Sunday, May 31, 2020

Today -100: May 31, 1920: Of fools and socks

Ahead of its general election, Germany is rife with rumors of coups by nationalists, communists, or both. Chancellor Hermann Müller says Germany must show “that she has had enough of war for all eternity, and that no fool, crowned or uncrowned, shall drag Germany into a war of revenge.”

Coney Island bathing suit censors, out in force this Memorial Day weekend, go after women wearing socks and men wearing one-piece bathing suits, because too sexy for 1920, I guess.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Today -100: May 30, 1920: What the Well-Dressed Opera-Goer and Presidential Candidate Are Wearing

US Attorney Annette Adams is nominated to be assistant attorney general. She will be the first woman assistant attorney general, the highest federal office occupied by a woman so far.

The House of Representatives passes a bonus bill for veterans through an extraordinary suspension of the rules to limit debate, so much of the argument was about that. Robert Evans (R-Neb.) says “It is an outrage that 425 members are only eunuchs in the harem of the Steering and Rules Committee.” Most of the funding would come through various taxes on Wall Street and tobacco. Vets could choose one of the following: cash, or a 20-year bond, or vocational training, or farm or loan aid, or land settlement. The cash would be $1.25 per day of service overseas or $1 at home, to a max of $625. The bill is expected to die in the Senate.

Pres. Wilson commutes the sentence of Kate Richards O’Hare, who was convicted under the Espionage Act for opposing the war.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Headline of the Day -100:  

Tomas Masaryk is chosen as president of Czechoslovakia by the country’s first elected parliament. During the proceedings, ethnic German deputies (think Sudetenland) complain that the Speaker spoke Czech rather than German. They later storm out.

The Indian National Congress has its own commission on the Amritsar Massacre, including Gandhi, which issues its own report. It suggests that the actions of Sir Michael O’Dwyer, Lt. Gov. of the Punjab, invited violence to justify a violent crackdown. It distances the actions of the Indian mob from Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement. It describes the massacre as “a calculated piece of inhumanity unparalleled in its ferocity.”

The NYT continues to push John W. Davis for the Democratic nomination for president. It thinks he’d be a really strong candidate. Ambassador Davis will have a chance to prove them woefully wrong, but not just yet. The Times also suggests that the Republicans, who “boast that they are the party of intelligence” (cough), not nominate Hiram Johnson; it does not suggest an alternative candidate.

News that Hungary will sign the peace treaty has supposedly led to many suicides being fished out of the Danube. And the army may refuse to evacuate territories as required by the treaty.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Today -100: May 29, 1920: Of sentimental idealism, women’s suffrage, and Willy’s new suit

The House fails to override Pres. Wilson’s veto of the Knox Resolution to end the war. Stephen Porter (R-Penn.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, accuses Wilson of attempting , in his veto message, to lead the American people “into the underbrush of sentimental idealism, which is beautiful and attractive in theory, but is extremely dangerous in these days.” D’s point out that if the R’s were really so concerned with repealing wartime regulations, they could just do that.

Women’s suffrage Amendment ratification dies in the Delaware Legislature.

Former czar Wilhelm II has taken up tailoring as a hobby, because why not.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Today -100: May 28, 1920: Of ineffacable stains

Pres. Wilson vetoes the Knox resolution to end the war. He says it would ignore the moral obligations which the US assumed when it went to war and would “place ineffacable stains on the gallantry and honor of the United States.” He says “The resolution seeks to establish peace with the German Empire without exacting from the German Government any action by way of setting right the infinite wrongs which it did to the peoples whom it attacked,” nor would it reduce armaments or establish freedom of the seas. The US would be announcing its unwillingness to assume “responsibilities with regard to the freedom of nations or the sacredness of international obligation or the safety of independent peoples.” “Have we sacrificed the lives of more than 100,000 Americans and ruined the lives of thousands of others and brought upon thousands of American families an unhappiness that can never end for purposes which we do not now care to sate or take further steps to attain?” I think that’s a trick question.

Rep. Nicholas Longworth (R-Ohio) points out an interview during the war in which Wilson was unconcerned with the freedom of the seas. Longworth asks “did the same man who gave the interview write the message?”, which I take to be suggesting not so subtly that someone else wrote the veto message. And while someone else (Mrs Wilson comes to mind) might easily have done so, it sounds very much like Wilson’s sentiments.

