Thursday, June 30, 2016

Today -100: June 30, 1916: If ever a man deserved capital punishment, it is he

Mexico releases the 10th Cavalry prisoners.

What do you think this obviously deeply racist NYT reporter would be saying about the black soldiers if he weren’t doing the rah rah nationalism thing? He uses the phrase “big buck negro” in the next paragraph.

There’s an unconfirmed report that Pancho Villa is still alive.

Headline of the Day -100:  

There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

Sir Roger Casement makes a statement in court, objecting to the whole concept of being tried in England by an English jury under an English statute (the 1351 Treason Act). He is of course found guilty by the English jury and sentenced to English death. The Daily Telegraph says (but then it would, wouldn’t it?), “If ever a man deserved capital punishment, it is he.” The Daily Express, coming close to hinting at Casement’s homosexuality, says “The Irish have a genius for the canonization of martyrs, but even they will hardly find ground for admiration in the career of this clever, educated, and rather sordid and extremely degenerate traitor.”

The Berliner Tageblatt newspaper reappears, after running afoul of the censors for saying that corporations want to see the war go on indefinitely for the sake of their profits. The editor had to sign a promise not to disturb “the uniformity of patriotic enthusiasm.”

Germany is extending meat rationing to the entire Reich.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Today -100: June 29, 1916: Of spillsburys, courts-martial, and German gold

The Carranza government orders the release of the American prisoners. That’s 23 negro soldiers and their Mormon scout Lem Spillsbury, which is more or less the name you’d expect for a Mormon scout, I guess. Although the US is also still demanding Carranza’s active consent to the US Punitive Expedition roaming the Mexican countryside, the Mexican-American War II: Electric Bugaloo (is that how you spell bugaloo? I’ll be damned if I’m gonna look it up) seems for now to have been averted. To mixed reaction in Juarez, according to the NYT’s ever-condescending correspondent:

All foreigners living in Juarez are being disarmed, in retaliation for the disarming of Mexicans in El Paso.

Karl Liebknecht is sentenced by court-martial to 30 months in prison and dismissal from the army (which, as a member of the Reichstag he shouldn’t have been drafted into anyway, but then neither should he be tried when he has parliamentary immunity, so whatevs). The charges were attempted high treason, gross insubordination and resistance to the authorities for his speech at a May Day rally. The trial was held in secret, with newspapers banned from printing any details except the verdict.

Sir Roger Casement’s lawyer faints during his closing speech at Sir Roger’s treason trial. He was able to call no witnesses, because they’re all in Germany, where the treason allegedly took place. He claimed that the Irish brigade Casement was recruiting from POWs was only intended to fight for Irish Home Rule, not to assist Germany. Casement, making a statement, denies taking any “German gold.”

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Today -100: June 28, 1916: Of treason and rough riders

More Mexican soldiers are arriving at the border. The worry in the US is that they’ll invade the US through El Paso while the US Army is elsewhere.

Mexico is recruiting for its army, just like the US is. Including from its jails. A circular promises that the Mexican Army will capture Washington D.C.

Spoiler Alert: It won’t.

At his trial, Sir Roger Casement’s lawyers try to have his treason indictment quashed because the alleged treason took place... outside the country. Is that even against the law?

In event of war, Theodore Roosevelt plans to ask the War Department to be allowed to field his own Rough-Riders-type unit and organize it according to his own notions, with horses and airplanes and everything. He’s already started recruiting.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Today -100: June 27, 1916: It is the acme of idiocy to inquire of a man what his purpose is after he shoots you in the face

The Progressive Party’s National Committee, after a long, bitter debate, endorses Charles Evans Hughes for president, following the instructions of Theodore Roosevelt. A motion to instead run Victor Murdock, newspaperman and former Republican congresscritter for Kansas, is defeated 2 to 1. And that’s pretty much it for the Progressive Party. You were fun while you lasted, Bull Moosers, not least because you were called Bull Moosers.

The US demands Mexico release the prisoners it captured at Carrizal, or else. The US also wants permission for its troops to remain in Mexico, doing whatever the hell they want.

Thousands of Carranza soldiers arrive at the Arizona border.

The US Navy tells ships to ignore Mexican lighthouses, which are either out or doing something unspecified but sneaky (there’s never any follow-up, so I have no idea what this is about).

Capt. Lewis S. Morey, the sole American survivor (other than those captives) of the Carrizal fight, himself wounded in the shoulder, reports that the men of the 10th Cavalry faced death with smiles on their lips and singing, although sadly he does not say what they were singing. That may all be true, who knows, but when a white captain is saying it about his negro subordinates, it sounds a little, well...

Morey is repeating the story that the Mexicans started the fighting.

The House and Senate are still negotiating the Militia Bill, and yes they probably will screw over the families of members of the militia sent to war in Mexico. Sen. William Stone (D-Missouri) says supporting the dependent sons of militiamen would just make them “degenerate.”

Speaking of war, they’ve decided not to. Specifically, they’ve removed the phrase “in the opinion of Congress an emergency now exists,” which could have been taken as acknowledging a state of war, and we can’t do that. Sen. Lawrence Sherman (R-Illinois) disagrees: “It is the acme of idiocy to inquire of a man what his purpose is after he shoots you in the face.”

The British Cabinet might break up over Irish Home Rule. Lord Selborne has resigned as president of the Board of Agriculture, and others may follow. Or they may not.

