Friday, July 31, 2020

Today -100: July 31, 1920: Of armistices, schemes, death-defying escapes, practically impossible wars, and law-abiding citizens

The Allies tell Poland that they won’t accept any armistice deal between it and Russia that entails the dismemberment of Poland, or a change in Poland’s form of government, or a border less favorable to Poland than the one Lloyd George drew on a map. Hungary has asked permission to reform its army and attack Russia. Hungary may be planning to ally with Latvia, Finland and Romania to go to war with Russia.

The number of Charles Ponzi’s investors wanting their money back seems to have dwindled. The feds will now join the state of Massachusetts in auditing his books, but Ponzi says the secret whereby he made his money will not be discovered that way.

Gen. Cuthbert Henry Tindall Lucas escapes from the Sinn Féin, who kidnapped him in Ireland a month ago. A two-hour gunfight between SFers and some soldiers who picked Lucas up (he ran across a patrol after removing the bars on his window and fleeing into the night) leaves two of the soldiers dead, which is why you shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers. Lucas says he has no complaints about his treatment; he was even allowed to go fishing.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, meeting Unionist members of the Houses of Commons and Lords, suggests, contra Sir Edward Carson’s latest theory, that “we should make a mistake if we came to the conclusion that the Sinn Féin is purely a Bolshevist conspiracy against Great Britain.”

Okuma Shigenobu, the former prime minister of Japan, says a war between Japan and the US is practically impossible.

Negro Edgar Caldwell, an army sergeant, is hanged, publicly, in Anniston, Alabama for the murder of a street car conductor who, with a motorman, attacked Caldwell for sitting in the white section (it’s a pretty clear case of justified self-defense) (I couldn’t find out whether he was in uniform). He gives a speech to the crowd on the dangers of whisky, cigarettes, and... carrying firearms. Unusually, this death sentence took two years to be carried out. The NAACP (which often focused on lynchings and legal lynchings like this against returning black veterans) became involved and the case went up to the Alabama and US Supreme Courts; at one point Pres. Wilson asked for a postponement in order for the Justice Dept to investigate (the state of Alabama naturally ignored him).

A character from two of my earliest Today -100 posts re-emerges. Arthur Everton, hypnotist extraordinaire, is arrested by Dry agents with $6,000 worth of liquor in his Newark apartment, which is located above a saloon. “When asked why he did not work a spell on the agents, Everton replied: ‘I wouldn’t do that. I am a law-abiding citizen.’” We first came across Everton in 1909, when a man died while under his hypnotic spell during a show. Still one of my favorite stories.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Today -100: July 30, 1920: Ethics do not interest me any more than it interests bankers

Ponzi is still returning investors’ money, but says he will soon open an office in New York City because there is still $30 or 40 million to be squeezed from the postal reply coupon scheme, which is definitely a real thing, and there are “difficulties” in New England now. Ponzi says, “I am in the business to make money. Ethics do not interest me any more than it interests bankers.” He makes his profits by the method he uses to cash the coupons, but that method is a secret; “Let the United States find it out if they can.”

The article mentions a rival of Ponzi, the Old Colony Foreign Exchange Company, which also offers a 50% profit in 45 days and is also under investigation. Its president, Charles Brightwell, says it does also trade in postal coupons, but mostly achieves its fabulous return by dealing in “foreign goods.” “He did not care to say what the goods are”. Yeah, this is another, to coin a phrase, Ponzi scheme, and Brightwell’s going down too.

Gen. Ludendorff offers the British to raise an army of 1.5 million to fight Russia in exchange for the return of Posen and the Polish Corridor.

Belgian soldiers demanding a bonus invade the Chamber of Deputies and break stuff.

The Daily News (London) objects to the ban on whistling in Guam imposed by US Gov. William Gilmer: “Not even in Soviet Russia, with its countless limitations, has any human being ever been denied the joyous right of whistling to his heart’s content.” Gilmer really did ban whistling. Also racial inter-marriage, but that was overturned by the Navy (by Franklin Roosevelt, in fact). Gilmer was actually removed from his post earlier this month.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Today -100: July 29, 1920: Of syndicates of money sharks, mayors, femijurors, departures, and telestereography

Charles Ponzi puts a sign outside his offices warning his investors against “syndicates of money sharks” attempting to buy up his notes cheap. “I shall pay everything in full.” He buys hotdogs and coffee for those standing on line to get their money back, which seems to have persuaded many of them not to ask for their money back.

Salt Lake City Mayor Edmund Bock resigns after being caught embezzling, which actually dates back years to when he was city auditor. He’s 32 (or so).  In 3 years he will be accidentally shot dead while duck hunting, as is the custom.

Pancho Villa surrenders, and will retire to his ranch. 600 of his men will get 6 months (12 months?) back pay from the government.  The government says it will protect his life (but not well enough).

