Archive for the ‘War’ Category

‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as Nation’s Anthem

The Francis Scott Key song, though written in 1814, was not fully recognized as the American national anthem until patriotic fervor struck upon involvement in World War I in 1917. The Star-Spangled Banner would not be officially declared as the American national anthem until 1931, and would not even be played at a sports game for the first time until 1918.

As this article notes: “No theater audiences stood while it was being played in 1898, and, in fact, the general disposition at that period, at least in the Northeastern part of the United States, was to elevate ‘My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,’ to the place of honor.”

I can personally attest that being the singer for the national anthem before a sports game, as this column I wrote for my college newspaper years ago recounts:

‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as Nation’s Anthem: Only Since the Present War Against Germany Began Has It Been Generally Recognized — The Real Story of Its Origin (PDF)

From Sunday, July 15, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 19th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Posted in History,Music,War

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages

What was causing German atrocities during World War I? Harvard geology professor Reginald Aldworth Daly suggested a largely-unheralded factor may have been alcohol:

“The Germanic peoples are the only great group who feed alcohol to the babies or very young children of middle and upper classes. Just at the time of life when the nervous system should be specially protected against all poisons, vast numbers of German children are kept mildly charged with alcohol. If the baby has not already been prenatally damaged because of the beer drunk by his mother, he still runs the risk of poisoning from the alcohol-bearing milk of a drinking mother or wetnurse. The child grows to manhood, drinking alcohol and continually handicapped in his development of cerebral, and therefore moral, control.”

Daly concludes with a quote from von Moltke: “Beer is a far more dangerous enemy to Germany than all the armies of France.”

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, Germany today still ranks among the biggest alcohol-consuming nations in the world, with an average 11.4 liters of alcohol consumed per capita, for citizens age 15 or older. The global average is 6.4. The U.S. number is 9.3. Highest in the world is Lithuania at 18.2.

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages: Cumulative Effect of “Mildly Alcoholic State” on the Minds of Men Who Have Imbibed National Drink Since Babyhood (PDF)

From Sunday, July 1, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 2nd, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Health,Life,War

Orville Wright Says 10,000 Airplanes Would End the War Within Ten Weeks

Less than 14 years after Orville Wright became the first human being to ever take flight in an airplane, he had lived to see his invention was being used in World War I, the first major war to utilize the technology en masse. (His brother and co-inventor Wilbur Wright had passed away in 1912.)

In this article, Wright predicted that “10,000 airplanes [used by the U.S.] would end the war within ten weeks.” Alas, that prediction proved overly optimistic. The war continued for several more years despite U.S. manufacturers producing 12,000 airplanes per year.

Orville Wright Says 10,000 Airplanes Would End the War Within Ten Weeks: Building a Vast Aerial Fleet Is “the One Thing That the United States Can Do and Do Quickly” – Our Plants Equal to the Task (PDF)

From Sunday, July 1, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 2nd, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Technology,War

Making Middle-Aged Men Fit to Help in War

The unprecedented manpower required for World War I fighting forces provoked worries that those men older than 45 might be required to fight, in a way that was previously unthinkable. Yale’s Mentor of Athletics Walter Camp suggested that “Each man should so order his own life as to put himself into proper physical condition.”

“At the bottom of his heart every man who feels the urge of his manhood wants to have an actual part in the actual game. He may be doing his full share in a dozen different ways, his services may be infinitely more valuable along civilian lines than they could be on the tented field, and yet the supreme call may come and he wants to be ready to answer. In the final clash, in the ultimate onslaught of the enemies of civilization, it is the reserves that will count, yes, even to the very last man. And you or I may be that man.”

In other words, get those jumping jacks in.

Making Middle-Aged Men Fit to Help in War: Walter Camp Urges Plan of Moderate Physical Training, on the Plea That Americans Over 45 Years Old May Yet Be Needed (PDF)

From Sunday, June 24, 1917

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Written by Jesse

June 21st, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Health,War

What the New Army Expects of Its Chaplains

As American involvement in World War I escalated dramatically, more and more chaplains were needed to provide religious guidance and support for soldiers.

