Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today -100: December 14, 1917: Only the simplest of living is patriotic


The Russian Constituent Assembly assembles. Well, only about 50 of the 600 actually show up, so they adjourn for a day, when 40 show up. The Assembly was initiated before the October revolution, and now the Bolsheviks don’t want one, and arrest some of the delegates. The government orders the arrest of all Constitutional Democrat (Kadet) leaders, on general principles and, Trotsky says, to save them from being lynched. He’s considerate that way.

Food Czar Herbert Hoover asks American families to add a porkless day to their meatless day and wheatless day. “In this emergency only the simplest of living is patriotic,” he says. In 12 years Hoover’s economic policies will lead to many Americans living very patriotic lives indeed.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today -100: December 13, 1917: Of alien enemies, first shots, and rankins


There are a lot more citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire living in the United States than Germans, and many of them are essentially refugees from the oppressed minority nationalities of the Empire – Czechs, Slovenes, Poles, etc – so Wilson won’t make them register or restrict their movements like he did the Germans (males over 14 do have to get permission to leave the country). Also, the war would grind to a halt without  miners, steelworkers etc from the Dual Monarchy. Wilson’s proclamation on all this doesn’t even use the term “enemy aliens” (which the NYT mistakenly calls “alien enemies”).

The first American to shoot at Austria after the declaration of war is Rep. George Holden Tinkham (R-Massachusetts), who fires a shell into Gonfo. Since he’s not in the military, Tinkham committed a war crime punishable by execution. (Spoiler Alert: he will not be executed).

The House of Representatives gives the chairmanship of the new Committee on Woman Suffrage to John Raker (D-CA) rather than to the only, you know, woman in the House. Jeanette Rankin really wanted the job but wasn’t supported by her own Republican party. I know! Republicans being dicks to a woman.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today -100: December 12, 1917: Of short shrifts, great futures, and military justice at its finest


Russian officials stranded in London are quite sure that an alliance of the Don Cossacks and the non-Bolshevik parties will “make short shrift of the Bolsheviki.”

According to Wikitionary, a short shrift was originally “a rushed sacrament of confession (shrift) given to a prisoner who was to be executed very soon.” I feel like I should have known that before now.

Headline of the Day -100: 


That’s Col. Sir Mark Sykes of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement recently made not-so-secret by Trotsky, on how swell Zionism is gonna turn out.

13 black soldiers are hanged for the race riots in Houston in August. 41 more are sentenced to life imprisonment.


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Monday, December 11, 2017

Today -100: December 11, 1917: It’s on. Oh, IT IS ON.


Panama declares war on Austria-Hungary.

Jerusalem surrenders to British troops in this, the 822nd year of the Crusades. Gen. Edmund Allenby enters the city on foot to show respect for the holy sites of the city he’d been respectfully besieging.

Portuguese coup leader Sidónio Pais reassures the Allies that Portugal will stay in the war, doing whatever it is that Portugal is doing in the war. Ousted Prime Minister Afonso Costa is arrested. The war minister and the commander of the fleet seek sanctuary on British warships.

The Supreme Court rules that there is no 14th Amendment right to possess alcohol.

The Supreme Court rules that employers may impose an open shop, that is make a condition of employment that employees not join a union. It says attempts to unionize, in this case a mine, may be illegal even if they’re completely peaceful, for example by “persuading man after man to join the union, and having done so, to remain at work, keeping the employer in ignorance of their number and identity, until so many should have joined that by stopping work in a body they could coerce the employer and the remaining miners to organize the mines, and that the conduct of the defendants in so doing was unlawful and malicious.” Forcing the mining company to accept unionization through “fear of financial loss” is thus illegal. What power do they think a union has, if not a threat of financial loss? Loud tutting? And how does the Court think the mine got miners to agree not to join the UMW in the first place, if not a threat of financial fucking loss? This is just terrible supreme courting.

The government now regulates bakeries, requiring standard 16- and 24-ounce loafs of bread using less milk and sugar and animal fat.


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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Today -100: December 10, 1917: Of civil wars, armistices, and swear words


The Bolshevik government announces that Gens. Kornilov and Alexey Kaledin of the Don Cossacks have started a revolt in the Don region “against the people and the revolution.” The counter-revolution and civil war begin here.

The Russian and German positions in the armistice negotiations seem quite far apart.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Today -100: December 9, 1917: Of coups, enemy aliens, and armistices


A revolution in Portugal (actually more like a coup) led by Sidónio Pais forces the government to resign. Pais will exercise increasingly dictatorial powers for a year until he is assassinated.

One consequence of the US declaring war on Austria: newly enemied aliens from the Empire have to be weeded out of the US military.

Trotsky informs the Allies that Russia will only sign an armistice with Germany on condition that it not move troops to the western front (a condition Germany has been scoffing at). On the 7th, for the first time since the war began, not a shot is fired on the Russian front. Trotsky is suspending negotiations a week to give the Allies time to say whether they will join an armistice and, if not, to state what their war aims are.


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Friday, December 08, 2017

Today -100: December 8, 1917: In matters of war I am a teetotaler


The US is at war with Austria. The declaration passes the Senate unanimously (La Follette is not present, claiming later he didn’t know the vote was going on) and the House by 363 to 1, the 1 being Meyer London (Socialist-NY), who says Socialists oppose war. “In matters of war I am a teetotaler. I refuse to take the first intoxicating drink.” Walter Chandler (R-NY) asks him to cite one instance in which Karl Marx denounces war.

Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana) says war is a “stupid and futile way of attempting to settle international difficulties” and this one was caused by “commercial and selfish interests,” but this time votes for war, saying it’s not a real declaration of war but a “technicality” arising from the previous declaration of war on Germany.

No one pushes for Bulgaria and Turkey to be included, grumpily accepting Wilson’s argument that, like Austria, “They too, are tools of Germany. But they are mere tools and do not yet stand in the direct path of our proposed actions.” The US will end the war without having declared war on the two countries, or vice versa.

