Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today -100: February 16, 1919: If it is an unjust peace, 70,000,000 people in their hearts will never forgive or forget


New German Chancellor Philipp Scheidemann warns: “The Entente is able to force any kind of peace on Germany, but if it is an unjust peace, 70,000,000 people in their hearts will never forgive or forget.” Also, he wants to annex Austria.

German Foreign Minister Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau (what a name!) says “Germany cannot enter a League of Nations without colonies.” He accepts the internationalization of colonies (the mandate system), but only so long as all colonial powers also do so and Germany receives a proportional share of colonial products.

Some Republican senators do not like the draft League of Nations constitution, which they see as violating the Monroe Doctrine and surrendering US independence. Wilson has asked the Senate not to start discussing the League until he gets back to the US and has a chance to talk down to them about it, but they may go ahead anyway (they will become especially pissed off at Wilson tomorrow when they hear that he’s planning to land in Boston and make pro-League speeches before talking to the Sen. Foreign Relations Committee).

Immigration Commissioner Richard Campbell bans immigrants who withdrew their declarations of intent to naturalize in order to avoid the draft from ever becoming citizens.

NYT political cartoons are soooo subtle:



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Friday, February 15, 2019

Today -100: February 15, 1919: Definitely


The draft constitution of the League of Nations has been agreed upon. Woodrow Wilson says “It is a union which cannot be resisted, and, I dare say, one which no nation will attempt to resist.” “It is definite as a guarantee of peace. It is definite as a guarantee against aggression. It is definite against renewal of such a cataclysm as has just shaken civilization.”

New York’s Republican Legislature is working on enforcement legislation for the 18th Amendment. It’s thinking of continuing to allow the manufacture and sale of beer and light wines, defying the Anti-Saloon League, which had its own stronger draft bill.

The royalist revolt in Portugal has failed.


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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Today -100: February 14, 1919: Of armistices and food terms


The Allies add yet more terms to the next armistice renewal: Germany must halt military activity against the Poles in Posen and reduce its total military to 20 or 25 divisions.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Today -100: February 13, 1919: Of island, armies, and assassinations


The Peace Conference hasn’t decided where the League of Nations should meet, but thinks it should be an internationalized territory, maybe Constantinople or some island.

The US and Britain object to France’s call for a League of Nations army because their countries are constitutionally prohibited from committing to a war in advance.

The Secret Service claims to have foiled an IWW plot to assassinate Pres. Wilson. 20 Wobblies due to be released from prison decided on the plan and drew lots, with the alliterative and delightfully named Pietro Pierre winning the honor.




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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Today -100: February 12, 1919: No beer, no work


The French  propose that the League of Nations have its own military to enforce its decisions. Léon Bourgeois, the French delegate, says this army should be stationed in... France, which is, after all, at the center of the universe. The out-of-the-blue amendment threatens to derail talks and thwart Wilson’s hopes to have the League done and dusted before he returns home.

The NYT names the Seattle anarchists being deported and their supposed crimes, which mostly consist of “preaching of doctrine of unlawful destruction of property.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


The Central Federated Union’s affiliated unions in New York will vote on a “No Beer, No Work” strike against prohibition. The union points out that many of the legislatures that voted for ratification did so either without consulting the voters or disregarding referenda that went against prohibition.

The German National Assembly at Weimar elects Friedrich Ebert president. A provisional constitution is approved, despite Independent Socialist objections to its use of the word “empire” instead of “republic” and the lack of an unequivocal ban on secret treaties.


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Monday, February 11, 2019

Today -100: February 11, 1919: Of suffrage and general strikes


The Senate votes 55-29 for the women’s suffrage amend to the Constitution, 1 short of the necessary 2/3. The blame falls on Southern Democrats.

British planes are dropping bombs on Bolshevik forces in the north of Russia.

The US delegation to the Peace Conference is threatening to demand that the conference be moved from France to some neutral country because of relentless French propaganda for imposing crushing peace terms on Germany as well as censorship (an American statement was censored a day or two ago but we’re not sure what was censored because it was, you know, censored).

The Seattle general strike is called off.


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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Today -100: February 10, 1919: He preaches democracy abroad and thwarts democracy here


With a Senate vote on the women’s suffrage amendment scheduled for this week, National Woman’s Party members demonstrate in front of the White House, burn Wilson in effigy for not doing enough to pressure senators, and wave banners with mottos like “He preaches democracy abroad and thwarts democracy here.” 40+ are arrested.

The US begins deportations of 54 of what the Chicago Tribune calls “a motley company of I.W.W. troublemakers, bearded labor fanatics, and red flag supporters,” grabbed up in Seattle to smother the general strike, then put on a train for the Atlantic coast and points east (presumably Russia for most of them). This was ordered by Immigration Commissioner Anthony Caminetti, who has the authority to expel anarchists or IWW members, whether or not they have broken any law. IWW men attempt to rescue the prisoners in Butte, Montana, but are foiled when the authorities get advance word and play switcheroo with train cars.

Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson says “The general strike has failed. ... The revolution has failed. The attempt to establish a Soviet Government and control and operate all enterprises and industries has collapsed.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


The French are claiming that the reason two trains crashed into each other was that one of them was one of those turned over by Germany as part of the armistice deal and it had a bomb in it.


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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Today -100: February 9, 1919: Of calm Seattle and Jews voting


Headline of the Day -100: 


Because nothing says “calm” like “troops with machine guns.” Also, the unions were pretty serious about preventing any un-calm themselves. The Citizens’ Committee says that business interests consider the general strike a “rebellion against the government” and not a real strike. Sure they do.

The Japanese delegation to the Peace Conference tells the Chinese delegation to shut up. China is planning to show the conference the secret treaties by which Japan “leased” Jiaozhou, which China wants back. Japan would prefer those secret treaties to remain secret and that China not say anything at the talks which Japan hasn’t approved first. China, however, is still under the impression that it’s an independent country.

Poland grants Jews the vote. Yay.


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Friday, February 08, 2019

Today -100: February 8, 1919: We warn our opponents not to push us too far


German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert tells the National Assembly, assembled in Weimar, that the armistice terms are of “unheard of severity” and “carried out without shame.” They are also unnecessary, because “Our enemies declare that they are fighting militarism, but militarism has been dethroned.” “We warn our opponents not to push us too far. Hunger is preferable to disgrace, and deprivation is to be preferred to dishonor.” Oh, and he’d like to annex Austria, please and thank you. He threatens to break off peace negotiations with the Allies, who respond by suggesting that new terms might be imposed on Germany for the next extension of the armistice. Germany has been slow in fulfilling earlier armistice terms, like handing over ships.

Talks to end the general strike in Seattle fail. Mayor Ole Hanson threatens that if it’s not called off, he will “place this city under control of the Federal Government.” The strike is reasonably complete, but the Tacoma version isn’t, and has been called off.

The IWW calls a strike on the Montana copper mines against wage reductions from $5.75 a day to $4.75.

As I mentioned, the Senate will extend its investigation of German propaganda in the US to Bolshevik propaganda. So the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage will ask it to include suffragist groups, “to determine what relationship exists between American suffrage societies and organizations of Socialists and Feminists in Europe”.


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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Today -100: February 7, 1919: Of general strikes


Federal troops are sent into Seattle to “stand ready,” but not (yet) to suppress the city’s just-begun general strike. The strike was called in sympathy with shipyard workers who are on strike for higher wages and who were enraged to find (through a mis-sent telegram) that the federal government threatened owners with the loss of their contracts if they gave in to union demands. Mayor Ole Hanson says “Any man who attempts to take over control of municipal government functions here will be shot on sight.” That’s his response to strikers’ plans to keep the city’s essential services – light, garbage, telephones and coffee shops probably because Seattle – functioning during the strike. The cops have a machine gun, so that’s good.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Today -100: February 6, 1919: Who can hate Americans, we’re so cuddly


Headline of the Day -100: 


US censors are still holding all letters sent from Germany to the US, because the two countries are still technically at war.

German government troops invade and bombard Bremen to oust the Spartacists.

The British government uses the wartime emergency Defence of the Realm Act to declare an electricians’ strike a crime.

The British were totally going to release interned Sinn Féin members, but after that prison escape, they totally aren’t. Rumor says escapee Éamon de Valera plans to go to the Peace Conference. 


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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Today -100: February 5, 1919: Of propaganda, prison escapes, and artists united


The Senate Judiciary sub-committee which has been investigating German propaganda will now turn its attentions to Bolshevism and other radicalism (on the left) in the US. And speaking of pre-McCarthy McCarthyism, A. Mitchell Palmer, currently the man in charge of seized enemy property, is expected to be the next attorney general. Other candidates for the position have been eliminated because it’s been decided, for some reason, not to give it to any Southerner.

Sinn Féin leaders Éamon de Valera, Seán Milroy, and Seán McGarry escape from Lincoln Gaol. The prisoners communicated the details of the plot, which literally involve a key in a cake, to each other by singing them in Gaelic.

Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith form the United Artists film studio.


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Monday, February 04, 2019

Today -100: February 4, 1919: Of tired Germans and Constantinople


Headline of the Day -100: 


Bavarian Prime Minister Kurt Eisner says strikes are the result of workers being underfed and therefore too weak to work. He also says that German Austria will probably be merged into Germany.

At the Peace Conference, Greece puts in a claim for Constantinople and other bits of Ottoman territory which Greece claims are inhabited by ethnic Greeks. Although if the League of Nations becomes a real thing, Greece might be okay with an internationalized Constantinople under the League, as long as no one changes its name and makes a stupid song about it.


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Sunday, February 03, 2019

Today -100: February 3, 1919: Of zitas, desires to avoid bloodshed, and student strikes


Rumor of the Day -100: Former Emperor Charles of Austria is getting a divorce from Zita.

Rumor of the Day -100: The Bolsheviks are bombarding Petrograd to put down a revolt by former soldiers.

Bremen is preparing for a siege by the German government but, the NYT says, “seem to count on... the Government’s well-known desire to avoid bloodshed if at all possible.”  Well-known to whom?

