Quoting Proverbs in 1904, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” These words have become a piece of American history and a philosophy that is part of the foundation of this nation. The desire being not to dominate the world, but to use the power the US has to help defend and protect it from forces that would try to dominate. This philosophy was tested during World War I. The citizens of the US had no desire to join the conflict. In general, they believed that the two sides would work it out without the involvement of the United States. There were many forces at play pushing and pulling the destiny of the United States and WWI; some calling for neutrality and others pushing towards full belligerency, but ultimate US involvement in WWI was inevitable.
Although the war had been going for three years and America was reading about the atrocities Germany was carrying out across Europe, there were many forces causing the US to remain neutral. The US had recently been involved in the Spanish-American War and the American public had no desire to go back to war. Although the local papers described the brutality of the Central Powers toward the peoples of Europe, it was far from home and Americans were not interested. Further, the nation had trade agreements with countries on both sides of the war and there was concern that US involvement would damage that trade. Woodrow Wilson campaigned for and won re-election in 1916 on the statement, “What did we do?…. We didn’t go to war!” further proving America did not want to be involved.
Other forces were pushing the United Starts towards belligerency and engagement in WWI. Germany tried to seize British ports and close off US trade with our allies. They deployed submarines to control the waters around Europe and began attacking and sinking trade ships. These attacks on trade ships spread to include passenger vessels as well when Germany bombed the Lusitania and the Sussex, causing the...
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