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Lusitania, Sinking of the

Lusitania, Sinking of the (1915).On 3 November 1914, Great Britain began mining the North Sea as part of a blockade of Germany, during World War I, ultimately including foodstuffs. German proclaimed a “war zone” around the British Isles (4 February 1915), advising merchant shipping that it must anticipate attack without warning. Berlin cited the submarine's vulnerability to justify abandoning rules of cruiser warfare, which called for warnings and then visit‐and‐search of merchant ships suspected of transporting contraband. If contraband were discovered, the belligerent must ensure the crew's safety before seizing or destroying the vessel. Britain deemed the war zone an illegal blockade, armed its merchant ships, and ordered them to attack surfaced submarines. The United States, not yet in the war, announced it would hold Germany to “strict accountability” for loss of American lives and property.

On 7 May 1915, the German submarine U‐20 sank the unprotected British liner Lusitania without warning in its approach to the Irish Sea. The giant Cunard Vessel sank in twenty minutes. Of 1,959 passengers and crew, 1,128 perished—128 of them Americans. Although the Lusitania was carrying 4,200 cases of contraband ammunition, the reasons why it sank so quickly are still debated.

Attack without warning defied American support of neutral/noncombatant rights. On 13 May, President Woodrow Wilson asked Germany to disavow its action but avoided a diplomatic break, having noted that a people could be “too proud to fight.” When Germany delayed, Wilson moved to preserve national honor, rights, and prestige, insisting on visit‐and‐search, indemnity, and no further attacks on liners. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in protest. Eventually, Germany suspended unrestricted attacks, and in February 1916 it apologized and offered indemnity without acknowledging illegality. But the incident strengthened America's perception of Germany as a ruthless and law‐less nation.
[See also Blockades.]

Bibliography

Thomas M. Bailey and
Paul B. Ryan , The Lusitania Disaster: An Episode in Modern Warfare and Diplomacy, 1975.

David F. Trask

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Lusitania (ship)

Lusitania, liner under British registration, sunk off the Irish coast by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. In the sinking, 1,198 persons lost their lives, 128 of whom were U.S. citizens. A warning to Americans against taking passage on British vessels, signed by the Imperial German Embassy, appeared in morning papers on the day the vessel was scheduled to sail from New York, but too late to accomplish its purpose. The vessel was unarmed, though the Germans made a point of the fact that it carried munitions for the Allies. The considerable sympathy for Germany that had previously existed in the United States to a large extent disappeared after the disaster, and there were demands from many for an immediate declaration of war. President Wilson chose the course of diplomacy and sent Germany a strong note asking for "reparation so far as reparation is possible." Germany refused to accept responsibility for the act in an argumentative reply, but issued secret orders to submarine commanders not to attack passenger ships without warning. After prolonged negotiations, Germany finally conceded its liability for the sinking of the Lusitania and agreed to make reparations and to discontinue sinking passenger ships without warning. The immediate crisis between the United States and Germany subsided. The incident, however, contributed to the rise of American sentiment for the entry of the United States into World War I, with recruitment posters two years later urging potential enlistees to "Remember the Lusitania!"

See studies by A. and M. Hoehling (1956), C. L. Droste (1972), C. Simpson (1973), T. Bailey (1975), D. Ramsay (2001), D. Preston (2002), and E. Larson (2015).

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Lusitania, Sinking of the

LUSITANIA, SINKING OF THE

LUSITANIA, SINKING OF THE. On 7 May 1915, a German submarine sank without warning the Lusitania, killing 128 Americans. Since Germany had warned travelers against sailing on British or Allied ships, many believed that the sinking was premeditated. The log of the submarine shows, however, that it was not.

President Woodrow Wilson resisted considerable popular clamor for war but demanded that Germany make reparation for and disavow the sinking. The German government agreed to make reparation and eventually promised that it would not sink liners without warning, but it steadfastly refused to disavow the sinking of the Lusitania.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hickey, Des. Seven Days to Disaster: The Sinking of the Lusitania. New York: Putnam, 1982.


Ramsay, David. Lusitania: Saga and Myth. London: Chatham, 2001.

Bernadotte E.Schmitt/a. e.

See alsoMeuse-Argonne Offensive ; Submarines ; World War I .

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Lusitania

Lusitania a Cunard liner which was sunk by a German submarine in the Atlantic in May 1915 with the loss of over 1,000 lives; the event was a factor in bringing the US into the First World War.

Lusitania was originally an ancient Roman province in the Iberian peninsula, corresponding to modern Portugal.

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Lusitania

LusitaniaCampania, Catania, pannier •apnoea •Oceania, Tanya, Titania •biennia, denier, quadrennia, quinquennia, septennia, triennia •Albania, balletomania, bibliomania, crania, dipsomania, egomania, erotomania, kleptomania, Lithuania, Lusitania, mania, Mauritania, megalomania, miscellanea, monomania, nymphomania, Pennsylvania, Pomerania, pyromania, Rainier, Romania, Ruritania, Tasmania, Transylvania, Urania •Armenia, bergenia, gardenia, neurasthenia, proscenia, schizophrenia, senior, SloveniaAbyssinia, Bithynia, curvilinear, Gdynia, gloxinia, interlinear, Lavinia, linear, rectilinear, Sardinia, triclinia, Virginia, zinnia •insignia • Sonia • insomnia • Bosnia •California, cornea •Amazonia, ammonia, Antonia, Babylonia, begonia, bonier, Catalonia, catatonia, Cephalonia, Estonia, Ionia, Laconia, Livonia, Macedonia, mahonia, Patagonia, pneumonia, Rondônia, sinfonia, Snowdonia, valonia, zirconia •junior, petunia •hernia, journeyer

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