Saturday, June 04, 2016

Today -100: June 4, 1916: I am not a believer in the idea that war is the very worst thing that can come to a people


Attorney General Thomas Gregory proposes 18 laws to strengthen US neutrality, closing some of the loopholes that German spies and saboteurs and Mexican fighters have been walking through. For example, bombing or setting fire to ships conducting foreign commerce. Ships would be forbidden to carry munitions in violation of a US embargo or to supply the ships of belligerent nations on the high seas (another example of US bias against Germany; Allied ships can simply resupply in Canada). The president would have the power to censor radio messages to belligerent nations or ships. Another proposed law would make it a crime for the interned military personnel (mostly sailors) of a belligerent nation to escape. It would be illegal for government employees to give information about US military defenses to a foreign nation.

Vice President Thomas Marshall addresses the Loyal Order of the Moose in Newark, which is what you do when you’re a vice president. He comes out for preparedness: “Now, I am not a believer in the idea that war is the very worst thing that can come to a people. I hope it may never come. Being old enough myself to avoid any dangers of war, I still see that it would be far better for our American youth to lose his life upon the field of battle in defense of our institutions than to destroy his life by vicious conduct in social affairs.” He doesn’t specify the vicious conduct he’s thinking of, but it’s a pretty remarkable statement.

In an exchange with Admiral John Jellicoe about the Battle of Jutland, King George bitches that the German fleet was allowed to escape, “enabled by misty weather to evade the full consequences of the encounter.” The British, like the Germans yesterday, are now beginning to claim to have won. Sure, their losses were a lot higher, they say, but German losses were greater relative to the size of their fleet, and the Royal Navy drove them from the North Sea.

Most families of British sailors don’t know what ships they serve on, so they don’t know if they’re alive or dead.

The Battle of Jutland has the US rapidly rethinking its own naval plans. For a start, battle cruisers, which the US planned to rely on heavily, didn’t stand up very well to the guns of the battleships. Also, zeppelins seem like a good idea, for spying out enemy ships.

Theodore Roosevelt isn’t saying whether he’d repeat 1912 and run as an independent if the Republican convention doesn’t pick a candidate he likes. He’d prefer to leave that sword over their heads.

The NYT stopped covering the Dominican Republic around the time the Marines landed. Funny that. So it won’t be in the paper that today the Marines arrest 8 members of the Dominican Congress to prevent a quorum, because Wilson does not like Congress’s choice of a new president. They will be released in two days, but Federico HenrĂ­quez y Carvajal will withdraw from consideration.


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