Monday, September 20, 2021

Today -100: September 20, 1921: Of comptollers, morals charges, and fourth-degree oaths


Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, is Socialist candidate for NYC comptroller. Her focus would be on schools, she says.

Ku Klux Klan Imperial Kleagle E.Y. Clarke and Mrs Elizabeth Tyler deny New York World charges that they were doing something wrong when they were arrested on morals charges in 1919. The two are the publicists who turned the second Klan into a thing. And they are totally fucking.

The Chicago City Council pledges to keep the Klan out of the city. The Atlanta City Council, on the other hand, responds to the revelations about the Klan by calling on the newspapers publishing them also to investigate the “4th degree oath” of “an unpatriotic and un-American secret order,” the Knights of Columbus. The oath is a fiction, made up by the Klan, in which Knights of Columbus members supposedly pledged to make war “openly and secretly” against Protestants.

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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Today -100: September 19, 1921: Probably looking for Fatty imprints


Lloyd George telegrams Éamon de Valera, again saying no conference is possible unless the insistence that the Irish delegates would represent a sovereign independent Ireland be retracted.

8,000 people go to look at Virginia Rappe’s body, because what else is there to do on a Sunday?

Boston District Attorney Joseph Pelletier calls on members of the Knights of Columbus, of which he is an official, to report any KKK activity in Boston.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Today -100: September 18, 1921: We can only recognize ourselves for what we are


In the latest in the never-ending series of telegrams between Éamon de Valera and Lloyd George, LG says if the reps of the Dáil Éireann continue to claim that Ireland is independent, he can’t meet them without it constituting “formal and official recognition” of Irish secession. And then other countries could deal with Ireland as an independent state, and we can’t be having that.

De Valera responds that he was only accepting LG’s earlier invitation to meet without pre-conditions: “We have not asked you to abandon any principle, even informally, but surely you must understand that we can only recognize ourselves for what we are.” Anyway, he points out, you’ve already had meetings with me where I went as the leader of the Irish Republic, so if that involves recognition, you’ve already done it.

This exchange has gotten so circular that I’m not actually sure which of those Sept. 17th telegrams came first.

A mob, “many of them cowboys,” invade the Maverick Theatre in Thermopolis, Wyoming, which was showing a Fatty Arbuckle film, and seize and burn the film.  (Update: evidently this is a false story, possibly a publicity stunt by the theatre.)

Headline of the Day -100:  

“It’d be super cool!” urge experts. “So freaking steampunk!” urge experts. “Just keep buying them until they stop blowing up!” urge experts.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Today -100: September 17, 1921: Of recalls, definitely opposed positions, and masks


Enough North Dakotans have signed petitions to force a recall vote on Gov. Lynn Frazier (Non-Partisan League) as well as the attorney general and the commissioner of agriculture.

Éamon de Valera telegrams Lloyd George expressing surprise at the latter’s calling off of talks. He says the two sides’ positions being “so definitely opposed” is precisely the reason talks are required.

El Paso bans public gatherings of people wearing masks. Permits are possible for masked balls but probably not for meetings of the KKK, at whom this ordinance is obviously targeted.

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Today -100: September 16, 1921: I regard this hat-smashing as a serious piece of business


Franklin Roosevelt’s polio is admitted.His doctor says he won’t be permanently crippled. FDR is 39.

It’s not just Fatty Arbuckle’s pictures which are barred from being shown, it’s his alleged victim Virginia Rappe’s films as well. Some theatres have been using the publicity to sell tickets, although she was never exactly a major player in any movie.

Éamon de Valera wrote Lloyd George saying Dáil reps would only come to LG’s proposed conference as representatives of a sovereign state. So LG cancels the conference. 

Oh, now I understand the new Sinn Féin stress on “the Consent of the Governed™”: that was what Lloyd George said in 1916 should be the basis for peace after the Great War.

Former Illinois Gov. (and former mayor of Chicago, evidently the only person who’s been both) Edward Dunne (D) forms the National Unity Council to “develop harmony and good feeling between different classes,” or to put it another way, to fight the spread of the KKK.

Louisville bans a planned KKK meeting, and any KKK meetings in the future, and says anyone attending one will be regarded as a “law violator.” They don’t say what law.

The German government issues 10,915,500,000 new marks, which is the equivalent of some money, although it’ll be worth a lot less soon if that’s any consolation.

NY Night Court Magistrate Francis X. McQuade is cracking down on people who grab other people’s straw hats. “I regard this hat-smashing as a serious piece of business,” and he’ll send future hat-smashers to the workhouse. Straw hats are a not-after-Labor-Day thing, but not everyone can afford winter hats.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Today -100: September 15, 1921: Of ethnic cleansing, lynchings, world courts, applications of some force, and little lords


All the black residents of Montlake, Tennessee are driven out after a black girl shoots a white girl.

Negro Gilman Holmes is lynched in Columbia, Louisiana for supposedly attacking a (male) railroad station agent during a robbery. He’s hanged from a telephone pole in front of the station; his body is shot up, then burned.

29 countries agreed to join a World Court, surpassing the minimum needed to establish it, so the League of Nations elects members of the Court, including an American, John Bassett Moore, professor at Columbia and former assistant secretary of state, despite the US not having joined.

The SF coroner’s jury charges Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle with manslaughter, claiming Virginia Rappe’s peritonitis was caused by “the application of some force.” The jury recommends authorities take steps to prevent similar affairs, “so that San Francisco shall not be made the rendezvous of the debauchee and the gangster.” Dude, the official motto of San Fran is “Welcome To The Rendezvous of the Debauchee and the Gangster.”

Headline of the Day -100:  


I believe we’re officially at the lying-about-the-polio stage.

