Saturday, November 27, 2021

Today -100: November 27, 1921: Of harsh words

Fascisti and others riot in Turin and Naples against France after (false?) reports that PM Aristide Briand used “harsh words” against the Italian delegation to the Washington Conference. 

Witnesses at Fatty Arbuckle’s trial say that Virginia Rappe was prone to attacks of a medical nature and frequently tore her clothes when in pain, as she did on the night she died. The prosecution’s case is looking weaker and weaker.

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Friday, November 26, 2021

Today -100: November 26, 1921: Of regents, teeth, low-down dives, pigs, and five Wellesley girls who don’t believe the Bible

Harding plans to follow up the Washington Conference with annual conferences of world leaders to set the world right, because I guess no one told him that the League of Nations already exists. 

Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito, 20, is named Prince Regent of Japan due to Emperor Yoshihito’s continued infirmity.

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More riotous scenes in the Prussian Landtag. They began a day ago when the Communists were outraged to discover that rightist deputies were cheating in voting on new parliamentary rules. Today leftist deputies (landtaggers?) deploy sneezing powder, whistles and stink bombs to express their displeasure. Communists offer a resolution to permit smoking in the chamber, since smoking is permitted “in all other low-down dives.” After it’s voted down, they light up anyway.

A bomb is thrown through the window of Lithuania’s finance minister (and former prime minister) Ernestas Galvanauskas, who is wounded.

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Not sure what the French marshal is supposed to do with these gifts. Bring them back to France? I mean, after his menagerie is reduced to one extremely fat wildcat.

Speaking at Carnegie Hall, William Jennings Bryan accuses US colleges of churning out “infidels, atheists, agnostics, higher critics and other varieties of skeptics.” Why, there’s a professor at Bryn Mawr who’s an unbeliever, he says, and “in the last nine months I have found five Wellesley girls who don’t believe the Bible.”

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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Today -100: November 25, 1921: The Stove of Doom

It’s Exhibits Day at the Henri Landru trial. The famous stove, in which the authorities think Landru disposed of so many bodies, is shown off, as are the remnants of women’s clothing and, presumably, women, found in it. Landru says that when he’s acquitted, he’d like to start a new life in America.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Today -100: November 24, 1921: Of undersea flora, tunnels, poor stranglers, and naval spectacles

Asked about Britain’s belief that the largish submarine fleet France is demanding it be allowed to keep is aimed at Britain, Prime Minister Aristide Briand points out that Britain wants an awful lot of capital ships considering it’s a friend of the US, allied with Japan, and its possible enemies, Germany and Russia, have no fleets at all. “Perhaps the English want their capital ships to fish for sardines. Well, we want submarines to study the flora at the bottom of the sea for the benefit of our botanical societies.”

D.W. Griffith, being D.W. Griffith, proposes to Navy Secretary Edwin Denby that before ships are scrapped in line with the Washington Conference agreement, they be “used for a few weeks in arranging a naval spectacle for a motion-picture drama, in which the activity of the fleet serves as a powerful climax of a drama which has for its theme the closer brotherhood of all mankind, also illustrating the futility and the stupid and terrible uselessness of war?”

44 Sinn Féin prisoners tunnel out of Kilkenny Prison.

Britain and Afghanistan sign a treaty to prevent Russia opening consulates on the Afghan border.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Today -100: November 23, 1921: It will burn anything

At Henri Landru’s trial, a woman who lived with him for some months in his villa in Gambais and lived to tell the tale says he once pointed to the famous stove in which he is charged with burning the bodies of his victims and said “The draught is excellent, it will burn anything.” She says Landru was loving and attentive. Three psychiatrists testify that Landru is perfectly insane. One of the shrinks addresses the theory going around that Landru somehow hypnotized his victims into some sort of amnesia so that they’re currently wandering around France unaware of their former names; yeah, that’s not a thing, he says.

Bomb-throwing in Belfast.

39 of the 58 members of the Porto Rican Assembly sign a request to Pres. Harding to remove Gov. E. Mont.

The German government denies French PM Aristide Briand’s charge that the German military and police are retaining the officers of the old army as a nucleus around which to rapidly build a future German army while keeping, for now, within the limits of the Versailles Treaty. Briand is not wrong.

At the Washington Conference, everyone agrees that Manchuria is part of China.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

Today -100: November 22, 1921: Of dead POWs and moral isolation

64 of 100 Indian insurgent prisoners (Moplahs) being transported in a closed railway carriage in the Madras district suffocate to death. The official story will be that the ventilation panels had been painted over and no one noticed.

At the Washington Conference, French Prime Minister Aristide Briand announces that France will reduce mandatory military service from 3 years to 18 months. He asks France’s allies not to leave it in “moral isolation.” Britain’s Arthur Balfour & US Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes say they won’t, probably.

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Today -100: November 21, 1921: Of hunger strikes, fiery fruit, and shimmies

Gandhi says participants in Bombay riots (still ongoing, although the Prince of Wales’s tour has moved on) should go home, repent, and implore God for forgiveness. And he’ll be fasting until peace is restored. It’s always fun when Gandhi hunger strikes against other Indians.

The Atlantic Fruit ship Tanamo arrives at port in NYC, on fire. E. Mont Reily is on board, and the arson is believed to have been aimed at the unpopular Puerto Rican governor.

Henri Landru was just a plucky underdog serial killer of women to the French public until it also turned out that he killed the dogs of one of them, and Paris doesn’t like him anymore.

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Saturday, November 20, 2021

Today -100: November 20, 1921: Psych 101 (or however many women he killed)

Henri Landru, asked why he pretended to be a suitor for marriage to soooooo many women when he was already married, says “Perhaps I wanted to have an opportunity of a study in psychology.”

