Sunday, February 16, 2020

Today -100: February 16, 1920: In control


Headline of the Day -100: 

Yeah, no.

One of the ways in which he attempts to demonstrate his return to “control” is by warning the Allied governments that he doesn’t like their agreement for settling the territorial dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia, especially the fact that they didn’t consult the US. He really did think the entire world should just sit on its hands for however many months he recuperated from the stroke they didn’t know he had. He threatens to withdraw from European affairs if they continue threatening Yugoslavia, or at least if they continue doing it without him (tomorrow this will be corrected by the White House: he was only threatening not to participate in the gifting of Fiume to Italy, not in all European affairs).

European newspapers question whether Wilson is really in a position to make this sort of threat, given that 1) he can’t get the peace treaty ratified, and 2) he’ll probably be replaced by a Republican a year from now.


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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Today -100: February 15, 1920: The mental expert that was employed at the White House was discharged too soon


The NYT points out that Wilson’s complaint that Lansing informally calling together the Cabinet was unconstitutional is wrong since the Constitution doesn’t actually mention the Cabinet.

Republican congresscritters say that Pres. Wilson’s letters to Secretary of State Robert Lansing suggest that he is still not fit, physically or mentally, to resume presidenting, Sen. George Norris, R-Nev: “the mental expert that was employed at the White House was discharged too soon.” (It’s funny because it’s true). Rep. Martin Madden (R-Ill.): “The president admits that he was not able to function and therefore no one else must.” (It’s funny because it’s an accurate account of Wilson’s position). Democrats are grimly refusing to comment.

Lenin supposedly predicts that the recent peace agreement with Estonia will be revisited, and Russia will grab back parts of the country inhabited by ethnic Russians, when Estonia has finished passing through its “Kerensky period” into Soviet rule.

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland (he’s a homeopathist, you know) says the influenza epidemic is almost over.


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Friday, February 14, 2020

Today -100: February 14, 1920: Of resignations, executions, sugar, and booze cruises


Secretary of State Robert Lansing resigns after the Oval Office releases a letter from Pres. Wilson accusing him of usurping presidential authority by calling informal sessions of the Cabinet while Wilson was indisposed. Lansing responded that everyone was denied communication with Wilson for months, so what was he supposed to do? Wilson responded nothing, he was supposed to do nothing, and just wait for months and months. He says that Lansing has been increasingly reluctant to accept Wilson (or whomever)’s guidance and direction (in other words, Lansing has been insufficiently supportive of the League of Nations project). Lansing responds that Wilson has been ignoring his views for over a year (he was snubbed and sidelined at the Paris negotiations) and he would have resigned then except it would have looked bad abroad. And then came “your serious illness, during which I have never seen you,” so again he didn’t feel he could resign. He says he’s leaving office now “with a sense of profound relief.”

White military leader Adm. Alexander Kolchak and White PM Viktor Pepelyayev were executed in Irtusk on the 7th. The West is trying to figure out how they fell into Bolshevik hands. They were sold out, of course, as was the custom.

Switzerland joins the League of Nations. It will be allowed to retain its neutrality and abstain from any League-ordered military actions, although it will have to join economic sanctions. Everyone denies this could be a precedent for the US; Switzerland is a special case.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Austen Chamberlain blames the high cost of sugar on Americans, who’ve been ingesting tons of the stuff since prohibition came in. He thinks moderate drinkers like himself, who get their sugar from alcohol, are good citizens.

The Mauretania arrives from New York; despite setting sail with a record amount of booze on board, passengers drank not so moderately from the minute it hit the three-mile zone until it reached Southampton, drinking the ship entirely dry. The Cunard line assures thirsty passengers that they will be increasing storage room for future voyages.


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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Today -100: February 13, 1920: Of citizens of the Internationale, suffrage, generals, and referenda


The NY State Assembly is still considering the expulsion of those 5 elected Socialist members. State Attorney General Charles Newton signs a brief that they “come here under the false pretense of being loyal to their Government, when in fact they are really citizens of the Internationale, and desire above all things the destruction of this Government.”

Arizona ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 31 down, 5 to go. It was unanimous. In the Virginia House of Delegates, however, it is defeated 62-22; it had already been defeated 24-10 in the state Senate. This has been the pattern: near unanimity when the vote is in favor, large No majorities when the vote is against.

Poet-Aviator-Kidnapper Gabriele D’Annunzio releases Gen. Nigra, who his forces grabbed up a couple of weeks ago.

The first referendum has been held in Schleswig. They’re doing it by zones. The north zone voted 3:1 to join Denmark. Germans living in the province now have 2 years to decide whether to become Danes or keep their German citizenship, in which case they will have to leave within a year.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Today -100: February 12, 1920: Because nothing says criminal anarchy like “business manager”


Benjamin Gitlow, a former one-term Socialist member of the NY State Assembly, is convicted of “criminal anarchy,” for his role as business manager of The Revolutionary Age, and sentenced to 5 to 10 years.

Idaho ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 30 down, 6 to go.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Everyone’s a critic.


