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World War I Unit EQ: What was the United States’ involvement in World War I?

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1 World War I Unit EQ: What was the United States’ involvement in World War I?

2 Europe goes to war During the early years of the twentieth century, many European nations formed alliances. In an alliance, countries agree to help each other if one of them is attacked. In 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand was heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. While he visited the territory of Bosnia, Serbian nationalists assassinated him. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia and threatened war.

3 Archduke Francis Ferdinand

4 Russia, Serbia’s ally, promised to defend Serbia if Austria-Hungary attacked. Germany quickly vowed to fight on the side of Austria-Hungary. Soon all of Europe was at war. Germany and Austria-Hungary formed an alliance called the Allied Powers, or Central Powers. Russia, Great Britain, and France became the leaders of an alliance called the Triple Entente, or the Allies. The conflict eventually involved nations around the world and became known as World War I.

5 Allies Central Powers Great Britain France Russia Serbia Belgium Germany Austria-Hungary Bulgaria Ottoman Empire

6 European Alliances

7 At this time in history, a new type of warfare came about. This was a type of combat in which the enemies fight from a system of trenches … commonly known as “ trench warfare” The front line directly faced the enemy, who would usually be between 200-800 meters away. The space in between the front lines of the defenders and the attackers was known as "No Man’s Land". The front line was protected by barbed wire, which was secretly erected or amended during the night.

8 Trench warfare

9 Fighting in the Trenches

10 USA joins the fighting At first, most US citizens wanted to stay out of the war. They believed it was Europe’s fight, not ours. President Woodrow Wilson won re-election in 1916 vowing not to get the US involved in the fighting; he wanted to remain neutral. People were influenced by countries the USA had good relations with as well as propaganda, which is information given in such a way that people see things from a certain point of view.


12 Propaganda posters

13 U-Boats and the Lusitania During WWI, Germany used a new warship, the U-Boat. U-Boats were submarines (ships that sail underwater). They could stay hidden beneath the surface of the water as they fired torpedoes that sank ships. German U-Boats fired not only on enemy ships, but also on ships from other countries. Germany believed these ships were actually carrying goods meant to help the nations it was fighting.

14 U-Boat

15 Violation of law Some of these ships carried US citizens. Americans believed that submarine warfare violated international laws. In May of 1915, German U-Boats sank the Lusitania, a British passenger ship. Over a hundred US passengers died. People in the USA were furious!

16 Sinking of the Lusitania

17 The Real Story In reality, the US government was secretly using the Lusitania and other passenger ships to sneak military supplies to Great Britain and its allies. To most people, however, Germany’s actions looked like an evil attack against innocent civilians. Public opinion started to change and more people in the USA began to favor war

18 The Zimmerman Telegram Another event that caused outrage in the USA was the Zimmerman Note. This was a secret message from Germany to Mexico asking to form an alliance together. Germany wanted Mexico to attack the US if the USA ever went to war with Germany. In return, Germany promised to help Mexico win back parts of North America it had lost to the USA in the 1800s.

19 Arthur Zimmerman Arthur Zimmerman, Germany’s foreign minister who asked Mexico to form an alliance against the United States.

20 Germany’s next move Germany decided in 1917 to sink ANY ship, neutral or enemy, that tried to reach Great Britain. President Wilson cut off relations with Germany, but still hoped to avoid war. President Wilson believed that America must fight for “Freedom of the Seas” – fight for its right to trade with any nation it chose.

21 President Woodrow Wilson

22 War!!! Congress declared war on April 6, 1917 although the US had only 200,000 troops. They were also short of military supplies. The USA was not prepared for war, so President Wilson and Congress acted quickly to mobilize the nation – prepare it for war!

23 Congress declaring War

24 Preparing for War Congress passed the Selective Service Act in May 1917. It was a law that stated all men 21 to 30 years old must register for the draft. In 1917, President Wilson created the War Industries Board. It had the power to control factories that produced important war materials such as steel, rubber, oil, weapons, ammunition, and uniforms.

25 To raise money, the government increased income taxes (an annual government tax based on personal incomes). The government also sold war bonds to American people. (It is an emotional appeal to patriotic citizens to lend the government their money because these bonds offer a rate of return below the market rate.) The Committee on Public Information was to increase patriotism and loyalty.

26 War Bonds

27 Cause & Effect Zimmerman note & sinking of the Lusitania Not enough men for war Not enough $ for war Not enough materials for war Americans were upset with Germany. Draft begins Raised income tax, war bonds War Industries Board

28 US involvement and victory in Europe The first US soldiers reached Europe in 1918. They arrived just in time to help turn back Germany’s attack against Paris. By the time US forces arrived, millions of Europeans were dead. Many homes and cities had already been destroyed. The presence of the Americans made it clear to Germany that it could not hope to win.

29 Germany signed an armistice – an agreement to stop fighting – in November 1918. President Wilson had an idea called the League of Nations. It was set up to settle international disputes. That was all designed in his Peace Plan, known as the Fourteen Points.


31 League of Nations

32 President Wilson and the other Allied leaders drafted a treaty ending the war. Although Wilson did not want to punish Germany, the other countries did. Their nations had fought much longer and suffered more death and destruction than the USA. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to take total blame for the war. It also made Germany pay for the war and greatly decrease the size of its military.

33 Allied Leaders

34 Many of the German people became very bitter with the treaty. Meanwhile, many in the US feared that the treaty would lead the US into alliances with foreign countries. President Wilson signed it because it included his idea for the League of Nations.

35 The senate refused to ratify it, claiming it feared the Treaty of Versailles could lead to future wars. President Wilson hoped to get support from Americans, but became seriously ill and could not carry on his fight for the League. The senate made its final rejection in 1920. The US did not become members of the League of Nations.


37 What did they use in WWI?

38 You try to draw a submarine!

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