Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today -100: May 31, 1916: No, I expect you to smell zesty and citrusy, Mr. Bond


Woodrow Wilson gives a Memorial Day speech. He defends the “league of nations” idea, saying it wouldn’t be an entangling alliance, but a disentangling one, “an alliance which would disentangle the peoples of the world from those combinations in which they seek their own separate and private interests, and unite the people of the world upon a basis of common right and justice. There is liberty there, not limitation. There is freedom, not entanglement.”

In his own Memorial Day speech, Theodore Roosevelt calls for increased military spending and universal (male) military training. He calls pacifists “the old women of both sexes.”

Headline of the Day -100:


To bring out any notes or maps drawn on the skin.

Chinese President Then Emperor Then President Again Yuan Shikai is sick. Or, as his opposition puts it, has been poisoned. One way of the other, he’ll be dead soon.

The Louisiana Republican state convention was held at a segregated hotel in New Orleans, which kept out 12 negro delegates, who just so happen to be Roosevelt supporters.


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Monday, May 30, 2016

Today -100: May 30, 1916: Losses both in men and in prestige


Kaiser Wilhelm rides a Berlin street car. For the first time. Paid his fare and everything (and a tip – most people don’t tip, Mr. Kaiser).

Gen. Douglas Haig reports on the last 5 months of war, the period since he took over command on the Western front. He thinks he’s doing pretty well, because of course he does. The only offensive by the Germans in that period has been Verdun, where “The efforts made by the enemy have caused him heavy losses, both in men and in prestige”.

Headline of the Day -100:


I thought we were past the “Oh what a jolly game” phase of this war.


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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Today -100: May 29, 1916: Nobody but an avowed advocate of blood and carnage could oppose it


The NYT supports Wilson’s “league of nations” idea as a common-sense approach to preventing future wars. “Nobody but an avowed advocate of blood and carnage could oppose it, save on the grounds of impracticability.” Fortunately, the Times thinks the US will never fall afoul of the rules such a league would enforce: “War without warning is not our habit, aggression is contrary to our interests and practice. There is not the slightest probability that in any New World dispute to which we were a party we should bear ourselves so arrogantly as to invite the interference of the league of nations.” That sound you hear is the people of Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic trying not to snicker.

Seymour & Seymour, the law firm wiretapped by the NYPD and the Burns Detective Agency, denies NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel’s claim that they had anything to do with a plot to ship munitions to Mexico. They say the wiretapping was done at the behest of J.P. Morgan & Co., worried that there might be some munitions contract with the British War Office not passing through their greedy, monopolistic hands. They want an apology from Mayor Mitchel, the head of the phone company, and J.P. Morgan himself.


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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today -100: May 28, 1916: We can’t stop the horses


Headline of the Day -100:


The Long Island Railroad is putting up posters to educate the public to stop ignoring signals at crossings. I can’t find better copies:




Three J.P. Morgan messenger boys (literally: one is 15) steal $10,515 (they hadn’t intended to take so much, but that’s what was in the bag they stole) to buy horses so they could join the Texas Rangers to go after Pancho Villa. As you do. They made it as far as Philadelphia.

Woodrow Wilson tells a banquet of the League to Enforce Peace (ex-President Taft’s group) that the US would be willing to join a “league of nation” after the European war is over, to protect the freedom of the seas, stop wars beginning in violation of treaties, and protect small states from aggression. Funny how those are all areas where Germany has been the bad actor. He claims that the US has a right to participate in formulating a peace because this war has affected American rights, privileges and property. (Complete transcript here.)

Kaiser Wilhelm appoints August Müller, an actual Socialist type person, to the Food Commission. Oh how he must have hated having to do that.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Today -100: May 27, 1916: A rather violent hypothesis


The Thompson Committee of the NY Legislature hears from two of the cops who listened in on phone conversations, revealing that they routinely wiretap lawyers and doctors (as well as hotels and pool rooms). They claim they don’t violate their doctor-patient or lawyer-client confidentiality, listening only long enough to determine where some wanted criminal is located. So reassuring.

The new German Food Dictator, Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe, says that the army will have priority for food over civilians. One problem he has to face: southern German states are not happy about having to send food to satisfy “Prussian food egotism.”

The US protests to France and Britain over the “lawless practice” of interfering with neutral, i.e. American, international mail.

Former President Taft is asked whether he would support Roosevelt if the Republican party nominated him for president. “That is a rather violent hypothesis,” he replies.

British munitions workers want the traditional Whitsuntide holidays. Lloyd George says no.


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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today -100: May 26, 1916: It was an attempt to take God out of the hearts of our little ones


“Three Catholic priests denied under oath before the Thompson Legislative Committee yesterday that a conspiracy exists among certain Catholic clergy and laymen of the city to injure the city administration and defeat the ends of justice, as Mayor Mitchel has charged in the committee’s investigation of the tapping of telephone wires by the police.” Monsignor John Dunn, chancellor of the archdiocese of NY, admits that he had spoken on a wiretapped phone about giving an inspector of charities “100,” but says this did not mean a bribe of $100 to leave the state to avoid being subpoenaed, but was a clever ruse to draw out the police he suspected were listening in on his phone conversations and anyway, he never said “100 dollars,” he said “100,” which could mean one hundred anything. Dunn says that the conspiracy behind the attack on Catholic institutions includes Standard Oil, the Sage Foundation, and the Charity Trust; “It had only one aim and that was the secularization of the charitable institutions. It was an attempt to take God out of the hearts of our little ones, and that is something we will not stand.” By little ones, he presumably means the lice-covered, under-fed orphans under the Church’s tender care. The monsignor also questions whether Mitchel is a real Catholic.

