Proud or Shamed of America

by Mark Coats

World War One: Policies

In WWI, many policies came into effect that influenced the outcome of the war. For instance America's isolationist policy which kept it in good terms with both sides, and out of the fight for the majority of the war. Another example is Germany's Unrestricted Submarine Warfare policy was made to target British war ships disguised as merchant or passenger ships. Soon, Germany's submarines were told to attack any ship crossing the sea. Many ships were sunk, including the Lusitania, which was carrying two-hundred and sixteen American passengers. America, after sending a warning note and a promise broken, joined the war on the Allied side. Without the fresh moral and support of the new soldiers on the battlefield, WWI might have ended very differently. I am proud of America for stepping in and lending a helping hand to another nation, but shamed that America broke it's isolationist policy.
World War 1 in 6 Minutes

world war one: new tech

This section can't be solely attributed to America, for most of these inventions were made by Britain and Germany. For instance, to combat the problems held high by trench warfare, the British Mark I was created, the worlds first tank. It could readily withstand bullets and explosions, as well as being equipped with several high caliber machine guns itself. Another problem was fighting at night, where there was no way to see where your bullets went. The solution to this problem presented itself in the form of tracer bullets. These bullets would emit a steady glow that could be traced to see where it would land. An unexpected side benefit of these bullets was they could ignite hydrogen, therefore bringing down the German Zeppelins with ease. I am proud of these inventions and more, but shamed that America didn't come up with much on it's own.
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world war one: zimmerman telegram

In the later dates of World War One, a telegram was released by Britain, originally sent by Germany to Mexico, but was intercepted by Britain. The release of this telegram, which called for Mexico to join the Central Powers and defeat the United States for taken land, caused outrage in the U.S. This, along with the sinking of the Lusitania and Germany breaking it's promise to stop unrestricted submarine warfare, were probably the leading factors of the U.S. joining WWI. I am proud that America retaliated against Germany, and didn't back down and do nothing.
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imperialism: American beliefs

Around the turn of the century, Americans believed that their country either had to expand or be destroyed. Increases in industrialization, population, and wealth demanded more resources. The fear that the economy would not stand as it was, and that America was running out of resources was rampant. Overproduction and underconsumption put many businesses in debt. We wanted to compete with Europe and widen our trade networks. The only major solution was to expand territory in the west, and overseas. I am shamed how quickly a false belief spread and disrupted the economy.
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imperialism: yellow journalism

Yellow journalism, or the reporting of a topic that is exaggerated and or based on little fact, was a huge factor in starting the Spanish-American war. The USS Maine was sunk in a Spanish harbor, and thanks to yellow journalists like Joseph Pulitzer and William Hearst, Americans didn't know whether it was an accident or not before a nationwide movement to go to war with Spain started.
"Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain"
I am shamed how quickly America jumped to conclusions because of yellow journalism.

imperialism: Cuba

Yellow journalism plays another big role here. The reports of events in Cuba were sensationalized and even made up. Spain didn't know how to rule over Cuba, and damaged the economy, which concerned America. On top of that, America wanted to respond to Cuba's cries for freedom. Cuba was torn between revolts or annexation to the United States as a way out. Eventually, revolts sprung up that resulted in property losses of both Spain and America. Then Spain sent General Valeriano Weyler, a ruthless man who put anyone that didn't comply in re-concentration camps, and yet again yellow journalism comes into play. America decided to declare war with Spain, quickly winning and putting an end to Spain's expansion. America wanted to stop all of the above, as well as destroy the expanding Spanish Empire, and the quickest solution was war. I am proud that we defeated Spain and freed many islands and countries, but again shamed how influential yellow journalism was.
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Progressivism: reforms

Rapid industrialization presented many issues that threatened the society and economy of the United States. Many attempts at reform were made, some successful, some not so much. Many progressives attempted reform by growing the government, reasoning that the government could provide a good education, safe environment, and an efficient workplace. Social reforms were also made attempting to end problems such as lynching and other unjust occurrences. I am proud of the attempts made by the people at reforms for the better.
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Progressivism: PFDA

After numerous reports and investigations of unsanitary and hazardous conditions, the first pure food and drug act was passed. It was actually a Meat Inspection Act, made due to numerous investigations that reported unsanitary conditions such as washing meat in the same water that people wash their hands in, leaving meat out so long that it begins to rot before packaging, rats in the storage tanks, and much more. Later the same year, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed to expand these new regulations for sanitary conditions and quality of product to all consumable industries. I am proud that the standard for consumables was raised.
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progressivism: end of political corruption

Political corruption had always been there, but thanks to the muckrakers, the dirty secrets were shoved out into the open for everyone to see. Problems presented day by day. A big problem for both politicians and the people was bribery. Corporations would give the local legislatures a large sum of money to elect a representatives in their interests, not the peoples. Robert La Follette was a major figure of change, waging against political machines, monopolies, trusts, corporations, and corporate bribery to name a few. He stopped the bribery by making a direct connection between the people and the elections for representatives. This 'direct election' surpassed the corporations control, and the cases of bribery lessened. To top that, La Follette put caps and restrictions on corporations to make sure a corrupt member did not misuse the corporation's money or power. I am proud that America saw a threat growing inside and quickly took it down.
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urbanization: not ready for the numbers

