Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Today -100: May 22, 1918: Of railroads, suppressing all things German, monarchies, and insidious German plots

The Wilson administration fires the presidents of all the railroads. It may rehire them (at a lower salary) as government employees, following government orders only.

Mrs. Oliver Cromwell Field, chair of the American Defense Society's Committee for Suppressing All Things German, fails to persuade NYC Mayor Hylan to ban all German newspapers.

Headline of the Day -100: 

New Finnish dictator Pehr Evind Svinhufvud says what the country really needs is a constitutional monarchy. He does not mean himself.

Austria bans correspondence in Hebrew.

The US government leaks that German agents are inciting Irish people in the US. Also Finns. And Lithuanians. And negroes. The US evidently provided the British with some of the intel they used in the mass arrest of Sinn Feiners this week.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Today -100: May 21, 1918: Of dictators, air mail, and cops

Headline of the Day -100: 

Pehr Evind Svinhufvud (pronounced exactly like it’s spelled, probably). With German backing. 

Yet another air mail mishap. A plane on the DC-Philly leg snaps a propeller when landing for gas, tries to resume anyway, develops engine trouble, flips upside down and is badly damaged on landing (the pilot is ok).

An NYPD patrolman who was originally born in Germany is suspended for refusing to put Red Cross placards on doorknobs during his patrol.

The NYPD will add 12 women police officers to the current 5. They’ll have guns and badges and everything. I don’t know if this is the first time women cops are given guns.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today -100: May 20, 1918: Of regime changes, mass arrests, lynchings, and side deals

A curious NYT article says that certain unnamed people in Washington think Russia can be brought back into the war. Of course it would involve overthrowing the Bolsheviks first.

The Chief Secretary of Ireland, Edward Shortt, tells an American reporter that he didn’t have all those Sinn Fein leaders arrested because of home rule or conscription, it’s just about the German plot that totally exists to start a rebellion and maybe land some soldiers to help.

Four negroes are lynched, in separate incidents, in Valdosta, Georgia, in connection with the home invasion and murder of a white farmer.

The new Entente treaty may (or may not) include the deal made between Italy and the “Jugoslavs” to create a nation of Yugoslavia (yes, I’m going to have to figure out how I want to handle the J/Y thing) combining Serbia with the Croatian and Slovenian bits of the Austrian Empire.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today -100: May 19, 1918: I am still optimistic enough to believe we shall have peace this year

German Chancellor Count von Hertling says “I am still optimistic enough to believe we shall have peace this year. I cherish firm confidence that further events in the west will bring us nearer a speedy end of the war.” SPOILER: He’s not wrong.

Germany will seize 3 million suits of clothes from anyone who has more than one, to supply war workers who are presently being supplied with paper clothes, which are proving less than satisfactory. Evening clothes and smoking jackets are exempt. The military will also be inspecting household fittings like doorknobs and sinks for copper, nickel, aluminum, etc that might be seized.

A new treaty has been signed between Italy and the remaining members of the Entente, replacing the secret 1915 treaty the Bolshevik government published, which contained a laundry list of territorial bribes to get Italy into the war. So Italy is giving up those demands, because at this stage that sort of thing just looks bad. Next year when the Treaty of Versailles is being negotiated, Italy will pretend this never happened and demand everything it thinks it has coming to it.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Today -100: May 18, 1918: Of treasonable communication, effeminization, peace leagues, air mail, and compulsory reproduction

Throughout Ireland, Sinn Fein leaders (De Valera, Markievicz, etc), including all SF’s MPs, are arrested, as was the custom, for “treasonable communication with the German enemy,” and transported to England. This follows the recent capture of a man put ashore by a German u-boat, which I guess is the hook for this particular made-up Insidious German Plot. The proclamation from Lord Lieutenant Viscount John French also talks up voluntary enlistments in the army, suggesting that the British might be backing off trying to enforce conscription in Ireland.

Austria is at risk of losing the war and at risk of losing its autonomy to German dictation, so what are Austrian newspapers worried about? The “effeminization” of the army by the recruitment of women clerks and other auxiliary services.

