Monday, May 11, 2015

Today -100: May 11, 1915: There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight

Woodrow Wilson gives a speech in Convention Hall in Philadelphia to an audience of newly naturalized citizens, finally speaking about the Lusitania. Sort of, because he doesn’t actually utter the word Lusitania, but talks instead about how the US’s nature as a nation of immigrants gives it a special place in the world: “Americans must have a consciousness different from the consciousness of every other nation in the world. ... America must have this consciousness, that on all sides it touches elbows and touches hearts with all the nations of mankind. The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world and strife is not. There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.” He tells the new citizens that they can’t think of themselves by their former nationalities. “My urgent advice to you would be, not only always to think first of America, but always, also, to think first of humanity. You do not love humanity if you seek to divide humanity into jealous camps. Humanity can be welded together only by love, by sympathy, by justice, not by jealousy and hatred.”

An inquest held in Ireland into five of the Lusitania deaths rules the u-boat captain and crew guilty of willful murder. Also Kaiser Wilhelm. And the German government. At the inquest, Capt. Turner is asked whether the Admiralty had informed him of the sinking of another ship in the same patch of sea a couple of days before (by the same u-boat, as it happens). No, it did not. He refuses to say what instructions he had from the Admiralty, which obviously needed to be kept secret, but we know that they did order him to go as fast as he could and to zigzag, and he did neither.

The German ambassador to the US, Count von Bernstorff, offers Germany’s “deep regret that the events of the war had led to the loss of so many American lives”. Which, as apologies go, is a step up from “I’m sorry you were offended,” barely.

The German Foreign Office’s dispatch to Bernstorff was even worse, putting the blame on the British for attempting to starve Germany, forcing it to retaliate by sinking passenger liners.

A letter to the NYT explains:

British Tory party leader Andrew Bonar Law calls the sinking “simply murder, most foul, most unnatural.”

In Parliament, Winston Churchill says the Royal Navy doesn’t have the resources to escort every passenger ship. What, not even one carrying the largest number of passengers since the war began?

Leo Frank’s execution day is set for June 22nd.

Headline of the Day -100:

A Brooklyn judge lets Nicola Chiangone, charged with stealing jewelry from his fiancĂ©, who he then jilted, go free so long as he marries her: “I have seen the girl since then and I have also seen you. I am going to leave your punishment to her. You are going to get all that is coming to you from her – that is, after you marry her. ... I am going to let you marry this woman, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Stock prices briefly crash due to a rumor that Pres. Wilson had been assassinated.

He wasn’t.

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