Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today -100: December 15, 1909: Of toilers’ right of American manhood, boozing it up in Worcester, and war balloons


A labor conference in Pittsburg (according to Wikipedia, it was spelled without the h from 1890 to 1911), presided over by Samuel Gompers of the AFL, has “declared war,” as the NYT put it, on US Steel and its new open shop policy. It passed a resolution asserting that “The gigantic trust... is using its great wealth and power in an effort to rob the toilers of their right of American manhood” and “is now engaged in an effort to destroy the only factor, the organizations of its employes, standing between it and unlimited, unchecked, and unbridled industrial, political, social, and moral carnage.” It asks every member of every union in America to aid the striking workers by contributing 10¢ each.

The NYT’s Nicaragua correspondent (who is openly biased) claims that Managua is in open revolt against Pres. Zelaya, with demonstrations in the streets. The government has broken the armistice, claiming that the negotiations were over, and with them the armistice, when the rebels rejected Zelaya’s nomination of Madriz as a successor. The people are demanding American intervention, says the correspondent. The American company in charge of electricity in the capital is threatening to cut off power if it is not paid pronto.

To date Taft has said nothing in public about Nicaragua, bar one oblique reference in the State of the Union address, even as he dispatches marines and gunboats.

Mexico has sent a special envoy to Washington to present its positions on Nicaragua, but the State Dept has been outright lying about his purpose there and falsely denying that he brought any proposals. Mexico wants Zelaya retained in at least nominal power, or if not him, Madriz.

The NYT responds to yesterday’s report on conditions in steerage, saying that they’re not really any worse than conditions in European or American slum tenements. Therefore, while the snooty investigator might have been disgusted by the smells and dirt and lack of privacy and overcrowding, those people are used to them. So that’s okay then.

The largest “dry” city in the world, Worcester, Mass., voted to end prohibition. 29 Massachusetts cities voted on the question in 1909 – it sounds like they do this every single year. Salem went dry. The Times doesn’t say how many of them are wet or dry, but the total vote gave a 12,467 majority for allowing liquor licenses, compared to a 8,936 prohibitionist majority in 1908.

Headline of the Day -100: “German Dirigibles Frighten France.” Or “war balloons,” as the article also calls them.

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