Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Today -100: November 6, 1918: It seemed as natural as breathing

US elections were held yesterday. Republicans gain 25 House seats and 5 Senate seats, taking control of both houses.

In Wisconsin, Socialist candidate Victor Berger wins election to the House despite being under indictment under the Espionage Act, beating incumbent William H. Stafford (R). Berger will no doubt be welcomed into the House with open arms. Interestingly, the Wisconsin congressional delegation in the 66th Congress will be 10 Republicans, 0 Democrats, and 1 Socialist (or would be if they let Berger take his seat).

The one woman running for Congress, I believe, suffrage activist Anne Martin, running for the Senate in Nevada as an independent, gets 18% of the vote. Jeanette Rankin made that ill-fated attempt to move from the House to the Senate and lost her primary, so she’ll be out of the House, leaving no women in Congress.

In Michigan, Henry Ford loses the  Senate race to Republican Truman Handy Newberry, a former secretary of the Navy. He’ll be convicted in 1921 under the Federal Corrupt Practices Act for over-spending in this year’s primary and resign, although the Supreme Court will overturn his conviction because primaries aren’t elections.

Another interesting new senator: Medill McCormick (R-Illinois), coming over from the House. He will losing his re-election primary in 1924 and commit suicide as his term came to an end. His widow Ruth Hanna McCormick, daughter of Mark Hanna and a women’s suffrage activist, will be elected to Congress from Illinois in 1928. She will lose her re-election bid and marry Albert Simms of New Mexico, who also served one term in Congress at the same time as her and also lost his seat in 1930. Probably a better way to respond to losing an election than her first husband’s.

Referenda: Arizona criminalizes gambling and brothels and establishes the death penalty. Prohibition passes in Colorado, Florida, Wyoming, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington but fails in California, Minnesota, and Missouri. Nebraska restricts the franchise to full US citizens, as does South Dakota, in an amendment that also restricts it to people who have lived in the state for at least a year, but gives it to women. Oklahoma and Michigan also give women the vote, but Louisiana doesn’t, thanks to an overwhelming no vote in New Orleans. That makes 15 women’s suffrage states, with the right to vote for president in 6 more.

Two women are elected to the NY State Assembly, Ida Sammis (who, the story goes, used her official spittoon as a flower vase) and Mary Lilly. Women voted in New York for the first time. Mary Garrett Hay, president of the New York Equal Suffrage League, says after casting her first ever ballot, “It seemed as natural as breathing, and I felt as though I had always voted.”

Alfred E. Smith (D) defeats incumbent NY Gov. Charles Whitman.

The Allies agree to make peace based on Wilson’s 14 Points. So if you were wondering when they’d finally announce their peace aims, the answer is less than a week before the war ends.

French PM Georges Clemenceau warns that the war might not end as soon as people think. He says France could not have won without allies, singling out “Our ancestral enemies, the English, have become our indestructible friends.” Until Brexit anyway. Oh, and that time de Gaulle vetoed Britain joining the EEC.

Austrian Emperor Charles, the NYT says, refused to sign the armistice and turned over supreme command of the army to Field Marshal Arthur Arz von Strau├čenburg so he wouldn’t have to. In fact, Strau├čenburg wouldn’t do it either and refused the promotion, leaving the task to another field marshal. The State Council at Vienna issues an appeal to ethnic German soldiers to please stop just walking away from their posts.

Hungary will ask the Allies for a separate peace.

Russia would also like an armistice, but the Allies don’t recognize its Bolshevik government, so they’re ignoring its overtures.

The Poles take over Cracow. Polish troops are now fighting Ukrainians and Ruthenians.

Kaiser Wilhelm turns over 60 of his palaces – no, I don’t know how many palaces he has – to be hospitals and recreation homes for invalids.

German sailors mutiny at Kiel. They’ve been refusing orders (the Navy had an insane plan for a final battle at sea with the British) for a week or more, preventing ships from sailing. The mutiny expanded to soldiers in the area (soldiers sent to suppress the mutiny either joined it or were disarmed) and mutineers now control the town of Kiel. They’ve formed soldiers’ councils and are issuing demands (abolishing the salute, equal food between officers and men, abolition of the officers’ casinos, which was evidently a thing, recognition of the council, etc.). The German Revolution has begun.

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