Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Preparedness Prevented Mexican War in 1866

From June 25, 1916

Preparedness - cropped

Preparedness Prevented Mexican War in 1866: Knowing That United States Could Call Civil War Veterans, France Withdrew Army and Left Maximilian to His Fate (PDF)

A war was avoided in 1866 because it was known that the U.S. had millions of soldiers it could call upon in a moment. The U.S. Senate this week approved 85 to 13 a provision that would require women to register for the military draft, which for the country’s entire history only men have been required to do. If it passes the House later this year and gets signed by either a supportive President Obama or a supportive Hillary Clinton, could that potentially serve a similar war-preventing deterrent effect in the 21st century as it did in 1866?


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Written by Jesse

June 24th, 2016 at 9:11 am

Posted in Politics

We Have Too Many laws, Thinks Henry A. Wise

From September 24, 1911


WE HAVE TOO MANY LAWS, THINKS HENRY A. WISE: U.S. District Attorney Believes That as More Offenders Are Being Punished There is an Awakening of the Public Conscience and a Promise of Better Things for the Country. (PDF)

It’s a busy week for me, so sadly I couldn’t write any commentary or pull-quotes from this article. Anyone care to do the honors in the comments?

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Written by David

September 21st, 2011 at 10:00 am

The Modern Sherlock Holmes Is A Scientific Man

From September 24, 1911


THE MODERN SHERLOCK HOLMES IS A SCIENTIFIC MAN: Swiss Professor Tells of Professional Criminals and the Means of Detecting Them in a Book That Has the Indorsement of M. Lepine, Head of the Paris Police. (PDF)

That reminds me: the modern Sherlock Holmes is now streaming on Netflix.

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Written by David

September 20th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Scientists Answer Hoke Smith’s Attack On Negroes

From September 24, 1911


SCIENTISTS ANSWER HOKE SMITH’S ATTACK ON NEGROES: Produce Figures to Show Him Not Well Posted on Conditions in His Own State — Professor Boas Tells of the Race’s Achievements in Africa. (PDF)

A rebuttal to this article from last week claiming that “the negro is the South’s drawback.”

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Written by David

September 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Debate,Life,Politics

The Negro Is The South’s Drawback, Says Hoke Smith

From September 17, 1911


THE NEGRO IS THE SOUTH’S DRAWBACK, SAYS HOKE SMITH: But, Adds the New Senator From Georgia, in Spite of the Burden Laid Upon It by the Black Man’s Presence a Marvelous Agricultural New South is Springing Triumphantly Into Being. (PDF)

Astonishing to remember how much room was given to racism 100 years ago.

In this article, Georgia Senator Hoke Smith poses a question in the process of making his case that black people are a blight on the south:

“It is logical to ask the question: What have the negroes of Africa, after thousands of years of opportunity, in a country rich with possibilities, where they have had things their own way, free of the white man’s control, accomplished for civilization and for themselves?

“This is a fair and pertinent question. Those who honestly consider it and as honestly reply to it, must cease to thrust back at our New England ancestors harsh criticism for having brought the negro to America and made of him a slave. They may, ever, admit that the negro was advanced from savagery to civilization during slavery — an enforced advancement, to be sure, but an advancement which, where he has had the opportunity, he has not voluntarily made. We must keep these historic facts in mind as we consider the present and predict the future.”

In next week’s issue, the Magazine publishes some responses from scientists that try to educate Senator Smith. Naturally, I’ll publish it here.

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Written by David

September 12th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Posted in Politics

A Talk With William Jennings Bryan, Evangelist

From September 10, 1911


A TALK WITH WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN, EVANGELIST: The Famous Democrat Has Taken Up a New Line of Work Though He Says He Has Not Abandoned Politics Entirely — Vigorous Views on Religion. (PDF)

Today I think of William Jennings Bryan as the anti-evolution prosecuting attorney in the Scopes Trial. But that wouldn’t be for another 14 years. By 1911, he was already a three-time Presidential candidate, and former Congressman. In a couple years, he would become Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.

