Friday, October 31, 2014

Today -100: October 31, 1914: I am going somewhere where I think I can get more votes


The new British First Sea Lord, replacing Prince Louis of Battenberg, is Adm. Jacky Fisher, who previously held the job before retiring at age 70.  Now 73, he has been in the Navy since he was 12, which means he actually served during the Crimean War, when it was all wooden sailing ships.

Woodrow Wilson has some advice for the voters of New York: “an American citizen should never vote as a sectarian but always as an American citizen.”  In other words, he’s criticizing the anti-Catholic campaign against Gov. Glynn waged by the secretive but well-funded Guardians of Liberty.  Some of the people endorsed by the Guardians have repudiated them, but not Whitman.  (Update: Do NYT reporters ever talk to each other? Another article this issue has Whitman doing just that, although very belatedly).

Suffragists hold a meeting at Carnegie Hall.  Gov. Glynn drops by but doesn’t make a speech: “I am going somewhere where I think I can get more votes.”  Which kind of makes their point.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Russia Welcomes Turkey As An Enemy.”  The whole of the Balkans is now in play.  Neither side has declared war yet, and the Turkish ambassador to Russia claims to believe that Turkish military actions in the Crimea must be some sort of mistake, perhaps naval commanders – which means Germans on secondment – acting on their own.

A German newspaper in German-occupied Russian Poland quotes a supposed proclamation from Kaiser Wilhelm who calls a “miracle” his “decision to wage war with Russia and restore to Poland her saints and annex her most cultured land to Germany,” which he’s doing because the Virgin Mary came to him in a dream.  I don’t know if this story is real: the only Google hits for it are 3 contemporaneous news stories.

Meanwhile, Russia is allowing Poles to form legions under Polish commanders.  “Proclamations have been posted in all Polish towns and villages exhorting the people to join the legions and expel the enemy.”  I’ll bet the Russians are very careful to specify that when they say “the enemy” they mean Germans, to avoid any wacky but understandable mix-ups.

Today’s dead prince rumor: Prince Heinrich of Reuß.  You’d think that would be easy to fact-check on Wikipedia, but turns out there were two German micro-principalities named Reuß, ruled by two branches of the same family who evidently both named every one of their boys Heinrich and probably some of the girls as well and there’s also some weird numbering system, so if this article is about the one I think it is, it’s Heinrich XXXIV, son of Heinrich XXVIII (!) and he wasn’t killed but lived until 1956.  And yes, this will all be on the quiz.

Belgium is fighting the Germans with water, flooding the Yser River valley.

Rumors say the Allies have retaken Lille.

Germany warns Britain that if it doesn’t release German civilians from internment, Germany will do the same to British civilians in Germany.

Germany denies yesterday’s rumor that it made peace offers through the German Social Democratic Party.

Halloween 1914 Story: Britain claims German spies have been disguising themselves as Boy Scouts and Scout Masters.

The Lusitania is late.

It was just delayed by bad weather.



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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today -100: October 30, 1914: Turkey has pronounced her own doom


Turkey starts war against Russia (without declaring war), attacking the Crimea and the Caucasus, making it the 10th combatant (if you don’t include Canada, South Africa, Togo and other colonies).  The London Times says: “By her foolish yielding to the instigations of Germany, Turkey has pronounced her own doom.”  Doom, I tell you!

Oh, let’s name the 10 warring countries, in case those of you playing the home game have forgotten any of them (Montenegro, you’ve forgotten Montenegro, admit you’ve totally forgotten Montenegro): Austria, Serbia, Germany, Russia, France, Montenegro, Belgium, Britain, Japan, Turkey.

Speaking of Canada, some Canadians along the border fear an invasion by Germans and Austrians living in the US.

Germany is said to be building new submarines four times as large as existing ones, able to remain at sea without resupply for 40 days.

The Comte de Chambrun, once the French military attaché in Washington but now an artillery officer, has had what he calls “the great pleasure” of having to bombard his own château, which the Germans are occupying.

A “League of Honour” is formed in Britain for educated girls to show lower-class ones how to be nice to soldiers – but not, um, too nice.

A politician asks Gen. Joffre what his plans are: “I’ll just keep nibbling at them for the time being.”

IWW activist Becky Edelstein is tried for making speeches against John D. Rockefeller.  She tells the jury that she has the right of free speech, and that whatever they do she will “come back here and harass John D. Rockefeller.”  She is acquitted.

Alice Paul, head of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, says no California woman should vote for a Democrat for any office because Wilson and congressional leaders haven’t supported the women’s suffrage amendment.

The Mexican convention continues. Zapata’s delegates have finally arrived.  They demand the break-up of the large landed estates.  “The convention for several minutes was in confusion.  The delegates reached for their revolvers, but finally yielded to the becalming speeches of their colleagues.”

