Archive for October, 2019

What’s Wrong With Labor?: Federation Threatened with I.W.W. Control from the Inside

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was a revolutionary socialist labor union. In 1919, a bitter debate brewed them and the more mainstream and moderate American Federation of Labor (AFL).

One organization’s aim was to attain some method of cooperation between capital and labor and the consequent mutual benefit. The other aimed to eliminate capital.

With such diametric opposition in ideas, the two organizations stood at challenge from the start, as no rival labor organizations had stood before.

All the radical elements, with the turbulent Western Federation of Miners at the head, were, it seemed, to rally around the I.W.W., purging the American Federation of units antagonistic to its purposes, and establishing a chasm between the two. Chasm there was, and across it were hurled the bitterest epithets heard in the labor world.

Ultimately, the IWW lost the debate and the AFL won.

The IWW went from 150+ thousand members in 1917 down to only 3,845 members as of September 2019, according to their most recent annual LM-2 report filed with the Labor Department.

Meanwhile, in 1955 the AFL merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to form the AFL-CIO, now the nation’s largest union federation with 12+ million members.

What’s Wrong with Labor: Federation Threatened With I.W.W. Control from the Inside (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 26, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 23rd, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Business,Debate

A Tenderwing in the High Air

This 1919 article about the novelty of air travel made a few projections. “Tenderwing” didn’t become a common word as predicted, but the practice of photographing airplane passengers did disappear as predicted.

A tenderfoot is defined as one who is not yet hardened to the life of the plains, so a person who is not yet hardened to the life of the air must be a tenderwing. The word isn’t in the dictionary yet, but I fancy it will be there some day soon.

That… didn’t happen.

All prominent people like to have their pictures taken, including Presidents and Generals. And right here let me say, please, that taking pictures of air travelers about to get aboard will soon be over. In a few months the novelty will be worn thin, and the news value of the thing lost forever. There is no particular lust for photographs of obscure citizens about to enter a railroad train. There used to be, but there isn’t now.

That did indeed happen.

This article also references a plane flying at 90 miles per hour, far slower than the 575 MPH average for a commercial jet today.

A Tenderwing in the High Air: Sensations and Observations of a Confirmed Groundling on an Aerial Passenger Liner Between New York and Washington (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 19, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 18th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Technology

Making Men Mentally Fit for Football

Could going out and goofing off the night before a big sports game help players perform better? Cornell football coach Al Sharpe thought so, and tested his theory before the big 1913 rivalry game versus UPenn.

Twenty times in the twenty years prior to the then-approaching battle the teams of these two great universities had met on the football gridiron, and only once had Cornell scored a victory. “Going to Philadelphia for the annual slaughter,” was the parting shot of the Ithacan villagers each year.

Then Al Sharpe took hold.

He suggested a different pre-game tactic:

Imagine their sensation when, upon ascertaining all were present, Al Sharpe addressed them substantially as follows:

“Men, I want every one of you to chase out of this hotel. Go to theatres. Do anything you fancy will entertain you. And don’t dare to show your heads in here before midnight if you expect to get into tomorrow’s game.”

Did it work?

As might be expected, the members of the Cornell football squad slept long and late on the morning of the game. In fact, they awakened only in time to consume a very late breakfast before departing for Franklin Field and their game of games. The nervous, draggy hours that had furnished other Cornell teams with nothing but worries and doubts concerning their ability to defeat the oft-conquering Pennsylvania teams had passed, and before such doubts could formulate in their minds the game had begun.

Cornell won.

The success continued:

Cornell, under Al Sharpe, won the 1914 game from Pennsylvania, also, and the 1915 game as well, and incidentally, in the last-named year, won a clean-cut victory over Harvard, a university Cornell never before had defeated on the gridiron.

Although this 1919 article was too prim to mention it, does “Do anything you fancy will entertain you” include sex? If it did, then it probably wouldn’t have hurt athletic performance either, despite a long-held myth that sex impedes subsequent athletic performance. A study last year in The Journal of Sexual Medicine by researches at California State University, San Marcos, found sex didn’t impede athletic performance.

Making Men Mentally Fit for Football: Gridiron Battles Depend Only in Part Upon Physical Condition, as Is Shown by These Anecdotes of Some Famous Coaches (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 19, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 17th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Sports

If the Treaty is Rejected — What Then?

Although WWI fighting ended November 1918, the Treaty of Versailles to formally end the war was registered in late October 1919. Requiring territorial changes and reparations, enough U.S. senators opposed it to prevent 2/3 passage by Congress.

Here, two U.S. senators debated the pros and cons of the treaty: Nebraska Democrat Gilbert Hitchcock in favor and Idaho Republican William Borah against.

Sen. Hitchcock, in favor:

This treaty… was secured from Germany at the cannon’s mouth. They all represent concessions which Germany would not willingly grant.

