The United States in the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles: 1914–1919

Authored by: Justus D. Doenecke

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888479
eBook ISBN: 9781135070991
Adobe ISBN: 9781135071028


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Few debates have created as much controversy as those concerning American participation in the First World War and the peace that resulted from the conflict. It is, therefore, little wonder that bibliographies must be continually updated. 2 When the First World War started in August 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed U.S. neutrality and asked Americans to be “neutral in fact as well as in deed.” During American neutrality, the British interfered with a thriving American war trade. They added to the list of contraband goods that might be seized on their way to the enemy and ignored the rules of blockade, seizing American ships on the high seas and taking them to British ports. They commandeered vessels bound for some neutral nations, arguing that their cargoes were being resold to Germany. Wilson continually protested against this “indefensible and intolerable conduct” but ended up acquiescing in the Allied blockade. Reasons included American cultural ties to Britain, the prosperity engendered by U.S. commerce with Britain, and Britain’s willingness to pay for all seized goods.

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