Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Today -100: October 27, 1920: There are some classes of social equality which cannot be

Terence MacSwiney’s family and Sinn Féin plan to hold a really big funeral.

Ohio Gov. James Cox says MacSwiney “died as a martyr.”

Harding denies that financier Washington D. Vanderlip is representing him in negotiating with Lenin for oil and coal concessions in Siberia in exchange for recognition of the Bolshevik government, as Vanderlip reportedly told Lenin. “I have never heard of Mr. Vanderlip,” Harding says. The State Dept heard about Vanderlip’s activities from its commissioner in Riga, who heard about them from H.G. Wells, who heard about them from Lenin during a recent trip to the Soviet Union. It would be nice to know when exactly the State Dept heard this, since Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby is releasing the “news” suspiciously close to election day. (Update: Wells will deny ever having spoken with the US commissioner in Riga, or indeed ever having been in Riga, but says he did meet Vanderlip and talked about him with Lenin).

Cox accuses Republicans of making promises to the “Afro-American Party” which they don’t intend to carry out. “There are some classes of social equality which cannot be, to quote the words of the immortal Lincoln, ‘We do not want the negroes to be slaves, but that does not mean that we want negro women for our wives.’” (Don’t know if that’s a real quote.)

The League of Nations adopts a plan for a World Court, although a case can only reach the Court if both sides consent. And the cases won’t establish precedents.

After next month’s elections the Greek cabinet will, assuming they win, offer the throne to monkey victim Alexander’s little brother Paul, who is 18. They’ll appoint a regent until Paul returns from exile to take the throne, which I suspect they believe he won’t do. Paul says he’ll have to ask his dad, deposed king Constantine. One condition the government is putting on this offer is that Constantine finally formally abdicates and renounces the throne, and that Paul’s older brother George, Duke of Sparta, do the same. It might be easier just to crown the monkey.

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Today -100: October 26, 1920: Monkeys:1, Monarchs:0

Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, dies in Brixton Prison on the 74th day of his hunger strike, at the age of 41. And in Cork Gaol, a second hunger striker, Joseph Murphy, dies after 76 days, not that it’s a competition or anything.

The London Evening Standard says MacSwiney “persisted in his design of suicide” and no one else bears any responsibility. But the Westminster Gazette says MacSwiney has beaten the government.

Pope Benedict, helpful as always, has referred the question of whether hunger strikers are suicides to a committee.

Also dead: King Alexander of Greece dies of blood poisoning from a monkey bite, as one does, at the age of 27. He tried to break up a fight between his dog and his monkey earlier this month. This leaves a succession problem. Alexander was placed on the Greek throne in 1917 by the Allies after they deposed his father Constantine for being too pro-German. Constantine never officially abdicated, just fled the country, as was the custom, so most of the royal family would refuse the crown. Constantine himself is considering trying to return to Greece and the Greek throne, which would be resisted by the Allies and by Prime Minister Venizelos, who after all was nearly assassinated earlier this year by pro-Constantine monarchists. Alexander has no offspring... yet. His wife is pregnant, but she’s a filthy commoner so their daughter Alexandria won’t be officially royal, at least until World War II when she will meet and marry another exiled royal in London, Prince Peter of Yugoslavia. Tito deposed them, so she never actually set foot in Yugoslavia.

Gov. James Cox says he would consult with the Senate about the League of Nations and “merely the executive will” will not control the terms of admission. He says he will accept reservations. He thinks that after election day the partisan spirit that has infected discussions of the League will go away. He also thinks there’s been a “psychological change” in the people in favor of the League, especially among women voters. “The people have come to realize that the fight against the League is a conspiracy.”

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Today -100: October 25, 1920: We must defend our national culture when we see it endangered

Headline of the Day -100: 

There are rumors about a plot, which is stupid enough to be entirely plausible, for Poet-Aviator Gabriele d’Annunzio to descend from the clouds into Rome on November 4, in a plane presumably, and declare himself dictator, with the support of various generals and admirals and, of course, Lenin.

Rabbi Joseph Louwisch, principal of the Poughkeepsie, NY Hebrew School, is mobbed by members of his congregation demanding information about the death of his wife. He recently brought over his childhood sweetheart from Russia and married her, then had the marriage annulled when he found out she was a Bolshevik. She then committed suicide.

