conservation the effort to protect something valuable from being destroyed or used up
27.8 W. E. B. Du Bois: Spokesman for Equal Rights
In 1897, a black sociologist named W. E. B. Du Bois joined the faculty of Atlanta University. His plan was to study social problems “in the light of the best scientific research.”
Everywhere he looked, Du Bois saw the terrible effects of racism on African Americans. In the South, Jim Crow laws segregated schools, trains, parks, and other public places. These laws also banned blacks from voting in most states. Blacks in the North were not legally segregated, but they still faced discrimination, particularly in housing and jobs.
African Americans who fought these injustices risked being lynched, or brutally attacked and killed. Between 1892 and 1903, almost 3,000 African Americans were lynched across the South. “One could not be a calm, cool, and detached scientist,” Du Bois found, “while Negroes were lynched, murdered, and starved.”
Du Bois wanted to do something, but what? Booker T. Washington, the best-known black leader of that time, advised African Americans to make the best of segregation. Washington was a former slave who had founded Tuskegee Institute, a vocational school for blacks. He believed that job skills for African Americans would lead to economic progress and eventual acceptance. “The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly,” he said.
Du Bois could not accept such thinking. In 1905, he gathered influential African Americans at Niagara Falls to push directly for voting rights. He wanted to see an end to discrimination, or unfair treatment based on race. “We want the Constitution of the country enforced,” they declared. “We are men! We will be treated as men.”
This group, known as the Niagara Movement, continued to meet each year. In 1909, they joined a group of white reformers who were also dissatisfied with Booker T. Washington’s cautious approach. Together, they formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The new organization pledged to work for equal rights and opportunities for all African Americans. By 1920, the NAACP had over 90,000 members. Their goal was to make 11 million African Americans “physically free from peonage [servitude], mentally free from ignorance, politically free from disenfranchisement [denial of rights], and socially free from insult.”
In 1917, the NAACP, which W.E.B. Du Bois helped form, organized this silent protest parade against lynching.
27.9 Upton Sinclair: Truth Writer
When Upton Sinclair wrote a novel about the horrors of slavery, few people bought it. Then a publisher asked if Sinclair would write a book about factory workers who were treated like slaves. Sinclair jumped at the chance. Workers at a Chicago meatpacking plant had just been brutally defeated in a labor dispute. Sinclair would write about them.
Meatpacking Horrors In 1900, Chicago was the home of the nation’s biggest meatpacking companies. Disguised as a worker, Sinclair spent seven weeks in the slaughterhouses. There he observed how cattle and hogs became steaks and sausages. He observed employees with missing thumbs, and fingers eaten away by acid. He heard stories of deadly falls into cooking vats.
Based on his research, Sinclair wrote a tragic story of poor immigrants trapped in poverty by greedy meatpackers. In his novel The Jungle, he described the horrors of the meatpacking plants in great detail. He told of sick animals being processed into food. He described sausage made from old, rotten meat mixed with everything from sawdust to rodents. “Rats were nuisances,” he wrote, “and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together.”
The Jungle became America’s biggest bestseller since Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But readers were more upset about the contents of their sausage than the treatment of the “wage slaves.” “I aimed at the public’s heart,” said Sinclair, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
Safer Food and Drugs After reading The Jungle, President Roosevelt ordered an investigation of the meatpacking industry. When his investigators confirmed that conditions were as bad as Sinclair had claimed, Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act. This set health standards for meatpacking and ordered federal inspection of meat.
Other muckrakers revealed similar problems in the food-canning and drug industries. Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act. This law requires manufacturers to use safe ingredients in their products and to advertise them truthfully. Future decades would bring more laws protecting American consumers.
Upton Sinclair shocked readers with his description of conditions inside meat-packing plants such as this one. The unsanitary conditions prompted the government to begin meat inspections.
27.10 Alice Paul: Heroine of Women’s Rights
By 1900, women had won their fight for suffrage, or the right to vote, in four western states. Elsewhere, the drive for voting rights seemed stalled. The Progressive movement, however, breathed new life into the campaign begun at Seneca Falls in 1848. Many Progressives believed that their reforms would be adopted more quickly if women had the right to vote.