Canada puts in a rather belated claim for reparations from Germany of $1,871,000,000. Evidently it expects Germany to pay the whole cost of the war against it as well as $30 million for the explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax harbor in 1917 after it bumped another ship, which Canada is still pretending was a German plot of some kind.

Republican party leaders intend to keep the issue of prohibition out of the national convention.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Today -100: May 27, 1920: Of generals and minimum wages

Rodolfo Herrera, the Mexican general in charge of the siege of Carranza’s camp, is arrested for questioning about the latter’s death. Herrera insists Carranza committed suicide.

The Senate kills a bill for a $3 a day minimum wage for government employees.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Today -100: May 26, 1920: Of Jim Crow conventions, massacres, 2.75% beer, married teachers, and general soreness

300 black delegates to the Texas Republican Convention quit it and hold their own convention after some are refused credentials by, you know, racists. So yet another state will send two competing delegations to the national convention in Chicago, although both will evidently support Gen. Wood. Oh, and the black delegates are led by a banker from Fort Worth known as “Gooseneck” Bill McDonald, the first black millionaire in Texas.

The commission led by Lord Hunter into “unrest” in India, including last year’s Amritsar Massacre, issues two reports, one from the 5 British members, one from the 3 Indian members. The two reports disagree on whether the anti-European attitude of the natives developed before or after the massacre, but agree that the soldiers needed to shoot into the crowd, though maybe not for quite that long. They also differ over whether the protests constituted “open rebellion” and whether martial law was necessary. Even the British members think Dyer’s order for Indians to crawl if they wanted to cross a particular street where a British woman had been assaulted was a bad move.

The feds say they will ignore the NY law authorizing 2.75% beer and prosecute those who sell it.

The New York Board of Education rescinds the 1903 rule barring married women teachers being hired or promoted.

French President Paul Deschanel is recovering from falling out of his train. According to his doctors, “There is general soreness, but no nervousness.”


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Monday, May 25, 2020

Today -100: May 25, 1920: It may surprise you, but I am Deschanel, president of the Republic

Headline of the Day -100: 

To be fair to that railroad trackwalker, Paul Deschanel may well have been crazy. So the president of France falls out of the window of the moving presidential train. He walks, in his pj’s, to the nearest town, coming across that sceptical trackwalker along the way. He claims to have fallen out of the window of his carriage when trying to open it, but there are... questions. PM Millerand tells the NYT correspondent that Deschanel is “sound physically and mentally.” That he felt impelled to add that “and mentally” is not a good sign.

Pres. Wilson asks Congress to give him the power to accept the mandate over Armenia. He doesn’t actually think this might happen, does he?

Headline of the Day -100:  

The New York Legislature passes a bill for 2.75% beer, which it defines as non-intoxicating, and Gov. Al Smith signs it. The beer can be drunk in restaurants but only with meals.

A Swiss newspaper reports that various Russian nobles and officers say the Czar and his family escaped and are living quietly in Japan.

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Today -100: May 24, 1920: Of non-wars, wiping out unrest, and putschists

Sir Nevil Macready, Commander-in-Chief of British troops in Ireland, says there is not a state of war in Ireland, as he floods the country with soldiers, who he says are just there to support the police, like the Irish people are not doing because of terrorism.

Headline of the Day -100: 

It turns out it’s: cooperation and harmonization of capital and labor. Gosh, why did no one think of this before?

A bunch of German officers, including former head of the Admiralty Adm. von Trotha, are fired because of their participation in the Kapp Putsch. Shouldn’t that have happened, like, two months ago? 

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Today -100: May 23, 1920: Of dead Carranzas, borders, and mahogany commodes

Mexican President-On-The-Lam Venustiano Carranza is dead. To this day we don’t know whether he was killed or killed himself. Either way, his camp was surrounded and he was done. Obregón, who would have preferred to see Carranza either on trial or in exile, will attempt to blame the general in command of the forces besieging Carranza for not bringing him in alive.

Pres. Wilson accepts the San Remo conference’s request that he arbitrate the Turkey-Armenia border. He was also asked to accept the League of Nations mandate for Armenia, but hasn’t answered one way or the other.

The Anderson Galleries of New York City auction off a bunch of the former kaiser Wilhelm’s shit – chairs, clocks, draperies, cigarette boxes, and so on – seized from his many palaces by his many creditors. The gallery says the goods went for about 50% more than if they’d come from some rando. A mahogany commode that presumably once touched the emperor’s actual pale bottom fetched $1,100. I wonder where it is today.

