Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Today -100: April 19, 1916: In which somebody actually says “This means war!”

Henry Ford is currently way ahead in the vote count in the Nebraska Republican presidential primary, even though he says he is not a candidate and didn’t even know his name was on the ballot (in the final count, many days from now, he’ll be defeated by Sen. Albert Cummins). The paper says his name was put on the ballot as a joke, but doesn’t say by whom, so take that for whatever it’s worth. On the Democratic side, everyone supported by William Jennings Bryan failed, including his brother Charles, who was running for governor, a job he’ll win in the ‘30s. Bryan’s loss of influence in his home state came from some combination of his focus on prohibition and his attacks on Wilson. He himself badly loses in the election for at-large delegates to the Dem. convention.

The US arrests Wolf von Igel. Following the expulsion of Franz von Papen, von Igel is now the head of Germany’s espionage and sabotage operations in North America. Von Igel fights the arrest “like a tiger,” yelling that he is an attaché and has diplomatic immunity and his Wall Street office is a branch of the German Embassy (it was cunningly disguised as an ad agency), so “this means war!” The US will say that even if he is currently an attaché, he wasn’t at the time of the attempt to blow up the Welland Canal in 1914, which is what he’s being arrested for. The case against von Igel will be repeatedly postponed and will still be pending when he leaves the country in 1917 with the rest of the Embassy staff, forfeiting his $25,000 bond.

The German Embassy seems less concerned about von Igel than about all the papers seized from his office. As well it might be, since they contain details not only of all of Germany’s covert activities in North America but also in India and Ireland. The US will quietly share those details with Britain, which will use them in the trial of Sir Roger Casement. The German Embassy will demand the papers back, but only in general terms. The State Dept will invite them to inspect the papers and claim as official any of them they like, but considering what those papers prove, the Germans will refuse the kind offer to implicate themselves in bombings and whatnot.

By the way, “igel” is German for hedgehog, which makes for an amusing Google Translate version of Wolf von Igel’s German Wikipedia page.

The Mexican government officially asks the US to withdraw its troops. So the US is sending 2,300 more.

Harvard will not follow Yale in putting numbers on its football players’ jerseys.

The New York State Senate fails, by a tie vote, to pass a bill requiring daily Bible readings in public schools.

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