A New Suffrage Movement In 1916, a young reformer named Alice Paul formed what came to be known as the National Woman’s Party. Older women’s groups had worked to win the right to vote state by state. Paul and her supporters were determined to win the vote by a constitutional amendment.
To build momentum for a suffrage amendment, Paul organized a parade in Washington, D.C. More than 5,000 women marched amidst jeers and insults from onlookers. Newspapers applauded the courage of the “suffragettes,” as the activists came to be known.
Passing the Nineteenth Amendment By 1918, women could vote in 12 states, but they had made little progress on the suffrage amendment. The Woman’s Party began holding silent vigils outside the White House. The protesters held banners that read, “Mr. President, What Will You Do for Woman Suffrage?” and “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”
Police arrested 200 women for blocking the sidewalk. While in jail, Paul and her supporters went on a hunger strike. When the jailers tried to force-feed them, the public became enraged. The women were released to a hero’s welcome.
Less than two months later, a suffrage amendment was approved by the House of Representatives by just one vote more than the two-thirds majority required. The amendment had been introduced by Jeanette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress. Senate approval took another 18 months. The states finally ratified the Nineteenth Amendment on August 26, 1920. That year, women across the country voted in their first national election.
Paul went on to draft another amendment guaranteeing equal rights to women. “I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction,” she said, even though the amendment was never ratified. “Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.”
Women across the country made banners, marched, and banded together to demand the right to vote.
suffrage the right to vote
27.11 Chapter Summary
In this chapter, you learned about the Progressive movement of the early 20th century. You used a panel of historical figures to help understand the views and work of social leaders during this time.
As early as the 1870s, farmers had organized in protest against government’s laissez-faire policies and the growing power of big business. The Granger and Populist movements championed the cause of the “common man.” Their ideas helped sow the seeds of Progressive reform.
To men of industry like Rockefeller and Carnegie, calls for reform were misguided. All of America, they argued, had benefited from industrialization. They saw a country that was growing in wealth. Ordinary Americans enjoyed luxuries that were unheard of just a short time before.
Progressives agreed that many industrial advances were good for the country. But they also saw continuing problems in American society. They used newspapers, magazines, and books to draw attention to such issues as child labor, fair business practices, conservation, and equal rights. Government regulation, they said, was needed to soften the negative effects of the industrial age.
Progressives fought for many different causes, such as the rights of workers, women, African Americans, and consumers. Their efforts convinced many people that government had a role to play in correcting social problems.
The work of Progressives gave hope for a better future for millions of Americans. In the next chapter, you will read about how America’s successes helped the country to become a powerful world leader.
The Progressive Era was characterized by a spirit of reform. Americans faced a host of serious problems and tried to correct them. Did they succeed, or are some of the problems still evident today?
America Becomes a World Power
How would you describe the expression on the eagle’s face?
Why is the American flag placed here?
William McKinley owed Theodore Roosevelt a big favor. Roosevelt had just helped him get elected president. The fiery Roosevelt had spoken all over America in 1896, promoting McKinley’s support of business and industry. With energy and inspiration, he attacked the supporters of McKinley’s opponent, like farmers and workers who felt left out of industry’s great profits. These opponents, Roosevelt cried, planned nothing less than “revolution.”
Now Roosevelt wanted McKinley to appoint him to be assistant secretary of the navy. McKinley, who favored peace, feared that Roosevelt was too warlike. Still, he gave Roosevelt the job. As he took office, Roosevelt said, “No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war…. It is through strife, or the readiness for strife, that a nation must win greatness.”
Some newspapers called Roosevelt patriotic. Others worried that he would push the country into war. Americans had mixed feelings about getting involved in inter- national affairs. Expanding across the continent had given America enough territory to move into for decades. Recovery from the Civil War, followed by industrial expansion, had also given Americans plenty to focus on at home.
Now, the West was more settled, and the United States had become an industrial and agricultural leader. To keep the economy growing, business leaders wanted overseas markets. Seeing European countries controlling foreign lands, they didn’t want to be left out. The national pride that had inspired Manifest Destiny was calling for new challenges.
Roosevelt agreed. He allied himself with American expansionists—people who wanted to extend the nation’s power within the Western Hemisphere and around the world. In this chapter, you will learn how the expansionists achieved their goals. As it flexed its muscles overseas, the United States acquired new territories and became a world power. Before long, it would be drawn into a global war—and a difficult struggle to restore the peace.
