When World War I and Pandemic Influenced the 1920 Presidential Election

Lashed by a squall of historical events over four harrowing years, exhausted Americans longed to catch their collective breath as Election Day approached.

The four years leading up to the presidential election of 1920 had delivered a ghastly confluence of war, pestilence, terrorism and unemployment. As soon as World War I finished taking the lives of 100,000 Americans, a global influenza pandemic stole another 650,000 more. Race riots, labor strikes and a string of anarchist bombings—including one that slaughtered 38 people on Wall Street—rocked American cities following the war. The American economy was far from roaring in 1920 as unemployment soared and stock prices plummeted. Americans bitterly divided over whether to join the League of Nations, and fears of the spread of communism after the Russian Revolution sparked the Red Scare and Palmer Raids. A cheating scandal had tainted the national pastime with accusations that the “Black Sox” had conspired with gamblers to fix the 1919 World Series. Even the heavens appeared to offer little salvation as a cluster of nearly 40 tornadoes struck from Georgia to Wisconsin on Palm Sunday in 1920, leaving more than 380 dead.

READ MORE: Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly

The 'best of the second-raters'

Against this turbulent backdrop, the Republican Party gathered in Chicago in June 1920 to select its nominee to succeed President Woodrow Wilson, who had suffered a debilitating stroke months earlier. Seeking to regain the White House, Republicans settled on a dark-horse candidate, Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio, on the tenth ballot. “There ain’t any first-raters this year,” declared Connecticut Senator Frank Brandegee. “We got a lot of second-raters, and Warren Harding is the best of the second-raters.” A small-town newspaper publisher from a swing state in the American heartland who bridged the party’s progressive and conservative wings, Harding was a safe choice who could deliver just the sort of political comfort Americans craved.

Harding promised nerve-wracked voters anything but radical change. In a May 1920 speech in Boston, he declared, “America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.”

READ MORE: The Race to Pass Suffrage Before the 1920 Election

Back to ‘normalcy’

When he returned from the Senate to his home town of Marion, Ohio, in July, Harding proclaimed to his neighbors, “Normal men and back to normalcy will steady a civilization which has been fevered by the supreme upheaval of all the world.” “Back to normalcy” and “return to normalcy” were quickly adopted as Harding campaign slogans (along with another one, “America First.”)

Harding’s mention of “normalcy” sparked not just a political debate, but a grammatical one as well. Critics of the Republican nominee claimed the word was a malaprop uttered by Harding when he actually meant to say “normality.” The candidate pressed back. “I have noticed that word caused considerable newspaper editors to change it to ‘normality,’” Harding told the press. “I have looked for ‘normality’ in my dictionary, and I do not find it there. ‘Normalcy,’ however, I find, and it is a good word.” Indeed, the term appeared in newspapers of the day, and Merriam-Webster traces its origins back to at least 1855.

Harding insisted his desire for “normalcy” was not a longing to turn back the clock. “By ‘normalcy’ I do not mean the old order, but a regular, steady order of things,” he said. “I mean normal procedure, the natural way, without excess. I don’t believe the old order can or should come back, but we must have normal order, or, as I have said, ‘normalcy.’”

The ‘front porch campaign’

Echoing his promise of a return to simpler, less chaotic times, Harding ran a campaign straight out of the 1890s, a time before the progressivism of Theodore Roosevelt, the idealism of Wilson and the turmoil of populism. While his Democratic opponent, Ohio Governor James M. Cox, travelled 22,000 miles around the country to hold campaign rallies, Harding rarely ventured further than his doorstep and emulated William McKinley’s path to the White House with a “Front Porch Campaign.” Pilgrims came by the thousands to Harding’s house just off Main Street in Marion and gathered on the front lawn around the verandah to hear the candidate orate from the top step. Foreshadowing selfie lines a century later, voters waited their turns to have photographs taken with Harding and his wife, Florence, that were sent to their hometown newspapers.

Harding’s milquetoast personality and small-town appeal spoke to the times: He won by a landslide in both the Electoral College and the popular vote to become the 29th president of the United States. He carried 37 of 48 states, including every state outside the South. The Republican ticket captured more than 16 million votes, nearly double those tallied by Cox and his vice-presidential running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Republican Party also won sizable majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

“Our supreme task is the resumption of our onward, normal way,” Harding declared in his inaugural address.

But while America emerged from under the clouds of recession, pandemic and war in the ensuing years, the Harding presidency generated its own turbulence. Prohibition saw a rise in gang violence and organized crime. Harding’s cabinet was plagued by corruption such as the Teapot Dome Scandal, in which oil men bribed Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall for drilling rights on federal land. Harding would not finish his four-year term. He died in 1923 at the age of 57 in a San Francisco hotel room while on a cross-country tour of the United States.

The political lessons of the 1918 pandemic

Illustrated | Getty Images, Library of Congress, iStock

Unexpected natural disasters have a way of revealing undiagnosed pathologies in a country's economic, social, and political systems.

For the United States in 2020, the still-unfolding COVID-19 viral calamity has exposed the upside-down nature of work and reward in our society. Millions of low-wage, low-status workers are holding supply (and sanity) chains and critical everyday processes in place while the wealthy escape to their vacation homes and many in the middle class get either a taste of round-the-clock daycare or a reminder that many of their jobs maybe aren't that important in the first place. While other countries have pledged indefinite financial support for all citizens, the U.S. Congress passed a series of woefully inadequate measures seemingly designed to plunge the country into a turbocharged Great Depression.

Worse, President Trump's decision to take counsel from crackpot law professors and his useless son-in-law instead of public health professionals means that many states are only now taking the steps necessary to contain the spread of this awful virus. Despite the brief polling sugar high from a rally-around-the-flag effect, the president and his obeisant red state governors own the response to this crisis. With unemployment headed to levels not seen even in the 1930s, as many as 200,000 Americans condemned to die agonizing deaths in hospital isolation wards and millions trapped in houses away from friends, family, and any source of joy, there will likely be a reckoning in November.

How significant the ruling party's punishment will be depends on a number of factors. Political scientist Alan Abramowitz's "Time For Change" model of post-WWII presidential elections featuring an incumbent shows that two factors — second quarter economic growth, and the president's net approval rating in June — are decisive in the incumbent party's fortunes.

Let's say, for example, that President Trump's approval rating eventually floats back down to the net -7.7 mark where it was on Super Tuesday, what we might now think of as the last normal day any of us will experience for months. Let's also say that second quarter economic growth comes in at -5 percent, which is significantly less dire than what economists now think is likely. What currently looks like a best-case scenario in these variables for Trump would yield something in the range of a 388-150 Electoral College landslide for the Democratic nominee in November, according to Abramowitz.

However, these models simply cannot account for the Black Swan nature of this crisis, or whether President Trump's base will ever acknowledge his administration's role in leaving America defenseless to the ravages of COVID-19. It is certainly possible that he will successfully emit some kind of blame miasma at other targets — Democrats for impeaching him, governors like Andrew Cuomo for not acting quickly enough, Congress for failing to pass a sufficient relief package, the Obama administration for whatever he can — and get away with it. But that strategy seems likely to run into limitations given the likely scale of human and economic suffering that is in store for this country.

