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The sinking of the Lusitania.

Shortly after the outset of WWI, the British were desperate to get America to join the Allies. And the facts suggest that they let a passenger liner be sunk to obtain that end.

Robert Welch, founder of The John Birch Society, described World War I as a senseless European war in which there was no reason for any of the nations or the peoples involved to be fighting each other. Welch also noted, "The outbreak of hostilities in the summer of 1914, with the rapid alignment of countries on the opposing sides, certainly appeared to take most of the world by surprise as it should."

With entangling alliances all over the world, nations as far from Europe as Japan were involved in the war within days. One great nation, the United States of America, adhering to George Washington's advice to avoid entangling foreign alliances, wisely kept out of it.

There was an additional obstacle to getting the United States into the war. The U.S. Constitution did not allow the president or any other small group of persons to declare war. The power to declare war required an act of Congress. Convincing the American people they should go to war required an event that would make them angry at some foreign enemy. The sinking of the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915, aided by the unnecessary delays in getting rescue vessels to the survivors, led to about 1,200 deaths, including more than 120 Americans. That event supplied a major part of the psychological change needed to get the American people sufficiently angry to go to war.

Britain Blockades Germany

While the British were losing The Great War on land, it was quite a different story at sea. Britain, with a little help from Japan, established supremacy in the Pacific. Britain declared the North Sea to be a military area and imposed a naval blockade of Germany that included food destined for civilians. The starvation of German civilians as a consequence of the British blockade is considered by many to have been the most effective weapon used by either side during the war. One description of the effects of this blockade is posted online at the National World War 1 Museum's website:

   By 1916, the results of the Allied
   naval blockade were being deeply
   felt in Germany. Poor weather conditions
   that year also contributed to a
   70% drop in domestic food produc
   tion. Wheat was augmented with
   sawdust during breadmaking and
   eventually exhausted potato supplies
   gave way to the "Turnip Winter
   of 1916." Among Germans, turnips
   were considered livestock feed and
   the prospect of relying on them for
   subsistence was abhorrent.


The abhorrence of eating turnips was just a steppingstone on the road to the starvation and malnutrition that followed. In December of 1918, Germany's National Health Office estimated the death toll in Germany from the blockade at 763,000 persons, dying of starvation or other diseases that were aided by malnutrition. These statistics do not include the estimated 150,000 Germans who died in the influenza pandemic of 1918. Germany wanted to break the British blockade.

U-Boats and Q-Boats

The German technological answer to the British naval superiority was the Unterseeboot, which literally means "undersea boat." These submarines were best known by the term U-boat. U-boats initially fought against both heavily armed warships and cargo ships, but soon they were used predominantly to sink enemy cargo ships. U-boats, the British were surprised to learn, had enough range to be a factor in the waters around the British Isles.

The British learned early in the war that they had underestimated the capabilities of the German U-boats, and Britain needed an answer to them. One of the early answers was the Q-boat. These were merchant ships retrofitted with hidden armaments, or specially designed military ships with panels hiding the armaments making them appear to be merchant vessels. They got the nickname Q-boats (or Q-ships) because their homeport was in Queenstown, Ireland. Q-boats would cruise in areas of known U-boat activity appearing to be easy prey, luring the German U-boats to try to sink them with deck guns, instead of expensive torpedoes. U-boats were vulnerable when they surfaced. This is when the Q-boat crew would quickly remove the panels that concealed the armaments and open fire on the U-boat. U-boats were not designed to sustain battle damage; their stealth was their defense.

One problem with the British Q-boats was that their very existence was a violation of one of the rules of war, the Cruiser Rules, because it blurred the distinction between a warship and a noncombatant merchant vessel. Once it became known that the British had violated the Cruiser Rules by deploying warships disguised as noncombatant merchant ships, Germany was no longer legally bound by the Cruiser Rules to treat merchant ships as unarmed noncombatants.

The Cruiser Rules

At first, German U-boats were obedient to the Cruiser Rules of naval warfare. Unarmed passenger ships were not to be sunk. Unarmed cargo ships of belligerent nations could be sunk or towed away as a prize of war once the crew was allowed to radio a distress call for rescue and abandon ship. The passengers and crew were considered to be in safety in their lifeboats if they were near land or on a neutral vessel. Armed warships or merchant vessels that were a threat to the U-boat could be sunk without warning.