Women sit on a British jury for the first time, in the Bristol Quarter Sessions, although at the end of the first day two ask to be excused because they have children, which is granted.

Headline of the Day -100: 

“Invited to depart.”

Invention of the Day -100:  

The inventor thinks telestereography (which the Times spells wrong) will be mostly used for sending financial documents, pictures of wanted criminals, and the like. The picture in this instance was of a little girl, which, well, yeah.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Today -100: July 28, 1920: Of plumbs and conferences

Gov. Coolidge is officially notified of his nomination to the veepship. In his acceptance speech, which spends a lot of time on the need to repress sedition, he calls Harding “wise enough to seek counsel,” which sounds to some like he’s saying sure Harding is dumb but he’s got me to set him straight, much like in 2000 when Bush supporters said sure he’s dumb but he’s surrounded by proper adults like... Cheney and Rumsfeld. The notification takes place at the two-family house in Northampton, Massachusetts, half of which he rents. The doctor who rents the other half, who’s called “Doc” Plumb because of course he is, is plumb tired of people mistaking him for Cal and insisting on shaking his hand. He’s also annoyed that he pays $1 a month more than the governor.

Russia might, after all, be willing to participate in a conference with the Allies, as Lloyd George suggested, after previously insisting on simple bilateral talks with Poland to end their war. But Russia’s response to LG doesn’t even mention Poland, talking instead about working out the differences between Russia and the big powers and, implicitly, their recognition of the Soviet government. France is being less than helpful, as is the custom, with PM Alexandre Millerand insisting that the US should also take part and saying he doesn’t want to talk to the Bolsheviks about anything except Poland.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Today -100: July 27, 1920: Of Ponzi schemes, Mannix!, and macaroni

Headline of the Day -100:

This seems to be the NYT’s first mention of Ponzi, following an exposé in the Boston Post yesterday, just two days after a puff piece in the same paper. Charles Ponzi’s scam, the Securities Exchange Company, promised to increase investment in it by 50% in 45 days by exploiting currency differences between the US and Italy. The Post demonstrated that the total number of international postal reply coupons in circulation was a fraction of the number necessary for the profits Ponzi was claiming. The district attorney suggested, and Ponzi agreed, to stop accepting new investors until an auditor is brought in to see that everything’s kosher.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George will ban Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne from England (and definitely from Ireland), because of his speeches advocating Irish and indeed Australian independence.

Police and firemen prevent a lynching in... New York City, stopping a mob attacking a driver who’d run over someone.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Today -100: July 26, 1920: Normal

For a change of pace, the good people of Fayetteville, West Virginia lynch a white man, William Bennet Jr (well, admittedly I’m assuming he’s white, because his father was a judge), who was convicted of murdering his wife after pleading guilty.

In Newport, County Tipperary, a woman’s hair is cut off as punishment for “keeping company” with a cop. In retaliation, police and soldiers burn the houses of suspected Sinn Féiners. In Belfast, the death toll from factional fighting is up to 17. There are some disturbances in Derry, “but the training of machine guns on the disturbed streets brought the situation back to normal.”

H.L. Mencken pens an editorial in today’s Baltimore Sun. It’s famous for the last paragraph, but is worth reproducing at greater length:

