Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Today -100: June 15, 1921: Figures he’d be against “too much fun”


The US occupation authorities in Santo Domingo say they’ll withdraw in 8 months – if the Dominican people cooperate. Also, independence doesn’t look very independent, with the Republic expected to take on a large loan, overseen by an American overseer, with a police overseen by American officers, all this ratified by a convention named by the US military...

Retired Gen. Karl Höfer and his German irregular forces in Upper Silesia flatly refuse Allied orders to leave, even after Polish forces obeyed.

Maj. Roy Haynes, the Federal Prohibition Commissioner (in the Treasury) asks for Prohibition enforcement to be given a fair chance “without having too much fun poked at them” by newspapers, movies, playwrights, etc. Anything other than strict observance of the stupid law “means chaos, means Bolshevism.”

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Today -100: June 14, 1921: Of privileged positions, zeppelins, scurrilous stories, and poker


Pope Benedict complains about “the privileged position enjoyed by the Jews in Palestine, which is dangerous for Christians.”

The House of Representatives votes 305-61 to end the state of war with Germany and Austria. This differs from the Senate version in not also repealing the 1917 declarations of war.

Headline of the Day -100:  


And yes, I do want it to blow up just so I can write “Oh the humanité.”

Col. John Russell, the commander of the Marines occupying Haiti, bans “scurrilous” articles or speeches attacking the Marines or the Haitian president or government. Offenders will be tried by US courts-martial because Russell says Haitian courts aren’t up to the job of prosecuting people for libel or inciting rebellion because the next revolution might bring those people to power, “where they would be in a position to take bloody vengeance upon the Judge and members of the court.”

Scotland Yard has been raiding clubs to stop poker-playing. Poker players object that it is not gambling but a game of skill and anyway private clubs are private.

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Today -100: June 13, 1921: Dirty arms and the man


No links today, NYT website screwup.

A lynch mob in Moorestown, New Jersey fails to find a black man suspected of murdering a 7-year-old girl. They do find another black man at the train station and beat him pretty severely until people who knew the suspect convince them they’ve got the wrong guy.

A production of Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man in Vienna is disrupted by Bulgarians who (correctly) think it insults Bulgarians (A quote: “Bulgarians of really good standing—people in OUR position—wash their hands nearly every day.”). Eventually the Viennese get them to shut up.

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Today -100: June 12, 1921: Of feet, rum raids, mail horses, and scarey squirrels


Lady Randolph Churchill, aka Jennie, Winston’s mother, has her right leg (not foot, as the article says) amputated after falling down, breaking her ankle, and getting blood poisoning. For some reason this is front-page news.

The House of Representatives adopts a rule allowing the resolution declaring peace with Germany and Austria-Hungary, when it is voted on Monday, to be adopted with no amendments. Democrats object to this as forcing wholesale acceptance of a resolution which was decided upon secretly by Republican members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Headline of the Day -100:  



This is in New York County. That one conviction, by the way, was someone who first pled guilty, then realized everyone was being acquitted and changed his plea, but of course he’d already admitted his guilt in court.

An anti-prohibition parade in Greenpoint, led by the mayor, had banners and floats. “On one float was a blacksmith in a forlorn attitude beside a neglected sledge hammer and an empty glass. This was entitled ‘Thinking’ in large letters.”

The NAACP reveals that Col. John Russell, commander of the US Marines occupying Haiti, arrested two editors and bans newspapers reprinting US newspaper stories about complaints about Marines in Haiti.

A mob of “vigilantes” force 100 or so foreign-born coal miners out of Francisco, Indiana. Plus another hundred who were working on railroad construction near Oakland City.

The Post Office plans to bar the use of unfit horses to carry the mail after a ruling that the arrest of a mail wagon driver for animal cruelty does not constitute unlawfully obstructing the mail.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Friday, June 11, 2021

Today -100: June 11, 1921: Of murders, banned bikes, and insolent Germans


Eva Kaber confesses to the murder of her husband Daniel Kaber in 1919 in Lakewood, Ohio. She is under indictment along with her daughter and her mother. She says he mistreated her, so she and a spiritualist concocted a plot to hire two men, who were under instructions not to kill him but to give him a shaking to drive out his ghosts – possibly while pretending to be ghosts themselves? – and convince him to be nicer to her. Instead, they stabbed him to death, 24 times. Eva had also been giving her (paralyzed) husband what she claims she was told was medicine but was in fact arsenic, provided by the medium. It’s all a bit complicated, including Pinkertons hired by Daniel’s father, one of the stabbers being tracked down and prosecuted in Italy, etc., but the three-generations-under-arrest thing is pretty impressive, in a Lifetime movie sort of way, although only Eva went to prison. The fortune teller was acquitted, but later went to jail for providing arsenic to another murderer.

The British are considering imposing martial law on Dublin. And banning bicycles, because they got nothin’.

Headline of the Day -100:  


This insolence consists of marrying women in Alsace-Lorraine, thereby acquiring French citizenship.

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Today -100: June 10, 1921: No Jew has succeeded in getting the better of Mr. Ford


Mexican Pres. Álvaro Obregón says any treaty with the US has to come after the US recognizes the Mexican government, not as a precondition.

Roderick McLean, who tried to shoot Queen Victoria in 1882, dies in Broadmoor Asylum, where he’s been ever since.

Henry Ford sends a letter to Ford officials denying rumors about the turbulence of the Ford Company earlier in the year and about why he hates Jews, denying that it’s because they refused him loans. “No Jew has succeeded in getting the better of Mr. Ford.” The letter says “There is no attack and no campaign against the Jews” because Jewish influence is strong enough to crush anyone who discusses the Jewish question, while “Jewish leaders have gone from one excess to another.”

The Coalition Government in Britain keeps losing by-elections. In Heywood and Radcliffe (Lancashire), a by-election called when the MP and former postmaster-general was made a peer is won, amusingly enough, by a farm worker employed by that peer, Walter Halls (Lab.). And in Westminster St. George’s, the coalition candidate is defeated by James Erskine of the Anti-Waste League, which was created in January by newspaper tycoon Lord Rothermere. The anti-waste thing is supposed to appeal to women voters.

The British government publishes what it claims is the text of a draft treaty from a year ago between Russia and the Irish Republic, which may or may not be real, but anyway never went anywhere.

D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love is finally published in the UK.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Today -100: June 9, 1921: I didn’t murder her; I only shot her


Babe Ruth serves a one-day jail sentence for speeding (2nd offence), actually serving just 4½ hours and leaving in time to drive his “maroon, torpedo-shaped machine” to the Polo Grounds to join a game in the 6th inning. And yes, he was speeding to get his $500 a game fee (plus a rumored $500 per home run), but he isn’t caught this time.

The RNC reduces the number of delegates from the South in future National Republican Conventions by 40% from the 1912 convention, in line with their being so few actual Republican voters in the South. Southern delegates have often been black; one, Henry Lincoln Johnson of Georgia, suggests that instead of this, the party could demand its members of Congress actually enforce voting rights. What a kidder.

Utah’s cigarette ban goes into effect.

Oddly, two people were arrested this week in relation to the murder of Rosa Luxemburg in January 1919. One was caught Monday trying to sell her watch. The other, Otto Runge, who the NYT thinks was a fugitive but actually served some months for his part in the murder, the only person ever held responsible for the Leibknicht-Luxemburg murders, was recognized Wednesday when he tried to sign on at a labor bureau in Berlin under a false name. When accused of being the person who murdered Luxemburg he supposedly said “No, I didn’t murder her; I only shot her.” So that’s okay then.




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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Today -100: June 8, 1921: Of bindings, uneasy hats, bathing costumes, and detention


Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes says recognition of Mexico would require it to sign a treaty “binding itself” to protect property rights, specifically US property rights, meaning oil.

The new Northern Ireland Parliament meets for the first time.  40 members, all Unionists, show up. The Sinn Féiners and Nationalists, of course, do not. “The members of Parliament wore new glossy silk hats, which made them appear uneasy.” There are two women members; “They took the oath with their hats on.”

Atlantic City politicians are worried about the increasingly strong opinions about bathing costumes: “The last thing the officials want to see is a definite line-up of the newly enfranchised women, with the younger women demanding more freedom on the beach, and the older, but more influential, insisting upon a continuation of the present rules.”

Oklahoma Attorney General S.P. Freeling files the first charges related to the Tulsa race war and wouldn’t you know it, all four charged are black. Also, all black people found on the streets of Tulsa without identification, starting tomorrow, will be put in the detention camp.

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Monday, June 07, 2021

Today -100: June 7, 1921: Of spectacles


Pueblo, Colorado conscripts all able-bodied men to dig the city out of the mud after that big ol’ flood.

Pres. Harding makes an unscheduled stop on his motoring trip at Lincoln University, a black college. He tells the graduating class that education is important for blacks, because the government isn’t going to do jack shit for them: “No government can wave a magical wand and take a race from bondage to citizenship in half a century.” Well not with that attitude, mister. “The colored race, in order to come into its own, must do the great work itself in preparing for that participation,” he says, accepting the premise that most black people are not already “prepared” for citizenship by the fact that they are, you know, citizens. He refers to Tulsa (for the first time) as “the unhappy and distressing spectacle that we saw the other day out in one of the Western States” and hopes that “God grant that, in the soberness, the fairness and the justice of this country, we shall never have another spectacle like it.” So that’s it. He can’t even name the state, much less the city, where racial atrocities occurred, and offers as the only protection against future such... spectacles... the soberness, fairness and justice that did sooooo much for the black population of Tulsa.

In Somers Point, New Jersey, Commodore William Tanguy, age 70, volunteers to be the town bathing suit censor. He says he doesn’t need glasses and will even do it free. Sounds legit.

The British colonial regime in Sierra Leone and independent Liberia ratify a convention by which Liberian wives can be purchased for a maximum price of £5.

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Sunday, June 06, 2021

Today -100: June 6, 1921: Of loop-the-crashes and flashing limbs


Laura Bromwell, aviator who held the world record for most loop-the-loops (199), dies. Guess what she was doing at the time.

As previously mentioned, Somers Point, New Jersey invited beach-goers who didn’t wish to subject themselves to Atlantic City’s bathing suit censors and did wish to wear one-piece bathing suits and nothing – dear god, nothing! – on their legs. And yesterday, Sunday, many “turned the bay front into a scene of flashing limbs and display of shapely forms.” Men (presumably) watched the beach from the bridge and from trees, “and there was a shortage of men at church services.”

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Saturday, June 05, 2021

Today -100: June 5, 1921: Entire populations will take the chance of never awakening when they go bed at night


Pueblo, Colorado floods. I mean, really floods. A militia captain orders all looters shot, as was the custom.

The British are evidently threatening that if the southern Irish don’t agree to a settlement within a month, military repression will be intensified, the number of soldiers will be doubled, and 100,000 will be interned in concentration camps.

