Thursday, October 18, 2018

Today -100: October 18, 1918: Of lesser wars, surly tones, Polish treason, and flu-doctoring


The war is over! The war is over! Oh, wait....


It’s weird that they’re casually throwing around war metaphors during an actual, you know, world war, right?

Berlin newspapers are more concerned about the “surly” tone of Wilson’s note than about its contents.

The Polish Regency Council tells the German governor-general of occupied Russian Poland, Hans Beseler, that they will take over all administrative functions, or else. Beseler agrees and it’s all published in the German press. It sounds like up to now German papers have been muttering about Polish “treason” without being allowed to say to what they’re referring. They’re also upbraiding the Poles for their ingratitude for being “freed” from Russia.

It is announced that the Austro-Hungarian Empire will be reorganized on a federal basis. Hungary, not impressed, declares independence. German papers are playing with the idea that after the A-H Empire breaks apart completely, the ethnic-German parts of Austria might join Germany.

NYC draft boards halt their conscripting activities to free up their doctors to fight the Spanish Flu.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Today -100: October 17, 1918: Hope for peace must be lowered a few pegs


German newspapers are rather disappointed with Woodrow Wilson. The Cologne Gazette says, “After President Wilson’s note, hope for peace must be lowered a few pegs.” The Cologne Volkszeitung says “The Germans must lower their hopes of a near peace of justice without humiliation.” The Pan-German Deutsche Zeitung is suppressed, evidently for declaring the note disgraceful and telling soldiers “You are unconquered by the enemy, but beaten by the crumbling home front.”

British troops occupy Tripoli and Homs.

Germany changes its constitution, stripping the kaiser of his power to declare war and make treaties, which will now require the consent of the Federal Council and the Reichstag.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Allies have brought their fiercest weapons into play: geometric shapes.

Rumor of the Day: Lenin is shot, again.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda, Fake News and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany tells Turkey that its Black Sea Fleet will fire on Constantinople if Turkey shows any signs of leaving the war.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Today -100: October 16, 1918: Oh no, he’s ghosted Austria!


Headline of the Day -100: 


Evidently Wilson’s non-response is part of a cunning plan to split Austria from Germany.

Denmark, which is not a combatant, would still like to get back Schleswig, lost to Prussia in the war of 1866, and is annoyed that it wasn’t even mentioned in Woodrow Wilson’s peace program.

The Bolshevik government orders 63 new statues for Moscow, including ones of Tolstoy, Bakunin, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Marx, Engels, Bebel, Jaurès, Gracchus, Robespierre, Marat & Danton, Beethoven and Chopin.

The Bolsheviks tell Pope Benedict that they have no idea where the former Tsarina and her children are. The latest rumor is that they all died when a Red mob set their house on fire.

The most recent reported 24-hour period saw 4,925 new cases of Spanish Flu in New York City and 479 of pneumonia. Health Commissioner Royal Copeland is asking people with more than one servant to send one to the Health Dept to help out. He says their health will be protected, but then he said that about the city of fucking New York and look how that’s turning out. Gov. Charles Whitman and challenger Al Smith may cancel all their campaign speeches outside of NYC, most towns having closed their theatres and banned public meetings.


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Monday, October 15, 2018

Today -100: October 15, 1918: Never mind the peace rumors


Woodrow Wilson sends another note to Germany. Evidently this note is not a “reply” but a “decision.” He says the terms of armistice will be up to the various Allied generals (Foch, Pétain, Pershing, Haig etc., which leaves a lot of vetoes in the hands of people with no interest in an armistice), that an armistice must maintain the present Allied military supremacy, and Germany must first stop the “illegal and inhumane practices which they persist in,” like torpedoing passenger ships and destroying the French and Belgian towns they’re evacuating. Also, autocracy must end and Kaiser Wilhelm must abdicate. Well, he doesn’t explicitly state the last part, but it’s clear enough.

The Wolff News Agency of Berlin denies that Kaiser Bill intends to abdicate.

The new Turkish cabinet, under Ahmed Izzet Pasha (the NYT is a few weeks premature about it being Tevfik Pasha), informs Austria that it will be seeking a separate peace.

Because of the Spanish Flu epidemic, no new prisoners will be sent to Sing Sing.

This is from a full-page ad for Liberty Bonds:



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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Today -100: October 14, 1918: We bow our still undefeated heads for righteousness' sake


German newspapers are claiming that Germany is not offering peace terms because it is actually losing the war, no no. Rather, its offer is “founded on a decision for a righteous peace... We bow our still undefeated heads for righteousness' sake.” (Berliner Zeitung am Mittag) The papers are particularly concerned that an armistice not permit Allied troops to enter Germany.

Theodore Roosevelt issues a statement from on high, regretting that Wilson has begun negotiations and hoping that they will be stopped at once and Germany told to surrender unconditionally without any talks because we “refuse to compound a felony by discussing terms with felons.” Also he wants the US to declare war on Turkey. Also the Senate should repudiate the 14 Points, which are “couched in such vague language that many of them may mean anything or nothing and have merely a rhetorical value, while others [like freedom of the sea and disarmament] are absolutely mischievous.”

Every US senator interviewed by the NYT thinks Germany is not “sincere” in its acceptance of the 14 Points. They support a “dictated” rather than a negotiated peace.

Finland asks Germany to remove its soldiers from Finnish soil, please and thank you.

