Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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

Laboratory of Dry Law Enforcement

Government in 1919 began testing seized substances to determine if they violated Prohibition by containing too much alcohol. Medicines, after all, could contain some — but at a certain point the “medicine” would become illegal.

Many attempts are being made to evade the prohibition law by disguising alcoholic beverages as patent medicines. Some of those discovered are practically all alcohol, with only a little flavoring, like Jamaica ginger, as a disguise. Toilet waters [meaning perfumes and not literal toilet water] are also exmployed as a mask for intoxicating drinks, with a higher percentage of alcohol hidden from the detection of the inexpert by some strong perfume.

The ruling of the bureau is that all alcoholic mixtures sold as medicine must contain at least one drug of recognized therapeutic value; that only so much alcohol may be used as is required by the nature of the mixture as a medicine, and that it shall not be used as a beverage.

The bureau referenced was the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue, the precursor to today’s IRS. As much as you already hate the IRS for taking half your paycheck, imagine if they were still taking away your alcohol too.

 

Laboratory of Dry Law Enforcement: Washington Busy With Batteries of Test Tubes and Retorts Trying to Keep Track of New Ways of Camouflaging Alcohol as a Beverage (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 31, 1919

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August 27th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Self-Determination for American Red Man

A 1919 bill approved by a House committee would have given Native Americans full citizenship rights. Alas, it took another five years to be enacted into law.

It is the position of those Indians who have attained citizenship after an arduous struggle for their rights that the shackles of paternalism have been on their race long enough. On the average, they say, the Indian is just as well equipped to look after himself as is the man of any other strain. Sometimes, they add, he is much better equipped than many of the aliens who have in recent years landed on these shores.

And needless to say, the 1919 headline referring to “the red man” is certainly anachronistic to modern ears.

The article also mentions that the Native American population at the time was 336,243, or about 0.3% of the U.S. population.

Since that time, the group’s percentage of the population has at minimum tripled. The 2010 Census had the “American Indian and Native Alaskan alone” population at 2.9 million, or 0.9% of the population. If including people who listed themselves as American Indian or Native Alaskan in combination with other races, the number rises to 5.2 million, or 1.7% of the population.

Rep. Charles D. Carter (D-OK3) introduced the 1919 bill, which passed the House Committee on Indian Affairs. But it would take another five years until the Indian Citizenship Act would become law, after being introduced by Rep. Homer P. Snyder (R-NY33) — hence the law’s colloquial name of the Snyder Act.

However, many states kept dragging their feet for decades afterwards. New Mexico became the last state to allow Native Americans to vote in 1962.

In fact, a number of racist federal laws dealing with Native Americans are still technically on the books today. These include laws which allow for forced labor of Native Americans and for the president to unilaterally declare any federal government treaty with a tribe as null and void.

Just this week, I wrote an article for GovTrack Insider about the RESPECT Act, which would repeal all or part of 11 such laws. It’s bipartisan legislation with the full title Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act.

Self-Determination for American Red Man: Native Race Proposed for Full Citizenship in a Bill Now Before Congress (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 10, 1919

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Written by Jesse

August 7th, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

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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June 30th, 2019 at 10:23 am

Posted in Politics

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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June 19th, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Politics

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

Posted in Development,Politics

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

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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June 6th, 2019 at 9:47 am

Magna Charta of Childhood

World War I changed how many governments viewed their responsibilities toward children. While previously they had largely kept their hands off, the war took a huge toll on children’s health, child labor, and education. Governments felt more of a need to step in.

In the U.S., what did the government do around this time?

Congress passed a laws restricting child labor, though it was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 5-4 decision Hammer v. Dagenhart. Congress then passed a constitutional amendment banning child labor in 1924, but it was only ratified by 28 of the required 36 states.

This May 1919 article explains why:

Before the war it seemed possible for statesmen to ignore the existence of children. What happened to the millions of young people of every great nation was, prior to August 1914, of slight interest to governments. Before the great war, it is perhaps safe to say that no Cabinet meeting of any great power had at any time devoted its full attention to the national problems raised by the very existence of children.