To get a better sense of what awaits the GOP in November, we might also look at how natural disasters effect parties-in-power around the world. Here, the data is mixed. Some studies have shown little effect. And sometimes, as with Hurricane Sandy just before the 2012 election, incumbents seem to benefit. A 2011 paper presented at the International Studies Association conference by Constantine Boussalis, Travis Coan, and Parina Patel looked at the effects of natural disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes on subsequent elections between 1980 and 2007. They found that incumbent parties and leaders are most likely to be punished by voters if a) the state lacks the capacity or wherewithal to respond appropriately and b) enough time — but not too much time! — has passed for voters to assign blame to the incumbents.

The United States, the richest and most powerful country in the world, certainly possesses the wherewithal to respond capably to this disaster. But thus far the federal government has failed comprehensively to prevent the spread of the virus, to provide the needed testing, to distribute the necessary protective equipment for health care workers, and to put the kind of cash in people's pockets needed to avoid large-scale economic displacement. It is hard to identify any feature of this crisis that has been competently managed by these White House ineptocrats.

Is COVID-19 a "natural disaster"? In some ways yes, but the closest analogue to our current situation might actually be located more distantly in our own history: the 1920 presidential election. That year the incumbent, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, ailing and nearing the end of his second term, did not seek re-election. The country was just emerging from the terrible ravages of the 1918-1919 Spanish flu epidemic which had killed between 17 and 100 million people worldwide, including about 675,000 Americans, as well as from the aftermath of World War I. Perhaps worst of all for Democrats, the economy plummeted into a sharp recession beginning in January 1920, with industrial production plummeting by a third and unemployment spiking to nearly 12 percent over the following year. While public opinion polling did not exist 100 years ago, it is hard to imagine anything other than decisive opposition to the Wilson administration and its policies.

The 1920 election therefore features the convergence of all three variables — a sharp economic downturn in the second quarter of the election year plus an unpopular incumbent president who presided over the application of difficult and painful measures to fight off an exogenous shock in the form of a flu pandemic. Really, there is absolutely nothing remotely as similar to this year as the 1920 election.

What happened? Republican Warren Harding, campaigning on a "return to normalcy" (sound familiar?) won more than 60 percent of the vote and a towering majority in the Electoral College. Republicans added massively to narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress. It was a thorough repudiation of nominee James Cox and the Democratic Party. Republicans would go on to preside over the Roaring Twenties, winning the next three presidential elections and maintaining unified control of Congress until 1931.

There's one more structural similarity. Woodrow Wilson was the only Democrat to win the presidency between 1896 and 1932, and one of only two Democrats to win the office between the end of the Civil War and the Great Depression. His original election in 1912, like Donald Trump's in 2016, was a fluke produced in part by third-party spoilers. In 1912, it was former president Theodore Roosevelt, who split the Republican vote all over the country with incumbent Republican President William Taft.

Democrats have won the most votes in every presidential election since 1992 with the exception of 2004. Only bizarre and antiquated institutions like the Electoral College prevent us from seeing that we are already likely in the midst of a long period of Democratic dominance of national politics. In that sense, even before COVID-19 crashed the economy and menaced millions, the president was probably facing an uphill battle.

Will President Trump lose by Harding-Cox margins? Of course not, not in today's hyper-polarized political environment. He could still win. But unless he somehow rises to the occasion of this crisis and does real, recognizable good instead of play-acting as the president for half an hour every day at his press conferences, he's in deep trouble.

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This Isn’t The First Time America Has Weathered A Crisis In An Election Year

The COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted public life in a number of ways &mdash large events are canceled, restaurants are closed and many of us are stuck at home &mdash but a fundamental aspect of our democratic society could also be under threat: voting.

Already, eight states or territories have postponed their presidential primaries &mdash but depending on how long this pandemic affects day-to-day life in the United States, it could impact the November general election, too. But this isn&rsquot the first time our country has had to go to the polls in a time of crisis. Elections have occurred during economic catastrophes like the Great Depression as well as during both world wars. The good news is we&rsquove always managed to hold general elections &mdash even in the midst of the Civil War &mdash but the bad news is that our ability to vote is often hampered. And turnout has usually fallen because voting became harder or costlier in the face of natural or man-made calamities. Looking ahead to the November election, recent primary elections show that states need to be prepared for the worst when it comes to making sure people can vote despite a health crisis.

Take last Tuesday. Ohio postponed its election and in Illinois, where there isn&rsquot a tradition of voting by mail, turnout was much lower than in the other two states that voted. (Florida and Arizona both generally cast a large percentage of ballots by mail.) There&rsquos still a lot we don&rsquot know about the current health crisis we find ourselves in &mdash how long will the urgency of the coronavirus threat last, for example, or how things will look come November &mdash but if we&rsquore looking at elections comparable to our current moment, the most relevant may be the 1918 midterm.

That fall, in the waning days of World War I, the Spanish flu &mdash a strain of influenza that got that name because Spain was one of the few countries to report on it freely &mdash ravaged the United States, killing hundreds of thousands of people, many in the lead-up to the November election.

In response to this devastating disease, public health officials tried to limit its spread, but those mitigation policies affected political campaigns. Marian Moser Jones, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health who studies the influenza pandemic, pointed to bans on public gatherings, which we&rsquore seeing now too. &ldquo[Y]ou couldn&rsquot have the usual election speeches, which were then even more important because you didn&rsquot have television or radio,&rdquo Jones said. &ldquo[Candidates] had to actually campaign via newspaper editorials and mailings.&rdquo

This was particularly true out west, where the pandemic&rsquos severity peaked in the days before the election. Even election night changed: There was a ban on the display of election returns on large boards outside of newspaper offices so that crowds wouldn&rsquot gather to watch results come in, Jones told me. And in Los Angeles, &ldquoelection officers locked themselves in each voting booth to count the votes and to prevent flu transmission.&rdquo

The Spanish flu also likely contributed to lower turnout on Election Day. About 40 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 1918 midterm election, down sharply from the 50 to 52 percent that voted in the previous two midterms.

Jason Marisam, who studied the effect of influenza on the 1918 election as a legal fellow at Harvard Law School (he&rsquos now an assistant attorney general in Minnesota), told me that it probably did have an effect on people voting. &ldquoThe San Francisco Chronicle ran photos of Election Day, people lining up to vote all wearing these masks. They called it the first masked ballot in U.S. history,&rdquo said Marisam. &ldquoYou have to think that that kind of mentality had an impact on turnout.&rdquo

Observers back in 1918 attributed the drop in turnout to the effects of the pandemic, too. &ldquoThe Los Angeles Times estimated that the flu had kept 40,000 people away from the polls in San Francisco,&rdquo said Jones, adding that newspaper accounts of voting in Arizona and New Mexico talked about the disinfection of polling places and a &ldquolight vote&rdquo due to influenza and the absence of many men due to the war.

There&rsquos one obvious complication when we examine turnout in 1918: the First World War. It&rsquos difficult to separate out influenza&rsquos effect on the election because around 2 million men were also fighting overseas in 1918, and not much was done to help them vote. That meant a sizable chunk of the electorate was effectively disenfranchised, as only men 21 years or older could vote in much of the country. (Remember, the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, wasn&rsquot ratified until summer 1920.) Nonetheless, even if influenza only explains part of the drop-off in voter turnout, Marisam estimated it was still likely responsible for hundreds of thousands of people not voting.

