Saturday, August 30, 2014

Today -100: August 30, 1914: Of forts, bestial atrocities, twilight sleep, nostalgia, and electric chairs

The House votes to create a Federal bureau of war risk marine insurance, with a $5,000,000 fund to cover the risk to shipping from the war.

The military governor of Paris orders residents within the line of fire of the city’s forts to abandon their homes, which will be destroyed to create a line of fire.

The Germans are threatening to seize works of art unless Brussels pays the $40 million indemnity.

Germany justifies the burning of Louvain by claiming that civilians were sniping at German soldiers with guns handed out by magistrates and priests, and that they committed “bestial atrocities against the wounded.”  Bestial atrocities are the worst kind.

It won’t make the papers, but Russian Gen. Alexander Samsonov, after his invasion of East Prussia ends in a spectacular defeat in which almost his entire army is encircled by Germans and captured or killed in the Battle of Tannenberg – more than 100,000 men – shoots himself in the head.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Supposedly the 135th German Infantry pretended to surrender, but when French soldiers approached, attacked them with machine guns they’d hidden.  Naturally, so the story goes, the French charged them with, um, bayonets and wiped them out, because they’re just that good.

The Jewish Maternity Hospital of New York City has been experimenting with a method of painless childbirth called twilight sleep, which involves drugs.  Lots and lots of drugs.  Including morphine.  Actually, it may not so much eliminate pain as eliminate any memory of it.

A jailer in Paris, Kentucky shoots into a mob attempting to storm the jail and lynch a negro prisoner, killing one of the mob.

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) names a “blacklist” of 9 senators and 9 congresscritters who are the greatest obstacles to women’s suffrage.  Along with the usual suspects (Elihu Root, Henry Cabot Lodge) are future vice president John Nance Garner and Thomas Gore.

Attorney General James McReynolds is confirmed as Supreme Court justice, 44-6.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Asks Leave for Nostalgia.”  Congress has been having trouble maintaining a quorum and has resorted to sending out the gendarmes to drag members to the chamber and threatening to dock the pay of any member absent without permission.  Now Rep. Michael Burke, the first-term Democrat from Wisconsin, is asking for permission to go home to Beaver Dam because of illness: homesickness, or nostalgia as he calls it.

New York has fired Edwin Davis (wrongly called Charles Davis by the NYT), the executioner employed for 240 executions since NY introduced the electric chair in 1890 (Davis holds one of the patents), because he wouldn’t reduce his $250 fee (each – no discount for multiple fryings).  Yonkers politician Thomas Mannion will do it for $150.

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