World War I gave added impetus to Du Bois' ideas. He saw the conflict as having potentially revolutionary consequences for black empowerment. Controversially, he argued that this should be done by African-Americans putting aside their very real grievances and throwing themselves into the war effort as loyal, patriotic Americans.
However, Du Bois became deeply disillusioned by the outcome of the war. On the domestic front, progress by the Wilson Administration on the issue of civil rights was slow to non-existent. In fact, one could argue that the cause of civil rights suffered a serious setback during this time, with the resurgent Ku Klux Klan becoming ever more politically influential and with racial segregation of the Federal government very much the order of the day. Du Bois came to regret his initial enthusiasm for the war, especially after senior white officers in the American army openly questioned the bravery and effectiveness of African-American troops.
Du Bois set out to put the record straight in The Black Man and the Wounded World, a projected vindication of African-American involvement in World War I, but which was never published. Du Bois was becoming more radical in his ideas, yet still found it hard to reconcile his identity as a black man with his status as an American citizen. This dichotomy, which formed the central thread of Du Bois' life and work, was never fully resolved, as Du Bois himself ruefully admitted. Instead, he lamented how his experience of the War—and the similar experiences of countless African-Americans—had made it impossible for his soul, his conflicted soul, to find refuge anywhere.