But despite public health worries associated with influenza, Marisam told me he could find no evidence that people discussed postponing the 1918 election. Civic pride and patriotism were high during World War I, as war bond campaigns and propaganda from the Committee on Public Information encouraged Americans to do their part to support the war effort. And newspapers encouraged citizens to go to the polls despite the Spanish flu with headlines like &ldquoEvery Loyal Californian Will Cast Vote At Election Today&rdquo in the Los Angeles Times. There also wasn&rsquot a national debate over whether the results were legitimate, even though turnout was lower, and in some parts of the country, officials claimed influenza may have affected the results in congressional and local elections.

Of course, the 1918 election isn&rsquot the only election to be held during a time of crisis (although it did take place during one of our country&rsquos massive health crises). But just like the 1918 election, other federal elections also held during world wars saw depressed turnout.

In 1942, during World War II, the government tried to buoy turnout by passing the Soldiers Voting Act, which helped states send federal ballots to service members. It didn&rsquot work particularly well: Less than 30,000 federal ballots were cast under its provisions 1 and turnout in 1942 was very low &mdash just 34 percent of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot, making it the second-lowest midterm turnout since the ratification of the 19th Amendment (only 1926, at 33 percent, was lower).

Trying to avoid the same problems in 1944, Congress passed a military ballot law ahead of the election that helped at least 2.6 million soldiers cast ballots &mdash enough to make a difference for President Franklin Roosevelt in at least one state. (He won enough military votes in New Jersey to overcome his deficit among civilian votes, according to a contemporaneous study.) Still, turnout in 1944 was lower than the previous two presidential elections, and as you can see in the table below, voter turnout in elections during U.S. involvement in the two world wars was lower than in previous midterm and presidential elections.

Turnout fell during world wars compared to past elections

Turnout among the voting-eligible population during WWI and WWII compared to the previous two midterm or presidential elections

World War I Midterm Turnout
1910 52.0%
1914 50.4
1918 39.9
World War II Midterm Turnout
1934 44.5%
1938 46.6
1942 33.9
World War II Presidential Turnout
1936 61.0%
1940 62.4
1944 55.9

Source: U.S. Elections Project, Vital Statistics of American Politics

But it&rsquos not just war and disease that have disrupted our elections. Sudden natural disasters have also impeded voting, as demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast just days ahead of the 2012 election. New Jersey and New York were especially hard-hit, and leaders there had to work to ease voting access in the storm&rsquos aftermath. In New Jersey, the government designated those displaced by the storm as &ldquooverseas voters,&rdquo which allowed them to email or fax absentee ballots, though some localities weren&rsquot able to effectively handle the surge in absentee requests. And in parts of New York City, some voters had to cast ballots in tents because of the damage to polling locations.

It&rsquos unlikely that Sandy&rsquos effects altered the presidential outcome, given that both New Jersey and New York were safely Democratic, but turnout was down in areas affected by storm surge in New Jersey. One study from political scientists at Stony Brook University found that the storm possibly helped Barack Obama carry Virginia because of how it affected turnout in parts of the state.

Other disasters like 9/11 have disrupted our elections more dramatically. New York&rsquos primary election was actually scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001, but the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that morning prompted New York Gov. George Pataki to postpone the election, and the state instead held its primaries two weeks later. Obviously, this was an especially extreme case, but the suddenness of the delay is a reminder that sometimes elections can&rsquot go on.

And it&rsquos arguably why states should be preparing now for how voting will work in November. Turnout has usually declined in crisis elections &mdash sometimes dramatically &mdash and Illinois&rsquos diminished turnout last Tuesday demonstrated that it could be challenging to hold an election if COVID-19 is still a significant danger come November, particularly if some states remain reliant on in-person voting.

Edward Foley, an election law expert at the Ohio State University&rsquos Moritz College of Law, told me that states need to start adapting their voting systems. &ldquoThe focus of attention should be on how to conduct a November election that maximizes opportunity for voter participation under current circumstances,&rdquo Foley said. &ldquoAnd that means ramping up capacity for vote by mail in states that are not traditionally used to vote by mail.&rdquo

However, many states could struggle to adopt vote-by-mail electoral systems because of legal, logistical and election security challenges. These include changing laws to provide more time for delivering, collecting and processing mailed-in ballots, as well as ensuring that a person only votes once. There are seemingly mundane obstacles to be overcome, like getting enough high-quality paper for printing ballots and having enough envelopes! It&rsquos enough to make you wonder if there could even be talk of postponing the 2020 election.

But altering the presidential and congressional elections scheduled for November is very hard. It would require congressional action, and such a move would be unprecedented. Fortunately, state and federal governments have time to get ahead of many potential election challenges stemming from COVID-19. &ldquoIf [states] start doing that preparation, I don&rsquot anticipate any reason why Congress would want to change the date of the November election,&rdquo Foley said.

Whether our leaders will make the necessary changes, however, remains to be seen.

Election Day

"Social distancing" echoes can be seen in instructions that appeared in Fresno's 1918 voting guidelines, which urged "not congregating at the polls and avoiding needless exposure."

"Persons are advised to enter the polling places where enclosed, one or two at a time, and to exercise all sanitary precautions," and included the mandatory face masks in California, The Fresno Morning Republican stated. The San Francisco Chronicle wryly noted that it was "the first masked ballot ever known in the history of America."

Monterey Daily Cypress, Nov. 4, 2018.

Reports depicted California polling places as the "quietest within memory" and said they welcomed only the most ardent voters, like Nancy Elworthy, 92, who said while she was almost blind, she still believed voting was "the duty" of every citizen. It is unclear if Elworthy noticed either her fellow voters, described by poll workers as "confessedly suffering from influenza" or that the polling booths lacked spray and disinfectant, according to the Chronicle.

"I must get back to bed at once," one other voter told the paper upon exiting. "I really should not have come out to vote with this flu!"

New Mexicans were too "afraid of the flu" to vote, and Arizona polls had "light turnout" even with the state's promise to regularly disinfect polling booths, the El Paso Herald reported. The election was a "rather quiet one" in Minnesota, the Little Falls Herald reported, and in Utah, the Parowan Times diagnosed one cause of low turnout: "Many women who usually vote were unable to go to the polls because of being compelled to remain at home to care for the unwell."

Some poll sites were unable to open due to "too much influenza," according The Sacramento Bee, declaring "there were not enough citizens who were well enough."

Several newsrooms were also forced to close because of quarantine laws. The Long Beach Press announced it was unable to report election results for the first time in its history and respectfully requested that readers not call to ask questions, since the telephone company's workforce was "weakened" due to sickness.

Voter turnout was lower than in the previous midterm elections. While World War I impacted the number of eligible voters, an analysis by Jason Marisam in the Election Law Journal found the flu had a "significant effect" on turnout.

"If just a fraction of the drop in turnout from 1914 to 1918 was due to the presence of the flu, then the disease was responsible for hundreds of thousands of people not voting," Marisam noted of the more than 10% decrease in voters.

The flu was used as scapegoat for congressional losses by the Republican National Chairman and prompted legal challenges in some communities, such as when a defeated North Dakota state legislative candidate asserted election officials had unfairly delivered ballots to houses in some districts and not others, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Today, as American government leaders face another pandemic, historians recognize similar challenges for the federal government system now as it confronted during Spanish flu era.

"I think there is something of not absorbing the historical lessons that contributed to our delays and actions," Harvard University professor Alex Keyssar, who specializes in election history, told CBS News. "To be clear, it's not to say that everybody in the [Trump] administration should have been read up on the 1918 flu&hellipbut there should be some center of expertise which does absorb those historical lessons to whom policymakers turn."

