Archive for the ‘Politics / Law’ Category

Maryland Law Which Makes Everybody Work

Maryland and eight other state governments made work mandatory during 1917 and 1918, amid the labor shortage caused by so many men serving in World War I. Although many considered it a violation of personal liberty, the official unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% to 1.4% as a result.

For comparison, the official unemployment rate in December 2017 was 4.1% — the lowest rate since 2000. (A fuller measure of the unemployment rate pegs it 8.1% currently, but that’s still one of the lowest rates in years.)

So how come no states have compulsory work laws anymore? Such laws were declared illegal after World War I was over.

Maryland Law Which Makes Everybody Work: Conscription of the Unemployed Rich and Poor Has Begun in One State, and Congress Has Before It a Similar Plan for the Nation (PDF)

From Sunday, January 13, 1918

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January 15th, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Ebb of Pacifism in America

Prior to American entry in World War I, there was a not-insubstantial and vocal contingent of opposition. Eight months later, that had shriveled up to nearly nothing:

“But today the great majority of the altruists are out of the peace party; they recognized the reality of a war of justice, and quit idealism for humanity. Some of the altruists are still in the party, but they ‘are singing low,’ to quote one of the most influential who, accordingly, insists upon the anonymity of this quotation. And such flabby activity of the peace movement as exists today is being stimulated by the Socialist, the anarchist, the alien propagandist, or ‘the professional gasbag element.'”

One particular example was mentioned, a man who remains a household name even today. (Although his later Nazi sympathies would color how fewer generations would view his stances on war and politics.)

“Because of the sensational methods of his peace advocacy, the name of Henry Ford stands out. Mr. Ford spent $400,000 in his expedition to ‘get the boys out of the trenches by Christmas.’ Upon his return to this country he announced that he was ready to spend $25,000,000, or as much more as might be necessary, to prevent any improvement or extension of the naval or military establishment of the United States. Four months after we declared war he said that ‘we must prepare to go the limit for the struggle.’ A little later, in taking $5,000,000 of Liberty bonds, he said that the United States, in making war on Germany, did ‘the best thing that ever happened for the world.’ He has also come out for universal military training, and now he has himself joined the staff of the Shipping Board.”

Imagine getting that level of nearly-unanimous support on anything today, especially something so consequential.

Ebb of Pacifism in America: Voices Which Were Loud Last Summer Have Been Silenced by a Few Months of War — How the Leaders Came to Realize the Futility of Their Old Arguments (PDF)

From Sunday, December 23, 1917

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December 23rd, 2017 at 8:01 am

War Gifts and Taxes Threaten Home Charity

 

Domestic charitable organizations were facing a challenge in 1917. Because most charitable donations were suddenly going overseas as a result of American involvement in World War I that year, domestic charities found their donations drying up, according to Charity Organization Society of the City of New York President Robert W. de Forest”

“The need in Europe is great — very great. Let us help Europe to meet it if we can. But the direct responsibility for meeting that need falls on the great nations of Europe, one of which certainly is wealthier than our own [referring to the United Kingdom]… Yes, I believe in giving liberally to help suffering in Europe, but we should hold ourselves sufficiently in reserve to be able to relieve suffering at home.”

Today, charitable giving is consistently reaching new highs. Americans gave a record $390.0 billion to charity in 2016, itself up from the previous record the year before: $373.2 billion in 2015. The economy has been good and improving the past few years, while the nation was not at war.

War Gifts and Taxes Threaten Home Charity: How Local Benefactions Are Affected by American Philanthropy in Europe — New Government Levies Curtail Incomes of Those Who Formerly Gave Freely (PDF)

From Sunday, December 16, 1917

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December 15th, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Trade Pact of Nations as Bar to Future Wars

This article argued that the optimal way to deter warfare was economic sanctions, a policy that was used far less at the time of its 1917 publication than today.

“Germany might not have gone to war if she could have conceived that the world would rise to defend the signatures on a scrap of paper. But neither Germany, nor even Bolshevist Russia, could fail to see that the world would infallibly and instantly defend and avenge interests so peculiar to each of them, and yet so common to all, as the security for the world’s commerce.”

Alas, the actual track record for economic sanctions as a deterrent to warfare has been decidedly mixed. As Center for the National Interest Executive Director Paul J. Saunders argued in a 2013 op-ed:

“Washington has not tried to compel another major power with sanctions since 1940-41, when America imposed them on Imperial Japan, culminating in an oil embargo and the seizure of Japanese assets in July 1941. At that time, the United States sought to deter Japan from seizing Southeast Asia and demanded that Tokyo withdraw from Indochina and China. Japan in turn concluded that American sanctions made the occupation of Southeast Asia essential, as well as the devastation of the United States Navy.”