Prince Louis of Battenberg resigns as First Sea Lord, in response to a xenophobic press campaign against him (he was born in Austria and raised abroad in Germany and Italy, but has served in the British Navy for 45 years, since he was 14).  The Battenbergs will change their name to Mountbatten later in the war in an attempt to avoid more of this sort of thing.

Woodrow Wilson asks his attorney general if he has the power to close the mines in Colorado (the White House will deny this story). Gov. Ammons says it’s perfectly safe to withdraw the federal troops, as the state national guard (now even more heavily infiltrated by mine-company guards) is perfectly capable of keeping order.

US business is booming because of the literal booming in Europe.  Belligerent nations have placed orders for 2.2 million pairs of shoes in New England.  The hob-nailed boots the French army wants have to be made by hand.  Also tinned meat, lots of tinned meat.  And 20,000 horses.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Today -100: October 29, 1914: All enthusiasm is dead


Gavril Princip, the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is sentenced to 20 years (lenient because of his age, which is also 20 years), while 4 of his convicted co-conspirators are sentenced to death, 1 to life, and the rest for terms ranging from 3 years to 20 years.  Several were acquitted. 

Wilson issues the annual presidential Thanksgiving proclamation, which mostly talks about the European war (one could be excused for thinking the proclamation is aimed more at next week’s election than Thanksgiving).  “It has been vouchsafed to us to remain at peace, with honor,” he says.  “Our crops will feed all those who need food; the self possession of our people amidst the serious anxieties and difficulties and the steadiness and resourcefulness of our businessmen will serve other Nations as well as our own.”  So... we’re giving thanks for the war because it’s good for business?

Kodak says it has developed a color film process easy enough for ordinary photographers to use.  But the photos can’t be printed, they can only be seen as transparencies.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany is explaining (in placards in Belgium) its recent retreat: Paris has cholera, so it’s just healthier for German troops to winter in Germany instead of capturing Paris.  Totally believable.

The NYT continues to reprint reports from the eminently unbiased London Standard: “An evil spirit seems to have rendered the Austrian Army impotent from the very commencement of hostilities.”  It says that the wounded are so many that every hospital, barracks and school in Vienna have been converted into wards, as well as many theaters, museums and offices.  “Convalescent soldiers wander like vagabonds through the streets, clothed in uniforms and still bandaged, begging alms.”  The public are indifferent: “All enthusiasm is dead.”

Le Petit Parisien interviews a 12-year-old soldier.

Woodrow Wilson meets Mother Jones, who asks him not to keep the federal troops in Colorado, and says if the mineowners continue to reject Wilson’s proposed settlement he should just close the mines.

Belgian troops are finally winning against Germany.  OK, it’s in a battle between the Belgian Congo and German Tanganyika, but it still counts, sort of.

Prince Maurice of Battenberg, a grandson of Queen Victoria and the brother of Queen Victoria of Spain, is killed in action in France, at 23.  Er, fighting on the British side, despite the German-sounding title.

When Greece saw Italy invading and occupying Albania’s capital, it looked like such fun that it has invaded southern Albania.  Like Italy, Greece claims not to be acquiring territory but acting purely out of humanitarian motives.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Bomb Angers the Swiss.”


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Today -100: October 28, 1914: Please advise your government and my family that I died a traitor


Portugal has not entered the European war, although it frequently threatens to do so, but Germany goes ahead and invades its colony Angola anyway.  Probably preemptively, since the British navy is currently sailing Portuguese troops out to reinforce Angola and Moçambique.

NY Gov. Martin Glynn suspends the warden of Sing Sing, Thomas McCormick, for showing favoritism to prisoner David Sullivan, who was president of the Union Bank of Brooklyn until he wiped it out.  The warden made Sullivan his chauffeur, which gave Sullivan the opportunity to meet with his secretary and conduct business in Yonkers.  McCormick explained that he chose Sullivan, rather than any of the qualified chauffeurs who graced Sing Sing’s cells, because “he had the appearance of a gentleman”.  McCormick claims he bought the car with his own funds, expecting to be reimbursed by the state later, but the money actually came from Sullivan.  (I wonder what happens to the car now that McCormick has been suspended, shortly to be fired.)

Italy says it is occupying Avlona, the capital of Albania, but only for sanitary reasons.  Given the civil war or disorder or whatever you want to call the current situation in Albania, it’s getting a little stinky.

Pancho Villa has supposedly thwarted a plot to assassinate him, paid for by Gen. Pablo Gonzales, a supporter of Carranza.  The would-be assassin confessed, in front of a US consular agent: “Mr. Consul, please advise your government and my family that I died a traitor.”  Villa has him executed.

