When the United States ended their neutrality and entered WWI the Central Powers were made up of the Ottoman Empire, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. Allied against them were Great Britain, France, Russia, and Italy. The warring groups had become divided into those run by a democracy, or partial democracy, and those run by an autocrat. Feeling strongly about their Constitutional ideals, the United States was sure to side with those countries that promoted their ideals. The United States’ personal interest in the spread of democratic ideals was already shown in their treatment of the Philippines and Latin American nations. After freeing them from European rule, the United States spent time to establish a government similar to their own. By doing this, they ensured the worldwide spread of democracy.
Similarly in World War One, the United States sided with the allies against autocratic governments. Many reasons were given for war, among them the acknowledgement of their discrepancies with foreign government structures. As mentioned by Robert Lansing, in response to the Cabinet Meeting in 1917 that considered the abandonment of the policy of neutrality, “I felt strongly that to go to war solely because American ships had been sunk and Americans killed would cause debate, and that the sounder basis was the duty of this and every other democratic nation to suppress an autocratic government like the German because of its atrocious character and because it was a menace to the national safety of this country and of all other countries with liberal systems of government. Such an arraignment would appeal to every liberty-loving man the world over.”
Perspectives: Home Woodrow Wilson Latin American Citizen American Citizen German Citizen
My dear citizens, it is in a grave situation that we find ourselves. In these hard times, it impossible for us to continue our foreign policy of neutrality. Too many threats have been made against the freedom that is a natural right to all peoples. We can not allow the Central Powers and their autocratic governments to triumph in this war and spread their ideals of governments to nations of the world that strive for a freedom similar to our own. Indeed, there is no finer state of government than one in which each and every citizen has the right to participate. Autocratic ideals are a thing of the past and one that cannot be tolerated in the modern world. In a free world, we cannot allow one leader to dictate their wishes to the masses of oppressed citizens. This state is simply not right.
Therefore, it is our duty as a free nation to help others experience the same rights as our own, and protect them from these old ideas. As an American citizen, you should feel obliged, as I do, to make this equal opportunity available to all other struggling peoples. And in doing this, in securing a safe, democratic government for all nations, we can make the first steps in creating the new, free world.
For more information go to In his own words..
Perspectives: Amer. Citizen Latin Amer. Citizen German Citizen Case 1 Home
“ We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy . Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.”
From Wilson’s War Message to Congress, April 2nd, 1917.
“ The United States of America is firmly assured that they have the best, maybe the only way to have a peaceful, fair government. But rarely do they look back to the other nations whose governments they have “fixed.” Does no one remember the way they dealt with the Latin American nations after they freed us from European rule? We did not even have the option to set up our own government. Instead, we dealt with years of American influence to “help” us set up a peaceful government that was in truth the one most friendly to their own needs. Indeed, the United States has used the pretext of helping form strong democratic countries as a shield to cover their own selfish motives. Yes, the Latin American countries are free, but we are still attached to American motives by their Monroe Doctrine and Roosevelt Corollary.
Look at the other countries the United States has tried to help. In the Philippines the United States helped the natives to force out their Spanish rulers, yet went on to fight the Filipino independence movements. The Philippines still do not have their own government, but they have adapted their culture to the one America advocates. The one that has increased the number of United States business enterprises on the islands. So surely, the United States may go to war again under the pretext of spreading democracy, but it is really their own country, and not the others, that they wish to help and serve. “
For more information: US involvement in Latin America
Perspectives: Woodrow Wilson Amer. Citizen German Citizen Home Case 1
“ The Spanish-American War was perhaps the most dramatic event of the newly expansionist U.S. policy in Latin America, but in the first two decades of the 20th century, U.S. forces intervened in internal affairs in Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Haiti. In the process, U.S. officials took over local customs houses to control tariff revenues, trained national guards, and ran elections. The governing assumption in all those actions was the Monroe Doctrine , which held that it was an American responsibility to oversee the Western Hemisphere. In James Monroe's time, the doctrine was intended as a warning to the European powers not to expand their age-old conflicts into what the United States considered its backyard. By the early 20th century, however, economic considerations were as important as geopolitical ones. U.S. incursions into Latin America were justified as enforcing order for the benefit of local populations and U.S. economic interests .”
