The Brooklyn Eagle had an E-X-T-R-A on the streets Monday, April 2, 1917. Its headline read: DECLARE STATE OF WAR, PRESIDENT ASKS; WANTS POWER TO BRING GERMANY TO TERMS; ARMED AMERICAN SHIP SUNK BY SUBMARINE.
The ship that was sunk was the American steamer Aztec, torpedoed at night in heavy seas near an island off Brest. The ship carried a full load of foodstuffs, with a crew of 39 aboard, 16 of them native-born Americans, and four of those were Brooklynites: I.J. Anderson, mate, of 538 50th St; B. Borjensen, engineer, 248 Forbell St.; Charles Erickson, engineer, 839 58th St. and Charles Kelly, 827 29th St.
In his address before a joint session of Congress, President Wilson said: “It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy . . . .”
— Vernon Parker