Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Today -100: April 13, 1921: Of world-governing super-powers, charms, lawful sovereigns, secret treaties, and peonage


Harding gives his first State of the Union address. “He wore a dark morning coat that fitted him well.” He’s still talking about forming a non-political association of nations “based upon the application of justice and right, binding us in conference and cooperation for the prevention of war and pointing the way to higher civilization and international fraternity,” which he has to know won’t happen. He says that with “the existing League of Nations, world-governing with its super-powers, this republic will have no part.” He will have Congress declare a “technical peace” with Germany. US occupation troops in the Coblenz region will remain, because they are there under the terms of the armistice of 11/11/18 rather than the Treaty of Versailles.

He says “Congress ought to wipe the stain of barbaric lynching from the banners of a free and orderly, representative democracy.” Spoiler Alert: It won’t. He doesn’t say a thing about racial voter suppression but does suggest... wait for it... a commission “embracing representatives of both races” to discuss the subject of race. Both races. Fortunately there were only two, evidently, which should make it easier. This part of the speech was greeted by “applause and then silence.”

The NYT provides a guide to presidential pronunciation, comparing how Harding pronounces words like either, personnel, maintained etc with how Wilson pronounced them.

Headline of the Day -100:  


The Hungarian government, while asking Switzerland to allow former emperor Charles to live there permanently, says it considers him Hungary’s lawful sovereign.

IRAers shoot military horses and mules, in separate incidents suggesting this is a new tactic. That’s one way to hamper military activity, and this blog does not approve.

Italy has a secret treaty with the Turkish nationalists, signed last month, to support them in their war with Greece, despite Italy being a signatory of the Treaty of Sèvres, which Greece is fighting to enforce. By “secret treaty,” I mean Italy didn’t inform the other Allies of its existence.

A superintendent and 3 foremen of the Southern Construction Company, which is building the Lee Highway in Tennessee, are arrested by federal agents for violating peonage laws by forcing 75 black men to work on the project. One described how he was beaten with a pine board after trying to escape. “The Government has forced the defendants to release every negro in the camp with the exception of the cook.” 

Sen. Ralph Cameron (R-Arizona) is sued by a man for alienation of affection. Cameron responds that Mrs. McFarlin was not married to the plaintiff at the time and that under AZ law the case is past the statute of limitations.

Proposed bills before the 67th Senate include: a Bonus for veterans, a ban on railroad strikes, racial segregation in D.C. street cars, recognition of Irish independence, a federal sales tax, forgiving British war debts in exchange for its West Indian colonies, ditto for the French Antilles, a two-cent Teddy Roosevelt coin, purchasing Baja California from Mexico, and banning foreign-language periodicals without English translations in parallel columns.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Today -100: April 12, 1921: Of distinguished kisses, crackatoos, cows, and smoking in Iowa


The NY State Senate steamrolls through a bill for movie censorship, with only Republican votes in favor. A censorship board can ban films which are “obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, sacrilegious or of such character that their exhibition would tend to corrupt morals or incite to crime.” Inhuman? Sen. John Boylan (D) notes that the board would have the job of standardizing the screen kiss. “Should it last a minute or only thirty seconds to pass muster,” he asks. And should it distinguish between kisses between a mother and her son, a wife and a husband returning from war or from a long trip. Jimmy Walker accuses Sen. Clayton Lusk, the originator of the bill, of being only a step beyond the crackatoo who wants a 20th Amendment abolishing religious liberty. I only include that remark because of the word “crackatoo,” which is new to me. Walker also uses the word bunk, which outside the columns of Charles Pierce is too seldom seen these days.

The former kaiserin of Germany, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, Wilhelm’s wife, dies at 62.

Headline of the Day -100:  



Georgia plantation owner John Williams is indicted for the murders of 8 more of his black peonage workers. Also indicted are his 3 sons and the black employee who carried out some of the murders on Williams’ orders. The sons are in the wind.

Cigarettes are legalized in Iowa.

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Today -100: April 11, 1921: Of pumping and plebiscites


The British government gets the coal miners to agree to allow pumping to resume during the strike, although not before a bunch of mines are flooded.

There’s a plebiscite scheduled for two weeks from now in the Tyrol region of Austria on annexation to Germany, called by the local Tyrolohoovian authorities, and France is really really opposed to it happening. As is the Austrian federal government, if it comes to that.

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Today -100: April 10, 1921: In which is revealed who are the hope of the future


Georgia plantation owner John Williams is found guilty of the murder of one of the 11 (or possibly 14) blacks he kept in peonage and then, you know, murdered. The jury recommends mercy. Since he left corpses strewn over two counties, the grand jury in the other one, Jasper County, is likely to recommend prosecution.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Limerick fight > opera fire > rap battle.

Amidst violent clashes in various Italian cities between Socialists and Fascists, the latter issue a manifesto: “We offer our enthusiasm and faith and the spirit of sacrifice, which beautifies life and renders death sacred. Rally around us. We are the hope of the future. Who is not with us is against us.”

Headline of the Day -100:  


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Friday, April 09, 2021

Today -100: April 9, 1921: Of course all that cheese has an atmosphere, that’s just science


Russia absorbs White Russia (Belarus).

Former Astronomer Royal Sir William Christie says the moon has an atmosphere.

Albert Einstein (and Chaim Weizmann) are finally given the freedom of New York City, despite continuing objections from Alderman Bruce Falconer, who calls Einstein an enemy alien (he thinks he’s a German citizen).

