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Reasons For United States' Involvement In World War I

759 words - 3 pages

Reasons for United States' Involvement in World War I

At first the public opinion of Americans was firmly set on neutrality.
The majority of people had little or no concerns of the affairs of the
rest of the world - why should America interfere with the conflicts of
other nations? Americans supported a policy of isolationism, and
Democrat Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 on the grounds that he
had kept them out of the war. The president also knew only too well
that many Americans were unsympathetic towards Britain. There were
German Americans who routed for a German victory, whilst Irish
Americans disliked British rule over Ireland. On top of this, the
Jewish Russians who had fled from the hated Tsar of their home country
did not want to fight on the side of those from whom they had fled,
hence they were eager for Germans to defeat Russia. Wilson commented
on this to the German Ambassador, claiming if they did not remain
neutral their mixed populations would wage war on each other. At the
outbreak of the war in 1914, Wilson advocated a policy of 'determined
neutrality'.

In May 1915, the Germans sank the 'Lusitania', a British ship. Of the
1198 passengers who died, 128 of these were American. This aroused
great anger in Americans, and further attacks followed as in June the
German government announced passenger ships would be sunk without
warning. The sinking of the Lusitania was used in British propaganda
to remind the US citizens of the lives that had been lost due to
Germany, hence they should join the war to defeat them.

The Germans decided to return to the policy of unrestricted submarine
attacks on shipping in January 1917. The Submarines were not able to
sink well-organised military ships and this is probably why passenger
ships were attacked. Diplomatic relations between Germany and America
were broken off by Wilson when and American liner was sunk on 3
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