Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today -100: February 27, 1913: Of labor, downgrading Jews, and treaties

Congress creates the Department of Labor (splitting up the Dept of Commerce and Labor) that Woodrow Wilson wants, after a Senate filibuster is abandoned. Taft thought 9 cabinet members was plenty, but gives in because he doesn’t want to be misinterpreted, he says.

Bulgarian Jews protest against the possibility of any Bulgarian territory being ceded to Romania, as Jews in the annexed area would have their rights reduced to those of Romanian Jews (i.e., none).

Taft asks the Senate to ratify a treaty with Nicaragua, giving the US exclusive rights in perpetuity to build a canal across it, in exchange for $3 million. Senators are somewhat miffed that they didn’t even know this treaty was being negotiated. Of course there are no actual plans to build another canal competing with the Panama Canal, so this seems to be just another version of the treaty the Senate rejected last May, putting control of Nicaraguan finances in American hands. Why Taft is springing this treaty on a lame-duck Senate four days from its adjournment, I don’t understand.

Wilson hasn’t met with Thomas Marshall, the vice-president-elect, since last July? Can that be true?

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