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World War 1 Why did America Enter the War With Germany ww1

Updated on August 13, 2013

Woodrow Wilson

America Declares Neutrality World War 1

America was reluctant to participate in World War 1, in fact in August 1914, when the war broke out in Europe; President Woodrow Wilson issued a declaration of neutrality. Preferring to remain isolated from the war.

America tried to broker peace between the allies and the axis, the war was in Europe; America did not need to get involved.

American neutrality meant that they could continue their trade and banking agreements with both warring parties.

Woodrow Wilson, America's President became an ambassador of peace and tried to end the war through political means.

Woodrow Wilson officially declared America as neutral on August 4th 1914.

America's neutral stance came to an end in 1917, after a series of events virtualy forced them into the War against Germany.

Rms Lusitania

The sinking of the Lusitania was a major factor leading to America entering the field of combat.
The sinking of the Lusitania was a major factor leading to America entering the field of combat. | Source

Sinking The Lusitania WW1

On May 7th 1915, German U-boats, patrolling in the Atlantic Ocean, fired torpedo's at the British passenger ship Lusitania sinking her in 20 minutes.

In January 1917, Germany announced it would destroy all ships heading to Britain.

Although Wilson broke off diplomatic ties with Germany, he still hoped to avert war by arming merchant vessels as a deterrent. Nevertheless, Germany began sinking American ships immediately.

The sinking of the Lusitania killed 1,195 of the 1,959 passengers and staff who were on-board including 123 Americans.

Again just under a year later German U-boats targeted and sunk the ship RMS Sussex which had American citizens on board, this lead Wilson to send an ultimatum to Germany.

"Unless The Imperial Government immediately stop their current methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight carrying ships, The United States Government will have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Empire altogether."

With this Ultimatum served,Wilson then set about expanding America's armed forces knowing that his country may soon be at war.

The Ultimatum seemed to work as all Submarine warfare by the Germans was stopped temporaraly.

World War I: Entry Of The United States

Wilson's Fight For Peace WW1

Wilson was still determined to broker for peace and after his re-election in 1916, he sent a Telegram to both Britain and to Germany with the simple Question

"What would it take for them to be willing to end the war?"

The British reply to him was simply, " We will only accept peace after a total victory".

The German reply did not answer the question asked.

Wilson still continued his quest for peace despite these answers and believed that the war could be ended through peacful negotiations.

American Propaganda

Wilsons 14 Point Plan To Peace WW I

Wilson still believed that there was still a chance of peacful negotiation bringing an end to the hostilities in Europe and he devised a 14 point plan which included, setting up a league of nations so that any further wars in the future could be prevented through political means rather than by bloodshed.

The German Navy put an end to any thoughts of a peace treaty in 1917, when they started attaking and sinking ships again with their submarines.

A telegram sent from Germany to Mexico was intercepted by British agents became the final straw for Wilson and America and war was the only alternative left.

America's hand had been forced.

American Soldiers in the Trenches

The Zimmerman Telegram

In February 1917, British intelligence gave the United States government a decoded telegram from Germany's foreign minister, Arthur Zimmerman, that had been intercepted en route to his ambassador to Mexico.

The Zimmerman Telegram authorized the ambassador to offer Mexico the portions of the Southwest it had lost to the United States in the 1840s if it joined the Central Powers.

However, because Wilson had run for re-election in 1916 on a very popular promise to keep the United States out of the European war, he had to handle the telegram very carefully.

Wilson did not publicize it at first, only releasing the message to the press in March after weeks of German attacks on American ships had turned public sentiment toward joining the Allies.

On 2 April 1917, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war and four days later all but six senators and fifty representatives voted for a war resolution.

