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Ian Nance

Period 8
War Can Do Two Things
The late 19th century and early 20th century had certain events that changed the world
forever. Looking back at all that occurred throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century,
it is hard to pinpoint three things that have shaped the world today. Everything that happened
during this time period not only had a big impact on the United States of America, but it also
greatly impacted the world. From the late 1800s to the early 1940s, these major events changed
the world forever. However, the American people also felt the effects of these major events.
Good and bad, these effects have shaped the American way of life today. The three major events
and trends that have most shaped the world today are U.S. Imperialism, World War I, and World
War II. Each of these changed the world as we know it today, as the effects of each of these
trends and events played a key role in shaping the future.
The late 1800s and early 1900s century was a very important time for the history of the
United States and the world. This was a time of American growth and development, as the U.S.
became a world power in this time period. Prior to the dawn of the 20th century, the U.S. had
been a large nation offering freedom to those seeking it; but the U.S. was not regarded by other
dominant nations as a powerful or strong country. Other European nations had been imperialist
for quite some time, as these nations held power over others politically, socially, or
economically. Countries like Great Britain led the way in imperialism, acquiring land in Asia,
Africa, and other parts of the world. In the U.S., imperialism quickly became a popular idea,
since the people wanted to get in on the imperialist movement. Imperialism itself had become
very popular all over the world, for four main reasons. These reasons include economic factors,
nationalistic factors, military factors, and humanitarian factors. By this, nations believed that
they could rule others for their goods and resources, and these nations were allowed to hold
power over other nations because they thought their county to be more superior. Also, imperialist
nations gave themselves the authority to control others since the technological advances of the
dominant nations were superior to those of weaker nations. Lastly, imperialist nations believed
that they had a duty to spread the blessings of Western civilization, which includes law,

medicine, and Christianity. The U.S. grasped on to the concepts, and the idea for U.S.
imperialism became more and more popular. Those who supported U.S. Imperialism argued that
the United States needed economic growth and the protection of American security, or
modernizing and improving the navy. Eventually, the U.S. joined other imperialist nations,
looking to become among the dominant nations in Europe and Asia. As the U.S. tried to expand,
the nation sought out territory in Latin America. As Cuba attempted rebellions against Spain,
newspapers in the U.S. exaggerated the truth of the events in Cuba. This is called Yellow
Journalism, and newspapers in the U.S. were selling extremely well as a result of this. The
exaggerated stories gave a negative opinion of Spain, and when the U.S.S. Maine exploded near
Havana, Cuba, everyone believed that it had been purposely destroyed by Spain. Soon after, the
Spanish-American war began; which the U.S. won quickly and easily. After this, the U.S.
implemented their imperialist policies to gain control of the Philippines, the Panama Canal,
Guam, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other territories; ultimately making the U.S. a
dominant imperialist country. One of the U.S. imperialist policies was called Big Stick
Diplomacy, where Theodore Roosevelt threatened a nation or territory with the powerful
American military, and the United States gained control of that territory. This is exactly how the
U.S. became a world power, and without U.S. Imperialism, none of that would be possible. U.S.
Imperialism has shaped the country we live in today in several ways. For instance, today we have
two more states and the U.S. would not have any control over places like Puerto Rice, which was
acquired due to U.S. Imperialism. Also, without U.S. imperialism it is safe to say that the U.S.
would have stayed true to George Washingtons Farewell Address, and the nation would avoid
getting involved in foreign affairs. If this the U.S. had never become imperialistic, then the U.S.
would have avoided getting involved in World War One, and the Allies may have lost. In the
modern world, the U.S. would have completely avoided the recent trouble in Syria and the rest of
the Middle East, and the United States would need to depend on itself for most or all of its
resources. Without U.S. Imperialism during the late 19th century and early 20th century, the U.S.
and the world would be very different today. Therefore, U.S. Imperialism was very important in
shaping the world today.
Soon after the United States became a world power, several reforms were made to benefit
life in the United States. This movement was known as the Progressive Era, and it changed
several laws and policies that formerly were in effect in the United States. People who called

themselves Progressives believed that the common man should have more say in the
government, and the lives of those in the middle class should be improved. During the early
1900s, the Progressive Era was a movement that changed former standards allowed by the
government. Several labor organizations rallied for better pay and working conditions, and the
life of the average person improved due to Progressive ideas. Womens groups worked for
voting rights, and eventually women were granted the right to vote. Several federal reforms were
made, and the average person was beginning a better life in the U.S. Things were changing in the
U.S. and the people were pleased with their efforts. While things were not great, it was a start,
labor organizations were effective and womens groups had succeeded in gaining the right to
vote. However, as the Progressive Era began to wind down, war had broken out in Europe.
World War I started with the assassination of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary, Francis
Ferdinand. Ferdinand was visiting Bosnia which had just been annexed by Austria-Hungary, and
there Ferdinand was killed. Austria-Hungary blamed the assassination on Serbia, who shared an
ethnic group with Bosnia. Serbia would not take the blame for the assassination and soon after,
Austria-Hungary declared war. A network of alliances caused a chain reaction, and soon
numerous countries were at war. The Allies; Russia, Serbia, France, Great Britain, and the
United States; fought against the Central Powers; Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and
Germany. The war lasted from 1914 to 1918, and hundreds of thousands were killed or wounded.
The United States did not join the war until it was halfway over; a result of German U-boats, or
submarines, sinking American merchant ships, but the U.S. was a vital member of the Allies.
The Central Powers were difficult to defeat but after four years, the Allies had won. The
Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary had already arranged peace agreements, so the Allies
looked at Germany. Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which meant that
Germany had to pay the Allies $30 billion and Germany was forced to give up pieces of their
country. World War I saw millions of deaths, since the technological advances of the early
1900s had never been used in such a large war. Generals sent their troops across large fields, but
with machine guns and barbed wire, the soldiers knew that they would most likely die. Trench
Warfare grew popular in World War I, because the trenches that were dug eight to ten feet into
the ground provided defense and an easy location to utilize the power of machine guns. World
War I is important because it shaped the combat and technologies of today. Many weapons that
the military uses today are only possible because of the invention of machine guns. Also, World

