Monday, November 30, 2015

Today -100: November 30, 1915: If the warring countries would go back to fighting then, they are fools

Canadian and Australian soldiers (and medical students, according to the London Times) break up a peace meeting in London called by the Union of Democratic Control, gaining entrance with forged tickets and bearing gas bombs. The Daily Express, which has been inciting such action, describes this as the “utter rout of the pro-Germans.”

It’s a World War, After All:

Germans are supposedly training Indian and Burmese insurgents in far Siam.

Henry Ford thinks that news of his Peace Ship has so inspired the warring nations’ troops – who he thinks have all heard about it – that on Christmas they will start a general strike against the war. “What we want right now is to get these men out of the murder ditches and home for Christmas. If the warring countries would go back to fighting then, they are fools.” No word yet on whether William Jennings Bryan will be on the Peace Ship, and Pres. Wilson’s daughter Margaret has declined her invitation, but they do have Charles Pease, president of the Anti-Smokers’ Protective League of America.

The Supreme Court upholds a New York law against the employment of aliens on public works projects. If I’m reading this correctly, it’s treating the city as a private body in hiring matters, not subject to the 14th Amendment.

The New York Radium Sanitarium opens tomorrow. I’m assuming every one of its patients will die horribly.

Ad of the Day:

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Today -100: November 29, 1915: Of conquests, lost provinces, poison gas, and lynchings

Germany declares victory in Serbia. Half the Serbian army are now prisoners, most of the rest have escaped into the mountains or out of the country. King Peter supposedly keeps talking about suicide. Serbia does not admit defeat, claiming to be retreating in perfect order with barely any losses.

Germany denies plans to give Schleswig-Holstein, seized in the 1860s, back to Denmark in return for its neutrality in the war. Why, it would be an insult to even suggest that Denmark could be bribed, Germany says.

Fog of War, so to speak: the Allies say that Turkey has used poison gas for the first time, at Gallipoli.

John Willey of Gibonsburg, Ohio, who was out on bail while on trial for murdering his grandmother, is lynched. He’d been getting letters threatening a “lynching bee” for some time. Since the NYT doesn’t mention his race, I assume he was white.

Ad of the day:

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Today -100: November 28, 1915: Of rodds, Parisian crime, armbands, and truces

Skirmishes between Pancho Villa’s forces and the US Army on the Arizona border kill 11 of the former. In a later clash with Carranzaists, which was supposedly due to a mistake, one US soldier is killed.

The Berliner Tageblatt said (in a 5-week-old article the NYT is just now reading) that Italy’s government and military are being secretly run by the British ambassador Sir Rennell Rodd (!), exercising his influence on Queen Elena through the royal children’s English nurse.

Émile Marie Laurent, prefect of the Paris police, says crime has almost entirely ceased in Paris since the war began, including murder, burglary and armed robbery. And with buses commandeered for war work, the streets of Paris are much safer. So he’s been focusing on the aspects of la vie parisienne he especially detests: gamblers, drug dealers, and restaurants that have both wine and live music (“not a decent combination”).

The British government is now issuing khaki armbands to men of military age who are doing work exempting them from military service or who have enlisted but not been called up yet. All the better to put social pressure on shirkers.

Pope Benedict plans to ask everyone for a Christmas truce.

Seriously: Sir Rennell Rodd.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Today -100: November 27, 1915: Out of the trenches before Christmas, never to go back

Henry Ford gives an anti-war speech in Washington. It’s his first public speech ever and it consists of the slogan, “Out of the trenches before Christmas, never to go back.”

A meeting in London of disaffected Women’s Social and Political Union members declares that Emmeline Pankhurst is misusing the group’s name – and its funds – by associating it with pro-war rather than pro-suffrage activities. There will soon be two splinter groups, the Independent Women’s Social and Political Union and the Suffragettes of the Women’s Social and Political Union.

Suffragist Inez Milholland reveals that it was she who proposed to her husband.

