Why was America's standing Army so small in the early 20th Century?

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,713
Texas
The Kaiser had some interesting plans in the late 1800s as a contingency, but in reviewing it, it feels like a suicide run that might end his government once the casualty lists started coming in.
 
Apr 2015
283
San Jose CA
The Kaiser had some interesting plans in the late 1800s as a contingency, but in reviewing it, it feels like a suicide run that might end his government once the casualty lists started coming in.
I've read that as well, I'd guess though that professional military officers spend a lot of their time planning wars that never have realistic possibilities of occurring. An example would be the extensive war planning done by the US and Britain following the First World War for conflict with each other.

I'd also guess that the American military would also rely upon the size of the country to give the army time to retreat and built up the volunteer army needed to defeat an invasion by a smaller professional European army be it British, German or Norwegian.
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,978
USA
Yes indeedy. While the US spent a relatively large amount on its navy, it never historically had a large standing army until post WWII. It never needed to.

Particularly in the period from the ACW to WWI (well to now actually). Prospects for invaders getting through the navy were light and we could mass forces quickly-its a big country. It helps when you have no material enemies...anywhere.

The good old days. Maybe they were smarter than we are.
IMO they(as in the founding fathers) were smarter then we are in some aspects, including how to properly speak about a foreign country. Thomas Jefferson was a highly skilled diplomat. I think that the leading GOP candidates of today are terrible when it comes to foreign relations. Jefferson conducted himself with proper manners, as a gentlemen would. Trump, Cruz and Rubio talk like they are children when it comes to foreign policy.
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
10,006
IMO they(as in the founding fathers) were smarter then we are in some aspects, including how to properly speak about a foreign country. Thomas Jefferson was a highly skilled diplomat. I think that the leading GOP candidates of today are terrible when it comes to foreign relations. Jefferson conducted himself with proper manners, as a gentlemen would. Trump, Cruz and Rubio talk like they are children when it comes to foreign policy.
The electorate were much different. In 1800 the electoral college and the voters tended to be more "the rich, the well born and the able" as desired by Alexander Hamilton.

Now the electorate is weighted more toward Joe Six Pack and his wife who has fifty tattoos. Candidates know who votes for them, even if all the money comes from big business. The say what the voters want to hear.

Joan, what makes you think Americans know about foreign affairs? :D
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,867
Cornwall
It was also a throwback to the English Civil War. The Anglo Saxon world developed an antipathy towards large standing armies that could be used for oppression.
This was probably as great a factor as the cost.
Cost is a factor certainly. Mainly it is the threat of some form of coup/rebellion and dates back a very long time.

Not sure I buy into the 'I wont keep a standing army for fear I can use it for oppression' scenario though.
 

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,713
Texas
In the US it was more-they cost a lot and there weren't any threats. Remember prior to FDR, the federal government was quite minimal, as was its taxation. If your biggest threat is surviving Apache and Mexican bandits, you don't need a big army.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,995
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
The regular army of the USA was so small in the early 20th because the early 20th century was right after the late 19th century when the regular army or United States Army was even smaller.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,517
There was also the National Guard and Reserves. These could be called up in the event of war. There was no need of a large standing army, as it was almost impossible for the US to be invaded without a long warning period. The US had maybe the number 2 or 3 navy at that time. The size of the army led foreign power to underestimate the military power of the US.