Archive for August, 2016

Nation to Honor Lafayette Next Wednesday

From September 3, 1916

Nation to Honor Lafayette

Nation to Honor Lafayette Next Wednesday: 159th Anniversary of Birthday of French Hero of American Revolution Recalls His Triumphal Visit to United States Ninety-two Years Ago (PDF)

How would people in 1916 have reacted if told that, a century later, Daveed Diggs — a black man — would win the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his rapping role as Marquis de Lafayette?

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 31st, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Recreation

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.

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 31st, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Politics

City’s Summer Music Problem Solved at Last

From September 3, 1916

City's Summer Music

City’s Summer Music Problem Solved at Last: Success of Popular-Priced Concerts Which Filled Madison Square Garden Leads to Outdoor Opera at City College Stadium (PDF)

An article about the then-recent attempts in 1916 to have low-priced opera and orchestral concerts for the New York City public. This sentence in particular illustrates just how long ago this was: “When you get something like 8,000 persons at a concert in New York it means something!” Later today as of this writing, Bruce Springsteen is playing MetLife Stadium which has a seating capacity of 82,000.

The 1916 article also quotes Oscar Hammerstein, a major figure in orchestral composing at the time. You may better know his son Oscar Hammerstein II, who several decades later as a member of the famed duo Rodgers and Hammerstein composed such legendary Broadway musicals as The Sound of MusicThe King and I, and Oklahoma!

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 30th, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Music

Is Spelling Reform, Ten Years Old, a Success?

From August 27, 1916

Is Spelling Reform

Is Spelling Reform, Ten Years Old, a Success?: Professor Brander Matthews Finds That the Public Has Had a Change of Heart and Is No Longer Contemptuously Hostile (PDF)

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt tried to shorten the spellings of about 300 words. Although the presidential directive was overturned by Congress, there was still a surge of support for this measure pushed by the Simplified Spelling Board. This article checked in a decade later to see whether most of the shortened spellings took off. But what about a century later?

In 2016, we indeed use honor instead of honourcheck instead of cheque or checquehiccup instead of hiccoughmaneuver instead of manoeuvre, and plow instead of plough. But we haven’t substituted stedfast for steadfast, or wo for woe.

I particularly enjoyed this masterfully crafted sentence from the 1916 article, about proposed spelling changes:

But thru and thruout aroused the most excited protests. They were denounced as diabolical specimens of orthographic mayhem.

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 27th, 2016 at 11:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 26th, 2016 at 11:28 am

Posted in Politics

China’s Industrial Revolution Now In Progress

From August 27, 1916

China's Industrial Revolution 2

China’s Industrial Revolution Now In Progress: Chow Tsz-Chi, Former Minister of Commerce and Agriculture, Points Out the Opportunities In His Country for Americans (PDF)

If you thought China was advancing a century ago, China’s economy overtook the U.S. to become the world’s largest in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund. To some extent that’s an unfair comparison because China has about quadruple the U.S. population, but still — the U.S. had the world’s largest economy for many decades and was once thought by many to be unbeatable.

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 25th, 2016 at 11:23 am

Posted in Business,Development

Why American Business Is Constantly Pounded

From August 20, 1916

Why American Business

Why American Business Is Constantly Pounded: James A. Emery, Counsel for Council of Industrial Defense, Discusses Influences at Work in Congress and State Legislatures (PDF)

James Emery bemoaned the state of business in 1916:

“There never was a time when it has been so easy to excite popular feeling against business; there never was a time when so many organized influences have been working to substitute laws of equalization for equal laws, to turn our States into social laboratories conducting experiments at the expense of the well-to-do and successful.”

The government and the public were against business back in 1916? The top corporate tax rate than was 2 percent. Today it’s 35 percent.

The percentage of American public expressing “a great deal or quite a lot” of confidence in big business declined from 34 percent in 1975 to only 18 percent in 2016. (I couldn’t find data going back to 1916, when polling was much less common, but it seems to reasonable to assume that confidence was even higher back then, considering that the general trend in the past century has been declining confidence in virtually every American institution.)


Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 19th, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Business

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.


Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 18th, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Politics

Will This New Author Prove a Second Conrad?

From August 20, 1916

Will This New Author

Will This New Author Prove a Second Conrad?: James Huneker, the Noted Critic, Prophesies About William McFee, Whose Story of the Sea Has Captured Literary London (PDF)

William McFee was the hot new author sensation in 1916, with his nautical-themed novels including Casuals of the Sea and Letters from an Ocean Tramp. He would go on to write dozens more novels for decades to come, through the early 1950s.

But to answer the headline’s title question of whether McFee would come to be considered another Joseph Conrad, by 2016 none of McFee’s works would still be as widely read or renowned by critics as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness or Lord Jim.

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 17th, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Literature

Humidity This Summer Has Broken Record

From August 13, 1916

Humidity This Summer

Humidity This Summer Has Broken Record: It’s a Notable Contrast to Just a Century Ago, Which Was “The Year Without a Summer,” When Snow Fell in June (PDF)

Ah, the days before global warming and the climate crisis.

James H. Scarr, then the head of the New York Weather bureau, stated in 1916: “The highest average mean temperature for July occurred in 1901, and was 78 degrees. The coolest July within this period of forty-five years was in 1884, when the average was 70 degrees.” If only that was still true. AccuWeather data shows that the average mean temperature in July in New York City is about 82 degrees — higher than ever the highest average ever recorded in the city a century ago.

Leave a comment

Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 11th, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Nature