The Hungarian National Assembly is debating a bill to restrict the number of Jewish college students. The (Catholic)  Bishop of Stuhlweissenburg, Ottokár Prohászka, who I guess is also a deputy? says it’s not about anti-Semitism but “racial self-defense.” Prohászka is a big ol’ anti-Semite, and his book “The Jewish Question in Hungary” (1920, not sure if it’s out yet) has a big honking swastika on its cover. He continues: “Our attitude of defense must not be looked upon by the Jews as an act of hatred. Merely for the sake of liberalism we must not suffer that half the lawyers and the majority of medical men in the country be Jews. ...Hungarian literature is saturated with the Jewish atmosphere. We must defend our national culture when we see it endangered.”

John Rathom, editor of the Providence Journal, accuses Franklin Roosevelt of having, when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, tried to return to active service sailors who were convicted of unnatural crimes, you know, gay stuff. I presume these were some of the sailors used in a sting operation ordered by Roosevelt in Newport, Rhode Island to investigate illicit gay sex between sailors and townies, some of them prominent. And by sting operation, I mean FDR sent young sailors out to entrap civilians by having sex with them.

Hugh Lofting’s The Story of Doctor Doolittle, the first in the series, is published.

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Today -100: October 24, 1920: Of reservations, pink ballots, underwear, and mysterious affairs

Cox says he’d accept a reservation to the League of Nations Covenant stating that the US would only send its military if Congress voted for it.

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association is watching out for states obstructing the 19th Amendment. For example, Arkansas Attorney General John Arbuckle thinks women are ineligible to hold public office, and refused to certify Dr. Ida Brooks as candidate for superintendent of public instruction. Missouri Attorney General Frank McAllister thinks the same, but overturned a law requiring women to vote on separate ballots. Pink ballots, naturally.

Headline of the Day -100: 

If your interest in the Roaring 20's leans more towards preferences in male underwear than mine does, this is the article for you.

Agatha Christie’s first Poirot novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, is published. In the US; its British publication will be in 1921.

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Today -100: October 23, 1920: It is dullness made God

The NYT expects bitterness in the last week of the presidential campaign, “owing to the use that is being made [in Ohio] by the Democrats of the ‘negro social equality’ issue and scurrilous attacks from anonymous sources on Harding, in which the Democrats say they have had no part.” The Times is still not willing to explain the “Harding is an octoroon” rumors. The R’s have 6 black candidates running for the Ohio Legislature, and the D’s won’t shut up about it (fun fact, for certain definitions of fun: the Ohio Constitution officially limited the vote to white males from 1802 to 1923, although superceded by the 15th federal Amendment; a referendum to remove the word “white” failed in 1912) (other fun fact: the 1851 Ohio constitution allowed slavery as punishment for crime – and it still does).

Yugoslavia is now officially a hereditary monarchy.

One of King Alexander of Greece’s doctors, Georges Vidal of Paris, says the monkey bite which afflicted his majesty was from a monkey which had been injected with rabies, so this was obviously an assassination attempt.

Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street is published. Here are some of the bits I underlined whenever I read it:
In shame she knew that they glanced appraisingly at her snowy overshoes, speculating about her legs. Theirs were not young eyes—there was no youth in all the town, she agonized. They were born old, grim and old and spying and censorious. 
she ordered porridge for breakfast, which was his symbol of morality.  
It is an unimaginatively standardized background, a sluggishness of speech and manners, a rigid ruling of the spirit by the desire to appear respectable. It is contentment . . . the contentment of the quiet dead, who are scornful of the living for their restless walking. It is negation canonized as the one positive virtue. It is the prohibition of happiness. It is slavery self-sought and self-defended. It is dullness made God. 
A savorless people, gulping tasteless food, and sitting afterward, coatless and thoughtless, in rocking-chairs prickly with inane decorations, listening to mechanical music, saying mechanical things about the excellence of Ford automobiles, and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world. 
But a village in a country which is taking pains to become altogether standardized and pure, which aspires to succeed Victorian England as the chief mediocrity of the world, is no longer merely provincial, no longer downy and restful in its leaf-shadowed ignorance. It is a force seeking to dominate the earth, to drain the hills and sea of color, to set Dante at boosting Gopher Prairie, and to dress the high gods in Klassy Kollege Klothes. Sure of itself, it bullies other civilizations, as a traveling salesman in a brown derby conquers the wisdom of China and tacks advertisements of cigarettes over arches for centuries dedicate to the sayings of Confucius. 
Such a society functions admirably in the large production of cheap automobiles, dollar watches, and safety razors. But it is not satisfied until the entire world also admits that the end and joyous purpose of living is to ride in flivvers, to make advertising-pictures of dollar watches, and in the twilight to sit talking not of love and courage but of the convenience of safety razors.

