“Are You Uhmuricun or American?”

Why is there so much slang, mispronunciation, and similar linguistic issues among native-born Americans? The writer Clarence Stratton suggests here that the fault lies in democracy itself:

“Our speech suffers because our wrongly interpreted democratic idea makes common people intolerant of anything like authority in everyday matters. The German acknowledges a standard of usage and pronunciation indicated by Hanoverian. In France and Spain academies determine currency and meaning, and the people recognize their decisions. Italians will quote to you the proverb that settles all linguistic standards for them.”

And to anybody in the modern-day red states who believes the New York Times is elitist and looks down on them, this passage from 100 years ago proves this is nothing new:

“The Southerner departs furthest from the norm of good American speech with his drawling utterance, his radical change of accepted sounds, and his entire disregard of certain letters.”

“Are You Uhmuricun or American?” — Language in United States Seems to Educator a Mass of Sounds Which Are Not Worthy of Being Considered Speech at All (PDF)

From Sunday, July 22, 1917

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July 20th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Posted in Humor,Life

‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as Nation’s Anthem

The Francis Scott Key song, though written in 1814, was not fully recognized as the American national anthem until patriotic fervor struck upon involvement in World War I in 1917. The Star-Spangled Banner would not be officially declared as the American national anthem until 1931, and would not even be played at a sports game for the first time until 1918.

As this article notes: “No theater audiences stood while it was being played in 1898, and, in fact, the general disposition at that period, at least in the Northeastern part of the United States, was to elevate ‘My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,’ to the place of honor.”

I can personally attest that being the singer for the national anthem before a sports game, as this column I wrote for my college newspaper years ago recounts:

‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as Nation’s Anthem: Only Since the Present War Against Germany Began Has It Been Generally Recognized — The Real Story of Its Origin (PDF)

From Sunday, July 15, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 19th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Posted in History,Music,War

Harden, Who Talks Freely and Yet Avoids Jail

 

Maximilian Harden’s German newspaper Die Zukunft, or The Future, was willing to write in defense of American President Woodrow Wilson and against Kaiser Wilhelm II, despite a sharp German crackdown on the press.

How? The article speculates that perhaps Harden possessed embarrassing or incriminating information against the Kaiser that he was using as blackmail — not unlike current claims of Russian blackmail against President Trump. Indeed, Harden had previously exposed a homosexual relationship between members of the German Cabinet in 1907, a shocking scandal at the time.

Alas, Harden ended his newspaper in 1923 and passed away in 1927, before his pen could have perhaps done some more fighting against Hitler.

Harden, Who Talks Freely and Yet Avoids Jail: German Editor’s Astonishing Record of Assailing Junkerdom and Praising America — One of the Few Who Dare to Speak (PDF)

From Sunday, July 8, 1917

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July 6th, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Journalism

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages

What was causing German atrocities during World War I? Harvard geology professor Reginald Aldworth Daly suggested a largely-unheralded factor may have been alcohol:

“The Germanic peoples are the only great group who feed alcohol to the babies or very young children of middle and upper classes. Just at the time of life when the nervous system should be specially protected against all poisons, vast numbers of German children are kept mildly charged with alcohol. If the baby has not already been prenatally damaged because of the beer drunk by his mother, he still runs the risk of poisoning from the alcohol-bearing milk of a drinking mother or wetnurse. The child grows to manhood, drinking alcohol and continually handicapped in his development of cerebral, and therefore moral, control.”

Daly concludes with a quote from von Moltke: “Beer is a far more dangerous enemy to Germany than all the armies of France.”

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, Germany today still ranks among the biggest alcohol-consuming nations in the world, with an average 11.4 liters of alcohol consumed per capita, for citizens age 15 or older. The global average is 6.4. The U.S. number is 9.3. Highest in the world is Lithuania at 18.2.

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages: Cumulative Effect of “Mildly Alcoholic State” on the Minds of Men Who Have Imbibed National Drink Since Babyhood (PDF)

From Sunday, July 1, 1917

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July 2nd, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Health,Life,War

Orville Wright Says 10,000 Airplanes Would End the War Within Ten Weeks

Less than 14 years after Orville Wright became the first human being to ever take flight in an airplane, he had lived to see his invention was being used in World War I, the first major war to utilize the technology en masse. (His brother and co-inventor Wilbur Wright had passed away in 1912.)

In this article, Wright predicted that “10,000 airplanes [used by the U.S.] would end the war within ten weeks.” Alas, that prediction proved overly optimistic. The war continued for several more years despite U.S. manufacturers producing 12,000 airplanes per year.

