Freedom: A History of US

Webisode 11. Introduction
Safe For Democracy

The flight of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, helped open the twentieth century and launched an age of dramatic innovation, upheaval, and change. The science of flight increased dramatically, spurred on by a world war that pioneered the use of airplanes not as agents of peace, as the Wrights had hoped, but rather as vehicles to wage and win war.

The Great War convulsed the nations of Europe and eventually drew the United States out of its isolation and neutrality. President Wilson reluctantly led the nation into the war, calling it a quest to make the world "safe for democracy." Wilson was unsuccessful, both at home and abroad, in his efforts to secure a forgiving peace. The only one of his Fourteen Points included in the Treaty of Versailles was an association of nations (the League of Nations), but when the United States did not join, the organization was doomed. Wilson accurately predicted that within another generation the world would be plunged into yet another massive conflict.

On the domestic front, women saw their roles expand during the war; with the Nineteenth Amendment, they finally gained the right to vote. Americans experimented with Prohibition. American materialism, jazz music, a new media—radio—and the booming stock market marked the Roaring Twenties.

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