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The General Slocum Disaster

The General Slocum had been chartered for a picnic by St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Manhattan’s Lower East Side in New York City.  The 1,358 passengers, mostly women and children, were from that area, then known as “Little Germany.” The excursion had been an annual event for some years. After the fire was discovered in the forward section of the ship, Captain William H. Van Schaick, aiming at beaching the ship, pushed it full speed into the wind, eventually into North Brother Island, as fire engulfed the vessel from the front to the rear. The crew attempted to use the ship’s fire hoses to extinguish the fire, only to have it burst under pressure. The life preservers o...

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