In 2017, sanctions have been instituted earlier this year on Russia, North Korea, and Iran. All three are considered among the nations that America could most likely go to war with given current geopolitical conditions, especially if you count “cyberwar” as modern-day warfare.

The bill passed the Senate 98-2. It was signed into law over President Trump’s stated objections that the legislation “improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.” Only time will tell if the sanctions will be enough to prevent war.

Trade Pact of Nations as Bar to Future Wars: No Government Could Afford to Forfeit Privileges in World Clearing House or to Imperil Gold Hoard Belonging Jointly to All Countries (PDF)

From Sunday, December 9, 1917

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December 8th, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Foreign Medals for American Soldier Heroes

Although America officially entered WWI in April 1917, the war began more than two and a half years earlier in July 1914. Some American soldiers had been serving in foreign armies since 1914, 1915, or 1916, fighting for nations that the U.S. would later officially ally with.

Under the bill, any American soldier would now be allowed to receive a foreign medal for their military service, such as the British Victoria Cross of the French Croix de Guerre.

Strangely, I’ve been unable to track down precisely whether this bill passed into law, as the article did not mention the bill’s exact title. It does not appear to be listed in this list of legislation enacted during that Congress, although that list acknowledges it’s incomplete. (If anybody in the comments section could track down the exact fate of this bill, it would be much appreciated.)

But presumably it passed, because there have been five American recipients of the Victoria Cross, all of whom were during WWI.

In 2017, the highest American military award called the Medal of Honor has never been awarded to a non-American recipient. Non-Americans have won other high American medals, the first being the Navy Cross to Ernesto Burzagli in 1919, two years after this article’s publication.

Foreign Medals for American Soldier Heroes: Congress Is to Pass a Bill Removing Restrictions on Acceptance and Display of Honor Awards from Allies (PDF)

From Sunday, December 9, 1917

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December 7th, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Politics / Law

Suffrage’s Cost High, Effect on Elections Nil

When trying to decide in 1917 whether to grant women the right to vote, men had several factors to consider beyond just the obvious “it’s the right thing to do” factor.

One was whether granting suffrage changed election outcomes. Another was how much extra it would cost, due to almost twice the number of new voters needing extra election machines, county clerks, and the like.

Illinois, which had already legalized the practice statewide, tracked women voters and found that it barely changed election outcomes at all. For the 1916 presidential election, Illinois men and women both voted for Hughes over Woodrow Wilson, with the margin only being 1.6 percent. The exact same margin was found for the Chicago mayoral race.

As for increased election costs, it was estimated that New York state would see expenses rise $2.8 million as a result, equivalent to about $52.7 million today. The article ends by referring to how that money could presumably be better spent as World War I raged on:

“In other words, the taxpayers of this State would be subjected through suffrage to an extra expense equal to about three times the amount of money spent on the spectacular suffrage campaign, and an amount sufficient to buy 57,400,000 rounds of ammunition for our troops.”

Suffrage’s Cost High, Effect on Elections Nil: Illinois, Only State with Accurate Records of Men and Women Voting Separately, Proves That Big Expense Leaves Results Unchanged (PDF)

From Sunday, November 4, 1917

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November 4th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics / Law

Precedents for Expulsion of Senators

A U.S. Senate member getting expelled from office hasn’t happened since 1862. So when this 1917 article was written, it had already been 55 years since the last time.

It’s come close to happening since. In the past century, there have been 9 senators who faced expulsion proceedings. But all of them either resigned before they could be removed from office, or else did not meet the required threshold that two-thirds of the Senate vote to expel them.

The most recent case was in 2011, when Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) was charged with financial misconduct, but he resigned before he could be expelled.

The last time a senator even faced an expulsion vote at all, and didn’t resign beforehand, was in 1942. Sen. William Langer (R-ND) was charged with corruption, but the Senate voted 52-30 to keep him in office.

14 of the 15 Senate expulsions that have ever taken place occurred during the Civil War, when multiple senators were expelled for supporting the Confederacy.

But it might potentially happen again later this year.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is facing a corruption trial this month. If Menendez is convicted and is expelled (or resigns), under New Jersey state law, the governor would appoint the successor.

