Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Today -100: June 9, 1915: Less than three minutes to make a man a citizen, and he a foreigner


The real reason for Woodrow Wilson’s delay in responding to the German note on the Lusitania now becomes apparent: Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigns rather than sign the note, telling the president in his resignation letter, “you have prepared for transmission to the German Government a note in which I cannot join without violating what I deem to be an obligation to my country, and the issue involved is of such moment that to remain a member of the Cabinet would be as unfair to you as it would be to the cause which is nearest my heart, namely, the prevention of war.” In other words, he thinks the note (whose contents are not yet known) might lead to war with Germany. Which it won’t.

Pretty much everyone is happy to see Bryan go. The NYT says his resignation is “perhaps the wisest act of his political career.”

Bryan will not, as some are speculating, return to the Senate, or run for president in 1916, or even lead a significant opposition to Wilson. As a political force, the three-time Democratic candidate for president is (finally) done. The rest of his life, until his death in ten years’ time, will be devoted to prohibition and fighting Darwinism, which kind of go together since alcohol is behind so many Darwin Award winners.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Lansing will replace Bryan temporarily (and then permanently). Semi-interestingly, Lansing is married to the daughter of Benjamin Harrison’s secretary of state and is the uncle of Eisenhower’s SecState John Foster Dulles.

The new British Cabinet will pool their salaries, except for the prime minister and the attorney general, who is paid partly through fees. The problem was that more Conservatives were getting the £5,000 a year posts and more Liberals the £2,000 a year posts.

Some newspapers claim that Germany is trying to buy up US arms companies (Winchester, Remington, Bethlehem Steel) to prevent them supplying the Allies.

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association conference votes to condemn the two Congressional Union suffragists who attempted to speak to Woodrow Wilson “at a most inopportune time,” that is, when he’s preoccupied with the whole Lusitania thing.

New suffragist tactic: women college graduates wearing their black college robes silently attend naturalization ceremonies at US District Court to demonstrate visually the distinction between educated women unable to vote and ignorant foreign men just off the boat allowed to vote, or something. “Less than three minutes to make a man a citizen, and he a foreigner,” says one of the suffragists, and now women “must plead to this foreigner to grant us a voice in our own country [meaning the November NY referendum]. Could anything be more desperately unfair and humiliating?”

Liechtenstein declares itself neutral, but Austria says the country lies within its “theater of war.”


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