First World War

The USA drawn into war

  • 1914 – When the First World War broke out in, America was at first determined to remain neutral as the conflict was regarded as a European matter.
  • 1915 – The Cunard liner Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. Over 1000 civilians lost their lives, 128 of whom were American citizens. This was important in swaying public opinion in America. At first the Americans merely protested to the Germans, and demanded that submarine action be stopped.
  • 1917 – After several American merchant ships were sunk, the United States finally entered the war.

US conscription

 World War I, American, recruitment, poster, Uncle Sam pointing, finger, recruit soldiers, Army, USA, 1918

Conscription was introduced for all men between the ages of 21 and 30, and over two million men were sent to Europe.

In The Great Gatsby, both Gatsby and Nick have done war service in Europe. Gatsby tells Nick that he was promoted to major, and that each of the Allied governments gave him a medal. Nick says that he 'thoroughly enjoyed' his war experience.

However, many young men were shocked and disillusioned by their experiences in Europe, and Fitzgerald coined the term 'the lost generation' to refer to them.

Fitzgerald himself had volunteered to join the Army, but although he trained in America, his unit was never sent to Europe.