The governor of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta invite the NAACP to hold its convention in that city. Is it a trap? It’s probably a trap.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Today -100: May 22, 1920: Of ending wars, acts of savagery, cabinets, and the world’s enigma

The House of Representatives passes the Knox Resolution declaring the war over, unchanged from the Senate version already passed, in order to get it vetoed in time for the Republican Convention. The R’s have shifted their rationale a bit, saying this is needed to end all those wartime measures, especially the ones giving unusual powers to the executive branch. D’s retort that they could have just repealed those measures if they didn’t also want an election issue.

German Foreign Minister Adolph Koestler tells the Reichstag that Germany will complain to the League of Nations about the alleged acts of “savagery” by black French soldiers in the Ruhr.

In Italy, Francesco Nitti forms a new cabinet, his third in the last year, another attempt at a broad coalition with Catholics and liberals and whatnot. The government is trying to demobilize the army, but officers are refusing to be demobilized. I didn’t know it worked like that.

The Dearborn Independent publishes the first of owner Henry Ford’s series of editorials “The International Jew: The World’s Problem,” a loose adaptation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “The Jew is the world’s enigma. Poor in his masses, he yet controls the world’s finances. Scattered abroad without country or government, he yet presents a unity of race continuity which no other people has achieved. Living under legal disabilities in almost every land, he has become the power behind many a throne. There are ancient prophecies to the effect that the Jew will return to his own land and from that center rule the world, though not until he has undergone an assault by the united nations of mankind.”

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Today -100: May 21, 1920: Of anti-imperialism, hostage-taking, and dabbling in politics

Sir Edward Carson tells Parliament that the disorders in Ireland are being directed from New York by people who aren’t really interested in Ireland but in destroying the British Empire.

Dock workers in Dublin are refusing to unload munitions being sent for the military, and dock workers in London are now refusing to load them.

Hearing that Russia is detaining Americans, the US asks Austria to hold on to communists who fled Hungary after the fall of Béla Kun.

Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore warns women: “You rule the home, the husband and the children, and should not attempt to dabble in politics. If you try to rule over two kingdoms, you will surely lose both of them.”

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Today -100: May 20, 1920: Of Matewan massacres, ignored hoovers, and dear old pals of mine

12 men are killed on the streets of Matewan, West Virginia in a gun battle between coal miners and the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, whose “detectives” arrived to evict strikers them from their company homes and tried to arrest Police Chief Sid Hatfield with a fake warrant. Shooting started, by whom is not clear. 7 detectives are dead, and Mayor Cabell Testerman. For further details, I refer you to John Sayles’s movie Matewan.

NY Gov. Alfred E. Smith vetoes several anti-Socialist bills, including ones establishing loyalty tests for teachers, barring socialists from the ballot and from appointive state offices, and creating a secret police bureau to investigate criminal anarchy.

Headline of the Day -100:


The first entertainment radio broadcast, on Marconi-owned station XWA (Experimental Wireless Apparatus) in Montreal, plays records (“Dear Old Pal of Mine”) and has live singing by Dorothy Lutton (“Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms” and “Merrily Shall I Live” and others. It can barely be heard in Montreal, but reaches the meeting of the Royal Society of Canada in Ottawa. Ottawa broadcasts some ditties back to Montreal.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Today -100: May 19, 1920: Of senates and coups

The British Parliament discusses Irish Home Rule. The idea now is for the two Irish parliaments to also have senates. Sir Edward Carson would prefer Northern Ireland have no parliament at all but instead continue to be ruled from Westminster. Which would also allow Britain to use Ulster as a “jumping-off place” in case it needs to go to war with “Sinn Féin Ireland.” Carson also suggests that the US butt out.

The London Daily Telegraph is pretty sure that Lenin et al have been displaced by Gen. Aleksei Brusilov after a military coup.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Today -100: May 18, 1920: Of dry rulings, sending in soldiers, and proxy votes

Headline of the Day -100:

Britain sends another couple of thousand troops to Ireland, which surely just makes the case for independence clearer. Other Irish news: more street fighting in Derry, more police barracks burned down, most tax records seized and destroyed.

170 French deputies will introduce a measure to give votes to every man, woman and child, the latter to be exercised by the father, or by the mother if the father is dead. The deputy responsible for the bill notes that many families do not have male heads thanks to the war, and those families now go unrepresented.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Today -100: May 17, 1920: Of oil, crossbows, and saints

The director of the Bureau of Mines says at the present rate, the US will run out of oil in 20 years.