The Selective Service Act that was passed the following month, along with an extraordinary number of volunteers, built up the army from less than 250,000 to four million over the course of the conflict. General John Pershing was appointed head of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and led the first troops to France

On April 6th 1917, America declared war on Germany

DURING THE COURSE OF WORLD WAR 1, 116708 AMERICAN SOLDIERS LOST THEIR LIVES AND 204002 WERE WOUNDED

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      Jonathan 5 years ago

      The U.S. entered WW I to protect the financial interests of American banks and corporations who were owed huge $$$ by the British and French. If Germany won the war, those debts might not get re-paid.

      So, we went to war to protect those financial interests.

    • profile image

      Jakob 5 years ago

      Thank you! saved me so much time on my homework!

    • Gregorious profile image

      Gregorious 5 years ago

      A very informative hub! I would just like to add the wise words of Sun Tzu – The art of war is to avoid war.

    • louromano profile image

      louromano 5 years ago

      This helped me so much with my homework on the alliance system!

    • profile image

      Mp 5 years ago

      What is a list of images that express the reasons US fought war. Create a poster to convince Americans to support the war effort.... Any help..? It's kinda due tomorrow...

    • profile image

      free-browsergames 5 years ago

      nice hub :)

    • profile image

      vavaiska 5 years ago

      This article is very useful. Watch out for germany's role in the coming armageddon. The king of the north and new world order.

    • profile image

      marg 5 years ago

      thanks bunches

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      matt 5 years ago

      this helped me lots

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      Hugo Khan 5 years ago

      This helped me so much with my homework on the alliance system!

    • profile image

      buk 5 years ago

      indeed helpful!

    • profile image

      twinkle 6 years ago

      i love to learn about history

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      nameless 6 years ago

      Ali, it is commonly agreed upon today by most historians that the Germans did not write the Zimmerman Note...most likely it was a ploy by Great Britain to get the US into the war.

    • profile image

      tony gilmore 6 years ago

      I think this danger could happen again,ever read the book the rise of the fourth reich?

    • profile image

      Marina  6 years ago

      What set off the war was the assasination on the archduke Franza Ferdinand after that a series of events started finally turning into the great war.

    • profile image

      Ponny 6 years ago

      I was wondering, do you know just what set off the war? I have a test tomorrow, so if I could get an answer today it would be nice. :)

    • profile image

      scruffels 6 years ago

      I don't think there will be a war anytime in our life time form where i come from "knock on wood" unless one of these convos startone :p but Thankyou very much for the information it helped me with my project a lot! :)

    • profile image

      Anonymos 6 years ago

      One can only hope that people don't make the same mistakes as they did when these wars happened. Which I think they will unfortunately.

    • profile image

      Lucy 6 years ago

      I love the facts in it! I also love history. I will recommend this site to my students.

    • profile image

      Letitia 6 years ago

      this helped me on my history report that is due on friday, and i am glad i found this webstie

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      me 6 years ago

      okay, i agree with mch. drax, you are a bilergerant fool. while the US had made mistakes in the past, MANY of which I am aware of, so has the rest of the world. perhaps you should look past the blindness of your hatred and open your eyes to see the evil&corruption all over the world. including where you are from, rather than attacking others. for as the saying goes "it is easy to find a million faults in another, but the true feat is the abilty to find at least one in thy self.". so why don't you do a little reading from more than just your country's point of view. america is not what many claim it to be. I know. but neverthe less i am proud to be an american. and i, as mch, will fight&die for this country. p.s. all information is in some way biest and from A point of view. think about it.

    • profile image

      Stephaniee 7 years ago

      thaank you so much for your information . this website was very helpful. keep up the good work (Y)

    • profile image

      Mikey 7 years ago

      I think this is a very good website. I love to read of war. As soon as I'm out of high school i'm going to sign up Im really a girl but everyone calls me a boy because of my interest in war. The site is awesome

    • profile image

      poop 7 years ago

      if it wasn't for what happen in ww1 we wouldn't be war we are today!!!!so be grateful!!!

    • profile image

      gegego 7 years ago

      its really anoyig that you all think that germany is a bad country because they declared war. it was the government of germany at the time were not that different rally. :)

    • profile image

      Kiana 7 years ago

      Thanks this has really helped me out.

