World War I was one of the first great wars during the industrial revolution which involved the major nations of the world. From airplanes and tanks to the telephone and carrier pigeons, World War I participants used all sorts of strategies and tactics to win. Let’s take a look at some of the relatively unseen images of World War I, depicting the United States’ involvement in the Great War.
Ever since the Declaration of Independence, the United States tried to adopt an isolationism and neutrality policy with regards to other nations’ internal affairs. When World War I erupted in July 1914, ninety percent of Americans wanted the United States to maintain its stance and not get involved in the war. After all, why interfere with yet another European conflict?
But it was not just a conflict and President Woodrow Wilson realized this after the first two years of war devastated Europe and threatened to extend across the Atlantic Ocean.
At the beginning of the war, after Archduke of Austria-Hungary was assassinated, Great Britain and France allied against Germany and Austria-Hungary. For many Americans, choosing a side between the Allies or the Central Powers was impossible as most of them were descending from immigrants coming from the very countries involved in the conflict. American leaders decided it was in the country’s best interest to maintain its neutrality and continue trade with both sides.
Post office notice
One of the first signs of America rethinking its position regarding the war was the notice of suspension of mail to Germany, Austria-Hungary and their allies. Such a notice was posted in the main post office, April 15, 1917.
With Great Britain imposing a blockade on Germany, the United States was somehow “forced” to stop trading with the Central Powers. This led to trade with England and France tripling between 1914 and 1916 and trade with Germany dropping to less than ten percent. This was one of the things that caused the submarine warfare by the Germans against Americans.
On April 2, 1917, President Wilson went before Congress and asked for permission to enter the war and make the world “safe for democracy”. On April 4, 1917, the Senate voted in favor of the resolution and the United States officially declared war on Germany. On December 7, 1917, the U.S. also declared war on German ally Austria-Hungary.