Chapter 18 Section 2 The United States Declares War
Americans did not want to be pushed into war at first • However, actions taken by the Central Powers caused friction with the US • Central Powers - Germany, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Hungary • Germans developed the U-Boat– unterseeboot, or submarine • U-boats would fire on merchant ships that contained supplies for Britain • At first, they would surface to warn ships • After merchant ships began arming themselves, U-boats remain hidden – considered uncivilized • Finally, Congress and President issued declaration of war Setting the Scene& German Submarine Warfare Fun fact: German U-boats were basically like soda cans (made of aluminum)… If they surfaced, an armed merchant ship could easily fire and puncture the walls. This would cause it to sink. That is why U-boats decided to remain hidden.
England cut the transatlantic cable that connected the US with Europe • Led to a lot of pro-Allies news • Lusitania, a British passenger liner, was sunk by a German U-boat • 1,200 passengers, 128 of them Americans were killed • Germans promised to stop sinking passenger ships – lied, sunk the Sussex – French passenger ship • Sussex Pledge – German promise to stop sinking passenger ships Public Opinion The Lusitania held over 1,200 passengers. The Germans fired on the boat because they suspected it had weapons aboard. It in fact did have weapons, however, Americans still viewed the sinking as barbarism.
Wilson won reelection in 1916 narrowly on the slogan of keeping the US out of war • On January 31, 1917 – Germany revoked the Sussex pledge and began firing on passenger ships • Wilson moved for arming of American merchant ships • Zimmermann Note – Arthur Zimmermann sent a telegram to Mexico stating if they attacked the US they would be rewarded with land in the southwest • Was not taken seriously by Mexico or the US, but the American public disliked it Moving Toward War The Zimmermann note was intercepted by British intelligence. The German’s were making a somewhat desperate plea for Mexico to attack America. However, Mexico was in civil war and had no possible way for an attack.
By 1917, Russia had suffered terrible tragedies – 1.5 million dead, 2.5 million captured, and millions more wounded • German soldiers had advanced far into Russian territory • In March 1917, Czar Nicholas II of Russia an autocrat – ruler with unlimited power - was removed from power • Russian Revolution – the dethroning of the Czar, spurred the entrance to the Allied side • Between March 16th and 18thGermany sank 3 US ships • Wilson and his cabinet unanimously voted for war on March 20th and it was passed by congress and signed on April 6, 1917 - 82 votes to 6 Revolution in Russia Woodrow Wilson’s announcement on April 2 for war left people cheering and standing after his speech. It was a declaration of war.