Friday, October 20, 2017

Today -100: October 20, 1917: Of untruths, moving to Moscow, and Chequers

Headline of the Day -100: 

In a lawsuit in 1908 against the Black Diamond Automobile Company of Brooklyn. Mayor Mitchel says Hylan used a dummy to sue the company while he was its lawyer.

The NYT claims that Bulgaria is trying to negotiate separately from its Teutonic allies, whom it worries will screw it at the peace conference. It’s certainly been left out of talks with Russia over prisoner exchanges.

The Russian government announces that it will move to Moscow. German troops are getting closer and closer to Petrograd, with zeppelins and everything.

Lloyd George takes possession of Chequers, the country mansion donated for the use of British prime ministers by Sir Arthur Lee. Because the idea was to give it to the office of prime minister rather than to Lloyd George personally, a law had to be enacted, which marks the first reference in British law to the office of prime minister.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Today -100: October 19, 1917: Of mutinies, loan slackers, conspiracies, and funny-looking dogs – yeah, I said it, funny-looking

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: More alleged mutinies are reported in the German and Austrian navies.

The NYT is calling people who don’t buy enough war bonds (the Liberty Loan) “loan slackers.”

Mexican Gen. Obregon says Pancho Villa and his soldiers are completely surrounded. In other news, Mexico is still a thing, not that you’d know it from the Times (this story exists only because Obregon is in New York).

Protests against the Gary system continue in the Bronx, with parents now joining students in breaking school windows and throwing stones at cops, as was the custom.

11 socialists are acquitted in Grand Rapids for conspiracy against conscription, which amounts to just circulating literature supposedly inducing men not to register. The judge tells the jury that socialism is not on trial; the judge is full of shit.

A judge recognizes a man charged with manslaughter as one he himself prosecuted for murder 25 years before, so that was a nice reunion. This time the man, now a saloon owner, killed his bartender because “He made fun of my dog.”

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Today -100: October 18, 1917: The German agent pervades the land

A NYT editorial warns, “The German agent pervades the land.” With German-language papers now under strict censorship/ban by the Post Office, these agents’ principle weapon is spreading rumors about sunk transport ships, mutinies, etc.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today -100: October 17, 1917: Of Gary systems, Polands, candy, and picketers

NYC Mayor Mitchel’s introduction of the “Gary system” of education – rotating students to different rooms throughout the day for efficiency, increased vocational ed., etc – is meeting a little resistance, with 1,000 kids on the Upper East Side going on strike and smashing school windows. There is concern that the Gary system (as in Gary, Indiana) is too focused on shaping working-class children for the needs of capitalism, and there’s a religious thing, and a certain amount of hysteria.

Russia now says the peace agreement must include complete independence for Poland, not just autonomy under Russia.

Meanwhile, Germany finally installs its puppet Council of Regency in Poland, appointing the archbishop of Warsaw, the mayor of Warsaw (a prince), and some rich dude.

Headline of the Day -100: 

British Prime Minister Lloyd George withdraws his libel action against several newspapers which said that he left London after an air raid warning was given, after the papers retract.

4 of the suffragists who picketed the White House are sentenced to 6 months in the workhouse.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Today -100: October 16, 1917: What better covering could any man have?

Mata Hari is executed by the French as a spy, on little evidence. What she actually did, and who she did it for (everyone? no one?) is still a confused question. She certainly did not tell the Germans about tanks, as the story claims.

The New York World has been running stories about NYC mayoral candidate John Hylan having, a few years ago, sued a company he was involved with for payment for his legal services and then, as lawyer for that company, failing to contest himself. Or something. Anyway, incumbent Boy-Mayor John Purroy Mitchel publicly demands that Tammany Boss Murphy say whether that’s the reason he chose Hylan, a singularly unimpressive campaigner with no governmental experience – because he knew he’d have something to hang over his head. Mitchel continues to paint Hylan as un-patriotic, but says all he has to do is denounce Murphy, Hearst, and, er, everyone else who supports him – the “whole galaxy of anti-Americanisms.” Mitchel tells a group of Italians, “It is said that in this campaign of loyalty I am wrapped up in the American flag, and if I am, what better covering could any man have?”

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Today -100: October 15, 1917: Let all remember that the Fatherland will not forgive criminal levity

Following the German occupation of Osel Island in the Gulf of Riga, Russian PM Kerensky calls on the navy to keep out the Germans, complains about the “attitude” of the Kronstadt fortress weakening Russian defenses, and calls for sacrifices. “Let all remember that the Fatherland will not forgive criminal levity.”

Criminal levity is the worst kind.

The Jewish Daily Forward gives in to Post Office censorship, will no longer publish any opinions about the war.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Today -100: October 14, 1917: Of chancellors, improper letters, and draft boards

German newspapers agree that Chancellor Georg Michaelis is toast because of his inept handling of, well not the August naval mutiny itself (which the government is now saying was just on one ship), but the political ramifications. Which I think means the right is pissed that he didn’t make a more credible case blaming it on the socialists. The left in the Reichstag would also like a new chancellor, one named by the Reichstag rather than the kaiser.

Frank Haungs is arrested for sending an “improper” letter to First Lady Edith Wilson, under the name of his foreman at work.

Local draft boards, especially in New York City and Louisiana, have been drafting men with dependents for whom they are the sole support, and the Army will now release those men.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Today -100: October 13, 1917: Of oratorical contests with petulant young men, marine ministers, soviets, and negro-less towns

Judge John F. Hylan, the more-or-less Democratic candidate for mayor of New York, refuses to debate incumbent Mayor John Purroy Mitchel: “No mere oratorical contest with this petulant young man, who is smarting under deserved and almost universal condemnation, will meet the situation or satisfy the people.” Hylan says he is fighting for democracy, just like the Allies in France.

