Throughout World War I the United States remained neutral for as long as possible. Finally in April 1917, the United States officially enter the war taking sides with the "Allies." President Woodrow Wilson was determined to propose a plan for peace and bring stability back to the nations at war. On January 8, 1918, Wilson spoke to Congress and presented fourteen objectives, soon called the Fourteen Points. These principles were proposed as a basis for ending World War I and for keeping the peace afterwards.(Berkin, 2008) Why did the United States enter the war? What was to be gained from entering the war? These are questions I asked myself as I was conducting research on this topic. My opinion is the United States primary reasons for entering World War I were based on economics.
Though there are fourteen points in President Wilson's speech, points one through five provide general suggestions for peace, point six addresses Russia, calling for other nations to withdraw from Russian territories and incorporate them into a society of free nations. Points seven through thirteen address specific situations, the fourteenth point called for a general association of nations to ensure political independence and territorial integrity to all nations small and large.
Point one of the Fourteen Points clearly states that all nations will do away with secret treaties between countries, and adopt open agreements. The purpose of this point clearly prohibits treaties, sections of treaties or understandings that are secret, such as the Triple Alliance.(Fourteen Points--2, 2009) A policy that was good in theory; however there is no way of knowing if "secret treaties" are being made.
Points two and three are solely economic based; freedom of seas in war and peace, and removal of international trade barriers and establish equal trading among nations accepting peace.(Fourteen Points--2, 2009) Prior to the United States entering World War I, the US economy was booming. Many companies were exporting their products to Europe and the "Allies" to support the war, exports which were being shipped by sea. One key highlight is the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat in the open ocean, killing128 Americans.(Berkin, 2008) However, the Lusitania was carrying weapons and munitions to England, Germany was cutting off supplies to the "Allies" therefore cutting off income to companies and limiting the ability of the "Allies" to continue fighting. Keeping the sea lanes of communication open and allowing international trade between nations would help boost and rebuild economies. One key point of interest is that point three was limited to nations accepting membership into the League of Nations, Germany was not going to be allowed into the League of Nations.