Students at the Berlin Gymnasium (high school) go on strike to protest the return of murdered Spartacist leader Karl Liebknecht’s son Paul two weeks after the murder.


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Saturday, February 02, 2019

Today -100: February 2, 1919: Already treated like slaves


The big powers decide on some of the details of the League of Nations: countries are to submit disputes between themselves to the League; economic sanctions on disobedient nations will be mandatory but military force is optional for each nation. There is disagreement on banning conscription: Italy in particular thinks it can’t pay enough to attract volunteers. Responsibility for “the moral guardianship of uncivilized races.” League of Nations mandates will be lighter in areas with more “advanced” civilizations and heavier in, well, you know.

Headline of the Day -100: 


The Lokal-Anzeiger complains without even a hint of self-awareness, “We no longer have any say concerning our fate and future, but are already treated like slaves.”

The German government sends troops into Bremen to suppress the Spartacists.

The US government refuses passports to African-Americans to attend the Pan African Congress in Paris, citing the French government’s position that this is not a “favorable time” for such a conference. France, of course, has colonies in Africa.

The State Dept also cancels the passports of two suffragists who had said they were going to France for war work, because they once picketed the White House and might be intending to harass Pres. Wilson in Paris about, you know, girl stuff.

Rosika Schwimmer, the first woman ambassador, is fired by the Hungarian government as its ambassador to Switzerland, for unclear reasons.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Headline of the Day -100:  


A Sgt. Williamson enters his hun-chasing dog Gas in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Gas’s breed is not mentioned.


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Friday, February 01, 2019

Today -100: February 1, 1919: Wong place, Wong time


Philadelphia Mayor Thomas Smith (R) is acquitted of violating election laws in the 1917 city council primaries in which a cop protecting one of the candidates was killed and thugs were brought in from Jersey City.

Theodore Wong, the head of the Chinese Educational Mission in the US, which oversees Chinese students in the US, is shot dead, along with two secretaries, at their home/hq in Washington DC. To skip ahead on this one, police will arrest one Ziang Sung Wan, hold him in secret in a hotel room for a week to interrogate him while he was badly sick, finally extracting a confession which will be thrown out, along with his conviction, as the result of that coercion by the Supreme Court in a 1924 case that ultimately led to Miranda. He will be retried twice but never convicted. There’s a recent book on all this which sounds pretty good.


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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Today -100: January 31, 1919: Of colonies, Posens, and Apaches


As the Peace Conference discusses the fate of Germany’s colonies, someone (the NYT does not say who) brings up the question of whether the US is violating its own alleged principles by continuing to treat Haiti and San Domingo as semi-colonies.

Australia objects to Britain’s assent to Wilson’s “internationalization” idea for the German colonies, because it might interfere with Australia’s plans to ban Japanese immigration into islands near it such as New Guinea (which it wants to annex). Prime Minister Hughes will later argue that not owning their new possessions outright would be a disincentive to invest. What’s the point of a colony if you can’t exploit it?

Poland and Czechoslovakia agree to allow the Peace Conference to decide who gets the Posen/Poznań district (55% Polish, says Poland; we want that coal, says Czech.; Germany still thinks Posen is part of Germany and is holding elections there for the Prussian Constitutional Convention). The Allies will occupy the area to keep the peace.

There have been reports of US soldiers committing assaults and murders and holdups in Paris. The AP claims these are “Apaches” – the pre-war name for Parisian street hoodlum types – in stolen uniforms, and that many of the alleged crimes never happened. Gen. William Harts says the reports of large numbers of murders by American soldiers are “untrue.” That is, he’s disputing the “large numbers” part, so I guess there are some murders by American soldiers in Paris. The Paris police chief points out that the US and Australian army uniforms really look a lot alike...


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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Today -100: January 30, 1919: Of prohibition, mysterious recruiters, recognizing Poland, and lost colonies


New York and Vermont are the 43rd and 44th states to ratify the already ratified prohibition amendment. Only two states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, never will ratify. The New York Legislature’s vote is close. Some denounce prohibition as an idea of the Southern Democrats, “who are no more entitled to the name Democrat than the Bolsheviki.”

Rumor of the Day -100: Recruiters for an unknown foreign country (or countries), who might be Dutch but aren’t recruiting for the Netherlands, are said to have signed up hundreds of German sailors.

The US recognizes Poland. Which can use all the help it can get just now:


So the borders of the Poland that Wilson recognized are still very much up in the air.

Not literally up in the air, like “You have to be this tall to get into Poland.”

This complicates Poland’s appeals for help. The Allies are willing to supply them with weapons to kill Bolsheviks, but are worried they might be used against Czechs or Ukrainians. 

German newspapers are campaigning for the return of Germany’s colonies. 


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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today -100: January 29, 1919: Of Spanish Flu, colonies, and fighting Poles


The number of Spanish Flu cases in New York is increasing (228 deaths yesterday), but Health Commissioner Royal Copeland says it’s not an epidemic, because of course he does.