Every government knows now that such neglect is no longer compatible with national safety either in war or in peace. Military mobilization and the great test of industrial efficiency during the war revealed weaknesses appallingly vast. Neglect, it was perceived, was silently doing damage hardly less great than enemy invasion. Because of this realization, and not because of any newfound tenderness for children, governments generally have begun to give serious thought to childhood.

 

Child labor would only be banned in America in 1938 under FDR, with the Fair Labor Standards Act. And this time, the law was never struck down by the Supreme Court.

Magna Charta of Childhood: Representative of Great Britain, France, Belgium, Serbia, Italy, and Japan Are Joined With Americans in Evolving an International System of Child Welfare (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 25, 1919

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May 23rd, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Pressure For Suffrage

In late May 1919, “The political pilots of the movement now assert that they have converted a sufficient number of statesmen to assure a suffrage victory.” Indeed, the House would pass it that week, followed by the Senate two weeks later.

But many may have gone along unwillingly, because of extreme public pressure:

A Senator, who had been a leader in the fight against the suffrage movement, said just before the adjournment of the last Congress:

“Three-fourths of the Senators who have come out in favor of the amendment are against it in their hearts. They have been politically sandbagged.”

This was an extreme statement from a heated partisan, but it is probably no exaggeration to say that no fewer than one-third of the Senators were swung over when, if they had followed their own individual opinions, they would have remained in the column of the antis. Never before had they been brought into contact with such a political machine as was shoving them along. The impact of the three pressures gave them a push from behind and from each side.

How did this work in practice? Alice Paul, Chair of the National Woman’s Party, explained.

“Senator McCumber was opposed to suffrage, and, I understand, still is, but when, following our efforts in his home state, the Legislature passed a resolution in favor of it, he took that as a mandate, and we won his vote. Senator Culbertson is another instance; we got two-thirds of the members of the Legislature in his State to sign a petition in favor of the amendment, and that results in the addition of the Texas Senator to our list. We have a strong organization in South Carolina, and when Senator Pollock was elected we turned on him a body of opinion, and Senator Pollock is now for suffrage.”

One wonders if, in these politically polarized times of 2019, the same phenomenon could potentially occur for the most important issues of today, in which public opinion is against Congress’s opinion. For example, 90% of Americans support universal background checks on guns, yet the plan seems dead on arrival in the current Congress.

“Pressure” For Suffrage: Three Interlocking Systems of Political Machinery Used by Women in Converting the Members of Congress (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 25, 1919

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May 23rd, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Politics

Cellars and Attics for Archives

In 1919, America’s most important governmental and historical papers were stored haphazardly and dangerously.

[There are] a hundred different places in Washington in which valuable Government papers are stored. In this situation Washington stands alone among the capitals of the world. All other countries of importance have their archives concentrated in a special building furnished with every possible protection against loss by fire or deterioration.

 

There appeared little appetite for something similar in the U.S., though.

The agitation for a national archive building began in the seventies of the last century [1870s]. Fifty different archives bills have been introduced. Two got by the Senate, but not one past the House. Meantime a site was authorized and purchased, but on account of the long delay — while pork-barrel measures were attended to regularly — the site was used for another building.

It wasn’t that people were opposed, per se, but rather that it was low on the list of importance.

On the whole no other Congressional neglect furnishes a parallel to this one, for there never has been any organized opposition to the idea; it was generally admitted to be a sound one, even by members who did not apprehend its high importance, but after all it was a rather vague need.

But World War I drastically increased the need.

The war, it is estimated, will double all the papers that had been accumulated by the country up to 1917. Records include not only those of the army and navy and other regular departments, but of special activities, such as the Food Administration, the Fuel Administration, the Railroad Administration, and War Industries Board.

After all, the physical conditions were subject to great risk.

At present the greater part of the Government’s archives are stores in the two worst places to prevent them from deterioration: in attics and in cellars. To preserve papers under the best conditions requires an even temperature, light, and an absence of excessive moisture. In the attics the papers are subjected to a terrific heat in the Summer time, so great that spontaneous combustion has been feared.

