Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Today -100: April 30, 1924: Of ex-governors and hamons

Indiana Governor Warren T. McCray resigns.

The Senate Teapot Dome Committee calls Georgia Hamon Rohrer, the widow of Oklahoma oil tycoon Jake Hamon, to ask about his scheming in 1920 to elect Warren G. Harding and gain access to the Navy’s oil reserves. She sits in the witness chair for 15 minutes with a calla lily in her hand while senators discuss just which of them called her and why, none willing to ask her questions, and then they dismiss her. I hope she didn’t come all the way from Oklahoma for this.

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Monday, April 29, 2024

Today -100: April 29, 1924: Of bombs and mail fraud

A Hungarian immigrant who claims to be named Landro Kiss – a likely story – is arrested with a bomb and a pistol near the late Boss Murphy’s home, possibly planning to kill whatever big shots showed up (as well as himself).

Indiana Governor Warren McCray is found guilty of mail fraud. The judge denies bail, saying he’s never seen so many felonies committed by one person. He should get out more.

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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Today -100: April 28, 1924: Of faith-healers, dead bosses, the deadly enemy of Germany workers, and flaming hearses

William Jennings Bryan’s wife Mary is seeing a faith-healer for some undisclosed illness. Interesting, I guess, but why is it front-page news?

The death of Tammany Hall’s “Boss” Murphy has heartened the right wing of the Democratic Party (Southerners, klansmen, anti-papists, etc) that they may defeat NY Gov. Al Smith for the presidential nomination. More delegates to the national convention are expected to arrive without instructions, which may make it more difficult for any candidate to get the 2/3rd vote necessary for nomination (Spoiler Alert: hoo boy will it).

In Berlin, Communists attack an election meeting of the Völkisch Freedom Party that they thought Reichstag candidate Erich Ludendorff would attend. But as clashes injure 33 people, one of them stabbed, Ludendorff decides not to go. The Communists were summoned by their newspaper The Red Flag to stop “the deadly enemy of German workers [speaking in] Berlin, the workers’ city.”

The Mexican military capture, court-martial & execute rebel Gen. Juan Alanso (sic?) and 42 lesser officers within one day.

Metaphor of the Day -100:  

15,000 kluxers come out to celebrate Owen Poorbaugh, one of their ilk who died in jail where he was being held for carrying concealed weapons, riot & murder for the Lilly, Pennsylvania contretemps earlier this month. The hearse thing is sadly not a cross-burning gone wrong.

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Saturday, April 27, 2024

Today -100: April 27, 1924: Of child labor and bosses

The House of Representatives votes 297 to 69 for a Constitutional amendment to empower Congress to regulate or ban child labor (under 18; an amendment to reduce this to 16 fails, as do attempts to exempt farm labor).

Without “Boss” Charles Murphy of Tammany Hall running his presidential candidacy behind the scenes, NY Gov. Al Smith might be forced to get off his ass and campaign, which he didn’t plan on doing before the Democratic National Convention. It doesn’t help that only Murphy knew how many “connections” he’d made, such as deals with delegates. So I guess everybody gets to re-negotiate their bribes.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Today -100: April 26, 1924: Of dead bosses, coffee, borders, and French postcards,

Charles Murphy of Tammany Hall dies of “acute indigestion” at 65. There won’t be a parade. No, really, there won’t be a parade is something the NYT has to inform us. NY Gov. Alfred E. Smith calls Boss Murphy “a noble, clean, wholesome, right-living man”. The death will require Smith to find someone else to run his presidential campaign. Murphy has no obvious successor at Tammany, so there will be a temporary triumvirate.

Asked for comment, Coolidge says he never met the man.

Chicago has a new Teapot Dome-themed coffee shop. Coffee is delivered via pipe lines. Also opened in 1924, and still around, is the Teapot Dome Diner in Paw Paw, Michigan, a town so nice they named it, well, you know.

Emma Goldman, who promised Germany not to do political stuff while living in Berlin, does political stuff, attempting to make a speech calling for the release of political prisoners in Russia. German Communists break up the meeting before she can finish her speech.