The Grazer Tagespost (Austria) reports the death of a man who was sentenced to hang early in the war for “highly treasonable utterances” after his son was executed. His sentence was commuted to 15 years, but then he went insane, and has now died in an asylum at... wait for it... 106 years old. BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

Helen Keller appeals to people to buy bonds: “The air is tremulous with the soundless feet of the new day.”


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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Today -100: October 13, 1918: Of imperial governments and mustard gas


The US hasn’t officially received the German reply to Wilson’s note yet, but based on what’s been heard about it via German wireless, politicians are saying that it only SEEMS to be complete acceptance of his terms.

It’s pointed out that the note refers to “the German Government” seven times, instead of the usual “Imperial German Government.” British newspapers are speculating about what this means.

Theodore Roosevelt, speaking at a Liberty Loan rally, says there should be no discussion of peace terms with the enemy, and that allowing Germany, Austria and Turkey into the League of Nations would be like letting all the burglars and gunmen into the NYPD.

Corp. Adolf Hitler is mustard-gassed, temporarily blinding him.


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Friday, October 12, 2018

Today -100: October 12, 1918: Brutes they were... brutes they remain


A u-boat torpedoes the US cargo ship Ticonderoga, killing 213, capturing 2. The ship had fallen behind its convoy. After a lengthy battle the ship was sinking and, as its crew tried to escape to lifeboats, a white flag (ok, blanket) was raised, but the dirty Germans continued to fire.

British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour says Germany changing its constitution is not enough, there has to be “a change of hearts whereby that Government is to be directed and animated.” He doesn’t explain how this change is heart is to be verified. And war certainly hasn’t improved the Germans: “Brutes they were when they began the war. As far as I can judge, brutes they remain at the present moment.”

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland says there are 4,293 new cases of Spanish Flu and 394 new cases of pneumonia and there STILL is no cause for undue alarm. The Red Cross plans to go house to house looking for women willing to act as nurses, for money.

Austro-Hungarian Emperor Charles issues a manifesto for the unification of Croatia, Slavonica, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia into one state. Too little, too late.


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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Today -100: October 11, 1918: Of kaisers and nurses


Rumor of the Day -100: Kaiser Wilhelm has abdicated!

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland suggests drafting nurses. Actually, on re-reading, it says “eligible women be drafted to serve as nurses,” which is not the same thing.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Today -100: October 10, 1918: Of notes, peace traps, provisional governments, and Spanish Flu at the movies


Headline of the Day -100: 


His birthday’s in a couple of weeks (happy 60th! and last! spoiler alert!) and he just hates having to write thank you notes. Hates it I tell you.

Actually, TR is annoyed with Woodrow Wilson for writing that note to German Chancellor Prince Max and more annoyed that there might be further exchanges, rather than just fighting until Germany is totally beaten.

Fortunately for him, 



Ousted Russian prime minister Kerensky is in London trying to get Britain to recognize the new “Russia Provisional Government.”

The National Association of Motion Picture Industries decides to discontinue all new releases of movies until after the Spanish Flu epidemic abates. Which makes sense since theaters are closed in many parts of the country. That’s still not the case in New York City, but cops will be stationed in cinemas to make sure the windows are kept open.

Mexico closes its border with the US (or at least with Texas) to prevent the Spanish Flu entering the country. Too little, too late.


I was going to make a joke about onions replacing popcorn in movie theaters, then asked myself when popcorn was actually first eaten at the movies. Evidently the 1930s.


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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Today -100: October 9, 1918: He deems the answer to these questions vital from every point of view


Woodrow Wilson sends a reply to German Chancellor Prince Max. Oops, sorry, “It is not a reply, it is an inquiry,” says Secretary of State Robert Lansing. Specifically, Max is asked if Germany accepts the 14 Points (as opposed to negotiating over them) and whether he speaks “merely for the constituted authorities of the empire who so far have conducted the war.” As opposed to who?

The NYT doubts the sincerity of German moves towards peace and democracy, moves which the Stuttgarter Neues Tageblatt says were authorized by the Military High Command. Is the NYT (and indeed Woodrow Wilson) expecting an election in Germany before it’s allowed to ask for peace?

Kaiser Wilhelm a couple of weeks ago told German soldiers in Alsace that “we” would defend with the last drop of “our” blood Alsace-Lorraine, “which belong to us and which the Almighty has intrusted to us to administer as his stewards, and we shall keep them for the benefit of their inhabitants and the glory of God. ... Our enemies cannot and will not succeed. We are under Divine protection.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


Turkey may or may not also be asking for peace, but part of Turkey, the province of Smyrna, definitely is, sending emissaries to Athens with some sort of offer.

The NYT is disappointed that NY women aren’t registering to vote in large numbers. On the first day of registration, 31,000 men registered in Manhattan and only 10,000 women, with similar numbers in the other boroughs. The Times admits it was opposed to women’s suffrage, but now it is a duty to vote: “The women who refuse to vote should recognize that by staying at home they actually increase the vote of the unintelligent or the vicious... Every woman who has the public welfare at heart should vote, whether it is distasteful to her or not, and every man should urge this as a positive duty upon the women he can influence.” Trust the NYT to end an editorial about women voters with a call to the mighty power of mansplaining.

