Sunday, September 24, 2017

Today -100: September 24, 1917: Of fun fights, false teeth, and Usonians


Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Secretary of State Robert Lansing says that before Romania declared war on Germany, Germany snuck explosives and biological warfare (anthrax, glanders) into the country and hid them in the consulate.

Headline of the Day -100: 



The war has created a false teeth shortage in France.

Christine Ladd-Franklin, a psych lecturer at Columbia University writes to the NYT about the problem of what to call US soldiers, who really don’t like “Sammies.” She suggests Usonians, from the abbreviation for United States of North America. Ladd-Franklin likes abbreviations: in the 1870s she applied for a fellowship at Johns Hopkins as “C. Ladd” and that worked out well for her.


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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today -100: September 23, 1917: Of recounts, impeachments, and extremists


Headline of the Day -100: 

“No, it’s still just 4½ inches, Mr. Mayor.”

Actually, NYC Boy Mayor John Purroy Mitchel’s competitor in the Republican primary, William Bennett, has been claiming there was fraud and threatening to run as an independent, so Mitchel wants a recount to prove him wrong. In fact, the recount will go against Mitchel and he will run as an independent “Fusion” candidate.

Texas Gov. James Ferguson is impeached and found guilty on 10 charges (out of 21) of stealing state funds, various corrupt activities at his bank, and trying to coerce the regents of the University of Texas.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Bolsheviks are demanding an end to the war, the military structures of which present, as Gen. Kornilov showed, a continuing threat of counter-revolution.



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Friday, September 22, 2017

Today -100: September 22, 1917: Of peace, influence, technical rights, and champagne


Germany and Austria finally respond to Pope Benedict’s peace proposals. They are all for them in principle but vague as hell about the details. That took them nearly two months?

Secretary of State Lansing releases a message sent in January by then German Ambassador Count Johann von Bernstorff to Berlin about spending $50,000 to influence the US Congress. He also suggested they sway US opinion with a statement in favor of Ireland. Members of Congress immediately start accusing each other of having taken German money, although I’m pretty sure Bernstorff meant influence, not bribe.

Minnesota Gov. Joseph Burnquist (R) announces an investigation into Sen. Bob La Follette’s alleged seditious remarks at a conference on the cost of living. Bob La F. said that the “technical rights” of US citizens – “the right of an American citizen to ride on a munitions-loaded ship flying a foreign flag” – had been abused by Germany, but that wasn’t worth going to war over.

Headline of the Day -100: 

We’ve all been there.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today -100: September 21, 1917: Because nothing says making the world safe for democracy like setting human beings on fire


An arrest warrant is issued for Philadelphia Mayor Thomas Smith (R), Councilman Isaac Deutsch and police Lt. David Bennett for conspiracy to, among other things, interfere with Tuesday’s primaries, which were marked, as we saw yesterday, by an attack on Deutsch’s opponent and the killing of his police guard.

Germany denies a French story that Kaiser Wilhelm offered a reward of 300 marks and 3 weeks’ leave to the first German who captured an American soldier.

However, some guys in Mulvane, Kansas have pledged $1,000 towards a planned $1 million bounty on the head of the kaiser.

Secretary of War Newton Baker rejects a request by Rep. James Gallivan for war reporters from local Massachusetts papers be allowed to go to France. He says the 16 reporters already there will have to do, because they’re using all the cable facilities, so more reporters would just mean shorter stories. Baker says the best news comes from letters home from soldiers. Which the Army censors, of course.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Or, you know, not.

The US army will use gas and flamethrowers.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today -100: September 20, 1917: One looming shadow if this war is its drift toward socialism


1/5th of the men drafted in Manhattan failed to show up.

Food Administrator Herbert Hoover warns a war conference of the US Chamber of Commerce that if business doesn’t to its public duty and cooperate with the government in the war effort, the result might be socialism. Just look at Russia, he says.

After Bolshevik resolutions – exclusion of the propertied classes from government, abolition of private property, the Soviet to seize power from the provisional government, etc – win in the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet, the outvoted executive committee resigns.

Argentina’s Senate votes 23 to 1 for breaking off relations with Germany.

The Republican primaries in Philadelphia’s Fifth Ward (the “Bloody Fifth”) are marked by riots and a blackjack attack on one candidate by a paid thug who then shoots and kills a cop who was guarding the candidate. He is captured along with others from a group of men recruited in Jersey City – by a man called “Little Neck,” no less – to vote illegally and intimidate the opposition.

Italy refuses a request from the Jewish Union of Frankfurt that it allow the export of palm branches for use in religious services.