The National Archives would be created by Congress 15 years after this article, in 1934. The actually transfer of records to the new National Archives building began in 1936.

And what a collection it is. From their website:

There are approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data.

Cellars and Attics for Archives: These and Rented Non-Fireproof Buildings House Many of the Most Valuable Records in Washington (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 4, 1919

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May 1st, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Politics

Future of the Democratic Party

Politics in 1919 was similar to 2019: a president had just suffered a devastating setback as his opposing party regained control of the House of Representatives. But the chair of the president’s party in 1919 aimed for a spirit of more bipartisanship, while it’s hard to think of any olive branches Trump has extended to House Democrats thus far.

The big looming issue in 1919, in the immediate aftermath of World War I, was whether the newly-Republican Congress would approve Democratic President Woodrow Wilson’s plan to enter the U.S. in the League of Nations. Democratic Party Chair Homer S. Cummings advocated for why Republicans should support it across the aisle:

“I have been an advocate of the League for many years, long before the war began. I think it is the greatest thing in the world today — the most important. It is inconceivable that anybody who is familiar with the real conditions in Europe can think that there is any chance for permanent peace without a League of Nations. It is idle to talk of merely concluding a proper peace and then letting the world drift again.”

“If this world war taught us anything it is that, if one great nation gets into war with another, other great nations are drawn into it also. I would be much distressed to see this great idea made the subject of partisan appeal, for it is bigger than any party — too important to the world to be treated as a mere party issue. If I have anything to say as to the course of the Democratic organization, the League of Nations will be treated as a nonpartisan question, as nonpolitical, and will be discussed on the basis of what is best for America.”

It was not to be. Eight months after this article, in November 1919, the Senate would vote overall in favor of the treaty by 55-39, but at 58% support that felt a bit shy of the 2/3 support required. Democrats almost completely backed their own President Wilson by 42-4, but the opposition Republican majority mostly opposed it by 35-13.

Future of the Democratic Party: New National Chairman Discusses League of Nations and Labor Question as Possible Issues — Dismisses Defeat Last November as Temporary “Reaction” (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 9, 1919

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March 8th, 2019 at 3:22 am

Posted in Politics

Her Pressure On Congress

How were the top lobbyists for a woman’s right to vote trying to convince recalcitrant politicians in 1919? One method was by convincing the politicians’ mothers, explained the chair of the Lobby Committee of the National Woman’s Party:

It is important to know all about the mother, and that explains why a whole card is devoted to her. Mothers continue to have strong influence over their sons. Some married men listen to their mothers more than to their wives. You will hear a man telling his wife how his mother used to do it, and then we know from his frequent reference to his mother that if we can make of her a strong advocate for suffrage we have the best of chances of winning the son.

Little did she know how prescient that prediction would become. A year and five months later, the constitutional amendment had passed Congress and needed to be ratified by 35 states. 34 had, when it came to Tennessee. A 24-year-old state House member named Harry Burn had originally voted to table the amendment, until his mother changed his mind.

“I knew that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification,” Burn later said. “I appreciated the fact that an opportunity such as seldom comes to a mortal man to free 17 million women from political slavery was mine.”

 

Her Pressure On Congress: Suffrage Lobbyist’s Card Index Keeps Tab on Members’ Home Influences, Financial Backers, and Even Golf Partners (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 2, 1919

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March 1st, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Shall We Deport the Interned Aliens?

Several thousand Germans and Austrians were interned during World War I, suspected of being agents or spies. ANow that the war had ended a few months prior, it was time for most of them to be released:

But the department believes that the greater number of the persons now behind the wire fences should be sent out of the country. The majority are regarded as having been “distinctly dangerous during the war.”

So what should be done with them? A bill was introduced in Congress that would allow any of them to be unilaterally deported by the Secretary of Labor — a man named William B. Wilson, no relation to then-President Woodrow Wilson.

The heads of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the subject took opposing views, even though they were both southerners from the same party.

