How Did The United States Become Involved In World War I?
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When World War I (1914–18) broke out in Europe in August 1914, Americans opposed sending U.S. troops into the conflict. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) heeded public opinion and declared the country's neutrality (not favoring either side). As warfare continued and German tactics threatened civilian lives in Europe, however, Americans began siding with the Allies (Serbia, France, Great Britain, Russia, and twenty other nations).
After sinking the British passenger liner SS Lusitania, Germany adopted restricted submarine warfare. Early in 1917 the German navy began attacking American cargo boats, trying to provoke the United States into entering the war. Meanwhile, in an effort to force Britain to surrender, German U-boats (submarines) were positioning to cut off shipping to and from Britain. Tensions between the United States and Germany peaked when the British intercepted, decoded, and turned over to Wilson the "Zimmermann note," a telegram Germany had sent to its ambassador in Mexico. Originating in the office of German foreign minister Arthur Zimmermann (1864–1940), the telegram urged German officials in Mexico to persuade the Mexican government to go to war with the United States. Mexico's motive would be to regain lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The message was published in the United States in early March. On April 6, 1917, the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany after Wilson had asserted that "the world must be made safe for democracy."
Further Information: "Lusitania." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseindex/OF/00FDD000.htm, October 25, 2000; Martin, Gilbert. The First World War: A Complete History. New York: Henry Holt, 1994; "(Thomas) Woodrow Wilson." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://encarta.msn.com/index/consiseindex/16/concise/.asp?mod=1&ti=0166B000& page=6, October 25, 2000.
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