Issues such as political, ideological and economic motivations were also important as they added increased dynamics to both these major events. In this discussion, it is necessary to note why the U.S. waited to enter the war as this explains U.S. opinion and helps support the reasoning for finally succumbing to war. This is briefly reviewed along with political ideologies of the time. These aspects together with lesser incidents combined to bring the U.S. closer to war and, along with the Lusitania sinking and the Zimmerman incident, pushed America’s fateful decision to end its neutrality.
The U.S. never planned to intervene in the war in Europe and played no role during the conflict initially. President Woodrow Wilson was, at first, unyielding in his determination for the U.S. to remain neutral throughout the war. At the war’s inception (August 19 1914), Wilson, along with congressional and public opinion was adamantly opposed to intervention by U.S. military personnel. In 1916, Wilson won re-election principally as a result of the campaign slogan ‘he kept us out of the war.’ (Duffy, 2002). “Between 1914 and the spring of 1917, the European nations engaged in a conflict that became known as World War I. While armies moved across the face of Europe, the United States remained neutral” (Duffy 2003). Because of diplomatic, economic and cultural ties to the U.K., the U.S. began supplying the military needs of the allied forces. Public opinion had swayed toward the allies during the war as word spread of alleged horrific acts committed by German troops. U.S. exports to the U.K. and France rose quickly and sharply while U.S. shipping to Germany decreased by similar proportions during this same time. Germany viewed this action as all but an act of war through the U.S. was officially neutral and still strongly opposed to sending its troops (Duffy 2002).