Monday, March 17, 2014

Today -100: March 17, 1914: Don’t touch me, I am a lady

Three days after Le Figaro printed that letter from Finance Minister Joseph Caillaux to his first wife, his current wife Henriette shoots the newspaper’s editor, Gaston Calmette, dead. On seeing her calling card Calmette reportedly said, “She is a woman, I must receive her,” and when a porter seized her after shooting Calmette, she said, “Don’t touch me. I am a lady (Je suis une dame!)” She told the police she wasn’t trying to kill Calmette when she fired five times at him (hitting him four times), just to give him a lesson.

A while back I considered concluding certain stories with the phrase “And that’s how World War I started.” This story definitely qualifies. Joseph Caillaux was not a war-monger, which was one of the reasons Calmette waged a bitter campaign against him. His secret diplomacy as prime minister during the Agadir crisis in 1911 when Germany sent a gunboat to Morocco to protest French moves in Morocco (Caillaux was a racist colonialist) defused the situation; Le Figaro has been claiming (falsely) that he gave the Congo to Germany in exchange for insider information which he used to make a fortune on the Berlin stock exchange, which he then used to buy Henriette a jeweled crown, literally exchanging colonies for diamonds.

Actually it was more a case of Caillaux considering Britain a bigger threat to French interests than Germany. More recently Caillaux opposed the increase in the length of mandatory military service. The Radical Party (of which he was president) and the center-left in general did quite well in the April-May 1914 elections, and if not for the fact that his wife was still on trial he would have been prime minister and the even more vehemently anti-militarist Jean Jaurès foreign minister in time for the Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassination. But they weren’t.

The Austrian parliament is dismissed after continuous disruptions by Czech MPs protesting the dismissal of the parliament in the Czech regions of the Empire (Bohemia). It had still not been recalled when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

Mother Jones, a prisoner of the military in Colorado for more than three months, is released, after a contentious conversation with the governor, but defiantly says she will return to the strike zone. “So long as I live I shall refuse to submit to military despotism.”

The California-Mexico border is under virtual martial law after the murder of the Tecate, CA postmaster by “three men said to be Mexicans.”

Dr. James Devon, a prison commissioner who used to be a prison doctor in Glasgow (who oversaw forcible feeding there), slugs a suffragette who attacks him with a whip.

Headline of the Day -100: “CATCH WOMAN IN DISGUISE.; Whip Found on Supposed Man Arrested in House of Commons.”

The NY State Senate passes a bill for equal pay for NYC 7th- and 8th-grade teachers of both sexes.

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