Monday, April 30, 2018

Today -100: April 30, 1918: Of POWs, gravel, dictatorships, and possible wars

Germany threatens to seize Petrograd if Russia doesn’t release German prisoners of war. Well, the ones in good health. The ones they can’t send back to the front can stay where they are, I guess.

Germany refuses to let the Netherlands tell it what it can and can’t do with that sand and gravel.

The Senate votes 63-13 for a bill which Woodrow Wilson demanded giving him the power to reorganize executive bureaus as he sees fit to deal with the war (although not to create new ones, which was in the earlier version). Sen. Warren G. Harding (R-Ohio) warns of dictatorship.

Uruguay again asks Germany if they’re at war. It never got an answer last time.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Today -100: April 29, 1918: Of counter-revolutions, money slackers, sand and gravel, and killer bears

The rumors from Russia (via Sweden) say that the supposed counter-revolutionary revolt there will put in place a government under 13-year-old Tsar Alexei Nikolaevich that will disavow the treaty with Germany and resume the war. Other rumors say it’s Germany behind the revolt. If there even is a revolt.

Headline of the Day -100: 

“Money slackers.”

The Netherlands gives in to the German ultimatum, allowing Germany to transport sand and gravel through their country, but not in unlimited quantities and only if Germany pinky-swears not to use it for military purposes (they’ll be using it to maintain Belgian roads so tanks and such can drive through to the front; does that count, Holland?).

In the Bronx Zoo, Russian bear Ivan kills Japanese black bear Lillian in front of a few hundred spectators.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Today -100: April 28, 1918: Of tsars, assassins, hung juries and noble hands, nonsinking ships, the Solomon of the Essex Market Court, and unexpected attacks of common sense

A counter-revolution supposedly breaks out in Petrograd. It names Alexei Nikolaevich, the 13-year-old hemophilic former tsarevich, as the new True Tsar of All the Russias.

Gavrilo Prinzip, the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, dies in prison of tuberculosis at 23.

There’s a hung jury in the prosecution of Max Eastman and others associated with The Masses. The prosecutor vows to try again, right after he prosecutes Irish radical Jeremiah O’Leary for The Bull. Incidentally, the judge in this case is Augustus Noble Hand, who 15 years later will rule that James Joyce’s Ulysses is not obscene.

Headline of the Day -100: 

“Guys, so I got this idea for improving our ships. Now, hear me out. What if they were... NON-sinking?”

A New York magistrate settles a case where babies may – or may not – have been switched in a hospital maternity ward last September. He asks everyone in the courtroom to weigh in on which baby looked like which parents, and then ordered the mothers to swap babies. “Mr. Leoniff said at his home yesterday afternoon that he did not believe that he had obtained his own baby, but on the other hand was not sure that the other baby was his.”

Headline of the Day -100:  

The British food controller resigns because he worked so hard making sure people had food to eat that he forgot to eat. YOU HAD ONE JOB! He liked to boast that he could keep himself healthy on way less food than the rations he imposed on the nation. He was wrong and will die soon. And his daughter will try to take his seat in the House of Lords.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin was planning to come to the US to lobby Wilson against conscription being introduced into Ireland, but has cancelled. The NYT applauds this as “an unexpected attack of common sense.” It says Irish independence based on German support would be treason against “orderly freedom” and says Germany wants “a peace of annexations, national humiliation, and ruin”. Someone inform the Times that Ireland knows all about annexations, national humiliation and ruin. The paper threatens withdrawal of US support for Irish independence if the Irish choose to resist fighting Germany, so at least it realizes that British rule is a punishment.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Today -100: April 27, 1918: Of enemy singers and breeders of spy work

Well this is annoying: some of the stories in this issue are only available to NYT subscribers. They’ll be the ones with “timesmachine” in the URL. Hopefully this won’t persist. (Update: it will. Fuck.)

The Metropolitan Opera fires 2 semi-principal singers and 18 of the chorus for being from Bad Countries.

Philadelphia Police Superintendent William Mills bans meetings conducted in German because they are “fertile ground for German propaganda and are breeders of spy work.”

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Today -100: April 26, 1918: Of tank battles, wool, drafts, and enemy languages

Now that Germany has tanks too, there is... wait for it... the first ever tank battle! Germany claims to have superior, faster tanks. Britain claims to have won this engagement.

Headline of the Day -100: 

But not in, like, a creepy way.

A bill before Congress to start drafting men who have turned 21 since last June reverses for this cohort the exemption in the original draft law for medical and divinity students (provided a college president/dean recommended it).

