The World War I which began on July 28, 1914 and lasted until November 11, 1918 was centered in Europe and involved the worlds great powers assembled in opposing alliances – the Allied Powers which included France, Britain, Russia, Portugal, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Romania; and the Central Powers which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Ottoman Empire. The United States of America and Italy initially stayed away from the World War I.
On May 2, 1915 a German U-boat attacked the British liner RMS Lusitania resulting in the death of 128 Americans. Germany complied with the demand of the US president Woodrow Wilson to end attacks on passenger ships. But in January 1917 Germany got into unrestricted submarine warfare which was the violation of International law. In addition to this the German Foreign Minister invited Mexico to join hands with Germany in the imminent fight against the United States of America. This telegram – Zimmerman Telegram – was released by President Wilson to the public. On April 6, 1917 the United States of America officially entered World War I by declaring war on Germany.
US joined the Allies and under the command of Major General John J Pershing, got on the battlefields in France. The United States of America passed the Selective Service Act during May 1917 according to which all men falling in the age group of 21 to 30 were eligible for the draft. This was soon extended to cover men between age limits of 18 to 45. Irrespective of their race around 1.4 million Americans including African-Americans fought in the World War I.
Though Germans initially saw some success against the US Army they were soon pushed back. Some of the major battles between the US and German armies included the Battles of Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood during June 1918, the second Battle of Marne which extended from July to August 1918, the US attack on German units at St. Mihiel during September 1918 and the Meuse-Argonne offensive extending from September to November 1918.
World War I had caused casualties on both sides. US forces lost more than 53,000 men and had around 200,000 others wounded. More wounding were the effects World War I had on the minds of the Americans. In an attempt to ensure support from the public the Committee on Public Information portrayed Germans as barbarous Huns. The anti-German sentiment was reaching its heights in the United States of America. Many schools even stopped teaching German language. During 1917 the Espionage act was passed which mandated fines and imprisonment for those who helped the enemy or in any way expressed disloyalty in the military. To worsen the situation the Sedition Act of 1918 made profane comments against the government, flag or the uniforms of the US a crime.
Germany unable to stand against the Allies asked for peace based on President Wilson’s statement of American war aims which was presented to the Congress during January 1918. Though reluctantly, Britain and France agreed to the terms and signed the Armistice to end the war. Thus Germany surrendered formally on November 11, 1918 putting an end to World War I.