Thursday, November 26, 2015

Today -100: November 26, 1915: I know that moral pressure will not be without its effect

Henry Ford’s letter of invitation to governors and former presidents and other dignitaries to join his Peace Ship says that Jane Addams and Thomas Edison have already accepted, which they haven’t. Asked how he expected to compel the warring nations to participate in the peace conference he intends to call, he says “I know that moral pressure will not be without its effect”.

Spoiler Alert: moral pressure will totally be without its effect.

The NYT notes that the idea of the Peace Ship originated with Rosika Schwimmer, the suffragist and internationalist who would probably not have been thrilled to be described by the Times as Austrian – she’s a Hungarian Jew. After the war Schwimmer had to flee Hungary when it went fascist (proto-fascist? whatever), but was denied US citizenship because of her refusal to take an oath to take up arms on behalf of the United States, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court which said that a citizen has the right of conscientious objection but a non-citizen applying to become a citizen does not, because logic.

The Medico-Legal Society of America wants all states to pass laws making all illegal-drug users, no matter the degree of their drug habit, wards of the state to force them into treatment, rather than wait for them to commit crimes or go insane.

Thanksgiving Day sermons in New York largely focused on the need for military preparedness. A warning someone should have given the Indians at the first Thanksgiving.

Alaska’s delegate to the US Congress, James Wickersham, will introduce a bill for statehood in the coming congressional session.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Today -100: November 25, 1915: I intend to try to crush militarism

Henry Ford charters an entire liner, the Oscar II, to carry him and an assorted group of pacifists to go to Europe to stop the war. “We are going to try to get the boys out of their trenches and back to their homes by Christmas Day.” Well at least he’s given himself a full month. He’s invited any number of prominent people to join him, including William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Edison, who have or will both refuse. “I intend to try to crush militarism,” Ford says.

Spoiler Alert: He will not crush militarism.

Edward Ryan’s luggage explodes in Budapest. Specifically, an artillery shell which he was taking back to the US as a souvenir, as you do. Dr Ryan was head of an American Red Cross mission in Serbia.

The German Army has adopted an artificial-respiration device, involving a rubber tube and foot-operated bellows, which was invented before the war by Dr. Samuel Meltzer of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for use by miners, to restore the breathing of soldiers asphyxiated by gas or buried in trench collapses. The Rockefeller Foundation has supplied these devices to the British, French and (more recently) German armies.

Headline of the Day -100:

A “foreign official source, in no way connected with European affairs” tells the NYT that for 6 months Germany has been funding Huerta’s attempt to start a counter-revolution in Mexico, to keep the US occupied militarily and distracted. And then the US arrested Huerta right before he could reach Mexico.

The Serbian government is now a government-in-exile, retreating to Scutari, Albania.

Greece gives the Allies permission to move their troops around Macedonia unimpeded, because what choice did Greece have? In return, the Allies promise not to keep any Greek territory they occupy during the war.

Albert Einstein presents to the Prussian Academy of Sciences the Einstein Equations establishing the theory of general relativity.

On Stone Mountain, Georgia, 16 men re-found the Ku Klux Klan. Burn a cross and everything. Next week the state of Georgia will issue them a charter. It will take a while for it to amount to anything – it may be a few years before I have cause to mention it again – but this group will grow into the mammoth Second Klan of the 1920s, which will elect (and impeach) governors in states throughout the union (Oregon, Indiana, etc), pass laws banning Catholic schools, and fight against unions and immigrants and for prohibition.

One of the men on Stone Mountain is Col. William Joseph Simmons, who will be the Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He’s mostly harmless and had in mind not a night-riding, negro-lynching organization but a fraternal order much like the others he loved: Elks, Shriners, Masons, Woodmen of the World, that sort of thing (the “colonel” title came from the Woodmen of the World, although he was a private during the Spanish-American War). The fact that the body he chose to revive was the Klan is of course down to “The Birth of a Nation,” which he adored and watched over and over. One of the things he adopted from it: burning crosses, which the post-Civil War Klan did not do. He loved the paraphernalia and secret handshakes and such, which he would lovingly detail in a 54-page document called... wait for it... the Kloran. However, Simmons wasn’t much of an organizer (and liked the bottle a little too much), so his Empire will remain mostly Invisible in fact as well as name until he hired some PR people in 1920...

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today -100: November 24, 1915: Oh, of course there was sauerkraut

Officials of the Hamburg-American Line and other Germans and German-Americans are being tried for conspiring early in the war to supply German ships illegally from the US. Including sauerkraut? the prosecutor asks a stevedore, but he can’t remember. The testimony directly implicates Capt. Karl Boy-Ed, the German naval attachĂ© in Washington, who somehow hasn’t already been expelled from the country despite repeated links to espionage and sabotage.

The feds have found a building in Cleveland (still under construction) which they think Germans were building to store explosives for an attack on Canada.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Today -100: November 23, 1915: I think this line’s mostly filler

Allied forces capture Tibati, in Kamerun, if you needed a reminder that this is indeed a world war or something to write on a slow news day -100.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Today -100: November 22, 1915: Cigars v. zeppelins: the eternal Battle of the Phallic Symbols

New British regulations limiting alcohol sales to five hours a day will go into effect next week and London trade unionists are not happy, threatening to resist “by open revolt if necessary.” “No Beer, No Work” will be their clarion cry.

