Archive for June, 2019

The Laying On of Hands for Fingerprints

In 1919, “The fingerprints of every sailor and soldier serving the United States are on record… In Argentina it is true of every civilian. In time it may be true of all the world.”

Indeed. By 2009, the FBI had 63 million fingerprints on file. Their database started in 1924, just five years after this article predicted the possibility of such a system’s eventual creation.

Whether that was a necessary move for public safety or an unconstitutional violation of civil liberties can be debated. What’s not up for debate is the casual misoginy of the 1919 article’s sub-headline identifying Gertrude Meredith Sullender as a “woman expert.”

 

The Laying On of Hands for Fingerprints: Woman Expert Thinks System Will Not Be Confined to Criminals, but Will Become Universal — Chinese Used It for Identification Sixteen Centuries Ago (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 29, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 30th, 2019 at 11:53 am

Recalcitrant Rhode Island

Only three states didn’t ratify the 18th Amendment establishing Prohibition, before it went into effect: Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. As Prohibition was about to take effect, Rhode Island considered disobeying it.

A few months after this June 1919 article, the state attempted to do just that. In December 1919, the state’s Attorney General Herbert Rice filed a lawsuit seeking to declare the 18th Amendment unconstitutional. Historian David Kyvig summarizes Rice’s argument before the U.S. Supreme Court:

Attorney General Rice began by arguing that the amendment invaded the sovereignty of Rhode Island and her people, an invasion not contemplated by the amending clause of the Constitution. Rhode Island had not ratified the Eighteenth Amendment. The amending power, Rice contended, was provided to allow for the correction of errors in the fundamental instrument of government. The first ten amendments were adopted to insure against the encroachment by the federal government upon state functions and powers. If the amending power were to be construed as to allow any type of amendment, the boundary between federal and state authority could be shifted at will, and the people of a state would be at the mercy of others in matters of political institutions and personal rights.

His argument fell on deaf ears, with the Supreme Court upholding Prohibition unanimously.

Recalcitrant Rhode Island (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 29, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 30th, 2019 at 10:23 am

Posted in Politics / Law

Why They Entered Annapolis

The new boys at the U.S. Naval Academy were surveyed in 1919 about why they had joined, and their answers varied considerably. Five favorites:

  • “I came here mainly to beat out a friend at West Point.”
  • “Life here must be one continual round of hops, entertainments, fights, escapades, and every other wildly romantic thing not to be found in Iowa.”
  • “I saw many naval officers at Charleston. They attended all the balls there and made great hits with the ladies.”
  • “Father’s last words were, ‘Don’t let James lead any other life than that of a naval officer.'”
  • “I had tried several other things without success, and so I thought I would try this.”

Why They Entered Annapolis: One “Thirsted for Power,” Another Wanted to Dance and “Make a Hit With the Ladies,” But Eagerness for Education and Patriotism Were Not Lacking Why They Entered Annapolis (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 22, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 20th, 2019 at 11:06 am

Biggest Wheel of Fortune

Biggest Wheel of Fortune: Will Allot $60,000,000 in Bonuses for Paris City Bond Issue (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 22, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 19th, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Women as ‘Permanent Peacemakers’

Paris issued 3.125 million bonds to help pay off its WWI debt, and they were dispensed by random through a giant wheel — a wheel of fortune. No word on whether Pat Sajak announced the results.

The Civil Governor of Paris at the time explained to a local engineer:

“Now, we want you to make for us, as quickly as possible, a vessel or receptacle in which all these 3,125,000 numbers, sealed up in small brass cases, can be placed. We want the machine so fixed that at every drawing the vessel shall revolve so as to mix up the numbers thoroughly inside, and then discharge from the urn or vessel by electric means as many of the numbers as are required at each redemption drawing.

“Furthermore, we want this machine so constructed that when once the numbers have been introduced into the urn it will be impossible for anybody to fool with them. A child must not even be able to put his hand into the vessel or touch the numbers within.”

This “wheel of fortune” wasn’t as exciting as your humble author’s own appearance on the show a few weeks ago:

Women as ‘Permanent Peacemakers’: An Account by One of Them of the International Gathering in Switzerland Which Denounced the Allies’ Treaty Terms (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 22, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 19th, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Politics / Law

Why Suffrage Fight Took 50 Years

If the constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote was first introduced in 1878, why didn’t it pass Congress until 1919? Four major reasons: women’s minds had to be changed, so did men’s, politics, and money.

1.) Women’s minds had to be changed.

In the beginning of the movement the entire world, including women, believed confidently that women were mentally, physically, morally, spiritually inferior to men, with minds incapable of education, capacities too rudimentary to permit of their even looking after their own property, bodies too feeble to perform the simplest tasks for which men earned wages.

