Prologue to the FDR Years
in From the New Deal to the Raw Deal by Janette Rainwater)
a 50-page pamphlet, is published anonymously by Thomas Paine.
It calls for the "Inhabitants of America" to rise up in revolution
against that "Royal Brute" George III of England and
join those already fighting in Massachusetts for the independence
of the thirteen colonies.
[It sold 500,000
copies in just a few months and has been credited as a primary influence
in the creation of a colony-wide movement for independence. The
population at that time has been estimated at 2.5 million. The full
text, which includes an interesting concept for a constitution and
selection of a president, can be read online: www.ushistory.org/paine/commonsense/singlehtml.htm.]
Revolution in the Americas: A slave revolt on the island of
Saint Domingue begun in 1791 in response to the revolution
in France ends in the decisive battle at Le Cap.
(now Haiti) was the richest of France's slave colonies worldwide.
Slaves there were treated more brutally than elsewhere. They were
used up so fast that one-third of every new shipment of slaves from
West Africa was dead within three years. Kidder,
p. 63. By 1791 most had been born in Africa and many
had been soldiers or officers in African armies. It was due to the
military genius of native-born Generals Toussaint L'Ouverture and
Jean-Jacques Dessalines that this slave revolt succeeded. But at
a cost: Of the 465,000 slaves living in Haiti at the start of the
revolt, 150,000 would die fighting for their freedom.
Did the young
United States welcome this new revolution near its shores? Most
decidedly not! Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, the owner of
150 slaves or more, feared that
"this combustion [might be] introduced among us" and hinted to the
French minister in America that "nothing would be easier than to
furnish your army and fleet with everything, and reduce Toussaint
to starvation." Yet he had endorsed the recognition of the revolutionary
French government in 1792, stating that every nation has the right
"to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to
change those forms at its own will."
France abolished slavery in 1794, Toussaint changed sides to fight
the Spanish and the English who had invaded Haiti. Within two years
he was essentially the governor of Haiti, restoring agriculture,
making trade agreements with England and the United States in 1799
Alexander Hamilton was a strong supporter of both Haiti and his
fellow Caribbean and restoring order.
In 1801 Toussaint
overran the Spanish colony in Santo Domingo
the other two-thirds of Hispaniola and abolished slavery there.
This was against the orders of the new First Consul of France, Napoleon
Bonaparte, who had ideas of reinstituting slavery and building an
empire in the Americas. The troops he sent to France were soon defeated
by Toussaint's forces. The peace treaty signed in May, 1802 included
a "no return to slavery" provision. Toussaint, like Cincinnatus,
retired to his farm, but less than three weeks later Napoleon had
him and his family kidnapped and shipped to France. Toussaint was
thrown into prison and was dead in less than a year of malnutrition,
beatings and pneumonia.
enraged Toussaint's troops and generals who proceeded to destroy
a second army sent by Napoleon. The man who had conquered most of
Europe was bested by the inhabitants of an area the size of Belgium
or Maryland. On January 1, 1804, as the last French soldiers set
sail for France, Dessalines proclaimed the country to be independent;
it would be called Haiti, the name given to the whole island of
Hispaniola by the long-ago exterminated Taino people. President
Jefferson not only refused recognition but proposed an embargo of
the infant nation which was joined by European nations and the Vatican.
The loss of
Haiti wrecked the structure of France's worldwide trade and doomed
Napoleon's plans to rebuild an overseas empire. Hence his decision
to offer the Louisiana Territory to the United States for 60 million
francs, or less than three cents an acre the best real estate
bargain since the Dutch acquired Manhattan Island for a string of
the treaty, Napoleon said, "This accession of territory affirms
forever the power of the United States, and I have given England
a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride." Napoleon
at the time was planning to invade Britain. The Louisiana Purchase
doubled the size of the young country; the acquisition of New Orleans
Jefferson's original request of Napoleon guaranteed commerce
down the Mississippi and a secure port for goods from the western
territories of the United States. The Federalists opposed the Purchase,
favoring closer relations with Britain and fearing war with Spain
(who had only recemtly ceded the territory to France.) The House
vote to fund the Purchase passed by a slim margin 59-57
so the Federalists came close to scuttling the Purchase.