It seems to be quite impossible for any wholly literate man to pump up any genuine enthusiasm for either of them [Harding and Cox]. Each, of course, is praised lavishly by the professional politicians of his own party, and compared to Lincoln, Jefferson and Cleveland by the surviving hacks of the party press, but in the middle ground, among men who care less for party success than for the national dignity, there is a gone feeling in the stomach, with shooting pains down the legs. The Liberals, in particular, seem to be suffering badly. They discover that Harding is simply a third-rate political wheel-horse, with the face of a moving-picture actor, the intelligence of a respectable agricultural implement dealer, and the imagination of a lodge joiner, and that Cox is no more than a provincial David Harum [a character in the novel by Edward Noyes Westcott of the same name] with a gift for bamboozling the boobs. 
These verdicts, it seems to me, are substantially just. No one but an idiot would argue seriously that either candidate is a first-rate man, or even a creditable specimen of second-rate man. Any State in the Union, at least above the Potomac, could produce a thousand men quite as good, and many States could produce a thousand a great deal better. Harding, intellectually, seems to be merely a benign blank – a decent, harmless, laborious, hollow-headed mediocrity perhaps comparable to the late Harrington, of Maryland [the last governor]. Cox is quicker of wit, but a good deal less honest. He belongs to the cunning type; there is a touch of the shyster in him. His chicaneries in the matter of prohibition, both during the convention and since, show the kink in his mind. He is willing to do anything to cadge votes, and he includes in that anything the ready sacrifices of his good faith, of the national welfare, and of the hopes and confidence of those who honestly support him. Neither candidate reveals the slightest dignity of conviction. Neither cares a hoot for any discernible principle. Neither, in any intelligible sense, is a man of honor. 
...The first and last aim of the politician is to get votes, and the safest of all ways to get votes is to appear to the plain man to be a plain man like himself, which is to say, to appear to him to be happily free from any heretical treason to the body of accepted platitudes-to be filled to the brim with the flabby, banal, childish notions that challenge no prejudice and lay no burden of examination upon the mind. 
It is not often, in these later days of the democratic enlightenment, that positive merit lands a man in elective office in the United States; much more often it is a negative merit that gets him there. That negative merit is simply disvulnerability. Of the two candidates, that one wins who least arouses the suspicions and distrusts of the great masses of simple men. Well, what are more likely to arouse those suspicions and distrusts than ideas, convictions, principles? The plain people are not hostile to shysterism, save it be gross and unsuccessful. ... 
It seems to me that this fear of ideas is a peculiarly democratic phenomenon, and that it is nowhere so horribly apparent as in the United States, perhaps the nearest approach to an actual democracy yet seen in the world. It was Americans who invented the curious doctrine that there is a body of doctrine in every department of thought that every good citizen is in duty bound to accept and cherish; it was Americans who invented the right-thinker. The fundamental concept, of course, was not original. The theologians embraced it centuries ago, and continue to embrace it to this day. It appeared on the political side in the Middle Ages, and survived in Russia into our time. But it is only in the United States that it has been extended to all departments of thought. It is only here that any novel idea, in any field of human relations, carries with it a burden of obnoxiousness, and is instantly challenged as mysteriously immoral by the great masses of right-thinking men. It is only here, so far as I have been able to make out, that there is a right way and a wrong way to think about the beverages one drinks with one’s meals, and the way children ought to be taught in the schools, and the manner in which foreign alliances should be negotiated, and what ought to be done about the Bolsheviki. 
In the face of this singular passion for conformity, this dread of novelty and originality, it is obvious that the man of vigorous mind and stout convictions is gradually shouldered out of public life. He may slide into office once or twice, but soon or late he is bound to be held up, examined and incontinently kicked out. This leaves the field to the intellectual jelly-fish and inner tubes. There is room for two sorts of them – first, the blank cartridge who has no convictions at all and is willing to accept anything to make votes, and, secondly, the mountebank who is willing to conceal and disguise what he actually believes, according as the wind blows hot or cold. Of the first sort, Harding is an excellent specimen; of the second sort, Cox. 
Such tests arise inevitably out of democracy – the domination of unreflective and timorous men, moved in vast herds by mob emotions. In private life no man of sense would think of applying them. We do not estimate the integrity and ability of an acquaintance by his flabby willingness to accept our ideas; we estimate him by the honesty and effectiveness with which he maintains his own. All of us, if we are of reflective habit, like and admire men whose fundamental beliefs differ radically from our own. But when a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental – men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack, or count himself lost. His one aim is to disarm suspicion, to arouse confidence in his orthodoxy, to avoid challenge. If he is a man of convictions, of enthusiasm, of self-respect, it is cruelly hard. But if he is, like Harding, a numskull like the idiots he faces, or, like Cox, a pliant intellectual Jenkins [No idea who that is, sorry], it is easy. 
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre – the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. 
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
“Moron,” by the way, was a recently coined word, not yet widely used. At a congressional hearing on immigration in April a witness had to explain (and spell) the term for a congressman unfamiliar with it.

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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Today -100: July 25, 1920: Of cease-fires, police riots, and lightning

Russia agrees to, and begins, the cease-fire that Poland asked for.

Lenin tells the Third International that the world economic crisis and the failure of the League of Nations to unite the capitalist countries is contributing to Communism. The International votes to call for a boycott of Poland.

Police and soldiers attack the town of Kilmalloch, County Limerick, shooting up the town, beating people up, breaking windows, and setting fires, as was the custom.

There’s a weird amount of lightning news in today’s paper. Lightning kills a baseball player in Georgia, two threshers in Missouri, and a bunch of cows in Orange County, New York. A thunder and lightning storm causes New Yorkers to collectively lose 15 million hours of sleep. On the other hand, a lightning bolt hits an oil well in Olean, NY that had previously not been producing and ignited a gas pocket, indicating the presence of crude oil.

Christian X of Denmark falls off a horse.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Today -100: July 24, 1920: Of armistices, pogroms, and riots

Poland begs Russia for an armistice.

The Polish prime minister (the article doesn’t name him and Poland just changed PMs, so I’m guessing the old one, Grabski) meets with Jewish leaders to ask for their support. They suggest he stop the pogroms and the anti-Semitism.

