Sunday, November 08, 2015

Today -100: November 8, 1915: Of neutral rights, fire inspectors, and benevolent neutrality

The US sends Britain a note saying its blockade of European ports is illegal and asserting the rights of the US and other neutral countries. It’s not entirely clear what the US plans to do if Britain ignores the note and continues to interfere with trade with neutral European countries (on the theory that they might sell stuff on to Germany).

The Williamsburg, Brooklyn factory building that burned down yesterday was not up to code, but, members of the State Industrial Commission point out, there are too few inspectors to enforce the codes enacted after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Will they ask the Legislature to budget for more inspectors? “No,” says Commissioner James Lynch, “What’s the use?” There are 65 inspectors for something like 35,000 factories. I say something like because they don’t even seem to know just how many factories they’re supposed to be inspecting.

Stephanos Skouloudis, the new Greek prime minister, says his government will continue to keep Greece out of the war but it will have a “benevolent neutrality” towards the Entente.

A letter to the NYT by pulp writer and Founding Father descendent Gouverneur Morris, addressed “to the children,” asks them to request that Santa Claus bring them French-made toys and not German ones “for the sake of the American children who were drowned like so many blind kittens when the Germans sank the Lusitania.” Also, Germany toys are ugly and French ones “are beautiful and they are clean. And there is no blood on them.”

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