Thursday, April 25, 2019

Today -100: April 25, 1919: The world is tired of war only for the time being

Major Gen. Leonard Wood says the idea that the League of Nations will prevent wars is “idle twaddle and a dream of mollycoddles”. Idle twaddle is the worst kind of twaddle. “The world is tired of war only for the time being,” he says, depressingly.

Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando frames his decision to quit/threaten to quit the Peace Conference as a response to Woodrow Wilson’s public statement on Fiume, not because of his rejection of Italy annexing the city, oh no, but his temerity in appealing to the Italian people over the heads of its government, “treating the Italian people as if they were a barbarous people without a democratic government.” Well, give it two or three years.

Orlando reveals his plans for when he goes to Rome after storming out of the peace conference: “I shall show myself to the crowd, as it is my duty, and it shall express its feelings.” Italy plans to just go ahead and occupy Dalmatia and other areas promised it in the secret 1915 Treaty of London (the one Wilson says was superseded by the 14 Points). They’re kind of glossing over the fact that Fiume wasn’t mentioned in the Treaty of London.

Herbert Hoover, head of the Inter-Allied Relief Organization, threatens to stop food relief to Germany if strikes and other disorder continues.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Today -100: April 24, 1919: Fiuming

The Italian delegation to the Peace Conference (which includes PM Vittorio Orlando

and Foreign Minister Sidney Sonnino) says it’s pulling out of the conference because of Woodrow Wilson’s opposition to Italy annexing Fiume. “Walking out, we say! Don’t try to stop us! We’re totally leaving...” They’re especially pissed (they say) that Wilson chose to issue a public statement rather than, you know, talk to them (which was precisely the objection senators had the last time Wilson was in the US, when he made a pro-League speech before briefing them. Wilson does not learn). And just when the Italians were totally about to make “the last supreme effort toward conciliation”. Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George call their bluff, threatening to make a separate peace if the Italians (who have a special train prepared and everything) carry out their threat.

A letter from a Mrs Adele Woodward of the National Juvenile Motion Picture League threatens that if movies don’t clean up their act, the “great public conscience, which has so recently adopted prohibition, is now turning its attention to all saloon substitutes – the spotlight is now directed on the pictures of crime and vulgarity which have for so many years been an insult to the intellect of adults and a menace to the welfare of children and young people.”

Headline of the Day -100:  

In rumored red revolt news, 1) Switzerland supposedly foiled a plot by Lenin, who sent “General instructions for a revolution in Switzerland,” and 2) Turkey is unreliably rumored to have turned soviet.

Maryland Gov. Emerson Harrington sends troops to protect a jail from mobs rumored to be planning to lynch Isaiah Fountain, a black prisoner (alleged crime unmentioned) who has just been recaptured after an escape.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Today -100: April 23, 1919: Firm for Fiume

Headline of the Day -100: 

Iowa gives the presidential vote to women.

Headline of the Day -100:  

The Times is really going big on these tabloid-y headlines lately. Romanian troops have invaded Hungary to help overthrow the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

The NYT prematurely proclaims the fall of the Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich.

Germany is supposedly making secret preparations for a plebiscite on the peace terms, which the government thinks is a nifty way of avoiding responsibility for signing them.

The nationalization of Russian women, who must register at the Bureau of Free Love, is suspended in one northern Russian... okay, was anyone actually buying this “nationalization of women” bullshit?

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Today -100: April 22, 1919: Of Fiume and hearty welcomes

Germany is grumbling that it won’t sign the peace treaty without negotiations.

The Daily Telegraph (UK) says Germany has signed a treaty with Lenin’s government for the two countries to aid each other, Russia feeding Germany, Germany sending military instructors, etc. Obvious horseshit.

And the city of Vienna is taken back by the government. The communist takeover seems to have been premature, encouraged by Hungarian leader Béla Kun on his visit last week. Either that or the government is just blaming Hungarian “outside agitators.”

Things are coming to a head at the peace conference over Fiume, claimed by both Yugoslavia and Italy.  Fiume, a small town which only has an Italian majority if you don’t count the suburbs, is fast becoming a right-wing nationalist fetish object.

Italy would also like to absorb the Southern Tyrol. The Tyrolese National Council tells Woodrow Wilson that they want to be an independent country instead.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Today -100: April 21, 1919: Of songs, ideal anarchists, and caged envoys

A bunch of soldiers and sailors invade a concert of the Master Bakers’ – bakers! bakers! bakers with a k! – Association in New York City and demand that German songs on the program be omitted, or else. The German songs are dropped.

The city of Vienna is taken over by soldiers’ councils.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Self-described “Ideal anarchists” take over the Wittelsbach Palace, using the former king of Bavaria’s bed chambers as a council room and his bathroom as their anteroom. No word on what they use as a bathroom.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Today -100: April 20, 1919: Of sullen attitudes, frequent shootings of a casual nature, and moral fibre

India: “The people are reported to be maintaining a sullen attitude.” Possibly because the British keep shooting them.

Mobs of unemployed people set fire to the Austrian parliament buildings in Vienna. The fires are put out. “As the evening wore on, there were frequent shootings of a casual nature, but the city bore to a great extent its accustomed aspect of the night life which it has taken on during the last few weeks.”