Newspaper dealers in Harlem will boycott “enemy-language” newspapers.

Woodrow Wilson is resisting another attempt in Congress to declare war on Turkey. Supposedly his reason is to prevent a massacre of Americans (and the closing of US colleges and missions in Turkey).

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Today -100: April 25, 1918: Of gas, liberty cabbage, and hangmen

Headline of the Day -100: 


Sauerkraut-mongers, whose product has not been selling well of late, are thinking about changing the name to “liberty cabbage.”

Hans Kordess, a German immigrant living in White Plains, New York, failed to register as an enemy alien. When the authorities caught up to him, he explained that it was because in Germany he was a town hangman and it’s illegal there to take his picture, so he assumed that was the case here too. It’s not.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Today -100: April 24, 1918: Of conscription, quiet in the court, and gravel

Ireland’s one-day anti-conscription general strike passes off peacefully. It was observed almost 100% in Dublin and almost 0% in Northern Ireland.

The trial of 32 Indians in San Francisco for plotting revolution in India – I’m still not sure how that would violate US law – concludes with 29 convictions and 3 acquittals. Oh, also one defendant shoots another one to death in court and is then killed by a US marshal.

That German ultimatum to the Netherlands: they want to be able to send war material (and gravel) through Neth., using its canals and railroads. The US put Neth. in a bad position by seizing its ships and rejecting a plea not to use them in the war zone.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Today -100: April 23, 1918: Of lynchings, gravel, disloyalists, and barons red

Romania will absorb Bessarabia (which used to be part of Russia).

A black man, Berry Noyes, accused of shooting a sheriff trying to arrest him for violating prohibition, is lynched in Lexington, Tennessee. Hanged and his body burned at the stake.

Germany has been trying to force the Netherlands into the war and to that end has been ramping up a dispute about gravel. Germany is said to have issued an ultimatum.

Woodrow Wilson writes to Congress to oppose a proposed law to try spies and disloyalists by court-martial, saying it’s unnecessary, unconstitutional, and would put us on the level of the fucking Germans. Sen. Chamberlain (D-Oregon) will withdraw it tomorrow.

German pilot Capt. Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron, is shot down and killed, possibly by another plane, possibly by ground fire, possibly by Snoopy. The Baron is officially credited with 80 aerial victories.

Guatemala declares war on Germany and the Germanettes.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Today -100: April 22, 1918: Of conscription, dead generals, and horse

The British military takes over the Irish railroads, post office, and telephone, preparing to deal with the inevitable resistance to conscription. On Sunday (yesterday), Catholic priests and bishops administered the pledge (covenant, even) to resist conscription. Unions call a one-day general strike for tomorrow. Even saloons will close. And the electricity will be off in Dublin.

There are rumors that the anti-Bolshevik leaders Gen. Kornilov and Gen. Semyonov are dead. Yes on the former, hit by a shell, no on the latter.

French Minister of Provisions Victor Boret suggests saving on meat by having one meatless week per month. But you can eat horse, because it’s... classified as fruit, probably? Some of the horses being sold for food come from the British army.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Today -100: April 21, 1918: Of cops, priests, brutal acts of tyranny and oppression, and symphonies

The federal government takes over the massively corrupt Philadelphia police dept in order to clean up vice to protect soldiers and sailors from themselves.

Today (Sunday) Catholic priests in Ireland will administer a pledge to resist conscription “by the most effective means at their disposal,” and while the priests are calling only for non-violent resistance, that wording is carefully phrased so as not to preclude other kinds of resistance.

55 Irish Nationalist MPs meet and agree to boycott Parliament and remain in Ireland to organize resistance. Conscription, they say, imposed “on a nation without its assent constitutes one of the most brutal acts of tyranny and oppression of which any Government can be guilty.”

Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 (Classical) premiers in Petrograd, Prokofiev conducting.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Today -100: April 20, 1918: Of ground, disloyalists, enemy aliens and spies

Headline of the Day -100: 

“Yup, looks like dirt alright,” he says.

In Collinsville, Oklahoma, a mob hangs one Henry Rheimer, though not to death, for refusing orders from a Committee of Defense Council to fly a US flag every day for the rest of the war. Hang a flag or get hanged, I guess. Also, his son is a conscientious objector.

By the way, the article about that uses the word “disloyalist,” which, while the OED dates it to 1885, seems to be new to the US.

Under a new extension of the Espionage Act,  enemy alien women will now be treated equally (yay!) with enemy alien men (boo!). Required to register with the police, banned from docks, wharves, the District of Columbia, etc.