More rioting (and looting) in Belfast. Orange clubs plan to organize patrols to “assist” the military and police. The army uses machine guns. The UK cabinet is divided over how to deal with Ireland. Lloyd George is willing to give it everything except a republic, while the Tories, naturally, want martial law and a military response.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Today -100: July 23, 1920: Be Americans first to all the world

William Jennings Bryan declines the Prohibition Party presidential nomination. He says he is not willing to sever connections with the Democratic Party, although he’s not sure if he’ll vote for Cox. So the convention nominates Aaron Watkins instead. Like Cox and Harding, he’s from Ohio. The Anti-Saloon League won’t endorse any presidential candidate.

In his acceptance speech, Warren G. Harding promises peace by a simple Congressional declaration. Key phrases: “Preserved nationality.” “Stabilize and strive for normalcy.” “Be Americans first to all the world.” There isn’t a lot of the trademark Harding alliteration, though he does “promise the prevention of unreasonable profits.” He calls for federal laws against lynching.

Harding meets a delegation from the National Woman’s Party and expresses his “ernest desire” for ratification of the federal women’s suffrage Amendment. They say that’s not good enough.

Rioting in Belfast.

Headline of the Day -100:

The chief secretary for Ireland, Sir Hamar Greenwood, for whom every problem, and indeed every Irish person, is a nail, tells Parliament that he’ll be asking for new laws to stop funds going to republican local councils and to set up new tribunals to replace courts (and the jury system).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Today -100: July 22, 1920: Welease Bwyan!

The Prohibition Party national convention nominates William Jennings Bryan for president by acclaim. Bryan had already made it clear that he doesn’t want it. Billy Sunday had also rejected the nomination, saying he’s satisfied with Harding.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Today -100: July 21, 1920: He must know the nation

Franklin Roosevelt criticizes Harding’s front-porch approach to campaigning, calling it un-democratic. “[I]t is just as important for the candidates to get in touch with the United States as it is for voters to have a chance to see and hear them. No man having the viewpoint merely of Ohio, or Massachusetts, or New York, is fitted to be president or vice president. He must know the nation.” And hey, guess who’s already visited all 48 states?

The Olympic Committee refuses to let Ireland participate as a separate nation. Irish athletes refuse to compete under the British flag.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford are mobbed when visiting the Paris Central Markets (Les Halles, I presume). “Mary was rescued by three hefty butchers, who shoved her into a meat cage and locked the door to keep the crowd from her.” Sure.... rescued....  And to prove that life in the 1920s really was exactly as depicted in the movies of the period: “A fat woman dressed in green silk stumbled and fell into a crate of eggs.”

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Today -100: July 20, 1920: Of cork night terrors, non-lynchings, and slappeys

Russia responds to Britain’s offer to facilitate peace talks between Poland and Russia by telling the Brits, who for some reason they don’t consider neutral arbiters, to butt out.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Also in Cork, of 296 jurors called for the Court of Assizes, only 12 show up after Sinn Féin orders them not to attend the “English court.”

Those National Guard machine-gunners sent to Graham, North Carolina to prevent a lynching actually open fire on a lynch mob, killing one and wounding two. Wow.

What Not To See:

Based on Cohen’s short stories in the Saturday Evening Post about bumbling black detective Florian Slappey, it is “distinctly a negro comedy for white folks”.  “The cast is scrupulously defined on the program as ‘the white players,’ lest there be any mistake about it.”

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

Today -100: July 19, 1920: You are in sight, so prepare

Cox & Roosevelt meet Woodrow Wilson at the White House. Cox promises WW to fully carry out Wilson’s promises about the League of Nations. Wilson also issues a statement, saying he & Cox are “absolutely at one” on the League. Cox says he was “most agreeably surprised” at how well Wilson was.

Former prince Joachim, the youngest (29) son of former kaiser Wilhelm, commits suicide. He was divorced and broke, possibly because of his gambling. The official line is that he was suffering from “a fit of excessive dementia,” which is the worst kind of dementia. I’d forgotten that early in the war Wilhelm named him king of Lithuania, which never took. He also composed marches, including “With God for King and Country,” which I’m sure is a real toe-tapper, or goose-stepper or something. The Hohenzollerns want to cover up the nature of his death, but the authorities refuse to cooperate.

Col. Gerald Smyth, a divisional commissioner of the Royal Irish Constabulary, is shot dead by an IRA hit squad in the Cork & County Club. Last month he told constables to shoot anyone with their hands in their pockets or who otherwise looked suspicious – “You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped and you are bound to get the right persons sometimes. The more you shoot the better I will like you” – the majority of cops then resigned. According to one account, one of the gunmen said “Were not your orders to shoot at sight? Well, you are in sight, so prepare.”

Eugene Debs, imprisoned Socialist Party candidate for president, is refusing to be interviewed by reporters, for some reason.