A conference on setting the boundary between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State breaks up without agreement, as was the custom. This isn’t about a few niggling miles here and there, but who gets Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh (or parts of them?). The treaty which allowed NI to opt not to join the Free State required, in such an event, plebiscites in those counties. NI politicians don’t want to allow that, because they’d lose.

New Jersey Gov. George Silzer tells Education Commissioner John Enright to tell local school boards to stop asking prospective teachers their religion.

Headline of the Day -100:  

 Not looking for pictures of boobies, but a go-slow strike.

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Today -100: April 25, 1924: Of baby’s cries around the world, fake sergeants-at-armses, and blackface comedians

Sen. Nathaniel Dial (D-SC), opposing an appropriation for the relief of starving German children, denies that there is any constitutional authority for heeding “a baby’s cry around the world.” Royal Copeland (D-NY) responds, “For my part, when a baby cries, I don’t stop to think what language it is crying in.” Dial ripostes that Dr. Copeland can’t tell him anything about babies, he has ten of them.

Incidentally, there were 3 congresscritters in 1924 with the first name “Royal.”

Documents of Gaston Means, con man extraordinaire and former Bureau of Investigation agent, supposedly showing Harry Daugherty’s various crimes, have mysteriously disappeared, taken by two men posing as Senate sergeants-at-arms who showed up at his house with a fake order from Sen. Brookhart. At least that’s Means’s story, and he’s sticking with it. You could be forgiven for thinking it’s bullshit.

In a case I believe called Some Fucking Racist v. Some Fucking Racist, D.W. Griffith sues Al Jolson, “the blackface comedian,” for $571,696.72 for walking off a film in 1922. There was no contract, just a gentleman’s agreement.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Today -100: April 24, 1924: Of treasonable causes, bonuses, bangs, and radios

Disgraced former attorney general Harry Daugherty says the reason he refused to hand over documents to the Senate was because Sens. Burton Wheeler and Smith Brookhart visited Russia last summer. “I gladly gave up a post of honor rather than contribute to a treasonable cause.” He portrays the investigations into corruption at the DOJ as a Soviet plot to undermine confidence in government, calling it an “unlawful inquisition,” which is the worst kind of inquisition.

The Senate passes a bonus for veterans by a vote 67-17 after an amendment giving them the option to receive it in cash instead of 20-year insurance policies is defeated 47-38. Will Coolidge veto it? In an election year? An amendment to extend the time limit for service eligible for the bonus to include post-war occupation troops in Germany is rejected; Sen. Reed Smoot says they “lived like kings.”

Denmark has its first woman cabinet minister, which only the Soviet Union, the Ukraine and Ireland have had one of so far. Nina Bang of the Social Democrats will be minister of education.

US District Judge Hickenlooper in Cincinnati rules that radio musical broadcasts don’t count as public performances, so stations don’t have to pay copyright holders.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Today -100: April 23, 1924: Amiable non-committal

Out of nowhere, Pres. Coolidge suggests, in a speech broadcast via the telephone on 11 radio stations, that the US might call a new international arms limitation conference – eventually. When this idea recently came up in the Senate, when Cal was, I believe, silent, as was the custom, Dems pointed out that the League of Nations was already working on that. In the speech, Coolidge also promises to crack down on graft and calls for economy in government. The NYT is unimpressed, saying the speech raises no issues, gives “no definite statement of a precise policy,” and reveals “no inner flame of passionate belief.” “It was a masterpiece of amiable non-committal.”

Speaking in Columbus, disgraced former attorney general Harry Daugherty says in a, dare I say it, Trumpian performance, that all the witnesses against him at the Senate Committee were lying, and indeed he has affidavits from them that they were coerced into doing so. He denies taking any liquor after becoming attorney general or allowing it in his home (he doesn’t say if he’s taken to the booze since being fired, but it does sound very much like he was breaking prohibition law until the minute he got the att. gen. gig). He claims that Sen. Burton Wheeler promised the IWW to get rid of him. “The enemy is at the gate,” he says.