Graphic Organizer: Front Page Headline
You will use this front page headline to summarize key information about U.S. foreign policy from the late 1800s to 1920.
28.2 America Stretches Its Wings
In 1867, Secretary of State William Seward arranged for the United States to purchase Alaska from Russia. At the time, few people thought that acquiring this vast wilderness was a good idea. Even at a price of just two cents an acre, many labeled the deal “Seward’s Folly.”
But the “arctic wasteland” turned out to have thick forests, plentiful fish and wildlife, and mild coastal climates. Eventually settlers would discover gold, copper, coal, and other minerals there. With such potential treasures at stake, expansionists felt that America should gain control over other areas of the world as well.
Rise of Expansionism Some Americans objected to expansionism, saying that it was contrary to American values. Taking over other lands, declared former senator Carl Schurz, would mean that “our old democratic principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the people will have to go overboard.”
Others warned that such takeovers would cause revolutions abroad. Some raised racist objections, arguing that nonwhites in other countries could never learn American values.
William Jennings Bryan, who had run for president against McKinley, believed that the United States could be powerful without taking over other lands. He said that America “has exerted upon the human race an influence more potent than all the other nations of the earth combined, and it has exerted that influence without the use of the sword or Gatling [machine] gun.”
By the 1890s, however, American business leaders were eager to dig mines and establish plantations in new places. Others wanted new markets for finished products. For years, European countries had been practicing imperialism, building empires by taking control of the governments and economies of other countries. American expansionists wanted to follow their example. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge declared, “Commerce follows the flag…. As one of the great nations of the world, the United States must not fall out of the line of march.”
Expansion in Asia and the Pacific America’s foreign expansionism started with measures to protect profitable overseas trading. In Asia, several European countries had made efforts to control trade with China. The
In this political cartoon, Secretary of State William Seward is pictured pulling a wheelbarrow containing a useless block of ice. President Andrew Johnson is pushing the wheelbarrow. What do you think this cartoonist thought about the purchase of Alaska?
imperialism the policy of extending a nation’s power by gaining political and economic control over other countries
United States announced that American companies would trade anywhere in China they wanted. The government also established trade treaties with Japan.
To reach such Asian ports, ships crossing the Pacific needed to be able to stop at strategically located islands for fuel and food. To keep European countries from claiming all these places for themselves, the United States occupied the Midway Islands, which were located in the Pacific between California and Asia.
Annexing Hawaii Closer to California lay a larger, more fertile group of islands that Americans found even more attractive—Hawaii. Americans had first come to these islands in the 1820s as missionaries. Their goal was to convert the native Hawaiians to Christianity. The Hawaiians, whose ancestors had come from the South Pacific, had lived on these islands for more than a thousand years. They were ruled by their own kings and queens.
In 1835, a Boston merchant established a large sugar plantation in Hawaii. Before long, American-owned sugar and pineapple plantations dotted the islands. The planters brought laborers to Hawaii from China and Japan to work in their vast fields. Under pressure from the planters, the Hawaiians agreed in 1887 to let the United States establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu. The planters also persuaded Congress to allow Hawaiian sugar to be imported into the United States without paying any tariff (import tax).
U.S. sugar growers objected that the law now favored Hawaiian sugar over domestically grown sugar. They convinced Congress to give a bonus to growers in the United States. Hawaiian planters wanted that bonus, too. So they asked the United States to annex Hawaii.
Meanwhile, native Hawaiians increasingly resented being pushed around by Americans. When Queen Liliuokalani took the throne in 1891, people rallied around her call of “Hawaii for Hawaiians.” Americans in Hawaii feared that they would lose their land. With help from U.S. marines, planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to give up her throne and established a new government for the islands.
Despite the planters’ wishes, President Grover Cleveland refused to support the annexation of Hawaii. Cleveland, who opposed imperialism, said that Hawaii should be ruled by Hawaiians. But in 1898, under President McKinley, the United States did annex Hawaii.
Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, insisted that native Hawaiians should control the islands. American planters, fearing they would lose their land, organized a revolt that dethroned her.