Orville Wright Says 10,000 Airplanes Would End the War Within Ten Weeks: Building a Vast Aerial Fleet Is “the One Thing That the United States Can Do and Do Quickly” – Our Plants Equal to the Task (PDF)

From Sunday, July 1, 1917

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July 2nd, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Technology,War

Making Middle-Aged Men Fit to Help in War

The unprecedented manpower required for World War I fighting forces provoked worries that those men older than 45 might be required to fight, in a way that was previously unthinkable. Yale’s Mentor of Athletics Walter Camp suggested that “Each man should so order his own life as to put himself into proper physical condition.”

“At the bottom of his heart every man who feels the urge of his manhood wants to have an actual part in the actual game. He may be doing his full share in a dozen different ways, his services may be infinitely more valuable along civilian lines than they could be on the tented field, and yet the supreme call may come and he wants to be ready to answer. In the final clash, in the ultimate onslaught of the enemies of civilization, it is the reserves that will count, yes, even to the very last man. And you or I may be that man.”

In other words, get those jumping jacks in.

Making Middle-Aged Men Fit to Help in War: Walter Camp Urges Plan of Moderate Physical Training, on the Plea That Americans Over 45 Years Old May Yet Be Needed (PDF)

From Sunday, June 24, 1917

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June 21st, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Health,War

Alcohol Upheld as an Aid to Medical Practice

A prominent physician in 1917 believed:

“His strong conviction that the time would never come when alcohol would no longer be used in illness.  So far as Dr. Robinson can see, that time should not come, for there are conditions which absolutely demand the use of alcohol as a prominent part of medicine.”

According to a physician I asked in research for this post, alcohol is almost never used in modern-day medicine anymore. He wrote, “I can’t think of an illness where alcohol is used. Several over the counter cold medicines and mouthwashes have small amounts of alcohol, used to make the active ingredients more soluble. But, other than perhaps sleepiness, the alcohol has no actual medicinal value.”

According to the San Diego State University Center for Alcohol & Drug Studies and Services, here is a list of medicines containing alcohol. As you can see, there aren’t many, and even the ones that do rarely contain above a single-digit percentage.

So much for that 1917 prediction.

Alcohol Upheld as an Aid to Medical Practice: Dr. Beverly Robinson, Eminent Clinician, Takes Issue with Dr. Charles H. Mayo and Other Champions of Prohibition (PDF)

From Sunday, June 17, 1917

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June 19th, 2017 at 10:09 am

Posted in Health

What the New Army Expects of Its Chaplains

As American involvement in World War I escalated dramatically, more and more chaplains were needed to provide religious guidance and support for soldiers.

“There are now sixty-six chaplains appointed to the regular army, representing every Christian denomination. The scheme of the General Staff for the new army provides one Chaplain with every new regiment ordered. This will mean that in six months, at the latest, about 300 clergymen will be called from their parishes to work with American troops at home and abroad.”

You may not think of chaplains when they think of Americans deployed overseas in wartime, but 23 chaplains died during World War I while on active duty.

As for the reference to chaplains “representing every Christian denomination,” the first Buddhist chaplain was added in 2004 and the first Hindu chaplain in 2011. An effort to install the first atheist chaplain in 2015 was rejected by military lawyers, in a controversial decision.

What the New Army Expects of Its Chaplains: One of Them Outlines His Views Based Upon Years of Experience with Regulars — Preaching Only a Part of the Duties (PDF)

From Sunday, June 17, 1917

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June 17th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Religion,War

Business Men in Control of American Colleges

Evans Clark, a professor of history and politics and Princeton, lamented the increased influence of members of the business community on American universities in 1917. Clark perceived these board of trustees or regents as often lacking either familiarity or best interests of the school they represented:

Princeton University, however, is legally not the Faculty and students, the community citizenship, but a group of twenty-nine men in no way responsible to them, and none of whom lives or functions at the university. These twenty-nine men at Princeton, and other small groups like them in every college and university community, are in law rulers whose power is absolute.

They have the legal authority to employ and dismiss whomsoever they wish in the service of their institution — the President, the professors, administrative officers, janitors, and day laborers. And no one of these, it is well to note, has any more constitutional security of tenure than another. They can discharge a janitor who complains that his wages are low, or an instructor who makes the fact known to his classes.

That Trustees and Regents to not exercise in practice every one of the powers granted to them by law is proof not of any lack of authority, but merely a lack of desire to do so.

It’s an increasing issue now: according to a 2015 Atlantic article, “Twenty percent of U.S. college presidents in 2012 came from fields outside academia, up from from 13 percent six years earlier, according to the American Council on Education.”