Ernest Shackleton is unable to reach his men on Elephant Island. Too much ice. He thinks/hopes they can survive on “short rations, supplemented by penguins” until he can get his hands on an icebreaker.

The 8th Earl of Sandwich dies at 76. His book “My Experiences in Spiritual Healing,” in which he claimed to be able to cure disease through prayer and the laying on of hands, came out just last year. Awkward. It was the 4th earl who could cure hunger through the laying on of meat between two slices of bread.

A note about the NYT -100’s fidelity to the facts: the earl was born in 1839, so they just went ahead and said he was 77. They always do this. Always.

The Cleveland Indians become the first baseball team to wear numbers so fans can identify the players.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Today -100: June 26, 1916: Change of food and water causes more deaths than bullets

Germany’s food dictator threatens to ban all meat consumption starting in September.

Col. Terribery of the NY National Guard announces the standards for new recruits: they must be at least 5’4” and weigh 128 to 195 pounds (max 165 for mounteds). No four-eyes, no “excessive nervousness.” No one with bad molars (the British Army had a dental-health standard for recruits, but dropped it in early 1915 – insert your own joke here). And there’ll be a negro regiment, which will be a first for New York.

Ad of the Day -100:

According to, it’s sodium bicarbonate.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Today -100: June 25, 1916: Mexico has long been an international nuisance

The Wilson administration is rather annoyed at not being able to formulate a Mexican policy (i.e., go to war) because of Gen. Pershing’s delay in sending a full report on exactly what happened at Carrizal (i.e., who really started the shooting between Mexican and US forces). The delay is in part because US soldiers are still making their way back in dribs and drabs. But the US is demanding the immediate release of captured US soldiers.

Gen. Jacinto Treviño, the Carrancista chief in Chihuahua State, says in a telegram to some random Mexican that at Carrizal he was only following Carranza’s orders. The US will take this as an admission that if there’s a war, the Mexicans started it.

The threat of impending war has brought Mexicans together, with some of Pancho Villa’s generals and men flocking to join Carranza’s army.

The US Senate Military Committee drops the $1 million the House appropriated for the families of National Guardsmen drafted into federal service. Instead, any guardsman with a wife and/or children may ask to be discharged. The Committee also removes the House’s 3-year limit on the terms of service, leaving it as “the period of the emergency.”

William Howard Taft says the duty to invade Mexico is clear – “Mexico has long been an international nuisance.” But, as he was told when he president, it will take 250,000 soldiers, we’ll need to capture every major city and port and then deal with guerilla warfare and it will all take two or three years.

This is surprising: a Sunday NYT Magazine article on the rather obscure late artist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

The Mag also examines why so few French Canadians are joining the army. Evidently it’s because public schools in Quebec are not taught in French.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Today -100: June 24, 1916: Of emergencies, ammunition, home rule, and dicks

The House of Representatives passes a resolution authorizing the president to draft state militias into the US military and allowing them to be used out of the country in Mexico, to meet what Woodrow Wilson is calling an “emergency” and is pointedly not calling a “war.” The House also appropriates $1 million for the families of men in the National Guard (the families of men in the regular Army can suck it, evidently).

If there is a full-scale war with Mexico, there may well be an ammunition shortage, because US munition-makers have all recalibrated their machinery to supply the European market with ammo of a different caliber than that used in US Army rifles. US Army ammunition is made by government arsenals, whose capacity is fairly limited.

A convention of Irish Nationalists from Northern Ireland, held in Belfast, agrees by a vote of 475 to 265 to John Redmond’s demand (backed up by a threat to resign as leader of the party) that they accept Lloyd George’s proposal to implement Home Rule but “temporarily” exclude 6 Ulster provinces. Lloyd George, always a sneaky fuck, let the Nats think that the exclusion was for the duration of the war only while telling the Unionists that it wasn’t and that there would be a whole new set of negotiations after the war, which they could obstruct to their hearts’ content. Sir Edward Carson and the Unionists have already accepted the proposals, even though they entail a Home Rule Parliament in Dublin.

Disconcerting Headline of the Day -100:

That’s William Dick and his new bride, Madeleine Force Astor, widow of John Jacob Astor IV, who went down with the Titanic.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Today -100: June 23, 1916: Elk?

The Allies force Greece to demobilize its military. The resignation of the Cabinet yesterday also seems to be in response to Allied demands. Parliament will be dissolved and new elections called. The Entente also demands the firing of the Athens chief of police; he’s taking a leave of absence.

Carranza troops evacuate Juarez, expecting the US to occupy it if there’s a war, which would give the US Army access to the railroads, which they have not been allowed to use to supply the Punitive Expedition.

The NYT has heard rumors about Germany trying to influence Carranza into a war with the US, but doesn’t believe them.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Arabs are revolting.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today -100: June 22, 1916: The Battle of Carrizal

The 10th Cavalry (a negro unit) are attacked at Carrizal, Chihuahua, where they mistakenly thought they might find Pancho Villa, by Carrancista troops. Or at least that’s the American version. They lose the engagement, with 16 dead and 24 captured, though there are more Mexican casualties, including Gen. Félix Gómez. The first Pres. Wilson hears of this is literally hearing newsies yell “Extry!” and buying a newspaper.

