Thursday, April 24, 2014

Today -100: April 24, 1914: Our quarrel is not with the Mexican people

Epithets, Mexican-style: Venustiano Carranza wants to make it quite clear: “in no case will we make common cause with Huerta, whom we consider an usurper, traitor, and assassin.” But he’d rather direct.

Epithets, South Carolina style: Lede Sentence of the Day -100: “Gov. Cole L. Blease [of South Carolina] called Secretary [of War] Garrison ‘a little pug-nosed Yankee,’ Secretary [of the Navy] Daniels a ‘liar,’ and the Minister to Cuba, William E. Gonzales, ‘a half-breed Cuban’ in a speech here to-night, in which he explained that he was not fighting the National Administration at Washington.” The editor of The Columbia Record was the one who wrote that Blease was fighting the Wilson Administration, so Blease has him arrested for libel. Blease is in fact in a dispute with SecWar Garrison, who pulled scheduled military maneuvers out of the state after Blease refused to withdraw something undisclosed he wrote to Garrison in a letter.

Admiral Fletcher invites the Vera Cruz municipal employees to continue working at their jobs, but for the American occupiers.

War Headline of the Day -100: “Bravery of Badger’s Men.” Sounds like a not-very-good children’s book.

Huerta expels the US’s chargé d’affaires Nelson O’Shaughnessy.

And takes over the railroads.

Huerta claims the US only took Vera Cruz by a ruse. See, the American sailors had always been allowed ashore to bathe and stroll the town, but this time they had rifles. That’s Huerta’s story, and he’s sticking to it.

Rioters stone the US consulate in Mexico City, as is the custom, and try to pull down a statue of George Washington.

Woodrow Wilson proclaims that despite his little war, or perhaps because of it, the US’s “feeling and intention” is based on “a genuine friendship for the Mexican people”. His statement, intended to reassure the Constitutionalists, says that US actions are directed only against Huerta in the territory he controls. “We are dealing, moreover, only with those whom he commands and those who come to his support. With these we must deal. They do not lawfully represent the people of Mexico. In that fact we rejoice, because our quarrel is not with the Mexican people, and we do not desire to dictate their affairs.” Wilson has decided to send the regular Army, not just marines and sailors, into Mexico, making it harder to pretend that this is not a war. This is necessitated by the fact that Mexicans are actually resisting the invasion, which was evidently not anticipated.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan sent a note to Carranza, asking the rebels not to oppose the US invasion. So now Republicans such as Henry Cabot Lodge, John Weeks, and William Borah accuse the Wilson Admin of collaborating with murderous bandits. Who aren’t even willing to collaborate. Democrats respond that it was Republican demands that the US go to war with the whole of Mexico and not just the Huerta Junta that made Carranza hostile.

Spies are discovered wandering the halls of the building which houses the State, War and Navy departments. Or at least people claiming to be journalists who are suspected of spying for one side or the other in Mexico (that is, there are spies for both sides). So people will now need a pass to enter the building.

Tammany will start recruiting troops. It is rumored that Pres. Wilson will soon call for 50,000 volunteers.

The NYT counts 15 American dead, 58 wounded so far.

Speaking of battles, there is said to be one going on in Walsenburg, Colorado, but the wires are down so information is scarce.

Colorado Lt. Gov. Stephen Fitzgerald calls out the entire state militia after getting some businessmen to guarantee the privates’ pay.

Atlanta police are now holding a negro witness against Leo Frank at his trial, who subsequently admitted that his testimony had been coerced by the police. The cops claim that Albert McKnight has recanted that recantation and is now voluntarily staying at the police station because people have threatened him.

An attempted anti-Mormon meeting is held at Carnegie Hall, intended to be the start of an anti-Mormon crusade nationwide, with demands that Wilson not appoint Mormons to public office, for a constitutional amendment banning polygamy, and for NYC Mayor Mitchel to refuse permits to Mormon elders to preach and to prevent the building of a Mormon tabernacle. The meeting is broken up by Mormons, who attacked the stage after a speech by Frank Cannon, a Mormon apostate who was a US senator from Utah in the 1890s.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oklahoma crude. And stupid. And callous. And just fucking awful.

Two Oklahoma death row prisoners (both of whom are black, if you had to ask) sued the state over its secrecy over how it acquired its death chemicals and what they might actually be. After some back and forth, the state Supreme Court rules that they can’t prove any “actual injury” caused by the secrecy, which obviously they can’t do because of the, you know, secrecy. That’s some grade A Catch-22 shit there.

