Monday, August 01, 2016

Today -100: August 1, 1916: America first and America efficient


Charles Evans Hughes finally makes his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president, in Carnegie Hall (I guess it’s so late because he’s been practicing). Evidently he’s in favor of Americanism, which he defines as an undivided love of country and a goal of “America first and America efficient,” whatever that might mean. Much of the speech is devoted to criticizing Wilson’s Mexican policies, which he thinks went wrong when Wilson failed to recognize coup leader/murderer Huerta. He seems to want to make attacks on Wilson about Mexico a major part of his campaign without saying much about what he would do. The foreign policy stuff could have been ghost-written by Roosevelt: “I stand for the unflinching maintenance of American rights on land and sea” etc. (Complete text).

Tacked on at the end, Hughes says he supports women’s suffrage (but does not explicitly support a federal constitutional amendment) (or indeed oppose one). He doesn’t actually say he thinks it’s a good idea. Rather, he says it’s inevitable, so the pragmatic course is just to get it over with: “Opposition may delay, but in my judgment cannot defeat, this movement. Nor can I see any advantages in the delay which can possibly offset the disadvantages which are necessarily incident to the continued agitation. Facts should be squarely met. We shall have a constantly intensified effort and a distinctly feminist movement constantly perfecting its organization to the subversion of normal political issues. We shall have a struggle increasing in bitterness, which I believe to be inimical to our welfare.”

“Subversion of normal political issues”!

Forest fires in Ontario, Canada wipe out Matheson and other nearby towns. More than 200 are killed. This is why you shouldn’t set fires to clear land.


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