The American participation in World War I was met with opposition but was also supported by different factions in the American population. Conservatives have been found to have been strongly against any involvement in the war, however, liberals strongly suggested the need for involving the country in the war. It has also been found that religious bodies across the country were of the supposition that an entry into the war would only serve to increase the issues that would be faced by country. One of the factors that have been found to have influenced an entry into the war was the economic ties that the USA had with its allies. There was also the issue of several citizens in the Americas having ties to the European continent as they were emigrants. There were also instances of criticism from the women rights organizations in the USA. The cumulative effect of this situation was a reduction in the much needed support to join the war. However, the financial ties with the British and other European countries eventually reeled in the Americas in the war.
One of the main re4asons behind Americas entry into WWI was the fact that Germany was brazenly attacking American shipping to the UK. The strategy of the Germans was to ensure that the UK did not receive the much needed supplies that would either extend the war or give the Brits an upper hand. While the Germans had a right to exercise this act, they were found to have done this in an unrestricted manner. They would attack just about any ship that seemed to belong to the Americans. In one recorded instance, civilian ships were mistakenly targeted by the submarines belonging to the Germans (Woodward 75). Therefore, it became difficult for the USA to avoid these instances. The American President served several letters to the Germans with the goals of trying to strong arm the Germans into refraining from attacking the shipping lines. It is at this crucial period that the first oppositions towards Americas entry into World War I are identified. The secretary of state at the time was William Jennings. The secretary intentionally resigned after it became apparent that the letters being sent to warn the Germans against attacking the ships would result into an American Involvement in the war.
It has also been found that the economic incentive for the Americans was such that they were going to lose out on the general benefits of having their allies win the war. One of the reasons behind this ideology was that the America had forwarded several loans amounting to billions of dollars to both the French and the British. There was also a moral understanding that a destruction of the Allies while the Americas could have helped in solving the situation was not in the interest of the Americas. Going back to the original ideology of the financial aspect of this situation, the Germans had only taken less than thirty million worth of loans from America (Challener 55). As a direct result of this situation, Americas was naturally placed to support the British and the French in the war. The reality was that if the British and French were to be defeated in the war against the Germans, America would have to experience resultant financial setbacks. Americas leadership was of this realization and thus resulted in a propaganda campaign that would push for support in joining the war against the Germans.
America was also incentivized to join World War I as a result of the invasion of Belgium. Like America, Belgium was neutral from the beginning. However, Germany attacked the country and caused several recorded atrocities on the people of Belgium. The result of this action was to gunner more support from the American population against the Germans. There were several stories spreading in the Americas of there being killings of Belgians in the hands of Germans. According to the mainstream media in the Americas, there were several instances of unarmed civilians being attacked by the Germans and being forced to act in the most animalistic way (Coffman 34). This worked to influence the Americans to prejudice the Germans. It has been found that some of the stories being presented by the press were a direct result of British propaganda. However, this fact was overlooked at a time when there were heated emotions against the Americans as a result of the different experiences that were being reported via the media.
Another important aspect of the war was the forwarding of a telegram to the Mexican with the chief aim of instigating a war between the Mexicans and the Americans. It is the German foreign minister, Zimmerman, who decided to forward a letter to the Mexicans asking them to declare war against America if America was to declare war against the Germans. In the letter, Zimmerman is seen to promise the Mexicans that they would receive their territories back from America (Cornebise 324). The said territories were the ones lost during the Mexican-American war. These are the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. However, the telegram containing this message was intercepted before it ever got to the Mexicans. The British, who intercepted the message, forwarded the message to Americans who got aggravated by the implications of the content of the letter. A complete destruction of the diplomatic relations between the Americans and the Germans continued downhill from this point on.
There was a strong opposition against any entry of America into the war. Conservatives, minorities, and religious leaders were mainly seen to support Americas neutrality in the matter. One of the reasons they cited was that Germany was never the original instigator of the war. These factions cited that the Germans only developed their army as a reaction to the eminent and constant threat of invasion by the Russians (Francel 65). As a result of this situation, it became rather necessary for the Germans to arm themselves to the teeth. The assumption that the attacking of American ships in the war was a reason for America into the war was also a ridiculous reason for any war. According to these groups, it was the shipping companys priority to avoid any war zones as this was an intentional way of reducing the effectiveness of transport, and thus placing the civilians in harms way.
The economic implications of going to war were also seen to have been a negative results and impact on the economy of America. For instance, it is clear that the Americas were not in a position to bear the financial brunt of gearing the Americas for a war across the pacific. The women rights groups latched onto this fact and started campaigns that would serve to push the American population against accepting Americas involvement in the war (Woodward 89). However, it increasingly became difficult as the American Government was actively involved in a propaganda strategy that far outdid such movements. For instance, the government would employ the services of some seventy five thousand individuals who would perform public speeches in different places across the country. This was aimed at angering the public support needed to push congress to declare war against Germany. The women rights groups had a point with regards to refraining from entering the war.
In conclusion, it has been found that the liberals were more for the entry of the Americas into WWI. While the conservative American did not see a need in the Americas participating in the war, the incentives of joining the war were well publicized by the liberals. The result was an introduction of strategies that were meant to push American opinion towards the entry of America into the war. It has also been found that while most Americans were against any involvement in the war at the beginning, there an increase in resentment among American following the continued depiction of Germany as the instigator of the war. This was especially the case after the sinking of the civilian ship Lusitania. Therefore, the opposing ideologies regarding the entrance of America into WWI were influenced by the different factions supporting the different ideas. The involvement of different propaganda initiatives might have skewed the perception of the American citizen. However, it can be determined that there were truthful reasons for America to participate in the war especially after it became clear that America had been attacked financially speaking on several instances before the actual war.
Challener, Richard D. Admirals, generals, and American foreign policy, 1898-1914. Princeton University Press, 2015.Coffman, Edward M. The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I. University Press of Kentucky, 2014.
Cornebise, Alfred Emile. Art from the Trenches: America's Uniformed Artists in World War I. Vol. 20. Texas A&M University Press, 2015.Francel, Leif. The obligation nation: America's involvement in the affairs of the World. Diss. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012.Woodward, David. America and World War I: a selected annotated bibliography of English-language sources. Routledge, 2013.
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