Essay on Ronald Schaffer's America in the Great War

1523 Words Sep 27th, 1999 7 Pages
Ronald Schaffer's America in the Great War gives new insights into World War I.

The book gave historical accounts about the war that other books negated to included.

The thesis that Schaffer tries to prove that the Great War was the start of the American

welfare state and the beginning of "big" government. America in the Great War was

structured in chronological order of the war, from America's mobilization to the actual

fighting. What the book did not include is a detail account of the fighting. This was the

biggest draw back in a otherwise well thought book.

The book begins with the mobilization of the United State's industry and man

power. The first two chapters dealt with how the Federal Government shaped the
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The Federal Government paid the

industries based on their cost to produce the products. This type of payment encouraged

the industries to pay their workers very highly, knowing the government would pay them


The war provided the excuse for the government to take control of industry. A

good example of this control is in the railroad industry. Before the war, the railroad

industry enjoyed limited government control. As a result different companies had different

rail lines and different prices. When America joined the Great War, the Federal

Government took complete control of the railroads. The government standardized the

industry by setting the size of track , the size of trains and the price paid for shipping. The

government also controlled what cargo went where and at what time.

The next two chapters are about social reformers and the black experience during

the war. The United States before the war was on a progressive movement, the Great

War reinforced the movement. American leaders were concerned that things like alcohol

and prostitution would affect there fighting ability. As a result bars and whore houses

were closed around U.S. bases. There was great concern when the soldiers were shipped

to Europe. People feared that foreign attitudes towards liquor and brothels would affect

American soldiers. Measures were taken to limit American interaction with liquor and

women. Brothels and saloons were
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