Unclear on the concept:

For the second time in the 3-day history of US air mail, a plane fails to make its appointed rounds. Since mechanical difficulties forced it down, keeping it from making its connection, the plane doing the Philadelphia-NY leg takes off with just 4½ pounds of mail. Another air mail plane, leaving from DC, is forced to land at the Philadelphia Country Club, scattering people on the field and hitting a fence, because the pilot ran out of fuel after getting really lost (using road maps is turning out to be unsatisfactory).

A German government commission into the declining birth rate recommends punishing people who haven’t married by 21 and couples who haven’t produced children.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today -100: May 17, 1918: Phew

Germany finally responds to Uruguay’s repeated requests that it clarify whether the two countries are at war: No, they are not.

Mary Macarthur of the Women’s Trade Union League becomes the first woman adopted as a candidate for the British Parliament by one of the parties – Labour. For Stourbridge. She was a long-time women’s suffrage activist, a champion of working women, and opposes the war. Her husband is a Labour MP. She will not win.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Today -100: May 16, 1918: Of air mail

The first air mail service anywhere (for a whopping 24¢) begins between New York and Washington via Philadelphia. It takes 200 minutes, despite the first pilot, after being seen off ceremoniously by the president and first lady, getting lost on the way to Philadelphia and having to land and breaking his propeller in the landing, so that his mail had to continue by truck, so only the Philadelphia-DC mail actually made it to its destination by air. Or, as the post office measures such things, close enough.

Hearst’s New York American and New York Evening Journal get an injunction against the town of Mount Vernon, NY’s plan to ban the Hearst press. It’s unclear (to me) whether German-language papers, also banned, are protected by the injunction.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Today -100: May 15, 1918: Of Mitteleuropa, rationing, shared war burdens, and censorship

The Austrian and German kaisers met recently, and everyone thinks the purpose was to subordinate Austria to German, not just in the war (Germany wants Austria to send more troops against Italy), but in internal matters, and tie the countries together forever (“Mitteleuropa”). Also, it looks like Germany intends to keep parts of Poland it had promised to Austria.

Meat rationing begins in Paris. It’s going slowly because butchers are having difficulty cutting precisely the 200g of meat allowed per person.

The Germans have captured Rostov, cutting off northern Russia from the Caucasus. It’s almost like the Peace of Brest-Litovsk wasn’t a real peace. German control over Ukraine is tightening.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: This particular rumor, sent to Secretary of State Robert Lansing from the ambassador to Sweden, who got it from who knows where, says that Germany has demanded that Russia let it occupy Moscow and other major Russian cities.

Kaiser Wilhelm recognizes an independent Lithuania, if a Lithuania “allied to the German Empire by an eternal, steadfast alliance” can be called independent, which it cannot. Willy expects Lithuania to “participate in the war burdens of Germany, which secured her liberation.”

The city of Mount Vernon, New York, bans all German-language newspapers and also, just for the hell of it, the Hearst press, for the duration of the war.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Today -100: May 14, 1918: Oh the huma... no, I guess not

German POWs are saying that Field Marshal Hindenburg is dead. He isn’t.

New York now has an “anti-loafing” law, requiring men aged 18 to 50 to have a job. Loitering in the streets, pool halls, saloons, etc will be considered prima facie evidence of loafing. Students and men out on strike are ok. Gov. Whitman admits that the law is of questionable constitutionality, but since New Jersey enacted its own anti-loafing law, “undesirable persons” have been coming to NY to escape it.

The US citizenship of Frederick Wusterbarth, the former postmaster of Clifton, New Jersey, is revoked because he said he wants Germany to win the war. The grounds are that he obtained citizenship fraudulently 36 years ago, swearing allegiance to his new country while retaining a superior allegiance to his old one. This involves the court taking his current feelings as proof of his state of mind 36 years ago (the court says that attachment to the US always grows over time, so he must have been even more disloyal back then), which is bad logic and even worse lawyering. There’s a lot of crappy lawyering aimed at dissent in 1918.

Jewish peddlers on the East Side of New York City, you know, the old-timey ones with the push-carts selling fish and whatnot, are now selling Thrift Stamps (the cheap version of War Stamps).

