Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science


Should we have universal health insurance? The American public in 2016 is divided but leans towards yes, with a Gallup poll in May finding that 56 percent support a federally funded healthcare system for all. Vermont was about to become the first state to implement that policy on a statewide level, but their governor (a Democrat, no less) scrapped Vermont’s plan over its exorbitant costs.

The same issue was being debated back in 1916. In this piece, the anonymous author advocates for universal health insurance:

“Health insurance would give new impetus to the most important work of medical science — the prevention of disease. We all know that it is cheaper to be well than to be sick, and we would gladly pay to prevent disease from attacking us and those dear to us. But when the illness of a man we never heard of costs us an extra penny, we are a little more keen than pure humanity or disinterested science can make us to have that man made well and kept well.”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would agree. President-Elect Donald Trump’s newly-announced Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, would not.

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science: It Would, the Writer Says, Give New Impetus to That Most Important Work in Medicine, the Prevention of Disease (PDF)

From December 3, 1916

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Written by Jesse

December 1st, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,Science

Wilson’s Triumph Greater Than Fully Realized


The map showing which states voted for which candidate in 1916 is almost indecipherable, given the black-and-white newspapers of the time. Today we are so used to red states representing Republicans and blue states representing Democrats, even though that color scheme only truly began in 2000.

Another huge difference is this sentence, mentioning that the list of states in the sidebar was ranked by election result, “with rock-ribbed Republican Vermont at the top and ends with the most intensely Democratic South Carolina at the bottom.”

But one similarity is in the subheadline, which notes that “Progressives Decided the Election.” Indeed they likely did in 2016 as well, albeit through their combination of votes for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or complete abstention from voting this time, the one-two combination of which probably prevented Hillary Clinton from securing an Electoral College victory in addition to her popular vote win.

Wilson’s Triumph Greater Than Fully Realized: Extent of Total Shift Toward Wilson Was the Largest, with One Exception, Since 1876 — Progressives Decided the Election (PDF)

From November 26, 1916

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Written by Jesse

November 30th, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Politics

Farm Vote Shows Breaking of Old Party Lines


The 1916 election delivered reelection for incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, and this analysis article says that result was in no small part because of “the farm vote.” Of course, farms and agriculture employed a much larger share of the U.S. population at the time, comprising about 31 percent of the labor force compared to just 2 percent today.

So what is the modern-day equivalent of the 1916 “farm vote”? In terms of their demographics — mostly Caucasian, mostly non college education, mostly poor to middle income — the modern-day equivalent of the 1916 “farm vote” is probably the “white working class” which helped propel Donald Trump to victory earlier this month. In the Agri-Pulse Farm and Ranch Poll conducted mere days before the 2016 election, modern-day farmers and ranchers supported Trump 55 percent, compared to only 18 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Farm Vote Shows Breaking of Old Party Lines: West, Having Tasted Power, Will Hold It, Says Political Observer – Next President from West of Missouri River (PDF)

From November 26, 1916.

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Written by Jesse

November 29th, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Politics

The Hyphen Vote Was Practically a Myth

From November 19, 1916


The fear (for some) in 1916 was the rise of German-Americans as a voting block, and other immigrant groups who were known as the “hyphens” after the hyphens between their original nationality and the word “Americans.” The 2016 election was no different, as it was expected that everyone from Mexican-Americans to Asian-Americans might reach record high levels of turnout. The Hispanic population did make up about 11 percent of the electorate, up from 10 percent in 2012 and 9 percent in 2008, but even that 11 percent was less than many analysts expected given their surging population.

The Hyphen Vote Was Practically a Myth: With the Possible Exception of Oregon, the German-American Vote Was Not an Election Factor Anywhere in the United States (PDF)

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Written by Jesse

November 17th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Politics

How Close Votes Influenced World Events

From November 19, 1916


In the words of Homer Simpson after he didn’t cast a ballot in an election where the side he wanted lost by one vote: “Sure, like it would have mattered.”

