World War I and Why USA Entered the War

The name commonly given to the war of 1914-1918, which began in Europe and was fought principally on that continent but eventually involved all the continents of the world. While the wars between Great Britain and France from 1689 to 1815 had been extended to North America, Africa, and Asia, they remained wars between European governments. The term “world war” is properly applied to the conflict of 1914-1918 because the various parts of the British Empire in all continents as well as many countries in Asia and North and South America participated in it. For the first time, all the great powers of the world were engaged: Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Russia in Europe; Japan in Asia; and the United States in North America. It is estimated that by the end of the war about 93 percent of the population of the world was in greater or less degree involved.

The two opposing sides in the war were; Britain, France, Russia (left December 1917), Italy (entered May 1915), Serbia, Belgium, Romania (entered August 1916), USA (entered April 1917) Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey (entered November 1914), Bulgaria (entered 1915)

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The United States was never neutral throughout The Great War, despite the President Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of neutrality, and a direct declaration of war against the Central Powers was an inescapable occurrence. When war was come into existence in Europe in 1914, it was impossible for the United States, an emerging world power, to avoid conflict despite its efforts to. President Wilson immediately issued a declaration of neutrality because entering into a war would be against the prevalent progressive spirit of the time and America had a tradition of avoiding European conflicts whenever possible.

Nevertheless, The United States remained completely neutral from 1914-1917. ” Continued interruption of trade and travel on the seas by both the allies and central powers, especially attacks by German submarines, which was the main reason for the United States to enter the war in 1917.”

Great Britain’s powerful navy quickly took control of the Atlantic and set up a blockade, cutting off American trade with Germany. Germany, on the other hand, attacked British supply lines with their new invention, the U-boat. The United States accepted Great Britain’s blockade and stopped trade with Germany, although a demand by the United States that free trade allowed surely have been agreed to. On the other hand, instead of accepting Germany’s attempt to stop American shipping to the Allies, Wilson demanded that Germany stop all attacks on American ships, but accepted nearly the same thing when perpetrated by the British.

The population of America, although against involvement in the war, supported the Allied cause. This was due to both the cultural similarities and roots shared between the United States and Great Britain and the large scale British propaganda campaign in America, in an attempt to get the United States involved in the war. The propaganda along with German practices of sinking ships without giving passengers a chance to escape and attacking the neutral country of Belgium (both of which violated international law) led to an intense Anti-German sentiment throughout the population.

America was clearly not a neutral country, but Americans did not wish to become directly involved in the war. German U-boats had taken many American lives with their attacks on merchant ships, including the Lusitania where 128 Americans were killed, which lead to America demanding an end to the U-boat attacks. The Germans responded by temporally ceasing submarine warfare in 1916 under the Sussex Pledge until 1917 when Germany announced the continuation of submarine warfare and ended diplomatic relations with the United States. In an attempt to eliminate the threat of American involvement in Europe, Foreign Minister Alfred Zimmerman of Germany attempted to provoke Mexico into attacking the United States with the promising her Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in return.

The British decoded a message containing Zimmerman’s intent and sent to the US, further swaying Americans to action.

“On the first of February we intend to begin submarine warfare unrestricted. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep neutral the United States of America.

If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We shall give general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details are left to you for settlement….

You are instructed to inform the President of Mexico of the above in the greatest confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of war with the United States and suggest that the President of Mexico, on his own initiative, should communicate with Japan suggesting adherence at once to this plan; at the same time, offer to mediate between Germany and Japan.

Please call to the attention of the President of Mexico that the employment of ruthless submarine warfare now promises to compel England to make peace in a few months.

These actions by Germany left America with little recourse other then to declare war. Furthermore, On April second, 1917, President Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany. ” The world must be safe for democracy,” he said, as he insisted the Americans to fight for peace and safety to make the world truly free. The Americans had hesitated about siding with the autocratic Russian government, but the overthrow of the tsar in the March revolution removed this obstacle and on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and began mobilisation and they were now fighting for France, Great Britain, and Russia, resulting in an Allied victory by November 1918.


The U.S.A involvement in the war helped turn the tide and played a major role in the eventual defeat of Germany. The U.S made an important contribution to the Allied victory, supplying Britain and France food, merchant ships and credit, though actual military help came slowly. Most important was the psychological boost which the American potential in resources of men and materials gave the Allies and corresponding blow it gave to Germany morale. it came down to us standing up to Germany, and showing the world that the U.S. is a new world power, and major player in world affairs. That is what we did by joining the war and setting the stage, for future global power structures.

Despite the fact the war was fought in Europe and U.S. casualties and property loss were far less than that of the allies, the war had a significant impact

economically, politically, and socially on the United States. While the mobilisation effort brought great economic prosperity to the country from the production of wartime goods, postwar demobilisation ought about widespread unemployment, increased labour problem, racial hatred, and poverty. Propaganda campaigns, designed to create support for the war effort,resulted in strong anti-foreign and anti-Communist feelings, which led to violence and the violation of civil rights for many Americans.

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World War I and Why USA Entered the War. (2018, Aug 13). Retrieved from