Former prime minister of Newfoundland Sir Richard Squires is arrested for larceny.

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Today -100: April 22, 1924: Of handshakes and lynchings

Sen. Thomas Heflin (D-Alabama) complains that Pres. Coolidge has stopped shaking hands of visitors to the White House. Why, some of the tourists come to the capitol only once in their lifetime. “Boys could tell their children and their children’s children how it was to go into the presence of a real, virile, live, robust president and shake his vigorous hand and have him say a word to them as they passed...”

A black man, Luke Adams, is lynched near Norway, South Carolina for supposedly attacking a white woman.

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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Today -100: April 21, 1924: Of bobbed-hair bandits, extracting revolutionary teeth, and junior Sherlocks

After a manhunt by many, many NYPD detectives, the notorious alliterative Bobbed-Hair Bandit of Brooklyn, 20-year-old Celia Cooney, is arrested along with her husband in Jacksonville, Florida, where she gave birth earlier this month to a baby that died after two days. Mr & Mrs Bobbed-Hair are charged with 17 hold-ups. They’ll serve 7 years in prison, where Ed will have his arm crushed in a machinery accident. Celia will die in 1992. There’s a book, more than 500 pages, about her.

Leon Trotsky, who has been ill for months, leading to rumors that he’d been arrested or killed or whatever, reappears, making speeches pointing out the hostility of France and the US towards the USSR. He notes that the US, while it is “trying to digest... all the huge gains it realized from the war” during its current isolationist phase, is stockpiling weapons for future war with Japan or in Europe, in the form of airplanes and poison gas. Dentists use gas, and the US is “preparing to use gas to extract a revolutionary tooth from Europe”.

Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. premieres. Partly directed (uncredited) by Fatty Arbuckle.

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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Today -100: April 20, 1924: Get into the game and stay in it

Eleanor Roosevelt is vice chair of the NY Democratic State Committee’s women’s division, but the Sunday New York Times Magazine assures us, “Politics has not made a masculine woman of her. Her first interest is her family.” Phew. She says American women are backward in political participation unlike, for example, British women. “Compared with the business of interesting women in politics, the getting of the vote was child’s play.” “My message to women would be: ‘Get into the game and stay in it.’ Throwing mud from the outside won’t help. Building up from the inside will.” The article fails to mention her husband, at all.

In a story about Coolidge making a speech next Tuesday on radio, I notice it is to be “broadcast” on 11 stations, but the headline uses the word “radiated.”

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Friday, April 19, 2024

Today -100: April 19, 1924: Of borders, square deals from klansmen, and honorary Fascists

But what about Mexican immigrants? An amendment to the racist immigration bill is proposed, authorizing a permanent Border Patrol agency to patrol the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Judge A.S. Wells dismisses the 5 charges against former Oklahoma governor J.C. Walton, who was impeached and removed from office last year in part for his war against the Ku Klux Klan. Says Judge Wells: “I hope that J.C. Walton will be fair enough to say that he got a square deal from at least one Klansman.”

Composer Giacomo Puccini is named an honorary Fascist.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Today -100: April 18, 1924: Afterward their heads were filled with vicious ideas

Headline of the Day -100:  


Tourists would now only be able to watch Cal working at his desk as they troop through the Oval Office.

Composers, including John Philip Sousa and Irving Berlin, protest a bill that would allow radio stations to play their copyrighted music without paying royalties. That’s the Dill Bill, by the way, which seems like the starting point of a song, but no one sang one to the Sen. Patents Committee. The composers tell the committee that income from song-writing has dropped 50% in the last year, as free radio play means they can’t sell sheet music. Sousa says, “The Radio Corporation of America gets money, doesn’t it? If they get money out of my tunes, I want some of it, that’s all.”

