Monday, May 06, 2013

Today -100: May 6, 1913: Of amendments, isolated orders, silent stares, and hats in Parliament

The 17th Amendment, for the popular election of US senators, is unratified, because Wisconsin accidentally ratified the wrong draft.

Montenegro yields to the Great Powers (and to the threat of Austria and maybe Italy sending in troops), and will evacuate Scutari.

Arizona is working on its own racist land law.

A federal district court judge in Washington State rules that a high-caste Hindu from India is an Aryan, a “free white person,” under the law and thus is eligible for naturalization. Ahkay Kumar Mozumdar, a yogi who plans to teach what the NYT calls “ancient nonsense for which the present has little use and the future none,” thus becomes the first Indian to become an American citizen.

Paterson’s silk strike is now a general strike, enforced with violence and staring: “Their method of gaining recruits was that of collecting in a large body around a gang of laborers and staring silently.” The Wobblies will totally kick your ass in a staring contest.

While Women’s Social and Political Union leaders are in court in one part of London (the prosecutor claims that the WSPU is responsible for broken windows in 700 to 800 premises, and damage to 560 letter boxes and 8,400 letters), elsewhere Parliament debates a bill to enfranchise some women (house occupiers or wives of house occupiers, over the age of 25). Liberal Unionist MP Rowland Hunt brings up the important issues: “If you once give votes to women they could undoubtedly sit in this House. You could not prevent it, and whether rightly or wrongly they could be War Ministers or anything else. There would be nothing to prevent them being Speaker. We might have to address the Chair as ‘Mrs. Speaker, Ma’am,’ for all we could tell. ... There are obvious disadvantages about having women in Parliament. I do not know what is going to be done about their hats. Are they going to wear hats or not going to wear hats? If you ordered them not to wear hats, you might be absolutely certain that they would insist on wearing them. How is a poor little man to get on with a couple of women wearing enormous hats in front of him?” How indeed.

Helen Keller is a militant suffragette, supporting window-breaking etc, because she believes women’s suffrage will lead to socialism.

However, Carrie Chapman Catt, former (and future) president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, who is on a visit to Britain, says that American suffragists won’t adopt militant methods: “Your movement resembles a battle; ours a process of evolution. Yours is picturesque and very tragic; ours is commonplace and sure.”

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