Jackie Coogan, the 6-year-old co-star of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, is to sign a new contract increasing his salary from $62,400 a year to $300,000.

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Thursday, April 08, 2021

Today -100: April 8, 1921: Of peonage murder, gentleman thieves, and Bens-Hur


John Williams, the Georgia plantation owner on trial for the murder of one of 11 black workers, takes the stand as the sole witness for the defense. He is not sworn in, so he can’t be cross-examined. Let me repeat that: he is now sworn in, so he cannot be cross-examined. He blames his black employee Clyde Manning, who has testified against him. Williams says he might have been “technically” guilty of peonage, but so are most Georgia farmers.

E.W. Hornung, the creator of Raffles, the gentleman thief and cricket player, dies at 54. He was married to Arthur Conan Doyle’s sister Constance. Hornung, not Raffles.

German anti-Semitic leader Rudolph Leibus is fined $16 in a Berlin court for offering a reward for the murders of, among others, Albert Einstein.

The film rights to the 1880 novel Ben-Hur are purchased for a record $1 million by Abraham Erlanger, the producer of the stage version, Charles Dillingham,s and Flo Ziegfeld. They plan to shoot in Jerusalem and Syria. However next year they’ll resell the rights to Goldwyn, which will bring out a film version, after a couple of years filming, in 1925.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Today -100: April 7, 1921: Of peons, yapping, and involuntary deputies


Testifying in the trial of the Georgia plantation owner John Williams for the murder of Lindsey Peterson, Clyde Manning, the “coal black” negro who killed some of the 11 black workers on Williams’ orders, says he was afraid Williams would kill him if he disobeyed. Williams killed (or had killed) the men he was afraid would talk to federal investigators looking into peonage on the farm. 6 of the men were chained to rocks and thrown into rivers while still alive, the rest were shot or hit in the head. Of the several articles on this case, this is the first to confirm that Williams acquired the services of the men by paying their court fines.

Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes writes to Britain, France, Italy and Japan refusing to accept the League of Nations decision to grant Japan a mandate over the island of Yap and indeed rejecting its power to grant any mandate without US permission, citing the “right accruing to the United States through the victory in which it has participated.”

The king of Italy dissolves the parliament and sets elections for May 15.

The sheriff of Polk County, Florida thwarts a lynching of a black prisoner by... swearing every member of the mob in as a deputy sheriff.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Today -100: April 6, 1921: We are strong, and because we are strong we will be paid


French Prime Minister Aristide Briand tells the French Senate that if Germany doesn’t pay up by May 1, “it is a firm hand which will grip her by the collar. It will be our right, and it will be our duty to collect our debts by force.” He doesn’t add that it will also be their pleasure, but that’s pretty much understood. He shouts, “But we are strong, and because we are strong we will be paid!”

Albert Einstein and Chaim Weizmann are visiting New York City. They were going to be given the freedom of the city but one alderman, Bruce Falconer, objects, because the honor is given out too freely and anyway he’s never heard of them (“He asked to be enlightened, but nobody offered to explain the theory of relativity”) and it’s certainly not because they’re Jews. (They will be given the freedom of the state instead).

Former emperor Charles finally leaves Hungary. To make sure, his train is accompanied by Entente soldiers and also Austrian cops, leading to the protest resignations of Austria’s interior and war ministers. Charles issues a statement that he is leaving because “the moment has not yet come for him to take over his right of governing. ... He leaves the land as the crowned King of Hungary.” Yes, he’s referring to himself in the third person, like a common Trump.

In Bologna, “Professor” Benito Mussolini tells 20,000 Fascisti that they should participate in the upcoming general elections to prevent “worn-out men” returning to power. I’m pretty sure this is the first mention of Mussolini in the NYT.

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Monday, April 05, 2021

Today -100: April 5, 1921: Monarchy is best for us


Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda, Fake News, and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark is reported killed in the Greco-Turkish war. He isn’t. (Update: ah, that report came from the Turks).

Admiral Miklós Horthy, “Regent” of Hungary, explains to NYT correspondent Charles Grasty that “a republican Hungary is not possible” because “the Hungarian mind has become habituated to monarchy” and elections would just lead to “agitation and excitement.” He denies having ambitions to claim the throne for himself. Former emperor Charles is still refusing to leave the country without a list of demands being met, even as the Little Entente threatens to invade Hungary if he isn’t out by 6 p.m. Thursday and Austria threatens to cancel his safe conduct unless he uses it sharpish. One new demand from Charles is that Horthy resign as regent and then be renominated as regent by Charles.

American citizens’ pre-war ability to enter or leave the country without a passport (and permission from the government) is restored.

A black man is lynched near Brandon, Mississippi. 

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Sunday, April 04, 2021

Today -100: April 4, 1921: There is nothing of normalcy about it


Former Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles is STILL in Hungary, claiming to be too ill to leave his bed much less the country. No one believes him.

Sinn Feiners attempt to set fire to hotels and warehouses in Manchester, so the police raid the Erskine Street Club and a gunfight ensues.

