Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today -100: March 23, 1910: Of poor Uncle Joe, peace and dreadnoughts, trolleys, and damned fools


Taft visited New York and, says the NYT, “probably established a new record... for a day’s activity for a President of the United States.” For example, he attended two luncheons and a dinner. The things he ate did for his country. At the Press Club, a photographer’s flash set a curtain on fire; the Secret Service put it out. The members then sang parodies of popular songs, such as this one about Speaker Cannon to the tune, with which I’m sure we’re all familiar, of “Old Uncle Ned”:
Hang up the gavel and cigar, cigar,
Close up the House and Senate bar;
There is trouble and woe for poor Uncle Joe,
Cause he went just a little too far!

His dinner was hosted by the American Peace and Arbitration League. He said he was all in favor of universal peace, which he intended to get... by building two new battleships each year until the completion of the Panama Canal. But he also agrees with the idea of an international arbitration court.

The trolleymen and the Philadelphia transit company haven’t come to an agreement, but the general strike seems to be breaking down, with textile workers and journeymen bricklayers returning to work. 35 motormen and conductors were arrested after a trolley car was dynamited.

NYC Mayor Gaynor ordered the NYPD to stop taking pictures and Bertillon measurements of prisoners for its Rogues Gallery unless they were actually convicted of a crime (while fingerprinting was known in 1910, evidently they didn’t keep a permanent record of fingerprints). And in 2010 there are op-ed articles in the NYT calling for a national database of everyone’s DNA.

In New Jersey, Mrs. Nellie Fitzherbert sued Surrogate David Young for saying she talked like a “damned fool.” Evidently in NJ, “The pain and suffering that can be caused by profane words is fixed by statute at 50 cents, plus the costs of court, which amount to $5.” He pleaded justification. The jury found him not guilty.

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