World War II | U.S. Elections
World War IIThe years 1933 to 1942 saw the rise and expansion of Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, and militarism in Japan. These empires expanded their territory and military power at the expense of their smaller neighbors, many of them new nations created by the Treaty of Versailles. The League of Nations, helpless to stem aggression, and the United States, guided by a policy of isolationism, stood largely aside as Europe and Asia descended into crisis. By the late 1930s, Nazi Germany had invaded Poland and threatened to invade Great Britain, a longtime ally of the United States. It was not until Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii -- a U.S. territory, though not yet a state -- that the U.S. entered the world-wide conflict. World War II spanned the globe, with battles fought in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States (or its territories). The war did not end until Italy was occupied, Germany was invaded by U.S. and Russian forces, and the two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.
What factors help explain the ease with which Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy were able to conquer so much of Europe and Africa from 1933 to 1941? What problems in the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain made resistance to German and Italian aggression difficult?
How was the crisis of the 1930s rooted in the settlement of World War I at Versailles in 1919? How did that treaty change the political makeup of Europe, and why did the League of Nations fail to live up to its mission to preserve peace?
What goals did Hitler have in his conquests of the 1930s? How did these conquests fit into Hitler's plan for a "greater Germany?"
You are an American journalist living in Germany during the 1930s. Write three short dispatches home about the events in Europe, and how they may impact America in the near future.
U.S. ElectionsThomas Jefferson won the Presidency in 1800 in what has been called a political revolution for the new Republic. The election was the first in which two parties faced one another in a presidential election, and demonstrated that Americans could peacefully change their government through the electoral process. Jefferson, after narrowly defeating John Adams in the electoral college, pledged in his inaugural address to unite the country, "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists." The two-party system that was born in this election persists until the present.
The election of Thomas Jefferson brought to power a new political party, the Democratic-Republicans. Was this party a national organization, representing the U.S. as a whole, or sectional party, representing only the South? What evidence is there for each position?
Why did a two-party system arise in the election of 1800? What effect did this system have on American political history? Was this a healthy or unhealthy development for American political life?
Write a diary as an observer from France in the United States during the Election of 1800. What are your views of the election? What do you think the election reveals about American political life? Compare America's peaceful transition to Democratic-Republican rule with political life in post-revolutionary France? How do you explain the differences?
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