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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Today -100: February 11, 1920: We failed to restore Russia to sanity by force


One of Woodrow Wilson’s doctors, urologist Hugh Young of Johns Hopkins, is interviewed by the Boston Sun. “From the very beginning the medical men associated with the case have never had anything to conceal,” he lies. All Wilson’s organs are now functioning normally, he lies. Wilson’s brain works even better than before his illness, he lies. The only reason Wilson hasn’t been seen outside more is that the weather’s been bad, he lies. Wilson is bright and tranquil and serene, he lies. Still, he uses the term “cerebral thrombosis,” which is the first official admission that Wilson had a stroke.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George tells Parliament that Russia must be “restored” under an anti-Bolshevik government. Admitting that military intervention and propping up various White armies has failed (I don’t know if the West knows yet that Adm. Kolchak has been executed), he still intends to win through economic something or other. Trading with Russia but not recognizing its government.  “We failed to restore Russia to sanity by force. I believe we can save her by trade. Commerce has a sobering influence.”

French PM Alexandre Millerand informs Germany that because of its non-compliance with the peace treaty, the occupation of the Rhineland will now be indefinite. This is a power move against Lloyd George’s recent dominance of Allied policy and his lack of interest in pressing too hard for the extradition of German “war criminals” (the former crown prince offers to stand trial in place of the other 889, “if the allied and associated powers want a victim”). In fact, Millerand  made this announcement without consulting with LG or Italy’s PM Nitti.


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Monday, February 10, 2020

Today -100: February 10, 1920: Of lynchings, military training, doctrines, freak pitching, and monkey glands


On the streets of Lexington, the Kentucky National Guard fights a mob determined to lynch a black man, Will Lockett, who was being tried for killing a 10-year-old white girl. The Guards shoot into the mob, including with machine guns, killing at least 5 and wounding 17+. Lockett is then sentenced to die by the electric chair (he was arrested, “confessed,” indicted, tried and sentenced in 6 days). Meanwhile, members of the mob attack hardware stores and pawnshops and seize all the guns they can find. There are rumors that 1,500 “mountaineers” will descend on the city. Martial law is declared.

Woodrow Wilson (or whomever) writes to warn the House Democratic caucus against making a decision on compulsory military training, thereby making it a party issue. Also, he supports “moderate training projects” for their “great disciplinary and other advantages” for young men. The caucus ignores him and votes to oppose universal training.

Another revolt against Japanese colonial rule in Korea. Insurgents, supposedly armed by Russia, attack Japanese army outposts.

Germany is drawing up its own list of Allied soldiers and officials responsible for war crimes, because two can play at that game.

Secretary of State Robert Lansing refuses El Salvador’s request that the US explain the Monroe Doctrine before it signs the Versailles Treaty, which mentions the doctrine.

The US refuses to recognize the independence of Lithuania, preferring a united Russia.

New Jersey ratifies the federal women’s suffrage Amendment after a Democratic filibuster in support of a referendum. 29 down, 7 to go.

The people in charge of baseball ban “freak pitching,” which includes the spitball, although each team can designate two spitballers for the next season only. There are other rule changes, but I lost interest. I feel tricked into momentarily caring about sports by the phrase “freak pitching.” Are there any other phrases in today -100’s sports section that could do that? Yes, yes there are:



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Sunday, February 09, 2020

Today -100: February 9, 1920: Of hoovers and fugitives


Herbert Hoover says he’s not seeking the presidency. Which is not the same thing as saying he wouldn’t accept the nomination. He’s also not saying whether he’s a D or an R, saying he wants to see what the parties stand for first. He does say he’d support whichever party favored the League of Nations.

Some of the Germans deemed war criminals by the Allies are slipping into Switzerland to avoid possible extradition. There’s no Swiss law against fugitives entering the country.


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Saturday, February 08, 2020

Today -100: February 8, 1920: Of reservations, doctrines, suffrage, piracy, and breakers of marriage


Sen. George Hitchcock (D-Neb.) shares with the Senate a letter Pres. Wilson wrote him a couple of weeks ago accepting Hitchcock’s proposed compromise reservations to the League of Nations.

Since the US got a mention of the Monroe Doctrine included in the League of Nations Covenant, some Latin American countries are putting off joining the League until the US explains exactly what the Monroe Doctrine entails.

Nevada ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 28 down, 8 to go.

D’Annunzio’s men capture a destroyer and a food train.

Soviet Russia now has an official “Breaker of Marriages” to grant divorces, and he’s breaking hundreds of marriages a week. “All that appears to be required is the signature of the person desiring freedom from matrimony,” the scandalized NYT reports from its fainting couch.


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Friday, February 07, 2020

Today -100: February 7, 1920: Of johnsons and wood, campaigns, cooperatives, and suffrage


The US State Department claims that Russia is planning a campaign against India, using Turkestan as a base. Actually, reading on, it sounds like they just mean a propaganda campaign. Big deal.

Not sure what the thinking is here, but the Russian Soviet government takes control of cooperatives, just as the West was prepared to resume economic relations with Russia as long as it was with the cooperatives and not the government.

The Virginia State Senate rejects the women’s suffrage Amendment, 24-10.

Dirty Headline of the Day -100: 



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Thursday, February 06, 2020

Today -100: February 6, 1920: Of impossible demands


The German government says the Allied demand for 890 alleged war criminals is “impossible.” Chancellor Gustav Bauer says, yeah we did sign that treaty that required the extradition, but we didn’t think you meant it.

The Allies supposedly accept that war crimes trials will never happen, but wants Germany to accept the list and the theoretical guilt of the 890 and the Allies’ theoretical right to put them on trial. Of course France will insist on continuing to occupy the Rhine until the extraditions it knows will never happen happen.


