The factors that led the U.S. to join the Allies in 1917

Published: 9 June 2024

By Kevin Ganvi
Special to the Doughboy Foundation website

American troops entering Perth, Scotland, 1918

American troops entering Perth, Scotland, 1918.

For all its length and ferocity, World War I would probably have ended quite differently had it not been for America’s entry into the war on behalf of the Allies in 1917.

Up until then, under President Woodrow Wilson, America had pursued a policy of neutrality that reflected its traditional isolationism. Nonetheless, political, economic, military, and humanitarian factors drew it out of this position and into partnership with Britain, France, and Russia against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. These factors are important for any understanding of why America got involved in WWI beyond itself.

How did politics reflect American involvement during WWI?

Woodrow Wilson’s dedication to democracy and self-governance was among the main political reasons why America joined the Allies. The goals of the Allied powers coincided with Wilson’s idea of a global system founded on freedom and democracy. You may also find useful information about Wilson’s political philosophy from online history essay writers. Moreover, there were strong cultural bonds between the U.S. and nations like the UK and France. This made many Americans feel united in spirit with them.

Why did the U.S. join the Allies in 1917, according to economics?

The U.S. joined forces with Britain due to economic interests. This is because its industries were highly dependent on supplying goods for the Allied Powers, who were fighting an extended war against the Central Powers. Towards the end of WWI, America started getting worried about its investments abroad alongside losing access to Europe’s main markets. Thus, it decided to become partisans, which guaranteed protection over such matters besides establishing itself as a global power player at large.

The World War I was entered by America because of German aggression

Germany’s aggressive acts forced the United States to be involved in the First World War. The restart of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany in 1917, which sank several American merchant ships and others, ignited public opinion against neutrality and support for the Allies. The relations between the U.S. and Germany were already strained after 128 Americans died from the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania in 1915. However, targeting more American ships by U-boats raised even stronger anti-German feelings among people and made President Wilson feel pressure to act.

The US entered WWI when it intercepted the Zimmermann Telegram in 1917

In 1917, another significant occurrence that swayed public opinion in favor of the Allies was the publication of what is now called the Zimmermann Telegram. This deciphered message was sent by Arthur Zimmermann, the German Foreign Minister, to his ambassador in Mexico, who subsequently forwarded it to Mexican officials.

It suggested that if America declared war on Germany, then they should join forces with each other against their common enemy—the United States. This enraged American citizens even more than before because they realized how close they had come to being attacked from all sides simultaneously. Not only did this infuriate them, but it also made President Wilson’s position of neutrality harder.

America got involved in WWI because of humanitarian concerns

Humanitarian reasons had an impact on US decision-making regarding participation in WWI. Stories about crimes against humanity committed by Germans in Belgium or other occupied territories, as well as systematic persecution of ethnic minorities within those regions, incensed Americans, therefore hardening their support for the Allies’ cause too much so that it could not be ignored any longer, neither domestically nor internationally. For that reason, President Wilson argued that there was a moral duty to enter this war and defend justice and freedom while fighting for peace at the same time, thereby giving additional weight to the humanitarianism factor associated with such wars.

The power of propaganda in influencing America’s involvement in WWI

Another factor that affected how America got involved in WWI was propaganda. Allied powers used different tactics like emotional adverts where they showed mothers crying over their dead sons so as to gain support for their cause among other nations, but more especially with Americans. These stories made people change their views about war altogether, leading them to think they needed to intervene before it reached their borders.

This was done through British media, which highlighted the German atrocities committed during battlefields, thereby painting them as the number one enemies against peace, thus eventually shifting public opinion towards interventionism rather than isolationism.

Now you know why the U.S. joined Allies in 1917

There were many political, economic, ideological, and humanitarian factors that led to the United States’ decision to join the Allies in 1917. The aggressive actions by Germany, combined with the USA’s economic stake and commitment to democratic ideals forced it into supporting other nations fighting against this common enemy during WWI. What happened before American entry into WWI underscored how interconnected global events are and what great influence international relations have over history’s course.

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