Gov. Mary Fallin tried to override the stay by ordering the executions to go ahead by executive order, because law and order is so important to her that she will just make up her own laws and enforce the hell out of them.

A state rep who was so enraged by the Supreme Court’s brief stay of execution that he introduced a resolution to impeach any justice who voted for it is named Mike Christian, because of course he is.

One of the justices who is safe from Mr. Christian’s wrath is Steven Taylor, who said the suit was frivolous and a waste of his precious time and wrote, “If they were being executed in the electric chair, they would have no right to know whether OG&E or PSO were providing the electricity. If they were being hanged, they would have no right to know whether it be by cotton or nylon rope; or if they were being executed by firing squad, they would have no right to know whether it be by Winchester or Remington ammunition.”

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Today -100: April 23, 1914: Mexico will fight to the extreme limit of her power against the Colossus

US military forces have captured Vera Cruz, although shooting from irregular forces and civilians continues. Occasionally the US shells a bit of the city which people are shooting from.

Huerta says “Mexico will fight to the extreme limit of her power against the Colossus. Better die fighting than purchase peace at the price of national dignity.” The government orders all able-bodied citizens to take to the field and decrees a general amnesty, so all Mexicans can help fight the Americans.

Gen. Venustiano Carranza telegraphs Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan saying the Constitutionalists don’t plan to join Huerta against the US, but he also says that the US had no excuse to occupy Vera Cruz, since the actions of Huerta and his soldiers don’t represent the Mexican people.

Some guy who saw Theodore Roosevelt in Brazil says TR planned to come back and do the Rough Rider thing again if there were a war with Mexico. But only if it’s a, you know, real war.

Colorado miners are setting mines on fire.

Headline of the Day -100: “I.W.W. Slur on Flag Stirs Angry Crowd.” During street-corner speeches in NYC against the war in Mexico. The police naturally arrest the speakers, as was the custom, rather than the crowds that were threatening them, throwing fruit, etc.

William Burns of the Burns Detective Agency announces that his investigation, which he’s been dragging out for maximum self-promotion, has determined that Leo Frank is innocent of the murder of Mary Phagan and that Jim Conley is guilty. (Update: Burns claims Conley, “as shrewd and tricky a negro as one would find in a week’s travel,” is a serial killer responsible for the murders of 20 women.)

Headline/Obit of the Day -100: “KILLED BY OWN DYNAMITE.; Farmer's Head Blown Off by Explosion Meant for Wife.” The lesson: if you’re chasing your wife holding a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse, pay attention to how close the fuse is getting. Alcohol was involved. You don’t get this sort of thing so much anymore, since Warner Bros & the Acme Corp put out all those safety videos. Very few giant slingshot deaths these days too.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today -100: April 22, 1914: It would be too bad, too bad, to shoot up this town

The US Senate passes the resolution endorsing the intervention in Mexico, 72-13. The 13 are all Republican, including former secretary of state Elihu Root, Fighting Bob La Follette, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Reed Smoot. There’s a rhyming slogan in there somewhere.... coot, boot, loot, toot... oh well, the war’s already started, so I guess it’s moot.

But it’s not an actual declaration of war. An amendment stating that a state of war exists with Mexico is tabled; another instructing Woodrow Wilson to accept Huerta’s apology is rejected by voice vote; a measure by Lodge giving as the reason for the intervention the ill-treatment of American citizens (implicitly, by both the government and the rebels) is defeated, as is one saying that the purpose of the intervention is to protect American citizens in Mexico. La Follette’s amendment disclaiming any intention of annexing bits of Mexico is defeated 39-44.

Not that any of that mattered, because US forces had already landed in Vera Cruz and seized the Custom House before the Senate voted. Wilson acted quickly because the Ypiranga, the German ship with all the arms and ammunition, was about to dock. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels says the landing is totally not an act of war, but refuses to answer when asked whether Mexicans firing at the landing party was an act of war. The US consul phoned Gen. Maas and asked him to surrender Vera Cruz. He says no. After the capture of the Custom House, serious fighting broke out. Capt. Rush says he regrets the Mexicans’ silly resistance and hopes not to have to bombard Vera Cruz: “It would be too bad, too bad, to shoot up this town. I hope it will not have to be done.”