The film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is playing at the Capitol Theatre, and the NYT reviewer is... confused. Interested, but confused:
“Doubtless these expressionistic scenes are full of meaning for the specialist in the form of art they represent, but the uninitiated, though they will now and then get a definite suggestion from some touch here or there, and enjoy it, are not asked to understand cubism,” but these backgrounds and settings accompany a “coherent, logical, a genuine and legitimate thriller”. Everything in the film is unreal, “There is nothing of normalcy about it.” And “it is not likely that it will establish a vogue of cubistic films” unless it is financially successful, in which case studios might make “terrible imitations” of it. The Capitol Theatre provides an orchestra accompaniment; I wonder what they played.

Also playing: The Passion Flower, with Norma Talmadge and Harrison Ford. Not that Harrison Ford.



But if your entertainment tastes run more to bullshit:



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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Today -100: April 3, 1921: Of paprika, registers, German wiles, and well dressed Klansmen


Former Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles still hasn’t left Hungary. He’s spending his time calling Adm. Horthy several times a day and playing at performative Magyarism, like ordering “highly seasoned Magyar national dishes.” The Chamber of Deputies votes unanimously to kick him out of the country.

508 white women employees in the office of the Register of the Treasury petition against the possibility of a negro man being appointed Register, which is one of those few federal posts, like ambassador to Haiti, that sometimes goes to a black man. There have been four black registers in the past, all under Republican presidents, I believe. The women point out that the 900 clerks are mostly white women and veterans and “For a negro to have jurisdiction over those clerks would be intolerable.”

Headline of the Day -100:  



A group of “well dressed white masked men” kidnap a black bellboy from a Dallas hotel, flog him and brand “KKK” on his forehead with acid. He had been found in a (white) (female) guest’s room last week.

The Sunday New York Times Book Review reports on several books exposing the fallacies of anti-Semitism in particular and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in particular.

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Friday, April 02, 2021

Today -100: April 2, 1921: Of impeachments, kings, national homes, and conciliatory motives


The impeachment vote against Oklahoma Gov. James Robertson in the Legislature fails by a 42-42 vote. One legislator staggers in covered in blood after an ambulance bringing him from home crashed avoiding running over a child. To quote Birdie Coonan, that story’s got everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end.

Former Austro-Hungarian emperor Chuck agrees to leave Hungary. In exchange, all of the Hungarians complicit in his little coup attempt will receive amnesty. He will return to Switzerland through Austria in a train accompanied by Etente troops, with every station through which his train will pass closed and under military guard. I’m not sure about the chronological order of the various dispatches in today’s paper, but a possibly earlier AP piece says Charles would only leave Hungary if he could issue a manifesto saying why he was leaving Hungary. This after Horthy made clear that any attempt to return to Budapest would be met by a military response.

Britain’s decennial census will not be taken in Ireland, for obvious reasons.

In Jerusalem, British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill tells Muslims that “The establishment of a national home does not mean a Jewish government to dominate the Arabs.” Phew.

Britain appoints Lord Edmund Talbot the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the first Catholic to hold the office since 1687. The Daily Chronicle says the appointment shows an obvious “conciliatory motive,” “and we hope it will be appreciated.” Spoiler Alert: It won’t be. Also, Lord E. happens to be English, not Irish, and is a member of the Conservative and Unionist (Tory) party. Conciliation only goes so far.

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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Today -100: April 1, 1921: Of coal, kings, hand grenades, and paper cuts


Britain declares a state of emergency over the coal strike and implements rationing. The miners have called out the pump men, who are usually allowed to work during strikes so the mines don’t flood.

Former Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles is negotiating with Hungary on conditions for leaving the country and maybe even officially abdicating. Of course his conditions are ridiculous. He wants his 8-year-old son Otto’s claims to the throne upheld in Hungarian law and he wants civil list money of 150 million kroner, which is the equivalent of some money, and an annual payment. As Hungary’s Little Entente neighbors mobilize troops to prevent Charles being crowned king, Adm. Horthy is trying to send Chuck to Spain. There are a lot of rumors going around, including one that Charles is marching on Budapest at the head of Gen. Anton Lehár’s West Hungary army.

Germany was supposed to disarm by today but hasn’t. Now it wants to arbitrate the question. It says it won’t disarm the fortresses on the Polish border because of “present events in the East.”

A police barracks in West Cork is blown up and burned down, with 6 cops known dead and others probably buried under the rubble so are hand grenades from the barracks’ armory and they’re exploding from time to time.

Sinn Féin will contest rather than boycott the elections for the two Irish parliaments. Éamon de Valera says the elections will demonstrate the Irish desire for independence and no partition.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Who would pay for a paper cut?

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today -100: March 31, 1921: Nobody has a right to send for me


Attorney General Harry Daugherty says the US will settle down in a year or two and start obeying Prohibition laws.

More details about former Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles’s visit to Budapest. On arrival, he changed into a general’s uniform, went to the royal palace and demanded entrance, then sent for Admiral Horthy, who was eating dinner. Horthy replied, “At present I am head of the Hungarian state. Nobody has a right to send for me.” Their meeting went about as well as that beginning portended, and Charles agreed to leave the country. Bishop Count János Mikes, who hosted him, has been arrested, along with several monarchist army officers (the leg of his journey through Austria has also led to arrests). The worry is that Gen. Anton Lehár (brother of  operetta composer Franz Lehár), who has his own power base in West Hungary, a disputed region which is supposed to go to Austria, will support Charles’s ambitions. Horthy is censoring all news of this. The Little Entente (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania) warns Austria that if Charles is allowed to remain in that country they will invade and warn Hungary that any restoration would be a casus belli.

