Chapter

Jazz from the Trenches

William A. Shack

in Harlem in Montmartre

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225374
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925694 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520225374.003.0002
Jazz from the Trenches

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On 7 May 1915, German submarines torpedoed the British luxury liner SS Lusitania off the coast of Munster, Ireland, in the icy waters of the Irish Sea. Plying the maritime lanes of the Atlantic, German submarines were ordered to sink all ships approaching the ports of England and France. The loss of the Lusitania, in which 1,198 people were drowned, including 128 Americans, helped weaken American isolationism, creating an emotional fervor to strengthen a common heritage linking two continents. Harlem perceived the sinking of the Lusitania and Congress's declaration of war much as W. E. B. Du Bois did: “The last hour of a horrible war has come.” Patriotism was high in 1917, and transformed the souls of most Americans during the war, not least the souls of black folks. Harlem joined the clamor to defend democracy abroad, as black voices were raised elsewhere in the Bronzevilles of America.

Keywords: SS Lusitania; Harlem; World War I; patriotism; blacks

Chapter.  5445 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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