During World War 1, there was a conflict between the political rhetoric and economic necessity faced by Woodrow Wilson. The core of the conflict was the fact that while Woodrow Wilson stated in his address to the Congess on April 2, 1917 that “The world must be made safe for democracy” and explained why the German government and its actions are a threat to humanity and democracy, there was also pragmatic reason for him to lead the United States into this war, the economic factor. It is well known that despite not actually physically participating in the war until 1917, the United States was actively trading with and lending money the Allied Powers of France, Great Britain, and Russia since the very beginning of the war.
In fact, it is estimated that the United States sold about 3 billion dollars worth of war necessities such ammunition to various European powers within those 4 years of war with this money helping the United States prosper economically. At the same time, European countries were actually doing bad economically due to their war efforts. Essentially, due to the Germans constantly sinking American non-armed ships, Zimmerman note, and the idea of ‘protecting democracy’ in the world America decided to enter the war, but the fact that the United States lent the Allies huge amounts of money also contributed to the decision to get involved because if the Allies had lost the war, they wouldn’t be able to pay off their debts and that would lead to a potential crisis.
Capitalism was facing the issue of the Progressive movement and the growth of socialism back then. The Progressive movement’s growth spurt was due to the discontent of many individuals with the way capitalism favored certain people over others and the working environment in which the ordinary, working-class Americans were in. The Progressives saw themselves as Robin Hood’s Merry Men-esque individuals who fought for the rights of the common people against the ‘evil’ capitalists. This discontent often lead to worker strikes and riots, such as one in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. In addition, socialism was spreading around the globe, particularly in the areas of the future Soviet Union and to much smaller extent, parts of Europe. Socialism was(is) considered the nemesis of capitalism, so without a shadow of a doubt, its growth was a serious issue for capitalism.
The notorious American Dream, the concept of an immigrant making his/her fortune in America, was definitely affected by World War I. Before the war, it was present, but it wasn’t so pronounced. Many people, especially Europeans, knew that America was the land of opportunity so to say, but it still wasn’t seen as a powerful nation and hence the American Dream was not the seen the way it is today. After the war ended though, the United States became a true global player in the international arena. While Europe was a mess due to the devastating consequences of the war, the United States was actually doing good and that brought a significant wave of Old World immigrants into America.
Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the first place and thing respectively that the new arrivals would see as they entered the US, became symbols of the American Dream. The USA’s new status as a global player made the American Dream the popular concept that is today. The American Dream taught the immigrants who came that it didn’t matter who they were and what brought them here because in America, with hard work and due diligence, anyone can get a place under the sun. It didn’t matter what your religion was, who your family was, where you came from, etc., but what you were willing to do to achieve to turn your American Dream into a reality.