Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Today -100: October 18, 1917: The German agent pervades the land


A NYT editorial warns, “The German agent pervades the land.” With German-language papers now under strict censorship/ban by the Post Office, these agents’ principle weapon is spreading rumors about sunk transport ships, mutinies, etc.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today -100: October 17, 1917: Of Gary systems, Polands, candy, and picketers


NYC Mayor Mitchel’s introduction of the “Gary system” of education – rotating students to different rooms throughout the day for efficiency, increased vocational ed., etc – is meeting a little resistance, with 1,000 kids on the Upper East Side going on strike and smashing school windows. There is concern that the Gary system (as in Gary, Indiana) is too focused on shaping working-class children for the needs of capitalism, and there’s a religious thing, and a certain amount of hysteria.

Russia now says the peace agreement must include complete independence for Poland, not just autonomy under Russia.

Meanwhile, Germany finally installs its puppet Council of Regency in Poland, appointing the archbishop of Warsaw, the mayor of Warsaw (a prince), and some rich dude.

Headline of the Day -100: 


British Prime Minister Lloyd George withdraws his libel action against several newspapers which said that he left London after an air raid warning was given, after the papers retract.

4 of the suffragists who picketed the White House are sentenced to 6 months in the workhouse.


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Monday, October 16, 2017

Today -100: October 16, 1917: What better covering could any man have?


Mata Hari is executed by the French as a spy, on little evidence. What she actually did, and who she did it for (everyone? no one?) is still a confused question. She certainly did not tell the Germans about tanks, as the story claims.

The New York World has been running stories about NYC mayoral candidate John Hylan having, a few years ago, sued a company he was involved with for payment for his legal services and then, as lawyer for that company, failing to contest himself. Or something. Anyway, incumbent Boy-Mayor John Purroy Mitchel publicly demands that Tammany Boss Murphy say whether that’s the reason he chose Hylan, a singularly unimpressive campaigner with no governmental experience – because he knew he’d have something to hang over his head. Mitchel continues to paint Hylan as un-patriotic, but says all he has to do is denounce Murphy, Hearst, and, er, everyone else who supports him – the “whole galaxy of anti-Americanisms.” Mitchel tells a group of Italians, “It is said that in this campaign of loyalty I am wrapped up in the American flag, and if I am, what better covering could any man have?”


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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Today -100: October 15, 1917: Let all remember that the Fatherland will not forgive criminal levity


Following the German occupation of Osel Island in the Gulf of Riga, Russian PM Kerensky calls on the navy to keep out the Germans, complains about the “attitude” of the Kronstadt fortress weakening Russian defenses, and calls for sacrifices. “Let all remember that the Fatherland will not forgive criminal levity.”

Criminal levity is the worst kind.

The Jewish Daily Forward gives in to Post Office censorship, will no longer publish any opinions about the war.


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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Today -100: October 14, 1917: Of chancellors, improper letters, and draft boards


German newspapers agree that Chancellor Georg Michaelis is toast because of his inept handling of, well not the August naval mutiny itself (which the government is now saying was just on one ship), but the political ramifications. Which I think means the right is pissed that he didn’t make a more credible case blaming it on the socialists. The left in the Reichstag would also like a new chancellor, one named by the Reichstag rather than the kaiser.

Frank Haungs is arrested for sending an “improper” letter to First Lady Edith Wilson, under the name of his foreman at work.

Local draft boards, especially in New York City and Louisiana, have been drafting men with dependents for whom they are the sole support, and the Army will now release those men.


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Friday, October 13, 2017

Today -100: October 13, 1917: Of oratorical contests with petulant young men, marine ministers, soviets, and negro-less towns


Judge John F. Hylan, the more-or-less Democratic candidate for mayor of New York, refuses to debate incumbent Mayor John Purroy Mitchel: “No mere oratorical contest with this petulant young man, who is smarting under deserved and almost universal condemnation, will meet the situation or satisfy the people.” Hylan says he is fighting for democracy, just like the Allies in France.

German Minister of Marine Eduard von Capelle is fired (is he though?), ostensibly for the August mutinies, really for the failure of submarine warfare to defeat Britain.

