Archive for May, 2019

Magna Charta of Childhood

World War I changed how many governments viewed their responsibilities toward children. While previously they had largely kept their hands off, the war took a huge toll on children’s health, child labor, and education. Governments felt more of a need to step in.

In the U.S., what did the government do around this time?

Congress passed a laws restricting child labor, though it was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 5-4 decision Hammer v. Dagenhart. Congress then passed a constitutional amendment banning child labor in 1924, but it was only ratified by 28 of the required 36 states.

This May 1919 article explains why:

Before the war it seemed possible for statesmen to ignore the existence of children. What happened to the millions of young people of every great nation was, prior to August 1914, of slight interest to governments. Before the great war, it is perhaps safe to say that no Cabinet meeting of any great power had at any time devoted its full attention to the national problems raised by the very existence of children.

Every government knows now that such neglect is no longer compatible with national safety either in war or in peace. Military mobilization and the great test of industrial efficiency during the war revealed weaknesses appallingly vast. Neglect, it was perceived, was silently doing damage hardly less great than enemy invasion. Because of this realization, and not because of any newfound tenderness for children, governments generally have begun to give serious thought to childhood.

 

Child labor would only be banned in America in 1938 under FDR, with the Fair Labor Standards Act. And this time, the law was never struck down by the Supreme Court.

Magna Charta of Childhood: Representative of Great Britain, France, Belgium, Serbia, Italy, and Japan Are Joined With Americans in Evolving an International System of Child Welfare (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 25, 1919

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Written by Jesse

May 23rd, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Pressure For Suffrage

In late May 1919, “The political pilots of the movement now assert that they have converted a sufficient number of statesmen to assure a suffrage victory.” Indeed, the House would pass it that week, followed by the Senate two weeks later.

But many may have gone along unwillingly, because of extreme public pressure:

A Senator, who had been a leader in the fight against the suffrage movement, said just before the adjournment of the last Congress:

“Three-fourths of the Senators who have come out in favor of the amendment are against it in their hearts. They have been politically sandbagged.”

This was an extreme statement from a heated partisan, but it is probably no exaggeration to say that no fewer than one-third of the Senators were swung over when, if they had followed their own individual opinions, they would have remained in the column of the antis. Never before had they been brought into contact with such a political machine as was shoving them along. The impact of the three pressures gave them a push from behind and from each side.

How did this work in practice? Alice Paul, Chair of the National Woman’s Party, explained.

“Senator McCumber was opposed to suffrage, and, I understand, still is, but when, following our efforts in his home state, the Legislature passed a resolution in favor of it, he took that as a mandate, and we won his vote. Senator Culbertson is another instance; we got two-thirds of the members of the Legislature in his State to sign a petition in favor of the amendment, and that results in the addition of the Texas Senator to our list. We have a strong organization in South Carolina, and when Senator Pollock was elected we turned on him a body of opinion, and Senator Pollock is now for suffrage.”

One wonders if, in these politically polarized times of 2019, the same phenomenon could potentially occur for the most important issues of today, in which public opinion is against Congress’s opinion. For example, 90% of Americans support universal background checks on guns, yet the plan seems dead on arrival in the current Congress.

“Pressure” For Suffrage: Three Interlocking Systems of Political Machinery Used by Women in Converting the Members of Congress (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 25, 1919

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Written by Jesse

May 23rd, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Politics / Law

Outlook for Touring in Europe Next Autumn

WWI caused more than a slight decline in tourism to Europe. Now that the war was over in late 1918, would summer 1919 return tourism to normal levels?

It would probably take until spring 1920 for tourism to Europe to return to normal levels, predicted Gilbert E. Fuller, President of the American Association of Tourist and Ticket Agents. But that varied country by country:

“France is keener to have American tourists than business men just now,” said Mr. Fuller, “because she has as yet nothing to sell to the latter, whereas the former only ask to see the battlefields where the Americans and their allies fought.”

“In Belgium I was told that everything was in readiness even now for tourists. Food is plentiful — more so than in any other European country I visited — but prices are high, as they are everywhere else.”