Asked for comment by the NYT, Constitutionalist leader Venustiano Carranza declines.

The US military has only 15 functional airships (half of those obsolete) and 12 aviators. Wright will speed up production to one per week (Orville’s recent patent lawsuit win means other companies can’t supply the planes). This is compared to the British military’s 300 planes, Germany’s 800, Russia’s 800 and France’s 1,200. Even Brazil, China and Morocco have more military airplanes than the US.

War Headlines of the Day -100: 1) “War Spirit Sweeps Border.”
2) “Arizona Force Knows Spanish.”
3) “87, But Wants to Fight.” That’s Horatio Gates Gibson, a general during the Civil War. His letter to Pres. Wilson mentions his extensive antebellum experience Indian-fighting.
4) “Huerta Takes to Billiards.” On a $1,000 mahogany table he just bought.

Speaking of warfare, the NYT says this of the Ludlow Massacre: “The Ludlow camp is a mass of charred débris, and buried beneath it is a story of horror unparalleled in the history of industrial warfare. In the holes which had been dug for their protection against the rifles’ fire the women and children died like trapped rats when the flames swept over them.” It is assumed that bullets set off the strikers’ ammo dump, setting fire to the camp, although Major Hamrock (!) claims the fire started “spontaneously.” Tomorrow, the state militia plans to bring out its machine guns. The United Mine Workers telegrams Pres. Wilson and Colorado’s congresscritters about the events in Ludlow: “Striking miners and families shot and burned to death at Ludlow, Col. Mine guards, with machine guns, riddled tents of striking miners and set fire to tent colony. Four men, three women, and seven children murdered. [The total will be 19] State not only fails to protest, but uses uniforms and ammunition of the commonwealth to destroy the lives of the workers and their families. We shall be compelled to call on volunteers in the name of humanity to defend these helpless persons unless something is done.” The commander of the state national guard, Gen. John Chase, the guy who keeps arresting Mother Jones, refuses to order the Guard back into the strike area, saying the Guard’s budget has run out (the state auditor, who is pro-union, is stalling payments). Train crew have refused to take trains of soldiers and ammo to Ludlow; they’ve been fired.

A half-black, half-Indian woman who was refused the seat she had paid for in a Rochester, NY theater sues and is awarded $200.

Former Pres. Taft addresses a meeting sponsored by the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, but fails to mention women’s suffrage.

Here’s an ad from the NYT, in which some sort of breathmint trumpets this endorsement of sorts from George Bernard Shaw: “When a man... puts a Formamint lozenge in his mouth to kill a few thousand bacilli he is trying to wipe out the consequences of old mistakes of creation.” I can’t find online the GBS article in The Christian Commonwealth they’re quoting here.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Today -100: April 21, 1914: Our wars are forced upon us by injustice or insult

The House passes a joint resolution authorizing military action against Mexico by a vote of 337-37 to “enforce the demands made upon Victoriano Huerta” (who the US doesn’t recognize as president of Mexico) for “unequivocal amends” (the stupid 21-gun-salute) for “affronts and indignities” against this government (the short detention of sailors wandering around a city while it’s under rebel siege).

The resolution is amended in the Senate and now “disclaims any hostility to the Mexican people, or any purpose to make war upon them.” So that’s okay then.

$50 million is appropriated for the not-war.

(Here’s Pres. Wilson’s message to Congress).

The public finally hears why this is being done in such a rush: a German ship with rifles and 15 million rounds of ammunition is on its way to the Huerta regime. Wilson plans to blockade Vera Cruz before it arrives to prevent it landing. That way, he doesn’t have to seize the ship and get into a kerfuffle with Germany (and break international law). I don’t know if he told anyone in Congress about this ship and that his purpose was to put his thumb on the scale for the Mexican rebels.

Headline of the Day -100: “Cowboys Want to Fight.” The National Order of Cowboy Rangers offers to recruit a regiment of 600 to 1,000 cowboy rangers.

Some union leaders are repudiating Big Bill Haywood’s call for a general strike against the war. The AFL’s vice president James Duncan says that such strikes are justified in Europe, where wars benefit the rich, “but our wars are forced upon us by injustice or insult.” So that’s okay then.

Constitutionalist leaders Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa meet for the first time in years.

And another war begins, in Colorado, what history and folk song refer to as the Ludlow Massacre, which is catchy if not entirely accurate. Miners fight the Colorado National Guard and... somehow... the tent colony (striking miners having been thrown out of their company-owned housing) is burned down.

