Main Causes of American Intervention in World War I

Topics: United States, World War I, President of the United States Pages: 7 (2359 words) Published: March 8, 2011
Proffesor RyanIntroduction to us History 2|
Main Causes of American Intervention in World War I|
President Woodrow Wilson in 1917|
|
Aaron Brooke|
11/20/2009|

There were many factors that caused America to enter World War I, many of which have been argued by countless historians. However, the deciding factor for American intervention was President Woodrow Wilson’s strength and leadership. |

Millions of American citizens watched in horror and apprehension as the war in Europe tore the continent apart in 1914. The war was between the Triple Entente—Great Britain, Russia, and France—and the Central Powers, which was comprised of Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. The vast majority of Americans strongly designated themselves a neutral nation. They believed themselves morally superior to war and viewed it to be an unnecessary, primitive solution. Even President Woodrow Wilson immediately announced America’s neutrality, after recently winning the presidential election in 1916 for his second consecutive term, bearing the campaign slogan “He kept us out of war.” However, despite initial disapproval of World War I, many controversial events and certain predictions caused the United States to teeter between the line of isolation and intervention. It was President Wilson’s strong guidance and insightful evaluations of foreign actions and domestic reactions that led to America’s involvement in the Great War on April 6, 1917. Right from the start, both Germany and Britain quickly began spreading propaganda, attempting to promote their own country’s motives and justify their grounds for being in the war. Propaganda is defined as information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, or nation. Both nations were affecting public opinion, but in the summer of 1915, German doctor Heinrich Albert mistakenly put a halt to Germany’s influence. Albert was a representative of the German Information Service, an agency that was responsible for dispersing rumors in the United States. As he quickly rushed to board his train, he unknowingly left his briefcase, containing German propaganda. After it was recovered by an American secret service agent, the documents and their purpose were quickly known throughout the nation, giving citizens a negative perception of Germany. British propaganda was also in circulation, and although this possibility was known by the American population, it was never proved, making it difficult to decipher reliable information from exaggerated. Generally these ideas proposed that it was German aggression that was responsible for the provocation of the war in Europe, and the Allies—the Triple Entente—were simply fighting in defense of civilization against their barbaric opposition. Germany was said to have used “ruthless, militaristic war tactics” and to have an autocratic society, which contested America’s democratic society. In an effort to coax American entry, Britain asserted that the war was unfolding in their favor, and the outcome seemed promising. However, they were actually in financial straits and struggling to survive, but they did not want America to think the war was a lost cause. Ironically, this assurance had an opposite effect on America’s willingness to assist them. The public proclaimed that if the Triple Entente expected victory, then American intervention would be a pointless waste of money, resources, and lives. Germany’s war tactics and disregard toward the rules of engagement of war also negatively impacted America’s judgment of them. Early in the war Germany invaded Belgium, a country that pronounced its neutrality as America did, and fought on the soil of an unwilling nation. While occupying Belgium for more than four years, the Germans shot thousands of civilians, looted and burned towns, and deported civilians, forcing them to assemble weapons and build defenses. The German chancellor referred...
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