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Nothing Less Than WarA New History of Americas Entry into World War I$
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Justus D. Doenecke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813130026

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813130026.001.0001

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Tensions with Germany and Britain

Tensions with Germany and Britain

January—September 1916

(p.155) 6 Tensions with Germany and Britain
Nothing Less Than War

Justus D. Doenecke

University Press of Kentucky

One of the major challenges that Wilson faced in negotiating a peace agreement was Britain's arming of merchant ships. Although the practice was allowed under international law, it was Germany's contention that its submarines could not safely surface and warn armed merchantmen before sinking them. When the US threatened Germany with a suspension of diplomatic relations, Germany responded with a promise to observe the rules of cruiser warfare, including provision for the passenger and crew of unresisting merchant vessels. Meanwhile, American support for the British dipped after the Easter Rebellion in Dublin and the Allied seizures of American mail. By mid-May, Wilson was becoming increasingly frustrated with Britain's continued refusal to accept American intervention. When the British released a “blacklist” of some 85 American and 350 Latin American firms suspected of trading with the Central Powers, Americans were livid. In response, US legislators worked to create a government-owned and -operated merchant fleet and, in September, Wilson signed into law a bill that empowered the president to deny discriminatory nations access to American ports. Despite these frustrations with the British, the US recognized that America's trade with the Allies had become highly lucrative.

Keywords:   World War I, Allies, Central Powers, peace agreement, diplomacy, submarine warfare, merchant ships

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