Russia and France are both considering giving soldiers steel breastplates, which they ultimately won’t do, because it’s a stupid idea.

No sooner has one rebellion ended in South Africa then another begins, led by Generals Christiaan De Wet and Christiaan Frederick Beyers.  The latter resigned as commandant-general of the South African army when war was declared on Germany.

Carranza submits his resignation – conditional on Villa and Zapata leaving public life altogether.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

Today -100: October 27, 1914: The woman’s movement and war cannot flourish together


Prinzip and the other 23 alleged conspirators are convicted of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  The verdict was read over the sound of Serbian artillery.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Kaiser All Intent on War.”  What was your first clue?

Headline of the Day -100:  “Germans Suffocated in Great Forest Fire.”  Set by Russian troops, in Poland near the Vistula.

South African forces defeat Salmon Maritz’s rebellion.  Maritz is wounded and flees into German Southwest Africa.  He will return to South Africa in 1923, receiving no punishment (the sentences of his men who were captured will be commuted after just two years).  He will go on to form a small anti-Semitic fascist organization in the 1930s.  As one does.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Sends Kaiser Pictures of His Looted Chateau.” The French chateau of Jefferson Davis Cohn, publisher and horse-breeder, was commandeered by German troops during the Battle of the Marne.  Cohn is outraged that it was looted and vandalized, his tapestries and horses stolen, and the wine cellar drunk up.  He has sent photos of the damage to the kaiser, with whom, he says, he has drunk beer and whose sister he once hosted at this very chateau.

In other expatriate-owned-castles-in-France news, Gen. von Bülow is threatening to burn down a castle near Rheims owned by Prince Albert of Monaco unless he pays a fine which was imposed on a nearby village for what Albert calls “some insignificant mischief,” whatever that means. (Update: a later story says they are accused of scattering glass on the road.  The prince says he’s willing to pay... after the end of the war, if his château is intact.)

Headline of the Day -100:  “COURT SITS IN OVERALLS.”  The Mississippi Supreme Court.  Also cotton shirts.  In honor of Cotton Day, which supports the “wear cotton clothes” movement.

The Association of American Women of German Descent holds its first meeting at the Hotel Astor.  The speakers (the 3 official speakers quoted are all male) deplore the American press’s bias against Germany.  A Mrs Gerard Bancker of the Federation of Women’s Clubs interjects that American women should be neutral, just like the president asked, and anyway Germans are cutting the hands off Belgian children, her sister saw it.  She is hissed down.  The poet Hanns Heinz Ewers attributes American hostility to Germany to a misunderstanding of the term “pan-Germanism,” which he helpfully explains before reciting his poem “Tremble, Ye Britons.”  Ewers will be interned from 1918 to 1921. I had no idea the US interned Germans so long after the end of the war.

Another British suffragist arrives in New York. Christabel Pankhurst’s old colleague Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence will also speak at Carnegie Hall.  Her view of the war is quite different from Christabel’s: “The whole woman’s movement must be turned to the destruction of this monster, war. ... The woman’s movement and war cannot flourish together.”


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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Today -100: October 26, 1914: Of delegates, doctrines, and man-killing devices


The 1916 Republican Convention will have many fewer delegates from the South, where the R’s don’t have any voters anyway.

There has been some silly discussion in the NYT lately over whether Germany has acknowledged the Monroe Doctrine or, on the contrary, might try to annex South America if it wins the European war.  Not helpful: Ambassador to the US and Mexico Count von Bernstorff says that Canada’s participation in the war exempts it from the Monroe Doctrine and therefore it would be perfectly proper for Germany to invade it.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Edison Won’t Invent Man-Killing Devices.”  Well, not on purpose anyway.



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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Today -100: October 25, 1914: Of too much man-governed countries


Congress adjourns, Southern congresscritters temporarily giving up on their filibusters over cotton.  Hoke Smith of Georgia has been particularly anxious to secure higher prices, having made a campaign promise that cotton would sell at 12¢ a pound; cotton farmers have been sending him bales of cotton and billing him at that price.

British Secretary of War Lord Kitchener asks the public to refrain from buying drinks for members of the military.

Columbia undergrads are suddenly interested in European history, for some reason.

Women may not yet have the vote in New York, but they can and are running as candidates for the 1915 constitutional convention.

Former impeached NY Gov. William Sulzer’s American Party, which is basically just him, has a rather simple, not to say simplistic platform: 1) Beat the bosses. 2) Stop the stealing.  3) Get the grafters.  Etc.  He is also running as the candidate of the Prohibition Party, whose candidate for lieutenant governor is Charles Welch, the grape juice king.

