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Why did America join World War One?

Updated on September 21, 2014

A look at why America joined in World War 1.

America and Woodrow Wilson tried very hard to stay out of the war, however there were many factors that eventually brought this country into play in the war. For years America had traded with both sides and while this country was suffering from economic hardship, they still wanted to sell goods to both sides. Although they were supposed to be neutral, many Americans took the side of their ancestors in Britain. America also sold and loaned more to the Allies, as opposed to Germany. Germany was viewed as an overbearing government that the world must be saved from.

As the war moved on, ships sent with goods and supplies were regularly attacked and sunk, one of which being the Lusitania. This was a Britain passenger ship that had over 100 Americans on it, that died when it sank. Even though Germany had warned Americans of traveling in this area at the time, the loss of life was more than the American public to take, neutrality was slipping. Arguments were thrown from each side, America wanted Germany to stop their submarine campaign, and Germany once again told America to stay out of the area. Americans did not want to be told where they could and could not go, thus neither side would give. Another ship was torpedoed by the Germans, this time the French ship called Sussex, injuring another four Americans.

Tensions ran high during the next presidential election because many Americans still did not want to get involved in the war, however Wilson won by talks of peace. He tried bringing the Allies and Germany to the table for a peace treaty that neither wanted. Then Germany revamped their submarine attacks and Wilson started arming and firing on submarines even though not one American ship had been targeted at this time. Later, a message was intercepted from Germany to Mexico asking for an alliance, promising the restoration of their land in the lower southwest that was taken by America. Shortly after, four American ships were sunk in mid-March of 1917 and this was the final straw for American people to agree to war. War was declared in the beginning of the next month by Woodrow Wilson by way of speech, claiming that “neutrality” was no longer a viable option, however America was never really neutral.


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    • kaiyan717 profile image

      kaiyan717 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Thanks for reading UnnamedHarald, the more I learn about our history, the more I wonder. I did find it quite surprising that after winning the election on the basis of peace, he turned around and armed American ships and then declared war quite quickly.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Nice, kaiyan. Interesting how Wilson won re-election and, three months after being sworn in, the U.S. declared war on Germany.