Friday, December 18, 2015

Today -100: December 18, 1915: Of anconas, the permanent interest of the people of the Philippine Islands, canals, and comestibles

Pres. Wilson and Secretary of State Lansing will refuse Austria’s request that the US provide the information it used in deciding that the Ancona sinking by an Austrian u-boat was illegal and “wanton.” The two countries disagree on the facts of what happened, most especially whether the Ancona had already halted when it was fired upon.

The Senate Philippines Committee, as Gen. Frank McIntyre, chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, requested, changes the preamble of the Philippines Bill from saying the US would grant independence when the Philippines people “shall have shown themselves to be fitted therefor” to when “it will be to the permanent interest of the people of the Philippine Islands,” because implicit insults are so much nicer than explicit ones. And the bill won’t ban polygamy outright, just ban all future polygamous marriages.

The security chief of the Hamburg-American Line, Paul Koenig, is arrested for masterminding a plot to blow up the Welland Canal in Canada, along with two other plotters. The greatest penalty available for waging war against another country from within the US is 3 years and a $3,000 fine. The government is leaking that Koenig is the head of the German Secret Service in the US, which isn’t far off. His day job at Hamburg-American largely consisted of tracking down goods stolen off the company’s ships, so he had many useful shady contacts on the docks. The cops have been following him for months. He won’t be charged for the canal plot, but next June he’ll plead guilty to buying stolen information from a clerk at the National City Bank detailing the financing of Allied munitions purchases. He’ll get a suspended sentence after the DA praises his good reputation in the business community (i.e., City Bank didn’t want the embarrassment). Don’t know what happened to him after that, I’m afraid.

Carrie Chapman Catt is elected the new president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, replacing Anna Howard Shaw.

Margot Asquith, wife of the British prime minister, sues The Globe for printing letters accusing the “wife of a prominent Cabinet Minister” – unnamed but with enough cumulative detail to identify her, her lawyers say – with, among other things, “sending a large and choice selection of comestibles” to German POWs.

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