Saturday, March 04, 2017

Today -100: March 4, 1917: The most important part of the plot is its conditional form

German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann admits that the Zimmermann Telegram is authentic, but says that it’s not a “plot,” because Germany only proposed to ally with Mexico and Japan against the United States if the United States declared war on it. “The most important part of the plot is its conditional form.” (Or he may have said “condition and form.”)

Mexico’s foreign minister denies (finally) that Mexico ever received an alliance proposal from Germany. He is lying.

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg promises to make Flanders a separate country from Belgium.

The US Department of Justice has discovered a culprit to blame for high food prices: two pro-German bankers and a commission merchant who plotted to keep vegetables out of New York in order to provoke demonstrations against exporting food to Europe.

A public meeting in St Thomas in Danish (for now) West Indies, decides in favor of “the American Virgin Islands” as the colony’s new name, rather than, say, the Dewey Islands after the late Admiral Dewey. Did no one suggest as a compromise the Dewey Virgin Islands?

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, responding to accusations that he likes German music too much, publishes an entire book, Germanophilie, to refute that premise. In it, he calls for a French boycott of German music, especially Wagner. He says French people only think they like Wagner. “Wagnerism, in the guise of art, was a machine marvelously adapted for sapping French patriotism. It was the German soul creeping little by little into our public.” He says the French should try to appreciate French composers, except that fucker Debussy. Okay, he doesn’t say that, but Saint-Saëns really didn’t like Debussy.

Texas Gov. James E. Ferguson (D), invited by the Legislature to come and discuss his possible impeachment, calls State Sen. W.A. Johnson a “nigger-lover from the North,” then informs Johnson that “you look like a nigger, you are a nigger.” Johnson, the Times notes, is of Swedish extraction. Gov. Ferguson is accused of misappropriating public funds and violating banking laws. This all started when Ferguson vetoed funding for the University of Texas because it refused his order to fire certain faculty members, including the former lieutenant-governor who ran against him in the gubernatorial primary. Ferguson will be removed from office later this year and barred from holding office in Texas. He will attempt to run for governor again, then president, then senator, and while never holding office again, his wife will be elected governor twice. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson will be the second female governor in the US, in 1925, closely following Nellie Tayloe Ross, who succeeded her late husband in Wyoming after a special election. The third, decades later, was George Wallace’s wife Lurleen (George was term-limited out). So the first non-spouse female governor in the United States was only elected in 1974, Ella Grasso of Connecticut. We really are a backwards country.

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