Archive for May, 2018

Total Eclipse of the Sun Next Saturday

We all remember the total solar eclipse last August, which passed over the United States. June 1918 saw one as well, starting in Washington state and moving southeast until it reached Florida. Actually, it started in a rather unusual way, as this contemporary article described:

And here comes an odd point about this eclipse; it really begins at sunrise on June 9, at the Island of Borodino, off the coast of Japan, and rushes out across the Pacific; then the circle of shadow (the point of the moon’s shadow-cone) crosses the “road to yesterday” (the 180th meridian of longitude) and finds itself on June 8, reaching our Pacific Coast in what is there the afternoon.

No word on whether Woodrow Wilson looked directly into the sun during the eclipse, as our current president did.

Total Eclipse of the Sun Next Saturday: Jet Disk Will Move Swiftly from Pacific Coast Southeastward Across Continent — Partly Visible in New York Early in the Evening (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 2, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 31st, 2018 at 10:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Year of Hoover’s Control: Food Enough for All Allies

More than a decade before he would be elected president in 1928, Herbert Hoover led the U.S. Food Administration, which exerted much control over the nation’s and Allies’ food supply.

The appointment cave even though the Republican Hoover was named by Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, a bipartisan move that would be difficult to imagine in today’s political environment.

This May 1918 article describes the results of Hoover’s efforts:

Take wheat: Owing to the shortage of last year’s crop we had scarcely 20,000,000 bushels above our normal consumption and seed requirements. Practically all this had been shipped by Christmas. Then, in January, came the British Food Commissioner’s urgent call for 75,000,000 bushels before the new crop, if the Allies were to have food enough to carry on the war. In response to that call, the American people saved 50,000,000 bushels out of their normal consumption; it was shipped to Europe, and the war goes on!

How was this accomplished?

Hoover himself describes in a quotation for the article that much of it was due to voluntary cutbacks and a common sense of purpose among the American people, rich and poor alike. Alas, these are also two phenomena which would be much harder — or perhaps impossible — to accomplish today.

This quote is a little long — four paragraphs in total — but take two minutes out of your life because it’s worth reading in full, to understand the potential greatness that can come when a country like America is united in sense of purpose.

“A man came up from my State,” he said, “to attend a conference that concerned one of the most important food industries in our State. This man is a prominent official at home and a citizen of much influence. He was aroused over proposed interference in the industry by the Food Administration. ‘We won’t stand for it,’ he said. ‘It isn’t fair. We are willing to be reasonable; we don’t ask to make what we are entitled to, but this proposal is too raw. If Hoover insists on it, we’ll go after him as he never has been gone after before.’

“‘Better wait and see what he says,’ I suggested.

“After the conference the State official came to me. ‘How much longer can Germany hold out their food supply?’ he asked. I told him that Germany was practically self supporting before the war, and had since seized some of the richest farm lands in Europe. ‘But,’ he broke in, ‘it doesn’t matter. We’ll get them in the end. Of course, we have to make every sacrifice; think of what the Allies are doing over there. All that’s worth living for is at stake! We’re in to the limit. Hoover can take the whole industry if he wants it, do with it as he pleases. We’ve got to win. At a time like this who would think of profit?’

“That man did not seem to know that a change had been wrought in him, that something bigger than he had ever known before had got hold of him; for the first time he realized we we are standing for. And you see he wasn’t forced to do anything!”

After the war, Hoover would continue leading the agency under its new name: the American Relief Association. They were tasked with feeding millions of hungry people in 23 war-battered countries in Europe and Russia. He would be elected president in 1928.

 

One Year of Hoover’s Control: Food Enough for All Allies — Taking a Chance on His Faith in Nation’s Loyalty, the Administrator Has Succeeded in Using Volunteer Spirit to Assure Supplies for Democracy’s Hosts (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 26, 1918

 

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Written by Jesse

May 24th, 2018 at 11:57 am

Posted in Food,Politics

3,000 Planes a Month

America is the leader in aviation technology today, and has been for decades. But that was not the case in 1918, even though the Wright Brothers who hailed from Ohio had invented the airplane only a few years before.

As this May 1918 article explained, the U.S. had some major catching up to do upon entering WWI:

It must be remembered that all the warring nations had three years of advantage over the United States in bringing aircraft production to its highest efficiency, because they had been fighting three years when we began. Some of our aircraft producers had foreign contracts, but not many; and the aircraft industry in the United States, on that day in early April when we threw Uncle Sam’s hat into the ring and decided to make the world safe for democracy, was at a low ebb. Although two young Americans invented the aircraft, people of the United States, generally speaking, took no very intense interest in doing their traveling by air, and it was extremely difficult for aircraft manufacturers to keep going, even in a small way.

But with our entrance into the war, the whole situation changed. Aircraft companies sprang up like mushrooms.

As Dr. Bert Frandsen writes in his article The Birth of American Airpower in World War I in Air & Space Power Journal, the American military only had 26 qualified aviators at the start of the war, and “Aircraft production was so small that airplanes were made in shops instead of factories.” By the end of the war, we had created the Army Air Service (later largely turned into the Air Force in 1947), with 190,000 men and 11,000 aircraft.

 

3,000 Planes a Month: Careful Inquiry Shows Real Progress in American Output, Including One Machine Which Is Unburnable (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 26, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 23rd, 2018 at 11:24 am

A Whole World Outraged

If Germany lost WWI, should they be granted the same status they had previously held in the European and world geopolitical landscape? That was the question facing American and the world in May 1918.

George Trumbull Ladd, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Yale, argued no:

The feelings of an outraged world against an outrageous Germany, as set forth in deeds and fortified by theory, ought to continue undiminished to the end of time. Without faith in the eternal principles of righteousness no one can guarantee that it will be so; but we may be somewhat confident in the belief that these feelings will continue essentially the same for a very considerable time.

Indeed, Germany in the 1920s did not all regain their pre-WWI status. They were forced to pay tremendous sums of money in reparations to Great Britain and France, and also forced by the Versailles Treaty to give up 13 percent of their land. These produced the desperate economic and political conditions that would allow for the 1930s rise of Adolf Hitler.

A Whole World Outraged: Should Guilty Germany Be Permitted Ever to Resume Her Place Among the Nations? An Argument for Ostracism “on Grounds of Morality and Religion” (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 12, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 10th, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Millions of Feet of Movie Films for Soldiers

Nearly a century before the release of — and subsequent suspected bomb scare related to — 2007’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, this 1918 article also contained the phrase “movie films.” But in this case, it referred to physical film, 7 to 8 million feet of which were shown to soldiers during World War I every week as recreation or downtime.

How were the films chosen?

After a number of experiments it has been decided that the week’s three movies at a camp shall include, as a general rule, the following: One all-man program — pictures of fighting, racing, adventure in the great outdoors; one comedy; and one drama.

The needs of the various camps differ widely. Obviously the Allentown camp, largely made up of college boys, requires a different type of picture from the on popular in a centre [sic] where thousands of negroes are assembled as muleteers and stevedores. [A stevedore is a person who loads and unloads cargo from ships.]

The decision of which films were shown to military members was entirely in the hands of one woman: Edith Dunham Foster, editor of the Community Motion Picture Bureau. “I try to get away from my own opinion entirely,” she explained, “and to look at the film with the eyes of a soldier.”

If only they had access to Avengers: Infinity War back then.

 

Millions of Feet of Movie Films for Soldiers: How a Woman Directs the Complex Task of Selecting Subjects, Censoring, and Shipping Motion-Picture Equipment to All American Camps (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 5, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 4th, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Movies,War