Archive for November, 2016

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