If it’s before January 2018, that would be Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But if it’s after January 2018, the next governor would have the privilege — and polling indicates that the November gubernatorial election will likely be a landslide win for Democrat Phil Murphy.

With Republicans only holding a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate, every vote counts —  see this summer’s health care repeal which failed by only a single vote. So a Senate seat that potentially switches parties could change things dramatically in Washington and the country at large.

Precedents for Expulsion of Senators: Some Cases During Civil War Days Recalled by Present Demand for Oustin of La Follette and Other Obstructionists (PDF)

From Sunday, October 7, 1917

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October 5th, 2017 at 10:01 am

The Case Against Suffrage

If you thought the people fighting for the women’s right to vote were all women and the people opposing it were all men, think again.

Some women didn’t want the right to vote at all, as shown in this 1917 article about the wife of the U.S. senator from New York who also led the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

“But do we want the tactics of the female of the species to mold our policies of government, the spirit of our institutions, or the enforcement of our laws? I, for one, am very positive that we do not.”

Wadsworth also contended that even if she supported suffrage (which she didn’t), the timing of the initiative right in the middle of World War I was inopportune.

“They are forcing their pet issue upon an electorate that should have no other issues presented to it for decision than those growing out of the fearful life-and-death struggle of the world for democracy.”

Wadsworth also noted that the measure was being rejected by voters frequently in recent years:

“Did you know that since the close of 1912 the voters of thirteen States, including such big States as New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri, have declared at the polls that they do not want woman suffrage; and that the voters of only two States, Nevada and Montana in 1914, have said that they want it?

Unfortunately for Wadsworth, the 19th Amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote was added to the Constitution less than three years after this article was published.

Case Against Suffrage: Presented by Mrs. James W. Wadsworth, Jr., Leader of Women’s Organization Which Wants No Votes (PDF)

From Sunday, September 9, 1917

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September 10th, 2017 at 10:08 am

Posted in Politics / Law

Tremendous Cost of War to the United States

Federal expenditures multiplied more than 10-fold after America entered World War I.

Even then, though, the drastically increased spending was still far less when adjusted for inflation than the federal government spends today. The 1917 spending was about $10.73 billion, which would be about $205.3 billion today. But this fiscal year will spend about $4.14 trillion, or about 20 times what we were spending in 1917.

Still, it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison.Three of the four biggest drivers of modern-day federal spending are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — none of which existed back in 1917.

 

Tremendous Cost of War to the United States: Estimate of the Total Expenditures for Year Ending Next June IS $10,735,807,000 — Last Year’s Outlay Was $1,041,635,116 (PDF)

From Sunday, August 26, 1917

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August 24th, 2017 at 11:39 am

The Obstructionists: Small Group of Senators and Congressmen Whose Tactics Encourage Enemy and Block War Plans

A full century before the Freedom Caucus, there were “the Obstructionists.”

The comparisons aren’t exact. The modern-day organization of several dozen hard-line conservatives in the House has helped kill or at least significantly delay or water down legislation supported by most congressional Republicans, such as Affordable Care Act repeal, tax reform, raising the debt ceiling, and more — all on the basis that existing proposals weren’t far enough to the right. The so-called “Obstructionists” wasn’t so much an official caucus as an informal group of legislators who banded together in opposition to one particular issue above all else — American involvement in World War I — rather than on a variety of issues.

But there were some commonalities. For example, both groups were all men.

The congressional votes to commence American involvement in WWI were lopsided but not unanimous: 82-6 in the Senate and 373-50 in the House. By comparison, the congressional votes for the other world war a few decades later were 82-0 in the Senate and 388-1 in the House. And the the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Afghanistan a mere three days after 9/11 passed 98-0 in the Senate and 420-1 in the House.

The Obstructionists: Small Group of Senators and Congressmen Whose Tactics Encourage Enemy and Block War Plans (PDF)

From Sunday, August 19, 1917

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August 17th, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Politics / Law

Need of Dictator Urged by Harding

Four years before he became president, Ohio’s Republican Senator Warren G. Harding argued in favor of drastically increased powers for the presidency — even though the commander-in-chief at the time was a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.

The level of willingness to accede so completely to a partisan opponent was arguably last seen in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when most congressional Democrats granted significant powers to the presidency and executive branch, despite being controlled by Republican President George W. Bush.

Harding’s words are stunning to modern-day ears and chats from the left that Trump is #NotMyPresident. Perhaps his words were stunning even to ears at the time:

“Whom have you in mind for this position as supreme dictator?” Mr. Harding was asked.

“At the present moment there is but one possible man,” replied the Senator from Ohio, “the President of the United States. I must say he is not my choice, but the people of the country have chosen him, and he is the only one to whom we can turn. Why quibble with events which are already accomplished? Mr. Wilson is our President, duly elected. He is already by the inevitable force of events our partial dictator. Why not make him complete and supreme dictator? He will have to answer to the people and to history eventually for his stewardship. Why not give him a full and free hand, not for his sake, but for our sake? He is not likely to succeed half bound; unbound he will have every chance. If he fails, then it is his fault, not ours. If he fails under present conditions, it is our fault, not his.”

Harding’s recommendation was heavily influenced by the perceived need for a national leader with stronger powers during the ongoing World War I. It is not clear whether Harding still believed in a “supreme dictator” by 1921 when he took office, after the war had concluded.

“It was only the logic of events combined with the perception generally of the unparalleled character of Mr. Lincoln that powers were placed more and more in the hands of the President, until, toward the close of the war, Congress as well as the Cabinet had all but abdicated in favor of the one man who had proved himself a safe dictator for the destinies of the nation.  The same thing must occur in this war, and the sooner it comes the better for all of us. We will never be actually in the war, never be a menace to Germany in a modern military sense, until it does come.”

Harding, for what it’s worth, is consistently ranked as one of the worst presidents of all time.

Need of Dictator Urged by Harding: Republican Senator from Ohio Favors Absolute Power for President, Even If He Is a Democrat (PDF)

From Sunday, August 12, 1917

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August 10th, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Politics / Law

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent

The first federal estate tax was created in 1916, with a top rate of 10 percent levied on transfers of assets to beneficiaries after one’s death. A year later in 1917, at the outset of American involvement in World War I, this essay proposed that the rate be essentially raised to 100 percent, thus ending the automatic transfer of land or inheritances from rich people to their children.

Needless to say, it didn’t pass. Through fits and starts, the rate did rise over time, currently standing at a top rate of 40 percent. But a century later in 2017, the push is in the exact opposite direction, with congressional Republicans and President Trump trying to eliminate the federal estate tax once and for all — essentially a 0 percent rate.

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent: This Would Be the Reverse of Socialism, He Says, in Discussing Sacrifices That Must Be Made to Save Liberty in the World (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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May 11th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes

The top income bracket always tries to fight increased taxes, but historically just about the only time they willingly acquiesce is during wartime, when abrupt increased governmental expenditures are required. What made 2001-02 so unprecedented was that President George W. Bush simultaneously lowered tax on the top income bracket while launching war and requiring increased government outlays. (Bush lowered taxes for all income groups, not just the wealthiest.) The result was a large spike in deficits and debt as a percentage of GDP. Although, to be fair, those numbers would increase even more under Bush’s successor Barack Obama — and will almost certainly increase even further under Donald Trump given his plans for lower taxes and higher expenditures.

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes: Victor Morawetz Says the Government Must Remember It Cannot Get Funds of People Twice, by Taxation and Bonds (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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May 5th, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth

Why was everything going to hell in 1917? Ralph Philip Boas, Associate Professor of English at Whitman College, suggested a large measure of blame should be placed on young people:

The danger of democracy is never that it will be too stern, too rigid, too intellectual, too conservative. No, the danger of democracy is that it will be too easygoing, too soft, too emotional, too fickle.

The weaknesses of democracy show nowhere more clearly than in its attitude in America. Our country is the paradise of youth; here we think only of our duties toward our children, never of our children’s duties toward us. An American works himself to death for his children — happy not in their respect and their love, but in their success. Everything is done for the American youth.

Look at his education. Schooling is free from the kindergarten through the university. The State taxes itself willingly that its boys and girls may have the best education which it can give them. And what does it ask in return? A sense of responsibility? A sense of gratitude? Service in the army? Service in civil life? No. It asks nothing in return.

It is pathetically proud of the advantages its youth enjoy, never once realizing this fundamental danger: If you train up young people to be soft and luxurious, to expect everything as a right and to give nothing in return, to absorb unthinkingly all the advantages of civilization without adding anything to those advantages, are you training up young people who can help in the great decisions of a democracy?

No.

Of course, this has been an age-old complaint — indeed, Aristophanes was complaining about “kids these days” back in 419 BC. And the same youth who Boas criticized in 1917 went on to become the adults who would lament the rise of rock ‘n’ roll a few decades later.

