Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Today -100: March 29, 1917: No one can now contend that we are yielding to violence what we refused to concede to argument


Albert Staub, head of the Atlanta branch of the American Red Cross, calls for a purge of “disloyal” members because SOMEONE poisoned a batch of bandages and put ground glass in dressings in New Jersey. (Update: Staub will deny ever having said anything about poison).

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George declares himself in favor of women’s suffrage. Actually, NYT, he always claimed in the past to be in favor, even while plotting to undermine it. Rather more remarkable is former prime minister Asquith’s announcing his conversion, claiming that his previous vehement opposition was always based on “expediency” but that women’s war work has proved them worthy etc etc and “we have had no recurrence of that detestable campaign which disfigured the annals of political agitation in this country, and no one can now contend that we are yielding to violence what we refused to concede to argument.” Lloyd George also goes on and on about women munition workers. Parliament votes in favor of the Speakers’s Conference’s recommendations for changing the franchise, which include reducing the residency requirement, a complicated experiment in proportional representation in a few constituencies, and other provisions. Women’s franchise will be on unequal terms, with a minimum age that hasn’t been settled on yet, probably 30 or 35.

The Nebraska State Senate votes down partial women’s suffrage.

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By “invading,” the NYT means “are looking for work.” Long Island businessmen are not happy about it.

German Food Dictator Adolf Tortilowicz von Batocki-Friebe says the state needs to seize the entire food supply of Germany.

Germany is threatening to intern American relief workers in Belgium for 4 weeks before letting them go home, to keep them revealing military news.

The witch hunt begins: Alexander Fichlander, a school principal in Brooklyn, is rejected for promotion because he’s a pacifist who refused to sign the loyalty pledge. George Wingate, a Civil War general who is on the Board of Education, leads the charge against Fichlander and wants to fire any teacher who expresses pacifist views, even if only outside the schoolhouse. Oh, and maybe make them take a loyalty oath.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Today -100: March 28, 1917: Of cobblers, Canadian concentration camps, literacy, and tango pirates


Alexis Korvanov, a former Russian general and political exile who has been working as a cobbler in New York, sails for home. I don’t think he’ll do did much when he gets there.

While the NYT doesn’t give the name of the ship Korvanov sailed on, it might well have been the Kristianiafjord, whose more famous passenger is Leon Trotsky. Certainly the date is right. The Kristianiafjord will dock in Halifax, where Canadian authorities will detain him for a month alongside interned German POWs, as he later described in the chapter of his memoirs entitled “In a Concentration Camp.” He spent the month trying – with some success – to convert the Germans to revolutionary socialism.

Forced by the law Congress passed over Wilson’s veto to make prospective immigrants take a literacy test, the Labor Department says it will use the Bible, not for religious reasons but because it has been translated into every language, including Klingon.

Former President Taft calls the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanovs “the first great triumph of this war.”

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Today -100: March 27, 1917: Of Russian Jews, declarations of war, Belgiums, and crying czars


Russia will grant full equality to Jews, eliminating educational, residential and other restrictions. Which also means that the passports issued by the US to American Jews will now be honored. Under Taft, the US abrogated its treaty with Russia over this issue.

The Wilson administration is debating whether to ask Congress, at its special session next week, to declare war rather than have it declare that a state of war is already in existence. Evidently in all US history, Congress has only ever done the latter. By directly declaring war, rather than saying that the war began, for example, with the sinking of the Housatonic on February 3rd, the US can later demand compensation for the ships sunk right up to the time the US declared war.

Secretary of War Newton Baker says Germans in this country won’t be interned. If they behave.

Germany will start administering Belgium as two separate countries.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Today -100: March 26, 1917: Of spy fever, redeployments, and of course polo


A Swedish man is arrested for sketching the Brooklyn Bridge. And a guest at the Hotel Majestic in New York is investigated by the police after a guest becomes suspicious that he is operating an illicit wireless transmitter. He is in fact testing electrical medical equipment before demonstrating it to doctors, which is his job.

Germany has been withdrawing troops from positions on the Western Front in order to mount a major offensive against Russia.

The head of the Polo Association says polo should not be stopped if war is declared.


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Today -100: March 25, 1917: Everyone hates a finicky war


Woodrow Wilson orders the US ambassador to Belgium to leave Belgium along with all other consular officials and the Commission for Relief, since the Germans are sinking all the ships bringing relief supplies anyway.

Theodore Roosevelt says he can raise a division of soldiers and have it in France in 4 or 5 months. And then he went off to “hunt devilfish.”