Premiere of Little Lord Fauntleroy, with Mary Pickford, America’s sweetheart, playing both the title character and his mother.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Today -100: September 14, 1921: Of primaries, fatties, good horse sense, and foreign legions


Henry Curran wins the Republican primary for New York City mayor, beating out Fiorello La Guardia, who will get the job in ‘33 after another couple of tries.

Elsewhere in NY elections, anti-Tammany Democratic candidate for Assembly in Queens Patrick Dowd is shot in the head after polls close during a fracas between his supporters and those of his opponent Peter Leininger when the Dowdies refuse to pay off on a bet about the election outcome. And Joseph Shalleck, campaign manager for another anti-Tammany D. Assembly candidate, James Hines, is beaten and shot at the polling place near the home of “Boss” Murphy after detecting unsbutle signs of ballot-tampering. The turnout of women, voting in local NY elections for the first time, is high.

Fatty Arbuckle is indicted for manslaughter. Virginia Rappe died of peritonitis but the implication everyone’s tittering over, I imagine, is that he caused her organs to rupture by being, you know, on the chunky side (which probably isn’t what killed her). One witness has disappeared, one has reversed her earlier statement, which leaves star witness Mrs. Delmont, who admits at the inquest having had ten (10) drinks of whiskey before the incident and later she and the detective “drank all the gin and orange juice.” And she says Rappe tore at her own clothes (being in pain from, you know, peritonitis), although I could swear I read that at trial her torn clothes were presented as evidence of rape.

In other Fatty stories today, we are informed that he was a mischievous lad back in Kansas, but not a violent one, and that his birth weight was 16 pounds. The Theatre Owners’ Chamber of Commerce in NYC orders the withdrawal of his films from 600 theaters. And the Los Angeles Athletic Club revokes his membership. 

Adolf Hitler is arrested for starting a fight at a meeting of the Bavarian League in Munich. He will serve one month in jail for assault, and in 1934 will have Otto Ballerstedt, the Bavarian League leader he fought with, murdered during the Night of the Long Knives.

Mrs Julia Sidman is the first woman to serve on a New Jersey grand jury. She dislikes the publicity (she says to reporters), but thinks “this whole matter is merely one of using good horse sense and in no way calls for all the excitement which has been created.” (You never hear about bad horse sense). The prosecutor earlier said that he has an old-fashioned regard for womanhood and doesn’t want them sitting on the grand jury.

Spain recruits 300 men from the US, Canada, Cuba and Mexico for the Spanish Foreign Legion, to fight in Spanish Morocco. Not exactly the Lincoln Brigade, is it?

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Monday, September 13, 2021

Today -100: September 13, 1921: Ignorance and too much money


Details of statements by witnesses to Fatty Arbuckle’s “drinking party” are leaking. He supposedly pulled Virginia Rappe into a room, saying “I’ve waited for you five years, and now I’ve got you.” There were screams, and when Fatty finally emerged, he was wearing pajamas and Virginia’s hat at an angle, showing his “foolish screen smile.” Rappe, moaning, said “Arbuckle did it.” I should say the witness, Bambina Maude Delmont, will turn out to have a record of blackmail and extortion. And she’s being paid, at least her hotel bills, by Rappe’s finacée. She called in a doctor, who, after Rappe’s death, performed a post-mortem without official authority, which is weird, right?

If some of this is open to doubt, we do get the definitive answer to the question: how fat was Fatty? His booking info says he is 5 foot 5 and 3/8 inches tall and 266 pounds. He’s 34.

Movie theaters are withdrawing Fatty Arbuckle movies. And in at least one town, the mayor banned them. It is explained that an actor “with a questionable reputation might be acceptable in a sophisticated drama, but not in a simple, frolicsome comedy that will be watched by thousands of young people and children.” 

Henry Lehrman, Virginia Rappe’s fiancée and a director of several of Arbuckle’s films, says he’ll kill Fatty if he’s released. He says Fatty is “the result of ignorance and too much money” and had to be warned to keep out of the women’s dressing rooms, like a common Trump.

Rep. Isaac Siegel (R-NY) writes to Pres. Harding about the unfair way the new immigration law is being carried out, such as sending back a 10-year-old Polish girl – her father came to the US years ago intending to bring his family over but the war broke out, them he heard they were dead, but he finally located them, then his wife died just before they were to come, so the daughter came alone – because the Polish quota for the month had been reached. Harding responds blaming “dishonest steamship agents.” Oh no, not his mortal enemies the dishonest steamship agents!

The California Supreme Court overturns the alien poll tax, an annual $10 tax on alien male residents between 21 and 60, passed this year to put into effect a November ballot measure. It not only violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection, the court rules, but the treaty between the US and Japan.

Russia declares war on Romania over Bessarabia, which the Allied Supreme Council gave to Romania, with what authority is unclear.

The governments of Poland and Bavaria both resign.

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Today -100: September 12, 1921: Of fatties and kluxers


Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (and can I just give my guess that every time the NYT has to give his name that way, an elderly editor with a green eyeshade died inside just a little) is arrested for the murder of Virginia Rappe. The detective captain in charge, Duncan Matheson, keeps saying “without a doubt” about the charge, but refuses to reveal what evidence he has. They’re talking about first-degree murder because it occurred during the commission of a felony. I imagine most readers would have understood that they’re claiming he raped her.