Jack Dempsey says he is willing, after all, to box a black boxer, if there’s a public demand for it. He blames the previous statement that he wouldn’t on his manager. He explains: “I need the money.”

North Carolina Gov. Thomas Bickett sends a National Guard machine gun company to the town of Graham to protect 3 black prisoners from potential lynch mobs, with orders to “shoot and shoot straight” if necessary. Wikipedia says Graham was the site of a Klan lynching of one Wyatt Outlaw, the first black town commissioner and constable, in 1870.

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Today -100: July 18, 1920: Of escapes and ulimata

Béla Kun, the ousted Hungarian dictator, and other prisoners escape from the train taking them from Vienna to Russia. They still intend to go to Russia, they just didn’t think it was safe to travel through Czechoslovakia.

The Allies respond to the Turkish request for changes in the peace treaty with an ultimatum, as was the custom, to accept it by the 27th or the Allies will respond by “ejecting the Turks from Europe once and for all.”

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Today -100: July 17, 1920: Of clubs and fiery court houses

Warren Harding refuses to, as his secretary puts it, “wield a club” to get Connecticut Gov. Holcomb to call a special session of the Legislature to pass the federal women’s suffrage Amendment.

The Buncrana (County Donegal) court house, at which the trial of Sinn Féin MP Joseph O’Doherty for raising funds for the Irish Parliament was due to start, mysteriously burns down, as was the custom. Also the Burnfoot court house, where it was originally scheduled.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Today -100: July 16, 1920: Of booze cruises, liars and grifters, mail, and life-jackets

The Americas Cup is going on. It has what I imagine is an unusually high number of spectators this year, a combination of prohibition and international waters.

The Rev. Purley Baker, president of the Anti-Saloon League (whose name the NYT spells wrong), calls its executive to meet to decide how to fuck over Gov. James Cox, who once called Baker “a liar and a grafter.”

50 Sinn Féiners raid the Dublin General Post Office, as was the custom, and grab all the governments mail.

A life-jacket from the Lusitania, “bearing a strand of faded blonde hair,” surfaces in the Delaware River.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Today -100: July 15, 1920: Of readjusting the affairs of civilization

Headline of the Day -100: 

Harding asks Republicans in the Tennessee and North Carolina legislatures to vote for ratification of the federal Amendment and “don’t worry who gets the credit for putting it over.” He thinks the Republican party is getting insufficient credit for its role in suffrage, noting that of the 35 states which have ratified the Amendment so far, 29 are Republican, while 6 Democratic and 1 Republican state legislature have rejected it (he’s ignoring the Republican governors who refused to call their legislatures into session, most recently Percival Clement of Vermont).

Gov. James Cox says his campaign will be dedicated to bringing “peace with honor” and “readjusting the affairs of civilization.” He accuses Harding of wanting to live 30 years in the past, which no kidding.

The new Farmer-Labor Party nominates Parley Christensen, a Utah lawyer who defended the first Wobbly prosecuted in Utah. He beat out Dudley Field Malone for the nomination after Robert La Follette’s son informed the convention he would not run under the party’s radical platform. 

The British government has taken to firing Irish railway workers who refuse to work on trains carrying munitions or soldiers, causing increasing labor shortages and delays. Also, when 5 workers do agree to work on those trains, they’re abducted by Sinn Féin.

Germany agrees to deliver 2 million tons of coal per month (about 20% of Germany’s total output), following Allied threats to occupy the Ruhr (French PM Millerand also wanted to occupy Hamburg).

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Today -100: July 14, 1920: Of strikes, coups, twenty-odd wars, and dominant races

Britain’s Trades Union Congress votes in favor of strikes against the manufacture of munitions intended for use against Russia or Ireland (the actual strike decisions will be made by the individual unions).

There’s a coup in Bolivia, as was the custom. The Times thinks it’s about the question of where a seaport should be.

Warren G. Harding says FDR’s acceptance of the League of Nations as the paramount issue of the campaign shows that Wilson is forcing the League on his party. If the Democrats win, he says, the US would join the League and become “at once a party to the twenty-odd wars now going on in the world.” In other words, Harding is happy to accept that this election be a referendum on joining the League, and he would also prefer to ignore Cox and run against Wilson.

The Soviets capture Minsk.

