Why The US Entered World War I

Why The U.S. Entered World War I Essay, Research Paper

Why the U.S. entered World War I

Ian Rupert

History Honors

Block 4

World War I started when the two western allied powers were made up and started to fight in 1914. President Wilson worked hard keeping the U.S. neutral for the first two and a half years of the war. The United States finally declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. A combination of things ended this neutrality. This essay will discuss these reasons why the U.S. entered World War I; German submarine attacks on neutral ships, The Zimmermann note, and widespread propaganda.

The main reason the U.S. entered World War I was the attack on neutral ships by German submarines. In 1915, Germany began to use unrestricted submarine warfare as one of it s tactics. All ships were warned that they would be fired upon if they passed through German-patrolled waters. Not only did the Germans sink war vessels, but they also would sink any merchant or transport ships. The Lusitania, a British ocean liner carrying 1,959 passengers and crew, was sunk off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. Of these people, 1,198 were killed, 128 being U.S. citizens. President Wilson sent a series of notes to the Germans, demanding that it end unrestricted submarine warfare. The Germans argued that the ship carried guns and ammunition for the Allies, and that the Lusitania was warned that they traveled at their own risk. The German government agreed to end the sinking of neutral ships without warning, but did not apologize for this aact of violence. In early 1917, the allied blockade against Germany was causing large shortages and starvation in the homeland. In an attempt to bring the war to an end, the military dictators of Germany decided to begin unrestricted submarine warfare again in order to bring Britain to her knees. The Germans knew this would bring the U.S. into war, yet made the decision anyway. The U.S. watched with unease as German U-boats began to attack allied ships in an attempt to blockade the armament and food shipments from the U.S. to the UK and Europe. On Feb. 17, 1917, the Cunard passenger liner, S.S. Laconia set sail from New York to England. Eight days later, it was sunk off the Irish coast. This outraged the U.S., and helped lead to the declaration of war only two months later.

The other main causes of U.S. entry into World War I were the Zimmermann note, and widespread propaganda. On Jan. 19, 1917, the Foreign Minister of Germany sent instructions to the German minister in Mexico to work for an alliance with Mexico and Japan directed against the United States. After receiving the Zimmermann Note, the U.S. government stopped all relations with the German government. This note made the U.S. very angry, and many tales of the Zimmermann note and the submarine attacks were spilled out into propaganda. The whole country was in an outrage. The stories of the Germans were multiplied into tales like “The Germans killed babies”, and “The Germans rape nuns”. In response to the note, the attacks on ships, and the word of the U.S. people, president Wilson declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917.

In conclusion, although the U.S. tried to stay out of the war through neutrality, it could not sit back and watch all of this happen. The Germans sunk U.S. ships, killed innocent passengers, and tried to organize an alliance against the U.S. A combination of these things pulled the U.S. into the war, even after the attempt to stay neutral.


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