In favor was the House Immigration Committee Chair, Rep. John Burnett (D-AL7):

He takes the stand of the Department of Justice that the majority of the interned aliens are dangerous and should be deported. He believes that the measure will pass his committee successfully… The fact of internment or conviction is defined by the bill as prima facie evidence that the aliens are “undesirable,” and the decision of the Secretary of Labor is to be final.

Opposed was the Senate Immigration Committee Chair, Sen. Thomas Hardwick (D-GA):

“If I retain my present frame of mind I shall certainly not vote for any law giving one man the power to determine who should be deported. This might be done in wartime. But in peacetime, no! I would consent to a law allowing a trial by jury of these people. But I could not consent to giving this power to one man. This is not Russia!”

As best I can tell, this specific bill didn’t pass Congress, but all the several thousand people interned were eventually deported back to their nations of citizenship — the last in April 1920, a year and a half after the war ended.

 

Shall We Deport the Interned Aliens?: Representative Burnett’s Bill in Congress Is Enlisting Strong Support, but Has Aroused Opposition, Including Senator Hardwick’s (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 2, 1919

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February 27th, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

Is the Czar Dead?

Was the czar dead? It was February 1919 and seven months had elapsed since anyone had heard from Russia’s Czar Nicholas II. Turns out, yes: he was executed.

The tsar abdicated the throne in March 1917 after the February Revolution, then he and his family were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House. More than a year later on July 17, 1918, Bolshevik authorities killed them all. The tsar was dead.

As was his family, but you wouldn’t know that from reading this 1919 article by Carl W. Ackerman, a New York Times correspondent.

I have just returned to the United States, after a tour of investigation, with all of the facts and testimony I was able to obtain in Siberia and Russia about the last known days of the Romanoffs. After weighing this evidence carefully I am inclined to think, although I cannot prove it, that the Czar is dead, but that his family still lives somewhere in Russia.

Fake news! A grave containing the tsar, his wife, and three of their daughters was discovered in the late 1970s, with the remaining daughter and son found in 2007. DNA testing proved who they were: https://genetics.thetech.org/original_news/news108

In the lyrics of Bret McKenzie from the comedy music group Flight of the Conchords: “A man is lying in the street, some punk has chopped off his head / But I’m the only one who stops to see if he’s dead. / [Pause] / Turns out he’s dead.”

Is the Czar Dead?: Six Chances in Ten That He Was Executed by the Bolsheviki — Fate of His Family Also Doubtful (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 23, 1919

 

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Written by Jesse

February 21st, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Why Most American Jews Do Not Favor Zionism

29 years before Israel was founded, Jewish Congressman Julius Kahn (R-CA4) advocated against forming a Jewish state, arguing four main points. Here’s how his four points hold up (or don’t) today.

First — It creates a divided allegiance, as between our country and its Stars and Stripes and Zion with its white flag with the blue star. The Zionists, even in this country, are bent upon following their flag. The real American Jew knows but one flag, the Stars and Stripes. The American Jew sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” as his national anthem. The Zionist sings “The Hatikvah” as his.

This argument doesn’t hold much weight in 2019. It’s become clear that supporting America and supporting Israel is not an either-or proposition.

Second — The Zionist doctrine is in conflict with our own free institutions. The Zionists believe in the foundation of a Government which shall embrace both Church and State. That is not in keeping with the trend of modern statecraft anywhere. In that respect Zionism is decidedly reactionary. Besides, the Jews of Palestine are a small minority of the population. Will the other people who live there consent to domination by this minority?

I’m not certain what the demographics of Israel were in 1948, but now it’s 74.3% Jewish — the opposite of a small minority. Have the other people “consented” to such domination? Not exactly. The country is rife with strife and violent attacks such as suicide bombings occur with some level of regularity. As for the idea that Israel would not respect a separation between religion and state, there’s some merit there: just look at this 2018 law declaring that only Jewish people have a right to self-determination.

Third — There is the practical objection against the huddling together in a confined territory of enormous numbers of the Jewish people. As every one [sic] knows, Palestine is small; it could never support the millions of Jews who live in countries where Jewish persecution is a matter of common occurrence. That huddling together has had a baneful effect in Russia, Rumania [sic], Galicia, and Poland. The result would be a continuance of these disadvantages in the proposed new home.