As Dick van Dyke asked in Bye Bye Birdie, ‘What’s the Matter With Kids Today?”

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth: A Land Where Responsibility Harmonizes with Freedom, Not a Mere Paradise for Children Without Sense of Obligation (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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May 3rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Censorship Heavier Than Prussian Muzzle

The Espionage Act of 1917 remains one of the most controversial laws ever passed by Congress in American history. Signed into law in June 1917, it was used almost a century later to charge Edward Snowden and convict Chelsea Manning for releasing classified intelligence information. Defenders say the law protects national security, while opposers claim it violates the First Amendment and free speech.

In April of 1917, the bill was still being debated in Congress. Republican Senator William Borah of Idaho opposed the measure, claiming it was more restrictive than the forces we had just entered World War I to fight against:

“The things they are allowed to say and write and publish in autocratic Prussia today will be prohibited in this democratic America by the terms of this very law,” continued the Idaho Senator, “and we propose to enact it as one of the preliminaries to our entering this war to rid the world of Prussianism.”

Alas, Borah’s fight was a lonely one. The measure passed the Senate 77-6. While the House vote attracted a much higher percentage against, it still passed handily 260-107.

Censorship Heavier Than Prussian Muzzle: Senator Borah Characterizes the Espionage Bill — Senator Cummins, in Voicing His Opposition, Criticises President Wilson (PDF)

From Sunday, April 29, 1917

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April 26th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Conscription Needed – By Mayor John Purroy Mitchel

In the first month and a half after America entered World War I, only about seven percent of the hoped-for number of young men to volunteer for military service actually did so, according to People’s History of the United States. In May 1917, the Selective Service Act of 1917 was enacted, making WWI only the second conflict to require a military draft. Drafts were subsequently enacted for World War II, and the Cold War conflicts of Korea and Vietnam, though since 1973 the country has relied on an all-volunteer military.

On April 22 of that year, though, a draft was not certain. The first branch of Congress to pass the legislation would not occur for another few days, until April 28. New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel wrote this opinion column advocating for the measure:

“We have so vividly before us the melancholy experience of England in the present war. We shall never know how many thousands, or hundreds of thousands, were simply slaughtered because of England’s unpreparedness. It has been said, and I believe truly, that if England had had universal service — and that would have meant land forces comparable with those of France and Germany — this war would not have come about.”

Conscription Needed: Mayor Mitchel Urges Support of Administration So That Country May Be Able to Protect Itself (PDF)

From Sunday, April 22, 1917

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April 19th, 2017 at 7:38 am

Do We Want to Pay the Health Insurance Bill?

In 1917, the concept of health insurance was so new that it was referred to in quotes.

More than 20 state legislatures that year proposed bills to get government and taxpayers involved in health insurance, an innovative and bold idea at the time even though it’s considered commonplace now. (Even most anti-Obamacare Republicans generally want to maintain — or in some cases even increase — federal spending on such programs as Medicare, if not as much on Medicaid.) Here’s how the new ideas were described to the American public in 1917:

“Their arguments may be summarized as follows: That there is a wage loss due to sickness of six hundred millions of dollars annually; that the great majority of wage earners are living so close to the poverty line that they cannot bear this loss themselves nor can they provide against it through the present channels of protection — benefit societies, lodges, trade unions and the like; that the most important duty of society today is better to distribute this loss through compulsory sickness insurance; that the operation of compulsory sickness insurance will prevent disease and improve the health and general well-being of the nation, and that, therefore, society as a whole should help pay the insurance bill.

[All manual workers or anybody earning less than $100 per month would receive two-thirds of their wages in case of illness or accident, medical attention for the whole duration of the disability, and a $50 benefit in case of death.] The cost of all this shall be paid one-fifth by the State, two-fifths by the employers, and two-fifths by the wage earner, the latter’s contribution being deducted from his weekly pay by his employer.”

Today, disability insurance exists, but this article goes to show that health care was one of the most controversial and volatile political debates in 1917 just as it was today. Vox ran a terrific feature on why Vermont’s attempt to become the first state to institute single-payer universal health care ultimately failed to get off the ground.

Do We Want to Pay the Health Insurance Bill?: Frank F. Dresser Says Proposed Measure Would Give Country a Small Return in Bettered Health for a Tremendous Outlay (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 17th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon

This is notable for being by far the most “clickbait” style headline the New York Times Sunday Magazine ever featured on this blog. This is perhaps the only headline yet featured that would be written word-for-word the exact same way today.