German Minister of Marine Eduard von Capelle is fired (is he though?), ostensibly for the August mutinies, really for the failure of submarine warfare to defeat Britain.

Trotsky is elected president of the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet, which passes a resolution refusing support to Kerensky’s new coalition government.

Two white men are convicted for killing a 17-year-old black man during the East St. Louis race riots and sentenced to 14 years.

Headline of the Day -100: 

At the army training camp Camp Funston. “The telegrams declare that Junction City has no negro population.”

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Today -100: October 12, 1917: Of tsars and lost provinces

Ex-Tsar Nicholas and family are moved to a monastery, still in Siberia, ostensibly because he’d been complaining about the crowds that came to gawk at him.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George says Britain will fight until France gets Alsace-Lorraine back. Is that what the tommies thought they’d been fighting for?

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today -100: October 11, 1917: Of mutiny, lost provinces, and krennings

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The NYT reports that there was a mutiny on 4 or 5 German ships a few weeks ago, in which the captain of one of them was thrown into the sea and drowned. Kaiser Wilhelm ordered that 1 in 7 sailors be shot, but only 3 were executed after Chancellor Michaelis objected.

There are a couple of grains of truth in that. There was a fairly minor  rebellion in early August. No captain was drowned, but two sailors were executed, because the German Navy doesn’t recognize the concept of “fairly minor” mutinies. The government and right wing are using the incident as a stick to beat the opposition, blaming it, with no basis in fact, on the Independent Social Democrats (USPD); this is why we’re hearing about this now.

German Foreign Minister Richard von Kühlmann says the only thing that can’t be negotiated is Alsace-Lorraine.

Henry Krenning, the recently retired president of the Dorris Motor Car Company, is charged under the Espionage Act with making disparaging remarks about Woodrow Wilson at the theatre. Annoyingly, the nature of the remarks is unspecified, and there’s no follow-up.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today -100: October 10, 1917: Of licensed newspapers, supreme power, and negro divisions

Postmaster-General Burleson says that his new powers to “license” foreign-language newspapers won’t be used against criticism of the government... unless it impugns the motives of the government, because that encourages insubordination. “For instance, papers may not say that the government is controlled by Wall Street or munition manufacturers, or any other special interests.” (NYC mayoral candidate and actual next mayor John Hylan accuses City Hall of being run by a “combination of tax-eating, franchise grabbers, food-price jugglers, land sharks and city financial manipulators,” but I guess he couldn’t do that in a foreign-language newspaper). Also, no opposition to conscription or attacking the US’s allies will be allowed. Burleson says socialist papers won’t automatically be barred, unless they contain treason or sedition. But most of them do, he says.

Dateline Washington DC: “Russian diplomats here appear to be convinced now that the Bolsheviks have finally been overthrown and that Premier Kerensky is once more firmly established in the supreme power.”

The Army will create a new division composed of blacks from all over the country. This follows a long debate about the segregation of the... nah, just kidding, segregation’s just taken for granted.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Today -100: October 9, 1917: Dead or alive

Charles Beard resigns from Columbia in protest at the expulsion of anti-war professors by “obscure and willful” trustees “who are reactionary and visionless in politics, narrow and medieval in religion" and who are destroying free expression at the nation’s largest university. The best-selling historian is not an opponent of the war like the fired profs.

Poolville, Texas raises a $1,246.50 reward for the capture of Kaiser Wilhelm.

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Today -100: October 8, 1917: Of forwards, brotherhood, and unlikely fights

Uruguay breaks off relations with Germany. Ditto Peru.

The postmaster general is threatening to ban the Jewish Daily Forward from the mails. The editor, Abraham Cohen, denies any pro-Germanism, saying that the government is actually going after every socialist newspaper in the country.

London mobs including soldiers set fire to the Brotherhood Church ahead of a pacifist meeting which was to be addressed by Bertrand Russell.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Probably not the most epic of battles.

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Today -100: October 7, 1917: God pity the man who would paralyze the arm of the American people in this conflict

Robert La Follette defends himself in a two-hour speech in the Senate, which had put aside plans to consider expelling him and then for some reason put it back on the table. Senator Bob makes a case for free speech and the right to criticize the president before the sceptical members. Sen. Joseph Robinson (D-Arkansas), for one, disagrees, saying La Follette should “apply to the kaiser for a seat in the German Bundesrat.”

And the House censures Rep. “Cotton Tom” Heflin (D-Alabama) for saying that fellow congresscritters had been bought off by Germany.

Edsel Ford’s application for exemption from the draft on the grounds that he is too busy helping his father run the Ford Motor Company is rejected. The decision will later be reversed. The controversy over this was probably the cause of his father’s narrow defeat when he ran for the Senate in 1918.

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Friday, October 06, 2017

Today -100: October 6, 1917: Of cabinets and theosophists

Kerensky forms forms a new cabinet, defying the Democratic Congress’s demand that the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) be excluded.

The Russian government declares a state of war in Turkestan, which is in revolt.

A.P. Warrington, president of the US branch of the Theosophical Society, says that death in the war is so noble it relieves all karma, so a dead soldier’s next reincarnation will be fantastic. He says theosophists should spread this good news to the survivors of dead soldiers, but “don’t be queer about it all.”

