The War Of The United States Essay

The War Of The United States Essay

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On February 4, 1915, in response to Britain’s blockade, the German Admiralty issued a proclamation declaring the waters around Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole English Channel, “to be comprised within the seat of war” and that “all enemy merchant vessels found in those waters after the eighteenth instant will be destroyed although it may not always be possible to save crews and passengers.” In regards to neutral vessels, the proclamation warned that “in view of the misuse of the neutral flag ordered by the British Government on January thirty-first and of the contingencies of maritime warfare it cannot always be avoided that neutral vessels suffer from attacks intended to strike enemy ships.” Wilson responded on February 10, stating that “the Government of the United States would… hold the Imperial German Government to a strict accountability for such acts of their naval authorities and to take any steps it might be necessary to take to safeguard American lives and property and to secure to American citizens the full enjoyment of their acknowledged rights on the high seas.”
It did not take long for Germany’s new policy to bring it into conflict with the United States. On March 28, 1915, thirty-eight days after Germany began its submarine campaign, a U-boat sank the British steamer Falaba killing 104 people—including one American. However, the incident, which Wilson privately called an “unquestionable violation of the just rules of international law with regard to unarmed vessels at sea” proved to be only a taste of what was to come.
The real tragedy came shortly after the Imperial German Embassy published a formal notice in the New York Times on May 1, 1915, warning travelers that “in accordance with formal notice ...


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...chant vessels, killing fifteen Americans. For all intents and purposes, Germany was at war with the United States. Wilson, albeit reluctantly, concluded that war could not be avoided. Germany had repeatedly violated the United States rights as a neutral on the high seas. A failure to respond after his previous threats would have undermined his position abroad and opened him to political attack at home.
On April 2, 1917, Wilson appeared before Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Germany. During his thirty-six minute speech, Wilson condemned Germany’s “cruel and unmanly” violation of American rights and branded its “wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of non-combatants” as “warfare against mankind.” The United States could not “choose the path of submission,” he observed, but instead it must accept the state of war that had “been thrust upon it.”

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