Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Today -100: November 25, 1915: I intend to try to crush militarism

Henry Ford charters an entire liner, the Oscar II, to carry him and an assorted group of pacifists to go to Europe to stop the war. “We are going to try to get the boys out of their trenches and back to their homes by Christmas Day.” Well at least he’s given himself a full month. He’s invited any number of prominent people to join him, including William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Edison, who have or will both refuse. “I intend to try to crush militarism,” Ford says.

Spoiler Alert: He will not crush militarism.

Edward Ryan’s luggage explodes in Budapest. Specifically, an artillery shell which he was taking back to the US as a souvenir, as you do. Dr Ryan was head of an American Red Cross mission in Serbia.

The German Army has adopted an artificial-respiration device, involving a rubber tube and foot-operated bellows, which was invented before the war by Dr. Samuel Meltzer of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for use by miners, to restore the breathing of soldiers asphyxiated by gas or buried in trench collapses. The Rockefeller Foundation has supplied these devices to the British, French and (more recently) German armies.

Headline of the Day -100:

A “foreign official source, in no way connected with European affairs” tells the NYT that for 6 months Germany has been funding Huerta’s attempt to start a counter-revolution in Mexico, to keep the US occupied militarily and distracted. And then the US arrested Huerta right before he could reach Mexico.

The Serbian government is now a government-in-exile, retreating to Scutari, Albania.

Greece gives the Allies permission to move their troops around Macedonia unimpeded, because what choice did Greece have? In return, the Allies promise not to keep any Greek territory they occupy during the war.

Albert Einstein presents to the Prussian Academy of Sciences the Einstein Equations establishing the theory of general relativity.

On Stone Mountain, Georgia, 16 men re-found the Ku Klux Klan. Burn a cross and everything. Next week the state of Georgia will issue them a charter. It will take a while for it to amount to anything – it may be a few years before I have cause to mention it again – but this group will grow into the mammoth Second Klan of the 1920s, which will elect (and impeach) governors in states throughout the union (Oregon, Indiana, etc), pass laws banning Catholic schools, and fight against unions and immigrants and for prohibition.

One of the men on Stone Mountain is Col. William Joseph Simmons, who will be the Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He’s mostly harmless and had in mind not a night-riding, negro-lynching organization but a fraternal order much like the others he loved: Elks, Shriners, Masons, Woodmen of the World, that sort of thing (the “colonel” title came from the Woodmen of the World, although he was a private during the Spanish-American War). The fact that the body he chose to revive was the Klan is of course down to “The Birth of a Nation,” which he adored and watched over and over. One of the things he adopted from it: burning crosses, which the post-Civil War Klan did not do. He loved the paraphernalia and secret handshakes and such, which he would lovingly detail in a 54-page document called... wait for it... the Kloran. However, Simmons wasn’t much of an organizer (and liked the bottle a little too much), so his Empire will remain mostly Invisible in fact as well as name until he hired some PR people in 1920...

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