Personal Stories

College Forum: How the US became a 20th Century World Power

*College Forum: How the United States became a 20th Century World Power.

The United States became a world power in the 20th century due to key developments in the world.  The industrial age created machines, cars, the invention of electricity, and developed raw materials that placed the United States as a strategic, financially prosperous and powerful “empire.”  Along with this, three other key factors increased the United States power in the world.  Those three factors were the Treaty of Versailles, the nuclear age and the end of the Cold War.

Prior to World War I, the United States made large gains in trade with their allies and continents such as Asia.  President Wilson called on Americans “to be neutral in fact as well as in name, impartial in thought as well as in action.”  (Henretta, 2012)  Unfortunately, this was not to be the case as Britain was a powerhouse of the sea.  Britain had cut off a vital route for trade in which the United States protested.  It was for naught though.  The United States wound up silently supporting Britain and France.  (Henretta, 2012) The United States entered the war in 1917 once it was discovered that a German foreign secretary promised Mexico to recover lost territories if they joined the Central Powers.  War could not be ignored no more.

Once World War I concluded with the Germans conceding to the United States, President Wilson impressed upon the world his Fourteen Points.  It called for diplomacy, removal of barriers in trade and was a founding foundation for the League of Nations.  However, during the Treaty of Versailles it was abundantly clear that punishment to Germany would wind up becoming an issue. Britain and France divided up Germany’s hold of the colonies in Africa.  President Wilson intervened many times to stop the demands against Germany but in other parts of the world it was a grab of land everywhere that ultimately lead to another world war.  (Henretta, 2012)

The United States was once again thrust into a world war when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The United States created the military industrialized complex as a result.  With the assistance of the Federal government, monies raised from bonds and private corporations, a large war machine was created in order to defeat Japan and Germany.  The war was long and finally Germany was defeated.  However there was growing concern that Japan would continue to fight a war they could not win.  The United States wanted the “unconditional surrender.”  When President Truman came into office, he learned of the Manhattan Project.  The Manhattan Project was creating an atomic bomb.  It was after several conferences with his staff, Generals and scientists that he dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It was at that time the United States became a true world power.

The last final piece of the puzzle that confirms that the United States was a powerhouse in the 20th century was the end of the Cold War.  After World War II, tensions arose between the United States and the Soviet Union.  The United States was not keen on the Soviet Union overtaking other countries in order to build their world power order.  This resulted in the separation of Germany.  A wall was constructed to create East and West Germany.  Several decades went by until Ronald Reagan became President.  He was determined to settle with the Soviet Union head on.  He had right-wing operatives who succeeded in defeating any dictatorships if they sought help from the Soviets.  (Henretta, 2012)  In the end, it was the relationship Reagan had with Mikhail Gorbachev that ended the Cold War.  (Henretta, 2012)  Once the Cold War ended, the United States emerged as the only World Power left with the small exception of Great Britain.  (Henretta, 2012)

References:

Henretta, J. E. (2012). America: A Concise History. In J. E. Henretta, America: A Concise

History (pp. 644). Boston New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 

Henretta, J. E. (2012). America: A Concise History. In J. E. Henretta, America: A Concise

History (pp. 645). Boston New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 

Henretta, J. E. (2012). America: A Concise History. In J. E. Henretta, America: A Concise

History (pp.655. Boston New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 

Henretta, J. E. (2012). America: A Concise History. In J. E. Henretta, America: A Concise

History (pp. 752). Boston New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 

Henretta, J. E. (2012). America: A Concise History. In J. E. Henretta, America: A Concise

History (pp. 932-935). Boston New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Advertisements