Thursday, March 31, 2016

Today -100: March 31, 1916: Of sussexes, stowaways, and literate immigrants

It’s being said that not only did that German u-boat sink the Sussex, but it fired on a destroyer that went to the Sussex’s rescue. Many think this goes beyond what Washington will accept, and the US is therefore bound to break off relations with Germany.

A lone German (actually Anglo-German) named Ernest Schiller sneaks aboard the British steamship Matoppa at Hoboken, New Jersey and proceeds to seize it (he has two guns) and its cargo of barbed wire bound for Vladivostok. He keeps control of the ship and its crew of 43 for 19 hours before attempting to make it ashore, only to be promptly caught by the Coast Guard. He seems to have been mostly interested in robbing the ship, although he initially said he was capturing it on behalf of Germany. The problem is he did all this in international waters, so the US may just hand him over to the Brits. (Update: In court, Schiller will deny being a pirate, saying it was an act of war. Interestingly, bail was set, despite the charge of, you know, piracy, although for more than he could afford. He will plead guilty and get life.

The House passes an immigration bill imposing a literacy test – which has been vetoed before by presidents Taft & Wilson – with a veto-proof majority. Attempts to exclude political refugees from the requirement fail. Immigrants over 16 will have to read out a list of 30 to 40 common words in any language, including Yiddish and Hebrew. The bill also excludes new categories of immigrants including vagrants, people with tuberculosis, those who advocate the destruction of property or belong to groups that do so, “Hindus” (i.e., all South Asians), and those with “constitutional psychopathic inferiority,” which members of Congress have been reassuring the press is totally a thing, although their attempts to define it all end with “ah, the alienists know what it means.” They’ve adopted the definition suggested by those alienists – really, eugenicists – “a congenital defect in the emotional or volitional fields of mental activity which results in inability to make proper adjustment to the environment.” The bill will pass over Wilson’s veto next year.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Today -100: March 30, 1916: A great step for the moral effect upon the country

Mexico will allow the US to use its trains to supply American soldiers in Mexico but not to send munitions or soldiers. And they have to pay commercial rates.

And guess who’s back, it’s ex-General Félix Díaz, arriving in Mexico in Oaxaca state from Guatemala with a small army to overthrow the Carranza regime. Which won’t happen.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt recommends that 8 new capital ships be built this year instead of the 4 called for in Wilson’s five-year program. That’s his personal view, not the department’s. “I personally think it would mean a great step, for the moral effect upon the country, and also our international relations.”

Headline of the Day -100:

Do tell.

Actually, this is an army officer (whose name and rank are not reported) who leaped from the Strangers’ Gallery to the floor of Parliament. His “incoherent remarks” concerned the need for proper helmets for soldiers. “I ask you to protect the heads of British soldiers against shrapnel fire.” You know, crazy talk.

Gen. Alexei Polivanov resigns as Russia’s Minister of War “at his own request.” Actually, more like Tsarina Alexandra’s request.

Headline of the Day -100:

A union of vaudeville performers, not actual rodents.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Today -100: March 29, 1916: Of Indian scouts, starvation plans, Red Clydeside, and amendments

Gen. Pershing will choose twenty Apache scouts to use in tracking Pancho Villa. Pershing used to kill Apaches in the 1880s. No hard feelings, guys?

Headline of the Day -100:

Boy, not speaking even a little euphemistically about their genocidal goals, are they?

Six Clydeside (Glasgow) union leaders are arrested for treason for organizing dock strikes that held up munitions shipments.

The House Judiciary Committee indefinitely postpones consideration of amendments to the Constitution for women’s suffrage and prohibition.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Today -100: March 28, 1916: Of unfortunate incidents

The Pershing expedition into Mexico started out with 8 airplanes and is already down to 2, with 2 wrecked (a pilot broke his nose in a crash, not clear what happened to the other one) and 4 under repair. This first US military use of the new technology is not going well.

The War Dept turns down a request from the governor of Arizona for 3,000 rifles to arm its citizens against possible raids from Mexico. “The presence in border towns of armed bodies of citizens is liable to result in some unfortunate incident,” says Secretary Newton Baker.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Today -100: March 27, 1916: Hey, wait for us!

US troops are now 230 miles inside the Mexican interior. Pancho Villa is further from capture than ever.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Today -100: March 26, 1916: Of sinister and unscrupulous interests, Mongolians, and dread

Woodrow Wilson accuses “sinister and unscrupulous interests” of a “traffic in falsehood” about the situation in Mexico in order to force an intervention “in the interests of certain American owners of Mexican properties.” He asks the news media to put his view of the expedition – that it is pursuant to an agreement (ha!) with Carranza and intended solely to capture Villa – “constantly before both the people of this country and the distressed and sensitive people of Mexico”. He wants the press not to give the expedition “the color of war” and to refrain from publishing rumors about unrest in Mexico.

