Monday, December 19, 2016

Today -100: December 19, 1916: Of high treason, press conferences, conscription and prohibition

The Greek king’s government issues an arrest warrant for Eleftherios Venizelos for high treason and libeling the army’s general staff.

Woodrow Wilson will resume his weekly meeting with reporters, which he suspended after the Lusitania sinking. However, reporters will not be allowed to ask about the war.

Wilson celebrates the first anniversary of his second marriage.

The chief of staff of the US Army, Maj. Gen. Hugh Scott, and Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood tell a Senate sub-committee that there should be a universal (male) draft and universal (still male) military training. They say that the mobilization of the national guards on the Mexican border was a shambles and shows that any program of national defense can’t rely on state militias. Walter Fisher, who was Taft’s interior secretary, says military recruit problems could be solved by paying soldiers more, but Scott and Wood dismiss that as crazy talk: forced labor is so much cheaper. In fact, Wood objects to paying anything at all, because that just destroys the feeling of national obligation. He also thinks universal suffrage would cut the murder rate to one-tenth its current level, I think by integrating immigrants.

New York Governor Charles Whitman (R) comes out in favor of prohibition. Democrats are expected to respond by demanding an audit of the expenses of Whitman’s junket to the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco on a train said to have seen its fair share of drinking (at public expense).

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