Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Today -100: July 8, 1920: Of lost rifles, duties to the Democratic Party, lynchings, and bowling


Germany asks the Spa Conference for a 15-month delay in reducing its army below 100,000, citing the threat of Bolshevism. The Allies say no. Also, Germany says it doesn’t know where all those rifles the Allies want handed over actually are. Lloyd George says it’s inconceivable that Germany just allows those rifles to be in the hands of general members of the public against the will of the government. German Foreign Minister Walter Simons reminds him that that’s also the case in a part of the British Empire (i.e., Ireland). Also, he says, we need a larger army to disarm the civilians.

One of the first things Gov. James Cox does as nominee is to ask Louisiana to ratify the women’s suffrage Amendment “as a duty to the Democratic Party”.

And vice presidential nominee Franklin Roosevelt... goes back to his job in the Navy Department.

The US lifts its restrictions on exports to Russia (other than munitions), the State Dept making it very clear that this does not entail recognition of the Soviet government. Passports for travel to Russia won’t be issued, nor mail to Russia accepted.

A black man is lynched in Roxboro, North Carolina, in a churchyard.

Pancho Villa agrees surrender terms with the Mexican government.

Headline of the Day -100: 


What to Watch, If You Have a Time Machine: the premiere of F.W. Murnau’s The Hunchback and the Dancer (Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin), a lost film.


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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Today -100: July 7, 1920: Make the best of it


William Jennings Bryan for one is not happy with the nomination of a Wet, especially after the defeat of a bone-dry plank. “My heart is in the grave with our cause,” he says. Might he run for president under the Prohibition Party label?

The Democratic National Convention follows up the endless 44 ballots it took to choose Cox by taking just a few minutes in choosing his running mate, Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt. The choice seems to have been more that of the party leaders (the Tammany machine, with which FDR was often at odds when he was in the NY State Senate) than of Cox, who was consulted by phone.

William Gibbs McAdoo claims he’s “greatly relieved and delighted” not to have received the nomination.

Cox plans an extensive speaking tour, eschewing Harding’s front-porch approach. Maybe his front porch just isn’t as nice as Harding’s.



At the Spa Conference, the Poles ask for aid from the Allies to fight the Russian Bolsheviks, and are turned down flat, Lloyd George advising them to make peace – did he actually tell them to “make the best of it” or is that a paraphrase, I wonder?

Headline of the Day -100:  


Two black men accused of killing their landlord are burned at the stake in Paris, Texas. The sheriff thinks the landlord was actually killed by two other people.


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Monday, July 06, 2020

Today -100: July 6, 1920: Normal men and back to normality


The Democratic National Convention takes ballots #23 to 36 during Monday’s day session. McAdoo gains strength, surpassing Cox on the 30th ballot, and retains his lead thereafter, although the shifts in votes between ballots are minor. Several motions to break the deadlock by dropping the bottom candidate all lose. The convention reconvenes at night and finally nominates James Middleton Cox on the 44th ballot at 1:39 a.m.

On the 33th ballot, one vote is cast for Laura Clay, a Kentucky suffragist and a delegate, the first such vote for a woman. The second, 3 ballots later, went to another Kentuckihoovian, Cora Wilson Stewart. Ring Lardner gets half a vote from Missouri on one of the ballots.

Warren G. Harding gives his first speech as Republican candidate for president, from his front porch to a crowd of Marionaires, as Wikipedia tells me the residents of Marion, Ohio are styled (the article calls them Marionites). He says government needs “normal men and back to normality” rather than one-man government by “the superman,” a clear insult to Kryptonian-Americans. He also talks about restoring two-party politics. In other words, he’s downplaying his own future role in a very un-Trumpian manner.



The conference in Spa, Belgium, opens and goes badly from the start. The German delegates, including Chancellor Constantin Fehrenbach, want to discuss economic matters (reparations) before moving on to disarmament, and just to make sure of that they didn’t bring along the defense minister or the military chief. The Allies, especially France, tell them that disarmament must come first and end the session abruptly, telling them to come back tomorrow with those personages. There is some talk that French PM Alexandre Millerand was tricked, that in conceding that there be negotiations with Germany, rather than ultimatums as has been the policy until now, he accepted the possibility of a revision of the terms of the Versailles Treaty.

Black postal clerk James Spencer, who stabbed a white fellow worker on a mail car in Mississippi, is lynched.

Hungary’s minister of education orders high schools to limit Jewish students to 25% of total students, down from the current 50%.


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Sunday, July 05, 2020

Today -100: July 5, 1920: Of mutinies, bryans, and train wrecks


A battalion of the Irish Connaught Rangers stationed in the Punjab mutinies after receiving the news from Ireland.

Former three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan names 9 people he’d be willing to support for the nomination. None of them are actually running. He says any candidate must be Dry, a supporter of women’s suffrage, and against Wall Street.

Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin Roosevelt, in the New York delegation, is supporting McAdoo against very strong Tammany opposition, although over the course of 22 ballots he has also voted for Cox and Amb. John Davis. He’s trying to avoid offending any side which might oppose him running for the US Senate in November.

19 people are killed in a train wreck in Pittston, Pennsylvania, evidently caused by lightning.


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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Today -100: July 4, 1920: And went there up from the San Francisco Civic Auditorium a chant of “We want Cox!”