Israel does in fact support million of Jews — about 6.6 million of them to be exact. And Israel only has the world’s #31 highest population density.

Fourth — The greatest danger to the Jews in all those countries where they are on an entire equality with every other class of citizens is that, with the establishment of a separate Jewish State, they would be looked upon as aliens where today they are respected citizens. They would frequently be told to go to their own country, Palestine, by those agitators and fanatics who have a hatred of the Jew in their hearts.

With the exception of maybe a few extremists, this prediction has not been borne out.

So with a century of hindsight, Rep. Kahn’s arguments probably go 1 for 4.

Perhaps Kahn’s arguments may have had some level of credence at the time, but they didn’t stand up to scrutiny after Adolf Hitler attempted “the final solution” in the Holocaust. Three years the end of World War II, Israel was founded in May 1948.

A 2018 Gallup poll found American support for Israel at 74%, tying the previous high recorded in 1991. However, a YouGov poll found that the support level is highly polarized: 65% of Trump voters see Israel as an ally, compared to 29% of Clinton voters.

Americans' Sympathies Continue to Be More With the Israelis Than With the Palestinians

And if Julius Kahn couldn’t support Zionism, surely he could at least support Zion Williamson:

Why Most American Jews Do Not Favor Zionism: Their Allegiance to This Country Is the First Reason, and They Object to a Union of Church and State in Palestine or Elsewhere (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 16, 1919

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Written by Jesse

February 16th, 2019 at 11:27 am

Posted in Debate,Politics

ROOSEVELT’S SUCCESSOR: Who Will Be Republican Leader and Candidate for Presidency in 1920? — Outlook Two Years in Advance.

Prognosticators did much better predicting 1920’s Republican presidential nominee two years out than predicting 2016’s nominee.

From the time of the November [1916] election issues between the two parties began to sharpen more rapidly. Two recognized leaders were in command; on the one side Wilson, on the other side Roosevelt [a former Republican president]. Then came, unexpectedly, Roosevelt’s death [in January 1919, a month prior to this article], and since then one fact has continued to impress itself more deeply on the Republican Party: What the party needs most is a leader.

In theory the next president after World War I would be a military leader, but that was not to be:

When the United States entered the war, the prediction was made, based on past experience, that our next President would be some General whose deeds in the fighting on the other side had thrilled the popular imagination. The civil war made Grant President, the Spanish-American War elevated Roosevelt. [And a few decades later, World War II would elevate Eisenhower.] But this war, owing to the suppression by the censorship policy of individual achievement, apparently has left us without a war hero of Presidential popularity among the American Generals who fought in France.

So who would be the 1920 Republican nominee? The anonymous author predicted either former President William Howard Taft or Ohio Senator Warren Harding.

On the Senate list Mr. Harding comes nearer to commanding the support of both ends of the party than any of the others. As Chairman of the Republican National Convention in 1916 he delivered the keynote speech, and the impression he made throughout the proceedings was a positive one. He is of distinguished appearance, and a charm of personality is one of his assets.

But so far as distinct leadership is concerned he has yet to win it; he appears to be a man who advances steadily to a purpose without haste and with reserve force for the greater occasion. It has been made apparent that he is to take a more prominent part in the Senate.

In a recent speech he sharply criticised [sic] the President for not having devoted himself immediately on his arrival in Europe to bringing about a speedy peace, and also for not having given more attention to pressing reconstruction problems in this country. Practical things here at home, the Senator said, were being neglected while the dreams of idealism were being chased abroad.

Harding would indeed go on to win both the nomination and the presidency the following year.

In the past decade, of course, neither of our two presidents were the frontrunners for their party nomination prior to announcing. In fact, the top five Republican candidates at this point in the election cycle last time around were Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker — none of whom even ultimately finished in the top four:

ROOSEVELT’S SUCCESSOR: Who Will Be Republican Leader and Candidate for Presidency in 1920? — Outlook Two Years in Advance. (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 2, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 31st, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Politics

Recollections of Roosevelt

President George H.W. Bush died recently in November 2018, and a century ago America lost another former president: Theodore Roosevelt, at age 60. The week after his early January 1919 death, this eulogy recalled the man who had served as president from 1901 to 1909.

