Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Today -100: April 3, 1913: Of suffrage, cats & mice, colon fires, and chairs

The lower house of the Connecticut Legislature rejects women’s suffrage, 150-74.

Emmeline Pankhurst is on trial for inciting persons unknown to place an explosive in Lloyd George’s future country house. The sole evidence presented against her is her speeches at public meetings. Mrs. Pankhurst, acting as her own attorney, complains that the police reports of her speeches are inaccurate – and ungrammatical.

The British government’s Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Bill (aka The Cat and Mouse Bill), giving the home secretary the power to release hunger-striking prisoners without having to commute their sentence, giving them time to recover under whatever restrictions he feels like putting on them, and then putting them back in prison to resume their sentence, is debated in Parliament. Home Secretary Reginald McKenna warns MPs against “attaching too much credence to the accounts which are being given as to the terrible tortures which are endured in prison under the system of forcible feeding.” He notes that “publicity is the keynote of this [suffrage] propaganda, and as part of publicity the prisoners who have been sent to prison for committing various offences, such as window breaking, attempted arson, and other offences, have adopted the hunger strike in the hopes of enlisting the sympathy of the outside public.” So while he claims the Cat & Mouse Bill is necessary to enforce the law, he makes clear that his real goal is to prevent suffragettes gaining publicity and making the government look bad. The bill passes its first stages.

The London Times applauds the Cat and Mouse Bill: “a hunger strike on the proposed terms will lose most of its charms, since it will neither offer a chance of martyrdom, nor make a picturesque appeal to sentiment, nor evade the decreed punishment.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Panic in Colon Fire.” A movie theatre in Colon in the Panama Canal Zone.

Former President Taft now holds a chair at Yale Law School. Actually, the chair he was given at his first faculty meeting was too small to accommodate his ample bottom. Finally, they found an appropriate chair from the Midnight Club, a chair built for two people to sit in.

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