The Treatment of German-Americans
Newton D. Baker wrote “The Treatment of German-Americans” during a period when the world was in an all out war. World War I was quickly coming to an end. A year earlier, American tensions were very high, even president Woodrow Wilson seemed to be “on edge. ” He encouraged Congress to pass the Espionage Act of 1917, which imposed a prison sentence of twenty years for persons found guilty breaking this law. In 1918, near the close of the war, Congress passed the Sedition Act. This Act imposed severe punishment to those who were using disloyal, profane, or abusive language towards the flag, the government or the military.
Baker brought the reality of the Sedition Act to life by writing about what he had witnessed. “The spirit of the country seems unusually good, but there is a growing frenzy of suspicion and hostility towards disloyalty,” he states. Baker was afraid that the slightest utter of disloyalty would cause many to loose their lives. Who would be the newest victim for the white man? German-Americans! I do not say this in a bias manner. Historically speaking, white men ran all aspects of the United States, especially during this era. Jim Crow laws were in full affect.
African-Americans were being lynched almost daily! It is safe to assume that African-Americans had nothing to do with this mayhem, because they had many problems of their own. Baker tells of how a number of men and women had been “tarred and feathered. ” I am assuming that these people had no trial in a court of law because the law imposed a twenty year sentence not “tar and feathers”. Moreover, the American judicial system was designed so that every person accused of a crime could have a fair trial, and that person would be innocent until proven guilty.
This kind of law undoubtedly means nothing to most white men. Most white men felt as if they were “The Law. ” The humiliation of being tarred and feathered had to leave a lasting affect on these German-Americans. There were many other incidents, one in which a non-English-Pole tore up a Liberty Bond poster that had a German Emperor on it and he was almost lynched, yet a secret service agent intervened and arrested him. It was later discovered that he had liberty bonds in his pocket and he was just showing his intense hatred of a common enemy. This man was acting out his freedom of speech.
Moreover, his actions were misinterpreted by prejudice people because of his ethnicity. This phenomenon can be traced throughout the history of the United States. The nerve of these people to humiliate the German-Americans, and this is supposed to be the “home of the free and the brave. ” I think this time in US history was not a good time to be an immigrant. Many emigrants left their country because of bad situations, and came to America thinking their life would be better; however, in some instances they found themselves in worse situations.
William McKinley, “Decision on the Philippines” (1900) President William McKinley wrote “Decision on the Philippines” in 1900. Although it is unclear as to whom this letter is written too, it seems to be a letter written to congress. The tone of this letter leads me to believe that the president was troubled in his mind over this situation. “I walk the floor of the White House night after night until midnight,” states McKinley. Why would the president be so troubled by, what some would call, a simple decision? Why not just ask his Administration or Congress?
Well, he did and they gave him little or no advice. McKinley’s presidency was coming to an end when a decision on whether to take (or should I say annex) the Philippines or not. After the American victory in the Spanish-American war, the United States was faced with many decisions. McKinley had to make a decision on what to do with the “spoils” of this war. It seems as though the president had a hard time making what seemed to others as a simple decision. The decision that McKinley eventually made, forced the United States into another war-the Philippine-American war.
McKinley states that he prayed to God for guidance, and guidance came to him one night. It seems odd to me that he did not know where the guidance came from and he had previously prayed about it. I disagree with the guidance he claims he received because the misguidance he received ultimately cost 4,300 young American soldiers their lives, in addition to and estimated 20,000-500,000 Filipino lives. McKinley knew that he could not give the Philippines back to Spain, nor could he allow other countries to colonize them.
Some thought the Filipinos were not ready for independence; therefore, it was the white man’s burden “to take these uncivilized people and Christianize, civilize, and educate them,” just as they had done with the Native Americans. One would think that The United States would have learned from the mistakes that were made during the hostile campaign with the Native Americans. Well, they did not and just like the wars with the Native Americans, many people lost their lives. Many attempts were made to prevent the annexation of the Philippines; however, these attempts failed.
No one expected a war with the Filipinos, especially guerrilla warfare. After three years of fighting the war was finally over. The Filipinos were defeated! The United States sent delegates to create a government for the Philippines under the leadership of William H. Taft. Taft accomplished many things in the Philippines. He set up school system, built roads, introduced health programs, and a tax system, just to name a few. It disturbs me to learn that many lives were lost over an idea that people could not govern themselves.
The United States government took it upon itself to set up many helpful things that made the life of Filipinos better. In the midst of making a better way of life for the Filipinos, death and destruction was brought about on thousands of people through the horrible sting of war. I agree with the initial intent to help the Philippines gain their independence, yet I disagree with the actions our government took to make this a reality. I am sure the president had no more sleepless nights.
Boy Scouts of America from, “Boy Scouts Support the War Effort” (1917) America entered World War I in 1917. Boy Scouts Support the War Effort” (1917) was addressed to the Boy Scouts of America. This seems to be an excerpt from a pamphlet that was sent out to the Boy Scouts to encourage them to support the war effort. These pamphlets were sent out during a period when the world was in an all out war. World War I, like many other wars, caused many people to meet their destiny with death. This article is what I like to call a patriotic article. It appears that these young boy scouts were being used to spread “patriotic” propaganda.
