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Wilson's 14 points

Forced to resort to cold steel, Wilson turned fighting into an idealistic crusade. He declared that this was a "war to end all wars" and a "crusade to make the world safe for democracy." Wilson outlined the 14 Points (1918) he felt should be the righteous aims of the Allies. In short form, they included

- No secret treaties (like the spider webs of undercover alliances that started the war)

- Freedom of the seas

- Free trade

- Fewer weapons

- National self-determination (a people's right to choose its own form of government without interference)

- An international organization to keep the peace


Question: What were the main issues in Wilson's 14 Points?

Answer: Open treaties, freedom of the seas, national self-determination, and an international peace keeping organization.

Laws repressing anti-war sentiment

As a propaganda machine led by George Creel talked up America's peaceful war aims, an ugly set of repressive laws, the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918), led to the arrest of virtually anyone who spoke up against the war.

Most of the 2,000 wartime prosecutions were against union leaders, including Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs, who had been putting up with persecution for 24 years since the Pullman Strike of 1894.

War preparations

America never got into full production for World War I. The draft supplied lots of soldiers after the War Department issued a work or fight declaration. Labor was kept under control by the National War Labor Board chaired by former president William Howard Taft. Unions made solid gains in membership, and pay improved with lots of wartime work.

For the first time, blacks (who had for years stayed in the South) began to move North to take wartime jobs; 500,000 made the move by 1920. This Great Migration led to violence on the part of whites, especially when blacks helped break white labor actions like the great steel strike of 1919.


Question: When did blacks start to migrate to the North?

Answer: They made the move during and after World War I.

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