This is a recording made on this day and released as a gramophone record before the end of the war of the Royal Garrison Artillery firing gas shells near Lille. Not all that exciting, but it is the only known sound recording of World War I. Recording engineer Will Gaisberg dragged his equipment to the front and breathed in some of the poison gas himself, which may have contributed to his death next month from Spanish Flu.

 


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Monday, October 08, 2018

Today -100: October 8, 1918: RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH


France captures Beirut.

“Black Jack” Pershing cables the War Department: “RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH.”

2 hours of speeches about the war in the US Senate. No one wants anything other than unconditional surrender. By the other side, I mean. Porter McCumber (R-ND), for example, proposes a resolution that there be no armistice until the Central Powers... no, wait, just Germany, huh... disband its army and hand over its arms and navy, pay massive indemnities, etc etc.

Also: there was a US senator named “Porter McCumber.”

The Whites form a Russian Provisional Government at a self-styled National Convention at Ufa. It claims to be the “sole possessor of supreme power over the whole territory of Russia.” It is devoted to overthrowing the Bolsheviks, getting back all Russia’s breakaway regions/countries, and rejoining the war.

The latest (false) rumor: Field Marshal von Hindenburg resigns after a fight with Kaiser Wilhelm over the necessity of a retreat.

The NY Sanitary Police are fighting the Spanish Flu by arresting dozens for spitting. The spitters are being fined $1 to $20 (or jail if they can’t pay). The magistrate says starting tomorrow it’ll be 5 days in jail without the option of a fine.


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Sunday, October 07, 2018

Today -100: October 7, 1918: Of not peace, not epidemic, not nobility, and not able to see Theda Bara as Vampire Salomé


No one in the US or the European Allies seems especially interested in Austria & Germany’s offers of peace talks, which they see as a ruse to allow the Central Powers to regroup behind a shorter front line, and anyway they’re only offering negotiations not unconditional surrender, and anyway there shouldn’t be talks while they’re occupying any part of France, Belgium etc. Lots of excuses to continue the killing.

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland still insists that the Spanish Flu is not epidemic in NY, but Dr. Sigismund Goldwater, director of Mt. Sinai and a previous health commissioner, begs to differ, saying there are many more cases than have been reported because doctors are too busy fighting the flu to fill out paperwork. Copeland says Goldwater’s view from Mt. Sinai is “provincial.”

Hara Takashi is the new Japanese prime minister. He is the first non-nobleman ever to hold the office, and the first Christian, getting the job (this is also a first) because he is the head of the largest party in the legislature. He will be assassinated in 1921.

Now Playing: Theda... Bara.... IS.... Salome! The NYT says she is “every minute the vampire”. Lots of stills here. Looks wild. But it’s (sigh) another lost film.


The War in Duty-Free:




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Saturday, October 06, 2018

Today -100: October 6, 1918: Of negotiations, mistrials, flu & explosions, and ex-armies


Austria again proposes peace talks, on the basis of Wilson’s 14 Points (or 23, because he keeps adding points). Austria’s offer, which has to be translated and go through Sweden and then I think Switzerland, hasn’t officially reached the US yet. Note that “negotiating on the basis of the 14 Points” is not the same as accepting them and negotiating at all is not the same as surrendering.

New German Chancellor Max the Prince talks about peace to the Reichstag. He wants Germany to join a League of Nations. He accepts the 14 Points too, but with conditions, like Germany getting its colonies back and Alsace-Lorraine getting autonomy rather than being reattached to France.

France says if Austria carries out its threat to execute captured pilots who dropped leaflets, it will execute twice as many captured Austrian officers, so there.

A second mistrial in the trial of Max Eastman, John Reed et al.

That NY Health Dept plan to stagger opening hours to reduce Spanish Flu infection by relieving crowding on public transportation was screwed by that shell-loading plant explosion in New Jersey, which resulted in the closing of bridges and subways in NYC (authorities thought the fire might reach and set off 80,000 pounds of TNT, destroying East River bridges and the under-river subways). This created greater congestion than ever, as, for example, thousands stood around trying to get on ferries to get home to Brooklyn. The plant continues to be ripped by explosions every half hour or so for hours.

Boris III, the new Bulgarian king, orders the army demobilized.


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Friday, October 05, 2018

Today -100: October 5, 1918: The only way to make a Hun feel friendly is to knock him out


The T.A. Gillespie Co.’s shell-loading plant in Morgan, N.J. blows up. It is (or was before it, you know, blew up) the largest such plant, loading 32,000 shells per day. Enough ammunition is destroyed to supply the Western Front for 6 months. More than 100 people are killed. There would have been more, but the first explosion was small and the workers on the night shift were mostly able to get out.

Bulgarian King Ferdinand abdicates, 2 days shy of 10 years in power – doesn’t even get a cake in the shape of Bulgaria – in favor of his eldest son, now Boris III.

The new German cabinet of Prince Max will include Philipp Scheidemann, the first Socialist (SPD) in a German government, and Adolf Gröber and Matthias Erzberger of the Catholic Zentrum (Center) party, all as ministers without portfolio. The idea is that a government unencumbered by the militarist and pan-German policies of the past will be acceptable to the Allies as an interlocutor for peace talks.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Theodore Roosevelt tells an audience which came to see him at a Nebraska railroad station, “The only way to make a Hun feel friendly is to knock him out. ... Put this war through right, so that no other nation will look cross-eyed at us.”