War One was the first big war in which airplanes were used often, and today every military uses
aircrafts in combat or for other purposes. Technological advances greatly impact combat of the
modern world; however the failure of the military combat strategies in World War I also
impacted combat today. In World War I, the technological advances were too overpowering for
the former combat strategies. Generals thought that previous methods of attack would work, but
instead the generals were leading their troops into death. Every war since World War I, generals
have used combat strategies that prevent numerous deaths, and war all together is different today
because of the combat in World War I. So, World War I most shaped the world that we live in
today.
One the home front, people had been extremely supportive of the U.S. during World War I.
Several people bought Liberty Bonds to help the Allied cause, and everyone was proud to see the
Allies win. When the war was over, thousands of soldiers returned home to see their loved ones.
Throughout the 1920s, the United States was a happy place and everyone celebrated. Jazz music
became popular and flappers, young and energetic woman, represented the change in society.
Radios united the country and many American pilots were setting records. The Stock Market
appeared as if it would go up forever and investors never felt better. But, in 1929 the stock
market had two big crashes, and from that point forward the stock market kept falling for years.
Thousands of Americans lost all of their savings when banks failed, and businesses had to fire
several of their workers since the business could not afford to pay the majority of the workers.
With so many American facing poverty, this event became known as the Great Depression.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1932, he had the promise of a New Deal. This was
a system of Government Agencies that were intended to end the Great Depression. FDR
implemented several agencies within the first hundred days, and in the second hundred days
FDR topped off the New Deal by adding more effective agencies and ridding of the unnecessary
agencies. Overall, the New Deal was effective and in providing jobs, relief money, and dulling
the effects of the Great Depression. While the U.S. struggled at home, Germany and Japan were
building up an army.
Germany and Japan were both looking to expand in the early 1930s, and each country
wanted to expand. Japan began taking control over Southeast Asia and the Pacific, while
Germany had taken Czechoslovakia. Adolf Hitler led the Nazi Party in Germany, and he soon

found himself with complete control of the country. Germany decided to invade Poland, and then
Great Britain declared war on the Axis Powers, Germany and Italy. In the U.S., the Great
Depression was enough to keep the nation out of war, but after a few years the government
permitted trade with nations at war. To keep the U.S. out of the war, Japan surprised a U.S. naval
base in Hawaii. Pearl Harbor, the naval base, was near destroyed and the U.S. lacked the ships
that they needed. However, the U.S. soon chose to go to war against the Axis Powers and Japan,
and after years of fighting Germany and Italy had been defeated, and so had Japan. Millions died
in World War II and many horrible things occurred. The Nazi party believed the Aryan race to be
superior, and Jewish people were thought of as the cause of Germanys struggles. These
struggles had really just been the results of the Treaty of Versailles, but Hitler brainwashed the
people into thinking that Jews and anyone else who is not Aryan were the cause of their
problems. Millions of Jewish people and others who were not Aryan were killed as a result of
Nazi beliefs. Hitler brainwashed the people, allowing him to take control of Germany, where he
could attempt to take over all of Europe, and potentially the entire world. World War II most
shaped the world we live in today because it proved just how powerful the human voice is. If the
German population would have stood up for the Jewish people, Hitler never would have taken
power. By allowing Adolf Hitler to do one wrong thing, the Germans allowed him the right to
take the next step, when all that the people had to do was say no and speak out. Today, nothing
like the Holocaust could ever happen because everyone has learned from the mistake of the
German people. The world had been shaped by World War II because it has put strength into
every population, as each country will make sure nothing as bad as the Holocaust ever happens
again. People now know the power of their voice due to the tragic events of Hitlers reign, and
this was seen with the destruction of the Berlin Wall in Germany years after World War II.
Therefore, World War II most shaped the world today.
U.S. Imperialism, World War I, and World War II most shaped the world. These events
displayed how the United States is a world power, changed war forever, and showed the true
power of the human voice. The United States of America and the world faced many serious,
scary, beneficial, and happy moments during the late 19th century to the early 20th century, and
the U.S. changed a lot in that time period. In a short period of time, the U.S. became a world
power with the move towards imperialism and dominance in war. The world faced millions of
deaths and several mistakes along the way, whether in war strategies or not standing up as one

nation against a leader, but this shaped the world into a better place today. One general rule that
applied with U.S. Imperialism, World War I and II is that war can do two things; break a nation
or strengthen it. The U.S. faced both but today, the events between the late 1800s and the early
1900s have shaped the world we live in today. So, the world today was most shaped by U.S.
Imperialism, World War I, and World War II.

Works Cited
Cayton, Andrew, Elisabeth Israels Perry, Linda Reed, and Allan M. Winkler. America Pathways
to the Present. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.