When people started rapidly moving into the cities, all the room was quickly taken up. Housing prices skyrocketed, trash filled the streets, the amount of provided basic facilities couldn't cope with the new demand, new buildings were built in a rush, and sometimes were not very sturdy. Tenement building were erected, built cheap with low light, little living space, and few public bathrooms. The lack of control and rise of poverty caused crime and encouraged political machines to expand. Workers went on strike due to the work and living conditions. I am shamed of how unprepared we were for the influx of people.
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urbanization: coping with the times

In response to these new challenges many new structures had to be built and old structures refined. New roads and bridges were built, new styles of architecture (skyscrapers) were introduced, museums and libraries grew, parks and other recreational places were established, a new convenience and variety of consumables was available for the market. Neighborhoods were established throughout the cities, bringing people closer together and classifying by money. I am proud of the ingenuity that went into bringing the cities up to date.
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urbanization: a new age of cities

With the introduction of trams, skyscrapers, better roads, bridges, reinforced waterways, gas lines, electric cables and power plants, et cetera, many more people immigrated to the cities. These became melting pots of all races and cultures. More revenue funded the cities to be able to further improve and expand the city limits. The country was being eaten by the exponentially growing cities. Farmers looked for an easier and closer lifestyle, education was better, we were more social as a race, and learned about our neighbors culture. Entertainment was easy to find and a store was always around the corner ready to sell whatever you needed. I am proud of the growth and stubbornness of the cities.
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immigration: bad times crossing

Turbulent situations arose during these times. The rush of immigrants made people resent them, regardless of how much work they did. Stereotypes came out, and specific groups were targeted. For instance, the Chinese Exclusion Act was put into place because the American working class that was already here sought revenge against the immigrants that were taking their jobs for less money. The Chinese were an easy target, being so different from the average American and therefore an Act was put in place banning all Chinese immigrants for the next ten years. When immigrants first arrived from their multiple week trip, either at Ellis or Anger island, they were herded off large boats completely filled with people. Then they were put in a line and if observing doctors did not deem them healthy enough, they were thrown out. Next, they went through multiple inspections ending in an interrogation filled with trick questions. Some immigrants had to wait weeks to be admitted or even thrown back out. I am proud of the caution America took, but shamed about the poor conditions and some of the methods used during the process of processing and assimilation.
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immigration: old vs new

Eventually immigrants became classified into two categories: old and new. The old Immigrants were usually respected, they came from northern or western Europe as families, were skilled in a trade and literate, readily assimilated, were democratic, had enough money to support themselves, were tall and fair, and most were Protestant. The new immigrants however were widely disrespected. They came from the poor regions of southern and eastern Europe, were anything but protestant, were illiterate and unskilled, came in clans and were reluctant to assimilate, often being short and dark and opposed democracy, favoring and autocratic government or were radicals. Americans despised the new immigrants and offered them little. One race would populate a whole tenement house, trashing the streets around it. I am shamed that we let the new immigrants off with little to no restrictions and or reprimands.
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Immigration: to the cities

Being drawn towards the wonders of trams, skyscrapers, better roads, bridges, reinforced waterways, gas lines, electric cables and power plants, et cetera, immigrants came to the cities in great numbers. These became melting pots of all races and cultures. More revenue funded the cities to be able to further improve and expand the city limits. The country was being eaten by the exponentially growing cities. Immigrants looked for an easier lifestyle and close workplace, the education was improved,society changed to accept these immigrants, and we learned about our neighbors culture. A store was always around the corner ready to sell whatever you needed. I am proud of how well Immigrants ended up assimilating into our society, and making it what it is today.
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Industrialization: the beginnings

The war of 1812 coupled with the Embargo Act really sparked the Industrial revolution. Americans were more than upset over the Chesapeake incident when the British opened fire after their request to search the ship was turned down. The war made it obvious that we needed better transportation and economy, and soon after manufacturing began to expand. First, transportation was expanded, the nationwide laying of rails and roads began, weaving a spiderweb of routes over the nation. Second, electricity was harnessed. We learned how to contain and use it for purposes that were never before imagined. Finally, improvements were made in refining and manufacturing processes. I am proud of how much ingenuity and hope went into the making of what we have today.
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Industrialization: monopolies

Soon men and women alike tried to come up with anything they could. A few lucky men purchased a whole line of productions and monopolized them. For instance Rockefeller took over the oil industry. He founded the standard oil company and took over any other competition. He could charge as much as he wanted for oil and pay very low wages to his workers. Carnegie was the same, but he took over the steel industry instead. I am proud of how much we grew, but shamed how corrupt people got.
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Industrialization: Environment

During the industrial revolution, the economy was run almost exclusively by big business. The government was also ruled by these businesses more than it ruled itself. Because of this, these businesses could spit out as much pollution as they wanted. Smog covered cities and rivers and lakes were turned into sludge pools. Animals died and people got sick. Disease spread quickly because of the poor working conditions and how closely people lived together. I am shamed about the amount of uncontrolled pollution these factories dumped into the environment at once.
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