WW1HA 2013 Symposium speakers: Gary Armstrong

Gary Armstrong is political science professor at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.  He received his PhD at Georgetown University in 1994, with a dissertation focusing on the clash between Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Cabot Lodge over terminating the war with Imperial Germany in 1918.

Here’s the link to his page at the WW1HA website:


Who was at fault in the Lusitania sinking?

Obviously, the Germans sank the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, with a torpedo. The question seems to be: Did the British deserve it?

I can’t grasp how the passengers of any ship deserve to be dragged to the bottom of the sea, whether the German government warned them or not — advertisements ran in major American newspapers advising would-be passengers that the ship was likely to be attacked by submarines. Was it easy to change your tickets? Imagine trying to get on another flight a couple of days before your plane takes off — you’d pay so much in penalties, you might as well write off the fare and start over.

The principal reason that so many lives were lost on the Lusitania, although the ship was only 8 miles off the Irish coast, was the it rolled so far onto its side, half the lifeboats hung uselessly in the air. About 1,200 people died, including 114 Americans.

I read that the Lusitania was used as bait for U-boats on Churchill’s theory that the death of innocent Americans would bring the U.S. into the war. Instead, as reported by the Detroit Free Press of May 9, 1915, “Wilson to Use Firmness and Deliberation.” I believe he sent a sharp note.


Read the comments for insistence that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California lied about its findings to protect the British government, as well as the usual finger pointing on completely unrelated issues.

This has nothing to do with the controversy, but it’s entertaining: