The Real Reasons California Went For Wilson

Less than 4,000 votes. That was the margin by which California voted for incumbent Democratic President Woodrow Wilson on Election Day 1916. If California’s 13 electoral votes had swung the other way, Republican challenger and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes would have won. And considering that U.S. involvement in World War I would begin in April 1917, who knows just how consequential California’s decision was to the fate of civilization.

The article details the reasons why California voted the way it did. Pro-Wilson reasons included his policy of American neutrality in the war unfurling on the other side of the globe. Anti-Hughes reasons included a major gaffe in which Hughes refused to meet with California’s popular Republican governor Hiram Johnson while campaigning in the state.

Ah, the days when California was a state where presidential candidates campaign for votes and not just for campaign dollars.

Also the days when California made up a mere 13 out of the then-531 Electoral College votes, or just 2.4 percent. Today it makes up 55 out of 538 Electoral College votes, or 10.2 percent of the total. Although even that is actually a lower percentage than the 12.1 percent it makes up of the U.S. population.

The Real Reasons California Went for Wilson: Western Authority Says His Mexican Policy and the Support Women Gave Him Placed the State in the Democratic Column (PDF)

From Sunday, February 18, 1917

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February 18th, 2017 at 9:07 am

Posted in Politics

Lincoln Greater, Says Ida M. Tarbell, Each Passing Year

President Abraham Lincoln’s renown has only great since his already-legendary stature described here in 1917. The Lincoln Memorial would not open for another five years until 1922, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning biopic starring Daniel Day-Lewis wouldn’t open for another 95 years until 2012.

The best sentence in the article describes a silver lining of the dark cloud that was the Civil War:

“Possibly the best thing we can say of the scheme [the Civil War] is that it gave us Lincoln. It is very unlikely that any other form of government that the world has yet tried could by peaceful means have developed his particular genius; that is, it would not have been fully available, except possibly through a great war, under any other form of government. His talent would not have had the peculiar kind of training which he had and which made him so fit for the tasks thrust upon him.”

Lincoln Greater, Says Ida M. Tarbell, Each Passing Year: He Is Today the Source to Which Statesmen of All Lands Look for Understanding of Democracy (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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February 13th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in Politics

Spirit of the Nobler American Now Awake

Less than two months before the United States would formally enter World War I, the drumbeat of imminent entry was uniting the country. James M. Beck, author of “The Evidence in the Case,” was previously a critic of President Woodrow Wilson’s policies, but he come around after Wilson ceased diplomatic relations with Germany in early 1917, shortly before ultimately declaring war that April. In February, Beck wrote:

“The value of this action to the United States is immeasurable. It saves it from a possible abyss of disaster. Had America failed to act and show a willingness to make sacrifices for the basic principles of civilization, the hand of every nation might hereafter have been against her. President Wilson’s action has saved for the United States the respect of the world (including Germany, which overestimated America’s willingness to fight for its rights), the leadership of the neutral nations, and the good-will of our sister democracies in Europe, with whose final triumph the interests of America are so vitally concerned.”

One wonders whether a similar near-unanimity of public support is possible for any policy position in the modern era.

Spirit of the Nobler American Now Awake: Former Critic of the President Says There Are Practically No Dissenters From President Wilson’s Clarion Call to Duty (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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February 12th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in Politics,War

New York Police Department Is on a War Footing

Lest one thinks that war only affects law enforcement on a national level, the local NYPD was heavily prepared for imminent involvement in the World War I:

“…[for] invasion of bombardment or the cutting of supplies by siege, detailed answers to every phrase of that question are on file at Police Headquarters… Plans for emptying the town or any given section of the town are perfected. In addition to all the normal traffic lines, elevated, surface and subway, which the Police Commissioner has the right to commander if the lives of the people are at stake, he he on record lists of many thousands of motor trucks and other vehicles which would be at the instant disposal of the police…

By means of this same Police Department with its emergency plans the entire food and fuel supply of the city could be municipalized overnight and its distribution regulated by the authorities in the way to do the most good for the largest number.”

One would assume that the NYPD in 2017 has an even more complex plan for such an unlikely scenario, especially following a massive terrorist attack on New York City soil in 2001.

There was also a warning to avoid paranoia or overly broad measures in 1917, in stark contrast to the “Muslim registry” advocated during the campaign trail by our current president:

“This suggests another thing the ideal policeman has to be. He must be part diplomat. Nothing would be more absurd or fraught with danger of serious consequences in a time like this than for the police to act on the assumption that all Germans are suspects. There are 300,000, or more, of them in this city. The occasional plots of the last two years and a half in this country and city would indicate that perhaps a very few of these Germans have to be watched — probably not one in a thousand.”

New York Police Department Is on a War Footing: Nothing Has Been Left to Chance During the Last Two Years to Prepare 11,000 Policemen for Any Emergency to Come (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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February 11th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in War

Democracy Doomed, Asserts Dr. Oscar Levy of Germany, Noted Nietzschean

The fear that democracy was doomed turned out to be short-lived. According to Our World In Data, back in 1917, 14 percent of the world’s population lived in democracy. By 2015, that had increased substantially to 56 percent. Meanwhile, 0 percent lived in a colony, compared to 36 percent back in 1917.

However, we currently appear to be in a period of de-democratization. The percent of the world’s population living in democracy has yet to regain its early/mid 2000s peak of 57 percent, and has fallen since that time. According to the Electoral Integrity Project, as of 2016, even North Carolina can no longer be classified as a democracy.

Democracy Doomed, Asserts Dr. Oscar Levy of Germany, Noted Nietzschean: Scholar Who Translated Into English Entire Works of the Philosopher Says “Future Belongs to Nietzsche” (PDF)

From Sunday, February 4, 1917

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February 5th, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

Lowering the Cost of Living for the Navy

Here’s an element of navy/military spending that seems obvious once it’s brought up, yet might never have entered your brain before:

“Suppose, for instance, that you had about 65,000 men, the great majority of them young, healthy, and hungry, to clothe and feed. Suppose that when you bought flour you bought it by the millions of pounds; that you meat purchases totaled nearly 18,000,000 pounds a year; that you had to buy almost 25,000,000 pounds of cabbages, onions, potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers, and other fresh vegetables annually; that your sugar and coffee and canned good purchases were proportionately large; that when you bought eggs the order specified a few hundred thousand; that you bought every twelve months more than 1,700,000 pounds of butter, not to mention scores of other foods which America’s bluejackets and marines must have and do get, what would you do about it?

That was in 1917. If anything, today those numbers for the Navy are almost certainly larger. I couldn’t find numbers related to the cost of food for today’s military, but the number of active duty Navy members currently stands at 323 thousand.

A few months ago I covered a talk from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, yet somehow this subject of food never came up.

Lowering the Cost of Living for the Navy: How One of the Newly Appointed Rear Admirals, as Paymaster General, Tackled a Vexatious Problem and Solved It (PDF)

From Sunday, January 28, 1917

 

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January 29th, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Business,War

One-Man Submarine Invention of an American

 

Small submarines definitely still exist today, though to my knowledge the operator sits inside. I’m not aware of a current design which requires lying on one’s stomach and pedaling.

Although the pictured invention might look a bit silly to a modern day viewer, the idea behind the invention still has merit to it:

“The only way by which to make the action of the torpedo actually certain was to put an experienced operator inside it; for, while its automatic machinery operates with almost human intelligence, there is no certainty that it will on long ranges do exactly what is required of it.”

One-Man Submarine Invention of an American: Tiny Torpedo Boat, Said to be Used by German Raider, Was Anticipated by the Ingenious Craft of Thomas J. Moriarty (PDF)

From Sunday, January 28, 1917

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January 29th, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Analysis of Woman Vote in 1916 Upsets Theories

Analysis of Woman Vote in 1916 Upsets Theories

Can you believe there was a presidential election that countered prevailing political theories? Good thing that doesn’t happen anymore.

In 1916, there were 12 states where women could vote for president.  J.S. Eichelberger analyzed the vote in those states and determined that relative to their share of the voting-eligible population, eligible women voted at a rate 20 to 30 percent lower than eligible men, for a male-female ratio in the states with suffrage of 1.73 to 1. Numbers are just numbers, but it was the stunningly misogynistic writing that truly bears note a century later:

“The woman’s vote is a duplicate vote; a miniature, an echo, of man’s vote, possessing no independent political power, and unable to rewards its friends or punish its foes.

While it cannot be used as a level to effect to ’emancipation of woman,’ it may be used as a tool for the enslavement of men by other men…

In a count at the polls the women’s vote cannot do anything independent of the men’s vote; its political effect appears only when dominated by a group of men who can get a larger proportion of their women to vote than any other group of men can.”

