Polish American pressure groups, Woodrow Wilson and the thirteenth point : the significance of Polish food relief, the Polish vote in the 1916 Presidential election, and European events in the eventual self-determination for Poland.
Thesis (Ph. D.)
The purpose of this study is to show the interrelationships between the pre-war conditions in partitioned Poland, the reasons for Polish immigration to the United States, and the effect of the First World War on the Poles in Europe and America. The organization of relief programs in the United States resulted in a deep concern for the plight of the Poles and was a major factor in the reopening and awareness of the Polish Question which had been dormant for more than a century. The study also places emphasis on the part played by the New York Times, whose news releases extensively covered the areas of Polish relief and self-determination.The dissertation is composed of a preface, introduction, seven chapters, and a conclusion. The introduction sets the basis for the reopening of the Polish Question by delving into Polish nationalism, the partition years, and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Chapter One is devoted to the early Years of Woodrow Wilson, one of the chief actors in the final self-determination for Poland. The character and personality analysis is carried through in Chapter Two as Wilson is considered as Governor and President. In Chapter Three the pre-Great War Polish emigration is considered. Background to the Polish Question is set by presenting life in Russian, Austrian, and German Poland and the strivings of Marx, Engels and the Polish Socialists for Polish independence.Chapter Four traces Polish immigration to the United States from the early settlements in Texas to the great immigration years just before the Great War. The study traces the formation and organization of Polish-American groups which formed a so-called "Fourth Part of Poland," but, with the exception of independence-minded Polish Socialists in America, worked primarily for the bettering of the Polish lot in the United States. Chapter Five presents the devastation which befell the Poles as their land became the battleground in Eastern Europe. The Poles in America cooperated in trying to ease the suffering of their European brethren. The story of Polish relief is traced through the New York Times, State Department documents, and the indefatigable labors of Ignace Jan Paderewski, famous Polish pianist and composer, who arrived in the United States in 1915 to spur on relief for Poland. The diplomatic manuevering is presented to show that the Poles were caught in the middle of the BritishGerman views on war relief and as a consequence received no adequate aid until after the November, 1918, Armistice. Throughout this story of Polish relief President Wilson stands out as a humanitarian and champion of Polish relief.Chapter Six probes into the relationship among Paderewski, Colonel House and Wilson. This relationship proved to be a vital factor in Wilson's support of selfdetermination and independence when the time was ripe in 1918. The chapter also considers the role played by the Polish voters in the 1916 election. The study casts doubt upon the crucial part which is credited to the Polish vote in the Wilson victory.The simultaneous events which occurred in Europe and America are covered in Chapter Seven. In Europe the Russians, Austro-Hungarians and Germans had already accepted the concept of Polish autonomy. The manpower needs of the European combatants forced them to a change of attitude. With recognition by the Russian Provisional Government in March, 1917, the Allies recognized the Polish National Committee in Paris and the Polish army. The United States followed in this respect. With Polish-American solidarity pressuring for Polish independence, complemented by an Allied policy to dissolve the Austro-Hungarian Empire, independence for Poland was assured.