Here’s some of what he says about evolution in this article:

“I cannot accept it. The monkey may be an acceptable ancestor for some — I do not find him so. The doctrine of evolution explains but one-third of the problem, and that the lowest of the thirds — the physical. It does not explain the mind, it does not explain the soul. In his ‘Philosophy of Christianity,’ which I often quote, Fairbairn says, very soundly, that to explain man as an animal is insufficient; he must also be explained in history, and that Darwin never did. His theory is that apes are older by long aeons of time than man, yet apes are still but apes, while man is what he is. And Darwin never in the least explained the origin of life. It takes, in truth, a faith in scientists to follow Darwin or any other of the learned opponents of Christianity far greater than the faith in God required to follow the great teachers of the Bible. Science always stops or ceases to be reasonable when it comes to the creation. The first germ — it baffles all of them. There is but one answer — God created it. They never have found any theory to substitute for this And that germ was infinitely wonderful. I cannot see why God might not, as reasonably, have created man. It is that which makes me skeptical of the theory of evolution. In efforts to destroy Christianity, religion, the scientists can only form a partial theory. The Christian’s theory alone is really complete.

“And there is a repellant thought in Darwinism. It attributes man’s evolution to the law of hate — of the destruction of the weaker by the stronger. Logically, if this is the real history of our advancement, then the law of love applied will take us backward toward the beast. We all admit, in general terms, no matter what our practices may be, that only through the law of love can man find happiness, has man ever found it; it is true that nations are advancing now through love and not through hate, through peace and not through war. How, then, can hatred be the law of progress? The darwinian theory does not explain. It is an effort to escape the miracle.”

And so on. It all sounds very similar to creationist arguments today.

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Written by David

September 6th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics,Religion

The Strong Arm Squad A Terror To The Gangs

From August 13, 1911


THE STRONG ARM SQUAD A TERROR TO THE GANGS: The Rowdies Who Make Trouble Get a Dose of Their Own Medicine. Waldo’s Detachment of Suppressors of Disorder Is a New Plan. (PDF)

There is so much good stuff in this article.

Rhinelander Waldo has appeared in a couple articles previously, as the city’s Fire Chief. But he just got promoted to Police Chief, and as one of his first actions he created a brute squad! But the first rule of the brute squad is that you don’t talk about the brute squad.

…Commissioner Waldo was only in office a short time when he organized what is officially known at Headquarters as “The Special Squad.” The unofficial title — “The Strong-Arm Squad” — is far more descriptive.

This squad is made up of twenty huskies whose sole duty it is to travel about the city and hand out generous doses of strong-arm medicine to any and all who show unmistakable signs of being in need of it.

Now it is perhaps best to say at this point that there is no official order on file at Police Headquarters directing the men of The Special Squad to administer strong-arm medicine.

Inquire at the Commissioner’s office, and you will be told that The Special Squad has been organized for the prevention of crime, to break up gangs, to disperse corner loafers, to suppress ferry-boat hoodlums, and discourage car rowdies. All of these much-needed reforms, you will learn at the Commissioner’s office, are to be accomplished by arrests.

But The Special Squad knows the prescription that Commissioner Waldo believes in. They make the arrests all right, but at the same time they administer a strong dose of their particular brand of medicine.

Check out that gallery of brutes. Ajax Whitman looks like he came straight from the circus. John D. O’Connor is described as a man who “pursues un-draped bathers.” And I think Joseph McLaughlin and Nathan Whitman are wearing the exact same clothes. And M.B. Conlon’s caption calls him “The Strong Arm Dude.”

At the bottom is George “Boots” Trojan. When he retired from the force in 1922, the Times article about his 29-year career explained the origin of his nickname:

Trojan, who won his police reputation by his success in combating the gangs that infested certain sections of New York City a quarter of a century ago, obtained his nickname by the method he used in subduing a particularly tough gang of negroes who used to congregate in Eighth Avenue in the territory of the West Thirty-seventh Street Station. Trojan used the toes of his boots with good effect on the negroes’ shins, and they dubbed him “Boots” Trojan. The soubriquet remained, although with the times Trojan changed his methods.

Ah, good old fashioned police violence.

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Written by David

August 10th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Politics,True Crime

A Talk With Miss Margaret Kelly, Director Of The U. S. Mint

From August 6, 1911


A TALK WITH MISS MARGARET KELLY, DIRECTOR OF THE U. S. MINT: Work Done by the Highest Salaried Female Official in the United States. (PDF)

This Margaret Kelly person sounds pretty impressive. Check this out:

Miss Margaret Kelly, the young woman in question, occupies the enviable position of being the highest salaried female official in the employ of the United States Government. But this fact does not so much entitle her to distinction as this: that, in her present position, she holds a place of responsibility that is second only to those of the Cabinet officers, a place that is so far above any other official position held by a woman that it may be said it is first — and there is no second.

