Thursday, May 19, 2016

Today -100: May 19, 1916: Of controversies of the past, wire-taps, and peace conferences

British Prime Minister Asquith tells Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, that if there is new franchise legislation before the next election (and there has to be, as residency requirements in the current laws would deprive most soldiers of the vote), then women’s suffrage will be “fully and impartially weighed without any prejudgment from the controversies of the past.”

More information about the NYPD’s phone-tapping emerges from the Legislature’s committee. The law firm of Seymour & Seymour was tapped to determine how stolen information about J.P. Morgan’s financing of munition sales to France leaked to munitions companies, including how much Morgan was willing to pay, and to get intel about German agents’ purchases of munitions for Mexican rebels. The NYPD seem to have subcontracted the dictaphone-placing and black-bag break-in work to the William Burns Detective Agency. Mayor John Purroy Mitchel denies that any influential person (like Morgan) can just tell the cops to wiretap someone for him. No, phones are only tapped if the police commissioner thinks a crime has been committed or might be committed. Which would be more reassuring if the police commissioner, Arthur Woods, were not engaged to J.P. Morgan’s granddaughter (not sure if anyone knew that).

The House Committee on Naval Affairs includes in the annual Navy budget a provision authorizing the president to call a conference at the end of the European war to discuss disarmament and create a court of arbitration to prevent future wars.

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