A U-boat, being unable to tow a large cargo ship any appreciable distance, would, under the Cruiser Rules, surface by the side of a cargo ship of a belligerent nation and announce to the crew that their ship had been captured. The captain of the captured ship would be ordered to come aboard the U-boat bringing the ship's papers. Once the crew made a distress call and abandoned ship, the Germans would take possession of the ship as a prize of war. The U-boat crew then had the right under rules of war to sink it.

The February 1, 1915 issue of the New York Times had a front-page article in which British civilian sailors from unarmed merchant vessels explained in detail their experiences of being captured by German U-boats under the Cruiser Rules. The SS Linda Blanche was sunk by U-31 on January 30, 1915. One of the crewmen related what happened once the Uboat surfaced, announced they had been captured, examined the papers, and determined it was an unarmed merchant ship:

   The mate [who] was in charge of the
   boat that passed between the Linda
   Blanche, and the submarine, said the
   German officers were jolly chaps and
   quite young, too. They could speak
   English well, and they gave the crew
   half a box of cigars and some cigarettes.
   One Welshman got a muffler,
   another a pair of strong suede gloves,
   and the cabin boy, a little chap of 15,
   who was made much of because he
   was in tears, got a cap and a pair of
   mittens from the submarine crew. He
   laughed when he got back to land, and
   was comparatively happy when he
   went off to his Welsh home by train.


The quartermaster of the SS Ben Cruachan, which was sunk by the U-21 on that same day in a manner similar to that of the SS Linda Blanche, explained how they were treated by the German submariners:

   It was about 10:00 o'clock when
   the submarine was sighted and we
   should have been in Liverpool at 2
   o'clock. When we were held up the
   crew got into two large lifeboats
   and two small boats. The report that
   our ship was torpedoed is not correct.
   They blew her up by a bomb
   which was carried aboard and placed
   at the stern end. There was a long
   fuse which ran over the side of the
   ship and reached almost down to the
   level of the water. When everybody
   had got off one of the submarine
   crew applied a light to it.


The quartermaster added:

   The Germans were very decent to
   us. They told us where we could
   find a trawler fleet. The chief officer
   of the submarine shook hands with
   our skipper and said "I am very sorry,
   Captain, but war is war." When our
   skipper got off the submarine into the
   lifeboat the German crew stood at salute
   and the chief officer shouted, "I
   hope you will all get picked up before
   bad weather comes on."


German U-boats obeyed the Cruiser Rules not just as a code of honor, although there was considerable honor amongst the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who served on both sides in World War I. There were also some pragmatic reasons. U-boats had a limited number of torpedoes, torpedoes were expensive, and depending on the size, design, and hull strength of a ship, it frequently required more than one WWI-era torpedo to sink it. U-boat commanders usually preferred to use well-placed demolition charges to sink the ships they captured. Also, humane treatment of the noncombatant crewmembers of captured vessels encouraged future cooperation by crewmembers during subsequent captures.

Britain Caught Rotating the Cruiser Rules

When the U-21 captured the Ben Cruachan, the German submarine crew made a startling discovery: official orders to ships' captains to disobey the Cruiser Rules. Author Colin Simpson in his book Lusitania described it:

   On board her first victim, the 3000ton
   Ben Cruachan of the Ben Line
   of Edinburg, she captured a complete
   set of Churchill's inflammatory
   orders, including the instructions to
   ram and to fly a neutral flag.


Within days Kaiser Wilhelm II traveled to the naval station at Wilhelmshaven. On February 4, the German Admiralty issued a war zone decree. The next day's New York Times printed much of it on the front page:

   The waters around Great Britain and
   Ireland, including the whole English
   Channel, are declared a war zone
   from and after Feb. 18, 1915.

      Every enemy merchant ship found
   in this war zone will be destroyed,
   even if it is impossible to avert dangers
   which threaten the crew and
   passengers.

      Also, neutral ships in the war zone
   are in danger, as in consequence of
   the misuse of neutral flags, ordered
   by the British Government on Jan.
   31, and in view of the hazards of
   naval warfare, it cannot always be
   avoided that attacks meant for enemy
   ships endanger neutral ships.


Germany's ill-advised war zone reaction to catching the British red-handed was one of the biggest blunders of World War I. Germany should have used this in psychological warfare. They had the evidence they needed to influence neutral nations to take action against Britain. They could have pointed out the endangerment of 15-year-old cabin boys by ordering noncombatant merchant vessels to attempt to ram U-boats, thereby revoking their status as noncombatants. Instead, the German leaders chose a military reaction that backfired in two ways: It alienated the very people they were trying to influence, and the emotional headlines of war got the front page news while articles of substance, if reported all, were frequently pushed to the back pages.