Switzerland votes to join the League of Nations. The referendum was fairly close, with the French-speaking cantons voting to join and the German-speaking ones voting against. The NYT correspondent in Altdorf reports that the voting was guarded by soldiers with swords and crossbows, because Switzerland.

Joan of Arc is canonized.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Today -100: May 16, 1920: Of stinking carcasses, peace resolutions, ambassadors, crumbling regimes, and deserters

The Communist Party USA’s central committee writes to Eugene Debs, asking why he accepted the Socialist Party nomination for president: “Not even your name can hide their counter-revolutionary tendency. The class-conscious workers of America are through with the stinking carcass that calls itself the Socialist Party of America.”

The Senate passes the Knox Resolution ending the war with Germany and Austria-Hungary, voting 43-38 largely along party lines.

Pres. Wilson receives the ambassadors of Japan and Poland, in a move intended to dispel rumors that he’s sick again.

Wishful-Thinking Headline of the Day -100:

During the war, Carl Amerine went AWOL from Camp Sherman in Ohio to see his wife and child. His father explained to him that he was now a deserter, and they shoot people for that, so he’s been living in a cave in the hills of Ohio ever since. Authorities somehow get word to him that he won’t be shot, and he turns himself in.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Today -100: May 15, 1920: Not nostrums but normalcy

Eugene Debs issues a statement from prison accepting the Socialist Party nomination. “The Socialist Party will appeal this year to men who think.” As Adlai Stevenson would say, that’s not enough, we need a majority. The D’s and R’s are “both wings of the same bird of prey,” Debs says. Admitting to the divisions within the Socialist Party, he says the radicals keep the conservatives from giving away too much in order to popularize the movement. “To begin to placate your enemies is to invite decay.” He says campaigning from prison “will be much less tiresome and my managers and opponents can always locate me.”

The Socialist Party’s national convention decides to adhere to the Third International as long as the party is not required to adopt one particular means of attaining socialism, such as the dictatorship of the proletariat. The party will hire 3 negroes to do propaganda work among negroes; one will be black and work among black women.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Speaking of normal, Warren G. Harding delivers his famous “Return to Normalcy”  speech (incomplete transcript) to the Home Market Club of Boston, setting out the theme of his presidential campaign and making the previously very-little-used word “normalcy” into a thing:
there isn’t anything the matter with world civilization, except that humanity is viewing it through a vision impaired in a cataclysmal war. Poise has been disturbed, and nerves have been racked, and fever has rendered men irrational. ... 
America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality. ... 
Let us stop to consider that tranquility at home is more precious than peace abroad, and that both our good fortune and our eminence are dependent on the normal forward stride of all the American people.
I’m a little startled to see words a later president kind of lifted:
If we can prove a representative popular government under which a citizenship seeks what it may do for the government rather than what the government may do for individuals, we shall do more to make democracy safe for the world than all armed conflict ever recorded.
The NYT reports the speech on page 20 and misses out on the word normalcy. The Library of Congress website has a studio recording Harding made of this speech in June for Columbia Graphophone.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Today -100: May 14, 1920: Of mimeographs, barracks, debses, and night work

Pres. Wilson vetoes the appropriations bill for federal salaries because it gives Congress control over all government publications and mimeographs, which it could use to censor the executive branch.

Sinn Féin has a fun day out, burning down something like 50 police stations and barracks, some of them not presently in use, as well as some tax offices.

The Socialist Party national convention nominates Eugene Debs for president, as was the custom. This will be the fifth time he runs for president, although the first time he will do so from a prison cell (he’ll receive his most ever votes this time). His running mate is Seymour Stedman, evidently chosen because as a lawyer he knows what he can say and not wind up in prison like Debs.

NY Gov. Alfred E. Smith vetoes a bill banning women from night work in printing. He says “there is international recognition of prohibition of night work for women as a health measure.”

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Today -100: May 13, 1920: Because you just can’t eat thrones

Jackson, Wyoming (as in Jackson Hole), pop. 300, elects an all-female ticket for mayor and town councilwomen. The defeated ticket was all-male, and Rose Crabtree defeated her husband Henry for a council seat.

