American entry into WWI

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Why did America join World War I?
Sinking of the Lusitania (May 1915)
German U-boats sunk the passenger cruiser carrying American citizens
128 Americans killed
Seen as a direct attack on America from Germany
However this probably wasn't the main cause as America kept out of the war for another
two years, it may have affected American views but it didn't push them into the war
Public Opinion
Many were shocked by the increasing number of attacks on Atlantic ships by German
U-boats
The Lusitania also horrified the public, as innocent civilians were now being targeted too
Those killed on the Lusitania were buried in Ireland or lost at sea, which saddened the
families of those lost
Many powerful and influential Americans were of British origin and felt sympathies
towards Britain
The horrors and reality of the war soon hit America and many realised how bad the war
was, and how desperate they were for help
By 1917 a vast majority of the public wanted to go to war, this pressured the
government to do so
Wilson's sympathies
Wilson was originally elected to keep America out of the war, however public opinion
soon changed and Wilson had to adapt to this
He realised it was the best thing for America, given their position
There was also hopes of rising America's status of a super power if they joined the war
too
Industry
US factories depended on the war for business, to keep them booming, they had to join
the war if they wanted to keep selling war goods to Europe
This was not the pivotal factor but it certainly added to the list of why they should join
Zimmerman telegram (1917)
In January of 1917, British cryptographers deciphered a telegram from German Foreign
Minister Arthur to the German Minister to Mexico, von Eckhardt, offering United States
territory to Mexico in return for joining the German cause
"If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis with
Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We shall give
general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to reconquer the lost
territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona."
There was now proof that Germany would make an attack on America and America had
to make a stand to stop this
The American press published news of the telegram on March 1
On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress formally declared war on Germany and its
allies

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