28.3 “A Splendid Little War”
Americans also established huge sugar plantations on the Caribbean island of Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida. Like nearby Puerto Rico, Cuba was still a Spanish colony.
By the 1890s, American expansionists wanted to annex both of these islands. To support their ambitions, they argued that it was time for the United States to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. No European country, they said, should control territory in the Western Hemisphere.
Cubans Struggle for Independence The Cubans themselves had staged an unsuccessful revolt against Spain in 1868. In 1895, under the inspiring leadership of José Martí, Cubans again tried to win their independence.
To crush this movement, the Spanish herded men, women, and children into “reconcentration camps.” Forced to live with inadequate food, beds, toilets, and medical care, tens of thousands died.
American newspapers jumped at the chance to report stories of Cuban suffering. Competing fiercely for customers, some newspapers resorted to yellow journalism, offering sensational and shocking reports. Some of these stories were based on rumors and untruths. One said that a Spanish general was “feeding prisoners to sharks.”
As sympathy for Cubans grew, more and more Americans were willing to go to war for Cuba. To help Americans in Cuba in case of trouble, President McKinley sent the new battleship Maine to the island’s capital city, Havana.
The Spanish-American War Trouble soon erupted in Havana. On February 15, 1898, an explosion shook the Maine, sinking the battleship and killing 260 American sailors. No one knew whether the explosion was caused by an accident or a mine (bomb). But many Americans were quick to blame Spain. Said Theodore Roosevelt, “The Maine was sunk by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards!”
Young men rushed to join the army, raising the battle cry “Remember the Maine!” Senators shouted “Free Cuba!” Hoping to avoid war, McKinley offered to work out a solution between the Spanish and the Cubans. But the Spanish did not respond.
Faced with newspapers and members of Congress calling him a coward, McKinley asked Congress to declare war. Congress quickly agreed, and on
When an explosion sunk the battleship Maine and killed 260 men, Americans immediately accused Spain of causing the tragedy, and demanded war. In 1976, Admiral H. G. Rickover, acting for the U.S. Navy, presented evidence that the explosion was probably caused by spontaneous combustion in one of the coal containers.
yellow journalism the practice of publishing sensational and often exaggerated news stories in order to attract readers
April 19 voted to go to war with Spain to free Cuba. At the same time, Congress approved a resolution stating that the United States intended “to leave the government and control of the Island [Cuba] to its people.”
The American army quickly grew from 30,000 to over 274,000 men. Roosevelt resigned from his position as assistant secretary of the navy and put together his own regiment. A mixture of powerful, wealthy men and seasoned ranch hands, it came to be called the Rough Riders.
After long preparations, the Rough Riders and 17,000 other Americans arrived in Cuba. Seeing that Cuban fighters lacked the strength or the weapons to force the Spanish out of fortified cities and harbors, Roosevelt and his Rough Riders decided to capture Santiago, a major city. To do this, they had to capture nearby San Juan Hill, from which Spanish forces were able to defend the city.
The attacking force included the Rough Riders and African American troops from several regiments. Up the hill they charged, braving Spanish fire. “They walked to greet death at every step, many of them, as they advanced, sinking suddenly or pitching forward…but others waded on… creeping higher and higher up the hill,” wrote an American reporter. “It was a miracle of self-sacrifice, a triumph of bull-dog courage.”
The Americans captured San Juan Hill. Realizing that Santiago was lost, the Spanish tried to save their ships, sending them steaming out of the harbor. But Americans sank or captured every ship. The Spanish soon surrendered.
The Spanish-American War lasted just four months. Only 345 Americans died in combat, although 5,500 died of disease. Many Americans agreed with Secretary of State John Hay that it had been “a splendid little war.”
In the peace treaty with Spain, Cuba gained its independence, while Puerto Rico came under American rule. The United States agreed to remove all of its troops from Cuba. However, Cuba was forced to agree that American troops could return if necessary to preserve law and order as well as defend the island’s independence. The United States was also allowed to keep naval bases in Cuba. Despite a revolution that forced American businesses out of Cuba in the 1950s, the naval bases still remain today.
