Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Today -100: December 19, 1917: Of spoils, bombs, prohibition, drill, and women doctors


New York Mayor-Elect John Hylan participates in that great tradition of NY politics: Tammany Hall’s Boss Murphy gives him a list of people to hire.

A bomb takes out part of the California governor’s mansion, near where Gov. William Stephens and Mrs. Governor are sleeping. The culprits are not caught, but Stephens says it was probably “done with a view to terrorism, the chief weapon of the alien enemy.”

The Senate passes the Prohibition amendment to the Constitution, 47-8. A lot of senators seem to have skipped the vote.

The NYT notes that many of the dry states wishing to impose prohibition on wet states are Southern states which object to having women’s suffrage imposed on them and which also continue to obstruct and nullify enforcement of the 15th Amendment.

The foreign ministers of Germany and Austria will go to Brest-Litovsk for negotiations with Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Trotsky informs the Allies and asks if they’d like to come to, or “state whether they wish peace or not.” Pravda denies rumors that Germany is demanding that Russia evacuate Finland and... Petrograd, disarm the Russian Army, and grant Germany a monopoly of grain exports.

City College of New York (presumably like many other colleges) has suspended or expelled 19 students for not attending military drill.

Obit of the Day -100: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917), the first woman doctor in Britain, the first woman elected to a school board (London in 1870, with three times as many votes as T.H. Huxley), the first woman mayor in England (Aldeburgh in 1908), the first woman magistrate, and a few other firsts. The doctor thing is a funny story. Doctors had only recently been legally required to have a license to practice, which could be issued by several medical societies (surgeons, physicians, etc). Garrett realized the apothecaries’ society didn’t specifically forbid women members (they changed that rule fast after she used it). She later founded the London School of Medicine for Women. A long-time suffragist – here’s Bertha Newcombe’s 1910 painting depicting her and Emily Davies passing John Stuart Mill a women’s suffrage petition, hidden under the apples for some reason, for him to present to Parliament in 1866 –


her younger sister Millicent Garrett Fawcett is president of the largest women’s suffrage society in Britain, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, which Anderson left for the more radical Women’s Social and Political Union, although she resigned when it became too militant for her.


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