Saturday, August 19, 2017

Today -100: August 19, 1917: No, thank you

Austria responds to China’s declaration of war by saying no. I didn’t know you could just do that. The Austrian ambassador informs China that the declaration was illegal and unconstitutional, because it should have been passed by both houses of Parliament.

Finland’s Diet refuses to accept being dissolved by the Russian government.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Today -100: August 18, 1917: Of generals, spies, more spies, and beer

The Senate Military Affairs Committee holds up two of the many new generals appointed by Pres. Wilson. They think Col. Carl Reichmann, who’s been in the army 35 years, is pro-German.

Mata Hari is sentenced to death as a spy by a French court-martial.

The government claims to have thwarted a German plot to infiltrate thousands of Germans into the US Army.

Hoover’s Food Administration denies stories that it plans to reduce the alcohol content of beer to 2%.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today -100: August 17, 1917: Of race riots and u-boats

Some of the 105 people indicted by the grand jury for the East St. Louis race riots are arrested. 82 of the indictees are white, including 5 policemen and a former candidate for sheriff, and 23 black.

Lloyd George says German u-boats are now sinking way fewer ships and Britain is building a lot more ships, so it won’t be starved out.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Today -100: August 16, 1917: If ever there was a holy war...

The IWW threatens to call a general strike in Montana, Washington, Oregon and Idaho unless its demands are met: the release of IWW prisoners, no discrimination against IWWers or interference with IWW activities, a 10-hour day for harvest workers and better sanitary conditions.

Sen. Majority Whip J. Hamilton Lewis (D-Illinois) introduces a resolution for Congress to shut up about peace terms and leave it solely with Pres. Wilson to decide when it’s time to issue them. Sounds a bit like the Gag Rule of the 1830s, when Congress banned itself from receiving anti-slavery petitions.

Former Czar Nicholas and his family are removed from the palace they’ve been held prisoner in and sent to an unknown destination, presumably (and actually) Tobolsk in Siberia, the birthplace of Rasputin. He’s still got 50 servants.

Henry Ford, who financed the fiasco that was the Peace Ship, is no longer opposed to the war. He now favors “crushing militarism” by, um, military means. In unrelated news, Ford is now making airplane cylinders for the military.

Elihu Root, former US senator, former secretary of war, and former secretary of state, back from his trip to Russia, says that Americans who oppose the war should be shot at sunrise. Did I mention he has a Nobel Peace Prize?

The American Defense Society, consulting with the NYPD & the US District Attorney’s office, will work to stamp out street speeches it considers unpatriotic. Pres. Wilson will be asked to define treason (they’re hoping his definition will include simple speech acts), Mayor John Purroy Mitchel will be asked to require licenses for street meetings, and a Vigilantes committee will be formed. Theodore Roosevelt tells the Society that anyone who says treasonable things should be arrested, and at the Harvard Club he says “If ever there was a holy war, it is this war.” He rejects Wilson’s notion that we are fighting the German government and not the German people, until such time as the German people separate themselves from their government.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today -100: August 15, 1917: #Sammies

China declares war on Germany and Austria.

Pope Benedict issues a peace proposal: no annexations or indemnities; Belgium, Serbia, and Romania to have their sovereignty restored; Germany gets its colonies back; no economic retaliation after the war; a court to arbitrate future disputes; “negotiations” to deal with Alsace-Lorraine, Poland, Balkans, Armenia etc. (the Vatican really wants independence for Catholic countries).

Suffragist picketers at the White House are again attacked. As usual, Navy sailors are prominent.

Headline of the Day -100: 

A grand jury indicts 105 people for the East St. Louis race riots. The grand jury reports that the riots were planned and that the “indolent public officials” knew and did nothing.

The Puerto Rican Insular Legislature passes resolutions for independence. (And a referendum for independence passed in June, 2017, so the history of Puerto Rico’s wishes being ignored is a long, proud one).

Attempts to call US soldiers “Sammies” are being resisted by the Sammies.

A new, long-delayed issue of the trench newspaper The Wipers Times (currently going by The B.E.F. Times, is out:

Late News from the Ration Dump.