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland orders stores to open at 8 am and close at 4 pm, offices 8:30 to 4:30, textile factories 9-5. He isn’t closing theatres and cinemas, but orders their hours staggered. All this to prevent over-crowding on public transport, which he considers the chief danger. “We believe it is proper to keep the theatres and churches open if we can eliminate the sneezers, coughers, and spitters.” Ushers should remove those gross people by “force if necessary.” And he won’t close the schools because “in some homes there is careless disregard of modern sanitation” but children from those homes are washed and their teeth brushed before they’re sent to school, where they can be inspected.

In January the War Dept banned people in military service being paid for writing (and for writing for publication even unpaid, I think?). They have now rescinded  this.

Headline of the Day -100:  


A letter from a G.C. Hall of Montgomery, Alabama takes issue with Pres. Wilson’s assertion that the Susan B. Anthony Amendment is a war matter. If proving our democracy is so important, why not abolish the Electoral College? And if it’s so important, why not just proclaim it by executive edict? Continuing, Hall writes,



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Thursday, October 04, 2018

Today -100: October 4, 1918: Of flu, evacuations, betrayals, and reconstruction


King Alfonso of Spain has the Spanish Flu, which seems only fair (in Spain it’s called the French Flu). Actually, I’ve been meaning to explain the etymology: in the belligerent countries, censorship is tamping down stories about the extent of the influenza outbreak. Spain had no such restrictions and its newspapers reported honestly (including about what was going on in France and elsewhere), thus the name. There’s some debate, but the Spanish Flu originated, depending on which theory you believe, in France or Kansas.

Spanish Flu is now reported in 43 states. All theatres, dance halls, schools, etc in D.C. are ordered closed (ditto Philadelphia, which adds churches) and office hours in government departments are being staggered to cut down on street car crowding. The Chicago health commissioner orders the police to arrest anyone sneezing or coughing without a handkerchief. There are epidemics in most or all army training camps.

Austrian troops are evacuating Albania.

Turkish troops are evacuating Persia.

Kaiser Wilhelm says he wanted a government of “men who enjoy the confidence of the people,” so he chooses as his new chancellor... Prince Maximilian of Baden. Max von Baden to his friends. Prince Max. The Princinator. Maximus Princius.... The NYT says he was once put in an insane asylum after being jilted by the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna in 1895 because of his philandering. No he wasn’t, and I’d love to know where that story came from. Also, the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna would have been 13.

German newspapers are finally reporting that Bulgaria is out of the war, after a few days of the government hoping that it was just Prime Minister Malinov’s initiative and he would be overthrown or the people would rise up and demand more war. The word “betrayal” is frequently used to describe Bulgaria’s act.

Senate Democrats, on the urging of the Wilson Administration, introduce a bill for a post-war Commission on Reconstruction, giving the president vast powers to organize the economy.


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Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Today -100: October 3, 1918: Of auxiliaries, evacuations, good progress, and reforming Prussia


Gen. Edmund Allenby captures Damascus. The Allies recognize Arab forces as official auxiliaries with the Allies. The Turks are supposedly putting out informal peace feelers.

Germany is preparing to evacuate Belgium, and the Allies are considering telling it that if it does its usual thing of destroying towns (as it leaves poor St. Quentin, poor Cambrai), they will do the same when they enter Germany.

Austrian Prime Minister Baron Max Hussarek von Heinlein tells the lower house of Parliament (Abgeordnetenhaus) that even with Bulgaria’s withdrawal from the war, the situation is not critical and “we are making good progress”. Also, Austria won’t give up its “right” to Bosnia-Herzogovina. Czech deputies heckle him throughout the speech.

In a textbook example of too little too late, the Prussian parliament finally agrees to almost equal suffrage, the almost being that people over 50 would get an extra vote. I’ve forgotten whether this abortive reform includes women’s suffrage and the NYT either doesn’t know or doesn’t think it important enough to inform us about. Kaiser Wilhelm, in his letter accepting Chancellor Count Georg von Hertling’s resignation, claims to be moving towards democracy: “I desire that the German people cooperate in a more effectual manner than hitherto in the task of deciding the destiny of the country.” He suggests that his new cabinet will include some actual Socialists, you know, the largest party in the Reichstag, and you know how much Willy must haaaaaate that.


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Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Today -100: October 2, 1918: Soap costs less than medicine


Headline of the Day -100: 


The Susan B. Anthony Amendment gets 53 votes in the Senate (26 D’s, 27 R’s), with 31 opposed (21 D’s, 10 R’s), short of the necessary 2/3. John Williams (D-Mississippi) offered an amendment to enfranchise only white women (did he use the n–word? Yes he did), but this was defeated 61-22.

The NYT says everyone should now shut up about women’s suffrage for the duration of the war.

A large ad by the Colgate Company on p.10 of today’s NYT:


Naturally, the best form of prevention involves buying Colgate products. Remember, kids: Soap costs less than medicine.



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Monday, October 01, 2018

Today -100: October 1, 1918: Without their counselings, we shall be only half wise


Bulgaria surrenders. Under the terms of the armistice, it will have to remove its troops from Greece and Serbia, demobilize its army and give up its arms and ammunition. The Allies will take control of Bulgarian railroads and navigation on the Danube. This leaves the various Central Powers armies cut off from each other. The Turks are now on their own. The occupation of Albania is now untenable. King Ferdinand pardons all political prisoners, but who will pardon him for getting Bulgaria into this stupid war? No one, that’s who.