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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Today -100: October 5, 1917: Of excess profits, mutiny in the workhouse, and Fake News

The new excess profits war tax will include an 8% tax on incomes over $6,000. This tax will not apply to members of Congress, who earn $7,500 a year. Both the tax and the exemption were snuck into the bill in secret during the reconciliation process, and most congresscritters, anxious as they were to begin their vacation, probably didn’t know they were there.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Or to put it another way, workhouse authorities induced black woman prisoners to attack the suffragists, who are being charged with... wait for it... “mutiny.”

The feds seize the German-language newspaper Freie Zeitung, raiding its New Jersey plant and arresting owners and editors. The 60-year-old paper is being accused of publishing false reports intended to interfere with US military success, whatever that means. The paper will be back in business tomorrow. The NYT notes, without quite saying that this is the reason for the raid, that on August 15 an article in the Zeitung noted that soldiers about to be sent to France shouted “Are we down-hearted? No!” and commented “If the boys are not downhearted in six months they may consider themselves lucky.”

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Today -100: October 4, 1917: We will give it all back to them and we will give it to them soon

New York Mayor John Purroy Mitchel attacks his opponent John Hylan for being backed by people not in sympathy with the war campaign. He attacks Boss Murphy and Tammany Hall, as was the custom, and the Hearst papers. Hylan himself is less interested in the war than in keeping the subway fare to 5¢, which is pretty much the beginning and end of his platform.

British Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill says the u-boat attack on Britain has been checked, even repulsed.

Prime Minister David Lloyd George, speaking in part of London recently bombed by German airplanes, says “We will give it all back to them and we will give it to them soon. We shall bomb Germany with compound interest.” Which seems like too much math to me.

The NYPD are cracking down on newsboys who shout sensational war-related headlines that aren’t true.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Today -100: October 3, 1917: Of blockades and the draft

Britain will now join the US in blockading neutral countries Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Mexico objects to US plans to draft Mexican nationals. One problem is that the citizenship laws of both countries lay claim to children born in the US to Mexican citizens.

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Monday, October 02, 2017

Today -100: October 2, 1917: Of academic freedom

Columbia University fires two professors, James McKeen Cattell (psychology) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana (English), the grandson of the poet, for pacifism.

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Today -100: October 1, 1917: Of special grievances, Lenin, and loyalty

Theodore Roosevelt says the US is not in the war to make the world safe for democracy, but “because we had a special grievance,” specifically, Germany’s attacks on ships.

“The Bolsheviks have abandoned the idea of having Nikolai Lenine, the radical pacifist agitator, appear as their representative in the Congress on account of the firm determination of the Government to discover and arrest him.”

The Chronicle Magazine sent a letter to people with German-sounding names in Who’s Who and the Social Register, asking them to express their undying loyalty to the US. It will print the responses it likes, and turn the ones it doesn’t like over to the Justice Dept. The letter says that anyone who doesn’t respond will be considered hostile to the United States.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Today -100: September 30, 1917: Of influence and psychological struggles

The State Dept tells Congress that it knows of no payments by the German Embassy (before the US entered the war) to members of Congress.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The German foreign secretary has suggested that the Reichstag study “the psychology of our enemies.”

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Today -100: September 29, 1917: Of Wobblies, shadow Huns, and war aims

Government raids seize most of the IWW’s leadership after a Chicago grand jury charges 168 with seditious conspiracy.

Reps. “Cotton Tom” Heflin (D-Alabama) and Patrick Norton (R-North Dakota) get in a shoving match on the House floor, after the House Rules Committee decides not to investigate Heflin’s claims of German influence on certain congresscritters because the Justice Dept is already conducting an investigation.

Theodore Roosevelt calls Robert La Follette and other congressional critics of the war “shadow Huns.” Which is a nicely sinister coinage.

German Chancellor Georg Michaelis again rejects Germany stating its war aims, because that would just be confusing.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Today -100: September 28, 1917: Of pacifists of the lowest order and Degas

Rep. “Cotton Tom” Heflin (D-Alabama) names 4 of the 13 congresscritters he suspects of being under German influence. One, Frederick Britten (R-Illinois) responds that Heflin is “a pacifist of the lowest order” (although Britten voted against the war). [Note: this article is supposed to be continued on page 9. It isn’t.]

The artist Edgar Degas dies. Ballet dancers are in mourning.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today -100: September 27, 1917: Of hunger strikes, nebulous and unctuous generalities, death battalions, and old women of both sexes

Thomas Ashe, a former schoolteacher and Sinn Fein/IRA leader, dies of a hunger strike demanding political prisoner status in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. Ashe was sentenced to death for his activities during the Easter Rising released during the amnesty in June and subsequently re-imprisoned, this time just for giving speeches. He seems to have died as a result of botched forcible feeding. The British government will from now on mostly refrain from force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners.

In a reply to Pope Benedict’s peace proposals, Germany offers to de-occupy Belgium on condition that German businesses can operate there and that Belgium is divided administratively into Flanders and Walloon. Letting Belgium go doesn’t seem to be conditional on Germany getting its colonies back, which had been mentioned in various trial balloons leaked over the last few weeks.

Former Prime Minister Asquith denounces the offer as “teeming with nebulous and unctuous generalities.” Nebulous and unctuous generalities are the worst kind.

The military section of the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet demands the dissolution of battalions with the word “death” in their name (the Women’s Battalion of Death etc), because these privileged soldiers arrogate to themselves the right to die for the liberty of Russia, which is the right of all soldiers, and divide the army into heroes & a mass of conscienceless soldiers. This is a very silly discussion.

