Documents of American Diplomacy: From the American Revolution to the Present

By Michael D. Gambone | Go to book overview

Part Seven

The Interwar Period

America exited the Great War with a grand celebration of victory, but also with a broadly held understanding of its substantial cost. In little more than a year, 116,516 Americans died in the conflict. Another 204,002 were wounded. Few communities were left untouched by the sacrifice of so many young men. 1 Few also escaped the public passions uncapped by the domestic mobilization for the war. Wartime patriotism had illustrated a remarkable degree of national unity in a time of crisis. But it had also revealed a disturbing streak of intolerance deep within the recesses of American society. Many of the wounds suffered by the United States were self-inflicted, through its jingoism and nativism. Many of these problems were compounded by a wartime government intent on enforcing a national consensus at times without regard for the rule of law. 2 The hysteria that surrounded the Red Scare of 1919-1920 seemed to promise more of the same in the postwar. 3

America therefore exited the Great War occupied by an interesting paradox. For the most part, the country wanted to leave the war behind and discount it as a brief, albeit necessary, exposure to the problems of the Old World. Americans seemed little interested in the jobs left unfinished by the war: the reconstruction of Europe and the nurturing of a new democracy in Weimar Germany. Instead, the general public focused on a new presidential election, the question of universal suffrage, and the prosperity beginning to take hold in a peacetime nation. Conversely, the United States stood poised in 1920 to assume an unprecedented role in world affairs. America began the new peace a creditor nation, one which controlled a major share of global capital and investment. After the First World War, the United States produced 70 percent of the world's oil and 40 percent of its coal. Between 1914 and 1930, American private investments abroad would grow from $3.5 billion to $17.2 billion. Between 1925 and 1929, 46 percent of the world's industrial goods came from the United States. New York would displace London as the world's financial capital. 4 The exten-

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Documents of American Diplomacy: From the American Revolution to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Part One - The Colonial Era 1
  • Part Two - The Early Republic 41
  • Part Three - The Civil War 83
  • Part Four - The Gilded Age 97
  • Part Five - The Early Empire 113
  • Part Six - The First World War 151
  • Part Seven - The Interwar Period 189
  • Part Eight - The Second World War 259
  • Part Nine - The Cold War 287
  • Part Ten - The Post-Cold War Era 447
  • Selected Bibliography 553
  • Index 575
  • About the Author 580
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