Saturday, October 25, 2014

Today -100: October 25, 1914: Of too much man-governed countries

Congress adjourns, Southern congresscritters temporarily giving up on their filibusters over cotton.  Hoke Smith of Georgia has been particularly anxious to secure higher prices, having made a campaign promise that cotton would sell at 12¢ a pound; cotton farmers have been sending him bales of cotton and billing him at that price.

British Secretary of War Lord Kitchener asks the public to refrain from buying drinks for members of the military.

Columbia undergrads are suddenly interested in European history, for some reason.

Women may not yet have the vote in New York, but they can and are running as candidates for the 1915 constitutional convention.

Former impeached NY Gov. William Sulzer’s American Party, which is basically just him, has a rather simple, not to say simplistic platform: 1) Beat the bosses. 2) Stop the stealing.  3) Get the grafters.  Etc.  He is also running as the candidate of the Prohibition Party, whose candidate for lieutenant governor is Charles Welch, the grape juice king.

In South Africa, rebel leader Lt. Col. Salomon Maritz offers to surrender if his followers are pardoned and the German soldiers with him are allowed to return to South-West Africa.  South Africa ignores him.

Christabel Pankhurst gives a speech at Carnegie Hall.  She contorts herself to present her support of the war as analogous to the now suspended militant suffrage movement, or as an extension of it: “Now, I am a militant. That is not to say that I prefer war to peace; but it is to say that when people want to govern me by physical force and not by the moral force of justice, then I am prepared to defy their physical force to the very death.”  (Or give orders from Paris, as the case may be.)  “I maintain that we are fighting for democratic government. We are fighting for the right of the different peoples of the world to govern themselves. And I maintain that the victory of the Allies will, as a matter of fact, be a victory for the German people themselves.”  And I’m sure they’ll be properly grateful.

“When the women of the world are enfranchised, then indeed we may hope to see the reign of universal peace.”  An odd claim from a woman making a pro-war speech.

She genders the war (which is hardly unique to her), calling Belgium “the suffragette country” for its resistance to the mighty German Empire, which she portrays as “a male nation, a country in which the counsels of women emphatically do not prevail,” and if it succeeds, “then you will have the peace-loving nations always on the defensive, always compelled to be arming and preparing to meet the armed aggression of that too much man-governed country in which women are not free.”

My favorite line, about Germany’s claim to need more land: “We cannot be bullied by birth-rates.”

People in America, she says, have asked her why Britain was so unprepared for war.  “Some of us think that the British Government would have been better employed in preparing to defend the country against the German enemy than in fighting so hard against the Suffragettes. If, instead of searching our Suffragette literature for alleged illegalities, the British Government had been reading more carefully the enlightening works of General von Bernhardi; if, instead of watching the offices of the W.S.P.U., they had paid more attention to spies and to the fortresses disguised as factories which Germany was erecting in our midst”.

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