George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance

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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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Written by Jesse

December 7th, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science

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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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Written by Jesse

December 1st, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,Science

Wilson’s Triumph Greater Than Fully Realized

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The map showing which states voted for which candidate in 1916 is almost indecipherable, given the black-and-white newspapers of the time. Today we are so used to red states representing Republicans and blue states representing Democrats, even though that color scheme only truly began in 2000.

Another huge difference is this sentence, mentioning that the list of states in the sidebar was ranked by election result, “with rock-ribbed Republican Vermont at the top and ends with the most intensely Democratic South Carolina at the bottom.”

But one similarity is in the subheadline, which notes that “Progressives Decided the Election.” Indeed they likely did in 2016 as well, albeit through their combination of votes for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or complete abstention from voting this time, the one-two combination of which probably prevented Hillary Clinton from securing an Electoral College victory in addition to her popular vote win.

Wilson’s Triumph Greater Than Fully Realized: Extent of Total Shift Toward Wilson Was the Largest, with One Exception, Since 1876 — Progressives Decided the Election (PDF)

From November 26, 1916

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Written by Jesse

November 30th, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Politics

Farm Vote Shows Breaking of Old Party Lines

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The 1916 election delivered reelection for incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, and this analysis article says that result was in no small part because of “the farm vote.” Of course, farms and agriculture employed a much larger share of the U.S. population at the time, comprising about 31 percent of the labor force compared to just 2 percent today.

So what is the modern-day equivalent of the 1916 “farm vote”? In terms of their demographics — mostly Caucasian, mostly non college education, mostly poor to middle income — the modern-day equivalent of the 1916 “farm vote” is probably the “white working class” which helped propel Donald Trump to victory earlier this month. In the Agri-Pulse Farm and Ranch Poll conducted mere days before the 2016 election, modern-day farmers and ranchers supported Trump 55 percent, compared to only 18 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Farm Vote Shows Breaking of Old Party Lines: West, Having Tasted Power, Will Hold It, Says Political Observer – Next President from West of Missouri River (PDF)

From November 26, 1916.

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Written by Jesse

November 29th, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Politics

The Hyphen Vote Was Practically a Myth

From November 19, 1916

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The fear (for some) in 1916 was the rise of German-Americans as a voting block, and other immigrant groups who were known as the “hyphens” after the hyphens between their original nationality and the word “Americans.” The 2016 election was no different, as it was expected that everyone from Mexican-Americans to Asian-Americans might reach record high levels of turnout. The Hispanic population did make up about 11 percent of the electorate, up from 10 percent in 2012 and 9 percent in 2008, but even that 11 percent was less than many analysts expected given their surging population.

The Hyphen Vote Was Practically a Myth: With the Possible Exception of Oregon, the German-American Vote Was Not an Election Factor Anywhere in the United States (PDF)

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Written by Jesse

November 17th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Politics

How Close Votes Influenced World Events

From November 19, 1916

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In the words of Homer Simpson after he didn’t cast a ballot in an election where the side he wanted lost by one vote: “Sure, like it would have mattered.”

This article details several times that elections or ballot measures came down to one vote, and the consequential results that followed. It’s hard to know how many of these are fully true, but some of them are rather startling. Take this one, which was certainly never taught in any history class I ever attended:

“Henry Clay cast the deciding vote in the Constitutional Convention which admitted Kentucky to the Union as a slave State. If Kentucky had entered the Union as a free State is is hardly doubtful that Missouri would have done the same, and it is conceivable that there might have been no Missouri Compromise, and perhaps even no civil war.”

How Close Votes Influenced World Events: The Sequels to Many Issues Which Were Decided by Single Votes – Are Our Methods of Consulting Public Opinion Faulty? (PDF)

 

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Written by Jesse

November 16th, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Politics

Barrie, Saddened by the War, Writes Little Now

From November 12, 1916

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Barrie, Saddened by the War, Writes Little Now: Famous Author of ‘Peter Pan’ Is More Shy and Elusive Than Ever Since the Struggle Began — Supports a Hospital in France (PDF)

I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with Peter Pan as a novel. I first read it in elementary school and found it magical, in fact it was one of my favorite books. I read it for the second time the week that I turned 18 and became an adult, at least in the eyes of the law. I still loved it but took a different lesson from the ending. (Spoiler alert for the next sentence or two.) Wendy, John, and Michael all go back to London from Neverland, bringing the Lost Boys with them, so that all the main child characters eventually grow up, but Peter himself remains forever a boy on the island. Instead of just a light fun harmless story as I found it in elementary school, I now saw the lesson as “Become an adult, but keep a little bit of childlike joy and wonder within yourself.”