From America as a World Power: U.S. Involvement in Latin America
Being a pacifist in this country right now is pretty difficult. A few groups of intellectuals began to support the war, and, sure enough, their sentiment spread until a vast majority of citizens became proponents. Truthfully, I’m not exactly sure why these feelings are so strong. After all, when the war first started, public opinion was not nearly this prominent. For a while, I remained neutral in regards to fighting, but then I began to observe the small group of war supporters grow into a huge swarm of passionate followers. I have now become a supporter of the war to enforce my pride and position as an American citizen.
To remain neutral seemed like a betrayal. We were proud to be American citizens and we were proud of our rights and freedoms allotted by our system of government. Our propaganda didn’t exactly embrace international governmental differences either. Recently, a movie was released called “The Kaiser: The Beast of Berlin,” which fully embodies our sentiment toward the German autocracy. Here in Illinois, I was recently witness to an angry mob that accused a German immigrant of hoarding explosives and of disloyalty to our democracy. Although this man insisted on his innocence, our governmental pride is so intense that the mob eventually killed him. Essentially, this war has served as a tool to not only unify us as Americans, but to help us to discover our pride in our own government as well as our disdain for that of the Germans.
For more Information: Domestic Propaganda and Opinions
Home Woodrow Wilson Latin American Citizen German Citizen Case 1
By now the Americans are probably considering their involvement in this war. We Germans feel that they have no right to be meddlesome in this fight. This war was started because we, as a country felt endangered by the alliances being built against us. We were justified in being overly cautious to defend our ports to enemy ships. It just so happened that the Americans happened to be on board the wrong ships at the wrong times. Now, they are going to consider making this into an even bigger war because they probably possess the viewpoint that our sinking of ships is “reckless” and that our country is thus unstable.
By sinking ships, we were simply trying to defend ourselves and prevent the enemies from gaining unnecessary supplies. The United States has no right to presume that our government is inefficient and lacks control or rationality just because a few ships carrying neutral citizens were sunk. Our government and military has complete control over the actions of our country, and they have a strategic plan to win this war. In fact, this has already been demonstrating simply by our formulation of a defense plan for an anticipated attack on both fronts from France and Russia. Our government’s control was also demonstrated when Otto van Bismarck was finally dismissed by Kaiser Wilhelm II for insubordination. Our government does not tolerate inefficiency or failure, and the United States has no right to enter the war on any account, especially on the grounds that our government or our attacks are not efficient or justified.
For More Information on events surrounding German sinking of ships: President Wilson’s Address to Congress
Perspectives: Home Woodrow Wilson Latin American Citizen American Citizen Case 1
“ The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what American citizens say and do. Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned.” (Wilson in Message to Congress ) At the start of WWI, this was the President’s declaration to the world, addressing the question of U.S. entrance in the war. However, after the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boats, unrestricted submarine warfare, and American causalities upon the British liner Falaba, the U.S. was forced to abandon their original ideologies. Their entrance into war was not viewed by all as justified. Some countries did not think these events were grounds for intervening.Your assignment is to determine the true motive of the United States entrance into WWI.
Choose a Perspective: Business Man Family Member of deceased American Citizen German General
“ The last time we saw her was May 1, 1915 on the Lusitania, on her way to Liverpool. We told her not to go, to say in New York and make the trek at a safer time, to listen to what the newspapers were publishing, but Marie would here none of it.
I remember waking up that morning and seeing my sister asleep in the bed next to me like she had been for the last 16 years of my life. As she got dressed and finished packing for her long journey ahead I remember a confound feeling of jealously and anger. What right did she have to leave me alone with our over-bearing parents? Marie always got to go on her little adventures.
If I had known then that watching her pack would be the last time I saw her in our home, I would have let her borrow that green sweater she so desperately wanted to bring along with her.
