USA MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO ARMED NEUTRALITY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 100 years ago today, February 27, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson informed his Cabinet that the loss of American lives on the torpedoed British liner Laconia* was "the expected 'overt act,'" and "a clear cut act of war by Germany."
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported on February 28, 1917 that this along with two other developments the previous day brought the United States "a step closer to...armed neutrality."
The other developments were a resolution by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "requiring the president to furnish arms, ammunition and gunners to American ships whose owners ask protection from German submarines," and a conference of the leaders of the House of Representatives who agreed to pass any resolution passed by the Senate.
The Tribune reported that it appeared certain that the 64th Congress would "direct the president to arm American ships" despite the fact that there was a planned filabuster by a small group of Senators.
*HMS Laconia was a Cunard liner carrying 73 passengers, including 6 American citizens, from New York to Liverpool. The ship was also carrying foodstuffs, cotton and war material. Laconia was hit by two German torpedoes on the late evening of February 25, 1917 and sank in 40 minutes. 6 passengers & 6 crewmen were killed.
"Wilson Rules Case of Liner is 'Overt Act,' Full Powers Will Be Given to President," by Arthur Sears Henning, February 28, 1917, The Chicago Daily Tribune, www.chicagotribune.com/
RMS Laconia at New York