Today, the reverse is true. Women voted at higher rates than men in every presidential election since 1980. In 2012, those numbers were 63.7 percent of women compared to 59.8 percent of men. (2016 data is still preliminary at this point.) And the vote of women was not merely “an echo” of men’s vote: with women preferring Hillary Clinton by 12 points and men preferring Donald Trump by an equal 12 points, the 24-point gap between women’s and men’s voting preference was the largest since polls began measuring in 1972:

 

Analysis of Woman Vote in 1916 Upsets Theories: Figures of Last Election Prove That It Possesses No Independent Political Power and Was Merely an Echo of Man’s Vote (PDF)

From Sunday, January 21, 1917

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January 21st, 2017 at 7:32 am

Posted in Politics

Princeton’s Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University

Princeton's Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University

Princeton is known for their “eating clubs,” private institutions not officially affiliated with the university, which are something of a hybrid between a dining hall and a social organization, where most juniors and seniors eat the majority of their meals. There are 11 eating clubs, for which six involve a selection process and four which use a lottery system. This tradition goes back a long time, going back to 1879. In 1917, some wanted to abolish the system, by refusing entry even if they were accepted. Explained one faculty member:

“Election to one of the clubs has come to have altogether too great an importance in the estimation of the students. Club election was not a reason that brought the boy to college, but once he is matriculated election to a club becomes the overshadowing feature of his freshman and sophomore years. It constitutes a great disturbing factor in his college life.”

Did it work? No. Today, 11 Princeton eating clubs exist, all of which existed as of 1917 as well. However, several that were in existence during 1917 have since gone defunct: Elm, Campus, Key and Seal, Dial Lodge, Arch, and Gateway.

Why did the clubs persist? Likely because of the counterargument that even those who wanted to do away with the clubs back in 1917 acknowledged:

“But while we deplore it and earnestly wish to do away with it, it none the less brings us face to face with the other side of the question — the natural and ineradicable tendency of people of demonstrated congeniality to associate more or less exclusively. It was this instinct that brought about the organization of the clubs, and that is the reason for their continued existence.”

Princeton’s Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University: Refusal of a Group of Sophomores to Accept Election in Any of the Clubs Brings Up a Perplexing Problem for Solution (PDF)

From Sunday, January 21, 1917

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January 19th, 2017 at 7:32 am

Posted in Education,Recreation

Scientists’ Belief in a Personal God Probed

Scientists' Belief in a Personal God Probed

A survey was sent out to 1,000 scientists by a professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr in 1917, asking whether they believed in a personal god. Dividing them into those of “greater” and “lesser” eminence. (The division into “lesser” and “greater” scientists, or really any classification of people in general whether by occupation or other category, would surely not withstand peer-reviewed scrutiny today.) About 45.5 to 50.1 percent of the “lesser” scientists declared belief in a personal god, while a notably lower 27.7 to 35.7 percent of the “greater” scientists did. When it came to a belief in personal immortality in the afterlife, 52.8 to 66.5 percent of the “lesser” scientists declared belief, compared to a quite lower 35.2 to 38.8 percent of the “greater” scientists.

Today, those numbers remain remarkably stable, if a bit down. A July 2006 survey from Pew Research Center found that 33 percent of scientists believe in God, although that’s far less than the 83 percent of the general U.S. population. Moreover, 41 percent of scientists actively didn’t believe in God, compared to just 4 percent of the U.S. population. Secularization rates among the American public have ticked up in the past decade since that survey, but they still unquestionably represent a minority of the public at large.

Scientists’ Belief in a Personal God Probed: Interesting Results of a Study Made of Selected Groups
— Their Views on the Question of Personal Immortality Also Studied
 (PDF)

From Sunday, January 14, 1917

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January 16th, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Religion,Science

“U.S. Dry Within Ten Years”

'U.S. Dry Within Ten Years'

When this article was published in January 1917, 23 of the then-48 states banned liquor. That included four states adopting such a measure two months prior on Election Day alone: Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana. It was clear which way momentum was swinging. But the idea that the U.S. would be dry within the decade was underestimating just how much momentum was swinging, as the 18th Amendment was was passed a mere two years after this article in January 1919, with the amendment taking effect in January 1920.

However, it became the only constitutional amendment ever repealed 13 years later in December 1933. Now Americans are free to consume alcohol once again, as will be proven — for better or for worse — on Super Bowl Sunday in a few weeks… and more imminently on Inauguration Day Friday.