There are several conflicting stories about how the fighting started. In one, the Mexicans ambushed the Americans under a flag of truce. In another, Gen. Gómez sent out a captain with a message ordering the Americans not to enter the town, but after hearing the message, they shot at the captain instead, injuring him and killing a private. I believe there’s a proverb about this sort of behaviour. A variant is that as the Mexican couriers approached, the Americans deployed in a skirmish line, making Gómez believe that they planned to attack, so he ordered his men to open fire.

Behind the scenes, Gen. Pershing is so pissed that he asks permission to seize the city of Chihuahua and the railroads, but Wilson tells him no. Hey, Wilson really did “keep us out of war.” Although he also took us to the brink of it. (Note that the 1916 Democratic election slogan is “He kept us out of war,” not as it is often misquoted “He kept us out of the war.” The slogan covers both Mexico and Europe).

Companies are being urged to continue the pay of employees who are off with the national guards, and many are, making up the difference between militia pay and regular wages or even paying full wages. But pacifist Henry Ford says no, and will treat any such workers as having quit. (Ford will deny this.)

The mayor of El Paso, Texas has Pancho Villa’s wife (as well as her sister, her sister’s 5-year-old child, and the child’s nanny) seized and deported to Mexico. Didn’t know mayors could do that.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Today -100: June 21, 1916: Of discourteous tones and tempers

The NYT publishes a report about life on the British submarine E-9, interesting perhaps because written by Rudyard Kipling.

The US note is finally sent to Carranza, and it is as abrasive, not to say insulting, as advertised. It complains about Carranza’s “discourteous tone and temper,” then discourteously refuses to withdraw troops and indeed promises to send more, while discourteously castigating the First Chief for failing to control anarchy in Mexico, for giving shelter to bandits who invade the US, for being “unable or possibly considered it inadvisable to apprehend and punish” the Villaistas responsible for the Columbus, New Mexico raid, and worst of all, for maligning the innocent motives behind the US invasion. It warns of “the gravest consequences” if Mexico treats this as a declaration of war. Many now expect a war. Everyone’s quite excited.

The US arrests a German banker from Mexican City suspected of doing the German government’s nefarious business in Mexico.

Supposedly there were food riots in Munich in which 25,000 people, no less, took part.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Today -100: June 20, 1916: I.M. Laughter, we hardly knew ye

The US government has been leaking for days that it is about to respond to Carranza’s demand for US troops to leave Mexico by telling him to stuff it. Now, Carranza issues an order to the military not to let any more US soldiers cross the border. He denies that the US incursion is aimed purely at bandits.

The governors of two Mexican states, Sinaloa and Yucatan, order Americans to leave in what the NYT is describing as declarations of war, though without quotes it’s hard to tell how seriously to take that.

One person who doesn’t know how seriously to take it is the commander of the gunboat USS Annapolis, who decides to send some bluejackets ashore in Mazatlán to ask what “declaration of war” means. Mexican soldiers shoot at their boat and arrest two crew members but release them after “an explanation” (the explanation may have been their commander threatening to bombard the city). Only one American is reported injured, Boatswain’s Mate I.M. Laughter. Well, that’s what it says, I.M. Laughter.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Today -100: June 19, 1916: Go to your homes and be good Mexicans

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, former German Army chief of staff and nephew of the famous strategist, drops dead at a funeral service in the Reichstag held for Field Marshal Colmar von der Goltz, who died in Baghdad in April.

Pres. Wilson calls out almost every remaining state militiaman for duty guarding the Mexican border, freeing the regular army to invade in case of an all-out war.

Carranza tries to tamp down anti-American demonstrations, calling on his people to “Go to your homes and be good Mexicans, remembering also that I will do my utmost to preserve the dignity of the Mexican nation. If we are forced to resort to arms I will lead you in person.”

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Today -100: June 18, 1916: Of trails of blood, bananas, pirates of public opinion, follies, and the hidden crimes of society

Mexico demands that the latest bunch of US troops to cross the border be withdrawn or they will be attacked. The soldiers are pursuing the bandits I mentioned 2 days ago. “A trail of blood followed last night by the cavalry led to the body of a Mexican peon. His only possessions were two bullet holes, a rifle, and some ammunition.”

Headline of the Day -100:

We’ve all been there.

The Maine Progressive Party dissolves and its candidates step down, a week ahead of primaries.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Wolfgang Kapp (you may know him from the Kapp Putsch of 1920), who German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg called one of the “pirates of public opinion” in the Reichstag because of a pamphlet he wrote attacking the chancellor, tried to challenge him to a duel, but B-H said he was too busy, what with the war and everything.

Now playing on Broadway: Marion Davies in the Ziefeld Follies.

Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorney Harry Lewis gets summonses issued for the president of Universal Film Exchange and for the manager of the Rialto Theatre because he objects to “Where Are My Children?”, a Tyrone Power Sr. movie about a district attorney whose crusade against abortion finds connections to it in... his... own... house! Lewis says “I am bitterly opposed to both plays and films that portray the sex relations and also exhibit the hidden crimes of society for the curious mind of the young.” 

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Today -100: June 17, 1916: A jumble of words

The Democratic Party platform includes this atrocity of a sentence, straight from the pen of Woodrow Wilson himself: “The Democratic party, therefore, recognizes the assertion and triumphant demonstration of the indivisibility and coherent strength of the nation as the supreme issue of this day in which the whole world faces the crisis of manifold change.”

