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World War I, 1914-1920
Guide: American Isolationism

These resources on American isolationism identify reasons the United States was initially neutral in World War I. Use these resources to support students' evaluation of why the U.S. was initially neutral during World War I. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Labor unions developed as social and political movements
  • Rural and urban areas have distinct needs that shape political and economic concerns
  • Racial and ethnic groups have fought to obtain civil rights and liberties
  • Government accountability relies on a politically engaged populace
  • Society's idea of morality changes over time
  • A balance between public safety and economic growth is desirable
  • A nation's diplomatic powers rest in its ability to have a foreign presence
  • There are multiple factors that a nation must consider when deciding to go to war
  • The U.S. has gone through periods where it feels it is in its best interest to remain detached from certain global events
  • Negotiating a peace involves compromises and consensus and can extend well beyond the end of hostilities

Key Questions

  • Why did the United States choose an isolationist policy at the beginning of World War I?
  • What advantages did a policy of neutrality provide for the United States in dealing with the various European alliances?
  • Evaluate President Woodrow Wilson's decision to stay neutral at the beginning of the war and to later declare war on Germany. Do you think he acted appropriately?


  1. Overview: American Isolationism
  2. Topic Center Overview: World War I, 1914–1920
  3. Visuals: American Isolationism (Visual)
  4. Outline: Outline
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Key Question: U.S. Isolationism
  7. Reference Articles: Lusitania, Sinking of
  8. Reference Articles: isolationism and World War I
  9. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Lusitania sinking
  10. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Political cartoon: World War
  11. Letters & Narratives: Wilson, Woodrow: first Lusitania note to Germany (1915)
  12. Speeches: Wilson, Woodrow: Declaration of Neutrality (1914)
  13. Maps: World War I: Europe

MLA Citation

"American Isolationism." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2153045. Accessed 25 Aug. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2153045

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