In the immigration bill, the Senate decides to admit immigrants on the basis of 2% of the 1890 census. It is pointed out that only 1 immigrant would be permitted from Italy, an ally during the Great War, for every 5 Germans. Royal Copeland (D) says as a New Yorker he must speak out for the Jews, although he never met one until he was in college (he’s originally from Michigan).

Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and the Louis B. Mayer Company merge, becoming the Metro-Goldwyn Corporation (MGM), including not only production but the Lowe chain of theaters.

The Trenton YWCA condemns Atlantic City bathing beauty parades. The local’s president, Miss Pauline Smith, warns, “It was noticed by competent observers that the outlook on life of girls who participated was completely changed. Before the competition they were splendid examples of innocent and pure womanhood. Afterward their heads were filled with vicious ideas.”

The father of murder victim Ted Grosh, student at Arizona State University, wants to be hangman at the execution of his son’s killer (who is black). The state prison superintendent has no objection.

Headline of the Day -100:  


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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Today -100: April 17, 1924: Of oil, graft, and wooden legs

A commission appointed by Pres. Coolidge says the US may run out of oil soon, and the Navy should be given priority.

Charles R. Forbes, the former director of the Veterans’ Bureau, as well as former assistant director Charles O’Leary and Nathan Thomson, president of the Thomson Kelly Company of Boston, are indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. $3 million (or $5m; unclear) of Bureau property (blankets, bandages, etc) was sold to Thomson for $600,000 under the pretense that it was unusable.

Speaking of veterans, S. Harry Smith wills the false leg he got to replace the leg he lost in the Great War to Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon. Some sort of protest against his compensation being reduced. To be clear, Smith is alive.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Today -100: April 16, 1924: The man who would not have an ambition for that office would have a dead heart

The NY state Democratic convention nominates Gov. Al Smith for president. The resolution is offered by Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the party’s vice-presidential nominee in 1920. Smith admits, “The man who would not have an ambition for that office would have a dead heart.” But he plans to just keep on governoring until the national convention, without campaigning. But if the convention should happen to nominate him...

The Senate follows the House in voting for a ban on Japanese immigration, with no debate and by voice vote.

Major General Leonard Wood, Governor-General of the Philippines, a man so general they generaled him twice, warns against granting independence to the Philippines: “We must not be swept off our feet by the purely local and artificial agitation produced by a small group”. It will take many years for the “development of national defense and the building up of individual civic courage,” he says.

Can you beat it?


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Monday, April 15, 2024

Today -100: April 15, 1924: Of troubled periods, veiled threats, independences, and hiding cops

Pres. Coolidge, addressing the Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution, calls on women to vote in this “current troubled period,” presumably referring to the ongoing Senate investigations of his Cabinet members.

The Senate rejects continuing the Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan on immigration, 76-2, and will ban immigration by any Japanese. There’s a lot of bitching about Japan’s “veiled threat” (the ambassador warned of “grave consequences” if this passed) and how it’s improper for one country to interfere in the affairs of another, even if those affairs involve racist discrimination against that country’s citizens. Otherwise, the Senate changes the basis on which the 2% per country limit is based from the 1890 census to the 1910 and sets a total limit of 161,000 per year, less than half of the number coming now.

Hilton Philipson, husband of British MP Mabel Philipson, says she may quit Parliament soon because she’d probably prefer looking after their three children. Considering that she will (Spoiler Alert) not quit and will stand for, and win, re-election, one has to wonder why Hilton is airing this in public.

The chair of the House Insular Affairs Committee, Louis Fairfield of, where else, Indiana, says he’ll introduce a bill for a plebiscite in the Philippines on independence – in 25 years.

The Irish Free State wants to send an ambassador to the US, but the US says that’s up to the British. Canada is also considering separate representation in Washington.

Greece celebrates the end of monarchy by declaring martial law and censoring royalist newspapers. Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis will serve as provisional governor until a real president is chosen.

British Home Sec. Arthur Henderson defends the actions of 2 cops discovered spying on a Communist Party meeting in London from underneath the platform.

