The United States andWorld War I 1914-1919
The United States and World War IOverview • World War I began in Europe in 1914 and lasted until 1918. The United States did not enter the war until 1917. • The financial and human costs of the “Great War” were devastating
OBJECTIVE Why did the United States enter World War I?
United States Entry into World War I • War broke out in Europe in July 1914, after the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated. Because of the system of secret alliances, Europe soon plunged into a long and bloody conflict. • At the start of the war, the United States maintained its traditional policy of neutrality regarding European affairs. • By 1917, however, the United States was drawn into the war.
Reasons for American entry into World War I Cultural and Ethnic Links Economic Ties • Few Americans, in fact, were truly neutral • Some sympathized with the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). These included Americans of German ancestry, as well as Irish-Americans because of strong anti-British sentiment • The majority of Americans, however, favor the Allied Powers. Americans had long-standing cultural ties with Great Britain. Many also felt loyalty to our first ally, France. • A British blockade of the North Sea effectively ended American exports to Germany, which decreased in value from $345 million in 1914 to $29 million in 1916 • Meanwhile, trade with the Allied Powers increased dramatically. American manufacturers and farmers benefitted greatly from this trade, much of it financed by United States government loans to the Allies, which by 1917 totaled more than $2 billion dollars.
Reasons for American entry into World War I Propaganda German Submarine Warfare • Aided by their control of the transatlantic cable, the Allies conducted an effective propaganda campaign. They pictured the war as one of civilized, democratic nations against the barbaric monarchy of Germany • In 1915, Germany adopted a wartime strategy to stop the trade between the United States and the Allied powers and break the British blockade. • Germany announced that German submarines, or U-Boats, would sink enemy ships in the “zone of war” around Great Britain • Because a submarine is vulnerable when surfaced, Germany ignored international law that required a warship to stop and identify itself, then board a merchant or passenger ship and remove its crew and passengers before sinking it.
German Submarine Warfare To avoid attack by error, Germany warned neutral nations and their citizens to avoid the “zone of war.”
Freedom of the Seas • Germany’s attempt to destroy the British blockade by attacking Allied ships was the single most important reason for America’s entry into World War I • President Woodrow Wilson insisted that Germany’s submarine warfare violated the principle of freedom of the seas and that America as a neutral nation had the right to trade with nations at war and send our ships and civilians on ships into war zones United States defense of the principle of Freedom of the Seas was a key factor in the • Quasi Naval War against France (1798) • Barbary Wars (1801-1805) • War of 1812 • World War I