NJ Assemblyman Dr. Walter Alexander presides as acting Speaker, which is notable in that he is black and indeed the first black man elected to the NJ Legislature, in 1920. His parents were slaves.

The Republican-dominated Oklahoma Legislature is considering impeaching Democratic Gov. James Robertson. A special committee accuses him of “waste and incompetency,” excessive clemency to convicts, graft, tax evasion, threatening legislators representing the area containing the University of Oklahoma with funding cuts if they didn’t vote with him, etc.

The Dept of Agriculture asks Americans to eat more onions.

Parents in Westfield, Massachusetts are giving their children sugar lumps soaked in ether to reduce their appetites.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Today -100: March 30, 1921: Of exiles, newspaper bans, and mumps


Charles, the 33-year-old exiled former emperor of Austria-Hungary, sneaks into Austria disguised as a Tyrolean tourist, with his mustache shaved off, travels to Vienna to chat with some monarchists, and then to Budapest, where he speaks to Admiral Miklós Horthy, the “regent” of Hungary, presumably about becoming king of Hungary, which his followers have convinced him is something Hungary is just panting for. It isn’t and neither is Horthy, who suggests he go back to exile in Switzerland. Which he doesn’t. Also, Austria may not give him safe passage, since he broke his pledge not to leave Switzerland.

More sporadic fighting in Germany, with the authorities generally beating back the Communist insurgents.

Georgia Gov. Hugh Dorsey wants an early trial for John Williams, the planter who kept black slaves (I think he acquired them by bailing out prisoners, and the articles use the word peonage rather than slavery, but the articles are curiously silent on this detail) and his black assistant Clyde Manning for the murders of 11 of them. There have been rumors of a black uprising, but it seems they were started by Williams’ 3 sons hoping to stir up a race war to get him out of prison. 

The Cincinnati City Council passes an ordinance banning any books, pamphlets, or newspapers – and we mean you, Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic Dearborn Independent – that hold any race, creed or religion up to ridicule or tend to cause race prejudice.

Headline of the Day -100:  


This is Crown Prince George of Greece and Princess Elisabeth of Romania.

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Today -100: March 29, 1921: Of chief justices, barricades, and little tramps’ little mums


The NYT has information, “of a character sufficiently definite to furnish good ground for credence,” that Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglass White will soon resign and Harding will appoint former president Taft to replace him. White really wants Taft to succeed him, and the assurance that he would do so is the basis of the (false) belief that he will soon resign. In fact, he will soon die. Taft named White chief justice in 1910, despite White being a Democrat who was appointed associate justice by Grover Cleveland.

Berlin is barricaded against the communist insurrection. In Halle, all phone calls are required to be in German, because of course Russians are behind all this.

Charlie Chaplin’s mother Hannah is temporarily detained at Ellis Island because of her mental health history, which this article claims is shell shock from World War I air raids, which it very much isn’t. Chaplin has been lobbying officials for two years for her to be allowed into the US.

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Today -100: March 28, 1921: Of bulls, jazz, parades, and bombs.


Headline of the Day -100 Because I Mean It Must Be The Headline of the Day -100, It’s On the Front Page Above the Fold For Some Reason:  


Hungary bans jazz. Also the foxtrot.

Headline of the Day -100:  



Several bombs go off in Berlin, presumably set by Communists. The German government is blaming Russia for all the disturbances, as was the custom.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Today -100: March 27, 1921: Of evilly disposed people and congresses of freaks


A British general warns that due to the number of “evilly disposed people” in Londonderry, the military will fire on sight on anyone with a gun. That general’s name: General Allgood.

“Home Rule” will start on April 19th, when both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland parliaments are due to open. Elections will follow in May. Which seems kind of like the wrong way around.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to Madison Square Garden. The ad features a drawing of a terrifying clown



and promises “carnivals of 100 capering clowns,” which is surely the stuff of (alliterative) nightmares. Also the “only gorilla in captivity.” And a “Congress of freaks” (but I repeat myself).

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Today -100: March 26, 1921: This man tried to assassinate the United States Government


Headline of the Day -100:  


It’s the road commissioners who have “Czar-like authority,” according to new Gov. Thomas McRae (D). And the road taxes do seem to be insanely high, although strangely there is no evidence that Arkansas now has tens of thousands of miles of top-notch roads on which to totter.

Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes says no economic relations with Russia until it changes its political and economic system and gives “firm guarantees of private property, the sanctity of contract and the rights of free labor.”

The NYT complains that Eugene Debs was allowed out of prison to talk pardon with the attorney general. Why, it asks, “is he treated, not as the dangerous criminal he is, but as a persecuted saint”. “This man tried to assassinate the United States Government.” 

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Today -100: March 25, 1921: Mr. Debs Goes to Washington


John Williams, a white farmer in Jasper County, Georgia, is indicted for the murder of 3 of his black employees he’d been keeping in peonage, although another (black) employee, Clyde Manning, says Williams actually killed 11 men, some dumped in the Yellow River, some in the Alcovy River, and some buried. Manning murdered some of them at Williams’ direction.

Two Italian Fascists challenge the head of the Russian commercial delegation in Rome to a duel.

The Communist uprising in Hamburg and other cities in Germany “is believed to be receding”.

Eugene Debs comes to Washington to discuss a possible presidential pardon with Attorney General Harry Daugherty. They let him out of prison and let him make his way from Atlanta to DC without any guards, expecting him to return when his conference is over. Which of course he will. At his trial Debs acted as his own lawyer, so who else would meet Daughtery?

