Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Author: Dennis Cross (page 1 of 2)

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: February 1918

In February 1918 the Bolsheviks, now in control in Russia, decide to pull out of the war at any cost rather than risk losing their revolution.  Germany exploits Russian weakness by increasing its demands and sending its armies forward until Russia capitulates.  In the United States, the President replies to statements made by leaders of the Central Powers in response to his “Fourteen Points,” and adds four more.  The British Parliament debates and defeats a pacifist’s proposed response to the speech from the throne.  President Wilson, facing a domestic challenge, opposes a Senate proposal to create a War Cabinet to direct the war effort, but supports his own proposal to give himself more power to do so.  The workless Monday rule is suspended after less than a month.  SS Tuscania, a British troop ship carrying American soldiers to Europe, is attacked by a U-boat and sunk off the coast of Ireland. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: January 1918

It’s January 1918.  As a new year begins, President Wilson outlines his vision for a postwar world in an address to Congress.  His “Fourteen Points,” which follow Prime Minister Lloyd George’s statement of British war aims by only three days, are based on study and analysis conducted by a group of intellectuals called the “Inquiry,” a precursor of the Council on Foreign Relations.  The Bolsheviks walk away from the talks at Brest-Litovsk, but the reality of Russia’s military situation forces them to return.  Workers demanding an end to the war go on strike in Austria-Hungary and Germany.  The popularly elected Russian Constituent Assembly holds its first and only session before being shut down the next day by the Red Guards.  In the Mediterranean, the Ottoman Navy loses the two German cruisers it gained in the early days of the war.  In the United States, the government curtails manufacturing industries to conserve fuel.  The House of Representatives approves a woman suffrage amendment to the Constitution.  Americans enjoy music by Jerome Kern and George M. Cohan.

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Centennial Countdown to the Great War: December 1917

One of the most consequential years in world history, highlighted by the Communist revolution in Russia and the United States’ entry into the World War, has come to an end.  In December 1917 the Bolsheviks, having driven the Provisional Government from power, occupy Russian Army headquarters and murder the Army’s former commander-in-chief.  An armistice is declared on the Eastern Front and negotiations begin for a permanent peace treaty between the new Russian government and the Central Powers.  The announced goal of the talks is a peace on the basis of no annexations and a withdrawal of occupying forces, but the difficulty of achieving that goal in practice becomes apparent when the two sides present their proposals.  In Palestine, a British Army commanded by General Edmund Allenby occupies Jerusalem.  On the Western Front the British stall German counterattacks at Cambrai and dig into defensive positions for the winter; Italian forces, aided by British reinforcements, turn back the Austrians on the Asiago Plateau.  Ships collide in Halifax harbor, causing a fire and a massive explosion that kills thousands.  An American destroyer is torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.  The United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.  Colonel House returns from Paris where he has been meeting with the Allies.  President Wilson, using his war powers, takes control of the nation’s railroads.  The House of Representatives joins the Senate in approving a prohibition amendment to the Constitution. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: November 1917

In November 1917 British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issues a declaration stating the British Government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”  The Bolsheviks seize power in Russia and proclaim to the world that the new government intends to negotiate an “immediate democratic peace.”  Prime Minister Kerensky escapes Petrograd and rallies the Army in an attempt to retake control, but is defeated and goes into hiding.  Trotsky publishes the text of confidential diplomatic communications and secret treaties with foreign governments discovered in the Russian Foreign Office.  Armistice negotiations between Russia and Germany begin.  On the Western Front, the battle of Passchendaele comes to an end after weeks of intense combat and high casualties on both sides.  The British Army launches a surprise tank attack at Cambrai; initial gains are lost in German counterattacks.  Allied leaders meet in Rapallo to coordinate strategy.  French Prime Minister Painleve is forced to resign after losing a vote of confidence; former Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau assumes leadership of a new government.  An American delegation led by Colonel House arrives in Paris for the inaugural conference of the Inter-Allied Supreme War Council.  In Great Britain, the Marquess of Lansdowne, a former Foreign Secretary, sends a letter to the Daily Telegraph urging the Government to seek a negotiated peace with Germany.  In an agreement finalized in Washington, the United States agrees that Japan has “special interests” in China and Japan agrees to the “principle” of the “open door” policy; China is not consulted.  President Wilson tells the annual convention of the American Federation of Labor in Buffalo that the way to a permanent peace is through victory.  American forces achieve their first victories and suffer their first casualties of the war.  Woman suffrage, still making slow but steady gains state by state, is approved in New York but rejected in Ohio.  New York City’s reform mayor John Purroy Mitchel loses his bid for reelection to Tammany Hall’s candidate.  The Espionage Act survives a First Amendment challenge. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: October 1917

