The Great War 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 became closer. 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 warning. 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 Germany. 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.