The only contention over the platform (indeed, the only plank actually debated on the floor of the convention) was about the women’s suffrage plank. The debate was heckled and cheered by women in the galleries, and suffragists wrote down the names and votes of delegates, leading the NYT, perhaps inevitably, to make snide Madame Defarge references. The convention votes to “recommend the extension of the franchise to the women of the country by the States on the same terms as to men” after a speech by Sen. Thomas Walsh of Montana pragmatically reminding them that women vote in 12 states now and could really fuck up their shit in November, or words to that effect. Carrie Chapman Catt is not happy about the failure to support a federal constitutional amendment, saying the D’s “thought to hoodwink the women by a jumble of words”.

The man in charge of the Mexican Army in the north, Gen. Jacinto Trevino, warns Gen. Pershing that any movement of US troops further into Mexico will be considered an act of war. All males in Juarez have been ordered to report for military duty in preparation for that war. Mexico is already pissed off at the harsh language reportedly in the unsent US response to Carranza’s demand that its troops be withdrawn and is now also miffed at the Democratic platform, which justifies the occupation and its continuation while congratulating Wilson on his “resistance” to calls to just conquer Mexico, “notwithstanding the provocation to that course has been great, and should be resorted to, if at all, only as a last resort.” If at all!

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Today -100: June 16, 1916: I join the American people in thanking God that we have a president who does not want the nation to fight

The Democrat Convention nominates Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, earlier than planned. The delegates realized that there wasn’t enough business to keep the convention busy for all 4 days for which it was scheduled to run in order to keep the money rolling in to St Louis hotels and bars and prostitutes. They threatened to go home before the nominations and the organizers gave in and moved the noms up, deleting a day of boring speeches from the schedule.

William Jennings Bryan is attending as a reporter, but the delegates demand he be allowed to give a speech. Funnily enough, he has one all prepared. He praises Wilson effusively, saying “I join the American people in thanking God that we have a president who does not want the nation to fight.” He applauds the Federal Reserve Act for breaking the hold of Wall Street not only on the business of the nation but its politics, setting the nation free.

Pope Benedict bans dancing at all Catholic entertainments. Priests are banned from attending any dances.

The Bishop of Brooklyn says he’ll order phones removed from all Church buildings if another instance of phone-tapping occurs.

Mexican bandits raid across the border, attacking a US cavalry encampment, killing 3 soldiers but losing rather more themselves.

Laredo, Texas businessmen force the editor of El Progreso across the border into Mexico, not to return under penalty of death.

Rumors that Jews in Russia are encouraging desertion from the army lead Prime Minister Boris Stürmer to order governors to “keep strict watch over” Jews. “You must very carefully observe what the Jews talk and how they behave in railroad carriages”; “In case of the least suspicion, a Jew should be tried by court-martial” and if there is no evidence, exile them to Siberia anyway.

A mail train is blown up by a bomb mailed to the governor of Utah.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Today -100: June 15, 1916: Do what we wish in the interest of foreign sentiment or we will wreak our vengeance

Lloyd George is offered the late Lord Kitchener’s job as Secretary of War, but asks for a few days to think it over.

Women suffragists line the roads leading to the St. Louis Coliseum in silent reminder to the delegates to the Democratic Convention that, hey, there are women in this country too.

The Democrats choose a campaign slogan for 1916: America First.

In a not-so-veiled allusion to German-American support for Hughes, Woodrow Wilson says, in a Flag Day speech at the Washington Monument, “There is disloyalty active in the United States and it must be absolutely crushed.” He accuses these unnamed people of “a species of political blackmail, saying ‘Do what we wish in the interest of foreign sentiment or we will wreak our vengeance at the polls.’”

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Today -100: June 14, 1916: My attitude is one of undiluted Americanism

Charles Evans Hughes, finally in campaign mode, says, “My attitude is one of undiluted Americanism, and anybody who supports me is supporting an out-and-out American and an out-and-out American policy and absolutely nothing else.”

With all the talk this year of “Americanism,” a term I don’t think I came across at all for 1915, and which will be ubiquitous for a long while (the Ku Klux Klan of the ‘20s loved it), Wilson has named today, Flag Day, as a federal holiday for the first time (it’s the anniversary of the adoption of the first American flag in 1777).

Sen. Charles Thomas (D-Colorado) introduces a resolution for a constitutional amendment banning members of the Supreme Court running for public office while on the bench – or two years afterwards. Subtle.

The NYT suggests that the Democratic Convention won’t be that interesting:

Headline of the Day -100:  

Reading that, I wonder if that’s the first time someone heard a murder telephonically, but I can’t think of any way to look it up.

Headline of the Day -100:  
A survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade, not of knitted headwear.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Today -100: June 13, 1916: Of beards, train wrecks, and lawless aggression

Headline of the Day -100:

It’s not just Theodore Roosevelt who won’t run as a Progressive. Frank Hanly, who won the party’s primary for governor in Indiana (he was governor 1905-9), says he won’t run because the party failed to come out for prohibition. Hanly will run for president this year as the candidate of the Prohibition Party.

Metaphor of the Day -100: Some of the Republican convention delegates are in a literal train-wreck, including the governor and the former governor of Kentucky and the mayor of Louisville. They’re all okay.

Pres. Wilson sends 1,600 more troops to the border with Mexico. A draft of the Democratic Party platform written by Wilson no longer pretends that the Punitive Expedition is aimed only at Pancho Villa but says its purpose is also to protect “American citizens against lawless aggression” (there have been anti-American demonstrations in Chihuahua and Vera Cruz).