A New York state bill was debated in 1917 that would license all pet cats and kill all others in the state. (The verb used in the article is the even more horrific “destroyed.”) The reason was not due to visceral hatred of the cute kittens, but for economic purposes:

“The high cost of living is largely due to the fact that not enough foodstuff is produced by the farmers; the shortage of crop is, in turn, partly due to the ravages of insects, and the only effective check on the insects is the birds. But the birds are destroyed by the cats. Every link in this chain between the cat and the cost of food is backed up and proved by scientific demonstration and statistics and the totals all along the line are enormous.

“For example, Frank M. Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History figures that there are at least 25,000,000 cats in the United States, and the country’s annual loss in crops from the depredations of insects alone is estimated at $1,200,000,000.

The license fee for a pet cat would have been 50 cents and 25 cents for each subsequent reissue.

Shockingly, the most common argument against the bill — and in favor of cats — was not from animal lovers or PETA (which would not be founded until 1980), but “The one argument most frequently heard in behalf of the cat is that it kills rats and mice.”

Did the bill pass? While I found that in the same year of 1917 New York state began requiring dogs to be licensed, I was unable to determine whether cats were too. If anybody knows the answer, please comment below.

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon: Otherwise It Will Be Killed as a Public Nuisance If Bill Now Before Legislature Passes — An Effort to Protect Birds and Crops (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 16th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Monroe Inaugurated 100 Years Ago Today

Even 100 years ago, people were writing “100 years ago” articles.

President James Monroe was inaugurated in 1817, with a presidency defined by the so-called Monroe Doctrine. 1917’s President Woodrow Wilson advocated much the same policy, referring to Monroe in a speech to the Senate:

“I am proposing, as it were, that the nations should with one accord adopt the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world: That no nation should seek to extend its policy over any other nation or people, but that every people should be left free to determine its own policy, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid, the little along with the great and powerful.

“I am proposing that all nations henceforth avoid entangling alliances which would draw them into competition of power, catch them in a net of intrigue and selfish rivalry, and disturb their own affairs with influences intruded from without.”

Wilson was arguably one of the last presidents to largely obey the Monroe Doctrine. Since then the U.S. has entangled itself in Vietnam, Iraq, and helped remove the democratically-elected leader of Iran, among numerous other foreign adventures and misadventures. We’ve seen similar foreign policy doctrines named after subsequent presidents too, such as the [George W.] Bush Doctrine stating that the U.S. had the right to launch preemptive strikes in the name of national security.

President Trump, who criticized the Iraq War once public opinion turned against it but was on record as supporting the mission at the outset, does not appear to be a big fan of the Monroe Doctrine either — but only time will tell for sure.

Monroe Inaugurated 100 Years Ago Today: President Wilson, Who Takes Oath of Office Today, Would Make Doctrine of His Predecessor of Century Ago Doctrine of World (PDF)

From Sunday, March 4, 1917

 

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March 11th, 2017 at 6:56 am

Posted in Politics / Law

Library of Congress Sends Books to Any Town

Did you know that the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. is a lending library? It remains so to this day, sending (almost) any item in their collection completely free of charge for two months at a time, so long as you live in the 50 states or Puerto Rico. Then all you have to do is return the item by FedEx or UPS. In this 1917 article on the subject, Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam explained the specifics.

“And we find that people all over the country are eager to take advantage of this service. We are constantly sending out books to borrowers sometimes as far distant as San Francisco and Cuba. During the year ended June 30, 1914, we sent out 2,030 volumes. During the year ended June 30, 1915, we sent out 2,258 volumes, and during the year ended June 30, 1916, we sent out as interlibrary loans 3,460 volumes to 393 different libraries in forty-eight States and in Canada.

“We lend music on the same condition as books. We do not, however, allow musical scores so lent to be used for public performances.”

Strangely, the number of items that the Library of Congress loans today is curiously difficult to find. Their website features a number of statistics in their annual report, but that’s not one of them. But with both the U.S. population and the library’s collection far larger than they were a century ago, the number of loans is surely much greater than the 3,460 volumes it comprised in 1916.

Library of Congress Sends Books to Any Town: If You Want a Rare Work of Reference Your Home Library Will Get It for You from the Great Washington Institution (PDF)

From Sunday, February 25, 1917

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March 10th, 2017 at 6:56 am