The Peace Conference argues about Germany’s colonies. Woodrow Wilson wants to “internationalize” them, turning over their administration to the League of Nations, which would in turn give a “mandate” over the colony to some country. Which is what will be done. It will be exactly like being a colony of Britain, France, Australia, South Africa, etc., but the mandatory power (that’s what they’ll be called) will supposedly operate the colonies on behalf of the natives and have to write reports. The US is arguing that the various secret arrangements Britain and France made during the war dividing up Germany’s colonies are null and void because of the 14 Points. France and Britain are willing to renege on their secret deal with Japan, which they feel didn’t do enough militarily to deserve the territorial loot with which they were bribed. India, by the way, which is present at the Conference as if it were an independent nation, has put in a claim for Tanganyika (Tanzania).

The White regime in Archangel refuses the Peace Conference’s suggestion that the Russian factions meet, because that would amount to giving a form of recognition to the Bolsheviks.

Headline of the Day -100:


You’d think the Peace Conference would have something to say about this, wouldn’t you?


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Monday, January 28, 2019

Today -100: January 28, 1919: Of small nations, cowardice and mawkish sentimentality, and old kaisers


The small nations give up their claims to greater representation at the Peace Conference (Serbia and Belgium especially made the case that as they suffered the most during the war they deserve more of a say than certain other countries they could name). Belgium would also like to annex Luxembourg.

The conference is discussing how to divvie up Germany’s colonies in the Far East and Africa.

The War Dept releases 113 imprisoned conscientious objectors. Well, 111: 2 say it’s against their religious scruples to leave, it “would not be for the glory of God.” The Kansas Legislature passes a resolution against the release, which it calls “mischievous, unwise, unpatriotic, unAmerican and destructive of the morale of every person wearing the uniform of the United States army,” placing “a premium on slackerism, cowardice and mawkish sentimentality.”

Former kaiser Wilhelm turns 60. There was going to be a concert by a church choir, but it was cancelled after an outcry (Willy knows nothing of any of this; his servants censor the newspapers and mail he gets so his formerly royal eyes are not offended by the sight of anything that might displease him).


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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Today -100: January 27, 1919: Of funerals and hanging reds


The funeral of Karl Liebknecht and 30 other murdered Spartacists passes off without violence, as soldiers with artillery and machine guns lock down Berlin.

Headline of the Day -100:


To be clear, he means American Bolsheviks who are “trying to precipitate riot”.

The NYT admits that Trotsky wasn’t captured by Estonians after all.


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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Today -100: January 26, 1919: Of state socialism, civilized nations, and health bran


Headline of the Day -100: 


The North Dakota Non-Partisan League, which controls both houses of the state legislature and wants to create a state bank and flour mills and more equitable taxation. You know, “state socialism.”

The Peace Conference adopts a resolution to establish a League of Nations open to every “civilized nation which can be relied on to promote its objects.” The conference will also create commissions to 1) determine who started the war and how the Germans violated the rules of war and create a tribunal to try those responsible, 2) determine reparations.

Koreans appeal to Woodrow Wilson to help free them from the Japanese yoke. One of the signatories is Syngman Rhee, future president of South Korea, who has a PhD from Princeton, where Wilson was president.

Portugal remains a republic, as the monarchist forces are rather easily defeated.

If you were wondering how they said “this product makes you shit” in 1919:



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Friday, January 25, 2019

Today -100: January 25, 1919: Of Russian legions, prejudiced claims, prisoners, and extra meat


The War Dept says soldiers can stay in the army until they find jobs.

Former Tsarist Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov, in Paris (and in exile), asks for the Whites to be allowed to recruit volunteers from European countries to fight the Bolsheviks.

The council of the Allies warns that any country taking territory by force (this means you, Italy) would “seriously prejudice the claims of those who used such means and set up sovereignty by coercion.”

Rumor of the Day -100: Trotsky has been taken prisoner by the Estonians.

Bavarian Prime Minister Kurt Eisner orders that the extra ration of meat Duke Ludwig Wilhelm has been getting be stopped. What Eisner has against the 87-year-old unimportant member of the Wittelsbach family, who gave up his ducal rights long ago in order to marry the first of two actresses, is unclear.


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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Today -100: January 24, 1919: Of sitting with assassins, evacuations, elections, and early recognitions


Former Tsarist Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov rejects the Peace Conference’s idea of a meeting between the contending (well, warring) Russian factions. He says he “will not sit with assassins” (that quote is in the banner headline but appears nowhere in the article).

The NYT reports that Minister of War Leon Trotsky and his forces are evacuating Petrograd and Trotsky has ordered the city surrendered without a fight.

The German federal election results are in. The Social Democrats have 163 out of the 421 seats, followed by the Zentrum (Catholic Center) Party, with 91 and the Democratic Party (DDP). The NYT’s headline focuses on the election of 34 women (women voted for the first time in this election), 15 of them SPD, the rest scattered among the other parties (except the dying National Liberals).

Headline of the Day -100:


Yup, that’s Poland alright, they’ll say.

Portuguese warships bombard the country’s second city, Porto. There are rumors (which the NYT reported as fact a day or two ago) that the deposed and exiled king Manuel is about to land.

There’s an uptick of anti-Semitism in Argentina and other South American countries.