It is now legal in the state of New York (subject to local regulations or bans) to show movies, play baseball (after 2 p.m.) or fish on Sundays. Gov. Al Smith, signing the legislation, says of watching baseball, “It is in no sense deteriorating to the moral fibre of the witness.”

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Today -100: April 19, 1919: Do not get the idea that we are lying awake nights, trying to do you an injustice

The India Office reports that on the 13th a mob in Amritsar ignored the ban on public meetings, there was some shooting and there were 200 casualties and I guess that’s all they have to say about that.

“Reds” try, but fail, to storm the Austrian Parliament building.

Ousted Bavarian PM Johannes Hoffmann calls for military intervention by the German federal government to retake Munich. They are on their way, bringing artillery. The communists in Munich are blocking roads and emplacing their own artillery in preparation for a siege.

Rep. Joseph Cannon, the former Speaker of the House, addresses – and by addresses I mean condescends to – Puerto Rico’s Insular Legislature, asking it “Why are you worrying about statehood and independence? You will get either or both just as soon as you are ready. Do not get the idea that we are lying awake nights, trying to do you an injustice.”

The French Black Sea Fleet stationed off Sevastopol mutinies, the sailors insisting that no war against Russia had been declared and they should have been demobilized by now, since the actual war was over, and the food sucks.  After a few days, the French Navy will agree to their demands and the warships are withdrawn.

Now Playing:

About some misguided lefties who buy an island and establish a socialist utopia.

The utopia degenerates into a dictatorship and yadda yadda yadda. The film is based on a novel by Thomas Dixon, whose novels were also the basis for Birth of a Nation. Watch it... if you dare!

Secretary of Labor William Wilson is outraged by the advice in Moving Picture World to distributors that they advertise “Bolshevism on Trial” by such stunts as “put up red flags about town and hire soldiers to tear them down if necessary”.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Today -100: April 18, 1919: Of censorship and ufas

The US Navy has stopped censoring cables to parts of Europe and Latin America and the Far East. Britain, which controls much of cable traffic, bans coded messages, which pisses off businesses which don’t want their secrets leaked.

Bolsheviks kill several hundred prisoners in Ufa.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Today -100: April 17, 1919: Belgium does not seek revenge

British Prime Minister Lloyd George returns from the peace talks to make a speech to Parliament challenging his enemies, i.e., the Northcliffe-owned newspapers. He insists on being left alone to negotiate peace, which is really really complicated (“Before I went to the Peace Conference, I had never heard of Teschen, but it very nearly produced an angry conflict between two allied states [Poland & Czechoslovakia]”), without any more obnoxious telegrams from Parliament. He reassures MPs that he’s not planning military intervention in Russia - “a volcano which is still in furious eruption.” Actually, he spends quite a while justifying non-intervention, mostly on the grounds that it won’t work anyway because you know what those Russians are like.

The French parliament votes 334-166 to allow the government to continue to leave it in the dark about what’s going on at the peace talks.

The India Office says that “all is quiet at Amritsar, Lahore, and Bombay.” How long are they going to pretend that the Amritsar Massacre didn’t happen? The stacks of corpses should be kind of a giveaway.

The Iowa Legislature ignores the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation to impeach Gov. William Harding for soliciting a $5,000 bribe in return for pardoning a convicted rapist, instead censuring him.

If you’re wondering what happened to the race to be the first to cross the Atlantic by air: bad weather. Everybody’s just sitting around, waiting for it to clear up.

New Zealand’s prohibition referendum was initially announced as having passed, but it loses once the votes of soldiers abroad are counted.

The Big Four had got it into their heads that the former kaiser should be tried by Belgium. Belgium says no. “Belgium does not seek revenge,” they say, “It wants only justice.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

How will that man from Nantucket cope?

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Today -100: April 16, 1919: Of riots, commissioners, and communization of women

An article entitled “India Riots Widespread,” which blames the passive resistance movement because of course it does, refers in passing to “a few casualties at Amritsar”.

Mrs. F.H. Wilder, a women’s suffrage and temperance activist, is elected commissioner of police in Fargo.

Munich is again captured by the communists, according to a source who also says they ordered the communization of all women, including wives, so take that for what it’s worth. Oh, and Bavarian Soviet Republic Foreign Minister Franz Lipp has been put in a lunatic asylum (again), supposedly.

I have found an its/it’s error in the New York Times.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Today -100: April 15, 1919: Of hunger strikers, red orgies, race riots, and five and dimes

Britain releases 89 hunger-striking Irish political prisoners, most of whom were unconvicted, either awaiting trial by court-martial or interned without trial under the Defence of the Realm Act. They were originally supposed to be released temporarily so they could see doctors and then return to prison after six weeks (under the Cat and Mouse Act passed in 1913 to deal with suffragette hunger-strikers), but they refused to promise to come back. Well, so did the suffragettes back in the day, for all the good that did them, but the Irish have the threat of a general strike behind them, so they’re released unconditionally.

Headline of the Day -100: 

There’s a race riot in Millen, Georgia. A couple of cops and 5 blacks killed, one of them taken from the jail and lynched, black churches burned, etc. No explanation for the events is given in the article.