The New Jersey Supreme Court voids the conviction of Alexander Scott, managing editor of the socialist Passaic Weekly Issue, for advocating “hostility to government,” when he accused the Paterson police of attacking striking workers during the silk strike. The Court rules that Scott was not hostile to all government, which would still totally be illegal in NJ, but only to the Paterson government, which is ok.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Today -100: April 20, 1914: Mexico has yielded as much as her dignity will permit

Huerta refuses to accede to Wilson’s demands. Foreign Minister Portillo y Rojas explains that the US flag wasn’t even flying from the Dolphin’s launch, so it was never insulted, and Mexico offered a mutual salute, which was rejected. “Mexico has yielded as much as her dignity will permit. Mexico trusts to the fairmindedness and spirit of justice of the American people.” Good luck with that.

Vice President Marshall has some helpful advice for Mexico: “Mexico can’t have a republic until Mexico has different laws, different sentiments and different people... you can’t have a pie without any filling”.

Former President Taft predicts a long war with thousands dead, requiring up to 500,000 troops to occupy every major city in Mexico and fight the inevitable guerilla warfare because it’ll be the Philippines all over again.

A report in The Annalist says that Americans own more property, including banks and mines and whatnot, in Mexico than do the Mexicans, $1,057,770,000 versus $793,187,242.

IWW leader Big Bill Haywood tells a Carnegie Hall audience that the war would trigger a general strike against it in the US. “The mine workers of this country will simply fold their arms, and when they fold their arms there will be no war.” He suggests sending the bankers to fight the war. Spoiler alert: there will be no general strike, and bankers will not be sent to fight in Mexico.

The Justice Dept is already looking into prosecuting Mr. Haywood under the sedition and/or treason laws.

An envoy from Mexican Dictator Huerta will meet Carranza and Villa to ask if they’ll help him in the event of an invasion by the US and, hey guys would you stop sniggering for just a minute, guys this is serious... [translated from the Spanish].

The Constitutionalists say they’ll be okay with the US occupying Tampico and Vera Cruz, but won’t be okay with it if shooting starts.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Edison Is Fatter.” Thomas Edison returns from a vacation in Florida with several, evidently newsworthy pounds.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today -100: April 19, 1914: Why should I take Wilson’s orders?

Huerta sends a note to the US saying that he refuses to take orders from Pres. Wilson to fire a salute on behalf of the Mexican nation when Wilson doesn’t even recognize him as president of that nation. Wilson has set a deadline of 6 p.m. today, Mexico City time (which is 7:40 D.C. time) after which he will go to Congress to ask it to authorize military action, which will involve at the very least seizing Mexican ports and establishing a “belligerent blockade,” which is different from a “pacific blockade” in that it involves stopping ships from other countries.

It’s not quite War of Jenkins’ Ear silly, but this is a threat to go to war to force a country to fire a salute to the US flag. Mexico would be happy to do so if assured of a return salute, and the US would be happy to return the salute, but won’t agree to do so as a condition, because Mexico is totally at fault and should be offering a... wait for it... “unconditional salute,” and because signing a protocol would be a tacit recognition of the Huerta regime as a government, as opposed to some random group of Mexicans the US is demanding fire cannons.

Unconditional salute. Sheesh.

The Constitutionalists have kept pretty quiet about this whole thing until now, since on the one hand they’re happy to see Huerta humiliated but on the other would rather not see an American military intervention. Pancho Villa, for whom keeping quiet is not a natural state, now says it’s Huerta’s ox being gored. He reckons Huerta, being a coward, will give in to the US. But if there is a war between the US and the Huerta regime, Villa will keep Americans and other foreigners safe within his territory.

Graf Charles von Wedel resigns as governor of Alsace-Lorraine, as a result of the military-civilian clashes in Zabern last year.

Henry Ford orders his employees not to live in tenements or crowded rooming-houses and not to take in boarders. He wants them to buy homes. So Ford increased their pay, but is telling them how they have to spend it. “We will give every one time to correct his living conditions,” or be fired. He now has 45 investigators interviewing all his employees about their living conditions, religion (why? is there some religion Ford doesn’t approve of?), leisure pursuits, bank savings, etc.

An article in the NYT Sunday Magazine says that nation-wide prohibition is closer than people realize. Half the population of the US already live in dry territory.

