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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Ralston Flemming to Joseph Tumulty, September 9, 1918. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (080.00.00)

Enthusiastic Americanism

About 500,000 of the AEF's enlisted soldiers were recent immigrants from 46 different nations; 100,000 did not speak English. Beyond basic concerns regarding literacy and language, officials remained wary of their political loyalties. Americanization courses sought to imbue troops with a sense of nationalism or as Captain Flemming noted in this communication with the White House, "enthusiastic militant Americanism." Though the army initially embraced a "100% Americanism," the military eventually adopted an approach that allowed for the retention of cultural traditions.