Thursday, February 25, 2016

Today -100: February 25, 1916: We covet peace, and shall preserve it at any cost but the loss of honor

The New York section of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association holds a meeting of delegates to discuss how to pass the federal women’s suffrage amendment. A proposed memorial to Congress is read out, but there’s a bit of controversy over the bit saying that US women had become “subjects of men of alien races... often not speaking our language, not being able to read or write, knowing nothing of our institutions” and noting that “in November, 1915, men white, black, red, yellow, and brown were able to vote in New York State and the white women descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not.” The memorial is referred back to the Executive Committee for a less racist rewording, although some delegates protest that racist arguments are their most successful ones.

Pope Benedict asks Austria to stop bombing Italy, please and thank you.

Woodrow Wilson writes to Sen. William Stone (D-Missouri), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, saying he “cannot consent to any abridgment of the rights of American citizens in any respect,” specifically, the “right” to travel on armed civilian vessels from belligerent nations without being sunk by German or Austrian submarines. “The honor and self-respect of the nation are involved. We covet peace, and shall preserve it at any cost but the loss of honor. To forbid our people to exercise their rights for fear we might be called upon to vindicate them would be a deep humiliation indeed. It would be an implicit, all but an explicit, acquiescence in the violation of the rights of mankind everywhere, and of whatever nation or allegiance. It would be a deliberate abdication of our hitherto proud position as spokesman, even amidst the turmoil of war, for the law and the right.” Quite the slippery slope, there.

In the Senate, Thomas Gore proposes a sense-of-the-Congress resolution (not requiring the president’s signature) asking citizens not to travel on armed vessels, the resolution saying “The right of American citizens to travel on armed belligerent vessels rather than upon unarmed vessels is essential neither to their life, liberty, or safety, nor to the independence, dignity, or security of the United States”. Put that way, it does seem like kind of a stupid thing to go to war over.

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