Following German Chancellor Count Georg von Hertling’s resignation, foreign minister Paul von Hintze is fired.

Woodrow Wilson goes to the Senate (without advance notice, as was his custom) to make a speech in favor of the women’s suffrage Amendment, which he says is “vitally essential to the successful prosecution of the great war of humanity in which we are engaged,” just as important as soldiers voting (did no one tell him that his own War Dept just blocked NY soldiers voting?), and it will be important after the war. “We shall need their moral sense to preserve what is right and fine and worthy in our system or life, as well as to discover just what it is that ought to be purified and reformed. Without their counselings, we shall be only half wise.” The speech doesn’t seem to have swayed anyone, least of all the next speaker, Sen. Oscar Underwood of Alabama, who lost the Democratic nomination for president in 1912 to Wilson and who just wants to get this “trying and vexatious question” “disposed of.” By which he means rejected. “It is because we are a democracy that I oppose it. Do we want Government by mob? Do we want Government by the unrestricted and unresponsible majority?” By which he means putting black and white women on a parity, which would surely, he says, destroy the South’s future.

NY Health Commissioner Royal S. Copeland says the Spanish Flu has been halted and checked, if by halted and checked he means 694 new cases.


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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Today -100: September 30, 1918: Of armistices, shotguns, and Spanish Flu


German troops are pulling out of Romania. And going to “reinforce” Bulgaria where they plan to march right through Sofia so that the Bulgarians can all see how much reinforcing the Germans are doing and they certainly wouldn’t want to try to pull out of the war now that there are all these German soldiers reinforcing them in their capital, would they?

Bulgarian delegates (a general, the finance minister, and a former cabinet minister) arrive in Saloniki to discuss an armistice.

Germany complains to the US about its soldiers’ use of shotguns, which it says are illegal under the Hague Convention of 1899 (which the US denies applies to repeating shotguns). It’s threatening to execute soldiers captured with shotguns. The US says, Yeah, well we’ll execute your guys right back.

The US Dept of War stops NY from sending people to Europe to collect ballots from the 200,000 New Yorkers serving in the military there. Republicans say those soldiers would certainly all have voted Republican; the Dems say nuh ah.

Massachusetts is up to 85,000+ sick with Spanish Flu. And 1,226 dead so far. The Boston Elevated Railway Company discontinues all smoking cars for the duration.


This BBC doc on the Spanish Flu that aired this week is nothing mind-blowing, but worth watching.


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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Today -100: September 29, 1918: Potatoes are ok


German Chancellor Count Georg von Hertling resigns.

Suffragists have failed to get 2/3 of senators to support the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, as Christie Benet (D-SC), who was just appointed to replace the late Pitchfork Ben Tillman, says he won’t vote for it. Antis may have been pulling a fast one on the suffragists regarding Benet, making them think they had 2/3 so they’d push for a vote and lose.

At a war bonds talk, Theodore Roosevelt calls for draft registration to continue after the war and to include women, “for the purposes of peace no less than for the purposes of war.” He’s rather unclear about what the training for women would consist of during peacetime. Only those who so serve should have the vote, he says. He says we must stop all profiteering by capitalists and all slacking and loafing. And if you didn’t think he would suggest super-tough measures against profiteering by capitalists, you’d be wrong: “any man who makes a fortune out of this war ought to be held up to derision and scorn.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

No it doesn’t.

The Senate passes a resolution to create a $1 million emergency fund to fight the Spanish Flu.

Speaking at the dedication of the Altar of Liberty in Madison Square,


Vice President Thomas Marshall apologizes to America for having supported neutrality for the first 2½ years of the war. America responded, “Oh, did you? We weren’t paying attention. To be honest, we’d forgotten all about you.”

The troop ship Leviathan leaves Hoboken, despite the fact that hundreds of its soldiers are already sick with Spanish Flu (Woodrow Wilson at some point explicitly decided that the certainty of spreading infection through Europe was worth it). At least 80 will die onboard before it reaches Brest on October 8, at least 100 will die soon afterwards, and some of the rest will spread the flu to other troops. The numbers are approximate because no one’s bothering to count.



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Friday, September 28, 2018

Today -100: September 28, 1918: A people’s war


Woodrow Wilson makes a speech at the Met for the 4th Liberty Loan bond drive. The war, he says, “has become a people’s war.” Democracy blah blah League of Nations yadda yadda.

Philadelphia will have a big parade today to promote the Liberty Loan, followed by a John Philip Sousa concert. Thousands will catch the Spanish Flu as a result. Here’s an article about it.

Bulgaria asks for an armistice. Germany claims PM Aleksandar Malinov made this plea without asking the cabinet or King Ferdinand, so he should immediately be put on trial for high treason.

The War Dept wants colleges under contract with it to run military training courses not to allow the men on those courses to join fraternities which are just, like, distracting.

A couple of boys in Jersey City spot two men digging a hole under a railway trestle and fetch the cops, thus obviously foiling another dastardly German plot.


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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Today -100: September 27, 1918: Of the timidity of white men, reigns of terror, leaflets, and Spanish Flu


Allied troops (British, Greek) have pushed into Bulgaria.

Pro-suffrage senators filibuster the Susan B. Anthony women’s suffrage Amendment because they are still short of the 2/3 votes required. Sen. John Sharp Williams (D-Miss.), the former House minority leader, offers an amendment to change the word “citizens” to “white citizens.” Mississippi’s other racist senator, James Vardaman, supports this, criticizing the “timidity of white men of the South to make a political issue of the negro question in suffrage.”  Joseph S. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) objects to the vote being given to immigrant women naturalized through marriage.

