America Enters WWI World Wars Ms. Hamer February 23, 2011
Why America Didn’t Enter WWI • Many of European descent were tired of the constant wars in Europe • Americans’ diverse backgrounds caused conflicting opinions on the war: Jews, Germans, Irish-Americans, Italians, etc. • Other Americans were reluctant to enter a war that they saw as Europe’s problem
America’s Involvement pre-1917 • Both sides tried to woo America to their side • WWI disrupted America’s trade, but also led to trade with the Allies • Didn’t trade with Germany because of the British blockade around Germany • From 1914-1917 Iron and Steel production in the US increased by 76% and American exports quadrupled • Allies had borrowed $2 billion from America by 1917
The Lusitania • Germany began to attack Allied ships carrying cargo to the Allies early in the war • American passengers died on these ships • On May 7, 1915, a German U-Boat sunk the British liner Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland. • 128 of the over 1,000 lost were American. • This attack turned American opinion against the Germans. U-Boat attacks against ships increased, as did American deaths.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare • February 1, 1917, Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare on all ships traveling to the Allies • US broke diplomatic relations with Germany and armed merchant vessels
USA and WWI - Zimmerman Telegram • British intercepted a telegram sent to the German ambassador in Mexico. • And the British quickly presented this to America since they knew it would cause America to enter the war • The telegram was to be presented to the Mexican government by the Germans in an attempt to get Mexico to join the war on the side of the Central Powers.
USA and WWI - Zimmerman Telegram • This telegram, named the Zimmerman telegram, promised that if Mexico allied with Germany and they won the war, Germany would support Mexico in recovering “lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.”
USA and WWI - The Final Straw • After news of the telegram reached Washington, four unarmed U.S. merchant ships were sunk with a loss of 36 lives. • The revolution that happened in Russia and overthrew the monarchy and, at the time, replaced it with a representative government allowed America to assert that this was a fight for DEMOCRACY. • On April 2, 1917 President Wilson called for war.
Wilson’s Fourteen Points • Wilson would take this idea of fighting for democracy to heart when he presented his “Fourteen Points” to Congress in January 1918 • Outlined Wilson’s plan for peace and post-war Europe
America Prepares for War • America was not prepared for the war with only 200,000 troops in active service. • To deal with this problem, a Selective Service Act was passed to begin a draft.
New Groups Enlist • African-Americans were allowed to enlist and fight in segregated units. • Made up 13% of the draftees • 350,000 African Americans were on the Western Front, but only 1/5 of them saw combat compared to 2/3 of the whites because of discrimination
New Groups Enlist • Women were not allowed to fight, but did fill non-combat positions such as nurses, secretaries, and telephone operators. • 25,000 US women served in Europe • 13,000 enlisted and were given ranks in the military
America Begins Total War • The U.S. also began to mass-produce ships and exempted shipyard workers from the draft. • Propaganda campaigns either convinced men to join the military or work in factories to produce ships or war material. • The government also turned private and commercial boats into war boats.
The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) • The first 14,000 American troops arrived in France in June 1917 • They were called “Doughboys” • Did not fight until October 1917 • May 1918 – 1 million US troops were in France • AEF was led by Major General John J. Pershing
Post WWI Film for America • This was made with WWI footage after the war to show the American public what the war was like • Watch film 4 beginning at 1:40 for technology