Alice Smyth Burton Jay sues Chappell & Co., Ltd., the publishers of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” for stealing the chorus from her 1908 song Yakima (beginning “I’m on my way to Yakima”). She wants $100,000.


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Today -100: September 19, 1917: I hate it when that happens


Headline of the Day -100: 



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Monday, September 18, 2017

Today -100: September 18, 1917: Woodrow Wilson, America, democracy for me


Leon Samson, a junior expelled by Columbia University for his pacifist views, fails to get relief from the state Supreme Court, Justice Mullan, perhaps unclear on the concept of pacifism, calling him a “menace” to the university.

An Indiana superior court judge declares the new women’s suffrage law unconstitutional. The state supreme court will agree.

Vice President Thomas Marshall tells some Freemasons that the democracy for which the US is fighting to make the world safe is not one that includes the IWW’s principles. “Is it not possible to have until the conclusion of this war all hands in America lifted up to the God of our fathers, and all voices proclaiming: ‘Woodrow Wilson, America, democracy for me’?”

Feds arrest 7 people at a Chicago IWW meeting.


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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today -100: September 17, 1917: Of eternal indefiniteness, fake news, women doctors, and Polish regencies


Kerensky declares Russia a republic in order to “put an end to the eternal indefiniteness of the State’s organization”.

With Gen. Kornilov finally in custody, the government is saying that most of the soldiers who marched on Petrograd were told lies or one sort or another about why they were doing so. Not sure to what extent this is actually true, but it’s a good way to de-escalate the situation.

The London Daily News reports that right after the fall of Riga, Kerensky got married. To an actress, no less. “It is amusing to hear that this item of fashionable intelligence created an unfavorable impression in Petrograd.” Petrograd will be pleased to hear that it is not true. Kerensky is already married. As is the actress in question. But it’s an interesting rumor for someone to have started.

Harvard – well, just Harvard Medical School, but still – will admit women for the first time. Its enthusiasm for the scheme is shown by the announcement being made only a week before the start of the new term.

Germany and Austria decree a new Polish state. Which they will be occupying while the war lasts. They still haven’t named a king, but they will appoint a 3-person regency, who will appoint a prime minister, and there’ll be a State Council, also unelected, which will pass legislation. No one’s asking the Poles about any of this.


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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today -100: September 16, 1917: The heel of authority must crush the heads of the serpents of sedition


Kerensky, still unable to form a coalition government, establishes instead a 5-person Directorate consisting of himself, Foreign Minister Mikhail Tereshchenko, Minister of War Gen. Alexander Verkhovsky, Navy Minister Dmitri Verderevsky, and of course Minister of Posts and Telegraphs Alexei Nikitin.

Nikitin is also interior minister, NYT, otherwise that would be silly.

Kerensky issues an order to the men of the army and navy, telling them to stop with all the political discussion, stop arresting their commanding officers, and stop forming voluntary groups on the pretext of fighting counter-revolutionaries.

Headline of the Day -100: 


A NYT editorial about street-corner speakers expresses the Times’s traditional support for free speech: “The heel of authority must crush the heads of the serpents of sedition before they have become too numerous.”

CSI: Stockholm. An autopsy is performed on Sweden’s King Karl XII to determine whether he was shot by his own men or by the enemy. Karl was killed in 1718.


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Friday, September 15, 2017

Today -100: September 15, 1917: Of masses, Russian turmoil, and celery


The Masses is banned from the US mails, again. Circuit Court Justice Augustus Noble Hand refuses to enjoin the postmaster because the paper “hold[s] up violators of the Conscription act to admiration”. Hand is the judge who ruled in 1934 that James Joyce’s Ulysses is not obscene.

Kerensky is still having trouble keeping his government functional. The Kadets have withdrawn from the Cabinet (except one). Meanwhile the Bolsheviks get the Petrograd Council of Deputies to support their position that all representatives of the bourgeoisie including the Social Revolutionaries (SRs) must be excluded from power. Also abolition of private property, workers’ control of the means of production, etc.

Headline/Name of the Day -100: 

That’s the Argentinian naval attaché in Berlin, Captain Arturo Celery.


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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Today -100: September 14, 1917: Of crushes, failed coups, and cursing the president of the United States


Headline of the Day -100: 



Gen. Lavr Kornilov offers his surrender. Soldiers who participated in his revolt claim they were misled. And some of them don’t speak Russian, so maybe. Muslim troops from the Caucuses ask to be reassigned there, as long as they don’t have to fight Turks.

In South Carolina, Edward Oldham – a white man, the NYT feels obligated to inform us – is charged for having, to quote the warrant, “cursed the President of the United States and the Federation Government and used words to thwart the draft law,” to wit, expressing the wish that President Wilson be put adrift on foreign seas and victimized by a submarine.



