Saturday, September 17, 2011

Today -100: September 17, 1911: Of watermelons, kindly suffrage campaigns, mad monks, and the South’s burden

Court-Martial of the Day -100: “For the first time in the history of the army it seems certain that an officer is to be court-martialed for the purpose of proving whether or not he is qualified to act as a judge of the price of North Carolina watermelons.” A captain briefly detained a watermelon farmer who was charging soldiers a higher price than that set by the captain. The farmer was friend of a friend of a friend of Sen. Lee Overman, who complained to the secretary of war, thus the court-martial.

The threat of war between Germany and France seems to have receded while they send various notes and proposals and ultimatums relating to Morocco back and forth. The views of the king of Morocco, or indeed those of any other Moroccans, are of course irrelevant.

Governors of all five states with women’s suffrage (plus the governor of South Dakota) attend a meeting of the Women’s Political Union at Cooper Union in NYC. They all support women’s suffrage in general but Gov. William Spry of Utah has some criticisms of militant suffrage methods (meaning those used by British suffragettes, not – yet – by Americans). And Gov. James Hawley of Idaho said “The suffrage campaign should be carried on in a kindly way.” He warned against using “coercion and force,” adding “I believe in women who are motherly women, who are true sisters and true wives; women who believe that home is the most sacred place on earth.” Harriot Stanton Blatch said governors Spry and Hawley don’t know what they’re talking about. More surprisingly, Gov. John Shafroth of Colorado said the same, coming out in support of English militancy; he says that men would have reacted much more strongly if treated the same way.

The Sunday magazine section today has two features on important personages in Russia, one on “The Mad Monk Who Rules Russia Through the Czar” (Iliodor, not Rasputin), and one on “The Czar’s Sister-in-Law A Woman Suffrage Leader.”

Hoke Smith, former governor of Georgia and now US senator-elect, says that the negro is the South’s burden. And education won’t help, because negroes are, well, you know. What would help? He doesn’t come out in favor of the return of slavery, although he does say that negroes were “advanced from savagery to civilization during slavery,” which they never do when left to their own devices, as in Africa. And Negroes, he says, should never compete with whites: “with few exceptions, they succeed only in the simpler walks of life, and there only when they receive the benefit of kindly direction from the white man.” They do best in communities with lots of white men, so the best policy would be to scatter them throughout the country. He seems a bit resentful that the South is shouldering so much of the white man’s burden.

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