TRUE: World War I was a turning point in American history because it was the first time that the United States realized its potential to become a major world power. Prior to World War I, the United States had a policy of isolationism. The foreign policies that dictated the way that American presidents approached world events and issues was that of isolating itself from foreign affairs. This policy was meant to keep America free from any of the problems of that faced the outside world, almost as a protection.
As the United States entered the 20th century the world began to be more interdependent and, beyond that, American officials began to understand that what affected nations on other continents would affect them. This revelation is what pushed the United States into World War I and the ensuing events would make the United States realize its potential in the world political theater. The United States entered World War I in 1917, three years after the war broke out in Europe. Americans initially opposed the involvement of U. S.
troops and President Woodrow Wilson declared the country’s neutrality in response. As the fighting continued and the German tactics threatened civilian lives, Americans began to waiver in their neutrality and siding with the Allies. After the sinking of the passenger liner the S. S. Lusitania, Germany adopted submarine warfare, but early in 1917 Germany again began attacking unarmed ships. U. S. cargo boats were attacked, pressing the United States towards war. German U-boats were positioning to cut off shipping to and from Britain, in an effort to force the power to surrender.
The turning point for American involvement in the war was the result of the “Zimmerman note”, a message intercepted by the British in which the German foreign minister urged Mexican government into war with the United States in March of 1917. One month later Congress declared war on Germany, with President Wilson declaring that “the world must be made safe for democracy”. Though the United States had been little prepared to enter the war, the American government mobilized quickly to rally the troops–and the citizens–behind the war effort.
In April 1917, the U. S. Army was comprised of just over one hundred thousand men; by the end of the war, the American armed forces stood some five million strong. It was the arrival of the U. S. troops that gave the Allies the manpower they needed to win the war. After continued fighting in the trenches of Europe, which had left almost ten million dead, in November 1918, Germany agreed to an armistice and the Central Powers finally surrendered. In January 1919, Allied representatives gathered in Paris to draw up a peace settlement.
America’s real turning point in terms of their realizing their potential as a world power was solidified at the Paris Peace Conference. Though representatives from all of the Allied nations attending, the decisions were made by four heads of government, from the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The treaties were drawn up by all Allied leaders, but the role of the United States was incredibly important and, therefore, their potential for power was solidified.
Their role was extremely important and it was their involvement that was the turning point for the war and the ending of it. The United States of America was, and is, a major world player and power. The turn toward this revelation can be traced to its involvement in World War I. They took on a position of power with the Allies, and the fact that the United States had such a large, well-mobilized, and organized military helped them to gain power and the upper hand during the war.
They realized that they had the potential to be more than an isolated nation. They had the ability to become a strong player in the world political arena.
The Great War and the Shaping of the 21st Century. PBS. 5 Nov. 2007 <http://www. pbs. org/greatwar/>. Iavarone, Mike. “World War I Trenches on the Web. ” An Internet History of the Great War. 5 Nov. 2007 <http://www. worldwar1. com/>. “World War I. ” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 5 Nov. 2007 <http://www. britannica. com/eb/article-9110198/World-War-I>.