Gandhi is upset at the rioting on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Bombay, and will undertake a weekly 24-hour fast as penance.

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Friday, November 19, 2021

Today -100: November 19, 1921: Of beer, birth control, borders, and lynchings

The Senate votes 56-22 to ban medical prescriptions for beer, eliminating that loophole in Prohibition. Attempts to stop dry agents raiding private residences were watered down, and will now require a warrant.

The birth control meeting shut down by the NYPD on the Catholic bishop’s say-so and rescheduled by Margaret Sanger is held, this time guarded by the cops.

After being dragged before the League of Nations Council, Yugoslavia and Albania solemnly pledge to stop fighting over the border that the League set for them without bothering to consult either party.

A black man charged with assault on a white woman is lynched in Helena, Arkansas.

Henri Landru gives the address of one of the women he’s alleged to have murdered. Well, it’s actually her address in 1915, but after he was supposed to have murdered her, at the Hotel Du Mans, whose guest registers no longer exist and whose owner is dead.

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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Today -100: November 18, 1921: Of ships and spontaneous, whole-hearted welcomes

Britain won’t agree to the proposed limitations on British, Japanese & US ships until limits are also set for those of France and Italy. France wants to keep all its ships because of course it does. Also, Japan wants 70% of the number of capital ships Britain and the US will be allowed rather than the proposed 60%. And there’s a lot of talk about submarines.

The Prince of Wales arrives in Bombay (Mumbai) with a procession, as was the custom, and a riot, although in a different part of the city. The NYT correspondent Percival Landon (I believe actually reporting for the London Times) says Princey (this is the future Edward VIII) is greeted with “real and universal enthusiasm” and that while Gandhi arrived in the city “determined to challenge the spontaneous, whole-hearted welcome of the Indians of every race, religion, caste and color”, Bombay “has completely and contemptuously ignored him and all his works.”

Henri Landru dramatically claims that tomorrow he will produce one of the women he is accused of killing, or at least give her address. He doesn’t say which one. Since the prosecution has no physical evidence, much less a dead body, if he can disprove just one of the 11 murder charges – which really he can’t because he totally killed all of them and a whole lot more – the whole trial would likely fall apart.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Today -100: November 17, 1921: Of cannibals, circumstantial evidence, and beauty pageants

The Senate committee investigating the US occupation of Haiti hears from P.M. Pilkington, a manager of the American Developing Company, that Haitian bandits ate a Marine.

At the Landru trial, prosecutors admit that they’re basing their case for a conviction and capital punishment on the 11 murder charges entirely on circumstantial evidence, but a shitload of a lot of it.

Colorado Gov. Oliver Shoup declares martial law in Huerfano County to deal with a strike against the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, which announced a 30% wage cut in 13 coal mines on one day’s notice. The company says it won’t employ strikebreakers and hire guards, making me suspicious that they intended to provoke a shutdown for reasons of their own. This is the company responsible for the Ludlow Massacre in 1914.

British forces claim to have killed 700 Moplah rebels who attacked a garrison post. Er, that’s in India.

18-year-old Anna Niebel is suing congresscritter Manuel Herrick (R-OK) for breach of promise. She says he approached her when she was a beauty pageant contestant and offered to marry her. He wrote to the other 47 contestants as well, promising that if they married him they’d be First Lady within 8 years. Herrick claims he was only doing research for a bill he introduced banning newspaper beauty contests. In an interview next month, he will claim to have received hundreds of marriage proposals and he’ll compare women to smallpox, saying that “beautiful girls are a curse” and homely girls are “wholesome,” and that he wouldn’t give two cents for women, “they’re silly, giddy, and empty headed.”

Herrick was elected almost accidentally: incumbent Dick Morgan died on the day of the filing deadline, leaving Herrick, who had run against him in 1918 receiving 56 votes, as the only Republican on the ballot during the 1829 Harding/Republican landslide. He will lose in the 1922 primary – and in 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930 and in California in 1948. As a teenager he tried to rob a train and was committed to a lunatic asylum, not for the last time (he thought he was Jesus reborn, like his mother always told him he was) (and thought Jesus was a train robber, or something???).

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Today -100: November 16, 1921: Of formulae, armistices, and ink

At the Washington Conference, Britain and Japan agree – in principle – to Harding’s formula (5:5:3) for naval reduction (although Britain has some thoughts about submarines).

Benito Mussolini tears up the armistice between the Fascists and the Reds signed in August.

In court, French serial killer Henri Landru complains that the Washington Conference is getting more play in the press than he is.

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Monday, November 15, 2021

Today -100: November 15, 1921: Of submarines, mutts and jeffs, Americans and other white people, music hall turns, and smiles

At the Washington Conference, Britain wants submarines outlawed. Or at least sharply limited.

The Supreme Court rules that syndicated cartoonist Bud Fisher rather than the Hearst newspaper chain’s publishers owns the characters Mutt and Jeff.

Gen. Eli Cole of the Marine Corps tells a Senate committee how in 1917 the Marines coerced the Haitian president into dissolving the Constituent Assembly. He says martial law will be necessary as long as the US is occupying Haiti (Spoiler Alert: until 1934) because “venal” Haitian courts would allow Haitians to kill “Americans and other white people” with impunity.

French serial killer Henri Landru, now in the second week of his trial, has signed a contract to give monologues in a music hall (if acquitted, of course) for 2,500 francs a week, which is the equivalent of some money. A reporter covering the trial for a Toulouse newspaper left the courtroom, saying it was driving him crazy, and then shot himself.

The Cherokee are suing Texas in the US Supreme Court, claiming 1 million acres in East Texas acknowledged to be theirs by the 1822 treaty with the Republic of Texas.