Within days of the heightened awareness of England's bizarre foreign policy, the British ship Lusitania was observed sailing under an American flag. The incident was reported to the New York Times by three American citizens who were on board and requested their names not be published. The February 7 front-page article contained Lusitania Captain David Dow's explanation that he changed flags because he had received a warning that U-boats were in the area. Captain Dow defended his actions by saying part of the ship's cargo was mail of neutral nations and some of the passengers were citizens of neutral nations.

Missouri Senator William Stone was incensed by the incident. As the New York Times reported on February 9, unfortunately on page 2:

   Senator Stone of Missouri, Chairman
   of the Committee on Foreign Relations,
   was a caller at the White House
   today. He expressed the opinion that
   the hoisting of the Stars and Stripes
   by the Captain of the Lusitania was
   an improper use of the American flag.
   He added the belief that it would not
   be difficult to put through Congress
   a resolution of protest against this incident,
   but said he thought the matter
   was one that ought to be handled exclusively
   at this time by the executive
   branch of the Government.


On February 10, under public pressure, President Wilson sent notes to both the British and German governments. His note to the German government is known as the Strict Accountability note. If any German naval commander, assuming a ship flying a U.S. flag is not an American ship, sinks an American ship or takes the life an American, the German government will be held strictly accountable.

Wilson's note to the British government soft-pedaled their use of the U.S. flag, essentially giving the British a tacit go-ahead to continue doing it. His note included such phrases as, "reserving for future considerations the legality and propriety of the deceptive use of the flag" and "the occasional use of the flag of a neutral or an enemy ... seems to this Government a very different thing from an explicit sanction by a belligerent Government for its merchant ships generally to fly the flag of a neutral power." It had plenty of double-talk, but no mention of accountability.

Many historians refer frequently to Wilson's Strict Accountability note to Germany while ignoring his parallel memo to England giving the British permission to use the U.S. flag as a cover. Any attempt to understand this incident while studying only one of these memos without the other is using only half of the truth.

The Germans, realizing their response of unrestricted naval warfare wasn't gaining friends or influencing people, offered to withdraw it in exchange for a concession that the British declaration of the North Sea as a military area be modified to allow food destined for civilians into German ports. The British were not interested in ending the hunger blockade.

The Lusitania's Last Voyage

Prior to the Lusitania's departure from New York on May 1, 1915--her last voyage--the German government is sued official warnings and even paid for advertisements warning prospective passengers that the waters around the British Isles were a war zone. However, Charles Sumner, agent for the Cunard Line, was quoted in a page 3 article in the New York Times published that same day:

"There are now no German cruisers in the Atlantic, and the 'danger zone' does not begin until we reach the British Channel and the Irish Sea. Then one may say there is a general system of convoying British ships. The British Navy is responsible for all British ships, and especially for Cunarders."

"Your speed, too, is a safeguard, is it not?" it was suggested.

"Yes; as for submarines, I have no fear of them whatever."

On May 5, as the Lusitania neared British waters, the bottom fell out of Sumner's assurance that the Lusitania would have a naval escort. The cancellation of the convoy ship Juno was described by Colin Simpson:

   Shortly after noon on 5 May the Admiralty
   signaled the Juno to abandon
   her escort mission and return
   to Queenstown. She was to travel
   south-east overnight so as to clear
   the Fastnet by some 50 miles and
   under cover of darkness. The Lusitania
   was not informed that she was
   now alone, and closing every minute
   to the U-20.


The German U-boat U-20 was active in the busy shipping routes that ran between Ireland and England. The U-20 met the British ship Candidate on Thursday, May 6 in Saint George's Channel. Kapitan-leutnant Walther Schwieger, although not required to observe the Cruiser Rules, did so in this case. Simpson recorded the sequence of events:

   After two grenades had been thrown,
   the Candidate hove to and the crew
   were allowed to abandon ship. There
   were no casualties, and the U-20's
   boarding party climbed aboard at
   8.20 a.m. They stayed an hour and
   then drawing off a quarter of a mile
   put a torpedo into her, but the ship
   refused to sink. Schwieger closed up
   and a dozen rounds from his deck
   gun into the waterline sent the Candidate
   to the bottom at 11.25 a.m.
   The crew were picked up safely by a
   naval patrol boat which concentrated
   on its mission and did not attack the
   submarine. Schwieger allowed the
   patrol boat to depart unmolested.