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Today -100: June 12, 1916: Slow news day -100

The Italian cabinet resigns after failing a vote of confidence.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Today -100: June 11, 1916: I have not desired the nomination

The negotiations between Republican and Bull Moose leaders on fielding a joint presidential ticket fail, mostly because the R’s refuse to suggest a candidate. As the conference reached its inevitable conclusion, Roosevelt (phoning from Oyster Bay) suggests Henry Cabot Lodge, but it comes to nothing.

So the two conventions go about their separate business. The Progressives nominate Theodore Roosevelt and John M. Parker. Two minutes later across town, the Republicans nominate Charles Evans Hughes and Charles Fairbanks.

Hughes accepts by a telegram which begins “I have not desired the nomination.” Oh, NOW you tell us. He comes out for “Americanism” and preparedness and against Wilson’s policies in Mexico, in terms designed to satisfy Roosevelt (if such a thing is possible).

Roosevelt declines the nomination of the party he created and says he’s retiring from politics. Actually, he’s suspending his campaign – a “conditional refusal to run” in his words – leaving open the possibility of jumping back in if Hughes isn’t up to his expectations, but also preventing the Progs naming a replacement. Bull Moose party leaders refrain from reading TR’s telegram until right before the convention adjourns, to prevent rioting.

Roosevelt’s now unrunning mate John Parker will run instead for governor of Louisiana and lose, then run again in 1920 and win (as a Democrat). He is different from other Southern politicians in that the only lynching he is known to have personally participated in was of whites (Italian immigrants), which makes a refreshing change of pace.

Former Vice President Charles Fairbanks accepts the vice presidential nomination with all the enthusiasm it deserves, saying he had told the Indiana delegation to withdraw his name if anyone nominated him, but his message arrived too late so now “I feel it is my duty, under the circumstances” to accept.

Beards, they both have beards. That won’t happen again.

Racist Headline of the Day -100:  

According to Frank Rash of Kentucky at the National Association of Manufacturers’ convention.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Today -100: June 10, 1916: Shit or get off the pot already, Hughes

The Republican Convention holds its first two ballots, and then halts pending negotiations with the Bull Moosers, the idea being that they had to assess the support for various candidates before possibly negotiating a joint GOP-Moose candidate. Charles Evans Hughes comes in first in both, although he still – still! – hasn’t declared his candidacy or said whether he’d accept the nomination, much less resigned from the Supreme Court. Nor has he sent a message of any kind to the convention.

The Allies have decided that they don’t trust Greece to maintain its neutrality, so they take over the port of Saloniki and ban Greek ships from it.

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Today -100: June 9, 1916: We believe in American policies at home and abroad

Delegates of the Republican and Progressive parties meet to try to find a presidential candidate acceptable to both, without success so far. Progressive Party leaders are hard put to calm their convention down and keep it from jumping the gun and just nominating Roosevelt, but they manage it.

Roosevelt issues a threat, in the form of a telegram to ex-Sen. William Jackson, saying that there’s a good chance that if the R’s nominate Hughes without his repudiating the support of “the professional German-Americans” (i.e., the German-American Alliance, which said that Hughes would be acceptable to them but TR or Elihu Root would not), the people will reject the R’s, and may even support a third-party candidate.

The Republican platform heavily emphasizes “Americanism,” which means whatever anyone wants it to mean, of course, but it includes no dual allegiances – This means you, German-Americans! This probably doesn’t mean you, Anglo-Americans! It says, “We believe in American policies at home and abroad.” The US should enforce the rights of Americans “at home and abroad, by land and sea,” unlike that weakling Wilson. “The present Administration has destroyed our influence abroad and humiliated us in our own eyes.”

While calling for a super-strong military, compulsory military training is rejected.

National prohibition is rejected without discussion or a vote.

The plank on women’s suffrage supports it as a “matter of justice,” but recognizes “the right of each State to settle this question for itself.” At the word “but,” the women in the audience stopped cheering. Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter Alice, who had encouraged them to cheer, laughed at this practical joke.

Mainstream Republicans want Charles Fairbanks to be Charles Evans Hughes’ running mate. Fairbanks, who is technically still running for president, says he doesn’t want the job again. Fairbanks was veep in Roosevelt’s second term, though he supported Taft in 1912, which would make things a touch awkward if TR gets the nomination this year.

The NYT editorializes that Supreme Court justices should never run for higher office, as it taints the court and their own judgement. Which is a fair point. But then they say that the fact that the German-American Alliance would boast Hughes as their own candidate is a reason not to nominate him, because it would cause racial division (the Germans being a race), which is a silly point.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Today -100: June 8, 1916: Of wabbling warfare, unperturbed hugheses, little rooms, and hooge villages

I really want to know who the NYT correspondent at the Republican Convention is, because I’m really enjoying his prose: “Somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 graven images gathered together in the Coliseum at 11 o’clock this morning and viewed each other with cold, unwinking eyes and chilled steel faces for something like three hours, then dispersed. During those three hours they demonstrated convincingly the hitherto unrealized powers of the human race in the matter of not getting excited.” Sen. Warren G. Harding of Ohio is the temporary chairman and gave a temporary speech. The correspondent makes fun of his arm gestures. Harding does his favorite thing, alliteration, although nothing like that of his speech at the 1912 convention. He accuses D’s of “the mistaken policy of watchful waiting and wabbling warfare.”