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Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Today -100: February 5, 1920: Of plebiscites, submarines, extraditions, and rockets


Schleswig-Holstein will shortly hold its plebiscite on what country to be a part of. Non-residents (i.e. Germans and Danes) have been banned from participating in electioneering.

Three of Poet-Aviator-Pirate Gabriele D’Annunzio’s men are caught trying to steal an Italian submarine.

The Allies hand the list of 890 alleged war criminals to the head of the German delegation, Baron Kurt von Lersner. Or try to, since Lersner immediately informs them that he has resigned and no other German official will help with the extraditions, so there. It’s unclear whether he’s acting on his own or under orders.

A Capt. Claude Collins of the New York City Air Police, which I don’t think is actually a thing, volunteers to be on the first manned rocket to Mars (the Robert Goddard rocket). He doesn’t want any pay, just life insurance.


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Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Today -100: February 4, 1920: Of narrow escapes, books of hate, flags, and cheek and jowl shuffles


Pres. Wilson has had a “narrow escape from influenza,” according to his doctor. The president’s health is said to be steadily improving. The president’s health is indeed always said to be steadily improving. For four months now. He should be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound at this point.

The list of alleged war criminals the Allies want Germany to hand over – deemed by the Germans that “book of hate” – now contains 890 names, including Hindenburg and Ludendorff, many generals, Adm. Von Tirpitz (for submarine warfare), former Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg (for invading Belgium), three Hohenzollern princes and one Bavarian one, Baron Von der Lancken (for the execution of the nurse Edith Cavell), and a bunch of U-boat commanders. The only woman on the list is an attendant at an internment camp, Elsa Schneiner. The British put 97 names on the list, France 334, Italy 29, Belgium 334, Poland 51, Romania 41, and Yugoslavia 4. The US and Japan added none.

The NY Assembly, investigating (again) the patriotism of the 5 elected Socialist members it keeps excluding, hears the testimony of a 17-year-old girl that Assemblyman Charles Solomon once spat on the American flag.

Congressional Republicans remove mandatory military training for males from the military bill on grounds of cost.

An association of Pittsburgh dance hall owners will ask the city council to ban “jazz” dances, including the shimmy and the cheek and jowl shuffle.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Monday, February 03, 2020

Today -100: February 3, 1920: Are ghosts kosher?


Germany asked that the Allies not demand that “war criminals” be handed over as specified in the Treaty of Versailles, as it might cause a counter-revolution to break out. The Allies tell them to suck it and hand over 780 men.

France is still executing wartime spies, in this case an Austrian who was in Paris during the war and reported to Germany where its long-range shells were hitting.

The French, as usual, are concerned about the country’s low birth rate and its effect on military readiness. There is now a “Supreme Council of Natality,” because of course there is.

Russia asks Poland if it would like to put an end to all the fussin’ and feudin’.

Estonia has made peace with Russia. Estonia is an independent country. For now.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Charles Thomas, president of the Commonwealth Trust and Security Company of Chicago, is arrested for having a hip flask, but are the trousers he kept it in a “vehicle” under the dry law, and therefore subject to seizure and sale? Federal prohibition agents will argue before the US District Court that they are.

Headline of the Day -100:  




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Sunday, February 02, 2020

Today -100: February 2, 1920: FDR does crimez


The Russian Soviet government gives permission for Russian cooperatives to trade with companies in foreign countries, evidently dropping its previous demand for an armistice before the resumption of commercial relations.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt tells a meeting that after the US entered the Great War, he did lots of totally illegal things to prepare the Navy, including spending $40 million for guns (presumably cannons on ships) that had not yet been authorized by Congress. That seems to be the only crime to which he specifically admits.


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Saturday, February 01, 2020

Today -100: February 1, 1920: Of poles, arrests, and low bodies.


40,000 Poles have applied to leave the US, most stating as their reason, you guessed it, prohibition.

The British arrest dozens of Sinn Féin leaders, including the just-elected members of the Dublin council and Lord Mayor Tom Kelly, whose office makes him an ex officio captain in the British Army. And they’ve finally caught up with Michael Collins.

Headline of the Day -100: 


“Low bodies” is a typo, tho’ a fun one; they meant low bodices. One anonymous French doctor says today’s fashions allow a salutary “double aeration of the skin”.


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Friday, January 31, 2020

Today -100: January 31, 1920: We will make you chew wood


The bipartisan Senate talks about the peace treaty collapse, with Henry Cabot Lodge refusing to contemplate any compromise on his reservations.

The forces of Gabriele D’Annunzio kidnap an Italian general who’s been critical of the Poet-Aviator.

The new Cork and Limerick Corporations (city councils) declare allegiance to the Irish Republic. And the council of Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland elects its first Nationalist and its first Catholic mayor, Hugh O’Doherty, as audience members taunt the Ulsterites, “Derry has surrendered. We will make you chew wood.” Jennie Wyse Power, a member of Dublin Corporation is disqualified by the town clerk for signing the roll in Gaelic.


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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Today -100: January 30, 1920: What wine goes with pneumonia?


French spies have allegedly uncovered a Bolshevik plot for an uprising in India.

Russia, making an offer to Poland to discuss peace, accuses the agents of Churchill and Clemenceau of inciting a “senseless, criminal war against Soviet Russia” (it’s funny cuz it’s true).