Elizabeth Tyler, one of the two chief organizers of the Ku Klux Klan, is in New York for what she claims is just a shopping trip but also maybe about a libel suit for $1 million they’re supposed to be filing against the New York World for its exposé on the Klan. She accuses the paper of saying that the KKK fosters race prejudice, which she denies while at the same time saying the US is “a white man’s country, so ordained by the will of God” and white people alone should control it and “We stand unreservedly for white supremacy.” So, you know, no race prejudice. Also no anti-Catholic or anti-Jewish feeling, though Klan members are required to owe no allegiance to foreign governments, so Catholics and Jews “automatically bar themselves” from membership, that’s just science.

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Today -100: September 11, 1921: Trinkle down theory


San Francisco police say they will detain (but not charge) Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle for the death of Virginia Rappe at a party in his hotel room. He’s coming back from LA to help the SFPD with their enquiries. Ms Rappe, 23 if you believe the NYT, 26 if you believe Wikipedia, or 30 if you believe imdb, was an actor most famous, I’m just going to assume, for playing “Lucy Butts” in “His Musical Sneeze.”

As I’ve mentioned, the Virginia Republican Party decided to purge itself of negroes. Its gubernatorial candidate, Col. Henry W. Anderson, defends the party’s lily-white convention, saying it is in accord with the US Constitution because it removes the race question from politics. Not sure if I understand his point. The Lily Black Republicans, as they call themselves, who were excluded from that convention, name their own slate of (black) candidates, none of whom the NYT bothers to name. John Mitchell Jr., newspaper editor, banker, etc, is the gubernatorial candidate, and an actual woman, Maggie Walker, is candidate for superintendent of public instruction. The Democratic nominee for governor is still named, regardless of all sense, Elbert Lee Trinkle, leading to such phrases as “Chairman Flood predicts that Trinkle will carry the State”.

And, indeed, Trinkle will carry the state.

Marshal Joseph Joffre of France delays his official visit to Japan because he needs a new plumed hat and it won’t be ready in time.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics tries to standardize terms: “aircraft” should be used rather than “airship,” which should only be used for lighter-than-air craft; “airplane” should be used in place of “aeroplane,” etc.

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Today -100: September 10, 1921: Of frightful evidence, raids at sea, tunnels, and drinking peacefully


Headline of the Day -100:  



Federal agents seize the drug-smuggling ship King Alexander, shooting 5 Greek sailors and blackjacking 20 more, as was the custom. The feds failed to tell anyone they were going to board the King Alex, because they suspected there were moles in Customs, so they’re fired on by customs guards and a harbor police launch who think the feds are rum-runners. An hour after the raid, Frank Fitzpatrick, one of the raid leaders, commits suicide, possibly for unrelated health reasons.

40 to 50 IRA prisoners escape from the internment camp at Curragh. They dug a tunnel.

Cyril Lincoln Reed, “of a good family in London,” wrote a bad check so he could fly to Paris  to get a drink or two, also paid for by bad checks. When he did it all over again a few days later, he’s arrested. He tells the court, “I had been turned out of every bar in London. After 24 hours I became so thirsty that I simply had to fly to Paris in order to be able to drink peacefully.”

Headline of the Day -100:  


From his... “pneumonia.”

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Today -100: September 9, 1921: Of quick and even quicker “justice,” and the consent of the governed


Headline of the Day -100:  


The day after Harry Latimar, a black man, allegedly commits “a crime” against white 8-year-old Wanda Varney in Williamson, West Virginia, he is indicted, tried, and sentenced to death, the verdict and sentence coming less than an hour after the first witness took the stand.

And two black men are lynched in a cornfield near Aiken, South Carolina.

Some time ago the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) fired the head of the English Department, Robert Kerlin, for having written an open letter to the governor of Arkansas, published in The Nation, about black men unjustly sentenced to death after the Elain massacre of 1919. The NYT says too many in the South “cannot see straight or reason clearly when the race question is thrust at them” and thinks Kerlin’s firing “a bad case of stupid intolerance.”

A federal judge enjoins Pittsburgh from banning the street sale of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic Dearborn Independent.

British Prime Minister Lloyd George sends Éamon de Valera another letter calling for talks with no preconditions except of course that Ireland must be tied up in Britain’s colonial basement forever. As to Sinn Féin’s call for Consent of the Governed™, he denies that can be used as the basis for an Irish Republic: “the principle of government by consent of the governed™ would undermine the fabric of every democratic State and drive the civilized world back into tribalism.”

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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Today -100: September 8, 1921: Disarming


Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes objects to newspapers calling the upcoming international meeting a “disarmament” conference, because it only aims to limit arms.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Today -100: September 7, 1921: If England is issuing an ultimatum, let it be an ultimatum


Harding praises the achievements  of the Republican Congress. “[W]e are working our way out of a welter of waste and prodigal spending at a most impressive rate.”

As the British Cabinet meets, Éamon de Valera issues a statement, declaring, “The British imperial statesmen are trying to sell Ireland second-rate political margarine, and are very angry because we do not accept the butter label they put on and believe all the advertising stuff they have had printed about it. ... If England is issuing an ultimatum, let it be an ultimatum. Brute force, naked and unabashed, has been used against small nations before. Our nation has known it for long.”

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Monday, September 06, 2021

Today -100: September 6, 1921: Of banned black boxers, klans, and hereditary princes


Newark police forbid boxer Jack Johnson speaking, or leading a parade of black people, because a couple of weeks ago he predicted that one day blacks as a race would be able to cope with whites.

The KKK (or someone so signing themself) post a notice in the black quarter near Corsicana, Texas, ordering all black people to pick cotton (they’ve been demanding a pay increase). And many of them do. Intimidation pays!

Speaking of, the New York World begins an important exposé of the Ku Klux Klan today. The NYT won’t mention it.

