Monday, December 21, 2009

Today -100: December 21, 1909: Of sick immigrants, lynchings, lynchings, and more lynchings, and all this Santa Claus business


Reading the 1909 papers goes a lot quicker if you don’t bother reading any of the stories about the controversy over whether Cook reached the North Pole.

The Commissioner of Immigration has decided that “physically or mentally unfit” immigrants will no longer be treated by the government but made the responsibility of the steamship companies that brought them.

As in NY, Philadelphia shirtwaist manufacturers are willing to concede pretty much every demand of the strikers – except union recognition.

The NY shirtwaist strikers’ ally, the Woman’s Trade Union League has introduced an innovation into the practice of picketing: the automobile. It will be used to cover all the factories where scabs are working. One striker, the amusingly named Fanny Fireman, has been sentenced to five days in the workhouse for throwing a rotten egg at a scab.

Here’s a picture I forgot to post earlier, I think from the paper 100 years + 2 days ago.


The Nicaraguan Congress has unanimously elected José Madriz, Zelaya’s nominee, to be the nation’s president. Gen. Estrada vows to fight on. US Secretary of State Philander C. Knox has issued a strong note saying that Madriz will have to show he is capable of directing a responsible government and make reparation for the execution of Cannon and Groce. But the US will not yet recognize either Madriz or Estrada.

In your lynching news of the day, a man who fatally wounded a marshal was lynched in Rosebud Texas; the Illinois National Guard is being moved to Belleville to protect another black man suspected of being involved in a fatal street car robbery in East St. Louis; a black man was shot to death by a mob in a jail cell in Devil’s Bluff, Ark.; and a lynch mob in Magnolia, Alabama was searching for 4 black brothers suspected of killing a white man. When the house one of the brothers was hiding in was set on fire, he shot at the mob, killing one and wounding two others, but was fatally shot himself as he tried to escape the blaze. Two others were arrested and narrowly escaped lynching; the fourth brother remains at large. “Nearly every negro resident left Magnolia to-day. The whites are all armed.”

Mark Twain announces “I am through with work for this life and this world.”

More front page news: The 6-year-old grandson of Rep. McMorran (R-Mich.) has been having doubts about “all this Santa Claus business.” So his parents told him to ask President Taft about it. Taft suggested that if he writes a letter to Santa and Santa then brings everything he asks for, that should be proof enough. The boy agreed, and is now busily writing his letter. Probably asking for a monkey-on-the-stick, whatever that might be (this?).

And that boy grew up to be Ben Nelson.

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