In a speech in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt calls Robert La Follette “the most sinister foe of democracy in this country,” unworthy to represent the loyal people of America, and TR wishes he could just send him to the kaiser.  So, um, Teddy wants to overturn a democratic election, but it’s La Follette who’s the sinister foe of democracy? Teddy R. does not do irony. DOES. NOT. DO. IRONY! He calls pacifists “old women of both sexes,” because of course he does.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today -100: September 26, 1917: Of impeachments and censorship

Texas Gov. James Ferguson is removed from office and barred from ever holding office in Texas in the future. Actually he resigned the night before the state senate finished impeachment procedures, evidently thinking it would protect him from the office-holding ban (it doesn’t, not that he won’t try to run for governor again next year). He is replaced by Lt. Gov. William Hobby, riding to the rescue (see what I did there?)

The postmaster general says he intends to strictly enforce the part of the Trading with the Enemy Act that allows him to ban “seditious” non-English-language newspapers from the mails. I hadn’t realized that any material he excludes from the postal system is also banned from using commercial express companies. The postmaster is also talking about censoring letters to Mexico, but not to France or Britain, where he can just rely on their censorship systems.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Today -100: September 25, 1917: The ignorant zealot goes where the paid traitor sends him

Theodore Roosevelt demands that the Senate figure out a way to expel Robert La Follette.

In Congress, Rep. “Cotton Tom” Heflin (D-Alabama) is attacked for his comment, made after the State Dept claimed that at the start of the year Germany spent $50,000 to influence Congress, that he could think of 13 or 14 members of Congress who “acted suspiciously” and that there was a certain German-run cardroom where pro-German congresscritters could “win” large sums (in a newspaper interview he will deny having given). On the House floor, though, he refuses to name names.

The NYT says that if Germany was trying to sway Congress when the two countries were at peace, they must still be doing it. “The thing needs no proof.” The Times also needs no proof to accuse the pacifist movement of being pro-German: “The ignorant zealot goes where the paid traitor sends him.”

Germans complain that at a time when railroad cars can’t be found to transport food, the crown prince got a special train to bring opera singers from Munich to his headquarters. Two newspapers have been suppressed for mentioning this.

The House of Representatives votes 181-107 to create a Committee on Woman Suffrage. Joseph Walsh (R-Mass.) objects to giving in to the White House picketers, who he calls “the nagging of iron-jawed angels” and “bewildered, deluded creatures with short skirts and short hair.” In response to the states’ rights argument, Jeanette Rankin points out that it is nearly impossible to amend some state constitutions. New Mexico, for example, requires 3/4 of the votes and 2/3 in every county.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Today -100: September 24, 1917: Of fun fights, false teeth, and Usonians

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Secretary of State Robert Lansing says that before Romania declared war on Germany, Germany snuck explosives and biological warfare (anthrax, glanders) into the country and hid them in the consulate.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The war has created a false teeth shortage in France.

Christine Ladd-Franklin, a psych lecturer at Columbia University writes to the NYT about the problem of what to call US soldiers, who really don’t like “Sammies.” She suggests Usonians, from the abbreviation for United States of North America. Ladd-Franklin likes abbreviations: in the 1870s she applied for a fellowship at Johns Hopkins as “C. Ladd” and that worked out well for her.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today -100: September 23, 1917: Of recounts, impeachments, and extremists

Headline of the Day -100: 

“No, it’s still just 4½ inches, Mr. Mayor.”

Actually, NYC Boy Mayor John Purroy Mitchel’s competitor in the Republican primary, William Bennett, has been claiming there was fraud and threatening to run as an independent, so Mitchel wants a recount to prove him wrong. In fact, the recount will go against Mitchel and he will run as an independent “Fusion” candidate.

Texas Gov. James Ferguson is impeached and found guilty on 10 charges (out of 21) of stealing state funds, various corrupt activities at his bank, and trying to coerce the regents of the University of Texas.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Bolsheviks are demanding an end to the war, the military structures of which present, as Gen. Kornilov showed, a continuing threat of counter-revolution.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Today -100: September 22, 1917: Of peace, influence, technical rights, and champagne

Germany and Austria finally respond to Pope Benedict’s peace proposals. They are all for them in principle but vague as hell about the details. That took them nearly two months?

Secretary of State Lansing releases a message sent in January by then German Ambassador Count Johann von Bernstorff to Berlin about spending $50,000 to influence the US Congress. He also suggested they sway US opinion with a statement in favor of Ireland. Members of Congress immediately start accusing each other of having taken German money, although I’m pretty sure Bernstorff meant influence, not bribe.

Minnesota Gov. Joseph Burnquist (R) announces an investigation into Sen. Bob La Follette’s alleged seditious remarks at a conference on the cost of living. Bob La F. said that the “technical rights” of US citizens – “the right of an American citizen to ride on a munitions-loaded ship flying a foreign flag” – had been abused by Germany, but that wasn’t worth going to war over.

Headline of the Day -100: 

We’ve all been there.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today -100: September 21, 1917: Because nothing says making the world safe for democracy like setting human beings on fire

An arrest warrant is issued for Philadelphia Mayor Thomas Smith (R), Councilman Isaac Deutsch and police Lt. David Bennett for conspiracy to, among other things, interfere with Tuesday’s primaries, which were marked, as we saw yesterday, by an attack on Deutsch’s opponent and the killing of his police guard.

Germany denies a French story that Kaiser Wilhelm offered a reward of 300 marks and 3 weeks’ leave to the first German who captured an American soldier.

However, some guys in Mulvane, Kansas have pledged $1,000 towards a planned $1 million bounty on the head of the kaiser.

Secretary of War Newton Baker rejects a request by Rep. James Gallivan for war reporters from local Massachusetts papers be allowed to go to France. He says the 16 reporters already there will have to do, because they’re using all the cable facilities, so more reporters would just mean shorter stories. Baker says the best news comes from letters home from soldiers. Which the Army censors, of course.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Or, you know, not.