So there’s a guy at the French seaside resort Crotoy who’s convinced everyone that he’s Omar Ibrahim, the eccentric “Hereditary Prince of Egypt,” by attending the opera in a bathing costume and riding a bicycle into a ballroom. You know, like a hereditary prince does.

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Sunday, September 05, 2021

Today -100: September 5, 1921: Of dominions, oil, and fat parties


The Dáil Éireann officially rejects Lloyd George’s offer, calling for negotiations on the basis of the consent of the governed, which is a new catch-phrase. The Dáil says what the British have offered as Dominion status is inferior to that of other Dominions (Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand). And it objects to the creation of two “artificial states” in Ireland.

The Mexican government concludes what seem to be successful negotiations with five US oil companies.

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle throws a party! Fun!

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Saturday, September 04, 2021

Today -100: September 4, 1921: Of miners, cigars, and protocols


400 armed striking miners in West Virginia surrender to federal troops. One of the army’s bomber planes crashes.

Cuba is rushing 20,000 lady cigars to London for fashionable London lady smokers. They’re also taking up pipes, supposedly.

The London Times published last month, and the NYT reprints, evidence from the former’s Constantinople correspondent that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is not only fake, but that it’s a rip-off of a very obscure 1864 French-language book published, possibly, in Geneva. I’m unpersuaded by the correspondent’s claim that he heard this from an unnamed expatriate Russian who found the book among some books he bought off an Okhrana officer who had fled to Turkey and he was struck by the similarities to the Protocols, but the book’s title page is missing so it can’t be identified... I mean it is true that “Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu” is a real 1864 book that was the basis for much of the Protocols, with “the Jews” replacing members of Napoleon III’s administration, but the story of how this fact reached the Times is very implausible.

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Friday, September 03, 2021

Today -100: September 3, 1921: Of the unthinkable, airplanes, and dispatches from the Arctic the easy way


More shootings in Belfast. The IRA claims police are shooting up the Catholic districts from armored cars while shouting “To hell with the Pope,” as was the custom.

The NYT editorial page once again unerringly predicts the future:


10 days ago, Nicaragua declared that a state of (non-great) war existed. The NYT seems disappointed that no actual war has broken out (although some rebels invading from Honduras were routed).

Federal airplanes are bombing the West Virginia miners, because of course they are.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Alive and well and dropping bombs in West Virginia.

Someone at the International Psychical Congress announces that explorer Knud Rasmussen promised to take part in research into sending telepathic reports from the Arctic.

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Thursday, September 02, 2021

Today -100: September 2, 1921: In which a menace to free institutions is revealed


In 7 different fights on the streets of Pittsburgh, 9 men are arrested for fighting with paper sellers who were (illegally) selling Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic Dearborn Independent.

I’ve mentioned the Virginia Republican Party’s attempt to gain traction in the state by distancing itself from black people. The new party platform says it’s for their own good that black people should not be associated with just one party: “Political solidarity in either race is a menace to free institutions.” Oh, and they say they will appoint no (0) black people to public office.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Today -100: September 1, 1921: Maybe it should have had actual apes instead


The D-6, the largest non-rigid dirigible (balloon) owned by the US Navy, burns on its maiden voyage, before it could be sent to the new hangar at Lakehurst, New Jersey, which was built for the ZR-2 dirigible which broke apart last week and will of course be the site of the Hindenburg disaster.

Opening on Broadway: Tarzan of the Apes, starring Ronald Adair and a couple of actual lions. And monkeys, but the apes are just people in ape costumes. It will be a flop, despite the lions.

(Yes, Ronald Adair is also the name of the murder victim in the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Empty Room).

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Today -100: August 31, 1921: Them strikers ain’t int’rested in reco’nition o’ no coal mine unions no more than what you or I be


Harding issues a proclamation against “insurrectionary” striking miners in Mingo County, West Virginia, ordering them to disperse. This is a threat to send in federal troops.

Tolbert Hatfields, of the fussin’ and feudin’ Hatfields, says the Mingo uprising is more about moonshine than unionism.

More rioting in Belfast, now with added snipers.

Germany bans several far-right newspapers. And a decree bans people not actually in the army from wearing army uniforms, and this means you, Gen. Ludendorff.

Pittsburgh police ban the sale on the streets of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic Dearborn Independent, arresting two paper sellers.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Monday, August 30, 2021

Today -100: August 30, 1921: Our honor has been affronted


Texas Gov. Pat Neff denies that prisoners are hung by their wrists in chains as punishment – any more. A bill is pending to ban that practice and to limit beatings with a chunk of wood known as the “bat.”

King Alfonso of Spain, presenting a flag to the Valencia Regiment, says of Spanish military defeats in Spanish Morocco: “Our honor has been affronted, and Spanish soldiers know how to avenge an offense.” He says how sorry he is not to be able to go with them but, you know, it’s “forbidden.”

German President Friedrich Ebert issues a proclamation banning meetings, demonstrations, publications etc likely to encourage seditious movements. He says Germany’s public morals are disintegrating and “unbridled agitation” is threatening the foundations of the Republic.

Cleveland City Council opposes any branch of the KKK establishing itself in the city.

The Klan has 50 branches in New Jersey, at least according to King Kleagle Dr. Orville Cheatham. Newark Mayor Alexander Archibald, whose name, like Dr. Cheatham’s, is a bit much, says Newark can take care of maintaining law ‘n order without any assistance, taking the Klan’s claim to be a law ‘n order body at face value. Cheatham says the Klan’s principles are to protect pure womanhood, white supremacy, and yes, upholding law ‘n order.

