World War I: America spent around thirty billion dollars on the war effort. At war’s end, due to disagreements with the allies, the United States refused to ratify the peace treaty, join the League of Nations, or be part of the European recovery. 1929: British interest rates rose and lured capital away from America’s Wall Street. Prices on the New York Stock Exchange plummeted in late October. The Great Depression sets in and the American economy does not see serious improvement until the beginning of World War II. Today: After a severe recession during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the stock market reaches record highs in the 1990s, and the American dollar becomes very strong in foreign markets. The United States, Mexico, and Canada begin cooperating in the North American Free Trade Agreement, while Europe works towards creating a stronger European Union, a organization among European countries promoting free trade, a common policy for defense, and a single monetary unit.
World War I: In 1917 Russia sued for a separate peace with Germany when the government of the Tsar, Nicholas II, was threatened by civil war. The Duma, Russia’s legislative body under the czar, asked the czar to step down in March and placed Russia under a provisional government. In the fall, under the leadership of Lenin, the communists seize power, and Russia becomes a Soviet Union modeled on Marxist principles. 1929: Josef Stalin expels Leon Trotsky from the Soviet Union and begins an unchallenged dictatorship of the Soviet Union. Today: While the Soviet Union has collapsed, twelve of fifteen former Soviet states join to form the Commonwealth of Independent States. Some former eastern European countries under the influence of the Soviets dissolve peacefully, such as the former Czechoslovakia dividing into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. However, other countries cannot agree on the future of their new nations and serious fighting erupts, especially in the former Yugoslavia.
World War I: At the end of the war, the suffragette movement gains women the right to vote in Britain in 1918, and in America with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. The Eighteenth Amendment began Prohibition, making the drinking and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages illegal. 1929: Organized crime violence reached an historic high; illegal drinking establishments, known as “speakeasies,” surged in popularity. Prohibition was finally repealed in 1933 with the Twenty-First Amendment. Today: In 1972, the United States Senate approves a proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting discriminating against women because of their gender. Never receiving enough votes by states for ratification, the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated in 1982. While the consumption of alcohol remains legal, national campaigns have focused on educating adults to drink responsibly. Public awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving have increased with many Americans joining national associations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), to help keep roads free of intoxicated drivers.