The Democratic National Convention holds ballots 3 to 22. There is a more or less steady “drift to Cox” (if your drift to Cox lasts longer than four hours, consult a physician), passing McAdoo on the 12th ballot, but no one is getting close to the necessary 2/3. Vice President Whatsisname drops out after the 15th ballot. Delegates who’d hoped to go home by now realize they’ll still be here Monday (no convention on Sunday). Various telegrams are sent to the White House asking Pres. Wilson to help break the impasse, but response comes there none.

New York City Board of Education President Anning Prall tells the Rotary Club that “Americanizing” the children of immigrants isn’t enough, there needs to be compulsory Americanization of adults as well.


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Friday, July 03, 2020

Today -100: July 3, 1920: Don’t eat the dynamite


The Democratic National Convention’s first two ballots are both led by William Gibbs McAdoo, followed by A. Mitchell Palmer, James Cox, and Al Smith. No one’s even close to 2/3 at this stage. There were 21 candidates, some of whom got just half a vote, which has to be embarrassing.

The closed-door-produced, avoid-all-controversies platform is adopted by the convention, with all amendments voted down.

The Allies decide that Germany owes £6 billion in reparations (plus interest), to be paid at £150 million per year for 5 years, then increasing to £250 million. Now the Allies are squabbling over the division of that money. Italy wants 20%, which is ridiculous.

The Belgian parliament votes down women’s suffrage.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Today -100: July 2, 1920: There is no law, no order, and there is no punishment for crime


The Democratic convention is running behind schedule, thanks to booze. That is, battles over the prohibition issue are delaying the behind-closed-doors working out of the party platform, while the delegates on the floor amuse themselves singing “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny” and “I Love You California,” which unlike the former has no racist lyrics at all, and then another few dozen songs before realizing that they’re not going to get any actual work done. At 4 a.m. the Resolutions Committee decides to make no mention of prohibition either way. William Jennings Bryan plans to have a floor fight on the subject. Decisions were also made for a weak-tea expression of “sympathy” for Ireland; to oppose cash bonuses for war veterans, described as putting “patriotism on a pecuniary basis”; for ratifying the League of Nations covenant without reservations; for rejecting Pres. Wilson’s hope for acceptance of a mandate over Armenia; and against establishing a Dept. of Education.

Some more presidential candidates are nominated: Sen. F.M. Simmons of NC, Sen. Carter Glass of Virginia, Amb. John Davis, and Francis Burton Harrison, the governor-general of the Philippines.

New York Gov. Al Smith “went to a leather store to buy sets of pony harness for his children”. Going into a leather store to buy a pony harness probably meant something very different in the San Francisco of 1920 than it does today. Probably.

McAdoo keeps refusing to answer reporters asking if he’d accept the nomination.

Sen. Harding meets Vermont Gov. Percival Clement and maybe persuades him to call a special session of the Legislature to vote on the federal women’s suffrage Amendment (which Clement personally opposes), although this is more hinted at than stated.

The self-styled Irish Parliament sets up a court system. The official British court system is having a little problem: none of the accused are showing up in court. The Lord Justice complains, “There is no law, no order, and there is no punishment for crime.”

China expresses regret that one of its warlords killed an American missionary.


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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Today -100: July 1, 1920: We know that this is a convention in the open


10 candidates for president are nominated at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco: Gov. James Cox of Ohio, Gov. Al Smith of NY, William Gibbs McAdoo (who asked that his name not be put to the convention and went to bed before he was nominated anyway; his supporters give assurances that he’s willing to be drafted), Gov. Edward Edwards of NJ, Attorney Gen. A. Mitchell Palmer, Ag Sec Edwin Meredith, Sen. Gilbert Hitchcock (Neb.), Sen. Robert Owen (Oklahoma), James Gerard, and Homer Cummings. There will be more nominating speeches for yet more candidates tomorrow. Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin Roosevelt, seconding Al Smith’s nomination, says “We know he has been a governor in the open. We know that this is a convention in the open. We know that the nomination at this convention will not be made at 2 a.m. in a hotel room.”

The July issue of Pictorial Review begins serializing Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence.


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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Today -100: June 30, 1920: I am here for the homes of this land and the children of this land


After the failure of his presidential bid, Frank Lowden announces that he won’t run for re-election as governor of Illinois either. He says governors (and presidents) should only serve a single term.

The Democratic National Convention votes that the DNC will consist of one man and one woman from each state.

And the Resolutions Committee votes down a Wet plank, in secret session. William Jennings Bryan demands to know who Theodore Bell, a former member of Congress who had just given an anti-prohibition speech, “represents.” Bell says the grape growers of California, and who does Mr Bryan represent? “I am here as a Democrat,” the Great Commoner replies; “I am here for the homes of this land and the children of this land, whom your damnable traffic would slay.”

There’s also a loud debate over whether to have a plank supporting the Irish people, with some claiming it’s an internal matter for Britain and that such a declaration would lead inevitably to war with Britain and wouldn’t we resent it if Britain recognized the Philippines’ independence?

There is, in fact, a Filipino delegate, J.P. Melencia, who pleads, “his eyes shining like shoe-buttons, his white teeth gleaming,” for independence.

There’s no smoking allowed in the Convention, and women delegates are supposed to remove their hats “in compliance with state law.”

McAdoo is still the leading candidate, despite supposedly not even being in the race. What say you about that, William G?



The British are using planes to search for Brig. Gen. Cuthbert Henry Tindall Lucas, kidnapped by Sinn Féin two days ago.