The feds announce rules for the use of liquor for medicinal purposes (i.e. the spreading influenza outbreaks): doctors and pharmacists with permits may dispense no more than one pint per patient within ten days. There’s no set limit on wines.


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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Today -100: January 29, 1920: Of signals from Mars, secret treaties, and referenda


Marconi is still investigating those mysterious signals or whatever that wirelesses are picking up. He says he can’t exclude them being extraterrestrial in origin.

The Allies gave Yugoslavia an ultimatum to accept their proposed revision of its borders with Italy (Fiume, Dalmatia, etc) or they will implement the Treaty of London with the bribes offered to Italy to enter the war in 1915. Yugoslavia says no, pointing out that it doesn’t even know what it’s being threatened with, since the treaty was a secret one and its terms have still never been officially published.

Meanwhile, an Italian ship en route to Albania with stores for the Italian occupation soldiers there as well as pay for those soldiers of 2 million lire, which is roughly the equivalent of some money, sails instead to Fiume, where Poet-Aviator-Pirate Gabriele D’Annunzio seizes the cargo and the money.

Mississippi, like Virginia, will punt on the question of women’s suffrage, putting the federal Amendment up to a popular vote – in November. The South Carolina Legislature rejects it outright.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Today -100: January 28, 1920: Of women’s suffrage and aliens


Wyoming ratifies the federal women’s suffrage Amendment. 27 down, 9 to go. Or possibly 26. Did I miss one?

Marconi wirelesses have been experiencing interference. Could they be signals from aliens? Sir Frank Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, thinks they might.


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Monday, January 27, 2020

Today -100: January 27, 1920: Of treaties, assassination attempts, Americanization, and anti-gas


Hungary will refuse to sign the peace treaty, which would limit its army to 35,000, which it says is too small.

German troops are occupying parts of Berlin to prevent a royalist outbreak on the ex-kaiser’s birthday. Finance Minister Matthias Erzberger is shot in the shoulder by a would-be assassin with a small-calibre gun (one bullet was deflected by a button). Erzberger was leaving court, where he is suing former Vice Chancellor Karl Helfferich for libel. Erzberger is a hate figure for the far right, due to his financial policy and his role in signing the peace agreement. A more competent assassin will find him in 1921.

The Senate votes an “Americanization” bill, providing $6,500,000 to teach English to aliens and illiterate Americans. States accepting the money would have to make it compulsory for people aged 16 to 21 to take 200 hours of instruction in English a year.

The French are working on measures to counteract poison gas attacks. “Naturally the French chemists are guarding closely the secret of this anti-gas.” They’re also working on developing shells to fire at enemy planes to poison the air around them.


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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Today -100: January 26, 1920: It is always well for men to walk humbly


Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge says he’s not a candidate for president, without quite saying that he would object to someone nominating him at the Republican Convention. He says he doesn’t want anyone to be able to say that he used the office of governor to influence the selection of Massachusetts’s delegates. He says “The curse of the present is the almost universal grasping for power in high places and in low to the exclusion of the discharge of obligations. It is always well for men to walk humbly.”

The Soviets announce that they have captured not only Irkutsk, but Adm. Kolchak and his government as well. The latter is true, the former is not.

The French winners of Nobel prizes in economics and medicine decline to accept the award because the chemistry prize went to Fritz Haber for his work on nitrogen, um, something or other, which is important in producing fertilizer but which he also put to use during the war in developing chemical weapons. (Update: or possibly this story is complete horseshit - see comments).


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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Today -100: January 25, 1920: Of medicinal whisky, destroying the state in open combat, and armistices


As influenza spreads in New York and elsewhere, Assistant Supervising Federal Prohibition Agent James Shevlin says that “most druggists have little desire to handle whisky because of the legal restrictions, but that an appeal was being made to them on the ground that they were in duty bound, as purveyors of medicine, to carry a stock of liquor.” (I asked my GP about this a couple of weeks ago. He seemed to think using whisky to treat flu and pneumonia is a bad idea.)

Secretary of Labor William Wilson decides that membership by aliens in the Communist Party is a sufficient ground, all by itself, for deportation, because the Party is “seeking to destroy the State in open combat.”

The Allies (not including the US) are trying to resume commercial relations with the Soviet Union without actually recognizing the Soviet Union by dealing directly with Russian cooperatives. But Russia says that unless there is a military armistice first, it will sink any ships arriving at Russian ports.


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Friday, January 24, 2020

Today -100: January 24, 1920: Of emigration, extradition, and ugly duchesses


Japan is prohibiting emigration to Mexico, because of an “understanding” with the US.

The Netherlands refuses to extradite former kaiser Wilhelm. In truth, the demand by the Allies’ Supreme Council was a bit bizarre, saying that, had Willy remained in Germany, the peace treaty would have required Germany to extradite him, so, um, Holland should. The Dutch point out that they aren’t a party to the Versailles treaty because they weren’t actually, you know, in the war, and that there’s no international court to try war crimes anyway.

Quentin Matsys’s 16th-century painting The Ugly Duchess sells at Christie’s for 880 guineas.


The painting is now (2020) in the National Gallery in London.


