Who Opposed US Involvement In World War 1 And Why

Why were many in the U.S. opposed to entering WWI?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were people in the United States who were opposed to us joining World War I. Many Americans couldn’t believe the Europeans would be foolish enough to go to war. They didn’t want us to make the same mistake. World War I had the potential to be a very long and a very costly war. Some Americans didn’t want us to be a part of that.

Other people didn’t want to go to war with Germany. This was a sentiment held by many German-Americans. They knew if we went to war against Germany, life for them would become more difficult. They expected there would be discrimination against Germans as well as possible acts of hostility against Germans.

Some people were furious with the British when the war began. Great Britain was interfering with our trade also. Since both sides were interfering with our trade, it was hard to justify choosing one side over the other.

Finally, some of our goals in World War I were very idealistic. Joining this war to make it the last war ever or to make the world safer for democratic governments were goals that would be hard to achieve.

People had valid reasons for us to stay out of World War I.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were many currents of opposition to World War I in the United States. Capitalists such as Henry Ford believed that capitalism was a force for diplomacy and peace, but Ford's mission to forge peace in Europe in 1915 was sadly unsuccessful. Some Irish-Americans were opposed to supporting the British in the war, and some German-Americans opposed joining the war against Germany. Women's groups and religious groups were also in favor of pacifism and believed that the United States should stay out of the war, and the left, including Socialists and Marxists, felt that the war was only for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. These groups supported Wilson during his re-election campaign of 1916, when he ran on the slogan "He kept us out of war." However, when Wilson decided to send American troops to the war in 1917, he argued that fighting in the war would result in greater world peace, as it was "a war to end all wars." Many of the groups that had formerly opposed the war supported Wilson's efforts to fight in World War I to pursue world peace. 

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many Americans were opposed to the war and wanted to remain neutral. Initially these sentiments were supported by President Woodrow Wilson in his message to the 63rd Congress. The president anticipated negative consequences of the war for the US if they decided to intervene and urged the American people to remain neutral to the war. The need to remain neutral was critical because the American population included citizens of countries engaged in the war. The German-Americans would want success for Germany while French-Americans and British-Americans would wish the same for their countries. The other section of the population opposed the war because it would increase tensions throughout American society, leading to an outbreak of violence on American soil by the American people themselves.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many people in the United States were very opposed to the idea of getting involved in World War I.  They did not think the war had anything to do with the United States.  They believed that the war was really something that only involved the Europeans -- it wasn't about any big issue that Americans should care about.

Other Americans opposed the war because they did not want the US to take the side of the British.  This was especially true of German immigrants (who liked Germany, of course) and of Irish immigrants (who hated Britain for colonizing their homeland).

Finally, socialists opposed the war because they thought it was just a thing that the rich were doing to get richer.  They didn't want the poor to die for the sake of rich men's profits.

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