Monday, July 27, 2015

Today -100: July 27, 1915: An expected damnable outrage

A German u-boat sinks the US steamship Leelanaw a bit off Britain’s Orkney Islands, but it did it the nice way: not without warning like the Lusitania, but after asking it politely to stop, determining that it was carrying contraband (flax), politely asking the Leelanaw’s crew to evacuate and come aboard the u-boat, then sinking it, and putting the crew back on their life-boats nearer to shore. Technically, under the 1828 Prussia-US treaty, they should have allowed the Leelanaw to jettison its cargo and not sink it, but hey close enough, right?

Woodrow Wilson doesn’t have a response yet – he’s waiting for details – but, not surprisingly, Theodore Roosevelt isn’t waiting: “It’s a damnable outrage, but one that was to have been expected. I wonder what our pacifist friends will say to this? Wait for a whole year to discuss it, I suppose?” (The latter referring to William Jennings Bryan’s arbitration treaties).

Headline of the Day -100: 

Hudson County, NJ Sheriff Eugene Kinkead (a former US congressman) decides to personally end the Standard Oil/Tideland strike in Bayonne, punching and arresting a strike leader who turns out not to be an actual Standard Oil employee, and arresting and beating up IWW leader Frank Tannenbaum. Then he orders the men to return to work on a vague promise of an unspecified wage increase and somehow convinces the strike committee to resign when the strikers refuse. He then announces that he will protect anyone who returns to work. So now all he needs are a lot more cops than he has (he keeps insisting that these foreigners are really impressed by police uniforms). But neighboring towns refuse to send any, and the governor already refused national guard assistance, so he goes around to those towns and forcibly swears in every cop he meets, arresting or threatening to indict those who refuse. One captain puts out his stations’s lights and pretends no one’s there.

Britain responds (four months late) to the US complaint about its enforcement of its naval blockade of Germany. It says basically, “Hey remember how you seized British ships bringing ‘contraband’ to the Confederacy during the Civil War? Well, fuck you.”

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