The U.S. enters
From the outset the United States outwardly claimed it neutrality toward the War.
In actions the U.S. remained neutral, however many U.S. immigrants many of whom were from
the battling nations took sides.
A great number of Americans backed the allied cause, most because of the common language
and cultural similarities to the British, the U.S. also bought into the British claim that the Germans were brutal killers.
In 1915 the German navy set up a war zone around Britain, the Germans claimed that any ship
entering this zone, was subject to attack from U-boats, or submarines.
The U.S. claimed this was a violation of international law of neutrality, and the United
States would hold the Germans responsible for any injuries to American lives of Property on the high Seas.
May 7, 1915 a german U-boat patrolling off the coast of Ireland torpedoed the British passenger
ship the Lusitania
1200 people froze to death in the icy North Atlantic, 128 were Americans
German leaders claimed they had placed ads in American newspapers warning Americans to stay
out of the war zone.
The Germans also claimed that the Lusitania was
transporting guns and munitions for the British (this was later proved to be true)
President Wilson demanded specific pledges to stop Germanys warfare against civilian ships
Many in the U.S. government claimed that Wilson was issuing an ultimatum to the Germans
and he could not do so and still keep the United States Neutral
February 1917 after a brief cease fire by the Germans against passenger ships, the Germans
resumed full out U-Boat warfare.
The Germans hope that they could end the war before the United States had a chance to join
As a result Wilson broke off diplomatic relations with Germany and ordered merchant ships
sailing into the war zone be armed
The Germans still sank five more American ships.
March 1917 American newspapers published and intercepted message from German foreign secretary
Arthur Zimmerman to German minister in Mexico. It later became known as the Zimmerman note.
The message proposed an alliance between Mexico and Germany; it offered support to help
Mexico “reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona” in return for their allegiance to help
the German cause.
President Wilson concluded that he had no other choice but to enter the war on the side
of the Allies
On April 2, 1917 the President addressed Congress and asked for a declaration of war