    The Germans are short of shells.

    The Pope is raising an army to come and stop the war.

    We have the supremacy of the air – ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT.

    The Germans have no guns.

    We are going to dig in, and wait till the Chinese are ready.

    The Kaiser has been arrested by Hindenburg, and shot as a spy.

    The Germans have no bombs.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Today -100: August 14, 1917: Of abductions, souvenirs, sick Mensheviks, and peace conferences

Armed men kidnap and deport a couple of IWW organizers from Rochester, Nevada.

National Woman’s Party picketers keep bringing “Kaiser Wilson” banners to the White House, and keep going home without them. One of the three they lose today is seized by a Navy bluejacket, who says he wants it as a souvenir.

Hell, now I want one.

Kerensky has been moaning about his state of health, saying that he does not have long to live.”I must hasten the work of liberating Russia and do the greatest good I can before I depart.” He has another 53 years to live.

Or maybe he was speaking metaphorically.

Britain, France and Italy will join the US in blocking delegates going to the Stockholm socialist peace conference.  The British government claims it is illegal for British subjects to engage in a conference with enemy subjects. There’s no actual law about this, they’re claiming it’s common law. I call bullshit.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today -100: August 13, 1917: Of resolutions, Lenin hunts, and Jewish chaplains

Robert La Follette introduced a resolution asking Congress to name the terms by which the US would make peace with Germany, with no indemnities or territory. Pretty much every other senator will now block the resolution, preferring the same lack of stated peace terms as every other belligerent (except Russia).

There are rumors that Lenin has fled Russia, which his party denies and which isn’t true. Authorities are on the hunt for him.

A bill is introduced in Congress empowering Pres. Wilson to appoint Jewish chaplains to accompany the troops to Europe. The army has never had non-Christian chaplains before.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Today -100: August 12, 1917: The only way to win the war

The US will refuse to grant passports to the American delegates to the Stockholm socialist peace congress.

Russia will attempt to reimpose discipline on the army, replacing the commissars who were elected by the soldiers with appointed ones. The government is claiming that some of those elected commissars were the former czarist police (secret and otherwise) who were sent to the front and are now trying to undermine the war effort, using propaganda and vodka, as was the custom. Also blamed for the military collapse: German spies in Russian military uniforms, passing themselves off, with their perfect Russian, because Russian soldiers don’t have identity papers.

The Post Office revokes the second-class mailing privilege of the American Socialist.

Sinn Fein wins another Irish by-election, with William Cosgrave winning easily in Kilkenny.

Sen. Warren G. Harding says that to win the war the United States needs to have a “complete and supreme dictator” – his words – even if it’s that Democrat Wilson. He says the “system of legislation,” you know, Congress and all, is unsuited for wartime, because decisions need to be made instantly. But doesn’t that mean the complete abandonment of democracy? he is asked. “Call it what you will; it is the only way to win the war. However, it means that we abandon nothing except the incapacity of all legislative bodies in wartime.” Congress’s job would be “remain on the side lines, as it were, closely watching the great game, ready at any moment to rescind the powers it has delegated.” But wouldn’t that make us just like Germany? “Our advantage over the Germans is that we would put on autocracy as a garment only for the period of the war, whereas they wear autocracy as the flesh that clings to their bones.”

I know why this blog is giving space to a first-term senator, but I have no idea why the Sunday NYT devoted so much newsprint to Harding.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Today -100: August 11, 1917: Kaiser Wilson

Suffrage picketers at the White House displease passers-by with a banner reading: “Kaiser Wilson – Have you forgotten your sympathy with the poor Germans because they are not self-governed? Twenty million American women are not self-governed. Take the beam out of your own eye.” The banner doesn’t last long.

Theodore Roosevelt wants Congress to ban all German-language newspapers for the duration.

Pres. Wilson orders one of the draft exemption boards in NYC disbanded because of alleged irregularities (they were exempting a lot of people, but that’s about it, so far). Everyone they exempted will have to be re-examined.

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