Trotsky is elected president of the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet, which passes a resolution refusing support to Kerensky’s new coalition government.

Two white men are convicted for killing a 17-year-old black man during the East St. Louis race riots and sentenced to 14 years.

Headline of the Day -100: 

At the army training camp Camp Funston. “The telegrams declare that Junction City has no negro population.”


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Today -100: October 12, 1917: Of tsars and lost provinces


Ex-Tsar Nicholas and family are moved to a monastery, still in Siberia, ostensibly because he’d been complaining about the crowds that came to gawk at him.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George says Britain will fight until France gets Alsace-Lorraine back. Is that what the tommies thought they’d been fighting for?


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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today -100: October 11, 1917: Of mutiny, lost provinces, and krennings


Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The NYT reports that there was a mutiny on 4 or 5 German ships a few weeks ago, in which the captain of one of them was thrown into the sea and drowned. Kaiser Wilhelm ordered that 1 in 7 sailors be shot, but only 3 were executed after Chancellor Michaelis objected.

There are a couple of grains of truth in that. There was a fairly minor  rebellion in early August. No captain was drowned, but two sailors were executed, because the German Navy doesn’t recognize the concept of “fairly minor” mutinies. The government and right wing are using the incident as a stick to beat the opposition, blaming it, with no basis in fact, on the Independent Social Democrats (USPD); this is why we’re hearing about this now.

German Foreign Minister Richard von Kühlmann says the only thing that can’t be negotiated is Alsace-Lorraine.

Henry Krenning, the recently retired president of the Dorris Motor Car Company, is charged under the Espionage Act with making disparaging remarks about Woodrow Wilson at the theatre. Annoyingly, the nature of the remarks is unspecified, and there’s no follow-up.


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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today -100: October 10, 1917: Of licensed newspapers, supreme power, and negro divisions


Postmaster-General Burleson says that his new powers to “license” foreign-language newspapers won’t be used against criticism of the government... unless it impugns the motives of the government, because that encourages insubordination. “For instance, papers may not say that the government is controlled by Wall Street or munition manufacturers, or any other special interests.” (NYC mayoral candidate and actual next mayor John Hylan accuses City Hall of being run by a “combination of tax-eating, franchise grabbers, food-price jugglers, land sharks and city financial manipulators,” but I guess he couldn’t do that in a foreign-language newspaper). Also, no opposition to conscription or attacking the US’s allies will be allowed. Burleson says socialist papers won’t automatically be barred, unless they contain treason or sedition. But most of them do, he says.

Dateline Washington DC: “Russian diplomats here appear to be convinced now that the Bolsheviks have finally been overthrown and that Premier Kerensky is once more firmly established in the supreme power.”

The Army will create a new division composed of blacks from all over the country. This follows a long debate about the segregation of the... nah, just kidding, segregation’s just taken for granted.


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Monday, October 09, 2017

Today -100: October 9, 1917: Dead or alive


Charles Beard resigns from Columbia in protest at the expulsion of anti-war professors by “obscure and willful” trustees “who are reactionary and visionless in politics, narrow and medieval in religion" and who are destroying free expression at the nation’s largest university. The best-selling historian is not an opponent of the war like the fired profs.

Poolville, Texas raises a $1,246.50 reward for the capture of Kaiser Wilhelm.


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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Today -100: October 8, 1917: Of forwards, brotherhood, and unlikely fights


Uruguay breaks off relations with Germany. Ditto Peru.

The postmaster general is threatening to ban the Jewish Daily Forward from the mails. The editor, Abraham Cohen, denies any pro-Germanism, saying that the government is actually going after every socialist newspaper in the country.

London mobs including soldiers set fire to the Brotherhood Church ahead of a pacifist meeting which was to be addressed by Bertrand Russell.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Probably not the most epic of battles.


