Why did the United States stay neutral in the beginning of World War I?  What are some events that led the United States into the war?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When World War I began, the United States was neutral. However, eventually the United States joined the war on the side of the Allies. There were reasons for both of these positions.

When World War I began, the United States wasn’t involved. This is because we weren’t part of any of the alliances that existed in Europe. Once members of each alliance declared war on each other, other alliance members joined the war. We weren’t a part of this. Most Americans thought the Europeans were foolish for going to war, and we wanted no part of the war when it began.

However, as time passed, several factors and events drew us into the war. We had closer ties with Great Britain than we did with Germany. Our language and government structure were similar to that of the British. We also had more business connections with the British. The British propaganda was much more effective at swaying American attitudes against Germany than Germany’s propaganda was at swaying American attitudes against Great Britain. When Germany began to sink our ships without warning, violating our rights as a neutral nation, we demanded that Germany stop doing this. Germany agreed to stop, but eventually they began resuming the sinking of our ships. This, along with the publication of the Zimmerman Telegram, that had Germany encouraging Mexico to attack us, pushed us into World War I in April 1917.

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