Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today -100: May 24, 1911: Of chimps, libraries, big bills, lynchings, and crippled naps

President Taft goes to the Bronx Zoo and shakes hand with a chimpanzee named Baldy. Baldy’s keeper, who is 180 pounds, says the chimp can lift him off his feet. “Every one looked expectantly at President Taft, wondering if he would offer to let the chimpanzee lift him. ‘Indeed?’ is as far, however as the President would commit himself.”

Taft is not only in the city to meet chimps but to open the new New York Public Library because, he says, the opening of a library reaching 8,000,000 is a matter of national importance. It will be the first and only public library in New York to open on Sundays. The $29 million library has an electrical plant as large as that of the city of Stockholm. Unlike in the great majority of libraries, the stacks will be open to most people, rather than patrons having to wait for someone to bring their books to them.

An 18-year-old messenger for a stock exchange company is convicted of grand larceny by a jury which did not believe that he “lost” a $10,000 bill.

A black man, Jim Sweat, who killed a judge and his (negro) cook in Gallatin, Tenn., is lynched by a mob of “the leading citizens of the town”. They stamped him almost to death, then hung him. Interestingly, only three years before, Sweat had murdered a (presumably black) servant who refused his invitation to a dance, but was sentenced to only one year and served only a little of that before receiving a pardon due to testimonials to his good character from prominent (i.e., white) citizens, including the judge he later killed.

Headline of the Day -100: “Badly Crippled Naps Beaten.” (Really, why did anyone think Naps was a good name for a baseball team?)

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