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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
our people sent over large supplies of money, food, and clothing to relieve distress caused by the war.1
442. The San Francisco Fair; the Telephone. While the awful struggle was going on, the World's Fair in San Francisco was opened in 1915 to celebrate the discovery of the Pacific by Balboa (§ 19) and the completion of the Panama Canal (§ 440). In preparation for that event a long-distance line of telephone (§ 373) had been carried across the continent. Over the wires of that line San Francisco heard, for the first time, the deep tones of the Liberty Bell struck in Philadelphia (§ 167), and Philadelphia, in like manner, heard the bugler in San Francisco as he responded with the "Star-Spangled Banner." All who listened to those wonderful sounds felt that now the Far East and the Far West were united as they had never been united before.
443. The Presidential Election (1916). There were two chief candidates for the presidency. The Republican party nominated Charles E. Hughes, an Associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, who had been governor of New York; and the Democratic party nominated and elected President Wilson for a second term.
444. We buy Several Islands. Early in 1917 we purchased St. Thomas and two other very small islands from Denmark. The group is called the Virgin Islands. They are within sight of Porto Rico, and with that island they form the "American West Indies." We made the purchase in order to get possession of the famous harbor of St. Thomas, because it will be of great value as a gathering place for the fleets of our navy both in peace and in war. It is also nearer to the Panama Canal (§ 440) than any similar harbor on our coast. (See Map facing p. 380.)
445. America enters the Great War. The terrible conflict in Europe (§ 441), which counted its combatants and its slain by
1 In June, 1914, the Crown Prince of Austria was assassinated. The Austrian government held Serbia responsible for the act, and made certain demands on Serbia, some of which that kingdom felt obliged to refuse. Austria attacked Serbia, July 29. Russia prepared to protect the Serbians. This action became the occasion of the Great European War, involving five of the leading Powers, besides Serbia and Belgium.
AMERICA ENTERS THE GREAT WAR
millions, gave rise to very serious problems in regard to our free use of the sea -- a use for which we have always contended.
In the struggle the German submarines, violating all laws of war, deliberately destroyed American merchant ships and American lives.1 Our government protested against this willful destruction, but it did not stop. Finally (April 2, 1917), President Wilson urged Congress to declare war against the German government.2 Congress declared war3 and directed the President to employ the entire army and navy of the United States to push the contest "to a successful termination." America, England, France, and Russia4 agreed to act together. We had two imperative reasons for entering the war:
1. To protect our rights, as Americans, against the attacks of Germany.
2. To uphold the rights of other free and friendly nations which the Kaiser, and his military forces, had set out to destroy.
Did we as a nation fully realize what we had determined to do? Yes, we knew that our Regular Army was less than 130,000 men, while the Kaiser's forces seemed to be well-nigh endless. We knew that the Kaiser's navy was much larger than ours. Finally, we knew that when we entered the war we must pour out money in an almost continuous stream. But we had resolved that no matter what the cost might be we would, if necessary, raise millions of men, thousands of millions of dollars, and would build great fleets of ships to carry on the conflict.
1 The German submarines, instead of endeavoring to capture these merchant ships and to save the lives of those on board, ruthlessly sent them to the bottom, as President Wilson declared, "without warning and without thought of help or mercy."
2 In his address to Congress President Wilson said: "We have no quarrel with the German people, We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship."
3 Declaration of War (April 6, 1917). "Whereas, the Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America; therefore be it
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared." The vote in the Senate stood 82 for war to 6 against it, and in the House 373 for war to 50 against it.
4 Russia was an ally until put out of the war by a revolution; later Italy joined the Allies.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
446. How we got the Men, the Money, and the Ships. To begin with, a considerable number of young men volunteered to fight; later we made out a list of the names of all the men in the United States between the ages of twenty-one and thirty inclusive -- about ten millions. Then we drafted four millions of these by drawing lots and sent them to training camps for six months. These camps, constructed by the government, consisted of wooden buildings. On an average each camp would accommodate forty-seven thousand men.
