The Capitalization of World War I

Is World War I Capitalized?

It is generally accepted that significant historical events should be capitalized. This includes wars, battles, revolutions, and other major historical events.

The first world war saw many new weapons emerge. It also sowed the seeds for the second world war just two decades later. But is the event itself capitalized?

What was World War I?

The conflict, known as the Great War or the First World War, pitted Central Powers like Germany and Austria-Hungary against Allied Powers including the United States, Russia and France. It ushered in a new age of lethal military technology, including landmines, flamethrowers, submarines and long-range artillery that allowed soldiers to shoot at enemy positions from hundreds of miles away.

The fighting was brutal and bloody. Millions of people died, and tens of thousands returned home suffering from debilitating psychological trauma such as shell shock and trench foot. It also sowed the seeds for a second—and far deadlier—world war just two decades later. Many everyday words and phrases have their roots in this conflict, such as “lousy,” which morphed from an adjective describing lice infestations to describe a general feeling of unwellness.

What was World War II?

The second world war was the largest and deadliest conflict in history. Millions of men and women joined the armed forces, while civilians contributed to the war effort through rationing programs and scrap metal drives. Hollywood and other entertainment outlets produced patriotic movies, while volunteer celebrities entertained troops overseas and back home through the United Service Organization (USO).

During World War II, America and the other Allied powers faced off against Germany, Italy, and Japan in a global struggle that lasted six years. The Allied forces defeated the Axis powers and ended the war in 1945. Because Allied and Axis are names of specific alliances, they should be capitalized. General time periods like decades and centuries should not be capitalized, though. It is common to see them abbreviated in written works, such as WWII or WW2..

What was the Civil Rights Movement?

The civil rights movement was an era of mass protests that resulted in legislation that helped Black Americans gain more freedom in housing, employment and public accommodations. It was inspired by religious groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and student organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The movement began in December 1955 when a seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The protests were fueled by the help of clergy members and student activists, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Two years later, the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act passed, sweeping away many of the laws that had kept Black Americans from voting. Activists used nonviolent demonstrations and targeted acts of civil disobedience to pressure the government into passage of these important pieces of legislation.

What was the Civil War?

The Civil War was the most devastating conflict in American history, killing 620,000 people and leaving homes, farms, and factories destroyed. It also shifted the balance of power in the United States, as the North emerged stronger from the conflict due to massive government spending on weapons and other wartime industries.

Prior to the war, the North and South were divided over slavery. The Southern economy relied on plantation agriculture, requiring African American slaves to work the fields. By the 1850s, abolitionism was on the rise in the North and Abraham Lincoln won the presidency without a single Southern vote. Following the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, legally freeing slaves in the states still waging war against the Union.

What was World War III?

A global conflict on a scale bigger than the first two world wars, often imagined to involve nuclear weapons and result in the annihilation of humankind. It was first used in a speculative article in 1919. The concept gained popularity as people feared that Germany was a threat to democracy. It became even more feared when the Germans occupied large parts of Europe.

People started referring to the possible third world war as WW3 starting in the 1940s, with Time magazine discussing it in 1941, before Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into World War II. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was worried about it so much that he created a secret military plan to invade Soviet-occupied territories, which was never executed. After the atomic bomb was developed in the 1950s, the specter of WW3 took on new meaning as a potential global conflict resulting in nuclear annihilation.

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