Yup, Greece has invaded Turkey.

A bomb explodes in the Diana theatre in Milan, killing 31. Possibly thrown by anarchist(s). Fascists wreck the office of the anarchist newspaper Humanita Nova on general principle, as well as offices of the Syndicalist Union and the Socialist Club.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Today -100: March 24, 1921: A minor state of siege


Violence in Ireland is ramping up. In various attacks on police in retaliation for executions, the IRA mostly lose, but a bunch of cops die too. The government plans to continue with the executions. And with elections in May for the two parliaments in North and South Ireland.

Germany defaults on the payment of 1 billion marks gold, which is equivalent to some money, saying it can’t pay and it disputes the Allied valuation of reparations already paid in goods.

There’s a Communist uprising in Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, etc. The Senate (whether state or federal is unclear) declares a “minor state of siege.”

Greece has probably gone to war with Turkey.

The Chicago police ban the sale of Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent on the streets, following a petition from a Jewish Republican group. There’s a similar ban in Toledo, imposed after a newsboy selling it was beaten up.

A group representing movie theatres in California bans the film Fate, starring Clara Smith Hamon, because it would “unduly and improperly put a premium on violence.” Let’s go back a bit. Jake Hamon was an Oklahoma oil man who took Clara as a mistress when she was 16 and he was 40. He paid his nephew to 1) marry her, and 2) leave the state immediately afer the marriage, so that Jake and Clara would have the same last name and could stay in hotels without awkward questions. Last summer Hamon went to the Republican convention to buy himself a candidate, any candidate, and wound up backing Harding in exchange for being named secretary of interior so that he could have access to the oil reserve at Tea Pot Dome. But it turned out that Florence Harding was distantly related to Hamon’s abandoned wife, and she insisted that Hamon return to his wife and children before being nominated. When Hamon told Clara that he was doing so last November, she shot him, and while he insisted before dying that he had accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun, no one believed him and she was arrested and tried, though acquitted. And now she’s starring in a film, playing herself, although I can’t find any details about the exact plot of the film, which was never shown anywhere because of this sort of moral hissy fit.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Today -100: March 23, 1921: Of jumping jacks, fire curtains, and new economic policies


The French parliament passes a bill to require physical training for the youth of both sexes.

Poland, pretending to reach out to the Jews (I phrase it that way because the article, presumably following the language used by Polish officials, keeps talking about “relations between the Poles and the Jews”), will stop special Jew taxes, such as those on Jewish hospitals.

While Russia wants to send a delegation to the US to discuss opening trade relations, the thing Commerce Secretary Hoover just said wouldn’t happen, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George explains to Parliament his reasoning for signing a trade deal: the Soviet regime ain’t going anywhere and we can’t rule out half of Europe and much of Asia and “just ring down the fire curtain and allow the fire to burn itself out.” He thinks the Russian Communists are coming to recognize that their system won’t and can’t work (he suggests the British Labour party should do the same).

What Lenin actually said to the 10th All-Russian Congress of the Bolshevist Party was that the government made mistakes in trying to transition to a peace economy, that Russia can’t depend on world revolution to save it since world revolution seems to be taking longer than anticipated for some reason. Peasants will be given more autonomy, paying part of their produce in a food tax but free to sell the remainder. This would be the famous shift from “War Communism” to the “New Economic Policy” (NEP).

France is considering dividing Upper Silesia between Germany and Poland in a way that sorta matches the voting in the plebiscite but just so happens to give most of the coal and other mineral resources to Poland.

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Today -100: March 22, 1921: Of Austens, constitutions, trade, unjust and violent methods, duels, and “bombs”


The new Tory party leader, following Andrew Bonar Law’s “retirement,” is Austen Chamberlain (brother of Neville). Under the terms of the Coalition, this makes him leader of the Commons.

The new Polish constitution bans corporal punishment. And coats of arms. It includes women’s suffrage and equal rights for all religions, but Jewish proposals to ban discrimination were rejected, so, yeah.

Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover opposes negotiating a trade agreement with Russia. He says Russia has nothing to sell and won’t as long as the Bolshevik economic system continues. In other words, the US policy is still that Russia’s government must be overthrown. Interesting that this statement of policy towards Soviet Russia comes from the secretary of commerce rather than the secretary of state or the, you know, president.

The plebiscite in Upper Silesia goes in favor of the province being part of Germany rather than Poland. The Allies may not abide by the results, and might give Poland those parts of Silesia that voted for Polish annexation, votes which Ger. Pres. Ebert attributes to “a resort to unjust and violent methods.” German newspapers have been writing a lot about “Polish terror”. Before the plebiscite, German newspapers in Silesia claimed (falsely) that Poland was going bankrupt and its currency was now worthless and the Warsaw Stock Exchange had closed down, so who’d want to join that? One reason for the pro-German vote: Germany has no draft while Poland has two years compulsory military service. Also, German factory owners were threatening to shut down their plants if they lost. Also, Germany brought in a lot of Germans with historical connections to the region but who don’t actually live there to vote (it was legal). Still, a lot of Poles must have voted to join Germany.

Dueling is now legal in Uruguay, which two army captains celebrate by dueling with pistols. The Uruguayan army is now short one captain.

