Thursday, November 12, 2020

Today -100: November 12, 1920: Of unknown soldiers, home rule, Rapallo, and grateful and contented Haitians

France buries an Unknown Soldier and Britain buries an Unknown Soldier.

The Irish Home Rule Bill passes its 3rd Reading in the House of Commons, with a lot of talk about Armistice Day and reconciliation. Hey, says PM Lloyd George, that unknown soldier might even be Irish (there was no Armistice Day celebration in Dublin, although Belfast had a small, presumably celebratory, riot). Ireland, LG says, “should not in a moment of anger” – a several-hundred-year-long moment – “cast away an inheritance which is as much hers as ours, but join in the empire it helped to build and adorn.” He also claims to have documents proving that Sinn Féin was involved in a German plot in 1918, which he says proves that Britain has to keep complete control of Irish harbors forever. Also, a conscript army in Ireland would be a danger to Britain, and Ireland can’t be permitted a navy either. 

President-Elect Harding gives an Armistice Day speech in Brownsville, Texas. He says the US was not, in fact, fighting to make the world safe for democracy or for humanity’s sake, but only for our national rights (sending ships carrying munitions to one side in a war without getting blowed up, you know, those national rights). I know Woodrow Wilson gave self-righteous idealism a bad odor, but wow.

Italy and Yugoslavia have more or less completed negotiations for a treaty (Rapallo). Italy gives up Dalmatia (Italy already contains more Slavs than it feels comfortable with), Fiume is independent (for now) but contiguous with Italy, Italy gets a bunch of small islands in the Adriatic.

Rear Admiral Harry Knapp, who was sent to Haiti to “investigate” conditions under US occupation (he was the US’s military governor in St. Domingo, so, you know, totally objective). His investigation consisted of going, “unannounced,” to military camps and having commanders invite chosen Haitian citizens to meet him. They all expressed “gratitude” and “contentment.” So that’s okay then.

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