The US army will use gas and flamethrowers.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today -100: September 20, 1917: One looming shadow if this war is its drift toward socialism

1/5th of the men drafted in Manhattan failed to show up.

Food Administrator Herbert Hoover warns a war conference of the US Chamber of Commerce that if business doesn’t to its public duty and cooperate with the government in the war effort, the result might be socialism. Just look at Russia, he says.

After Bolshevik resolutions – exclusion of the propertied classes from government, abolition of private property, the Soviet to seize power from the provisional government, etc – win in the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet, the outvoted executive committee resigns.

Argentina’s Senate votes 23 to 1 for breaking off relations with Germany.

The Republican primaries in Philadelphia’s Fifth Ward (the “Bloody Fifth”) are marked by riots and a blackjack attack on one candidate by a paid thug who then shoots and kills a cop who was guarding the candidate. He is captured along with others from a group of men recruited in Jersey City – by a man called “Little Neck,” no less – to vote illegally and intimidate the opposition.

Italy refuses a request from the Jewish Union of Frankfurt that it allow the export of palm branches for use in religious services.

Alice Smyth Burton Jay sues Chappell & Co., Ltd., the publishers of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” for stealing the chorus from her 1908 song Yakima (beginning “I’m on my way to Yakima”). She wants $100,000.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Today -100: September 19, 1917: I hate it when that happens

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Today -100: September 18, 1917: Woodrow Wilson, America, democracy for me

Leon Samson, a junior expelled by Columbia University for his pacifist views, fails to get relief from the state Supreme Court, Justice Mullan, perhaps unclear on the concept of pacifism, calling him a “menace” to the university.

An Indiana superior court judge declares the new women’s suffrage law unconstitutional. The state supreme court will agree.

Vice President Thomas Marshall tells some Freemasons that the democracy for which the US is fighting to make the world safe is not one that includes the IWW’s principles. “Is it not possible to have until the conclusion of this war all hands in America lifted up to the God of our fathers, and all voices proclaiming: ‘Woodrow Wilson, America, democracy for me’?”

Feds arrest 7 people at a Chicago IWW meeting.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today -100: September 17, 1917: Of eternal indefiniteness, fake news, women doctors, and Polish regencies

Kerensky declares Russia a republic in order to “put an end to the eternal indefiniteness of the State’s organization”.

With Gen. Kornilov finally in custody, the government is saying that most of the soldiers who marched on Petrograd were told lies or one sort or another about why they were doing so. Not sure to what extent this is actually true, but it’s a good way to de-escalate the situation.

The London Daily News reports that right after the fall of Riga, Kerensky got married. To an actress, no less. “It is amusing to hear that this item of fashionable intelligence created an unfavorable impression in Petrograd.” Petrograd will be pleased to hear that it is not true. Kerensky is already married. As is the actress in question. But it’s an interesting rumor for someone to have started.

Harvard – well, just Harvard Medical School, but still – will admit women for the first time. Its enthusiasm for the scheme is shown by the announcement being made only a week before the start of the new term.

Germany and Austria decree a new Polish state. Which they will be occupying while the war lasts. They still haven’t named a king, but they will appoint a 3-person regency, who will appoint a prime minister, and there’ll be a State Council, also unelected, which will pass legislation. No one’s asking the Poles about any of this.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today -100: September 16, 1917: The heel of authority must crush the heads of the serpents of sedition

Kerensky, still unable to form a coalition government, establishes instead a 5-person Directorate consisting of himself, Foreign Minister Mikhail Tereshchenko, Minister of War Gen. Alexander Verkhovsky, Navy Minister Dmitri Verderevsky, and of course Minister of Posts and Telegraphs Alexei Nikitin.

Nikitin is also interior minister, NYT, otherwise that would be silly.

Kerensky issues an order to the men of the army and navy, telling them to stop with all the political discussion, stop arresting their commanding officers, and stop forming voluntary groups on the pretext of fighting counter-revolutionaries.

Headline of the Day -100: 

A NYT editorial about street-corner speakers expresses the Times’s traditional support for free speech: “The heel of authority must crush the heads of the serpents of sedition before they have become too numerous.”

CSI: Stockholm. An autopsy is performed on Sweden’s King Karl XII to determine whether he was shot by his own men or by the enemy. Karl was killed in 1718.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Today -100: September 15, 1917: Of masses, Russian turmoil, and celery

The Masses is banned from the US mails, again. Circuit Court Justice Augustus Noble Hand refuses to enjoin the postmaster because the paper “hold[s] up violators of the Conscription act to admiration”. Hand is the judge who ruled in 1934 that James Joyce’s Ulysses is not obscene.

Kerensky is still having trouble keeping his government functional. The Kadets have withdrawn from the Cabinet (except one). Meanwhile the Bolsheviks get the Petrograd Council of Deputies to support their position that all representatives of the bourgeoisie including the Social Revolutionaries (SRs) must be excluded from power. Also abolition of private property, workers’ control of the means of production, etc.

Headline/Name of the Day -100: 

That’s the Argentinian naval attaché in Berlin, Captain Arturo Celery.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Today -100: September 14, 1917: Of crushes, failed coups, and cursing the president of the United States

Headline of the Day -100: 

Gen. Lavr Kornilov offers his surrender. Soldiers who participated in his revolt claim they were misled. And some of them don’t speak Russian, so maybe. Muslim troops from the Caucuses ask to be reassigned there, as long as they don’t have to fight Turks.