When she got the position, one House member noted that “Miss Kelly’s appointment marks an epoch in the history of the advancement and development of woman in the business world.”

Here’s some of what she had to say about gender and business:

“There is one thing I most cordially detest… That is the distinction one constantly hears made between the work of the sexes. The expression ‘a man’s work’ or ‘a woman’s work’ is particularly obnoxious to me, as are their complements, ‘a man’s wages’ and ‘a woman’s wages.’ Now I cannot see any necessary distinction between work as a man does it and as it is done by a woman. The only distinctions or classes I recognize in work are ‘good work’ and ‘bad work.'”

She sounds like a great role model for women trying to break the glass ceiling. And yet, I can find almost no other mention of her online. No Wikipedia entry. Nothing. History is very strange sometimes.

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Written by David

August 2nd, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Development,Politics

The Scandal Of Organized And Expensive Charity

From July 9, 1911


THE SCANDAL OF ORGANIZED AND EXPENSIVE CHARITY: High Salaries, Swollen Payrolls, Huge Expenses — Extravagance Steadily mounting — “It Costs Them $2 to Give Away $1,” Say the Poor. (PDF)

Today, organizations like GuideStar can help you determine if a charity you’re considering donating to is one that uses their money efficiently.

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Written by David

July 6th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Politics

Making Washington One Of World’s Beautiful Capitals

From July 2, 1911


MAKING WASHINGTON ONE OF WORLD’S BEAUTIFUL CAPITALS: L’Enfant’s Dream to Come True After a Century — With the Approval of the Plans for Three New Department Buildings, the Ten-Year-Old Plan for a Splendid Home for the Government Is Launched (PDF)

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was a French born American architect who designed the layout of Washington DC in the country’s early years. But, the article says, his “great work was hampered and thwarted for a century by the lack of appreciation for beauty in the Government.”

Ugly buildings, slums, and “even houses of ill-fame” lined the mall. In 1911, plans were approved to build some new government buildings in keeping with L’Enfant’s original vision.

Today, work is still being done to improve the mall and surrounding parks. You can see a list of ongoing projects under supervision of the National Parks Service.

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Written by David

June 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Development,Politics

Church’s Alliance With Money Alienates The Masses

From June 18, 1911


CHURCH’S ALLIANCE WITH MONEY ALIENATES THE MASSES: Rev. John P. Peters, Rector of St. Michael’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Sounds a Warning Note Against the Power of Wealth in Religion. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.


Written by David

June 14th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Politics,Religion

Centenary Of City Hall To Be Observed On July 4

From June 11, 1911


CENTENARY OF CITY HALL TO BE OBSERVED ON JULY 4: Descendants of Mayor De Witt Clinton and Other Officials of That Day Asked to Join in the Celebration — The Story of the Building. (PDF)

100 years ago, the city celebrated City Hall‘s 100th anniversary. But I can’t find any announcements of bicentennial celebrations planned for this year. So I propose that we all celebrate by riding the 6 train through the abandoned City Hall subway station.

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Written by David

June 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Development,Politics

How The World Would Be To-Day “Had History Been Written Otherwise”

From June 11, 1911


HOW THE WORLD WOULD BE TO-DAY “HAD HISTORY BEEN WRITTEN OTHERWISE”: A Pertinent Question That Suggests Various Possibilities in the Formation and Development of the United States. (PDF)

There’s a genre of fiction called Alternate History which examines other possible historic timelines like what might have happened if the South won the Civil War.

In this article, the Sunday Magazine looks at an alternate history where American states remained colonies of Great Britain, and the Fourth of July were known as Traitors’ Day. An article commemorating Traitors’ Day might start like this:

This date, the Fourth of July, recalls the Great Rebellion hatched on that day in 1776 from the egg of treason over which a band of unprincipled conspirators had so long been brooding. While the history of those evil days is familiar to every child, it is well for us, on this recurring date, to think upon the dangers that then menaced these colonies of his Majesty King George III., that we may more clearly appreciate the blessings of freedom and peace we now enjoy under the beneficent rule of our present beloved ruler, King George V…

History can show no more pitiably shameful spectacle than the figure of the aged Benjamin Franklin, whose early life had been so filled with worth and usefulness, standing in the felon’s dock at the Old Bailey, his white hairs bowed in dishonor, and his name attainted with treason, awaiting sentence that would swiftly rape him away before a sterner Judge.