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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Today -100: April 14, 1924: Of veeps, doll houses, ex-kings, borgs, and anglers

Coolidge already has almost all the delegates he needs to secure the Republican nomination, so everyone’s thinking about running mates. Frank Lowden, to win over farmers? Gen. Charles Dawes? Navy Sec. Curtis Wilbur?

British prohibitionists complain that Queen Mary’s doll house,
https://www.rct.uk/collection/themes/Trails/queen-marys-dolls-house
designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, has a wine cellar. With real wine in teeny bottles.

The Greek referendum abolishes the monarchy.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Aloha means “hello,” “goodbye” and “resistance is futile.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Today -100: April 13, 1924: Of immigration and investigations

The House passes the Johnson Immigration Act, including the provision banning Japanese people. Not even a roll call on that part.

Treasury Sec. Andrew Mellon complains that Senate investigations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue have destroyed its morale and work has ground to a halt. He says that like it’s a bad thing.

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Friday, April 12, 2024

Today -100: April 12, 1924: Unwarranted intrusion is the worst kind of intrusion

Pres. Coolidge complains to the Senate that its investigation of Treasury Sec. Andrew Mellon is “government by lawlessness” and “unwarranted intrusion.” Cal says the Committee’s demands go beyond “legitimate requirements” – it wants a list of companies Mellon is involved with. Mellon is especially worried about the Finance Committee hiring Francis Heney as investigator. Heney is famous for rooting out corruption in San Francisco and elsewhere, but the controversy is that his expenses will be paid personally by Sen. James Couzens (R-Michigan), who will also pay for lawyers and accountants, because no one had allocated funds for them and Couzens is quite rich. Mellon, who is also quite rich, calls it a “private inquisition.” Dems are suggesting that Coolidge is trying to scupper the investigations altogether and are resentful of his scolding tone.

There’s a hung jury in Indiana Gov. Warren McCray’s embezzlement trial.

Japan protests the US immigration bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate The note marks the first time the terms of the 1907 “Gentlemen’s Agreement” are made public (Japan agreed to restrict emigration to the US, the US to allow families of existing immigrants to come and not to segregate Japanese children in schools).

Japan will extend military conscription to South Sakhalin and then to other colonies, but not to Korea or Formosa, because Koreans and Formosans aren’t ethnic Japanese.

John Sloan, believed to be the last survivor of the Mexican-American War, dies at 95. According to Wikipedia, he’s not.

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Today -100: April 11, 1924: Five million free Italian citizens rallied as one man around the symbol of Fascismo

Bureau of Investigation chief William Burns admits sending 3 agents to Montana to investigate Sen. Burton Wheeler, contradicting former attorney general Harry Daugherty’s denial last week.

People like the Dawes Report so much that it’s being suggested that if Coolidge’s candidacy implodes because of all the Harding scandals, Charles Dawes might be a better candidate.

Mussolini’s electoral victory is celebrated in Rome by a crowd of 100,000, probably some of whom are not assholes, probably. He addresses them from the balcony – where else? – of the Foreign Office. “Five million free Italian citizens rallied as one man around the symbol of Fascismo, and I do not allow and we will not allow the Italian people to be insulted by attempts to make the world believe that they were herded to the polls like a flock of conscienceless beasts.” No, the flock of conscienceless beasts didn’t need any herding.

Hiram Johnson denies that he will drop out of the Republican presidential race. He says the party’s reaction to Teapot Dome shows it is “dominated by the unholy alliance between crooked big business and crooked politics.”

Aliens aren’t allowed to own dogs in Pennsylvania, I guess?

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Today -100: April 10, 1924: Just the facts, ma’am

Just one day after that Federal Grand Judy (sic) (the NYT is really surpassing itself with the typos lately) indicted Sen. Burton Wheeler (D-Montana), the Senate votes unanimously to form a committee to investigate “the facts.” Wheeler says the foreman of the grand jury is one of his most bitter enemies and the federal DA is a guy Wheeler refused to endorse for a judgeship. It’s certainly the case that the DOJ presented “evidence” to the grand jury, presumably under then-Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty’s orders.

