Events that led to American involvement in WW1
By jftito, Updated
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events leading to american intervention
The Sinking of the Lusitania
On May 7, 1915, Germany sunk a ship that contained 128 Americans. This was not unprecedented, as Germany has reserved the right to sink neutral ships and has continued to sink neutral ships after the sinking of the Lusitania. However, this act was special because it was the first time American civilians were killed by the Germans. Furthermore, the Lusitania became a rallying cry for Americans, much like the USS Maine and the Alamo before it.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
Germany's main policy in dealing with neutral ships was blowing them up if they were on route to any allied nation. They did this through their submarines (U-boats) which were unseen threats to any hapless merchant ship unfortunate enough to come across it. The unrestrained use of submarines on all ships led to Germany drawing the protests of the Wilson administration, and eventually led to the sinking of the Lusitania, which contained 128 American Citizens.
The Sussex Pledge
After Germany had sunk the Lusitania, it proceeded to damage another ship with American people in it, "The Sussex." President Wilson threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Germany should another ship with Americans be attacked. Breaking off diplomatic relations usually precedes a war, and Germany could not afford U.S. intervention. Therefore, Germany pledged not to attack any more ships that belonged to the U.S., a neutral nation. However, this truce soon was called off by the Germans, for they thought that they could effectively starve Great Britain to submission before the U.S. would have a chance to go to war.
The Zimmerman Telegram
Germany was desperate to keep the U.S. from joining the Allies. It therefore sent a message to Mexico, tempting it to attack the U.S. in order to regain its lost territories. The idea behind this risky maneuver was that the U.S. would be bogged down in a home-front war, so it wouldn't be able to go to the Allies' aid. However, the telegraph was discovered, and public support of a war against Germany grew even more. This was probably the last straw for Americans, who saw it as a violation of the U.S's national sovereignty.
All of the events seen before now have led up to this moment - the United States joined the Allied war effort against an aggressive Germany. It gave 2 million men to the cause, relieving the war-weary Allies on the Western Front and driving the final nail in the coffin of the Central Powers. With American support under Pershing, the Allies won WWI. However, the U.S. was largely ignored in the peace making process, which placed the blame of the war on Germany, and Congress did not ratify the treaty of Versailles or allow the U.S. to enter the League of Nations. Therefore, even though the war led to the U.S. become a major player in global affairs, it did not give it a lot of power, and the U.S. remained an isolationist country.
US Enters World War I
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