The US District Court in Hawaii denies naturalization to one Takao Ozawa, ruling that Japanese are Mongolians, not white.

Headline of the Day -100:

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Today -100: March 25, 1916: The Hebrews are betraying us in the war

Theodore Roosevelt returns to the US after a Caribbean vacation. He refuses to to talk about politics, and then talks about politics, blaming Wilson for the situation in Mexico. But what really excites him is that he has discovered an entirely new species of bird in Trinidad, except it’s not.

The steamship SS Sussex is torpedoed off Dieppe, where it was sailing from Folkestone. An unknown number of passengers died, between 50 and 100 (the inexactitude is due to some of the rescued simply continuing with their travels without checking in with the authorities).

There’s a fight in the Russian Duma over Jews. Speaking against an interpellation opposing illegal acts against the Jews (pogroms, I guess, but the NYT is unclear), Georgy Zamyslovsky (last seen here prosecuting the “ritual murder” trial in Kiev in 1913 and who will later this year write a libelous – indeed, blood-libelous – book on the subject with a secret subsidy from the czar, and who “decorated his study with pictures of Jewish noses”) says “The Hebrews are betraying us in the war” and that the first thing the Russian army has to do when it takes a village is to get rid of all the Jews and that Jewish speculators are responsible for the high cost of living and they control a majority of the Duma and... Anyway, the Bolsheviks will execute Zamyslovsky.

That detail about the pictures of Jewish noses comes from a book on the Kiev trial, which came out 101 years after it. 101 years! What sort of help is that?

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Today -100: March 24, 1916: Of bounties, invasions, and executions

Rep. John Scott (R-Pennsylvania) introduces a resolution to put a $50,000 price on Pancho Villa’s head, dead or... no, just dead, actually.

British newspapers think a German invasion of Britain is imminent. They think the recent uptick in u-boat attacks on neutral shipping is intended to clear the sea of any ship that might see and give warning of the invasion.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: British papers say the Germans executed 4 high-ranking Turkish officers.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Today -100: March 23, 1916: Of herreras, war derelicts, and pickpocket permits

One of Carranza’s generals (and former governor of Chihuahua), Luis Herrera, is said to have defected to Villa with his 2,000 troops. He didn’t, I think. But then there are a lot of rumors at the present, including one, officially denied, that 27 US Army trucks were found in the desert in Chihuahua with their drivers missing.

Headline of the Day -100:

Jolly war derelicts are the best kind.

So jolly

Yuan Shikai gives up on his attempt to name himself emperor of China in the face of widespread revolt. He will go back to being a lowly president of a boring old republic.

Bertrand Russell’s estranged American wife Alys gives a lecture in New York in which she says that the European war should be fought only by men older than, say, 60 or 70.

Headline of the Day -100:  

An investigation of the NYC Dept of Licenses shows that pretty much everyone there takes bribes for favorable reports on license applications. And when they saw a pickpocket (actually an undercover cop) working the line, they took a cut from him too.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Today -100: March 22, 1916: One of our airplanes is missing

Blackjack Pershing’s expeditionary force into Mexico seems to have lost two of its airplanes. They’ll show up, eventually. One, piloted by Edgar “Snap” Gorrell, had to land because he ran out of gas while flying around after he got lost. This is a pretty funny story given Gorrell’s importance in developing the US air force’s wrong-headed strategic bombing policy, which rather assumed the ability to identify and hit targets, not fly around randomly, run out of fuel, land in the middle of nowhere, and mope around your plane 84 hours waiting for rescue.

Most of the US army is now either in Mexico or guarding the border, and Gen. Funston wants still more troops as the supply lines into Mexico get longer and longer (they’ve asked Mexico to be allowed to use its railroads, but there’s been no answer yet).

Sinn Feiners shoot 3 cops in Tullamore, King’s County during a protest against military recruitment.

France and Germany are arguing about who is in possession of Dead Man’s Hill (hill 265) at Verdun. The Germans claim that after the French lost the hill, they renamed hill 295, which they still control, as Dead Man’s Hill.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Today -100: March 21, 1916: Of standing armies, unjustified hopes, and French licks

The House of Representatives, working on a bill that would increase the army to 140,000 and federalize the state national guards, rejects amendments to expand it to 220,000.

Gen. Moritz von Bissing, the German overlord for occupied Belgium, complains to Cardinal Mercier that his Lenten pastoral raised “unjustified hopes” that Germany might lose the war, creating “among a credulous population noxious excitement”. He warns the cardinal, not for the first time, to refrain from political activity.

Indiana Gov. Samuel Ralston appoints the alliterative Thomas Taggart, former mayor of Indianapolis, to the vacant US Senate seat left by the death of Benjamin Shively. Taggart was indicted for election fraud last year, but the case was dropped. He also had legal troubles over alleged gambling at his hotel – and this is really the only reason I’m covering this – the French Lick Springs Hotel, which just sounds dirty. (Update: hah, it’s still in existence, and there’s definitely gambling going on there now).

