North Carolina, Claude Kitchin, and the Great War, 1869-1923

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Timothy Mitchell Reagin (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Charles Bolton

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the state of North Carolina in the years before American intervention in the Great War by focusing on the actions, speeches, and writings of House Majority Leader Claude Kitchin. Despite his importance to such a pivotal decade in American history, Kitchin is a largely forgotten figure today. He worked to prevent the United States from entering the war but ultimately failed in this task. Other prominent figures are usually given credit as the loudest and most influential voices of opposition, but Kitchin excelled in this role. From his not so humble origins, he emerged as a leader of an anti-war preparedness movement at a time when so many Americans were pushing the country closer to the war. Kitchin worked around the clock to convince his own constituents, as well as Americans from around the country, that the United States was already well-prepared to face the challenges of a world at war. President Wilson called for a national campaign of war preparedness years before the United States was even at war. And because the Atlantic Ocean proved to be such a good barrier between the Old and New Worlds many of Kitchin’s contemporaries argued for tremendous increases in naval expenditures. Kitchin took particular issue with these demands for a dramatic naval build up and consistently reminded the nation that the United States already had the best navy in the world, behind Great Britain’s. “We are already prepared,” he often said. When it became clear that Kitchin was on the losing side of the fight, he stuck to his convictions and delivered an inspiring speech on the House floor hours before the vote for war. He knew this vote might signal the death knell of his political career but could only vote how his conscience allowed. After the declaration, he worked to protect the American people from overpaying for the war. He determined that if big businesses would profit from it, then they should pay for it. And he followed this policy until the war ended. After peace was declared and the Republicans took back Congress, he quietly faded out of the public view but never stopped working.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Biography, Claude Kitchin, Great War, North Carolina, Southern History, World War I
Kitchin, Claude, $d 1869-1923
Legislators $z North Carolina $v Biography
World War, 1914-1918 $x Diplomatic history
World War, 1914-1918 $z North Carolina
World War, 1914-1918 $z United States

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