We have withdrawn our armies from Europe except a few thousand men, and have practically completed demobilization. We are through fighting, and Germany knows it. If we fail to hold her to the bargain made at Versailles when the armies were in the field and when Germany was helpless, we will be compelled to negotiate as equals and lose a large part of all that was granted in the settlement.

Sen. Borah, against:

If the treaty is rejected, the United States will be relieved at once of all obligations, legal or moral, to take part in European affairs, and we will as a people be enabled to take up at once and devote our entire time and attention to the solution of impending domestic problems.

Whatever we should see fit or think proper to do in the way of friendly assistance, advice, or support for other peoples anywhere, we should be able to do of our own volition and in our own way, relieved entirely of the embarrassment of carrying forward the plans and schemes of other nations.

Two Senate votes were taken on November 19, 1919, exactly a month after this article’s publication. One vote rejected the treaty 41-51, the other vote later in the day rejected the treaty 39-55.

However, enough other nations signed the treaty that it went into effect regardless. This is similar to other international agreements during the Trump administration, such as the Paris climate accords, which remain in effect with almost every nation besides the U.S. still party to its provisions.

Also, clearly 1919 was an era when referring to “Hitchcock” by last name alone — as this article does — meant the Nebraska senator Gilbert, not the film director Alfred.

If the Treaty is Rejected — What Then?: The Question Answered by Hitchcock and Borah (PDF)

Published: October 19, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 16th, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Putting American Women “On Another Footing”

A 1919 campaign sought to end high heeled shoes for women. Clearly, it didn’t work.

No other country except China has set itself up seriously as a rival to America in the business of mutilating women’s feet, and China has reformed. Footbinding is obsolete there, or at least obsolescent. In the United States footbinding by a somewhat more modern process, with the aid of high-heeled and pointed shoes, continues almost unabated. The female of the species hereabout is becoming a one-toed, sharp-footed animal.

Sometimes, alas, fashion and style win out over health. I’ve always suspected that for the opposite sex, wearing a tie for 8+ hours a day slightly chokes your throat and may hurt breathing or your respiratory system.

Putting American Women “On Another Footing”: Campaign Is Under Way Against the High Heel and the Pointed Toe, Which Are Accused of Deforming the Female of the Species (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 12, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 11th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Golden Apples in the Great Northwest

1849 was the California gold rush. The early 20th century was the Texas oil boom. 1919 was… the Pacific Northwest apple boom?!

Orchards which a few years ago could be purchased for $200 and $300 an acre are today bringing $2,000 to $2,500 an acre. Boxes of apples which the grower considered profitable if sold at 75 cents and $1 per box, a good profit, are today selling at $3 and $5. There are indications that by Winter a higher price will be paid.

What about today? According to USApple, the top 10 apple-producing states today include all three which could be considered the Pacific Northwest: Washington at #1, California at #5, and Oregon at #8.

Golden Apples in the Great Northwest: Boom Has Struck Fruit-Growing Country, Indians and Ranchers Are Investing Sudden Profits in Motor Cars, and Some Trolley Lines Are Going Out of Business (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 12, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 10th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Food

The Awakening Middle Class – by Thomas R. Marshall, Vice President

In 1919, as now, the vice president was a former Indiana governor. Though Mike Pence is Republican and Thomas R. Marshall was a Democrat, there were also some similarities.

For example, Marshall originally turned down Woodrow Wilson’s running mate offer, while Pence strongly considered stepping down as Donald Trump’s running mate in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” scandal. (The Republican National Committee also considered replacing Trump with Pence at the top of the ticket, and adding former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as running mate.)

In this September 1919 article, Marshall suggested that Americans should all come together despite their differences such as wealth gaps.

The old methods of legislation must stop, or the Republic must die. The war, ostensibly if not really, wiped out for us the political, hyphenated American; the war will have been in vain if it shall not also have wiped out for us the hyphenated, economic American, and has not taught us that, from him who has most to him who has least, as the days go by, individual right will grow less and invidual duty will grow larger.

The apocalyptic warning that the country must follow Marshall’s recommendation “or the Republic must die” is a hyperbolic phrasing very unlike the comparatively soft-spoken Pence — but very much like the bombastic rhetoric of Pence’s boss.

The most consequential — or depending on one’s view, least consequential — aspect of Marshall’s eight-year vice president took place the same week this article of his published. On October 2, 1919, President Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke. Wilson’s Secretary of State, as well as both the Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress, wanted Marshall to step in as acting president.

However, since Marshall disagreed with Wilson many policy issues, he was kept in the dark about the true extent of Wilson’s dire condition so that he would not assume any “acting president” responsibilities. Marshall himself never personally met with Wilson during his period of near-incapacitation. It is said that First Lady Edith Wilson in many ways essentially ran the White House and executive branch during this period.

Marshall had a sense of humor about the whole ordeal, sending his successor as vice president Calvin Coolidge a letter of “sincere condolences” for being elected to the position.

The Awakening Middle Class: By Thomas R. Marshall, Vice President of United States (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 5, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 1st, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics / Law