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today -100: September 13, 1917: Of bloodless liquidations, newspapers, and conscription


The German legation in Buenos Aires is attacked by mobs pissed at Germany sending secret messages via Swedish diplomatic channels. Also attacked: the German Club, a German-language newspaper and various German-owned businesses. The chargé d'affaires, Count Luxburg, is being expelled.

Russian Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky takes over as commander-in-chief of the army, what with the previous one leading a revolt and all. Kerensky says the revolt has failed in a “bloodless liquidation.”

The Senate passes a Trading With the Enemy Bill, including a bit requiring German-language newspapers to provide an English translation in side-by-side columns for any article commenting on the war, foreign policy, the government of the United States, or its allies.

The Senate passes a resolution for the drafting of aliens from friendly countries for military service and aliens from Germany and its allies for non-combatant war work. Aliens from countries with treaty rights prohibiting that (Italy, Serbia, Japan) who invoke those treaties would have 90 days to leave the country.


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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today -100: September 12, 1917: Of coup attempts, and envelopes of true information


Petrograd is under martial law. Kornilov’s troops are advancing on the city, but the NYT reports that the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet, the Cadets, and the Constitutional Democrats are all backing the government, which might be true but would carry more weight if the Times’ correspondent knew that Kadets and Constitutional Democrats are the same thing. Some members of the Duma are joining Kornilov, or being arrested before they can do so.

The Kadet and Socialist members of the cabinet resign over Kerensky’s plan to rule through a five-member Directorate, which isn’t going over particularly well in the Duma.

British military types support Kornilov and the idea of a military dictatorship that will keep Russia in the war. Mostly it’s a “martial races” thing – Kornilov is a Cossack.

The US feds claim that the raid on the Philadelphia Tageblatt shows it is at the center of a massive plot, German money, yadda yadda yadda. It printed pro-German news and “didn’t even take the trouble of opening the envelope containing true information sent out by the United States Government to all newspapers.”


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Monday, September 11, 2017

Today -100: September 11, 1917: Of suffrage, coup attempts, newspapers, and war taxes


Maine’s referendum vote rejects women’s suffrage nearly 2 to 1 (on an incomplete count).

Russia: Gen. Lavr Kornilov is fired as Commander in Chief of the Russian armies after he asks to be named dictator of all the Russias, please, threatening to march on Petrograd. The government declares a state of siege. Foreign Minister Tereshchenko thinks it’s all a big misunderstanding which will be cleared up. The misunderstanding part is not entirely untrue – a go-between reported Kornilov’s suggestions as ultimata, which made Kerensky understandably nervous about Kornilov’s request that Kerensky come to talk in person. But Kornilov’s desire to impose authoritarian discipline on Petrograd as he had reimposed it in the military would have brought him into conflict with the civilian government sooner rather than later. So it’s sooner.

The US government closes down the Philadelphia Tageblatt, a German-language socialist paper, and arrests the editor and 5 others for treason and shit.

The Senate passes the taxation bill. With provisions for consumption taxes on coffee, sugar, tea and cocoa removed, the war will be funded from increased income taxes, an excess war profits tax, and distilled spirits.


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Today -100: September 10, 1917: Of evacuations and Wobblies, but not wobbly evacuations


The civilian population of Petrograd is ordered to evacuate the city. The government claims it’s not because of approaching German troops, but food supply issues. The government itself is staying put for the time being.

Wobblies disrupt a loyalty meeting in Milwaukee and get into a gun battle with the police, who kill 2 of them.


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Saturday, September 09, 2017

Today -100: September 9, 1917: Spurlos versenkt


Japan starts making cars.

Secretary of State Lansing releases secret dispatches sent by the German chargé d’affaires in Buenos Aires to Berlin via Swedish channels, in which he advised that two Argentine steamers sailing for France should either be let go or sunk without trace (“spurlos versenkt”). They were let go. He also called the Argentine foreign minister an “ass.” The US doesn’t say how it acquired the documents (British Naval Intelligence?). The US plans to use this incident to pressure Sweden to pick a damn side already.

The grand jury looking into the East St. Louis, Illinois race riots indicts Mayor Fred Mollman and 37 others.


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Friday, September 08, 2017

Today -100: September 8, 1917: Where are our ideals to go when we have to bribe our men to fight the battle of liberty?