When Kaiser Wilhelm fled Germany, he left behind palaces full of stuff, and bills. Various provisioners who were owed the latter grabbed the former. “The royal beds were seized for unpaid wienerwurst accounts,” writes a NYT correspondent who is clearly enjoying himself. The throne, the actual throne, is about to go on auction in New York. Germany only allowed the export of that and other items because it was promised the proceeds would be used to import food.

The New York Board of Trade and Transportation opposes a blanket bonus for all WW I veterans (as opposed to just the disabled), saying it would “arouse the resentment and contempt of every patriotic American soldier and sailor.”

Italian Prime Minister Francesco Nitti resigns, unable to get support in a parliament largely divided between irreconcilable Socialists & Catholics.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Today -100: May 12, 1920: Of huge cannibals

Headline of the Day -100:

Huge cannibals are the worst kind (the Yanomami are not cannibals, by the way, although Dr. Rice claims to have “recognized them at once” as a tribe of cannibals only seen by outsiders once before, in 1763; he's just that good). Rice was accompanied by his wife Eleanor, whose vacations kind of sucked: she was on the Titanic with her son and her previous husband, which is how he became previous.

The French government announces it will dissolve the General Federation of Labor (Confédération Générale du Travail), pissed at its Bolshie leaders and its attempt at a general strike since May Day. The rationale will be that unions are legally allowed to strike only for economic interests and the CGT is striking for political ends.

Cynthia Curzon, daughter of British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon, marries Oswald Mosley, 23-year-old Tory MP and future leader of the British Union of Fascists. The kings and queens of Britain and Belgium are in attendance.

The Netherlands won’t tax the former crown prince of Germany, because his residence in the country, under internment, is not voluntary.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Today -100: May 11, 1920: Of obstructionists, bluebeards, and non-emergencies

Pres. Wilson reiterated in a telegram to the Democrats of a county in Oregon that the D’s should fight the election on the basis of ratifying the Versailles Treaty without any reservations. Now the Democratic senators who voted for reservations are worried that he plans to work against them. Other responses to the telegram: Taft calls Wilson “the greatest obstructionist in Washington.” William Jennings Bryan says Wilson has “been denied the information essential to sound judgment and safe leadership.”

Obregón orders that Carranza be captured alive.

James Watson, aka Bluebeard, is sentenced to life for the murder of one of his wives. The number of wives he has so far confessed to killing is up to nine.

Connecticut Gov. Marcus Holcomb refuses to call a special session of the Legislature to ratify the women’s suffrage Amendment, saying there’s no special emergency to justify it.

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

Today -100: May 10, 1920: Of fleeing presidents, and everyone wants Fiume

As reported yesterday, the forces of Generals Álvaro Obregón and Pablo González, both candidates in the theoretical Mexican presidential elections, entered Mexico City, but they have not fought each other, so that’s good. Supporters of President-On-The-Lam Carranza are not a factor. Carranza himself is falsely reported to have been arrested. His train is stopped but he escapes on horseback. He is believed to be hiding in Vera Cruz, where the federal garrison just defected to the revolutionists.

Reports/rumors say that Hungary will soon put in its own demand for Fiume. And that it will reject the peace treaty.

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

Today -100: May 9, 1920: I will blow up myself

Polish troops capture Kyiv.

The armies of Álvaro Obregón and Pablo González, both candidates for the Mexican presidency, enter Mexico City. Pres. Carranza has fled.

The US Navy calls up marines and destroyers to be ready to invade Mexico to protect American citizens. American citizens near ports, anyway.

Poet-Aviator Gabriele d’Annunzio says of the negotiations between Italy and Yugoslavia that sooner than hand over Fiume to Yugoslavia, “I will blow up the bridges, I will blow up the railroad stations, I will blow up the railroad station, I will blow up the city, I will blow up myself.” That probably sounds adorable in Italian.

French PM Alexandre Millerand denies German allegations that white women were molested by black French troops in the Ruhr, allegations he says have been made up to appeal to racist Americans. Protests against the deployment of non-white troops (mostly Senegalese and Algerians) extend across the German political spectrum, including a protest from the Social Democratic Party conference.

The peace treaty for Turkey will require it to annul all conversions to Islam since November 1, 1914 and undo adoptions of non-Muslim children by Muslims.

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Friday, May 08, 2020

Today -100: May 8, 1920: The world must disarm or the world must starve

A conference of the New York delegates to the Democratic National Convention recommends a plank for universal disarmament as the best means of achieving universal peace, and reducing the cost of living: “The world must disarm or the world must starve.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

Well I’m sure they’ll bounce back.