Halifax, hundreds of its houses in ruins after the munitions ship explosion yesterday, now faces a blizzard, because of course it does. Rescue work halts. “Many of the injured necessarily died of neglect.”

Finland declares independence from Russia.

Romanian troops who were fighting alongside Russians join the cease-fire, because what choice do they have? Austria starts releasing Russian prisoners even before Russia begins releasing Austria’s.

Recent German air raids on London show that Germany has switched completely from zeppelins to airplanes.


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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Today -100: December 7, 1917: Of Halifax, baby factories, and contested elections


In the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, the SS Mont-Blanc, carrying a big ol’ load of munitions, collides with a Belgian relief ship, drifts to land and goes boom. 2,000 or so dead. The largest explosion (not counting volcanoes) before 1945. Bits of the ship including the anchor are found miles away. The blast wave takes out every window in the city and a pretty good chunk of the city. Naturally, many assume it was a German plot.

The Croydon (UK) conscription tribunal upholds the plea of a widow that her, I believe, youngest son not join his 10 brothers in the military.

There will be a 10-day cease-fire between Russia and Germany.

In Parliament, Chief Secretary for Ireland Henry Duke says that Éamon de Valera’s election as MP for East Clare can be challenged by any elector in the constituency because he may not actually be British (the future president of Ireland was born in New York).


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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Today -100: December 6, 1917: Lords of Looseness?


The House Committee on Foreign Relations passes the declaration of war on Austria with no dissenters. Everyone except Clarence Miller (R-Minnesota) falls in line behind Wilson’s decision not to include Bulgaria and Turkey.

Incidentally, this is another of those “recognizes that a state of war exists” declarations of war.

Rudyard Kipling has a new bad poem out. Evidently Bunyan predicted World War I, or something:
Likewise the Lords of Looseness
  That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
  And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
  Who crack beneath a strain--
John Bunyan met that helpful set
  In Charles the Second's reign.
Etc.


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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Today -100: December 5, 1917: This is a war of high principle, debased by no selfish ambition of conquest or spoliation


Woodrow Wilson, in his State of the Union address (as they didn’t call it yet) to the new session of Congress, asks it to declare war on the Austria-Hungarian Empire but not Bulgaria or Turkey. He says his goal is not to “impair or rearrange” the Empire. Oh, it so is. He portrays the populations of Austria, Turkey and the Balkans as in need, just as much as those of Belgium and northern France, of liberation from the “impudent and alien dominion of the Prussian military and commercial autocracy”.

Impudent and alien dominions are the worst kind.

So really, declaring war on Austria is for the benefit of Austria, which these days is “simply the vassal of the German Government.” This great act of charity extends even to Germans: “We are in fact fighting for their emancipation from fear, along with our own”. But do we ever get a thank you? no, we do not.

Wilson responds to critics of the war: “I hear the criticism and the clamor of the noisily thoughtless and troublesome. I also see men here and there fling themselves in impotent disloyalty against the calm, indomitable power of the nation. I hear men debate peace who understand neither its nature nor the way in which we may attain it, with uplifted eyes and unbroken spirits. But I know that none of these speaks for the nation. They do not touch the heart of anything. They may safely be left to strut about their uneasy hour and be forgotten.”

Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin, who refused to give up his self-designated title of Supreme Commander of the Russian military, is removed from office with extreme prejudice by “infuriated members of the Bolsheviki.”

Hey, Apocalypse Now was nearly 40 years ago, do people still understand “extreme prejudice” references?

Siberia and Ukraine have declared themselves independent republics.

Secretary of War Newton Baker denies that there is any discrimination against negroes in the (segregated) army and says any complainants are suffering from “overworked hysteria.”


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Monday, December 04, 2017

Today -100: December 4, 1917: Of armistices, debauched soldiers and sailors, legations, rustlers, and teachers


A new session of Congress opens. Everyone wants to declare war on Austria, and maybe Bulgaria and Turkey as well. They’re weirdly excited by the prospect.

Germany says there are local armistices in place with the Russian army at the division and corps levels.

New Rochelle, NY saloon owners are indicted for conspiracy to debauch soldiers and sailors. Which I guess just means letting them buy booze.

Russian Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky fires 160 Russian legations and consulates abroad who don’t recognize the Bolshevik government.

American troops invade Mexico and have a pitched battle with some cattle-rustlers, killing 35 of them.

The High School Committee puts on “trial” the 3 suspended De Witt Clinton High School (Bronx) teachers. Samuel Schmalhausen is accused of not rebuking one of his students for an essay calling Woodrow Wilson a murderer in such a way as to force the student to perceive the “gross disloyalty involved in his point of view” and even saying he didn’t think it was his job to “develop in the students under his control instinctive respect for the president of the United States as such”. They drag in the student, who says he didn’t get the ideas from Schmalhausen but from books and his own thinking. He was then hanged as a witch, probably.


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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Today -100: December 3, 1917: Of ambassadors, mad carousels (mad carousels are the worst kind), antis, and teaching German


Russian Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky responds to letters from the US and French military missions protesting Russian armistice and possible separate-peace plans, saying Russia “cannot permit allied diplomatic and military agents to interfere in the internal affairs of our country and attempt to excite civil war.”

Trotsky appoints Georgy Chicherin as ambassador to Britain. Chicherin is an exile from the 1905 Revolution currently held in Brixton Prison in Britain for writing against the war. Trotsky wants him and another Russian political prisoner in Britain released and is threatening to hold English supporters of counter-revolution in reprisal (and tomorrow will ban any British subjects from leaving Russia).

Headline of the Day -100: 


I can’t tell if the NYT reporter really enjoyed this meeting or really felt out of place.

Mad carousel?

New York anti-suffragists will work to oppose the federal suffrage amendment and not to repeal women’s suffrage in New York. They figure women will just get tired of all the voting. Why, in a couple of years it’ll be current suffragists calling for repeal.

Pittsburgh orders the removal from high school German classes of all textbooks praising Kaiser Wilhelm or the German military system. Did language textbooks actually do this?