Also, states mostly control their own elections, which has resulted in a patchwork across states of both emergency response and political decisions, Keyssar explained. As states stake their hopes on the relatively quick development of antiviral treatments in the next few months before the general election, most states that have yet to vote in primary elections are reluctant to risk increasing the spread of the virus.

At this point, knowledge that COVID-19 is highly contagious and the belief that it has a higher mortality rate than the flu has convinced eleven states to postpone their presidential primaries, five states to expand absentee voting, and after a series of legal battles over the past few days, Wisconsin is pushing ahead with its in-person primary on Tuesday.

As some election officials did in 1918, Wisconsin has promised to disinfect polling booths and maintain social distancing.

How Much Did COVID-19 Affect The 2020 Election?

Enough time has passed since the 2020 presidential election that we can now ask: What effect did COVID-19, arguably the biggest event of the year &mdash of the century, even &mdash have on the election outcome?

The answer to this question probably seems straightforward considering how abysmally Americans thought then-President Trump handled the pandemic. But the evidence we have points in many directions.

Partisans don&rsquot just disagree, they hate one another | FiveThirtyEight

Let&rsquos start with what history can tell us. That is, given what we know about elections held in the middle of a pandemic, what effect should we have expected the novel coronavirus to have had? If you&rsquore scratching your head trying to think of a good comparison, that might be because we don&rsquot really have one. The closest analogy to what we experienced in the U.S. in 2020 is the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, which also broke out during an election year and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. 1

The effect of the pandemic on the 1918 midterms has been studied, too. But political scientists Chris Achen and Larry Bartels found that it had no particular effect on the election outcome the Democrats (in control of the White House at the time) did no worse in congressional elections in places where the disease hit hard than in places where it didn&rsquot. A somewhat different approach by Leticia Arroyo Abad and Noel Maurer found only a very small effect on the congressional vote in 1918 and no subsequent effect on the 1920 election. Now, that doesn&rsquot prove that a pandemic can&rsquot affect an election. Maybe the fact that the 1918 election was a midterm election played a role here that is, even if people did blame Woodrow Wilson&rsquos presidency for the pandemic, they didn&rsquot extend that to the rest of his party. And maybe the pandemic would have had a greater effect if the country hadn&rsquot been engaged in World War I at the time. It&rsquos also possible that many people didn&rsquot yet think of the federal government as responsible for matters of public health. 2

But returning to the present day, what do we know about the role COVID-19 played in the 2020 presidential election? One way to answer this question is to dig into state-level results and subtract Trump&rsquos vote share in 2020 from his vote share in 2016, measuring how much his vote improved or declined across those two elections. What we find, however, is no statistically significant relationship. That is, Trump did no worse &mdash and possibly slightly better &mdash in states with higher COVID-19 mortality rates. The same is true if we compare the vote against per capita COVID-19 cases.

It turns out that economic growth, measured as the growth in per capita real disposable income from the first through third quarters of 2020, may explain some of what we&rsquore seeing. That is, if we compare Trump&rsquos vote share from 2016 to 2020 with the amount of economic recovery a state experienced, we find that Trump did much better in those states where the economy bounced back, even controlling for COVID-19 death rates. In other words, that $1,200 stimulus payment voters received back in the spring may have done a lot to help mitigate the political damage for Trump. In fact, had he and Congress been able to deliver some kind of additional economic relief prior to the election, that may even have saved his reelection bid.

Other researchers have also found this same pattern of Trump doing no worse, and possibly even better, at the county level in areas with higher COVID-19 mortalities. And, perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, I also found in my analysis that the economy appeared to be somewhat weaker in states where there were more COVID-19 cases, and somewhat stronger where there were more COVID-19 deaths. One possible explanation is that places with fewer health restrictions on businesses helped produce a stronger economy in those areas (helping Trump) even while spreading the disease, and in the end, the economy just had a greater effect on people&rsquos votes. Researcher Solomon Messing discovered an added wrinkle in that more COVID-19 deaths seem to have hurt Trump in very white counties, while the same wasn&rsquot true in counties where a large share of the population isn&rsquot white.

To be clear, we still don&rsquot have a great sense of why these patterns occurred, and none of this is to suggest that Trump did better in some areas because of the coronavirus. But, suffice it to say, this pattern is not the sort of thing many would expect given how poorly most Americans thought Trump handled the pandemic. What also makes it difficult to detect the effect of COVID-19 on the election? Like so many other issues in American politics, the pandemic was quickly interpreted through partisan lenses. The fact that the initial fallout in March didn&rsquot give Trump much of a &ldquorally-around-the-flag&rdquo effect, or a temporary boost in popularity given the crisis, is telling. But, then again, so is the fact that it didn&rsquot seem to hurt him all that much either.

So, what can we ultimately say about the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 election? Most likely, it worked against Trump. Had there been no pandemic, he may have still lost the popular vote, but considering how close the election was, he may have had a decent chance of winning the Electoral College. Yet the damage to his prospects was far from enormous, and that may have been mitigated somewhat by polarization. Indeed, a better response on Trump&rsquos part that either helped reduce the spread of the disease or limit its economic impact could well have secured his reelection bid.

Post-World War I turmoil in the United States

The final years of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency had been tumultuous. After being reelected in 1916 at least partly because he had kept the United States out of war, Wilson then led the country into the conflict in 1917. He mobilized millions of American troops to face death not only on the battlefields in Europe but also in the barracks back home as the influenza pandemic of 1918–19 swept through the ranks on the way to claiming an estimated 25 million lives worldwide.

Although the U.S. involvement in the war had not necessitated formal domestic rationing, government encouragement of homemakers to self-sacrifice had resulted in so-called Meatless Mondays, Wheatless Wednesdays, and Pork-less Thursdays and Sundays. But, if the war effort had disrupted daily routines on the American home front, it was nothing compared with the dramatic changes brought about by the flu pandemic, which claimed some 550,000 U.S. lives. Schools, churches, theatres, banks, restaurants, saloons, pool halls, and dance halls were closed as the country tried to stanch the spread of the virus. Attendance was limited or prohibited at funerals. Americans were encouraged to wear masks. After abating in the final months of 1918, the pandemic came roaring back as a final wave in the winter and spring of 1919.

During the war, labour disputes in the coal, steel, and transportation industries were settled by the National War Labor Board, resulting in improved wages and working conditions, but, when the board was disbanded following the war, management in some industries sought to roll back labour’s gains. In September 1919, steelworkers organized by the American Federation of Labor launched a massive strike that eventually involved more than 350,000 workers. Accompanied by violence, the “Great Steel Strike of 1919” unfolded in a generally anti-labour atmosphere stoked by a fear of bolshevism unleashed by the October (1917) Revolution in Russia. By January 1920 the strike was over and had proved to be a major defeat for the U.S. labour movement.

The Red Scare that heated up in response to solidification of the Soviet state and its supposed designs on exporting revolution to the United States also led to the anti-communist Palmer Raids of 1919–20. Ordered by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, the raids were aimed at arresting communist and anarchist radicals. On one day, January 2, 1920, raids were conducted in more than 30 cities, resulting in the arrest of perhaps as many as 10,000 individuals. Many of those apprehended in the Palmer Raids proved to be guilty of nothing except being immigrants.

