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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