Charlie Chaplin, in NY on his way to London, says women shouldn’t wear short skirts and should wear tailored suits and rolled stockings. He’s okay with bobbed hair. I should say it was reporters who brought up short skirts, not him. He’s surprised how many phone calls he’s getting in NY: “Out West I live a very quiet life. I’m not much interested in people, as people, and I haven’t much social activity. I have just a few personal friends. I hate actors.” He says capital must pay working people more.

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Today -100: August 29, 1921: They don’t drink milk in China


Potsdam police shoot at Communist and Socialist demonstrators who gathered to prevent a (banned) right-wing demonstration celebrating the assassination of Matthias Erzberger.

NYC cops are selling tickets to the Police Field Day games in annoying ways. Traffic cops are stopping cars to sell tickets, and uniformed cops are visiting restaurants and cabarets, particularly ones illegally selling liquor, and bothering the patrons.

The territory of West Hungary, occupied by Hungary but assigned to Austria by the treaties with Hungary and Austria ending the Great War, was supposed to be handed over yesterday (the Austrians will call it Burgenland). However, as Austrian gendarmes moved in, they met resistance from the Hungarian military.

A letter to the editor from Chen Ping Ling reacts to an ad from the Dairymen’s League Co-operative Association which claimed “They don’t drink milk in China,” which it says accounts for children dying and for adult Chinese being “inevitably short of stature, lacking in vigor and energy.” He says Chinese people get food value from soya beans instead, and some of them are quite tall and energetic, and hey there are a lot of short weaklings in the US too.

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Today -100: August 28, 1921: Of batty magistrates, assassinations, klans, and kings


The British send troops into the Malabar District of India to suppress disturbances. The troops are led by someone called Magistrate Batty, because of course he is.

Left-wing and centrist newspapers in Germany blame the assassination of Matthias Erzberger on the relentless vilification of him by the right-wing press.

A petition by Milwaukeehoovians asks Gov. John Blaine to prevent the Ku Klux Klan organizing in Wisconsin. He says he can’t presume they’ll indulge in violence and crime, so no. He and the Klan will soon have a rather more contentious relationship.

Although Alexander, still sick in Paris, has already taken the oath of king of Yugoslavia, another candidate for king is heard from: Prince George, who was forced to renounce his right of succession in 1909 when he kicked a servant. To death. He now wants to renounce his renunciation.

Premiering today:



Starring Douglas Fairbanks, with Adolphe Menjou as Louis XIII.

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Friday, August 27, 2021

Today -100: August 27, 1921: They were not made in any haggling spirit


Matthias Erzberger, the former finance minister/vice chancellor of Germany (1919-20, Zentrum party), is assassinated while on vacation in the Black Forest by two men, who escape. Erzberger signed the armistice in 1918, for which the Freikorps types who killed him never forgave him. 

The two assassins will live in hiding in Hungary, Spain, Spanish Guinea and elsewhere until Hitler issues a general amnesty for old political murders in 1933. In 1946 Heinrich Tillessen will be tried for the murder by a German court but released because it decided to respect Hitler’s impunity order; he’ll then be grabbed by the French and tried for the assassination by another German court which will decide the amnesty is no longer in operation, and sentenced to 15 years, of which he’ll serve 5. Heinrich Schulz also returned to Germany in 1933 and joined the SS. He was convicted of manslaughter in 1950 and released in 1952.

The Dáil Éireann unanimously rejects the British proposals, and de Valera writes Lloyd George to so inform him. LG writes back, complaining that de Valera showed no recognition of the liberality of LG’s proposals, which “were not made in any haggling spirit.” In other words, take it or leave it. The British are increasingly patting themselves on the back for their incredible generosity and shocked at the sheer lack of gratitude by the Irish.

Headline of the Day -100:  



Wesley Redding is promoted to detective, the first black detective in the NYPD, after only 18 months on the force. He is 28 and will die in 1924 of TB.

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Today -100: August 26, 1921: Peace in lounge suits and straw hats is still peace


The peace treaty between the US and Germany is signed at the German Foreign Office in Berlin, without the usual speeches, ceremony or dressing up – “the surprised English correspondents exclaimed that it was the first time in history a treaty had been signed in lounge suits.” This informality is by request of the Germans, who didn’t even allow a photograph to be taken of the signing. The US will get all the advantages specified in the Versailles Treaty without any of the obligations, like joining the League of Nations or guaranteeing borders.

Headline of the Day -100:  


By the numbers: 1,000 killed, 3 paragraphs, page 9. I don’t know about the accuracy of the number of dead at this stage of the Malabar rebellion, but this anti-British, anti-upper-caste rebellion will last months and kill many more than that. The British blame “agitators,” you’ll be surprised to hear.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Today -100: August 25, 1921: Of lemons and treaties


The dirigible ZR-2, the largest airship ever built, sold by the British to the US Navy for $2 million (well, $1.5 million so far; the US won’t have to make the last payment), breaks apart and explodes over Hull, killing 44 of its crew of 49. 16 Americans, 28 British, and a black cat named Snowball whose nationality is undisclosed. Some of them fall out into the Humber River when the ship splits apart. A few of the crew had parachutes, for all the good it did them. This is the largest air disaster to date, and if you’re wondering, the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 killed 36. The ZR-2 was not well-designed or well-built.



For example, the design failed to take aerodynamic stresses into account. And the testing process was rushed. Its girders, chosen for lightness rather than strength, didn’t hold up in the 3 earlier test runs and really really didn’t hold up this time. Crew called it a “lemon,” which is earlier than I would have expected to see that term. 




Admiral William Moffett, head of the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics, hopes this little setback won’t hurt the development of dirigibles: “We will carry on and build and operate as many big, rigid dirigibles as are necessary, so that these brave men shall not have given their lives in vain.” Moffett will die in a dirigible crash in 1933.