Coolidge victories in primaries in Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska seem to doom Hiram Johnson’s campaign.

The Dawes Committee reports its plan for German reparations, which will be paid on a sliding scale depending on the German economy (so it doesn’t set an actual amount). France and Belgium should end their economic control over the Ruhr but can maintain the military occupation.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Today -100: April 9, 1924: Selfish political partisanship it is then

Sen. Burton Wheeler (D-Montana) is indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking money, after he was elected but before his term started, to influence the granting by the Interior Dept of oil and gas prospecting permits. This looks very much like an attempt by the RNC and the DOJ to ratfuck Wheeler’s investigations into Harry Daugherty’s Justice Department. Wheeler says it’s “a pure and unadulterated frame-up,” which is the worst (or possibly best?) kind of frame-up. Daugherty denies the “evidence” wasn’t dug up by those Bureau of Investigation agents he sent to Montana to look into Wheeler, but by the Post Office.

NY Gov. Al Smith (D) asked the R-dominated State Assembly to put aside “selfish political partisanship” and pass his proposals for four-year gubernatorial terms, an 8-hour day for women, an executive budget, etc. All of which they vote down.

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Monday, April 08, 2024

Today -100: April 8, 1924: We don’t know much about the ether

Prohibition agent Brice Armstrong – which is a very prohibition-agent name – testifies before the Senate DOJ investigating committee that Chicago and federal officials’ interference has kept Chicago wet by preventing prosecutions of saloon keepers and licensing brewing companies known to violate the law.

The minority Labour government is defeated in Parliament on a bill to prevent evictions of unemployed people and their families. It’s not being treated as a confidence vote, so Labour stays in power.

The Fascist-dominated coalition wins the Italian parliamentary elections with 65% of the vote on a high turnout. So The Duck didn’t even have to rig the electoral law and he didn’t see a need to unleash his thugs on opposition voters this time. Well, two dead in election clashes, but by Italian standards... This, the first election since 1921, puts a democratic imprimatur on Mussolini’s March on Rome.

The Senate passes a bill limiting radio licenses to 2 years. The bill says that the “ether” is the “inalienable possession of the people of the United States and their Government.” What does ether mean? The bill’s author, Robert Howell (R-Neb.), has no idea: “We don’t know much about the ether. We haven’t been able to investigate it.”

Sen. Samuel Shortridge (R-Cal.) says immigration is the most important issue facing the nation. By which he means excluding Asians, who are “neither racially, industrially nor socially desirable.”

Columbia U. rejects the request of obnoxious law students to eject negro law student Frederick W. Wells from the dorms. There’s been something of a backlash among students against the racists. The burning cross didn’t help.

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Sunday, April 07, 2024

Today -100: April 7, 1924: Of captives and plebiscites of devotion

Pope Pius is thinking about attending a Knights of Columbus event in Rome. This would be the first time a pope has left the Vatican since 1870; they’ve been proclaiming themselves “captives” of the Italian state. (Update: it won’t happen. The pope will make his way to the K of C building via a circuitous route through various buildings, some of which they’ll cut entrances into so he doesn’t have to cross into Rome proper).

Italy’s parliamentary elections, or as the Fascists term them, “the nation’s plebiscite of devotion to Mussolini,” are carried out with almost no violence.

Germany is also holding federal and state elections. In Bavaria, the Völkisch-Sozialer Block, which the NYT thinks is run by Hitler (or “August Hitler,” as they call him) but which is more like Nazi-adjacent although the followers of ol’ August are voting for it in the absence of the National Socialist Party from the ballot, comes in just a few votes behind the Social Democrats but well behind the Bavarian People’s Party which nevertheless shed a lot of votes to the far-right.

Romania puts the universities under martial law to stop anti-semitic attacks. Student and prof pogromists will now be tried by military courts – civilian courts have tended to acquit.

