Friday, January 07, 2011

Today -100: January 7, 1911: Of pardons & peonage, fireworks, mosquitos, suffragettes, mutinies, and pensions

Taft refuses to pardon the president of a lumber company in Florida convicted of holding foreign laborers in involuntary peonage (however, Taft had previously commuted the sentence from 18 months to 6 months). Taft says that “Fines are not effective against men of wealth. Imprisonment is necessary.”

The city of NY has won a court ruling that may allow it to recover from William Randolph Hearst the $250,000 it had to pay out to victims of a fireworks display at Madison Square Garden on election night 1902, put on by the National Association of Democratic Clubs of which Hearst was president, which killed 18 people.

The House votes a $72 a month annuity to a soldier who volunteered for a medical experiment, allowing himself to be bitten by yellow fever mosquitos to test the theory that that’s how you get yellow fever. It is.

The Archbishop of Lyons, France, forbids Catholics reading four republican newspapers, says it is a sin to do so.

British suffragette leader Sylvia Pankhurst is visiting NY, giving speeches and raising money. The NYT article begins by referring to her as “a little rosy-cheeked slip of an English girl” and keeps up the condescension throughout, using the word “girl” a lot and calling her “little Miss Pankhurst.” It says she is 20 and looks younger. She is in fact 28, and doesn’t. She said she expects British women to be enfranchised “this very year.”

A couple of months ago, some sailors on 2 Brazilian battleships and some other ships mutinied, demanding more pay, the abolition of corporal punishment on ships, etc, or they would bombard Rio. Which they did. The Brazilian Congress voted to accept their demands and give them amnesty but naturally they were arrested when they set foot on shore. Since then 45 of the imprisoned mutineers have mysteriously died of sunstroke, gangrene and suffocation.

There is still no quorum in the Tennessee Legislature, so still no governor. The NYT notes that the situation can’t continue for long because without a government, pensions to Confederate veterans would be stopped and “No man or set of men with political aspirations would care to hazard even an indirect connection with such a situation as that.”

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