I. War by Act of Germany
On January 22, 1917, Woodrow Wilson made one final, attempt to avert war, delivering a moving
address that correctly declared only a “peace without victory” (beating Germany without embarrassing
them) would be lasting.
Germany responded by shocking the world, announcing that it would break the Sussex pledge
and return to
unrestricted submarine warfare
, which meant that its U-boats would now be firing on
armed and unarmed ships in the war zone.
Wilson asked Congress for the authority to arm merchant ships, but a band of Midwestern senators
tried to block this measure.
was intercepted and published on March 1, 1917.
Written by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman, it secretly proposed an alliance between
Germany and Mexico. It proposed that if Mexico fought against the U.S. and the Central Powers won,
Mexico could recover Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona from the U.S.
The Germans also began to make good on their threats, sinking numerous ships. Meanwhile, in
Russia, a revolution toppled the tsarist regime.
On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war, which it did four days later;
Wilson had lost his gamble at staying out of the war.
II. Wilsonian Idealism Enthroned
Many people still didn’t want to enter into war, for America had prided itself in isolationism for
decades, and now, Wilson was entangling America in a distant war.
Six senators and 50 representatives, including the first Congresswoman,
voted against war.
To gain enthusiasm for the war, Wilson came up with the idea of America entering the war to “make
the world safe for democracy.”
This idealistic motto worked brilliantly, but with the new American zeal came the loss of Wilson’s
earlier motto, “peace without victory.”
III. Wilson’s Fourteen Potent Points
On January 8, 1917, Wilson delivered his