Monday, July 04, 2016

Today -100: July 4, 1916: Of Wall Street witches, guardsmen and candy, polio, unchecked lawlessness, and bats

Hetty Green, the Witch of Wall Street and the richest woman in the world, dies
 at 81. She inherited a fortune (some of it quite possibly by forging a will), invested well in bonds and railroads and whatnot, and was legendarily, epically cheap. She leaves an estate worth upwards of $100,000,000.

US national guards are moving towards the Mexican border. Pennsylvania guardsmen arrive in Kansas starving, because they weren’t provided enough food for the train trip, while New York troops heading for Texas are being overfed by hospitable Southerners on the route. “At every stop since leaving Indianapolis a royal reception has been accorded the men, said reception too often consisting of too much candy, ice cream, and cake.”

There’s a polio (“infantile paralysis”) epidemic in New York City, with 72 new cases and 23 deaths in a 48-hour period. There will be a lot more. Movie theaters are ordered to admit no children under 16. Licenses have been revoked for Fourth of July celebrations in Brooklyn, where the outbreaks are most numerous. This polio epidemic will be followed by smaller, related outbreaks in succeeding summers, including the one in 1921 in which Franklin Roosevelt contracted it.

A Royal Commission into the Easter Rising blames former Chief Secretary for Ireland Augustine Birrell. It says the “main cause of the rebellion appears to be that lawlessness was allowed to grow up unchecked,” what with the volunteer forces of both sides openly drilling and so on.

Baseball news: Ty Cobb is suspended and fined for throwing his bat into the stands after striking out.

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