Term Paper Resource Guide to Twentieth-Century United States History

By Robert Muccigrosso; Ron Blazek et al. | Go to book overview

16.

Sinking of the Lusitania (1915)
In early 1915, Germany announced that ships sailing in what it decreed the war zone around the British Isles would be sunk. On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat sank the British passenger liner Lusitania, which it claimed (correctly) was carrying arms, with the loss of 1,198 lives, 128 of them Americans. While declaring that ‘‘there is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight,’’ President Woodrow Wilson promised to hold Germany to ‘‘strict accountability’’ and demanded an end to its unrestricted submarine warfare. Fearful that war might ensue, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned. Several months later, after a similar incident, Germany accepted the Arabic pledge, which provided for the safety of passengers on unarmed vessels.
Suggestions for Term Papers
1. Discuss the controversy concerning whether the Lusitania carried arms.
2. Compare American reaction to the sinking of the Lusitania with the sinking of the Maine before the Spanish-American War.
3. Should Americans have been allowed to travel on the Lusitania?
4. Should the United States have declared war on Germany after the sinking of the Lusitania?
5. Was the sinking of the Lusitania an important factor in the United States’ eventual declaration of war against Germany?

Suggested Sources: See entries, 1, 11, 14, and 17 for related items.


REFERENCE SOURCES

Shipwrecks: An Encyclopedia of the World’s Worst Disasters at Sea. David Ritchie. New York: Facts on File, 1996. Provides background on and descriptions of 400 significant shipwrecks; includes charts and illustrations. Includes the Lusitania and Titanic.

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