Racial tensions were also running high after the war. African Americans had begun the Great Migration to Northern cities to fill jobs vacated by servicemen. Returning white veterans, having sacrificed for their country, were angered to see their jobs taken by African Americans. Returning black veterans, having sacrificed for their country, were confronted again with racial discrimination and inequality. In the South a revival of violence by the Ku Klux Klan resulted in 64 lynchings in 1918 and 83 in 1919. A perfect storm waiting to happen, the summer of 1919 became known as “Red Summer” not because of any association with communism but because bloody race riots erupted in some two dozen American cities, from Longview, Texas, to Omaha, Nebraska, to Washington, D.C., with the worst occurring in Chicago, where violence raged for 13 days and led to 38 deaths.

This Isn’t the First Time America Has Voted During a Pandemic. Here’s How the 1918 Flu Affected That Year’s Election

Election Day 2020 will be unprecedented in any number of ways, but it won’t be the first time the U.S. has held elections during a global pandemic&mdashor the first time a public-health crisis has changed the way campaigning and voting take place.

As the midterm elections of 1918 approached, World War I was winding down, but a new strain of the flu was surging. It had been spreading earlier in the year, but is believed to have mutated into a more deadly, more contagious strain that fall.

Data analyzed by Tom Ewing, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, reveal that death rates in northeastern cities had spiked in late September and mid-October in 1918, and had sharply declined by Election Day on Nov. 5, while West Coast cities were in the throes of ongoing outbreaks.

“In much of the country, particularly the East Coast and the upper Midwest, the epidemic is really on the decline by early November,” says Ewing. “There are still some local restrictions, but generally there is a sense in a lot of East Coast cities [that] if it’s not over, at least it’s been contained and is not a real concern. On the West Coast, in the mountain states, to some extent the Southwest, there are quite a few cases and quite a few restrictions in early November.”

So it makes sense that, in the run-up to the election, the extent to which the flu affected campaigning depended on where voters lived. Photos of Election Day throughout New York State show civilians, soldiers, sailors and even gubernatorial candidate Al Smith standing next to one another, sharing candy, not wearing masks. But in other areas, the flu played a major role in shaping the campaign season.

Then, as now, in-person campaigning, speeches, rallies, and gatherings to watch the returns were halted or severely restricted. Just as Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris paused campaign travel on Thursday after two staffers tested positive for COVID-19, and other 2020 campaigners swap indoor events for virtual events, 1918 campaigners had to move away from in-person methods of getting their messages out. Nationwide, candidates and campaign managers did more interviews, says J. Alexander Navarro, Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan, and used the written word to communicate with voters. “Direct mailings had been used before, but this gets ramped up as a result of candidates not being able to meet directly with voters,” he says.

“The campaign has been most unusual this year in that it has been one carried on principally through literature,” declared the Nov. 2, 1918, edition of Utah’s Deseret Evening News, one of many newspaper articles in the Center for the History of Medicine’s digital archive the Influenza Encyclopedia. “State headquarters have employed large corps of workers to distribute reading matter throughout the state in behalf of candidates for justices of the supreme court and congressmen. In some cases, personal canvassing and visiting has been done, but this has proved not altogether successful inasmuch as the state health board has discouraged such procedure because of the prevalence of Spanish influenza and the subsequent ban placed on public gatherings of all kinds.”

Similarly, in California, the Oakland Tribune reported that “letter-writing, advertising, and telephoning took place instead of speech-making.”

The pandemic wasn’t a political football the way it is today. President Wilson never publicly addressed it, and the federal government was not expected to play a significant role in individuals’ healthcare matters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t founded until 1946, and Medicare and Medicaid date back to the Great Society legislation of the 1960s. However, decisions about which public places stayed open or closed did get political. Throughout 1918, states had been ratifying what would become The 18th Amendment, banning the manufacture, sale, and transportation of “intoxicating liquors.” Prohibition advocates, who had long cast saloons as a threat to public health, were thrilled when cities closed them to curb the spread of the virus. (On the flip side, whiskey was seen as a treatment for influenza, and police and bootleggers alike kept hospitals stocked with confiscated liquor.)

The closure of those spaces disrupted normal campaign tactics. Oct. 20, 1918, Oakland Tribune article “‘Flu’ Holds Candidates In Leash” informed readers that “With the lodges, clubs, social dance halls, and other gathering places where the elusive voter was sought out under the ban, the handshaking and orating candidate is figuratively hamstrung.”

When Election Day rolled around, the pandemic continued to shape voter behavior, and many of the basic precautions taken at polling places are the same as those taken in 2020.

In Seattle, citizens made a point of getting to their polling places earlier in the day to “avoid the dangerous congestion…in the late afternoon.” In Salt Lake City, tents replaced some poorly ventilated polling places. In Oakland, Calif., the Election Day edition of the Oakland Tribune declared it “One of the Queerest Elections in the History of California.” Election officials faced a shortage of poll workers because so many who had signed up had come down with the flu, and struggled to find replacements because people were afraid of getting sick.

Local health officials tried to reassure the public that it was safe to vote. “Thousands of people who go to the polls today to cast their votes will be confronted by masked men for the first time in their lives,” the Los Angeles Times reported in its Election Day edition. “This edict was not issued to frighten people away from the polls, it is said, but rather to throw around voters an additional protection against the disease.”

“There is not the slightest danger in voting if you wear your mask,” health officials in Oakland said in a statement on the front page of the Nov. 2, 1918, Tribune. “If you are staying home you are not being benefited by the fresh air and sunshine that you will enjoy performing your patriotic duty as an American Citizen.”

The city enforced the mask-wearing mandate too. About a dozen men who were arguing about election returns were each fined $10 (which would be about $185 in Sept. 2020) for removing their masks.

Such reassurances in newspapers were necessary to get out the vote, says Christopher Nichols, a historian of the Progressive Era and Director of the Oregon State University Center for the Humanities. “Americans are fearful. They didn’t get clear, rapid, coherent communication from the Wilson Administration or Surgeon General Rupert Blue,” he says, “so they don’t know what advice to follow and need to have regular communication from journalists that polling stations will be open to have confidence to go out.”

But those tactics may not have been enough. The 1918 election saw a dip in turnout, though it’s impossible to say how much of that shift was attributable to the pandemic versus the fact that many American men were still abroad fighting in World War I. While turnout is typically lower in midterm elections than in general elections, turnout in the Election of 1918 was about 40%, down around 10% from the two previous midterm elections (in 1914 and 1910), according to Navarro.

In the end, Republicans won control of Congress, and the leadership change is partly why the U.S. did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles or join the League of Nations.

“The 1918 election is a referendum on an unpopular war, and the U.S. rebukes that war at the ballot box, ending hopes of Democrats ramming through much legislation and eviscerating Wilson’s claims to popularity about his war effort and peacemaking,” says Nichols.

The war would end just days after the election, with the armistice arriving on Nov. 11. The pandemic, however, despite appearances to the contrary, continued for more than a year, and ultimately killed about 675,000 Americans and at least 50 million people worldwide, while infecting about 500 million people&mdashone-third of the global population. Whether voting in person caused any spikes in cases is likewise impossible to say, as many cities relaxed their gathering restrictions to celebrate the end of World War I. In Denver, for example, the city began to reopen before Election Day and Armistice Day, and shortly thereafter residents found themselves facing a death rate worse than the beginning of the deadly second wave of flu.

“We’ll never know how much the combination of people turning out to vote in person&mdashand then roughly one week later, gathering to celebrate the end of the war&mdashexacerbated spread and suffering,” says Nichols.

Today, Americans have many more opportunities to vote that can help mitigate the “dangerous congestion” feared in 1918, from voting by mail to voting early at satellite polling places. As TIME has previously reported, masks and social distancing saved lives back then, and can do so again this Election Day.

