As war consumed Europe, Americans hoped that the Atlantic
ocean was enough to seperate them from it and keep them out of the war.
President Wilson said that the US would stay out of it saying it was a
war in which we had nothing to do.
But America could not help but take sides. As immigrants from
Europe gave roots to many Americans, it was hard for them not to be
opinionated about which side to take. The herirage shared by most
Americans and Britain put American public opinion on the sides of the
Allies. Trade between the US and the Central Powers also shrank giving
another reason it was hard to remain neutral. Adding to that was the fact
that exports to the Allies nearly quadrupled and ties between them
In 1915 the British passenger liner, the Lusitania was sunk
supposedly by German U-Boats, pissing many people off. Most
Americans considered this grounds for war. Wilson, however, refused to
take extreme measures against Germany but instead sent them several
messages insisting that its government safegaurd the lives of
noncombatants in the warzone. When the Sussex was torpedoed by a
German torpedo Wilson demanded that they give up submarine warfare
or risk war with the US. The Sussex pledge was made out of that where
Germans said they wouldnt sink any more merchant ships without
Wilson was re-ellected in 1916 and focused on finding a peaceful
solution to the war. He knew the only way to keep America out of this
war was to end it altogether.
Germany announecd on January 31st, 1917, that any vessels in the
waters near G.B., France, and Italy would be sunk without warning. This
was a violation of the Sussex Pledge and caused the US to break off
diplomatic ties with Germany.
America Finally entered the war due to the fact that Germany and
Mexico were going to attack the US. On April 2nd, 1917, Wilson asked
the members of congress to declare war on Germany. He did state in his
address to congress that the war was only with the military masters of
The US was only able to raise a small army. By the spring of 1917
American forces numbered only 200,000 troops, 1,500 machine guns, 55
old planes, and no heavy artilery. Despite this, they mobilized quickly
and in May of 1917 congress passed the selective service act which
required all men ages 21-30 to register for military service. That June
nearly 10 million men signed up. The draft was eventually extended to
all men between the ages of 18 and 45, which brought another 2.8
million men into the armed forces. On top of that, another 2 million men
and women volunteered for service.
Among the drafted, were 370,000 African Americans, and of
those, 200,000 were sent overseas. They encountered alot of
discrimination, werent allowed in the marines, and were even restricted
to lower ranks in the navy. That didnt stop the 369th from winning the
French decoration, the Croix de Guerre.
In the spring of 1918, Germany made a last effort to win the war
and almost did. In March and June, they almost penetrated British and
Paris lines. America helped to stop their advancement in a town less than
fifty miles from Paris called Chateau-thierry.
By November, the Allied forces were ready to advance onto
German soil. Germany knew they had lost so they signed an armistace,
putting a temporary stop to the fighting on November 11th, 1918.
America wasnt all that well equiped for war when they first
entered it. The biggest concern was keeping our armies supplied. The
government needed to raise money to pay for the war and needed to gear
the industry towards it as well. To do this, the government placed most
industries under control of federal agencies. The biggest of these
agencies was the War Industries Board. They handled purchases for the
Allies and the US under the leadership of Bernard Baruch, who was a
Wall Street stockbroker. His board tried to run the whole US as a single
factory controlled by one management. Using the best businessmen in
the the country to direct the effort, the government was able to get the
cooperation of most businesses to convert their factories to war
production. Federal Officials decided how raw materials would be
priced and allocated.
Women also played a big role in the war. Millions of jobs givin up
by men going to war had to be filled and women did just that. It was a
first for them because they had never been welcome in the workforce
and they were an essential part of the war effort and the economy.
Women were confused though, they wondered how the government
could rely on them so strongly and yet still deny them the right to vote.
Activists for womens sufferage continued during the war.
The war ended in an Allied victory. The USs contribution was an
important factor in the Allied forces being the victor.
by Dustin Fast