Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Parrini, Carl P.||Schneider, Robert W.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Wilson; Woodrow; 1856-1924; Germany--Foreign relations


The primary concern of this paper is to analyze the United States' attempt to eliminate German investments and trade from Central America during World War I. To determine why the United States pursued such a policy one must understand what motivated America's political and business leaders. To eject German interests from Central America the United States adopted the blacklist and refused to allow Americans to trade with any firm or individual thought to be connected with the enemy. To take over the German firms the United States forced the Central American nations into adopting an Enemy Trade Act similar to that of the United States and to appoint an American as Alien Property Custodian with the power to sell German properties to American interests. Although the immediate goal was to take over the German investments, the United States used the fear of a post-war trade rivalry to develop its long range goal of creating a permanent demand for American goods and capital, The economic measures adopted by the United States were modeled on the German system. America's system included a government owned merchant marine, export combinations and foreign banking corporations. Like Germany, the United States Government took on the responsibility of directing American foreign trade, by regulating the combinations, the banking corporations and American shipping. While carefully couched in moral rhetoric American policies were executed on the basis of self interest. Because United States leaders assumed that foreign markets were essential to America's existence, they enacted policies that contradicted their moral precepts. For instance, American leaders believed in a just peace, but because they considered it imperative to expand economically, they pursued selfish aims. Even though the United States professed that the war would not be used to advance American interests, it deliberately attempted to undermine German investments in Central America. Although the United States chastised the German Government for restricting free competition, the Wilson administration abolished anti-trust legislation pertaining to foreign trade. In many ways the United States system was a mirror image of the German methods to which the Wilson Administration was ideologically opposed.


Includes bibliographical references.


143 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type