In South Carolina, Edward Oldham – a white man, the NYT feels obligated to inform us – is charged for having, to quote the warrant, “cursed the President of the United States and the Federation Government and used words to thwart the draft law,” to wit, expressing the wish that President Wilson be put adrift on foreign seas and victimized by a submarine.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today -100: September 13, 1917: Of bloodless liquidations, newspapers, and conscription

The German legation in Buenos Aires is attacked by mobs pissed at Germany sending secret messages via Swedish diplomatic channels. Also attacked: the German Club, a German-language newspaper and various German-owned businesses. The chargé d'affaires, Count Luxburg, is being expelled.

Russian Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky takes over as commander-in-chief of the army, what with the previous one leading a revolt and all. Kerensky says the revolt has failed in a “bloodless liquidation.”

The Senate passes a Trading With the Enemy Bill, including a bit requiring German-language newspapers to provide an English translation in side-by-side columns for any article commenting on the war, foreign policy, the government of the United States, or its allies.

The Senate passes a resolution for the drafting of aliens from friendly countries for military service and aliens from Germany and its allies for non-combatant war work. Aliens from countries with treaty rights prohibiting that (Italy, Serbia, Japan) who invoke those treaties would have 90 days to leave the country.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today -100: September 12, 1917: Of coup attempts, and envelopes of true information

Petrograd is under martial law. Kornilov’s troops are advancing on the city, but the NYT reports that the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet, the Cadets, and the Constitutional Democrats are all backing the government, which might be true but would carry more weight if the Times’ correspondent knew that Kadets and Constitutional Democrats are the same thing. Some members of the Duma are joining Kornilov, or being arrested before they can do so.

The Kadet and Socialist members of the cabinet resign over Kerensky’s plan to rule through a five-member Directorate, which isn’t going over particularly well in the Duma.

British military types support Kornilov and the idea of a military dictatorship that will keep Russia in the war. Mostly it’s a “martial races” thing – Kornilov is a Cossack.

The US feds claim that the raid on the Philadelphia Tageblatt shows it is at the center of a massive plot, German money, yadda yadda yadda. It printed pro-German news and “didn’t even take the trouble of opening the envelope containing true information sent out by the United States Government to all newspapers.”

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Today -100: September 11, 1917: Of suffrage, coup attempts, newspapers, and war taxes

Maine’s referendum vote rejects women’s suffrage nearly 2 to 1 (on an incomplete count).

Russia: Gen. Lavr Kornilov is fired as Commander in Chief of the Russian armies after he asks to be named dictator of all the Russias, please, threatening to march on Petrograd. The government declares a state of siege. Foreign Minister Tereshchenko thinks it’s all a big misunderstanding which will be cleared up. The misunderstanding part is not entirely untrue – a go-between reported Kornilov’s suggestions as ultimata, which made Kerensky understandably nervous about Kornilov’s request that Kerensky come to talk in person. But Kornilov’s desire to impose authoritarian discipline on Petrograd as he had reimposed it in the military would have brought him into conflict with the civilian government sooner rather than later. So it’s sooner.

The US government closes down the Philadelphia Tageblatt, a German-language socialist paper, and arrests the editor and 5 others for treason and shit.

The Senate passes the taxation bill. With provisions for consumption taxes on coffee, sugar, tea and cocoa removed, the war will be funded from increased income taxes, an excess war profits tax, and distilled spirits.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Today -100: September 10, 1917: Of evacuations and Wobblies, but not wobbly evacuations

The civilian population of Petrograd is ordered to evacuate the city. The government claims it’s not because of approaching German troops, but food supply issues. The government itself is staying put for the time being.

Wobblies disrupt a loyalty meeting in Milwaukee and get into a gun battle with the police, who kill 2 of them.

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Saturday, September 09, 2017

Today -100: September 9, 1917: Spurlos versenkt

Japan starts making cars.

Secretary of State Lansing releases secret dispatches sent by the German chargé d’affaires in Buenos Aires to Berlin via Swedish channels, in which he advised that two Argentine steamers sailing for France should either be let go or sunk without trace (“spurlos versenkt”). They were let go. He also called the Argentine foreign minister an “ass.” The US doesn’t say how it acquired the documents (British Naval Intelligence?). The US plans to use this incident to pressure Sweden to pick a damn side already.

The grand jury looking into the East St. Louis, Illinois race riots indicts Mayor Fred Mollman and 37 others.

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Friday, September 08, 2017

Today -100: September 8, 1917: Where are our ideals to go when we have to bribe our men to fight the battle of liberty?

Sen. Thomas Hardwick (D-Georgia) is loudly attacked by several other senators as unpatriotic for supporting Bob La Follette’s proposal to give $50 a month extra to every soldier sent to France. The alliterative Knute Nelson (R-Minnesota): “Tax the rich so as to bribe our men to go France? Where are our ideals to go when we have to bribe our men to fight the battle of liberty?” Nelson, who volunteered to fight in the Civil War without ever asking what his pay would be, says we have to fight the Germans there or they’ll invade, “and then I should like to see the senator from Georgia at the head of a battalion of colored troops leading them down there.” Nelson calls offering soldiers extra money “humiliating, belittling legislation”. I would imagine most soldiers would quite like to be humiliated and belittled.

The government of Alexandre Ribot resigns. It was France’s fourth government of the war.

The Canadian Parliament is working on a bill to extend the vote for the duration of the war to female relatives of overseas soldiers. The Liberal opposition asks instead for proper women’s suffrage.

The Hoboken School Board removes German from the curriculum. It’s been mandatory in grammar schools there for the last 25 years, because more than half the students used to be German. Italians were probably never especially happy about that, but really don’t appreciate it now.