This article details several times that elections or ballot measures came down to one vote, and the consequential results that followed. It’s hard to know how many of these are fully true, but some of them are rather startling. Take this one, which was certainly never taught in any history class I ever attended:

“Henry Clay cast the deciding vote in the Constitutional Convention which admitted Kentucky to the Union as a slave State. If Kentucky had entered the Union as a free State is is hardly doubtful that Missouri would have done the same, and it is conceivable that there might have been no Missouri Compromise, and perhaps even no civil war.”

How Close Votes Influenced World Events: The Sequels to Many Issues Which Were Decided by Single Votes – Are Our Methods of Consulting Public Opinion Faulty? (PDF)


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Written by Jesse

November 16th, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Politics

Viscount Kaneko Sounds Note of Warning

From November 12, 1916


Viscount Kaneko Sounds Note of Warning: He Fears That the Good Feeling Between Japan and America Is Losing Strength Because of the Vital Race Question (PDF)

In 1916, there was a worry that positive relations between the U.S. and Japan could be fraying. 35 years later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

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Written by Jesse

November 11th, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Politics,War

How Europe Views Wilson and the Election

From November 5, 1916


How Europe Views Wilson and the Election: Pleasant A. Stovall, Our Minister in Switzerland, Replies to Mr. Hughes and Describes Why People Abroad Favor Wilson (PDF)

Most people in Europe in 1916 were supporting the Democratic nominee for president. The more things change, the more they stayed the same. This summer, Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Europeans expressed confidence in Barack Obama, 59 percent for Hillary Clinton, but only 9 percent did for Donald Trump:

Europeans express confidence in Obama and Clinton, but not Trump

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Written by Jesse

November 4th, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Politics

New Russia Is Individualistic and Imaginative

From October 1, 1916

New Russia Is Individualistic and Imaginative: Colonel Golejewski, Military Attache to the Russian Embassy, Tells of the Great Similarities Between His Countrymen and Ours (PDF)


In 1916, Russia was being praised as “individualistic.” Only two years later in 1918 the Bolshevik Communists became the ruling party, and instituted a “ban on factions” in 1921.

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Written by Jesse

October 1st, 2016 at 10:51 pm

Posted in Politics

Why Are You a Democrat or a Republican?

From September 24, 1916

Why Are You a Democrat or a Republican?: We Are Fortunate in Having a Permanent Election issue on Which We May Take Sides Without Impairing Our Loyalty (PDF)


Columbia Professor Brander Matthews was able to write the following in 1916, of American political parties:

Now, it is impossible to declare abstractly that either party is absolutely right… Each can respect the other and respect the other’s point of view. Both can agree to disagree without being moved to hatred or to contempt. And here is where we Americans have our inexpugnable advantage over the voters of most other countries. Here also is where the American citizen who has had the benefit of an education which has liberated his mind, which has freed him from the unnecessary prejudices, and which has trained him to try to understand (and even to esteem) the opinions he does not share.

About that…

This year, 58 percent of Republicans have “very unfavorable” views of the Democratic Party, up from 21 percent in 1994 — while 55 percent of Democrats have “very unfavorable” views of the Republican Party, up from 17 percent in 1994. That’s according to survey data from the Pew Research Center.

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Written by Jesse

September 25th, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Politics

Minister Who Would Be Governor of Florida

From September 17, 1916


Minister Who Would Be Governor of Florida: Having Won the Democratic Nomination, the Rev. Sidney J. Catts Is the Centre of Stormiest Political Fight in State’s History (PDF)

Sidney Catts won the 1916 Democratic primary to become the nominee for Florida governor, but the party leaders were upset that the “outsider” pastor and insurance salesman with no political experience was to become their standard-bearer. The party went to the state Supreme Court and got them to demand a recount, which didn’t include Catts. Catts, having essentially had the primary election stolen from him upon this subsequent recount, then became the Prohibition Party’s nominee and won the general election in November, beating the official Democratic nominee William Knott handily.  Although many prohibitionists won statewide office running as Democrats or Republicans, to this day Catts remains the only candidate ever elected to a statewide office under the Prohibitionist Party banner.

And Florida never had a shady recount election with a politically-influenced court ruling ever again.