And the Broomielaw Race Riot in Glasgow.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Today -100: January 23, 1919: Leave Poles alone


The German government announces that the National Convention to draw up a new constitution will be held in Weimar instead of turbulent Berlin.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Germany responds to Britain’s complaint by saying that the British government is ill-informed about events in the East and anyway the Poles started it.

The Peace Conference adopts Woodrow Wilson’s proposal that all factions in Russia be invited to meet representatives of the Allies next month to sort Russia out. And there should be a cease-fire first. The communique assures the Russians that the Allies are not trying for a counter-revolution.

The Allies are totally trying for a counter-revolution. 

The smaller countries at the Peace Conference are beginning to realize that the Big Five intend to shut them out of significant decision-making.

The meeting of the Irish Dáil Éireann comes off without a hitch (or a police raid), and chooses an Irish Cabinet. Censors prevent the Dublin newspapers from publishing the declaration of independence.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Today -100: January 22, 1919: Why should we not be masters in our own house?


Headline of the Day -100:


Good luck with that, guys. Prince Faisal of the Kingdom of Hejaz says the Arabs have an even greater right to independence than the new states in Europe “since we are the oldest democracy in the world.” That’s Prince Faisal saying that. “Why should we not be masters in our own house?” he asks.

Also looking for independence, 25 of the people elected to the British Parliament from Ireland (the rest being in prison or exile) constitute themselves as an Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann), declare Irish independence, adopt a provisional constitution, and appoint a delegation to present Irish claims to the Peace Conference. 2/3 of that delegation are currently in prison, leaving only Count Plunkett, a name I will never stop finding amusing. The TDs (that’s the term in 2019, I’m not sure what this group called themselves) have some difficulties trying to conduct the meeting in Gaelic.

Ex-king Manuel of Portugal changes his mind and says he’d be willing to take back the throne after all, now that the war is over and with the assassination of President Sidónio Pais last month and everything.

In the US Senate, Sen. Warren G. Harding says things are “drifting into chaos” in terms of reconstruction in the US and Wilson and his administration should “give up their idealism.” Evidently the first step in his campaign to become president is taking a firm anti-idealism stand. He thinks Wilson should have formalized a peace deal first thing, before he went around Europe being adored by the masses. Also, because Wilson kept talking about making the world safe for democracy, Harding thinks he’s personally responsible for Bolshevism, because logic. He says that in Europe, “If we must have anarchy on the one hand or hateful autocracy on the other, I choose autocracy.”


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Monday, January 21, 2019

Today -100: January 21, 1919: Of monarchists, trustworthy nations, resentful kings, and IQ


The Austrian government tells former Emperor Charles that unless the monarchist movements at home and abroad cease to agitate for his return, he will be banished from Vienna.

Lord Robert Cecil, the British foreign secretary until earlier this month and now in charge of League of Nation policy for Britain, says only “trustworthy” nations should be admitted to the League. Germany, Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria will be deemed trustworthy when their governments are not dominated by the military and no doubt a whole bunch of other criteria, and in Germany’s case when the present disorder is resolved.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Former Portuguese King Manuel II, deposed in 1910 when a republic was proclaimed, objects to the movement of soldiers who just occupied Porto and proclaimed the Monarchy of the North in his name without even asking him, which is just bad manners.

Columbia University will replace entrance exams with IQ tests.


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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Today -100: January 20, 1919: Of radio aliens, bells, epilepsy, and roofs


In an interview, radio dude Guglielmo Marconi says he hopes to communicate with life on other planets. Indeed, he’s often received odd signals which just might be....

German National Assembly elections are held amidst riots and the occasional general strike. Spartacists, none too pleased about the murder of their leaders, seize bourgeois newspapers and disrupt voting.

Erich Ludendorff (who fled Germany at the end of the war) says he’s writing a completely impartial book that will totally exonerate him.

Italians in the regions of Italy which were occupied during the war ask to be given Austrian cannons to melt and make new church bells to replace the ones that were taken away by the Austrians to be made into cannons.

Prince John of England, King George V’s 6th kid, dies of epilepsy at 13. The official notice of his death is the first time his medical condition is revealed to the public.

Headline of the Day -100:


Jules Védrine wins a 25,000 franc prize for landing on a roof (offered before the war), which seems oddly specific. He lands on a department store roof in Paris. His plane is 36 feet wide, the roof 52 feet wide & 75 feet long. Védrine, who has the first pilot to beat 100 mph and hopes to fly around the world, will die in a crash in 3 months.


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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Today -100: January 19, 1919: Good luck with that, guys.


The Peace Conference opens. The Germans, whenever they arrive, will oppose any terms that go beyond Wilson’s 14 Points.


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Friday, January 18, 2019

Today -100: January 18, 1919: Summary, if irregular, justice


The armistice is extended for another month.

