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How Important Was the Entry of the U.S. in 1917 into the First World War?

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The mere entry of the United States of America into the First World War has many key points, which historians argue upon to deem one to be the key reason as to why America entered the war. Generally, after the ties which the US began to develop with Europe, they did not wish to see a specific power emerge over the ruins of Europe as the victorious power’s political, social and economical viewpoints may not match the ones that the Americans held. Furthermore, development in certain German policies began to grow unwanted tension between the two countries. In May 1915, a German U-boat sunk the British passenger ship Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Over 1,000 passengers were killed, including 128 Americans. This caused for an anti-German sentiment to form amongst the American public. The German policy which caused the deaths was named “unrestricted submarine warfare”, which meant that the German U-boats would target any ship moving from Britain to Ireland. Another important cause for the US entry into the war would be the issue revolving the Zimmerman telegram. In 1917, German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent a telegram to Mexico suggesting that if the US should declare war on Germany, Mexico should declare war on the US. In return, Mexico would get American territory. Unfortunately for Germany, the telegram was intercepted by the British and hurriedly given to the Americans. The publication further enraged the American public. However it was not until the 1917, where the Germans resumed the unrestricted submarine warfare, that the public opinion was heavily leant towards the need to go to war. After this background, historians further discuss how important the US entry into the war was. The American entry was the most important part of the war leading up to the German loss of WWI, as to be explained in this essay. The cut of trade (of arms) between America and Germany, the supply of food to France and Britain, the multitude of troops, and the boost of morale which the troops themselves provided (alongside loss of hope for the Germans) all made a significant contribution to the war’s outcome.

The size of the US forces at the time of joining the war were not of extremely large numbers, the 21 months of US contribution in the war effort made a huge difference in the outcome. In the beginning, the US contributed by increasing the anti-submarine capabilities of France and Britain to counter Germany’s submarine tactics, also assisting with mining operations in the North sea. Merchant ships were used to ship food to allied countries. Once again referring to the relatively small number of US troops in the beginning, 300,000 troops were stationed in France by March 1918, and their presence helped to create more space for the French troops during the Ludendorff offensive (took place on the 21st of March 1918). Between May and July of 1918, approximately 800,000 gave the French and British to move their experienced soldiers into parts where the German offensive needed to be countered, and replace them with the new batch of troops. This allowed for less tension between dwindling militaristic resources to exist between the Allied powers, which was exactly what they needed to win the war.

Another major contribution of the United States was the cut down of trade with Germany and the supply of non-militaristic resources to France and Britain. Firstly, the US provided arms to Germany until 1914, which was where the US effectively broke its policy of isolation (policy to avoid involvement in European affairs). It stopped doing so due to a British request. Secondly, armies across the war used large amounts of the respective countries’ money, and so many countries had to introduce rationing within their society. This severely ruined the nutrition of the majority of the people. How France tackled the problem was through increased area of farmland and rationing, but increased (by a large percentage) the number of imports of food from the US into Britain as to stop the shortages and supply enough for the people and the army.

The final point as to why the American entry into the WWI was the most important, would be the psychological boost it provided to the Triple Entente’s troops alongside other similar factors. With Russia’s involvement in the war slowly dissipating,



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