In South Africa, rebel leader Lt. Col. Salomon Maritz offers to surrender if his followers are pardoned and the German soldiers with him are allowed to return to South-West Africa.  South Africa ignores him.

Christabel Pankhurst gives a speech at Carnegie Hall.  She contorts herself to present her support of the war as analogous to the now suspended militant suffrage movement, or as an extension of it: “Now, I am a militant. That is not to say that I prefer war to peace; but it is to say that when people want to govern me by physical force and not by the moral force of justice, then I am prepared to defy their physical force to the very death.”  (Or give orders from Paris, as the case may be.)  “I maintain that we are fighting for democratic government. We are fighting for the right of the different peoples of the world to govern themselves. And I maintain that the victory of the Allies will, as a matter of fact, be a victory for the German people themselves.”  And I’m sure they’ll be properly grateful.

“When the women of the world are enfranchised, then indeed we may hope to see the reign of universal peace.”  An odd claim from a woman making a pro-war speech.

She genders the war (which is hardly unique to her), calling Belgium “the suffragette country” for its resistance to the mighty German Empire, which she portrays as “a male nation, a country in which the counsels of women emphatically do not prevail,” and if it succeeds, “then you will have the peace-loving nations always on the defensive, always compelled to be arming and preparing to meet the armed aggression of that too much man-governed country in which women are not free.”

My favorite line, about Germany’s claim to need more land: “We cannot be bullied by birth-rates.”

People in America, she says, have asked her why Britain was so unprepared for war.  “Some of us think that the British Government would have been better employed in preparing to defend the country against the German enemy than in fighting so hard against the Suffragettes. If, instead of searching our Suffragette literature for alleged illegalities, the British Government had been reading more carefully the enlightening works of General von Bernhardi; if, instead of watching the offices of the W.S.P.U., they had paid more attention to spies and to the fortresses disguised as factories which Germany was erecting in our midst”.


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Today -100: October 24, 1914: Yet you’re still alive


Headline of the Day -100:  “GERMAN WOMEN SPIES MEET DEATH BRAVELY; Allies Shoot Many Suspects Whose Accent Betrays Their Teutonic Origin.”  Which doesn’t really sound like they’re shooting actual spies.  “So many spies have been caught in France recently that the possession of papers apparently in good order avails a man or woman nothing once an accusation has been made or suspicion aroused.  It is asserted that no German tongue can ever pronounce certain French words without betraying itself.”  Um, right.

There are demands in India that the British do more to protect Indian shipping from German attacks.  The Times of India calls for convoys and “alludes to the possible effect on the crude native mind of the [cruiser] Emden’s successes, which will seem to their humble intelligences an indication of German success in the naval war.”

Carranza says he’s willing to resign as chief executive, provided Pancho Villa doesn’t come to power - or get any of the credit for Carranza leaving.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Kaiser Wilhelm supposedly rebukes one of his generals, who retreated from the Marne, for not going down fighting: “You fell back, and yet you’re still alive.”

Haiti now has two people claiming to be president, Orestes Zamor and Davilmar Théodore.  Which are both fantastic names.


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Today -100: October 23, 1914: Got it by a mile


Former Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz is reported dead.  He isn’t.

The round-up and internment of German- and Austrian-born men in Britain is, not surprisingly, creating hardship among the wives and children left behind.  So it’s up to the US embassy, which is responsible for looking after those countries’ interests in Britain, to deal with them, dispersing funds from the German and Austrian governments.

Italy invades Albania.

The Constitutionalist military Convention names a cabinet, or five cabinet members anyway, but Carranza may ignore them.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Lille a Ruined City.”

In the NY governor’s race, District Attorney Charles Whitman accuses Gov. Martin Glynn of putting a convicted forger on the payroll in the Audit Bureau of the State Controller’s office on behalf of Tammany Hall, one Thomas Torpy.  Whitman’s campaign is very prosecutorial, talking about rooting out the various Tammany crooks, with as little discussion of actual governance issues as he can get away with.

Here is Whitman’s campaign song:
    Who is, who is, who is he?
    He is, he is, he is he
    He is in it, I should smile
    Whitman’s got it by a mile.
The NYT claims that the whispering campaign against Gov. Glynn for his religion (he’s the first Catholic governor of NY) is strictly a rural business – they’d never think of asking a man’s religion in the Big Apple.

In the first income tax returns, just 44 people declare themselves to have an income over $1 million, 91 between $500,000 and $1 million, out of 357,598 tax returns filed.  The income tax produced much less revenue than expected, and the Internal Revenue Bureau will start going after the tax dodgers – they estimate there are 140,000 of them.

Now the fun begins: guessing who the 44 plutocrats are.



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