China now has a military government under Sun Yat Sen.

Karel Kramář, a member of the Austrian Imperial Council until he was sentenced to death in 1915 for supporting Czech independence but was recently amnestied by the new emperor, is elected to the Hungarian Parliament.

Secret Service agents and members of the American Protective League arrest 66 suspected IWW members in Cleveland.

Another issue of The B.E.F. Times, formerly the Wipers Times, appears, and it’s a rather alcohol-themed issue from the parody of Longfellow’s Excelsior (which I can never read without picturing Thurber’s illustrations):

The shades of night were falling fast,
When up the muddy C.T.* passed
A youth who bore, though looking glum,
A mighty gallon jar of rum.

* C.T. = communication trench.

to the letter in support of the Society for Providing Free Gin for Generals. “‘Jack’ and ‘Tommy’ have their rum provided by a benevolent government what about our generals? ‘Gin for Generals’ should be on everyone’s lips during the coming months.”

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Today -100: September 7, 1917: One city, one loyalty, one people

Germany and Austria have decided that, since Poles seem to be unwilling to volunteer to be soldiers for them, they won’t get an independent state after all, and Poland will continue to be partitioned, though between 2 countries rather than 3, with Germany getting 1/10th of Russian Poland and Austria the rest. Austria will proclaim a new kingdom of Poland, with its emperor getting the crown, to add to his collection of pretty, pretty crowns; the Dual Monarchy will become the Threesome Triple Monarchy. Poland will get its own subordinate parliament, so Polish deputies will be kicked out of the Austrian Reichsrat, making that body less Slavic and more Germanic in composition.

When Kaiser Wilhelm visited occupied Brussels last week, the Bruxellois ignored a “request” to fly flags and instead put out “closed for national mourning” signs.

The feds raid the offices of four Chicago newspapers, which the NYT describes as socialist but at least 3 of which are German-language.

A Gertrude Goodstein of Brooklyn admits to bigamy but says she thought her first marriage was dissolved by the fact that her husband did not support her. She’s coming forward because she’s heard that he’s claiming exemption from the draft because she’s dependent on him, which she isn’t. Oh, and she’s 15. The first marriage was contracted when she was 13.

Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson feels a little beleaguered. He’s suing the Chicago Herald for $250,000. The Herald says, “We accept the compliment.” Thompson says his enemies have bored holes in his walls to install dictographs.

Hungary orders foreigners to leave Budapest. This includes Austrians, particularly from Vienna, who have moved there because food is more freely available.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The mayor’s Commission on National Defense claims that NYC is 80% foreign in birth or speech and must be Americanized. “One city, one loyalty, one people” is their slogan. Which, ironically, sounds better in the original German.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Today -100: September 6, 1917: German loyalty will bring to nought every attempt to separate the German people and their Kaiser

Russia arrests some more grand dukes and countesses.

The US arrests IWW president Big Bill Hayward and raids IWW offices all over the country. Also the Socialist Party’s hq in Chicago. The Wilson administration has decided to destroy the IWW, and it pretty much will. The NYT claims from an unnamed source that the IWW had a nation-wide plot to burn corn and wheat crops, disrupt mining, and commit “a multitude of crimes” to disrupt the war effort.

The grand jury that issued the IWW search warrants is rumored to also be investigating Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson (yes, everyone named Bill in 1917 was nicknamed Big Bill, it was the law) and the pro-Thompson newspaper The Republican.

The Justice Department is also investigating the German-language press for possible prosecutions.

Kerensky sends the governor-general of Finland back to Helsinki with dictatorial powers to put down any moves towards independence.

Kaiser Wilhelm finally responds to Woodrow Wilson’s reply to the pope, saying “German loyalty will bring to nought every attempt to separate the German people and their Kaiser.” It probably sounds even more pompous in the original.

With male elevator operators all off to the front, Greenhut’s department store on 6th becomes the first to employ elevator girls.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Today -100: September 5, 1917: Of envy, plots, Pankhursts, grand dukes, and the Lusitania’s revenge

Woodrow Wilson says he feels “genuine envy” for the soldiers about to go overseas.

The Chicago City Council votes 42 to 6 praising Gov. Lowden for attempting to ban the convention of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace and by implication rebuking Mayor Big Bill Thompson for allowing it. The Society of Veterans of Foreign Wars holds a mock lynching of the mayor.

An alleged plot to blow up the Canadian Parliament building and assassinate Prime Minister Borden is thwarted. The plotters oppose conscription. The police claim German gold was behind it all.

Adela Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline, sister of Christabel and Sylvia, is sentenced to 9 months in prison for holding a demonstration against conscription in Melbourne. This while she was out on appeal of a 1-month sentence for holding a demonstration last month against food prices. And she’ll find time this month to get married. Mazel tov! They’ll both go to jail next month, which is a Pankhurst’s idea of honeymoon (they’ll also both be interned during the Second World War). Her mother denounced her in a letter to Australian PM Hughes earlier this year.

Deposed Czar Nicholas’s brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and his wife are arrested for a supposed counter-revolutionary plot.

The US denies that it’s telling Germany to depose Kaiser Wilhelm and the Hohenzollern dynasty. But a change must be made such that the US can trust the German government, whatever that means.

Walther Schwieger, the captain of the U-boat which sank the Lusitania, is killed when his current u-boat hits a mine.

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Monday, September 04, 2017

Today -100: September 4, 1917: Of rigas, stürmers, and milk

Germany occupies Riga.

Czar Nicholas’s foreign minister & prime minister Boris Stürmer dies in prison.

