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World War I Essay

646 words - 3 pages

Most major countries in Europe had been getting ready for war since 1870. German kingdoms united and became the largest power on the continent. Russia tried to align with Great Britain and France for protection. Great Britain tried to remain neutral but that just wasn’t possible. When war did erupt in 1914, it quickly escalated into the most deadly war the world had ever seen. Germans, Austro-Hungarians, and the Ottoman Turks untied to form the Central powers, while Great Britain, France and Russia formed the Entente powers. Although everyone in the US was in agreement to stay neutral through this war, Wilson soon realized that Germany’s U-boar campaign escalated the war to a new level. He pushed for mediation and settlement. He sent Colonel Edward House to England, France and Germany to propose a peace settlement in 1915, but no one was ready to listen.
In May of 1915, 120 Americans were lost when Germany destroyed the British ocean liner Lusitania. Wilson, trying ...view middle of the document...

When German U-boats sank three American merchant ships without warning, President Wilson had finally had enough. The next day President Wilson decided to join the war alongside the Allied forces. April 7, 1917, He signed the war declaration. Wilson declared that the United States was not fighting for war spoils but was fighting for moral reasons and namely to protect democracy from tyranny and promote peace. At Wilson’s request, Congress enacted a Selective Service bill that drafted nearly 3,000,000 young men.
Once war began, a wave of anti-German hysteria began. This resulted in open hostility towards all things German. The German-Americans tried to maintain their culture and did not assimilate like other immigrants had done. Some newspaper began to react to a growing sense of Anglo-Saxonism in the US. A friendlier relationship with Great Britain brought about the ability to be proud of being an English-American. Anglo-Saxons believed that if you were a hyphenated American you were not a true American. They even came to believe that these characteristics were hereditary. President Wilson and his administration were concerned that there may be a problem with the German-Americans loyalty to the US. President Wilson approved a plan to use a group called the American Protective League to gather information on the German immigrants and native born German-Americans that they suspected of disloyalty. As propaganda grew, superpatriotism soon reached ridiculous levels. Anything German food was removed from menus and even German measles was renamed Liberty measles. Superpatriots went so far as to remove German composers from programs and the teaching of German language from schools. Through all the harassment, German-Americans were drafted to fight for the US nonetheless. Those who refuse were court martialed and sentenced to jail.
President Wilson brought about many new laws during this time. In 1917, he signed the Espionage Act which outlawed draft dodging. One year later Congress pass the Sedition Act to prohibit citizens from speaking out against the federal government or its leadership. Many people were prosecuted and killed under these two laws.

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