Infantry sergeant Ernst Flentje is court-martialed for saying that Woodrow Wilson is incompetent and that the US shouldn’t have entered the war. He is sentenced to 30 years.

Czech members of the Austrian House of Lords (Herrenhaus) demand an independent Czech state.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Today -100: May 13, 1918: Of secret treaties and over there

A Swiss newspaper publishes what it claims is a secret treaty in which Russia “gives” Poland to Germany, promising, for example, to support Germany’s view at any peace conference that the Polish question is not an international one but one for Germany alone.

The Entente decides not to use the US army until it’s, you know, ready. In the meantime, they will use the minimal force necessary to hold off the Germans, as they use up their reserves.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Today -100: May 12, 1918: Of huskies, meat, and insubordination

Headline of the Day -100: 

Fat shaming is NOT okay.

Headline of the Day -100. I do not know what is up with race-horse names. I passed a couple of days ago on naming “Cudgel Beats Omar Khayyam” as a headline of the day, but this....

“Bondage was intrusted to the apprentice rider, Rodriguez, and it looked as though the rider had him in difficulties in the early part of the race. While Mary Maud was racing the fleet Nutcracker into submission Bondage was in seventh place and in tight quarters.”

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany is telling its people that US military training camps are so rife with insubordination that after a wave of execution they’ve had to stop because they’d just be killing all the soldiers.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Today -100: May 11, 1918: Teddy Roosevelt vs. the Post Office

Theodore Roosevelt responds to Postmaster-General Albert Burleson’s demand that he back up his claim that Burleson is selectively censoring newspapers for honest criticism while leaving traitorous papers alone. TR says the papers he had in mind as having been unfairly censored were Metropolitan Magazine (for which he writes), Collier’s Weekly, and the NY Tribune, and the ones which “excite hatred between the United States and England” are of course the Hearst press (by exciting hatred, he means supporting Irish independence).

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Today -100: May 10, 1918: Aviation is almost altogether a neurological problem

The House of Commons rejects Asquith’s motion to investigate Gen. Sir Frederick Barton Maurice’s charge that the government lied about the number of soldiers at the front, after Prime Minister Lloyd George gives a speech blaming any error on... Maurice’s department. Maurice will be forcibly retired from the Army as a punishment for going public.

Secretary of State Robert Lansing instructs US Ambassador to Russia David Francis to deny to Russia that the consul in Vladivostok interfered in Russia’s internal affairs. The consul in Vladivostok, of course, is totally interfering in Russia’s internal affairs.

A Lt. Col. Colin Russell tells the American Neurological Association convention that shell shock has been “mastered” and that he can sometimes cure it in a few minutes. With electric shocks, evidently. The Association’s president, Dr. T.H. Weisenburg, praises the Army for embracing neurology. “Aviation,” he says, “is almost altogether a neurological problem.”

German Chancellor Georg von Hertling, who is also prime minister of Prussia, threatens to dissolve the Prussian Diet if it rejects franchise reform.

Queen Marie of Romania says she will never recognize the peace treaty with Germany and will abdicate if it’s ratified. Marie is a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and is married to King Ferdinand, who may have other ideas.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Today -100: May 9, 1918: If we hold, we win

Theodore Roosevelt accuses the Wilson Administration of enforcing the Espionage Act selectively, censoring newspapers that question the efficiency of its conduct of the war. Postmaster-General Albert Burleson demands TR name any periodicals censored for doing that.

British Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill says British and French troops will hold the lines through the summer while waiting for “our kith and kin from the United States” to arrive, but, like, no pressure or anything. Meanwhile, Germany will pour in its reserves, but Churchill thinks (correctly) there aren’t enough of them for Germany’s plan to work. “If we hold, we win. If we win, the cruel system which let loose these horrors on the world will perish amid the execrations of those who are its dupes or slaves.”

The Soviet government’s new ambassador to Germany, Adolph Joffe, refuses to meet the kaiser, but has had a nice dinner with German socialists. Too nice, according to starving Berliners, or at least the right-wing press.

