Today in History: 1917 – The Zimmerman Telegram Goes Public in the U.S.

One-hundred years ago today, the Zimmerman Telegram was published in newspapers across the country, just a few days after President Woodrow Wilson learned the details of the telegram after it had been intercepted by British intelligence and interpreted. The telegram was sent by German foreign secretary, Arthur Zimmerman to the German ambassador to Mexico. In it, Zimmerman suggested an alliance between the two countries in the event of war between the U.S. and Germany, also assuring Mexican control of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona if successful. After publication of the telegram on March 1, 1917, American citizens were once again given a reason to support U.S. involvement in World War I.

The telegram came after Germany had first declared the waters around British Isles a war zone and implemented unrestricted submarine warfare in 1915. All merchant ships would be attacked by the German navy, and after sinking a British ship and killing 128 Americans that were onboard, President Wilson urged the Germans to cease their attacks, which they did. However, after pressure from German navy commanders, unrestricted submarine warfare was once again declared and recommenced on February 1, 1917.

Only one month later, Americans learned of the Zimmerman Telegram and entrance into World War I gained support. A few weeks later, on March 15th, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne and the Russian Provisional Government was established. Now, with a more democratic administration in place, President Wilson was able to form an ally with Russia. All of these events further pushed the United States towards entering WWI, until finally, on April 6, 1917, the U.S. joined the Allies in the fight against the Central Powers.

Thanks for reading and make sure to visit again for more history!


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