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Topics in Chronicling America - The Resignation of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan, U.S. Secretary of State and devout antiwar advocate, resigns on June 9, 1915 over President Woodrow Wilson’s handling of the German submarine sinking of the Lusitania. A proponent of strict U.S. neutrality regarding World War I, Bryan felt that Wilson’s strong position against Germany concerning the killing of 1,201 people on board could draw the two nations into war. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Picture of William Jennings Bryan

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Important Dates:

  • June 9, 1915 US Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigns from office, as he cannot agree will with President Wilson on actions to be taken upon Germany.
  • June 9, 1915 British newspapers claim that President Wilson’s firm note to Germany, which resulted in Bryan’s resignation, may lead to war.
  • June 10, 1915 Bryan resolves not to remain idle and plans a lecture tour on peace.
  • June 11, 1915 The British public believes that President Wilson’s note is too mild because of Bryan’s resignation.
  • September 29, 1916 1916 Presidential Candidate, Senator Porter J. McCumber of North Dakota, in his campaign address declares Bryan’s resignation was due to President Wilson desire to “force the country into war.”
  • November 4, 1919 Former Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg of Germany testifies that he doubted President Wilson’s efforts for peace, and he promises to tell what he knew of William Bryan’s resignation.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] William Bryan’s Resignation, William Jennings Bryan
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.
  • Specifically, Secretary Bryan resigned in the year, 1915.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  June 23, 2015
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