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11-08-2015, 16:44

EARLY 1917: UNLIMITED SUBMARINE WARFARE AND THE ZIMMERMANN TELEGRAM

Following the election of 1916, as hopes for a negotiated settlement faded, Wilson apparently concluded that only as a belligerent could the United States play its appropriate role in constructing the postwar world. In any case,events forced America's hand by 1917. Whatever the president's exact intentions, in the first months of that year, relations between the United States and Germany crumbled. The military leaders in Berlin renewed unlimited use of the submarine, gambling that Germany could win the war in Europe before the United States could mobilize its vast latent human and industrial resources. Moreover, with American intervention in the war growing likely, Germany made a clumsy appeal to the government of Mexico: in return for Mexico's military support against the United States, Berlin would help Mexico regain the territory it had lost to the Americans in the war of 1848. When the Wilson administration made the offer known to the American people on March 1—British intelligence had intercepted a key message known as the Zimmermann telegram, and passed it to Washington—this helped stifle opposition to war in the western United States, one of the bastions of isolationist sentiment. On April 2, President Wilson addressed the recently elected Congress on the first day of its new session. He requested and quickly got a declaration of war.

 

 

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