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World War 1

When did the United States enter World War 1?

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2010-10-11 17:26:41
2010-10-11 17:26:41

America's long-standing policy of isolationism left the United States reluctant to involve itself with what was popularly perceived, among the American public, as a European war. Early in 1917, Germany resumed its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. This, combined with public indignation over the Zimmermann telegram, led to a final break of relations with the Central Powers. After further U-boat attacks on American merchant ships, President Woodrow Wilson requested that Congress declare war on Germany, which it did on April 6, 1917 (see: Woodrow Wilson declares war on Germany on Wikisource). The House approved the war resolution 373-50, the Senate 82-6. Wilson hoped a separate peace could be achieved with Austria-Hungary; however, when it kept its loyalty to Germany, the US declared war on Austria-Hungary in December 1917. Although the American contribution to the war was important, particularly in terms of the threat posed by an increasing US infantry presence in Europe, the United States was never formally a member of the Entente, but an "Associated Power." Significant numbers of American troops only arrived in Europe in the summer of 1918. Germany calculated that it would be some time before large numbers of American troops could be sent to Europe, and that, in any event, the U-boat offensive would prevent their arrival. Still, the United States had been in a state of full military-related production, aiding the Entente for quite some time, and had also loaned the Allied powers vast sums of money. For these reasons, the Germans had made the decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare, despite the threat of U.S. intervention, gambling that they would win the war before America could make an impact on the battlefield. The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join with the British Grand Fleet, a number of destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland and several submarines to the Azores and to Bantry Bay, Ireland to help guard convoys. Several regiments of U.S. Marines were also dispatched to France. However, it would be some time before the United States would be able to contribute significant manpower to the Western and Italian fronts. The British and French wanted the United States to send its infantry to reinforce their troops already on the battlelines. Indeed, throughout the war, the American forces were short of their own artillery, aviation, and engineering units. However, General John J. Pershing, American Expeditionary Force (AEF) commander, resisted breaking up American units and using them as reinforcements for British Empire and French units. Without experience in this type of warfare, Pershing ordered the use of frontal assaults, which had been discarded by that time by British Empire and French commanders as too costly in lives of their troops. As a result, the AEF suffered a very high rate of casualties in its operations in the summer and fall of 1918.

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