Business Men in Control of American Colleges: Member of Princeton’s Teaching Force Criticises Condition Which He Regards as a Baneful Autocracy in Higher Education (PDF)

From Sunday, June 10, 1917

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June 8th, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Business,Education

Part Played by Doctors in Time of World War

Two years after this was published, Charles Mayo would found the Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota-based nonprofit medical research center that is ranked was the best hospital in the nation last year by U.S. News and World Report. In 1917, though, he was the president of the American Medical Association. He had some thoughts on the role that doctors and the medical profession could play in World War I.

The benefit to our country after the present war in having some thousands of medical officers trained in sanitation, hygiene, and the prevention of disease will be incalculable. Through lax examinations of recruits and the natural effects of prolonged living and overcrowding in trenches and underground structures, tuberculosis will become a menace to our soldiers, as it is today in France.

The present war is one of remarkable proportions, and the medical service has assumed an importance such as it never had before. The old army hospital gangrene is a thing of the past. A knowledge of the care of infections, prevention of tetanus, vaccination for smallpox and typhoid, the cause and prevention of typhus, the old camp fever, also cholera, the plague, and fevers of all sorts, including the new trench form, is a training requirement of the army medical officers, and results in the restoration to duty of a high percentage of the injured.

Fortunately, smallpox has been eradicated from the earth. Other suggestions that Mayo mentioned in the article, such as changing the age at which an M.D. is received from 29 to 25 because “death overtakes the average physician at the age of fifty-eight” have not quite come to pass.

Part Played by Doctors in Time of World War: Dr. Charles H. Mayo’s Address on Country’s Educational Requirements, Prohibition, and Need of Physician in the Cabinet (PDF)

From Sunday, June 10, 1917

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June 7th, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Health,War

Ranks of Outdoor Sport Are Thinned by War

World War I was preventing athletic competitions from occurring as they normally would:

“For the first time in forty-one years the intercollegiate games, in which all the larger college teams of the East and many from the West have been participants, have been abandoned because of the fact that more than a thousand of the students who would under normal conditions have been training for the sports have either left college for the preliminary training camps or have given up athletics for the military drill which monopolizes the athletic fields. For the first time since the close of the war between the States there will be no big college regattas, nor any national rowing regatta. National golf and tennis championships have been declared off, either for good and sufficient sentimental reasons or because of ‘unnecessary hysteria’ over the sporting situation, as some of the followers of these sports declare.”

Read the mesmerizing Sports Illustrated cover story “The Week That Sports Stood Still” from their first issue after 9/11 for a more contemporary example of the same phenomenon.

Ranks of Outdoor Sport Are Thinned by War: Athletic Leaders in Camp, and Colleges Cancel Dates, But Government Is Trying to Prevent Stoppage of Healthful Recreations (PDF)

From Sunday, June 3, 1917

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June 2nd, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Sports,War

Marconi on the War Needs and Ideals of Italy

 

Guglielmo Marconi — in the above article given the Americanized first name William — invented the radio in 1895. Although it took a bit more time for the technology to become widespread and used en masse by the public, it had already earned him the Nobel Prize by 1909 and household name recognition by this article’s publication in 1917. In a fascinating story, Marconi was originally supposed to be on board the Titanic in 1912.

In this article, Marconi — by this point an Italian Senator — offers his thoughts on Italy and the war. Among other things, he explains why Italy’s original August 1914 declaration of neutrality could no longer stand, why Italy’s terrain and geography made it “the most difficult front in Europe,” and why Italians were forced to adopt two meatless days a week.

Marconi on the War Needs and Ideals of Italy: Wireless Telegraph Inventor Tells How America Can Help His Country — He Thinks Submarine Problem Still Unsolved (PDF)

From Sunday, June 3, 1917

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June 1st, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Technology,War

American Song Makers Seek War Tune of the ‘Tipperary’ Kind

No particularly notable or well-recognized patriotic songs had been composed in the months America’s involvement in World War I, lamented this June 1917 article. That problem was clearly rectified by 1918, when Irving Berlin composed God Bless America, even if the song did not truly take off until World War II a few decade later. Today, it is known by almost every schoolchild, was sung by members of Congress on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of 9/11, and a snippet was even performed by Lady Gaga at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

American Song Makers Seek War Tune of the ‘Tipperary’ Kind (PDF)

From Sunday, June 3, 1917

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May 31st, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Music,War

Three Film Stars Get $1,000,000 a Year Each

Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks were earning a then- staggering $1 million per year in 1917. $1 million in May 1917 would be worth $17.5 million today. How does that compare to the highest-grossing movie stars now? That would only make Chaplin the 24th-highest paid movie star in the world last year.

Forbes ranked Dwayne Johnson as the highest-paid actor of 2016 at $67.5 million. Chaplin would be sandwiched between Matthew McConaughey at #23 with $18 million and Chinese film star Chan Bingbing with $17 million.