Sen. Thomas Hardwick (D-Georgia) is loudly attacked by several other senators as unpatriotic for supporting Bob La Follette’s proposal to give $50 a month extra to every soldier sent to France. The alliterative Knute Nelson (R-Minnesota): “Tax the rich so as to bribe our men to go France? Where are our ideals to go when we have to bribe our men to fight the battle of liberty?” Nelson, who volunteered to fight in the Civil War without ever asking what his pay would be, says we have to fight the Germans there or they’ll invade, “and then I should like to see the senator from Georgia at the head of a battalion of colored troops leading them down there.” Nelson calls offering soldiers extra money “humiliating, belittling legislation”. I would imagine most soldiers would quite like to be humiliated and belittled.

The government of Alexandre Ribot resigns. It was France’s fourth government of the war.

The Canadian Parliament is working on a bill to extend the vote for the duration of the war to female relatives of overseas soldiers. The Liberal opposition asks instead for proper women’s suffrage.

The Hoboken School Board removes German from the curriculum. It’s been mandatory in grammar schools there for the last 25 years, because more than half the students used to be German. Italians were probably never especially happy about that, but really don’t appreciate it now.

China now has a military government under Sun Yat Sen.

Karel Kramář, a member of the Austrian Imperial Council until he was sentenced to death in 1915 for supporting Czech independence but was recently amnestied by the new emperor, is elected to the Hungarian Parliament.

Secret Service agents and members of the American Protective League arrest 66 suspected IWW members in Cleveland.

Another issue of The B.E.F. Times, formerly the Wipers Times, appears, and it’s a rather alcohol-themed issue from the parody of Longfellow’s Excelsior (which I can never read without picturing Thurber’s illustrations):

The shades of night were falling fast,
When up the muddy C.T.* passed
A youth who bore, though looking glum,
A mighty gallon jar of rum.
Excelsior!

* C.T. = communication trench.

to the letter in support of the Society for Providing Free Gin for Generals. “‘Jack’ and ‘Tommy’ have their rum provided by a benevolent government what about our generals? ‘Gin for Generals’ should be on everyone’s lips during the coming months.”


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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Today -100: September 7, 1917: One city, one loyalty, one people


Germany and Austria have decided that, since Poles seem to be unwilling to volunteer to be soldiers for them, they won’t get an independent state after all, and Poland will continue to be partitioned, though between 2 countries rather than 3, with Germany getting 1/10th of Russian Poland and Austria the rest. Austria will proclaim a new kingdom of Poland, with its emperor getting the crown, to add to his collection of pretty, pretty crowns; the Dual Monarchy will become the Threesome Triple Monarchy. Poland will get its own subordinate parliament, so Polish deputies will be kicked out of the Austrian Reichsrat, making that body less Slavic and more Germanic in composition.

When Kaiser Wilhelm visited occupied Brussels last week, the Bruxellois ignored a “request” to fly flags and instead put out “closed for national mourning” signs.

The feds raid the offices of four Chicago newspapers, which the NYT describes as socialist but at least 3 of which are German-language.

A Gertrude Goodstein of Brooklyn admits to bigamy but says she thought her first marriage was dissolved by the fact that her husband did not support her. She’s coming forward because she’s heard that he’s claiming exemption from the draft because she’s dependent on him, which she isn’t. Oh, and she’s 15. The first marriage was contracted when she was 13.

Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson feels a little beleaguered. He’s suing the Chicago Herald for $250,000. The Herald says, “We accept the compliment.” Thompson says his enemies have bored holes in his walls to install dictographs.

Hungary orders foreigners to leave Budapest. This includes Austrians, particularly from Vienna, who have moved there because food is more freely available.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The mayor’s Commission on National Defense claims that NYC is 80% foreign in birth or speech and must be Americanized. “One city, one loyalty, one people” is their slogan. Which, ironically, sounds better in the original German.


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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Today -100: September 6, 1917: German loyalty will bring to nought every attempt to separate the German people and their Kaiser


Russia arrests some more grand dukes and countesses.

The US arrests IWW president Big Bill Hayward and raids IWW offices all over the country. Also the Socialist Party’s hq in Chicago. The Wilson administration has decided to destroy the IWW, and it pretty much will. The NYT claims from an unnamed source that the IWW had a nation-wide plot to burn corn and wheat crops, disrupt mining, and commit “a multitude of crimes” to disrupt the war effort.

The grand jury that issued the IWW search warrants is rumored to also be investigating Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson (yes, everyone named Bill in 1917 was nicknamed Big Bill, it was the law) and the pro-Thompson newspaper The Republican.

The Justice Department is also investigating the German-language press for possible prosecutions.

Kerensky sends the governor-general of Finland back to Helsinki with dictatorial powers to put down any moves towards independence.

