Friends of the Saddlebrooke Libraries lecture series continues on April 21 with Mark Schwartz presenting “The Sinking of the Reuben James.” The presentation explores the simmering background of military and political issues between two nations on the verge of war. The USS Reuben James was sunk by a Nazi U-boat in the North Atlantic weeks before Germany and America officially went to war. One hundred Americans died in the attack, and American public opinion boiled over with anger. It took six weeks before a formal declaration of war was made.
Despite Neutrality Laws and an isolationist Congress, American warships patrolled the western Atlantic and escorted convoys destined for Britain. As Germany continued assaults on European democracies, President Roosevelt battled a divided Congress but did win approval for the Lend-Lease program. More ships like the Reuben James were ordered and sent to engage German U-boats. Public opinion was split between those wanting to support Europe and those wanting to stay out of the conflict. How did the sinking become an iconic moment in U.S. history, and what factors really led to the declaration of formal hostilities?
Mark Schwartz graduated from Ohio State with an Air Force ROTC commission. He flew the F-II aircraft in five different active duty and reserve squadrons. His civilian career in the aerospace industry spanned 30 years including the aircraft divisions of Northrop and Lockheed and as an analyst for the Joint Staff and two homeland security groups.
The lecture will take place in the MountainView Clubhouse Ballroom from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. The series is free for FSL members and $5 for non-members.