Headline of the Day -100:

The Progressive Party is also holding a convention in Chicago. There are 93 minutes of cheering for Theodore Roosevelt (who isn’t even there, although he was listening by telephone), a record in party convention history, although it took floor managers with whips and cattle-prods to produce it, the whole convention being nothing more than cover while Bull Moose leaders negotiate with Republican leaders behind closed doors in a little room. “But when the call came for a prolonged and triumphant shout of coming victory, the triumphant note was lacking. The delegates were thinking of that little room. Yet it was a throng eager to be enthusiastic. No men ever worked more loyally, diligently, and doggedly to be enthusiastic for a longer time than any group of men before them. Even before the major demonstration began the delegates were plainly waiting for the minute that would certainly come and sweep them into the old delirium. In little groups they stood about the floor watching for the spark to fall. They had not forgotten the fervor of four years ago. They remembered it poignantly, hoping it would come again. The leaders had set the stage for that fervor, but they only staged a memory.” That said, the Michigan delegation sang “This is Teddy, we declare / Sure it’s Teddy; he’s a bear,” so there’s that.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Was Donald Trump’s grandfather a German army officer?

NYPD Police Commissioner Arthur Woods admits that the police tap unions’ phones.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Today -100: June 7, 1916: Of guilty but insane captains, dead kitcheners and dead emperors, and inscrutable hugheses

Capt. John Bowen-Colthurst is court-martialed for murder for the extra-judicial execution of Frank Sheehy-Skeffington and two others in Dublin during the Easter Rising. He’s going for an insanity defense, which will succeed. He will be found “guilty but insane,” confined to a loony bin for a year, make a miraculous recovery and be released. He will then emigrate to Canada, where he will receive a full military pension until his death in 1965.

Field Marshal Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, the not-hugely-competent British war secretary, dies when the ship he is taking to Russia hits a German mine and sinks. This leads, naturally, to more cries for all Germans to be interned, because someone must have told the Germans Kitchener’s travel plans. Which they didn’t, although the secret might have been better kept. The British government had encouraged Kitchener to leave the country on a nice long trip, less to confer with the Russians over munitions than from a desire to get The Recruiting Poster That Walked Like a Man away from his office so it could be run properly.

Theodore Roosevelt eulogizes Kitchener as “one of the great figures in that work of spreading civilization which has been the greatest permanent achievement of the civilized powers of the world during recent decades.” You know, conquering Sudan, ruling over the dusky natives in Egypt and India – spreading civilization.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Republican leaders agree on planks to be submitted to the National Convention: 1) military preparedness, including universal military training at schools. 2) “Americanism.” No hyphenated allegiances. 3) Fill more federal government jobs through the civil service. 4) No independence for the Philippines for a long, long time. 5) Protective tariffs. 6) Cheaper government. 7) Expansion of the merchant marine. The platform may matter this year more than these things usually do, since the leading candidate, Justice Hughes, has been, as the Times says, inscrutable.

Two suffrage meetings are held in Chicago to pressure the Republicans into adopting a women’s suffrage plank, but the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association rejects the Congressional Union’s demand for a federal constitutional amendment, because the state-by-state method is working so well. In other news, Iowa voters reject a women’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution.

US marines in the Dominican Republic and Haiti kill 7 and 11 rebels respectively. Which is worth 3 paragraphs on page 8.

Chinese President, Then Emperor, Then President Again Yuan Shikai dies. Officials are denying that he committed suicide, just like last week they denied he’d been poisoned.

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Today -100: June 6, 1916: A silence louder than all the brass bands in Chicago

The delegates to the Republican National Convention are arriving in Chicago, and the main problem is how to deal with the fact that the leading candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, won’t express his opinions on any issues. “Not since the invention of silence, one might say, has there been a silence so tremendously potent, a silence so creative and so destructive. ... It is a silence which shrieks, a silence louder than all the brass bands in Chicago.” Hughes is the only candidate who might unite the party’s factions, but the Progressives really want him to answer a few simple questions first, and this he will not do.

So where is the 1916 anti-Donald Trump? At the graduation ceremony of the National Cathedral School (an Episcopalian girls’ school), giving a mostly typical graduation-ceremony-type speech, except for something about the American flag meaning “undivided allegiance” and “America first.” Which is more significant than it might sound, since German-American objections to Roosevelt and Root have led to concern-trolling calls that candidates like Hughes must reject being German puppets, or something. Anyway, Hughes promised to be at this event months ago – one of the grads is his daughter Catherine.

Coming today to a theater near you: “The Fall of a Nation,” written and directed by the Very Racist Reverend Thomas Dixon Jr, author of the novels that D.W. Griffith adapted as The Birth of a Nation. It’s a sci-fi flick about how pacifists and military unpreparedness cause the US to be invaded and conquered by Germany (unnamed but, according to tomorrow’s NYT review, “a country of incredible efficiency whose commanding officers are given to mustaches strangely like the Kaiser’s”). A band of irregular women fighters ride to the rescue, just like the Ku Klux Klan in Birth of a Nation, presumably. The movie is now lost. It was the first feature-length movie, the NYT says, with a musical score specifically composed for it, by Victor Herbert of “Naughty Marietta” fame. The NYT says the film is “marked by a few points that offend against good taste and several points that outrage the intelligence, but many stretches of the film are finely spectacular and it is full of battlefields and such pictures of avenging cavalry sweeping along moon-lit country roads as the movies always do particularly well.”