The peace treaty between the US and Austria is signed, but the one with Germany isn’t because of some secret technical reason. The details of both treaties are also being kept secret.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Today -100: August 24, 1921: Well, at least he’s willing to admit it


Headline of the Day -100:  


According to an alleged private letter that the Paris Matin claims to have gotten hold of.

Nicaragua declares a state of war in several provinces. The 3-sentence story is on the front page, but the NYT fails to explain with whom Nicaragua is at war (rebels, as it turns out, crossing the border from Honduras).

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Today -100: August 23, 1921: Of legions and cassocks


Spain, whose ass is being badly beaten in Spanish Morocco, is recruiting American vets for the Spanish Foreign Legion. The pay is 60¢ a day. How many countries had foreign legions, anyway?

Guadalajara, Mexico police have been arresting priests for appearing in public in clerical garb, including an archbishop.

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Today -100: August 22, 1921: Of airships and beards


If the ZR-R airship, which the US Navy is buying from the British Navy, isn’t flown to the US soon, weather may delay the trip until 1922. Also, it’s failed every test so far due to structural defects and design flaws, but I’m sure everything will be fine.

Headline of the Day -100:  


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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Today -100: August 21, 1921: Might as well jump in the lake with your clothes on


Carl Großmann is arrested by Berlin police investigating a complaint of noise coming from his apartment. They find a dead woman. Further investigation will suggest that over the years he murdered more than 20, possibly more than 100, women. He was a butcher who had a hot dog stand during the war, so there are strong Sweeney Todd suspicions. Weimar Germany was lousy with serial killers.

The Senate is fighting over attempts to amend the Beer Bill to prevent warrant-less searches of private homes, cars, office buildings and baggage.

In more beach bathing attire news, Oyster Bay, Long Island’s Town Board barred the police chief (who works for the village of Bayville) from its beaches, where he’s been arresting literally hundreds of people who changed into bathing suits in their cars or the woods or women whose costumes he finds scandalous. And in Zion City, Illinois, rules for the usually under-regulated male bathing costumes require they be long enough to cover those sexy sexy knees, with skirts to cover the sexy sexy thighs. An alderman opposing the measure says “Might as well jump in the lake with your clothes on.”

Boys swimming in the East River find as many as 100 autos the river’s bottom, evidently driven off a pier in the Bronx. Police suspect insurance fraud. Recent reductions in new car prices make this sort of thing more remunerative for people than selling their old cars secondhand. There’s been a similar discovery of an automobile graveyard in an abandoned quarry near Chicago. Some of these idiots didn’t think to take their license plates off.

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Today -100: August 20, 1921: We have put all our cards on the table


Lloyd George on Ireland: “We have put all our cards on the table.” He says his offer isn’t up for haggling.

Latest Russian Rumor™: Trotsky and other Trotskyites, fearing assassination, are sending their wives out of the country to live in exile incognito in Paris or wherever.

Speaking of Paris, Yugoslavia’s new king, Alexander, is stuck there with appendicitis (he came to France to take the waters at Vichy, which oddly did not totally cure him and he needs an operation his doctors are afraid to perform on him). The rule is that he has to take his oath within 10 days so he’ll have to take it from his hospital bed, which means a commission will have to be sent from Serbia to administer it. 

Sheriff’s deputies in Knoxville, Tennessee, shoot into a large lynch mob which is surrounding the county jail and demanding that a black man arrested for assault be turned over to them. The deputies first fire warning shots, but several men in the mob shoot back, and... 27 people are wounded, all of them white, plus 2 deputies. A machine gun company of the National Guard was outside the jail but just stood around and watched, as was the custom. The article mentions, over and over, that there were women in the crowd, which I take as a rebuke to the deputies, because everyone knows Southern women are always demure and un-lynchy and just hang around in lynch mobs out of curiosity.

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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Today -100: August 19, 1921: I am tired of having to sit and listen to illegal evidence


William J. Burns of the Burns Detective Agency, which has done some good detective work over the years and also pulled some pretty shady stuff, is named director of the Bureau of Investigation in the Justice Dept. Contrary to what the NYT says, he will continue to run his private agency while running the proto-FBI. Also, next week he will appoint J. Edgar Hoover assistant director.

Britain tells the US not to seize ships for rum-running beyond the three-mile limit, as it did with the Henry L. Marshall 3 weeks ago.

A NYC magistrate orders the arrest of a cop, who is named Patrolman Clancy as was the custom, for going into a restaurant without a search warrant and arresting the owner for possession of alcohol. “I am tired of having to sit and listen to illegal evidence,” says Magistrate McQuade, who also releases the owner.

In another case, a detective was asked if he wanted a drink by a William Henry, of no address, and drank just enough (he said) to determine that it was whisky... from a tube leading to a rubber bag inside Henry’s coat. Classy.

One of two black alleged highway robbers is nearly lynched in Wareham, Massachusetts (unclear where the second one is), but the cops had already spirited him to safety.

Someone took a shot at Sen. Heisler Ball (R-Delaware) while he was driving in D.C. a couple of weeks ago. This news has just now become public. A threatening letter suggests it was done by someone pissed at the Ball Rent Act for D.C., whatever that is.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Today -100: August 18, 1921: Of discussions, guilt, wills, independence, and fleas


Austen Chamberlain, (Tory) leader of the House of Commons, asks Parliament not to screw up the possible Irish deal by talking about it: “My information does not lead me to think that it is the general wish of the country to have a discussion, unless the discussion be conducive to peace.”

Germans are pissed that the US reportedly plans to insist on a war-guilt clause in the peace treaty.

