Wilson Urges Neutrality

By: Cortne Young and Chebet Buckner

Why It Matters

"The United States remained neutral at first but ended up abandoning its long tradition of staying out of European conflicts."

Previous Section (The Fighting Begins)

The beginning of the conflict in Europe is what lead to the division between the American peoples on how America should be involved in the war.


When the countries in Europe started fighting, Wilson did not want Americans to become involved. He urged the country to stay, "Impartial in thought as well as action" in relation to the conflict. He felt that it would be best if Americans were not taking sides and fighting with each other about America's role in the war.
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Americans Have Divided Loyalties

1/3 of Americans were foreign born. They supported their European homelands. The Irish-Americans didn't like Great Britain and wished for their defeat because they wanted to gain independence from Britain. Jewish-Americans wanted the defeat of Russia because there was a very violent and brutal persecution of Jewish peoples at the time.

Americans that were born in America supported Britain and France because of the close ties that America had with each country. France was on the side of the Revolutionaries during the Revolutionary War, and British culture was the basis of American culture at the time.
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American Opinion Crystalizes

When the Germans invaded Belgium, European media portrayed the violence and brutality committed by the Germans in a war that negatively influenced American's views of the war. This lead to Americans being divided three ways on how they viewed and wanted to be involved in the war.

The isolationists wanted America to completely stay out of the war and not involve itself with Europe's problems. Inverventionists wanted America to enter the war on the Allies side because they felt that the war did affect their interests. Finally, the internationalists wanted America to have a place in worldly affairs and work towards achieving peace in Europe, but not enter the war.

Next Section (Neutrality Gives Way to War)

President Wilson was an internationalist, like many of his fellow Americans. He tried to stop the war simply by using his power and influence, but that failed. Soon, America entered WWI.