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Today -100: March 20, 1916: Of tubantias, milk propaganda, and potato cards

Holland is rather upset about Germany sinking their steamer Tubantia (impressively, all 374 passengers and crew were rescued). Germany has begun trying out excuses: It must have hit a British mine. Oh, you found torpedo fragments? Then it must have been a British torpedo. Oh, you found bronze in the torpedo fragments, which only Germany uses in torpedoes? Then it must have been a torpedo fired at a British ship 10 days earlier; that happens, right? The Dutch are correctly buying none of this and there is talk of war. The German press is feigning hurt feelings that Holland isn’t taking the German Navy’s word that it laid no mines in the area.

Headline of the Day -100:

British Blockade Minister Sir Robert Cecil accuses Germany of playing on American sentiment over children’s milk. There have been campaigns in the US to send milk to Germany, but Britain announced it would block those shipments. Cecil points out that Germany has largely stripped occupied France and Belgium of cows, so it’s French rather than German babies who are without milk.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Also, the ban on cakes in Berlin is over – the long national nightmare is over.

Issue 4 of The Wipers Times is out.
Military definitions: Infantryman: An animal of weird habits, whose peculiarities have only just been discovered. It displays a strong aversion to light, and lives in holes in the earth during the day, coming out at night seeking whom it may devour. In colour it assimilates itself to the ground in which it lies.

“To My Chum” (anon.)

What times we’ve had, both good and bad,
We’ve shared what shelter could be had,
The same crump-hole when the whizz-bangs shrieked,
The came old billet that always leaked,
And now – you’ve “stopped one.”

We'd weathered the storm two winters long,
We’d managed to grin when all went wrong,
Because together we fought and fed,
Our hearts were light; but now – you’re dead
And I am mateless. ...

Elsewhere the editors complain about the “hurricane of poetry” submitted to the paper, requesting prose instead. “Subalterns have been seen with a notebook in one hand, and bombs in the other absently walking near the wire in deep communion with the muse.”

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Today -100: March 19, 1916: We now see the end of this horrible war

More undue optimism in France, whose Finance Minister Alexandre Ribot says “we now see the end of this horrible war.”

The owner of a shop on Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC is charged with displaying in his shop window, in violation of police regulations, a picture of a crime or the intent to commit a crime, specifically a cartoon of Woodrow Wilson dressed as a gladiator with a bloody sword (I can’t find the cartoon online).

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Today -100: March 18, 1916: They ought to lower their arms and direct them against the common enemy

The Senate passes a resolution in support of Wilson’s invasion of Mexico, proposed by Robert La Follette.

Britain will soon ban the importation of luxuries, including automobiles, musical instruments, yarns, china, and soap. And Berlin bans cake. Restaurants are selling “war tarts” made from “ingredients heretofore not found in cake.”

Speaking of war tarts, in the German Reichstag Karl Liebknecht says that many in Germany saw the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as “a gift from God.” Deputies leave the chamber in protest (all but the Socialists). (Update: here’s the text of the speech, from tomorrow’s paper. The last line he was able to make heard is “The troops must not fight merely in the trenches. They ought to lower their arms and direct them against the common enemy.”)

There is great upset in Britain, including in Parliament, over the way conscription is affecting married men. The whole premise under which the government presented the legislation was that it would affect only single men until absolutely necessary, which turned out to be like a week after the program started. Also, they’re calling up the married men who “attested” last year to being ready to be called up, which means those who didn’t volunteer are just going about their business, which doesn’t seem fair.

Austria, where such things are easier because monarchy, will call up every 18-year-old male physically fit for service.

British insurance companies are selling policies against peace breaking out. Companies with war contracts which have to order materials in advance take out these policies to cover losses if the war ends and their contracts are cancelled. But insurance companies aren’t offering policies covering periods after December, and rates are pretty high approaching December, suggesting that they believe the war will be over soon due to Germany’s failures to break through at Verdun.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Today -100: March 17, 1916: Of ships, neutrals, grand admirals (grands admiral?), pro-German ghosts, and beards

Italy will seize the German ships in its ports. Which is the very action by Portugal that led Germany to declare war on it (Italy is currently at war with Austria but not Germany).

Germany will start considering anyone from a neutral country who has been living in Germany more than 5 years as having lost their previous citizenship and therefore liable for military service, although they won’t be sent to the front.

Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz resigns as head of the German navy. He didn’t get along with the kaiser and wanted unrestricted submarine warfare.

The Canadian Pacific Railway will give away 1,000 farms in Western Canada to soldiers after the war.

In Ireland, Sinn Fein has been campaigning against military recruitment. Some have been arrested and tried, but they were all acquitted by Irish juries.