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Monday, June 29, 2020

Today -100: June 29, 1920: I wasn’t expecting an FDR fistfight today, but here we are


British soldiers run riot in Fermoy, County Cork at midnight in revenge for the kidnapping of Gen. Cuthbert Lucas, breaking shop windows and vandalizing their contents.

New York (or at least Tammany) delegates to the Democratic convention refuse to join in a procession in honor of Woodrow Wilson until Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt beats them up and takes the state standard.

The NYT, having learned nothing from the Republican convention, says that Gov. Cox is out of the race and McAdoo will probably win. Or possibly Vice President Whatsisname as a dark horse. There are 21 presidential candidates in all.

McAdoo supporters have buttons reading “Mac’ll do.”


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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Today -100: June 28, 1920: Of crown princes, cuthberts, and snoring landlords


Ohio Gov. James Cox’s wimpy stance on prohibition loses him the support of the Tammany Hall machine. Boss Murphy knows that a wet plank in the platform is important for Democrats in local New York elections. The NY delegates now shift their support to William Gibbs McAdoo (whose friends say he would accept the nomination if offered. They suggest that the presidential son-in-law is trying to avoid being seen as a “crown prince” – a common Jared Kushner, if you will – by not openly soliciting the nomination).

Vice President Whatsisname  is evidently a candidate after all.

Gov. Cox’s enemies have been spreading the story of his 1911 divorce from Mayme Simpson Harding (no relation). He remarried in 1917.

Sinn Féin kidnaps a brigadier general, one Cuthbert Henry Tindall Lucas. He is being held as a prisoner of war. The Daily Chronicle suggests that going fishing was maybe not the smartest move on the general’s part.

Inmates of the new Death Row in Sing Sing are complaining about the lack of soundproofing in general, and the snoring of Sam “The Landlord” Michalow in particular.


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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Today -100: June 27, 1920: We do not look upon prohibition as an issue one way or the other


Ohio Gov. James Cox refuses to make enemies by taking sides on prohibition, which is a jolt to wets who thought he was one of them. His spokesmodel, former Ohio Gov. (back in the ‘90s) James Campbell, says “We do not look upon prohibition as an issue one way or the other. Governor Cox has refused to be used by either faction. His record is one of law enforcement.”

William Gibbs McAdoo is more and more popular among the convention delegates, proving once again the attractiveness of unavailable men.

Another one of whom is Edwin Meredith, who says he is “perfectly happy as secretary of agriculture,” which is a phrase that has never been uttered by anyone else ever.


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Friday, June 26, 2020

Today -100: June 26, 1920: Of campaign finance and duels


Harding will limit campaign contributions to $1,000 which is the equivalent of some dollars in today’s money. As we know, Harding dislikes even the appearance of corruption.

Gov. Coolidge follows Harding in refusing to ask the Republican governors of Connecticut and Vermont to facilitate the passing of the federal women’s suffrage Amendment.

France is returning to normality. Well, duels anyway. The first post-war duel takes place between Vincent de Moro-Giafferi, lawyer for former prime minister Joseph Caillaux, and someone named Torres. They exchange shots, neither managing to hit the other.

Spain has a plague of locusts.


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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Today -100: June 25, 1920: Who’s Who


Headline of the Day -100:


Many delegates are refusing to take William Gibbs McAdoo’s no for an answer, displaying badges with the highly persuasive slogan “Cock-a-Doodle Do! Who’s Who? McAdoo.”

The British military suppresses the sectarian violence in Derry/Londonderry with machine guns.

The US military will now allow enlistment by illiterates, aliens, and non-English-speakers. As long as they’re white.

Honduras bans entry to all black British subjects (i.e., Jamaicans).


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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Today -100: June 24, 1920: Of derries, women’s suffrage, and death and taxes


Yet another day of running battles in Derry/Londonderry, with the British army not making much of a dent. And there’s a destroyer, because that’ll totally help.

Tennessee Gov. Albert Roberts agrees to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with the federal women’s suffrage Amendment. Democratic women are happy that Harding refused to pressure the governors of Vermont and Connecticut to do the same, leaving it to a Democratic state to, potentially, push it over the top. Also, Pres. Wilson was willing to do what Harding was not, ask a governor of his own party to take steps towards ratification, in a public telegram.

Headline of the Day -100: 




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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Today -100: June 23, 1920: Of earthquakes, sad prodigies, and tug of war


A bunch of earthquakes hit LA, but most of the damage is confined to Inglewood, which doesn’t count.

Oh, and one woman “dies of fright.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


Only.

With the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco just days away, there isn’t much consensus about a presidential candidate – just like the R’s at the start of their convention. There are still people who think Wilson might run for a third time and there are still people promoting William Gibbs McAdoo as the strongest candidate, despite his refusal to run. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer is a strongish candidate, possibly with NY Gov. Alfred E. Smith as his running mate, a wet to balance Palmer’s dry stance (would that make that ticket “moist”?). And Tammany Hall is pushing Ohio’s Gov. Cox. But a lot of the behind-the-scenes work is focused on preventing a plank, any plank, on the prohibition question.

A delegation from the National Woman’s Party meets Sen. Harding, who refuses to lift a finger to request that the Republican governors of Vermont and Connecticut call special sessions of their legislatures to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Unless of course those governors ask him for his opinion. A disappointed Alice Paul asks what’s the point of the suffrage plank in the R. platform if it can’t be put into effect in Republican states.