Kaiser Wilhelm finally responds to Woodrow Wilson’s reply to the pope, saying “German loyalty will bring to nought every attempt to separate the German people and their Kaiser.” It probably sounds even more pompous in the original.

With male elevator operators all off to the front, Greenhut’s department store on 6th becomes the first to employ elevator girls.


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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Today -100: September 5, 1917: Of envy, plots, Pankhursts, grand dukes, and the Lusitania’s revenge


Woodrow Wilson says he feels “genuine envy” for the soldiers about to go overseas.

The Chicago City Council votes 42 to 6 praising Gov. Lowden for attempting to ban the convention of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace and by implication rebuking Mayor Big Bill Thompson for allowing it. The Society of Veterans of Foreign Wars holds a mock lynching of the mayor.

An alleged plot to blow up the Canadian Parliament building and assassinate Prime Minister Borden is thwarted. The plotters oppose conscription. The police claim German gold was behind it all.

Adela Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline, sister of Christabel and Sylvia, is sentenced to 9 months in prison for holding a demonstration against conscription in Melbourne. This while she was out on appeal of a 1-month sentence for holding a demonstration last month against food prices. And she’ll find time this month to get married. Mazel tov! They’ll both go to jail next month, which is a Pankhurst’s idea of honeymoon (they’ll also both be interned during the Second World War). Her mother denounced her in a letter to Australian PM Hughes earlier this year.

Deposed Czar Nicholas’s brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and his wife are arrested for a supposed counter-revolutionary plot.

The US denies that it’s telling Germany to depose Kaiser Wilhelm and the Hohenzollern dynasty. But a change must be made such that the US can trust the German government, whatever that means.

Walther Schwieger, the captain of the U-boat which sank the Lusitania, is killed when his current u-boat hits a mine.


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Monday, September 04, 2017

Today -100: September 4, 1917: Of rigas, stürmers, and milk


Germany occupies Riga.

Czar Nicholas’s foreign minister & prime minister Boris Stürmer dies in prison.

France bans milk from all restaurants, cafés, etc. after 9 a.m. It may begin local rationing of milk.


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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Today -100: September 3, 1917: A prince, a general, and a bishop walk into a bar...


A monarchist counter-revolutionary coup plot is uncovered in Russia. Many arrests are made. The government says, seemingly as a non sequitur, that it has no intention of replacing Gen. Lavr Kornilov as Commander in Chief of the Russian armies, giving no hint (perhaps it wasn’t clear to them yet?) that the plot is Kornilov’s. He was evidently attempting to march on Petersburg and put himself in charge, although it didn’t get far enough for his plans to become clear.

Germany replaces the Polish State Council, which just resigned, with a regency consisting of a prince, a general, and a bishop.

The People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace hold a public meeting in Chicago after all, after being dispersed by police acting under Gov. Frank Lowden’s orders yesterday. This time, they’re under the protection of  Chicago police by order of Mayor Big Bill Thompson, who seems to have even arranged a venue for them. Gov. Lowden sends militia from Springfield to break it up, but they arrive too late. Thompson is now being threatened with prosecution and impeachment (which is not actually a thing under Illinois law).

The conductor Arturo Toscanini gets a medal for keeping his military band playing during the Battle of Monte Santo. Not many First World War battles had musical accompaniment, but this one did. Toscanini wrote to his son, “We played in the Austrians’ faces, and we sang our national anthems.”


NYC policemen are “mildly excited” by rumors that they may soon be required to wear wristwatches. One patrolman says that if ordered to wear one, will do so above the elbow, while others will probably strap them to the small of their back (which is evidently a thing), “but as I understand it that practice is not followed in good society.”


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Saturday, September 02, 2017

Today -100: September 2, 1917: Pacifists are law-abiding citizens


A meeting of the organization committee of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace has now been banned or actually expelled from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Illinois. The latter came from Gov. Frank Lowden, after Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson refused to, saying “Pacifists are law-abiding citizens.”

Not only are German-American organizations refusing the demand of the National Security League that they tell their fellow Germans in Germany that they stand with the United States, but they point out that such communication with the enemy would be illegal.

Racial fights in Lexington, Kentucky, from aggression by white soldiers against local blacks.


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Friday, September 01, 2017

Today -100: September 1, 1917: Of hearsts, Polands, and Jewish regiments


William Randolph Hearst will not run for mayor of New York after all.

Pan-German newspapers in Germany are now saying that the resignation of the Polish Council is a perfect opportunity to rescind that whole “independent Poland” thing.

The British Army now has a Jewish Regiment, but leaders of the Jewish community object, and Minister of War Lord Derby promises to change the name.


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