Chapter IV
Revival: The World War (1914-1918)

The First World War came at the nadir of the conservative defense against the progressive onslaught. Inevitably, the cataclysm overseas transformed the domestic situation. The prosperity that came with mounting British and French purchases, and the intense propaganda of the pro-Allied advocates of preparedness, helped Republican conservatives to turn political attention away from the problems of domestic reform and toward the issues coming out of the great conflict.

Although Beck was one of the first Americans to speak up for the Entente, he did not do so for political reasons. His pro-Allied fervor was sincere enough, stemming from longtime personal contacts in England and a strong conviction that Germany was responsible for the war. However, Theodore Roosevelt, eager to escape from the blind alley of the Progressive party and return to the G.O.P., gave the war-born issue of preparedness a political orientation. Under the aegis of patriotic societies such as the National Security League, Republican standpatters developed a potent amalgam of issues: support for the Allies, preparedness, Americanism, domestic conservatism, and anti-Wilsonism. The 1916 election showed that the majority of Americans still did not accept this political position, but when the United States finally entered the war in April, 1917, Theodore Roosevelt and James M. Beck


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In Defense of Yesterday


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