A Mrs Adamson of Philadelphia adopts a Japanese baby to test whether environment is more important than heredity. Says Mrs Adamson, “She doesn’t know that she is Japanese and will not know it until she is old enough to recognize the different racial characteristics.” Evidently if at 21, after not learning Japanese, she chooses to live in the US rather than Japan, that will have proved the importance of environment, because science.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Today -100: November 26, 1915: I know that moral pressure will not be without its effect

Henry Ford’s letter of invitation to governors and former presidents and other dignitaries to join his Peace Ship says that Jane Addams and Thomas Edison have already accepted, which they haven’t. Asked how he expected to compel the warring nations to participate in the peace conference he intends to call, he says “I know that moral pressure will not be without its effect”.

Spoiler Alert: moral pressure will totally be without its effect.

The NYT notes that the idea of the Peace Ship originated with Rosika Schwimmer, the suffragist and internationalist who would probably not have been thrilled to be described by the Times as Austrian – she’s a Hungarian Jew. After the war Schwimmer had to flee Hungary when it went fascist (proto-fascist? whatever), but was denied US citizenship because of her refusal to take an oath to take up arms on behalf of the United States, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court which said that a citizen has the right of conscientious objection but a non-citizen applying to become a citizen does not, because logic.

The Medico-Legal Society of America wants all states to pass laws making all illegal-drug users, no matter the degree of their drug habit, wards of the state to force them into treatment, rather than wait for them to commit crimes or go insane.

Thanksgiving Day sermons in New York largely focused on the need for military preparedness. A warning someone should have given the Indians at the first Thanksgiving.

Alaska’s delegate to the US Congress, James Wickersham, will introduce a bill for statehood in the coming congressional session.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Today -100: November 25, 1915: I intend to try to crush militarism

Henry Ford charters an entire liner, the Oscar II, to carry him and an assorted group of pacifists to go to Europe to stop the war. “We are going to try to get the boys out of their trenches and back to their homes by Christmas Day.” Well at least he’s given himself a full month. He’s invited any number of prominent people to join him, including William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Edison, who have or will both refuse. “I intend to try to crush militarism,” Ford says.

Spoiler Alert: He will not crush militarism.

Edward Ryan’s luggage explodes in Budapest. Specifically, an artillery shell which he was taking back to the US as a souvenir, as you do. Dr Ryan was head of an American Red Cross mission in Serbia.

The German Army has adopted an artificial-respiration device, involving a rubber tube and foot-operated bellows, which was invented before the war by Dr. Samuel Meltzer of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for use by miners, to restore the breathing of soldiers asphyxiated by gas or buried in trench collapses. The Rockefeller Foundation has supplied these devices to the British, French and (more recently) German armies.

Headline of the Day -100:

A “foreign official source, in no way connected with European affairs” tells the NYT that for 6 months Germany has been funding Huerta’s attempt to start a counter-revolution in Mexico, to keep the US occupied militarily and distracted. And then the US arrested Huerta right before he could reach Mexico.

The Serbian government is now a government-in-exile, retreating to Scutari, Albania.

Greece gives the Allies permission to move their troops around Macedonia unimpeded, because what choice did Greece have? In return, the Allies promise not to keep any Greek territory they occupy during the war.

Albert Einstein presents to the Prussian Academy of Sciences the Einstein Equations establishing the theory of general relativity.

On Stone Mountain, Georgia, 16 men re-found the Ku Klux Klan. Burn a cross and everything. Next week the state of Georgia will issue them a charter. It will take a while for it to amount to anything – it may be a few years before I have cause to mention it again – but this group will grow into the mammoth Second Klan of the 1920s, which will elect (and impeach) governors in states throughout the union (Oregon, Indiana, etc), pass laws banning Catholic schools, and fight against unions and immigrants and for prohibition.

One of the men on Stone Mountain is Col. William Joseph Simmons, who will be the Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He’s mostly harmless and had in mind not a night-riding, negro-lynching organization but a fraternal order much like the others he loved: Elks, Shriners, Masons, Woodmen of the World, that sort of thing (the “colonel” title came from the Woodmen of the World, although he was a private during the Spanish-American War). The fact that the body he chose to revive was the Klan is of course down to “The Birth of a Nation,” which he adored and watched over and over. One of the things he adopted from it: burning crosses, which the post-Civil War Klan did not do. He loved the paraphernalia and secret handshakes and such, which he would lovingly detail in a 54-page document called... wait for it... the Kloran. However, Simmons wasn’t much of an organizer (and liked the bottle a little too much), so his Empire will remain mostly Invisible in fact as well as name until he hired some PR people in 1920...