Whiskey is being fired by underwater torpedoes from Canada across the Detroit River, according to “a mysterious informant.”

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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Today -100: May 7, 1920: I am not going out asking people to vote for me for president

Herbert Hoover was trounced by Hiram Johnson in the primary in their home state of California, but he’s pleased he did as well as he did, 175,000 votes, and will stay in the race as long as he doesn’t have to, you know, do anything himself. “I am not going out asking people to vote for me for president. I haven’t asked anyone to vote for me and I will not do so. I will not organize a campaign, have my supporters raise a great campaign fund and then mortgage my soul in advance in order to attain the election.”

Mexican President Venustiano Carranza issues a statement about the current “delicate situation, both military and political.” He refuses to resign and calls on the military and everyone else to support him, possibly by helping him pack.

The Delaware State Senate passed the federal women’s suffrage Amendment, but doesn’t send it to the House (where it would likely have been defeated anyway), instead adjourning.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Today -100: May 6, 1920: Of camel humps, deportations, and diphtheria denialists

With the price of meat at astronomical levels, Parisians are experimenting with serving lion and camel hump. The latter is on sale now (believed to have been sourced from a private zoo; not the first time Parisians have chomped their way through zoos), but chefs are debating how one cooks a camel.

Secretary of Labor William Wilson decides that mere membership in the Communist Labor Party is not sufficient grounds for deportation, unlike the Communist Party, because the former is willing to take power through elections. Palmer’s Justice Department is pissed off at WillWil.

Andrew Walker of Newark, a Christian Scientist, is found guilty of manslaughter for allowing his 9-year-old daughter to die of diphtheria. A Christian Science healer who treated her over the telephone told the court that there’s no such thing as diphtheria. Walker will be fined $1,000

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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Today -100: May 5, 1920: Of collusion, deadlines, carriages, and bluebeards

Dirty-Sounding Headline of the Day -100:

There is a highly plausible rumor that the campaign managers for Hoover, Harding, Hiram Johnson and Lowden have a gentlemen’s agreement to refrain from opposing each other in the primaries, the better to defeat the juggernaut that is Gen. Wood. For example, Harding and Lowden didn’t enter the Maryland primary, giving Johnson room to compete with Wood for the old Progressive/Bull Moose voters. If Wood can arrive at the convention without too many delegates (and most will be uncommitted), the Old Guard can pick a candidate in one of those smoke-filled-rooms you hear so much about.

In California, no one is running for the Democratic nomination for president, so D’s are voting in the R primary. For some reason, it’s assumed they’re voting for Hoover, who nevertheless is trailing well behind Sen. Johnson in the incomplete count.

Mexican Pres. Venustiano Carranza called his remaining generals into council a few days ago. They told him to resign by the 15th or else.

Poor former kaiser Wilhelm puts an ad in the paper to sell his carriages, hunting wagon, horses, and gold-mounted harnesses.

Prolific wife-killer James Watson leads police to the body of one of the 5 wives he has admitted to murdering, 5 miles north of Coyote Wells, California. Hundreds of lookie-loos follow the expedition. Watson issues a statement, which his lawyer would like you to know he had no part in drafting, arguing that his actions prove he is insane, and he was mistreated as a child, and “My every act shows I am to be pitied more than to be blamed.”

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are arrested in Brockton, Massachusetts for a robbery/murder in Boston last month.

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Monday, May 04, 2020

Today -100: May 4, 1920: Of attitudes of neutrality, coins, and sordid endurance tests

The Carranza government loses control of another Mexican state, Juarez. Juarez is not joining the rebellion, just adopting an “attitude of neutrality” until there’s a stable government in Mexico City.

The Senate authorizes a two-cent Teddy Roosevelt coin.

The Dublin Corporation officially recognizes the authority of the Irish Republican Parliament.

Novelist Fannie Hurst (Imitation of Life, etc) announces her wedding to pianist Jacques Danielson, which actually happened 5 years ago but they’ve been keeping it a secret, even from most of their friends. They’ve kept separate apartments because she didn’t want marriage to “lessen my capacity for creative work or pull me down into a sedentary state of fat-mindedness”. She notes that 90% of marriages are “merely sordid endurance tests, overgrown with the fungi of familiarity and contempt [which] in a few months becomes as a breakfast cloth, stale with soft-boiled-egg stains”. They have kept their own friends and meet by appointment.