The Women’s Social and Political Union’s newspaper Britannia reports that long-time organizer Annie Kenney met a “pro-German” spirit at a London séance.  The ghost (of an American doctor reincarnated from Voltaire) told her to stop criticizing the government and resume her suffrage work. She accused the medium (and the ghost) of working for pro-German pacifism.

Headline of the Day -100:

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Today -100: March 16, 1916: Of declarations of war, sniveleys, international nuisances, sailing ships, and fokkers

Austria declares war on Portugal.

US troops enter Mexico. The Army is censoring press reports, telephone and telegraph messages. In the US. They claim they can just do that.

The LAPD is quietly swearing in emergency policemen in case Mexicans in the city have any objections. The chief of police, by the way, is named Clarence Snively.

Former President Taft complains that Mexico is an “international nuisance” and that Wilson’s foreign policy has ensured that Europe will hold the US responsible for conditions in Mexico.

A reminder that some merchant shipping is still carried by sailing ships: the schooner A. J. West pulls into New York with a cargo of mahogany after a nine-month journey from the Philippines marked by typhoons (3 of them), becalmings (37 days off Mexico), and other problems that turned the 11,000 miles into 23,000. They ate a lot of turtles.

Headlines of the Day That Only Sound Dirty -100:



I see that the 3-part RTE documentary “1916” on the Easter Rising begins on KQED on the 22nd at 11 pm and presumably on other PBS stations. Following strict Irish law, it’s narrated by Liam Neeson. I’ve seen it; it’s not bad.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Today -100: March 15, 1916: Pancho Villa’s Great Victory of 1916

Woodrow Wilson declares that the United States is neutral in the war between Germany and Portugal. Just in case anyone was wondering.

7 past presidents of the American Bar Association object to the nomination of Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court – including Elihu Root and William Howard Taft.

Jewish groups are opposing a proposed New York law requiring the reading of Bible verses in public schools. Sen. William Greiner (D-Erie County), whose bill this is, denies that he proposed it on behalf of an anti-Catholic group; it was in fact Divine inspiration.

The NY Assembly passes a bill to create a municipal marriage bureau in NYC to perform marriages at $2 a pop (so to speak). This will break the back of the “Marriage Trust,” which was three guys who hung out in the municipal building, one of whom signed marriage certificates as the Commissioner of Deeds, which he is not, and stamped a big official-looking-but-not-actually-official red seal on it, for up to $5. The ceremony was then performed by Alderman “Happy Jack” Reardon, who is not legally allowed to charge a fee, but does. They were ousted from the muni building last year, but opened their own chapel nearby.

A Spanish-language newspaper in Durango says that Pancho Villa has captured the states of Texas and New Mexico and that Woodrow Wilson has fled to Canada.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Today -100: March 14, 1916: Of lawless bands of armed men

The US agrees to Carranza’s request for reciprocity in crossing international borders: if any “lawless bands of armed men” enter Mexico from the US, commit outrages and cross back into the US, the Mexican army is free to pursue them. I suspect this wasn’t quite what Carranza had in mind, but the US can now pretend it has his permission to invade Mexico.

Portugal responds to Germany declaring war on it by saying, oh, really, sure we’ll join the war if that’s what you really want. Portugal notes that it’s been England’s ally since 1373. It didn’t come to Britain’s aid earlier because, er, they didn’t ask.

A bill to increase the drinking age to 21 fails in the NY Legislature.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Today -100: March 13, 1916: An American soldier must be well fed if he is to give good service

Pennsylvania Gov. Martin Brumbaugh (R) announces that he’s running for president.

Mexican Pres. Carranza says he won’t grant the US the right to send troops into Mexico unless Mexico can send troops into the US. It’s just basic fairness, people.

Did the orders to the alliterative Gen. Frederick Funston really say to capture Villa “dead or alive”?

The army is beginning to realize that finding Villa in territory he knows well and which is populated by “cactus, Yaqui Indians and rattlesnakes” might take a while. When they went after Geronimo inside Mexico in the 1880s it took more than two years. Funston notes that there is little forage available in the parts of Mexico they expect to be wandering around in, so that needs to be arranged; “A Villa follower can live on little or nothing. An American soldier must be well fed if he is to give good service.”

Two new movies out this week: Gold and the Woman, “which again displayed Theda Bara’s opulent beauty,” and which is now lost (the film, not Theda Bara’s opulent beauty); and Douglas Fairbanks’ The Habit of Happiness, in which a rich young man teaches the homeless to laugh. Fairbanks used real bums, bused in from the Bowery, as extras in those scenes, and could only get them to laugh by telling dirty jokes, which caused complaints when lip-readers saw the movie and they called the movie back in to redo the closeups in that scene. Don’t bother googling to find out what dirty jokes, I’ve already done it without success – (Whoops - Tracey Goessel’s biography of Fairbanks says that story is probably a fable. Another great story ruined by too much research).