The good folks of Dyersburg, Tennessee burn a black man at the stake for allegedly attacking a white woman.


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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Today -100: December 2, 1917: Wikileaks 1917


Russia releases another secret treaty, in which, as a price for Italy entering the war on the Allied side, it would get various bits of the Austrian Empire and control of Albania’s foreign policy if the Allies decided on an independent Albania instead of dividing it among Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro. And if France and Britain take some of Germany’s African colonies, Italy gets some too. Italy undertook to try to prevent the pope working to end the war. Russia also reveals the territorial bribes offered Greece (which didn’t bite). American officials are pretending to believe that the documents might be forgeries and that Italy, to whose aid the US is planning to go, was not massively bribed to enter the war. Which it totally was.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany is said to be sending germ-infested balloons into the American trenches.


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Friday, December 01, 2017

Today -100: December 1, 1917: Of measles, ensigns, and knitting


US army camps in the South have been fighting measles outbreaks.

Russian military Supreme Commander Nikolai Krylenko is having trouble getting the Russian military to accept his supreme commanderness, possibly because he’s just an ensign. He orders the arrest of generals and the disbandment of soldiers’ committees which don’t recognize his authority.

Headline of the Day -100: 


The Netherlands adopts universal male suffrage and proportional representation and allows women to be elected to public office, though there is no women’s suffrage.


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Today -100: November 30, 1917: Of coalitions and negotiations


The Bolsheviks are having difficulty establishing control. Doing less well than expected in the Constituent Assembly elections, they will be forced into a coalition government, at least temporarily.

German Chancellor Georg von Hertling says he’s willing to negotiate peace with the Bolsheviks, as soon as they send negotiators.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Today -100: November 29, 1917: Anarchists and Wobblies and food riots, oh my!


The commissioner of immigration claims that Italian anarchists, allied with the IWW, planned to start food riots, starting with Boston.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Today -100: November 28, 1917: They tried to terrorize and suppress us. They could not, and so freed us.


Germany says that if Norway joins the war, it will feel obligated to occupy Denmark on general principles.

The War Dept says the bodies of American soldiers killed in Europe will not be brought home until after the war.

Someone’s spreading rumors that Lenin is being advised by a bunch of German staff officers.

The NYT points to the recent increase in government surveillance of enemy aliens as a good reason not to declare war on Austria-Hungary, thereby increasing the number of enemy aliens who must be expensively surveilled.

22 of the hunger-striking suffragettes are ordered released before their terms have been served, including Alice Paul, who says “We are put out of jail as we were put into jail, at the whim of the Government. They tried to terrorize and suppress us. They could not, and so freed us.” Suffrage prisoners who did not hunger strike have not been released.


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Monday, November 27, 2017

Today -100: November 27, 1917: Of nobles, despotism not liberty, and raiders


Russia abolishes the nobility.

The NYT complains that the Bolshevik regime is establishing “Despotism, Not Liberty,” although its Burkean conception of liberty suggests it takes 5 or 6 centuries to establish.

The foreign ambassadors to Russia (i.e., those from the Allies) have a meeting and decide to simply ignore Trotsky’s note proposing an armistice. They also decide that if Russia begins separate peace negotiations, they will leave the country and treat it as a declaration of war on Russia’s former allies.

Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who headed the semi-private Jameson Raid intended to start a war with the Boer republics so they could be absorbed into South Africa, as did happen a couple of years later with the Boer War, dies at 64.


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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Today -100: November 26, 1917: The armistice will be attained by revolutionary methods


Lenin: “Our party never said it would give peace immediately. We said we would make an immediate proposal for peace, and would publish the secret treaties. That we have done, and now begin the revolutionary struggle for peace. Victory is assured. The armistice will be attained by revolutionary methods.”

Speaking of secret treaties, it seems France planned on taking back not just Alsace and Lorraine, but the left bank of the Rhine as well.

Kerensky, still in hiding, resigns.

Self-proclaimed Supreme Commander Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin refuses to give up the post to Bolshevik-appointed Nikolai Krylenko, who is a 32-year-old ensign.

Dr. Elsie Inglis dies. A long-time suffrage activist, early in the war Inglis formed the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Units and sent women-only-staffed hospitals to the front in places like Serbia, France and Russia after the War Office turned down her offer to provide (and fund) hospitals (“My good lady, go home and sit still” was the exact phrase). The Red Cross also turned her down, but Serbia didn’t. She was taken prisoner for three months in 1915 when her hospital was overrun. She has died at 53 of cancer.


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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Today -100: November 25, 1917: Of secrets, dishonorable peaces, and diplomacy


Trotsky, putting on his Julian Assange wig, releases to the newspapers some of the secret correspondence of the Allies. Included are the discussions of Russia’s demand to be allowed to annex the Dardanelles and Constantinople. The Allies agreed that Russia would determine Germany’s new eastern borders and Britain and France its western ones.

French newspaper La Victoire accuses former PM and finance minister Joseph Caillaux of being behind the campaign for a dishonorable peace. Editor Gustave Hervé challenges Caillaux to sue him, and Caillaux does. A reminder that the last time a newspaper editor libeled Caillaux, his wife shot him dead (and got away with it).

The German government refuses to receive a Bolshevik delegation, saying it will only negotiate with reps of the defunct constitutional government. Also, their condition for talks is that Russian troops withdraw 100 km, while German troops don’t. Interestingly, the Bolshevik government seems to have made no peace offer to Austria.


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Friday, November 24, 2017

Today -100: November 24, 1917: We rely on the Germany army and the working classes to make a continuation of the war impossible


Supposedly, German agents are pretending to accidentally drop fake letters home from US soldiers in Europe on the floors of saloons, hotels, theaters etc, the letters saying how awful conditions are and that the army is censoring the high casualty rate. My favorite bit in the one letter quoted in the article is the PS: “Am in Chemin des Dames hospital left arm shot off to shoulder don’t tell mother tare off this part.”

Russia begins to reduce the size of its army.

And requires people living in residences renting for more than 2,400 rubles a year to provide the army with one blanket and one article of clothing.

Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky says his offer of an armistice (which has now been officially presented) is not a call for a separate peace with Germany. He says the offer will be welcomed by the proletariat of all warring nations, making continuation of the war impossible even if their governments reject it. “We rely on the Germany army and the working classes to make a continuation of the war impossible.”

In Red Lodge, Montana, the “Liberty Committee” horsewhip the secretary of the Finnish IWW Propaganda League and hang two members, but not to death, because liberty, I guess.

I believe I’ve spotted the first mention in the NYT of Nationalities Commissar Josef Stalin. They spell it Slatin, because of course they do.


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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Today -100: November 23, 1917: It can commit acts of violence, treason, and cowardice, but it cannot govern


Nebraska Gov. Keith Neville resigns so he can be a colonel and go to war. (Except that didn’t happen. Did he change his mind?)

Lenin fires the head of the army, Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin, after Dukhonin refuses an order to offer an armistice to all belligerents on both sides.

The Russian ambassador to France, Vasily Maklakov, also rejects the idea, saying the Bolshevik regime “lacks both legal title and recognition by the country. It can commit acts of violence, treason, and cowardice, but it cannot govern.” (Insert your own Trump joke here)


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Today -100: November 22, 1917: Of broken lines, conshies, and leagues of nationses


The Hindenburg Line is broken! British tanks make a big difference.

The British House of Commons votes an amendment to the Representation of the People Act (which will enfranchise some women, among other things) disenfranchising conscientious objectors.

Prime Minister Clemenceau expresses doubt about the idea of a League of Nations, because it would have to include Germany and no.

Ban Johnson, president of the American League (baseball) plans to ask the government to exempt most baseball players from the draft.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Today -100: November 21, 1917: Our State should not be taxed to educate useless or worthless children


Massachusetts Gov. Samuel McCall (R) refuses an extradition request from West Virginia for a black man accused of an assault on a white girl, because there’s a “grave danger” he’d be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.

Memphis Mayor H.H. Litty bans a proposed Woman’s Party meeting when he hears they intend to support the White House picketers.

Pres. Wilson blocks supply shipments to Russia, not knowing who’ll wind up getting their hands on them.

The New York State Woman Suffrage Party holds Victory Night at the Metropolitan Opera House during its 49th annual convention. The Party will respond to receiving women’s suffrage in New York by reorganizing itself along congressional-district lines and punishing every New York politician who opposed women’s suffrage in the past [update: no, this plank will be rejected] or who won’t commit themselves to the federal women’s suffrage amendment. Gov. Charles Whitman, who didn’t know about that, makes a speech recommending that women not vote for any politician just because he supported women’s suffrage or vote against one “merely” because he opposed it.

50+ Wobblies are arrested in the Kansas oilfields. On what charges, is not revealed.

NY District Superintendent of Schools Joseph Wade, supporting the witch hunt against teachers, says that in Germany, teachers who said anything disloyal were fired, jailed or even executed. He says this admiringly. “There must not remain in our schools a single discontented teachers. There is a spirit of restlessness that will grow up among our children unless those above them are absolutely loyal and continue teaching obedience to authority.” Any disloyal students 16 or over should be expelled; “Our State should not be taxed to educate useless or worthless children.” The teachers’ union is supporting the De Witt Clinton High School teachers, saying (if I read this correctly) that what is being done to them is what the ed. system does to students, “crushing out all manhood and womanhood in the process of making us spiritless automata”. And your point is?


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Monday, November 20, 2017

Today -100: November 20, 1917: Of masses, war dinners, teachers, and enemy aliens


A federal grand jury indicts 7 members of the staff of The Masses, including Max Eastman and John Reed,  under the Espionage Act for knowingly distributed unmailable material and for conspiring to cause “Insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of [military] duty”. Reed (who is in Russia) is charged for writing an article, “Knit a Straitjacket for Your Soldier Boy,” and Arthur Young and Henry Glinterkamp are indicted for drawings, Glinterkamp for a cartoon of Death taking the measurements of a draftee for his coffin.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Hey, that’s what we call it in my house too!

The specific charges against the De Witt Clinton High School (Bronx) teachers who were suspended or transferred are made public. Thomas Mufson evidently thought it was proper to be neutral during a discussion of anarchism, A. Henry Schneer said patriotism should not be discussed in school, and Samuel Schmalhausen has a funny name and also doesn’t think it’s his job to inculcate an instinctive respect for the president and other government officials and did I mention he has a funny name? At the hearing, a faculty member complained that (this quote is from the newspaper, not necessarily the verbatim words of Isaac A. Dotey, who also has a funny name) “the pupils had of late consulted their own individual opinion, and that this had been subversive of discipline.”

Pres. Wilson bans enemy aliens (Germans only for now; the US is not at war with Austria or Turkey) from the District of Columbia, the Panama Canal Zone, within 3 miles of navigable streams or 100 yards of docks, piers, canals, railroad terminals, etc. Enemy aliens must register and must get government permission to travel or change jobs. They are not allowed to fly in airplanes or balloons. Within a few hours, before the news could reasonably be expected to have been disseminated, soldiers are sent into River Street in Hoboken (which also has a funny name). They grab 200 suspected Germans out of stores, rooming houses, saloons, and just off the streets. Before being sent to Ellis Island, some are held on an army transport ship. Which then mysteriously bursts into flame.


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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Today -100: November 19, 1917: Of temporary supreme commanders, farms, and free men


Russia: Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin proclaims himself temporary Supreme Commander of the military “in view of my ignorance of the place of residence of the Chief Commander [Kerensky]”. The job will indeed be temporary.

Sen. Warren G. Harding suggests that every returning soldier should be given a farm if he wants one. He thinks cities are bad and tiny farms, like in France, are good.

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau celebrates his new job by restoring the name of his newspaper to L’Homme Libre. He had changed it to L’Homme Enchainé when he fell afoul of the censors early in the war.