“U.S. Dry Within Ten Years”: So Say Prohibitionists After Webb-Kenyon Decision – Liquor Dealers Say It Will React in Their Favor (PDF)

From Sunday, January 14, 1917

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January 15th, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Prophesies Bigger ‘Tanks’ – By H.G. Wells

prophesies-bigger-tanks-by-h-g-wells

Famed novelist — and one of the only writers of the time who’s still read today — H.G. Wells penned this piece for NYT Sunday Magazine in 1917. The legendary science fiction author and futurist, who wrote such classic novels as The Time Machine in 1895 and The War of the Worlds in 1898, in this piece projects the future development of tanks, which were one of the main military innovations at the time:

“It is impossible to restrain a note of sharp urgency from what one has to say about these developments. The “tank,” which at present weighs under twenty tons, will develop steadily into a tremendous instrument of warfare, driven by engines of scores of thousands of horse power, tracking on a track scores of hundreds of yards wide, and weighing hundreds or thousands of tons. Nothing but a world agreement not to do so can prevent this logical development of the land ironclad idea. Such a structure will make wheel-ruts scores of feet deep; it will plow up, devastate and destroy the country it passes over altogether.”

Tanks did improve. Though they weighed less than 20 tons at the time, the 1944 German tank Panzer VIII Maus remains the heaviest tank ever built at 207 tons. And most American tanks today have around 1,500 horsepower, which qualifies for Wells’ prediction of “thousands of horse power.” But one single tank, even the most powerful ones currently in exist, is not enough to destroy a country it passes over altogether.

Prophesies Bigger “Tanks”: Novelist Who Foretold the Caterpillar Forts Believes More Terrible Land Battleships Are Sure to Come (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

 

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January 5th, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Fiction,War

Popular Catchwords Are a National Menace

popular-catchwords-are-a-national-menace

Back in 1916, Mary Watts lamented what she saw as the pervasive influence of New York City dictating the thoughts of those in Cincinnati suburb Walnut Hills and elsewhere:

“These people who think they are thinking,” she said, “do not make up their own phrases or originate their own ideas. They think in catchwords.”

“What are some of these catchwords?” The Times man asked.

“Well,” she replied, “‘the relation of capital and labor’ is one. And ‘the child in the house’ is another. And then there is that very popular catchword ‘social consciousness.’ But out here in the Middle West we aren’t so much bothered with social consciousness as you are in the East.”

“Now and then we make desperate attempts to be Eastern and cosmopolitan, and all the rest of it. We try hard to get up a bohemian atmosphere among our writers and painters — we try to do this even out here, in Cincinnati. But we haven’t enough writers to form a separate class.”

There was a time when New York City had a great influence on the rest of the country, despite a 2016 election cycle where the candidate New York City voted for at a greater margin than in almost any other location got crushed and there was something of a public revolt against the media and journalism industries headquartered out of Manhattan.

Popular Catchwords Are a National Menace: Mary S. Watts Laments “Social Consciousness,” Deliberate Bohemianism, and Influence of New York on Rest of Country (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

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January 4th, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Life,Literature

Military Training Would Make Us a New Race

military-training-would-make-us-a-new-race

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Hugh H. Young did not appear to legitimately believes that more military training would literally turn us into a new species, but he did advocate mandatory military training as some other countries such as Switzerland did. He writes:

“If our American boys could have such physical training under scientific supervision, what a different race we would produce. Minor defects and diseases would be discovered early and cured, thus removing the deformities or foci of infection which lead to the host of diseases and physical impairments which make us a sub-standard neurotic nation, with the highest middle-aged mortality.”

If only Dr. Young knew what the American obesity rate would swell to 100 years later.

Military Training Would Make Us a New Race: Noted Medical Authority Says It Would Lift Us From a Sub-Standard Neurotic Nation to One of Highest Type of Manhood (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

 

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January 3rd, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Science,War

‘America Faces Its Most Momentous Year’

 

america-faces-its-most-momentous-year

At the close of 1916, George MacAdam predicted that 1917 would be the most important year in American history. Although historians differ on precisely what was the most important year in American history, virtually nobody selects 1917. Among the most common selections are: 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, 1789 when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were were ratified, 1861 when the Civil War started, 1865 when the Civil War ended and the slaves were freed despite Lincoln getting assassinated, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was Attacked and the U.S. entered World War II, 1945 when World War II ended and the U.S. became the first and only country to deploy nuclear weapons, 1968 when a bunch of crazy stuff happened, 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the U.S. became the world’s one true superpower, and 2001 when the September 11 attacks occurred.