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Today -100: March 12, 1916: Now if they turned tires into vodka...

Carranza sends a note to Washington saying, hey as long as you’re sending troops into my country, do you mind if we send troops into your country, if necessary, to capture Villa? Under a now lapsed treaty both sides had rights of “hot pursuit.” He pointedly mentions past cooperation between the two nations against Indians from the US (such as Geronimo) who crossed into Mexico.

The US expeditionary force will be led by Gen. John “Blackjack” Pershing, who has extensive experience killing brown-skinned people in the Philippines. He’ll have planes and everything. Is this the first use of airplanes by the US in a military operation?

There are rumors on Wall Street that Villa was supplied by Germany. There was a recent spike in New York in the sale of reichsmarks, which might be because they were raising funds.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: “Semi-official sources” in Britain say that Germany is disguising its heavy losses at Verdun by labeling its evacuated wounded as French prisoners.

Headline of the Day -100:

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Today -100: March 11, 1916: With scrupulous respect for the sovereignty of that republic

The US will send 5,000 troops into Mexico to go after Villa. Carranza, hoping to pre-empt them, sends 1,200. Pres. Wilson says his raid into Mexico will be done “in entirely friendly aid of the constituted authorities in Mexico and with scrupulous respect for the sovereignty of that republic,” except for the sending in troops without asking permission thing.

Villa is said to be heading towards a Mormon settlement at Casas Grandes in Chihuahua State, evidently planning to oust the Mormons and take their shit.

Congress may have decided not to warn US citizens against traveling on armed belligerent merchant ships, but Rep. John Carew (D-Manhattan) uses his congressional franking privileges to send a warning letter to 22,000 of his constituents. He admits it is their right to do so, but it would be a “treasonable disregard of the supreme patriotic duty every man owes his country, never to imperil her peace and happiness.”

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Today -100: March 10, 1916: It would be a mistake to nominate me unless the country had in its mood something of the heroic

Theodore Roosevelt, on holiday in Trinidad, cables the newspapers, declining to be nominated for president on the Massachusetts ballot. Naturally, this is interpreted by many as meaning that he is running. He certainly does go on at some length in an expensive overseas cable when a simple “No thanks” would have sufficed. He says his current task is to wake up his fellow countrymen to the need to face unpleasant facts. “[I]t would be a mistake to nominate me unless the country had in its mood something of the heroic; unless it feels not only like devoting itself to ideals, but to the purpose measurably to realize those ideals in action.” On Democrats he says: “All that they offer us is a choice between degrees of hypocrisy and degrees of infamy. But disgust with the unmanly failure of the present Administration I believe does not, and I know ought not to mean that the American people will vote in a spirit of mere protest. They ought not to and I believe they will not be content merely to change the present Administration for one equally timid, equally vacillating, equally lacking in vision, in moral integrity, and in high resolve.” Oh yeah, Teddy’s totally not planning to run.

Pancho Villa and 500 or so of his merry men (the NYT says 1,500, but no) cross the border and attack the town of Columbus, New Mexico. Villa never explained the purpose of the raid, possibly at attempt to grab weapons. In the flurry he dropped some papers, including his orders for the attack: “Kill all the Gringos.” They kill, in fact, 7 or 8 American soldiers and 10 civilians in an attack on the town and the US Cavalry barracks. It would have been more successful if those had actually been the US Cavalry barracks, but they were in fact the stables, so they mostly attacked some horses, giving the 13th Cav time to set up their machine guns. So a few more Mexicans die than Americans, somewhere in the triple digits. Would have been more still, but some of the machine guns didn’t work. The bandits loot and burn some of the houses and raid the post office but get only “one small registered package.” The 13th chase Villa’s men back over the border, and indeed chase them a little way into Mexico.

The site of the attack is now the Pancho Villa State Park.

The US has already told the Carranza regime that it will send soldiers into Mexico to capture Villa and it’s not asking permission.

All of which pushed Germany declaring war on Portugal to page 3. Germany complains about Portugal seizing its ships, allowing British troops passage through Moçambique to attack German South West Africa and allowing British ships to use Madeira as a naval base, and about insults to Germany made by members of the Portuguese Parliament without being reprimanded. WITHOUT. BEING. REPRIMANDED!

The British newspaper The Vote, the Women’s Freedom League’s organ, gives insight into the operating of the local tribunals overseeing conscription. The one in St Albans, Hertfordshire hears an appeal from the First Whip of the Hertfordshire Hounds for his huntsmen not to be drafted. The tribunal’s chairman says the “feeling of the country” is that huntsmen should indeed be exempted, but the two women on the tribunal object and off to war they go. The paper notes that the sons of widows and conscientious objectors are usually given short shrift by the tribunals.