Somers Point, New Jersey invites bathers to come to its beaches to escape its rival Atlantic City’s puritanical rules. At Somers Point women can wear one-piece bathing suits and show bare legs (as opposed to hosiery) and everything.

The Army has a new poison gas, actually a liquid, 3 drops of which on someone’s skin will kill them within 30 seconds, according to Capt. L.D. Hutson, speaking at the Pennsylvania Military College. “Imagine what will happen to a city,” he says, drooling slightly, “when air squadrons begin spraying it with that terrible substance. In the next war machine guns and artillery will be out of date – the weapons will be gases and chemicals, and the humblest non-combatant will be exposed to attack. Entire populations will take the chance of never awakening when they go bed at night. It will truly,” he says with a visible erection, “be a war of extermination.”

The African Blood Brotherhood formally denies having started the Tulsa race riot, but head Cyril Briggs says at least it would show white people that blacks are not cowards and will fight back. 30 white Tulsans have been arrested for looting the burned-out negro district. One black hotel porter tells his manager that he’s feeling weak; turns out he was shot the day before but was afraid to mention it to anyone because he might be mistaken for a rioter and summarily executed.

The German war crimes court in Leipzig acquits a U-boat commander on charges of sinking a British hospital ship, because he was just, you know, following orders.

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Friday, June 04, 2021

Today -100: June 4, 1921: Of vagrants, ghost mommy’s victory, shells, and unpopular prohibition


Martial law is lifted in Tulsa. Some black people in the town – some rich guy, sheriff’s deputy Barney Cleaver, who seems to be something of an asshole – are saying that black agitators planned trouble for some time, and there’s supposedly proof that the African Blood Brotherhood set up a secret chapter in Tulsa. Mayor Thaddeus Evans issues an order for “all men... to either get a job and go to work” or be arrested as vagrants. The NAACP asks Harding to make a statement about the massacre already.

The British High Commissioner in Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, interprets the Balfour Declaration as saying Palestine will accept Jewish immigration only to the capacity of the area to absorb them, which at present isn’t very great. Also, no Bolshevik immigrants.

Soghomon Tehlirian is acquitted by a Berlin court for assassinating former Ottoman Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha in March. I guess that “my mother’s ghost told me to do it” defense works. There was also evidence introduced of Talaat’s part in the Armenian Genocide, and if there’s one thing Germans hate, it’s genocide. Tehlirian will die in San Francisco in 1960.

The House of Representatives would like the Senate’s proposal for naval disarmament talks to also include talks to reduce the size of armies.

The IRA close off a section of central Dublin and go house to house looking for three bank robbers. They don’t find them.

The IRA also set fire to the National Shell Factory in Dublin. Seems a dangerous place for the British to put a shell factory, if you ask me.

The Brooklyn Grand Jury dismisses another 82 Prohibition cases out of 90, for a total of 480 of the last 543.

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Thursday, June 03, 2021

Today -100: June 3, 1921: Of white man’s countries, and ghost mommies


French forces, with tanks, intervene in the fight in Upper Silesia between Germans and Poles. Intervene against the Germans, obviously.

Authorities in Tulsa are claiming just 30 dead in the massacre. The emerging official narrative largely blames Tulsa police for losing control of the situation and not dispersing or shooting the black people who converged on the court house to prevent a lynching. That’s the crux of an address to a mass meeting – which I’m gonna guess was entirely white – by Adj. Gen. Charles Barrett, who’s in charge of martial law in the city. Barrett has banned funerals for those killed in the riot. Insurance companies are claiming that their policies don’t cover mob violence.

The NYT explains the racial “friction” in Oklahoma: “During the war Southern negroes flocked to the border State and found profitable employment. There has not been so much for them to do of late, and many of them are loafing on the streets. Not only the idle, shiftless and disorderly have worn out their welcome. It has become a common saying that ‘Oklahoma is a white man’s country.’” Presumably the NYT agrees with this, since it is evidently up to white people to decide when black people are “welcome” and up to black people to vanish back where they came from when the economy has less use for them. To continue: “When they had plenty of money to spend the negroes bought automobiles, lived high and claimed social privileges that the whites were not inclined to allow them. Drafted for service in France and praised for their patriotism, they naturally had a better opinion of themselves. All these things contributed to fan the flame of racial antagonism. .. the rough element among the whites was ripe for a rising to teach the negroes their place.” That “rising” was an attempt by blacks to organize to prevent a fucking lynching. And again, it is up to the white people to decide the “place” of black people; the only “racial antagonism” on evidence is white resentment of black people claiming social privileges (otherwise known as equal rights) and having a better opinion of themselves than white people have of them.

Soghomon Tehlirian, the Armenian on trial in Berlin for assassinating former Ottoman Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha in March, says he dreamed of the ghost of his mother ordering him to kill Pasha in retribution for the Armenian genocide, in which she and the rest of his family was killed.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Today -100: June 2, 1921: Tulsa


The Greenwood/Tulsa Race Massacre. The whites of Tulsa, Oklahoma burn out the negro section, destroying 30 blocks of the city and shooting blacks trying to escape their burning houses. It started, as so many of these things do, with an accusation of assault by a black man, Dick Rowland, against a white woman – he tripped in an elevator and grabbed the arm of the elevator operator for balance, that’s it. He’s arrested; a white mob, spurred by headlines like “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator,” gathers at the court house; armed blacks show up to save Rowland from lynching; someone fires a shot, and away we go. Incidentally, the elevator operator will refuse to press charges and Rowland will leave town (along with many other black Tulsahoovians) and disappear from history. As of this first NYT story, the “race riot” is over, and 6,000 blacks are being held in makeshift detention camps. Tulsa police say racial animosity has been stirred up for months by the Wobblies.

Chief Secretary for Ireland Sir Hamar Greenwood tells Parliament that there just hadn’t been enough soldiers in Ireland to guard important buildings like the now smoldering Dublin Custom House. He says that reprisals can’t be ordered by any officer below Brigade Commander; I’m not sure when they stopped denying that reprisals were official policy.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Today -100: June 1, 1921: Rum and paper do not mix


In addition to the almost daily reports of mistakes in the War Dept’s list of alleged WW I draft deserters, many cases have had to be dropped in federal court when it turns out the men had actually served or were too infirm to have passed a medical. Not that this will stop the War Dept from putting out error-ridden lists.

Headline of the Day -100:  



Sometime this month Booth Tarkington’s novel Alice Adams is published. It’s like a Jane Austen marriage plot novel set in a 1920s small town. ... Okay I’ve tried out that take on it and it doesn’t really work. Anyway, it’s short, so the Katharine Hepburn 1935 movie doesn’t cut anything out and is remarkably faithful right up to the last few minutes, where it has brighter conclusions to all the plot threads.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Today -100: May 31, 1921: In which is revealed what would disgrace a Hottentot


Headline of the Day -100:  



Somehow I doubt the accuracy of this report.

Well, that Upper Silesia armistice didn’t last long. Each side blames the other for starting up again.

The prime minister of Bavaria, Gustav Ritter von Kahr, says he just can’t disarm the Bavarian population, specifically the paramilitary Einwohnenerwehr, as the federal government agreed with the Entente would happen.

Headline of the Day -100:  



“Nearly solid for German fusion” sounds like a particularly unpleasant sex act, but this is in fact a referendum, held by local authorities against the orders of the Austrian government, for Austria to merge with Germany. Close to unanimous.

The German war crimes court in Leipzig convicts its second war criminal, a captain who made POWs work even when they were sick, and who rode his horse into groups of prisoners. Sentenced to 6 months. The British are complaining that the terms aren’t long enough - “An outrage on decency,” howls the Daily Mail, which says Capt. Müller’s crimes “would disgrace a Hottentot”.

Tonight on PBS (check local listings): “Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten” on the massacre this day -100.

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Today -100: May 30, 1921: Of armistices and ticket choppers


An armistice is negotiated between Polish and German forces in Upper Silesia.

Horace Porter, the last living wartime aide to General Ulysses Grant, who witnessed Lee’s surrender, dies at 84. He was a general at 27, assistant secretary of war under Sec. Grant, personal secretary to Pres. Grant, then a railroad executive who invented the ticket chopper (which is what it sounds like, destroys used tickets so they can’t be re-used), then ambassador to France under McKinley & Roosevelt.

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Saturday, May 29, 2021

Today -100: May 29, 1921: In which is revealed which is the only government that cares about art and children and who are the most care-free men in the South


Whites in southwestern Utah are worried about an Indian (Ute) uprising.

The French education minister orders the firing of all teachers who encourage Communist ideas.

Isadora Duncan accepts an offer from Russia to open a dancing academy in Moscow. “The Soviet is the only government that cared about art nowadays and children,” she says.

Charles Ortner was sentenced to 2 to 4 years for assault in 1917 and sent to Sing Sing. He liked it so much that he refused to apply for release on good behavior after 1½ years or parole when that was available at 2 years, although he was a model prisoner to whom it would certainly have been granted. They’ve finally thrown him out.

An article in the NYT Sunday Magazine explains the Southern peonage system to silly northerners who think the black peons are badly treated. The author, one James Young, explains that black farm workers are in constant debt to white farmers, and hence are never paid by them, because “The negro is not thrifty by inclination. He lives for the day and lets the next one care for itself. This is a reflection of his really childish and often happy nature. It would be difficult to find a more care-free man than the negro field worker of the South.” Meanwhile, the hapless white farmers are gouged by bankers and stores and are “the real economic slaves of the cotton field.”

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Today -100: May 28, 1921: What the well-dressed woman wears


Unionists decisively win the Northern Irish Parliament elections, winning 40 seats out of 52. Sinn Féiners who won include Éamon de Valera, Michael Collins, and Arthur Griffiths, but the party wound up with far fewer seats than expected, in part because the proportional representation voting system disfavored them, so they won’t have the numbers to cripple the parliament through abstention.

Buster Keaton and actress Natalie Talmadge are going to marry.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Today -100: May 27, 1921: Of riots, war crimes, and battlers


Ada Dozier wins a lawsuit against the city of Chicago for the death of her husband in the summer 1919 race riots. She’s awarded $2,300.

One provision of the Versailles Treaty required Germany to hold war crimes trials. The first, of a sergeant who beat up British POWs, results in a 10-month sentence.

Racist Headline of the Day -100:  


“Many critics have openly declared that Wills is the best big negro in the ring today.”

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Today -100: May 26, 1921: Of customs, polygamous cohabitation, and winey tennis players


The IRA burn the Dublin Custom House, as was the custom. The building has been used by the Local Government Board (rather than customs) and other government bodies for some time, and lots of important records are gone. Also the dome fell in. Reading the account, it sounds like they may just have intended to burn records but the fire got out of hand, forcing IRAers to flee the building, where they were taken prisoner.

House Speaker Frederick Gillett introduces a proposal for an Amendment to the Constitution banning polygamy and “polygamous cohabitation.” It’s aimed at.... Connecticut, evidently.

The Senate unanimously adopts an amendment to the Navy budget asking Harding to to hold a naval disarmament conference with Britain and Japan.

The German government is cracking down on Freikorps groups recruiting men to fight in Silesia.

French tennis players refuse to come to the US for the Davis Cup unless they receive assurances that they will be able to have wine.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Today -100: May 25, 1921: Thoughtless aspersion is the worst kind


The Senate rejects the House proposal to reduce the size of the Navy to 100,000.

Navy Secretary Edwin Denby names a new military governor for Santo Domingo (the Dominican Republic), Rear Admiral Samuel Robison.

The elections are held in Northern Ireland.  “In some districts revolver firing was indulged in, but not with serious results.” A lot of children voted, including a 2½-year-old who voted for one Thomas Moles, probably because he thought the name was funny.

French Prime Minister Aristide Briand tells the Chamber of Deputies that Germany is fulfilling its promises. On Silesia, he says that it’s never really been German in spite of being part of Germany for 200 years.

The Presbyterian General Assembly calls for prohibition to be imposed on the Philippines, and for federal movie censorship and marriage & divorce laws in the US.

The Women’s City and Country Club adopts a resolution, offered by Eleanor Roosevelt no less, condemning remarks (“thoughtless aspersion”) by Vice President Coolidge, I guess in an article in The New Republic which I can’t find in which he complains that women’s colleges are full of radicals and attacks Vassar drama professor Winifred Smith in particular. The NYT renders her name Finifred Smith; Wikipedia had no results under that name so it showed results for “fingered smith” instead, which was not what I had in mind at all.

There are reports/wishful thinking that the former kaiser Wilhelm has committed suicide. He hasn’t. 

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Monday, May 24, 2021

Today -100: May 24, 1921: Tears of a clown


France tells Germany that sending troops into Upper Silesia, as Germany is doing, would be regarded as an act of war. PM Briand does not say what he regards Poland’s sending troops into Upper Silesia as being. In making this threat, France is acting independently of Britain and Italy.

Headline of the Day -100:  


37 are killed in riots in Alexandria in British-occupied Egypt. It seems to have been started by Greeks. The Times of London claims it was the work of paid agents, because of course it does. The NYT isn’t sure if the riots are anti-foreign or an internal squabble among nationalists, who “could not be expected long to maintain their solidarity. Only in their hatred of English rule and their desire to get Egypt into their own hands, to do with it they know not what, are they at one.”

The NYT supports the new restrictive immigration law, saying “The great menace of the new immigration of recent years is that, by introducing large numbers of varied races whose languages and traditions are alien, the nation may lose unity and solidarity. Already the processes of Americanization have been severely checked, standards of living have been lowered and highly inflammable material has been afforded for radical agitators.” And this bit is not at all telling: “Scandinavians, though foreign to us in language, are racially and politically close kindred.”

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Sunday, May 23, 2021

Today -100: May 23, 1921: Of recognitions, and aristocracies of thought action


The US still hasn’t recognized the Obregón government in Mexico and is demanding as a condition of recognition that Obregón sign an agreement to safeguard American interests, change the Constitution to reverse the nationalization of subsoil rights, etc., with demands down to shit like exempting US ministers from laws that apply to Mexican priests. Obregón for some reason thinks this would be a humiliation for a sovereign nation.

German troops defeat Poles in Silesia.

Mussolini says the newly elected Fascist members of the Chamber of Deputies, of which he is one, won’t attend the opening because the king will be there. He predicts, “Our comportment in the Chamber will be correct, as the Fascisti represent the aristocracy of thought action. ... We shall set a good example of discipline and order, of dignity and good-will” unless of course the Socialists shout at them, in which case “we shall immediately bring into Chamber our system of fighting and we will spare no one.” But he thinks they can work with the Socialists on the 8-hour day if the Socialists aren’t assholes about it.

And that was the second time the NYT ever mentioned Mussolini.

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Saturday, May 22, 2021

Today -100: May 22, 1921: A collar leads to a collar


Poet-Aviator Gabriele d’Annunzio’s former followers in Fiume have evidently formed hit squads and are assassinating Autonomists who won last month’s election.

Fugitive former Florida Gov. Sidney Catts is arrested on those peonage and bribery charges when an eagle-eyed clothing store clerk in Albany, Georgia notices the initials SJC in a customer’s discarded collar and calls the police. While being escorted by those police, Catts reaches in his pocket for a lead-filled billy (a truncheon-type thing). He says it’s a valued gift from a friend and he certainly wasn’t thinking of slugging a cop and going on the lam.

A London bootmaker’s shop is using an x-ray machine you stick your feet into to determine how well a shoe fits. The store claims the device uses too little radiation to make your foot actually fall off. This (unnamed in the article) store may be the first to have done this stupid thing, but the practice continued for decades.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

Today -100: May 21, 1921: Of mingos, radium, and beer


French Prime Minister Aristide Briand has been making excuses to refuse Lloyd George’s request for a meeting to discuss various German issues (occupation of the Ruhr, Upper Silesia), because he’s afraid that LG will insist that Allied decisions be made by majority rule (Britain + Italy outvoting France) instead of unanimously.

Mingo County, West Virginia (in which Matewan is located) is declared to be in a state of insurrection in an attempt to put down the violent coal strike which has been going on forever. The proclamation of martial law bans the carrying of arms by anyone other than the authorities (presumably that won’t be enforced against the coal companies’ thugs, just guessing). However the coalfield extends into Kentucky, where there is no such ban...

Northern Ireland prepares for elections (on the 24th) with a massive show of military force.