Ida Rauh (a lawyer, sculptor and theater-manager and Max Eastman’s wife) is arrested along with Bolton Hall (a lawyer, not a general-assembly building), for distributing birth control pamphlets.

The Supreme Court rules that the 1914 Harrison Act banning possession of opium applies only to dealers, not users of the drug.

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Sunday, June 05, 2016

Today -100: June 5, 1916: Of Jutlands, Jewish farmers, and English executioners

The British Navy is now claiming (incorrectly) to have sunk more German ships at the Battle of Jutland than the number of British ships sunk by the Germans.

Former President Taft tells the National Farm School, a Jewish organization, that Jews should totally take up farming, they’d be quite good at it, with their business sense and all. He also says Jewish immigration should not be restricted, but Jews should give up everything Jewish except the religion bit: customs, language, matzoh ball soup, guilt, etc.

John Goff, a justice on the New York Supreme Court, tells a meeting of the Friends of Irish Freedom in Syracuse that the killing of Irish rebels by “English executioners” has checked the US rush to join the European war. Goff is a longtime supporter of Irish nationalism, having organized the rescue of 6 Fenian prisoners from Australia in 1875, before he became, to repeat, a justice on the New York Supreme Court.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska dies in battle at Neuville. The brilliant painter-sculptor was 23. Twenty Fucking Three!

He is the subject of a memoir – out by the end of the month – by Ezra Pound, and a film by Ken Russell, which I haven’t seen in quite a few years but remember as fun (and Helen Mirren is rather impressively naked in it).

 See Gaudier-Brzeska’s work here.

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Today -100: June 4, 1916: I am not a believer in the idea that war is the very worst thing that can come to a people

Attorney General Thomas Gregory proposes 18 laws to strengthen US neutrality, closing some of the loopholes that German spies and saboteurs and Mexican fighters have been walking through. For example, bombing or setting fire to ships conducting foreign commerce. Ships would be forbidden to carry munitions in violation of a US embargo or to supply the ships of belligerent nations on the high seas (another example of US bias against Germany; Allied ships can simply resupply in Canada). The president would have the power to censor radio messages to belligerent nations or ships. Another proposed law would make it a crime for the interned military personnel (mostly sailors) of a belligerent nation to escape. It would be illegal for government employees to give information about US military defenses to a foreign nation.

Vice President Thomas Marshall addresses the Loyal Order of the Moose in Newark, which is what you do when you’re a vice president. He comes out for preparedness: “Now, I am not a believer in the idea that war is the very worst thing that can come to a people. I hope it may never come. Being old enough myself to avoid any dangers of war, I still see that it would be far better for our American youth to lose his life upon the field of battle in defense of our institutions than to destroy his life by vicious conduct in social affairs.” He doesn’t specify the vicious conduct he’s thinking of, but it’s a pretty remarkable statement.

In an exchange with Admiral John Jellicoe about the Battle of Jutland, King George bitches that the German fleet was allowed to escape, “enabled by misty weather to evade the full consequences of the encounter.” The British, like the Germans yesterday, are now beginning to claim to have won. Sure, their losses were a lot higher, they say, but German losses were greater relative to the size of their fleet, and the Royal Navy drove them from the North Sea.

Most families of British sailors don’t know what ships they serve on, so they don’t know if they’re alive or dead.

The Battle of Jutland has the US rapidly rethinking its own naval plans. For a start, battle cruisers, which the US planned to rely on heavily, didn’t stand up very well to the guns of the battleships. Also, zeppelins seem like a good idea, for spying out enemy ships.

Theodore Roosevelt isn’t saying whether he’d repeat 1912 and run as an independent if the Republican convention doesn’t pick a candidate he likes. He’d prefer to leave that sword over their heads.

The NYT stopped covering the Dominican Republic around the time the Marines landed. Funny that. So it won’t be in the paper that today the Marines arrest 8 members of the Dominican Congress to prevent a quorum, because Wilson does not like Congress’s choice of a new president. They will be released in two days, but Federico Henríquez y Carvajal will withdraw from consideration.

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Friday, June 03, 2016

Today -100: June 3, 1916: There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today

News reaches the NYT of the Battle of Jutland, a major clash between the navies of Britain and Germany, indeed the largest naval battle in history, 151 British ships vs. 99 German, and the only one of the war, off the Jutland Peninsula (Denmark). Germany initiated this in an attempt to destroy part of the Royal Navy and reduce its ability to strangle Germany’s trade and food supply. Though Germany destroyed more British ships (14) than it lost (11) and killed more than twice as many sailors (over 6,000) as it lost (2,500), the larger British navy could more easily afford the losses. After Jutland, until the end of the war, Germany never dared try another large-scale naval battle, so their goal of breaking the British blockade and regaining access to the Atlantic has been thwarted, and the British plan to starve Germany into submission continues. German naval tactics in future will center on u-boats rather than the Hochseeflotte (High Seas Fleet). But right now Germany is crowing about their “victory.” “The report even temporarily eclipsed the news of the restrictive meat ordinances in popular interest, which is saying a great deal nowadays.”

