How did the United States prepare for entry into World War I?
The act of entering any kind of war is not an action taken lightly. The U.S. government faced many obstacles at the prospect of entering into WW1. Leonard Woods and Theodore Roosevelt led a campaign to strengthen the U.S. military when the war first began.
In 1915, a movement began and argued that the U.S. needed to build strong naval and land forces thinking the U.S. would eventually be in the war. There was strong opposition to this. It moved quickly through Protestant churches and women's groups. The Democratic party also saw this as a threat. Theodore Roosevelt was a strong candidate for the presidency. The problem was, the U.S. military was, in fact, not ready or in shape to enter war.
In 1917 the Germans sunk one of the U.S. naval ships, and this was the event that pushed us into war. The U.S. had to make the American people understand that war was the right answer. They had to convince businesses that they would succeed and not fail during the war. The war itself, still faced opposition, but for the most part Americans supported our military in their efforts. The entry into the war, was one that was not taken lightly. The U.S. went to great lengths to make sure our military was as prepared as they could be, and the rest of Americans knew the risks and benefits of going to war with Germany, of course this wouldn't be the last war we had with Germany. This war prepared the U.S. for the horrors they were soon to face.
Earlier on, as the war raged on in Europe, the general public in America was against direct participation in the war. However, as time went by, public opinion changed and the war was seen as a fight between bad governance represented by the Central Powers, against democracy represented by Allied Powers. The shift in opinion was fueled further by the deaths of 123 Americans, after a British liner they were in was torpedoed by Germany. Further, Germany sought support from Mexico, forcing America to join the war.
The U.S. prepared for war by first building- up the military in readiness for deployment, by initiating a draft. President Woodrow Wilson sought Congress support in the declaration of war against Germany. The president further issued the Liberty Bond and pushed for public participation to raise money for the war efforts. The government raised income taxes to sustain financial support for the war. Businesses and citizens were strongly urged to support the war through government and media communications.
The US had to do a few things to prepare for entry into WWI. Among them were:
- Persuasion. The government needed to persuade the people that going to war was the right thing to do. This was done through the Committee on Public Information.
- Coordination with business. The US government could not or did not want to simply tell businesses what to make to help the war effort. Instead, the government tried to coordinate its needs with those of business. It offerred good prices for the things it wanted made and it tried to persuade businesses to act out of patriotism to make what was needed.
- Training the military. The US had to draft soldiers to fight in the war and it had to train them to do so effectively.
In these ways, the US prepared for entry into WWI politically, economically, and militarily.