American Political and Economic History

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Topic: History
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President Wilson and the First World War

The Great Wars that existed between nations before the emergence of the First World War ensured that America protected its territories from external attacks. It has to form diplomatic relations with countries that share with its international waters to ensure its navy and merchant ships were protected. The relationship between Germany and America became sour when the former nation violated the treaty that required all nations not to attack vessels from other countries unless they provoked them.

Germany believed that it owned the territory around Europe and issued warnings that it would attack any ship that would be seen around the waters of this continent (Faragher, Buhle, Armitage and Czitrom 128). Wilson was considered to have humanitarianism ideologies and thus he ended the diplomatic relationship between these two countries to show Germany that he was not pleased with its decision.

Germany ignored all threats issued by America and instead went ahead and started attacking American ships and sank three of them on March 18th, 1917. Most countries that were not in good terms were struggling to seek support from others as a way of preparing for war. However, Germany blew things up when it wrote a letter to Mexico. The latter was requesting its support in ensuring it joins Germany in fighting America; unfortunately, it was intercepted, and this worsened the relationship between these two countries.

Americans had never supported a president whose agenda included attacking other countries; however, Germany had taken things for granted for too long and it was time for this country to act. Wilson worked very hard to persuade the Congress to declare war on Germany and his prayers were answered on April 16th, 1917. This sentiment was expressed by most Americans that were tired of seeing their brothers being butchered by Germans (Faragher et al. 139).

Wilson believed that Germany was responsible for the conflicts around Europe; therefore, he was confident that this country would be incapacitated if it was attacked and devastated at once.

He made several arrangements like recruiting an additional three million soldiers into the military to expand its size to about five million and made several changes in the leadership of the military. In addition, he restructured the production of American war materials, fuel and foodstuffs to ensure the military was supplied with all stuff they required to win the war.

The Treaty of Versailles was established to control Germany and the Allied Powers. Wilson was very instrumental in ensuring this treaty was established to prevent Germany from controlling sand attacking vessels that toured Europe’s coasts. The Geneva Convention is a collection of four treaties that ensured humanitarian conditions were promoted internationally by all countries (Faragher et al. 144). It criminalized attacks by countries on others and protected the rights of war prisoners.

The fear of communism in the United States was managed by persuading the Soviet Union to fight Germany. However, the marriage between these countries was short-lived because America wanted nations to be free to participate in international trade while the Soviet Union wanted to promote Communism. Therefore, America was determined to stop the spread of communism and kill it. The result of this was the formation of allied forces and this led to the rise of the Second World War.

America will never be able to stay out of military actions because of the fear of the rise of another world super power. Today, it is involved in Cold war with countries like China, Russia and others that seem to show interest in controlling the world economy and politics. The future of America’s foreign policy is anchored on the belief that no country should have the chance of influencing others because this threatens its position as the world’s strongest nation.

Changes in Approaches to the American Economy from 1920s to 1950s

America experienced its worst 20th century economic crisis between 1920 and 1940 soon after Herbert Hoover was elected the president of this country. The late summer of 1929 saw many investors dump the American stock market and fled to Britain for foreign investment (Faragher et al. 149). Most Americans pulled their money from this country’s stock market.

The Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929) is the day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped within a ten day period and crashed, leading to the dumping of about 16 million American shares by investors. Most Americans had been swayed by their conservatism practice of buying on margin, which triggered the Black Tuesday’s events. In addition, there was heavy investment in the consumer goods industry as the economy of this country shifted from heavy industrial investments.

Therefore, there were less exports because the economy focused on producing consumer goods like electronics, automobiles and foodstuffs (Faragher et al. 152). Most people started purchasing these goods on credit; therefore, this exposed creditors to bad debts when the economy exploded and debtors were unable to repay their loans.

The beginning of the Great Depression was inevitable because people were unable to buy goods because there were no jobs to ensure they earned salaries. In addition, industries could not employ workers and instead retrenched most of them because their products remained in stores for longer periods.

Margin buying of shares by consumers worsened this situation because it floated a lot of theoretical money in circulation (Faragher et al. 159). Financial controllers were unable to manage these cycles because there were no fiscal policies to regulate the production of consumer goods and margin buying of shares.

Income inequality became a reality because most people could not afford expensive lifestyles; therefore, they were unable to maintain an average budget and this placed them on the low income category. Bad banking practices like corruption, margin buying of shares using investors’ savings and lack of federal regulations fueled the depression (Faragher et al. 159).

The aftermath of the First World War required Germany to repay France and England the money it used to acquire military equipment and sustain its economy during the conflict. It did not have the money and thus France and England could not pay America because they too had offered a lot of financial assistance to Germany.

These debts affected America’s ability to invest in development projects because it had no money to do so. Hoover’s failure to recognize and act to alleviate the effects of the Great Depression devastated the economy of the United States.

Franklin D. Roosevelt revolutionized the economy of the United States. He inherited a dilapidated economy from Hoover but managed to expand employment opportunities and adopt taxation policies that ensured citizens were not overburdened.

His New Deal of cost sharing between the government and citizens was a serious threat to capitalism and this made critics to think that he was reverting to communism. His controversial income tax proposals did not see the light of the day and he had to persuade the Congress to accept them (Faragher et al. 161).

Harry S. Truman’s greatest challenge was to reduce spending on military because the Second World War had ended. In addition, he had to manage the striking workers that demanded high salaries. He introduced price controls on consumer goods cushioned Americans against economic hardships. He reduced the power of labor unions to ensure there was less aggression from workers.

Dwight D. Eisenhower revolutionized the transport system by introducing the Interstate Highway System that ensured all regions were connected. John F. Kennedy’s greatest achievement was lowering the interest rates of loans that encouraged investments and growth of the economy.

Works Cited

Faragher, John, Mari Jo Buhle, Susan H. Armitage and Daniel H. Czitrom. Out of Many: A History of the American People, Brief Edition. New Jersey: Pearson, 2011. Print.