The New York anti-suffragists give up on their goal of revoking women’s suffrage in NY and will now concentrate on telling women how they should vote (against socialism and pacifism). They have renamed themselves the Women Voters’ Anti-Suffrage Party (!). “A new duty has been imposed upon us. We neglect it at the nation’s peril. If we fail to vote, we are moral shirkers. ... We still hold the conviction that politics and bad for women and women are bad for politics.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

Tobacco is now being rationed in France, and only men can get it.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Today -100: May 8, 1918: Of censures, treaties, and pacifists

Nicaragua declares war on Germany, Austria, et al. 20 countries are now at war with Germany. Which seems like a lot until you realize one of them is Nicaragua.

Liberal former Prime Minister H.H. Asquith moves a resolution of censure on Liberal current Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s government relating to a letter by Gen. Sir Frederick Barton Maurice that appeared in the Times yesterday accusing Lloyd George of lying when he told Parliament a month ago that the number of troops on the Western Front was at an all-time high. The government will fall if it loses this vote, and Asquith is ready – ready, I tell you! – to take over again.

Romania signs the peace treaty forced on it by being, you know, defeated and occupied by Germany. Somehow, though, it will manage not to ratify it before the war ends.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Pastor Charles Wagner of Paris, a little unclear on the concept of “pacifist.”

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Monday, May 07, 2018

Today -100: May 7, 1918: Of peace plots, sneezing powder, and lords lieutenantses

There are rumors that Berlin has put out peace feelers, but

The NYT claims Germany is now firing shells filled with sneezing powder just before poison gas attacks to force soldiers to take off their gas masks. It’s like the worst Mack Sennett comedy ever.

Field Marshal Viscount John French is appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a marked militarization of British rule in Ireland.

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Sunday, May 06, 2018

Today -100: May 6, 1918: Of gravel, former tsarevitches, and imbeciles

Germany promises, after all, not to use gravel and sand transported through the Netherlands for military purposes.

Russia asks the US, UK, and France to explain their attitudes towards Russia and to explain their attempts to interfere in Russian internal matters, in particular their dealings with the breakaway Siberian autonomous government.

The Soviets move former Tsar Nicholas and some of his family from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg. His 13-year-old hemophilic son Alexis remains in Tobolsk.

Connecticut Gov. Marcus Holcomb (R) says 90% of his state’s population is loyal, 5% are disloyal, and 5% are “pacifists, who ought to be in the Lakeville Institution for Imbeciles.”

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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Today -100: May 5, 1918: Of ballots, marxes, thimbles, sedition, and sauerkraut

The Prussian Diet agrees to introduce the secret ballot. And to make voting compulsory, which is just adding insult to the injury of its rejection of one man one vote.

The British home secretary bans a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth. There would have been resolutions against the capitalist war.

For its own celebration, the NYT Sunday Magazine has managed to find the one socialist, John Spargo, who thinks Marx would have supported the US entering this war.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The First Lady donates a gold thimble for American pilots. Which sounds like the start of a crappy fairy tale.

The Senate passes the Sedition Bill 48-26. 24 of the 26 no votes are Republicans. It provides for 20 years in prison or $10,000 fines for anyone who “makes or conveys false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies” or obstruct the sale of bonds or attempt to incite “insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, or shall obstruct recruiting or enlistment; or shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of Government of the United States, or its flag, or the uniform of its army or navy, or any language intended to bring the form of Government of the United States, or the Constitution, into contempt, scorn, contumely or disrepute” etc. An amendment to protect people “who speak the truth for good motives and for justifiable ends” is rejected on the urging of Attorney General Thomas Gregory. It gives the postmaster-general the power to stop any mail he personally considers seditious. At one point in the debate, Sen. Sherman waves a clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which the president of the Missouri branch of the German-American Alliance predicts that Germany will win the war. Sherman says the paper should have been excluded from the mails, and Sen. King adds that any editor who prints such articles should be put in prison under this act.

