US Opposition to War April 1917


Map Code: Ax00202

Woodrow Wilson won re-election as US President in 1916 (albeit narrowly) with the slogan ‘He kept us out of the War’. Yet, less than five months later, he passionately advocated the declaration of war on Germany, proclaiming, ‘the world must be made safe for democracy…against selfish and autocratic power’, and proceeded to gain overwhelming backing by both the Senate and Congress. This change in the views of the president, the legislature and the popular mood in America was triggered by key events in early 1917. Firstly, came the disclosure of the infamous Zimmerman Telegram in which the German Foreign Secretary invited Mexico to ally with them in waging war upon the US, promising them American territory as a reward. Soon afterwards, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking American ships. Nevertheless, there many sectors of the US opposed to the war, including Germans, Swedes and Irish Americans, and pockets of the rural South.

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