Friday, May 30, 2014

Today -100: May 30, 1914: Of Irish empresses, beer, re-elections, and royal elevators

The ocean liner Empress of Ireland sinks in the Saint Lawrence River after colliding with a Norwegian coal ship in the fog (the captains of the two ships would each claim the other was at fault; the inquiry in Canada would blame the Norwegian while the inquiry in Norway blamed the Brit). Over 1,000 are lost and 465 rescued. The worst maritime disaster in Canadian history.

Unlike the Titanic, there were plenty of lifeboats, but the Empress went on her side so half of them couldn’t be used. Also it was nighttime and chaotic, and the ship went down quickly because passengers had left portholes open. And unlike the Titanic, the wireless brought rescue boats swiftly, but fog hampered the rescue.

167 of the dead were members of the Salvation Army on their way to a conference in London, including D.M. Rees, the head of the Salvation Army in Canada. Also dead: Laurence Irving, son of actor/manager Henry Irving and a not very successful actor-playwright, and his wife. The Empress’s captain, H.G. Kendall, who performed admirably in rescuing people from the water, was previously famous as the man who recognized a passenger as the fleeing murderer Dr. Crippen. This is not the first shipwreck Kendall survived, nor the last.

The Mexican rebels have seized the brewery in Monterrey and are selling beer to raise money for the war. I hear selling cookies door to door also works.

The Constitutionalists have finally sent a delegate, Juan Urquidi, to the Niagara Falls conference. The ABC mediators are now considering whether they want to allow into their talks someone who might bring a dose of reality to their fantasy “peace plan,” such as the sentiment expressed by Urquidi that the conference has no right to determine Mexico’s internal arrangements. The US is leaning towards allowing Urquidi to join in, because they’re sure that Carranza can be persuaded to accept the plan and give up his victory right before he grasps it.

The American occupation’s collector of the port of Vera Cruz imposes a $90,000 fine on the Bavaria, which delivered its cargo of ammunition to the Huertaists.

There may have been some sort of mutiny in Mexico City, in which Huerta’s home was attacked. Or not. All of Mexico is one giant rumor mill at this point.

Eleven-term Congresscritter Richard Bartholdt (R-Missouri) has set up a headquarters to campaign against being re-elected against his will.

Evidently Kaiser Wilhelm refuses to get into any elevator not in one of his palaces.

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