France bans milk from all restaurants, cafés, etc. after 9 a.m. It may begin local rationing of milk.

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Today -100: September 3, 1917: A prince, a general, and a bishop walk into a bar...

A monarchist counter-revolutionary coup plot is uncovered in Russia. Many arrests are made. The government says, seemingly as a non sequitur, that it has no intention of replacing Gen. Lavr Kornilov as Commander in Chief of the Russian armies, giving no hint (perhaps it wasn’t clear to them yet?) that the plot is Kornilov’s. He was evidently attempting to march on Petersburg and put himself in charge, although it didn’t get far enough for his plans to become clear.

Germany replaces the Polish State Council, which just resigned, with a regency consisting of a prince, a general, and a bishop.

The People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace hold a public meeting in Chicago after all, after being dispersed by police acting under Gov. Frank Lowden’s orders yesterday. This time, they’re under the protection of  Chicago police by order of Mayor Big Bill Thompson, who seems to have even arranged a venue for them. Gov. Lowden sends militia from Springfield to break it up, but they arrive too late. Thompson is now being threatened with prosecution and impeachment (which is not actually a thing under Illinois law).

The conductor Arturo Toscanini gets a medal for keeping his military band playing during the Battle of Monte Santo. Not many First World War battles had musical accompaniment, but this one did. Toscanini wrote to his son, “We played in the Austrians’ faces, and we sang our national anthems.”

NYC policemen are “mildly excited” by rumors that they may soon be required to wear wristwatches. One patrolman says that if ordered to wear one, will do so above the elbow, while others will probably strap them to the small of their back (which is evidently a thing), “but as I understand it that practice is not followed in good society.”

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Saturday, September 02, 2017

Today -100: September 2, 1917: Pacifists are law-abiding citizens

A meeting of the organization committee of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace has now been banned or actually expelled from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Illinois. The latter came from Gov. Frank Lowden, after Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson refused to, saying “Pacifists are law-abiding citizens.”

Not only are German-American organizations refusing the demand of the National Security League that they tell their fellow Germans in Germany that they stand with the United States, but they point out that such communication with the enemy would be illegal.

Racial fights in Lexington, Kentucky, from aggression by white soldiers against local blacks.

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Friday, September 01, 2017

Today -100: September 1, 1917: Of hearsts, Polands, and Jewish regiments

William Randolph Hearst will not run for mayor of New York after all.

Pan-German newspapers in Germany are now saying that the resignation of the Polish Council is a perfect opportunity to rescind that whole “independent Poland” thing.

The British Army now has a Jewish Regiment, but leaders of the Jewish community object, and Minister of War Lord Derby promises to change the name.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Today -100: August 31, 1917: For the salvation of the country we will kill with all our souls

Kerensky says that as minister of war he is re-establishing the military death penalty that he abolished when he was minister of justice; “this re-establishment hurts to the very soul, but for the salvation of the country we will kill with all our souls.”

The city of Spartanburg, South Carolina, objects to the War Department’s plans to station black troops in the training camp there. Mayor J.F. Floyd worries that, “with their Northern ideas about race equality, they will probably expect to be treated like white men. I can say right here that they will not be treated as anything except negroes.” The Chamber of Commerce says, “It is a great mistake to send Northern negroes down here, for they do not understand our attitude.” Oh, I think they understand it very well.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Today -100: August 30, 1917: In which is revealed how French people recognize American troops

Headline of the Day -100: 

How can it be an “anti-British campaign of sedition,” NYT?

The puppet Polish Council of State resigns en masse. For months the Council has been in conflict with Germany, which isn’t prepared to hand over much power to them. The final straw was Germany’s decision to make Lithuania and Courland, territories wrested from Russia, into German protectorates. The Poles wanted Lithuania for themselves. (Update: tomorrow’s paper will say that the resignations were over an order that Polish sharpshooters be placed at the disposal of Austria, to reinforce its failing position on the Italian front.

Since it hasn’t decided whether to accede to Southern and Texan demands to keep black soldiers out of their states, the War Department will temporarily stop drafting blacks.

Gen. Lavr Kornilov, the Commander in Chief of the Russian armies, shows up at the National Convention. Soldiers who are delegates from the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Soviet refuse to stand for him. He gives a speech. The Times doesn’t quote a word of it, but evidently “It was a quiet but terrible and merciless exposé of facts that chilled his listeners with a sense of the cold breath of utmost calamity.”

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Today -100: August 29, 1917: Go on Kaisering and we will smash you

Woodrow Wilson responds to Pope Benedict’s peace proposals: it’s a no. He refuses to talk with Germany unless and until it changes its rulers and its form of government and its national flower. The knapweed is a bullshit flower and everyone knows it, Germany.

(Update: George Bernard Shaw summarizes Wilson’s note thusly: “Become a republic and we will let up on you; go on Kaisering and we will smash you.”)

The cops raid the Hamilton Detective Agency on Broadway. The agency was kidnapping sailors on leave, holding them until they’d overstayed their leave and then turning them in for the reward money ($25 for stragglers, $50 for deserters). When the cops arrive to check out the story of previous victims of the scheme, they find two sailors on the premises, although one turned out to be someone who was just masquerading as a sailor for some reason – free drinks?

Minnesota Gov. Joseph Burquist (R) bans a meeting of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace.

On the Brooklyn waterfront, 50 Russian sailors fight 50 American sailors/marines, with some of the Russians firing guns. The Russians are drunk, as was the custom, and think the US sailors might be Germans, crew from one of the interned German liners. And then the Americans think that that language the Russians are speaking might be German, and hilarity ensues.

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