Freedom: A History of US.
Webisode Menu Tools & Activities For Teachers About the Series Search This Site
Webisode 11: Safe For Democracy
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

See it Now - click the image and explore
Liberty Bond Poster
Segment 3
American doughboys off to fight the Great War Fighting for Freedom

The Germans aren't worried. They have no faith in democracy. They think it will take years for America to get ready to fight. By that time they are sure the war will be over. The scholarly, honorable man who is president will astonish them. He asks Congress for special war powers. In amazingly fast order Wilson turns a peaceful nation into a strong fighting force See It Now - Liberty Bond Poster. The country's factories go from making corsets, bicycles, and brooms to production of guns, ships, and uniforms. In just over a year—beginning in April 1917—more than a million American men are drafted into the army, trained See It Now - World War I Soldier and sent overseas Check The Source - An American in the Trenches. And just in time Check The Source - Eddie Rickenbacker. In Europe the fighting has been going on for three years; both sides are near collapse.

In the United States, women take over men's jobs See It Now - Women Working in a Factory; they make weapons, they run the farms, they fight fires, they haul ice. They amaze everyone, including themselves. One woman in a gas mask factory writes, "It has been one of the richest experiences of my life—meeting all the wonderful women there, not only the professionals but the little seamstresses and factory girls who have given up their old work to do their bit."

Then, in 1918, a year after the Americans entered the war, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it suddenly becomes quiet. The cannons are still. Germany has surrendered. The war is over. Lieutenant Harry Rennagel was there and wrote this eyewitness account: Hear It Now - Lieutenant Harry Rennagel "The roar stopped like a motor car hitting a wall. The resulting quiet was uncanny in comparison. We kept the boys under restraint as long as we could. Finally the strain was too great. A big Yank ran out into No Man's Land and planted the Stars and Stripes at the lip of a shell hole. A bugler began playing "The Star-Spangled Banner." And they sang—Gee, how they sang!"

Icon Key
See it Now Hear it Now Check the Source
Image Browser
Additional Resources
Did You Know?
During World War I, teenaged and younger boys helped in the war effort by knitting clothes and blankets for the troops.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

Previous Continue to: Segment 4
Email to a friend
Print this page