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Why did the U.S. Enter World War I? Students will consult primary sources to determine why the U.S. entered WWI. Sources cover the United States’ economic and cultural ties to Great Britain, German unrestricted submarine warfare, and the Zimmerman Note. After primary source analysis and class discussion, students will write either a newspaper editorial or a congressional speech opposing/supporting the U.S.’s declaration of war, using evidence from the documents.
This lesson is easily customizable and has many optional components that I have included/omitted over the years. After the document analysis, you may have students participate in a class discussion and a “four corners” activity, or just limit it to class discussion. With my higher-level students, I have often had them read excerpts from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Schweikart and Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States and compare how the two books use evidence to make different arguments about the U.S.’s entry into WWI, but that can easily be omitted as well.