Headline of the Day -100:  

That’s according to Norman White of the Secret Service, testifying before the Senate Military Affairs Committee. Actually, 20,000 is just an estimate of the number of aliens who have failed to register. White also says Germans are selling heroin to soldiers and sailors. He complains that spies keep being released on bail and fleeing to Mexico, or just going to ground.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Today -100: April 19, 1918: What have I not done to preserve the world from these horrors?

Kaiser Wilhelm recently visited the front and remarked to an officer, “What have I not done to preserve the world from these horrors?” The officer’s reply is not recorded.

The British have succeeded in bringing together the Irish Nationalist Party, Sinn Fein, the Catholic bishops, and a bunch of other normally squabbling Irish factions – in opposition to conscription being introduced into Ireland. Nationalist MPs will join in the boycott of the Westminster Parliament already practiced by Sinn Feiners.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Today -100: April 18, 1918: Chuckling Germans are especially irritating

Count Stephan Burián is brought back as Austrian foreign minister.

Hackensack, NJ bans German-language newspapers “because they were a source of irritation, particularly when some German resident was observed to be chuckling at something he was reading.”

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Today -100: April 17, 1918: We have lost territory, but we have lost nothing vital

France executes Bolo Pacha for using German money to spread defeatist propaganda. He is said to have given a confession implicating former Prime Minister Joseph Caillaux, who was brought to Pacha’s cell for the two to confront each other, because the French justice system is weird.

The British government will introduce a Home Rule Bill for Ireland, hoping this will make the Irish more compliant with the imposition of conscription. Lloyd George threatens to resign if the House of Lords blocks the bill, which he hopes will “produce something like contentment in Ireland and good-will in America.”

Lloyd George says of the German offensive, “We have lost territory, but we have lost nothing vital.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

The German offensive is going strong, but the Allies evidently still feel confident enough to stop for a wank (or, as they were colloquially known, “whizz bangs”).

Some days this blog is a better source of history than other days.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Today -100: April 16, 1918: Czernin out

Austrian Foreign Minister Count Ottokar Czernin resigns over the revelations of Emperor Charles’s free-lancing foreign policy last year behind Czernin’s back. The resignation may or may not have been forced on Austria by Germany, which hasn’t been happy with Czernin’s open discontent with a war policy increasingly based on German priorities, to the exclusion of Austria’s. And it’s not like they can demand that the emperor resign.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Today -100: April 15, 1918: Of zitas, glass, and piano profiteering

Emperor Charles of Austria reportedly also made peace approaches to Italy, through relatives of his wife, the gloriously named Empress Zita of Bourbon-Parma. Zita is the 17th (!) child of the former duke of Parma, deposed when Parma was incorporated into Italy at Unification. Zita’s also been writing to the pope.

Headline of the Day -100 (that’s Attorney General Gregory): 

Police in Harlem shoot at people throwing stuff at them during a riot precipitated by the refusal of a cop to arrest a white man for stealing newspapers from a black news-stand owner.

A Berlin court refuses to pursue a charge of “profiteering” against a piano dealer, saying it’s okay to profiteer on non-vital goods as much as you like.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Today -100: April 14, 1918: Of lines, paper clothing, and mothers-in-law

Headline of the Day -100: 


An exhibition opens in Berlin to introduce Germans to the delights of paper clothing.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Austria is claiming that the letter last year which France is saying acknowledged France’s claim to Alsace-Lorraine was actually written by the Duchess of Parma and anyway didn’t say what Clemenceau says it said, but rather said that the emperor would have supported French claims if they were just, which they totally weren’t.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Today -100: April 13, 1918: Because if you’re at war, you’d kind of like to be told you’re at war

Field Marshal Haig issues an order to the troops fighting the German offensive that “Every position must be held to the last man.” The troops reply, “The last what now?”

The Prussian state Diet discusses Poland, which is never a good thing. There are demands for annexation of large parts of Poland, demands that Poland take responsibility for part of Germany’s war debt, etc.

Austrian Emperor Charles says French PM Clemenceau is just making shit up about him recognizing France’s claim to Alsace-Lorraine.

A German u-boat captured a Uruguayan military commission, so Uruguay asks Germany if they’re at war.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Today -100: April 12, 1918: Of tones, just claims, and shock troops

Headline of the Day -100: 

They’re talking about his “gospel of force.”

France and Austria are disputing exactly what the diplomatic conversations a year ago consisted of. France releases a letter from Emperor Charles, using his brother-in-law Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma as intermediary (thus the “Sixtus Affair”), supporting France’s “just claims regarding Alsace-Lorraine.”

