Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today -100: July 24, 1914: My dignity forbade me to live any longer with you

Headline of the Day -100: “Austria Ready to Invade Servia, Sends Ultimatum.” That said, the NYT doesn’t seem hugely alarmed:

The 48-hour take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum is for the arrest of everyone involved in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the suppression of all organizations fomenting rebellion in Bosnia (formally annexed by Austria in 1908, but which Serbia would rather like for itself)(one of the organizations, which it names, has several Serb cabinet ministers among its members), the suppression of cross-border arms trafficking, an official disavowal by the Serbian government(in words specified by the Austrians) of “this criminal perverse” anti-Austrian propaganda, the firing of army officers and government officials guilty of anti-Austrian propaganda (Austria has a little list, some of whom were definitely involved in the assassination, although Austria didn’t have proof), and for Serbia to accept Austrian “assistance” in suppressing these groups. You might very well think that Austria doesn’t really expect its demands to be met.

But on to the important news: the Madame Caillaux trial, of course. Joseph Caillaux’s first wife, Berthe Gueydan, who supplied Calmette with letters from Caillaux to her and to his future second wife, testifies. She claims she has no idea how Calmette got her photographs of the letters, no idea at all. But mostly she recited the history of the failure of her marriage. At length. Nor does she care for the defendant: “All the pity has gone to the intruder who defiled my home to take my place,” she complains.

After three hours of that, Joseph Caillaux responds that his only mistake was in marrying her (and seducing her away from her first husband, he doesn’t add). It’s all very Jerry Springer, but it’s also part of a strategy to present Madame Caillaux as the sort of woman worthy of receiving a “crime of passion” free pass. He addresses Berthe directly, telling her that unlike the meek, mild murderess he’s currently married to, she was simply too strong-willed: “Between a man to whom everyone grants authority, vigor, and power, and you in whom those qualities are overdeveloped as well, it was impossible that things would last. ...My dignity forbade me to live any longer with you.” He says any wrongs he did her are more than compensated by the generous alimony he paid, and reminds everyone that she came into the marriage penniless.

After all the histrionics, the spectacle later in the day of two former prime ministers accusing each other of lying was something of an anti-climax. Caillaux had testified that Jean Louis Barthou told him that Berthe had shown him the letters. Barthou denies it.

A woman who watched some of the trial, Jeanne Beclard, the divorced wife of the under-secretary of state for fine arts, goes insane and has to be hospitalized. It seems that she showed up at Caillaux’s headquarters the previous evening intending to shoot him, but hadn’t gotten in.

William Barnes, the chairman of the NY state Republican Party, sues Theodore Roosevelt for libel for accusing him of being a “corruptionist” and comparing him to his counterpart in the D. party, Tammany Boss Murphy (“These machine masters secure the appointment to office of the evil men whose activities so deeply taint and discredit our whole governmental system”). TR says, “Let Mr. Barnes go ahead. I never say anything I can’t make good.” TR is promoting the alliterative Harvey Hinman as a fusion candidate for governor of New York, that is, he will try to have him nominated in both the Progressive and Republican party primaries.

Russian police and Cossacks are shooting strikers on the streets of St Petersburg, as was the custom. Evidently they held back until France’s President Poincaré’s visit was over.

(Oh, and Austria timed its ultimatum to coincide with President Poincaré and PM Viviani both being out of France – and it’s a loooong boat ride back from Russia.)

Carranza accuses Huerta of having sold 100,000 acres of Baja to the Rothschilds, keeping most of the money himself, and with a stipulation that they import at least 50,000 Chinese workers to raise cotton on the land.

Woodrow Wilson loses another nominee to the Federal Reserve Board, Thomas Jones, whose connections to the Harvester Trust aroused opposition.

Dr. Goldwater, NYC health commissioner, wants dogs kept leashed or muzzled all year round instead of just during the summer months as current law requires, based on the theory, long disproved by 1914, that rabies is caused by heat. There is no pound in the city, so stray dogs are chloroformed. Dr. Goldwater doesn’t really see the point of people keeping dogs in the city.

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