Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The World War

When the news came that Belgium had been invaded, Great Britain declared war, sending her available forces at once to the continent. This "contemptible army," as the Kaiser called it, heroically helped the Belgians and French check the German advance. The fact that the Allies, as the foes of Germany were called, were not fully prepared for actual fighting, was a very great disadvantage to them. Although regiment after regiment was mowed down by the deadly German artillery, the French troops fell back slowly, fighting as they went. The invaders were within twenty miles of Paris when they were halted by the Allied forces under the French General Joffre at the first battle of the Marne. Meanwhile the Russian army had invaded Germany but was driven back in disorder.

[Illustration] from Story of the Great Republic by Helene Guerber


People now began to realize that there was a possibility of German domination of the world. Knowledge that the victors were taking portable machinery from Belgian and French territory made people think that Germany was planning to keep her neighbors from manufacturing, so that she could have the markets for her own goods. Nation after nation joined the Allies. Only two countries, Bulgaria and Turkey, joined the Central Powers, as Germany and Austria-Hungary were called.

When the war first broke out few people believed that it could last more than a few weeks, or concern any one but the fighting nations. President Wilson proclaimed our neutrality and requested all loyal Americans not to side with either party. The suffering of the Belgians, French, Serbians, and Poles, however, aroused such pity that everything possible was clone to send them food, medicine, clothing, and help of all kinds. In the United States there was no village so small, no household so poor that pity and help, in some measure, were not forthcoming.

Meanwhile, so many men in Europe had been called to fight and so many others were working day and night to supply the ever increasing armies with food, clothing, ammunition, and other necessities that agriculture and manufacture almost came to a standstill. Therefore, since neutral countries are bound to sell to warring nations without showing favoritism, the European countries began to try to outbid each other for our surplus food and wares. As a result, the United States fairly hummed with activity, and we sold enormous quantities of weapons and ammunition, or raw materials for their manufacture, to the warring nations.

The British fleet had, from the outset, undertaken to blockade the German ports, so as to prevent German vessels from coming out or any food or raw materials from being taken in. Early in the war, England had succeeded in sinking or driving into port almost all German warships. Germany, however, still had some submarines and she began to construct more.

In 1915, a German submarine sank the British passenger ship Lusitania  without warning, drowning over a thousand people, including 114 Americans. President Wilson warned Germany that Americans must be safe on the sea, and at last Germany promised not to sink unresisting liners unless safety was provided for neutral people. The next year, two more American lives were lost when the Sussex  was sunk. Wilson again protested and Germany again promised to protect human life.

In 1916, Wilson was reelected President. One of the campaign slogans was "He kept us out of war." Wilson indeed suggested that the warring nations should make peace, but this suggestion was not accepted.

When, in January, 1917, the German government announced a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, granting us the right to send to England only one especially marked ship a week, our patience was exhausted. Wilson recalled our ambassador from Berlin, and war was declared on April 6. Many American men immediately volunteered for service. It was soon decided, however, to use the draft system, whereby all men between certain ages, with the exception of the exempt groups, could be compelled to serve. The men who were chosen for service were sent to military training camps.

To provide money for carrying on the war, a series of government bonds, known as Liberty Bonds and Victory Bonds were sold to the people. In this way those who could not fight could lend money to the government for a certain number of years, receiving in return about the same interest as that paid by savings banks. Many patriotic people made great sacrifices in order to purchase bonds. Even those people who could not buy bonds, could help the Food Control Board save the provisions that were needed for our soldiers and the Allies. During the war we had "heatless" and "meatless" days in every week. A "daylight saving" plan was also put into effect. Women and children learned to knit warm garments, to make hospital supplies, and to contribute generously to the Red Cross, the K.C., the Y.M.C.A., and the Salvation Army, all of which did a very wonderful work in caring for our soldiers and their families.

[Illustration] from Story of the Great Republic by Helene Guerber


Although the Germans were sure that we could not get our men over in time to help the Allies, troops were hurried to Europe, and by July 4, 1918, there were over a million American soldiers in France, and by the end of the war there were nearly two million.

General Pershing, commander in chief of our expeditionary forces, on arriving in France, officially visited Lafayette's grave, laid a wreath on it, and said, "Lafayette, we are here." By this he meant that the Americans were eager to repay to France their debt of gratitude for what Lafayette had done for them during the Revolutionary War.

In the spring of 1918 when the Germans started their last great drive toward Paris, American soldiers and marines helped stop the advance by brave fighting at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood. Up to this time the Americans had been fighting as a part of the French or British forces. Now a separate force, called the American First Army, drove the Germans from St. Mihiel and captured nearly 16,000 prisoners. The Meuse-Argonne offensive, which was fought chiefly by the American armies, lasted forty-seven days, finally ending in a victory that helped cause the defeat of the Germans and the end of the war. In these battles, as well as in the other fighting in which they took part, American soldiers gave up their lives to "make the world safe for democracy." After our troops were shipped home, they founded The American Legion, a society similar to the G.A.R. of the Civil War veterans.

[Illustration] from Story of the Great Republic by Helene Guerber


Bulgaria, Turkey, and Austria were defeated and compelled to surrender, in the autumn of 1918. The armistice with Germany was signed November 1918. In January, 1919, delegates of the Allies met in a peace conference at Paris. Although it is not customary for the President to leave American soil while he is in office, Wilson went to France to represent us at the conference and arrange for a League of Nations which he hoped would prevent further warfare. The Peace Conference drew up the treaty of Versailles, the first part of which is the Covenant of the League of Nations. This treaty, ending the war, was accepted by Germany and the Allies. Most of the countries of the world joined the League, but when Wilson presented the Versailles Treaty to our Senate, so many senators objected to the League that the treaty was not ratified by the United States.

In 1919, Roosevelt died from the infection left in his system by a fever that he had contracted during an exploration trip in South America. He was greatly mourned by his many admirers, and his grave at Oyster Bay, Long Island, is visited yearly by hundreds of people.