What Led to the US Entry to World War 1 Term Paper

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United States entry into world war.

Taking nations from more than half the globe as partakers and victims, the first war broke out, 1914-1918, and that is known as World War 1 or the First World War. Until the World War II broke out, it was widely known as the war which had broken out which had the capacity to put an end to all wars, and commonly it was known as The Great War. In fact multiple factors produced the First World War. An International anarchy was seen all over Europe. On the eve of the World War I there were 25 sovereign states in Europe, each desiring to act on its own individual conscience. None of them was ready to submit to the interference or will of the other, as each of them held its pride high, thinking if they accepted the advice of any other state, their international prestige will go gown. The high nationalistic feeling they had, made them believe that their own nation was right, and if it is right or wrong it should go for war. Mutual hostility and serious rivalry were aplenty. But the World War I was something beyond sheer war between nations. It was a war that gave birth to what the historian Eric Hobsbawm called 'the short twentieth century', and marking the end of the old order.


The fundamental elements of twentieth-century history were created as a result of the 1914-1918 conflicts. During the conflict there was real clashes between capitalism and Communist systems. America emerged as a dominant world power. Britain, for the first time, became a debtor to the United States in 1917, and there started its decline as a major power. Despair and exhaustion ended the World War I after a continued and senseless slaughter of about 10 million men on the battlefields. There were multiple official reasons for the United States entering into World War I, like renewal of submarine warfare by Germany, as the imperial Germany turning mad was running as an international big criminal, that the destruction of international equilibrium was at threat and balance of power disturbed as Prussian Militancy and autocracy was let loose, the conflict taking shape of a war between the autocrats on the one hand and democratic nations on the other hand, and in the age of growing interdependency America could no longer stick to its long standing old tradition of isolation, and because of the threat to America's independence and to Munroe Doctrine. (Bass, 16)

At the time the war broke out in 1914, the United States tried to remain neutral, and stood for the rights of the neutral states. On giving other countries entry into U.S. policies and into the culture of the people, isolationist foreign policy was encouraged by the Congress. Yet the United States had to enter World War I after some events took place. The United States was filled with propaganda, in an effort by the central powers and the allied powers to involve the Americans in the war. Propagating the cultural brotherhood of Americans with the British, and concern of United States with affairs in Western Europe, much of the propaganda material had a British slant. Though propaganda in favor of Germany also was there, it was of no much weight to the Americans. Germany was widely seen by the American public as a dangerous monarchy with autocratic militarist thinking, trying also to undermine the U.S. power and democracy. (Venzon, 57)

To keep the United States busy on the home front, it is alleged that, the Germans were poisoning water supplies, engaging in espionage within American labor unions, kidnapping individuals, and causing industrial sabotage. Such rumors added with their large-scale submarine warfare, had made the Americans distrust them. Before 1915, the German submarines used to warn in advance, give enough time for passengers and crew to evacuate and then sink ships. But in1915, over 120 Americans were killed, as they sank the ship Lusitania, without giving warning or time to evacuate. In 1916, German U-boats sank another ship Sussex; and the so far-neutral Americans got outraged at these types of violations into their rights at sea. Some Americans including Teddy Roosevelt- then presidential prospect-, at this juncture demanded immediate warfare. (Pope, Stephen, and Wheal, 25)

To pursue the Mexican 'bandit' Pancho Villa, the National Guard and United States Army had mobilized in 1916, which came handy for this new mobilization. A battleship group was sent to Scapa Flow by the United States Navy to join with the British grand Fleet, and another group to Queenstown, Ireland, to help guard convoys. Foreign affairs took a stronger stance with President Wilson having increased the size of the military and issued a warning to the Germans, that the United States will cut off all diplomatic relations totally with the German Empire unless Germany declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight-carrying vessels (Bass, 15).

There was a temporary withdrawal of submarine warfare by the Germans until 1917 with the continuation of submarine warfare as announced by German Ambassador Berstorff, and with it the diplomatic ties with the United States also ended. Some military strategists said if America was to enter the war at this juncture, then defeat was sure for Germans. Foreign Minister Alfred Zimmerman, in an effort to prevent threat from the side of America, tried to induce an attack on America by Japan and Mexico, promising them Germany would help them after conquering the European front. The British decoding a message with Zimmerman's plan, sent it to the United States, further speeding up American move. Permission of Congress was sought by President Wilson, to go to war, primarily because of the renewed submarine warfare of the Germans and aggrieved by Zimmerman's note, and on 6 April 1917, Congress declared war officially. Except Jeanette Rankin of Montana, all members of the congress voted for the war. With many Americans, President Wilson also justified it as a crusade to make the world safe for democracy and an act of high principle and idealism (Andrea, 64).

In April 1918, the American Expeditionary Force, under General John Pershing, entered the warfront. From June 1 to June 30, 1918, the Second Division, including the United States Marine Corps, helped clear out the German force threatening Paris, at the Battle of Belleau Wood. But it was difficult for America to send enough force to Western and Italian fronts immediately. The British and the French wanted that the United States gave greater importance to sending manpower in significant quantity to the warfront to reinforce it. The American forces were running short of their own aviation, artillery and engineering units, throughout the war. The First United States Army, organized from the American Expeditionary Force, on 16 September eliminated the Saint-Mihel salient that was occupied by the Germans from 1914. This salient was threatening the Paris-Nancy railroad line. The French and the British provided the artillery support that the American forces were running short of. Led by Lieutenant Colonel George S. Patton, and this was the first use of the U.S. Tank Corps. The salient was cleared out in four days time. (Bass, 16)

American forces began the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26th and kept it on till the war ended. The fighting ended with the defeated party giving compensations, including a clause leading to the creation of a League of Nations, an international organization to prevent a new war. In spite of Woodrow Wilson's campaign to support the treaty and his idea for a League of Nations the U.S. Senate did not ratify the treaty. Instead of it the U.S. negotiated a separate peace plan with Germany on August 1921, which did not make joining the League mandatory. America won the war for the sake of the Allies. In finding ways to a compromise peace America using its power set the balance in favor of France and Britain, instead of European nations finding their own ways. (Pope, Stephen, and Wheal, 26)

American involvement in World War I was brief, yet it shifted America from the pre-war period significantly at home front and in foreign policy. World War I came as a blow and blocked the ongoing progress on the way from yester-year to modern times. It was the point of departure and discontinuity. Diplomatically, all previous American conflicts had involved threats to American security though some of them were overstated or misperceived. The Spanish-American War of 1898 also was apparently linked to violations of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and to security-based concerns about hostile European governments operating in the Western Hemisphere, and for rejecting the fledgling republican institutions in America. But Germany in World War I did not pose a security threat to the United States in any way. Moreover the American involvement in the war marked a clear rejection of the advices Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had given, and the subsequent American foreign policy, not to engage in…

Sources Used in Document:


Bass, Herbert J., "America's Entry Into World War I." Chicago; Holt, Rinehart And Winston, 1964, p.14-17

Andrea, Alfred J., and Overfield, James H., "The Human Record." Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994, p.63-66

Pope, Stephen, and Wheal, Elizabeth-Anne, "The Dictionary of The First World War" New York; St. Marten's Press, 1995, p.24-27

Venzon, Anne Cipriano, "The United States in the First World War" New York; Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995, p.56-59

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