Teaching “Americanism with a World Perspective”: The Junior Red Cross in the U.S. Schools from 1917 to the 1920s

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The involvement of the United States in World War I, from April 1917 to November 1918, marked a high point in the history of American internationalist thought and engagement. During those nineteen months, President Woodrow Wilson and his administration called on Americans to aid European civilians and to support Wilson's plans for a peacetime League of Nations, defining both as civic obligations; many responded positively. The postwar years, however, saw a significant popular backlash against such cosmopolitan expectations. In 1920, Congress failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and rejected U.S. participation in the League. A growing chorus for 100% Americanism and immigration restriction, meanwhile, offered evidence of a U.S. public that was becoming more insular, more withdrawn from the world. Yet such trends were never universal. As scholars have begun to acknowledge, many Americans remained outward looking in their worldviews throughout the period, seeing engagement with and compassion for the international community as vital to ensuring world peace.

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History of Education Quarterly, v. 53, issue 3, p. 255-279