*** World War I First World War I -- America United States relief effort

World War I: The American Relief Effort

American Red Cross World War I
Figure 1.--The American Red Cross was founded (1881), but did not receive a Congressiional charter until two decasdes later (1900). So it was a very new organizatiion when the United States basically invented international humanitarianism. There was no Federal agency equipped to actually deliver relief aid to starving Europeans. The Federal Government did pursue policies to make the food avaulable, but avrually delivering it was a huge undertaking. It was the Red Cross and mostly Red Cross volunteers that took on this life saving mission. Millionsof europeans survived the War because of this American effort. This sbnapshot shows seven girls dressing up in Red Criss nurse uniforms and two boys, presumasbly brothers, joining in on the fun--one with a buggle. One of the boys is Harry W. Brown. The photograph would have been taken early in the War, probably 1914 or 15, before America entered the War. The photograph wasc taken in Cambridge, Illinois.

Private citizen Herbert Hoover set in motion one of the most remarable development in the history of warfare, virtually unhereled even today. Americans set out to save millions of Europeans put in danger by the outbreak of World War I. In doing so, America basically invented international humanitarinism. Nothing remotely like this had ever occurred in history. And nothing more encapsulated American exceptionalism than this remarkavle effort. Both the fighting and the German seizure of Belgian food supplies put an entire nation in jepordy, both the refugees and the people who remained in their homes. American exceptionalism not only provided the capacity to increase food production to remrable levels, but the humanitarian commitment to give it away to the starving Belgians. This alone would mark America as an exceptional country. But America did not stop with Belgium. As the war continued, it soon becme clear that not only Belgium would need relief supplies, but essentilly the entire European continent. Again American rose to the occassion. No country before in history had saved a country as american saved Belgium. But America expanded its efforts to come to the assistance of an entire continent. Such an operation had never even been dreamt of it all of history, let alone attempted. American not only attempted, but saved millions of people. And not only people in Allied countries, but people in the Central Powers as well as the new Soviet Union dedidicated to destroying America. America's only goal was to save starving people. Left-wing pundits object to the idea that capitalist America is an exceotional country, but when asked to name even a single country that had done what America did in World War I, they are at a loss to do so. And American World War I relief efforts are just one aspect of American exceptionalism.

Herbert Hoover and American Relief

It is said of Herbert Hoover that no one in history saved the lives of more European children. Some Americans might have added during the 1930s that few people did less to save the lives of American children during the Depression. One week before Hoover celebrated his 40th birthday in London, Germany declared war on France (1914). The American Consul General in London asked Hoover to help get stranded tourists home. Hoover's committee in 6 weeks helped 120,000 Americans return to the United States. Then Hoover turned to a far more daunting task, how to feed Belgium, which had attacked France through neutral Belgium and overrun most of the country. When the United States entered the war, President Wilson appointed Hoover head of the Food Administration (1917). Hoover succeeded in cutting consumption of foods needed overseas and avoided rationing at home, yet kept the Allies fed. Europe had been devestated by the War. The desestation and the battlefield losses significantly affected agricultural production. After the Armistice, Hoover, a member of the Supreme Economic Council and head of the American Relief Administration, organized shipments of food for starving millions in central Europe. He extended aid to famine-stricken Soviet Russia (1921). When a critic inquired if he was not thus helping Bolshevism, Hoover retorted, "Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!" This was the greatest exercise in international relief in world history. Had it not been for American food aid after the War, millions mostly children would have starved throughout Europe.

Charities: Collecting Funds and Relief Supplies

The outbreak of World War I resulting in an outburst of charitable activity and orgnization of voluntary efforts. The initial effort was Belgian redlief bgan with efforts to get Americans home from Europe, but soon addresing the devloping humnitrian crisis in Europe as a result of the Geman invasion. There were some wll finded volunteer and chaitable efforts, but thee was also a hige outpouring og loval efforts, people in vurtually every city nd tiwn in america that wanted to help. No one kmows the number of the numbers of committees and other groups to help the various groups put at risk by the War. Local groups could collect maney and supplies for Europe. But they had no way of getting the relief aid overseas. The American Red Cross soon became the primary coordinating body for voluntary groups eeling to aid desperate people in Europe. In part because they set up operations overseas and had the cpavility of getting relief supplies overseas to the people who needed it.

U.S. Government: U.S. Food Administration

When the United States entered the War, President Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to the post of United States Food Administrator (1917). Food had become a weapon in World War I and no country produced more food than America. Hoover succeeded in cutting consumption of foods needed overseas and avoided rationing at home, yet kept the Allies fed. America had to produce the food needed by the new large army America was building as well as for Allied armies and civilians. Hoover designed a voluntary program. He called it food conservation, but many Americans took to calling it "Hooverizing." Various promotions were devised, such as wheatless Wednesdays and meatless Mondays. Hoover was convinced that Americans would cooperate voluntarily to support the boys overseas. He did not want a mandatory program and Government regulated rationing. The idea was that American civilians would have to modify their eating habits voluntarily so that more food was available for shipment overseas. The American housewife was urged to conserve food and eliminate waste. Signs and posters appeared in workplaces and public areas with the slogan "Food Will Win the War". Hoover managed to voluntarily reduce domestic food consumption 15 percent without rationing. Hoover guaranteed the farmer a 'fair price' and there was an overseas market for all that could be produced. American food exports tripled. Not only did America help feed the Allies, but the shipments created surplus stores of food that helped prevent a post-war famine in Europe. America after the War not only helped her Allies, but the former Central Powers countries as well as Soviet Russia.

