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Telegram from Heinrich Charles, Secretary, Chamber of German American Commerce, to Representative Henry D. Flood of Virginia, January 4, 1915

When Europe went to war in 1914, one-third of U.S. residents were either foreign born or had a parent born overseas. Although the United States professed neutrality, some German Americans felt certain members of Congress favored Britain, an eventual ally in the war.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

THE WAY TO BE NEUTRAL IS TO BE NEUTRAL

Telegram from Heinrich Charles Telegram from Heinrich Charles, excerpt

U.S. Neutrality during World War I

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed U.S. neutrality and called on all Americans to remain “impartial in thought as well as action.” As the war in Europe escalated and Germany engaged in submarine warfare against passenger and merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean, Congress feared that a loss of American lives at sea might elicit public demand for the United States to join the war. Concerned members of Congress pushed for legislation to reinforce American neutrality.