Let Us Save The Kiddies

At 12:20 noon, on Saturday, May 1, 1915, there steamed out of New York

harbor one of the largest and fastest passenger ships in the world. It

was the Lusitania, flying the British flag, and bound for Europe, via

Liverpool. On board were nearly two thousand men, women, and children.

They were not overcrowded, however, for the Lusitania was the finest,

the most comfortable of ocean boats. It was more than an eighth of a

ile in length, 88 feet in width, and 60 feet in depth, and had a speed

of nearly 30 miles an hour.

Her passengers, once out from shore, settled down to seven days of life

in this immense, floating hotel. Tiny babies toddled across the smooth,

shining floors of the new home, or watched with gurgles of delight the

older children rollicking and romping over the decks. The women chatted

and sang, and played all sorts of games. The men, too, engaged in many

contests, athletic stunts, and games. At night, when the little ones

were quietly sleeping in their bunks, their elders gathered in the

grand saloon and there listened to some fine singer, a famous

violinist, or a great lecturer.

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N.Y.]

So the days passed, the people living as one great family. New

friendships grew, and many delightful acquaintances were formed. The

complete harmony and restfulness of such a life, the clear skies and

sunshine, and the vast expanse of blue-green ocean, all made them

forget that they were riding into a region of horror and war.

For nearly ten months Belgium, England, France, and Russia had been

waging war against Germany. Around England's coasts lurked the horrors

of the German submarine. The travelers on the morning of sailing had

read the warning against crossing. It has since been called the "Death

Notice." It read:


Travelers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are

reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her

allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war

includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that in

accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German

Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain or any of

her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters; and that

travelers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain or

her allies do so at their own risk.


WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 1915.

It had been printed in the newspapers beside the advertisement of the

sailing of the Lusitania, and was posted that very morning by order

of Count von Bernstorff, German ambassador to the United States. But

most of the travelers paid no attention to the notice after reading it,

for they were sure that no implement of war would be turned against a

passenger ship. With stout hearts, many of the travelers said, "We are

Americans. No country will refuse respect and protection for an

American citizen in any part of the world." Or they said, "We are

British citizens,--not soldiers. We are on a merchant vessel--not a

battleship. Surely our rights will be respected. We cross under


So they dared to exercise their freedom and their rights when they

boarded the steamer for this return trip.

After sailing for five days in safety, they came at last within sight

of land. Early on Friday morning a heavy fog had lowered, but the ship

continued to plow steadily through the tranquil waters. Toward noon the

fog lifted and the sunshine and blue sky came to view, contributing to

the full enjoyment of the travelers.

They had just finished luncheon. Some were quietly writing

letters--others playing games. Many had strolled to the upper decks.

They greeted their new acquaintances, regretting that they were so soon

to part, for they were now but ten or fifteen miles out from shore off

"Old Head of Kinsale," and within a few hours all would land, going on

their separate ways for the rest of the journey. Though they were

nearing a world at war, all seemed peaceful.

The ship's clock pointed at two, when a few men standing on deck saw

what looked like a whale rising from the water about three quarters of

a mile away. They saw it speeding toward them, and suddenly they knew

what it was; but no one named it, until with a train of bubbles it

disappeared under the ship, and they cried, "It's a torpedo!"

With a fearful explosion, the center of the ship was blown up through

the decks, making a great heap of wreckage. The passengers fled from

the lower to the upper decks, many of them not stopping for life

preservers. Some of those who did strap on the life preservers did not

put them on correctly. Many leaped into the water, trusting to be

picked up by a passing boat. Although every one was terribly

frightened, yet there seemed to be no panic. The men lowered the

lifeboats, which were crowded to the full. As many as seventy or eighty

people, it is said, were packed into one small boat.

Leslie N. Morton, a mere lad, has been officially named as bravest of

the crew. He was stationed on the starboard side, keeping look-out,

when the torpedo struck. He, with the assistance of his mate, rowed a

lifeboat for some miles, put the people on a fishing smack, and

returned again for other survivors, rescuing in all nearly a hundred.

There were many acts of heroism among the passengers, but in all of the

distress one young man stood out among the hundreds upon the ship.

Alfred G. Vanderbilt, a young American millionaire, quickly realizing

that the steamer was sinking, turned to his valet and cried, "Let us

save the kiddies!" The two sprang to the rescue of the babies and small

children, carrying two of the little ones in their arms at a time and

placing them carefully in the lifeboats with their mothers. Mr.

Vanderbilt and his valet continued their efforts to the very last. When

they could find no more children, they turned to the assistance of the

women that were left. When last seen, Mr. Vanderbilt was smilingly,

almost happily, lending his aid to the passengers who still remained on


The whole civilized world honors the memory of this brave youth, who

gave his life in serving helpless women and children. Gratifying indeed

it is to know that the little ones were cared for, though sad to learn

that even then only twenty-five of the hundred and twenty-nine babies

on board were saved. About one hundred children were innocent victims

of that dastardly deed which the Germans, through savage desire to

terrorize, became brutes enough to do.