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today -100: November 24, 1915: Oh, of course there was sauerkraut

Officials of the Hamburg-American Line and other Germans and German-Americans are being tried for conspiring early in the war to supply German ships illegally from the US. Including sauerkraut? the prosecutor asks a stevedore, but he can’t remember. The testimony directly implicates Capt. Karl Boy-Ed, the German naval attaché in Washington, who somehow hasn’t already been expelled from the country despite repeated links to espionage and sabotage.

The feds have found a building in Cleveland (still under construction) which they think Germans were building to store explosives for an attack on Canada.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Today -100: November 23, 1915: I think this line’s mostly filler

Allied forces capture Tibati, in Kamerun, if you needed a reminder that this is indeed a world war or something to write on a slow news day -100.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Today -100: November 22, 1915: Cigars v. zeppelins: the eternal Battle of the Phallic Symbols

New British regulations limiting alcohol sales to five hours a day will go into effect next week and London trade unionists are not happy, threatening to resist “by open revolt if necessary.” “No Beer, No Work” will be their clarion cry.

I think I mentioned the State Dept yanked the passport of a German-American naturalized citizen after he made some sort of remarks about Woodrow Wilson. Now, because he can’t prove that he’s a US citizen, which he is, he’s likely to be drafted into the German army. The US ambassador to Germany still refuses to give back his passport.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Allies are pressuring Greece to join their side of the war through a “pacific blockade” of Greek ports, harassing Greek-flagged ships, etc. If that doesn’t make Greece more kindly disposed to them, I don’t know what will.

Germany isn’t very impressed with Greece’s declared neutrality either, threatening that if Greece doesn’t disarm Serb and other Allied soldiers fleeing into Greece (Serbian forces are losing quite badly right now), then German troops will invade Greece to go after them.

Anna Howard Shaw resigns as president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Today -100: November 21, 1915: Of fires, uncultivated literary taste, locusts, and careless pedestrians

Pennsylvania State Fire Marshal Joseph Baldwin says several recent fires at munitions plants were all started deliberately.

Headline of the Day -100 (NYT Magazine):  “Do Women Lack Cultivated Literary Taste?” Harry Leon Wilson, author of Ruggles of Red Gap, thinks so, and the pandering to them by publishers is dragging American literature down.

Palestine has been hit by a plague of locusts. As was the custom.

Francis Hugo, NY secretary of state, warns the NY State Automobile Association that public opinion has been hardening against reckless drivers. It’s true; since I’ve started these posts I’ve seen a shift away from viewing the running down of pedestrians as the inevitable price of modern life. In today’s auto news, Treasury Secretary McAdoo denies that his wife (Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Eleanor) had been summoned for speeding - it was her chauffeur. And Prince Paul Troubetzkoy, the sculptor, escapes the workhouse for reckless driving because there’s only one witness. However, the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce says that 90% of New York City street accidents “are due to carelessness or other fault of the injured”. Of course many of those the Chamber is blaming are children, who account for 45% of fatalities.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Today -100: November 20, 1915: Of inflammatory street speaking, rajahs, and Paris dresses

The Allies are trying to get China to join the war. China wouldn’t be expected to do anything militarily (indeed, China is incapable of doing anything militarily), but it’s hoped this will allow Japan to focus more on its small role in the European war and less on bullying China.

Wobbly hobo poet Joseph Hillstrom is executed in Utah by firing squad. Hillstrom yelled “Fire” himself. Hillstrom still claimed to be innocent and he could prove it but that would wreck a woman’s reputation, so he didn’t. Gov. William Spry says he will now clear the “lawless element” out of Utah and stop “inflammatory street speaking”.