Well, this is unusual: a posthumous lynching. A mob in Augusta, Georgia breaks into a hospital and seizes the body of a black man who “ran amuck” and shot some people before being shot dead himself. The mob takes the corpse away, burns it, and then returns the remains.

The late Patrick Dunne, father of former Illinois Gov. Edward Dunne (1913-7), leaves everything to his wife “in case of sudden death from violence at the hands of” her brother William Condon, who served in the state Legislature in the 1870s and “was considered eccentric.” Condon once had two lawsuits going at the same time, one for $5 million against a railroad and the other for 5¢ against a newsboy. No hint as to how he went from eccentricity and nickle lawsuits to suspicions that he planned to murder his brother-in-law. Also, I can’t help noticing that the article fails to mention any cause of death for Dunne...

The new governor of Puerto Rico, Emmet Montgomery Reily, says he will refuse to appoint any pro-independence Puerto Ricans to government posts. This is in a letter to Antonio Rafael Barceló, the president of the Puerto Rican Senate and leader of the Union Party, or, as Reily addresses him, leader of the Independence Party. Which is the party in power, so you’d really think he’d know its name (the NYT mistakenly calls it the Unionist Party). Reily says he’ll listen to the party’s recommendations only when they “publicly renounce independence and break loose from some of your pernicious and un-American associates”.

Boston has fleas.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Today -100: August 17, 1921: I do not intend to permit race war in this city


Russia ends prohibition, at least for booze up to 14% alcohol.

Peter, King of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (formerly King of, Er, Just the Serbs), dies at 77. He had an interesting life, much of it in exile, enlisting under fake names, first in the French Foreign Legion to fight the Germans in 1870, then for Serbia. He was installed as King of Just the Serbs in 1903 after a coup in which the king and queen were murdered and then tossed out a window.

See how I said tossed out a window? It is a sign of maturity in a writer NOT to use the word defenestration on every possible occasion.

Éamon de Valera addresses the Dáil Éireann (after they took their oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic, “an oath which in former days would have been termed high treason”), saying that the demand is still for complete independence, just like in the US Declaration of Independence. “When Irishmen come to negotiate with Great Britain they find at every step they are confronted not with principle but with force. ... We will negotiate to save bloodshed if we can, but we can only negotiate on right and on principle.” Much of the Dáil’s proceedings were in Gaelic.

The formation of a KKK branch in Trenton, New Jersey is “contemplated,” so Director of Public Safety George Labarre threatens that if they pull any shit, they’ll be imprisoned or “if necessary, shot down.” “I do not intend to permit race war in this city”.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Today -100: August 16, 1921: Cheers


Headline of the Day -100:  



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Sunday, August 15, 2021

Today -100: August 15, 1921: Facts permit but one answer


Éamon de Valera rejects Lloyd George’s offer of Dominion status for Ireland, calling instead for “amicable but absolute separation.” He rejects partition of Ireland (“the right of the British Government to mutilate our country”) and offers to submit the question of Northern Ireland (“the present dissenting minority”) to outside arbitration. He concludes his letter, “The road to peace and understanding lies open.”

Lloyd George responds that independence for Ireland is unacceptable because of the “geographical propinquity of Ireland to the British Isles” and “historical facts” which “permit but one answer,” and he rejects arbitration re Northern Ireland. 

Which leaves the question of who leaked these and other letters to the press. Presumably the British government, but the Irish are not happy.

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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Today -100: August 14, 1921: Peace, ain’t it grand


The Hungarian National Assembly accepts Harding’s declaration of peace. Still needs a proper treaty.

Japan revokes the rule against cheering and applauding members of the royal family, in time for the return of Crown Prince Hirohito from his world tour.

Headline of the Day -100:  


There’s a “dance censor” in Philadelphia with “full police authority.” Is she called Marguerite Walz? Of course she is. The dancing teachers’ groups want to ban people teaching dancing without being licensed and controlled.

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Friday, August 13, 2021

Today -100: August 13, 1921: Of gum and cigars


The University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees have to decide whether to release Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood from his job as university provost so he can be governor-general of the Philippines.

“Lenin has thrown communism overboard,” the NYT informs us. The New Economic Policy (NEP) limits state ownership to the most important industries. Also, trams, trains and mail will no longer be free.

Headline of the Day -100:  


That’s $1,834 actually on her person. I suspect there’s more to this story, and we’ll never know what it is.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Today -100: August 12, 1921: Of whisky and famines


Magistrate Gundy of the Windsor court rules that Ontario’s temperance act does not ban the exportation of booze to foreign countries. Already orders from the US are, as it were, pouring in. Canadian customs officers are simply letting ships and speedboats take their cargo across the border.

Maxim Litvinov says Russia must be in charge of famine relief, so control won’t be ceded to outside groups like Herbert Hoover’s American Relief Administration (Hoover is trying to do famine relief without having to acknowledge the existence of the Soviet government). Russia wants to limit the number of Americans in the country and retain the right to expel any of them. Litvinov says the famine has “strengthened the bonds between the government and the people.” So that’s nice. Poland, on the other hand, is offering Hoover the use of its railroads to get food to Russia.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Today -100: August 11, 1921: Of peace, corrupt conspirators, strict neutrality, and polio


Members of Congress are getting pissed that, 40 days after Harding signed the Congressional resolution ending the war, he hasn’t issued a proclamation. Also, he’s holding secret negotiations with Germany.

Illinois Gov. Len Small has some words about his arrest for embezzlement: “Contrary to the accepted principles of our Government and at the behest of corrupt conspirators, the authority of the people has been prostituted to the purposes of a lawless ring... comprised of the most vicious elements in Sangamon County,” which county he calls “gang-ridden,” aided by the Chicago Tribune & Chicago Daily News, the state attorney gen. and Sen. Medill McCormick.