Prime Minister Asquith has been pondering how to restructure Ireland’s antiquated system of governance since the Rising (I guess just implementing Home Rule, like he promised before the war, isn’t an option, huh?). He still hasn’t worked it all out, but he will have wily negotiator David Lloyd George mediate between the Unionists and the (increasingly irrelevant) Irish Nationalists.

The NY National Guard opens an investigation into whether volunteers were turned away because they were Jewish. And it creates an all-negro regiment, Gov. Whitman announces at a memorial meeting for Booker T. Washington.


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today -100: May 25, 1916: Of national guards, wiretaps, and nationalized meat


The Senate Judiciary Committee approves Louis Brandeis’s appointment to the Supreme Court on a 10-8 party-line vote.

The military bill just passed by Congress requires National Guards in each state to expand to fixed quotas (800 per US Senator and congresscritter). New York law allows the state to draft men into the Guard if the quota isn’t met by volunteers. In practice, the governor would order mayors to do the picking.

NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel returns to testify before the Thompson Committee, whether they want it or not, and reads out transcripts of the possibly illegal wiretaps of Father Farrell and others.

The German Imperial Meat Bureau seizes control of all meat in the Reich. Possibly to make one gigantic sausage.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Today -100: May 24, 1916: Well-organized and purposeful conspiracies are the best kind of conspiracy


NY Mayor John Purroy Mitchel testifies before the state Legislature’s Thompson Committee, which has been investigating NYPD phone-tapping. He says the Catholic clergy has been conducting a “well-organized and purposeful conspiracy” against his administration as well as to thwart justice by paying to get a witness, an examiner of charities in the Finance Department (and defrocked Baptist minister), out of the state. The Committee tries to stop the mayor revealing details derived from possibly illegal phone taps, demanding to go into secret session, but the mayor refuses and keeps talking, not that anyone can hear him over all the shouting. This all has to do with the terrible conditions at several Catholic orphanages. In turn, Monsignor John Dunn, chancellor of the diocese, accuses Mayor Mitchel of being part of a conspiracy against private orphanages.

Headline of the Day That Makes the War Sound Like Gay Porn -100:


Germany names its food dictator: former governor (Oberpräsident) of East Prussia Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe. Forget about rationing food, there’s probably a kid somewhere in Berlin with no name at all because Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe has so many. Think of the children, Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe, think of the children.

The General Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church endorses women’s suffrage (but not dancing, card-playing, or theater-going, which are still banned).

The Prohibition Party wants William Jennings Bryan to run for president on their ticket. He’s been threatening to leave the Democratic Party if they don’t adopt a prohibition plank.

A bill on Puerto Rico passes the House. It gives the island greater control of its own revenue and adds property and education qualifications for citizenship. A provision for women’s suffrage is voted down.


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Monday, May 23, 2016

Today -100: May 23, 1916: Of aggressive movements for thorough-going Americanism and thorough-going preparedness


Complaints are made that Jews trying to join the National Guard – in New York, yet – are being turned away.

A committee of mainstream Republicans (those who supported Taft rather than Roosevelt in 1912) go to Oyster Bay to tell TR that this time, he’s their man. He says of their action, “I accept it absolutely in the spirit in which you have taken it. You are for me because you regard me as representing and embodying the aggressive movement for thorough-going Americanism and thorough-going preparedness.” One of the delegation is Hiram Bingham III (they just don’t make names like that anymore), who complains that when he was in Peru, “I found the claim to American citizenship won no respect.” The Peruvian government even accused him of stealing gold (as opposed to the thousands of priceless relics he actually did loot from Machu Picchu). Roosevelt says this is because foreigners think the US under Wilson is afraid to fight for its citizens’ rights.

Meanwhile, Justice Charles Evans Hughes refuses, again, to say whether he is a candidate. Although anyone-but-Roosevelters are working hard for his nomination, he doesn’t seem to have communicated with any of them. He is rumored to have said recently that he expects Roosevelt to be the nominee, but this may be a ruse by TR supporters to force him to make a declaration of candidacy or non-candidacy.  The Republican convention is just over two weeks away.

Obit of the Day -100: Artúr Görgei, commander of the Hungarian forces which attempted to win freedom from the Austrian Empire in the year of revolutions, 1848. Since he surrendered in 1849 and wasn’t, you know, executed, although he did spend 18 years in prison, his reputation among Hungarians was not especially good, and he’s kept out of the public eye for the last few decades.

Professors Frédéricq and Pirenne of the University of Ghent have been arrested by the German occupation forces in Belgium and interned in Germany for refusing to teach in Flemish (Germany is trying to widen the divide between the Flemish and the Walloons).


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