Headline
of the Day -100: 

Um... good?

An Austrian military order says any captured Allied pilot who dropped leaflets is subject to the death penalty. Evidently dropping leaflets is worse than dropping bombs. (I have my doubts about this story).

The NYC Department of Health says the Spanish Flu is actually an epidemic of pneumonia and they have no idea what the connection between the two is (also, they’re saying influenza is passed by germs, because they don’t really know what a virus is yet or that it’s not the same thing as bacteria). The Dept says the rapid spread of the flu is “nothing alarming” but suggests people stop crowding each other on subways and whatnot.

Boston had 156 Spanish Flu/pneumonia deaths yesterday. Theatres, dance halls etc are ordered closed, as are schools and churches in many Massachusetts towns. Lt. Gov. Calvin Coolidge appeals for aid to Pres. Wilson, the governors of Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island, and the mayor of Toronto.

So many army training camps have flu outbreaks that next month’s draftees won’t be sent to them until it’s run its course.



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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Today -100: September 26, 1918: Of strikes, fords, flu and Stonehenge


Headline of the Day -100: 


That’s J.H. Thomas, the Labour MP for Derby and general secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen, pictured below:



Henry Ford, the car guy and Democratic candidate for US Senate in Michigan, sends a letter to the state Democratic convention to tell them they’re not the boss of him and he won’t be bound by any decisions they come to. He also says he doesn’t plan to spend any of his own money on this election.

Brazil more or less declares war on Austria.

The Spanish Flu is now present in 26 of the 48 states. It is epidemic in New England and present but not yet epidemic on the West Coast. There are a few scattered cases in fly-over country.



The owner of Stonehenge, one C.H.E. Chubb, donates it to the nation.

Crown Prince Carol of Romania is being held in close confinement for 75 days for sneaking out of the country to get married. King Ferdinand is not happy with him.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Today -100: September 25, 1918: Of Whites, flu, and lynchings


A conference is being held at Ufa in Bashkortostan, Russia, to form a single, unified anti-Bolshevik shadow government for Russia.

Headline of the Day -100: 



Another 150 cases of Spanish Flu reported in NY City yesterday, including 47 newly arrived immigrants, but Health Commissioner Royal Copeland isn’t alarmed.

There haven’t been a lot of lynchings lately, at least none that are reported in the NYT. But a 17-year-old black man, Sandy Reeves, is hanged by a mob in Georgia after allegedly assaulting a 3-year-old girl.


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Monday, September 24, 2018

Today -100: September 24, 1918: Of prohibition, handkerchiefs, and dead czars


The war is going badly for all the Central Powers. Bulgarian forces are being badly beaten in Macedonia and Gen. Edmund Allenby is capturing huge numbers of Turkish troops in Palestine. Even the Italians are winning battles now. Constantinople is bombed.

The House votes 171-34 to introduce prohibition from June 1919 until the end of the war.

The NY Board of Health posts 10,000 placards in subways, movie theatres etc about influenza: “sneeze, cough, or expectorate, (if you must) in your handkerchief. You are in no danger if every one heeds this warning.”

Russian White soldiers dig up and hold a little ceremony for what they claim are the remains of Czar Nicholas II, but which are not.


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Today -100: September 23, 1918: Of hard Germans and crown princes


Headline of the Day -100:


The NYT reports, and then instantly casts doubt on, rumors that Crown Prince Carol of Romania has married, rumors which have presumably been spread by Germany to discredit the deeply divided Romanian royal family. As it happens, it is true that he married “Zizi” Lambrino, daughter of a Romanian general. They both snuck into Odessa to do it before his family caught on, which makes him technically a deserter, but hey he’s the crown prince. The Supreme Court will decide next year that the marriage is unconstitutional, and annul it, which the couple will disregard, producing a child 9 months and 10 days after the annulment. The marriage will peter out and he’ll marry a Greek princess and that won’t work out either. Oh, and a court in 1996 will rule that the annulment was invalid, which would make Carol’s next two marriages bigamous and King Michael a bastard.

In other crown prince news, German POWs pass on a rumor that a Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht tried to shoot Hindenburg but missed.


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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Today -100: September 22, 1918: All civilized nations should register their abhorrence of such barbarism


The US sends a note to Allied and neutral governments asking them to condemn the killings in Russia. The ones by the Bolshevik government, which it calls “mass terrorism,” not the ones by the Whites. “[A]ll civilized nations should register their abhorrence of such barbarism,” it says. It asks the nations whether they’re interested in taking “some immediate” but unspecified “action, which is entirely divorced from the atmosphere of belligerency and the conduct of the war, to impress upon the perpetrators of these crimes the aversion with which civilization regards their present wanton acts.” The US in taking this initiative is “acting... solely in the interests of the Russian people themselves”.

Supposedly, there is an assassination attempt on Trotsky. By a soldier in Kursk.

The documents that the NYT has been printing “proving” that the Bolsheviks were in the pay of Germany and following its orders have been called forgeries by Santeri Nuorteva of the Finnish Information Bureau, who says that some of them had been given to the Kerensky government last year at the time it was actively trying to prosecute Bolsheviks but even it wouldn’t use such obvious forgeries. George Creel of the Committee on Public Information responds, “The documents are absolutely authentic, and when a Bolshevik makes an unsupported attack against them, it’s hardly worth bothering about.”