I think I mentioned the State Dept yanked the passport of a German-American naturalized citizen after he made some sort of remarks about Woodrow Wilson. Now, because he can’t prove that he’s a US citizen, which he is, he’s likely to be drafted into the German army. The US ambassador to Germany still refuses to give back his passport.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Allies are pressuring Greece to join their side of the war through a “pacific blockade” of Greek ports, harassing Greek-flagged ships, etc. If that doesn’t make Greece more kindly disposed to them, I don’t know what will.

Germany isn’t very impressed with Greece’s declared neutrality either, threatening that if Greece doesn’t disarm Serb and other Allied soldiers fleeing into Greece (Serbian forces are losing quite badly right now), then German troops will invade Greece to go after them.

Anna Howard Shaw resigns as president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Today -100: November 21, 1915: Of fires, uncultivated literary taste, locusts, and careless pedestrians

Pennsylvania State Fire Marshal Joseph Baldwin says several recent fires at munitions plants were all started deliberately.

Headline of the Day -100 (NYT Magazine):  “Do Women Lack Cultivated Literary Taste?” Harry Leon Wilson, author of Ruggles of Red Gap, thinks so, and the pandering to them by publishers is dragging American literature down.

Palestine has been hit by a plague of locusts. As was the custom.

Francis Hugo, NY secretary of state, warns the NY State Automobile Association that public opinion has been hardening against reckless drivers. It’s true; since I’ve started these posts I’ve seen a shift away from viewing the running down of pedestrians as the inevitable price of modern life. In today’s auto news, Treasury Secretary McAdoo denies that his wife (Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Eleanor) had been summoned for speeding - it was her chauffeur. And Prince Paul Troubetzkoy, the sculptor, escapes the workhouse for reckless driving because there’s only one witness. However, the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce says that 90% of New York City street accidents “are due to carelessness or other fault of the injured”. Of course many of those the Chamber is blaming are children, who account for 45% of fatalities.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Today -100: November 20, 1915: Of inflammatory street speaking, rajahs, and Paris dresses

The Allies are trying to get China to join the war. China wouldn’t be expected to do anything militarily (indeed, China is incapable of doing anything militarily), but it’s hoped this will allow Japan to focus more on its small role in the European war and less on bullying China.

Wobbly hobo poet Joseph Hillstrom is executed in Utah by firing squad. Hillstrom yelled “Fire” himself. Hillstrom still claimed to be innocent and he could prove it but that would wreck a woman’s reputation, so he didn’t. Gov. William Spry says he will now clear the “lawless element” out of Utah and stop “inflammatory street speaking”.

Britain denies German claims of revolts in India. Indeed, they say that not only is the Rajah of Bhagalpur not leading a revolt, but there is no Rajah of Bhagalpur.

Edith Galt, Woodrow Wilson’s fiancĂ©e, is having trouble ordering dresses from Paris, which is what happens when you use a German-American importer.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Today -100: November 19, 1915: Of zep bombs, cold soldiers, safety at sea, and cases of undue importance

The Daily Mail (UK) prints a claim that unusually high death rates among those injured by bombs dropped from zeppelins must mean that the Germans are using biological warfare (they’re not).

A story going round the German Army on the Eastern front says that Gen. Hindenburg asked Kaiser Wilhelm for warm clothes for his troops but Willy said no, if they were cold they’d be more likely to take Riga and Dvinsk quickly just to warm up.

Headline of the Day -100: 

It will. Not. Do! Good day to you, sir. I said, good day!

Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes asks the Nebraska secretary of state to ignore a petition being circulated to put his name of the 1916 ballot for president (the secretary will comply).

Utah Gov. William Spry rejects Pres. Wilson’s request to stay the execution of hobo poet Joe Hill (Joseph Hillstrom), complaining that “Your interference in the case may have elevated it to an undue importance”. (For those clicking on the article: Hillstrom did not compose “Hallelujah I’m a Bum”).

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Today -100: November 18, 1915: Of hopeless defectives, vice presidents and senators (but I repeat myself), privy councillors, and hobo poets

This has been kind of a big deal in Chicago for the last few days: a doctor decides not to perform an operation that might have saved a new-born “hopeless defective” boy, which has now died. The doctor says the boy would have been doomed to “an animal existence and imbecility.” He says he’s done a favor for the child, “its” parents, and.... the race.

Vice President Marshall is giving Pres. Wilson and Edith Galt a Navajo blanket as a wedding gift.

Sen. Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. Right now Penrose is following the Liberty Bell as it tours around the country.

In Britain the Anti-German League is suing to remove Sir Edgar Speyer and Sir Ernest Cassel from the Privy Council because they are naturalized citizens (Speyer was American but with German parents, Cassel a German Jew).

Pres. Wilson asks Utah Gov. William Spry to stay the execution of hobo poet Joe Hill (Joseph Hillstrom).

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