2.) Men’s minds had to be changed.

The illerate, undeveloped man held the view of the cave man that the woman belonged to him to do with as he pleased. She existed for him to dominate. In the refined, educated man this primitive instinct developed into a chivalrous, high-minded spirit of protection.

To ask for a vote was equivalent to declaring the government of men a failure, because it connoted that a dependent class was so dissatisfied with it as to demand a share in remaking it.

3.) Politics.

It is necessary that the members of a Legislature or Congress voting to submit an amendment which aims to enfranchise a class are obliged to pass the amendment on to the electors before the class to be enfranchised has received its vote. Legislators are deprived thus of the support of grateful voters, newly enfranchised, while forced to meet the condemnation of that part of the existing electorate which does not approve an extension of the suffrage.

4.) Money.

Individuals, corporations, or groups with unscrupulous intention have found it to be a certain protection to their selfish interests, when threatened by legislation, to be on good terms with the parties in power and with leading men of Legislatures and Congresses. To this end they have made large contributions to political campaigns.

Where their special interests, as in the case of the liquor business, have become a powerful issue their contributions have gone to both parties. All such interests have unfailingly opposed woman suffrage and have prevented in consequence the normal movement within the political parties toward the recognition of woman suffrage as a great and growing issue.

What naturally follows is the opposite question: how did it eventually pass Congress in 1919?

The first two factors — misogyny among both men and women — was ameliorated because of the states which passed suffrage first proving the naysayers wrong, beginning with Wyoming in 1890.

The greatest educator in the removal of prejudice proved to be woman suffrage in operation. Although the whole world scorned the little pioneer border settlement of Wyoming in its brave endeavor to do justice to women, it nevertheless carried a greater influence than it is now possible to measure. Year after year the women voted. The testimony continued that they voted wisely and well; that they were independent; that they were high-minded and recognized the necessity of continued improvement in political methods.

The third factor — political logistics, like how only men who were often hostile to the cause could decide whether to give women the right to vote — changed by the aforementioned trends in public opinion.

In the long run, popular sentiment controls in this country. Votes may be bought and evil influences may round up such voters to defeat a question now and then, but in the long run sentiment will not tolerate that sort of thing. Our business, therefore, has been to arouse popular sentiment, to tell the real truth to the people, wherever there were ears to hear or eyes to read.

The fourth factor — moneyed interests being opposed — fell in large part once Prohibition had passed a few months earlier, in January 1919.

 The most hostile and effective opponent of woman suffrage has been the liquor interests of the country… The liquor dealers reasoned that, since women were not the manufacturers of liquor or the consumers of liquor, but were the greatest sufferers from its evils, a larger proportionate number could be depended upon to vote for prohibition than men.

Once Prohibition passed anyway, on the basis of men’s votes, the moneyed interests no longer had nearly the zeal towards preventing women from voting.

Why Suffrage Fight Took 50 Years: Leader Tells of Hindenburg Line of Germans Broken in West, Gives Political Sidelights, and Finds Causes for Victory’s Delay Why Suffrage Fight Took 50 Years (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 15, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 14th, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Investigating the War

A century ago, House committees were heavily investigating the executive branch, while the president’s own party (in the House minority) accused the committees of partisan warfare. Sound familiar?

None of the investigations, the Republican leader said, would be inquisitorial, but they would be undertaken and conducted only so far as the interests of the country demanded. Democratic leaders scoff at such assertions. Visibly they are disturbed at the prospect… because the Republicans, being in charge, can guide the investigations and explode whatever is collected at the right psychological times from a political standpoint.

“What they are going to do,” said one Democrat, “is to keep these investigations boiling along, or some of them, clear into the Presidential campaign, and release their stuff at the time when the voters are beginning to think of the coming Presidential election. And they are not only going to tear everything wide open; they are going to pull up the flooring besides.”

Investigating the War: Chairman Graham of House of Representatives’ Special Committee Outlines Scope of Inquiry Into Expenditures (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 15, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 13th, 2019 at 10:54 am

What the Army Did to Them

Many WWI soldiers returned home as changed men. Women, while grateful for the military victory, were often dismayed at what had become of the men they sent away, calling it “the lowering of the quality of young American manhood.”

What emerged from the talk of which these samples have been reported was that at least half the women present were aware — or thought they were aware — of the lowering of the quality of young American manhood — or perhaps of a dulling of its fineness — growing out of military service, whether at home or abroad.

If this was the price paid for becoming heroes — and none of the women failed in proper pride that way, none was a pacifist, none was tainted with any sort of pro-Germanism, all had their own man or men in the service and were glad of it — if this was the price their country and their womenfolk had paid for seeing a patriotic duty bravely done — then it was a heavy price to pay.