In the White House, Warren G. Harding ceremonially presents Dr. Marie Curie with a vial of radium as was, I assume, the custom.

Pure-food expert Dr. Harvey Wiley testifies to the House Judiciary Committee that beer is not a medicine.

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Today -100: May 20, 1921: Panned


Obit of the Day -100:  


Michael Llewelyn Davies, actually one of four brothers J.M. Barrie adopted after their parents’ deaths, drowns in the Thames along with his possible boyfriend and fellow Oxford student Rupert Buxton, possibly in a suicide pact. He was 20, and the cousin of Daphne du Maurier (who is 14 years old).

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Today -100: May 19, 1921: Of dead justice, guvs on the run, and matters of European concern


Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglass White is dead. White was appointed as associate justice in 1894 by Cleveland and chief justice in 1910 by Taft. His father was a member of Congress and governor of Louisiana. He was a Confederate soldier, and prisoner of war (although the facts are oddly murky and contradictory), during the Civil War. If you’re wondering, two other ex-Confederate vets served on the Supreme Court.  White was the second Catholic justice, after Roger Taney.

Former Florida Governor Sidney Catts is indicted in federal district court for peonage of two black prisoners who he had delivered to his plantation. This isn’t his first indictment this month, the first being for selling pardons, but he hasn’t been found to be arrested yet; in other words, he’s currently a fugitive from justice, which I believe is the custom for former governors of Florida. He’s a minister, because of course he is.

The Polish government asks the US for help on the Upper Silesia question. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes responds that it’s just “a matter of European concern, in which, in accord with the traditional policy of the United States, this Government should not become involved.”

Rumor of the Day -100:  Trotsky has cancer!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Today -100: May 18, 1921: Of dying justice, national coalitions, and what does Einstein know anyway?


Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglass White’s doctor says he’ll probably be dead by morning.

The French Communist Party conference decides that the party’s MPs can keep their salaries instead of handing them over to the party and being given a worker’s pay.

The “National Coalition Party” of Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti wins a small majority in the Italian general elections (221 seats in the Chamber of Deputies), so he should continue in office. The Socialists and Communists lose some seats, to 125 and 15 respectively), Fascists have 28, one of them Mussolini. There are also 4 German and 5 Slav deputies representing territories acquired from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 40+ people are killed in election violence (later figure: 63). An editorial says “the verdict of the election is strongly against the subversive elements,” by which the NYT means the left wing, not the Fascists.

Albert Einstein, visiting Boston, is asked some of the questions on Thomas Edison’s test. Einstein does NOT know the speed of sound off the top of his head.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Today -100: May 17, 1921: Reading Gandhi


An Irishman is executed in Cork for possession of a revolver and 12 rounds of ammunition.

The Earl of Reading, the Viceroy of India, met with Gandhi.

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Today -100: May 16, 1921: Of false mustaches, draft dodgers, fair mothers, and sun spots


Men from, presumably, the IRA, well-disguised with trench coats and false mustaches, attack houses in London and Liverpool of people connected to the Royal Irish Constabulary. A bit of arson, a bit of shooting, none of it very fatal, but it’s happening on the mainland.

Adalbert Korfanty, head of the Polish insurrection in Upper Silesia, complains that the British look on Poles as “less than negroes.”

The War Department plans to continue issuing lists of draft evaders, despite embarrassing reports every single day about people falsely included on those lists.

The Romanian police raid the Romanian Communist Congress and arrest 72 delegates, including 3 MPs, after it votes to join the Third Internationale. The cops claim the party is subsidized by Russian jewels.

Georgians are organizing to impeach Gov. Hugh Dorsey (whose term expires next month) for his pamphlet on the treatment of black people in the state. The “Guardians of Liberty” accuse him of “blackening... the character of the fairest mother ever had – Georgia.” One person attacking Dorsey is President of the state Senate Sam Olive, who says the only way to end lynching is for assault to cease.

High sun spot activity is blamed for railroad tie-ups (electrical interference with the signaling system).

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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Today -100: May 15, 1921: To hell with hooch


An anti-Prohibition parade in Brooklyn is cheered by Mayor Hylan and his family as it passes his house. Placard: “To Hell With Hooch: We Want Beer.” 

Victor Daly, business manager of The Messenger, the Harlem Renaissance magazine, and his wife and mother-in-law are awarded $100 each for being refused service (after refusing to sit in the rear room) at the Pig and Whistle Restaurant in the West Village.

Oh, look, the same thing happens to Grace’s Garret in Washington Square after it refuses to serve negroes, one of them from the NAACP. I begin to suspect a campaign. The owner of the Garret insists it’s not really a public restaurant and she often refuses to serve people who seem “not to be congenial to the little group that comes to the Garret.”

A new California law bans capital punishment for people under 18 (although it’s up to them to prove their age).

Sen. Thaddeus Caraway (D-Ark) introduces a bill to ban negroes enlisting in the army or navy.

Headline of the Sunny Day -100:  



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Friday, May 14, 2021

Today -100: May 14, 1921: Of respected commas, spikes, and measurements


In Parliament, Lloyd George calls for fair play in Upper Silesia, saying Poles don’t have a historical claim on the region and didn’t win their own freedom during the War, rather it was won for them by the Allies even while many Poles serving in the German military shot at them, so “Poland above all lands ought to respect every comma in the Treaty of Versailles.” He says the Poles in Silesia only through about fighting for their “freedom” once the Germans were disarmed. He suggests that the Polish government, rather than denying any responsibility for the actions of Adalbert Korfanty, should follow Italy’s example in (eventually) dealing with Poet-Aviator d’Annunzio.