F.W. Woolworth, the five-and-dime man, died last week. He died unexpectedly and before he could sign a new will, so under a 30-year-old will his millions will go to his “demented” wife.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Today -100: April 14, 1919: Of crimes against humanity, red rules, wine, and pension protests

Turkey executes Kemal Bey, the governor of Diarbekr, by public hanging for his role in the Armenian Genocide, making him the first person executed for crimes against humanity.

Armenians are being killed by mobs in Cairo and Alexandria, for some reason. Armenians are killed, Egyptians are shot by British troops, British troops are killed, rinse and repeat.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Harsh but not entirely unfair. But the Bavarian Soviet Republic really doomed itself when it ordered all cafés to close at 6 pm, an order soon rescinded after popular outrage.

Headline of the Day -100:  

A Franco-American League for the Protection of Individual Liberty will be formed to fight prohibition, because wine.

Gustav Neuring, Saxony’s war minister, is killed by a mob of veterans outraged over proposed cuts to their pensions. They storm the ministry in Dresden, drag Neuring out, throw him in the Elbe, and shoot him as he tries to get out. The government claims, as was the custom, that Russian agents were behind the incident.

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Today -100: April 13, 1919: There could be no question of undue severity

Pilot Harry Hawker and his navigator, Lt. Commander Mackenzie Grieve (Hawker & Grieve, couldn’t make it up), start their trans-Atlantic plane crossing. Or they would do if their Sopwith would start, which it doesn’t. They were trying to start earlier than planned, since another team (with a Martinsyde biplane) arrived in Newfoundland to make its own attempt at the £10,000 prize. They’re getting a little desperate and are planning to ditch the Sopwith’s undercarriage, including the landing gear, 100 miles into the voyage in order to reduce weight, which means they won’t so much arrive at their destination as crash.

The Iowa Legislature is considering impeaching Gov. William Harding for soliciting a $5,000 bribe in return for pardoning a convicted rapist. Harding is otherwise most famous for having banned, during the war, the public speaking of any language other than English, including in sermons and on the telephone.

Japan, currently violently putting down pro-independence protests in Korea, fails again to get racial equality included in the League of Nations covenant. Chief opposition came from Britain, which is violently putting down protests in Egypt, and...

In Amritsar in the Punjab on this day (it will take a while for the NYT to hear about it), Gen. Reginald Dyer orders soldiers (Indian, Ghurka soldiers, it should be noted) to fire on a crowd protesting the deportation of a couple of local activists. They fire continuously for 10 minutes, killing somewhere between 379 (the official figure) and 1,000 Indians. The crowd struggled to escape through a narrow passageway, so many of those shot were shot in the back, and others were trampled to death. It would have been worse if Dyer could have gotten his armored vehicles with mounted machine guns through those narrow  streets. Martial law will be proclaimed and 18 Punjabis publicly hanged. Others will be publicly flogged – on a country club tennis court, no less – and others made to crawl through a major street – “fancy punishments,” as the British called it.

Dyer will explain to an investigation next year that he was punishing the crowd for gathering in defiance of his proclamation against public meetings: “It was no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd; but one of producing a sufficient moral effect, from a military point of view, not only on those who were present but more specially throughout the Punjab. There could be no question of undue severity.” He will further explain, “I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself”. He will be allowed to resign, and on his return to England will be presented a £26,317 fund raised by the Daily Mail. In 1940 Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the lieutenant-governor of the Punjub during the massacre, will be assassinated by one its survivors. Kim Wagner’s book Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre is out now (April 13) but not as I am writing this post.  Judging by his 2016 article in Past and Present on the massacre, which I read for this post, I suspect the book is pretty good. There’s a tv documentary on Britain’s Channel 4 tonight, called The Massacre That Shook the Empire, and there was a radio documentary earlier this week on BBC Radio 4, which can be listened to anywhere in the world for about 25 days.

Belgium grants women’s suffrage for local elections, and for national elections for widows and mothers of soldiers killed during the war or executed by the Germans, or who were themselves political prisoners under the occupation.  Women will get full suffrage in 1948.

As expected, the crackdown in New York on doctor & pharmacist drug-pushers has resulted in hundreds of junkies flooding the clinics, which are asking for 500 women volunteers (why women?) to help out. Health Commissioner Royal Copeland suggests that there should be some means of identifying addicts to prevent them double-dipping on prescriptions – branding them, for example, with nitrate of silver.

Communists overthrow the Bavarian Soviet Republic, setting up a Council and storming the Munich police stations. There are now three competing governments in Bavaria, and it’s all a bit confusing.

Italian armistice officials steal a bunch of art from Austria, mostly paintings taken from Venice to Vienna in 1816 and 1838. Viennese newspapers are complaining about this “Bilderkrieg” (picture war).

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Today -100: April 12, 1919: No viva

At Paris, the Powers are discussing conditions under which they could provide food to Russia. Pres. Wilson proposes offering food on the condition that a cease-fire is called. France objects to anything that might suggest recognition of the Bolshevik government and doesn’t want the Whites forced into a cease-fire even if the Bolsheviks agree to one.

Woodrow Wilson gets agreement on an amendment to the League of Nations covenant recognizing the Monroe Doctrine, which it calls a “regional understanding.” Mexico will soon point out that it doesn’t recognize or approve of the Monroe Doctrine.

Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, returns from visiting the Peace Conference as part of a labor delegation. He says the revolution in Germany wasn’t real, and the same people are still in power, which you can tell because unlike in earlier, real, revolutions, no one in the previous regime has been guillotined.

The NYT notes that the Bavarian Soviet Republic’s foreign minister, Franz Lipp (who they call Lapp) was confined to a madhouse more than once. That’s just the sort of rumor that the NYT falls for, but in this case it’s true. At one point Lipp will complain – in a letter to Lenin, no less – about the deposed government having taken the key to the foreign ministry toilet with them when they left. Also at some point he’ll declare war on Switzerland. Meanwhile, right-wingers in Munich are telling everyone that the soviet republic is the fault of the Jews.

Mexican troops lure rebel leader Emiliano Zapata into a trap – a general pretended he was ready to defect to Zapata; there was even a fake battle staged to prove the sincerity of his defection – and kill him. They take pictures of the body – which you can find on line if you’re into that sort of thing – to prove it.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Today -100: April 11, 1919: If blood is spilled it will be on the heads of the Communist maniacs

370 Members of Parliament send a telegram to Lloyd George, demanding he present Germany with a bill for the total cost of the war. He responds threatening to call a general election. The French Senate passes a similar resolution demanding Germany be made to pay through its collective anus.

German Defense Minister Gustav Noske threatens to use force to return Bavaria to “order.” “If blood is spilled it will be on the heads of the Communist maniacs.”

The Council of Four decide to put ex-kaiser Wilhelm on trial before a special tribunal for violation of international morality and for breaking treaties.

US troops in Archangel refuse to fight the Bolsheviks, because they’re expecting to be relieved when warmer weather makes sea navigation possible, around June 1st, and anyway the Great War is over and the US isn’t supposed to be at war with Russia and we don’t wanna. Their officers eventually talk them around, telling them they were fighting defensively to save their own lives.

Secretary of State Robert Lansing warns California that yet more anti-Japanese legislation (a bill to prevent Japanese leasing agricultural land is under consideration, joining the existing ban on ownership) would be “particularly unfortunate” at this time. And, surprisingly, this time the Lege plays nice (the leasing ban will be passed by a ballot initiative in 1920).

A day after British soldiers shot protesters in Amritsar, India, a British missionary, Marcella Sherwood, is stripped and beaten by a mob. Gen. Reginald Dyer will order that everyone using the street on which this happened (including residents with no other way to get to their homes) will crawl its length on their hands and knees. He will later explain, “Some Indians crawl face downwards in front of their gods. I wanted them to know that a British woman is as sacred as a Hindu god and therefore they have to crawl in front of her, too.”

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Today -100: April 10, 1919: Of heroin, legions, germs, and war cripples

The feds arrest 6 doctors and 4 pharmacists in New York City who were trading in heroin, writing hundreds of thousands of prescriptions (yes, prescriptions for heroin). Now they’re worried about the 800 drug fiends, many of them discharged soldiers and sailors, about to go into withdrawal. They’re opening a clinic to sell those doctors’ patients heroin at cost. Health Commissioner Royal Copeland thinks prohibition is going to lead to a great rise in drug addiction.

The NYT editorial page welcomes the creation of the organization Teddy Roosevelt Jr. is pushing, the American Legion, as long as it remains non-partisan.

A doctor in Vienna claims to have discovered a hunger germ.

The Allies evacuate Odessa.

British troops in Cairo fire on a “mob,” killing 9.

At the Paris Peace talks, the Big Four decide not to execute former kaiser Wilhelm. The US basically vetoed the wishes of France and Britain, which evidently brought up the executions of Charles I, Mary Queen of Scots, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as positive examples of why you should always behead tyrants (and their wives). He could still be put on trial, although the US opposes this too because a trial wouldn’t be based on any existing international law.

Among the nefarious plots the NYT ascribes to German “Reds”: inciting war cripples to demonstrate in Berlin for higher pensions despite demonstrations being banned.

The Revenue Bureau will train 800 new agents to enforce prohibition, in addition to the existing 2,293 revenooers.

Éamon de Valera (who escaped from prison in February) addresses the Sinn Féin Convention in Dublin, asking Ireland to support Woodrow Wilson’s principles even if Wilson doesn’t.

A Federal District Court judge rules that Japanese who served in the US military can’t become US citizens.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Today -100: April 9, 1919: Of riots, assassins, and soviet republics

Riots in Delhi in recent days have resulted in 8 deaths. The NYT does not care to investigate the causes of the unrest.

Speaking of riots: Headline of the Day -100 (L.A. Times): 

Sponsored in the California State Senate by J.M. Inman, who also has bills lined up to prevent Japanese from leasing agricultural land (they are already banned from owning land in California) and something about picture brides (mail-order brides).

French Prime Minister Clemenceau gets Pres. Poincaré to commute the death sentence on his would-be assassin Émile Cottin, which is nice of him. Clemenceau sees no reason to renege on his anti-capital punishment views now, although he will be rather annoyed when Cottin is released after only 5 years in prison.

The German government will not recognize the Bavarian Soviet Republic, saying it was established in violation of the state constitution. 

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Monday, April 08, 2019

Today -100: April 8, 1919: Of landtags, fraternization, and Sunday ball

The Revolutionary Council of Bavaria declares the Landtag dissolved and places power in the hand of peoples’ commissions. And it declares a national holiday, because yay. It says ti will refuse to work with the “despicable” central German government. Deposed Premier Johannes Hoffmann says he’s still in charge, although fleeing Munich in terror doesn’t really scream “I’m still in charge.”

The British military in Bonn, trying to discourage “fraternization,” posts the names of German women who have been seen with British soldiers.

The New York Legislature passes a bill allowing baseball on Sundays, subject to local option.

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Sunday, April 07, 2019

Today -100: April 7, 1919: Of pigeons

Headline of the Day -100: 

Sounds like a heart-warming animated film, possibly from the National Film Board of Canada. Actually a carrier pigeon sent from an adrift Navy hydroplane who shows up in some guy’s room in the Blenheim Hotel in Atlantic City (as was the custom). Once Ensign Finch (!) is rescued, he calls the Blenheim and tells him “give that bird the biggest spread the hotel can stand!”

And somehow that’s the only thing I found noteworthy in today -100’s paper.

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Saturday, April 06, 2019

Today -100: April 6, 1919: Of expulsions, minimum wages, disorderly natives, and aerial fudds

The Allies order Austria to expel the representatives of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Austria does the, I guess, next best thing, and banishes the Hapsburgs. And frees Russian and Finnish prisoners of war and interned civilians. They still had prisoners of war?

Hungary establishes a minimum wage of $7,200 a year for intellectual workers, $5,000 for merchants, industrial workers and traders, and $3,300 for workers. The Allies have sent an envoy to investigate conditions in Hungary and what better person than Jan Smuts, a general from that well-known egalitarian utopia, South Africa?

A Bavarian Soviet/Council Republic is proclaimed in Munich. Like all good socialist states, it is headed by a poet-playwright, 25-year-old Ernst Toller. Two months ago, after Bavarian Prime Minister Kurt Eisner was assassinated, the Social Democrats unilaterally declared themselves in charge but have been unable to make it stick and are either running into exile or about to do so.

Another day, another article from someone sure the Romanovs are alive.

The director of Military Aeronautics bans the shooting of wild fowl with machine guns from airplanes, because he hates fun.

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Friday, April 05, 2019

Today -100: April 5, 1919: Almost independent

A delegation arrives in Washington from the Philippines headed by Manuel Quezon, president of the Philippines Senate, demanding complete independence. Pres. Wilson sends a note agreeing with that goal and says “The Philippine Islands are almost independent”.

Woodrow Wilson has influenza. Or just a bad cold. Or a stroke.

The Daily Mail (UK) says Trotsky has ordered the Russian Baltic fleet to attack the Allies.

Hungarian “dictator” Béla Kun arrives in Munich, obviously to convert Bavaria into a soviet republic.

The federal government abandons its indictments against John Reed and other socialist leaders & editors under the Espionage Act. The Justice Dept is now reviewing many other ongoing Espionage Act prosecutions with an eye to seeing if there’s any point in pursuing them.

Lt. Surugue musters out of the French army. He’s 80. And yes, they did send him to the front.

The NYT claims that in January Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg signed a “formal secret treaty of alliance” between the Spartacists and the Russian Bolsheviks. It must be true: an “absolutely reliable source” told them so.

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Thursday, April 04, 2019

Today -100: April 4, 1919: Of hurt Japanese pride and wild & crazy guys

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Gilbert Hitchcock (D-Nebraska) says Japan is just being silly at the Peace Conference in insisting on racial equality. Japan as a nation, he says, already has equal treatment, but all nations have a right to discriminate in their domestic affairs, such as immigration, interracial marriage laws, banning certain races from owning property, etc. “These discriminations may hurt Japanese pride, but they do not affect the interests of Japan as a nation.” And such discriminations are necessary to preserve racial purity and industrial standards. Japan is free to do the same, he offers.

New York Mayor John Hylan asks the Board of Aldermen to do something to stop seditious meetings of aliens speaking in funny foreign languages. Specifically, the “wild, crazy people who in every land, deluding themselves and others that they are apostles of liberty, preach murder and destruction as a quick remedy for all the economic shortcomings of the human race.”

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Today -100: April 3, 1919: Clemenceau really likes that coat I guess

Sen. Warren G. Harding (R-Ohio) complains about the delay in settling the peace treaty. He says what the world needs is a clear interpretation of international law which the nations will enforce. “Under such an arrangement there would never be another world war unless some madman of the future again undertakes the domination of the world.” And what’re the odds of that happening, huh huh?

French Premier Georges Clemenceau says that the cost of clothing is so high that he won’t bother to replace the overcoat that would-be assassin Emile Cottin shot holes in. And he intervened in some behind-the-scenes way to get his coat back, even though it was being held as evidence against Cottin.

The German government refuses Bavaria’s demand for separate representation at the Peace Conference.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Today -100: April 2, 1919: Of anti-saloon territories, food aid, pictures, and walkin’ Taft

Chicago Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson (R) is re-elected despite efforts to paint him as anti-patriotic. His 3 opponents split the vote against him. An oddly phrased proposition asking “Shall Chicago become anti-saloon territory?” passes by a wide margin as a protest vote against national Prohibition.

The first shipments of outside food arrive in Germany. If I read the article correctly, it only took two months of negotiations over the details.