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Saturday, April 06, 2024

Today -100: April 6, 1924: Kluxers vs. townies

The Ku Klux Klan holds a little spook-a-thon outside Lilly, Pennsylvania. Afterwards 500 kluxers go to the train station to take a special train to Johnstown. Locals turn a fire hose on them, and they shoot into the crowd, killing 4. Then they get on their train; 60 are arrested in Johnstown for carrying concealed weapons. I’m not sure why the Klan picked Lilly, a mining town, for their shindig. It doesn’t sound like any of the  kluxers are from there.

Bulgaria’s supreme court orders the Communist Party & the Labor Party dissolved. Well, they did try an uprising last year. The state will get their property.

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Friday, April 05, 2024

Today -100: April 5, 1924: Of jams and comparative clams

William Burns, head of the Bureau of Investigation, testifies to the Senate DOJ Committee that Heber Votaw, Pres. Harding’s brother-in-law, who was appointed superintendent of prisons by Harry Daugherty, stifled an investigation into the smuggling of drugs into Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. The former warden, J.E. Dyche, also testifies to this and says the smuggling is still going on. He was fired by the inspector of prisons, who told him it was because Daugherty was in a “jam.”

Burns also accuses the former attorney general of ordering him to cease investigations into whisky deals that would have led to prominent men.

The NYT finds Italians apathetic about next week’s elections. Thanks to Mussolini having altered the electoral law, the Fascists are a shoo-in, so the campaign “take[s] place in comparative clam” [sic]. With comparative linguine, presumably. The violence this time is sporadic, unlike the wide-scale organized violence of previous elections.

In Bucharest, a group of student anti-semites assault Aristide Blank, a big Romanian banker.

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Thursday, April 04, 2024

Today -100: April 4, 1924: Of beer halls, cover-ups, bobbed hair, lynchings, and ormsbees

Erich Ludendorff, who just this week escaped legal consequences for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch, is running for a seat in the Reichstag. Just to rub it in, he launches his campaign in the Bürgerbräukeller, the very beer hall which was the site of the aforementioned putsch. He’s running under the German National Liberal Party, the National Socialists being currently banned.

Secretary of War John Weeks orders documents seized from Thomas Lane, legal adviser to the War Department, who he also fires. Lane was investigating aircraft companies’ fraudulent over-billing of the military during the Great War. Weeks now has the documents relating to that investigation under his personal control. The papers were seized from Lane the day after the Senate DOJ Committee announced that he would be called as a witness.

Headline of the Day -100: 


More than 40 Indiana bankers (the plural of bankers is an overdraft of bankers) testify that Gov. Warren McCray was nearly a million dollars in debt when he allegedly embezzled $155,000 from the Ag Board.

A mob in Woodbury, Georgia lynches a 15-year-old black lad named Beach Thrash who shot the police chief who was trying to arrest him for stealing from the bank he worked at.

Former Vermont governor Ebenezer Jolls Ormsbee, who has the most nineteenth-century-Vermont-governor name of all, dies at 89 of apoplexy, which is the most nineteenth-century-Vermont-governor way to die.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Today -100: April 3, 1924: There are three generations from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves

Coolidge nominates Columbia Law School dean Harlan Fiske Stone to be attorney general. He & Coolidge were college buds.

Speaking of Columbia Law School, white students there are protesting black law student Frederick W. Wells being allowed to live in a dorm (it took them a while to realize he wasn’t an elevator “boy”). Wells says he won’t be bullied into moving out, but will do so if requested by university authorities. A cross is burned outside the dorm after midnight, which seems to be Klan rather than law students.

The Ku Klux Klan was a big issue in Missouri’s municipal elections Tuesday. Klan-supported candidates won more often than not.

Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon tells the Senate Finance Committee that increasing the tax on estates worth more than $10 million would be “economic suicide.” Anyway, he says, inherited fortunes fail to continue: “There are three generations from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves.”

H.L. Scaife, a lawyer and former Bureau of Investigation agent, testifies to the Sen. committee investigating the DOJ that Secretary of War John Weeks, former Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty and others conspired to quash a $5 million claim against the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corp.