The Allied Supreme Council scraps the Treaty of Sèvres (on its one-year anniversary) and declares “strict neutrality” in the war between Greece and the Turkish nationalists. And by strict neutrality, they mean they’ll sell arms to either side. Or both sides, it’s a party!

Lady Violet Bonham-Carter, daughter of Herbert Asquith, politely declines the invitation of the Westminster Liberals to stand for Parliament, which would have been amusing, recalling how vehemently Asquith fought against women’s suffrage. Lady V will eventually stand for election twice after World War II, losing both times.

The Spanish government will resign following the major military losses to what the NYT insists on calling The Moors in Spanish Morocco.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt comes down with a chill, soon temporarily losing the ability to walk. After one doctor decides it’s a cold, the family hires a famous diagnostician who says it’s a blood clot, prescribes massages, and charges $600. It’ll be a couple of weeks before they find a doctor who correctly diagnoses polio (for which massages are a bad idea).

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Today -100: August 10, 1921: Of city finances, governors in handcuffs (there weren’t actual handcuffs), and dead generals


Before an investigating committee, New York City Mayor John Hylan defends his handling of the city’s finances, which include exceeding the legal debt limit by $120 million. He is peppered with a lot of questions which he claims not to understand, and blames the Legislature for creating a lot of the city’s expenses.

Illinois Gov. Len Small is finally arrested, 3 weeks after being indicted for embezzlement and fraud he did when he was state treasurer. After spending most of those three weeks on the road, he returned to Springfield and announced he would resist arrest. So Sheriff Master surrounded the State House and waited for the governor to come out and play. Which he finally does; the sheriff then takes him to the Court House where he signs a $50,000 bond.

An entirely different account today of the death of Gen. José Allesio Robles. Rather than a duel in Mexico City, Gen. Jacinto Treviño shot him five times in his car. Treviño is citing military honor, since Robles publicly slagged him off several times and challenged him to a duel and called him a coward for not agreeing to the duel; General T. preferred doing a drive-by. 

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Monday, August 09, 2021

Today -100: August 9, 1921: Of duels and early prison releases


Mexican generals Jacinto Treviño (the former minister of commerce and labor) and José Allesio Robles run into each other in a café in Mexico City. The former kills the latter in what might be described as an impromptu duel or, you know, murder. Treviño will not go to jail. 

Lloyd George gives in to Sinn Féin demands that Dáil Éireann member John McKeown be released from prison, murder conviction or no murder conviction (he shot a chief inspector during a gun battle, which SF considers to be just what happens in a war, not a matter for criminal law). Evidently McKeown is particularly popular because there’s a ballad about him (which doesn’t seem to be on YouTube). De Valera threatened to end negotiations if McKeown was not released.

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Sunday, August 08, 2021

Today -100: August 8, 1921: Of klans and non-lynchings


The Ku Klux Klan denies allegations against it: “The knights of the Ku Klux Klan do not encourage or foster lawlessness, racial prejudice or religious intolerance and it [sic] is not designed to act in the capacity of a law enforcement or moral correction agency”. So that settles that.

Police arrive in the nick of time to stop a Detroit mob from lynching a black man, Sam Griggs. There was a fight over a seat at a baseball game, and a crowd chased Griggs’ cousin to his house. He shot into the crowd (he says he was fired on first), hitting two white 12-year-olds.

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Saturday, August 07, 2021

Today -100: August 7, 1921: Of death cars


Latest super-unlikely rumor from Russia: Lenin is going on tour, visiting England later in the month, then maybe Scotland and Italy.

The British release all imprisoned members of the Dáil Éireann except for John J. McKeown, who was convicted of murder.

One thing the new law limiting immigration has (foreseeably) done, by instituting monthly quotas, is to set off a race at the start of each month between steamships coming from Europe, which don’t want to be forced to take excess immigrants back.

The Curse of the Hohenzollern Automobile: During the war, one of the princes ran over and killed a child. So he sold the car to a baron, who ran over and killed a man, so he sold it to a chauffeur, who you guessed it, so he sold it to a Cologne business man, who died in a crash. So there’s one car for sale, slightly blood-stained, no takers so far. The article doesn’t say what the model of the car is.

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Friday, August 06, 2021

Today -100: August 6, 1921: Blimp on a rampage!


A police magistrate in Vienna sentences Archduchess Elisabeth Marie to 10 days for refusing to surrender her four children to her estranged husband Prince Otto. She told a cop who tried to take the kids that she’d feed him to her dogs. Archduchesses gonna archduchess.

Not sure how its members were chosen, but the Famine Relief Committee formed in Moscow has only 11 Communists of 63 members. Naturally, ever-optimistic Russian exiles think the committee will somehow overthrow the Soviet government and take over.

Headline of the Day -100:  



The deputy sheriff of Great Barrington, Massachusetts thinks he’s spotted fugitive Illinois Gov. Len Small in his town, acting suspiciously, over the last three weeks and asks if there’s a reward for his capture. Illinios replies that there isn’t any reward and Small hasn’t left Illinois, you ninny.

The Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors rules that aliens don’t have free speech, or at least not the right to advocate changing the form of government or indeed laws.

Spanish troops are doing very badly against a rebellion in Spanish Morocco.

The minor leagues ban the Black Sox players too.

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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Today -100: August 5, 1921: Of exiles and Dáils


Switzerland orders former Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles to leave the country by the end of the month. He will either go to Spain, whose king has offered him the use of a castle, or attempt another coup back home. Bit of a coin toss really.

The Dáil Éireann is called for August 16, which means the British have to release 25 members.

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