Once again, an incredible story of honor by the men in uniform on both sides, as the British Navy patrol boat rescued the crew of the Candidate without attacking the U-boat and the U-boat did not fire on the patrol boat while it was rescuing unarmed noncombatants.

About an hour and a half later, the U-20 met the Centurion not far from where it sank the Candidate. For some reason, perhaps suspecting the Centurion might be a Q-boat, Schwieger torpedoed without warning. Once again, a lone torpedo did not sink the ship. Once the crew of the Centurion abandoned the ship with no loss of life, Schwieger took aim and fired a second torpedo. About an hour and 20 minutes later the Centurion sank.

On Friday morning Edward Mandell House, President Wilson's alter ego, was preparing for an audience with King George V, a meeting that hinted of finalizing a plan to sacrifice the Lusitania in order to draw the United States into the war. As Simpson described it, House met first with Sir Edward Grey, who asked him, "What will America do if the Germans sink an ocean liner with American passengers on board?" House replied, "I believe that a flame of indignation would sweep the United States and that by itself would be sufficient to carry us into the war." King George V, when he met with House later that day, was more specific, asking, "Colonel, what will America do if the Germans sink the Lusitania?" Apparently House spent the whole day and into the evening with the British elites, as James Perloff reported in "False Flag at Sea--Lusitania":

   At evening, a splendid dinner was
   given honoring House; numerous
   British dignitaries attended, including
   Grey, and--at House's request
   --Lord Mersey, the Wreck Commissioner
   who would later oversee the
   inquiry regarding the Lusitania. During
   this dinner the news arrived of the
   great ship's sinking. House announced
   to the assembled guests that America
   would enter the war within the month.


While House hobnobbed with the British elite, the Lusitania proceeded, unaware that the Juno, her appointed escort, had been recalled. When the U-20 encountered the unescorted Lusitania, the U-boat fired one torpedo at the Lusitania. The explosion from the torpedo penetrated the hull and did some damage. But the damage done by the torpedo was nothing when compared to the second blast. It was a massive explosion from within the Lusitania. The Lusitania sank 18 minutes later.

Credible sources disagree on the exact numbers of passengers, crewmembers, and fatalities on board the Lusitania, but there were about 1,960 total souls on board including passengers, crew, and three stowaways who were discovered after setting sail. The death toll was about 1,200. There were about 160 Americans on board, of whom more than 120 died.

American Public Reaction to the Sinking

Most Americans, thinking the Lusitania was sunk by a torpedo, were understandably angry at the Germans. But some Americans had serious doubts. Unfortunately such news reports were generally relegated to the less-read pages. The New York Times for May 8, in an article that was buried on page 6, had interviews with officers from the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C.:

   Naval officers here agree the Lusitania
   must have been struck by more
   than one torpedo, if as reported, she
   remained afloat only thirty minutes
   after the first explosion. The ship was
   so constructed, they say, that except
   under extraordinary condition a single
   torpedo could not sink her.


The article stated further:

   It was pointed out, however, that inside
   explosions following the attack
   might have aided in the work of destruction,
   as the ship is understood to
   have carried a large amount of war
   material for the Allies, including
   ammunition. Such explosions might
   have ripped open several compartments
   and so weakened others that
   they gave way under the pressure of
   inrushing water.


James Perloff, in "False Flag at Sea--Lusitania," lists among the items illegally on board guncotton, a high explosive used by the British when manufacturing military mines. According to PerlofF:

   In the U.S. Justice Department's archives
   is an affidavit signed by Dr.
   E. W. Ritter von Rettegh, a chemist
   employed by Captain Guy Gaunt, the
   British naval attache in Washington.
   Ritter von Rettegh stated that Gaunt
   called him to his office on April
   26, 1915, and asked what the effect
   would be of sea water coming into
   contact with guncotton. The chemist
   explained that there were two types
   of guncotton--trinitro cellulose,
   which seawater would not affect,
   and pyroxyline, which sea water
   could cause to suddenly explode, as
   a result of chemical changes that he
   explained in technical detail.

      The following day, Gaunt visited
   the Du Pont munitions plant in
   Cristfield, New Jersey, and Du Pont
   thereupon shipped tons of pyroxyline,
   packaged in burlap, to the Cunard
   wharf in New York City, where it was
   loaded onto the Lusitania. It quite
   evidently accounts for the item on
   the ship's manifest of 3,813 40-pound
   containers of "cheese," which were
   shipped along with 696 containers of
   "butter." That these packages were not
   butter and cheese is clear: they were
   not shipped in refrigerated compartments;
   their destination was listed as
   the Royal Navy's Weapons Testing
   Establishment; and no one filed an insurance
   claim for the lost "butter and
   cheese."


Of course, the collector of customs, Dudley Field Malone, who was appointed by President Wilson, didn't question the lack of refrigeration for the dairy products. When reports appeared in the press suspecting the internal explosions were the real cause of the Lusitania's sinking, President Wilson ordered Robert Lansing to find out if there was any contraband on board. Colin Simpson related the happenings:

   Lansing had a detailed report in writing
   from Malone by noon, which
   stated that "practically all her cargo
   was contraband of some kind" and
   listed great quantities of munitions.
   Nevertheless, Lansing and Wilson
   were the first to realize that if it became
   public that over 100 American
   lives had been lost because of the
   Administration's lax interpretation of
   neutrality, it would be most unlikely
   for them to survive the inevitable political
   holocaust.


Suspicions were also raised by the lack of rescue assistance by the British Navy. When the Lusitania transmitted its SOS signal, Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Coke dispatched every ship he had at his disposal including the cruiser Juno, the ship that had been ordered to abandon its convoy responsibilities. But soon after, in a bizarre turn of events, the Juno was ordered back to port by Admiral Lord Fisher without rescuing any passengers. Simpson gives this account:

   Admiral Oliver received the signal
   shortly before 3 p.m. and at once
   took it to Fisher, who seemed to take
   the news calmly. It was not until Oliver
   mentioned that the Juno was on
   her way and would doubtless wireless
   a full report that Fisher seemed
   to react. He ordered the Juno to be
   recalled at once.... The Juno was in
   sight of the survivors in the water
   when she received the recall signal
   and turned back to Queenstown; as
   a result almost two hours elapsed
   before the first rescue ships started
   picking up survivors.


Within days of the sinking, American businessman C. R. Meissner, who was convinced the Lusitania was sunk by explosive cargo rather than by the torpedo, organized a petition drive to get Congress to place an embargo on shipping arms and ammunition out of the country. In a May 12 New York Times article, buried on page 5, he related his activities:

   C. R. Meissner, of the importing firm
   of G. E. Meissner & Bros., 31 Union
   Square, who is frankly pro-German
   and justifies the sinking of the Lusitania,
   is conducting a personal endless
   chain campaign by petition to have
   President Wilson call an extra session
   of Congress so that an embargo can
   be placed upon the shipping abroad
   of arms and ammunition.

      Through the circularization of
   business houses, public bodies, the
   churches and citizens in general, Mr.
   Meissner has obtained about 15,000
   signatures.


Meissner's obviously German name and his occupation in the import business show a strong possibility that he had economic reasons for his activism. He, like many other Americans, was angry at the British for lost business caused by the British blockade. Farmers and ranchers, being in the business of producing food to feed hungry people, were understandably not on board with the hunger blockade either. Despite the strong possibility of impure motives by some of the people involved, it shows there was a significant minority within the United States that did not want to be part of World War 1 and, if we were to take a side in the war, some would be on the side of Germany.

There were opponents of the war on Capitol Hill, as well. Senator Robert La Follete of Wisconsin argued it was a violation of the intent of the Passenger Act of 1882 for a ship coming into or departing from a U.S. port to have both passengers and explosive cargo on board. Congressman Charles Lindbergh, Sr. (the father of the famed aviator) was opposed to the war, as well.

The United States wasn't about to be in the war within the month as Edward Mandell House had predicted on the evening of the Lusitania's sinking. One of the men close to President Wilson was Robert Lansing, who urged caution, as Simpson noted:

   Lansing had his political ear closer
   to the ground than the others, and
   knew that armed intervention by the
   United States would never be carried
   through Congress. He counseled an
   immediate break in diplomatic relations
   with Germany but suggested
   that the U.S. be confined to the role
   of Allied supplier and creditor until
   the opportune political and financial
   moment, which he saw as some time
   shortly after the Presidential election
   of 1916.


German Government Requests Official Investigation

Amid numerous official notes and responses between the governments involved, the German government on May 29 transmitted an official note to the U.S. government that attempted to have an official international investigation of the Lusitania's sinking. The German note repeated previous assertions that the Lusitania had explosives illegally on board, had cannons on board, and was using American citizens as protection.

