William Jennings Bryan: U.S. Protest Over the Sinking of the Lusitania (1915)
Web version: http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/text/us/lusitaniaprotest.html
. . . .In view of recent acts of the German authorities in violation of American rights on the high seas which culminated in the torpedoing and sinking of the British steamship Lusitania on May 7, 1915, by which over 100 American citizens lost their lives, it is clearly wise and desirable that the government of the United States and the Imperial German government should come to a clear and full understanding as to the grave situation which has resulted.
The sinking of the British passenger steamer Falaba by a German submarine on March 28, through which Leon C. Thrasher, an American citizen, was drowned; the attack on April 28 on the American vessel Cushing by a German aeroplane; the torpedoing on May 1 of the American vessel Gulflight by a German submarine, as a result of which two or more American citizens met their death; and, finally, the torpedoing and sinking of the steamship Lusitania constitute a series of events which the government of the United States has observed with growing concern, distress, and amazement.
Recalling the humane and enlightened attitude hitherto assumed by the Imperial German government in matters of international right, and particularly with regard to the freedom of the seas; having learned to recognize the German views and the German influence in the field of international obligation as always engaged upon the side of justice and humanity; and having understood the instructions of the Imperial German government to its naval commanders to be upon the same plane of humane action prescribed by the naval codes of other nations, the government of the United States was loath to believe - it cannot now bring itself to believe - that these acts, so absolutely contrary to the rules, the practices, and the spirit of modern warfare, could have the countenance or sanction of that great government. . . .
The government of the United States, therefore, desires to call the attention of the Imperial German government, with the utmost earnestness, to the fact that the objection to their present method of attack against the trade of their enemies lies in the practical impossibility of employing submarines in the destruction of commerce without disregarding those rules of fairness, reason, justice, and humanity which all modern opinion regards as imperative.
It is practically impossible for the officers of a submarine to visit a merchantman at sea and examine her papers and cargo. It is practically impossible for them to make a prize of her; and, if they cannot put a prize crew on board of her, they cannot sink her without leaving her crew and all on board of her to the mercy of the sea in her small boats.
These facts it is understood the Imperial German government frankly admit. We are informed that in the instances of which we have spoken time enough for even that poor measure of safety was not given, and, in at least two of the cases cited, not so much as a warning was received. Manifestly, submarines cannot be used against merchantmen, as the last few weeks have shown, without an inevitable violation of many sacred principles of justice and humanity. . . .
It confidently expects, therefore, that the Imperial German government will disavow the acts of which the government of the United States complains, that they will make reparation so far as reparation is possible for injuries which are without measure, and that they will take immediate steps to prevent the recurrence of anything so obviously subversive of the principles of warfare for which the Imperial German government have in the past so wisely and so firmly contended.
SEOUL, South Korea The South Korean military vowed revenge without identifying a target as the country gave an emotional farewell on Thursday to the sailors killed when their ship sank last month near a disputed sea border with North Korea.
If the ship is found to have been torpedoed by North Korea, as many South Koreans suspect, it will amount to one of the most serious provocations from the North in recent decades. Seoul has repeatedly vowed ?stern countermeasures? but has shied from publicly discussing its options until an investigation is over.
Military retaliation, however, is unlikely, analysts say.
?We?ll never forgive whoever inflicted this great pain on us,? said the Navy chief of staff, Kim Sung-chan, at a mass funeral for the victims on Thursday. ?We will track them down to the end and we will, by all means, make them pay for this.?
Sirens wailed, flags flew at half-staff, and navy ships sounded whistles as South Korea honored the 40 sailors known to have died and 6 others who are missing and presumed dead.
There is widespread suspicion among South Koreans that the ship was hit by a North Korean torpedo.
Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said on Thursday that he noticed ?uncharacteristic reticence and nervousness? among South Korean officials although, metaphorically, ?they found a body with a bullet hole in the head and North Korea was the only guy in the room with the pistol.? Mr. Klingner has met South Korean officials in the past week over the ship sinking.
Investigators are studying the salvaged wreck of the ship, which broke in half on March 26. They are also searching the seabed for evidence of what caused the explosion. South Korea?s defense minister has said a heavy torpedo was the most likely cause, although he has not openly blamed the North Korea, which has denied involvement.
More than 2,000 guests, including President Lee Myung-bak and foreign ambassadors, attended the funeral. Mothers of the sailors wailed as they clasped their sons? photos and the urns containing their ashes.
The families of the six missing sailors burned their naval uniforms and personal belongings and buried those ashes on Thursday. The name of each sailor was read out while Mr. Lee placed a military medal on an altar before the sailor?s photograph.
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