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Written by Jesse

September 17th, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Politics,Religion

Edison Tells Why He Will Vote for Wilson

From September 10, 1916


Edison Tells Why He Will Vote for Wilson: We Are at Peace, and the Country Was Never So Prosperous, Why Change? (PDF)

Thomas Edison was one of the most sought-after political endorsements of the day, as the inventor of the light bulb and the phonograph was one of the most popular people in America. Here he throws his hat behind incumbent President Woodrow Wilson’s reelection bid, which he would ultimately win in November. Edison argued, as the sub-headline states, that the country was at peace and its economy was at unprecedented highs.

And in what could be seen as a parallel to Donald Trump’s “big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for” in 2016, Edison also appreciated Wilson’s measured policies towards that country:

“President Wilson’s Mexican policy has been wise and just and courageous. Mexico has been a troublesome neighbor, but war and conquest are not going to make her a better one. Both against England, and then against human slavery, the United States has worked out her salvation through revolution, and it was a pretty slow, trying process.”

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Written by Jesse

September 10th, 2016 at 10:01 am

Posted in Politics

New Rules of Conduct Needed for Nations

From September 10, 1916


New Rules of Conduct Needed for Nations: Robert Bacon, Former Ambassador to France, Discusses the Breakdown of International Law and Suggests a Remedy (PDF)

Amidst the horrors of World War I, Bacon suggested that a stronger system of international law was necessary. He listed six “principles of justice, universal and fundamental,” including life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, equality before the law, and the right to property. He proposed more concrete measures to ensure that they were enshrined in international law:

They are declared by the Supreme Court to be the universal and fundamental rights, and from this source all other rights can be derived which nations should enjoy… The Supreme Court has rightly declared that the rights of municipal law are also rights of international law, and, in so doing, has solemnly stated that the principles of justice apply alike to individuals as to nations. We, in this country, must admit this to be so; we cannot overrule the Supreme Court of the United States. Its decision is law for us, and, armed with its authority, it is for us to insist that these principles be recognized by the nations of the world, just as they are recognized and must be recognized by us.”

Are those rights great? Yes. But the argument that the U.S. should impose those values on the rest of the world has often met with mixed results — notably in Iraq since 2003.

In terms of strengthening international law, sure enough, the subsequent decades after Bacon’s article would see the adoptions of the United Nations in 1945, the World Bank in 1945, the International Monetary Fund in 1945, and the Geneva Conventions in 1949 — but not without tens of millions in unnecessary bloodshed. Debates still linger to this day (and presumably always will) about how much power international bodies should have to dictate law versus sovereign states setting policies within their own borders.


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Written by Jesse

September 8th, 2016 at 10:01 am

Posted in Politics

Crisis in Suffrage Movement, Says Mrs. Catt

From September 3, 1916

Crisis in Suffrage Movement

Crisis in Suffrage Movement, Says Mrs. Catt: Votes-for-Women Leader Tells Why Emergency Convention of National Woman Suffrage Association Will Meet Next Week (PDF)

1916 was a critical tipping point in the women’s suffrage movement. Although the 19th Amendment granted all women in the U.S. the right to vote, a growing number of states had already granted that right prior to the amendment’s passage. According to a count from the Constitution Center, the amendment gave the right to vote to the 21 states that had not already done so.

As the article from 1916 describes:

In our own country the sentiment for nation-wide suffrage grows stronger daily. With this growth in sentiment has come an increased demand for the passage of the Federal suffrage amendment, and because women throughout the country are turning to that Federal amendment for relief from their political disabilities it enters into the political campaign this year with an importance it never had before.

The women of six States will vote for President this year for the first time, and those of six others have the Presidential vote. One group of suffragists has made bold claims that it will persuade enough women within these States to vote against the President, because his party in Congress has blocked the Federal amendment, to defeat him. The audacity and novelty of these claims have piqued the curiosity of some and aroused the angry indignation of others. The main body of suffragists have yet to speak.

The amendment was ultimately passed by Congress in June 1919 and approved by the requisite number of states in August 1920.