Headline of the Day -100:  


That’s 8-year-old Samuel Reshevsky, future 8-time US Chess champeen, winning 12 simultaneous games of chess,


but his father won’t let him play on a carnival ride.

The 1920 Olympics will have tug of war. In fact, it’ll be the last time the Olympics have tug of war.


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Monday, June 22, 2020

Today -100: June 22, 1920: Of lynchings, non-geniuses, and blood fusions


The Allies give Greece permission to attack Ataturk’s forces militarily, supposedly in order to enforce the peace treaty on Turkey on behalf of British and French interests as well as Greek.

A black man is lynched in Georgia after “confessing” to killing a white 17-year-old girl (I swear they’re always 17).

A NYT editorial quotes US senators, one unnamed, one Harry New (R-Indiana), as calling Harding “not a genius,” “not a master-mind.” But, the Times adds, “The Republicans have made the discovery that a great man is really out of place in the Presidency. The country, they say, is sick of supermen in the White House. ... Their present effort is to make it out that the truly desirable qualities in a President are mediocrity shot through with good-nature, readiness to take advice from men wiser than he, and a greater disposition to ‘get on’ with everybody and to hope that all will turn out for the best.” The Times disagrees, saying the presidency is actually a pretty hard job and requires more than mediocrity.

California Gov. William Stephens (R) writes to Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby calling for action against the “growing menace” of Japanese immigration. He says “the blood fusion of the Occident and the Orient has nowhere ever successfully taken place”. This is especially true of the Japanese, who “are not a servile or docile stock. Proud of their traditions and history, they brook no suggestion of any dominant or superior race. And it is just because they possess these attributes and feel more keenly the social and race barriers which our people raise against them that they are driven to race isolation and, I fear, ultimately will reach that race resentment which portends danger to the peace of our State in the future.”


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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Today -100: June 21, 1920: Of wets, race riots, sectarian riots, and ghosts


The Anti-Saloon League is campaigning against Ohio Gov. James Cox, who they call the wet candidate for president.

Race riot in Chicago. A large group of back-to-Africa blacks have a parade, build a bonfire, and someone throws in an American flag. Some white sailors object, and away we go. One seaman and one black cop are killed. The sailors run around beating up random black people.

Another day of sectarian violence in Derry/Londonderry. 5 dead.

Suffragists think Tennessee might be the state to ratify the federal women’s suffrage Amendment, if they can get Gov. Roberts to call the Legislature into special session. A provision in the state constitution requiring a new election before the Legislature can ratify an amendment seems to have been invalidated by the US Supreme Court in its decision (see June 2) negating Ohio’s requirement of a referendum. This won’t stop Tennessee legislators from pretending that their opposition is based solely on the claim that it violates the state constitution.

An international labor-led boycott of Hungary has begun, protesting Hungary’s political repression.

The Society of Psychical Research announces that Dr. James Hyslop has indeed reported back from the Great Beyond. In fact, according to reports of various mediums, he’s barely shut up since his death last week, although the Society is being cagey about the exact content of his communiqués.


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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Today -100: June 20, 1920: Of breweries, hirams, and twinks


Running for president is so darned inconvenient. Harding cancels his golfing vacation. He admits that he used to own shares in a brewery, but says he was just helping out a small business in Marion.

William Randolph Hearst calls for the creation of a new political party to back a Hiram Johnson run. Johnson himself still hasn’t come out in support of Harding.

Police in County Leitrim, Ireland respond to being refused service by a shop following the IRA’s boycott order by returning, helping themselves to goods, paying, then escaping in their motor vehicles from the angry crowd that had gathered. In the north, a two-hour gun fight between Nationalists and Unionists in Derry/Londonderry is finally broken up by the arrival of the military.

Ad of the Day -100: 



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Friday, June 19, 2020

Today -100: June 19, 1920: Of preserved nationality, wets, false teeth, headless bodies, and tractors


An interview Woodrow Wilson gave to the New York World (which I skimmed and didn’t think contained anything new), arguing that the Democratic convention should support all of his policies, especially the League, is being taken as indicating that he might still decide to run for re-election or at least try to bind the candidate to his policies.

Warren Harding responds to the interview, welcoming an election on the question of “preserved nationality.”

William Gibbs McAdoo, former treasury secretary and presidential son-in-law, not necessarily in that order, says he is definitely not running for president. He says he needs to make a bunch of money first, which is the reason he gave when he resigned as treasury sec.

William Jennings Bryan says no Wet can win the Democratic nomination for president.

Prohibitionist leader Virgil Hinshaw says Warren Harding used to own stock in a brewery.

After railway workers in Ireland refuse to run trains carrying British troops and munitions, Prime Minister David Lloyd George meets members of the union and threatens to shut down railways in Ireland. Or maybe fire all the workers and have the army run the railroads. He also says Britain would fight to prevent an independent Ireland, citing the US Civil War.

Woodrow Wilson signs a bill allocating $35 for a set of false teeth for Brooklyn Navy Yard worker Michael MacGarvey. There’s probably an interesting story there, but the NYT doesn’t tell it.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Harold Lloyd signs a deal that will make him the highest-paid actor in the world, earning $1,500,000+ in the first year.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Today -100: June 18, 1920: Of punchy Belgians, lynchings, bears, and women’s suffrage


There are rumors that former kaiser Wilhelm was punched by a Belgian.

The St. Louis County, Minnesota County Attorney Warren Greene says at least 2 of the 3 men lynched in Duluth were definitely innocent.

There’s a gang war in progress in Chicago, as is the custom. The latest victim: Paddy “The Bear” Ryan, a nickname presumably intended to be terrifying rather than adorable.

Emma Goldman, in exile in the Hotel Astoria in Petrograd, says there’s “no health” in Russian state socialism.

After having failed to pass the federal women’s suffrage Amendment, the Louisiana State Senate also fails to pass one to the state Constitution.

Obit of the Day -100: Dr. James Hyslop, retired Columbia professor and psychic researcher to the stars.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Today -100: June 17, 1920: Of coalitions, sociologists, and national athems


Constantin Fehrenbach will be the next German chancellor, heading a coalition of his Catholic Zentrum Party, the Democrats (DDP), and the People’s Party (DVP), with the Socialists outside the government but neutral towards it.

Sociologist Max Weber dies of Spanish Flu at 56.

The Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, is coming to the US, but some of the passengers on his ship are trying to get him barred because he failed to stand up for the US national anthem in Honolulu harbor. Immigration officials say there’s no law making that an excludable offense. (A later denial filed with the State Dept says he did stand but didn’t sing, not knowing the words. He did, however, remain seated during the British anthem, being Irish.)


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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Today -100: June 16, 1920: Of Minnesota not so nice, log cabins, and bluebeards


Three black men, circus workers, are lynched by a large mob in Duluth, Minnesota, for supposedly attacking a 17-year-old white girl. Interestingly, the mock trial conducted by the mob acquitted three other black men and returned them to their cells.

Vice President Whatsisname says he is not only not a candidate for president but will be retiring from public life, which is a surprise to everyone who didn’t realize he was actually in public life.

Harding will not run for re-election to the Senate after all, but won’t resign his seat.

Harding denies having been born in a log cabin.

Heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey is acquitted of evading the draft.

The French authorities are investigating Henri Désiré Landru for killing 11 (or more) women he met through matrimonial ads. And then selling their furniture.

Landru was fictionalized by Charlie Chaplin in his too-dark-for-1947 comedy Monsieur Verdoux. There’s also a 1963 Claude Chabrol film Landru (update: which I have now seen and I just had to check: yeah, that’s what he looked like, all right).


Also played by George Sanders in 1960’s Bluebeard’s Ten Honeymoons, which I haven’t seen.


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Monday, June 15, 2020

Today -100: June 15, 1920: Of front lawns and metal planes


Warren G. Harding celebrates his first day as nominee by playing golf, as is the custom. This will be followed by a week’s vacation, playing more golf. He’s planning a “front lawn” campaign in which he stays in Marion, Ohio and does not go around the country making speeches and kissing babies.

The US Army thinks all-metal airplanes, now being tested, might be the wave of the future.


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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Today -100: June 14, 1920: Congratulations to you


If elected, Harding will be the first Baptist president.

Republicans are worrying that Sen. Robert La Follette will bolt the party for an independent run for the presidency, to the left of Harding on many issues but also strongly anti-League of Nations. Fears that Hiram Johnson would do the same are alleviated when he sends Harding a fulsome message which I now present verbatim: “Congratulations to you. Hi Johnson.”

The first assistant postmaster general rules that children cannot be sent by parcel post as live animals. Which is a thing that had actually happened.

A bomb explodes at Enrico Caruso’s farewell performance at the National Theatre in Havana. No one killed. It may have been a protest against the high ticket prices for Caruso’s shows ($35 and up!).

Gen. Essad Pasha, the Ottoman official who sometimes ran Albania and was scheming to return from exile as its ruler, is assassinated in Paris by an Albanian nationalist, Avni Rustemi. Rustemi says he didn’t plan it; he always carries a revolver, saw Pasha Essad and just couldn’t help himself. “I have killed for Albania,” he tells the French attorney general. He will be acquitted in a French court in December, return to Albania in glory, enter its National Assembly, and of course be assassinated himself in 1924.

Germany: Hermann Müller fails to form a new cabinet. Pres. Ebert calls on the People’s Party (DVP)’s Rudolf Heinze to also fail to form a cabinet.

The Irish Republican Army issues a boycott against the Irish constabulary, ordering that they not be sold food, milk, etc.


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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Today -100: June 13, 1920: What can happen when you’re bleary eyed with loss of sleep and perspiring profusely


Headline of the Day -100: 


The Republican National Convention nominates Sen. Warren Gamaliel Harding of Ohio for president on the 10th ballot. By the 8th ballot, Gen. Leonard Wood and Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden were still in the lead, and then there was a little recess, and...

Some time back, Harry Daugherty, Harding’s campaign manager predicted what would happen. (The NYT puts this in quotes, but it’s really a paraphrase): “At the proper time after Republican National Convention meets some fifteen men, bleary eyed with loss of sleep and perspiring profusely with the excessive heat, will sit down in seclusion around a big table. I will be with them and will present the name of Senator Harding to them, and before we get through they will put him over.” This indeed happens in the proverbial smoke-filled room in the Blackstone Hotel (in fact, this is the origin of the phrase “smoke-filled room,” coined by UP reporter Raymond Clapper), where senators decide on Harding as a compromise candidate, despite his poor performance in primaries. They might have gone for Philander Knox if they’d been able to get Hiram Johnson to drop out in his favor, but they couldn’t.

The NYT describes Harding as “a very respectable Ohio politician of the second class. He has never been a leader of men or a director of policies.” The editorial says his nomination is “the fine and perfect flower of the cowardice and imbecility of the Senatorial cabal that charged itself with the management of the Republican Convention”. The Times is much happier with the choice of Gov. Calvin Coolidge as his running mate, saying his actions against the Boston police strike showed him to be “a man.”

That choice was evidently a much easier one for the boys in the Blackstone (Harding had no input in the decision, as far as I know).

A Japanese newspaper reports that Trotsky is dead and Lenin has fled.

France and Belgium agree a military alliance. I guess the idea of Belgian neutrality is done.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Friday, June 12, 2020

Today -100: June 12, 1920: Of president-picking, and whist experts


The Republican National Convention holds its first 4 ballots. Gen. Leonard Wood topped all 4, with Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden not too far behind, and Hiram Johnson and Warren G. Harding well behind. Wood has the Old Guard Republicans strongly opposed to him, I guess because of his close military and political association with Theodore Roosevelt, so his potential support in the convention has a natural ceiling. And more and more information is leaking out about how much money Lowden is spending to buy the nomination, which doesn’t look good (a lot of it is his own money, or his wife’s – he married into the Pullman railroad family).

One tricky thing for Harding is that the deadline for filing for re-election to the Senate was yesterday. He filed.

Austria’s government, led by Karl Renner, resigns.

Agatha Christie Pastiche of the Day -100:


Actually, looking it up, I find that this case is considered the inspiration for the genre of locked-room mysteries. It was never solved.


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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Today -100: June 11, 1920: That word is tragedy


The Republican platform says Wilson & the Dems were unprepared for war and unprepared for peace. It promises to end “executive autocracy” and restore constitutional government; it attacks Wilson’s “vindictive vetoes.” It calls for tightening immigration and naturalization, and for continuing the exclusion of Asians. Calls for “Americanizing” the foreign population of Hawaii and the “rehabilitation of the Hawaiian race,” whatever that means. It vaguely calls for Congress to “consider the most effective means to end lynching”. Calls for states with Republican legislatures to ratify the women’s suffrage Amendment in time for this election. On the League, it says it supports “agreement among the nations to preserve the peace of the world” buuuuut without compromising national independence or the US people’s “right to determine for themselves what is just and fair when the occasion arises without involving them as participants and not as peacemakers in a multitude of quarrels, the merits of which they are unable to judge.” It accuses Wilson of being a “dictator” in demanding the Senate ratify the covenant without any changes.

Hiram Johnson declares victory on getting that anti-League plank. Victory over whom? International bankers, of course.

Florence Harding says she’d rather Warren not be president: “I can see but one word written over the head of my husband if he is elected, and that word is ‘Tragedy.’”

The American Federation of Labor’s annual convention warns affiliated unions, specifically the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks, against excluding blacks. Black delegates objected to being referred to during the debate as “nigger freight handlers,” as well they might.


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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Today -100: June 10, 1920: So that’s when California went wrong


The census shows that Los Angeles’s population now surpasses San Francisco’s.

The Republican National Convention is having trouble agreeing on its planks on foreign relations, peace, and the League of Nations. Hiram Johnson in particular is fighting any move short of complete rejection of the League. That issue is pretty much his whole campaign now. Some are worried he’ll do a third-party run if he loses the nomination. Also, there will be no planks dealing with the soldier bonus or prohibition.

Yet another horse-race story insists that “Senator Harding was eliminated from the contest some time ago, according to the general view.”

Italy: Francesco Nitti’s government resigns (again), brought down by its decision to lift the cap on bread prices because the government subsidies were too expensive. Fighting this is an issue on which the Catholics and the Socialists can (finally) agree.

Another country with a squabbling coalition government, Germany, held parliamentary elections this week. The Social Democrats remain the largest party but lost a bunch of seats to the further-left Independent Social Democratic Party. Right-wing parties also picked up support. Ebert is trying to put together a workable coalition with parties to his right.

More anti-Semitic riots in Vienna.


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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Today -100: June 9, 1920: Of enthusiasm and suffrage


The Republican National Convention opens “with an impressive lack of enthusiasm.” To be fair: 81-minute speech by Henry Cabot Lodge. Also: fewer of the delegates than in past conventions are boozed up (liquor in Chicago is going for $6 to $9 a pint). 21 searchlights are turned on so that a film crew can preserve the convention in (silent) posterity, and delegates find that a bit too bright.

The Louisiana State Senate votes down ratification of the federal women’s suffrage Amendment 22-19.


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Monday, June 08, 2020

Today -100: June 8, 1920: Of enthusiasm, prohibition, negro martyrs, and anti-Semitism


In Chicago a day before the opening of the Republican convention, Sen. Harry New of Indiana puts his finger on it:  “there is little real enthusiasm for any candidate”. The whole field is made up of Bidens.

Ruling on several cases, the Supreme Court unanimously upholds the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. It says prohibition applies even to liquors produced before it was adopted. Also, Congress gets to decide what constitutes “intoxicating,” not the states.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Well, which of us hasn’t been fatigued by the beatification of negro martyrs? That shit’s just fatiguing.

Posters appear in Vienna calling for the expulsion of non-Austrian Jews from the country, and all Jews from the army.


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Sunday, June 07, 2020

Today -100: June 7, 1920: Nobody is talking Harding in Chicago


With the British due to hold talks with a Russian envoy about resuming economic relations, France, which wants a much harder line against the Soviets, claims to have foiled a Russian plot to start revolution throughout Europe on May Day. They have the proof in Trotsky’s own handwriting, says Le Matin. And naturally, this is all funded with jewels taken from Russian churches.

According to the NYT, “Nobody is talking Harding in Chicago.”


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Saturday, June 06, 2020

Today -100: June 6, 1920: Of candidates, political expediency, aliens, and spinsters


The Republican presidential nomination is


In the lead: Gen. Leonard Wood, Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden, Sen. Hiram Johnson of California, and Sen. Warren G. Harding of Ohio, in that order, with dark horses including Gov. William Sproul of Pennsylvania, former Supreme Court Justice and former NY governor Charles Evans Hughes, Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler, Gov. John Calvin Coolidge Jr. of Massachusetts, former Food Tsar Herbert Hoover, and Senators Philander Knox of Pennsylvania, Miles Poindexter of Washington, and Irvine Lenroot of Wisconsin. It’s “taken for granted that Harding, [Ohio’s] favorite son, is already out of the contest”.

Congress adjourns for six months. Wilson accuses it of having failed to work for the public welfare, saying it was instead motivated by “political expediency.” He points to its failure to do anything about the cost of living, railroads, the merchant marine, and of course, peace. A lot of bills are left hanging by the adjournment, including the Soldier Bonus and the budget.

One thing Congress did complete: a bill allowing deportation of aliens for simple membership in (or giving money to) any organization advocating sabotage, destruction of property, or revolution, such as the Communist Party, Communist Labor Party, or IWW. Also: aliens who write stuff advocating those things, or distribute such literature.

Having already passed a tax on bachelors, the French National Assembly is considering a tax on spinsters.


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Friday, June 05, 2020

Today -100: June 5, 1920: Of mayo, pickets, and not banned in Boston


The White House denies rumors that Wilson is to undergo an operation – by the Mayo brothers, no less.

With the Republican National Convention imminent, no one knows whether it will name Johnson, Wood, or Lowden as its presidential candidate.

Alice Paul’s National Women’s Party will picket the Republican convention, blaming the R’s for the delay in ratification of the federal women’s suffrage Amendment.

A French airplane sets the record for longest continuous flight, more than 24 hours.

Someone “in a position to know the President’s views” tells the NYT that Woodrow Wilson has no preference for Democratic presidential candidate. In fact, Wilson still hasn’t said whether he’d accept the nomination for a third time if he was, you know, asked nicely.

British Secretary of War Winston Churchill says there are 40 tanks and 28 aeroplanes stationed in Ireland.

Hungary signs its peace treaty.

Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge vetoes a bill establishing movie censorship, saying it violates federal rules on interstate commerce and eliminates jury trials. The House votes to override.


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Thursday, June 04, 2020

Today -100: June 4, 1920: Of beeckmans, segregation, and war laws


Rhode Island Gov. R. Livingston Beeckman, which is the most Republican-Rhode-Island-Governor name imaginable, in Chicago for the Republican National Convention, complains that the Republican senators plan to take complete control over the convention. Chairman of the Prohibition National Committee Virgil Hinshaw, which is the most Chairman-of-the-Prohibition-National-Committee name imaginable, wants to question the candidates about prohibition.

For the first time the two parties’ conventions will have “electrical sound amplifying devices,” courtesy of Ma Bell.

The RNC passes a motion that no delegations be seated in the future if elected at places (hotels etc) in the South from which blacks are banned.

The House of Representatives votes 343-3 to repeal most war laws. Not included: food and fuel control acts, which R’s like because they can be used against strikes. R’s claim it’s actually about punishing profiteering.


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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Today -100: June 3, 1920: Of grammar, keeping abreast of the world, and prescriptions


Pres. Wilson vetoes a bill criminalizing the transporting across state lines of licentious movies because it has bad grammar (which turns out to be a clerk mistakenly putting the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” in the wrong place. The House corrects and re-passes it.

A Senate committee has been investigating campaign spending in the Republican primary, and some candidates, notably Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden, whose campaign paid delegates to the national convention large sums without any stipulation about how they were to spend it, are seeing their campaigns tank as their spending practices are revealed. Which upends the plans of the Republican Old Guard to use Lowden to undercut the Wood & Johnson campaigns.

Wall Street betting odds favor Johnson 6:5, with both Wood & Lowden at 3:1. On the Democratic side, William Gibbs McAdoo is favored 8:5, followed by Edward Edwards, the New Jersey governor so nice they named him twice.

At the NAACP conference in Atlanta, W.E.B. DuBois (whose first initial the NYT gives as N) calls for black people in the South to be given the vote “if the South wishes to be abreast of the world”. I can’t imagine where he’d get the idea that the South wants to be abreast of the world.  When the conference ends, delegates going north will be provided special Pullman cars in which Jim Crow rules will not be enforced.

Hubert Howard, federal Prohibition Director for Illinois, says that since prohibition went into effect, Chicago doctors have issued 300,000 spurious prescriptions for liquor (out of 500,000). Conditions evidently requiring alcoholic treatment include: fainting, insomnia, stomach ache, toothache, headache, runny nose, lumbago, menstrual cramps, bronchitis, ptomaine poisoning, gastritis, gaseous eructations, hay fever, asthma, grip, and of course, alcoholism. The usual prescription is for one ounce three times daily.


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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Today -100: June 2, 1920: Of expert treatment and artificial stimulation, ratifications, and daring raids


A week before the Republican national convention, Sen. Warren G. Harding’s campaign, which was considered moribund, is picking up again, the beneficiary “expert treatment and artificial stimulation” from party elders using him in order to stop Gen. Leonard Wood, and definitely not because they intend to make him president. The plan is to keep Wood from winning for several ballots, in part by depriving him of the votes of delegates from Ohio, Harding’s home state, and then choosing the candidate behind closed doors.

Even though the Ohio State Constitution says that the state can only ratify federal Amendments after a popular referendum, the US Supreme Court rules that the Legislature’s ratification of the 18th Amendment was final, despite prohibition losing in the subsequent referendum last November.

That ruling also means that Ohio’s ratification of the women’s suffrage Amendment stands.

Sinn Féiners raid a military barracks, in central Dublin no less, take 25 soldiers captive, make off with a whole bunch of weapons and ammo, and melt into a cheering crowd.


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Monday, June 01, 2020

Today -100: June 1, 1920: Of provisional presidents and quaint Memorial Day traditions


Mexican Provisional President Adolfo de la Huerta, just appointed and already suffering from appendicitis, pledges that any candidates in the upcoming elections won’t be killed, probably.

Sen. Albert Fall (R[acist dickhead]-New Mexico)’s Foreign Affairs sub-committee demands that the new Mexican government be made to sign a new treaty and rewrite its Constitution to safeguard the property and lives and property of Americans living in Mexico (i.e., oil companies). American citizens should be exempted from the rules regarding land and mineral ownership, religious activities and schools that mere Mexicans have to abide by and not be subject to summary expulsion from the country like every other non-Mexican. Failing that, the committee recommends sending troops to “open and maintain open every line of communication between the City of Mexico and every seaport and border port in Mexico.” It also expresses concern about the number of Japanese in Mexico without, near as I can tell, explaining its problem with them.

At a Memorial Day event in Liscomb, Iowa, veterans firing a salute accidentally shoot 42 members of the crowd.


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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Today -100: May 31, 1920: Of fools and socks


Ahead of its general election, Germany is rife with rumors of coups by nationalists, communists, or both. Chancellor Hermann Müller says Germany must show “that she has had enough of war for all eternity, and that no fool, crowned or uncrowned, shall drag Germany into a war of revenge.”

Coney Island bathing suit censors, out in force this Memorial Day weekend, go after women wearing socks and men wearing one-piece bathing suits, because too sexy for 1920, I guess.


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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Today -100: May 30, 1920: What the Well-Dressed Opera-Goer and Presidential Candidate Are Wearing


US Attorney Annette Adams is nominated to be assistant attorney general. She will be the first woman assistant attorney general, the highest federal office occupied by a woman so far.

The House of Representatives passes a bonus bill for veterans through an extraordinary suspension of the rules to limit debate, so much of the argument was about that. Robert Evans (R-Neb.) says “It is an outrage that 425 members are only eunuchs in the harem of the Steering and Rules Committee.” Most of the funding would come through various taxes on Wall Street and tobacco. Vets could choose one of the following: cash, or a 20-year bond, or vocational training, or farm or loan aid, or land settlement. The cash would be $1.25 per day of service overseas or $1 at home, to a max of $625. The bill is expected to die in the Senate.

Pres. Wilson commutes the sentence of Kate Richards O’Hare, who was convicted under the Espionage Act for opposing the war.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Headline of the Day -100:  



Tomas Masaryk is chosen as president of Czechoslovakia by the country’s first elected parliament. During the proceedings, ethnic German deputies (think Sudetenland) complain that the Speaker spoke Czech rather than German. They later storm out.

The Indian National Congress has its own commission on the Amritsar Massacre, including Gandhi, which issues its own report. It suggests that the actions of Sir Michael O’Dwyer, Lt. Gov. of the Punjab, invited violence to justify a violent crackdown. It distances the actions of the Indian mob from Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement. It describes the massacre as “a calculated piece of inhumanity unparalleled in its ferocity.”

The NYT continues to push John W. Davis for the Democratic nomination for president. It thinks he’d be a really strong candidate. Ambassador Davis will have a chance to prove them woefully wrong, but not just yet. The Times also suggests that the Republicans, who “boast that they are the party of intelligence” (cough), not nominate Hiram Johnson; it does not suggest an alternative candidate.

News that Hungary will sign the peace treaty has supposedly led to many suicides being fished out of the Danube. And the army may refuse to evacuate territories as required by the treaty.


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Friday, May 29, 2020

Today -100: May 29, 1920: Of sentimental idealism, women’s suffrage, and Willy’s new suit


The House fails to override Pres. Wilson’s veto of the Knox Resolution to end the war. Stephen Porter (R-Penn.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, accuses Wilson of attempting , in his veto message, to lead the American people “into the underbrush of sentimental idealism, which is beautiful and attractive in theory, but is extremely dangerous in these days.” D’s point out that if the R’s were really so concerned with repealing wartime regulations, they could just do that.

Women’s suffrage Amendment ratification dies in the Delaware Legislature.

Former czar Wilhelm II has taken up tailoring as a hobby, because why not.


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