Date of Award
Campus Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
Between 1915-1923, the Turkish government was responsible for the Armenian Genocide, a targeted killing of Armenians in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. While the massacres were occurring, people outside of the region were aware of the violence. In the United States, this knowledge was due to concerted press coverage of the events. This thesis focuses specifically on The New York Times, Daily Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. These papers help to present the American media response and contribute to an explanation of how the government ultimately chose nonintervention, a stance that was supported by the general public.
Before the United States joined World War I in 1917, American public opinion demonstrated an inclination to help the Armenians through humanitarianism. From 1915-1917, the newspaper articles contained numerous requests from smaller Armenian communities, mostly from cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago, for economic contributions to alleviate the suffering. These efforts caught the attention of President Wilson who joined the cause. At a time when Americans preferred to stay out of global affairs, this humanitarianism allowed Americans to prove their prosperity and democratic ideals to other world powers without becoming too absorbed in the conflict.
After World War I, however, there was a concerted shift in American public opinion away from helping the Armenians. In 1919, the League of Nations proposed that America take on a plan, known as the Armenian mandate, to occupy Armenia and create a protected state for the persecuted Armenians. An examination of the four newspapers reveals how the public and politicians viewed the mandate as a threat to their newly and dearly bought peace.
The press also paints a picture of the assistance offered by common American citizens in various cities, missionaries, and the American Red Cross. However, as the genocide continued these groups faced serious limitations on their abilities to combat the massacres. Similarly, Armenians, both inside and outside of the United States, were unable to bring about substantial change, as they were affected by immigration bans, small numbers, and a lack of experience in American politics. This thesis demonstrates how the mandate shifted media rhetoric about aiding Armenians; ultimately, the newspapers studied here featured far more coverage about the perils of intervention rather than the possibilities of saving Armenians. The multiple articles on why the mandate would not succeed can also show the path the government and public took during the genocide and why, in their eyes, they were justified. This path continued throughout the century and can explain the relationship that developed between America and Turkey, keeping Americans from officially recognizing the genocide.
Wargovich, Grace A., "The Armenian Genocide as Presented by the American Press" (2023). Graduate Masters Theses. 786.