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Chapter Twenty-Six. The Great War, Americanism Revisited, and the Anti-Wilson Crusade

Lloyd E. Ambrosius


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From the beginning of the Great War in 1914 to his death in 1919, Theodore Roosevelt identified the national interests of the United States with the European Allies. He blamed the Central Powers for starting the war, and especially Imperial Germany for its brutal aggression against neutral Belgium. The former president soon directed sharp criticism against President Woodrow Wilson, who called upon the American people to remain neutral in thought as well as deed. Never neutral in his attitude toward the two sides, TR expressed his views in private letters and public speeches, and in published articles and books. He sharply criticized the Wilson administration for its aloofness from the global conflict and for its lack of military preparedness in anticipation of America's entry into the war. Even after the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917, TR persisted in his anti-Wilson crusade. He advocated Allied military victory over the Central Powers. He blamed Wilson for failing to mobilize US military force more quickly and for favoring a negotiated peace with the Central Powers that would not require their unconditional surrender. Identifying Americanism and patriotism with the all-out pursuit of total victory, TR attacked the Wilson administration for its continuing weakness and ineptitude in the Great War. TR expressed his early wartime critique of Wilson and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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