Reconstructing the Occurrence of the WW1 and the Great Depression Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

World War I and the Great Depression

World War I

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 sparked the occurrence of the First World War. A Serbian nationalist called Gavrilo Princip murdered him as the heir apparent to the throne of Austria. However, other underlying factors that contributed to the rivalry between the Great Powers include the system of alliances, nationalism, domestic political factors, militarism, the Eastern question (The Balkans), and the crises before 1914. The main powers of Europe before 1914 were: (i) the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy (1882) and (ii) the Triple Entente of Britain, Russia and France (1907). In nature, the alliances were defensive, and this implied that major political disputes inevitably would lead to large and not small conflicts. Nationalism looked at eager people across the world who wanted to let the rest of the world know how strong and important their country was and made nations aggressive and assertive. Austria and Russia claimed control of the Balkans region, and both of them became eager to enforce authority over that region. Imperialism looked at the desire to conquer colonies like Africa; this brought conflict between powers as German wanted an empire since France and Britain had empires. Most people lived in parts with empires because their countries had not acquired independence. Therefore, their desire for independence led to conflicts that involved other nations due to the presence of different languages and religions. The race of arms (militarism) was also a cause that attempted to build a strong navy and army, which implies that nations would be given the means and will to make war.

President Woodrow Wilson went before the Congress with a joint session to request war declaration against Germany; it joined the war as an Associated Power on April 2, 1917. In his arguments, he asserts that Germany violated their pledge of suspending in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean unrestricted submarine warfare. The so-called "Zimmerman Telegram" contributed to their decision to severe all diplomatic relation with Germany as German attempted to entice Mexico into alliances against the U.S. Its resumption forced President Woodrow to renounce his neutral position. Germans wanted to impose on America's rights yet it is a sovereign nation; the isolationist policy had swayed the culture and politics of America through Monroe's doctrine. Even after people were killed and ships sank, America did not want to go to war with Germans due to the isolationist policy (U.S. Department of State, n.d.).

The "Big Four" comprising of the U.S., the UK, Italy and France dominated the proceedings of peace after World War I and the Treaty of Versailles was formulated in the process. President Wilson Woodrow strongly advocated for the League, as he believed it would prevent future wars He wanted a treaty based on justice and not bitterness. Through this, the Republicans and Democrats worked together even with the high taxes and a shortage of goods.

The cold war between the Soviet Union and the U.S. occurred because of the continued recognition to Soviet's communist government, which had opposing economic, ideologies and political systems. In essence, the Americans became upset because of the Stalin signed a treaty that was done before WWII with Hitler. The result of the ideological difference resulted in the cold war between a country group that opposes communism and another opposing capitalism. The Eastern Bloc (Oriental) comprised of USSR and its allies and the Western Bloc comprised of the U.S. and their allies (Giangreco & Griffin, 1988). Economically, the cold war was a confrontation between socialism and capitalism. The military-political level was a confrontation between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. Concerning intelligence services, the confrontation was there between the Western services of "intelligence" and the political police communist regime.

The fear of communism affected American domestic policy about workers' rights and immigration policy. The First Red Scare was experienced in the U.S. in the 1920s after Russia's Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The revolution brought communism to the mind of the people and the U.S. experienced the same wave of fear of anti-communist during the first phase of the Cold War in 1950. The anti-communist fear led to economic and social policies. Eight bombs exploded in 1919 across the U.S. as it was targeting prominent figures in the political realm that included Attorney General Palmer A. Mitchell (Zickel, 1989).

The target of the Red Scare was leftists who included socialists who are non-radical and non-violent. During this time, workers' strikes were interpreted as attempts of the U.S. being a communist. Under the Espionage Act, Eugene Debs, a former presidential candidate was jailed due to his speech that called for WWI draft resistance. The immigration policy became the most significant reaction to the Scare, as they feared radicals' influx and anarchists. As such, two major laws were passed in the U.S. the first being that for all immigrants by establishing a quota system (1921) and in limiting people's immigration the use of quota system since communism and anarchism were prevalent. This reduced the immigration of people to the U.S. McCarthyism is the second Red Scare, and anticommunism fears were prevalent across the U.S. despite its decline (Zickel, 1989).

