The beginning of the 21st century was stained with one of the most tragic events in human history: the First World War. Although it started and occurred in Europe, the United States actively participated in it. Some people say that due to its geographical location, America could have had ignored WWI; however, it is not so. There were several objective reasons for the United States to become one of the conflicting parties.
At the very beginning of WW1, Woodrow Wilson, who was the President of the United States at the time, declared his country’s neutrality in the war, supported by the majority of the American people. At the same time, the United States’ most important trade partner, Great Britain, had been harassed by Germany: the latter tried to isolate Britain from its allies and trade partners. This led to the worsening of diplomatic relationships between Kaiser’s Germany and the United States (History.com). Germany had also declared its aggressive intentions against any ship that would enter the combat zone around Britain (History Lists). Such politics led to the second reason that made the United States refute its neutrality and enter the war.
In 1915, a German submarine torpedoed a British civil ship “Lusitania” travelling nearby the Irish shores. It was a horrible tragedy with more than 1,000 civilians killed in cold blood; among the victims of “Lusitania” there were 128 Americans. The public outcry in the United States was caused not only by this fact, but also by the German submarine not warning civilians on the ship about their intention to sink it; the incident with “Lusitania” had greatly influenced the anti-German moods in the United States. Germany promised to stop such warfare, but within less than a year, its forces had sunk yet another civilian ship: the ferry called “Sussex.” And again, this was not the last time a passenger ship had been destroyed (History Lists).
As if it was not enough, it turned out that Germany tried to “bribe” the Mexican government and lure it into its coalition. In 1917, British intelligence had deciphered a telegram sent by the German Minister of foreign affairs, Arthur Zimmermann, to the German ambassador in Mexico City. In this telegram, the minister promised that Germany would help Mexico return the territories lost by the latter during the Mexican-American War in exchange for the Mexican support in war. British intelligence sent the telegram to President Wilson on February 24, thus creating one more reason for the United States to enter WW1 (Office of the Historian).
As it can be seen, the reasons why the US decided to join the war were significant. Although the United States initially proclaimed its neutrality, the constant German harassment of America’s main trade partner, Great Britain, the sinking of numerous civilian ships (resulting in the deaths of American citizens, in particular), and a cunning attempt of German-Mexican alliance had forced the United States to enter WW1.
- “5 Reasons for the US Entry into World War I.” History Lists. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 June 2016.
- “America Enters World War I.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 21 June 2016.
- “U.S. Entry into World War I, 1917.” Office of the Historian. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 June 2016.
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