Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Today -100: July 22, 1914: Today the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people
There’s some sort of large-scale revolutionary strike movement going on in Russia. The NYT is a little short of details.
Persia’s shah comes of age (16) and takes his oath. The crown is a little too big for his head. Literally.
Joseph Caillaux testifies at his wife’s trial in what the NYT accurately calls “a theatrical defense of himself.” He says the whole thing was his fault because he didn’t act first (shoot Calmette himself, I guess). He pointedly tells the court that he only knew true happiness with his second wife, the defendant, and not with the former wife who gave his private letters to Calmette. He says Calmette was part of a campaign against him by “the interests behind Le Figaro” motivated by opposition to the income tax Caillaux was trying to bring in as minister of finance (elsewhere he implies that Calmette took German bribes). Calmette’s actions in printing his personal letters were designed to “get at me politically through my honor, my honorableness, and at the same time to get at my wife through her honor, because it was our household itself that he was after.”
Caillaux goes on to defend his politics, his career, and his negotiations with Germany over Morocco in 1911. He then called up a Figaro staffer and demanded he produce government documents Calmette had in his possession (which were, though the public didn’t know this, three 1911 telegrams from the German foreign ministry to the German ambassador to France, intercepted and decoded by the French government, about secret conversations between the two governments on the Moroccan crisis. The government will falsely describe these documents as “nothing more than faked copies of documents that do not exist and that have never existed”). In the somewhat unstructured court proceedings of the period, if your name was mentioned, you had the right of reply and could just interrupt the trial to make a speech, like Caillaux is doing, or question witnesses. The victim’s family’s lawyer had the same privilege.
This is all the French newspapers are talking about, and will occupy the majority of real estate on their front pages until just before the war breaks out.
The Berlin police says there is no such thing as a white slave trade.
The conference on Ulster and Home Rule opens. King George begins, saying that the trend of events in Ireland “has been surely and steadily toward an appeal to force, and today the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people.” Liberals object to this language as echoing the Tory line, and, on constitutional grounds, to the king intervening at all.
Pres. Wilson orders that the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company be sued as a monopoly.
Pres. Wilson meets Fernando Calderon, who will be the foreign minister of Mexico when the Constitutionalists take power.
On Friday there’ll be another World War I fest on TCM. We’ve got, among others, Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms, a World War I short actually made during World War I, with a surprisingly grim (although comical) view of life in the trenches; King of Hearts (I’ve been avoiding re-watching this movie for years, for fear that something I quite liked when I was young will turn out to be the sort of thing that only the young like); and the really-shouldn’t-work-but-it-really-does Oh! What a Lovely War.