Monday, August 26, 2013

Today -100: August 26, 1913: Of peons, the kind of government that best suits Mexico, holidays, and Arctic expeditions


Headline of the Day -100: “Two Slain by Peons.” A couple of Europeans in Mexico. Er, the Europeans are the slayees, not the peons. You just don’t hear the word peons that much anymore.

As special envoy Lind’s mission to Mexico comes to an end, having accomplished nothing, the NYT again calls for recognition of Huerta’s junta in Mexico, pooh-poohing the objection that it’s a dictatorship: “Mexico, in the long run, will have the kind of Government that best suits it. If it amounts to a dictatorship, that is Mexico’s affair.”

There seems to be a truce between the British government and militant suffragists. Emmeline Pankhurst is visiting her daughter in Paris and will then go on an American tour, and has advised her followers also to take a holiday. On the other side, the government is failing to re-arrest women out of prison on Cat and Mouse Act licenses. Currently there are 43 militants sentenced to prison, only one of whom is actually in prison.

The HMS Karluk, leading a Canadian Arctic expedition got caught in the ice pack early in the month, expedition leader Vilhjalmur Stefansson (on one of the other ships) reports. It will drift for the next few months before sinking in January 1914, while the ship’s phonograph played Chopin’s Funeral March. The crew of 25 will camp on the ice for a few weeks, then set off looking for land. Two advance parties are lost, the remaining 17 men reach Wrangel Island, and 14 will survive until they are rescued (by the HMS Bear; I was momentarily startled by the June 1914 headline “Bear to Get Karluk’s Men”) in September 1914, when their first words were, I’m guessing, “There’s a WHAT now, a WORLD war? What say you just leave us right here on our cozy ice-island until it’s over.” (Update: wow, I just assumed they were all men. There was an Inuit whose wife and two children came along.)

I have to wonder how many groups from various ill-conceived expeditions were scattered throughout the Arctic Circle. In 1917 the Karluk’s captain, Robert Bartlett, rescued another 1913 expedition, which was searching for Crocker Land, which explorer Robert Peary claimed to have spotted in 1906 but which he hadn’t seen any more than he’d actually reached the North Pole (he named it for the banker who paid for the expedition, and who he hoped would pay for another expedition to explore “Crocker Land”). The expedition (which Peary was not on) had been stranded for four years, with only one vicious murder. And before Bartlett rescued them, another ship tried to reach them, only to get stuck in the ice for two years.


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