I have forgotten how to properly tie in my topic to American military history. First and foremost I speak about how technology and an arms race propelled the start of the war. Technology wise, I have forgotten to mention, is that it will be focused on the United States use of advanced technology. Most importantly was the use of aircraft or airplanes during the war. An American invention, airplanes at first were a revolutionary means of scouting and spying on the enemy. Eventually both sides became aware of this tactic and adapted to protect their positions by creating anti air weaponry forcing the airplane to adapt as well. Planes were weaponized and transformed the air into the newest battlefield.
Secondly, I will still continue to discuss foreign politics and alliances but most importantly how the United States faced a difficult stance on whether or not to join the war. The United States being allies at the time and continuously through today with France and England, faced a large pressure form to the two to intervene in the war. I will later in this post explain more. One thing that many do not know is that the United States had also faced strong pressure to join the war from home, but not as a ally of England and France but one of Germany. During the 1910’s and later into the 20’s and 30’s, there was a ever growing immigration of German’s and a continuous expansion of German Americans in the state.
As I continue my research I found two primary sources that have furthered my study of both domestic and international politics, and the arguably revolutionary technology that was used during this era. The first is a newspaper article from The New York Times the day the Lusitania was attacked and sunk by a German U-boat. The Lusitania was a British cruise liner that was comprised of a majority of Americans. The sinking of the Lusitania back in 1915 is considered the biggest spark into the American involvement of World War 1. As I stated in my focus being on the politics, the United States for the most part refused to have any direct involvement in the war. It was often characterized as “their war” as in Europe’s war. American public opinion was strongly divided for the most par, with most Americans until early 1917 strongly of the opinion that the United States should stay out of the war. But the United States did not stand on the sidelines when the war erupted in 1914. The states standing as a neutral state, continued to trade with both alliances, specifically France, England and Germany. Great Britain continued to still have a powerful navy and imposed a blockade on Germany. American trade was no longer permitted. The results of the blockade resulted in trade with England and France more than tripled between 1914 and 1916, while trade with Germany was cut by over ninety percent. It was this situation that prompted submarine warfare by the Germans against Americans at sea. Rules were set that only naval vessels were to be targeted and that merchant and passenger ships were free to travel. Germany continued to attack ships and took focus on the Lusitania in 1915. Opinion changed in response to German actions in Belgium and the Lusitania. German-Americans lost influence and America had to play a role to make the world safe for democracy. This article helps explain the point of American politics. The country was too heavily divided between either going to war or not and whether what side to join, mostly an alliance with the Triple Entente. The United States’ hand was forced and the decision to join the Triple Entente in war was made easier after the sinking of the Lusitania.
The second source is a speech by President Woodrow Wilson. The speech is a powerful statement in response to the devastating attack on the Lusitania. The speech is now known as the “Too Proud to Fight Speech.” Unfortunately I could not find just the speech alone but the link does have the full speech just with some analysis tied in. The speech is primarily known for the line recited by President Wilson, “The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world and strife is not. There is such a thing as a man being so right it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.” What many people do not know is that the speech in its entirety is called Americanism and the Foreign Born. The speech itself does not mention the Lusitania sinking directly, but rather only makes an oblique reference. Still, given the political tensions at the time, everyone who heard or read the speech knew that President Wilson was indeed referring to the Lusitania disaster and the question of whether the United States would go to war over the sinking.