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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Today -100: November 18, 1917: Of Rodins, pork, disloyal/doubtful teachers, courts-martial, apartments, and Polish primes


French sculptor Auguste Rodin dies at 77. Which reminds me I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie “Camille Claudel 1915.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


The NYT editorial page strongly supports firing all “disloyal or doubtful” teachers.

The first US Army court-martial execution of the war, a soldier who raped and murdered a woman in France. Evidently, Gen. Pershing can give the go-ahead to a firing squad without any reference to President Wilson.

Six high-rise, high-class apartment buildings (elevators, telephone service, etc) in Harlem have been taken over by a black real estate company and are now being rented to black people (the previous white tenants are all leaving). Blacks have been moving into Harlem for a few years, but this is their first successful entry into the upper end of the real estate market.

Prof. Jan Kucharzewski is appointed prime minister of Poland.


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Friday, November 17, 2017

Today -100: November 17, 1917: Of thrift, operas, shams, political prisoners, fake sailors, and axes


Headline of the Day -100: 

TOTALLY worth it. The government is literally demanding the money out of children’s piggy banks. The new war taxes on, say, movie tickets, mean that things that used to cost a dime or a quarter now cost a penny or two more, so the government wants those pennies out of the piggy banks and back in circulation so it doesn’t have to mint new ones.

A bomb fails to go off at the Chicago Grand Opera during a production of Meyerbeer’s Dinorah. There is a flash and a smell of sulphur, which starts a panic until the orchestra starts up the Star-Spangled Banner, which as we know has magical powers against pipe bombs. It is suspected, naturally, that this is retaliation for the company’s ban on German opera.

At Princeton, Theodore Roosevelt says unless we break up Austria and Turkey and free their subject races, all the talk of making the world safe for democracy is a “sham.” He’s still bitching that the US didn’t declare war immediately after the sinking of the Lusitania.

The women suffragist prisoners are refusing to wear prison clothes and trying to make demands, and are being roughly handled, manacled to prison bars, put in cells with detoxing men, and any other humiliation the guards can imagine.

Kerensky seems to have fled again. Dressed as a sailor. After his little band of Cossacks made a deal with the Bolsheviks to turn him over.

The British ambassador to Russia refuses to see Foreign Minister Trotsky.

The German Independent Socialists ask for an immediate session of the Reichstag to consider Lenin’s peace offer.

Three Austrian nationals in Virginia, Minnesota are killed with an axe for buying Liberty Loans and giving money to the American Red Cross (we know this because the killer left a note).


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today -100: November 16, 1917: Of tigers


French President Poincaré asks Georges Clemenceau to form a new government. “The Tiger” is 76 years old. A doctor, journalist, former political exile in the US during the Second Empire, Clemenceau has moved over the years from fierce radicalism to fierce not-radicalism, and has been highly critical of the government’s insufficiently ferocious prosecution of the war, to the extent that his newspapers were suspended several times early in the war.

There are now 32 suffragist hunger strikers in the Occoquan Workhouse.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Today -100: November 15, 1917: Of underwear. And other stuff.


The outside world has no idea what is going on in Russia, but boy are there a lot of contradictory rumors.

As Central forces move into Italy, Venice is evacuated. Including all the art, such as the symbol of Venice, the bronze horses of San Marco.

A warrant is issued for Robert Pettigrew, the former US senator from South Dakota and congresscritter from the Dakota Territory, for violating the Espionage Act by giving a newspaper interview in which he said the war was a capitalist scheme and suggesting men evade the draft. The government will eventually drop the charges, perhaps after hearing he’d hired Clarence Darrow.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Soldiers, who are being issued undershirts and underpants and may not want to go back to the traditional one-piece “union suit” with the little flap on the butt.

Sociologist Émile Durkheim dies. The NYT doesn’t notice.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today -100: November 14, 1917: The bourgeoisie has endeavored to separate the army from the revolution


China rejects the recent US-Japan agreement recognizing Japan’s “special interests” in China and the “open door” for US trade in China. China says agreements between other nations are not binding on it.

Paul Painlevé resigns as French prime minister after 9 weeks, after losing a confidence motion. There is some push-back against the new inter-allied war council.

There are contradictory reports about the clashes between Bolshevik-controlled military forces and Kerensky’s. Trotsky is declaring victory, as was the custom: “The bourgeoisie has endeavored to separate the army from the revolution. Kerensky has attempted to break it by the violence of Cossackdom. Both efforts have failed. ... The opposition to Kerensky is the opposition to the landlords, the bourgeois, and Kornilov. The opposition to Kerensky is also the affirmation of the people’s right to peace, free life, the land, bread and power.”

Speaking of bread and power, Food Administrator Herbert Hoover bans the destruction of stale bread.

The newly enfranchised women of New York are now demanding the right to sit on juries. They’ll get it at, er, some point, but it won’t be mandatory as it is for men until the mid-1970s.

NYC Associate Superintendent of Schools John Tildlsey, after holding his own little inquisition for De Witt Clinton High School (Bronx) teachers, has suspended 3 and transferred 8 for “holding views which are subversive of discipline in the schools and which undermine good citizenship,” i.e., not being completely gung ho about the war. One of the teachers who was cross-examined (the article doesn’t say if he’s one of the ones disciplined) says that one question he was asked was “Don’t you believe that Jewish students, especially the Russians, need to be disciplined out of their individualistic tendencies?” They were also asked their views of the Bolsheviks, whether teachers should inculcate instinctive obedience to superiors like they do in Germany, etc.

Feds and local police raid an IWW meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, and arrest 50 delegates.

Woodrow Wilsons personal secretary Joseph Tumulty denies persistent rumors that he has been arrested and imprisoned as a spy.


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Monday, November 13, 2017

Today -100: November 13, 1917: We are making all our statements now by means of cannon


In a speech in Paris, British Prime Minister Lloyd George says of the recent creation of an inter-allied council staff to oversee more central coordination of the militaries of Britain, France, and Italy, that the Italian disaster necessitated acting quickly without bringing in Russia (!) and the US, which will hopefully join soon. “Disaster,” by the way, is the word he uses to describe Italy’s military near-collapse. He also says the council is necessary because of past “blunders.” Actually, “incredible blunders.”

