William Jennings Bryan


Today in History, June 9: 1915 – William Jennings Bryan, US Secretary of State, resigns. After a German U-Boat had torpedoed a British passenger ship, the Lusitania, resulting in the deaths of 128 Americans, Bryan sent a conciliatory, almost apologetic message to the German government without President Wilson’s consent. Germany felt impowered and issued an aggressive statement, to which Wilson replied in kind, leaving little doubt that America would not tolerate the sinking of non-combatants. Germany backed off, for a time, and Bryan resigned in protest, believing Wilson was leading the nation towards war. Bryan had been an impressive orator, 3 times a candidate for president, and L. Frank Baum’s inspiration for the Cowardly Lion of the Wizard of Oz in 1900.

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