Monday, February 27, 2017

Today -100: February 27, 1917: Armed neutrality

Woodrow Wilson asks a joint session of Congress to allow him to arm American merchant ships and “employ such other instrumentalities and methods as may in his judgment and discretion seem necessary and adequate” to protect those ships. Which is too vague and blank-checky for some Republicans, although Wilson claims “I am not now proposing or contemplating war or any steps that might lead to it.” So that’s okay then. The government would also be permitted to insure ships. “Armed neutrality” it’s called, in which a country is not party to a war but is prepared to defend its so-called rights with violence.

Literally as Wilson arrived at the Capitol (and once again he just kind of showed up, with only 3 hours warning), news came that the Cunard liner RMS Laconia was torpedoed by a German u-boat near Ireland.  12 are dead (6 passengers, 6 crew), including two Americans, Mary (58) and Elizabeth (33) Foy of Chicago, a mother and daughter (those ages are from the Chicago Daily Tribune; the NYT says 60 and 30).

(Actually, they’ve been living in London for 5 years but for purposes of outrage, they’re Chicagoans.) The lifeboats, at least those that weren’t smashed, were picked up 8 hours later.

The NYT claims that the pacifists and pro-Germans and even actual Germans it spoke to consider armed neutrality fantastic and likely to keep the US out of the war.

Because of lack of paper – a likely story – every newspaper in Hungary must cease production.

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