The Justice Department claims to have broken up a plot by an alleged agent of Trotsky, William Wyciss, to seize federal munitions and blow up factories in Pittsburgh.

The Prussian Minister of Religion and Education informs schools they may no longer hang pictures of former kaiser Wilhelm or the crown prince.

Former president William Howard Taft finds himself in Detroit without any change, so he has to walk 1½ miles to City Hall to ask the mayor to cash a check for him.

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Monday, April 01, 2019

Today -100: April 1, 1919: Of scaffolds and in-demand pacifiers

Eugene Debs’s latest appeal of his conviction and request for a new trial is turned down by the Supreme Court. He expects Indiana coal miners to strike until he’s released.

At a shiplaunching in Harriman, Pennsylvania, a scaffolding collapses, killing up to 40 people.

British Secretary of War Winston Churchill’s Military Bill passes its Third Reading, with high spending and continued conscription. Churchill says it’s necessary because Germany and Austria are in chaos and will either fall into anarchy or ally with the Russian Bolsheviks against small European states. British generals and soldiers, he says, are more in demand in various countries throughout the world as law-givers and pacifiers than those of any other country.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Today -100: March 31, 1919: Of debses, vaccines, and corridors

Toledo, Ohio officials bar Eugene Debs from giving his scheduled speech at Memorial Hall. The excluded crowd storms the Hall, although Debs is actually sick in bed in Cleveland at the time. 75 are arrested but later released.

The Prussian state government says that in distributing food received from abroad, it will prioritize industrial regions – except those with ongoing general strikes.

The vaccine against the Spanish Flu that New York cops were forced to get has incapacitated something like 1,200 of them. And is presumably also of no use against Spanish Flu.

Supposedly some time ago Japan offered France to wipe out Bolshevism in Russia in return for French Indochina.

The Allies are demanding that Polish troops be allowed to transit through Danzig, but Germany is resisting because it thinks they’ll actually try to claim the port for Poland.

This seems like as good a time as any to show you the only piece of Nazi propaganda I own. It decries the Danzig Corridor and the envelope it was sent in has a “Freie Staat Danzig” stamp. It was mailed from Germany on August 15, 1939 (and arrived after the war started) to a business in Brooklyn at which a relative of mine was employed, presumably because they had a NY phone book and the business had a German (actually German-Jewish) name.

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Today -100: March 30, 1919: No man is more innocent of this war than I

Headline of the Day -100: 

Former kaiser Wilhelm II says he’d rather kill himself than be put on trial, because it would be sooooo undignified. He admits to some youthful mistakes, but the war was totally the fault of the Russians. “I have made mistakes, but no man is more innocent of this war than I.”

Gen. Edmund Allenby tells Egyptian notables that he intends to use repression to bring order to Egypt (as is the custom), and it’s up to them to reduce the suffering he’ll be inflicting on the Egyptian people.

The end of the war prevented the adoption of physicist Robert Goddard’s new weapon, a rocket with a 200-mile range (Goddard was working on a bunch of things that could have been used in the war, including an early version of the bazooka).

A sign the war is over: the baking of fresh pastry is now permitted in France.

Supposedly the Allies have demanded the resignation of the new Hungarian soviet government and new elections supervised by Allied troops.

Raoul Villain, belatedly tried for murdering French Socialist leader Jean Jaurès just before the war began, is acquitted. His lawyer asked for the acquittal “In the name of victory, which is now filling our hearts with joy.”

20 Sinn Féin prisoners escape from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, including J. J. Walsh, who was elected to the British Parliament in the  general election. They had a rope ladder.

Speaking of death-defying feats, the combined Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, the “world’s first super-circus,” opens in Madison Square Garden. All the elephants, aerialists, bears riding bicycles, horseback riders, freaks, and, presumably, clowns, you can stand, although the NYT fails to say anything about the clowns.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Today -100: March 29, 1919: It is the unquestionable right of every enlightened people to govern themselves

Headlines of the Day -100: 

Gen. Charles Mangin has been summoned to meet Clemenceau, and rumor says it’s to lead Allied forces against the Bolsheviks. However the US and Britain think the French plan wouldn’t work and would be a bit too much like a, you know, war, to go over well back home.

The peace deal, it turns out, isn’t quite as close as everyone thought. France decides to up its demands, and now wants to annex the Saar Valley. The US and Britain earlier rejected this demand, but France is reformulating it as not an annexation per se but, given the Saar’s many coal mines, part of Germany’s reparations. The US and Britain are not impressed by this logic.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, pointing out that the Espionage Act will become inoperative when peace is declared (Spoiler Alert: he’s wrong there because the Espionage Act is still in effect), says there will need to be new legislation to deal with “dangerous alien enemies,” 2,000 of whom are currently interned (in a program overseen by J. Edgar Hoover).

The NYT Irish reporter interviews escaped prisoner and Sinn Féin leader Éamon de Valera. “It is the unquestionable right of every enlightened people to govern themselves.” I could really do without that “enlightened.” He’s pretty sure there won’t be any Irish civil war after independence, so that’s okay then.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Sure, why not, whatever.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Today -100: March 28, 1919: Of covenants, vital policies, brightened Germans, and assassinations

The draft of the League of Nations covenant is finished. They finally figured out that they can’t come back to it after the peace treaty is signed, since the treaty will require Germany to turn over its colonies to become League of Nations mandates, so there has to be a League of Nations, that’s just science.

