Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today -100: December 20, 1912: Of pardons, immigrants, women’s suffrage, and alphabets

President Taft pardons Capt. William Van Schaik, the captain of the paddle steamer General Slocum, which caught fire in the East River in 1904, killing over 1,000 people. He has already served his 3½ years for criminal negligence, but the pardon restores his citizenship rights.

The House passes a bill excluding illiterate immigrants over 16; it now goes to the Senate. The NYT notes that in 1910, this would have excluded 188,439 males and 65,130 females, mostly from southern Italy, and wonders how New York City would get its houses and subways built cheaply without them.

Michigan finally finishes counting its ballots, and women’s suffrage lost by 760 votes.

Suffragettes in Britain are now vandalizing phone boxes and possibly TARDISes.

The Chinese government will introduce a new alphabet, with 42 characters instead of 8,000.

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