Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Today -100: February 15, 1917: Of Lyman laws, contraband, and revolts

An Austrian u-boat sinks an American schooner the Lyman Law – seriously, they’re going after sailboats now? – in the Mediterranean. It probably didn’t break international law, though since the u-boat gave warning, let the crew evacuate, and then placed a bomb on the boat rather than using torpedoes, for some reason. Or maybe it did: the Lyman Law was carrying lumber, which Austria considers contraband but the US does not.

Speaking of contraband, the British plan to hold the ship the Frederik VIII for a week or two when it arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to check for rubber and other contraband. Which should be awkward since the ship will contain the former German ambassador to the US, Count Johann von Bernstorff, who is returning home.

The German people are being told that Wilson is hesitating, as seen by his reluctance to arm private vessels. They’re also happy that his appeal to the neutral nations to follow his lead failed. Another sign: former US Ambassador Gerhard is in Switzerland, evidently not planning to return to the US and leaving open the possibility of returning to Germany.

The US informs Cuban rebels that it won’t recognize any government they form and will intervene militarily to protect the existing regime. The British, naturally, are pretty sure the Germans are behind the revolt.

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