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The Russian Provisional Government fires Grand Duke Nicholas as army commander-in-chief.

In the German Reichstag, socialist (SPD) deputy Fritz Kunert blames Kaiser Wilhelm and Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg for starting the war and says he’d be proud if Germany made such progress as Russia has.

The US rejects Germany’s proposed protocols interpreting the 1799 and 1828 US-Prussia treaties in ways that would allow all German nationals in the US (well over a million of them) to go about their business with no restrictions in the event of a war.

If war is declared, Princeton will immediately suspend all athletics. But they probably won’t shut down the whole university for the duration (or let in women).

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Something about paprika, right?


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Friday, March 24, 2017

Today -100: March 24, 1917: Of recognition, safe czars and nervous kaisers, and humanity and good neighborship


Now that the US has broken the ice, Britain, France and Italy recognize the new Russian government.

Russia will abolish the flogging and chaining of prison inmates.

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Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The British press reports, no doubt on the best authority, that Kaiser Wilhelm has had a nervous breakdown.

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Fight fiercely, Harvard.

Germany will reduce the bread ration by one-fourth. The meat ration, however, will be increased (they’re killing animals to save on fodder).

Having sunk a bunch of Dutch ships, Germany offers, “on considerations of humanity and good neighborship,” to pay indemnities for the dead crew members and to help shipowners buy German ships after the war. The Netherlands tells them to go fuck themselves. It is also likely to ban US merchant ships when Wilson puts cannons on them.

The Nivelle Offensive is going well. For now.

The Justice Dept is taking a census of all Germans in El Paso, with an eye towards internment.



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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Today -100: March 23, 1917: And we’ve been friends ever since


The US recognizes the new Russian government, the first country to do so.

Russia says it will end the death penalty “in the near future.” Also, there will be women’s suffrage.

A u-boat sinks an oil tanker owned by Standard of New Jersey, the Healdton, off the Netherlands, its destination. No warning given. 7 Americans dead.

New York City’s Boy Mayor John Purroy Mitchel accuses State Senate minority leader (and future US senator) Robert Wagner of “working in the interest of Germany.” Wagner – and yes that is a German name – is not best pleased. This is part of a fight over how much the US government will pay the Rockaway-Pacific Corp (a subsidiary of Southern Pacific Railroad) for land on Rockaway Point which it intends to fortify.


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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Today -100: March 22, 1917: Taking a man’s part


Woodrow Wilson calls Congress into an extra session for April 2nd, earlier than he’d previously announced, presumably to ask it to declare war on Germany.

It is expected that the US will not just independently start fighting Germany, but will operate in conjunction with the Entente nations, perhaps in a formal alliance, perhaps not. Okay, that may sound obvious, now, but the US hadn’t made a military alliance with another country since the War of Independence, and not getting into “entangling alliances” or interfering in Europe was kind of important to the US’s national self-image, the Monroe Doctrine and all that.

They’re talking about not being able to field an army for a year or so (although Theodore Roosevelt, naturally, wants to send an expeditionary force of whatever size as soon as possible), without anyone suggesting that the war might be over by then.

Henry Stimson, Taft’s secretary of war, demands that the US take “a man’s part” in the European war.

Lots of men, not just those in the military, are practicing military drilling, and would like the government to provide them with some rifles to play with. 600 had been drilling on Governors Island (Manhattan) with broomsticks, but have recently upgraded to wooden rifles.

Czar Nicholas and Mrs. Czar are under arrest.

New French Prime Minister Alexandre Ribot says “We are resolved to wage with the utmost vigor and to a victorious end the terrible war into which we were drawn by inexcusable aggression.” He will do so, he says, by giving a totally free hand to Gen. Robert Nivelle. This should go well.

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I believe you mean “differently abled.”

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Today -100: March 21, 1917: Feeble war but war


Wilson’s Cabinet meets. They are virtually unanimous in favor of war, some of their penises fully erect in anticipation. Wilson is still hesitating, saying he abhors both Germany’s militarism on land and Britain’s militarism at sea.

Republican leaders give speeches at the Union League Club about the international situation, all saying the same thing. Charles Evans Hughes: “Germany is now making war upon the United States, making war with a ruthless barbarity.” (Ruthless barbarity is the worst kind of barbarity). Theodore Roosevelt: “Germany is making war upon us and we are not striking in self-defense. Armed neutrality under these circumstances is feeble war, but it is war.”

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