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William Jennings Bryan Resignation: Topics in Chronicling America

On June 9, 1915, Williams Jennings Bryan resigns as Secretary of State due to antiwar ideals. This guide provides access to materials related to the "William Jennings Bryan Resignation" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


William Jennings Bryan (left) resigns and Woodrow Wilson (right) accepts his resignation. June 9, 1915. The Intelligencer (Anderson, SC), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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 in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


June 9, 1915US 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, 1915British newspapers claim that President Wilson’s firm note to Germany, which resulted in Bryan’s resignation, may lead to war.
June 10, 1915Bryan resolves not to remain idle and plans a lecture tour on peace.
June 11, 1915The British public believes that President Wilson’s note is too mild because of Bryan’s resignation.
September 29, 19161916 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, 1919Former 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.