Saturday, July 30, 2016

Today -100: July 30, 1916: Of barge bangs, streetcar strikes, and wooden legs

Barges filled with high explosives blow up in New York Harbor in a series of explosions, probably started by a fire, in the middle of the night. They’re heard throughout much of the city and New Jersey and made more audible to many by the sudden absence of windows, thousands of them (the New York Plate Glass Insurance Company is fuuuuucked.) There’s also a lot of damage on Ellis Island.

In a street-car strike in Manhattan, thousands of strikers and others just enjoying a nice Saturday afternoon, attacking cars on the 3rd Avenue line and fighting cops, as was the custom.

There’s also a garment workers’ strike in the city. 200 Wobblies attack the offices of an Italian-language newspaper, Il Progresso Italo-Americano, which refused to give them space to call for the release of Carlo Tresca and other Wobblies charged with murder in Minnesota (Tresca, at least, will be released after being held 9 months without trial).

Frank Doring, an employee of an artificial limb factory in Massachusetts, was detained by British authorities whilst en route to France to establish a factory to manufacture wooden legs for wounded soldiers, when they discovered that he has German parents. They held him several weeks as a suspected spy before deporting him back to the US, where he commits suicide to draw attention to Britain being mean to him.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Today -100: July 29, 1916: Of fryatts, morgans, clemencies, and opium

Germany executes Charles Algernon Fryatt, a ferry captain for the British Great Eastern Railway. In March 1915 he attempted to ram a u-boat with his ferry. Last month the ferry was captured and Fryatt court-martialed by a German naval court (which they say they can do, rather than treat him as a prisoner of war, because he is not a member of the British military, even though at the time u-boats were attacking merchant ships without warning). Although Fryatt had destroyed his ship’s papers as it was being captured, he had gold watches he’d been given for that incident and an earlier one when he’d out-run a u-boat, and the watches were inscribed with the details.

France complains that 25,000 French people in German-occupied northern France, including girls as young as 16, have been forcibly transported to other regions to work in the fields.

The transfer tax appraisal of J.P. Morgan, who died in 1913, is filed, and the NYT helpfully lists everything he owned and its value ($78 million total).

The US Senate passes a resolution calling for clemency by the British government for Irish political prisoners, i.e., not to execute Roger Casement. The State Department mysteriously takes four days to pass it along to the British government, presenting it one hour after Casement’s execution.

All lawsuits resulting from the sinking of the Titanic in US courts are settled, for $665,000.

Britain bans imports of cocaine and opium.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Today -100: July 28, 1916: Rasputin lives!

I hadn’t noticed that the May 12th story that Rasputin had been assassinated had not been corrected. It is now. The Russian newspapers that reported it have been fined.

Samuel Gompers claims that the American Federation of Labor’s influence is what prevented US war with Mexico.

The San Francisco police arrest 6 in the bomb attack on the preparedness parade. If they’ve got the right people, it had nothing to do with preparedness but was intended to kill street car union leaders who had resisted calls for a strike.

When New York City teachers are absent, their pay is deposited in the pension fund. If they have a legitimate excuse, like illness or a death in the family, it’s supposed to be paid back to them. But for the last two years, the Board of Superintendents has failed to do that, because they decided that the pension fund needed the money.

Germany, eager to counter the reaction to its execution of Nurse Edith Cavell, points to a French military court condemning a woman to death as a spy, the infelicitously named Felice Pfaat. I haven’t been able to find any details of her alleged crimes, but she will be executed next month.

There’s a gun battle in North Dakota between IWW members and non-members. Something about harvest work.

There were 2,445,664 registered automobiles and other motorized vehicles in the US in 1915, one for every 44 people. Iowa had the most, proportionately, at 1 per 16, Alabama the least at 1 per 200.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Today -100: July 27, 1916: You bet your life I am

Charles Evans Hughes, asked if he favored preparedness, says “You bet your life I am,” scandalizing the NYT with his use of slang.

The Morning Post (London) endorses what it claims was the plan of the late Lord Kitchener to ban Germans from immigrating to Britain, naturalizing, or even becoming a shareholder of a British company for 21 years after the end of the war.

Evidently when Britain abolished public executions (1868), it only did so for murderers. So Sir Roger Casement’s execution might be legally required to be public.

The Irish Nationalists send a deputation to Asquith asking for Casement to be reprieved headed by someone named Arthur Lynch (MP for West Clare).

Actually, his name aside, Lynch is kind of perfect for this. He fought in the Boer War. On the Boer side. It was right after that that he was elected to Parliament. When he returned to the UK to take his seat, he was arrested, tried for treason, and sentenced to death. A year later he was let out of prison, then pardoned, then re-elected. During World War I, he raised an Irish battalion just as he had during the Boer War, although this time on the British side, and was made a colonel, the same rank the Boers gave him.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Today -100: July 26, 1916: It is your especial privilege to fight against the English

Kaiser Wilhelm goes to the Somme front and tells soldiers “It is your especial privilege to fight against the English,” who “led us to believe they were our friends when they were actually plotting our destruction.” And while he’s there...

Although I’m not sure that calling for victory following “continuance of the struggle until Germany’s enemies are conquered” really counts as a “peace sermon.”

The Germans fine the city of Brussels 5 million marks for celebrating the Belgian national festival.

New York City skyscrapers will henceforth be restricted in height to 2½ times the width of their frontage.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Today -100: July 25, 1916: Go and win her if you can

The US will buy the Danish West Indies for $25 million. In gold. Denmark, which acquired them in the 17th and 18th centuries, figures they just aren’t as much fun (or as profitable) since the slave trade ended. The US will rename them the US Virgin Islands. The US wants them because they’re close to the approach to the Panama Canal. No one asks the 27,000 inhabitants of the islands.