The third time I read it was in 2014, shortly after the NBC live musical version aired. I was now fully an adult — a young adult maybe, but still an adult, no question about it. I came to dislike what I now perceived as the lesson, namely “Childhood is good, therefore adulthood is bad.” I agree that childhood is good, but that doesn’t mean the opposite of childhood is therefore bad. I had become an adult and loved many aspects of it — no more curfew, for one thing! I found the film Boyhood, released that same year, to be a much better and more meaningful fictional encapsulation of from the transition from childhood to adulthood.

But there’s still no denying that J.M. Barrie remains one of the few writers from the early 1900s who is still regularly read, thanks largely to Peter Pan. World War I hit the man extremely hard. Already shy and a little odd to begin with — as can be seen through Johnny Depp’s brilliant Oscar-nominated portrayal in the film Finding Neverland — Barrie’s godson George Llewelyn Davies was killed in action in 1915. George was one of the main inspirations for the Lost Boys characters, and his first name was used as the name of Wendy’s father in Barrie’s book and play.

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Written by Jesse

November 12th, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Literature,War

Viscount Kaneko Sounds Note of Warning

From November 12, 1916

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Viscount Kaneko Sounds Note of Warning: He Fears That the Good Feeling Between Japan and America Is Losing Strength Because of the Vital Race Question (PDF)

In 1916, there was a worry that positive relations between the U.S. and Japan could be fraying. 35 years later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

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Written by Jesse

November 11th, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Politics,War

How Europe Views Wilson and the Election

From November 5, 1916

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How Europe Views Wilson and the Election: Pleasant A. Stovall, Our Minister in Switzerland, Replies to Mr. Hughes and Describes Why People Abroad Favor Wilson (PDF)

Most people in Europe in 1916 were supporting the Democratic nominee for president. The more things change, the more they stayed the same. This summer, Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Europeans expressed confidence in Barack Obama, 59 percent for Hillary Clinton, but only 9 percent did for Donald Trump:

Europeans express confidence in Obama and Clinton, but not Trump

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Written by Jesse

November 4th, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Politics

U.S. Leads in Financial Power

From November 5, 1916

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U.S. Leads in Financial Power: To Say That Our Prosperity Rests on War Orders Is Indefensible, Declares Secretary of the Treasury (PDF)

Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo — who later served as a U.S. senator from California in the 1930s — in 1916 penned this essay arguing that the U.S. had the strongest economy in the world. At the time, the U.S. was just emerging into contention for that title, and by a few years subsequently — and certainly by a few decades subsequently — there was no debate on the subject.

Interestingly, one of the facts that McAdoo uses to argue his case was that the U.S. possessed about $2.63 billion of gold at the time, or about one-third of the world’s gold. That would prove to be a significantly less important metric once Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the country off the gold standard in 1933.

This 1916 excerpt about that year’s presidential election, written by the Democratic Secretary of the Treasury, also contains some eerie parallels with Donald Trump and the 2008 financial crash and recession that began under George W. Bush’s administration:

Mr. Hughes [the Republican nominee] warns us that our prosperity is merely “temporary.” How does he know that it is? How can he foretell the future? The very assertion discredits him, because he assumes a power of infallible prophecy which belongs to God alone. He is a candidate for the Presidency, the prize for which some men in this country have been willing to sell their veracity and their souls. Mr. Hughes has no convincing issue. He has advanced no reason that appeals to the judgment of his fellow-citizens for turning President Wilson out and putting Mr. Hughes in. What must he do, therefore, to make an impression?

His one hope is to excite the fears of the American people and make them believe that he is the only man who can save them. Mr. Hughes cannot guarantee the prosperity or the future of the country. Neither can the Republican Party. The Roosevelt panic of 1907, the worst in our history, is conclusive proof of Republican incompetence.

