Friday, July 17, 2015

Today -100: July 17, 1915: Of dethawed Thaws, polygamists, and drop forgers


Millionaire Harry Thaw, who murdered architect Stanford White, his wife’s lover, in 1906 and later escaped from an insane asylum, is pronounced sane by a jury and released. His wife has to be a little worried, although he says “I have no interest in her at all.” (Tomorrow he’ll start divorce proceedings).

The NYT is not best pleased by the way Thaw used his millions to subvert the legal system.

German ambassador to the US Count von Bernstorff meets Secretary of State Robert Lansing and suggests that the US persuade Britain to stop its blockade of Germany in exchange for Germany no longer sinking merchant ships. “He did not find the Secretary of State responsive to the suggestion.”

In 1903 Reed Smoot was named US senator from Utah. He was not only a Mormon but an apostle of the church, so a shitstorm ensued, with hearings into the church and whether it still practiced polygamy and whether Smoot had sworn an oath of vengeance against the US and so on, all of which delayed his swearing in until 1907. One of the witnesses called was Margaret Geddes, who was accused of being the plural wife of David Eccles, the richest man in Utah, which she denied. Now, however, Eccles is dead and their son Albert Geddes is suing for a share of his estate. Margaret testifies that she was in fact married to Eccles – after polygamy was outlawed in Utah – after all. A jury of Mormons rules that Albert is indeed David’s son and awards him $150,000.

The British government banishes three Sinn Fein members from Ireland for opposing war and military recruiting. These are actually fairly high-level operatives.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Supposedly, German officers toy with Belgians in this way: if they ask a Belgian the way to the Dutch border and the Belgian tells them, they arrest him for assisting a German soldier to desert. If he doesn’t, they arrest him for disobeying an order from a German officer. And if they say nothing, they are arrested for insulting a German officer.

Germany has been downplaying the surrender of its forces in South West Africa. First, it was “Botha beat us – a Boer, not a Brit, so they can’t take credit.” Now, it’s “we ran out of ammo, so it’s not like it’s a great military victory.” Sore losers, is what they are.

Romania refuses Germany’s demand that it allow Germany to send military supplies through it to Turkey. Those supplies are kind of crucial, so Germany may not take no for an answer.

In a story about the threatened strike at the Remington factories in Connecticut, it’s mentioned that two groups of workers who might strike are “die sinkers” and “drop forgers,” which are super-cool-sounding job titles. I don’t know what they do (well, the drop forgers evidently make swords and bayonets for the British and French armies – can’t have a war without swords). One demand by the machinists is that retired Major Walter Penfield, works manager of the Remington Arms Company, withdraw his charge that German money is behind the strike. He says they’ll have to prove to him that it isn’t.


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