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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Today -100: November 14, 1921: Of birth control, mutineers, and Fascists

NY police halt Margaret Sanger’s birth control meeting and arrest her, along with Mary Winsor. The order to ban the meeting came from a police commissioner before a single word was spoken. The subject of the meeting: “Birth Control: Is It Moral?” Sanger says she believes the “influence of the Catholic Church” was behind the ban. And she’s right. The archbishop called the cops on her. The charges will be dismissed tomorrow.

Paris’s 20th Arrondissement votes a plurality for Monsieur Badina, currently serving a prison sentence for the 1919 Black Sea mutiny, to the municipal council. This is the second Black Sea mutineer in a row elected to the council (André Marty’s election was annulled). There will have to be a run-off since he fell shy of an outright majority.

The Italian government seems to be persuading delegates to the Fascist congress to leave Rome, which is still under more or less general strike.

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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Today -100: November 13, 1921: We have no sordid ends to serve

The Washington Conference begins. Harding welcomes the delegates “with unselfish hands.” His hands, not theirs: “We harbor no fears, we have no sordid ends to serve. We suspect no enemy. We contemplate or apprehend no conquest.”

The US puts forward proposals for the disarmament conference: a 10-year pause in navy ship-building, with the US immediately scrapping 30 capital ships, Britain 19, and Japan 17, leaving them with 18, 22 and 10 respectively. New capital ships in the future to be limited in size (which certainly has nothing to do with US ships having to be small enough to go through the Panama Canal, perish the thought). The US would have to get rid of quite a few destroyers, presumably selling them off, so the naval arms race would might not be stopped so much as transferred to, say, South America. There’s no provision for naval aircraft, since commercial aircraft can fairly easily be converted to military use. 

Walther Nernst wins the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on thermochemistry – not for his work on poison gas during the war.

Japanese Finance Minister Baron Takahashi Korekiyo is named prime minister following the assassination of Hara Takashi last week.

Margaret Sanger announces the opening this Wednesday of a birth control clinic in NYC, the first such clinic in the US.

Russian Minister of War Leon Trotsky says Poland is preparing to attack Russia again.

The Landru trial: Henri Desiré Landru is questioned about entries in his notebook showing that when he took one of his many fiances to the country – the last time she was ever seen – he bought a round-trip ticket for himself but a one-way ticket for her. There’s nothing worse than a cheap-ass serial killer.

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Friday, November 12, 2021

Today -100: November 12, 1921: #CancelCulture1921

Gandhi calls for a meeting in Lahore to remove the statue of 1860s Viceroy Lord Lawrence. 

The Northern Irish government rejects Lloyd George’s proposals, especially the idea of an All-Ireland Parliament, and refuses to even discuss them with the British government. They’ll be putting forward their own proposal. Lloyd George has prorogued Parliament so that he doesn’t have to answer any questions about Ireland. The speaker of the Ulster Senate, the Marquess of Dufferin, says “Ulstermen would hang on to Ulster with their teeth, hands and toes; they owe this duty to the dead.”

In Baltimore, veterans drop out of an Armistice Day parade before it reaches the reviewing stand, and later turn their backs on Mayor William Broening, to protest his refusal to ban a disarmament meeting.

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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Today -100: November 11, 1921: People’s private lives are no concern, either of justice or the police

They do the Unknown Soldier thing in the Capitol.

The NYT thinks Northern Ireland can’t possibly refuse to help the British government come to a deal on Ireland. Man, they do not know Ulster at all, do they?

Henri Landru, French serial killer extraordinaire, refuses to relate to the court his no doubt perfectly reasonable account of his relations with all those women who mysteriously disappeared. “I had business dealings with these women. Beyond that their affairs do not concern me. People’s private lives are no concern, either of justice or the police.” He does give the court a lesson on feminine psychology, explaining why all those women whose furniture he sold after they disappeared had told people that they were going off to marry him: they didn’t want to admit that they were selling their furniture because of financial difficulties, so they just told people they were engaged to him.

Anatole France is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I will admit to never having read anything by him.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Today -100: November 10, 1921: Of socialists, anti-fascist strikes, various phases of birth control, and overstuffed leather chairs

Socialists did badly in the NY elections, losing all their seats in the state Assembly and the NYC Board of Aldermen.

Railway and electrical light workers in Rome go on strike to protest a Fascist convention being held in the city, although some smartass asked how the Fascists are supposed to leave with no trains running.

The American Birth Control League is formed, with Margaret Sanger president. There will be a free public meeting, at which “various phases of birth control will be discussed,” according to an ad in the NYT. Sanger has a new book, Woman and the New Race, whose contents, the ad says, “cannot be fully described here.”

Congress cheaped out on funding for the Washington disarmament conference ($200,000), so “There will be no overstuffed leather chairs or mahogany desks and bookcases.”

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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Today -100: November 9, 1921: Of mayors, pacifist bombs, and bluebeards

NYC elections: Mayor John Hylan is easily re-elected, and other Tammany candidates sweep almost every local and state election. Hylan spends most of his victory speech complaining about newspapers that opposed him, as is the custom. He even names the papers he claims violated “the standards of honest journalism, the ordinary standards of decency and a proper regard for the fair name of the city,” and ranks nine of them by the order of the degree to which they violated those standards, starting with the New York Tribune. The NYT is #6. He blames the New York World for his wife’s nervous indigestion.

On NY state ballot measures, voters rejected hiring preferences in the civil service for veterans and increasing legislators’ salaries, while establishing children’s courts and courts of domestic relations, and imposing a literacy test for voting.

Kentucky election results: at least 10 dead.

A Senate resolution asks that the Washington Conference on disarmament be open to the press.

Another gunfight between Fascists and Communists in Italy, near Novi. A Communist Deputy, Francesco Misiano, is shot twice.