Nominations are made for the Southern Irish Parliament. Only Sinn Féin nominates any candidates for the 124 of the 128 constituencies (the other 4 are 4 pro-Union types selected for Trinity College Dublin), with no opponents. Since the SFers will refuse to take the oath to the king (half are in prison anyway, many of the rest on the lam), the Southern Parliament is effectively dead. Among those nominated: Éamon de Valera, Michael Collins, Mary MacSwiney, sister of Terence, the Cork lord mayor who died in prison from a hunger strike, and his brother Sean, “who recently escaped from Spike Island internment camp,” because OF COURSE there’s a Spike Island internment camp.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Today -100: May 13, 1921: Now I want to see an IMDB user review by Shakespeare of City Lights


Bernard Shaw supports the plan of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford to show movies during the off-season. He says Shakespeare would have loved Charlie Chaplin.

Canada warns US aviators to stop flying over the border without a permit. Under the International Air Convention, countries are supposed to license pilots and certify planes’ airworthiness, but the United States doesn’t do any of that.

With a general election pending in Italy, Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti says Italy is on her feet again. He admits Italy badly needs to get rid of its surplus population and is not happy that the US is cutting back on immigration (Italians are currently the largest number of immigrants to the US).

Claquers (people paid to attend theatrical performances and clap wildly) in Buenos Aires want to join a union of (real) theatre employees.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Today -100: May 12, 1921: Of truces, cancers, famines, and daylights


The Polish forces in Upper Silesia commit to a truce, which they immediately break.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Or die trying!

The British claim the IRA are destroying seeds to promote their claim in the US of a famine in Ireland.

The Connecticut Senate refuses to pass the bill the lower house passed penalizing people and cities who adopt Daylight Saving Time.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Today -100: May 11, 1921: Up to the present Irishmen have been fighting each other


Joseph Wirth (of the Catholic Zentrum [Center] party) becomes German chancellor in a new “Surrender Cabinet.” He then gets the Reichstag to vote 221-175 to accede to the Allied ultimatum, um, to the capacity of the nation to do so.

Thomas Edison has been complaining that college grads are failing the test he makes prospective executives take, so colleges must suck. Questions include: What country consumed the most tea before the war? In what country other than Australia are kangaroos to be found? (New Guinea) Where is Korea? What causes the tides? From where do we import figs/prunes/dates? Who composed “Home, Sweet Home?” What voltage is used in street cars?

Chief Secretary for Ireland Sir Hamar Greenwood says the problem in Ireland “arises through century-long dissension among Irishmen,” so when the Irish “get together and stay together on a common all-Ireland policy the Irish question will be settled. Up to the present Irishmen have been fighting each other.” The Black and Tans must be feeling very overlooked right now. Supposedly, the British government has offered Dominion status (like Canada or South Africa), with a high degree of autonomy, but only as a final settlement and only to a united Ireland, you know, the thing British policy has been working hard to prevent since Cromwell.

Headline of the Day -100:  


During the war he gave the Navy some sort of submarine-detection device. Now he’s on trial for murder.

The NYT supports a proposed NY constitutional amendment to require a literacy test for voting. “Is it undemocratic,” the editorial asks, “to exclude from the rule of the people those who won’t take the trouble to learn the language of the laws, the Constitution and the majority of the people?” Um yes, yes it is.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Monday, May 10, 2021

Today -100: May 10, 1921: Of kisses, sedition, lynchings, and due care


Headline of the Day -100:  


A Lucerne newspaper claimed that a hotel owner, who is also a colonel in the Swiss Army, kissed Charles’ hand. The colonel denies it and is suing for libel.

New York has two new “anti-sedition” laws, one requiring private schools to be licensed by the state and banning them from teaching the overthrow of the government by unlawful means, and the other requiring a loyalty test of all public school teachers.

NY Gov. Nathan Miller rejects the opinion of 40 police chiefs that prohibition can’t be enforced by uniformed cops and that plainclothes cops would quickly become known to bootleggers, especially in small towns and certainly after the first time they had to testify in open court. Miller threatens to have mayors in those towns charged with.... something. 

A mob in Starke, Florida hangs a black man accused of shooting a deputy sheriff.

In a lawsuit over a dog hit by a car, the dog’s owner insists that the beast (the NYT in two articles fails to ascertain the dog’s name or even gender) “was in the exercise of due care,” but the driver claims the dog... committed suicide.

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Sunday, May 09, 2021

Today -100: May 9, 1921: Of plane crashes, mountain bad men, and where the hell is the author?


The largest aeroplane ever built in the US, with room for 26 passengers, crashes on takeoff on its maiden flight, as was the custom. Sounds like it needed a longer runway. Hit a tree and a telegraph pole.

More violence in Italy, with a new (I think) feature: Fascists breaking into prisons to release their arrested colleagues. 

The German organization of steel & iron companies votes to defy the Allied demands, figuring the occupation of the Ruhr is just a matter of time no matter what Germany does.

Headline of the Day -100:  


A white man, sure, but a “mountain bad man.” He murdered a woman 6 months after he got away with murdering her husband by a mistrial.

John Dillon of the Irish Nationalist Party will advise that the party put forward no candidates for the Southern Irish Parliamentary elections, leaving the field to Sinn Féin.

Sweden abolishes capital punishment.

Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author premieres in Rome.