William N. Selig, the film producer responsible for the first movie versions of Jekyll & Hyde and the Wizard of Oz (with 9-year old Bebe Daniels as Dorothy!) gets the Cook County Circuit Court to issue an injunction against Col. George Fabyan and two others “defaming” the name of William Shakespeare. Selig is planning a film on the life of Shakespeare for the 300th anniversary of his death and says his profits would be hurt if they published works attributing the plays of Shakespeare, who they call an “illiterate faker,” to Francis Bacon, based on ciphers Fabyan claims to have discovered in the plays (he will be in charge of much of US cryptography during World War I). Judge Tuthill says the matter should be legally settled. He will rule in favor of Fabyan and Francis Bacon, then rescind his ruling. The whole lawsuit may actually have been a publicity stunt concocted by Selig and Fabyan.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Today -100: March 9, 1916: How do you spell ball?

Reports/rumors that Pancho Villa’s men killed two American Mormons in Chihuahua State.

The NY State Senate Judiciary Committee postpones reporting out on a women’s suffrage bill, evidently to punish suffragists for bursting into the committee room because they needed to get back to NYC for a women’s suffrage ball. One senator, sadly unnamed, asked, “How do you spell ball – b-a-w-l?”  “Then, it is said, Mrs. Whitehouse spoke, and with much directness.”

Icky Tale of Derring-Do of the Day -100:

The presidential commission on the Colorado coal strike/Ludlow Massacre reports. It says the lopsidedness of Colorado “justice” – 400 indictments on strikers and none on company gunmen – has left a “festering sore” on public opinion. 

In Toronto, Canadian soldiers back from the front attack a prohibition parade.

The New Jersey Assembly appropriates $150,000 for military training in high schools – boys will be trained in shooting and camp life, girls in nursing.

Harvard may ban men in theatrical productions such as the Hasty Pudding Theatricals from dressing as women. Yale has already done so because of fears that “feminine rôles in amateur theatricals tends to effeminacy.” Neither Harvard nor Yale have female students – just saying.

Non-Clown Death of the Day -100: the alliterative Loran Ludowick Lewis, former NY State Supreme Court Justice and court-appointed lawyer for McKinley assassin Leon Czolgosz (who refused to cooperate with him).

More Proof That Life In the 1910s Was Exactly As Depicted In Silent Movies: Frank Oakley commits suicide – asphyxiation by gas – after he is informed by the superintendent of the Bedford Reformatory that Viola Stoll, who has been incarcerated there for the last 2½ years for stealing his ex-wife’s jewels (she said they were a present), would not marry him, even for early parole. Did I mention that Oakley was better known as Slivers the Clown, a star of Barnum & Bailey? Ran away to the circus, became B&B’s highest-paid clown at $1,000 a week. He did a one-man baseball game routine, which admirer Buster Keaton imitated in The Cameraman (1928). Also, something with giant lobsters.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Today -100: March 8, 1916: Of cowardly proposals, Germany conspiracies, militarism, conscription, and meat

The House votes 2 to 1 to support Pres. Wilson’s position upholding the “right” of citizens to travel on armed belligerent merchant ships. The vote is much higher than was expected, many voting yes not because they support Wilson’s position but to stand behind the president and strengthen his negotiating position.

The NYT has a snide editorial about the defeat of “the cowardly proposal to contract the sphere of American rights to make room for the expansion of Germany’s sphere of lawlessness.” Its tone all along, in its reporting as well as editorials, has been remarkably snotty. A year away from the entering the war, and already opponents of the slide towards war are being accused of “sedition... alien intrigue and factional conspiracy”.

Elsewhere on the op-ed page, the Times rants about the “German conspiracy against the United States” in the form of the National German-American Alliance’s plans to possibly campaign for Wilson if the Republicans nominate a jingo like Roosevelt or Elihu Root. The New York World is claiming that the Alliance is behind the attempted resolutions warning US citizens off armed merchanters. The World publishes stolen letters written by a lobbyist for the Alliance, T.L. Marsalis, who claims to have influenced members of Congress. They either deny having ever met him or that they knew who he was. Marsalis evidently spoke to Sen. Thomas Gore about the need for the white races to ally to protect their supremacy. Gore does not say how he responded to that. The charter of the National German-American Alliance (which also fought prohibition, because, you know, Germans and beer) will be revoked by Congress in 1918, a couple of months after it had already disbanded itself.

Rep. Isaac Ruth Sherwood (D-Ohio), says he’ll resign (but like Rep. Page’s similar announcement yesterday actually won’t) because he “cannot seek re-election on a platform that pledges the party to militarism.” In the meantime, though, he feels obligated to vote for a military spending bill he doesn’t believe in, and against warning US citizens off armed merchant ships, which he does believe in, in order to support the president, whose policies he doesn’t believe in. Sherwood, 80, was a Civil War general.

Vermont voters reject prohibition in favor of local option.