The US delegation is still sounding everyone out about possibly proposing an amendment in support of the Monroe Doctrine, which many back home are demanding, though the people demanding it are mostly just trying to torpedo the US joining the League.

And the Japanese are still pressing their anti-racial-discrimination amendment. Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes comes out strongly in favor of racial discrimination, which he calls “a policy vital to the existence and ideals of Australia.” Points for racist honesty, I guess. “If the League is able to compel a State to amend its immigration, naturalization, and franchise laws, there remains to the State only the shadow of sovereignty.” He says the people of the US Pacific Coast probably feel the same way (i.e., support the Asian immigration ban).

Headline of the Day -100:


Theodore Roosevelt Jr. asks a group of parents of soldiers and sailors to stop their campaign to nominate him for vice president in 1920 (for some reason he doesn’t just remind them that he’s 31, too young to run).

Albanian Provisional Vice President Prênk Bib Doda, a long-time fighter for Albanian independence, who the NYT says is “on friendly terms with Italy,” is ambushed and killed on the highway by what the Times thinks is a band loyal to Provisional President Essad Pasha, but which was actually paid by Italy.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Today -100: March 27, 1919: Of leagues, blockades, disorders, and pickles

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association forms a non-partisan league of women voters, but can’t decide on a name for it. It will be bi-cameral, with a House of Voters representing the states that already have women’s suffrage, and a House of Delegates for the rest.

Italy lifts its blockade of the Adriatic.

France really wants the Allies to send troops, maybe 500,000 of them, to Hungary to repress Bolshevism there.

Hungarian Rumors of the Day -100: Count Károlyi has been 1) arrested, or 2) assassinated. No and no.

The New York Legislature creates a committee to investigate Bolshevism in the state.

The plan now is to combine all the peace treaties to end the Great War into a single treaty. Which is a little tricky since the US never declared war on Bulgaria and Turkey. They’re looking for a loophole.

Chicago Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson (R) has been using libel lawsuits to cow opposition to him in next month’s mayoral election, including a $500,000 suit against the Chicago Tribune for publishing comments against him made by various people. The Trib responds by pointing out all Thompson’s “seditious” (i.e., anti-war) statements, his refusal to invite the French and British missions to Chicago, calling Chicago the “sixth German city of the world” and so on. Thompson files a new suit against officers of the Robert M. Sweitzer Non-Partisan League for its statements about him (Sweitzer is the Democratic candidate for mayor).

Headline of the Day -100: 

Yeah, NYT, definitely prioritize the property damage over the 69 dead Egyptians. It says, “The disorders in Cairo were checked with the least possible employment of force.”

An Australian has entered the race for the Daily Mail’s £10,000 prize for the first trans-Atlantic flight. I assume he’s a plucky underdog because his name is Sydney Pickles. A British dirigible may also compete, if it can be finished in time.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Today -100: March 26, 1919: Of natural results, seditionaries, exiles, and vampires

Count Károlyi explains his government’s resignation: “What has happened is a natural result of the blindness and ill-will with which it was sought to assassinate Hungary” (meaning the independence of nationalities like the Czechs previously subjected to Hungarian rule within the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He says Hungary can only be saved by the Internationale. The organization, not the song.

Hungarian Rumors of the Day -100: “It is said that rumors that Hungary has declared war on Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and Jugoslavia are extremely doubtful.” Rumors that former prime minister Sándor Wekerle has been arrested are actually true.

The Spanish government responds to a general strike in Barcelona by declaring martial law throughout Spain.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Which isn’t as fun a headline as Honor Butt Seditionary would have been. This is W.F. Dunn, fined £5,000 for sedition, who wins the Democratic primary for mayor of Butte. He will lose the general election.

British Secretary of State for War Winston Churchill says all of Egypt is in revolt and asks soldiers about to be demobilized to stay on. He’s resisting efforts in Parliament to end conscription.

Austria’s former emperor Charles has finally gone into exile, in Switzerland. However he still hasn’t abdicated or renounced the throne for his family.

A Palm Beach hotel is considering a plan for Prohibition: airplanes ferrying patrons to Nassau to drink.

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100:  

Sadly, not actual vampires (but you knew that; vampires do not show up on film, that’s just science). A Newark police judge wants to photograph arrested prostitutes (I assume that’s who we’re talking about) for, er, identification purposes, yeah that’s it, identification purposes.

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Today -100: March 25, 1919: Of plane trips, cunning plans, and Danzig

US Navy seaplanes will join the race to be the first plane to cross the Atlantic, although they presumably won’t be competing for the Daily Mail’s £10,000 prize.

US and British authorities think Hungary’s adoption of Bolshevism is actually just a ploy to get out of onerous peace terms by threatening Europe with anarchy and chaos, probably concocted in a conspiracy with Germany and Austria and maybe Russia, because they’re all sneaky like that.

The Austrian Central Workers’ Soviet declines the Hungarian communists’ suggestion that they create a soviet-style government in Austria, pointing out that Austria at present relies on the Allies for food.

German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert says Germany won’t sign a peace treaty that gives Danzig to Poland.

