Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Today -100: April 5, 1911: Of new speakers, insurgents, socialists, and the 9th Cavalry

The new Congress convenes. The D’s, now in charge of the House, elect a new Speaker, James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark of Missouri. The 1912 presidential election is well and truly under way, since Clark will do his best to derail Taft’s legislative agenda while attempting to make himself the leading D candidate (and coming fairly close). For example, this is a special session, called by Taft for the sole purpose of passing his tariff reciprocity treaty with Canada, but Clark, giving a speech on his plans for the session, failed even to mention reciprocity, instead talking about lowering tariffs, popular election of senators, statehood for Arizona and New Mexico, etc etc.

Insurgent Republican senators demand from their party leadership, and get, ¼ of the Republican seats on all important Senate committees, with those members decided not by the party but by themselves. This means that if insurgents join with Democrats, they will be able to outvote the old guard Republicans (there are 50 R’s and 41 D’s in the Senate).

In local elections in Milwaukee, which has been run by Socialists for a year now, the Catholic Social Union fields candidates for the school board, though less Catholic than anti-socialist (there’s only one actual Catholic among the Catholic Social Union candidates who win 3 of the 5 contested seats). Women’s votes were evidently instrumental in the Socialist defeat, and for that of the socialists in Wichita.

On the other hand, Socialist John Menton is elected mayor of Flint, Michigan, and other socialists are elected aldermen, supervisors, and to other city positions there.

The Standard Oil Company issues a denial that it is financing the revolt in Mexico.

John Trower, reputed to be the richest negro in America, dies, purportedly leaving an estate of $1.5 million.

The Massachusetts Legislature defeats women’s suffrage by 161 to 69.

The Army is claiming that the decision to send the 9th Cavalry to patrol the desert had nothing to do with any fights with conductors over San Antonio’s Jim Crow laws. But another racial problem has developed: one of the colonels in the Illinois National Guard contingent of the border buildup is a... wait for it... negro. However, “Illinois Guardsmen are loyal soldiers, and despite their heart-burnings at having a colored man accompany them as their ranking office they gave no outward evidence of their chagrin.” What stoicism. Privately, some of the white Illinois officers said “that Gov. Deneen made a diplomatic mistake” in choosing him. Col. John Marshall, who was born a slave, was the first black colonel in the US Army, serving in the Spanish-American War, when his presence also pissed off white officers.

A NYT editorial blames the kerfuffle in San Antonio on white people selling whisky to black soldiers, but also on the incongruity between Jim Crow laws and soldiers “entitled to the respect deserved by one trained and ready to sacrifice his life in the defense of the Nation”. The obvious solution, the Times suggests, is to get rid of... negro soldiers. What, you thought they were going to say the Jim Crow laws? “They are good soldiers, as everybody admits, and as they have many times proved in both peace and war, but somehow they do not fit in well with the Nature of Things as They Are.”

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