Unclear on the Concept: 

Serial killer Henri Landru defends himself in court. Asked why he repeatedly advertised for a wife, he says it was to meet the class of person who might have furniture to sell.

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Monday, November 08, 2021

Today -100: November 8, 1921: Of monuments and mistaken executions

The French village of Varangéville returns a war monument they’d ordered after spotting the words “Made in Germany.”

A former Marine lieutenant explains to a Senate Committee that a black prisoner in Haiti was executed by mistake following orders from a now conveniently dead captain. How does such a mistake happen? Well, the unnamed Haitian was black, if that’s any help.

I hadn’t realized the US Marines had the authority to execute Haitians.

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Sunday, November 07, 2021

Today -100: November 7, 1921: As few as is necessary

The Bishop of Exeter says “I pray and hope that as few Irish as is necessary will be killed to uphold the British Empire.”

The All-India Congress Committee adopts Gandhi’s resolution for civil disobedience, including complete non-cooperation and tax resistance.

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Another in the ongoing award-winning series Everything in Russia is Fucked, Probably. See also (a few days ago), Russian Children Living Feral in the Woods.

The Hungarian National Assembly votes to dethrone Charles and the Hapsburg dynasty. All participants in his königputsch, except the leaders, are pardoned.

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Saturday, November 06, 2021

Today -100: November 6, 1921: Of orgies of corruption, exiles, and bluebeards

The Senate is working on a tax bill. It rejects 38-28 a proposal to keep the excess-profits tax and use it for a veterans’ bonus.

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This is the NYC mayoral race. Lawyer Samuel Untermyer warns that if John Hylan is re-elected, the brakes will come off, leading to the aforementioned orgies of corruption. Also public transit fares will increase. He accuses Hylan and his minions of smearing Republican/Coalition candidate Henry Curran as a friend of Henry Ford and an anti-semite.

A Macy’s ad says the store will be closed until noon on election day so its employees can vote. And Saks will open a less generous hour and a half late.

As former emperor/king Charles & consort Zita head into exile, we hear, I think for the first time, that Zita is pregnant with their 8th child.

The trial of Henri Landru for the murders of 11 women (11 of, no doubt, many) begins tomorrow and France is very excited; “vaudevilles and cabarets resounded with Landru jokes and songs.” Sadly, we are not given examples of these serial-killer jokes.

The government of Bermuda decides to retain its ban on automobiles.

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Friday, November 05, 2021

Today -100: November 5, 1921: What did Lafayette ever do to you?

Japan’s Prime Minister (since 1918) Hara Takashi is stabbed to death with a sword, no less, at Tokyo Station by someone misidentified by the NYT as a Korean “fanatic.” In fact he’s not Korean but a right-wing Japanese fanatic. Hara was a Christian. And a commoner, the first commoner PM.

The Senate votes to create that committee to investigate the charge by Thomas Watson (D-Georgia) that lots of soldiers were executed during the war without trial, and his other claims. Watson says he won’t cooperate, in a speech in which he defies the Senate to expel him and insults the Marquis de Lafayette (you know, from the Revolutionary War) for some reason.

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Thursday, November 04, 2021

Today -100: November 4, 1921: No use crying

All sorts of mayhem in the strike by New York City milk drivers against the distributers’ attempt to break their union; trucks attacked, trucks hijacked, scabs beaten. The streets run white with milk.

Foreigners have been rushing in to Germany to buy shit at dirt-cheap prices thanks to the collapse of the mark, and Germans are not best pleased at the resulting shortages in shops. German customs officials have been ordered to seize these exchange-rate bargains for evading export rules.

Two Socialists who were elected to the NYC Board of Aldermen in 1919, Algernon Leo and Edward Cassidy, are finally permitted to take their seats. Timothy Sullivan, who has been sitting in Cassidy’s seat for nearly two years, voted to unseat himself and will donate the salary he’s been drawing to a charity of Cassidy’s choosing.

The Hungarian government submits a bill removing the Hapsburg dynasty’s rights to the Hungarian throne and postponing the election of a new king. The Little Entente are not happy with the idea of an election, since Hungarians might vote for a Hapsburg. The Allies are making arrangements to exile Charles and Zita to the Portuguese colony of Madeira in the North Atlantic.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Today -100: November 3, 1921: Of glowworms, plebiscites, and Asian exclusion

Former Austro-Hungarian Emperor Charles is on his way out of Hungary, prisoner on the British gunboat Glowworm, which will take him down the Danube to the Black Sea and then... er, the Allies are still working that out.

The British Cabinet reportedly has sent a letter to Northern Irish PM Sir James Craig asking him to allow a plebiscite in the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh over whether they’d like to join the South.

The British Columbia Legislature passes a resolution calling for a complete ban on Asian immigration.

Aldous Huxley’s Crome Yellow is published sometime this month. Oh well, everyone’s first novel can’t be great.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Today -100: November 2, 1921: Insolence?

Lloyd George, who has had to cancel his trip to the Washington Conference to deal with Ireland, thinks the Irish conference could be saved if the Northern Ireland administration graciously gives up Catholic-majority counties Tyrone and Fermanagh. Like that’s a thing that could happen.

Italy and Russia sign a trade agreement.

The Senate creates a special committee to investigate allegations made by Sen. Thomas Watson (D-Georgia) yesterday that lots of US soldiers, white ones he hastens to clarify, were executed by the Army during the Great War without court-martial and that officers often shot enlisted men for “insolence.” James Wadsworth (R-NY) challenges Watson to prove his claims – what we’ve got so far is that Watson has a photo of a gallows which he claims was taken in France and people have told him at least 21 soldiers were hanged on (from?) it in a single day – but Watson refuses to do so before the Military Affairs Committee, thus the special committee. During this back and forth, Watson adds new claims to those he made yesterday: officers “made courtesans of too many of the nurses,” soldiers had no shoes, wounded soldiers were left to die in ditches, etc. Secretary of War John Weeks says the War Department is only “aware” of 10 American soldiers hanged in France (6 for rape, 1 for murder & intent to commit rape, 3 for murder and rape).