Another day, another article on how the Spanish Flu isn’t really that dangerous.

A letter to the NYT from the father of a soldier objects to the term "doughboy," which "is surely undignified, as it seems to imply that our troops are either half-baked or not baked at all and is also unpatriotic."

Now playing: "Laughing Bill Hyde," Will Rogers’s first movie. A lost film, I believe.


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Friday, September 21, 2018

Today -100: September 21, 1918: Frederick the Great, we hardly knew ye


NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland asks clergymen to give information about Spanish Flu this Sunday. What to do if you have it, how not to spread/catch it, etc.

Germany has been melting down bronze statues to make ammunition but excluded those of the ruling Hohenzollern family. Popular uproar is now forcing them to melt those as well.


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Today -100: September 20, 1918: Readiness for peace is not in contradiction to the spirit with which we are waging the struggle for the homeland


Austrian Foreign Minister Baron Burian says that his note to belligerents calling for closed-door talks on peace was indeed approved by Germany, and it was considered for weeks and so it was certainly not a panicked response to recent military setbacks, how could you suggest such a thing? And Field Marshal von Hindenburg tells the German army that the proposal doesn’t mean they can slack off: “Readiness for peace is not in contradiction to the spirit with which we are waging the struggle for the homeland.” German planes drop leaflets containing the proposal on the Western Front.

Today in forged anti-Soviet documents: Germany ordered Russia to withdraw the Red Guards from Finland so it could be taken over; the Soviets recruited notorious anarchists to assassinate counter-revolutionaries.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt arrives back from Europe with Spanish Flu (contracted on the boat) and double pneumonia. He’s met at the dock by an ambulance and taken to his mother’s house. And then Eleanor unpacks his bags and finds a bundle of letters from Lucy Mercer...


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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Today -100: September 19, 1918: Of Spanish Flu and u-boats: That’s just science.


Lt. Col. Phillip Doane, the head of the Health and Sanitation Section of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, whatever that might be, thinks the Spanish Flu was probably brought to the US by German agents on u-boats.

I probably should have been linking to the daily disgorgement of forged anti-Soviet documents, but here’s today’s.


Former Russian Minister of War Vladimir Sukhomlinov is court-martialed and shot in the same day, the NYT reports. There’ll be a serves-him-right editorial in tomorrow’s paper. Sukhomlinov is not dead (or even in prison).

Sergei Prokofiev is in New York. I’m a little surprised the NYT has heard of the 27-year-old Russian composer.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Today -100: September 18, 1918: Of strikes and Spanish Flu


A few days ago Pres. Wilson sent a note to striking machinists in gun & ammo factories in Bridgeport, Connecticut telling them to get back to work, or else. They now vote to do so but their employers refuse to let them, so Wilson sends a letter to them which, while taking the same scolding tone as his letter to the strikers, does not threaten the factory owners with being drafted.

The NYC Board of Health now requires doctors to report all cases of influenza and pneumonia.


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Today -100: September 17, 1918: Of peace talks, blackmail, Spanish flu, burning words, and ideal husbands


The US rejects Austria’s call for non-binding peace talks, saying everyone already knows the US’s position so there’s nothing to talk about. British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour calls it a cynical attempt to divide the Allies. German newspapers are all insisting that the Austrian feelers were made entirely on its own initiative. Presumably if there had been a positive response Germany would be taking the credit.

A janitor is arrested for attempting to blackmail J.P. Morgan Jr. and his daughters. He sent letters claiming to have infected them with a horrid but slow-acting disease which had already killed J.P. Sr and would kill them too within 3 years unless they paid $20,000 for the antidote. Thorn, the janitor, will be sentenced to 15 months in Leavenworth.

Camp Upton on Long Island is shut down – no one in, no one out – because of an influenza outbreak.

Woodrow Wilson tells a group of Democratic women that he will urge the passage of the women’s suffrage amendment. Later, members of the National Woman’s Party, finding this inadequate and Wilson complicit in the Senate’s foot-dragging on the amendment, burn his words in front of the Lafayette monument.

Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” has its New York premiere, a quarter century after it was written.


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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Today -100: September 16, 1918: Of peace talks, Germany’s hired tools & pressed trousers, flu, and the dangers of gaslessness


Austria invites all belligerent nations to send delegates to hold talks. Behind closed doors and non-binding, you know, just talkin’, on the principle that statements directed by the powers at each other have tended, by their public nature, to “strike a higher tone and stubbornly to adhere to extreme standpoints.” While the formal invitation hasn’t yet wended its way to the US, officially anyway, the reception is already not perhaps what Austria had hoped.

Germany generously proposes to restore Belgium’s independence (after the war), if it will remain neutral until then, restore commercial treaties with Germany, do something about the Flemish, and, astonishingly, lobby for Germany to get its colonies back.

The NYT editorializes on the forged documents it’s been publishing, “proving” that the October Revolution was “a counter-revolution, plotted by Germany and carried out by Germany’s hired tools... Nowhere does it appear that any German officer ever commanded Lenine or Trotzky to press his trousers for him; but the correspondence, as a whole, proves that if any such order had been given they would have regarded it as comprehended within the terms on which they entered the German service.” The Bolshies even supposedly changed the results of elections to the Soviet on the orders of the German General Staff.