And the fight to prevent future pandemics continued well after Election Day 1918, as it will this year too. Thousands of telegrams flooded that newly elected Congress in the summer of 1919, urging lawmakers to support a bill to fund an investigation to avoid a repeat of the pandemic&mdashand reminding them that another Election Day would arrive soon enough.

“There is time for Congress to do something toward helping health officials, physicians, and others interested in public health to prevent a recurrence of the flu epidemic&mdashto halt the coming of another DEATH MONTH,” declared a front-page article in North Dakota’s Bismarck Tribune, which was shared with TIME by researchers at the genealogy website MyHeritage. “But Congress must act quickly. Usually Congress does NOT act quickly. Mostly Congress takes its time and acts when it gets good and ready. Often Congress needs a prodding from the home voters.”


Ottoman entry into World War I was the result of two recently purchased ships of its navy, still manned by their German crews and commanded by their German admiral, carrying out the Black Sea Raid on 29 October 1914. There were a number of factors that conspired to influence the Ottoman government, and encourage them into entering the war. The political reasons for the Ottoman Sultan's entry into the war are disputed. [1] and the Ottoman Empire was an agricultural state in an age of industrial warfare. [2] Also, the economic resources of the empire were depleted by the cost of the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. The reasons for the Ottoman action were not immediately clear. [3]

The Ottoman entry into World War I began on 29 October 1914 when it launched the Black Sea Raid against Russian ports. Following the attack, Russia and its allies (Britain and France) declared war on the Ottomans in November 1914. The Ottoman Empire started military action after three months of formal neutrality, but it had signed a secret alliance with the Central Powers in August 1914.

The great landmass of Anatolia was between the Ottoman army's headquarters in Istanbul and many of the theatres of war. During Abdul Hamid II's reign civilian communications had improved, but the road and rail network was not ready for war. [2] It took more than a month to reach Syria and nearly two months to reach Mesopotamia. To reach the border with Russia, the railway ran only 60 km east of Ankara, and from there, it was 35 days to Erzurum. [2] The Army used Trabzon port as a logistical shortcut to the east. It took less time to arrive at any of those fronts from London than from the Ottoman War Department because of the poor condition of Ottoman supply ships.

The empire fell into disorder with the declaration of war along with Germany. On 11 November a conspiracy was discovered in Constantinople against Germans and the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in which some of the CUP leaders were shot. That followed the 12 November revolt in Adrianople against the German military mission. On 13 November, a bomb exploded in Enver Pasha's palace, which killed five German officers but failed to kill Enver Pasha. On 18 November there were more anti-German plots. Committees formed around the country to rid the country of those who sided with Germany. Army and navy officers protested against the assumption of authority by Germans. On 4 December, widespread riots took place throughout the country. On 13 December, an anti-war demonstration was led by women in Konak (Izmir) and Erzurum. Throughout December, the CUP dealt with mutiny among soldiers in barracks and among naval crews. The head of the German Military Mission, Field Marshal von der Goltz, survived a conspiracy against his life.

Military power remained firmly in the hands of War Minister Enver Pasha, domestic issues (civil matters) were under Interior Minister Talat Pasha, and, interestingly, Cemal Pasha had sole control over Ottoman Syria. [4] Provincial governors ran their regions with differing degrees of autonomy. [4] An interesting case is Izmir Rahmi Bey behaved almost as if his region was a neutral zone between the warring states. [5]

War with Russia Edit

The Ottoman's entrance into the war greatly increased the Triple Entente's military burdens. Russia had to fight alone on the Caucasus Campaign but fought with the United Kingdom on the Persian Campaign. İsmail Enver Pasha set off for the Battle of Sarikamish with the intention of recapturing Batum and Kars, overrunning Georgia and occupying north-western Persia and the oil fields. Fighting the Russians in the Caucasus, however, the Ottomans lost ground, and over 100,000 soldiers, in a series of battles. 60,000 Ottoman soldiers died in the winter of 1916–17 on the Mus—Bitlis section of the front. [6] The Ottomans preferred to keep the Caucasus militarily silent as they had to regroup reserves to retake Baghdad and Palestine from the British. 1917 and the first half of 1918 was the time for negotiations. On 5 December 1917, the armistice of Erzincan (Erzincan Cease-fire Agreement) was signed between the Russians and Ottomans in Erzincan that ended the armed conflicts between Russia and Ottoman Empire. [7] On 3 March, the Grand vizier Talat Pasha signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR. It stipulated that Bolshevik Russia cede Batum, Kars, and Ardahan. In addition to these provisions, a secret clause was inserted which obligated the Russians to demobilize Armenian national forces. [8]

From 14 March to April 1918 the Trabzon peace conference was held between the Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Transcaucasian Diet. Enver Pasha offered to surrender all ambitions in the Caucasus in return for recognition of the Ottoman reacquisition of the east Anatolian provinces at Brest-Litovsk at the end of the negotiations. [9] On 5 April, the head of the Transcaucasian delegation Akaki Chkhenkeli accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a basis for more negotiations and wired the governing bodies urging them to accept this position. [10] The mood prevailing in Tiflis was very different. Tiflis acknowledge the existence of a state of war between themselves and the Ottoman Empire. [10]

In April 1918, the Ottoman 3rd Army finally went on the offensive in Armenia. Opposition from Armenian forces led to the Battle of Sardarapat, the Battle of Kara Killisse, and the Battle of Bash Abaran. On 28 May 1918, the Armenian National Council based in Tiflis declared the First Republic of Armenia. The new Republic of Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Batum.

In July 1918, the Ottomans faced the Centrocaspian Dictatorship at the Battle of Baku, with the goal of taking Armenian/Russian/British occupied Baku on the Caspian Sea.

War with Britain Edit

The British captured Basra in November 1914, and marched north into Iraq. [6] Initially Ahmed Djemal Pasha was ordered to gather an army in Palestine to threaten the Suez Canal. In response, the Allies—including the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ("ANZACs")—opened another front with the Battle of Gallipoli. The army led by Ahmed Djemal Pasha (Fourth Army) to eject the British from Egypt was stopped at the Suez canal in February 1915, and again the next summer. [6] The canal was vital to the British war effort. In addition, the 1915 locust plague broke out in the Palestine region the Ottoman military hospitals record the period as March–October 1915.

The expected, and feared, British invasion came not through Cilicia or northern Syria, but through the straits. [4] The aim of the Dardanelles campaign was to support Russia. Most military observers recognized that the uneducated Ottoman soldier was lost without good leadership, and at Gallipoli Mustafa Kemal realized the capabilities of his men if their officers led from the front. [12] The war was something from a different era, as the agrarian Ottoman Empire faced two industrialized forces in silent predawn attacks, officers with drawn swords went ahead of troops and the troops shouted their battlecry of "Allahu Akbar!" when they reached the enemy's trenches. [12]

The United Kingdom was obliged to defend India and the southern Persian oil territory by undertaking the Mesopotamian campaign. Britain also had to protect Egypt in the Sinai-Palestine-Syria Campaign. These campaigns strained Allied resources and relieved Germany.

