The USA did not want to get involved in foreign affairs and foreign wars, especially since WW1 where the people feared another “European death march” so they rejected joining the League of Nations despite the fact that USA was the country who put forward the idea at the Treaty of Versailles. However the USA did try to promote peace where possible such as when they helped Germany with their reparations problems, was a participant in the Washington Naval Conference where the 5 major powers agreed on specific rations of ships for their navies and signed the Kellogg-Briand pact of renouncing war as a method of settling international disputes. Although USA had not directly intervened in world affairs they had helped economically and politically to retain the world peace (to keep to their isolationist policy and not being pressed into intervention). However when war broke out in Europe USA’s isolationist policy was slackened, and treaties such as Lend lease, Atlantic charter showed America’s support for Britain and her allies which shows the difference in attitude compared to the early 1920s. Also USA’s deteriorating relationships with Japan had gone to the limit, even though USA had tried economic sanctions and UN warnings against them.
This is interesting though as President Adams ruined his chance of re-election by deciding to keep the USA out of the Napoleonic Wars. President Jefferson had the same problem when he decided to cut trade with Europe in order to keep the country out of the very same war. Finally, under President Madison, the United States entered the war with catastrophic consequences. After World War I and the disastrous number of dead Americans, there was a very strong isolationist feeling within the United States. This was intensified with the Depression of the 1930s and the focus on domestic issues.
As a result, Germany retaliated with submarine warfare, and even warned that it was inevitable that neutral ships would be mistakenly targeted. So in response, Wilson ordered that merchant ships were to be loaded with U.S. Navy crews so that they could fire at German U-boats when passing through the war zone. The outcome proved to be dire, as 4 ships had been destroyed by the time Wilson went to Congress to ask for the declaration of war. John Bassett Moore, a professor of International Law at Columbia University, who later served at the International Court of Justice, argued that, “what most decisively contributed to the involvement of the United States in the war was the assertion of a right to protect belligerent ships on which Americans saw fit to travel and the treatment of armed belligerent merchantmen as peaceful vessels. Both assumptions were contrary to reason, and no other neutral advanced them”
A desire to protect American citizens was a crucial factor in the US entering the war in 1917. The sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans on a passenger ship was seen as a threat to Americans and created a feeling of hostility against Germans in America as the Germans had clearly killed innocent Americans. It pushed them further towards war in order to make sure their citizens were safe. The Zimmerman telegraph was also very significant. This telegraph which showed a potential alliance about to be formed between Mexico and Germany eventually became the deciding factor that led them to the war.
The conditions leading to the shift in position regarding the war were marked by two main events, the sinking of the Lusitania and the American interception of the Zimmerman Note. The Americans had an agreement that they wouldn’t export weapons or ammunition to any of the major powers, however, as the chart shows in Document C, Britian the largest importer of American goods. Because of this, the German submarines in the Pacific had a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, or sinking anything they deemed necessary for the war effort. The Germans did this under the pretense that British ships were supposedly waving the American flag as a ruse to avoid detection by German Subs, highlighted in President Wilsons first warning to the Germans in Document H. The German sinking of the ship Luisitana, a passenger ship containing more than 100 Americans, sparked an American demand for an end to unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans. This demand can be seen in the letter sent by Secretary of State Lansing to the U.S ambassador to Germany.
Instead of the government taking forceful action against the attempted take over they pleaded for the german people to go on a general strike and the kapp putsch no longer took place showing another win for the Weimar republic. However this then cause chaos in the 1920’s when the Ruhr crisis happened. Due to them not paying one of the reparation fees the French took an invasion on the Ruhr which is the rich land of germany. Due to this
• German policy on unrestricted submarine warfare would bring US into war. • 1915 – many ships either American or carrying American civilians were sunk by Germany. • Ties between allies and Americans weak but due to Germany’s actions America forced to join allies. • Did not enter war in 1915 because not ready and not all united in its response to German attacks. • Germany knew US (allies would win if US entered on their side) would enter if more ships sunk, but took the risk that Britain would be broken by then, meaning end of war.
Even after what Germany did, President Wilson still hesitated in taking further steps. Wilson broke off any relationship with Germany, but still did not declare war with them. The Germans U-boats continued to sink million tons of Allied ships per month; the Allies told Wilson that without their supplies they have no chance in winning the war. Finally on April 2, 1917 Wilson went to the Congress and asked for a declaration of war. Wilson was real serious and dedicated in not only defeating Germany but destroying them
5). America was neutral and on one ship 1,260 were dead which showed that Germany didn’t care about neutrality by destroying any ship that wasn’t theirs. Many Americans were outraged at the fact they had sunk an American boat since we were neutral at the time. The Lusitania was later found out to be a ship that carried weapons and passengers. On January 10, 1917 just a few months before America went to war, America got a telegram from Great Britain.
They were forced to divert plans and weapons from the battle areas to homeland to protect them. Germany and Italy had also declared war against the United States. America was officially in World War II. Although the United States and Japan had bad intensions toward each other for quite a while, it took many events to build up that hatred and wish of destruction upon one another. The embargo, Tripartite Act, World War I all led to Pearl Harbor.