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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Today -100: October 7, 1917: God pity the man who would paralyze the arm of the American people in this conflict


Robert La Follette defends himself in a two-hour speech in the Senate, which had put aside plans to consider expelling him and then for some reason put it back on the table. Senator Bob makes a case for free speech and the right to criticize the president before the sceptical members. Sen. Joseph Robinson (D-Arkansas), for one, disagrees, saying La Follette should “apply to the kaiser for a seat in the German Bundesrat.”

And the House censures Rep. “Cotton Tom” Heflin (D-Alabama) for saying that fellow congresscritters had been bought off by Germany.

Edsel Ford’s application for exemption from the draft on the grounds that he is too busy helping his father run the Ford Motor Company is rejected. The decision will later be reversed. The controversy over this was probably the cause of his father’s narrow defeat when he ran for the Senate in 1918.


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Friday, October 06, 2017

Today -100: October 6, 1917: Of cabinets and theosophists


Kerensky forms forms a new cabinet, defying the Democratic Congress’s demand that the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) be excluded.

The Russian government declares a state of war in Turkestan, which is in revolt.

A.P. Warrington, president of the US branch of the Theosophical Society, says that death in the war is so noble it relieves all karma, so a dead soldier’s next reincarnation will be fantastic. He says theosophists should spread this good news to the survivors of dead soldiers, but “don’t be queer about it all.”


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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Today -100: October 5, 1917: Of excess profits, mutiny in the workhouse, and Fake News


The new excess profits war tax will include an 8% tax on incomes over $6,000. This tax will not apply to members of Congress, who earn $7,500 a year. Both the tax and the exemption were snuck into the bill in secret during the reconciliation process, and most congresscritters, anxious as they were to begin their vacation, probably didn’t know they were there.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Or to put it another way, workhouse authorities induced black woman prisoners to attack the suffragists, who are being charged with... wait for it... “mutiny.”

The feds seize the German-language newspaper Freie Zeitung, raiding its New Jersey plant and arresting owners and editors. The 60-year-old paper is being accused of publishing false reports intended to interfere with US military success, whatever that means. The paper will be back in business tomorrow. The NYT notes, without quite saying that this is the reason for the raid, that on August 15 an article in the Zeitung noted that soldiers about to be sent to France shouted “Are we down-hearted? No!” and commented “If the boys are not downhearted in six months they may consider themselves lucky.”


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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Today -100: October 4, 1917: We will give it all back to them and we will give it to them soon


New York Mayor John Purroy Mitchel attacks his opponent John Hylan for being backed by people not in sympathy with the war campaign. He attacks Boss Murphy and Tammany Hall, as was the custom, and the Hearst papers. Hylan himself is less interested in the war than in keeping the subway fare to 5¢, which is pretty much the beginning and end of his platform.

British Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill says the u-boat attack on Britain has been checked, even repulsed.

Prime Minister David Lloyd George, speaking in part of London recently bombed by German airplanes, says “We will give it all back to them and we will give it to them soon. We shall bomb Germany with compound interest.” Which seems like too much math to me.

The NYPD are cracking down on newsboys who shout sensational war-related headlines that aren’t true.


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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Today -100: October 3, 1917: Of blockades and the draft


Britain will now join the US in blockading neutral countries Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Mexico objects to US plans to draft Mexican nationals. One problem is that the citizenship laws of both countries lay claim to children born in the US to Mexican citizens.


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Monday, October 02, 2017

Today -100: October 2, 1917: Of academic freedom


Columbia University fires two professors, James McKeen Cattell (psychology) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana (English), the grandson of the poet, for pacifism.


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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Today -100: October 1, 1917: Of special grievances, Lenin, and loyalty


Theodore Roosevelt says the US is not in the war to make the world safe for democracy, but “because we had a special grievance,” specifically, Germany’s attacks on ships.

“The Bolsheviks have abandoned the idea of having Nikolai Lenine, the radical pacifist agitator, appear as their representative in the Congress on account of the firm determination of the Government to discover and arrest him.”

The Chronicle Magazine sent a letter to people with German-sounding names in Who’s Who and the Social Register, asking them to express their undying loyalty to the US. It will print the responses it likes, and turn the ones it doesn’t like over to the Justice Dept. The letter says that anyone who doesn’t respond will be considered hostile to the United States.


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