Archive for September, 2019

Conspiracy of Silence Against Jazz

By September 1919, jazz was really starting to permeate the country. Some were not thrilled, as in this article which described the genre as “that negation of rhythmical sound and motion.”

The close-up dancing offended the sensibilities of many, such as the article’s author Robert J. Cole:

If there is one thing the dance of the moment lacks it is distance. Distance, enchantment, glamour. And without these it can never hope to snare the favoring attention of those to whom the dance, in spite of all the hurly-burly, yet lives a glory and a gleam in the ideal vision of art.

Of course, by 2019, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll are probably the two older genres most cited by those who claim that modern music is terrible.

The first printed use of the word “jazz” in a musical context was in 1916. The word’s earliest appearance in the New York Times, according to a search in the newspaper’s archives sorted by date, appears to be a September 1917 reference to “Bagpipers, a jazz band” at a tennis exhibition.

Conspiracy of Silence Against Jazz: Exponents of the True Poetry of Motion Seemed to Agree with That Young Author, Daisy Ashford, That Least Said Soonest Mended (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 21, 1919

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Written by Jesse

September 19th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Music

The Revel of Luxury

The Roaring Twenties arguably started in 1919. WWI ended in November 1918, there was peace, times were good, and people of all classes spent like crazy:

If luxury and leisure have conspired to set a pace of money spending hitherto undreamed of, this dissipation hitherto ascribed so exclusively to New York society has become diffused and general. There is nothing sectional about the exuberance of today. Vacationists from the smaller cities of the South and West have vied with the man from Wall Street in the distribution of easily acquired wealth. There is nothing in it to rekindle class hatred, so effectually effaced during the period of war, for the reason that there is “class” now among the masses. Railroad wage-earners boasted a two-million-dollar relief fund before hinting of a strike. The man from the forge is buying diamonds; clerks bet a cool thousand on the races, and the farmer who has not already bought an automobile is planning to do so with the singing of the next harvest song.

It’s hard to believe what a 180º difference this had been from the war years, which had still been raging less than 365 days prior:

Pleasure, pleasure! Who can turn churlishly from all these contemplations of luxury and give heed to the cry about the high cost of living? Who can take seriously the wail of hard times when blacksmiths are joining the jeweled ranks?

Is this the America that stopped every wheel just one year ago when the Government needed gasoline?

Good times. And not too different from 2019, actually, with unemployment at or near 21st century its low and Americans spending tons of money. Including money they don’t have — see the record levels set in 2019 for student loan debt, auto loan debt, and mortgage debt.

The Revel of Luxury: Summer Season’s Record of Money-Spending by Americans Who Can Afford the High Cost of High Living (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 21, 1919

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Written by Jesse

September 18th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life

Does a University Career Offer “No Future”?

In 1919, as the smartest ditched academia for the private sector, had professors’ salaries gotten too low? The average professor then earned $41K in today’s money. Average professor salaries are much higher now, but the problem persists — or has grown.

Edwin F. Gay, Dean of Harvard Business School penned an essay on the subject. As the article notes, “after Jan. 1 [he] will forsake educational pursuits to manage the New York Evening Post.” His assessment:

“High thinking and low living” may have been the teacher’s traditional habit, but when the living falls too low, even the high thinking youngster must look elsewhere for the exercise of his talent.

He writes that at an unnamed “one of the greatest of our Western State universities,” the average professor’s salary in 1918 was $2,438. Using historical inflation data, that would be the equivalent of $41,425 now. (And if anything, given the university’s presumably-elite status, that was presumably meant to represent the higher end of professors’ salaries at the time.)

In 2018, the American Association of University Professors found that the average salary was $104,820 for a full professor, $81,274 for an associate professor, and $70,791 for an assistant professor.

In other words, the salary did indeed go up. But the same concerns about the best and the brightest largely going into the private sector instead of academia persist. Indeed, it’s likely a bigger concern now than back in 1919, given the explosion of such lucrative intelligence-based fields as the tech sector and Silicon Valley.

Does a University Career Offer “No Future”?: Failure to Pay Professors Decent Salaries Presents Grave Problem– World of Business Is Drawing Them Away (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 14, 1919

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Written by Jesse

September 12th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Education

Suffrage Index of Good and Bad Governors

Once women’s right to vote passed Congress, it still needed to pass 36 state legislatures. One Kentucky legislator only voted for it because “My wife is a strong suffragette and weighs 200 pounds” so “I am forced as a matter of self-defense.”

This is from a Kentucky member, who was asked to write to the Governor to call an extra session of the Legislature: “As my wife is a strong suffragette and weighs 200 pounds and being very clever with the rolling pin, I am forced as a matter of self-defense to answer in the affirmative.”

Progress in the states stalled for an interesting reason: after Congress passed it in June 1919, many state legislators — most not full-time professional politicians — had to tend to their farms.

Maud Younger, Chairman of the Lobby Committee of the National Woman’s Party: “You would be surprised at how many we have been held up by the farmers busy with their crops. We got nine states to ratify in June, but only four in July and only one in August. In the West so many of the members of the Legislatures are farmers. It used to be lawyers. In one Western state, I am told, all the members of the legislature are farmers or have important farm connections.”

It all worked out in the end. Less than a year later, in August 1920, Tennessee would become the 36th state to approve the constitutional amendment — making it official.

 

Suffrage Index of Good and Bad Governors: How the Card System Which Forced Congress Into Line Is Being Used to Expedite Ratification by States (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 7, 1919

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Written by Jesse

September 7th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Lafayette, Citizen of America

Foreign male heirs of Marquis de Lafayette, the French military officer who led the colonies in Revolutionary War battles, were to be granted Maryland citizenship in perpetuity by a 1784 state law. Would that stand in the federal government’s eyes?

In 1919, when this New York Times article was written, the answer was still unclear — but it was clarified soon enough, based on two cases in 1936 and 1955.

The first was Count René de Chambrun, whose claim was rejected on an individual basis by the State Department. The second was Count Edward Perrone di San Martino, where the State Department officially ruled that any foreign male heir of Lafayette could be only granted honorary citizenship, which didn’t officially count for legal purposes.

Of course, modern audiences know Lafayette best from the insanely fast-rapping portrayal by Daveed Diggs in Hamilton:

Lafayette, Citizen of America: Maryland Legislature Conferred Franchise Upon Him and His Male Heirs Forever — He Rests in American Soil (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 7, 1919

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Written by Jesse

September 6th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in History,Politics