An article about complaints made by the Japanese government about discrimination against Japanese people in California explains that it’s not really about race but economics: “The physical attributes of the Japanese settlers, together with radical differences in their customs, and manner of living, preclude competition with them in the economic field by the white races in California, enabling the Japanese to accomplish more work at lower living cost than the native inhabitants of the State. This economic advantage, coupled with the high rate of reproduction, which prevails among the Japanese people, it is now realized, must render it a matter of decades before the Japanese, at their present rate of progress, will supplant the white race as the dominant element in the population of California.” Gov. William Stephens sent a letter to Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby pointing out the rise in the Japanese population and asking the federal government to do something about immigration.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

Today -100: July 13, 1920: Of campaigns, special sessions, coal, states of fatigue, machinations, and discrimination

Cox and Roosevelt plan to campaign in every state, with FDR focusing on the West. FDR says he sees the League of Nations as the dominant issue of the campaign. One problem: he’s stuck in his day job as assistant secretary of the Navy until Secretary Daniels returns next month from a cruise in Alaska.

Vermont Gov. Percival Clement (R) refuses to call the Legislature into special session to ratify the federal women’s suffrage Amendment. He’s not so much against suffrage as he is against any federal amendment being passed without a referendum, which the Supreme Court ruled out earlier this year. Alice Paul and other suffragists blame Harding for not pushing Clement on this. Harding claims to be disappointed.

Another day, another ultimatum at the Spa Conference, where Germany is given until 3 pm tomorrow to agree to deliver 2 million tons of coal a month.

French President Paul Deschanel has “suffered a new relapse into a state of fatigue,” which is French for barking mad. They’re thinking it might be time to create an office of vice president. Deschanel will be unable to officiate at the Bastille Day parade, which is pretty much the only thing the president of France had to do during the Third Republic.

Sir Edward Carson warns that if the government doesn’t “protect us from the machinations of Sinn Féin,” they will organize to protect themselves. The British poured soldiers into Northern Ireland to guard the July 12th Orange parades precisely in order not to give the Ulsterites an excuse to organize paramilitary forces.

With complaints from Japan about a November California referendum to restrict Japanese leasing of land (ownership is already banned), the NYT editorializes that there are two sides to the issue: on the one hand, such restrictions are discriminatory and humiliating; on the other hand, “the people of California are opposed to any increase in the Japanese population”. So hard to balance those two perfectly legitimate sentiments.

The Japanese Diet rejects women’s suffrage.

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Today -100: July 12, 1920: I fail to see where that contrivance can in any way be associated with art

A German newspaper reports that Prince Heinrich of Prussia, Wilhelm’s brother, was killed by a gang of field laborers. No.

Actual deaths: some guy who went over Niagra Falls in a barrel, as was the custom. A specially designed barrel, too. Tomorrow it will be reported that while his body is not recovered, there is a “severed arm thought to be his.”

And Empress (50 years ago) Eugénie of France, widow of Emperor Napoleon III, dead at 94.

The Canadian province of New Brunswick votes to retain wartime prohibition.

The warden at Sing Sing refuses an artist’s request to be allowed to paint the electric chair. “I fail to see where that contrivance can in any way be associated with art.”

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Today -100: July 11, 1920: Cox above Harding is also a common PornHub search term

Headline of the Day -100: 

They point out that while Harding currently supports women’s suffrage, he has an uninterested and uneven history on the subject.

The NYT mentions an editorial by Henry Ford in his Dearborn Independent, which it thinks was published today but will actually be delayed until next week, denouncing both parties. The Republican Convention, Ford says, “was openly and shamelessly dominated” by big business, the Democratic Convention by the whisky business. He calls for a “citizens’ party,” presumably with himself as the candidate. I’m not sure why this article was bumped from this issue of the weekly; perhaps to make room to ask this vital question

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Friday, July 10, 2020

Today -100: July 10, 1920: Of disarmament, parallel courts, and surrenders

The German delegates at the Spa Conference accept the disarmament ultimatum, subject to a vote in the Reichstag, which the Germans insist is required under the Weimar Constitution because the Allied threat to occupy the Ruhr in event of non-compliance is an alteration of the Versailles Treaty (Lloyd George disagrees that it is). Then the two sides bitch at each other about war crimes trials, which Germany would be happy to hold, they say, but their judges have failed to find sufficient evidence in even a single case. Also the lists provided by the Allies misspelled a lot of names. And some of them have moved.

Even Unionists are using the Sinn Féin courts, since the official Crown courts no longer have any authority.  Sinn Féin has also been setting pub closing hours and keeping order at race tracks.

The Mexican government rejects Pancho Villa’s peace offer, but if he wants to surrender unconditionally, that’d be swell.

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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Today -100: July 9, 1920: Of disarmament, taxes, suffrage, and, I don’t know, irony or something

The Allies give Germany a 6-month delay in fulfilling the disarmament provisions of the Versailles Treaty, but Germany must disarm the security police, ask the public to surrender all weapons, immediately abolish conscription, and surrender guns and cannon above the treaty limit.

The Dublin County Council orders its officials to provide no information to the British income tax people, but give it only to the Republican Parliament.

The Louisiana Legislature adjourns without passing women’s suffrage, either by ratifying the federal Amendment as Cox asked for, or by passing a (whites-only, naturally) state measure.

