Friday, July 10, 2015

Today -100: July 10, 1915: Make up your minds, and do so quickly

German forces in South West Africa surrender unconditionally to South African Gen. Louis Botha. South Africa has a colony now (or League of Nations mandate or whatever).

At a public meeting in London, Secretary of War/Field Marshal/Lord Kitchener (but he’d rather direct) calls for volunteers, or as he put it, “still larger reserves to make good the wastage at the front.” Stirring rhetoric, that. He especially appeals to shirkers (a word dating from 1914, at least with this meaning) and to people who claim their work is indispensable but can really be replaced by physically unfit men or women.

(Whoops, just noticed that the part of the quote I used as post title, "Make up your minds, and do so quickly," isn't in the poster.)

Germany finally responds to Woodrow Wilson’s Lusitania note, after some semi-public negotiations about its contents. There’s a lot of the usual about how Germany’s submarine warfare is purely a defensive response to the actions of Perfidious Albion, and a claim that all those Lusitania passengers, or at least more of them, wouldn’t have died if the Lusi hadn’t unexpectedly blown up after being hit with that torpedo, probably from munitions. Germany reassures Wilson that US ships not carrying contraband are perfectly safe – provided they’re marked and that Germany is informed of their names and schedule and the US government certifies that they’re not carrying munitions.  In effect, this would mean the US informing it which ships leaving US harbors it’s ok to sink and when it can expect them. Obviously a non-starter. Germany would also like more passenger ships to be under US or other neutral flags, so it can sink ships with British flags without worrying about killing too many US citizens.

The Minnehaha limps into port in Halifax. It’s been on fire for two days since Frank Holt/Erich Muenter’s bomb exploded. The fire-extinguishing efforts were hampered, we will hear when the ship finally makes it back to the US, by fumes arising when the flames reached a shipment of rum. The Atlantic Transport Line will generously give the crew a bonus of two weeks’ wages.

Jane Addams, back from Europe, gives a speech about the women’s peace congress and her tour of Europe. But what’ll gain the most attention is her claim that soldiers of all the warring nations are so unwilling to kill that their superiors have to get them liquored up before battles.

Four men are arrested for the murder of a cattleman and his son in Iowa 47 years ago. They’re also said to have buried $90,000 in “treasure” somewhere in Iowa and then lost the map. The James gang heard about the buried treasure and Frank James searched for it himself, but never found it.

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