British Prime Minister Lloyd George’s Spanish Flu relapses. Traffic is diverted from around the hotel where he’s staying so he can get some sleep.

Point:




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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Today -100: September 15, 1918: Could I have my way there would be no soldiers


Camp Devens, Mass. is hit badly by Spanish Flu. Ditto Camp Lee, Virginia, whose commandant has banned any gatherings including religious services but claims the situation is not serious.

Eugene Debs is sentenced to 10 years. He tells the judge, “I believe the soldier has no more sympathetic friend than I am. Could I have my way there would be no soldiers.”

The War Department says it will not accept deaf-mutes as pilots. A rumor’s been going around that deafness gives you special ability to sense motion (don’t know what muteness has to do with anything). The rumor is said to have been started by German agents because reasons.

The NYT prints (and will for days to come) documents handed out by the Committee on Public Information (the Creel Committee) purporting to be communications between Germany and Russian Bolshevik leaders, proving conclusively that Lenin, Trotsky etc are paid German agents. The Creel Committee will publish the documents (known as the Sisson Documents) as a pamphlet, despite doubts about their authenticity. They are forgeries.

In Detroit, 3 arrested Russians confess to a secret Bolshevik plot to enroll 20,000 Russian Bolsheviks in Detroit to impede the war effort and start a revolution.


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Friday, September 14, 2018

Today -100: September 14, 1918: Where do we go from here?


Pres. Wilson sends a letter to the union of striking machinists in Bridgeport, Connecticut who refuse to accept a National War Labor Board ruling. He calls their strike “disloyalty and dishonor” and threatens to revoke their draft exemptions. Simultaneously, to prove his even-handedness between management & labor, Wilson orders the take-over of Smith & Wesson after its refusal to accept the Board’s order that it stop (for the duration of the war) making workers sign contracts not to join a union.

Surgeon General Rupert Blue admits that there was a Spanish flu outbreak at Fort Morgan, Alabama in August. The last influenza pandemic was in 1889-90, so Blue offers information on how to handle it to doctors who have never seen one. He has concluded that quarantines are useless against the disease. The Navy is banning sailors from Boston because of the spread of flu there.

Headline of the Day -100:


And we’re gonna keep printing these rumors in the hope that eventually it might be true.

The public is informed of Lloyd George’s influenza.

Journalist John Reed, in a lecture, says Russia wouldn’t have signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty if the US had promised it food and ammunition, and Lenin & Trotsky had sent Woodrow Wilson a cable to that effect 6 days before signing but received no reply. The anonymous but presumably governmental response to this claim is that that cable was just another sneaky attempt to get the US to recognize the Bolshevik government. Reed also accuses Britain of being behind the attempted assassination of Lenin. He will, of course, be arrested for this speech.

Headline of the Day -100:  


“The battle's done and we kind of won, So we sound our vict’ry cheer...”

Oh all right, here’s the actual song.


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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Today -100: September 13, 1918: This must be the last war


Eugene Debs is convicted of violating the Espionage Act, specifically inciting insubordination, mutiny etc in the military, obstructing recruitment, and language intended to incite resistance to the US and promote the cause of the enemy. He is acquitted of “opposition to the cause of the United States.”

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland says that despite passengers arriving on ships with the Spanish flu, there is no danger of it spreading. But anybody to whom it does spread should just lie down for, like, 3 days.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George gives a speech in Manchester promising (this is essentially the start of his election campaign) promising to improve the health of the nation: “You cannot maintain an A1 Empire with a C3 population.” And then...


Yup, that’s the Spanish flu. He may have to lie down for considerably more than 3 days. With a respirator.

Elsewhere in the speech, LG is quite optimistic about the war, which “must be the last war”: “Nothing but heart failure on the part of the British nation can prevent our achieving a real victory.” He supports a League of Nations – but only after the complete and utter defeat of Germany, otherwise it would be “a league of fox and geese – one fox and many geese. The geese would greatly diminish in numbers.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


That’s a lot of drug fiends.


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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Today -100: September 12, 1918: Of dead Romanovs, deserters, flaming cities, slacker raids, and possible kings


The Daily Express (London) says that former Russian Tsarina Alexandra and her daughters are definitely dead. Still no official Russian announcement.

The NYT claims that a couple of weeks ago 25,000 German soldiers on leave in Berlin simply refused to return to the front, so soldiers are now banned from taking leave in Berlin. Also, the Germans are supposedly building a huge trench system along the Dutch-Belgian border to prevent German troops deserting to the Netherlands when/if Belgium is evacuated.

In other rumors, Petrograd is “in flames” and there are indiscriminate massacres (conducted by whom is not clear) on the streets, and Germany is using women pilots in its fighters.

Eugene Debs refuses to present any evidence or argument in his defense beyond pointing out that there is such a thing as the First Amendment. He will find out that there is not. He also points out that Abraham Lincoln opposed the Mexican-American War. The DA says there wasn’t an Espionage Act back then.

US Attorney General Thomas W. Gregory defends the “slacker raids,” the dragnets looking for draft-dodgers, but admits that the use of the military in those raids was contrary to his instructions.

Yet another German princeling, Friedrich Karl of Hesse, says that yes, he’d like to be king of Finland. He’s currently touring the country campaigning for the job. He is married to Kaiser Wilhelm’s sister.


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