World War One's Effect On America

1590 words - 7 pages

World War I was an overall positive experience for the United States and its citizens during the war, but not after. During the war, the nation as a whole experienced an enormous economic boom. The large, rapid economic growth set the stage for labor unrest and a sinking economy after the war. Women and blacks entered the workforce in large numbers because of the 5 million soldiers in the AEF. This was positive during both the war and after because women gained suffrage on August 26, 1920. This was negative for the blacks, after the war, because they lost their jobs-leaving large numbers of unemployed blacks in the cities. The war also forced loyalty from its citizens and created more ...view middle of the document...

The abrupt halt of war orders coming from the government forced the economy into a postwar recession. This recession wiped out the modest gains the workers had achieved during the war: job security, working conditions, and eight hour work days. The government and employers themselves rescinded benefits, such as the recognition of unions. The union membership, in both private and public sectors, dramatically increased after the economy contracted, indicating social unrest and labor agitation. This rapid economic growth was a positive experience during the war, but had negative, reciprocal effects after the war.
The Great War brought about many social changes. One of the most important social changes of the war was the migration of hundreds of thousands of African Americans from the rural South into northern industrial cities, called the “Great Migration”. The migration occurred because of the “push” of oppression, poverty, indebtedness, racism, and violence from the South to the North that had the “pull” of economic opportunity and established black communities. The blacks were able to enjoy more freedom and autonomy in the North. This large African American workforce fueled the economic fire. During the war years, companies dispatched agents to go to the South and bring large numbers of black workers to the North. This large migration had a positive effect during the war, but left equally large numbers of unemployed blacks in cities when the war demands went down and the economy slumped. This lead the creation of a “black” identity and some movements, such as Marcus Garvey’s for a return to Africa, that encouraged black nationalism. The large concentrations of blacks also created tensions during and after the war. In East St. Louis on July 2, 1917, a white mob attacked a black neighborhood. During this attack, forty blacks died. This showed the racism that did not go away during the war. The war did not do what the blacks wanted, which was an increase in social status. On the other hand, women’s suffrage and advancement was a positive effect during the war and after the war. During the war, large numbers of women took advantage of the vacant jobs that were left behind by the five million soldiers who were in the AEF, similar to the way African Americans left the South to take advantage of job opportunities. Women entered industries that were considered male areas, such as steel, trucking, munitions, and public transportation. The Women in Industry Board, made to oversee the movement of the women into the jobs left behind by men, was transformed into the Women’s Bureau when the war was over and the women either quit their jobs or were fired with the return of men. The advancement of women in the American society culminated with the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted Women’s Suffrage. It also marked the ending of an era of reform and the issues that accompanied it: economic problems, feminist demands, labor unrest, racial tensions,...

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