Breakfast was solemn and quiet. Everybody seemed to be holding their breathe. Finally, my stoic father stood and said, “Its time.”
At that dock I watched her board her fateful doom, her blue eyes shining and white smile flashing our way for the last time. I stood on that dock and watched the boat chug out under I could see it no longer.
My family paid close attention to the newspapers and radio, monitoring my sister’s progress across the treacherous, u-boat infested seas. On may 7, 1915 we learned of my sister’s death.
What right do the German's have to bomb a boat full of innocent people? My sister is dead, she did nothing to them. My family will forever be in mourning, my family will forever be incomplete because a German u-boat selfishly took the lives of so many. “
~Emily Rossello (age 16) New York
For more Information visit Lost Liners and Murder on the High Seas
Choose a Perspective: Home Business Man American Citizen German General Case 2
On the morning of March 1, 1917 I was reading the daily newspaper in my small Brooklyn kitchen as my wife made me breakfast before I went off to work. The British intelligence deciphers Zimmermann Telegram , read the headlines. “We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.” ( The Zimmermann Telegram)
My blood started boiling. Behind my country’s back they went, using desired territory as collateral. And they think they’re so much better the this country? This is the United States of America. We will not be deceived so easily and we will not fail to protect our territory.
I arrived to work that day hot under the collar. As I was clocking in a colleague of mine came up to me and asked, “Did you here the treachery?” I nodded. Every one I came in contact with that day was just as disgusted and angry as I was. It seemed to give all American citizens a great sense of nationalism and pride. We would stand up to anyone who threatened us. Germany was not going to get away with this, I could feel it in my gut. Nobody threatens our great land.
~George Sullavan (age 35) Brooklyn, New York
For more information: The Zimmermann Telegram , and a picture
Choose a Perspective: Home Business Man Family Member of deceased German General Case 2
As an owner of a international company of merchant ships, I was very distraught when my ships started to go down, due to enemy fire. My ships were not involved in the war at all, yet I was loosing precious cargo and seamen every day. The government seemed to be blind to me and my fellow business partners’ losses, but then the Department of State decided to change the story. Suddenly, my ships were allowed to be equipped with armament and ammunition for defense purposes. I thought my luck had finally returned, until I tried exchanging goods at foreign ports. When pulling in to dock, business partners would see the arms on the ship, unaware they were for defense only, and would immediately refuse to conduct business. My brother, who is in the liner business also reported a drop in business, because so many people are afraid to travel by boat. With U-boat warfare unrestricted by Germans, no one knows where they can feel safe.
For more information visit: The US Statement on the Status of Armed Merchant Vessels
Perspectives Home Family Member of deceased American Citizen German General Case 2 http://www.kinghiramslodge.org/images/taylor%20william.jpg
The United States forgot they were part of the international community. It seems they only concern themselves with world affairs if they have something to gain. However, the U.S. forgets they are a part of this war, after all, it is not called a world war for no reason. If the U.S. wants to help those countries that call themselves the Allies, then go ahead. By helping them, they cannot expect to remain above the gunfire. How can we let them ship supplies to Britain and France and do nothing? It is not natural to allow enemies to continue their business, so the United States has no reason to complain. They are lucky we want to end this war. By unrestricting U-boat warfare, the war can come to an end much faster than with trench warfare. Besides, we are being nice to the United States, only causing strikes and influencing Congress a little, much worse things could have been done. At the moment, we are working with a chemist named Dr. Walter T. Scheele. Hopefully we will not need to use the incendiary bombs being developed, however, if the U.S. continues to pretend not o be a part of this war, we might have to send the bombs on some ships to New York. Do not think we are irrational people, when in war, the irrational becomes a means by which countries survive. It is not only my country that has employed such measures, other countries have also begun new warfare programs. It is a natural force of the war to become caught up in the violence, no country can escape it, not even the United States of America.
For More information Visit Hand Book of War Facts
Perspectives: Home Business Man Family Member of deceased American Citizen Case 2 http://cache.eb.com/eb/image?id=10438&rendTypeId=4