    • profile image

      Carlo 7 years ago

      helpful..............

    • profile image

      MASM 7 years ago

      THIS RELLY HELPS

    • profile image

      algeria 7 years ago

      thank s that helped me so much

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      Denno66 7 years ago

      This is a very good hub explaining the reasons for the U.S.'s entry into the Great War. It was a monumental tragedy as are all wars, but America's entry coupled with the exhaustive toll taken to date on all of the European armies, finally brought the War to an end. Thank you for the detailed read.

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      TUCK15 7 years ago

      THIS HELPS ALOTTTTTTTT!!!!

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      ali 7 years ago

      i think willson made the right choice on declaring war on Germany... Germany was making a serious threat to america for more than one reason...

      1st:the Zimmerman letter which could've lead us to losing a few of our states.

      2nd: should Germany have won, we would've lost democracy for there government is dictatorship.

      3rd:the submarine welfare, germany was breaking the continantal law, and killing innocent people.

      4th: "the freedom of seas" is another reason willson gave us... it meant we would be able to trade freely with who ever we want.

      5th:by letting the war go on many lives of innocent people would be ended.

      6th:the most obvious of all is power... should anyone country get too much power it would leave us all doomed...

      there are many more reasons but i can't go on listing them all.

    • profile image

      ali 7 years ago

      personally i think that willson made a good choice declaring war on germany... for three reasons

      1:the zimmerman letter posted a serious threat to america, we could've lost texas, new mexico, ect.

    • profile image

      ali 7 years ago

      im confused on what drax is saying about how the war is bad or good?

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      tony 8 years ago

      this article is realy confusing and it has alotof info but confusing u no?????

    • profile image

      mch 8 years ago

      so drax let me get this staight u would like for america to be invaded america has done wat is right in protecting her people so your the only idiot really my dad and grandpa faught and died for this country so tea U.S.A beats anyone. And i will fight and die for my country and my children

    • profile image

      WTF 8 years ago

      Kathy Europe isn't a country...

    • profile image

      Eden 8 years ago

      dude thanks, this helps me so much on my news article!

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      leejean 8 years ago

      Thank you this helped me on my report!

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      mackenzie 8 years ago

      what about the war effort?

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      SirDent 9 years ago

      I read this and the comments left and I asked myself, how many American ships were to be sacrificed before America entered the war? Would a man allow someone to come into his home and attack his children and not do something to stop it from happening? There are times that one must stand and fight.

    • Drax profile image

      des donnelly 10 years ago from NYC....

      sorry Jimmy, what I said came out jumbled and unclear, this hub and the war series are fantastic, thanks for them... I meant that I was disappointed that countries are not declaring war on america today... and although I would agree with you on the futility of war there are times when a country needs to be taught manners... even if it is only at a symbolic level... this is where I would disagree with Kathy, imagine if Tovalu, Haiti, Iceland, Ireland and other small countries declared war on america, none of them would invade but the message sent would be extremely powerful....

    • profile image

      Kathy 10 years ago

      It is the true mark of an intelligent nation if it is able to wage war unnecessarily but chooses not to. America has failed that test recently.

      At the same time, it is moral cowardice when a country is able to wage a necessary war but chooses not to. Europe failed that one in the Balkans.

      And finally, the opinion of countries that are powerless to do anything, anyway, is somewhat irrelevant.

    • jimmythejock profile image
      Author

      James Paterson 10 years ago from Scotland

      sorry to dissapoint Drax, maybe by pushing the first and second world wars the leaderships of today and of the future, will learn the inhumanity stupidity and futileness of war.

    • Drax profile image

      des donnelly 10 years ago from NYC....

      Jimmy when I read this title I interpreted it as germany declares war on america and I thought ....great... at least one country has some morals left... then I looked again and was disappointed... ah well, live in in hope. I suppose this marked the beginning of a belligerence that has brought us full circle to today and the creation of the first fully fledged terrorist state... ....america, land of the afraid home of the idiot...