America Enters World War I
Nine days later, the German government gave notice that unrestricted submarine warfare would be resumed. On April 2, 1917, after five American vessels had been sunk, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war. Immediately the American government set about mobilizing its military resources and its industry, labor, and agriculture. By October 1918, an American army of over 1,750,000 soldiers was in France.
The American navy was crucial in helping the British break the submarine blockade, and in the summer of 1918, during a long-awaited German offensive, fresh American troops played a decisive role on land. In November, an American army of over a million took an important part in the vast Meuse-Argonne offensive, which cracked the vaunted Hindenburg line.
Wilson contributed greatly to an early conclusion of the war by defining the war aims of the Allied powers, and by insisting that the struggle was being waged not against the German people but against their autocratic government. His famous Fourteen Points, submitted to the Senate in January 1918 as the basis for a just peace, called for abandonment of secret international understandings, a guarantee of freedom of the seas, the removal of economic barriers between nations, reduction of national armaments, and an adjustment of colonial claims with due regard to the interests of the inhabitants affected. Other points sought to assure self-rule and unhampered economic development for European nationalities. The Fourteen Points formed the keystone of Wilson's arch of peace-the formation of an association of nations to afford "mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike."
By the summer of 1918, when Germany's armies were being beaten back, the German government appealed to Wilson to negotiate on the basis of the Fourteen Points. After assuring himself that the request came from representatives of the people rather than of the military clique, the President conferred with the Allies, who acceded to the German proposal. On this basis, an armistice was concluded on November 11.