Headline of the Day -100:  


I believe I’ll leave you to make your own joke here.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Today -100: March 21, 1921: Equal rights and no quarter asked


Over the weekend, IRA ambushes kill 11 of the Crown forces in Ireland, and there were numerous attacks on individuals like a court-martial judge, and a major melee in County Cork.

The Chamber of Commerce introduces a new slogan: “More Business Methods in Government, Less Government Management In Business.”

The National Woman’s Party also has a new slogan: “Equal rights and no quarter asked.” It’s planning to introduce a bill to remove all legal disabilities on women in federal laws. Before long, this will be the Equal Rights Amendment. A proposal to include disarmament among the NWP’s aims is turned down, Alice Paul saying it’s not a feminist issue.

A black man accused of killing a black woman is lynched in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. 

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Today -100: March 20, 1921: Get ya paper!


A “young negro,” which I’m guessing means a teenager, is lynched in Water Valley, Mississippi.

Paper-sellers for Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent are warned by Detroit police to stop yelling out anti-Semitic quotes from the paper.

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Today -100: March 19, 1921: Now I want a dirigible


The government is going to publish the names of 160,000 draft dodgers and possibly prosecute them.

The commander of military headquarters (I guess for Ireland as a whole?) and the divisional commissioner of the Royal Irish Constabulary in Limerick send condolences on the murder of the city’s mayor. The Corporation responds, fuck you, you did it. Which they totally did.

The British government is giving away ten dirigibles, two of them seized from Germany, for free to anyone who wants them.

Russia, the Ukraine, and Poland sign a peace treaty. Poland gains land. Everyone agrees to refrain from propaganda against each other.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Today -100: March 18, 1921: Humane death is the best kind of death. Or is it?


The Kronstadt rebels are defeated. Before the survivors scurry over the Finnish border, they blow up a couple of warships.

The Nevada Legislature passes a Humane Death Bill to introduce the gas chamber, although it will take several years before it is put into (humane) practice.

There are, inevitably, IRA reprisals for the execution of Thomas Whelan on Monday. A constable is killed and another wounded.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Today -100: March 17, 1921: Of fickle blondes and cunning Orientals


Britain and Russia sign a trade treaty. It includes a cease-fire in the propaganda wars, with Russia specifically promising not to undermine British colonial rule in Asia.

Justice William Morris of NYC Municipal Court 1st District rules that a trial he is officiating will have a jury of 3 men and 3 women, but no blondes; “The blondes are fickle.” Then he dragooned 3 brunette women from the spectators.

The NYT profiles Soghomon Tehlirian, the Armenian who assassinated Talaat Pasha. Does it use the phrase “Oriental cunning”? Of course it does. How could it not?

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Today -100: March 16, 1921: This has nothing to do with you


Former Ottoman Grand Vizier (1917-8) Talaat Pasha, one of the leaders most responsible for the Armenian Genocide, is assassinated by an Armenian on the streets of Berlin. Seized by passersby, he tells the police, “We are both foreigners. This has nothing to do with you.” Talaat was a fugitive from international and Turkish justice, living under false names and hunted by British Intelligence.

Headline of the Day -100:  


The Austrian Anti-Semitic Congress calls a world anti-Semitic congress for Budapest in the fall and creates a central bureau to connect anti-Semitic groups throughout the world. Resolutions call on the government to expel all alien Jews by the end of the month and to restrict the number of Jews in secondary night schools to their proportion of the population.

Gustav von Kahr, prime minister of Bavaria, tells the Bavarian legislature that the royalists have been conspiring to overthrow him and create chaos in order to produce a groundswell of popular opinion to bring back the Wittelsbach royal family.

There are 9,211,295 automobiles in the US. New York state alone has more registered cars than the whole US did in 1910.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Today -100: March 15, 1921: I reared him to die for Ireland


The Brits execute six IRA men convicted by military courts-martial.  Many thousands of Dubliners gather at Mountjoy Prison, and all businesses are closed for several hours. The mother of one of them, Patrick Doyle, says “I am proud to have reared so good a boy and prouder still I reared him to die for Ireland.” Doyle’s widow collapses; today she will also bury one of their twins, born a couple of weeks ago.

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

Today -100: March 14, 1921: What Austrians resent


A mob in Versailles, Kentucky lynches a black man accused of murder.

Former kaiser Wilhelm self-publishes a book, just for a few friends only at present, about how the whole world ganged up on Germany and the Great War wasn’t Germany’s fault.

The Austrian Anti-Semitic Association holds a mass meeting in Vienna, followed by some broken windows and Jew-beatings, as was the custom, but it was still early in the evening when this report was filed.

Edith Cowan is elected to  the Western Australia Legislative Assembly, the first woman member of an Ozzie parliament, defeating, in fact, the attorney general who introduced the legislation to allow women members. Cowan was a suffrage activist and promoted various social reforms for women. Interestingly, her father was executed when she was 15 for killing her step-mother.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Today -100: March 13, 1921: What Denmark wants


The Harding Administration’s policy will be to protect all US rights, interests and equities gained during the Great War by right of conquest, even without a treaty conferring those rights. What this means, besides objections to Japan’s League of Nations mandate over the Yap Islands, is unclear.

The US Army’s Chemical Warfare Service claims to have discovered a liquid poison so strong that 3 drops, dropped, say, from an airplane via a nozzle, will kill a person. So a plane carrying 2 tons of it could clear an area 100 feet X 7 miles.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Friday, March 12, 2021

Today -100: March 12, 1921: Of split infinitives, refugees, race riots, and laddie boys


Headline of the Day -100:  


A letter from Pres. Harding to Adm. Benson calls on him “to immediately advise”.

