Global Context

World Events/Context

The Great War (WWI) ended in late 1918, with millions of soldiers and civilians having given their lives to the cause. One of the many dramatic effects of the war was the expansion of governmental powers and responsibilities in Britain, France, the United States, and the Dominions of the British Empire. In order to harness all the power of their societies, governments created new ministries and powers. New taxes were levied and laws enacted, all designed to bolster the war effort.

Largely, America had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to Britain and other powers for much of the war.

Macro- and micro-economic consequences devolved from the war. Families were altered by the departure of many men. With the death or absence of the primary wage earner, women were forced into the workforce in unprecedented numbers. At the same time, industry needed to replace the lost labourers sent to war. This aided the struggle for voting rights for women (full suffrage achieved in 1920).

The 1918 flu pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. It infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and killed over 50 million people world-wide.

While most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill juvenile, elderly, or already weakened patients, the second wave of the1918 pandemic predominantly killed previously healthy young adults.

The close quarters and massive troop movements of World War I hastened the pandemic and both increased transmission and augmented mutation; the war may also have increased the lethality of the virus. The soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnourishment, as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility. After the war they traveled in poor, still-crowded conditions to bring the disease home to every corner of the involved countries.
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The rest of the world suffered a greater blow by their involvement in the war, and had a hard time recovering economically, physically, and morally from the horrors they went through. Currently, America is seeing a huge advantage in the global context— the booming economic prosperity of the 1920’s has sung high and proud to express the greatness of the country.

Global Context

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