The Break with Germany

Justus D. Doenecke

in Nothing Less Than War

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780813130026
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135755 | DOI:
The Break with Germany

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Upon learning of Germany's all-out submarine warfare campaign, Wilson met with his cabinet and, in the afternoon of February 3, announced during a joint session in Congress that the US had been forced to sever its diplomatic ties with Germany. While the Senate adopted a resolution backing the president, the House introduced a resolution calling for a referendum on the country's entry into the war. Throughout February, the Central Powers attacked 128 ships, virtually paralyzing foreign trade. Wilson, however, continued to remain cautious and some even perceived him to be conciliatory toward Germany. It wasn't until Wilson learned of Germany's plan to persuade Mexico to wage a war against the US that the president lost all faith in the German government. On February 26, Wilson spoke before a joint session of Congress to request authority to arm merchant ships. Although a few senators remained opposed to the armed-ship bill, Wilson felt he had no choice and decided to go ahead and order the arming of American ships and authorize them to shoot at any submarine that acted suspiciously. Germany, however, remained largely undeterred despite Wilson's move.

Keywords: Woodrow Wilson; World War I; diplomatic relations; submarine warfare; merchant ships; armed-ship bill

Chapter.  11653 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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