8,600 Iroquois in Ontario are trying to arrange for asylum in the US to escape an order requiring them to take Canadian citizenship.

There’s a “race riot” in Springfield, Ohio following several days of tumult after an unknown black man allegedly assaulted a white girl, so they’ve been hassling every black man, one of whom shoots a cop trying to frisk him. 14 black people are shot and I guess just the one white cop. A white man is arrested while scattering dynamite in a negro district – to blow out stumps, he says.

Enrico Caruso is eating solid food.

Since the papers have been running stories about Warren Harding’s dog Laddie Boy – He brings Warren G’s newspapers! A negro messenger has been named unofficial Master of the Hounds! – here’s a picture, from Laddie Boy’s... Wikipedia page.




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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Today -100: March 11, 1921: Of leprosaria, curfews, medicines, cabinets, and disorderly conduct


Massachusetts closes its leper colony on an island in Buzzards Bay, sending its 13 prisoners to the federal leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana. 

The IRA posts notices of a “curfew” for soldiers and police, warning that any of them found on the streets after 10pm are liable to be shot.

One of former Attorney Gen. A. Mitchell Palmer’s last acts was to say that there are no limits on the amount of beer that can be prescribed by doctors. NYC breweries say they’re quite ready to supply the market for medicinal brewskies. There are 4,500 doctors in NYC with authority to write alcohol prescriptions.

Lenin blames the Kronstadt rebellion on France and Social Revolutionaries (SRs) and says it will be crushed in a few days. He does admit having made mistakes: trying to restore industry too quickly, problems in distribution of food.

800 Russian soldiers are said to have drowned trying to cross the ice to reach Kronstadt when the Kronstadthoovians, predictably, shelled the ice. The incident happened, not sure about the death toll.

“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” will open next month in New York. It’s described by the NYT as “the first photoplay built on the idea of cubism”.

Elsie Fisher makes a bet with friends that she can dress in men’s clothes and walk from West 90th St to 66th without being detected. She is detected, and a crowd starts following her until she is arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Today -100: March 10, 1921: British subjects are not for sale


Assassinated Spanish Prime Minister Eduardo Dato will be made a duke, posthumously. Evidently the police guard for Dato’s auto were on bicycles; the assassins were on a motorcycle.

Rep. Horace Towner, chair of the House Committee on Insular Affairs, writes to Pres. Antonio Barceló of the Puerto Rican Senate warning against pro-independence propaganda, which just makes it harder for PR’s friends in the States to help them and anyway they’ll never get it.

Wow, the Bolsheviks have fallen, again, all fleeing Petrograd as the Kronstadt rebels capture the city. I never see the NYT apologize for getting these stories wrong. Another version is that Trotsky is still in Petrograd, making a last stand in the Peter & Paul Fortress.

Speaking about the suggestion that Britain sell its West Indian colonies to the US to cover its war debt, the Prince of Wales says “British subjects are not for sale.” To which the people of Jamaica, Barbados etc say, “You mean not lately.”

Headline of the Day -100:  “Caruso Tries to Sit Up.” I commented a while ago about the obsessive coverage of certain people’s health.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Today -100: March 9, 1921: The Allies are only creating fresh embarrassments for themselves


Spanish Prime Minister Eduardo Dato is assassinated. The three assassins escape on a motorcycle with a sidecar, which may not be a first in assassination history, but I can’t think of an earlier example off the top of my head. Spain has had so much upheaval recently that it’s not clear which group wanted Dato dead (Catalan anarchists, as it will turn out).

Germany is calm about the occupation of Rhine cities. German newspapers think Allied penalties on Germany will fail to pay and they’ll be forced to negotiate more reasonable terms. Chancellor Constantin Fehrenbach says “The Allies are only creating fresh embarrassments for themselves.” Pres. Ebert says Allied demands are “impossible of fulfillment. Not only ourselves but our children and grandchildren would have become the work-slaves of our adversaries by our signature. ... We must not and cannot comply with it. Our honor and self-respect forbid it.” He says the occupation violates the Versailles Treaty but Germany is “defenseless” to resist. Communists are calling for a general strike, but unions refuse. France preempts repeats of German complaints by declaring that none of the new occupation troops will be black or colonial.

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Monday, March 08, 2021

Today -100: March 8, 1921: Aroused


Headline of the Day -100:  



France will occupy Düsseldorf, Duisburg, and Ruhrort. The Germans “would do well to remember that France has become aroused.” Germany will appeal against the sanctions to the League of Nations. 

The Supreme Court by a 7-2 vote upholds Postmaster General Burleson’s 1917 ban of Victor Berger’s Milwaukee Leader from the US mails, a ban still in effect. Justice John Clarke in his majority opinion says the paper could have been reinstated if it had “mend[ed] its ways”; also something about the US protecting itself against such “insidious foes.” Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, dissenting, see the actions of Burleson as a threat to free speech, which no kidding.

The rebel sailors in Kronstadt and the Soviet army in Petrograd are exchanging shellfire.

Costa Rica complies with the US demand that it withdraw its troops.

Secretary of State Hughes is pissed that newspapers printed, correctly, that he sent identical notes to Panama and Costa Rica and in future wants them to only report things officially authorized by the State Dept.

