Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Today -100: January 23, 1919: Leave Poles alone


The German government announces that the National Convention to draw up a new constitution will be held in Weimar instead of turbulent Berlin.

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Germany responds to Britain’s complaint by saying that the British government is ill-informed about events in the East and anyway the Poles started it.

The Peace Conference adopts Woodrow Wilson’s proposal that all factions in Russia be invited to meet representatives of the Allies next month to sort Russia out. And there should be a cease-fire first. The communique assures the Russians that the Allies are not trying for a counter-revolution.

The Allies are totally trying for a counter-revolution. 

The smaller countries at the Peace Conference are beginning to realize that the Big Five intend to shut them out of significant decision-making.

The meeting of the Irish Dáil Éireann comes off without a hitch (or a police raid), and chooses an Irish Cabinet. Censors prevent the Dublin newspapers from publishing the declaration of independence.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Today -100: January 22, 1919: Why should we not be masters in our own house?


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Good luck with that, guys. Prince Faisal of the Kingdom of Hejaz says the Arabs have an even greater right to independence than the new states in Europe “since we are the oldest democracy in the world.” That’s Prince Faisal saying that. “Why should we not be masters in our own house?” he asks.

Also looking for independence, 25 of the people elected to the British Parliament from Ireland (the rest being in prison or exile) constitute themselves as an Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann), declare Irish independence, adopt a provisional constitution, and appoint a delegation to present Irish claims to the Peace Conference. 2/3 of that delegation are currently in prison, leaving only Count Plunkett, a name I will never stop finding amusing. The TDs (that’s the term in 2019, I’m not sure what this group called themselves) have some difficulties trying to conduct the meeting in Gaelic.

Ex-king Manuel of Portugal changes his mind and says he’d be willing to take back the throne after all, now that the war is over and with the assassination of President Sidónio Pais last month and everything.

In the US Senate, Sen. Warren G. Harding says things are “drifting into chaos” in terms of reconstruction in the US and Wilson and his administration should “give up their idealism.” Evidently the first step in his campaign to become president is taking a firm anti-idealism stand. He thinks Wilson should have formalized a peace deal first thing, before he went around Europe being adored by the masses. Also, because Wilson kept talking about making the world safe for democracy, Harding thinks he’s personally responsible for Bolshevism, because logic. He says that in Europe, “If we must have anarchy on the one hand or hateful autocracy on the other, I choose autocracy.”


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Monday, January 21, 2019

Today -100: January 21, 1919: Of monarchists, trustworthy nations, resentful kings, and IQ


The Austrian government tells former Emperor Charles that unless the monarchist movements at home and abroad cease to agitate for his return, he will be banished from Vienna.

Lord Robert Cecil, the British foreign secretary until earlier this month and now in charge of League of Nation policy for Britain, says only “trustworthy” nations should be admitted to the League. Germany, Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria will be deemed trustworthy when their governments are not dominated by the military and no doubt a whole bunch of other criteria, and in Germany’s case when the present disorder is resolved.

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Former Portuguese King Manuel II, deposed in 1910 when a republic was proclaimed, objects to the movement of soldiers who just occupied Porto and proclaimed the Monarchy of the North in his name without even asking him, which is just bad manners.

Columbia University will replace entrance exams with IQ tests.


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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Today -100: January 20, 1919: Of radio aliens, bells, epilepsy, and roofs


In an interview, radio dude Guglielmo Marconi says he hopes to communicate with life on other planets. Indeed, he’s often received odd signals which just might be....

German National Assembly elections are held amidst riots and the occasional general strike. Spartacists, none too pleased about the murder of their leaders, seize bourgeois newspapers and disrupt voting.

Erich Ludendorff (who fled Germany at the end of the war) says he’s writing a completely impartial book that will totally exonerate him.

Italians in the regions of Italy which were occupied during the war ask to be given Austrian cannons to melt and make new church bells to replace the ones that were taken away by the Austrians to be made into cannons.

Prince John of England, King George V’s 6th kid, dies of epilepsy at 13. The official notice of his death is the first time his medical condition is revealed to the public.

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Jules Védrine wins a 25,000 franc prize for landing on a roof (offered before the war), which seems oddly specific. He lands on a department store roof in Paris. His plane is 36 feet wide, the roof 52 feet wide & 75 feet long. Védrine, who has the first pilot to beat 100 mph and hopes to fly around the world, will die in a crash in 3 months.


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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Today -100: January 19, 1919: Good luck with that, guys.