American Agriculture (1910s)

For most countries developments on farms had little impact on other countries, even neighboring countries. Not so America. America is an exceptional country which the Europeans already knew. Thus is why millions of Europeans came to America. What the Europeans did not know at the beginning of the decade waa that American farmers would save millions of lives throughout the continent. American farmers saved millions of people in Europe during the decade, both during and after World war I. No other people in world history had ever attempted such a humanitarian effort on basically altruistic motives and on such a massibe scle. And it was all possible because of the American farmer. No country produced more food than America. America at the time of World War I was a major food producer. It not only was self sufficent in most agricultural commodities, but also exported large quantities of grains and other food products. The few products that America had to import were products that were best grown in tropical regions, particularly sugar and coffee. The United States also imported vegetable oils. [Mullendore] Major developments occured in rural America during the 1910s. Farm credit was a major issue. About a third of the more than 90 million Americans lived in rural areas (1910). Russia in the early-20th century was the European breadbasket, exporting large quantities of grain. The industrialized countries of Western Europe (espcially Britain, Germany and the Lowlands) had to important food to feed their workers. France with its especially abundant land was in a little better shape. World War I created an enormous demand for agricultural products. Farmers and farm workers were conscripted throughout Europe for military service. Fertilizer factories were converted for munitions production. This and the the destruction of War substantially reduced agricultural production. The Central Powers could not import from Russia, the European breadbasket or from overseas because of the Allied naval embargo. Farm production in Europe fell along with the devestation and shifting of priorities to war production. Shortages in Russia, Germny, and Austria-Hungary undermined the imperial regimes. The Allies, especially Britain did import and in large quantity. American farmers thus played an important role even before America declared war on Germany. And the increased demand affects American farming. The markets created and the resulting price increases meant boom years for American farmers and a rush to expand plantings. Great Planes farmers expand dryland farming. Farm workers appear from Mexico, both as a result ofthe Mexican Revolution andthe need for workers as production increased. New Government prigrams are untriduced such as the Stock Raising Homestead Act (1916). Imprioved mechanized equipment appears such as large opengeared gas tractors (1910), closed gear tractors (1915), and small prarie combines (1918). The Northern Plains states (North Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota) become the principal wheat producing states. As a result of experiments with different wheat strains, durum wheats becomes an important commercial crop. The effort to increase production meant that grain farmers were moving into the most arid area of the Great Plains. Marquis wheat was introduced (1912) Kansas red wheat was introduced (1917). Henry Fors's Model-T and country road building significantly increased the mobility of farmers and the access to small farm equipment like tractors. The Rural Post Roads Act begins regular Federal subsidies to road building (1916). The American railroad network peaked at 254,000 miles (1916) providing the farmer unparalleded market access. The Government once America entered the War (1917), encouraged American farmers to increase production and they responded with major increases in planting and land utilization. Thus during the War, the Allies did not face the same problems with food that Austria-Hungary and Germany faced. After the War, the United States fed a prostrate Europe, averting widespread starvartion. Herbert Hoover and U.S. Food Administration played a major role in that effort. Virtually every European country would recieve American Relief assistance, including the Soviet Union whose new leaders were pledged to destroying America

The American Red Cross

Germany launched World War I by invading neutral Belgium (1914). The Red Cross dispatched a Mercy Ship to Europe with medical staff and supplies. That was just the beginning of a huge, unprecdented effort. America's great humanitarian effort was entirely new to world history. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Government did not have the institutional structure and personnel to conduct such an enomous task. A task that only got larger and more involved as the War proved to be not a short war, but an extended one that morphed into the greatest war in himan history up to that time. The Federal Government created a range of agencies and projects to aaomplish this task. And would rely heavily on a realtively new ptiovate cgarity-- a chjarity that was not created fulfill gthis mission, but would take on ther task and accomplish great things--the American Red Cross. As the War spread all over Europe, the Red Cross and Red Cross relief vehicles would be major fiorce in saving Europe and would go as far east as the Volga.

American Exceptionalism

Many countries have made important achievements in world history. The Greeks invented democracy. The Romans are renowned for architecture and law. The French are known for art and the Germans for music. The Chinese in the medieval era were a phenomenal source of technology. The Russians are known for literature. The Dutch and English invented capitalism. Every country have made a contribution of some kind. The idea of American exceptionalism is a theory that America's contribution and society is unique or pronounced. We believe it is. And we believe that there are a long list of American ideals and accomplishments that substantiate America's status unique. America like any country is not without its missteps and misdeeds, but the accomplishments are so immense that America has more than earned its status as an exceptional, noble country. Here we are going to list some of those achievements and the reader can judge for his or herself. We do not pretend that our list is complete, but it is long enough and sufficiently impressive to firmly establish America's unique status as an exceptionally noble country. Many countries have made important contributions to the world, but no country comes even close to the achievements of America. So let's discuss America's phenomenalachievements.

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Created: 9:29 AM 10/3/2023
Last updated: 9:29 AM 10/3/2023