“There are now sixty-six chaplains appointed to the regular army, representing every Christian denomination. The scheme of the General Staff for the new army provides one Chaplain with every new regiment ordered. This will mean that in six months, at the latest, about 300 clergymen will be called from their parishes to work with American troops at home and abroad.”

You may not think of chaplains when they think of Americans deployed overseas in wartime, but 23 chaplains died during World War I while on active duty.

As for the reference to chaplains “representing every Christian denomination,” the first Buddhist chaplain was added in 2004 and the first Hindu chaplain in 2011. An effort to install the first atheist chaplain in 2015 was rejected by military lawyers, in a controversial decision.

What the New Army Expects of Its Chaplains: One of Them Outlines His Views Based Upon Years of Experience with Regulars — Preaching Only a Part of the Duties (PDF)

From Sunday, June 17, 1917

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Written by Jesse

June 17th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Religion,War

Part Played by Doctors in Time of World War

Two years after this was published, Charles Mayo would found the Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota-based nonprofit medical research center that is ranked was the best hospital in the nation last year by U.S. News and World Report. In 1917, though, he was the president of the American Medical Association. He had some thoughts on the role that doctors and the medical profession could play in World War I.

The benefit to our country after the present war in having some thousands of medical officers trained in sanitation, hygiene, and the prevention of disease will be incalculable. Through lax examinations of recruits and the natural effects of prolonged living and overcrowding in trenches and underground structures, tuberculosis will become a menace to our soldiers, as it is today in France.

The present war is one of remarkable proportions, and the medical service has assumed an importance such as it never had before. The old army hospital gangrene is a thing of the past. A knowledge of the care of infections, prevention of tetanus, vaccination for smallpox and typhoid, the cause and prevention of typhus, the old camp fever, also cholera, the plague, and fevers of all sorts, including the new trench form, is a training requirement of the army medical officers, and results in the restoration to duty of a high percentage of the injured.

Fortunately, smallpox has been eradicated from the earth. Other suggestions that Mayo mentioned in the article, such as changing the age at which an M.D. is received from 29 to 25 because “death overtakes the average physician at the age of fifty-eight” have not quite come to pass.

Part Played by Doctors in Time of World War: Dr. Charles H. Mayo’s Address on Country’s Educational Requirements, Prohibition, and Need of Physician in the Cabinet (PDF)

From Sunday, June 10, 1917

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Written by Jesse

June 7th, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Health,War

Ranks of Outdoor Sport Are Thinned by War

World War I was preventing athletic competitions from occurring as they normally would:

“For the first time in forty-one years the intercollegiate games, in which all the larger college teams of the East and many from the West have been participants, have been abandoned because of the fact that more than a thousand of the students who would under normal conditions have been training for the sports have either left college for the preliminary training camps or have given up athletics for the military drill which monopolizes the athletic fields. For the first time since the close of the war between the States there will be no big college regattas, nor any national rowing regatta. National golf and tennis championships have been declared off, either for good and sufficient sentimental reasons or because of ‘unnecessary hysteria’ over the sporting situation, as some of the followers of these sports declare.”

Read the mesmerizing Sports Illustrated cover story “The Week That Sports Stood Still” from their first issue after 9/11 for a more contemporary example of the same phenomenon.

Ranks of Outdoor Sport Are Thinned by War: Athletic Leaders in Camp, and Colleges Cancel Dates, But Government Is Trying to Prevent Stoppage of Healthful Recreations (PDF)

From Sunday, June 3, 1917

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Written by Jesse

June 2nd, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Sports,War

Marconi on the War Needs and Ideals of Italy


Guglielmo Marconi — in the above article given the Americanized first name William — invented the radio in 1895. Although it took a bit more time for the technology to become widespread and used en masse by the public, it had already earned him the Nobel Prize by 1909 and household name recognition by this article’s publication in 1917. In a fascinating story, Marconi was originally supposed to be on board the Titanic in 1912.

In this article, Marconi — by this point an Italian Senator — offers his thoughts on Italy and the war. Among other things, he explains why Italy’s original August 1914 declaration of neutrality could no longer stand, why Italy’s terrain and geography made it “the most difficult front in Europe,” and why Italians were forced to adopt two meatless days a week.