The Peace Conference opens. The Germans, whenever they arrive, will oppose any terms that go beyond Wilson’s 14 Points.


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Friday, January 18, 2019

Today -100: January 18, 1919: Summary, if irregular, justice


The armistice is extended for another month.

Karl Liebknicht is reportedly shot dead while “attempting to escape.” And Rosa Luxemburg is reportedly beaten by a mob and shot dead by some rando and thrown in the canal. Both stories are, of course, bullshit (except for the canal part; it will be months before her body, um, surfaces): the two were tortured and then executed by the soldiers who held them, under orders from their commanding officer. Pre-meditated, in other words. The German press mostly blames her for her supposed mob lynching, for having aroused “the basest passions.” And so does the NYT, which calls their murders “a summary, if irregular, justice to the fomenters of robbery, murder, and anarchy.” It blames the thriving of the Spartacists on the hesitance of the Socialist government “to make the final test.” “These two leaders, the man violent but weak, the woman a termagant of the familiar revolutionary type, have perished miserably by the sword they drew.”

The press protest their exclusion from the peace negotiations, demanding the admittance of 5 journalists from each major country. The French newspapermen don’t join the protest, they’re not fussed. The Supreme War Council backs down and will allow in 3 reporters from each country, except when they don’t.

Another rumor of a counter-revolution breaking out in Petrograd. Lenin is evidently now in exile in... Barcelona.


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today -100: January 17, 1919: They would drag us all down to the level of the lowest man


Nebraska is the 36th state to ratify the prohibition amendment, which means it is now the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. It will come into effect in a year. It will require Congress to pass enacting legislation, defining “intoxicating liquors” and setting up enforcement (the states also have enforcement powers).

Rosa Luxemburg has been “murdered,” according to a correct but sparse report. And Karl Liebknecht is reported captured by troops.

Some Montenegrins don’t want to be folded into Yugoslavia and are resisting Serb troops.

The Senate votes 50-21 to exonerate Robert La Follette of disloyalty for a 1917 speech in which he said that the sinking of the Lusitania was not a sufficient reason to go to war.

The Ebert government issues a draft constitution for Germany. Provisions include a 10-year term for an elected president and the partition of the country – and more importantly, Prussia – into entirely new states.

Spartacists are declaring separatist republics in Bremen and Brunswick.

46 members of the IWW are convicted of conspiracy to violate the Conscription Act. Federal prosecutor Robert Duncan told the jury, “They would drag us all down to the level of the lowest man. They do not recognize difference of ability in man, but would give the unworthy the same privileges for which the worthy have to strive so hard.” 43 of the Wobblies refused to speak or put on any defense. They will be sentenced to terms ranging from 1 to 10 years.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today -100: January 16, 1919: Of molasses. Sweet, murderous molasses.


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This is the Great Molasses Flood, in which 21 Bostonians come to a sticky end as 2 million gallons of molasses run through the streets at 35 miles per hour, drowning people and horses, destroying buildings and crumpling elevated train tracks. There’s a book about this.

After all the talk about “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at,” the five Powers decide (supposedly over US and British objections) to keep the Versailles deliberations secret.

The NYT prints another story about how the Romanovs are totally still alive, at a monastery in the Urals.

You know who’s (also) not alive? Karl Liebknicht and Rosa Luxemburg. I think it’ll take a few days for their bodies to be discovered.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today -100: January 15, 1919: Where is the enemy?


Sen. William Borah (R-Idaho) attacks the idea of a League of Nations as requiring the maintenance of large militaries, including peace-time conscription in the US (actually the Peace Conference is talking about banning conscription. Oh, or maybe that hasn’t come up yet). Borah is also not fond of Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels’ plan for a huge navy, asking “Where is the enemy?”

The peace talkers have almost decided on whether the talks will be conducted wholly in French. They have allocated representation: 5 delegates for France, Britain, the US, Italy and Japan, 3 for Brazil for some reason, 2 for Belgium, Serbia (just Serbia, not the United Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) no decision yet about the Croats and Slovenes), Greece, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, China, Canada, Australia, South Africa and India. 1 for New Zealand and Newfoundland. States which broke off diplomatic relations with Germany but didn’t declare war, like Portugal, get 1.  Decisions will have to be unanimous.

The Senate votes for a $5,000 pension (and franking privileges) for Theodore Roosevelt’s widow Edith.

The remnants of the Spartacists, having lost their revolution, are turning to looting and holding up casinos frequented by war profiteers, the NYT reports.

Former Kaiser Wilhelm now has a beard. It’s grey.


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