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Sunday, May 03, 2020

Today -100: May 3, 1920: Of moral leprosy

Pres. Wilson naturally opposes the Republican measure passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to repeal the declarations of war against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Homer Cummings, chairman of the DNC, presumably speaking on behalf of the White House, says it is evidence of the “moral leprosy which is eating out the heart of the Republican Party.”

Some days ago Sinn Féin kidnapped 6 men who had robbed a large sum from bank officers in Cork, presumably intending to extract that money from the robbers for The Cause. They have held a secret court and pronounced the men guilty and will deport them, to where is not revealed, though they offer to hand them over if the bank wants them, but not to any British officials.

The last 35 hunger-striking Sinn Féin prisoners are released from Belfast jail.

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Saturday, May 02, 2020

Today -100: May 2, 1920: Headed off

There were no revolutionary outbreaks, bombings, or assassinations in New York on May Day, which the NYT naturally attributes entirely to the “extraordinary precautionary measures taken by the Federal authorities and the police to hold the forces of disorder in check.” The feds are happy to accept credit. “While the night is not over, it looks as if the expected disturbances had been headed off,” says J. Edgar Hoover.

Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby has a message from Pres. Wilson for the New York Press Club’s dinner: “he is rapidly recovering that vigor of mind that has always been his.” So he’s getting back what he never lost. Got it.

The Sunday NYT has a review of Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color; The Threat Against White World Supremacy.

(he will later write The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-Man [1922], which actually sounds even more racist and introduced the concept of the untermensch, which the Nazis adopted as their own). The book does what it says on the tin, raising fears that the White Man’s day is over, thanks to the Great War and rising non-white birth rates, and advocating ending all non-white immigration (yes, including Jews). He thinks Europeans should pull out of their Asian colonies and defend the racial battlements in Africa and Latin America (which is threatened with takeover by the Japanese, or something). Warren Harding will quote the book approvingly.

The Brooklyn Robins and the Boston Braves play 26 innings, which is still a major league baseball record, before being called on account of darkness. The score is 1-1. “The less hardy of the fans began to show signs of the strain by moving restlessly in their seats and babbling about perpetual motion and eternity.”

Headline of the Day -100:  

No word on how brave the bride was.

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Friday, May 01, 2020

Today -100: May 1, 1920: Object, matrimony

Panicked Headline of the May Day -100: 

Also, this one:

And another one

(A typo in the NYT Index had me pondering what it meant to “forest all radicals” for longer than I care to admit). For some reason, the authorities thought the forestalled radical plan, or part of it, was to shoot a bunch of black people.

But, on the other hand, this headline:

That does sound like Palmer, doesn’t it?

The US hears that Mexican Pres. Venustiano Carranza is going to flee Mexico for the US. Which will probably let him in if he makes it to the border (he won’t). Meanwhile the State Dept authorizes Americans doing business in Sonora and in the other states in rebellion against the federal government to pay taxes and customs duties to those states rather than the feds.

Old Guard Republican congresscritters are trying to boom senator and former secretary of state Philander Knox, because they really don’t like Gen. Wood and they don’t like the League.

Canada would like to have its own ambassador to the United States, rather than having Britain represent its interests.

James Watson aka “James Huirt” among other aliases, confesses to the LAPD to the murders of two of his wives and to having been... present... at the “accidental” deaths of 2 others, both of whom fell out of boats and drowned. He admits to having been married 10 or 20 more times, honestly he can’t even remember them all, even their names, but some of them he didn’t actually kill. He found them by placing classified ads. And this was all in just a few years. He often had several wives on the go at once; he told them he was in the Secret Service and had to be away a lot. His most recent wife got suspicious and hired a PI, who discovered his stash of correspondence, marriage licenses, wills, jewelry, etc. While definitely a con man who  got money from his wives and their families, some of the women he fake-married had no money and some he murdered on impulse. Just liked drowning women, I guess. He won’t be executed because of the deal that resulted in his partial confession. He died in San Quentin in 1939, the full extent of his matrimonial and homicidal career never entirely clear.

The Saturday Evening Post publishes the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.” (text, audio book,

Some quotes, from whenever I last read it:
youth in this jazz-nourished generation is temperamentally restless
At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide.
"Oh, please don't quote `Little Women'!" cried Marjorie impatiently. "That's out of style."

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