Unit 5 Class Notes- imperialism and wwi american Expansionism


Wilson Wins Reelection in 1916-



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Wilson Wins Reelection in 1916- Woodrow Wilson won a tight race against his Republican opponent, Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes. The war in Europe was a key issue, and many Democrats campaigned for Wilson with the slogan, “He Kept Us Out Of War!”

  • ***After Wilson’s second inauguration, many Americans considered this campaign slogan ironic, as Wilson soon made the case to both Congress and the public that “Right was more precious than peace” and it was time for America to join the fight to make the world safe for democracy.


The United States Declares War
Germany’s provocations, including a proposed alliance with Mexico, as well as an epic revolution in Russia would contribute to America’s decision to come to the aid of the Allies. But as spring sprung in 1917, it would again be the Germany U-boat attacks that would push the Americans over the edge.

  • Jan. 31, 1917- Germany’s Kaiser, Wilhelm II announced their resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare

    • Any ship in British waters would be shot on sight.

    • Wilson knew this would bring the U.S. into the war, but he told the nation he would wait for “actual overt acts” before seeking Congress’ declaration of war.

  • Feb. 1917- News broke of a telegram from Germany to Mexico, intercepted by British agents.

    • This Zimmerman note proposed an alliance between Mexico and Germany, that in the even the U.S. declared war on Germany, Germany would support Mexico in recovering territories it had lost to the U.S., including Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

    • Germany hoped to keep the U.S. occupied in North America, unable to effective help the Allies in Europe.

  • March 1917- Events on land in Europe and in the Atlantic pushed America to the brink.

    • The toppling of Czar Nicholas of Russia resulted in the fall of the monarchy, which was replaced with a representative democracy.

      • ***This would allow Wilson to claim that this was “waged to make the world safe for democracy”

    • Germany sank four more unarmed American merchant ships

  • April 2, 1917- ***The German submarines sinking of U.S. merchant sips most influenced President Wilson’s decision to ask for Congress’ declaration of war. In his speech, Wilson made the case for America’s entry into the Great War.

    • The new German policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind….have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board….The present German submarine war…..is a war against all nations….Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but on the vindication of right, of human right….We are…..the sincere friends of the German people…..We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions towards the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live amongst us and share our life…...




    • There are……many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance.



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