Marconi on the War Needs and Ideals of Italy: Wireless Telegraph Inventor Tells How America Can Help His Country — He Thinks Submarine Problem Still Unsolved (PDF)

From Sunday, June 3, 1917

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Written by Jesse

June 1st, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Technology,War

American Song Makers Seek War Tune of the ‘Tipperary’ Kind

No particularly notable or well-recognized patriotic songs had been composed in the months America’s involvement in World War I, lamented this June 1917 article. That problem was clearly rectified by 1918, when Irving Berlin composed God Bless America, even if the song did not truly take off until World War II a few decade later. Today, it is known by almost every schoolchild, was sung by members of Congress on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of 9/11, and a snippet was even performed by Lady Gaga at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

American Song Makers Seek War Tune of the ‘Tipperary’ Kind (PDF)

From Sunday, June 3, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 31st, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Music,War

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps

A new Federal Commission on Training Camp Activities was created shortly after the outset of American involvement in World War I, in hopes of preventing sin and vice among soldiers such as excessive drinking and prostitution. Among the attempted solutions: all soldiers were required to participate in sports and physical exercises, and soldiers were paired with homes and families that they could visit when on leave in the city. No word on whether prostitution was completely banished, but given that it still goes on in the military today (though perhaps at a lesser rate?), it clearly wasn’t 100 percent successful.

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps: Federal Commission Just Appointed to Solve Vital Problem of Healthful Recreation for Young Men of Our New Armies (PDF)

From Sunday, May 20, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 18th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Life,War

Captain Rupert Hughes Calls Authors to War

A then-popular novelist and National Guard member advised all writers and authors who were eligible to serve in World War I to do so. Indeed, some of what are considered the greatest novels ever written came out of experience in World War I: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Then again, we’ll never know how many potentially transformative works of literature from that era never saw the light of the day because their would-be authors were killed in action.

Captain Rupert Hughes Calls Authors to War: In a Talk About the Work Done by Men Who Write Country’s Popular Books He Praises the New York National Guard (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 12th, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Literature,War

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent

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

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

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

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 11th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes

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

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

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 5th, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Business,Politics,War

Doctors Ready to Go, at Tremendous Sacrifice

Physicians called up for wartime medical service during World War I took tremendous pay cuts in the name of patriotism.

The highest professional income in the corps is said to be $140,000 earned annually heretofore by a New York surgeon. In the seven hospital units of this city it is estimated that there are more than sixteen men with an annual income from fees exceeding $50,000. The number with incomes above $25,000 is much larger.

In answering the call to service these men are volunteering their incomes along with themselves… The highest pay available for members of the Medical Reserve Corps as army surgeons is $3,000, and this is only for those holding the rank of Major; the sum ranges down to $1,500 for Lieutenants. Dr. George Emerson Brewer, head of the Columbia University Hospital unit of New York, ordered to France last week, has one of the largest professional incomes in the country; with his going to the service of his country that is reduced to a salary of $3,000.

What is the income disparity today? Fortunately for recruitment purposes, it’s much more level now. As of 2013, according to the Houston Chronicle, “On an apples-to-apples median pay basis, salaries for uniformed Army doctors are generally competitive with those of civilian sector physicians. Army doctors and other military personnel can also earn thousands more yearly in non-taxable allowances, such as those given to live in civilian housing off base.”

Doctors Ready to Go, at Tremendous Sacrifice: War Will Stop Incomes Ranging as High as $140,000 — Brewer, Coe, McKernon, Lambert, Morris, Hammond, and Gibney on List (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 4th, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Science,War

Are We Americans a Warlike People?

Brander Matthews, Columbia University’s Chair of Dramatic Literature, tackled the question of whether Americans were inherently militaristic in this essay written shortly after the country’s entry into World War I. Matthews’ conclusion was that although we possessed some aspects of that trait, for the most part we weren’t militaristic. However, some of his reasoning arguably doesn’t hold up as well a century later.

