The Zimmermann Telegram (or Zimmermann Note or Zimmerman Cable) was a secret diplomatic communication issued from the German Foreign Office in January 1917 that proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico.

Zimmermann Telegram: Definition

In February, Wilson had greeted Jane Addams and a group of peace activists at the White House. His guests caught a glimpse of his rationale for war. The president explained that “as head of a nation participating in the war, the president of the United States would have a seat at the peace table, but . . . if he remained the representative of a neutral country, he could at best only ‘call through a crack in the door.’”


Persuaded that the European powers, left to themselves, would produce a vindictive and unworkable peace, Wilson believed that an impartial America could contribute much to the future peace of Europe and of the world. (Of course, the Congress of Vienna of 1814–1815, worked out by European powers without any American assistance, had produced a peace settlement that endured for a full century.) And in order to get a seat at the peace table, Wilson believed that he had to be the head of a nation that had taken part in the war.

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