The African American 10th Calvary provided strong support to Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders as they charged up San Juan Hill. The capture of the hill allowed American guns to bombard Santiago Harbor. When the Spanish fleet attempted to escape, it was completely destroyed, and Spain sued for peace.
28.4 The Philippines
After the Maine exploded in Cuba, Assistant Naval Secretary Theodore Roosevelt sent a telegram to the head of America’s Pacific fleet, Admiral George Dewey. “In the event of declaration of war,” the telegram ordered, “[begin] offensive operations in Philippine Islands.”
Battle at Manila Bay The Philippines provided Spain’s main base in the Pacific. The islands’ people, called Filipinos, had tried many times to throw off Spanish colonial rule. In 1898 they were trying again. Led by General Emilio Aguinaldo, they had begun attacking the Spanish army and government officials. Now their struggle was about to become part of the war between the United States and Spain.
Dewey’s fleet arrived in Manila, the Philippine capital, just five days after war with Spain was declared. At dawn on May 1, American battleships faced Spanish gunships. As naval bands struck up “The Star- Spangled Banner,” sailors stood on deck and saluted the flag. These men were about to engage in the first battle of the Spanish-American War.
By 11 a.m., the entire Spanish fleet was burning, sunk, or sinking. Spain’s old wooden ships were no match for the modern steel American ships with well-trained crews. Only one American had died in the battle.
Defeating the Spanish Dewey blockaded Manila’s port until American troops could arrive to take the city. Filipino fighters, allied with Dewey, surrounded Manila. The Filipinos believed that the coming Americans would help them gain independence. While they waited, Aguinaldo issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence, formed a national government, and designed a national flag.
Once U.S. reinforcements showed up, the Spanish agreed to “lose” a fake battle in order to surrender to the Americans. They didn’t want to give themselves up to the Filipinos, who resented Spanish rule so intensely.
Fighting the Filipinos In a treaty negotiated after the surrender, the United States “bought” the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. Then, in 1899, Congress voted to annex the Philippines.
Aguinaldo’s government felt betrayed. Angrily, the Filipino leader called for “war without quarter to the false Americans who have deceived us! Either independence or death!”
For three years, over 80,000 Filipino fighters fought off better-trained and better-armed American troops. Soldiers on both sides tortured prisoners. Americans became increasingly cruel, harming civilians and destroying villages.
General Emilio Aguinaldo believed that the United States would help the Philippines gain independence from Spain. When the United States annexed the Philippines, he fought for Filipino freedom.
Some Americans protested that denying independence to the Philippines violated American ideals. Carl Schurz was a leader among these anti-imperialists. Said Schurz, “We shall, for the first time since the abolition of slavery, again have two kinds of Americans: first-class Americans, who have the privilege of taking part in government, and second-class Americans, who are to be ruled by the first-class Americans.”
But expansionists won the day. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge argued that “Manila with its magnificent bay…will keep us open to the markets of China.” President McKinley himself believed that the Philippines could become “a land of plenty…a people redeemed from savage and indolent [lazy] habits…set…in the pathway of the world’s best civilization.”
More than 20,000 Filipinos and about 4,000 Americans died in the struggle. When the revolt was finally put down, the Americans set up a nonmilitary government to “prepare Filipinos for independence.” Americans built roads, hospitals, and schools. But the United States did not grant the Philippines independence until 1947.
28.5 Panama and the Canal
By 1901, America’s favorite hero from the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt, had become vice president. “We stand on the threshold of a new century,” Roosevelt declared. “Is America a weakling, to shrink from the work of the great powers? No. The young giant of the West stands on a continent and clasps the crest of an ocean in either hand.”
Dreaming of a Canal Roosevelt wanted to join those two oceans with a canal. If ships could move quickly between the Atlantic and the Pacific, the navy would be better able to defend America’s new territories. And businesses would gain from lower shipping costs.
In September 1901, President McKinley was shot and killed by an assassin, and Roosevelt became president. In his first speech to Congress, Roosevelt argued for the canal. “No single great material work which remains to be undertaken on this continent is of such consequence to the American people,” he told the nation.
Congress soon approved funding. In 1903, Roosevelt offered Colombia $10 million for land in their province of Panama, the narrowest part of Central America. The Colombian senate refused, feeling that the United States was trying to take a weaker country’s valuable resources.