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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Today -100: January 23, 1920: Root and branch


Herbert Hoover is seriously considering running for president without committing himself as to which party’s banner he’d run under. This would be accomplished by the formation of Hoover clubs, dominated if not entirely comprised of business men. He would then  publish a platform, and either party would be free to adopt both him and it.

The mayor of Camden, New Jersey appoints a black man, Dr. Clement Branch to the city’s Board of Education. Immediately, the president of the board and another long-time member resign, with more threatening to do so, although no one’s admitting that Branch’s appointment is the reason.


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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Today -100: January 22, 1920: Of communist laborers, flu, women’s suffrage, and whipping


A Chicago grand jury indicts 39 Communist Labor Party leaders, including John Reed (who is in Russia) and William Bross Lloyd, for conspiracy to overthrow the government by force.

Influenza is rearing its head again and the main problem is the difficulty in getting whisky for, you know, medicinal purposes.

The lower house of the Mississippi Legislature rejects the federal women’s suffrage Amendment.

Atlanta City Council orders an end to the whipping of women prisoners at the city stockade.


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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Today -100: January 21, 1920: Of weak, doubtful, second-class men, and open arms


The Allied Supreme Council breaks up without resolving the status of Fiume. It sounds to me like Yugoslavia conceded to Italy almost everything it demanded, but that’s still not good enough for Italy.

The NYT editorial page expresses confidence that the Republican party will choose Henry Cabot Lodge as its presidential candidate. “The Republican party is not going to foist upon the country any weak, doubtful, second-class man.” (They’re being sarcastic).

Russia has evidently decided to accept all 249 deported radicals. As Maxim Gorky’s wife tells them, “Russia opens her arms to all who are politically persecuted.” Um, yeah, that’s totally what Russia does (I’m being sarcastic).


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Monday, January 20, 2020

Today -100: January 20, 1920: Of international duties, exiles, and the more extreme types of foolishness


The Allies send the Netherlands a note demanding she “fulfill her international duty” and hand over the former kaiser.

The “undesirable aliens” deported from the US arrive, finally, in Russia, crossing over the frozen Systerbak River from Finland. They are met by a military band and welcoming crowds. Emma Goldman says “This is the greatest moment of my life. After 35 years of absence I am returning to Russia with a feeling of awe. I am glad to leave America, but I love the American people and expect to return there some day.” She won’t.

Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University, suggests that since there is “no human cure for some of the more extreme types of foolishness,” radicals should be rounded up and exiled to some island in the Philippines.


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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Today -100: January 19, 1920: Of deserters and Gaelic


The Paris police plan to round up 1,000 US Army deserters they claim are living in Paris, many of them broke and engaging in crimes. The flics will arrest anyone in uniform without the proper papers. Wait, in all their criming they haven’t stolen some new clothes?

Sinn Féin win a majority of seats on the Dublin municipal council. They even win a few seats in Belfast. One of the new councilors, Michael Carolan, who fought in the Easter Rising, gives a speech thanking his voters... in Gaelic. In Belfast. Love it.


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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today -100: January 18, 1920: Of the most Bolshevist act in New York, arks, and Fenian councillors


The New York Bar Association condemns the Assembly’s refusal to seat those 5 Socialist members. Former governor and former US Supreme Court chief justice Charles Evans Hughes says that the Assembly, “in the name of hatred of Bolshevism commit the most Bolshevist act ever performed in this state by depriving a part of the population of the right to be represented by their duly elected representatives.”

The “Soviet Ark” drops its deported radicals off in Finland, from whence they will be taken to the Russian border by train. The Finns have informed the Soviets of this plan and requested that Soviet troops stop shooting when the train arrives, but they have received no reply. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman say they will not stay in Russia, but return to the US to save it.

The French National Assembly elects Paul Deschanel president of the Republic. His term in office will be most notable for his descent into eccentricity/insanity.

Sinn Féin does quite well in Irish municipal elections. There aren’t that many women candidates, but those are mostly SF, including Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, woman suffragist leader and widow of Francis S-S, summarily executed for no very good reason during the Easter Rising.


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Friday, January 17, 2020

Today -100: January 17, 1920: Of prohibition, leagues of nations, dumping grounds for agitators, rejected tigers, and brown October ale


Prohibition is now in effect.

So is the League of Nations, although it’s mostly just sitting around, waiting for the US to show up. There’s an empty chair and everything.

The “Red Ark” containing Emma Goldman and 248 other deported aliens still hasn’t reached Russia. The ship broke down and needed several days to repair, and now Finland and Soviet Russia are negotiating. The Soviets seem reluctant to “be used as a dumping ground for agitators from America.” Finland may take custody of them and trade them to Russia for Finnish prisoners.

French Premier Georges Clemenceau drops out of the French presidential race after his caucus rejects him in favor of Paul Deschanel, with whom he once fought a duel. Clemenceau says he didn’t really want to be president anyway and only ran because his friends wanted him to.

The Allies will resume trading relations with Bolshevik Russia. This comes out of the blue and the reasons are obscure. The speculation is that Lloyd George has realized that the White forces are doomed, which they totally are. “The only official explanation of the move is that it is intended to reach the Russian peasants and thus weaken the Soviet Government. Some statesmen say that this reasoning is not clear to them.” The US was never part of the blockade of Russia.

Reginald De Koven, American composer of songs such as “Oh, Promise Me,” and light operas, most famously Robin Hood (1890), dies at a dance held in celebration of his recently opened Rip Van Winkle. Here’s a song, such as it is, from Robin Hood, praising a substance no longer legal in the United States.