German right-wingers – monarchists, Nazis & the like – riot in Berlin at the funeral of Willy Dreyer, who died in a French prison. He was there for dynamiting a train in the occupied Ruhr (a detail missing from the NYT story), but the nationalists are spinning him as a martyr.

Assistant Treasury Secretary McKinzie Moss asks for a cost estimate for a fence along the entire California-Mexican border.

Headline of the Day -100:  


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Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Today -100: April 2, 1924: Of unserious crimes in Bavaria, symptoms of intelligence, and scarfaces

Erich Ludendorff is acquitted of all the treason he totally treasoned during the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler and 3 other defendants get 5 years – which could mean  as little as 6 months with good behaviour, and the pre-trial time in custody counts. In theory Hitler could be released in 6 weeks; he will be released December 20th from his pretty cushy cell in Lansberg Prison. The remaining 5 defendants are sentenced to 15 months and are immediately paroled or released outright. As the sentences are read, spectators shouted “Heil Hitler” and the less alliterative “Heil Ludendorff.” Ludendorff tells the court it’s a scandal that he’s acquitted and his comrades condemned. Yes it is, general, yes it is, but not in the way you mean.

And yes, those ridiculous sentences were passed on April Fools’ Day.

Ludendorff is cheered in the streets: “To plot against the Constitution of the Reich is not considered a serious crime in Bavaria,” the NYT observes.

The NYT editorial page has been pushing for an end to all those investigations of Cabinet officials now that Daugherty is out. The Democrats, the paper  says in today’s smugly headlined “Symptoms of Intelligence,” “have begun to understand that the mania of investigation has carried them too far.” And the Republicans, who have “run like hares before the Democratic hounds”, “are recovering from a state of dazed and abject panic.”

Tulsa municipal elections are won by the Democrats, with highly visible Klan backing.

The Cicero, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) municipal elections are a tad rambunctious, with interference in the voting by gangsters with sub-machine guns and sawed-off rifles closing polling places, kidnapping election workers and threatening voters. Chicago cops arrive late in the day to restore order. A shootout with the police results in the death of “Frank Camponi,” whose brother “Tony Camponi” “escaped after emptying two guns at half a dozen detectives.” These are actually Frank and Al Capone (who did not shoot at cops that day, that was someone else) in what I believe is the latter’s first mention in the NYT, which does at least get his nickname, Scarface, right. The gangsters who control Cicero succeed in returning a Republican administration.

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Monday, April 01, 2024

Today -100: April 1, 1924: Of education, pleasant & profitable work, people’s kaiserdoms, and protectorates

The Federal District Court in Oregon strikes down the state’s law for compulsory education in public schools, which is a Klan-backed referendum passed in 1922 aimed at destroying Catholic parochial schools. Gov. Walter Pierce says the state will appeal to the Supreme Court, where (Spoiler Alert) it will lose.

John W. Davis, the former US ambassador to Britain, says it wouldn’t be worth it to run for president if he had to give up his legal work for financial interests like Morgan Bank, work he finds pleasant and profitable. He will (Spoiler Alert) wind up running for president, and he will find it neither pleasant nor profitable.

A DC grand jury indicts Harry Sinclair for refusing to answer the Senate Teapot Dome Committee’s questions.

Heading into elections, German right-wing parties are moving in the direction of monarchism, or, as Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann’s German People’s Party (DVP) is now calling it, for “People’s Kaiserdom.” Whatever that means. Stresemann says he has nothing in common with the Weimar constitution.

Oswald Mosley, independent MP for Harrow (and a Tory when he first entered Parliament), switches to the Labour Party.

Control of Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) is taken from the British South Africa Company, founded by Cecil Rhodes, and the colony becomes a British “protectorate.” The BSAC’s authority over Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was removed last year. The company will continue to receive royalties from mining operations until independence.

Sometime this month Ford Madox Ford’s Some Do Not …, the first book of the Parade’s End tetralogy, is published.

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