Some of the sunken British ships include the badly named Invincible, the more accurately named Turbulent, but not the amusingly named Warspite (hulled in a bunch of places but still able to limp back to port). One of the German cruisers is the Derfflinger, which if I remember my German correctly is one of those compound words that means “one who flings derfs.”

What went wrong with the British that they lost so many ships? Some of the technology and practices hadn’t caught up with the developments in other technologies. The ships had wireless but communicated orders via flags that couldn’t necessarily be seen from several miles away in a sea obscured by the steam from hundreds of ships, so at one point one part of the fleet zigged while the other part zagged. Also, the advantage of the longer range of British guns was wiped out by the laboriously slow 19th-century methods still in use to actually aim the guns. To compensate, they tried to keep up a high rate of fire, lobbing a lot of shells in the general direction of the target, which meant that safety procedures, like closing the fire doors, were ignored in the interests of speed by the sailors lugging around bags of cordite, so that hits on a ship that shouldn’t have been catastrophic wound up setting off its shells and powder. The second time a ship simply exploded, Vice-Admiral David Beatty commented, “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today.” There were also numerous errors of judgment; Beatty and his boss Admiral Sir John Jellicoe spent the rest of their lives throwing blame at each other. When Beatty was promoted to First Sea Lord in 1919, pretty much the first thing he did was try to alter records and maps to support his story.

Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes’s secretary issues a statement that Frank Hitchcock does not in fact represent Hughes in pushing his candidacy for president, and in fact Hughes “has no representative.”

The NYT says the Dreyfus Affair, in which an army captain was falsely convicted of spying and accurately accused of being Jewish, leading to 20 years of French society viciously tearing itself apart, is now “over,” with Dreyfus and his son now serving in the army along with his various persecutors and their children. Because nothing says national reconciliation than killing Huns together.

The Austrian Supreme Court invalidates the marriage of Count Rudolf Schirding as violating Austrian law, even though he was married in Germany. At the time he had renounced his Catholic faith in order to marry a Protestant, but non-Christians are banned from marrying Christians, although they can marry Jews.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Today -100: June 2, 1916: Damn, now I’m going to have to cancel my vacation plans to New South Greenland

The US, you will be surprised to hear, intends to ignore Carranza’s demand that US troops be pulled out of Mexico. They say they’re just following the agreement that Carranza himself proposed (which ignores the fact that US troops crossed the border before Carranza proposed that face-saving device) and if anyone is failing to “comprehend the scope and meaning of the reciprocal arrangement” it must be Mexico. Which is odd, since the US accepted the “reciprocal arrangement” without a negotiation.

Sir Ernest Shackleton reports back on what he’s been up to for the last 2½ years. He has discovered a whole new land mass in the Antarctic, but he confirms that New South Greenland, first mapped out by Benjamin Morrell in 1823, doesn’t actually exist, Morrell totally made it up. Or maybe it sank. And that’s about all that Shackleton has to show for all that time and hardship, including more than a year on ice after abandoning the doomed Endurance as it was slowly crushed by ice.

After the longest confirmation process ever for a Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis is confirmed by the Senate 47-22 on a mostly party-line vote.

Suffragists want to know Charles Evans Hughes’s views on women’s suffrage. They remember that he wasn’t a lot of help when he was governor of New York.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Today -100: June 1, 1916: Whatever defects I have, I do not pussy-foot

First Chief Venustiano Carranza demands that US troops leave Mexico. Pancho Villa’s band of merry men has been “entirely dispersed,” he says, yet the Americans remain. “[T]here has been a great discrepancy between the protests of sincere friendly co-operation on the part of the American authorities and the actual attitude of the expedition, which, on account of its distrust, its secrecy regarding its movements and the arms at its disposal, clearly indicated that it was a hostile expedition and a real invasion of our territory.” However, the note fails to give the US a deadline. US officials are pretty much unanimous in declaring it a bluff intended for internal consumption.

Ernest Shackleton has left the Antarctic and his ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, but 22 of his expedition remain behind on Elephant Island, needing rescue. Everyone will be out of the Antarctic by next February.

Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech in St. Louis, says Woodrow Wilson uses “weasel words” about preparedness but “only the compulsion of the spirit of America.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means either. He says “Whatever defects I have, I do not pussy-foot,” which is the slogan of every awful candidate ever (looking at you, Donald J. Trump).

I don’t understand the Republican Party of 1916. The old guard, the people who fought so hard four years ago to ensure that the nomination went to Taft rather than Roosevelt, are now asking Roosevelt and the Progressives (actually, they may be trying to do a deal behind TR’s back) to help them prevent Charles Evans Hughes becoming the party’s presidential candidate. I don’t know what they have against Hughes. The proposed deal seems to be that the Progressives would return to the Republican party and help defeat Hughes in favor of someone like Elihu Root, who would serve one term and then Roosevelt could run in 1920. Which doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Meanwhile, Frank Hitchcock, a former chair of the RNC and postmaster-general, who seems to be running Hughes’ campaign even though he says he hasn’t spoken with Hughes for months, is assuring everyone that Hughes would accept the nomination if offered, leading to calls that Hughes say that himself. But Hughes isn’t even taking phone calls from party leaders. And no one knows his positions on current issues.

The convention is just a week away.

By the way, Hitchcock’s power doesn’t derive from his RNC role but his role in the Post Office, the greatest source of government patronage of the time. A lot of Southern delegates got cushy PO jobs from him.

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