Karl Liebknicht is reportedly shot dead while “attempting to escape.” And Rosa Luxemburg is reportedly beaten by a mob and shot dead by some rando and thrown in the canal. Both stories are, of course, bullshit (except for the canal part; it will be months before her body, um, surfaces): the two were tortured and then executed by the soldiers who held them, under orders from their commanding officer. Pre-meditated, in other words. The German press mostly blames her for her supposed mob lynching, for having aroused “the basest passions.” And so does the NYT, which calls their murders “a summary, if irregular, justice to the fomenters of robbery, murder, and anarchy.” It blames the thriving of the Spartacists on the hesitance of the Socialist government “to make the final test.” “These two leaders, the man violent but weak, the woman a termagant of the familiar revolutionary type, have perished miserably by the sword they drew.”

The press protest their exclusion from the peace negotiations, demanding the admittance of 5 journalists from each major country. The French newspapermen don’t join the protest, they’re not fussed. The Supreme War Council backs down and will allow in 3 reporters from each country, except when they don’t.

Another rumor of a counter-revolution breaking out in Petrograd. Lenin is evidently now in exile in... Barcelona.


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today -100: January 17, 1919: They would drag us all down to the level of the lowest man


Nebraska is the 36th state to ratify the prohibition amendment, which means it is now the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. It will come into effect in a year. It will require Congress to pass enacting legislation, defining “intoxicating liquors” and setting up enforcement (the states also have enforcement powers).

Rosa Luxemburg has been “murdered,” according to a correct but sparse report. And Karl Liebknecht is reported captured by troops.

Some Montenegrins don’t want to be folded into Yugoslavia and are resisting Serb troops.

The Senate votes 50-21 to exonerate Robert La Follette of disloyalty for a 1917 speech in which he said that the sinking of the Lusitania was not a sufficient reason to go to war.

The Ebert government issues a draft constitution for Germany. Provisions include a 10-year term for an elected president and the partition of the country – and more importantly, Prussia – into entirely new states.

Spartacists are declaring separatist republics in Bremen and Brunswick.

46 members of the IWW are convicted of conspiracy to violate the Conscription Act. Federal prosecutor Robert Duncan told the jury, “They would drag us all down to the level of the lowest man. They do not recognize difference of ability in man, but would give the unworthy the same privileges for which the worthy have to strive so hard.” 43 of the Wobblies refused to speak or put on any defense. They will be sentenced to terms ranging from 1 to 10 years.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today -100: January 16, 1919: Of molasses. Sweet, murderous molasses.


Headline of the Day -100: 


This is the Great Molasses Flood, in which 21 Bostonians come to a sticky end as 2 million gallons of molasses run through the streets at 35 miles per hour, drowning people and horses, destroying buildings and crumpling elevated train tracks. There’s a book about this.

After all the talk about “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at,” the five Powers decide (supposedly over US and British objections) to keep the Versailles deliberations secret.

The NYT prints another story about how the Romanovs are totally still alive, at a monastery in the Urals.

You know who’s (also) not alive? Karl Liebknicht and Rosa Luxemburg. I think it’ll take a few days for their bodies to be discovered.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today -100: January 15, 1919: Where is the enemy?


Sen. William Borah (R-Idaho) attacks the idea of a League of Nations as requiring the maintenance of large militaries, including peace-time conscription in the US (actually the Peace Conference is talking about banning conscription. Oh, or maybe that hasn’t come up yet). Borah is also not fond of Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels’ plan for a huge navy, asking “Where is the enemy?”

The peace talkers have almost decided on whether the talks will be conducted wholly in French. They have allocated representation: 5 delegates for France, Britain, the US, Italy and Japan, 3 for Brazil for some reason, 2 for Belgium, Serbia (just Serbia, not the United Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) no decision yet about the Croats and Slovenes), Greece, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, China, Canada, Australia, South Africa and India. 1 for New Zealand and Newfoundland. States which broke off diplomatic relations with Germany but didn’t declare war, like Portugal, get 1.  Decisions will have to be unanimous.

The Senate votes for a $5,000 pension (and franking privileges) for Theodore Roosevelt’s widow Edith.

The remnants of the Spartacists, having lost their revolution, are turning to looting and holding up casinos frequented by war profiteers, the NYT reports.

Former Kaiser Wilhelm now has a beard. It’s grey.


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Monday, January 14, 2019

Today -100: January 14, 1919: We have no policy in Russia


Sen. Hiram Johnson (R-CA) is frustrated that the Foreign Relations Committee is delaying action on his resolution asking the government for its rationale for keeping troops in Russia and he is frustrated at the White House for not responding. He says this shows “that we have no policy in Russia.” Troops yes, policy no.

Britain has tentatively suggested that the Bolshevik government be invited to the peace talks, along with the various competing White governments. No one else seems too keen.

The Japanese delegation arrives. The only non-whites at the conference presently, I believe. It’s still being worked out which countries will be represented and by how many delegates each, but China will be there and won’t be represented by Japan, which I can’t believe was ever seriously proposed but I guess it was.

That the peace talks seem to have accomplished so little is in part due to the powers spending more time talking about out how to remove the Bolsheviks from power in Russia.

Using heavy artillery, the German government defeats the Spartacists in Berlin. Prisoners are being executed, which is a first since the Revolution began in November. It won’t be the last time. Rosa Luxemburg writes, in what will be her last article, “the government’s rampaging troops massacred the mediators who had tried to negotiate the surrender of the Vorwärts building, using their rifle butts to beat them beyond recognition. Prisoners were lined up against the wall and butchered so violently that skull and brain tissue splattered everywhere.”

