Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Today -100: March 5, 1913: Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good

Woodrow Wilson’s official inauguration was today -100 (er, yesterday -100, but in today -100’s paper).

Here’s a little from his inaugural address:

We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through. The groans and agony of it all had not yet reached our ears...

Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good, to purify and humanize every process of our common life without weakening or sentimentalizing it. There has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great. Our thought has been ‘Let every man look out for himself, let every generation look out for itself,’ while we reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out for themselves.

There was a parade and everything. Not as entertaining or as violent as the women’s suffrage parade the day before, but it did have Native Americans, led by one Chief Hollow Horn Bear of the Lakota, who doffed his sombrero and exclaimed “White father, white father, white father!” Chief Hollow Horn Bear caught pneumonia during the parade and died of it, which is certainly symbolic of... something or other. The Indians were followed by a larger contingent from Tammany Hall, all wearing silk hats and carrying silver canes with which they saluted the president.

After the parade, Wilson and Taft returned to the White House for a farewell luncheon for the former president. So it may be a while before Taft actually leaves.

That may be the last “Taft was fat” joke in this blog.

With Taft’s exit, we come to an end of an era. I refer, of course, to the era of presidents with facial hair. Although if Hillary runs in 2016...

What was Theodore Roosevelt doing while all this was going on, you didn’t ask? He was viewing an exhibition of Futurist paintings in New York, which is certainly symbolic of... something or other.

Following Russia’s lead (in January), Britain has recently banned aircraft flying over it without permission, punishable by jail terms or, you know, being shot down.

Taft vetoes a bill to, among other things, abolish involuntary servitude among seamen. He says it would conflict with US treaty obligations. Not sure what he meant, and neither the NYT nor LAT are helpful about it.

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