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Cultural and Ethnic Studies Essay on World War 1

World War 1

The World War 1 which began in Europe in 1914 and ended in 1924 was a global war thatmarked the fifth worst battle ever experienced in the world’s history. Information and statistics show that more than 9M war combatants perished during the war. These combatants led to a political revolution in the different countries involved in the conflict. The war had tow main opposing sides and these were the Central Power and Triple Entente. Immigrants and ethnic groups were heavily affected by the events of the war and the intense changes happened both during and after the war.

At the beginning of the First World War, more than a third of the US population was composed of either foreigners orthe children of immigrants from Europe. In fact, a big number of the immigrants mainly emerged from the Central Power Alliance, and comprised the German-American community. This community criticized the U.S. for granting intensive loansand selling firearms to the Allies (Ngai, Mae&Gjerde 38). During the reign of President Roosevelt, the immigrants who threatened U.S. politicians with the foreign vote were said to have committed a crime against the American Republic and the President urged them to remain loyal to the United States instead of their mother country.

President Woodrow (1913-1921)mobilizedpublic opinion in support of the war during his era. On January 1917, Germany’s foreign secretary sent theZimmerman telegram to the Germany Ambassador in U.S. andcautioned that, if America were to get involved in the war, Germany would support the Mexicans to recover the States of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. It was this message that provoked the public opinion of Americans against the large numbers of German-American community(McDonald & Jason28).

When the U.S. got involved in the war against Germany and the central powers, it looke for means to restrict theGerman culture in America. The U.S. administration thus banned German-language newspapers and every public sponsored school in America stopped teaching German,a move that adversely affected the German immigrant children. German books were removed from public libraries and subsequently burnt while all the churches that had been established by German immigrants were prohibited from conducting their masses and services in German language. The government demanded that theyuse English language, and this destroyed the German ethnic and linguistic identity.

By the end of the World War 1, many German-Americans had become assimilated to the American culture to an extent of losing their identity. The Germans reacted by trying to maintain their language through newspapers. In addition, they established German-language schools and trained German teachers who could boost education in their schools. German-Americans mainly supported the issues and concerns of the German government so much so that they voted for the anti-war politicians (McDonald & Jason 32). The immigration patterns in the U.S. contributed to the Great Depression that ravaged the American economy for more than a decade.

World War 1 also led to a number of revolutions in the African-American history because the European war affected the social, economic and political status of the blacks. The African-Americans demanded for recognition as American citizens and respect for their rights because of their involvement in the war. Even though when the war erupted,many African Americans were against the involvement of the United States in the war, they ended up supporting France because of its stance and campaign for racial equality, but the destruction that resulted from the warwere intense (Hewitt, Nancy & Delegard 38). After America entered into the war, many African Americans were willing to join the Allied and this totaled to more than 350,000 African Americans serving on the Western Front.

The eruption of the war coincided with The Great Migration of blacks during which statistics estimate that 500,000 black southerners moved to the north part of U.S. This migration changed greatly the status of the cities like Chicago, New York, and the American nation as a whole. Many of the blacks were farmers who struggled in debts and severe poverty because they majorly grew cotton, which had been infected with boll weevils from 1915-1916,thus exacerbating their living conditions.

After the war, the African Americans hoped that their loyalty and sacrifice during the war would positively improve the racial relations in America and boost their civil rights. The racial status never changed significantly after the war but, resulted in a transformation in their position in American society. The war empowered the blacks to obtain their citizenship and fight against racial injustices. The black men were permitted to join the military and were given an opportunity to fight for their country (Hewitt, Nancy, & Delegard 42).

The other community was the Irish-American Catholics who were less interested in the European continent. This group was reluctant to support the British Empire because it had never granted Ireland independence. The Irish Parliamentary Party however supported the war policies of the U.S.. The Irish American groups had the interest of fighting for American neutrality in the war. Since they were dominant in the Democratic Party, their views were taken into account and they were involved in every decision made (Kelly & Mary 32). The Irish Americans motive of supporting America war policies was to gain favor in their search for independence but this faced a big blow because after the war, America refused to lend them support in their fight for independence.

During the World War 1,there was massive immigration of Swedes to the United States, posinga big challenge to the solidarity of the nation and reduction of the work force needed for economic development. The Swedish Americans expressed their joy about migrating to their new homeland and criticized the harsh living conditions in Sweden which were characterized with severe poverty and low wages. However, when the war ended, the number of Swedish immigrants decreased and this was attributed to influence from the Emigration Commission (Bankston & Carl 34).

In conclusion, immigration has played a big role in the history of America especially considering that the country once had the most open immigration policy in the world for immigrants to occupy the empty land. Although the beginning of World War 1 was marked with reduced immigration from European countries, after the end of the war, mass immigration rose again and this led to formulation of new immigration policies by American government.

 

 

Works Cited

Bankston, Carl L. Great Events from History. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2009. Print.

Hewitt, Nancy A, and Kirsten Delegard. Women, Families, and Communities: Readings in American History. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. Print.

Kelly, Mary C. “A ‘sentinel(s) of our liberties’: Archbishop John Hughes and Irish-American intellectual negotiation in the Civil War era.”Irish Studies Review (2010): n. pag. Print.

McDonald, Jason. “Marginalizing the Marginalized in Wartime: African Americans and Mexican Americans in Austin, Texas, during the World War I Era.”Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2006): n. pag. Print.

Ngai, Mae M, and Jon Gjerde. Major Problems in American Immigration History: Documents and Essays. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

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