Thursday, January 14, 2010

Today -100: January 14, 1910: Of chairwomen and the palmiest days of sacerdotal ambiguity


In Philadelphia as in NY, the shirtwaist strike is being supported by women suffragists, who are joining picket lines and going bail for arrested picketers.

A letter (I wonder, by the way, when the NYT stopped printing anonymous letters) congratulates the paper on being the first to use the term “chairwoman,” in an article about a suffrage meeting.

Prime Minister Asquith, in one of his last speeches before the British general election, accuses opposition leader Arthur Balfour of being wishy-washy about tariff reform (protectionism), which is popular with some parts of the Conservative Party but not so much with the general public, which doesn’t want to see food prices rise. At least I think that’s what Asquith is saying: “The oracle has spoken [referring to Balfour’s speech]. What is its message? Not Delphi or Dodona in the palmiest days of sacerdotal ambiguity ever gave forth a more uncertain sound.”

The NYT disparages the Liberals’ social policies, claiming that Britain is “overtaxed to pay old-age pensions” and can’t afford the proposed system of unemployment insurance (being superintended for the moment by Winston Churchill, of all people, at the Board of Trade). The NYT says that Asquith rules a coalition of “Socialists, laborites and Irish Nationalists. No promise has yet been made to provide husbands for suffragettes.” The editorial also refers, somewhat more fairly, to “the obviously insincere Liberal promise of home rule for Ireland.”

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