World War I

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Why did the United States shift its position from neutrality to involvement in World War I?   

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Ben Orn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When World War I (1914–1918) broke out in Europe, the United States planned to stay neutral. Neutrality had long been a pillar of American foreign policy.

In 1915, the American position started to change to favor the Allies—Britain and France. In that year, a German submarine sank the Lusitania, a passenger ship, killing 1200 people, including 128 Americans. The ship was, in fact, carrying ammunition. In any case, Germany promised to stop using submarines against passenger ships because of the subsequent American protest.

In 1917, the British intercepted the Zimmermann Telegram. This was a German message to Mexico. In it, the Germans offered an alliance with Mexico if the Americans joined the Allies. The message was published in the American press, and it heightened pro-war sentiment.

Also in 1917, a desperate and hard-pressed Germany resumed submarine warfare. This led directly to America's declaration of war against Germany.

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Murl Larson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There were a few reasons for this move. The first was...

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