Britain denies German claims of revolts in India. Indeed, they say that not only is the Rajah of Bhagalpur not leading a revolt, but there is no Rajah of Bhagalpur.

Edith Galt, Woodrow Wilson’s fiancée, is having trouble ordering dresses from Paris, which is what happens when you use a German-American importer.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Today -100: November 19, 1915: Of zep bombs, cold soldiers, safety at sea, and cases of undue importance

The Daily Mail (UK) prints a claim that unusually high death rates among those injured by bombs dropped from zeppelins must mean that the Germans are using biological warfare (they’re not).

A story going round the German Army on the Eastern front says that Gen. Hindenburg asked Kaiser Wilhelm for warm clothes for his troops but Willy said no, if they were cold they’d be more likely to take Riga and Dvinsk quickly just to warm up.

Headline of the Day -100: 

It will. Not. Do! Good day to you, sir. I said, good day!

Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes asks the Nebraska secretary of state to ignore a petition being circulated to put his name of the 1916 ballot for president (the secretary will comply).

Utah Gov. William Spry rejects Pres. Wilson’s request to stay the execution of hobo poet Joe Hill (Joseph Hillstrom), complaining that “Your interference in the case may have elevated it to an undue importance”. (For those clicking on the article: Hillstrom did not compose “Hallelujah I’m a Bum”).

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Today -100: November 18, 1915: Of hopeless defectives, vice presidents and senators (but I repeat myself), privy councillors, and hobo poets

This has been kind of a big deal in Chicago for the last few days: a doctor decides not to perform an operation that might have saved a new-born “hopeless defective” boy, which has now died. The doctor says the boy would have been doomed to “an animal existence and imbecility.” He says he’s done a favor for the child, “its” parents, and.... the race.

Vice President Marshall is giving Pres. Wilson and Edith Galt a Navajo blanket as a wedding gift.

Sen. Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. Right now Penrose is following the Liberty Bell as it tours around the country.

In Britain the Anti-German League is suing to remove Sir Edgar Speyer and Sir Ernest Cassel from the Privy Council because they are naturalized citizens (Speyer was American but with German parents, Cassel a German Jew).

Pres. Wilson asks Utah Gov. William Spry to stay the execution of hobo poet Joe Hill (Joseph Hillstrom).

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Today -100: November 17, 1915: Of exterminations, sneaky contract, and loyal and vigorous conduct of the law

Lord Robert Cecil, the British under-secretary of state for foreign affairs, denies that Britain stirred up the Armenians to revolt, saying rather that the Armenian massacres were pre-meditated by the Turks to “exterminate the Armenian race,” but adding that no, Britain didn’t intend to do anything to stop them.

German money, from the Deutsche Bank of Berlin, was used to prevent the Bridgeport Projectile Company providing shrapnel presses to the Allies, by entering into a contract that was never intended to be fulfilled and which was cancelled 12 hours after it was signed without invalidating a provision which prevents the company selling to anyone else until 1916. The whole thing is now in court.

The Albert Hall cancels a meeting Mrs. Pankhurst was to have held “to demand loyal and vigorous conduct of the war,” by which she means forcing Prime Minister Asquith and Foreign Secretary Grey to quit.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Today -100: November 16, 1915: You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race

Motto of the Day -100:

Winston Churchill gives a speech to Parliament, refuting point by point the charges against him for his many miscalculations as head of the Admiralty, and specifically denying that he had imposed policies against the advice of career Navy officers and experts. In other words, he’s trying to spread the blame for the Dardanelles campaign and earlier disasters as widely as possible. And he says of his decision to join the military, “I alone have open to me an alternative form of service whereto no exception can be taken and wherewith I am perfectly content.” Winnie certainly had a way wherewhichwith archaic adverbial forms.

Woodrow Wilson orders that Assistant Postmaster George Burkitt of Winnetka, Illinois be reinstated. He was fired for saying that Wilson should have waited longer after his first wife died before getting engaged (and for many other offenses).

