Under the Selective Service Act of May 1917, 24 million men were required to register with the draft. New federal agencies moved to regulate industry, transportation, labor relations, and agriculture. Headed by Wall Street financier Bernard Baruch, the War Industries Board presided over all elements of war production from the distribution of raw materials to the prices of manufactured goods.
The Coming of Women Suffrage
The Espionage Act of 1917 prohibited not only spying and interfering with the draft but also “false statements” that might impede military success. In 1918, the Sedition Act made it a crime to make spoken or printed statements that intended to cast “contempt, scorn, or disrepute” on the “form of government,” or that advocated interference with the war effort.
The "Race" Problem
Even more extreme repression took place at the hands of state governments and private groups. During the war, thirty-three states outlawed the possession or display of red or black flags and twenty-three outlawed a newly created offense, “criminal syndicalism,” the advocacy of unlawful acts to accomplish political change or “a change in industrial ownership.”
The Anti German Crusade
The enlistment of “democracy” and “freedom” as ideological war weapons inevitably inspired demands for their expansion at home. In 1916, Wilson had cautiously endorsed votes for women. America’s entry into the war threatened to tear the suffrage movement apart because many advocates had been associated with opposition to American involvement.
Even before American participation in World War I, what contemporaries called the “race problem”. The very nationalization of politics and economic life served to heighten awareness of ethnic and racial difference and spurred demands for “Americanization”
In World War I, Germany was considered the main culprit and provocateur of the war. Therefore, it stirred the movement against Germans in the United States. Prior to the war, German-Americans were able to express and promote their ethnic culture through the fine arts and language. Once the war began, German-Americans came under public scrutiny and ostracism. To raise support for the war, German culture was belittled to establish the notion of superiority of America.