In 1825 France
demanded reparations of 150 million francs (or about $21 billion
in 2004 dollars) from Haiti to compensate the former slave owners
for the loss of their "property" the recently emancipated
slaves! Haiti would be required to make one loan after another to
pay off its "debt" to France, a major reason why this once-richest
colony became the most impoverished nation in the western hemisphere.
Robinson, An Unbroken Agony, pp. 5-26; Wikipedia's "Louisiana
Purchase"; James, The Black Jacobins.
The first telegraph message , using the dots and dashes of the
Morse Code, goes forth from Washington to Baltimore, forty miles
away: "What hath God wrought!"
credit goes to Samuel Morse, painter turned inventor. By 1859 telegraph
lines had been constructed throughout the eastern half of the United
States, connecting city to city as far west as St. Joseph, Missouri.
In 1869 lines were constructed to California, making obsolete the
Pony Express mail route which took between ten to twelve days of
fast horseback riding.]
"Colonel" Edwin L. Drake strikes oil on a farm in northwestern Pennsylvania.
[This particular farm had been chosen to lease because it was the
site of an oil spring from which three-to-six gallons were harvested
daily by a mopping-up procedure. Drake and the other investors of
the Seneca Oil Company were convinced that much larger quantities
could be obtained by drilling. They were proven right at 69 feet,
and the Oil Age began.
The subsequent frenzy for oil leases around Titusville is fascinatingly
described in the first chapter of the Tarbell book, http://www.history.rochester.edu/fuels/tarbell/UPTO20.htm.
profits came from its use as an illuminant for lamps; the biggest
profits were made by the oil refineries. By 1879 John D. Rockefeller's
Standard Oil Company owned or controlled 90% of America's oil refining
capacity as a result of ruthless business practices that Ida M.
Tarbell would describe in her 1904 History of the Standard Oil
Company. Originally a series of articles in McClure's Magazine,
the articles and book were the primary stimulus for the judicial
anti-trust decisions that culminated in the 1911 order of the Supreme
Court to dissolve the Standard Oil trust. Yergin,
The Prize, pp. 22-47. ]
The laying of the underwater trans-Atlantic telegraph cable is completed.
It goes from Valentia Harbor in Ireland to Heart's Content, Newfoundland
a distance of 1686 nautical miles. The first message received in
North America: "A treaty of peace has been signed between Austria
fee was pretty steep: $1 a letter, payable in gold. (A workman's
monthly wage was about $20.) Twenty years later there were 107.000
miles of underwater cables linking all parts of the world. The original
two trans-Atlantic cables had been replaced. And the price of a
cable had dropped considerably. Communication satellites began replacing
the cable in the 1960s. www.history-magazine.com/cable.html.]
Oil - in
Russia: A gusher is hit near Baku in what is now Azerbaijan.
[Within three months the area was producing an average of 2600 barrels
a day. There had always been oil seepage. Two centuries ago oil
had been exported to Iraq, Iran and India. Marco Polo, a late 13th
century traveler, wrote: "Near the Georgian border there is a spring
which gushes a stream of oil . . . . This oil is not good to eat;
but it is good for burning and as a salve for men or camels affected
with itch or scab. Men come from a long distance to fetch this oil."
The Nobel brothers and the Rothschilds became the major producers
after the tsar opened the field to foreign investors. By 1898 the
Russian oil production exceeded that of the United States. Yergin,
Prize, pp. 57-63, 132-133, 182-183; Wikipedia "Oil Industry
President Grant signs the Coinage Act of 1873. With this act the
United States joins Great Britain and most of the major nations
in de-monetizing silver. The government will no longer buy silver
or mint silver coins. Gold is now the only metal backing United
of 1873 begins with the failure of the Philadelphia banking
firm, Jay Cooke & Company.