Lord Derby, who last year oversaw the Derby Scheme in which men signed up to potentially be drafted if needed, now says he’s sorry that they’re drafting married men so soon, after promising everyone they wouldn’t.

Headline of the Day -100:

Riotous Housewives would be a great name for a rock band.

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Monday, March 07, 2016

Today -100: March 7, 1916: Of pages, weeping bombs, newtons, non-candidates in any sense, and accommodations

Rep. Robert Page (D-North Carolina) says he’ll resign because he can’t support policies he believes are leading the US into the war, such as upholding the right to travel on armed merchant ships. He also opposes the banks’ $500 million loan to the Allies; he quotes Jesus, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Rep. Page’s brother is the ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Page will not actually resign.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The British claim Germany is making “weeping bombs” i.e. tear gas bombs, from a Venezuelan seed.

Woodrow Wilson picks Newton Baker, former mayor of Cleveland, as his next secretary of war.

A former organizer for the National Security League says he tried to get Baker to support the League’s preparedness campaign last July and Baker said no because it was based on hysteria and anyway he was a pacifist.

Massachusetts is another state that requires candidates seeking to be elected delegates to the party conventions to get permission from the candidates they plan to pledge themselves to, and Justice Charles Evans Hughes refuses that permission because he is not a candidate “in any sense” for president.

The confirmation hearings for Louis Brandeis hear from James Cannon, Jr, chairman of the legislative committee of the Anti-Saloon League of America, who says that 25 years ago Brandeis was attorney – lobbyist, Cannon says – for a couple of liquor associations.

Columbia University will admit women to its medical school... as soon as the buildings can be adapted to accommodate them.

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Sunday, March 06, 2016

Today -100: March 6, 1916: Think of love when not between Huns

The new group Friends of Irish Freedom holds its first convention, in New York City. Its delegates claim to represent 90% of all Irish-Americans. They warn the US against trusting perfidious Albion. Perfidious is a word you just don’t hear often enough these days. Several of the (many) speakers speak admiringly of Germany, or at least of Germany’s ability to bring England low.

Obit of the Day -100: Masuji Miyakawa, lawyer, lecturer and author, the first (and only) Japanese person admitted to the bar in the United States after immigrating in his 20s. He won a case in the California Supreme Court overturning the San Francisco School Board’s ban on Japanese children in public schools. Which for some reason the LA Times fails to mention in its obituary.

The third issue of the Wipers Times is out, a bit late, with apologies – shelling damaged their printing press.
“We hear that the war (to which we alluded guardedly in our first number), is proceeding satisfactorily, and we hope shortly to be able to announce that it is a going concern.”

“Love and War” (anonymous)

In the line a soldier’s fancy
Oft may turn to thoughts of love.
But too hard to dream of Nancy
When the whizz-bangs sing above.

Take the case of poor Bill ’Arris
Deep in love with Rosy Greet,
So forgot to grease his tootsies,
Stayed outside and got ‘trench feet.’

Then again there’s ’Arry ’Awkins*
Stopped to dream at Gordon Farm.
Got a ‘blightie’** found his Polly
Walking out on Johnson’s arm.

Plenty more of such examples
I could give, had I but time.
War on tender feelings tramples,
H.E.*** breaks up thoughts sublime.

“Don’t dream when you’re near machine guns!”
Is a thing to bear in mind.
Think of love when not between Huns,****
A sniper’s quick, and love is blind.

* Wipers Times authors do enjoy their Cockneyisms
** An injury allowing one to return to Britain
*** High explosives
**** Hello!

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Saturday, March 05, 2016

Today -100: March 5, 1916: Of eager Romanians, babes in court, and reputations

The House of Representatives delays voting on whether citizens should travel on armed belligerent merchant ships. For a start, the Indiana primaries are Tuesday and the sitting congresscritters, with their many German-American voters, really don’t want to have to go on record before then.

Headline of the Day -100:

In a legal case involving the will of Lawrence Odell, who died in 1886, the appellate court judge rules that Odell’s great-grandchild must appear in court personally before the case can be settled. Said child is currently gestating inside the womb of the widow of Lester Odell, Lawrence’s grandson, who died last August. This is the first time a court has ordered the appearance of someone who hasn’t been born yet.

The confirmation hearings of Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court grind ever onward (by contrast, Justice Lamar, who he’ll be replacing, was confirmed 3 days after he was nominated, without a hearing). The committee has called opponents of Brandeis to talk about his “reputation” amongst the Boston elite (they fail to use the phrase “jumped-up Jewboy,” but it’s implied) and it’s now going to call some of his clients to question them about attorney-client conversations.

