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Content Reading Guide: World War I: Part 4
Germany began using submarines called U-boats to attack the Allies at sea in World War I.American Vice Admiral, William Sims, wanted to use a convoy system against U-Boats, a system in whichmany military boats escorted other ships in groups. The USA navy created a barrier of water mines in the North Sea to fight against German U-boats as well. The Allies morale was down prior to the USA joining their alliance due to the harsh conditions of the war, such as trench warfare. America joining the war increased the attitudes and confidence of the other soldiers by joining the Allies.
When the USA entered the war,they stopped Germany from gaining Paris. Then, the USA helped win the 2nd Battle of the Marne from July to August in 1918. This was the beginning of the end for the Central Powers. On 11/3/1918, Austria-Hungary surrendered to the Allies. Then, on 11/11/1918, Germany agreed to an armistice “cease fire” and the WW I ended on the “11th day of the 11th month of the 11th hour.”
PresidentWilson wanted to form the League of Nations to create an alliance system of ALL nations. France, Britain, and Russia had sacrificed much during the war and many in these countries wanted vengeance and retribution against Germany. Many rejected Wilson’s notions as too idealistic. They claimed evil nations could take advantage of the peaceful intent of just nations. President Wilson created The 14 Points as a plan for world peace.
These were the 14 Points:
- 1. There can be no secret treaties.
- 2. There must be freedom of the seas for all.
- 3. There must be free trade between nations and an attempt to abolish or lower tariffs.
- 4. The world must reduce arms in all countries.
- 5. Territories should gain more interest in the mother country policies.
- The next 8 were boundary changes based on ethnicity for various countries in Europe.
- The 14th point created the League of Nations as a venue of discussion between nations.
David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain, won his election with the slogan, “Make Germany Pay!” It was clear that the Allies wanted vengeance. Russia became overran with Communist radicals and the Central powers were not present to create the stipulations of peace. The main leaders trying to determine the fate of Europe after WW I were Woodrow Wilson (USA), Georges Clemenceau (France), David Lloyd George (England), and Vittorio Orlando (Italy).
Due to the Treaty of Versailles, the Ottoman Empire was sliced up and given to France and Britain. The Middle East nations were formed as a result later. Germany was dealt with harshly. The Germans could no longer have an army. They were forced to pay war damages. Over 30 billion dollars of debt was placed on Germany. The treaty also created new European nations, like Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Treaty of Versailles had many weaknesses. First, it placed on Germany a war guilt clause and massive debt; it also took away their imperialistic territories leaving them no way to pay off their debts. Second, Russia, an ally, lost more land than Germany! Third, it denied imperial territories self-determination. The Vietnamese and others were already seeking their independence.
Many in the USA strongly opposed the treaty. It did not stop imperialism, which meant nations may fight for areas again in the future. Many leaders in the USA also opposed the League of Nations. They wanted an isolationist government and did not want to “fix” the world’s problems. Senator Henry Lodge did not want the USA economy or military intertwined with other nations in the future. Wilson ignored the Republicans who stood against the League of Nations and urged the nation to sign the treaty and join the league. In September of 1919, Wilson traveled 3000 miles in 3 weeks urging leaders to join the League of Nations. On October 2nd, Wilson had a stroke and could no longer petition for the USA to join the League of Nations.
Henry Lodge led the movement for the USA to not join the League of Nations. In 1921, the USA signed a separate treaty with Germany. The USA never joined the League of Nations and Wilson’s desire for peace was not achieved. Many in the USA wanted “normalcy” and not to be involved in European affairs. The USA government and military became more powerful. Powerful fears appeared provoked by ideas sweeping Europe. Europe experienced massive causalities, political instability, and violence remained. The first Communist state was established in Russia. In the decades that followed, militant Fascists rose up and took Italy, Spain, and Germany.
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