Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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

Japan’s Powerful Place Among the Allies

From July 2, 1916

Japan's Powerful

Japan’s Powerful Place Among the Allies: Takuma Kuroda, Who Represented His Government at the Panama Exposition, Scoffs at Japanese Invasion of America (PDF)

A notable Japanese diplomat and professor named Takuma Kuroda gave an interview which included this ironic quote in light of Japan’s and Germany’s alliance during World War II about 25 years later:

“Japan owed her success in the Russian war to the German military system, not to the entity, but to the ideas of military art which she had learned in Germany. Don’t you know that we were fighting purely by book, solely in accordance with lessons learned chiefly from the Germans? It is frequently said in Japan that in the present war we would have made more profit had we been on the side of the Germans. Of course that could not be thought of.”

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Written by Jesse

June 29th, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Co-operative Union of Europe After War

From July 2, 1916

Co-Operative Union

Co-operative Union of Europe After War: Dr. Alfred H. Fried, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1911, Has Interesting Plan for Securing Lasting Peace (PDF)

In light of the United Kingdom voting Friday to exit the European Union, the so-called “Brexit” which sent world markets into tumult, this piece from 100 years ago this week is particularly striking.

Alfred Fried was an Austrian thinker and writer who advocated more globalism over nationalism, helping create the idea which eventually became the League of Nations in 1919 and serving as one of the primary advocates for Esperanto, the attempt at creating a worldwide universal language (a largely-failed idea that nonetheless still retains millions of advocates to this day). In this article Fried suggests something of a European-wide supra-national government akin to what the EU eventually became several decades later. Some of his arguments remain similar to what the “Remain” camp advocated in the Brexit debate:

“Seven reforms… must come before the mistaken ideas which have caused the present upheaval can be uprooted, [including] the transformation of European diplomacy [and] the elimination of the antiquated conception of sovereignty… Modern diplomats use sovereignty as a bulwark behind which they hide when there is no rational justification for their actions.”

In the midst of World War I when he proposed the concept, Fried’s “Co-Operative Union of Europe” was primarily meant to serve the purpose of preventing war. An intra-Europe war seems impossible to imagine today, even with increased tensions from UK’s departure (and the possible imminent departures of several other nations). Still, many of Fried’s arguments still hold resonance today.

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Written by Jesse

June 28th, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Priests Block Recruiting in Quebec Province

From June 25, 1916

Quebec - cropped

Priests Block Recruiting in Quebec Province: French Canadians, Led by Their Clergy, Defy Dominion Government — Hints of Uprising Because of Bilingual Question (PDF)

The more things change, the more they stay the same. To this day, Quebec has had an active separatist movement vowing to remove itself from Canada and become independent. A 2012 poll found that 42 percent of Quebec citizens want to separate. Their “distinctive language and culture” is one of the major reasons why, and about 80 percent of the Quebec population cite French as their “mother tongue.” As the 1916 article says:

There are extremists who hint at actual physical rebellion and civil war. Not even those who are not extremists will say that such a disaster is impossible; they refer to it as extremely improbable, but add that all Quebec would welcome an opportunity to secede from the Dominion without bloodshed.

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Written by Jesse

June 25th, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Politics,Religion

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,War

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