Civil War Jay Cooke, who had been the principal financier for the
Union, became involved and overextended in the development of the
Northern Pacific Railroad. The Cooke Company bankruptcy set off
a chain of bank failures; the New York Stock Exchange closed for
ten days, beginning on the 20th. By December there were 10,000 homeless
in the streets of New York City with 183,000 skilled workmen unemployed.
During what became known as the Long Depression which lasted
until at least 1878 a quarter of the railroads failed, unemployment
rose to 14% (and 25% in New York City), wages were cut, and housing
prices collapsed. Banks started withholding loans, small businesses
failed with their workers becoming transients. The word "tramp"
derives from this era.
The Panic essentially
started in Europe with the crash of the Vienna Stock Exchange on
May 9th. A multitude of new lending institutions, encouraged by
the governments of the major continental empires, had participated
in a building boom with low mortgages given on shaky collateral.
At the same time manufacturers and farmers were being undermined
by what they called the "American Commercial Invasion" cheaper
wheat, kerosene, beef, and so on. The end of French reparation payments
to Germany (from the Franco-Prussian War) caused a money shortage
and banks became ever more cautious about inter-bank lending and
Nelson, a scholar of 19th century history, sees more parallels between
the economic crisis of 2008 and the Panic of 1873 than between 2008
and 1929. He cites the residential over-construction, the flood
of foreclosures from poorly-secured mortgages, and the tightening
of credit by banks. The 1929 Depression was caused, he believes,
by "overlarge factory inventories, a stock-market crash, and Germany's
inability to pay back war debts, which then led to continuing strain
on British gold reserves." Bowers, The Tragic
Era,, pp. 408-413; Nelson, "The Real Great Depression", Chronicle
Review, October 17, 2008: chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i09b09801.htm.
Thomas Edison gives the order to turn on his Pearl Street power
plant. Immediately the 4000 Edison light bulbs in the New York financial
within the half-mile radius of Pearl Street had previously been
wiredunderground to participate in this uncertain experiment,
among them the Morgan bank on Wall Street, the New York Times,
the New York Herald, and the Henry Villard interests. No
longer would electricity, so much brighter and so much safer than
gas light, be a luxury for the wealthy with their private (and noisy)
generators. Orders poured in for power stations to be built throughout
the country. However, Edison stubbornly persisted with DC
direct current which was efficient no more than a mile from
the central station. Samuel Insull, arrived only the year before
from England, was Edison's secretary and major factotum in this
enterprise as in all of Edison's scattered empire of companies.
Wasik, pp. 15-28.]
Day: Four standard time zones are established for the continental
United States-Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific.
[Before that, there had been more than 300 local "sun times" in
use. Railroad travelers going west or east needed to change their
watches one minute for every twelve miles!
The increasing use of this faster transportation required that there
be a standardization. The US Naval Observatory coordinated its signal
with the Greenwich Observatory in England. A year later similar
international time zones were established.]
May 1, 1886
May Day: Rallies are held throughout the United States to prepare
workers for the upcoming general strike for the eight-hour working
and 500,000 workers laid down their tools. The largest contingent
was in Chicago where 80,000 people, led by anarchist Albert Parsons
with his wife and two children, marched up Michigan Avenue. The
press had predicted there would be a riot; policemen, Pinkertons
and deputized civilians, all armed with Winchester rifles watched
the parade from rooftops along their path. Militia with Gatling
guns were sequestered in nearby armories awaiting orders. Yet there
was no riot and no disorder and Chicago's citizens breathed sighs
of relief. Avrich, pp. 186-187.]
Haymarket Tragedy - The Prelude: The police arrive at the McCormick
Reaper Works on Blue Island Avenue in Chicago after reports that
the strikers had jostled and pushed the scabs back into the factory
at quitting time. They march on the strikers with clubs flailing.
