t this an awful thing to visit upon a nation with so many burdens?  But when the band had finished and people were roaring with laughter, … I was forced to say … this is just what France needs at this critical time.

Narrator: As the reputation of the New York Fifteenth grew, it became harder for General Pershing to let them languish with the rest of the black troops in labor battalions. The French and British, meanwhile, continued their desperate pleas for reinforcements.

Richard Slotkin, Historian: The French are crying for American combat troops. The Fifteenth New York is the most famous American regiment in France. So, Pershing loans them to the French.

Jeffrey Sammons, Historian: Pershing gives the 15th to the French because he’s not giving any white troops to the Allies. He basically says, I’ll give you a group that I don’t have much use for.

Richard Slotkin, Historian: This turns out to be a great deal for the 15th, because they’re sent to a commander for 1 last update 2020/06/07 who’s used to commanding African and Arab troops. He says, “They’re black, my Senegalese are black. Okay let’s train them to be soldiers as we would any other soldiers,” and so he puts them through a course of training where the action is not too heavy but you can learn the ropes.Richard Slotkin, Historian: This turns out to be a great deal for the 15th, because they’re sent to a commander who’s used to commanding African and Arab troops. He says, “They’re black, my Senegalese are black. Okay let’s train them to be soldiers as we would any other soldiers,” and so he puts them through a course of training where the action is not too heavy but you can learn the ropes.

Narrator: For black Americans, immersion in the French army was a disorienting plunge into a new world. Many struggled to understand their French officers, adjust to new uniforms, new rifles and the realities of trench warfare. Gradually, Sissle and his fellow soldiers began to feel more confident. What they couldn’t get used to, however, was the way they were treated.

Voice: Noble Sissle: The French [soldiers] treated our boys with all the courtesy and comradeship that could be expected . . . You could see them strolling down the road  . . . each hardly able to understand the other, as our boys’ French was as bad as their English. . . . The French officers had taken our officers and made pals of them.

Chad Williams, Historian: It wasn’t so much that the French were color-blind or universally embraced African Americans, but for Americans it represented possibilities of a different type of racial interaction.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Adriane Lentz-Smith, Historian: Someone once wrote about the etiquette of Jim Crow, that you know folks didn’t think about white supremacy any more than a fish thinks about the wetness of water. But when you step out of a system that people have told you is the only way that is possible and then you look around and there are all of these people in the world working under a different set of rules. It changes people’s imagination of what they can do and what everyone else should be doing.

Narrator: The New York Fifteenth’s journey from Harlem had been an arduous and unpredictable one. Now with the help of their French counterparts, it seemed as though they were, at last, ready to prove themselves on the front lines.

Fourteen Points

Jay Winter, Historian: It is very, very hard to register how high the casualties were in the First World War. Americans I don’t think have ever seen how simply catastrophic and destructive it was. How stupidly ugly it was in destruction of human life, limb, property, everything. War degenerated between 1914 and ’18, and once you turn on brutal violence you can’t just turn it off.

Narrator: In its fourth year, the Great War continued to claim appalling casualties on both sides. Now, as millions of young Americans prepared to ship over to France, Woodrow Wilson was determined that the cause they were fighting for would be as great as the sacrifice he was asking them to make. On January 6th, 1918, the President gathered up his notes, took to his study, and began work on a speech. Ever since the outbreak of the war, he had sought a pivotal role for America in the conflict. He wanted to advance the nation’s strategic and economic interests, but he also imagined a sweeping moral and democratic transformation of the struggle, one that would reshape the post-war world.

Christopher Capozzola, Historian: By 1917, Wilson knows, the American public know, how horrible the war is. And so he needs to make this a war that will matter, a war that will change the world.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Narrator: Events in Russia added another dimension to Wilson’s mission. In October the revolutionary Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, had formed a new government and vowed to make peace with Germany. They offered the world a vision of socialist equality, and an end to the corrupt empires that had oppressed workers for centuries.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Margaret MacMillan, Historian: Lenin, who was in his for 1 last update 2020/06/07 own way as great a speaker and a propagandist as Wilson was, said that we are going to build a new world order, this is the end of the divisions among nations, we’re going to build a different sort of world and I think Wilson felt he was under some pressure and perhaps obligation to make the American position very clear and possibly stake out a leadership role for the United States in any peace that was to come. Margaret MacMillan, Historian: Lenin, who was in his own way as great a speaker and a propagandist as Wilson was, said that we are going to build a new world order, this is the end of the divisions among nations, we’re going to build a different sort of world and I think Wilson felt he was under some pressure and perhaps obligation to make the American position very clear and possibly stake out a leadership role for the United States in any peace that was to come. 

Narrator: On January 8th, the president travelled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. Before a joint session of Congress, he reiterated why he had felt compelled to enter the war. Then, in fourteen separate points, he outlined a plan for the war’s end. Germany must retreat back to its borders. Freedom of the seas would be restored. Governments were to respect the self-determination of their citizens.

Dan Carlin, Podcast Producer: If you''s war,” he warned. “Statesmen must follow or be broken.”

Michael Kazin, Historian: Wilson in a sense wanted to be president of the world. He had a near-Messianic view of his role in history. He believed that in effect he was doing God’s work.

A. Scott Berg, Writer: There was a kind of arrogance to Woodrow Wilson, there’s no question about that. It verges on his feeling he was in the confidence of God I think.

Jay Winter, Historian: Moral authority is a dangerous position to for 1 last update 2020/06/07 maintain. It gives the aura of sanctity to the cause of war, and any sanctification of war is bound to redound on the head of the man or woman who proclaims it.Jay Winter, Historian: Moral authority is a dangerous position to maintain. It gives the aura of sanctity to the cause of war, and any sanctification of war is bound to redound on the head of the man or woman who proclaims it.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Lost

Voice: Ralph John: With a parting word of warning from an officer to each man, up and over the top we went. It was an odd feeling. It didn''t think anything of stepping over dead bodies of men with whom I had started out, or wading through a pool of blood. I can just see them drop, and hear their requests for help. But we had to go on and leave them lay.

Narrator: The one reed that Private John could cling to in this hellish forest was his commanding officer. Major Charles Whittlesey was earning the undying respect of his men as they somehow made their objectives, day after day. But in a week of fighting, the major had lost over half the men in his command. The survivors were famished, exhausted…and they had lost touch with the units on each flank. 

Richard Slotkin, Historian: The problem in the Argonne Forest is no unit could maintain contact with the units on its flanks because the woods are just too thick and at this point, the units are so shrunk by casualties that they can’t cover as much front as they did at the start.

Narrator: Every step forward was taking them farther from the rest of the army. When Major Whittlesey pointed out the danger to his senior officer on the 2nd of October, the response bordered on a reprimand: he was to continue pushing forward ""

Richard Slotkin, Historian: Don’t worry about your flanks means if you get surrounded, tough. And the other part is no retreat. The American army has to prove its morale, and if you retreat, you discredit the army.

Narrator: "" Whittlesey the 1 last update 2020/06/07 replied, ""Narrator: "" Whittlesey replied, ""

Voice: Ralph John: We had orders to advance straight north, but we run into fierce machine gun fire in thick woods. Major Whittlesey commanded us to dig in for the night. Early the next morning he sent men back to get orders, but they quickly returned saying they couldn''s Stay in Touch

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