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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Today -100: January 16, 1920: Of swarms, free cities, and Reds


Secretary of War Newton Baker tells Congress that Poland needs a large loan to enable it to withstand the onslaught of Soviet Russia. Loans should also be made to Armenia and Austria, he says. Gen. Bliss agrees with a suggestion by Rep. John Nance Garner that the Bolsheviks could “swarm over Europe.”

Italy agrees to give up its claim over Fiume, leaving it a “free city,” with its port and railroads controlled by the League of Nations and with its “Italian character” to be recognized, whatever that means. France and Britain are putting pressure on Yugoslavia to accept the deal.

A federal judge orders the release of 9 of the “Reds” being held for deporation on Ellis Island. 65 more will be bailed. The position of the Immigration Commission is that the burden is on the aliens to prove that they should not be deported.


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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Today -100: January 15, 1920: Of citizens


The House passes a bill giving Native Americans US citizenship, although it sounds like it’s really more about breaking up tribal property.


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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Today -100: January 14, 1920: Gloom


Oregon ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 25 down, 11 to go. The measure is proposed by Sylvia Thompson, the only current woman member of the Legislature (and third ever woman member).

Protesters outside the Reichstag in Berlin, objecting to a bill setting up factory workers’ councils which they say are not good enough, allegedly attack soldiers, who respond with machine gun fire, as was the custom.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Last month driver’s licenses were introduced in Ireland, intended to curb Sinn Féin drive-by shootings. So in Sligo, a bunch of cars and trucks which belong to people who complied with that law – “driven under British permit” as the notices attached to them describe them – are sabotaged.


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Monday, January 13, 2020

Today -100: January 13, 1920: Whatever happened to pulling a sword out of a stone?


In an editorial entitled “A Severe Strain on Credulity,” the NYT calls bullshit on Prof. Robert Goddard’s claim to have invented a rocket that could operate in space because how could its forward motion continue in the vacuum of space? “To claim that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are licensed to do that.” Goddard, “with his ‘chair’ in Clark College... does not know the relation of action and reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react – to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

The NYT will issue a correction to that editorial in its July 17, 1969 edition: “Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.” I can’t get a functional link, but it’s on page 43, the same page as an article by Isaac Asimov explaining that spacecraft maneuver like a squid.

The US will pull the last of its forces out of Siberia. They’ll help the remaining anti-Bolshevik Czech soldiers evacuate, and then they’re outta there and Japan can protect the trans-Siberian railroad itself.

The Monarchist Party in Hungary wants, as the name suggests, a king. They’re hoping a rich American will buy the position, paying off the country’s debts. None of the Habsburgs has enough money.


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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Today -100: January 12, 1920: Of rockets and colored and other unchecked profligates


Prof. Robert Goddard has invented a multiple-charge, high-efficiency rocket he thinks can reach beyond earth’s atmosphere, maybe even to the moon.

Headline of the Day -100: 


The Allied occupying forces in the Rhineland have issued an edict – I think this is real but I may be wrong – setting forth fines or imprisonment for anyone whose “words, manners or attitude” towards members of the occupying authorities or the occupation troops or indeed their flags are “insulting or improper.” According to irate Prussian Finance Minister Albert Südekum, this means any British, French or American negro soldier is placed “in a position to terrorize even the most harmless person against whom his brutal African instincts may wish to vent themselves. ... Rapine and murder may well become a pastime of these black fiends if this edict takes effect” as they can simply send the male relatives of any woman who catches their eye into detention, leaving her “unprotected game for colored and other unchecked profligates.” He notes that the edict is based on the armistice agreement which Woodrow Wilson signed, though it “practically encourages all those crimes for which, in the United States, negroes are burned at the stake. What do Americans think will be the effect of the return of those negro soldiers, whose licentiousness in Germany is officially encouraged, on the rest of their race?” In fact, the US Army points out, there are no negro units stationed on the Rhine.


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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Today -100: January 11, 1920: We won’t need any music


The Peace Treaty has been ratified. The Allies and Germany are now at peace. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau refuses to shake hands with the Germans, which is very on-brand. The US was not, of course, present, but the State Department decides to piss on the event on general principles:



There are rumors that the German government has been overthrown, but nah.

The Supreme Council of the League of Nations will meet for the first time on the 16th. France, Britain, Belgium, Italy, Japan, Spain and Brazil will be on the council. Clemenceau decides against it being a big ceremonial affair. “No, we won’t need any music,” he growls (I assume; he’s a growler).

The House of Representatives again votes not to seat Victor Berger, 328-6. He was re-elected in a special election in Wisconsin’s 5th District after the last time the House refused him his duly elected seat. He says he’ll run again. The Socialists re-nominate him, saying “We will keep on nominating Berger until Hades freezes over if that un-American aggregation called Congress continues to exclude him.” Wisconsin Gov. Emanuel Philipp (R) says he won’t call another special election, he’ll just leave the seat empty.

A lot of Republicans have come out against the NY Assembly’s refusal to seat 5 Socialists, including Warren Harding, former governor and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and now Sen. Borah.

Admiral Kolchak is reported to have been arrested by the White “All-Russian Government.” That’s not quite right, but it’s about now that he does get betrayed and handed over to the Bolsheviks for... disposal.