In October 1917 the Allied offensive in Flanders bogs down in mud and heavy rains near Passchendaele. The Austro-Hungarian Army, aided by German reinforcements, breaks through the Italian Army’s lines at Caporetto, sending the Italians into a headlong retreat. French Army forces commanded by General Petain attack German Army positions on the Chemin des Dames, forcing them to withdraw. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: September 1917

In September 1917, the Central Powers reply to Pope Benedict’s peace initiative, saying they welcome it as a basis for negotiation but not agreeing to any specific concessions.  In a supplemental message delivered to the Papal Nuncio at Munich, the German government says it would consider evacuating Belgium and contributing to reparations for war damages in return for certain guarantees from Belgium, an offer the Allies consider unacceptable. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: August 1917

It’s August 1917.  As the World War enters its fourth year, there’s no end in sight.  Pope Benedict XV makes a peace proposal, which President Wilson rejects after conferring with the other nations at war with Germany.  Former Secretary of State Elihu Root returns from a mission to Russia designed to keep Russia in the war.  An attempted coup by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army fails, but the Provisional Government is weakened and the Bolsheviks are strengthened.  Recently arrived American troops parade in London.  The Allied offensive on the Western Front, after initial success, bogs down in the mud of Flanders.  Italy attacks Austria-Hungary again at the Isonzo River.  On the Eastern Front, the German Army advances in Romania to the south and moves against the Baltic port of Riga to the north.  In the United States, racial tensions flare as African-American troops are based in segregated southern cities and a deadly race riot breaks out in Houston.  The Senate passes a proposed Constitutional Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquor. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: July 1917

It’s July 1917, three years since another July spun the world into global war.  A major Russian offensive ends in defeat, retreat, and massive demonstrations in the streets of Petrograd, forcing a change in the revolutionary government.  A political upheaval in Germany leads to the resignation of Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg and Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann.  King George V visits the British Army on the Western Front.  While he is there German bombers attack London; when he returns he changes the name of the Royal Family.  In the Near East, Arab tribes led by Lawrence of Arabia capture the important Red Sea port of Aqaba.  Winston Churchill rejoins the British Cabinet as Minister of Munitions.  The British Army begins another major offensive at Ypres.  An American Army battalion marches through Paris and visits Lafayette’s tomb.  A large convoy of American troops arrives safely in France after a crossing contested by German U-boats.  An accidental explosion sinks a dreadnought at Scapa Flow.  In the United States the Secretary of War sets up a system of press censorship, then backs down in the face of fierce criticism.  General Pershing says he wants a three million man Army by 1919.  Compulsory military service begins as the first numbers are drawn in the draft lottery.  Exports are prohibited without a license.  Race riots explode in East St. Louis. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: June 1917

In June 1917, the United States is coming to grips with its new status as a belligerent power.  President Wilson signs the Espionage Act, which makes it unlawful to interfere with military or naval operations and gives the Postmaster General broad authority to refuse to deliver material he judges to be in violation.  The President issues an order creating an Export Council with power to control all exports from the United States.  Mandatory registration for the draft begins.  General Pershing arrives in Europe, where he confers with his counterparts in London and Paris; shortly thereafter the first American Army units arrive in France.  The first issue of Liberty Bonds sells out quickly.  A commission headed by former Secretary of State Elihu Root arrives in Russia as anarchists march in the streets of Petrograd and Lenin calls for an end to the war.  The provisional government, responding to an overture from the Central Powers, states that it will not enter into a separate peace.  Former President Roosevelt announces that two of his four sons have gone to France and that the others will follow shortly.  The British Army in Flanders attacks and occupies Messines Ridge.  Gotha bombers attack London.  King Constantine of Greece abdicates, clearing the way for Greece to enter the war on the side of the Allies. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: May 1917

It’s May 1917, and the United States has just entered the Great War.  Visiting Allied war leaders ask President Wilson for an immediate commitment of American troops.  General Pershing is named commander of the American Expeditionary Force and departs for Europe.  The United States enacts the first draft law since the Civil War.  Included is a provision authorizing the president to organize volunteer divisions such as the one former President Roosevelt wants to lead, but the President says he will not exercise that authority.  Americans are asked to subscribe to a “Liberty Loan” to finance the war effort.  President Wilson urges press censorship, but a bill giving the president censorship authority fails to pass Congress.  The Allies confront the Central Powers in the Balkans; Italy launches another attack against Austro-Hungarian forces on the Isonzo.  United States Navy warships arrive in Great Britain to assist the British with convoy escort and other duties. ...read more

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