West Point in the Making of America






Allegorical painting

Allegorical painting

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America in the Great War

During World War I, West Point graduates held almost all top command and staff posts. They were in charge of raising the troops, supplying them, and leading them in combat.

Although the United States became an imperial power after the Spanish-American War, its armed forces stayed small by European standards. The nation remained neutral during World War I (1914–1918) until 1917, when perceived German provocation, especially the U-boat war, induced the United States to join the Allies. Only then did large-scale mobilization begin, including, for the first time, women.

Unlike previous American wars, World War I saw no political generals. Professionals were fully in charge. West Pointers held almost all the top command and staff posts, both at home and abroad. They managed the entire American war effort, from mobilizing the nation’s human and economic resources to assembling the fighting forces and leading them in combat. By spring 1918, hundreds of thousands of citizen soldiers were in Europe. Fresh American troops proved decisive in ending the war. A mature America now had proved itself a Great Power.


Mobilizing Manpower and Industry


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Smithsonian National Museum of American History

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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Mobilizing Manpower and Industry Supplying the Army America at War