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This is another protest against the convictions of Sacco and Vanzetti, according to a note left at the scene. Also, it was probably a grenade rather than a bomb and the consul, I guess, nudged it with his foot and walked on before it went off, so this wasn’t the action-movie sequence the headline suggests.

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Monday, November 01, 2021

Today -100: November 1, 1921: That’s how you lost America

The British Parliament gives a vote of confidence in Lloyd George’s Irish policy, by a vote of 439-43. The vote of censure was proposed by Unionist “die hards.” Rupert Gwynne  (C-Eastbourne), seconding, declaimed “Our empire was built on considering justice and right, not on considering the opinion of other people,” to which T.P. O’Connor interjected, “That’s how you lost America.” Of course the vote is about a conference (currently between sessions) whose doings are mostly unknown to the members of Parliament, you know, the people about to vote about those doings. Lloyd George says closed-door conferences are the only ones in which you can do business. He says yes, he’s negotiating with killers and, worse, people who are not loyal to the king, but that’s who the Irish people elected. He says the issue in this vote is whether Britain should drop the negotiations, crush the rebellion, and impose terms. But it is “a question of cost.” Winning a guerilla war is tough, he says, reminding the House of the Boer War.

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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Today -100: October 31, 1921: Of bailiffs and bribes

One thing former emperor/king Charles again refuses to abdicate. They’re sending the archbishop who crowned him to ask him again. It also seems he failed to pay for that private plane that took him from Switzerland to Hungary. The bailiffs have shown up.

Prohibition investigator Howard Kiroack rejects the offer of a $25,000 bribe to drop an investigation of a big booze guy in New York. Kiroack doesn’t go to the meet and arrest the briber, because there’s never been a conviction for bribery of dry agents, he says, so why bother.

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Saturday, October 30, 2021

Today -100: October 30, 1921: Of recalls, snow insurance, and Jack the Clipper

The people of North Dakota vote to recall Gov. Lynn Frazier as well as the state attorney general and the commissioner of agriculture and labor. The new governor will be independent Ragnvald Nestos. This is the first recall of a governor in the US (with, I have to say, not much interest from the NYT).

Yugoslavs have been wondering for more than two months if their new king Alexander would ever show up in Yugoslavia, but he’s finally left the lights of Paris. The rumor is spreading, possibly from Alex’s people, that he wasn’t really laid up all this time with appendicitis but with wounds from an assassination attempt in June. Not true.

D.W. Griffith, filming “The Two Orphans,” or “Orphans of the Storm” as it will be called on release, takes out a $25,000 insurance policy against there not being sufficient snowfall while he’s filming. I smell a publicity stunt.

Marjorie Haws of Westwood, New Jersey, 17, sets off a panic by claiming that a man knocked her unconscious and cut her hair. In fact, according to an investigation by the district attorney, her story (“pure bunk”) was concocted to cover up her getting her hair bobbed against her parents’ wishes. The young women of Westwood may now feel safe.

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Friday, October 29, 2021

Today -100: October 29, 1921: Of abdications and bunk

The Allies tell Hungary that unless Charles abdicates, they won’t oppose the Little Entente (Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia) invading. But Charles doesn’t wanna. They keep politely asking him, but haven’t turned up the pressure by, say, erecting a guillotine outside the monastery they’ve got him stashed in, and there’s no provision in Hungarian law for deposing a king.

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Today -100: October 28, 1921: Of strikes, censures, fatal germs, ethnic cleansings, and duels

The railroad strike is off. The unions blame the successful propaganda of the roads convincing the American public that the strike would have been against the government (the Railroad Labor Board) instead of the railroad companies.

The House of Representatives votes 203-113 to expel Thomas Blanton (D-Texas) for inserting naughty words in the Congressional Record, where they might be read by children – CHILDREN!  That vote is shy of the 2/3 needed. They then censure him, 293-0. After the censure is read to him, Blanton runs out of the chamber, faints in the corridor, and makes his way to his office weeping.

Sen. Pat Harrison (D-Miss.) worries that Harding’s speech yesterday encouraging, as he sees it, negroes to seek political equality “is a blow to the white civilization of this country that will take years to combat.” It would allow the black man to become president or hold a cabinet position. (I just had to look this up: the first black man to hold a cabinet position was Housing and Urban Development Secretary Robert Weaver in 1966, and the first black man to become president was someone called Barack Hussein Obama – that can’t be right, can it?). And Sen. Thomas Watson (D-Georgia) complains that Harding “should go down in the South and plant there fatal germs in the minds of the black race.” Other racist senators chimed in as well, but I’m sick of typing out their words.

A day after cops kill two black men in Enid, Oklahoma, a parade of autos carrying hooded Klansmen politely suggests that all black people leave the town.

Ettore Ciccotti, wrongly identified in the NYT as a communist editor, loses a sword duel with Benito Mussolini, or really the duel is called after more than an hour because Ciccotti is too poorly to continue.

The German government grudgingly accepts the division of Upper Silesia. Poland already has.

