Trousers for women were first introduced in WWI. Women replaced male laborers in the fields and factories. However, it wasn’t until WWII that trousers, later called “slacks” and now are simply pants, became readily accepted in social settings. In WWI women helped rally patriotic fund raisers for liberty bonds, and Red Cross depended on women for nursing, wrapping bandages, and knitting warm clothing. Women accepting these challenges pushed for acceptance of the Suffragette movement and gave demand for political enfranchisement and the right to vote. The 19th amendment granted women the right to vote and was ratified on August 18, 1920.
By Beverly Clinkingbeard
One hundred years ago our nation could see the end of war in sight. On the , Jr., th of November, 1918, the church bells rang, people cheered, The Great War was over!
WWI was known as The Great War until WWII came along and the designation changed to WWI. The Great War was the war to end all wars! Alas, the unfinished business of The Great War and mankind’s lust for power, economic greed and a myriad of other reasons, has proven that peace is much more difficult to maintain than war is to make.
Prior to the armistice signed in 1918, The United States followed a policy of isolation. The war was “over there,” meaning in Europe and did not affect our nation. After all, there was a big ocean between here and there. President Woodrow Wilson had been re-elected in 1916 under the banner “He kept us out of war.” But the disaster of a German submarine sinking the passenger ship Lusitania (records indicate it may have been mistaken identity on the part of the submarine, as orders were cargo ships only, and German submarines were credited with sinking 5,700 Allied cargo ships), and then, the well-published Zimmerman Letter. This diplomatic letter was to Mexico and the suggested plan from Kaiser’s government in Germany was for Mexico to attack the USA and thereby keep our nation from interfering with the drawn out war in Europe. Our neighbor to the south declined the suggestion, and further, made the letter public, enraging USA citizenry.
One hundred years ago news traveled slowly, however, horrific stories of suffering reached every corner and, directly or indirectly, touched every family. Every day living was affected. For instance, the draft for military service was instituted. The teacher of Cyclone School, south of Westboro, resigned his position to serve in the military, and farm laborers were in demand because all able bodied young men were recruited for the military.
There was the registration of “German Alien Females.” If an American woman married a German, she was to register as an enemy alien, while a German female married to an American prior to April 6, 1917, was regarded as a citizen and did not have to register. This registration was to be at the police station in a city, or for rural areas, the local post office. If the alien was apprehended for any reason and did not carry their permit card, they were subject to penalty of detention or deportation.
Occasional harassment locally, intentional and unintentional, was also felt. For instance, the Lutheran congregations of Rock Port and Langdon posted the following notice in reply to an article in the Tarkio Avalanche. The line that needed correcting was, “The Luther League of the German church entertained…” The church responded, “We are thankful for the notice, but would ask that the mistake please not be made again of calling ours the “German” church. We have said before there is no German church in the whole world, not even in Germany, much less in America. Our church is the Lutheran church, and by the way, the Kaiser is not the head of it because he is no Lutheran; but as of every true church, Jesus Christ our Lord and Master.”
A missionary in Egypt who had been a recent speaker at a missionary conference at Tarkio College was arrested in Kansas for making disloyal utterances. The closing remark that offended was, “The Kaiser was right when he said America is money mad…The idea of war for democracy a fallacy…God has sent Germany to punish the Allied nations for their sins and the war will not end until those nations are on their knees in the dust of repentence.”
Another gauge of public patriotism was the purchase of liberty bonds. There were weekly reports of community sales of liberty bonds. A farmer who lived north of Westboro and generally shopped in Blanchard or Hamburg, IA, but bought bonds at the Westboro bank, went to Shenandoah, IA. There he was accused of “being a slacker” and not buying his fair share of bonds. He refused to be intimidated and would not make a donation, had a son serving in the military and had made a donation of a hog to roast for the Red Cross in Westboro. Meanwhile, the Page County Council of Defense was not satisfied with his explanation and the farmer was made to appear before the U.S. Authorities at Council Bluffs, IA. The Hon. Frank Hopkins of Atchison County, MO, was a Missouri State Representative. He stepped in on behalf of the local farmer and that ended the inquiry. The newspaper called it “pernicious activity by some officious persons,” and the local public was somewhat dismayed and offended.
There were also thrift stamps sold for 25 cents each. When sixteen of these stamps were accumulated, the next stop was to the bank or post office, and for an additional , Sr., cents a five dollar certificate, paying 4% per annum compounded quarterly and would help the war cause.
Apparently there were incidences of flag desecration, because the news went to great lengths to offer articles on how and why to revere the flag, how not to misuse the flag, how to display the flag and that the proper flag had “48 stars in even rows.”
The Governor of the State of Missouri in obedience to a law enacted by the National Congress set apart June 5, 1915, as a day for “military registration for all male citizens…between the ages of twenty-one and thirty years…” These new soldiers would be paid according to duty and rank. For instance, a private, second class and buglers, $30 a month; a corporal of cavalry, field artillery, mechanic, musicians, signal corps., farrier, $36 a month. Sergeants were $51 a month and officers $71 to $81 per month.
In the midst of preparing for a war the USA had initially gone to great lengths to avoid, there was the flu epidemic in which military and civilians were equally afflicted. Millions of people died and our military were compelled to treat not only the wounded and deceased of war, but the soldier rendered helpless by flu.
So, when the church bells began to ring at , Jr., a.m. on November , Jr., , 1918, everyone must have given a big sigh of relief, before rejoicing and considering what life would be like without war.