World War I
The Great War was responsible for the deaths of more than nine million soldiers and many more civilians. Before its end, billions of dollars of property would be destroyed, and it would account for the complete reorganization of multiple international power structures. A precarious balance of power and economic resources in Europe crumbled when Gavrilo Princip shot and killed the heir to the Hapsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophie, on July 28, 1914.
Soon Europe was divided between the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Russia, the Serbian Kingdom, and later joined by Italy) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire). As the European houses fell toward total war, the United States President Woodrow Wilson quickly issued a proclamation of neutrality, urging Americans to be “impartial in thought as well as in action.” Wilson offered to mediate a speedy conclusion to the conflict.
With the terrifying technological advances utilized in this conflict, such as advanced artillery, the newly invented machine gun, trench tactics, poison gas, submarines, airplanes, and tanks, a speedy conclusion would have been desirable, but the war raged on. In April 1917, America declared war on Germany after its refusal to stem unrestricted submarine warfare: Germany sunk several American naval vessels and the Lusitania, a British passenger liner, carrying two hundred American civilians. America issued a strong and immediate war effort, and by September 1918, Allied forces had pushed Germany beyond the Hindenburg Line, the starting point of the German advance.