“Italy wants tourists, but food is scarce there just now and no definite plans have been made.”

“Switzerland wants tourists, but just now it is one of the most difficult countries in Europe to enter or leave.”

“England’s principal reasons for unwillingness to have tourists just yet are lack of food and the fact that most of the great London hotels have been commandeered for Government offices and their interiors entirely transformed, so that, even if they were again available as hotels, they could not be made ready for tourists for some time.”

“Germany is not on the map so far as prospective tourist travel is concerned. Aside from the fact that people don’t want to go there, no tourist agency is making any plans for travel in Germany.”

Perhaps Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation was on to something when he said, “I would sooner visit Europe than have something romantic happen between us.”

Outlook for Touring in Europe Next Autumn: But Promoter of Pleasure Travel, Just Returned, Says Conditions Will Be Far Below Normal Until Spring of 1920 (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 18, 1919

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Written by Jesse

May 16th, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Life,Recreation

National Menace of Our Depleted Forests

The hit country song Wagon Wheel, written in 1973, begins with the lyric “Headed down south to the land of the pines.”

Not exactly. A 1919 headline warned “Supplies of Southern Pine Likely to be Exhausted in Ten Years.” Today, only 3% of the supply remains.

Smithsonian Magazine interviewed Chuck Hemard, author of the 2018 book “The Pines,” about what allowed any of the Southern pines to remain, rather than going completely extinct. His answer: that the remaining pines were essentially an ecological afterthought.

Despite deforestation, many of the remaining longleaf pines you feature in your book have survived hundreds years. What do you think help accounted for their survival?

Because they’re literally remnants or leftovers, meaning at the time many of these logging sites had trees left on them that were either undesirable as merchantable timber, or located geographically on a spot that was hard to log.

 

National Menace of Our Depleted Forests: Supplies of Southern Pine Likely to be Exhausted in Ten Years, and Program of Conservation Is Needed to Protect Country and Its Industries (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 11, 1919

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Written by Jesse

May 9th, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Nature

Cellars and Attics for Archives

In 1919, America’s most important governmental and historical papers were stored haphazardly and dangerously.

[There are] a hundred different places in Washington in which valuable Government papers are stored. In this situation Washington stands alone among the capitals of the world. All other countries of importance have their archives concentrated in a special building furnished with every possible protection against loss by fire or deterioration.

 

There appeared little appetite for something similar in the U.S., though.

The agitation for a national archive building began in the seventies of the last century [1870s]. Fifty different archives bills have been introduced. Two got by the Senate, but not one past the House. Meantime a site was authorized and purchased, but on account of the long delay — while pork-barrel measures were attended to regularly — the site was used for another building.

It wasn’t that people were opposed, per se, but rather that it was low on the list of importance.

On the whole no other Congressional neglect furnishes a parallel to this one, for there never has been any organized opposition to the idea; it was generally admitted to be a sound one, even by members who did not apprehend its high importance, but after all it was a rather vague need.

But World War I drastically increased the need.

The war, it is estimated, will double all the papers that had been accumulated by the country up to 1917. Records include not only those of the army and navy and other regular departments, but of special activities, such as the Food Administration, the Fuel Administration, the Railroad Administration, and War Industries Board.

After all, the physical conditions were subject to great risk.

At present the greater part of the Government’s archives are stores in the two worst places to prevent them from deterioration: in attics and in cellars. To preserve papers under the best conditions requires an even temperature, light, and an absence of excessive moisture. In the attics the papers are subjected to a terrific heat in the Summer time, so great that spontaneous combustion has been feared.

The National Archives would be created by Congress 15 years after this article, in 1934. The actually transfer of records to the new National Archives building began in 1936.

And what a collection it is. From their website:

There are approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data.

Cellars and Attics for Archives: These and Rented Non-Fireproof Buildings House Many of the Most Valuable Records in Washington (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 4, 1919

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Written by Jesse

May 1st, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Politics / Law