The repulse of British forces in Palestine in the spring of 1917 was followed by the loss of Jerusalem in December of the same year. [6] The Ottoman authorities deported the entire civilian population of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, The Tel Aviv and Jaffa deportation, pursuant to the order from Ahmed Jamal Pasha on 6 April 1917. The Muslim evacuees were allowed to return before long. At the same period the Balfour Declaration was being negotiated (published on 2 November 1917) in which the British Government declared its support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Ahmed Jamal Pasha effectively separated these groups. The Jewish evacuees returned after the British conquest of Palestine. [13]

The Ottomans were eventually defeated due to key attacks by the British general Edmund Allenby.

Empire on the Home Front Edit

The war tested to the limit the empire's relations with its Arab population. [14] In February 1915 in Syria, Cemal Pasha exercised absolute power in both military and civil affairs. [15] Cemal Pasha was convinced that an uprising among local Arabs was imminent. [14] Leading Arabs were executed, and notable families deported to Anatolia. [14] Cemal's policies did nothing to alleviate the famine that was gripping Syria it was exacerbated by a British and French blockade of the coastal ports, the requisitioning of transports, profiteering and — strikingly — Cemal's preference for spending scarce funds on public works and the restoration of historic monuments [14] [16] During the war, Britain had been a major sponsor of Arab nationalist thought and ideology, primarily as a weapon to use against the power of the Empire. Sharif Hussein ibn Ali rebelled against the Ottoman rule during the Arab Revolt of 1916. In August he was replaced by Sharif Haydar, but in October he proclaimed himself king of Arabia and in December was recognized by the British as an independent ruler. [14] There was little the Empire could do to influence the course of events, other than try to prevent news of the uprising spreading to keep it from demoralizing the army or acting as propaganda for anti-Ottoman Arab factions. [14] On 3 October 1918 forces of the Arab Revolt entered Damascus accompanied by British troops, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule.

War in Eastern Europe Edit

In order to support the other Central Powers, Enver Pasha sent 3 Army Corps or around 100,000 men to fight in Eastern Europe. [17]

    under command of Mustafa Hilmi Pasha participated in the Romanian Campaign between September 1916 and April 1918. under command of Yakup Şevki Subaşı and later Cevat Pasha fought in Galicia against the Russians between August 1916 and August 1917. under command of Abdul Kerim Pasha participated in the Salonika Campaign between December 1916 and May 1917.
    • The Rumeli Field Detachment (reinforced 177th Infantry Regiment) remained in Macedonia until May 1918.

    1915 Edit

    On 10 September 1915, Interior Minister Talat Pasha abolished the "Capitulations". On 10 September 1915 Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha annulled (Vizer had the authority on annuls) the Capitulations, which ended the special privileges they granted to foreign nationals. The capitulation holders refused to recognize his action (unilateral action). [2] The American ambassador expressed the Great Power view:

    The capitulary regime, as it exists in the Empire, is not an autonomous institution of the Empire, but the result of international treaties, of diplomatic agreements and of contractual acts of various sorts. The regime, consequently, cannot be modified in any of its parts and still less suppressed in its entirety by the Ottoman Government except in consequence of an understanding with the contracting Powers. [18]

    Beside the capitulations, there was another issue which evolved under the shadow of capitulations. The debt and financial control (revenue generation) of the empire was intertwined under single institution, which its board was constituted from Great Powers rather than Ottomans. There is no sovereignty in this design. The public debt could and did interfere in state affairs because it controlled (collected) one-quarter of state revenues. [18] The debt was administered by the Ottoman Public Debt Administration and its power extended to the Imperial Ottoman Bank (equates to modern central banks). Debt Administration controlled many of the important revenues of the empire. The council had power over every financial affairs. Its control extended to determine the tax on livestock in districts. Ottoman public debt was part of a larger scheme of political control, through which the commercial interests of the world had sought to gain advantages that may not be to Empire's interest. The immediate purpose of the abolition of capitulations and the cancellation of foreign debt repayments was to reduce the foreign stranglehold on the Ottoman economy a second purpose — and one to which great political weight was attached – was to extirpate non—Muslims from the economy by transferring assets to Muslim Turks and encouraging their participation with government contracts and subsidies. [19]

    The Ottoman–German Alliance was an alliance was ratified on August 2, 1914, shortly following the outbreak of War I. The alliance was created as part of a joint-cooperative effort that would strengthen and modernize the failing Ottoman military, as well as provide Germany safe passage into neighboring British colonies. [20]

    1915 Edit

    The Constantinople Agreement on 18 March 1915 was a set of secret assurances, which Great Britain promised to give the Capital and the Dardanelles to the Russians in the event of victory. [21] The city of Constantinople was intended to be a free port.

    During 1915, British forces invalidated the Anglo-Ottoman Convention, declaring Kuwait to be an "independent sheikdom under British protectorate." [ This quote needs a citation ]

    1916 Edit

    The French-Armenian Agreement of 27 October 1916, was reported to the interior minister, Talat Pasha, which agreement negotiations were performed with the leadership of Boghos Nubar the chairman of the Armenian National Assembly and one of the founder of the AGBU.

    1917 Edit

    In 1917 the Ottoman Cabinet considered maintaining relations with Washington after the United States had declared war on Germany on 6 April. But the views of the war party prevailed and they insisted on maintaining a common front with their allies. Thus, relations with America were broken on 20 April 1917.

    Russian SFSR Edit

    The 1917 Russian revolution changed the realities. The war devastated not only Russian soldiers, but also the Russian economy, which was breaking down under the heightened strain of wartime demand by the end of 1915. The tsarist regime's advances for the security on its southern borders proved ruinous. [22] The tsarist regime's desire to control the Eastern Anatolia and the straits (perceived as an underbelly), in the end created the conditions that brought about Russia's own downfall. Unable to use Straits disrupted the Russian supply chain, Russia might have survived without the Straits, but the strain was the tipping point for its war economy. [22] This question was left to Soviet historians: "whether a less aggressive policy toward the Ottoman Empire before the war would have caused Istanbul to maintain neutrality or whether Russia later might have induced Istanbul to leave the war, [a] the outcome of tsarist future would be different. [22] Nicholas's inept handling of his country and the war destroyed the Tsar and ended up costing him both his reign and his life.

    Enver immediately instructed the Vehib Pasha, Third Army, to propose a ceasefire to Russia’s Caucasus Army. [23] Vehib cautioned withdrawing forces, as due to the politics in Russia — neither Russia’s Caucasus Army nor Caucasian civil authorities give assurance that an armistice would hold. [24] On 7 November 1917 the Bolshevik Party led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Provisional Government in a violent coup plunged Russia into multitude of civil wars between different ethnic groups. The slow dissolution of Russia’s Caucasus Army relieved one form of military threat from the east but brought another one. Russia was a long time threat, but at the same time kept the civil unrest in his land at bay without spreading to Ottomans in a violent. On 3 December the Ottoman foreign minister Ahmed Nesimi Bey informed the "Chamber of Deputies" about the prospects. The Chamber discussed the possible outcomes and priorities. On 15 December Armistice between Russia and the Central Powers signed. On 18 December Armistice of Erzincan signed. The Bolsheviks’ anti-imperialist formula of peace with no annexations and no indemnities was close to Ottoman position. The Bolsheviks' position brought a conflict with the Germany's aim to preserve control over the East European lands it occupied and with Bulgaria's claims on Dobruja and parts of Serbia. In December Enver informed the Quadruple Alliance that they would like to see the 1877 border (Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)), pointing out that the only Ottomans lost territory and 1877 border was Ottoman territories inhabited by Muslims. [25] Ottomans did not push the 1877 position too hard, scared to fall back to bilateral agreements. On the other hand, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria clearly stood behind on the pulling back the Ottoman and Russian forces from Iran. [26] Ottomans wanted Muslim Iran be under its own control. The ambassador to Berlin, Ibrahim Hakki Pasha, wrote: "Although Russia may be in a weakened state today, it is always an awesome enemy and it is probable that in a short time it will recover its former might and power. [25]