The military forces of Kerensky and the Bolsheviks clash.

Trotsky replies to an AP interview request: “we are making all our statements now by means of cannon. I have nothing to say otherwise.”

Judge Mallowney of D.C. police court suspends the sentences of the 41 suffragist White House picketers. So with this unexpected free time (so to speak), they go back and picket the White House again, although Woodrow Wilson is actually....

...in Buffalo, speaking at the American Federation of Labor annual convention, where he attacks pacifists: “I want peace, but I know how to get it, and they do not.”


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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Today -100: November 12, 1917: Of speedy wars, collapsing revolutions, wholesome truths, queens, explosives, salutes, and political prisoners


Headline of the Day -100: 


The Bolshevik revolution is “approaching collapse,” reports the NYT. Troops loyal to Kerensky are approaching Petrograd.

Supposedly, new self-appointed Russian foreign minister Leon Trotsky shows up at the Foreign Office and is met with obstruction – not being shown the secret treaties, being told there was no French interpreter available for him to send a telegram, etc – and “the typewriter girls of the Ministry assailed him with some wholesome truths about his origin, his aims, and his activities generally.” Assuming this has any basis in reality, “his origin” almost certainly means his Jewishness.

Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch, deposed by a US-backed coup in 1893, dies.

The Bureau of Mines plans to thwart bomb plots by arresting anyone in possession of explosives without a license.

There is some debate over whether white soldiers in the US Army can refuse to salute black officers.

The 41 suffragists currently out on bail, and 50 of their closest friends, force  their way into the yard of the prison where Alice Paul and Rose Winslow are being forcibly fed, and are able to talk with Paul and get some instruction about how to deal with prison when they’re sentenced. Demand political prisoner status immediately, she says. She complains that they’re force-feeding her 3 times a day where the British prison authorities only did it twice a day.


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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Today -100: November 11, 1917: The Maximalists are in no way representative of the whole of Russia


41 suffragist picketers are arrested in front of the White House.

Kerensky resurfaces, in the town of Luga, 85 miles from the capital.

A temporary cabinet is named, with Lenin as prime minister and Trotsky foreign minister.

The Russian Embassy in Washington refuses to recognize the Bolshevik regime. Ambassador Boris Bakhmeteff, who will continue to pretend to be Russia’s ambassador until 1922 and will never see Russia again, says “The Petrograd events are a revolt of a party against a national government. The Maximalists are in no way representative of the whole of Russia.”

A mob of “Knights of Liberty” in Tulsa seize 17 IWW members from the police and flog and tar & feather them. The cops were already going to “persuade” them to leave town, as was the custom.


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Friday, November 10, 2017

Today -100: November 10, 1917: We offer a just peace, but we cannot accept unjust terms


Political parties in New York respond to the passage of women’s suffrage by hurriedly recruiting women. Tammany Hall is trying to figure out which ones to bribe with jobs, as was the custom. And the state will have to double the number of election districts.

The State Department thinks the Bolshevik Revolution can’t possibly last. The great hope among the Allies is that “some strong man” – not a Bolshevik – will emerge to take control of Russia.

Lenin says he will propose a 3-month armistice, during which time elected representatives of each country – not diplomats – can work out a peace. “We offer a just peace, but we cannot accept unjust terms.”

The arrest of all members of the Kerensky government is ordered on the grounds of complicity with Gen. Kornilov’s revolt, which is ridiculous.

The prison doctor where the suffragette White House picketers are being held says they weren’t force-fed, they “merely want to advertise themselves by saying they have been fed forcibly.” He is lying.

Herbert Hoover’s Food Administration wants cranberries dropped from Thanksgiving dinner, as they require too much sugar.


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Thursday, November 09, 2017

Today -100: November 9, 1917: Now we have a revolution


The Bolsheviks seize the Winter Palace. It’s all pretty bloodless so far. The Petrograd Soviet promises an immediate “democratic peace” and the redistribution of land. The military death penalty is re-abolished. “Now we have a revolution,” Lenin says, “The peasants and workers control the government. This is only a preliminary step toward a similar revolution everywhere.” But does this mean anything outside Petrograd? Will the rest of the country and the military follow? Will Kerensky (currently nowhere to be found) establish a competing government in Moscow?

Headline of the Day -100: 


This is the Balfour Declaration. Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour writes to Lord Walter Rothschild to pass on to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland that the UK now supports “a national home for the Jewish people” “in Palestine.” Which is all quite vague, and intentionally so. A home doesn’t necessarily mean a state, and “in Palestine” doesn’t necessarily mean all of Palestine. Balfour says this shouldn’t “prejudice the civil or religious rights” of non-Jews in Palestine.

Hunger-striking suffragist prisoners Alice Paul and Rose Winslow are forcibly fed.

In Montgomery, Alabama, a black soldier from the Ohio National Guard brushes against a white woman on a crowded street car. For this infraction, he is kidnapped by a bunch of white men and taken away in a car towards an unknown fate. More soldiers from his battalion (so also black) rush off in pursuit in carjacked automobiles, and....  the NYT never runs a follow-up, so who knows.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Today -100: November 8, 1917: What’s the Russian for “It’s on, bitches”?


Headlines of the Day, on opposite columns of the front page:



I just found the juxtaposition funny, for some reason.

So yeah, the October/November Revolution has begun. Kerensky outlaws the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet and deploys guards he thinks he can trust from the officers’ training schools and Cossacks and the Women’s Battalion of Death. The Preliminary Parliament votes, 123-102, to work with the government but rejects a resolution for the suppression of the Bolsheviks.

Alice Hill Chittenden, president of the NY State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, is not at all bitter about losing the referendum: “when radicalism and socialism prevail, woman suffrage will carry.” She also blames pacifism and says New York men will “rue the day.” Rue the day, I tell you!

