The U.S. Joins World War I:
The Struggle for Neutrality
“The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty” Woodrow Wilson, Speech to Congress, April 2, 1917. Because of previous warnings to isolate themselves from Europe, the U.S. did not jump at the opportunity to join WWI when it was declared in 1914. However, over the next few years several events occurred that altered opinions all across The United Sates. When the time came, The U.S. made the right decision to enter WWI. The majority of the time, effects of such events left us favoring the Allies. Eventually threats of the Central Powers became more direct and defense was in order. WWI created relationships with other countries, and improved the current political and economical sate inside U.S. borders.
When isolationist policies were broken, the U.S. would eventually become more than just financially involved in the war. The Germans saw the U.S. as an enemy because their weapons and war supplies were helping the Allies defeat the Central Powers (firstworldwar). In 1914 an attempt to interfere with British trade and American nuetrality, the Germans took advantage of unrestricted submarine warfare and sunk at least 50 ships including the Lusitania, a passenger ship going to Britain from New York, Killing over a thousand people including 128 Americans. Infuriated U.S. citizens proceeded to favor the Allies. Compromises between the U.S. and Germany failed when in 1917 un restricted submarine warfare was reinstated, killing and injuring more American citizens (eyewitnesstohistory). To gain an ally closer to the threatening U.S., German officials turned to Mexico. They sent the Zimmerman Telegram, offering German support in gaining back the land that was lost in the Mexican-American war, in return for help in the current bind in Europe. This note was intercepted and interpreted by the British and relayed to the Americans. "Never before or since has so much turned upon the solution of a secret message" (David Khan The Codebreakers). Defense was now necessary, and the only way was to join the Allies for any chance of conquering the German machine (archives.gov).
Knowing that Europe had a history of warfare, the U.S. did their best to remain neutral. However, when the Allies asked for support, The U.S. had no reason to deny their wishes. The U.S. seized the opportunity to gain a future supporter. President Woodrow Wilson made a claim that this was a war against a brutal monarchy, the common enemy for the U.S. and the Allies (historylearningsite). Because the U.S. supported the Allies motives and leveled with them on their issues with the central powers, it was clear that under future oppression or attack, support for the U.S. from Allied countries would be expected. In WWII when the U.S. was attacked by Japan, supported by Germany who was still coping with negative effects of WWI, England and France stepped up and joined together with the U.S. to defend the nation. Allies welcomed the U.S. onto their territory to fight the soviets and the Axis Powers (worldwariihistory.info). If the U.S. had not backed up the Allied in WWI, financially and eventually physically, the war could have been brought straight to the U.S., changing society as it is known today.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, "The total cost of World War I to the United States (was) approximately $32 billion, or 52 percent of gross national product at the time." Not only did entrance into WWI benefit to The United States’ future relationships with countries, but this was also an opportunity to improve economical conditions inside the U.S. Drafting and offering military positions opened up jobs to other people who were unemployed and unable to fight physically in the war. Demand for supplies and manufacturing of weaponry increased, producing employment opportunities for those living on a low-income salary. When low level, or low-income jobs were filled it gave the economy a base to grow and expand. Between 1914 and 1918, some 3 million people were added to the military and half a million to the government (nber.org). Strategizing and constructing a system to successfully defeat the monarchies of the Central Powers became the focus. From the beginning of the dispute, France and Britain relied on loans from the U.S. to get momentum against the opposing side. This left them in a large financial debt of over 2 billion dollars. If the Allies were to loose, there would be no way for them to reimburse the U.S., leaving the Allies’ economies to crash along with their own. To avoid this situation, the U.S. had to enter the fight to defeat the central powers for their own economical benefit (library.thinkquest.org).
Because of neutrality in the United States, their political, economical, and physical state in the world was fragile. The U.S. made the right decision to enter WWI and create a position of power and trust for themselves in the jumbled dynamic of differing nations. The intervention and support of the U.S. helped take out a political machine that was thought to be unstoppable. Although a clash with Germany continued, because of maintained friendships with Allies, the U.S. is never alone in disagreements or struggle. As a result of U.S. contribution to WWI, a future for democracy and liberty was paved and thrives today.
Bibliography: U.S. enters WWI
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