A meeting protesting discriminatory anti-Japanese laws in California is held in Hiroshima.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Today -100: July 8, 1920: Of lost rifles, duties to the Democratic Party, lynchings, and bowling

Germany asks the Spa Conference for a 15-month delay in reducing its army below 100,000, citing the threat of Bolshevism. The Allies say no. Also, Germany says it doesn’t know where all those rifles the Allies want handed over actually are. Lloyd George says it’s inconceivable that Germany just allows those rifles to be in the hands of general members of the public against the will of the government. German Foreign Minister Walter Simons reminds him that that’s also the case in a part of the British Empire (i.e., Ireland). Also, he says, we need a larger army to disarm the civilians.

One of the first things Gov. James Cox does as nominee is to ask Louisiana to ratify the women’s suffrage Amendment “as a duty to the Democratic Party”.

And vice presidential nominee Franklin Roosevelt... goes back to his job in the Navy Department.

The US lifts its restrictions on exports to Russia (other than munitions), the State Dept making it very clear that this does not entail recognition of the Soviet government. Passports for travel to Russia won’t be issued, nor mail to Russia accepted.

A black man is lynched in Roxboro, North Carolina, in a churchyard.

Pancho Villa agrees surrender terms with the Mexican government.

Headline of the Day -100: 

What to Watch, If You Have a Time Machine: the premiere of F.W. Murnau’s The Hunchback and the Dancer (Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin), a lost film.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Today -100: July 7, 1920: Make the best of it

William Jennings Bryan for one is not happy with the nomination of a Wet, especially after the defeat of a bone-dry plank. “My heart is in the grave with our cause,” he says. Might he run for president under the Prohibition Party label?

The Democratic National Convention follows up the endless 44 ballots it took to choose Cox by taking just a few minutes in choosing his running mate, Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt. The choice seems to have been more that of the party leaders (the Tammany machine, with which FDR was often at odds when he was in the NY State Senate) than of Cox, who was consulted by phone.

William Gibbs McAdoo claims he’s “greatly relieved and delighted” not to have received the nomination.

Cox plans an extensive speaking tour, eschewing Harding’s front-porch approach. Maybe his front porch just isn’t as nice as Harding’s.

At the Spa Conference, the Poles ask for aid from the Allies to fight the Russian Bolsheviks, and are turned down flat, Lloyd George advising them to make peace – did he actually tell them to “make the best of it” or is that a paraphrase, I wonder?

Headline of the Day -100:  

Two black men accused of killing their landlord are burned at the stake in Paris, Texas. The sheriff thinks the landlord was actually killed by two other people.

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Monday, July 06, 2020

Today -100: July 6, 1920: Normal men and back to normality

The Democratic National Convention takes ballots #23 to 36 during Monday’s day session. McAdoo gains strength, surpassing Cox on the 30th ballot, and retains his lead thereafter, although the shifts in votes between ballots are minor. Several motions to break the deadlock by dropping the bottom candidate all lose. The convention reconvenes at night and finally nominates James Middleton Cox on the 44th ballot at 1:39 a.m.

On the 33th ballot, one vote is cast for Laura Clay, a Kentucky suffragist and a delegate, the first such vote for a woman. The second, 3 ballots later, went to another Kentuckihoovian, Cora Wilson Stewart. Ring Lardner gets half a vote from Missouri on one of the ballots.

Warren G. Harding gives his first speech as Republican candidate for president, from his front porch to a crowd of Marionaires, as Wikipedia tells me the residents of Marion, Ohio are styled (the article calls them Marionites). He says government needs “normal men and back to normality” rather than one-man government by “the superman,” a clear insult to Kryptonian-Americans. He also talks about restoring two-party politics. In other words, he’s downplaying his own future role in a very un-Trumpian manner.

The conference in Spa, Belgium, opens and goes badly from the start. The German delegates, including Chancellor Constantin Fehrenbach, want to discuss economic matters (reparations) before moving on to disarmament, and just to make sure of that they didn’t bring along the defense minister or the military chief. The Allies, especially France, tell them that disarmament must come first and end the session abruptly, telling them to come back tomorrow with those personages. There is some talk that French PM Alexandre Millerand was tricked, that in conceding that there be negotiations with Germany, rather than ultimatums as has been the policy until now, he accepted the possibility of a revision of the terms of the Versailles Treaty.

Black postal clerk James Spencer, who stabbed a white fellow worker on a mail car in Mississippi, is lynched.

Hungary’s minister of education orders high schools to limit Jewish students to 25% of total students, down from the current 50%.

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Sunday, July 05, 2020

Today -100: July 5, 1920: Of mutinies, bryans, and train wrecks

A battalion of the Irish Connaught Rangers stationed in the Punjab mutinies after receiving the news from Ireland.