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Today -100: March 24, 1919: Of soviet republics, French sufferings, and covenant lies

Last week the Allies occupied much of Hungary with French, Czech and Romanian troops to prevent a Bolshevik republic being established. So Count Károlyi’s government resigns and Béla Kun, who was a political prisoner literally a day ago, declares the establishment of the “Hungarian Soviet Republic,” which in turn declares a dictatorship of the proletariat exercised through workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ soviets, and which may or may not have declared war on the Entente (presumably with Russian help). Kun will be Hungary’s new foreign minister (commissar) but is actually in charge. The government suggests that Austrian and German workers also break off relations with the Paris Peace Conference. Also, there’s a newspaper compositors’ strike, so there are no newspapers being printed in Budapest, which doesn’t help the confusion.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The NYT complains that many of the objections to the League of Nations covenant, such as the claim of Sen. Philander Knox (a former secretary of state, no less) that the League’s Executive Council could order the US into a war against its will: “Its assailants pervert its meaning, strangely, monstrously, and rail at the document for what it does not say, was never intended to say.”

An ad for the Christian Herald asks

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Today -100: March 23, 1919: Of emperors, fascists, subways, and straw

Austria again tells former Emperor Charles that he should leave the country, and he again ignores them.

Benito Mussolini founds the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento.

Staten Island demands a subway connection to Manhattan. Manhattan does not demand a subway connection to Staten Island.

Geneva puts in its bid to host the League of Nations headquarters, offering a nice château, the Palais d'Egmont, and a park and everything.

Fashion Headline of the Day -100: 

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Friday, March 22, 2019

Today -100: March 22, 1919: Such a thing is to be expected at the beginning of a campaign

50 pro-League of Nations Democratic state legislators in Missouri challenge anti-League of Nations U.S. Sen. James Reed (also D): they’ll resign and run for re-election on their views on the League if he does the same. Reed calls this “some more of their stuff to embarrass me.”

The State Department warns a US syndicate that owns a large swathe of land in Baja California, including harbors, not to go ahead with plans to sell it to the Japanese.

Italy threatens to pull out of the Peace Conference unless it gets the city of Fiume instead of Yugoslavia.

Los Angeles Mayor Frederick Woodman is indicted for taking a bribe from “negro politicians” George S. Brown and George Henderson (also indicted) for protection for gambling, booze and brothels. Woodman says “Such a thing is to be expected at the beginning of a campaign” (the mayoral primary is in May).

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Today -100: March 21, 1919: Of noses, divorces, and suffrage

Headline of the Day -100:

A Chicago Tribune reporter gets close enough to his subject to overhear the aforementioned royal schnozz-honking, but not close enough to ask Willy any questions. He's nevertheless determined to somehow get a story out of the incident. He does raise the possibility that Willy isn’t being allowed to give interviews less for what he might say than because a reporter might break the illusions his entourage are cultivating in the Will-ster that Germany is going to call him back to the throne at any moment.

The 1916 US census shows that 9% of marriages are now ending in divorce. The lowest divorce rates are in South Carolina (which has had no legal provision for divorce since 1878, which sounds like an interesting story), DC, North Carolina and... New York. The highest rates are in Nevada, Montana and Oregon.

The Vermont legislature fails to override Gov. Percival Clement’s veto of a bill allowing women to vote for president.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Today -100: March 20, 1919: Of bourgeois disinfection, stiffness sickness, and enlightened rule from the outside

Russia Rumor of the Day -100: a Menshevik revolution in Petrograd.

Oh lord, here’s another one: typhoid fever is rampant in Petrograd, but the Bolsheviks forbid disinfection as “bourgeois.”

Starvation in Vienna has given rise to a “stiffness sickness.” Also, they’re eating their dogs.

A NYT editorial on the independence movements in Egypt and Korea says “Whether a people has the divine right to misgovern itself is a matter on which opinions will be held according to political theory; but in the present situation of a closely interrelated world a people which wants to rule itself may justifiably be asked to give some proof that it knows how to do it.” Of recently freed nations, the Czechs and the Poles seem to be able to run efficient governments, the Times says, but it’s less sure about the Ukrainians. And it’s pretty sure the Egyptian lower classes don’t want to be ruled by the Egyptian nationalists. Since self-rule  might lead to anarchy, the “world interest... may at present best be served by a continuance of enlightened rule from the outside, with gradual progress toward native self-government.”

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Today -100: March 19, 1919: Of plane trips and immoderate demands which cannot possibly be entertained

More pilots are hoping to be the first to cross the Atlantic and win a £10,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail. The excellently named Harry Hawker’s Sopwith is being shipped to Newfoundland for the flight. Hawker thinks the flight should take 19½ hours and his plane can stay in the air for 25 hours at 100 mph (and can theoretically float), so he should be fine.

There has been nationalist rioting in Egypt. Early in the year, some nationalist leaders asked to be allowed to go to London to make a case to the government for Egyptian autonomy. The Egyptian Prime Minister Hussein Rushdi Pasha and the education minister said they wanted to go too. The British told them no useful purpose would be served by nationalists coming to “advance immoderate demands which not possibly be entertained,” but the ministers could come. Instead, they resigned. Things escalated and the colonial authorities have exiled 4 nationalist leaders to Malta.

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