There’s been a lot of ferment over the recent “Horror on the Rhine” meeting in Madison Square Garden which I neglected to cover, in which objections were made to France using black colonial soldiers in the occupation of the Rhine. The meeting also featured protests against British violence in Ireland. Anyway, the American Legion calls for NYC Mayor John Hylan to be removed for office by the state Legislature for allowing “pro-German meetings while this country still is in a state of war with the Central Powers.”  Does it actually have the power to do that? Similar meetings planned in other cities including Philadelphia have been banned.

Headline of the Day -100:  



More Dr Seuss than limerick, really. Not only Sinn Féin Mayor George Clancy, but former Limerick mayor Michael O’Callaghan as well are shot dead in their respective homes/beds by Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliary death squads, probably in retaliation for the ambush of Brig. Gen. Cumming. Clancy’s wife is shot defending him. Clancy dies while members of the household are afraid to venture out in search of medical aid because of the curfew.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Sunday, March 07, 2021

Today -100: March 7, 1921: Of fomented disorder and exaggerated sex plays


Pres. Harding fails to attend religious services on his first Sunday in office. But no golf either, since he doesn’t believe in playing golf on Sunday.

The NYT sees the exit of Woodrow Wilson from the White House as a signal to tell all the tales it’s been keeping to itself about his health, for example that he was unconscious for a week and that the Cabinet discussed replacing him with Vice President Whatsisname.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and others are arrested in Philadelphia to stop them holding a meeting. The charges are “organizing and originating a radical movement contrary to the laws of the state,” “possessing seditious literature” and “fomenting disorder.”

The National Association of the Moving Picture Industry agrees on a self-censorship plan. It will ban films that are “exaggerated sex plays,” that make virtue odious and vice attractive, offend religious beliefs, weaken the authority of the law, or “instruct the morally feeble in methods of committing crime”.

Germany makes another offer to the Allies, slightly increasing reparations. An offer a couple of days ago to provide German labor to rebuild the war zone in France was instantly rejected.

Brig. Gen. Cumming is killed in an IRA ambush in West Cork.

Panama rejects the border with Costa Rica assigned by arbitrator Chief Justice Edward White of the US, saying that White exceeded his authority and set an arbitrary line, thus showing he hadn’t studied the question sufficiently.

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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Today -100: March 6, 1921: Of wars, lightning rods, and horsemen


The Harding administration sends notes to Costa Rica and Panama ordering them to stop their war (which Costa Rica seems to be winning at the moment) at once, at once I say! The US pretext for ordering Latin American countries around is the US’s authority to protect the Panama Canal. The Wilson admin had already sent a cruiser to protect the United Fruit Company’s property, as was the custom.

Burglars steal Notre Dame Cathedral’s lightning rods (for the platinum) and copper from, I assume, its roof.

On his first night as president, Harding and the Duchess attend a theatre performance of Sinbad, starring Al Jolson in (sigh) blackface.

They could have gone to see The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, starring Rudolph Valentino in his break-through role, directed by Rex Ingram. An anti-war World War I movie. Haven’t seen it.

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Friday, March 05, 2021

Today -100: March 5, 1921: Of rumble and bumble


Warren Harding is now the 29th president of the United States. His inaugural address (delivered via loudspeaker, a first I believe) is described by the NYT as confirming “the popular impression of him as a man who makes no pretense of uncommon wisdom or force,” while H. L. Mencken reviews it thusly: “He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm (I was about to write abscess!) of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.” I dunno, H.L., the phrase “we must strive for normalcy to reach stability” is surely as fine an example of presidential oratory as we’ve had. Mencken does admit that the speech is not intended to be read but to be heard and that it might appeal to you “if you are the sort of man who goes to political meetings, which is to say, if you are the sort of man that Dr. Harding is used to talking to, which is to say, if you are a jackass.”

Headline of the Day -100:  




Movie cameras are not allowed to film Wilson’s slow, painful walk to the car, and he gives up on his plans to stay through the ceremony.

The NYT says:  “Whatever opinion history may eventually record of Mr. Harding’s abilities and accomplishments, there is no doubt that as he came down the steps amid a burst of hearty cheering by the crowd he looked every inch a President.” Well, give him an inch... and he’ll still suck. He kisses the bible after taking the oath. Is that a thing other presidents have done?

Harding’s cabinet choices are confirmed. All of them. Just like that. The only delay comes when Harding names Albert Fall to be interior secretary before Fall has resigned the Senate. Which he does, at which point the rest of the Senate starts yelling “Get out” and “You are no longer one of us” at him, because they’re all overgrown frat boys.

On his way out the door, Wilson pocket-vetoes the immigration restriction bill, and regular-vetoes the Emergency Tariff Bill and the Army Bill reducing the army to 156,666.

Italian Fascists burn Labor Bureaus in Siena and Empoli. “Those responsible for the Empoli fire said it was set in protest against the violence of the Communists.” Fascists are not big on irony.

Sean MacSwiney, brother of deceased Lord Mayor of Cork Terence, is sentenced to 15 years for waging war against the Crown and having arms and explosives.

The Allies suggested that an international commission look into the dispute between Greece and Turkey over Smyrna and Thrace. Greece says no.

A 20-year-old sailor, the alliterative Harold Hammond, does indeed have a woman in every port. A wife, in fact, 14 of them. He interspersed abandoning wives with going AWOL, first from the army, then the navy.

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