Hungarian PM Count István Bethlen says Charles must abdicate. He calls the attempt to seize the throne a “putsch” and says the Chuckster cannot be trusted.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Today -100: October 27, 1921: All true negroes are against social equality

In Birmingham, Alabama, Pres. Harding tells a “great audience of whites and colored people” that blacks are entitled to full economic and political rights, but not to social equality, dear god no not social equality, because there will never be racial amalgamation in the US due to “a fundamental, eternal and inescapable difference.” “The black man should seek to be, and he should be encouraged to be, the best possible black man and not the best possible imitation of a white man.” He says the black man should be permitted to vote when he is fit to vote and the white man deprived of his vote when he is unfit, whatever that means, but the line got applause from the blacks in the audience and silence from the whites. He praises Lothrop Stoddard’s book The Rising Tide of Color, or to give it its full title, which Harding does not, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. He says the key is education, but he doesn’t want people, black or white, educated “into something they are not fitted to be,” which seems to mean training black people to be doctors or lawyers rather than manual laborers. The new immigration limits will soon “force us back upon our older population to find people to do the simpler, physically harder manual tasks,” so the South should treat black men better to prevent them being drawn North and West.

Also, Harding says, all white Southerners shouldn’t vote in a bloc for Democrats and all blacks shouldn’t vote in a bloc for Republicans. The latter should be easier after this godawful speech. And the Virginia Republican candidate for governor Henry Anderson (selected by a lily-white convention) saying that since whites own everything, they will continue to run the government without black assistance.

Marcus Garvey sends Harding a telegram congratulating him on the speech, saying “All true negroes are against social equality, believing that all races should develop on their own social lines.”

Feds claim there’s a radical plot for a nationwide bombing spree in the 3 days before Halloween in retaliation for Sacco & Vanzetti’s conviction or to prevent a death sentence or something.

Joseph Wirth’s new cabinet is approved by the Reichstag. Where his last was called the Cabinet of Fulfilment, this one is the Cabinet of a Predicament. Not sure who assigns these names.

US soldiers occupying the Rhine will soon be removed, and they’re not happy about it. The drop in value of the mark means they’ve been living like kings, plus the, you know, 4¢ beer.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Today -100: October 26, 1921: Of failed coups, strikes, business man’s cabinets, bats, and dirty, dirty words

Former emperor/king Charles accepts the Hungarian government’s terms of surrender, renouncing the throne for himself and his son (Update: No, he hasn’t). They’re stashing him in an abbey until the Allies decide what to do with him – Switzerland says he can’t come back and his entourage have to leave the country. There are stories that he tried to commit suicide, only to be dissuaded by former empress/queen Zita, which is the sort of thing the super-dramatic Hapsburgs would do but is also the sort of rumor that gets spread about them. I don’t think it’s true.

The Railroad Labor Board asks the railroads to postpone their request for a second double-digit wage reduction, in the interests of averting a strike. The railroads say no. Conflicts between various unions make the strike actually look increasingly less likely, but various governors are preparing to use troops to keep the trains moving, and 700 Harvard students volunteer to man the roads as scabs (Columbia will refuse to let its students do the same, or at least will penalize them for missed classes).

Joseph Wirth, who resigned as German chancellor Saturday, is chosen to be chancellor again and form a “business man’s” cabinet.

“Bat” Masterson dies. The last of the Olde West gunfighters, sheriff of Dodge City, etc., but more recently a sports writer and editor, he dies at his desk at the Morning Telegraph in NYC at 67.

The House of Representatives is outraged at something Thomas Blanton (D-Texas) slipped into the Congressional Record, a purported conversation between a union and a non-union printer for the Record – Blanton hates hates hates unions – and they’re considering expelling him altogether. They don’t like him anyway because he keeps demanding roll call votes and calling other congresscritters liars. They vote 313-1 to expunge whatever the offending matter was. The NYT certainly won’t tell us what it was, but we are assured it is so filthy it could not legally be sent through the mails.  And here’s some of it, exactly as it was printed: “G__d D___n your black heart, you ought to have it torn out of you, you u____ s_____ of a b_____. You and the Public Printer has no sense. You k_____ his a____ and he is a d_____d fool for letting you do it.” (I can’t figure out what the U-word is).

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Monday, October 25, 2021

Today -100: October 25, 1921: Of beer, königputsches, pardons, and lynchings

Since the Senate failed to pass a bill banning beer, the IRS is forced to draw up  rules for medicinal beer (technically, the prescribing of beer has been legal but without these regulations it couldn’t be done). No more than 2½ gallons of beer, or 2 quarts of wine can be prescribed at one time. Doctors are not permitted to prescribe booze for themselves. (Only 9 states permit prescribing beer, though: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin).

The Hungarian authorities arrest former emperor Charles and Mrs. former emperor Zita 40 miles from Budapest. The details are somewhat unclear, thanks to Hungarian censorship. It sounds like a couple of hundred of the soldiers who defected to Charles were killed in clashes and more of the army stayed loyal to the government than the Carlists expected (they’d anticipated marching triumphantly into Budapest unopposed, their path strewn with flowers). So the army was able to surround them, forcing a surrender and some ignominious fleeing. The Allies demand that Charles be deposed as king (the government’s position has been that he is actually king but that circumstances prevent him ruling at present), which they didn’t demand even after Charles’ last coup attempt last Spring.

To celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary, Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III pardons, among others, Fascists who attacked Socialists (and vice versa, but we know who the aggressors mostly were) and legionaries who supported Fiume’s independence against Italy.

A black man is seized by a lynch mob at the railroad station in Fairfax, South Carolina, where a sheriff who had arrested him for murdering a white farmer was trying to get him to Columbia “for safekeeping.” The mob shoots him and burns the body, possibly post-mortem, possibly not.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Today -100: October 24, 1921: Inevitable and final catastrophes are the worst kind of catastrophe

The forces supporting former emperor Charles’s coup attempt in Hungary send government forces fleeing in their first encounter. The Horthy government reassures the Allies that the monarchy will not be restored – at this time – and that Charles will be forced to leave the country. It declares martial law and calls on the people to “restrain the royalists and plotters who are plunging Hungary into inevitable and final catastrophe.” The NYT is full of unverified rumors: the Horthy government has fallen; Charles is already in Budapest; Czechoslovakia is about to invade; Yugoslavia is about to invade; Romania is about to invade...

