Friday, July 21, 2017

Today -100: July 21, 1917: 258

The US selective service lottery has begun, with the ceremonial drawing of numbers from a big glass bowl. 10,500 numbers. It took 16½ hours. And one of them was blank, so they have to figure out which number wasn’t in the bowl (Update: 4,664). The first number, chosen by a blindfolded Secretary of War Newton Baker, was 258. The next number was drawn by Sen. Chamberlain, similarly blindfolded, then other officials, before the rest of the tedious work was done by blindfolded college students (fraternity hazing was pretty boring back then), interrupted every so often by Major Gen. Devel stirring the capsules containing the numbers with a long wooden spoon.

The new German chancellor, Georg Michaelis, described by the NYT as having a disproportionately large head, gives an introductory speech to the Reichstag. He follows the German line in blaming Britain for the war, because it didn’t dissuade Russia from mobilizing its army, which forced Germany to declare war purely in self-defense. That’s their story, and they’re sticking with it. Naturally, Michaelis fails to say what Germany’s war aims are, except “peace with honor” and secure borders (which is code for unspecified annexations). He supports the absolute right of the kaiser rather than the Reichstag to appoint officials.

After he’s done speaking, the Reichstag passes a peace resolution disavowing annexations of land and indemnities as contrary to a lasting peace.

Prince Lvov resigns as Russian prime minister and is replaced by Alexander Kerensky, who retains his post as minister of war. His ascension to power is celebrated, as was the custom, with an assassination attempt.

Australia bans the IWW.

Caesar Campus, president of the Sirio Match Company of Brooklyn, writes to the secretary of the navy with a cunning plan to defeat u-boats. Falcons! Carrying bombs! The details, which you can read in the article, don’t make the idea any more plausible, and in fact make me think this man shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches, much less own a match company.

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