Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today -100: August 28, 1913: Of dueling governors, strikebreakers, horses, confidential agents, and the settled fortune of the distracted country, and brides of the wind

The lower house of the NY Legislature accepts messages from Acting Gov. Martin Glynn, thus formally recognizing him and not Sulzer as the One True Governor. The state senate will follow suit tomorrow.

Guards at the Pope tin mill in Steubenville, Ohio shoot at strikers, hitting six.

President Wilson’s daughter Jessie (aka “the hot daughter”) is thrown from her horse and is unconscious for more than a half hour.

Mexico makes public its communications with the US government, which include a promise from Woodrow Wilson that if Huerta promises not to run for president, Wilson will ask American bankers to make loans to Mexico. For some reason, people think this sounds like an attempted bribe. Mexican Foreign Minister Federico Gamboa says that Mexico won’t submit its elections to the veto of any president of the United States, because that’s the prerogative of the Mexican military. OK, he didn’t say the last part. Still, if it weren’t for the fact that he was speaking for a murderous coup government, I’d admire his wonderfully sarcastic letters to John Lind, whom he addresses repeatedly as “Mr. Confidential Agent.”

Woodrow Wilson addresses a joint session of Congress about Mexico, where “War and disorder, devastation and confusion, seem to threaten to become the settled fortune of the distracted country.”

He sounds genuinely surprised that Gen. Huerta did not accept his proposal that he step down immediately and not stand in presidential elections, and seems to be casting about for reasons why he didn’t: “I am led to believe that they were rejected partly because the authorities at Mexico City had been grossly misinformed and misled upon two points. They did not realize the spirit of the American people in this matter, their earnest friendliness and yet sober determination that some just solution be found for the Mexican difficulties; and they did not believe that the present administration spoke, through Mr. Lind, for the people of the United States.” But “the steady pressure of moral force will before many days break the barriers of pride and prejudice down...” Why, Mr. Darcy! “...and we shall triumph as Mexico’s friends sooner than we could triumph as her enemies-and how much more handsomely, with how much higher and finer satisfactions of conscience and of honor!”

He does not plan to intervene militarily at this time, or to do much else, really: “We can afford to exercise the self-restraint of a really great nation which realizes its own strength and scorns to misuse it.” Which sounds rather like his explanation for not declaring war on Germany after the sinking of the Lusitania, that there is such a thing as being “too proud to fight.”

He calls for all Americans to leave Mexico (or, as an LAT headline puts it, “‘Run’ is Wilson’s Last Word to Americans in Mexico”), and for a ban on the sale of arms to both sides (arms have been sold to the regime which the US government does not recognize).

Name of the Day -100: Oskar Kokoschka, an Austrian painter I’ll admit to not having heard of, perhaps because Tom Lehrer didn’t sing about him in the song about Alma Mahler, has broken off his engagement with her because he didn’t like her living off the income from her late husband Gustav Mahler’s estate. But c’mon, that name! Wouldn’t you love to be able to say, “Hello, my name is Oskar Kokoschka”? Anyhoo, this is “Bride of the Wind,” a 1913 painting by Oskar, which Wikipedia describes as “a self-portrait expressing his unrequited love for Alma Mahler.”

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