San Francisco District Attorney Charles Flickert says the bomb at the preparedness parade was placed by people (not that he knows who they are) who are part of a nation-wide movement against all organized government.

Sir Roger Casement’s appeal against his death sentence is refused. Pope Benedict asks for clemency for him.

After Irish Nationalists reluctantly accepted Lloyd George’s home rule plan, the government made a few little changes: making the exclusion of the 6 Ulster counties permanent, throwing Irish MPs out of the Imperial Parliament, that sort of thing. Irish Nationalist leader John Redmond objects in Parliament and Prime Minister Asquith threatens to resign and call a general election. That’s a direct threat to Redmond’s power, since his party would do badly at any election, but his MPs would likely be replaced by much less compromised and compromising ones who would be harder for Asquith to negotiate with, so it’s not much of a threat. And there are technical and legal reasons why an election would be difficult to carry out in wartime. Sir Edward Carson says the exclusion of Ulster isn’t that big a deal: “Then go and win her if you can. She can be won by good government.”

New York polio death count: 609. The feds have stepped in. New York City children will not be allowed to leave the state without city and federal certificates of health. Not that towns and cities will necessarily allow them in even if they escape the Big Apple.

We’re hearing now that a month ago a French pilot, Lt. Anselme Marchal, attempted to fly from France to Russia, with a mission to drop leaflets on Berlin. The NYT doesn’t give the whole text, something about the causes of the war and why the Allies are totally gonna win it, but it begins by saying, Hey we could have dropped bombs instead, aren’t you glad it’s just a leaflet. Marchal flew 800 miles, a record for non-stop flight, before he was forced by spark-plug failure to land in Austria-occupied Poland where he was captured. He will escape (on his fourth attempt) in February 1918.

I didn’t mention the Shark Week stories filling the NYT last week, but there were lots of shark sightings off Coney Island, Oyster Bay, and elsewhere. A letter in the NYT signed “Nativist” blames... the Germans. It seems the u-boats sinking all those ships have given sharks a taste for human flesh.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Today -100: July 24, 1916: Of supreme moral authority and secret bombs

The Vatican says that it is not neutral in the European war, it is impartial. Which is evidently better because neutrality is passive while impartiality “comprises constant manifestations of the most ardent affection by the Pontiff toward all his children, indiscriminately, but in a most impartial manner.” So given that impartiality he can’t be expected to criticize any given act of violence or cruelty because he might be basing it on partial information, and he needs to keep his supreme moral authority “intact,” just in case he ever needs it for something important.

There’s talk in Germany that they’ve developed a new secret bomb that can destroy London.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Today -100: July 23, 1916: Boy, they weren’t prepared for that

A bomb explodes at a preparedness parade in San Francisco, killing 6, including a Civil War vet. There was a warning sent to newspapers. Emma Goldman, in town lecturing, denies it was the anarchists. The SF district attorney will frame a couple of innocent radicals for it, as was the custom.

A “Women’s War Procession” in London features women in the uniforms of their new jobs substituting for men. It’s organized by the remnants of the Women’s Social and Political Union. The Daily Chronicle suggests, probably with good reason, that the government funded the parade. There are also banners calling for Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes to be appointed to the War Council. Hughes was recently in Britain on a visit and his blunt Aussie-style talk about the war impressed Christabel Pankhurst and a lot of others.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazanov is forced out. Sorry, he “retired... at his own request.” He made the mistake of proposing to offer Poland autonomy after the war (a Poland reuniting the parts Prussia, Russia and Austria divided amongst themselves in the 18th century).

One item that will be making the submarine Deutschland’s perilous return voyage of to Germany: a copy of Dr. Louis Dechmann’s
book The Dechmann Law of the Determination of Sex at Will, which he is sending to Kaiser Wilhelm. Dechmann breeds poultry including six-toed chickens, based on the “law of latent reserve energy,” because science.

Sweden says it will attack any submarine using its waters, and bans planes over-flying it.

Polio death count, New York City: 555. The towns and cities now banning New Yorkers are ignoring their Health Department certificates.

Seems like only a day (and 100 years) ago that former NY Governor William Sulzer was saying that he hadn’t even wanted the Prohibition Party nomination for president that they didn’t give him. And so it was. Now he accepts the nomination of the American Party.

Alice Paul announces that her Woman’s Party will campaign against anti-suffragists in the 12 states with women’s suffrage.

The NYT Sunday Magazine has an article by William Burns of the Burns Detective Agency on the “big American crime”: blackmail.  Especially in New York.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Today -100: July 22, 1916: Of sneaky Germans, hospital ships, ferrises, and enemy aliens

William Watson Rutherford, the Tory MP for Liverpool, questions the home secretary about Germans buying properties in Britain and installing emplacements for heavy guns aimed at railway lines and such, which they’re totally doing.

Russia says that since Turkey sunk a couple of Russian hospital ships, it is now free to likewise violate the Hague convention and attack Turkish hospital ships.

The Prohibition Party nominates Frank Hanly, former Republican governor of Indiana, for president, with Rev. Ira Landrith as his running mate. Hanly beats out former (impeached and removed from office) NY Governor William Sulzer. Sulzer says he’s not disappointed because he wasn’t really a candidate for the nomination. The party platform opposes war with Mexico.

Woodbridge Nathan Ferris (D) announces that he won’t run for re-election as governor of Michigan, despite having the best name of any of the 48 governors. He will be succeed by Albert Sleeper (R), who has... a name.

Italy will henceforth treat Germans in its borders as enemy aliens subject to internment and the seizure of their property even though Italy is not actually at war with Germany.

Republicans in the House introduce a resolution asking Pres. Wilson why he’s keeping militia on the Mexican border if the emergency is over and it is so fucking hot down there.

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