California is the 24th state to ratify the prohibition amendment. In so voting, the Legislature chooses to defy the results of the prohibition referenda held last November.



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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Today -100: January 13, 1919: I would rather die than be forced to admit that civil war is prevailing


In the midst of trying to form a coalition government for Poland, Ignacy Jan Paderewski is shot, but not seriously injured.

Uruguayan police supposedly foil a Bolshevik plot for simultaneous revolutions there and in Argentina.

Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde announces her abdication; Luxembourg is now a republic, says the NYT, a bit prematurely.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Willing to shoot down their fellow countrymen, you know, “dependable.” Troops recapture the Vorwärts building (well, set it on fire after bombarding it. Not sure how useful it will be for putting out a newspaper now). This is followed by a parade of soldiers through Berlin to show who’s in charge. The Spartacist uprising spreads to Düsseldorf and...


“Infection.” Bavaria’s socialist Prime Minister Kurt Eisner says “I would rather die than be forced to admit that civil war is prevailing in Munich.”

The French General Staff is reportedly going to propose exiling ex-kaiser Wilhelm and all the male members of the Hohenzollern family to (French) Algeria.


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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Today -100: January 12, 1919: Did you win the war in order to knit Ireland’s chains?


The NYT is pretty sure Karl Liebknecht has been machine-gunned to death. Nope.

I’ve been wondering: when did the NYT first have a corrections section? Does anyone know?

Headline of the Day -100: 


Not really a significant headline, just worth noting that Germany still has POWs, presumably darned pissed-off POWs, it hasn’t released 2 months after the armistice.

Sinn Féin hq in Dublin is raided. The police find pamphlets addressed to US soldiers asking “Did you win the war in order to knit Ireland’s chains?” and “We helped to win your independence. Will you help us to win ours?”

Knit?


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Friday, January 11, 2019

Today -100: January 11, 1919: When you have the entire bourgeoisie and three-fourths of the Berlin workmen with you, what can’t you do?


The NYT says Gen. Luis Dellepiane is now dictator of Argentina. He isn’t, but in his role as head of the police he is crushing a communist/anarchist strike/uprising in what became known as the Semana Trágica (tragic week).

In Berlin, the army tries to machine gun a plane dropping Spartacist leaflets. Where did they think it would crash if they succeeded in shooting it down?

The Ebert government, which is about to order soldiers to use military force against the Spartacists in Berlin, says “This whole Bolshevist uprising will be put down within the next three days. We are absolutely sure of our position. The entire bourgeoisie and three-fourths of the Berlin workmen are with us.” Also, possibly, Field Marshal Hindenburg, who it is rumored will be asked to lead the army against Berlin?

An ad placed by the Association Opposed to National Prohibition asks the question


Evidently “National Prohibition will compel a spy system similar to that of the overthrown Czar and the Kaiser.” Prohibition “will be the best excuse that can be offered to stir up strife among the people.”


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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Today -100: January 10, 1919: On immigration, fighting in Berlin, and the secretary of the air


Congress is considering legislation to ban immigration by Bolsheviks, or just blocking almost all immigration for 2 or 4 years because you never know who might be a Bolshevik.

German troops beat back Spartacists in Berlin. Lots of shooting. Bavarian Interior Minister Erhard Auer threatens to send... I don’t know, the Bavarian Army?... into Berlin.

Italy is happily reconquering Libya.

Bolsheviks retake Vilna.

Lloyd George announces his new Cabinet: Austen Chamberlain will be chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill (still a Liberal) will be secretary for war and secretary of the air (yes, “secretary of the air” is a thing). Arthur Balfour will continue as foreign secretary. Sir Satyendra Prasanna Sinha, the former president of the Indian National Congress, will be under-secretary for India, the first Indian in the British government. It will be a largely Tory cabinet and will quietly sabotage LG’s election promises about housing and land for returning soldiers.


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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Today -100: January 9, 1919: No one can tell what the Germans will do


The Spartacists, described by the NYT correspondent as “typical proletarians, some of whom affect even a more dilapidated appearance than is naturally their own,” are still out on the streets in Berlin. Fortunately, the Ebert government is prepared to engage them with reason and patience and...


Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann address crowds in front of the Chancellor’s palace.  Scheidemann says “This dirty mess has to be brought to an end” and  “If you men who have had military training will join us, you will get arms.” (Those quotes may be from 2 different such speeches). Increasingly, he will find what the kaiser was unable to find in November: German soldiers willing to use lethal violence against fellow Germans. A government proclamation says “Force can only be fought with force... The hour of revenge draws near.”

Which is the best false rumor about Russia published by the NYT today -100: 

1) another report that Czar Nicholas is still alive, according to a Morning Post correspondent who heard it from Grand Duke Cyril, who heard it from Prince M____, who heard it in a letter from the totally-not-dead Grand Duchess Tatiana, who said that the Bolshevik officer in charge of the execution didn’t care who he killed, as long as he had a body with its head blown off to show his bosses, so Count T____ insisted on taking the czar’s place.

or 2) Trotsky arrests Lenin and declares himself dictator?

