Why did the United States enter World War I in 1917?
On June 28th 1914, Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian archduke, and his wife were murdered by a Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip. This assassination triggered declarations of war. Firstly, this gave Austria a reason to attack Serbia. This then led to Russia mobilizing their army in order to defend Serbia, which then led to Germany executing “The Plan” and attacking France through Belgium. The domino effect continued and war broke out due to a mixture of things.
Alliances played a great role in the war, as each nations began forming and expanding their militaries. The war was “Central Powers” vs. “Allied Powers”. The central powers were Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria and Romania (which changed sides half way through the war). The Allied Powers consisted of France, USSR, The British Empire, Serbia and the USA. The United States initially wanted to stay out of the war mainly because they declared that they would be a “neutral” nation that only acts as a “peacemaker”.
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President Wilson declared numerous time that “The United States was too proud to fight” and would not be entering the war. He also mentioned that the U. S. would not tolerate unrestricted submarine warfare. Before America’s entry, The U. S-German relations were neutral. They were not much involved with each other apart from political and labor relations. America’s opinion changed throughout the war after the sinking of the Lusitania, the Zimmerman Telegram and because of the European alliances that America was involved with.
America’s entry in World War 1 in 1917 was based on a number of key factors Economics, Retaliation and Pre-emption. Economics - .. At the time, the US had large economic investments with the British and French. If Germany was to win the war it was not clear what would happen to those investments. Protecting France and Britain was therefore in a way protecting their investment. If the U. S. joined the war, their strong military forces, especially allied with France, Britain and USSR, would substantially increase the chance of winning.
Retaliation – One of Germany’s great t=strengths was it’s submarine fleet. By controlling the seas the Germans would be able to destroy the shipment of arms to the allies. Their prime reason for sinking the Lusitania was the German belief that their were weapons on board. Unfortunately the Germans killed 128 American nationals when they torpedoed the Lusitania. This was a key contributing fact to the US joining the wasr on the side of the Allies two years later. Prevention - One of the main reasons for the US entry in to the war however was the Zimmerman Telegram. This was a proposal from Germany to Mexico asking them to go to war against the U. S. Germany did this in the hope that by keeping the US engaged close to home with a local war, it would be prevented from entering the war in European. . However, when the U. S. found out about this coded communication which was intercepted by the British,, they saw this as an act of aggression by Germany and in order to pre-emp being drawn in to the war on someone else’s terms decided to pre-empt the situation and take matters in to their own hands.
Interestingly no one has seen the telegram itself and accordingly some believed that Britain made it up in order to get America involved in the war. The major objective for U. S. ’s entry in the war was its wish to have greater influence in post-war Europe, especially with their newly acquired economic strength. Even though when America joined World War 1 it was already coming to an end, their entry did make an impact on the war. In the short term, their entry was a downside as it almost caused German victory.
Germany was well aware that the American troops would overwhelm the Germans when they would arrive, so Germany launched a massive offensive to gain victory before America could transport enough troops into Europe, however the offensive ended up halting and turning back just outside of Paris. In the long term, America’s entry was an upside because, as the war was already coming to an end, both sides were exhausted. America was fresh and ready to fight a war, which helped motivate the Allies. The U. S. brought new equipment and military force which was a gain for the Allies and helped win the war.
The U.S. entered the war at the right time because they did manage to bring fresh troops and new equipment into Europe. Before the Lusitania, America did not have any reason to enter the war. It would also have been going against their will to be neutral. Their entry did impact positively, however may not have been necessary and did go against their initial plan. It also caused America to make some enemies in Europe, which ended up causing them to be sucked into more European issues. Positively, it also bonded the U. S. with many European nations, which were very strong politically and economically.
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