Another classical music performance canceled. I hadn’t realized this was going to be such a thing. This time it’s two Pittsburgh performances by violinist/composer Fritz Kreisler (you can hear him on YouTube). Kreisler used to be a lieutenant in the Austrian Army, invalided out in 1914, so there’s public outrage by people who haven’t noticed that the US is not at war with Austria.


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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Today -100: November 7, 1917: There is no Hohenzollern here


Ohio: a prohibition referendum narrowly loses, for the 3rd time, and women’s suffrage loses 57-43.

Prohibition very narrowly loses in Iowa but wins 3 to 1 in New Mexico. There are now 27 dry states.

Women’s suffrage loses in Maine 65-35, but wins in New York (54-46). The NYT blames the reversal from 1915 on low turnout as people are too concerned with the war to make the world safe for democracy to bother voting. Or something.

NYC Boy Mayor John Purroy Mitchel is defeated, winning 23% of the vote, not much more than the Socialist Morris Hillquit (22%), while Judge John Hylan gets 46%. Hylan’s plurality is the largest in New York history. Tammany Hall sweeps the municipal elections, and Al Smith (future presidential candidate) is the new president of the Board of Aldermen. The city also elects 7 socialists to the state Assembly.

A sampling of editorials is entitled “Papers in Other Cities Do Not Like New York Election Result.” The Washington Post, for example, says the high socialist vote “confirms fears of a bad situation in which soapbox orators hold an unfortunate power in molding the views of the unthinking Americans.”

Gov. Charles Whitman says that, contrary to everything Mitchel said before the election, Germany should not be encouraged by the Hylan victory. “The people of New York State are patriotic. There is no Hohenzollern here.”

Suffragette Alice Paul goes on hunger strike in the District prison, demanding better food for the suffragist picketer/prisoners. They’ve been getting salt pork and cabbage. (In fact, the issue is that the suffragists are not being allowed to buy outside food like other prisoners).

Leon Trotsky, president of  the Petrograd Soldiers’ and Workers’ Soviet, asks the Petrograd Garrison to ignore orders from the government unless approved by the Soviet’s Revolutionary Military Committee.


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Monday, November 06, 2017

Today -100: November 6, 1917: Of special interests, symphonies, operators, acute perils, and masses


Secretary of State Robert Lansing signs an agreement recognizing Japan’s “special interests” in China, while Japan recognizes the “open door” for US trade in China.

Baltimore bars the Boston Symphony from playing because of the danger of disorder from idiots, including former governor Edwin Warfield.

New York Telephone has an ad in the Times asking customers not to dial the operator to ask for election results. They’ve provided this service in the past but there’s a war on, you know.

Hungary is refusing to send grain to Austria. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is not going well.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Radical... pacifists. Trotsky predicted the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet would come into power Sunday (which was 2 days ago).

Newsdealers are refusing to handle periodicals that the Post Office has barred from the mails, fearing prosecution. It is only illegal to sell the particular issues which the PO deems un-mailable, but dealers are barring every issue of any magazine, such as The Masses, that has been censored. They are probably right to be cautious, because they can be prosecuted for carrying something which is later declared seditious.


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Sunday, November 05, 2017

Today -100: November 5, 1917: Of POWs and chain letters


NYC mayoral candidate John Hylan claims that the Mitchel campaign tried to pressure a government employee, a photographer, into saying that he’d seen Hylan at the Friends of Peace convention in 1915, but that man denies the story. It’s all very fishy.

The first US prisoners of war are captured during the first clash between US and German soldiers.

The government claims to have discovered a German plot to clog the US mails through the use of chain letters, aka the “peace prayer” chain.


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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Today -100: November 4, 1917: Of over-the-top New Yorkers, zones, and savings


NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel says he will definitely be re-elected because “the real Americans of this city will go over the top against the forces of disloyalty.”

“Over the top,” by the way, is a very new phrase, referring to going over the top of the trenches at the start of a battle.


Question of the Day:


“In the Zone,” one of his sailor one-acts, opens, his first professional production.

A Lithuanian carpenter is arrested carrying a bomb onto a Navy troop transport ship in a NY shipyard.

A. Mitchell Palmer, the future attorney general and dickwad who currently rejoices in the title Alien Property Custodian, says that while the government will be seizing German companies’ property in the US, individuals’ postal savings accounts won’t be touched.


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Friday, November 03, 2017

Today -100: November 3, 1917: Of fires, muck, masses, quitters, and women’s reasons


There is evidently a German “uprising” in southern Brazil. Which seems to just mean a railway strike.

The US government says that since the US entered the war, fires have destroyed $25 million worth of food, most of those fires started by German spies or sympathizers, because German spies are responsible for everything bad that happens now.

Theodore Roosevelt demands that Boston Symphony conductor Karl Muck be deported for refusing to play the Star-Spangled Banner. Muck offers his resignation, which has not yet been accepted, and plays the tune.

A Circuit Court upholds the banning of The Masses from the mails, which evidently means that just producing the magazine is now illegal, through logic that seems ridiculously faulty. The court also says that the crime of obstructing enlistment in the military does not require that the magazine directly advise people not to enlist, but that it prints absolutely anything that could be interpreted by those inclined to so interpret it as impeding, hindering, restraining or putting an obstacle in the way of recruitment, including the “natural and reasonable effect of the publication”.

The Washington Post publishes some of that AP interview with Kerensky mentioned here yesterday under the title “Russia Quits War; Blames English for Not Sending Fleet.” The Russian embassy is now scrambling to reassure everyone that Russia is not in fact quitting the war.

The Russian government has decided not to abandon Petrograd after all (Germany has stopped what had looked like an all-out attempt to capture the capital in favor of a push to knock Italy out of the war).


Two ads, NYT, page 11:


The NYT is also opposed to the women’s suffrage amendment.


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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Today -100: November 2, 1917: Yellow calls to yellow


The Bolsheviks do badly in Russian municipal elections, 7% in the big cities, less in small towns. And they abandon plans for a demonstration in Petrograd. So the government is pretty sure the Bolshies are on the decline.

Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky tells the Associated Press that Russia is “worn out” and everyone else should just carry on with the war while Russia has a bit of a lie-down. He also complains that the German navy is in the Baltic and where the hell is the British navy?

NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel releases a poster of the letterhead of the Friends of Peace listing John Hylan as an honorary vice president. Hylan calls it a forgery, and again states that a lot of people were once listed as hon veeps without their permission, including several in the Mitchel campaign and administration, and anyway that was before the US entered the war, as was the endorsement of Hylan by the Hearst-owned German-language Deutsches Journal in 1915 that Mitchel is now citing as proof of treason or something. Mitchel says the result of this election will be seen in Germany, and if German soldiers read that “the Kaiser wins in New York,” they will be encouraged and strengthened, and “the American in the trench a hundred yards away may pay with his life as the penalty for disloyalty at home. The time has come to choose between the seditious and the loyal, between enemies and friends, between traitors and Americans.”

Theodore Roosevelt on Socialist mayoral candidate Morris Hillquit: “Yellow calls to yellow, and that is all there is in that campaign.”

By the way, look who else is running, for the #2 position in city government.






In Britain, the Pankhursts’ Women’s Social and Political Union changes its name to the Woman’s Party with a platform of a little bit of feminism and a lot of screw-Germany-into-the-ground-forever.

The Metropolitan Opera decides to leave Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde out of the new season. In London German operas have been performed only in English translation since the start of the war. Tomorrow the Met will announce the exclusion of all German-language opera. It was the Met that originally brought Parsifal to the US and which gave the first performance of the complete Ring Cycle in the Western Hemisphere. German operas still under copyright, like Strauss’s Rosenkavelier, would actually be illegal to perform under the Trading with the Enemy Act.



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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Today -100: November 1, 1917: Of perjury, rallies, and unserious music


NYC mayoral race: John Hylan denies Mayor John Mitchel’s charge that he is a member of the Society of Friends of Peace. So Mitchel now demands he repeat that under oath subject to perjury. And, er, how would he even do that?

Socialist New York mayoral candidate Morris Hillquit holds a rally filling Madison Square Garden. The government sends stenographers as a subtle warning to watch what he says.

Henry Higginson, the founder and chief patron of the Boston Symphony, threatens to shut it down if there continues to be pressure from the public and the government  to play the Star-Spangled Banner, which he considers inappropriate for a program of serious symphonic music. The clamor, which was stirred up by the Providence Journal, will continue until the symphony’s conductor, Dr. Karl Muck, a German-born Swiss citizen, is interned in March.

A new issue of the Wipers Times is out.

From the diary of Lieut. Samuel Pepys: “On the Thursday of last week we did take up our residence in a new part of the trench. Tis a noisome place, and I am disgusted of it. The mud is of a terrifying stickiness, and I am feared for my breeches, which cost me one guinea at the Hope Brothers’ establishment in Cheapside. Also I have spoiled my new coat on the barbed wire, which has grieved me, as it was of a good shape and fitting. ... As I must take a party out for the sandbagging, to bed at 7 of the clock, after a poor dinner, the Macconnochie being but of medium quality and not too hot.”

And a poem:

Sentry! What of the night?
The sentry’s answer I will not repeat.
Though short in words, ‘twas with feeling replete,
It covered all he thought and more,
It covered all he’d thought before,
It covered all he might think yet
In years to come. For he was wet
And had no rum.


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today -100: October 31, 1917: Of cults of dishonesty, pure camouflage, and Schutzengrabenvernichtaungautomobile


The first American to be wounded in the trenches is a lieutenant in the Signal Corps, which is all the Army is saying about him.

Kaiser Wilhelm names Georg von Hertling, the Bavarian prime minister as the new German chancellor. Although a member of the (Catholic) Zentrum party, he’s more hard right than, um, zentrist, especially on the war, annexations and so forth. He is 74 and won’t have much authority as government functions are increasingly coming under the control of Hindenburg and Ludendorff.

Continuing his high-minded campaign for re-election, New York City Boy Mayor John Purroy Mitchel accuses Judge John Hylan of aiding and abetting pro-German propaganda, of associating with paid agents of Germany and with men denounced by the government as disloyal. He calls Hylan’s campaign a “German attack from within” by which “the Hohenzollern has determined to seize, control, and corrupt the government of New York City,” and calls on voters to prove “that New York is still an American city.” I especially enjoy his continual attempts to portray Hylan as evading his questions, questions which tend to be unanswerable: “Judge Hylan has refused to explain what action of his has attracted to his support the disloyal and seditious elements in this city.” Oh, and Mitchel says Hylan and Hearst are in a “cult of disloyalty.”

Hylan, who the NYT always refers to as the Tammany candidate (there’s an editorial entitled “The Hylan Plot Exposed”), calls the accusations of un-Americanism from Mitchel, Roosevelt etc a “fake issue” to distract from Mitchel’s siding with big business and special privilege.

Socialist candidate Morris Hillquit agrees that the issue of patriotism in this campaign is “pure camouflage.” And he responds to Roosevelt’s calling him an agent of Prussianized autocracy by calling Roosevelt “the most demoralizing influence in the political life of our country”. He says TR supports the war not to spread democracy but as a business proposition for the profit of the rich commercial classes.

There’s also a Republican candidate somewhere, but he doesn’t and won’t amount to much (Mitchel was elected as an R in 1913 but lost the primary this year and is now that annoying New York oddity, a “Fusion” candidate). He claims the newspapers are conspiring to kill his candidacy by not reporting on it. That, the NYT reports, probably just to be sarcastic.

German soprano Frieda Hempel is refused a license for a concert in Providence, Rhode Island until she promises to sing The Star-Spangled Banner.

The Germans have a word for tanks: Schutzengrabenvernichtaungautomobile. It won’t be in use for long (assuming anyone really uses it now: “Franz, look out, there’s a Schutzengrabenvernichtaungautomobile coming...!”) When Germany starts producing its own tanks next year they’ll be called Sturmpanzerwagen. Whether that gets shortened to panzer during or after this war I do not know. Anyone?


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