- Class participation
- Assessment of the written paragraph
As WWI began, most Americans believed that the US should not get involved in WWI, but as it progressed some people began to change their minds while others remained steadfast in opposition. For this lesson, you will be assigned a hypothetical background based on real people during the time. Based on that information, you will decide if you would support or oppose US involvement in WWI. Based on your choice, you will learn about an American who held similar beliefs and why they held those beliefs
You are an American Suffragist who has spent tireless hours and years working to secure the right to vote for women. By 1917, war is looming large on the horizon. Women have been able to vote in 11 states at this point in history and even elected the first woman to Congress. Would it benefit you and the cause to support or oppose the war? If you support the war effort, you might be able to show that you served your country and should be given the right to vote as a result. On the other hand, after the Civil War, women did help and support the war and black males were given the right to vote, but women were not. If you hold out, you could show how much women contribute and demand the right to vote for your support of the war. Will you support the war and hope the vote follows or oppose it to demand for the right now?
You are a black American who has suffered from or witnessed widespread discrimination, Jim Crow, lynchings, and other more subtle inequality. By 1917, war is looming large on the horizon. Black people will be desperately needed in the war effort and the push for equality since the end of Reconstruction has been met with stiff resistance and there have been few gains since Reconstruction ended. Now you have to decide if you should support America if it goes to war. If you enlist, or support the war, you may be given equality and justice in exchange for your patriotic service to the country. In the back of your mind, might be the Civil War and the rights that followed it after Emancipation and black soldiers serving in the war. If blacks don’t serve, white society might label blacks as lazy and undeserving of rights. If you choose to support the war, the US will be in great need of soldiers and workers. You may be able to leverage that need in exchange for rights and equality at home.
You are an immigrant factory worker from a major urban area. You work long hours, for little pay, in less than desirable working conditions. You do not have any benefits from your work, so if you are injured or killed your family receives nothing. The factory owners are making large profits because of the war over in Europe, but this has not meant improved conditions or pay for you and your fellow workers. Immigrants are often stereotyped as disloyal to the US because they may still speak their native language, hold on the to their culture and have family in the “Old World.” By 1917, war is looming large on the horizon. Now you have to decide if you will support or oppose American involvement in the war. If you do not support the war, you may be dubbed a traitor and disloyal to this country and face consequences such as arrest under a new law called the Sedition Acts. If you support the war, you and your fellow workers may go fight in the war and prove your loyalty. You may also benefit from improvements in factory conditions. However, you may also die in a war you know little about as your bosses make money off the war effort.
You live in the Midwest. The war in Europe has not had much of an impact on you. The price of crops has increased, but you do not farm. You have barely paid attention to what has been going on half a world away. By 1917, war is looming large on the horizon. Now you have to decide if you will support or oppose American involvement in the war. If you do not support the war, you may be dubbed a traitor and disloyal to the country. If you do support the war, you are likely to be drafted and serve in the war. Are you willing to risk your life for a war you know little about or would you feel compelled to serve your country in a time of need?
You have spent your life serving the American people as a politician. You have fought for progressive reforms that have led to increased equality, better working conditions, economic justice, reform in corrupt business and government practices, and given a larger voice to the American people. You are considered a champion of the average American because you are thought to always fight for those how are under represented and have no voice in society. By 1917, war is looming large on the horizon. Now you have to decide if you will support or oppose American involvement in the war. The average American is going to have to serve in the military in a war they have not had interest in or care much about. Do you support the war and risk alienating your support base? You could use your position to rally support for the cause and promote patriotism. Or do you oppose it and be criticized for not supporting your country if they decide to go to war? In this situation, you could fight for the “little guy” who would be sent off to war and prevent them from having to face that fate.
Other groups you could find information on and use in the activity: