Assess Wilson's conduct of foreign policy from 1914 to 1917. Do you think that he could have pursued a different course that would have kept the United States out of the war? Should he have? Why or why not?

Wilson's conduct of foreign policy from 1914 to 1917 represented a significant shift, as the US had previously avoided engaging in European wars. Wilson might have pursued a different course that would have kept the US out of the war had he followed the advice of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, who wished for the US to remain neutral. 

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The American decision to enter World War I (1914–1918) was unprecedented. The United States had always avoided entanglement in European wars, so President Woodrow Wilson's decisions marked a distinct break from previous American foreign policy. I believe the US could have stayed out of the war by following a different course, a more neutral one. Had Wilson listened to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, America might have been able to remain out of the war. Bryan wanted the US to be truly neutral.

Freedom of the seas was a key cause of both the War of 1812 (1812–1815) and World War I. Great Britain's fleet dominated the oceans during both conflicts. America fought against Britain in the first war, but alongside Britain in the second conflict. There were no submarines during the War of 1812, and France could not challenge English naval supremacy. In WWI, however, the Germans had submarines and, quite understandably, used them in an effort to avoid defeat.

Bryan quit Wilson's administration when he disagreed with the president's handling of the crisis after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. That ship, which had been carrying munitions, was sunk, and over one thousand civilians died—including more than one hundred Americans. Wilson warned Germany, and he continued America's lucrative trade with Germany's enemies. Wilson's insistence on this point and Germany's decision to fully use submarines again in 1917 led to American entry.

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