Woodrow Wilson


What caused Wilson to believe that the United States must enter World War I?

At the outbreak of World War I, Wilson emphasized that the United States would maintain a position of neutrality. Hostilities continued to escalate, particularly submarine battles between Germany and Great Britain. On May 7, 1915, a German submarine sank the British ship Lusitania. Nearly 1,200 people died in the attack, including 128 Americans. The sinking of this ship, which was carrying some munitions, changed public perception about the war in the United States. The next year, German submarines torpedoed English and French ships that contained a few Americans. The United States and Wilson strongly demanded that the Germans desist from such activity. In early 1917, Wilson called for “peace without victory” between the fighting nations. That did not work, and the German submarine warfare continued. In April 1917, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war.


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