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Written by Jesse

August 31st, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Politics

Hughes Is Proving an Effective Campaigner

From August 27, 1916

Hughes Is Proving

Hughes Is Proving an Effective Campaigner: His Vote-Getting Methods Compared With Those of Wilson and Roosevelt by One Who Has Seen All Three In Action (PDF)

Compare the description of the Republican presidential candidate in 1916 to the Republican presidential candidate in 2016:

The campaign as conducted by Hughes himself lacks little in vigorous utterance, biting sarcasm, and systemized attack upton Democratic policies and Democratic leaders.

Those were the days.

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Written by Jesse

August 26th, 2016 at 11:28 am

Posted in Politics

Big Decline in Total Vote in New York State

From August 20, 1916

Big Decline

Big Decline in Total Vote in New York State: Although Population Increased Thirty Per Cent from 1900 to 1915 the Neglect of Citizenship Duty Has Become Noticeable (PDF)

The voter turnout rate dropped in New York state, as a percentage of the population, between 1900 and 1915. Two main reasons were listed by the New York Times:

Two principal reasons are given by politicians for the steadily decreasing vote, in proportion to population, during the last decade. The first is the law of 1906 requiring publicity of campaign receipts and expenditures. Under that law contributions for political campaigns are made with the name of the contributors accompanying them. The result has been to reduce the amount of money available for campaign purposes, and the political workers, especially those in the rural districts, complain that they have not sufficient funds with which to get out the vote on election day.

The second reason is the signature law of 1908. Voters in the cities are required to sign their names in a poll book or admit their inability to do so.

The most recent presidential election at the time, 1912, saw 17.32 percent of the New York state population turn out to vote, according to statistics provided in the article. That has gone up significantly since then. With 7,081,536 state votes for president and about 19,607,000 residents in 2012, New York state saw a voter turnout rate of about 36.11 percent of the population.


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Written by Jesse

August 18th, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Politics

Germany Not Seeking Conquest, Says German

From August 6, 2016

Germany Not Seeking

Germany Not Seeking Conquest, Says German: Professor Moritz Julius Bonn Denies That She Would Impose Her Culture on Other Nations by Doctrine of “Might Makes Right” (PDF)

Yeah, about that…

Perhaps Germany was not seeking conquest in 1916, but if only that claim was as true in the 1940s, the world would be an immeasurably better place. At the time this article was written, Adolf Hitler was a lowly soldier fighting for Germany during World War I. His subsequent attempts at establishing the Third Reich make passages such as this seem downright oblivious and dangerous in their lack of foresight:

A nation flanked as Germany is, by the oncoming Slavic races in the East and the established nations of Europe in the West, is not at liberty to indulge in foreign adventures. She must aim at concentrating her people within her borders by foreign commerce and industry, not by trying domination over other European races across the sea.

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Written by Jesse

August 4th, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Politics,War

The Allies of the Future

From July 30, 1916

The Allies of the Future

Harvard professor Hugo Muensterberg wrote this essay about how the world order might look post-World War I. Some of his predictions or warnings seem relevant today, such as his hope that economic concerns would trump war-mongering. That is the overarching theory behind the Obama Administration’s significant easing of economic sanctions as part of the Iranian nuclear deal, and also the famous theory that two countries both with McDonald’s (almost) never go to war. Muensterberg in 1916 wrote:

Peace must be secured from within; not fortresses and guns but good-will must prevent strife in the future. Have not the nations learned through these two years that their material exchange binds them more firmly together than they ever fancied? Was not the sheet of paper on which these words are printed bought at an unheard-of price because they are fighting on the other half of the globe? In the world of the market every declaration of independence is in vain. As long as the guns are roaring, economic generals may work out their campaign plans for the destruction of the enemy’s commerce in future years; war is war. But peace is peace, and, above all, business is business.

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Written by Jesse

July 30th, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Mount McKinley Three Weeks from New York

From July 23, 1916

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley Three Weeks from New York: New Railroad Will Pass Great Mountain, a Part of Extensive National Park, Which Congress Has Been Asked to Create (PDF)

The mountain had been colloquially referred to as Mount McKinley since 1896 and had clearly achieved widespread usage by this article’s publication in 1916, becoming the official name one year later in 1917. But indigenous Alaskans had long called it Mount Denali and never stopped doing so. Last September, President Obama announced that the name would once again officially become Mount Denali, in accordance with the wishes of most native Alaskans.