Yet one even more shameful than Franklin! The traitor, Washington, the pet and protégé of the great Lord Fairfax, nurtured in his early manhood by the favors of nobility and the Crown, the wealthiest gentleman of his time in the colonies. He was sentenced to Tyburn and the hangman’s noose like a common felon, but, on account of his gross betrayal of Gen. Braddock, he was denied burial.

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Written by David

June 8th, 2011 at 10:38 am

Posted in Fiction,Politics

Nation’s Rare Documents Unprotected Against Fire

From May 28, 1911


NATION’S RARE DOCUMENTS UNPROTECTED AGAINST FIRE: Even the Original Declaration of Independence and Constitution Are in Peril and Thousands of Invaluable Records Are Merely Filed Away in Wooden Wall Cases (PDF)

The rest of this post is unwritten because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

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Written by David

May 24th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Politics,Technology

Is Woman Fit For Suffrage? Perhaps Not. Well, Is Man?

From May 21, 1911


IS WOMAN FIT FOR SUFFRAGE? PERHAPS NOT. WELL, IS MAN? The Office Radical Thinks Not, and He Overwhelms the Philosopher by Some Cases in Point. (PDF)

The Office Radical and the Office Philosopher were two otherwise unidentified debaters who took on various topics in the Sunday Magazine. I’ve posted one of their debates here before. This one is about suffrage.

The rest of this post is unwritten because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

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Written by David

May 18th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Posted in Debate,Politics

100 Years Ago Tuesday — First Shot Of 1812 War

From May 14, 1911


100 YEARS AGO TUESDAY — FIRST SHOT OF 1812 WAR: A Year Before War Was Formally Declared Commodore Rodgers Defeated the Little Bell in a Hot Fight Off the South Atlantic Coast. (PDF)

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Written by David

May 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

Millionaire Hobo Seeks A Cure For The Jobless Man

From May 14, 1911


MILLIONAIRE HOBO SEEKS A CURE FOR THE JOBLESS MAN: Over 4,500,000 Without Work in the United States, Says James Eads How — New York Presents the Hardest Problem of Unemployed — Not a Socialist, But a Scientific Anarchist. (PDF)

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Written by David

May 9th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Life,Politics

We Safeguard Property; Now Protect Life — Waldo

From April 9, 1911


WE SAFEGUARD PROPERTY; NOW PROTECT LIFE — WALDO: Fire Commissioner Outlines Plans by Which, Having Made Our Building Fireproof, We Can Prevent the Slaughter of those Who Have to Work in Them. (PDF)

A couple weeks ago, you probably noticed a lot of coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. It happened on March 25, 1911, which was a Saturday. The Sunday Magazine did not cover it that weekend — the main news sections of the paper did — but on April 9, Rhinelander Waldo, the city’s Fire Commissioner, wrote this article for the Magazine proposing a new division of the fire department with a new goal: instead of just fighting fires, let’s try to prevent them.

Fire extinguishment in this city has about reached its maximum efficiency. When the motor-driven fire apparatus is installed throughout the city and also the high-pressure water system there will be little left for us to do to raise the efficiency of our fire-fighting force.

The great thing is to prevent fire.

This is simply taking a leaf from the book of the medical profession. For many years doctors concentrated all their efforts upon curing disease. The modern school bends its main efforts to preventive measures.

One of his recommendations doesn’t actually prevent a fire from starting, but can extinguish a small fire before it spreads: automatic sprinklers.

This is a system of pipes which is suspended from the ceiling and which is connected with a tank on the roof. At certain distances on the pipes are nozzles which have fusible metal caps. This metal fuses at a temperature of 160 degrees. Even a small flame will open adjacent nozzles, and the water, which is thrown up against a plate, is diffused over the floor in a spray which covers about eight square feet.

