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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