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Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:10
AP.USH:
KC‑7.3.II.A (KC)
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Unit 7: Learning Objective F
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WOR (Theme)

Video transcript

as we enter into 1917 the United States has been able to maintain its neutrality in World War one in fact President Wilson has just won a reelection based on the platform that he kept us out of war and to a large degree he was able to keep the u.s. out of war because the German Empire had pulled back from its unrestricted submarine warfare after the sinking of the Lusitania and how angered America had gotten they said okay we're not going to attack passenger vessels anymore we're only going to attack things that are definitely British non passenger vessels but as we go into January of 1917 the British blockade on the Central Powers were having was having its effect and the Central Powers were getting desperate in particular Germany and so they were eager to essentially do the same to the British once again go with the unrestricted submarine warfare but the Germans knew that if they were to go back to this that it's likely that the US would enter the war on the side of the Allies so knowing that that that was likely to happen they said well how could we slow the u.s. down and the thinking was well maybe we could somehow enlist the help of Mexico which at the time was not on the best terms with the United States and so Arthur Zimmerman Arthur Zimmermann who was the German Foreign Secretary the equivalent of the United States Secretary of State the Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman sends an encoded telegram to the Mexicans and it's encoded especially because it has to go over lines that are controlled by the Americans and in it he appropriately proposes an alliance to slow the Americans down so this is what he wrote so this is the encoded telegram and then it was actually intercepted by British intelligence and decoded and then shared with the Americans and then that was also then made public to to the American public and so this is why it's fascinating to actually read the stuff this is January 1917 this is the Germans talking to the Mexicans we intend to begin on the 1st of February unrestricted submarine warfare we shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America stroll in the event of this not succeeding we make Mexico or proposal of alliance on the following basis make war together make peace together generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to Recon Corps the lost territories the lost territory in Texas New Mexico and Arizona this settlement or the settlement in detail is left to you you will inform the President to talk about the President of Mexico of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should on his own initiative invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves please call the president's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace signed Zimmerman now the Mexicans when they read this they really didn't take it too seriously they didn't think that they could seriously engage the US and a war they could seriously take back or occupy these territories so they didn't really think much of it the real effect of this telegram was to real it was to make the American public angry they were going to go back into the unrestricted submarine warfare and the Germans themselves talked about ruthless ruthless employment of our submarines so when people talk about what were the causes what brought the u.s. into war the ones that are typically cited are the unrestricted submarine warfare the sinking of the Lusitania the Zimmermann telegram that was trying to get Mexico to somehow get into a war with the US and reclaim these territories and as we'll see a few months after this the u.s. actually does declare war on Germany and enter into World War one