He declares that only two of the five wars since independence up through 1917 were fully “necessary” — the Revolutionary War and Civil War — while declaring of the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, and Spanish-American War that “no one of them was absolutely necessary.” Since then, we’ve entered several additional wars that many historians regards as less than “absolutely necessary,” among them Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea.

Matthews also writes: “Whenever we have gone to war we have been found pitiably unprepared for it — which is satisfactory evidence that we are fundamentally unmilitaristic in spirit.” The subsequent rise of what Dwight Eisenhower coined the “military-industrial complex” likely render that critique inaccurate by 2017 as well, given our large standing military, Selective Service, and sizable contingent of weapons and ships.

Are We Americans a Warlike People?: Educator Says the Fact That We Have Entered All Wars Unprepared Shows That We Are Fundamentally Unmilitaristic (PDF)

From Sunday, April 29, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 27th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Debate,War

Censorship Heavier Than Prussian Muzzle

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

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

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

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

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

From Sunday, April 29, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 26th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Conscription Needed – By Mayor John Purroy Mitchel

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

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

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

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

From Sunday, April 22, 1917

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April 19th, 2017 at 7:38 am

Posted in Politics,War

U.S. May Yet Raise $75,000,000,000 for War

Immediately after the United States entered World War I, the country was making plans to potentially collect as much as $75 billion to cover the American financial cost of the conflict. According to an estimate from the Congressional Research Service, WWI ended up costing the U.S. about $20 billion, or a little more than a quarter of the original drastic estimate.

Adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars (the year the cost estimate was made), that cost would come to about $253 billion. In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, that made WWI by far the war with the highest American financial cost up to that point, at more than quadruple the combined Union and Confederacy costs in the Civil War. But WWI would go on to be dwarfed by WWII, coming in at a staggering 16.2 times higher cost. WWI would later be overtaken in cost as well by Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

U.S. May Yet Raise $75,000,000,000 for War: Milton W. Harrison of the American Bankers’ Association Believes Americans Can Produce This Sum to Fight Germany (PDF)

From Sunday, April 15, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 14th, 2017 at 9:02 am

Posted in War

Democracy of the Joke And Lack of German Humor Discussed by Leacock

On the very week that America entered World War I, Stephen Leacock explained in an article how one of the Allies’ unheralded strengths in the battle of ideas was their sense of humor, while one of Germany’s greatest weaknesses was their lack thereof:

“Do you know what is the most democratic form of literature? It is humorous literature. For of humorous literature the only test is: Do they laugh or do they not laugh? No King ever posed as a humorist. No King ever was a humorist, that is, an intentional humorist.

And one proof of the democracy of humor is its absence in Germany. Is there any one not a German to whom the German joke appeals? The German joke, like the peace of God, passeth all understanding.

Real humor is universal in its appeal; its popularity extends beyond national boundaries. Mark Twain has been translated into every language, and he is as funny in French or modern Greek as he is in English… Charles Dickens is the property of all the world; we think of him as a great humorist instead of as a man who wrote to amuse the English. But German humor does not cross the Rhine. The world knows German philosophy and German science and German scholarships, but it knows nothing of German humor. And the reason for this must be that there is no German humor to know.”

The best example of so-called ‘German humor’ ever might be this early Steve Carell clip with American comedians as “Germans who say nice things” —

 Democracy of the Joke And Lack of German Humor Discussed by Leacock: Famous Canadian Wit Also Gives His Views on the Perversity of the Russian Verb (PDF)

Published Sunday, April 8, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 10th, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Humor,War

War Brings Huge Increase in United States Peanut Crop

Between 1908 and 1916, the total value of U.S. peanuts more than quadrupled. Why? Because the cotton crop had been nearly wiped out boll weevils, leaving far more land for peanuts to be planted. As a result, the price per peanut bushel had doubled or more within only a few years. The more you know.

The final sentence’s prediction that “Down in the cotton country they are saying that we are soon to see the rise of peanut barons” never quite came true, as best I can tell from quick research.

War Brings Huge Increase in United States Peanut Crop (PDF)

From Sunday, March 25, 1917

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Written by Jesse

March 29th, 2017 at 7:01 am

Posted in Business,War