The London Tube introduces a railroad innovation: electrical signs in the cars announcing the stations. Mornington Crescent!

Gen. Pershing denies in a letter to the House War Investigation Committee that soldiers’ lives were wasted when pointless attacks were ordered on 11/11/18. FACT CHECK: soldiers’ lives were totally wasted in pointless attacks on Armistice Day.

The US Senate passes a bill against sedition.

100 or so Sinn Féiners attack a police barracks in County Galway with bullets and bombs. Doesn’t sound like anyone got killed.


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Friday, January 10, 2020

Today -100: January 10, 1920: Sure, Norway, why not


Since the US now seems unlikely to accept a League of Nations mandate over Armenia, some are suggesting it be taken by... Norway.

The last of the American Expeditionary Forces leave Europe. The AEF’s last commander in Paris, Brig. Gen. Fox Connor tells Paris reporters how much he likes Paris, France’s well-behaved children, and its women, “the most perfect and the most developed.” Asked about the Germans, he replies, “I believe we have got to watch them.”

Lucy Page Gaston of the Anti-Cigarette League, is running for president.


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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Today -100: January 9, 1920: The world has been made safe for democracy, but democracy has not been finally vindicated


The Democratic Convention will be held in San Francisco. Which some consider a plus for Herbert Hoover, if he decides to run for president as a Democrat.

A letter supposedly from Pres. Wilson is read to the Jackson Day dinner calling on the Senate not to alter the meaning of the peace treaty, although interpretations are fine. If it persists in doing so, he wants the 1920 election to focus on the treaty and the League of Nations. “The United States enjoyed the spiritual leadership of the world until the Senate of the United States failed to ratify the treaty... Personally, I do not accept the action of the Senate of the United States as the decision of the nation.”  Wilson’s former secretary of state William Jennings Bryan then gives a speech calling for the issue to be kept out of politics and saying whatever compromise is necessary to get the treaty passed quickly should be made.

Sen. Warren Harding calls the NY Assembly’s refusal to seat those 5 duly elected members unconstitutional. “We still adhere to popular government and its liberties,” he says, wrongly. New York Mayor Hylan also “regrets” the Legislature’s actions. The 5 say they were expelled to prevent them asking uncomfortable questions about the activities of the Lusk Committee and exposing that it’s being manipulated by the British Secret Service.


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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Today -100: January 8, 1920: Every country has its traitors


The New York State Assembly refuses by a vote of 140-6 to seat five Socialist members elected from New York City. The no’s include 4 of the Socialists. There will be a hearing later about whether to make this permanent. The vote is preceded by a hectoring speech by Speaker Thaddeus Sweet (whose claim to historical fame is that he will be the first ever member of Congress to die in an airplane crash, in 1928), accusing them of being bound to obey the orders a party whose executive “may be made up in whole or in part of aliens or alien enemies owing allegiance to governments or organizations whose interests may be immediately opposed to the best interests of the United States and of the people of the State of New York.” Sweet refuses to let the accused assemblymen respond to the resolution refusing to admit them because... they hadn’t been admitted.

Two of former kaiser Wilhelm’s sons, ex-princes August Wilhelm and Joachim, are getting divorces.

Viscount Milner, Special Commission for Britain in Egypt, has been having difficulties finding any prominent Egyptian willing to negotiate with him. He meets with the Grand Mufti, who tells him, “We can have no discussion until the protectorate is withdrawn.” Milner tells him some Egyptians would be willing to discuss reforms within the protectorate system, if they weren’t afraid of being killed; the GM replies, “Every country has its traitors.”


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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Today -100: January 7, 1920: Of Socialists, lashing, divorces & boners, and women’s suffrage


Victor Berger, the Socialist elected from Wisconsin to Congress, which refused to seat him, and who has since been re-elected, is ejected by police from Jersey City, where he was due to speak, and put on a ferry bound for Manhattan.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Not to be mistaken for “Harding lashes Americans red.” What goes on behind closed doors between a US senator and his mistress remains behind closed doors.

A court in Kentucky blocks the 4th marriage of 27-year-old Ora Iring. The judge decided that her third divorce didn’t count because it was on the grounds of cruelty, the same as her 1st divorce, and Kentucky doesn’t all more than one divorce on the same charge. She had planned to marry the president of a milk powder company, a Mr. O. W. Boner.

The Indian National Congress demands the removal of Gen. Reginald Dyer and the prosecution of Punjab Lt. Gov Sir Michael O’Dwyer for the Amritsar Massacre.

Rhode Island and Kentucky ratify the Women’s Suffrage Amendment to the federal Constitution. 24 down, 12 to go.


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Monday, January 06, 2020

Today -100: January 6, 1920: Offering women everything we offer the men


Republican women from 14 Mid-Western states, meeting in Chicago, demand equal representation on the RNC and fair representation at the National Convention. RNC Chair Will Hays tells them that “The Republican Party offers the women everything we offer the men. Republican women come into the party not as women, but as voters... They are not to be separated or segregated, but assimilated and amalgamated.” Kinky.

The NYT does not approve of the idea.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Some people are trying to evade census-takers because they think it has something to do with prohibition enforcement.

The New York Americans (Yankees) buy Babe Ruth for a record $125,000.