There, day after day, the young soldiers were drilled in military exercises and maneuvers. It was hard, stern work, but with opportunity for rest and recreation.1 There a great deal of time was spent in marching and counter marching; and in learning to understand and obey orders. Much time was also given to teaching the men how to handle guns and how to fire accurately at targets. These targets were about the size of a man and were generally constructed so that they would fall when hit. In this way every member of a firing squad knew at once when his bullet struck the mark, for he saw the target drop, just as an enemy would drop if he was shot through the heart.
Furthermore, there were sham fights with bayonets far more exciting than football; there were fierce attacks on trenches bristling with barbed wire; there were wild combats with hand bombs, and sharp duels with artillery. In short, every means was taken to have the men learn in their camps what they would soon have to undertake in dead earnest when they reached the battlefields of Europe.
But let no one suppose that this arduous system of drilling converted our new army into mere machine-made troops who could do nothing but what they were told. On the contrary, "our boys" gave abundant proof that they could think and plan in any emergency and that if left to themselves they could fight their way through.
1 Realizing that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," our boys in camp had their athletic games and sports, and their rousing concerts, where a multitude of strong, manly voices joined in singing patriotic songs; and they had, besides, their moving pictures and other entertainments.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
There were thirty-two of these great camps in different parts of the country, besides special camps for aviators and other branches of the army. If all these camps had been built together in one place they would have made a city over twenty miles square, with a total population of at least four millions intent on the single thought of how to do their part in winning the war. Eventually we sent more than half of this number to France, and we should have sent the rest had not the conflict ended before they were called for.
As fast as the men finished their training -- and sometimes before they had completed it -- they were crowded on board transports where they were often packed so tight that they jokingly said they thought they should have to breathe each other's breath. When they started on their voyage of three thousand miles across the Atlantic they knew, as we all did, that German submarines would be waiting to destroy them. But they also knew that our warships, or, when necessary, those of Britain or France, would accompany them and protect them. So thoroughly was this convoy work done that out of more than two millions of troops who left our shores, all but a very small number arrived in safety.
Next, Congress asked the people of our country for twelve thousand millions of dollars to pay the expenses of the first year in the war.1
This enormous amount, the largest that our government had ever asked for since the United States came into existence, was raised in two ways: first, by taxing, in some form, the entire population of the country; secondly, by the national government's issuing Liberty Bonds and War-Savings Stamps, which were
1 In order that we may get some idea of what such a demand meant, let us reckon up the amount in gold (§ 425). A hundred and twenty-eight 20-dollar pieces, worth $2560, will weigh ten pounds, and a ton will be worth $512,000 Now suppose we load some three ton coal trucks, each fifteen feet in length, with such gold pieces. One truck could carry $1,536,000; while a thousand trucks could carry $1,536,000,000. At that rate it would take between seven and eight thousand trucks, extending in a straight line over twenty miles, to deliver the whole sum which Congress called for, namely, $12,000,000,000. The subsequent expenses of the war more than doubled the amount mentioned above, and the payment of the interest on our national debt must increase it further still.
HOW WE GOT MEN, MONEY, AND SHIPS
bought by multitudes of citizens and by many young people. They felt that as loyal Americans they ought to use their money to push the war forward, and they knew that they would receive every dollar back, with interest, after a certain number of years.
The next question is, How did we get so many fighting ships and transport ships for carrying on the war?1 The answer is, We built a very large number of them, we hired some, we borrowed others from England or France. We also constructed a fleet of merchant ships. Last of all, we seized over a hundred German steamships -- several of immense size -- which had taken refuge in our ports before we began the war, in order to escape capture by British cruisers. These last-mentioned vessels proved of great use to us; so too did a multitude of small vessels which we got together early in the war to look out for the coming of the enemy along the Atlantic coast. This "Mosquito Fleet" went up and down from Maine to Texas to ward off hostile submarines or raiders. Watch was also kept, when necessary, on the Pacific coast. In addition we protected many of our outgoing transports and merchant vessels by smoke screens, or by disguising them by painting them with strange stripes and zigzag patterns in bright colors. These would puzzle the enemy in his efforts to see whether the ships were armed or not; for if they were armed he knew he had better not show himself.