This specific example of one man was provided, as emblematic of the larger problem.

A youth well born and bred, and one whose home-made manners, she said, had been a model of what such manners should be. She had met him again after he came back from overseas, and he had said things to her that she had never in her life before had said to her in polite society. Army life had done that to him, she insisted with some vehemence.

Considering that Donald Trump avoided the Vietnam War because of his supposed bone spurs, imagine how vile his demeanor and language would be if he’d gone.

What the Army Did to Them: The Present State of Young Men in America Is Discussed With Mixed Emotions by Some of Their Women Folk Army (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 8, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 7th, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Life,Military / War

If Germany Doesn’t Sign — Starvation

Germany surrendered November 1918, ending WWI in practice, as all countries agreed to cease hostilities while peace terms were negotiated. But the peacce terms weren’t finalized until June 1919. That month, the world asked: would Germany sign?

This article from the time described just how horrendous it would be for Germany if they didn’t sign the Treaty of Versailles, with the operative word in the headline being “starvation.” As it happened, Germany would indeed sign the treaty mere weeks later.

However, Hitler disobeyed more and more elements of the treaty, until he declared it null and void entirely in 1935. Some historians have suggested that a more lenient treaty would have rendered Germany a more prosperous and able nation post-WWI, potentially preventing the rise of a strongman leader like Hitler — and maybe avoiding WWII entirely.

If Germany Doesn’t Sign — Starvation: Allies Are Ready to Enforce a Blockade More Rigorous Than Ever Before, Should Enemy Balk at Peace Terms — Suggestion of Marching to Berlin Overruled (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 8, 1919

 

Germany made their final WWI-related reparation payment in 2010!

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2023140,00.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11442892

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Written by Jesse

June 6th, 2019 at 9:47 am

Plans For Dry New York

With Prohibition going into effect mere weeks away, what were the bars of New York City to do? Replacement options were sprouting in an attempt to replicate the bars’ former atmospheres, only without alcohol.

The Salvation Army, for one, is getting ready to enter the field. It will run substitutes for saloons, which, it is hoped, will preserve the opportunities for sociability and innocent forms of recreation presented by the saloon, as we have always known it, without the aid of the cup that cheers and likewise inebriates…

So there is already one Salvation Army “bar,” with a genuine brass rail and everything in the way of drinks except alcoholic ones…

The Salvation Army has options on five places now run as regular saloons and may soon have twenty-five liquorless saloons in operation in New York ready for the drought after July 1.

These must have not have been super popular, considering that Prohibition was repealed 14 years later.

And good thing, too. Speaking as somebody who performs at a piano bar every Friday night, alcohol consumption among patrons is heavily correlated to the amounts that customers tip to hear their favorite songs.

Plans For Dry New York: Saloon-Substitutes for City’s Ten Thousand Drinking Places Doomed to be Liquorless On and After July 1 Broadway of Old (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 8, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 5th, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Puritan Attacks on the Stage and Its Clothes

Revealing clothing was becoming more popular at social events in 1919 — more revealing by the standards of the day, at least. Acceptable clothing in the staid theater, however, changed much more slowly.

In a recent play a young actress engaged in a game of “strip poker” in which she “lost” large quantities of her hosiery and lingerie. Certain case-hardened first nighters were shocked; but, as it happened, she went from the theatre to a costume ball in the identical disarray, and there created not a ripple of protest.

Even today, one is usually expected to dress up to attend a theatrical show. Theatergoers, then as arguably now, generally tended to be a little more prim and proper than the average person on the street. That might explain why, despite the proverb “sex sells,” such tactics generally didn’t attract theater audiences in 1919.

That the exploitation of nudity has at times been a serious evil is obvious to every right-minded playgoer. But the remedy is not so obvious. … Certain managers have gone so far in catering to the roving eye as to shock the man in the street, not to mention his wife and his daughter. The result has been financially disastrous.

Nowadays, we see more nudity in theater than ever, asNew York Times theater critic Ben Brantley would write nearly a century later in 2013:

Full nudity has been a customary part of the mainstream Western theater since the 1960s and ’70s, while avant-gardists were regularly disrobing for public consumption a good decade earlier. But I have never been confronted with as many chests, buttocks and genitalia as I have in visits to Broadway and West End theaters during the last six months.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Puritan Attacks on the Stage and Its Clothes: Plays Which Offended Fundamental Morality Are Not Successful Nowadays, Despite What Reformers Say of Lingerie Displays and Scanty Skirts (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 1, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 2nd, 2019 at 10:26 am

Posted in Theater