Special Assistant to the Secretary of War Emery Scott denies rumors that negro soldiers are being used as shock troops in France (you know what might allay that rumor? not segregating them into separate units), that they are abused by their officers, and that Germany has threatened to torture any captured negro soldier to death.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Today -100: April 11, 1918: Of germs, moral fronts, red flags, and sedition

That would just leave “any.”

John Dillon, the new leader of the Irish Nationalist Party, says that extending conscription to Ireland, which Parliament just voted to do, will open up a new front in the war, in Ireland, a moral front in which Britain would be wrong. Asquith also speaks out against the move.

Russia adopts a new flag. It’s red.

The Senate passes the Sedition Bill, making it illegal to speak or act in support of Germany or its allies, or use willful and “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, contemptuous, or abusive” language about the US form of government, military, flag or uniform. The inclusion of the word “willful” was a softening of the bill.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Today -100: April 10, 1918: Of conscription and new wars

British Prime Minister Lloyd George tells Parliament that conscription will be extended to all men up to 50, including ministers of religion, and will include Ireland for the first time. Irish MPs inform him that this will not go well.

Lenin says Russia may have to declare war on Japan for landing troops in Vladivostok.

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Monday, April 09, 2018

Today -100: April 9, 1918: Of insurance agents, lynchings, and insane proposals

The Justice Dept claims that German agents, disguised as insurance agents, book agents, and phonograph salesmen, have been roaming Harlem trying to get blacks not to enlist in the army. They’ve arrested one such insurance collector, Max Freudenheim, who was telling people that after Germany wins the war it will create a great negro state “somewhere in the world.”

At the coroner’s inquest into the lynching of Robert Prager for making disloyal remarks, the Collinsville, Illinois mayor admits that he let the mob into the City Hall where Prager was being held, claiming he thought the police had already moved Prager elsewhere.

The Dublin city government warns the British government against trying to impose conscription in Ireland, calling it as “insane proposal” which would be violently resisted.

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Today -100: April 8, 1918: Every lover of freedom and of law must play his part

Gen. Pershing says “Every dollar subscribed to the Liberty Loan is a dollar invested in American manhood.”

NOTE: It was all I could do to stop myself entitling this post “Of German bondage and American manhood,” and it will receive a lot fewer Google hits as a result.

Lloyd George warns India about the German menace to Asia: “if we are to prevent the menace spreading to the east and gradually engulfing the world, every lover of freedom and of law must play his part.” Because nothing says freedom and law like the British Fucking Empire.

Japan says it is invading Vladivostok because a Japanese soldier was conveniently murdered and no one is maintaining law & order there. Despite all the talk recently about such a move, the actual landing seems to have taken the Entente (and the US) by surprise, evidently just ordered by an admiral on the scene. The Russians (when can I start calling them Soviets?) say it’s an invasion aimed at the Soviet Republic and anyway who knows who even killed that soldier.

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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Today -100: April 7, 1918: Force, force to the utmost, force without stint or limit

In Baltimore, Pres. Wilson gives a rousing speech opening the third Liberty Loan campaign as well as marking the anniversary of the US entry into the war. There’s a military parade. The NYT singles out the negro regiments, who “marched well.” Here’s the ending of Wilson’s speech: “Germany has once more said that force, and force alone, shall decide whether justice and peace shall reign in the affairs of men, whether right as America conceives it or dominion as she conceives it shall determine the destinies of mankind. There is, therefore, but one response possible from us: Force, force to the utmost, force without stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant force which shall make right the law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust.”

Does anyone want to read a letter from a professor of biology at City College of NY entitled “How Vivisection Saves Soldiers”? Me neither.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Enlarging the page revealed that they improved form, not porn. I was wondering what the oarsmen did. Intertitle: “Hello, I’m Deke Everett Harumphington III from Princeton and this... is my oar.”

Another Smutty Headline of the Day -100: 

I don’t know what any of that means, but it all sounds unspeakably depraved.

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Friday, April 06, 2018

Today -100: April 6, 1918: If you are going to rob and strangle your neighbour it is better not to talk of your moderation

Wilson’s Cabinet discusses the lynching of Robert Prager in Illinois for allegedly making pro-German remarks. They decide (like the federal government always has re lynchings of blacks in the South) that the federal government can’t interfere, and anyway it’s Congress’s fault for not passing the pending bills against sedition fast enough.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Austrian Foreign Minister Count Czernin has gone public about Austria’s attempts last year to end the war. France & Britain have accused him of distorting his proposals and the seriousness of discussions. French PM Clemenceau, for example, says he only sent a rep to listen and not speak. British Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Lord Robert Cecil says “I prefer Prussian brutality to Austrian hypocrisy. If you are going to rob and strangle your neighbour it is better not to talk of your moderation.”

Worried about the dangers of bombardment of Paris by the German “super-gun,” the Paris police first ban matinee performances, then reverse themselves.

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Thursday, April 05, 2018

Today -100: April 5, 1918: Of depressing sights, lynchings, liberty days, drills, and mass psychosis

Headline of the Day -100: 

Robert Prager, a German socialist, is lynched near Collinsville, Illinois for making disloyal remarks.

And in Athens, Illinois one John Rynders, who supposedly made pro-German remarks, is forced to kiss the flag, wear it around his neck, and swear allegiance. Also he will have to lead a Liberty Day parade, because irony.

I’m not sure I understand this “mob forces someone to swear allegiance” thing, but it’s becoming pretty common.

Male students aged 16 to 18 in New York state public schools will now be required to participate in military drills. Those who refuse will be expelled or not given diplomas.

A letter to the NYT from L. Pierce Clark, who is not identified in the paper but is presumably the shrink and plagiarist who in the 1920s will be president of the American Psychopathological Association and will write psycho-biographies of Napoleon and Lincoln, suggests that since it is “the popular belief that the German people are either suffering from a severe psychosis or they are racially defective,” these theories should be tested by studying captured German prisoners and figuring out how to reeducate the German people after the war to make them more “socially acceptable.” If they can’t be cured of Prussianism, they can be segregated from the rest of mankind.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Today -100: April 4, 1918: We can henceforward regard the future with tranquillity

The Germans say their offensive has only slowed down because of bad weather.

Gen. Ferdinand Foch says “We can henceforward regard the future with tranquillity.” So that’s okay then.

Former President Taft says spies should be court-martialed and executed, “their citizenship ended by bullets.” But mob violence is wrong, he says. Don’t be like the lawless Germans, he says.

The French claim to have captured a German document ordering that soldiers from Alsace-Lorraine not be put on the front lines or given jobs that would allow them to gather intelligence for the French.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Today -100: April 3, 1918: Remember that practically every pacifist is a suffragist

In a red-baiting election for Chicago aldermen, every Socialist candidate is beaten by “loyalists.”

The NY State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is changing its name to the Women Voters’ Anti-Suffrage Party to push for a new referendum to reverse the one that gave the vote to NY women last year. Outgoing president Mary Kilbreth reminds the annual meeting, “Remember that practically every pacifist is a suffragist.”

Sen. Charles Thomas (D-Colo.) claims that German spies working in a factory making gas masks sabotaged more than half of them. With little tiny holes. He blames immigrants who can’t speak English, who he wants banned from voting, and plotters speaking in foreign languages, which thwarts the Secret Service, whose members can’t be expected to be bilingual.

The Senate Judiciary Committee adopts an amendment to the Espionage Act making it illegal to make false statements with the intention of interfering with US military success or discourage the sale of Liberty Bonds or “wilfully cause or attempt to cause, or incite or attempt to incite, insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces” or obstruct military recruiting or say disloyal or seditious things about the government, Constitution, president or the flag or military uniforms or bring the government into disrepute or incite resistance to federal authority, or favor the cause of enemy nations, etc etc., subject to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The NYT totally supports this as “proportionate to the magnitude of the crime.” It would also like sabotage to be subject to the death penalty.

The Texas Legislature bans peace officers who earn less than $40 a month from carrying guns, presumably because they’ll be tempted to use those guns to supplement their income.

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Monday, April 02, 2018

Today -100: April 2, 1918: Of machine guns, sedition, and dressing for war and/or Easter

The Canadian army actually uses those machine guns against anti-conscriptionists in Quebec City. The article claims the trouble there is being fomented by Outside Agitators, possibly IWW, possibly with German money.

A Friedrich Pawlik of Hoboken, New Jersey is sentenced to 1 year for making seditious remarks about the president. Stanley Rapiz of Brooklyn is sentenced to 1 year for insulting the crew of a US transport. 112 IWW members go on trial in Chicago. 5 Indians and one Agnes Smedley are indicted for attempting to stir up rebellion against the British Raj. Which doesn’t really seem like the business of US courts. And:

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

Today -100: April 1, 1918: Of the draft and wool grips

More anti-conscription rioting in Quebec. The army is bringing in machine guns.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Alien Property Custodian A. Mitchell Palmer plans to seize German-owned woolen mills in New Jersey.

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