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Historical Thinking Essay #1: Woodrow Wilson and World War I

An important theme in our course is to explore how everyday people living in the United States (citizens

and non-citizens, alike) have worked to make this nation a better place through democratic engagement.

Arguments opposed to and in favor of U.S. participation in the First World War provide an excellent

historical case.


STEP ONE: READ Roark, et al. The American Promise, Chapter 22.


STEP TWO: READ the following primary historical sources:


Voices in Opposition to World War I

Anti-Enlistment League Poster

His Best Customer by Winsor McCay (1917)

“I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier” (Cover page to sheet music, lyrics and music)

Eugene Debs “Canton, Ohio” Speech June 16, 1918

Robert M. La Follette, “It Has No Popular Support” Speech to Congress April 4, 1917


Voices in Favor of World War I

Woodrow Wilson “Making the World Safe for Democracy” April 2, 1917

“When the Lusitania Went Down” (lyrics and music)

“War is a Blessing Not a Curse” North American Review

“Four Minute Men: Volunteer Speeches during World War I”

Women Suffragettes


STEP THREE: WATCH THIS VIDEO “Princeton Students Protest Woodrow Wilson’s Legacy”


STEP FOUR: RESPOND to the following prompt:


Part I. Compare and contrast the various ways in which Americans expressed their favor

or opposition to World War I. Which voices seem the most patriotic in your view?



Part II. With regard to the recent controversy regarding Wilson’s historical legacy, where

do you stand? Should Wilson’s name be removed from institutions, such as the

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars? Regardless of your position on this

debate, be sure to express your democratic right to explain why you hold it.

This assignment requires that you rely on at least five (5) primary source documents as evidence;

choose evidence that reflects BOTH opposition to and support for the war. Your paper should be

between 3 and 5 pages (no more than 1250 words), double spaced.

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