I think this is nothing but propaganda. “The world is for liberty and democracy,” the writer states. According to who? The United States of America, certainly not to Germany! They were not promoting “Liberty,” they wanted more land. In this pamphlet, the writer states that America entered the war as a “scared duty to uphold the principles of liberty and democracy. ” I agree on the part about “America entered the war,” history tells us that this is a fact. On the other hand, I disagree because had Germany not sank our ships; we probably would have not entered the war.
World War I is one of the most difficult wars to talk about because everything is so complex. Why does the United States always seem to be concerned with other countries problems? Is it because they affect us in more ways than we would like to think? Maybe! On the other hand, is it that we feel as if we are “the World Police”? Why did this writer use boy scouts? I can only speculate that the boy scouts represented a kind of military. The boy scouts were as close to the Army as many Americans would see. I think the idea of using the boy scouts was a very clever idea.
What better way to boost America than this? There is no better way to stir up patriotism than this. Propaganda has played a vital role throughout world history. This pamphlet is full of propaganda. Although this document appears to be written to encourage boy scouts to get out and spread the message of patriotism, it is merely a passive form of propaganda. The act of spreading patriotism through propaganda is just one way to get the American people on the side of the government, even though it is a little misleading. Letters from the Great Migration (1917)
Letters from the Great Migration was written to the “Chicago Defender” in hopes that Negroes in the south could find someone to help them migrate to the north. There are three letters written by African-Americans, who were pleading for help to migrate from the south to the north. These letters were written from April 29, 1917 to October 7, 1917. Most southern African-Americans were being treated unfairly in the south. “I have never been discharged on account of dissatisfaction with my work, but I have been “let out” on account of my color,” as the writer from Houston Texas pitifully states.
It makes no sense to fire a man because of his skin color. This man stated that he was a hard worker-a good brass smelter. The only thing he wanted was a chance to move from the prejudices of the south, in hopes of gaining a better future. A better future is something many African-Americans never got a chance to experience. This not only was a bad time form African-American men, it was even tougher for African-American women. An African-American woman, who appears to have a small portion of knowledge, wrote her letter explaining her situation.
This lady seems desperate to leave New Orleans, Louisiana. She claimed to be a widow for nine years and was having a hard time finding work. In addition, women had no rights during this era; in addition, if she had no husband, life was even harder. Why did many African-American women face this gruesome reality? The reason is because they were black and to add to the sorrow they were women. The women of this era are much different from the modern day woman. It was almost impossible for a woman to be independent or self-sufficient. Regardless to the skin tone, she could never get ahead.
This is very evident when the woman tells the “Chicago Defender,” “when you read this you will think it bery strange that being only my self to support that it is so hard, but it is so. Everything is gone up but the poor colerd peple wages. ” It is perfectly clear that she was not well educated. This is apparent by the way she spelled people (peple) and colored (colerd). It appalls me to learn that African-Americans were so oppressed in some parts of America. It is amazing how they enjoyed all of the rights of an American citizen in some parts of the country, and not be able to enjoy them in other parts of the country.
The “Chicago Defender” helped many African-Americans migrate to the north. This migration enabled many of them to make a better living for themselves and their families. The Great Migration did not only benefit African-Americans, it also benefited big businesses as well. Eugene Kennedy, A “Doughboy” Describes the Fighting Front (1918) Eugene Kennedy wrote A “Doughboy” Describes the Fighting Front, in 1918. It appears as though this article came from a journal or a diary of a doughboy. According to the Longman History Place, doughboys were American troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) who served in Europe in World War I.
Their presence boosted the morale of British and French troops and was decisive in the outcome of the war. . The United States entered World War I three years after it begin. Many soldiers would keep daily accounts on the war in journals and send portions of them in the form of a letter home to their love ones. It is safe to assume that these journals were kept in order to inform the people in America of what was actually going on during the war. These particular accounts describe some horrific reports on the fighting front.
This doughboy sates that he and his platoon hiked under terrible conditions. Moreover, it was during these hikes that they witnessed many dead German bodies everywhere. “The sight I enjoy better than a dead German is to see heaps of them,” states the doughboy. The sting of death no loner affects this man; somehow he had grown immune to the sight of dead men. An issue that disgusts me is the way African-Americans were treated during the war. The writer of this journal gives vivid details on this issue. He despicably states, “The only thing African-Americans are good for is to work on railroads.
This is a very prejudice statement. How would this doughboy know what a “Negro,” as he refers to African-Americans, is good for? This is a perfect example of what many African-Americans faced back home in the United States. What gave him the idea that an African-American could not fight as well as he could? Well, I will venture to say that this was not something he had just learned, this was something that he was taught from birth. During World War I, the Doughboys fought fearlessly and boosted the morale of British and French troops.
The accounts were recorded so that the people in America would be aware of the events that were taking place in Europe. The writer recorded many horrifying things. Some of these things would make the strongest of men cry. I personally disagree with the way he felt about African-Americans, yet I have to come to realize that was the way he was taught to think. I do not understand how a person could think of writing anything in the middle of a war. I would like to think that a person’s mind would be on survival and not “journalism. “