As was to be expected in this day and age, Obama’s set of a firestorm of controversy, with Republicans claiming this was political correctness gone amok and an intentional attempt to undermine a mountain named after a Republican president. Donald Trump has vowed to change the name back to McKinley if elected president.

Another notable tidbit from that article: the reference to “James Wickersham, the Delegate from Alaska in Congress.” Alaska didn’t become a state until 1959, so back in 1916 they had a Delegate much as the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico does today.

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Written by Jesse

July 24th, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Nature,Politics

Sir Edward Grey

From July 9, 1916

Sir Edward Grey

Sir Edward Grey — George Bernard Shaw profile about the foreign secretary of Britain [PDF]

The meeting of two great minds. George Bernard Shaw was one of the most acclaimed writers of his day as a journalist and playwright, and nine years after this article in 1925 he would win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sir Edward Grey was the 11-year Foreign Secretary for Great Britain (their equivalent of the U.S. Secretary of State), and later the Ambassador to the United States and Chancellor at University of Oxford.

Shaw didn’t like Grey, to put it mildly. He writes:

As long ago as 1906, in referring to a very horrible episode in the history of our occupation of Egypt, I expressed my opinion that Sir Edward Grey was unfitted by his character and the limitations of his capacity for the highly specialized work of a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Nothing that has happened since has shaken that opinion.

That December, about five months after the article’s publication, a new Prime Minister took over and Grey’s 11-year reign in the position ended. Presumably Shaw was happy.

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Written by Jesse

July 7th, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Why Not Educational Experiment Stations?

From July 9, 1916

Why Not Educational

Why Not Educational Experiment Stations?: Nobody Yet Knows the Best Way to Teach Public School Children, Says Dr. P.P. Claxton, Federal Commissioner of Education (PDF)

Today the issue of federal versus state control looms large over the issue of education. For example, some states mandate teaching intelligent design or creationism in which God created the world in seven days during public school science classes, while others forbid the practice. (Here’s a state-by-state map.) Meanwhile, the Common Core curriculum adopted by most states in the country is being attacked by Republicans as “Obamacore,” a parody on “Obamacare” meant to voice their displeasure with what many conservatives perceive as unwarranted government intrusion into education.

In 1916 the country was having the same debate. The U.S. Department of Education wouldn’t be created until 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, but there was a position titled Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Education in the Department of the Interior, at the time filled by P.P. Claxton. The bureau’s powers were incredibly small compared to the Education Department’s powers today, as the 1916 article explained:

His Bureau of Education has no authority whatever over the schools of the country, save those in the Territory of Alaska and a few Federal land-grant colleges. It cannot bring about uniformity, for example, by formulating a national program and then telling the States to adopt it. It has no authority over teachers or textbooks. It can do nothing to give to the country a certain sense of unanimity of thought by providing that at a given age all the children in all the States shall be studying the same things in about the same way,.. Those are only samples of the ways in which the United States cannot help.

Yet Claxton opposed an increased role in federal involvement. Keep in mind while reading the following quote from Claxton that he would have likely been the frontrunner to take on a role like current Education Secretary John King if such a position were made available:

“You mean if this country were France and we had a central, administrative control of its public education. No, I do not think it would be better than what we have. It would not be flexible enough. The State or the county administration is much closer to the actual work than the Federal Government could ever hope to be. It is true, of course, that in this or that section the schools might be better under Government supervision than they are under local control and management. But the accumulated experiences of all the local and State school bodies of the country will give us a better understanding of what we need than could be obtained from any scheme of national administration. The local democracy will make our schools stronger than central control ever could.”

Some politicians today agree. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he would consider eliminating the Department of Education entirely. As did fellow Republican presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee. Ronald Reagan tried to in the 1980s but failed.

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Written by Jesse

July 6th, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Education,Politics