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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Today -100: May 8, 1921: Of fascists, and dogs & moose


A (more or less pro-Fascist) NYT article on the increasingly frequent pre-election clashes in Italy between Fascists and Communists claims that the general population sides with the former during these fights while the cops ignore them or somehow show up too late to protect the Fascists’ victims. It names as one of the Fascists’ goals “to restore the authority of the State,” because nothing says restoring the authority of the state like mobs destroying buildings and fighting in the streets.

The Most Alaska Headline of the Day -100:  


To be clear, these are members of the Loyal Order of Moose (loyal to whom or what?) headed to the international convention in Toledo a month and a half from now. Also coming: 75 members of the Jacksonville, Florida lodge dressed as Simon Legree, the evil slave-owner from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and, in case that was too subtle, the Alabama delegation will come dressed as Klansman. Yeah, “dressed as.”

Lloyd George says if Germany disarms in accordance with the Versailles Treaty, it would be entitled to ask the Allies to force Poland to disarm too.

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Friday, May 07, 2021

Today -100: May 7, 1921: Of governors, councils, assassinations, and voter suppression


Harding picks as governor for Puerto Rico (governors weren’t elected until 1948) E. Montgomery Reily, a businessman from Kansas City, which is obviously just like Puerto Rico so he should feel right at home. Reily was an early supporter of the Harding presidential campaign.

The US will rejoin the Allied Supreme Council, without feeling bound in any way by its decisions.

Franceso Nitti, former prime minister of Italy (1919-20), says Fascists tried to assassinate him but shot at the car ahead of his.

William Friese-Greene, the “reputed inventor of movies,” who indeed invented some of the first movie cameras but put more money into his inventions than he ever got out, dies.

c.70 Allied casualties since the Polish invasion of Upper Silesia.

The House of Representatives rejects efforts to investigate negro disfranchisement in the South, 285-46.

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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Today -100: May 6, 1921: The cost of springing forward


Adalbert Korfanty is identified as the new Polish “dictator” of Upper Silesia. Poland is pretending to be totally surprised by the uprising of Poles in Silesia – an uprising which is clearly highly organized, planned well in advance, and supported by Polish soldiers and military planes – and claims not even to be in contact with Korfanty. The new German chancellor, Constantin Fehrenbach, says Germany is ready to send in the Reichswehr if the Allies don’t stop the Polish invasion.

Bertrand Russell gets divorced, which is actually true, unlike that very premature obit two weeks ago.

Former Florida Governor (until January 1921) Sidney J. Catts is indicted by the grand jury for taking bribes in exchange for pardons. $700 for a pardon for the murderer of a deputy sheriff, allegedly.

Not sure if the NYT has simply failed to mention the proposed Sheppard–Towner maternity and infant care Bill or if I’ve just missed it, but an article today quotes a couple of doctors testifying against the bill, one saying it is demanded only by “a few women who have money to burn and time to waste,” plus socialized medicine and government control of blah blah blah.

The Connecticut House of Representatives votes to impose a $25 fine on any business with a clock displaying Daylight Saving Time, as well as officials who countenance Daylight Saving.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Today -100: May 5, 1921: Of resignations, naval holidays, forced hands, draft dodgers, and annoying notes


The German government resigns rather than receive the Allied ultimatum, but agrees to Pres. Ebert’s request to stay on temporarily. No one else wants to do it.

Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt says the US should join Britain and Japan and halt battleship-building for 5 years, and the US should scrap half its navy, preferably the obsolete half.

Polish troops march into Upper Silesia, clashing with Allied troops (although French troops don’t seem to be resisting very strenuously). Poland is afraid it won’t be given the parts of Upper Silesia that voted to join Germany rather than Poland.

The Senate Navy Committee rejects Sen. William Borah’s proposal for a disarmament conference between the US, Britain and Japan after Harding warns Congress against attempting to “force his hand.” However Harding’s insistence that the issue of disarmament is solely the province of the Executive branch is unlikely to persuade congresscritters.

The War Dept makes public its list of “draft dodgers” in New York City. The US attorney admits that the lists are not good and has to ask for the dismissal of indictments against 106 men who were not, in fact, draft dodgers. For example, some had voluntarily joined up some time after registering for the draft, others moved and were registered at more than one draft board, etc.

The losing streak for enforcement of NY State’s new prohibition law continues, with the first 5 trials in Brooklyn all resulting in acquittals.

In Jersey City a policewoman, a fireman for some reason, and a whole mob of Jerseycityhoovians capture a black man, who is sent to the pen for 90 days for... writing an annoying note to a woman.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Today -100: May 4, 1921: Of primaries, amusing terror, draft dodgers, and dangerous music


New York abolishes primary elections for state offices and for the US Senate, reverting to nomination of candidates by party conventions. Primaries will continue for the House of Representatives, the state Legislature, and city and county offices.

Headline of the Day -100:  



Some weird shit winds up on the “Amusements” page.

Secretary of War John Weeks says he’ll bring to trial every single man who signed up for the draft during the Great War but failed to turn up, who he deems deserters subject to courts-martial.

It seems that despite what Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge said during the Senate debate on the Knox Resolution revoking the declaration of war, Harding has NOT definitely decided against re-submitting the Versailles Treaty to the Senate in a modified form and in favor instead of negotiating a separate peace with Germany and Austria.

The bill restricting immigration passes the Senate 78-1. Hiram Johnson’s amendment to allow in victims of religious or political persecution loses 60-15.

France announces it will only use white troops to occupy the Ruhr.

U.S. Steel reduces the wages of 150,000 of its employees by 20%.

The mayor of Noeux les Mines in Northern France bans music in public buildings because he thinks music is dangerous to public morals. Protesters will treat him to nightly serenades, so maybe it was his plan all along was to get free music?

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