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was experienced on October 29, 1929, to 1941 due to the crash of the New York Stock Exchange. This marked the first serious economic crisis in the U.S. (Hiebert & Hiebert, 1970). The lack of national economic planning or a watchdog that was a significant agent in monitoring the U.S. economy caused the Depression. The Laissez-Faire followed by Presidents Warren Hardin, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover had no government regulation. Therefore, these presidents did not regulate stocks and bonds buying or selling; no controls were exercised over manufacturing, banking and or agricultural production. Similarly, no attempts were made on statistics to gather or analyze them yet they would be able to predict increasing problems in stock investing and the overproduction of agricultural products and consumer goods. The mentality of "get rich quick" developed in the 1920s led to the mass production of consumer goods, mass advertising in newspapers, magazines, and exotic silent movies that told tales of success and riches. Many Americans started spending recklessly yet they had little money and investors speculated as they bought shares that they could always make a profit. The chronic overproduction of agricultural products led to the lowering of farm products, which resulted in the Great Depression (McElvaine, 1993).

The Great Depression caused businesses to fail, and unemployment rose dramatically and banks failed, which meant the loss of life savings. As such, many Americans were left destitute, and they left their homes because they had no savings and no job. Therefore, they became homeless, and many starved had malnutrition and went hungry. The nation known for its abundance in resources and skilled labor force was hard to comprehend the occurrence. However, by 1932 the norm of the nation was hunger marches and small riots, while others were busy surviving or downtrodden and did not get involved in public displays of discontent (Parrish, 1992).

Roosevelt's overwhelming victory in the presidential election saw to the end of the great depression, him being a Democrat. The Congress passed reform legislation for the banks and reopened the banks with a determination of being sound. Besides, he publicly addressed the population over radio using talks and "fireside chats" in an attempt to restore the confidence of the public. FDR's administration passed legislation with the aim of stabilizing agricultural and industrial production, stimulate recovery and create jobs. The financial system needed reformation and Roosevelt created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that protected the account of depositors'. The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) was reformed to regulate the stock market and through this abuses were prevented (Parrish, 1992).

The Great Depression affected the U.S. politics greatly as it initiated the reconstruction of capitalism and governance in America on a new basis. However, the economic indicators suggested that America was deeply mired in the depression. Another measure of depression's impact was unemployment. Despite the developments, America was prepared for WWII due to the new deal programs and agencies in existence. The effects of the Great Depression crippled all sectors of the economy but the strategies adopted by the government enabled the country to bounce back making the U.S. an economic giant across the globe.

References

Giangreco, D. M. & Griffin, R. E. (1988). Airbridge to Berlin -- The Berlin Crisis of 1948, Its Origins and Aftermath. Background on Conflict with USSR.

Hiebert, Ray, and Roselyn Hiebert. (1970). The Stock Market Crash, 1929. New York, NY: Franklin Watts.

McElvaine, R. S. (1993). The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941. New York, NY: Times Books.

Parrish, M. E. (1992). Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian. (n.d.). Milestones: 1914-1920. U.S. entry into World War I, 1917. Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/wwi

Zickel, R. E. (1989). The Soviet Union -- A country study.…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Giangreco, D. M. & Griffin, R. E. (1988). Airbridge to Berlin -- The Berlin Crisis of 1948, Its Origins and Aftermath. Background on Conflict with USSR.

Hiebert, Ray, and Roselyn Hiebert. (1970). The Stock Market Crash, 1929. New York, NY: Franklin Watts.

McElvaine, R. S. (1993). The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941. New York, NY: Times Books.

Parrish, M. E. (1992). Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

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