Elbert Hubbard, a noted American writer, and his wife went down with

the ship. Charles Frohman, a leading producer of plays, was another

prominent American lost. He has been cited as the finest example of

faith and calm strength, for, realizing that there was little hope for

him, he smilingly remarked, "Why fear death? It is the most beautiful

adventure that life gives us."

In less than twenty minutes after the torpedo struck, nothing except

floating pieces of wreckage strewn on the disturbed surface of the

water marked the place of the great calamity.

The wireless operator had sent the S.O.S. signal of distress several

times, and also had time to send the message, "Come at once, big list,

10 miles south of 'Old Head of Kinsale.'" He had received answers

before his apparatus was put out of use, and soon trawlers and pilot

boats came to the rescue and brought to shore those who had survived.

The cold ocean water, however, had made many so numb that they were

unable to help themselves enough to be lifted into the lifeboats, even

when the life preservers had kept them afloat. Of the 159 Americans on

board, 124 perished. In all, only 761 people were saved; 1198 perished.

That day the terrible news came over the cable to America,--the great

passenger steamer Lusitania had been torpedoed by a German submarine;

probably a thousand lives had been lost, among them many Americans!

At the White House, the President realized the awful import of such a


In a day or so, nearly two thousand telegrams poured in from all parts

of the country; and it is said that the President read them all, for he

wanted to know how the individual American felt.

The Germans offered all sorts of excuses for their cruel deed. A German

paper printed the following:

Must we not, we who may be defeated by starvation and by lack of

war materials, must we not defend ourselves from this great

danger (with which the enemy's blockade threatens us), with all

our might and with all the means that the German spirit can

invent, and which the honor of the German people recognizes as

lawful weapons? Have those, who now raise such outcries, any

right to accuse us, those who allowed their friends and

relatives to trust themselves on a ship whose destruction was

announced with perfect clearness in advance? When our enemy's

blockade method forces us to measures in self-defense, the

death of non-combatants is a matter of no consequence.

A blockade of an enemy's ports is, and always has been, a perfectly

fair kind of warfare. In our Civil War, the southern ports were, from

the beginning, blockaded by the northern warships. Germany was in no

danger of starving, as the events since have proved. Her excuses were,

as they have been in every case where she has played the part of the

brute, worse than no excuses and always based on falsehoods.

"The steamer carried ammunition for England," they said. But it was

bought and carried in accordance with international law. Germany had

the same right to buy and carry from a neutral country. "It was a

British ship," they said. But it was a passenger ship and carried

nearly two thousand people, many of them Americans, who, according to

all international agreements, were guaranteed safe passage even in time

of war.

All nations recognize the obligation of an enemy to visit and search

the vessel they think should be sunk, to make sure it carries

contraband of war, and if so, to give the people an opportunity to get

safely into the lifeboats. Not only did the Germans not do this, but

they did not even signal the ship that it was about to be sunk. The

newspaper warning put out by Bernstorff was no excuse for committing an

unlawful, inhuman act.

From all points of view, the Germans, in sinking the Lusitania,

committed a horrible crime, not only against international law, but

against humanity and civilization. In all war, armed forces meet armed

forces; never do armed forces strangle and butcher the innocent and

unprotected. There is such a thing as legitimate warfare, except

among barbarians.

Here again was shown the German attitude in the "scrap of paper."

Evidently trusting to the great distance of the United States and her

well-known unpreparedness, Germany thought that a friendly relation

with this country was a matter of entire indifference to her; or, if

she hoped to draw America into the war, she little dreamed to what end

those hopes would come!

Around the world one verdict was pronounced against Germany. This

verdict was well worded in a Russian paper, the Courier:

The right to punish these criminals who violate the laws of

humanity belongs first and foremost to the great American

Republic. America knows well how to use this right. The sympathy

of the civilized world is guaranteed her beforehand. The world

is being suffocated by poisonous gases of inhuman cruelty spread

abroad by Germany, who, in the madness of her rage, is

committing needless, purposeless, and senseless murder, solely

from lust of blood and horrors!

The American government, upon the occurrence of the calamity, showed

great forbearance, believing that "a man of proved temper and tried

courage is not always bound to return a madman's blow." A strong

protest was sent to the Imperial German Government, which caused

Germany to abandon for a time her submarine attacks upon neutral

vessels. It was the renewal of these attacks that finally led to the

declaration of war by the United States of America upon Germany and her

allies, and it was the Lusitania outrage more than any other one

event that roused the fighting spirit of America.