George Bernard Shaw’s playlet O’Flaherty V.C.: A Recruiting Pamphlet is banned by the censors ahead of a production at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The hero, who joined the army to get away from his family and from small town Ireland, as you do, will now on his return home have to explain his decision to his Fenian mother. “She’s like the English: they think there’s no one like themselves. It’s the same with the Germans, though they’re educated and ought to know better. You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.”

In my Complete Plays, it says this play was “first performed on the Western Front Belgium 1917.” Take that, censors. In the preface to the (postwar) published edition, Shaw notes that when he wrote this play recruitment of Irish Catholics was going badly. “To attract them, the walls were covered with placards headed REMEMBER BELGIUM. The folly of asking an Irishman to remember anything when you want him to fight for England was apparent to everyone outside the [Dublin] Castle”. Another line from the preface: “Finally the British blockade won the war; but the wonder is that the British blockhead did not lose it.”

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today -100: November 15, 1915: Of bookers, champagne horrors, and aeroplanes

Booker T. Washington dies, at 59. Taliaferro, by the way, is what the T. stands for. He will be buried on Tuskegee University, which he founded 34 years ago – I’ll wait while you do the math on that one.

In recent years, Washington’s leadership of the American negro community has been slipping; his focus on negro autonomy and self-development was accompanied by an unfortunate willingness to accept segregation, Jim Crowism, and negro political powerlessness, which sat increasingly badly with the rising generation.

Headline of the Day -100: 

We’ve all been there.

The NYT thinks we should stop calling heavier-than-air flying machines by the “intolerably awkward name of ‘aeroplane’” and instead use the French “avion.” They’re not too thrilled with “automobile” either.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Today -100: November 14, 1915: Of saboteurs, pirates, and converts

Josef Goricar, the former Austrian consul in San Francisco, says there are 3,000 spies for Germany and Austria in the US, and every act of sabotage or espionage or whatever committed by any one of them is not done on their own initiative but strictly following orders. The Austrian embassy is now claiming that Goricar is a Russian spy. Goricar denies this but says he is working for Slavic unity, whatever that means.

The US will charge Robert Fay and the other German saboteurs with crimes of piracy. It turns out there really aren’t any laws covering conspiracy to blow shit up on behalf of a foreign nation, so piracy it is.

An Italian newspaper reports that King Ferdinand of Bulgaria wrote to the pope saying that after the war Bulgaria will switch from the Greek Orthodox Church to Catholicism.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Today -100: November 13, 1915: So church bells were the 1915 equivalent of the internet

The Austrian consul in the US, Ernst Ludwig, calls Josef Goricar, the former consul in San Francisco who accused Austria and Germany of a massive spying/propaganda operation in the US, a “has-been consul who attacks his own country.”

Winston Churchill resigns as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster so he can join the military and see some action, until he gets bored. He’ll be a major. This seems to be a reaction to Asquith setting up a small War Council, on which he planned to include Churchill but then thought better of it.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Yesterday Berlin went wild celebrating the surrender of Serbia. However, Serbia did not actually surrender. What seems to have happened is that a General Synod was held, church bells in Berlin were rung at noon in honor of it, and everyone leapt to conclusions.

A negro, John Taylor, is lynched in Aberdeen, Mississippi.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Today -100: November 12, 1915: Spies amongst us

Headline of the Day -100: 

Josef Goricar, the former Austrian consul in San Francisco, contacts American newspapers to say that the US is riddled with Austrian and German spies and flooded with their propaganda, including in subsidized German-language newspapers, with the especial goal of disrupting munitions production. Goricar fled Austria – something about Slavic sympathies (I think his name is Croatian) – and has been back in the US since February.

Although there is no conscription in Britain, it’s getting closer, and Lord Derby, the Director of Recruiting, gives unmarried men until November 30 to join up, or else.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today -100: November 11, 1915: The war upon the kindergarten goes on relentlessly

After that Austrian-flagged, German-manned u-boat sank the Ancona, the US is just now realizing that while Germany gave assurances about giving up unrestricted submarine warfare, Austria didn’t. So the US is going to pretend that Germany was speaking for its ally. Austria, meanwhile, says the sinking was justified because, they claim, the Ancona tried to run. Italy (and the Ancona’s captain, who survived) say the ship immediately stopped after the U-38 fired a warning shot and that the sub shot at the lifeboats. Noting the large number of children reported killed, the NYT says, “The war upon the kindergarten goes on relentlessly,” on land and on sea, and compares it, unfavorably, to Herod.