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Sunday, January 05, 2020

Today -100: January 5, 1920: Of concentration camps, Girl Scouts, barracks, Palmer Raids™, penologists, and Our Lady Who Weeps


There are so many alien Reds being held prisoner on Ellis Island that the government will have to turn a military camp into a concentration camp – their term, not mine.

The US claims Russia is forging foreign currencies and US Liberty Bonds.

The New York branch of the American Legion calls on Congress to suppress radical newspapers.

To overcome immigrants’ resistance to the Census (can’t imagine why they’d be concerned about feds asking them questions), enumerators in Manhattan will take Girl Scouts with them on their rounds.

In Carrigtohill, County Cork, hundreds of Sinn Féiners attack a police barracks. The assault lasts for hours, thanks to the recent hardening of barracks after other such attacks, but a bit of dynamite and the cops are made prisoners and the barracks looted of arms.

The Justice Dept says the Palmer Raids™ have only swept up half the 4,000 foreign Reds for whom warrants have been issued, and they intend to get all of them. Americans are also being swept up, and will supposedly be prosecuted.

By the way, the term Palmer Raids has not yet appeared in the NYT. Does anyone know when it was coined?

Headline That Sounds Dirty But Really Isn’t, Well Not In That Way of the Day -100: 


The Cook County sheriff is threatening to force prisoners to watch another execution.

There will be a trial in Nantes, France, this week. So a broker, a police inspector, an orchestra conductor, and a bank cashier beat up a priest, the former Grand Vicar of Syria, the broker using a dog whip, the cop handcuffs, the conductor a rubber band with lead pellets, and the cashier a grooved wooden paddle, and yes, I’m sure there’s something exactly like this on PornHub. Their purpose was to get Abbé Sapounghi to stop his satanic attacks on a woman who used to own a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes which wept tears which could, naturally, cure the sick. Once they’d beaten him and acquired a wax voodoo doll, the woman’s sufferings ceased. Should be an interesting trial, but if I know the NYT, there will be no update to tell us how that went. 



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Saturday, January 04, 2020

Today -100: January 4, 1920: Of embezzlers, conversions, injunctions and child labor


Poet-Aviator Gabriele D’Annunzio’s cashier flees Fiume with 1 million francs, which is roughly the equivalent of some money.

The Turkish government supposedly issued a secret order last November ordering the forcible conversion to Islam of any remaining Armenians.

A Superior Court judge in Spokane issues a permanent injunction on membership in the IWW or advocacy of its principles.

Evangelist Billy Sunday praises the Palmer Raids™, says if he had his way he’d put all the Wobblies, anarchists and socialists before a firing squad.

Another effect of the Great War on the United States, according to the Labor Department: more child labor.


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Friday, January 03, 2020

Today -100: January 3, 1920: When do we eat?


Lots and lots of Palmer Raids™, in 33 cities, with at least 2,600 arrests. Today’s Palmer Raids™ focus on the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party, which the Justice Department darkly informs us is associated with Lenin & Trotsky’s Third International. Justice also releases a letter which Palmer sent to Illinois State’s Attorney Maclay Hoyne asking him to hold off his own planned raids, which would scare reds into hiding before the Palmer Raids™. Apparently not very deep into hiding, since some of the Palmer Raids™ took place in Chicago, netting 100 or more alleged reds (yes, I’ve stopped putting reds in scare quotes; it was getting tiresome).

Speaking of bad timing, the government says it will get local cops to help locate foreigners for the Census.

200 convicts in the County Jail in Chicago are forced to witness the hanging of Rafflo Durrage in what is described as  an experiment in psychology. Sheriff Charles Peters explains that the crime wave is caused by “the modern coddling of criminals.” After the noose was put on Durrage’s neck but before he was hanged, a chorus of “When do we eat?” went up among the prisoners. Some prison official disconnected the phone to make sure there was no reprieve.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Thursday, January 02, 2020

Today -100: January 2, 1920: Of the strategic importance of pipes


Chicago police make 300 raids, capturing 200 “reds.” State’s Attorney Maclay Hoyne accuses the Justice Dept of not only refusing to cooperate, but tipping off the reds. Hoyne claims there is a “gigantic conspiracy... to overthrow the United States Government,” much of it headquartered in Chicago.

Marshal Ferdinand Foch says God gave him visions about the strategy to win the war. He adds that he won the war “by smoking my pipe. I mean to say by not getting excited, by reducing everything to its essential, by avoiding useless emotions”.

New Jersey Governor-Elect Edward Irving Edwards thinks the 18th Amendment can be overturned. He has sent his secretary to Washington to look at the original ratifying resolutions from various states, because he thinks some outlaw “alcoholic liquors” instead of “intoxicating liquors,” the actual phrasing of the Amendment. Also, some of them weren’t properly dated. (Update: his secretary won’t find any flaws in the ratifications).


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Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Today -100: January 1, 1920: Roar




Gen. Leonard Wood formally declares for the presidency in the South Dakota primary. Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge, who was nominated for vice president there, declines.

Tuskegee University, which keeps track of such things, reports that 82 people were lynched in the US in 1919. 75 were black, including 1 woman, 7 were white. 77 were in the South.

Mexican Pres. Carranza vetoes a bill to bring back bullfighting.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer says Bolshevist sympathizers “are composed chiefly of criminals, mistaken idealists, social bigots, and many unfortunate men and women suffering with various forms of hyperaesthesia.” And, of course, he promises to destroy all of them.


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