Paris police & troops again prevent Communists from protesting the Sacco & Vanzetti convictions at the US Embassy.

The Workers’ League, a radical-communist group running candidates in the NYC elections, complains about their meetings being broken up by cops and Socialists, accusing the latter of resorting to “capitalistic violence.”

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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Today -100: October 23, 1921: Of kingly coups, assassinations, and resignations

Former Austro-Hungarian Emperor Charles is back in Hungary, arriving in disputed West Hungary by plane from his Swiss exile (reportedly his first ever ride in an aeroplane), in his second attempt this year to become King of All the Hungaries. He’s gathering supportive troops.

There’s a lot of tut-tutting in England about de Valera’s letter to the pope. I’m beginning to wonder if Lloyd George would actually prefer the discussions with Sinn Féin to fail so he can hold a general election on the subject of rejecting Irish independence and keep his rickety coalition together a little longer.

50 Irish political prisoners in Cork go on hunger strike.

Bulgarian Minister of War Alexander Dimitrov is assassinated, along with his chauffeur and a couple of others.

German Chancellor Joseph Wirth and his cabinet resign, precipitated by Upper Silesia and the dramatic fall of the mark.

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Friday, October 22, 2021

Today -100: October 22, 1921: Of strikes, grenades, and lawbreakers

The Railroad Labor Board orders unions not to strike until after a conference it’s calling and then after any other delay it can think of.

Someone throws a grenade during a Paris meeting called by the Communists to protest the prospective execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. No dead, 20+ injured. Cops on horses prevent the meeting’s audience marching on the American Embassy.

A mob seizes 2 black “boys” from jail in Pilot Point, Texas and flogs them. A notice to the local paper signed “K.K.K.” says “Yes, we did it. This should be a warning to all loafers and lawbreakers.” Possibly they don’t understand that people who kidnap and assault other people are themselves lawbreakers.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Today -100: October 21, 1921: Of excess public functionaries, churlishness, lynch laws, and what’s the moon fucking doing now?

Portuguese Prime Minister António Granjo and former president António Machado Santos are assassinated (along with others) during the coup. One item on the program of the coup regime, along with reducing the deficit and suchlike, is “deal with the problem of the excess of public functionaries.”

Headline of the Day -100:  

De Valera is sure His Holiness won’t be mislead by the “ambiguities” of King George’s recent missive to the Vatican into believing that the Irish people owe allegiance to the king. The Times of London says the letter is “unmannerly to the point of churlishness,” which is a very Times reproach.

Cambridge University’s Senate again refuses to allow women limited membership in the university, as male undergrads outside chant “We won’t have women.” They celebrate their victory according to the customs of asshole Oxbridge undergrads with an attack on women-only Newnham College, ramming its gates (not a metaphor).

The House Judiciary Committee favorably reports out an anti-lynching bill, with penalties of 5 years to life for any participant in a lethal lynch mob, and 5 years or a fine for officials whose neglect of duty allows a lynching to occur. Also, the county in which a lynching took place would be liable to pay $10,000 to the families of lynch victims.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Rudolph Valentino’s The Sheik premieres.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Today -100: October 20, 1921: Of coups, perfume bombs, and lynch mobs

Military coup in Portugal.

Germany threaten an economic boycott of the parts of Upper Silesia granted to Poland.

A bomb (actually a grenade) is sent to US Ambassador to France Myron Herrick, in the guise of a package from “a well-known perfumery house,” but it only injures his English valet, who luxuriates in the very English-valet name Blanchard. Blanchard recognized the sound from his wartime service and hurls it into the bathroom. The police won’t let the ambassador into the crime scene to get his evening clothes, so the bomb inconveniences him by forcing him to go out to play bridge in the same clothes he’s been wearing all day. The French police suspect the Communists, who have been sending letters to Herrick about Sacco and Vanzetti. 

Police thwart a lynch mob in Vineland, NJ, getting confessed alliterative negro child-slayer Louis Lively to safety, which is nice of them considering he shot a cop who tried to capture him.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Today -100: October 19, 1921: Peace, peace, and another peace, ain’t it grand

The Senate ratifies the peace treaty with Germany, 66-20. The treaty with Austria gets the same vote, that with Hungary is ratified by 66 to 17. Borah (R-Idaho) denounces the treaties as a secret plot to force the US into the League of Nations, somehow, eventually.

The German mark continues to drop dramatically in value. The Berlin Bourse will close every day this week except Thursday.

Former king of Bavaria Ludwig III dies. Contrary to the NYT obit, his wife did not die the same day he abdicated (nor did he properly abdicate).

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Today -100: October 18, 1921: It is not anti anything but wrong

In his last day of testimony to the House, Imperial Wizard William Simmons accuses the New York World of planning to have one of its employees tarred & feathered and blame it on the Klan. He again says the KKK isn’t anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, or anti-negro; “It is not anti anything but wrong.” The House committee seems to have decided not to proceed with its investigation, leaving it up to the Justice Department.

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Today -100: October 17, 1921: Boys and their toys

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Today -100: October 16, 1921: Of strikes, governors, passports, and corsets

A big railroad strike is called for the 30th after railroad companies announce an additional 10% wage reduction following a 12% reduction approved by the Railroad Labor Board in July. The strike will include mail trains.

Taking office as governor of the colonial Philippines, Gen. Leonard Wood says “There must be no turning backward in the Christian faith,” which he thanks the Spanish imperialists for imbuing in the Filipinos. Also, he thinks the Philippines should have a common language. Which should be English. 

