Germanys declaration of unlimited submarine
warfare, supplemented by the Zimmerman note proposing an alliance with Mexico,
finally caused the United States to declare war. Wilson aroused the country
to patriotic heights by making the war an idealistic crusade for democracy
and permanent peace based on his Fourteen Points.
Wartime propaganda stirred voluntary commitment
to the war effort, but at the cost of suppressing dissent. Voluntary efforts
also worked wonders in organizing industry, producing food, and financing
the war. Labor, including women, made substantial wartime gains. The beginnings
of black migration to northern cities led to racial tensions and riots.
Americas soldiers took nearly a year
to arrive in Europe, and they fought in only two major battles at the end
of the war. Americas main contribution to the Allied victory was to
provide supplies, personnel, and improved morale. Wilsons immense prestige
created high expectations for an idealistic peace, but his own political blunders
and the stubborn opposition of European statesmen forced him to compromise
his lofty aims.
As Lodge stalled the treaty, Wilson tried to
rouse the country on behalf of his cherished League, but his own physical
collapse and refusal to compromise killed the treaty and the League. Republican
isolationists effectively turned Hardings victory in 1920 into a death
sentence for the League.