In January 1917, as World War I remained stalemated, Germany decided to resume unrestricted submarine warfare, an action likely to cause the United States to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Seeking a means of immobilizing the United States, Germany seized on the U.S. preoccupation with Mexico.
Accordingly, German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent the German minister to Mexico, Heinrich von Eckhardt, a wire for President Venus-tiano Carranza proposing that Mexico form an alliance with Germany against the United States, promising German support for Mexico to "reconquer the lost provinces of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona," and that Japan be approached to join the alliance. The telegram was intercepted by British intelligence. Publication of the message in March caused outrage in the United States, helping to turn public opinion toward a declaration of war against Germany, which was issued 6 April 1917.
The furor regarding the German proposal obscured the fact that the Mexican Revolutionary Government rejected the idea. The event ultimately served to calm Mexican-American relations, as the United States shifted its focus toward Europe.
Barbara W. Tuchman, The Zimmerman Telegram (1958).
P. Edward Haley, Revolution and Intervention: The Diplomacy of Taft and Wilson with Mexico, 1910–1917 (1970).
Suárez Argüello, Ana Rosa. Pragmatismo y principios: La relación conflictiva entre México y Estados Unidos, 1810–1942. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 1998.
Kenneth J. Grieb