Senate Republicans aren’t sure they have the votes to ratify the peace treaty with Germany, especially with the late Philander Knox’s seat vacant and increasing opposition led by Woodrow Wilson, so they may postpone the vote until they can pressure Penn. Gov. William Sproul to quickly replace Knox (Sproul denies a rumor that he’ll resign as governor to take the seat himself).

At the Washington conference, the French may propose abolishing passports.

Ad of the Day -100:  

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Today -100: October 15, 1921: Of non-reapportionment and deeds

The House of Representatives rejects a bill to increase the number of Representatives, as part of reapportionment, to 460. It also rejects a plan for reapportionment that would keep the membership at 435 and another plan, from George Tinkham (R-Mass.), to reduce it to 425 and to base reapportionment on the number of registered voters rather than total population, thus reducing the representation of Southern states that disfranchise black people.

In Texas in January, a woman sold (or at least transferred “ownership” of) her 3-month old baby to another woman. When that woman moved to Florida, she went to the court house to have the deed registered. They’re pretty sure – but not entirely sure – that the whole thing is illegal.

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Today -100: October 14, 1921: Of persecutions, bitter injustices, hard-faced Balkan peasants, and leaks

A New York team wins the World Series.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Testifying before the House committee, Imperial Wizard, to give him his full title, William Simmons calls on God to “forgive those who have persecuted the Klan” and then dramatically collapses. He says the Klan is not anti-Catholic or anti-Jewish or anti-negro or anti-foreign, although all these people are banned from membership (well, “any Jew who can subscribe to the tenets of the Christian religion can get in”). He graciously asserts that if Harding resigned and the people proclaimed Simmons absolute monarch, he would refuse.

German Chancellor Joseph Wirth decries the “bitter injustice” of the League of Nations division of Upper Silesia: “As long as there is German history the separation of these German cities in Upper Silesia will be felt as a colossal injustice.” (Plus, one might add, 43 of its 67 coal mines). The cities, Beuthen, Königshütte and Kattowitz, he points out, all voted strongly to join Germany rather than Poland. He thought he had an agreement with Britain on Upper Silesia and only accepted the Allied ultimatum on that basis, and doesn’t see how his government can now survive (which is a shift from the rumor that it would resign).

A large demonstration of the unemployed march on Whitehall and are violently attacked by police, as was the custom.

The Bulgarian government that got Bulgaria into World War I is put on trial.  The special court includes 7 real judges and 12 special judges described as “hard-faced Balkan peasants with only one collar among the lot.”

The Irish delegates to the Ireland conference complain about leaks to the press, according to a, well, you know, leak to the press.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Today -100: October 13, 1921: A man would need to be an optimist to hold up the British Empire

Sen. Philander Knox, former attorney general under McKinley and Roosevelt and secretary of state under Taft, dies of apoplexy, as was the custom.

William Simmons, founder and imperial hood-meister of the modern Klan, defends his organization before a House committee. He says there is no room in the Klan for those who take the law into their own hands and “We have been charged with everything from the wave of high prices to the sweeping march of the boll weevil.”

Detroit bans a planned KKK Thanksgiving Day parade.

The German government threatens to resign if the League of Nations decision on Upper Silesia is, as rumor has it, to divide it between Poland and Germany.

The British and Irish delegations to the Ireland conference both bring lists of breaches of the truce by the other side. In an interview Michael Collins says he’s an optimist; “A man would need to be an optimist to hold up the British Empire.”

Margaret Sanger plans to open birth control clinics in Southern states which haven’t gotten around to making them illegal.

Dr. E. Stillman Bailey proselytizes for the beneficial effects of radium. Why, radium miners in Colorado were immune to the Spanish Flu and never get gout. He likes to give radium tablets to his patients, especially old people, and swears by the results. If you’re wondering what Bailey eventually died of: apoplexy. It was the custom.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Today -100: October 12, 1921: Of lynchings, milk, unsavory organizations, and people with too many children and too little imagination

A lynch mob in Leesburg, Texas burn 19-year-old Wylie McNeeley, a black man accused of assaulting a presumably white 8-year-old girl, at the stake. Hundreds of people watch.

Harding says of the forthcoming disarmament conference that it’s “hard to imagine justifications” for conflict between peoples on opposite sides of the Pacific (i.e., the US and Japan).

The British-Irish talks begin, with little leaking from them. We do know that the British complained that Sinn Féin courts in Dublin are fining milkmen who sell adulterated milk. One can only imagine Michael Collins across the table from Winston Churchill. I count at least two on the Sinn Féin side who will meet violent deaths within a year or so.

There’s a civil war beginning in China, the NYT reports, in a two-paragraph story on the bottom of page 14.

Nothing interesting in the first day of Congressional hearings into the Ku Klux Klan (except a lovely typo in the NYT Index).

Elsewhere, the New York City Board of Aldermen calls the Klan an “unsavory organization.” And someone tries to shoot Elizabeth Tyler, who evidently survived the old morals charges arrest problem to become head of the Woman’s Department of the KKK.

The federal prohibition director says the cost of prohibition enforcement in the last fiscal year was $6,250,095.43, but penalties, taxes etc brought in $2,152,000 plus seized property worth nearly $11 million, and of course bribes.

Highland Park, Michigan, which already fired married women municipal employees, bans the hiring of new unmarried women.

A.B. Burgess, a black Georgian, has 32 children by 3 wives, including 7 sets of twins and 2 sets of triplets. After a while, he just ran out of names, having two Sallies and two Willies (stop it!), so he didn’t bother naming the most recent twins, and they picked their own names when they started school (the article does not enlighten us on those names).

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