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US and Canadian popular attitudes to WW1

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  • US and Canadian popular attitudes to WW1

    I'm doing a review of the literature for a proposal for a research project. One thing I will be looking at is the attitude of "the man in the street" to the war in 1917 and 18. I can find remarkably little material about North American attitudes. Does anyone know of any authors who have already published on this subject?
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

  • #2
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post
    I'm doing a review of the literature for a proposal for a research project. One thing I will be looking at is the attitude of "the man in the street" to the war in 1917 and 18. I can find remarkably little material about North American attitudes. Does anyone know of any authors who have already published on this subject?
    Perhaps Newspaper Archives might be a start, the most comprehensive being the Globe and Mail's. I suggest that following the very divisive Conscription Debate in 1917 might illuminate popular attitudes best dividing over French English lines. A link to the Globe and Mail's Archive is Here

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Sparlingo View Post
      Perhaps Newspaper Archives might be a start, the most comprehensive being the Globe and Mail's. I suggest that following the very divisive Conscription Debate in 1917 might illuminate popular attitudes best dividing over French English lines. A link to the Globe and Mail's Archive is Here
      Thanks Ibis and Sparling - I've already accumulated a great many digital photos of newspapers not to mention contemporary pamphlets, posters and post cards etc. but I do need to show that I've taken account of existing published material. Looking at the bibliography that the NLoC produce this does seem sparse. Actually I don't mind if I'm treading new paths but I need to be sure I haven't missed anything. I'm particularly interested to see how citizens from different original immigrant groups merged (or did nor merge) as the war went on.
      Surprisingly some of the most gung ho Canadian stuff I've found has been French
      Last edited by MarkV; 04 Apr 16, 14:23.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #4
        Sparlingo's suggestion to follow the debate over the Conscription Crisis of 1917 is important as it was the domestic issue of the last part of the war, with repercussions that linger to this day.
        Desmond Morton, one of the giants of Canadian military history, wrote the following essay: Did the French Canadians Cause the Conscription Crisis of 1917? which is a good starting point.

        A couple of other interesting works are:
        “Fight or Farm”: Canadian Farmers and the Dilemma of the War Effort in World War I (1914-1918) which looks at agricultural workers in Canada and their view on the war.

        and

        Preaching the Great War: Canadian Anglicans and the war sermon, 1914-1918 .

        Both of these are worth mining for the sources they used.

        Finally the following book:
        Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown has a section devoted to the Home Front and may also lead you to other sources.

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        • #5
          And one more title that may be of interest:
          Polarity, Patriotism, and Dissent in Great War Canada, 1914-1919

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          • #6
            Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post
            And one more title that may be of interest:
            Polarity, Patriotism, and Dissent in Great War Canada, 1914-1919
            Yup, where is 'Occam's Razor' when you need it. The reality is that when it comes to matters human, nothing much is simple or straight-forward. It is almost always a case of a multiplex of causes and effects.

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            • #7
              I assume you have David Kennedy's classic (at least in the sense of being over 20 years old ) Over Here: The First World War and American Society.

              You might reach out to Jennifer Keene at Chapman University as a good source. She's probably most known for Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America, and some of her other publications are on her website. https://www.chapman.edu/our-faculty/jennifer-keene

              I haven't read Christopher Capozzola's book Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen, but that might be another thing to check out. Capozzola is at MIT I believe.

              There is also a pretty interesting PhD paper by Lon Strauss - A Paranoid State: The American Public, Military Surveillance and the Espionage Act of 1917 - that you might take a look at. https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/10313

              Good luck.

              Michael Neiberg has a new book "The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America," that likely bears on the topic. I've only read the first few pages so far, so no review yet.

              Also, here is a presentation by Christopher Capozzola entitled "World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen" that is topical to this thread.



              Published on Mar 13, 2015

              The First World War marked a fundamental transformation in U.S. citizenship. From Ellis Island to the U.S.-Mexico border, from the voting booth to the draft board to the marriage registry, the choices Americans made during and after World War I resonate a century later.

              Prof. Christopher Capozzola (MIT) specializes in the political and cultural history of the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. He teaches courses in political and legal history, war and the military, and the history of international migration. His research interests are in the history of war, politics, and citizenship in modern American history. His first book, Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen (Oxford University Press, 2008), examines the relationship between citizens, voluntary associations, and the federal government during World War I through explorations of military conscription and conscientious objection, homefront voluntarism, regulation of enemy aliens, and the emergence of civil liberties movements.

              This event was part of Oregon State Universities ongoing series of programs focused on Citizenship and Crisis. We take the centenary of WWI as our starting place to think deeply, discuss, and debate questions about the rights, obligations, and changing definitions of citizens and citizenship. Our wide-ranging inquiry focuses on citizenship at times of crisis, particularly in wartime, with special reference to contemporary challenges and long-term patterns.
              Last edited by The Ibis; 17 Nov 16, 11:48.

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              • #8
                I've been reading a host of US newspapers of the period (Canadian ones are more difficult to reach remotely). Compared to British ones they are far more shrill and vitriolic. British ones on the whole do not advocate tarring and feathering conscientious objectors as some US ones did. People who are deemed not to have invested sufficiently in the voluntary liberty bonds are named and the public invited to take what action they deem fit. People of German extraction are vilified. On the whole there is far more unpleasantness. At the time most of these items were written US casualties had only begun to trickle in. Britain had suffered the losses of Loos, the Somme, Arras, and 3rd Ypres and there would have been few who had not suffered a loss or knew some one who had and yet there seems more hate towards the Germans or anyone not perceived to be supporting the war in the US press than in the British - odd.
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                  I've been reading a host of US newspapers of the period (Canadian ones are more difficult to reach remotely). Compared to British ones they are far more shrill and vitriolic. British ones on the whole do not advocate tarring and feathering conscientious objectors as some US ones did. People who are deemed not to have invested sufficiently in the voluntary liberty bonds are named and the public invited to take what action they deem fit. People of German extraction are vilified. On the whole there is far more unpleasantness. At the time most of these items were written US casualties had only begun to trickle in. Britain had suffered the losses of Loos, the Somme, Arras, and 3rd Ypres and there would have been few who had not suffered a loss or knew some one who had and yet there seems more hate towards the Germans or anyone not perceived to be supporting the war in the US press than in the British - odd.
                  It might have been a case of editors trying to goad an enthusiasm tat previously didn't exist. A bit like negotiating - ask for a bundle, expect a bit.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                    It might have been a case of editors trying to goad an enthusiasm tat previously didn't exist. A bit like negotiating - ask for a bundle, expect a bit.
                    Yeah that sounds about right. Best way to get war fever going is to get the public hating the enemy.

                    During those days didn't the USA have a much higher percentage of German immigrants than say Canada or Australia? I believe that close to 50% of immigration to Canada was from the British Isles.

                    Perhaps a bit of the backlash against them in the States was due to a perception that "we are getting too many of them coming here"?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
                      Yeah that sounds about right. Best way to get war fever going is to get the public hating the enemy.

                      During those days didn't the USA have a much higher percentage of German immigrants than say Canada or Australia? I believe that close to 50% of immigration to Canada was from the British Isles.

                      Perhaps a bit of the backlash against them in the States was due to a perception that "we are getting too many of them coming here"?
                      You might want to look at the Nye Committee Investigation of the US entry into WWI and the part the armaments industry supposedly played in that. IIRC the Committee investigated British vilification of US citizens of German heritage.
                      Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
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                      The best place in the world to "work".

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