While our current president is often described as a populist, his policies in office have often been the opposite: lowering the tax rate on the top income bracket and making the overall tax system less progressive, doing nothing to curb the effects of big money in campaign finance, installing Supreme Court justices who have lessened the effects of unions.

Roosevelt, on the other hand, walked the walk. His administration brought more than double as many anti-trust lawsuits as his three predecessors combined, helped enact legislation to increase the safety of food and medicines, and established national parks free for all citizens. He attempted to create a national income tax on top incomes (which passed shortly after Roosevelt left office) and tried to institute an eight-hour workday for all employees.

This portion in particular does a vivid job of describing Roosevelt’s personality, at the intersection of the political and the personal — and what he meant to the American people:

His democracy was the true sort. It was not indiscriminate, and there was an aristocracy to which he paid tribute in his own mind — the aristocracy of Worth. Where he did not find it he was never at ease; he could use unworthy men (not for unworthy purposes, however) in the vast continental game of politics he played, as a party leader must, but never without contempt, and he always felt happy when he could get rid of them. A President or the leader of a national party must work with such instruments as the people choose to give him in Senate, House, and party machine, and the people do not always pick out saints.

It was his keenest joy to find this aristocracy of Worth in what to most people would be unexpected quarters. When he found it, he recognized an equal, whether the man having it was a wolf-killer, a ranchman, or a statesman. Neither did he care if public opinion were set against the man’s worth, so long as he himself had found it.

It was always strange to me to see how the solemn profundities and the unco’ guid [a Scottish term meaning people who are strict in matters of morals and religion] among our varied population used to regard this trait of his as something discreditable to him. He received visits from [heavyweight champion boxer] John L. Sullivan at the White House! He entertained Booker Washington there! He was a friend of boxers and actors! With what a sneer would they pronounce the words “Jack Abernathy, a wolf-killer,” and “Bill Sewall, a guide,” in listing Roosevelt’s friends.

Mean minds, incapable of imagining that a man would do anything except for advantage, cast about for Roosevelt’s motive. It must be that he had a motive; by which they meant a selfish one. They hit on it — it was spectacular drama to impress the crowd, or demagogic ostensible democracy to get votes. It was not possible to suppose that he actually liked these boxers and wolf-killers and reporters and wanted to be with them.

 

Recollections of Roosevelt (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 12, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 12th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in History,Politics

McAdoo Talks of the Railways

Most of America’s railroads were placed under federal government control in December 1917 because of World War I, in a move called “possibly the largest American experiment with nationalization.” The new U.S. Railroad Administration was headed by Treasury Secretary William McAdoo.

Under existing law, control of the railways were set to return back to private hands within 21 months of the end of the war. Yet shortly after war ended, McAdoo, who was set to retire from the Cabinet to co-found a law firm, stunned many by advocating Congress extend the government’s control of the railways for an additional five years — even though it was peacetime.

Why? Because massive investments were needed that he thought were unlikely to occur under private control.

The… difficulty in the present situation, as Mr. McAdoo views it, is financial, and affects annual permanent improvements that are, in his opinion, imperative for the maintenance of a national transportation system commensurate with the country’s growing needs. Up to the signing of the armistice about $600,000,000 had been spent in improvements during the year 1918. The authority for these expenditures was the “necessity of war” as recognized in the law. When hostilities ended this necessity could no longer be urged. Without this co-operation of the corporations owning the railroads it would be difficult under the existing law, Mr. McAdoo said, to develop and adopt a comprehensive plan for the improvement of the railroad system as a whole; and even with the consent of the corporations twenty-one months would be too short a time in which to make and apply such a plan.

McAdoo did not get his wish. The U.S. Railroad Administration ended in March 1920, with all railroads once again returning to private ownership.

McAdoo Talks of the Railways: Retiring Director General Foresees Private Ownership as Result of Five-Year Extension of Federal Control of the Nation’s Transportation System (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 5, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 5th, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics