Monday, September 17, 2018

Today -100: September 17, 1918: Of peace talks, blackmail, Spanish flu, burning words, and ideal husbands

The US rejects Austria’s call for non-binding peace talks, saying everyone already knows the US’s position so there’s nothing to talk about. British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour calls it a cynical attempt to divide the Allies. German newspapers are all insisting that the Austrian feelers were made entirely on its own initiative. Presumably if there had been a positive response Germany would be taking the credit.

A janitor is arrested for attempting to blackmail J.P. Morgan Jr. and his daughters. He sent letters claiming to have infected them with a horrid but slow-acting disease which had already killed J.P. Sr and would kill them too within 3 years unless they paid $20,000 for the antidote. Thorn, the janitor, will be sentenced to 15 months in Leavenworth.

Camp Upton on Long Island is shut down – no one in, no one out – because of an influenza outbreak.

Woodrow Wilson tells a group of Democratic women that he will urge the passage of the women’s suffrage amendment. Later, members of the National Woman’s Party, finding this inadequate and Wilson complicit in the Senate’s foot-dragging on the amendment, burn his words in front of the Lafayette monument.

Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” has its New York premiere, a quarter century after it was written.

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