Now Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan are disputing whether the prophet Ezekiel would endorse or disapprove of increased military spending, because sure why not.

The Newark Police Board bans “Birth of a Nation.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Georgia prison farm from which Leo Frank was abducted and lynched gets a machine gun to stop such events in the future.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Today -100: November 10, 1915: Of anconas, red crosses, mikados, and zeppelin insurance

An Austrian u-boat sinks the SS Ancona, an Italian passenger ship, in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tunisia, without warning. It was heading from Naples to New York. Over 200 are dead, about half of those on board. The U-38 was just nominally Austrian; its captain is a German, Max Valentiner, and I think its crew as well. Not sure how that works legally, since Germany was not yet at war with Italy.

The Providence Journal claims that before he was expelled, Austrian Ambassador Konstantin Dumba tricked the American Red Cross into sending hundreds of documents containing military secrets to Austria, disguised as tetanus vaccine.

Japan’s Emperor Taisho is formally crowned.

The Indian colonial government bans a pamphlet based on William Jennings Bryan’s “British Rule in India” (1906) from the mails.

The British government is now selling anti-zeppelin insurance, but only to the poor.

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Monday, November 09, 2015

Today -100: November 9, 1915: The perpetuity of the nation depends upon the women of the country

A side-note to the Williamsburg, Brooklyn factory fire: the nephew of the couple who owned the building, Alfred Raff, had just returned from being on the lam in Boston after he hit-and-ran a 16-year-old girl with his aunt’s car. Right after the fire, a nearby bakery owner saw him running down the street. He told her there was a fire and when asked why he hadn’t turned in an alarm, yelled “To hell with the factory.” Charming. Raff previously served a couple of years in Elmira for burglary.

At the annual convention of the American Federation of Labor, Pres. Samuel Gompers calls for removing women and children from factories. “The perpetuity of the nation depends upon the women of the country, and we want to do all we can for them.” Sure you do.

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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Today -100: November 8, 1915: Of neutral rights, fire inspectors, and benevolent neutrality

The US sends Britain a note saying its blockade of European ports is illegal and asserting the rights of the US and other neutral countries. It’s not entirely clear what the US plans to do if Britain ignores the note and continues to interfere with trade with neutral European countries (on the theory that they might sell stuff on to Germany).

The Williamsburg, Brooklyn factory building that burned down yesterday was not up to code, but, members of the State Industrial Commission point out, there are too few inspectors to enforce the codes enacted after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Will they ask the Legislature to budget for more inspectors? “No,” says Commissioner James Lynch, “What’s the use?” There are 65 inspectors for something like 35,000 factories. I say something like because they don’t even seem to know just how many factories they’re supposed to be inspecting.

Stephanos Skouloudis, the new Greek prime minister, says his government will continue to keep Greece out of the war but it will have a “benevolent neutrality” towards the Entente.

A letter to the NYT by pulp writer and Founding Father descendent Gouverneur Morris, addressed “to the children,” asks them to request that Santa Claus bring them French-made toys and not German ones “for the sake of the American children who were drowned like so many blind kittens when the Germans sank the Lusitania.” Also, Germany toys are ugly and French ones “are beautiful and they are clean. And there is no blood on them.”

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Saturday, November 07, 2015

Today -100: November 7, 1915: Of fires, saxonias, violent electrical waves, kitcheners, and lambs

A factory building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn burns down, killing at least a dozen people. As in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, there were too few fire escapes and insufficient fireproofing of stairways. The owners, who had been ordered to rectify this 3 months ago, are arrested. Also, naturally, the door to the emergency stairway was locked on the 4th floor - all the deaths were from people on the 4th and 5th floor. The building housed a candy factory and two shirt factories, but it is not yet known where the fire started. Today the site is home to a vintage clothing store, because Brooklyn.