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Today -100: October 22, 1920: Of the threat of negro domination in Ohio, Harding’s 14 Positions, bluebeards, and breakdowns

Headline of the Day -100:  

The “problem” is that lots of unskilled blacks came from the South during the war to replace whites who had moved into higher-paid war work, and “These black immigrants from south of the Mason and Dixon Line do not begin to compare in intelligence with the Northern negroes” and the Republicans have “coddled” them since they will mostly vote R. The Democratic State Committee sent out a circular letter to white Ohioans warning about “the threat of negro domination in Ohio,” just as in the South during the days of Reconstruction, when indignities were heaped on white women and children and the “South Carolina negro Legislature” made a “vicious attempt” to give every negro 40 acres and a mule.

Harding has offered a prize if anyone can prove that he’s changed positions on the League of Nations. Cox accepts the challenge (what else did Harding think would happen?) and names all of Harding’s 14 positions. He even points out that that day’s Philadelphia Public Ledger reports Harding’s meeting with Hiram Johnson under the headline “Insist Harding Rejected League” and his meeting with Taft under the headline “Harding Favors League, Says Taft.”

Henri Landru, the French Bluebeard, is on trial for swindling in his garage and automobile business. Landru keeps asking the judge why he’s not being charged with the eleven counts of murder for which he was initially arrested.

Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby says Bolshevik rule in Russia is experiencing a “breakdown.”

A referendum in British Columbia repeals prohibition.

Belgium extends the franchise to women, at the municipal level only, except for registered prostitutes.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Today -100: October 21, 1920: Well that’s just dickish

Terence MacSwiney lapses into unconsciousness and the prison doctor feeds him, or inserts food into his unconscious body might be a better way of phrasing it, against his wishes.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Today -100: October 20, 1920: Of vacillation of mind, sedition, felonious suicide, and crowd control

Harding’s handlers deny that his mysterious French contact was writer Maurice Dekobra, but still won’t give a name. They are claiming that Dekobra, who was refused an interview with Harding, had been sent by Cox as part of some sort of elaborate sting operation. Franklin Roosevelt says Harding “either by accident or design tried to fool the American people into believing that France is ready to negotiate a new League of Nations. ...It is simply another glaring example, either of looseness of tongue or of vacillation of mind”.

Sylvia Pankhurst is arrested for publishing allegedly seditious articles in her newspaper The Workers’ Dreadnought (formerly The Womens’ Dreadnought in the suffragette days).

A military court rules that Michael Fitzgerald, the first Irish hunger striker to die, “did feloniously kill himself.” As his funeral begins, soldiers enter the church, gun in hands, to ban a public funeral and limit the number of people accompanying the coffin to 100. An officer threatens to fire on the crowd if it exceeds 100.

In Parliament, former Labour leader Arthur Henderson denounces the “policy of military terrorism” in Ireland, comparing it to the “policy of frighfulness” practiced by the Germans during the Great War. A motion of censure is defeated 79-346.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Today -100: October 19, 1920: Of Democratic orgies, too much johnson, scurvy, and informal spokesmen

Headline of the Day -100: 

He’s just hurt he wasn’t invited. This is Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer demanding that San Francisco acting mayor Ralph McLeran prove his statement that Palmer knew about all the booze at the Democratic Convention.

Editorial Headline of the Day -100:  

That’s what she said.

Terence MacSwiney, on the 67th day of his hunger strike, has scurvy. Prison doctors are threatening to feed him if he becomes unconscious.

Pres. Wilson sends a letter to Harding asking if it is correct that the senator had informal contacts with representatives of the French government. He makes it clear that he’s checking the quote so that he can call Harding a liar. The French embassy and Foreign Office have denied sending anyone to speak with Harding. Harding responds that he didn’t say the French government approached him (he did say that, though adding “informally”), just that, because he’s on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has spoken with people who “spoke the manifest sentiment of the people of France,” you know, “spokesmen,” and that he made that clear in his speech (he very much didn’t). Cox thinks this “informal envoy” from France was the writer/humorist Maurice Dekobra and that Harding’s remarks were the result of his giving an extemporaneous speech away from his usual handlers.

Journalist John Reed (“Ten Days That Shook the World”) dies of typhus in Moscow, as was the custom. He was 32 and did not look much like Warren Beatty. 

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