All of these measures were effective in some degree and so proved helpful in checking hostile activities. But of course our chief reliance was on "our boys in blue" who fought on board our regular warships. They not only hunted down German submarines everywhere, but they were always hoping that the day would come when they might have a pitched battle with the German fleet. But that fleet wisely preferred to stay quietly in its snug harbor most of the time, so that we had small chance of meeting it.
I The government report states that we had but 344 war vessels when we entered the contest with Germany, and that when it ended on November 11, 1918, we had 2003 vessels in our navy, 702 of which were warships of different kinds.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Meanwhile our sailors began laying more than forty thousand mines1 in the North Sea between Norway and Scotland, a distance of over two hundred miles. This immense task was in the highest degree difficult and dangerous. The enemy's submarines were constantly prowling about, trying to prevent the work. One of them sunk a mine-layer with all its crew. In like manner a single torpedo could have caused terrible havoc in any other of our vessels that were heavily loaded with these mines. All of the men on board knew, while they were laying them, that they might be hurled into the air by an explosion at any moment, but none flinched, for, as Captain Belknap, the commander of the expedition, tells us, their motto was: "Stick to your job and go up with it!"
447. Our Men reach Europe and do their Part in the Great War. Our first real act of war was to send Admiral Sims with a squadron of vessels to join the British navy in their battle with the German submarines. Next we sent General Pershing with a part of our Regular Army to Europe -- a thing we had never done before. Pershing's troops landed in France late in June, 1917. Later we began to send over more men, including many of our new National Army that we had drafted and trained at home.
Before it was possible for any considerable number of our troops to reach Europe very important changes had taken place there. Russia had risen in revolution and had made peace with Germany. That act released more than a million German soldiers who had been engaged in combat with the Russians. They were at once transferred, as rapidly as the railways could carry them, to add new strength to the powerful German armies which held in their grip nearly all Belgium and much of northeastern France.
The main German forces were at that time intrenched on the famous Hindenburg Line. (See Map, p. 419.) There were signs
I Mines. In its simplest form a submarine mine consisted of a large globe-shaped iron shell which contained an explosive which would destroy any vessel that chanced to hit it. The shell floated near the surface of the water, but was not in sight, and was kept from drifting by being attached to a rope fastened to a weight which rested on the sea-bottom.
OUR MEN REACH EUROPE
that many of the people of Germany were getting restless and impatient because the war had dragged on so long.
The Kaiser consulted his two chief military advisers1 and then resolved to begin a number of great drives against the British
GERMAN BATTLE LINES (MARCH 21 TO JULY 15, 1918)
The so-called Hindenburg Line was a broad belt of defense, which extended from the North Sea across Belgium and France to Switzerland, or nearly 470 miles. Its width varied from 3 to 12 miles. It consisted of an immense number of trenches, dugouts, tunnels and underground rooms, defended by machine guns, artillery, and great masses of barbed-wire entanglements and French forces before any large body of Pershing's soldiers could hope to reach Europe and come to their assistance.
1 Field Marshal Von Hindenburg (hin'den-boorg) and General Von Ludendorff (loo'den-dorf). The admirers of the Field Marshal set up a gigantic statue of him in wood and then made an "Iron Hindenburg" of it by driving it full of nails. Hindenburg is a man of iron, who has always believed that the greatest and most successful warrior is he who inspires the most abject and widespread terror. His friend Ludendorff is credited with having planned the five noted drives which he declared would secure the triumph of the Kaiser.