United States Entry Into World War 1

United States Entry Into World War 1

The United States was neutral when the World War 1 erupted in 1914. This stance was favored by most citizens in the country. United Sates was a great ally to both France and United Kingdom who were involved in the war. America’s ties with these countries were based more on the economic activities that they shared. The sentiment of neutrality was also strong among the German Americans, Swedish Americans and Irish Americans. Church leaders and women also played a significant role in enhancing the neutral perspective held by the America society towards the war (Zieger, 2008).

However, American citizens came to see Germans as villains due to the atrocities that they were carrying out during the war. These atrocities triggered United States to be involved in the World War 1. In 1915, Germany attempted quarantine of the British Isles. This did not go well with the United States. Later on, Germans damaged or sunk several US ships that were traveling to Britain. In February 1915, they announced unrestricted war against all ships regardless of the owners being neutral or not as long as they were found around the war zone in Britain. In May the same year, Germany torpedoed Lusitania which was a British-owned ocean liner without warning. From the 200 passengers on board, 1,201 were killed. Among them, there were 128 Americans (Zieger, 2008). The German government maintained that the ship was carrying munitions, but US had a different stance on the issue.

Later on, Germany went ahead to sink several vessels using U-boats. This angered the United States citizens, and they had enough of it already. President Woodrow Wilson rallied the senate whereby they voted 82 to 6 in order to declare war against Germany. In April 6, 1917, US House of Representatives endorsed the decision by voting 373 to 50. This prompted the US to formally enter the World War 1 (Zieger, 2008).

There have been other reasons cited as to why the United States got involved in the World War 1. Among the reasons was due to the loans that they extended to both the United Kingdom and France during the commencement of the war. Most of these loans provided by the American bankers were aimed at purchasing ammunitions to be used during the war. United States was afraid that if Germany overcame United Kingdom and France, they would not be able to recoup their debt. Occurrence of such an event would bring negative effects to the American economy. United Kingdom and France were also good trading partners with United States. Failure to emerge as winners would have hampered the growth of the country due to the trading relations already established. United States had to do something in order to protect its viability in the world economy (Zieger, 2008).

Discovery of the Zimmerman Telegram is also believed to have intrigued the US to get involved in the World War 1. This was a telegram sent by the German government to Mexicans. Germans wanted United States to remain neutral during the entire period of war. The telegram asserted that if United States was to get involved in the war, Germans would give Mexicans the financial aid in order to start their own war with the Americans. If Mexico agreed to fight, they would have had the ability of conquering Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. However, the telegram was intercepted by the British intelligence and relayed to the American government. This occurrence is believed to have infuriated United States government and triggered their consideration of being neutral towards the war.

The Zimmerman Telegram and American’s worry of their economy is believed to have contributed more in their involvement in the World War 1. This is because their involvement was cited to have more effect than the sinking of Lusitania, something that had happened 2 years before the decision for involvement was made.

World War 1 changed United States in many ways.  The war changed the country politically, socially and economically. It had massive impact in many aspects particularly on workers, minorities and women. After United States joined the war in 1917, the industry production in the country boomed. The manufacturers involved had to keep up the pace in order to support the war. The productions involved included war ammunitions and other resources that were necessary for people to survive. Systems being used in the country during that period did not have the ability of fulfilling the orders that were being made. As a result, there was need for new technologies that were devised through innovation. The new technologies helped in producing materials in short periods and on large quantities. In the long-run, it became possible to meet the needs of the government and the general public (Aguilar, 2007). This led to the expansion of industries in the country which resulted to increased employment opportunities. The prospect of African-Americans and women being employed increased significantly. American economy improved during this period, and the country started to experience immigration activities from individuals that were looking for greener pastures in the country. This enabled the country to trap ardent and competent manpower from various parts of the world. The aspect resulted in various innovations that improved the technology of the country immensely.

American involvement in World War 1 also resulted in practice of racial segregation. During the war, the public had a sense of patriotism and nationalism. They were all unified against a national threat.  However, the war also resulted to racial prejudice and constant scrutiny directed towards the minority groups. The people most affected by this occurrence were the South East Europeans. President Wilson had warned that intolerance would sweep through the country if they were to be involved in the war. His sentiments had turned out to be prescient.  The loyalty of the German immigrants was put to question. During the war, most of the institutions that were run by the Germans were closed. There was a lot of propaganda going around regarding the Germans (Aguilar, 2007). This stance set the platform for racial discrimination that affected the country for some time.

World War 1 came along to open doors of freedom to women. It was during this period that the 19th amendment was passed.  The amendment gave women the right to vote, which they did not have in the past. This was triggered by their involvement in the war. Women in the suffrage movement contributed during the war in many ways. This was through selling war bonds, serving as nurses, raising funds and working in factories. President Wilson had no other option but to push for women suffrage publicly. This was like a way of rewarding them for their efforts during the period of the war (Aguilar, 2007).




Aguilar, J. (2007). How World War 1 changed the lives of American women. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Zieger, R. H. (2008). America’s Great War: World War I and the American experience. Lanham,   Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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