“America Faces Its Most Momentous Year”: President of Princeton University Says Crisis of the Present Day Is Greater Than That of the Revolution or the Civil War (PDF)

From December 31, 1916

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January 2nd, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Porto Ricans to Have a New Constitution

porto-ricans-to-have-a-new-constitution

In 1916, “Porto” Rico — apparently not yet spelled as “Puerto Rico” — began its current political status, in which its residents are U.S. citizens but Puerto Rico is not itself a state. If it were, Puerto Rico would rank as the 30th-largest state by population, between Connecticut and Iowa. Its complicated relationship with the U.S. government continues to this day, as I wrote about in my 2015 article for Huffington Post Politics: Could The Federal Government Remove The Governor Of Puerto Rico?

Porto Ricans to Have a New Constitution: Organic Act Pending in Senate Will Make Islanders Citizens of United States and Give Them larger Measure of Home Rule (PDF)

From December 24, 1916

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December 22nd, 2016 at 7:12 am

Posted in Development,Politics

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men

birth-rate-declining-among-college-men

Even today, the gap between fertility rates between those with and without college degrees is statistically significant. The big difference between now and then is that the “college-educated” constitutes women as well, with women starting in 2015 attaining more college degrees than men.

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men: Statistics for Harvard and Yale Show Steady Decrease in Number of Graduates’ Children and More Childless Marriages (PDF)

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December 15th, 2016 at 7:12 am

Immigration After War Will Break All Records

immigration-after-war-will-break-all-records

Did the immigrant population spike after World War I ended, as this Harvard professor predicted? The answer is: it went up slightly. As the below graphic from the Center for Immigration Studies shows, U.S. immigrants living in the U.S. went up slightly from the 1900-10 decade to the 1910-20 decade in pure numbers, from 13.5 million immigrants to 13.9 million, then up again to 14.2 million in from 1920-30. However, the percentage of immigrants as a percentage of the U.S population actually declined during that time, from 14.7 percent in 1910 to 13.2 percent in 1920 to 11.6 percent in 1930.

The 2010 percentage was 12.9 percent. That was originally estimated by the Center for Immigration Studies to reach a near-high of 14.3 percent in 2020 and a new high of 15.8 percent in 2030. It will be interesting to see what effect a President Trump will have on those projections. On the one hand, he could curtail immigration, for example Syrian refugees. On the other hand, if the economy expands due to lower income and corporate taxes, perhaps more people from other countries would want to come here for the economic opportunities, the true “American dream” Trump promises to resuscitate.

Image result for immigration by year 1900

Immigration After War Will Break All Records: Prof. Foerster of Harvard Expects More than a Million a Year and Thinks United States Should Adopt Restrictive Measures (PDF)

From December 17, 1916

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December 13th, 2016 at 7:12 am

George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance

george-c-boldts-life-a-continuous-romance

Ah, the days when “the most famous hotel man in the world” didn’t inherit the business from his father, but achieved his status through grit and determination after starting in the kitchen.

George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance: Reminiscences of Waldorf-Astoria’s Proprietor, Who Rose from the Kitchen to be the Most Famous Hotel Man in the World (PDF)

From December 10, 1916

 

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December 7th, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science

compulsory-insurance-help-to-medical-science

Should we have universal health insurance? The American public in 2016 is divided but leans towards yes, with a Gallup poll in May finding that 56 percent support a federally funded healthcare system for all. Vermont was about to become the first state to implement that policy on a statewide level, but their governor (a Democrat, no less) scrapped Vermont’s plan over its exorbitant costs.

The same issue was being debated back in 1916. In this piece, the anonymous author advocates for universal health insurance:

“Health insurance would give new impetus to the most important work of medical science — the prevention of disease. We all know that it is cheaper to be well than to be sick, and we would gladly pay to prevent disease from attacking us and those dear to us. But when the illness of a man we never heard of costs us an extra penny, we are a little more keen than pure humanity or disinterested science can make us to have that man made well and kept well.”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would agree. President-Elect Donald Trump’s newly-announced Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, would not.

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science: It Would, the Writer Says, Give New Impetus to That Most Important Work in Medicine, the Prevention of Disease (PDF)

From December 3, 1916

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December 1st, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,Science