A long war between the United States and the Filipinos who resisted U.S. control resulted in heavy casualties. More than 20,000 Filipinos were killed before the Philippines became independent in 1947.
Furious, Roosevelt sent an American warship to Panama. Roosevelt knew that Panamanians wanted independence. The day after the ship arrived, a revolution started in Panama. With American marines keeping Colombian soldiers from reaching Panama’s harbors, the rebels quickly won.
The new country of Panama agreed to accept $10 million in exchange for giving the United States control over a “canal zone” ten miles wide. Some American senators and newspapers, and countries all over the world, objected to America’s “gunboat diplomacy.” But most of the public supported the president. He was living out his personal motto, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Building “The Big Ditch” Construction on the canal began in 1904. Workers faced terrible conditions. “We had to bathe, wash our clothes in the same river; drink the same river water and cook with it,” said one. A year later, three quarters of American workers had quit the project.
The majority of employees were workers from the West Indies who couldn’t afford to go home. To prevent deadly yellow fever and malaria, crews worked to eliminate the mosquitoes that carried these diseases. They drained ditches, spread oil on swamps, and screened doors and windows. Within two years, canal workers were no longer dying from these diseases.
A new chief engineer improved housing and strictly organized the huge project. Using dynamite and huge steam shovels, men made a wide, deep cut through Panama’s mountains. The excavated dirt was moved by railroad car to lower elevations. Here workers created earthen dams to form three giant lakes. Engineers supervised the construction of locks, a type of gate that would allow water levels to be raised and lowered along the canal.
By the time the 51-mile-long canal opened in 1914, Roosevelt had left office. His influence in the Panamanian revolution continued to be controversial. Roosevelt himself admitted, “I took the Canal Zone.” In 1921, Congress apologized to Colombia and gave it $25 million. But anti-American feelings remained high in Latin America, and Panamanians increasingly resented American control of the Canal Zone. In 2000, the United States returned the zone to Panama.
The Culebra Cut, shown here, was one of the engineering miracles that allowed engineers to complete the Panama Canal in ten years. Millions of pounds of dynamite blasted apart the mountain. The earth was then used to construct dams to form lakes.
U.S. Expansion Around the World 1867-1903
28.6 The Outbreak of World War I
By the time the first ship sailed through the Panama Canal, the world’s attention was not on Panama, but on far-off Europe. In August 1914, German troops poured across Belgium, on their way to try to conquer France. Europe was at war.
Tensions in Europe European countries had long competed with each other for colonies, trade, and territory. By the early 1900s, nationalism was complicating these rivalries. Austria-Hungry had built an empire by taking over smaller countries in the part of eastern Europe known as the Balkans. Nationalism inspired in the Balkan people a burning desire to be independent of Austrian rule.
As tensions grew, European leaders looked for safety in militarism, a policy of glorifying military power and military ideas and values. When Germany built up its navy to challenge Britain’s fleet, Britain constructed more battleships. As Germany’s army grew, France built up its own army.
European countries also looked for safety in alliances. In secret treaties, Germany and Austria-Hungary agreed to help each other in case of attack. Britain, Russia, and France made similar agreements. Europe was dividing into armed camps.
Assassination Leads to War An outburst of nationalism lit the fuse of war. On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was visiting the city of Sarajevo in the province of Bosnia. Many Bosnians were Serbs who wanted to be part of nearby Serbia. A Serbian nationalist jumped out of a crowd and fatally shot the archduke and his wife.
Outraged, Austria-Hungary accused Serbia of having a hand in the assassinations and pressured Serbia to give up most of its independence. When the Serbs refused, Austria-Hungary declared war. The Russians stepped in to defend the Serbs. The Germans came to the aid of Austria-Hungary by declaring war on Russia. Russia’s ally, France, began to prepare for war.
Eventually, more than a dozen countries took sides in the “Great War.” (Decades later, people called the conflict World War I.) Austria-Hungary and Germany headed the Central Powers. France, Russia, and Britain led the Allied Powers.
Like most Americans, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to stay out of the war. Declaring that the United States would remain neutral, Wilson begged citizens to be “impartial in thought as well as deed.”
The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are shown here shortly before they were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. The assassination triggered World War I.