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11-08-2015, 16:42

AMERICAN PREPAREDNESS AND THE ELECTION OF 1917

The war impelled Americans inside and outside government to lay a base for future military activities. In late 1915, Wilson called for preparedness measures such as the expansion of America's armed forces. In February 1916, he pointed specifically to the need for the United States to have the most powerful navy in the world, and the Naval Act of 1916 authorized the construction often battleships and a number of smaller vessels. Meanwhile, starting at Plattsburg, New York, in 1915, wealthy young men had paid their own way to attend privately operated officer-training camps. The presidential election of 1916 showed how the war loomed over American life. Wilson's opponent. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, claimed that the president had been weak in defending American rights in Europe. A belligerent Theodore Roosevelt was disgruntled with both candidates, seeing Hughes as insufficiently warlike and Wilson as downright cowardly in his refusal to confront imperial Germany, and calling Wilson "yellow." By the final weeks of the campaign, Wilson's reelecdon effort hung on his party's slogan, "He kept us out of war." Democratic orators stated simply that a vote for Hughes was a vote for war, and in the end, Wilson won by a narrow margin. With America committed to act if the submarine war resumed, the president himself knew the hollow nature of the elecdon slogan. As he put it privately, "Any little German [U-boat] commander can put us into the war at any time by some calculated outrage.

 

 

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