    On 22 December 1917, the first meeting between Ottomans and the Bolsheviks, the temporary head Zeki Pasha, until Talat Pasha's arrival, requested of Lev Kamenev to put an end to atrocities being committed on Russian-occupied territory by Armenian partisans. Kamenev agreed and added "an international commission should be established to oversee the return of refugees (by own consent) and deportees (by forced relocation) to Eastern Anatolia. The battle of ideals, rhetoric, and material for the fate of Eastern Anatolia opened with this dialog . [25]

    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk represented an enormous success for the empire. [ according to whom? ] Minister of Foreign Affairs Halil Bey announced the achievement of peace to the Chamber of Deputies. He cheered the deputies further with his prediction of the imminent signing of a third peace treaty (the first Ukraine, second Russia, and with Romania). Halil Bey thought the Entente to cease hostilities and bring a rapid end to the war. The creation of an independent Ukraine promised to cripple Russia, and the recovery of Kars, Ardahan and Batum gave the CUP a tangible prize. Nationalism emerged at the center of the diplomatic struggle between the Central Powers and the Bolsheviks. The Empire recognized that Russia’s Muslims, their co-religionists, were disorganized and dispersed could not become an organized entity in the future battles of ideals, rhetoric, and material. Thus, the Ottomans mobilized the Caucasus Committee to make claims on behalf of the Muslims. [27] The Caucasus Committee had declined Ottoman earnest requests to break from Russia and embrace independence. The Caucasian Christians was far ahead in this new world concept. Helping the Caucasian Muslims to be free, like their neighbors, would be the Ottomans’ challenge. [27]

    1918 Edit

    In the overall war effort, the CUP was convinced that empire's contribution was essential. Ottoman armies had tied down large numbers of Allied troops on various fronts, keeping them away from theatres in Europe where they would have been used against German and Austrian forces. Moreover, they claimed that their success at Gallipoli had been an important factor in bringing about the collapse of Russia, resulting in the revolution of April 1917. They had turned the war in favor of Germany and her allies. [28] Hopes were initially high for the Ottomans that their losses in the Middle East might be compensated for by successes in the Caucasus Campaign. Enver Pasha maintained an optimistic stance, hid information that made the Ottoman position appear weak, and let most of the Ottoman elite believe that the war was still winnable. [29]

    Caucasus (Armenia–Azerbaijan–Georgia) Edit

    Ottoman policy toward the Caucasus evolved according to the changing demands of the diplomatic and geopolitical environment. [30] What was the Ottoman premise in involving with the Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus? The principle of "self-determination" became the criterion, or at least in part, to give them a chance to stand on their feet. [31] The Bolsheviks did not regard national separatism in this region as a lasting force. Their expectation was whole region come under a "voluntary and honest union" [b] and this union bearing no resemblance to Lenin’s famous description of Russia as a "prison house of peoples." [32] Lenin's arrival to Russia was formally welcomed by Nikolay Chkheidze, the Menshevik Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.

    Ottoman's did not see a chance of these new states to stand against new Russia. These new Muslim states needed support to be emerged as viable independent states. In order to consolidate a buffer zone with Russia (both for the Empire and these new states), however, Ottomans needed to expel the Bolsheviks from Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus before the end of war. [33] Based on 1917 negotiations, Enver concluded that Empire should not to expect much military assistance from the Muslims of the Caucasus as they were the one in need. Enver also knew the importance of Kars—Julfa railroad and the adjacent areas for this support. Goal was set forward beginning from 1918 to end of the war.

    The Empire duly recognized the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic in February 1918. This preference to remain part of Russia led Caucasusian politics to the Trebizond Peace Conference to base their diplomacy on the incoherent assertion that they were an integral part of Russia but yet not bound [30] The representatives were Rauf Bey for the Empire, and Akaki Chkhenkeli from the Transcaucasian delegation.

    On 11 May, a new peace conference opened at Batum. The Treaty of Batum was signed on 4 June 1918, in Batum between the Ottoman Empire and three Trans-Caucasus states: First Republic of Armenia, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and Democratic Republic of Georgia.

    The goal was to assist Azerbaijan Democratic Republic at Battle of Baku, then turn north to assist the embattled Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus and then sweep southward to encircle the British in Mesopotamia and retake Baghdad. [31] The British in Mesopotamia already moving north, with forty vans (claimed to loaded with gold and silver for buying mercenary) accompanied with only a brigade, to establish a foothold. At the time Baku was under the control of the 26 Baku Commissars which were Bolshevik and Left Socialist Revolutionary (SR) members of the Baku Soviet Commune. The commune was established in the city of Baku. In this plan, they expected resistance from Bolshevik Russia and Britain, but also Germany, which opposed the extension of their influence into the Caucasus. [31] Ottoman's goal to side with Muslims of Azerbaijan and MRNC managed to get Bolsheviks of Russia, Britain and Germany on the same side of a conflict box at this brief point in the history.

    1920 Presidential Election

    The United States presidential election of 1920 was dominated by the aftermath of World War I and the hostile reaction to Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president. The wartime boom had collapsed. Politicians were arguing over peace treaties and the question of America's entry into the League of Nations. Overseas there were wars and revolutions. At home, 1919 was marked by major strikes in meatpacking and steel, and large race riots in Chicago and other cities. Terrorist attacks on Wall Street produced fears of radicals and terrorists.

    Outgoing President Wilson had become increasingly unpopular, and following his severe stroke in 1919 could no longer speak on his own behalf. The economy was in a recession, the public was weary of war and reform, the Irish Catholic and German communities were outraged at his policies, and his sponsorship of the League of Nations produced an isolationist reaction.

    The Democrats nominated newspaper publisher and Governor James M. Cox in turn the Republicans chose Senator Warren G. Harding, another Ohio newspaper publisher. Cox launched an energetic campaign against Senator Harding, and did all he could to defeat him. To help his campaign, he chose future president Franklin D. Roosevelt as his running mate. Harding virtually ignored Cox and essentially campaigned against Wilson, calling for a return to "normalcy" with an almost 4-to-1 spending advantage, he won a landslide victory. Harding's victory remains the largest popular-vote percentage margin (60.3% to 34.1%) in Presidential elections after the victory of James Monroe in the election of 1820.

    Popular in Human Interest

    I think a lot of us know that the comparison between that time and this one cannot fly. But we turn to the 1920s because it’s impossible to imagine how COVID will live on in our lives. Remember when we were still surprised at the idea that people “forgot” the 1918–19 pandemic? When COVID felt so huge to us that we couldn’t imagine it getting smaller in the rearview? I can’t believe I ever wondered. The past year has taught me that for Americans, our pathological optimism can move mountains. At the end of her book American Pandemic, historian Nancy Bristow argues that the people in the throes of flu amnesia in the 1920s were engaged in “a process common in the nation’s history”—the “drowning-out” of “narratives of anguish with the noise of public optimism.” Imagine, Bristow writes, how the “sense of opportunity and progress would have sounded to someone who had lost a mother, a brother, a wife, a son.” This was the hidden 1920s—a decade of private grief. It’s the only part I know for sure we’ll be doing again.