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Written by Jesse

November 3rd, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Business

‘Movies’ and ‘War Game’ as Aids to Our Navy

From November 5, 1916

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‘Movies’ and ‘War Game’ as Aids to Our Navy: Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske Advocates Combining Former with Famed Kriegspiel to Develop American Naval Strategists (PDF)

Unlike any other century-old article that I’ve come across when running this website, this 1916 piece started off as though the writer figured it might be read a century subsequently:

“Historians of tomorrow may award the honor of having developed great American naval strategists to the “movies.” That sounds improbable now, but the improbability will be materially lessened if the shapers of our naval policies adopt suggestions contained in “The Navy as a Fighting Machine,” a new book by Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske…

Not ships, nor guns, nor men, but strategy is the prime requisite for successful naval warfare. Strategy must be worked out in peace times, long before the outbreak of war, in order to insure victory. The best way to develop naval strategists in peace times is through intense cultivation of the “Kriegspiel,” the famous “war game” played much in the manner of chess by German army officers ever since the days of von Moltke, and introduced a few years ago among the officers of the Germany Navy by Kaiser Wilhelm II. A good way to carry the method a step ahead is to “film” the various moves in a given “Kriegspiel” problem and project them on a screen, in order that they may be more easily understood by audiences composed of American naval officers.

Does anybody currently serving in the military know if this suggestion was ever adopted en masse by the U.S. military? I’d certainly never heard of it before. I just covered a talk given by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the National Press Club a few weeks ago — clearly I should have asked him then.

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Written by Jesse

November 2nd, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race

From October 29, 1916

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Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race: Educational Campaign Among the Red Men Has Raised Birth Rate and Lowered Death Rate – Reservations Self-Supporting (PDF)

Back in 1916 even a publication as respected as the New York Times had no problem calling the demographic “red men.” Even Disney would do so with the Peter Pan song “What Makes the Red Man Red?” in 1953, and Washington’s NFL team still uses a variant on that name to this day.

According to the 1916 article, the improvements in Native American birth rate and health came about over the previous three years in large part due to the health education campaign of Cato Sells, Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1913-1921, which today is an agency housed within the U.S. Department of the Interior.

After a period in which the population was shrinking, in 1916 the total number of births in the group was 6,092 compared to 4,570 deaths. The total “Indian population” at the time was 209,221. Those trends must have continued, because today the total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population is 2.9 million, or about 0.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

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Written by Jesse

October 28th, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Life,Science

Cause of Seasickness Discovered at Last?

From October 29, 1916

cause-of-seasickness-discovered-at-lastCause of Seasickness Discovered at Last?: Ailment Is a Form of Vertigo and Results from a Disturbance in the Ear, According to Two Physicians Who Have Made Tests (PDF)

Physicians Dr. Lewis Fisher and Dr. Isaac H. Jones published an article “Vertigo and Seasickness, Their Relation to the Ear” in the New York Medical Journal in 1916, claiming that the condition was related to “a disturbance in the ear.” That is why “Persons in whom the mechanism has been destroyed — deaf-mutes, for instance — never suffer from mal de mer.”

Their hypothesis basically still holds up today. WebMD says, “You get motion sickness when one part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear , eyes, and sensory nerves) senses that your body is moving, but the other parts don’t. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of waves, but your eyes don’t see any movement.”

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Written by Jesse

October 27th, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Science

What Can an Actor Do When He Retires?

From October 29, 1916

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What Can an Actor Do When He Retires?: E.H. Sothern Answers in Humorous Vein the Question So Often Asked, Using as Interlocutor the Ghost of Gamaliel Ratsey (PDF)

The famed (at the time) actor E.H. Sothern had recently retired from the stage in 1916, which was of course the only real form of acting for anybody who spoke words, since the first film with sound The Jazz Singer wouldn’t come out until 1927. Sothern penned an essay in which he answered the title question of “What Can an Actor Do When He Retires?” through a fictional conversation he has with the ghost of Gamaliel Ratsey, a famous thief and criminal of the Shakespearean era who was hanged in 1605 but not before he famously once robbed a troupe of Shakespearean actors.

The article’s subtitle calling the piece “humorous” is definitely subject to interpretation. You can see that the photograph of the author certainly doesn’t make him look like the life of the party, although to be fair people smiling in photos was a rare if not nonexistent phenomenon back then. Perhaps the funniest line in the article describes Ratsey’s introduction:

The visitor produced out of the void two huge horse-pistols and leveled them at my head.

“Get up!” said he, “and play me a scene or I’ll blow your brains out.”

This kind of invitation is vastly persuasive.