Suffragettes burn the Belfast Corporation’s tea room. A tea room? Now they’ve gone TOO FAR.

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Guide Insane.” The guy who helped TR in his pell-mell race down the Adirondacks when he heard McKinley had died.

Orville Wright has been keeping some inventions under his hat while waiting for the results of his patent-infringement lawsuits. Having won those, he now brings out a new airplane stabilizer, which will help prevent all those sudden dives. So I guess he knew how to prevent all those recent plane crashes, but was waiting until he was sure he could money out of it.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Today -100: April 18, 1914: We have not plots, we have not nihilism in this country

The NYT says that Huerta’s first reaction to the demand for a 21-gun salute was to prepare a declaration of war.

Mexico’s foreign minister decides to complicate the whole thing by saying that the Huerta Junta will take the US’s return salute as tactic recognition of his government.

There’s an assassination attempt on John Purroy Mitchel, the Boy Mayor (he’s 34) of New York City. The assassin, one Michael Mahoney, 71, misses and hits Corporation Counsel Frank Polk in the chin, breaking his jawbone and knocking out two teeth, which he plans to have mounted in gold. Mitchel pulls out his own gun, which he carries because Mayor Gaynor died last year from assassination, but Mahoney is wrestled down by a crowd that includes the police commissioner. Mahoney is evidently a crazy lone gunman and not part of a plot. Says the Boy Mayor, “We have not plots, we have not nihilism in this country.” Mahoney circumvented NY’s strict gun control laws by buying his gun in New Jersey.

Obit of the Day -100: Hermann Ahlwardt, founder of the Antisemitische Volkspartei. The NYT obit says he died a disappointed man because anti-Semitism has been declining in Germany.

British suffragettes bomb the theater on the Great Yarmouth pier.

A doctor at the University of Pennsylvania is being prosecuted for cruelty to animals. His name is Dr. Sweet, because of course it is. I’ll spare you the details, mostly because I stopped reading before getting to them, but evidently it’s not the vivisection of dogs that’s at issue, it’s the neglect of them afterwards.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Today -100: April 17, 1914: Of mothers jones, executions, salutes, cholera, and sterilization

Mother Jones is released, by a habeas corpus writ from the Colorado Supreme Court if I’m reading the article correctly.

Leo Frank gets an unexpected stay of execution, on the grounds that he wasn’t in the courtroom when his verdict was read, which was because of fears that he would have been lynched had he been acquitted, but he hadn’t agreed to waive his right to be present. A motion for a new trial because of new evidence is pending.

Headline of the Day -100 (L.A. Times: “Mexico Will Salute, But–.” The Huerta regime says it is willing to do the 21-gun salute, but wants the salute returned. The US will return the salute, but as a courtesy, because it is the done thing, not because Mexico demanded it, and it won’t agree in advance to do what it says it intends to do anyway. And there is some question about whether the salute should be returned by the US after all 21 Mexican guns are fired, or gun for gun, with each side alternating. In 1914, no one seems to think any of this is silly.

The Huerta regime is now claiming that it let Villa capture Torreón because there was cholera there.

Sen. Vardaman (D-Miss.) is filibustering the re-nomination of a negro, Robert Terrell, to the municipal court of the District of Columbia. Vardaman says he will “continue the struggle until the last ditch.”

A federal court will hear a case about the Iowa law allowing people twice convicted of crimes to be forcibly sterilized.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today -100: April 16, 1914: An incident of no special importance

Pres. Wilson informs Congress of his plans for Mexico: seize Vera Cruz, Tampico and ports on the west coast; establish a “peaceful blockade”; the occupation and blockade to continue until Mexico punishes the colonel who arrested the crew of the Dolphin and a salute is fired. Wilson says the US has been “subjected to a systematic and studied series of insults” by Huerta.

Army and navy recruitment is going way up. Various people have offered to recruit Rough-Riders-type units of volunteers to invade Mexico, including Rice Means, the commander in chief of the Army of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and Texas state Rep. John Kirby. Kirby thinks he can do the job just with Texans, and that he can recruit up to 500,000 Texans, but warns that they wouldn’t be willing to give up Mexico once they’ve seized it: “It will have to be made an American territory in order that its inhabitants may learn modern civilization and enjoy peace and the benefits of Christian progress.”

Huerta issues a brief statement saying “The Tampico incident has no special importance.”

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