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Friday, March 04, 2016

Today -100: March 4, 1916: Of votes against America and Verdun heroes

An unnamed Wilson administration official says that a vote for the congressional resolutions warning Americans against traveling on armed belligerent merchant ships is “a vote against America.” Sen. Thomas Gore (D-Oklahoma) reverses the phrasing of his resolution, turning it into a slight parody of Wilson’s position (a move you could see his grandson Gore Vidal making): “Resolved, That the sinking by a submarine without notice or warning of armed merchant vessels of her public enemy, resulting in the death of a citizen of the United States, would constitute a just and sufficient cause of war between the United States and the German Empire.” The Senate votes to table it, 68 (49 D’s, 19 R’s) to 14 (2 D’s, 12 R’s). Wesley Jones (R-Washington) withdraws his own resolution, pissed that Senate debate is being stifled by tabling motions. Jones thinks a question that might lead to war should be, you know, discussed.

Headline of the Day -100:

No doubt the name Philippe Pétain will forever resound in the hall of heroes of the French nation.

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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Today -100: March 3, 1916: Of rumors of war, rules of engagement, fires, and coon songs

Rumors in D.C. claim that the German ambassador has warned that if the US breaks off diplomatic relations Germany will declare war. The German embassy denies it.

Sen. Thomas Gore (D-Oklahoma) says he’s heard that Wilson expects war and thinks it wouldn’t be a bad thing because it would bring the war to a much more rapid conclusion. The White House denies this.

Britain helpfully releases the orders it issued to armed merchant ships last October, which make clear that ships may fire their “defensive” guns at any German u-boat that approaches or follows them, without any other hostile act. Germany will point out that this is a funny definition of self-defense.

There are rumblings in the British House of Lords over the functioning of the “voluntary” recruitment scheme, including the easy granting of exemptions to men in particular occupations, especially in agriculture. Local tribunals in rural districts, filled with rural squires, are exempting their own employees.

There’s a suspicious fire at the Providence Journal, discovered by editor John Rathom. Unlike other things discovered by Rathom, such as German spies under various and sundry beds, this one is real. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Rathom set it himself.

Sweden bans citizens of any belligerent nation from making public speeches.

A quartet of singers who had been appearing at the Strand Theatre in NYC are fired after it turns out that they’re not refugees from Belgium after all, but from Brooklyn. “The suspicion of the management was not allayed when the singers who were dressed in the picturesque fashion of men who had undergone many hardships, stepped upon the stage and sang American coon songs. However, the quartet sang well, and the audiences liked them.”

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Today -100: March 2, 1916: Come on in, Portugal, the water’s fine

A week ago Portugal seized 36 German & Austrian merchant ships. Germany now demands their return, or else.

War. Or else war.

Emma Goldman and others speak at Carnegie Hall about birth control and the right to free speech on the subject.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Today -100: March 1, 1916: Absolutely American in the highest and best sense, in the home sense, in the pride sense

Headline of the Day -100:

Not satisfied with getting his congressional allies to stifle the proposed resolution requesting US citizens not to travel on armed belligerent merchant ships, Woodrow Wilson demands that Congress hold votes on the resolutions, and reject them, so everyone knows that only he speaks for the United States. He says reports of divisions in Congress are being “made industrious use of in foreign capitals”, which “cannot fail to do the greatest harm and expose the country to the most serious risks.” So he wants a vote of confidence slash blank check. To make his imperiousness towards Congress even more obnoxious, he makes this demand in a letter to the acting chairman of the Rules Committee, bypassing the Foreign Relations Committee, and demands immediate action.

The NYT lauds Wilson’s action as “a bold and opportune challenge to the un-American element in Congress... beguiled, as we trust, by its own stupidity, but inspired by the voice of the alien within our gates.” Which is dickish even by the standards of the NYT editorial page.

Germany says it’s too late to modify its orders to u-boats on sinking armed merchant ships, since its subs are at sea now with the new orders. A German official says that subs will not wait to be fired on before sinking those ships, and adds that since there are no longer pirates on the high seas, there’s no justification for arming merchantmen. He also cites alleged captured British orders allowing the ships to fire on submarines that haven’t attacked them, proving that merchant ships are not armed merely for self-defense as the British have been claiming.

St. Louis voters approve, by 3 to 1, two segregation referenda banning blacks or whites moving into blocks 75% of whose residents are the other race. It’s the first ever segregation ordinance in the US passed by a referendum. White people can still have black servants and white buildings black janitors, you’ll be relieved to hear. However people who buy property in the “wrong” block will be banned from living in it. The referenda are called “an ordinance to prevent ill feeling, conflict, and collisions between the white and colored races in the City of St. Louis”. The real estate interests behind segregation claimed that if it was defeated, a “veritable army of Southern negroes” would invade the city, but deny that segregation is anti-negro and claimed that blacks too would vote for segregation, which is “absolutely American in the highest and best sense, in the home sense, in the pride sense, both for white and colored.” The ordinance will quickly be overturned in court after the NAACP files suit, but other means (racial covenants) will be found. These will also be ruled unconstitutional but St. Louis somehow still remains highly segregated.

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