History 416

Origins of World War I

September 14, 2005



I. Wilsonianism at Home

            1. Wilson as President (WW as political scientist; personal characteristics; caucus and party system; demise of Progressives)


            2. The Agenda (progressivism and the regulatory impulse; tariff; FTC and Clayton Act; Federal Reserve Board)


            3. Domestic Reform and the Law (changing the courts; changing the Constitution; civil liberties)


II. Background to War

            1. Anglo-German Tensions (German unification and Bismarckian diplomacy; Kaiser and weltpolitik; naval buildup; British response—dreadnoughts; war scares)


            2. Imperialism (“place in the sun”; Germany and Boer War; Germany and Western Hemisphere—Venezuela, Mexico; East Asian instability—treaty system, spheres of influence, Boxer Rebellion, Japanese expansionism—Korea, Manchuria, Russo-Japanese War; intersection colonial and metropole diplomacy—Entente Cordiale, Algeciras and Morocco controversy)


III. Movement toward War

1. Shifting Alliances (Bismarckian diplomacy; lapse of Reinsurance Treaty; first Russian Revolution; aftereffects of Russo-Japanese War; Russian turn to Europe; realignment in British foreign policy—end of “splendid isolation”)


            2. The Balkans (regional instability and decline of Ottoman power; growth of nationalism in 19th century Europe; Greek independence; Congress of Berlin and creation of Serbia, Montenegro, Romania; Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Balkan rivalries; second Moroccan crisis; role of Serbia; first and second Balkan Wars; firming of alliance system)


III. Road to War

            1. European Mindset (great power strategic visions; use-them-or-lose-them; alternatives—Angell and economic interconnectedness; cultural ties; Socialism; international organizations)


            2. Confrontation Develops (assassination of Ferdinand; chaotic Austrian response; blank check; alliance systems and Italian reversal; Schlieffen Plan and British decision; invasion of Belgium; Russian setbacks in East; failure of Schlieffen Plan; race to sea and origins of trench warfare)