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Written by Jesse

October 26th, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Humor

Will the Brunette Race Eliminate the Blond?

From October 22, 1916

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Will the Brunette Race Eliminate the Blond?: Latter Has Lost Ground Steadily Both in This Country and Europe for Centuries, Says Expert (PDF)

Hair color was apparently a large enough worry a century ago that some feared an extinction of blonds. That was the worry at the time of Madison Grant, a Trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and Councilor of the American Geographical Society, in his cringeworthy-title-in-retrospect book “The Passing of the Great Race.” Today, about 2 percent of the world’s population is blond, though that’s about 16 percent in the United States.

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Written by Jesse

October 21st, 2016 at 11:29 am

Posted in Life,Science

Spent 22 Years Collecting 15,000 Similes

From October 22, 1916

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Spent 22 Years Collecting 15,000 Similes: Frank J. Wilstach’s Ardent and Relentless Hunt for This Elusive Figure of Speech Results in a Remarkable Collection (PDF)

Lexicographer Frank J. Wilstach Wilstach spent 22 years compiling all the similes he could find. Some of them still hold up a century later: “Cold as an enthusiastic New England audience.” Some of them don’t: “Had about as much chance as a Prohibition candidate in a Democratic ward.”

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Written by Jesse

October 20th, 2016 at 11:26 am

Posted in Literature

George Bernard Shaw On Anglo-American Relations

From October 22, 1916

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George Bernard Shaw On Anglo-American Relations: Famous Writer Discusses Attitude of Great Britain Toward United States with His Customary Frankness and Brilliancy (PDF)

This passage was interesting:

British hypocrisy is not real hypocrisy, because its first condition is that it shall not deceive. In English public life it is is a point of honor, when once the truth is so apparent that there can be no possible deception, to get up and lie about it. A man who tells the truth unnecessarily is not considered a gentleman. A man who tells a lie that is believed is considered a liar. The perfect gentleman does not give pain to his audience. He says what they like to hear. He proclaims the thing that ought to be, the nice thing, the good-natured thing. And that is never the thing that is. As nobody is taken in except the people who want to be taken in, nobody objects. Very often that is the condition of the entire audience, representing therein the entire nation.

Can any British readers please reply in the comments as to whether this descriptions still describes England in 2016?

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Written by Jesse

October 19th, 2016 at 11:25 am

Posted in Life

Italy Proud of Soldier-Poet Killed in Action

From October 8, 1916

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Italy Proud of Soldier-Poet Killed in Action: Giosue Borsi’s “Letters from the Front” and “Spiritual Colloquies” Are Considered Remarkable Products of Days of War (PDF)

After the poet Giosue Borsi was killed during World War I in November 1915, a letter he wrote to his mother in event of his death, his “Letter to his Mother” went around the world and was translated into many languages — the 1916 equivalent of going viral. Much of the letter is reprinted in the above article, but one passage I found particularly tragically beautiful:

With this beautiful and praiseworthy past, fulfilling the most desired of all duties as a good citizen toward the land that gave him birth, I depart, in the midst of the tears of all those that love me, from a life toward which I felt weary and disgusted. I leave the failings of life, I leave sin, I leave the sad and afflicted spectacle of the small and momentary triumphs of evil over good.

 

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Written by Jesse

October 7th, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Literature,War

Scenic Surgery for “Old Man of Mountains”

From October 8, 1916

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Scenic Surgery for “Old Man of Mountains” — Forehead of Famous Profile on Mount Cannon, New Hampshire, Has Been Secured by Bolts to Prevent It from Tumbling Into Space (PDF)

The famed natural formation that many believed look like the silhouette of a man was at risk of collapsing in 1916, so work was done to secure it. The inevitable was delayed by 87 years, with the formation eventually collapsing in 2003. Here are before and after photos, taken by Jim Cole of the Associated Press:

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Written by Jesse

October 6th, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Nature

New System of Physical Training in Schools

From October 1, 1916

New System of Physical Training in Schools: Not Merely Gymnastics and Athletics, But Medical Inspection and the Teaching of Health Habits Involved in Dr. Finley’s Plan (PDF)

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Instituting physical education requirements was all the rage around 1916, with 97 percent of four-year universities having a physical education requirement in 1920. By 2013, according to Oregon State University researcher Brad Cardinal, that number had declined to an all-time low of 39 percent.

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Written by Jesse

October 2nd, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Education,Recreation