The US has 12,941 soldiers in Russia.

Victor Berger, Socialist member of Congress for Wisconsin, is convicted along with 4 other Socialist Party leaders (Adolph Germer, William Kruse, J. Louis Engdahl and Irwin St. John Tucker) for disloyalty and sedition under the Espionage Act. The NYT says the conviction bars him from Congress. The House will debate this before expelling him. He will then win the special election and be barred again, then his conviction will be overturned by the Supreme Court and he’ll defeat the man they declared elected in his place.

US delegates to the Peace Conference have been suggesting that the blockade of Germany be lifted to prevent mass starvation, uphold the Ebert government, and prevent the spread of Bolshevism. France is ok with mass starvation in Germany.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George asks soldiers, who have been demonstrating for demobilization to be sped up, for patience, saying it’s necessary to maintain a large army during peace negotiations. “Although the fighting has stopped, the war is not over. The German armies have not yet been demobilized and are still very powerful. No one can tell what the Germans will do, nor whether they will agree to the terms of the peace and reparation which we seek to impose upon them.” The soldiers are especially worried that they’re being retained so they can be sent to Russia, but the War Office denies this.

The British Labour Party accepts the position of Official Opposition for the first time, which means they get the good seats in Parliament.


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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Today -100: January 8, 1919: The German menace is still there


While German political parties are reshaping themselves in preparation for Reichstag elections (which are being fought without much in the way of rallies and speeches), the Spartacists are seizing telegraph and newspaper offices. Radical Berlin Police Chief Emil Eichhorn was fired by the central government but refuses to go, saying “I received my position from the revolution, and I will only give it back to the revolution” (actually during the revolution in November he just walked into hq and said he was chief now, which isn’t quite the same thing). The government bans street gatherings (and secretly orders Freikorps, non-governmental organizations of former soldiers, to suppress the Spartacist rising).

Sen. Robert LaFollette objects to US troops being kept in Archangel to fight the Bolsheviks, especially with no war having been declared. Claude Swanson (D-Virginia) replies that they’re needed to protect Allied ammunition stores there, because we’re technically still at war with Germany, which wanted to keep Archangel as a u-boat base. “The German menace is still there, for Germany has shown that she is trying to influence the Bolsheviki. It is the Bolsheviki who are making the trouble, and it is to keep the trouble down that our men are being kept there, but back of it all is the German menace.” LaFollette replies that the Bolsheviks are not in fact friends with Germany but the evidence of this has been stifled by the censors. William Kenyon (R-Iowa) points out the the US soldiers don’t have the proper clothes for a Russian winter.

The US military is admitting to 132 deaths in the Northern Russia campaign (half from disease).


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Monday, January 07, 2019

Today -100: January 7, 1919: TR out


Former president Theodore Roosevelt is dead. Embolism, brought about by his history of tropical diseases and the bullet he still had in him from the 1912 assassination attempt and whatnot. Age 60, a reminder of how early he became president (43) and how young he was when his important public work was over.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Yeah, death’ll do that. Republicans, who had become grumpily reconciled to TR returning to the party as their 1920 presidential candidate, now have to find someone else. Speculation is focusing on Sen. Philander Knox, Gen. Leonard Wood, and Sen. Warren G. Harding. I really don’t know what Harding has ever accomplished to so distinguish himself.

We could have had a president named Philander. Imagine that.

US oil companies deny that they have come to an agreement with the Mexican government to pay royalties on oil extracted from their Mexican properties, insisting that their absolute “right” to their oil be respected. Mexico says they can drink all the oil they like. OK it doesn’t say that.


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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Today -100: January 6, 1919: Of uprisings, kingdoms, mutilated soldiers, justice to peasants and Jews, united cigars, and fake Archies


The “January Uprising,” a hasty workers’ rebellion in Berlin, begins.

The Kingdom of Serbia is now the United Serbian-Croatian-Slovene Kingdom. Good luck fitting that on the stamps.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Romania grants citizenship to Jews born in Romania. And expropriates the lands of large landowners. “It is thus,” the Romanian ambassador to France writes to one of the Rothschilds, “that at one and the same moment the Government grants justice to our peasants and to our Jews”.

The United Cigar Stones Company will ask its customers to contribute to a fund to distribute (through the Red Cross) cigars, cigarettes and tobacco to wounded soldiers in hospitals in New York.

Someone claiming to be Archie Roosevelt, the former president’s son, has been sending telegrams to his acquaintances asking for money. And someone (the same person?) is impersonating him in hotels in Albuquerque. The real AR is recovering from war injuries in New York.


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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Today -100: January 5, 1919: Of approval, unfree love, and helpful toxic gases


Headline of the Day -100: 


Woodrow Wilson has decided that the enthusiastic crowds greeting him in Rome, Paris, London and Manchester are signs that everyone wants the League of Nations, that’s just logic.

Supposedly the Bolsheviks are planting mines in Petrograd in case they lose the city. 

However, Petrograd has other things on its mind (according to credulous idiots):



And of course the state will remove any children of these unions and raise them itself.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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