Former three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan names 9 people he’d be willing to support for the nomination. None of them are actually running. He says any candidate must be Dry, a supporter of women’s suffrage, and against Wall Street.

Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin Roosevelt, in the New York delegation, is supporting McAdoo against very strong Tammany opposition, although over the course of 22 ballots he has also voted for Cox and Amb. John Davis. He’s trying to avoid offending any side which might oppose him running for the US Senate in November.

19 people are killed in a train wreck in Pittston, Pennsylvania, evidently caused by lightning.

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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Today -100: July 4, 1920: And went there up from the San Francisco Civic Auditorium a chant of “We want Cox!”

The Democratic National Convention holds ballots 3 to 22. There is a more or less steady “drift to Cox” (if your drift to Cox lasts longer than four hours, consult a physician), passing McAdoo on the 12th ballot, but no one is getting close to the necessary 2/3. Vice President Whatsisname drops out after the 15th ballot. Delegates who’d hoped to go home by now realize they’ll still be here Monday (no convention on Sunday). Various telegrams are sent to the White House asking Pres. Wilson to help break the impasse, but response comes there none.

New York City Board of Education President Anning Prall tells the Rotary Club that “Americanizing” the children of immigrants isn’t enough, there needs to be compulsory Americanization of adults as well.

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Friday, July 03, 2020

Today -100: July 3, 1920: Don’t eat the dynamite

The Democratic National Convention’s first two ballots are both led by William Gibbs McAdoo, followed by A. Mitchell Palmer, James Cox, and Al Smith. No one’s even close to 2/3 at this stage. There were 21 candidates, some of whom got just half a vote, which has to be embarrassing.

The closed-door-produced, avoid-all-controversies platform is adopted by the convention, with all amendments voted down.

The Allies decide that Germany owes £6 billion in reparations (plus interest), to be paid at £150 million per year for 5 years, then increasing to £250 million. Now the Allies are squabbling over the division of that money. Italy wants 20%, which is ridiculous.

The Belgian parliament votes down women’s suffrage.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Today -100: July 2, 1920: There is no law, no order, and there is no punishment for crime

The Democratic convention is running behind schedule, thanks to booze. That is, battles over the prohibition issue are delaying the behind-closed-doors working out of the party platform, while the delegates on the floor amuse themselves singing “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny” and “I Love You California,” which unlike the former has no racist lyrics at all, and then another few dozen songs before realizing that they’re not going to get any actual work done. At 4 a.m. the Resolutions Committee decides to make no mention of prohibition either way. William Jennings Bryan plans to have a floor fight on the subject. Decisions were also made for a weak-tea expression of “sympathy” for Ireland; to oppose cash bonuses for war veterans, described as putting “patriotism on a pecuniary basis”; for ratifying the League of Nations covenant without reservations; for rejecting Pres. Wilson’s hope for acceptance of a mandate over Armenia; and against establishing a Dept. of Education.

Some more presidential candidates are nominated: Sen. F.M. Simmons of NC, Sen. Carter Glass of Virginia, Amb. John Davis, and Francis Burton Harrison, the governor-general of the Philippines.

New York Gov. Al Smith “went to a leather store to buy sets of pony harness for his children”. Going into a leather store to buy a pony harness probably meant something very different in the San Francisco of 1920 than it does today. Probably.

McAdoo keeps refusing to answer reporters asking if he’d accept the nomination.

Sen. Harding meets Vermont Gov. Percival Clement and maybe persuades him to call a special session of the Legislature to vote on the federal women’s suffrage Amendment (which Clement personally opposes), although this is more hinted at than stated.

The self-styled Irish Parliament sets up a court system. The official British court system is having a little problem: none of the accused are showing up in court. The Lord Justice complains, “There is no law, no order, and there is no punishment for crime.”

China expresses regret that one of its warlords killed an American missionary.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Today -100: July 1, 1920: We know that this is a convention in the open

10 candidates for president are nominated at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco: Gov. James Cox of Ohio, Gov. Al Smith of NY, William Gibbs McAdoo (who asked that his name not be put to the convention and went to bed before he was nominated anyway; his supporters give assurances that he’s willing to be drafted), Gov. Edward Edwards of NJ, Attorney Gen. A. Mitchell Palmer, Ag Sec Edwin Meredith, Sen. Gilbert Hitchcock (Neb.), Sen. Robert Owen (Oklahoma), James Gerard, and Homer Cummings. There will be more nominating speeches for yet more candidates tomorrow. Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin Roosevelt, seconding Al Smith’s nomination, says “We know he has been a governor in the open. We know that this is a convention in the open. We know that the nomination at this convention will not be made at 2 a.m. in a hotel room.”

The July issue of Pictorial Review begins serializing Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence.

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