From Neutrality to War: What the Russian Revolution Had to do with [Woodrow] Wilson's Decision to Enter the Great War
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Many books and scholarly articles have been devoted to the study of the United States entry into World War I. President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress on April 2, 1917, to ask for a declaration of war. The main reasons cited in the scholarly literature for this shift from neutrality to warfare are the Zimmermann Telegram incident and the German practice of unrestricted submarine warfare. While these factors are important, what is missing is an emphasis on the March 1917 Russian Revolution, which ended tsarist control in favor of a provisional democratic government. This event occurred just days before Wilson had decided to join the war. This thesis argues that not enough attention has been given to Russia's shift from a monarchy to a democracy and its effect on Wilson's decision to enter the war. To support this thesis, the author examines a representative sample of scholarly literature focusing on Wilson and World War I. This search reveals that scholars have tended to minimize the Russian Revolution in March as a factor in Wilson's decision to go to war. Then the author directly supports the Russian Revolution motivation as important in Wilson's decision-making by studying primary documents, includi ng the writings of foreign ambassadors, of members of the Wilson cabinet, and of Woodrow Wilson himself.