This note also included a formal offer by the German government to have the Lusitania incident investigated by "an international call on the International Commission of Inquiry, as provided by Article III. of The Hague agreement of Oct. 18, 1907." Article 3 of that agreement said:

   A belligerent party which violates the
   provisions of the said Regulations
   shall, if the case demands, be liable to
   pay compensation. It shall be responsible
   for all acts committed by persons
   forming part of its armed forces.


Germany was willing, if found wrong, to be held responsible for the sinking and pay compensation. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan was willing to accept the German offer, but President Wilson refused.

An investigation under Article 3 of The Hague agreement in a neutral country could have asked why the British Navy withdrew its convoy ship, the Juno, and then ordered it back to port without rescuing survivors. It could have asked about the butter and cheese. It could have questioned dockworkers to identify the dairy that supplied the dairy products that didn't need refrigeration. It could have asked whether or not the Lusitania had been retrofitted with artillery at Queenstown, making it a Q-boat.

An Irate American Demands Answers

On June 3, one of the surviving American passengers from the Lusitania, F. J. Gauntlett, once back on American soil and free from British censorship, wasted no time in contacting the newspapers, expressing his displeasure with the British Admiralty. A New York Times article that should have had a front-page headline, but was on page two of the June 4 issue, explained:

   F. J. Gauntlett, a Director of the
   Newport News Drydock and Shipbuilding
   Company, who was a passenger
   on the Lusitania when she
   was torpedoed, returned to New
   York yesterday on the American
   liner Philadelphia, bringing the
   body of Arthur L. Hopkins, the
   President of his company, who was a
   victim of the disaster. Mr. Gauntlett
   appeared to be very bitter against the
   British Admiralty because destroyers
   were not sent to the rescue of the
   drowning passengers.

      "When I was landed in Queenstown
   after the sinking of the Lusitaniasaid
   Mr. Gauntlett, "I was very
   much surprised to find several torpedo
   boat destroyers inside the harbor
   which were under the orders of
   a superannuated naval officer. I went
   to this officer asked him why the destroyers
   had not gone out after getting
   the S O S call from the Lusitania,
   and he replied that he was under Admiralty
   orders not to risk the boats."


The British Navy was supposedly afraid to rescue the survivors of the Lusitania because of a lone German submarine. Gaunlett didn't buy that flimsy excuse. Being a director of a shipbuilding company, he knew a torpedo boat destroyer when he saw one and knew they didn't run from U-boats. Gauntlett, obviously a man who retained his senses during a crisis and had a keen eye for observing details despite the traumatic experience, also stated definitely that only one torpedo hit the Lusitania.

Edward Mandell House Returns to the United States

On June 5 Edward Mandell House boarded the U.S. liner St. Paul and returned to the United States. It's worthy of note that he followed German advice and sailed on a U.S. ship. Also, even though it wasn't necessary to escort an American liner from Liverpool to Fastnet, the British Navy supplied two torpedo boat destroyers for House's ship. F. M. Passow, the captain of the St. Paul, confirmed this to the New York Times when the St. Paul arrived in New York on June 13, and it was on the front page the next day. Captain Passow added that the British ship Orduna, which departed Liverpool three hours earlier, had no naval escort.

Wiliam Jennings Bryan Resigns as Secretary of State

On June 8 William Jennings Bryan resigned his position as secretary of state because he disagreed with President Wilson's proposed note to Germany holding Germany solely responsible for the loss of American lives aboard the Lusitania and Wilson's refusal to investigate German allegations before taking action.

Robert Welch said of William Jennings Bryan, "He was a completely honorable and intellectually honest, patriotic American, possessed of great oratorical capability, who seldom knew what he was talking about." This time Bryan knew what he was talking about, and he was right to refuse to concur with Wilson on the note to Germany. But by resigning his position as secretary of state he removed himself from a position where he might have been able to keep us out of World War I. Robert Lansing was appointed as Bryan's successor. President Wilson ran for reelection on the slogan "He Kept Us Out of War" and then promptly got us into that war after winning reelection. We could have and should have stayed completely out of World War I.

Germany committed her share of wrongs in World War I, including her invasion of Belgium and use of chemical weapons. But Germany wasn't the only country that acted like Barbarian Huns at times during the war. As William Jennings Bryan said, "The killing of innocent women and children cannot be justified, whether the killing is by drowning or starving."

Acknowledgements: Lusitania by Colin Simpson, "False Flag at Sea--Lusitania " by James Perloff, and Architects of Conspiracy by William P. Hoar
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Title Annotation:HISTORY--PAST AND PERSPECTIVE
Author:Hyde, Kurt
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 4, 2015
Words:5309
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