From Vacuums to the Vote (1900-1920) Geo-Political Events

During this time period, many countries started rising to power which eventually lead to World War 1. Five Great Powers in Europe during the beginning of this era included the French Empire, the British Empire, the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire (later known as the Austria-Hungry Empire), and the Kingdom of Prussia (later known as the German Empire). Italy was added to this group late in the 19th century while Japan and the USA joined later on in the early 20th century. There were many different events happening during this period, but I decided to just focus on the USA since they were one of the Great Powers that started to rise at that time.

In 1900, USA owned 38% of the world’s wealth which was approximately 13% more than what Britain was producing, giving America the most productive economy compared to the rest of the world. The USA was rapidly expanding and becoming bigger as a global power and by 1914, they were producing more coal than Britain and Germany combined. Even before then in the 1890s, Americans were producing a vast amount of resources which resulted in the US selling half of their petroleum and one-quarter of their farm products overseas. This rapid industrialization between many of the Great Powers resulted in imperialist and colonist competitions for the thrive of more and more power around the world. However, the US did not have a great army as big as Britain did; the US had less than 30,000 troops when Britain had five times that size, along with 10,000 people in its navy with Britain surpassing this number by 10 times the amount. They didn’t feel the need to raise the number of people in their army because there seemed to be no serious threats from any surrounding countries whatsoever. A greater shift also happened in the mid-1890s where many countries where striving to obtain as much land as possible for expansion which lead the world slowly into World War 1. Before this time, America was not very interested in gaining any more land because they did not want to go into conflict with acquiring land that was affiliated with people from different religions, cultures, and languages. But, as Europe acquired great amounts of land, America and the rest of the world grew in temptation as well.

World War 1 happened because of multiple different reasons including Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and ethnic nationalism, but one of the main conflicts that started it all was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. As allies poured in to help each during the war, USA remain neutral until a German U-boat sunk the Lusitania, which was an American passenger ship. As an end result, US declared war against German and won and by the end of WW1, US rose to global power and had great influence and power around the world.



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