The Cunard liner Saxonia turns away 900 Irishmen who’d bought tickets for the US, following strenuous objections from Liverpool mobs to these able-bodied men evading military service (even though there is no conscription yet). This will be Cunard policy now, and White Star will follow suit in a couple of days.

Nikola Tesla thinks the Nobel Prize he is reported (wrongly) to be receiving must be for his discovery of the means to transmit electricity without wires, which he believes will change the world and make the deserts bloom and so on. “I also believe that ultimately all battles, if they should come, will be waged by electrical waves instead of explosives.”

Lord Kitchener will tour the eastern front, leading to rumors that he is resigning as secretary of war. He isn’t, but it may well be that his cabinet colleagues thought it would be a good idea to get him somewhere where he can’t do too much damage like the Balkans and, hey, Herb, maybe you should check out the action in Egypt too, as long as you’re heading in that direction anyway, take your time.

The Lamb, Douglas Fairbanks’ first movie, is released.

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Today -100: November 6, 1915: The ground upon which all preparation for war is made

Jews will now be allowed to become officers in the Bavarian army.

Reuters reports that Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. This is not true, so there will be all sorts of wild theories premised on the idea that they were supposed to be and then... something... happened.

Headline of the Day -100: 

So Germany can feed itself with sugar beets, despite the Allied embargo.

Former Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan says Pres. Wilson’s plan to expand the military (which has been costed at $1 billion over 5 years) is “not only a menace to our peace and safety, but a challenge to the spirit of Christianity which teaches us to influence others by example rather than by exciting fear. The president says that we should be prepared ‘not for aggression but for defense.’ That is the ground upon which all preparation for war is made.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Today -100: November 5, 1915: She stands in friendly relation with all the world

The Greek government falls. Someone was rude to the war minister in parliament, and he stormed out. When he returned, the opposition leader said he needed to apologize, the prime minister said he didn’t and he’d would resign if parliament insisted on one, which is what happens. The real cause is the same one behind the collapse of the other 83 Greek governments (approx.) this year: the king’s insistence on keeping Greece out of the war against the wishes of the majority of the Greek people.

Woodrow Wilson explains his plans to increase, very modestly, the training of “civilian soldiers.” “We have it in mind to be prepared, but not for war, but only for defense... No thoughtful man feels any panic haste in this matter. The country is not threatened from any quarter. She stands in friendly relation with all the world.” The NYT transcript of the speech provides our Typo of the Day -100: “But we feel justified in preparing ourselves to vindicate our right to independent and unmolested action by making the farce that is in us ready for assertion.”

In their newspaper Britannia (renamed from The Suffragette last month), Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst attack the government, and Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey in particular, for “betraying” Serbia. Christabel writes that Serbia is the keeper of the gate of the British Empire, whatever that means, and a “free Slav nation, untouched by German influence.” Britannia’s harsh – and I mean harsh – attacks on politicians and military leaders like Grey and Lord Haldane and Sir William Robertson for being insufficiently warlike or even traitorous resulted in the paper being raided and seized more often than The Suffragette was before the war.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Today -100: November 4, 1915: Never again will I speak from a street corner

Harriot Stanton Blatch, pissed at the loss of the suffrage referenda, says “Never again will I speak from a street corner. Never again will I make an appeal to an individual voter. It is utter folly for a disfranchised class, with no party to support it, to attend a referendum. We can’t follow up an individual voter, but we can one in a legislative body.” And then she goes Donald Trumpish, complaining about recent male immigrant voters: “I call it tyranny and license for them to have power to pass upon me and upon the native born women of America”.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Today -100: November 3, 1915: For the good of the State and the good of the women

Election results are coming in. Women’s suffrage was crushed in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

These defeats, following that in New Jersey last month, will lead to a shift in tactics by suffragists to a federal suffrage amendment, bypassing hostile male voters (in any case most of the states voting this year have provisions preventing a re-vote on the issue for 4 or 5 years).

