Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9, 1915

For Saunterback Saturday this week, a follow-up to Thursday's Chicago Daily News headline. Two days later, The New York American trumpeted the death toll from the sinking of the Lusitania and Germany's official statement.
The sinking of the Lusitania is often credited as pushing the U.S. into World War I. Certainly it was a factor, but you have to consider that Woodrow Wilson campaigned in 1916 that "He Kept Us Out of War." The November election was just as far away then as the election of Hillary Clinton is now.

Wilson insisted that "America is too proud to fight," yet succeeded in getting Germany to suspend submarine warfare until January, 1917. The final straw was actually the "Zimmerman telegram" of 1917, intercepted by Great Britain and passed along to the U.S. government, in which the German foreign minister invited Mexico to declare war on the U.S. with the promise of receiving Texas, Arizona and New Mexico after the war. The U.S. entered the war in April, 1917.

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Rollin Kirby cartoon  in the New York World
showing Kaiser Wilhelm applauding
William Jennings Bryan.
For the past two Saturdays, I've been posting cartoons of William Jennings Bryan's unsuccessful run for the White House in 1900, and it's worth noting here that Bryan was Secretary of State in the first Wilson administration.

He had made serious attempts to negotiate treaties with the belligerent nations of Europe, failing in his efforts with Germany. He foresaw that the European powers were more likely to wear themselves out than to achieve total victory, "and if either side does win such a victory it will probably mean preparation for another war."

After Germany sunk the Lusitania, Bryan objected to the Wilson administration's increasing tilt toward the Allied powers -- Wilson's insistence that Germany stop u-boat attacks was not balanced by any demand that Great Britain lift its naval blockade against Germany. In June, Bryan resigned from the cabinet, sniffing, "[W]hy be so shocked by the drowning of a few people, if there is to be no objection to starving a nation?"

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