In the ongoing discussion on the NYT letters page on what else sauerkraut might be called, one Matthew Craig of Brooklyn suggests sour slaw, to complement cold/cole slaw. He rejects the suggestion kapovsta, because what if we find ourselves at war with Russia some day?

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Friday, May 04, 2018

Today -100: May 4, 1918: Let the soldiers and munition workers hear

When the Prussian Diet rejected equal suffrage yesterday, one Socialist deputy exclaims “Let the soldiers and munition workers hear!”

Persia unilaterally annuls the many treaties imposed on it over the years, and repudiates the 1907 treaty between Russia and Britain establishing “spheres of influence” in the country, to which Persia, oddly enough, was not a party.

Now that it’s independent, Finland is looking for a king, as was the custom. Well, the German-oriented right-wing is. The rest would prefer a republic, but the right is currently in control and they’ve reached out to Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who’d probably appreciate the shorter title. AF is the former governor of German Togoland.

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Thursday, May 03, 2018

Today -100: May 3, 1918: Buy freely. Buy quickly. Buy gladly.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Must be a definition of the word liberty with which I am not familiar. A new organization in northern California, the Knights have so treated 3 men in separate incidents in San Jose, Richmond and somewhere unnamed, for such crimes as failing to buy Liberty Bonds freely, quickly and gladly.

Headline of the Day -100:  

While Secretary of War Newton Baker is talking of a 3-million-man army, Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to give him the absolute authority to draft as many men as he wants, without limit. This would seem to violate Congress’s appropriations power, since those men would have to be paid.

The Prussian Diet, discussing reforming its ridiculous 3-tier voting system (1/3 of the seats elected by the taxpayers who pay the top 1/3 of the taxes, etc) rejects one man one vote and considers a system in which some people would get more than one vote, despite the kaiser having instructed them to implement an equal franchise and Chancellor Georg von Hertling recommending it as “a regrettable necessity.”

A German report of Kaiser Wilhelm’s visit to the front quotes him, “his eloquent eyes brimming with tears at the devastation all around,” saying “No word in our language can adequately describe it.” Insert your own Germancompoundnoun joke here. He says that if only the people at home who are questioning the war saw the destruction “done here by a ruthless foe who stops at nothing,” they would understand. In fact, he’s been thinking about bringing trainloads of home-dwellers out for that very purpose.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Today -100: May 2, 1918: Of constructive criticism, cannons, geniuses, and kaiser pennies

Theodore Roosevelt offers “constructive criticism”: let’s declare war on Turkey and Bulgaria! Let’s do it now! Not to have already done it is a “criminal absurdity”!

Headline of the Day -100:

The army lets him play with the long-range cannons (not a eupemism).

Former race car driver, now pilot Lt. Eddie Rickenbacher shoots down a German plane for the first time. It won’t be the last.

In 1915 Theodore Dreiser’s novel The Genius was published, to an uninterested world. His publisher, John Lane, pulled the book after the new York Society for the Suppression of Vice threatened to prosecute them. Now, Dreiser and John Lane jointly ask the Court of Appeal to tell them whether the book is indecent or not (Dreiser wants $50,000 damages from John Lane for withdrawing it). (Update: the appellate court will respond “That ain’t our job.”)

Someone in Hoboken has been giving out pennies in which the Indian has been altered to look like Kaiser Wilhelm – spiky helmet, handlebar mustache, etc. Detectives and the Justice Dept are investigating.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Today -100: May 1, 1918: Of teachers, armies, and bopps

The Minnesota State Safety Commission bans non-citizens from being teachers, not just in public schools but private and parochial schools and the University of Minnesota.

War Secretary Newton Baker wants to increase the US Army to 3 million men.

William Randolph Heart buys the Chicago Herald, will merge it with his Chicago Examiner.

Or possibly there’s no revolt in Petrograd at all!

German newspapers say reports of Gen. Kornilov’s death are wrong. No they aren’t.

The District Court in San Francisco sentences former German consul general Franz Bopp and vice consul Baron E.H. von Schack, already in prison on sabotage charges, to 2 more years, with various sentences for a bunch of others, including “Hindus,” for conspiring to foment revolution against British rule in India, which is illegal in the US somehow.

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