Only last Wednesday there was a demonstration of the efficiency of the sprinkler system. Fire was discovered at 5:15 o’clock in the afternoon in the receiving department on the ninth floor of the building occupied by a well-known department store. Although there were probably more than 1,000 customers in the store at the time, only a few of them knew of the fire. The fact was unknown even to most of the employees. When the heat in the room rose to the necessary temperature the sprinkler system automatically began to work, and at the same time an alarm was automatically sounded. The fire was extinguished quickly with a damage by water that did not exceed $200.

Compare this with what would have occurred had there only been hose pipe in reels on the wall and panicky employees relied upon to haul them through rooms filled with panicky customers.

He goes on to describe how narrow aisles, blocked doors, and discarded rubbish can all create fire hazards. He concludes by proposing a new Bureau of Fire Prevention within the Fire Department that would be in charge of inspecting fire escapes, sprinklers, fireproofing, etc. The proposal went through, and the FDNY website has information about the Bureau of Fire Prevention today.

Bonus: If you actually download the PDF to read the article, you’ll get another article on the same page profiling a circus lion tamer.

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Written by David

April 5th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Development,Politics

Burglary Insurance Men Say Crime Is Decreasing

From April 9, 1911


BURGLARY INSURANCE MEN SAY CRIME IS DECREASING: They Are Paying Less Money for Losses by Robbery Than for Years Past — Flynn Has Reduced the Number of Burglaries Below That in Any Regine Since Inspector Byrnes’s. (PDF)

Insurance companies were noticing a trend. They were getting fewer claims for burglaries. Crime rates, it seemed, were going down. That’s interesting, but it’s some of the article’s peripheral details that interest me most, like this pictures showing tools of the criminals’ trade. One tool is a “jack to raise the safe to position to operate.” Another depicts a three-pegged doohickey suspended in front of a safe. The caption says it’s “the most successful safe-breaking appliance ever invented” but I can’t tell what it is or how it’s supposed to work. Anyone have any ideas?

The article also talks about people who try to scam the insurance companies by faking a break-in when none happened. One jeweler reported a break-in, and when cops arrived they became suspicious. So “the detectives took him to a near-by saloon. When he had had several drinks they took him into the back room of the police station. There he confessed.” Do cops still take suspects for drinks before interrogation?

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Written by David

April 5th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Politics,True Crime

Fifty Years Ago Lincoln Was Inaugurated

From March 5, 1911


FIFTY YEARS AGO LINCOLN WAS INAUGURATED: Yesterday’s Anniversary the Beginning of the Great Civil War Semi-Centennials — How New York Times Reporters Described the Event at the Time. (PDF)

If you enjoy this blog, I hope you’re also following the New York Times Disunion series. While I’ve been posting the most interesting articles from the Sunday Magazine 100 years ago in real time, they’ve been posting about the events of 150 years ago leading up to the Civil War in real time. So for the past couple weeks, they’ve been following Lincoln’s train ride from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C. leading up to the day of his inauguration.

In this article, the Times Magazine of 100 years ago took a look back a mere 50 years to Lincoln’s inauguration to see how they covered the event.

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living hearth and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

It is fifty years ago yesterday since Abraham Lincoln closed his inaugural address with these words. The anniversary is the beginning of the semi-centennials of the civil war.

Of the thousands who crowded every available inch of space in the Capitol grounds at Washington to hear that address there was probably not one who realized that he was listening to the beginning of the great epic of American history — that tremendous war which created a revolution in our whole social and political structure. Those who stand at the soruce of great events very seldom do realize it.

But we, looking back over this half century to-day, can realize it. We can see in that vast crowd listening to that earnest man fifty years ago the beginning of one of the great chapters in world history.

It’s obvious to us how much the world has changed in the 150 years since Lincoln’s inauguration. But I hadn’t really thought about how much the world changed in just the 50 years leading up to this article. Here’s a glimpse of some names, events, and inventions that happened or peaked during that time: The Civil War, Lincoln’s assassination, an industrial revolution, the Battle of Little Bighorn, the phonograph, light bulb, blue jeans, barbed wire, the first electric power plant, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Tchaikovsky, Van Gogh, HG Wells, airplanes, etc. It was such a different world.

Read the PDF to get a glimpse of what the day was like for the reporters who covered it.

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Written by David

March 4th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Politics