Thursday, March 10, 2016

Today -100: March 10, 1916: It would be a mistake to nominate me unless the country had in its mood something of the heroic

Theodore Roosevelt, on holiday in Trinidad, cables the newspapers, declining to be nominated for president on the Massachusetts ballot. Naturally, this is interpreted by many as meaning that he is running. He certainly does go on at some length in an expensive overseas cable when a simple “No thanks” would have sufficed. He says his current task is to wake up his fellow countrymen to the need to face unpleasant facts. “[I]t would be a mistake to nominate me unless the country had in its mood something of the heroic; unless it feels not only like devoting itself to ideals, but to the purpose measurably to realize those ideals in action.” On Democrats he says: “All that they offer us is a choice between degrees of hypocrisy and degrees of infamy. But disgust with the unmanly failure of the present Administration I believe does not, and I know ought not to mean that the American people will vote in a spirit of mere protest. They ought not to and I believe they will not be content merely to change the present Administration for one equally timid, equally vacillating, equally lacking in vision, in moral integrity, and in high resolve.” Oh yeah, Teddy’s totally not planning to run.

Pancho Villa and 500 or so of his merry men (the NYT says 1,500, but no) cross the border and attack the town of Columbus, New Mexico. Villa never explained the purpose of the raid, possibly at attempt to grab weapons. In the flurry he dropped some papers, including his orders for the attack: “Kill all the Gringos.” They kill, in fact, 7 or 8 American soldiers and 10 civilians in an attack on the town and the US Cavalry barracks. It would have been more successful if those had actually been the US Cavalry barracks, but they were in fact the stables, so they mostly attacked some horses, giving the 13th Cav time to set up their machine guns. So a few more Mexicans die than Americans, somewhere in the triple digits. Would have been more still, but some of the machine guns didn’t work. The bandits loot and burn some of the houses and raid the post office but get only “one small registered package.” The 13th chase Villa’s men back over the border, and indeed chase them a little way into Mexico.

The site of the attack is now the Pancho Villa State Park.

The US has already told the Carranza regime that it will send soldiers into Mexico to capture Villa and it’s not asking permission.

All of which pushed Germany declaring war on Portugal to page 3. Germany complains about Portugal seizing its ships, allowing British troops passage through Moçambique to attack German South West Africa and allowing British ships to use Madeira as a naval base, and about insults to Germany made by members of the Portuguese Parliament without being reprimanded. WITHOUT. BEING. REPRIMANDED!

The British newspaper The Vote, the Women’s Freedom League’s organ, gives insight into the operating of the local tribunals overseeing conscription. The one in St Albans, Hertfordshire hears an appeal from the First Whip of the Hertfordshire Hounds for his huntsmen not to be drafted. The tribunal’s chairman says the “feeling of the country” is that huntsmen should indeed be exempted, but the two women on the tribunal object and off to war they go. The paper notes that the sons of widows and conscientious objectors are usually given short shrift by the tribunals.

William N. Selig, the film producer responsible for the first movie versions of Jekyll & Hyde and the Wizard of Oz (with 9-year old Bebe Daniels as Dorothy!) gets the Cook County Circuit Court to issue an injunction against Col. George Fabyan and two others “defaming” the name of William Shakespeare. Selig is planning a film on the life of Shakespeare for the 300th anniversary of his death and says his profits would be hurt if they published works attributing the plays of Shakespeare, who they call an “illiterate faker,” to Francis Bacon, based on ciphers Fabyan claims to have discovered in the plays (he will be in charge of much of US cryptography during World War I). Judge Tuthill says the matter should be legally settled. He will rule in favor of Fabyan and Francis Bacon, then rescind his ruling. The whole lawsuit may actually have been a publicity stunt concocted by Selig and Fabyan.

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