What’s fascinating look at the last is how many of the top 25 highest-paid actors may not be worth the salary. Many just in the past year alone have starred in box office domestic underperformers, relative to studios’ pre-release hopes: #3 Matt Damon with The Great Wall, #5 Johnny Depp with Alice Through the Looking Glass, #7 Ben Affleck with Live By Night, #8 Vin Diesel with xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, #13 Brad Pitt with Allied, #19 Scarlett Johansson with Ghost in the Shell, #20 Will Smith with Collateral Beauty, #23 Matthew McConaughey with Gold,

 

 

Three Film Stars Get $1,000,000 a Year Each: Motion Picture Business, at Pinnacle of Success, Sees No Sign of Waning Popularity — Tax Talk Stops Boasting of Profits (PDF)

From Sunday, May 27, 1917

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May 26th, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Man’s Labor the Best, British Committee Decides; Woman Handicapped

As men entered World War I, women were called upon to perform traditionally male roles involving more physical labor and brawn. The British Health of Munition Workers Committee found:

“that, compared with man, woman has less strength, less endurance; that she can undergo neither such long hours nor such long periods of labor; that she cannot stand the strain of night work; that her body, physiologically different from man’s, is subject to ‘certain ailments and forms of physical disability’ that are ‘readily caused or at least accentuated’ by various forms of body activity, and that these ailments are ‘far-reaching in effect’; that the lifting and carrying of heavy weights, ‘all sudden, violent, or physically unsuitable movements in the operating of machines,’ and prolonged standing, are ‘highly provocative causes of trouble to women and girls.'”

Anybody who still claims that men have more stamina and women need more “days off” should read the news this week. Ivanka Trump had to fill in for her father at an event that he dropped out from citing “exhaustion.”

Man’s Labor the Best, British Committee Decides; Woman Handicapped: The Frailer Sex Lacks Nothing in Patriotism, But Needs More “Days Off” — Endurance in Munition Plants (PDF)

From Sunday, May 27, 1917

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May 25th, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps

A new Federal Commission on Training Camp Activities was created shortly after the outset of American involvement in World War I, in hopes of preventing sin and vice among soldiers such as excessive drinking and prostitution. Among the attempted solutions: all soldiers were required to participate in sports and physical exercises, and soldiers were paired with homes and families that they could visit when on leave in the city. No word on whether prostitution was completely banished, but given that it still goes on in the military today (though perhaps at a lesser rate?), it clearly wasn’t 100 percent successful.

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps: Federal Commission Just Appointed to Solve Vital Problem of Healthful Recreation for Young Men of Our New Armies (PDF)

From Sunday, May 20, 1917

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May 18th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Life,War

Captain Rupert Hughes Calls Authors to War

A then-popular novelist and National Guard member advised all writers and authors who were eligible to serve in World War I to do so. Indeed, some of what are considered the greatest novels ever written came out of experience in World War I: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Then again, we’ll never know how many potentially transformative works of literature from that era never saw the light of the day because their would-be authors were killed in action.

Captain Rupert Hughes Calls Authors to War: In a Talk About the Work Done by Men Who Write Country’s Popular Books He Praises the New York National Guard (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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May 12th, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Literature,War

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent

The first federal estate tax was created in 1916, with a top rate of 10 percent levied on transfers of assets to beneficiaries after one’s death. A year later in 1917, at the outset of American involvement in World War I, this essay proposed that the rate be essentially raised to 100 percent, thus ending the automatic transfer of land or inheritances from rich people to their children.

Needless to say, it didn’t pass. Through fits and starts, the rate did rise over time, currently standing at a top rate of 40 percent. But a century later in 2017, the push is in the exact opposite direction, with congressional Republicans and President Trump trying to eliminate the federal estate tax once and for all — essentially a 0 percent rate.

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent: This Would Be the Reverse of Socialism, He Says, in Discussing Sacrifices That Must Be Made to Save Liberty in the World (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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May 11th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Russia and democracy – nervous bridegroom

This cartoon from NYT Sunday Magazine 100 years ago this week holds up eerily well.

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 11th, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Humor

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes

The top income bracket always tries to fight increased taxes, but historically just about the only time they willingly acquiesce is during wartime, when abrupt increased governmental expenditures are required. What made 2001-02 so unprecedented was that President George W. Bush simultaneously lowered tax on the top income bracket while launching war and requiring increased government outlays. (Bush lowered taxes for all income groups, not just the wealthiest.) The result was a large spike in deficits and debt as a percentage of GDP. Although, to be fair, those numbers would increase even more under Bush’s successor Barack Obama — and will almost certainly increase even further under Donald Trump given his plans for lower taxes and higher expenditures.

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes: Victor Morawetz Says the Government Must Remember It Cannot Get Funds of People Twice, by Taxation and Bonds (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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May 5th, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Business,Politics,War