The NYT, as is the custom, gloats: “The defeat of woman suffrage in three great Eastern States yesterday... is unmistakable and ample notice to the suffragists that the old, highly developed, populous, complex Commonwealths of the East will have none of a political experiment that some simpler, meagerly settled communities fo the West have ventured to make. ... It could not be accepted there with the easy carelessness of sparse Western populations eager for innovations. The men of the mighty industrial States voted it down for the good of the State and the good of the women.”

Mississippi’s new governor is Theodore Bilbo (D), a racist with a funny name. Read that Wikipedia entry, he sounds like the second coming of Coleman Blease. Unfortunately, the NYT didn’t cover his election campaign and it won’t cover his antics in office; according to the index, the next mention of him in the paper is a year and a half from now.

Massachusetts’s new governor is Samuel W. McCall (R) and its new lt. governor is Calvin Coolidge. The term for both those offices was one year.

New Yorkers reject the constitution the Constitution Convention came up with. Probably a good thing.

Ohio votes down prohibition.

Hey, a false rumor about the death of a German crown prince. It’s been a while. How I’ve missed you, false rumors about the deaths of German princes.

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Monday, November 02, 2015

Today -100: November 2, 1915: Of voting men, diverting divorces, fetishes, and sous

Headline of the Day -100: 

The New York women’s suffrage referendum. More voters have registered this year than for last year’s gubernatorial election (evidently New Yorkers had to register every single election, which sounds like a major pain in the ass).

The German military governor of Brussels, Gen. von Sauberzweig, is removed, evidently because of his mishandling of the Nurse Edith Cavell execution.

A British Divorce Court judge rules against a woman trying to divorce her husband, an army officer, saying it’s not in the interests of the nation “for men to have their minds diverted from their duties by such matters.”

The Supreme Court rules Arizona’s anti-alien labor law, a 1914 ballot initiative requiring that 80% of employees at companies employing more than five workers be U.S. citizens, unconstitutional.

Theodore Roosevelt finds Pres. Wilson’s ship-building plans inadequate. He wants to restore the US Navy to the position of the world’s second largest. And a bigger army. And universal (male) military service.

Former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau denounces the Briand government as merely a shuffle of the same old cards, the politicians who have been attempting to bludgeon the public into acquiescence through fetish worship, “which replaces in negro tribes any scientific investigation of facts” (in this analogy, the political leaders are the fetishes).

France is running out of small change. The popular belief is that the Germans are somehow seizing the sous for their copper and spiriting it out of France.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Today -100: November 1, 1915: We shall not give life to a child and a child to life

British soldiers finally get steel helmets.

The New York anti-suffragists claim that only 10% of the state’s women want the vote and also claim, wrongly, that the suffragists’ assertion that 1 million women want it is based on a postcard canvass by the New York World. In fact, says Carrie Chapman Catt, they conducted a door-to-door canvass of the state.

Rabbi Stephen Wise (a big Jewish/Zionist leader) says the European war won’t end until women have the vote, and they should protest the war by refusing to give birth, saying “We shall not give life to a child and a child to life”.

If a birth strike doesn’t work, how about an arboreal one?

Oh, okay, not an actual tree but the actor Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Tree will shortly be coming to the US to make movies, including a now lost version of Macbeth (produced by D.W. Griffith, with Constance Collier as Lady Macbeth).

In Salt Lake City, police major H.P. Myton shoots and kills IWW organizer Roy Horton, who had just told him “A man who would pack a star is no good and that goes for you.” Horton was campaigning against the forthcoming execution of hobo poet Joe Hill. Myton will be tried for murder but acquitted.

The Treasury Dept releases a list of names of 2,000 Americans who were stranded in Europe at the start of the war to whom the government loaned money which they haven’t repaid. Funnily enough, many turn out to have given false names and/or addresses. The NYT prints the names of the New Yorkers and tries to find some of them. G. Mortimer Wilmerding says the government never contacted him. My point is this: “G. Mortimer Wilmerding” is NOT one of the made-up names.

Update: I’ve googled him and it’s worse than I thought. His full name is Cuthbert Mortimer Wilmerding. Also, he was divorced in 1917 and his wife remarried and became a Mrs. Biddle, which makes me wonder if her sole purpose in life was collecting comical names.

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