Some strikers respond with a volley of stones ; the police pull
out their revolvers and start firing. The strikers turn and flee,
but not before several are wounded. At least two are fatally wounded.
in retaliation for a successful strike in 1885 which had restored
a 15% wage cut, had ordered new machinery that replaced the jobs
of the skilled iron molders, the leaders of the 1885 strike. Then
in February, 1886 he declared a lockout and replaced all of the
union workers. Many of these men joined the International Working
Peoples Association (IWPA) - the anarchist organization that had
joined hands with the growing agitation for the eight-hour day.
of the AFL had declared in May, 1884 that by May Day of 1886 "eight
hours should constitute a legal day's labor." On May 1st more than
130,000 workers walked out in 13,000 work places throughout the
United States. In Chicago 40,000 went on strike and 80,000 joined
in the traditional May Day march up Michigan Avenue. But there was
no riot and no disorder which came as a relief to the business interests,
many of whom were expecting the worst.
The March 18th
celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of the Paris Commune with
its incendiary speeches "the day draws nigh when the workers
of the whole world will rise and forever destroy class rule and
the robbery of man's birthright" had frightened Chicago's
citizens. They feared "another 1877" or "another Paris Commune."
The Chicago newspapers had covered every utterance of the IWPA leaders,
thus inspiring further panic among the citizenry.
of Civil War fame and the Commanding General of the United
States Army under President Grant warned the public: "There
will soon come an armed contest between Capital and Labor. They
will oppose each other not with words and arguments and ballots,
but with shot and shell, gunpowder and cannon. The better classes
are tired of the insane howlings of the lower strata, and they mean
to stop them." Avrich, pp. 138-140, 176, 181-196.]
May 4, 1886
Haymarket Tragedy - The Bomb: The rally to protest the police
actions of the day before, scheduled for the spacious Haymarket
Square, is moved a block north to a smaller area on Desplaines Street,
as so few people had shown up. Mayor Carter Harrison is in the audience
as an observer. He listens to the speeches of August Spies and Alfred
Parsons. He hears nothing provocative, the audience is peaceful
and orderly, so he leaves and stops by the Desplaines Street police
station, a block south of Haymarket Square.
He tells Inspector
Bonfield that it was a "tame" meeting and suggests that he dismiss
his reserves. Bonfield replies that he wishes to keep them until
the meeting has concluded, as there have been rumors that the crowd
might go on to the freight yard where a strike is in progress. Mayor
Harrison checks in again at the rally just as Parsons is finishing
his speech and then rides home on his white horse shortly after
10 PM. Samuel Fielden is the next and last speaker; many have departed
including Parsons, his wife and children and Spies.
In the crowd
are two police plainclothes men who hear Fielden say: "A million
men hold all the property in this country. The law has no use for
the other fifty-four millions. You have nothing more to do with
the law except to lay hands on it and throttle it and throttle it
until it makes its last kick. It turns your brothers out on the
wayside and has degraded them until they have lost the last vestige
of humanity . . ." Hearing these words, the detectives return to
the police station. Inspector Bonfield immediately sends columns
of police running on the double up the street to the meeting place.
Seeing the police, many in the crowd rush to leave. When ordered
to "immediately and peaceably" disperse, Fielden, who was just concluding
his speech, protests: "But we are peaceable." The captain repeats
his command and Fielden begins to step down from the speaker's wagon.
At this moment
someone (who will never be identified) throws a bomb into the ranks
the police. Several officers fall wounded and there are a few seconds
of stunned silence.
The police draw their revolvers and, blinded by the smoke of the
explosion, start firing randomly at the direction of the crowd.
People start running in all directions with the maddened police
pursuing them. Lieutenant James Bowler shouts to his men, "Fire
and kill all that you can!" After three minutes the firing stops.
The streets are filled with bodies; patrol wagons rush to the scene
to take the unfortunate ones to the hospital or to the police station
or to the morgue.
sixty-seven known casualties. Of the seven policemen who died before
the trial, only one Officer Matthias J. Degan was a
victim of the bomb. The others were shot by their fellow officers.
Most of the sixty wounded policemen had been hit by bullets; some
by bomb fragments. The number of workers and other civilians who
died and were wounded is unknown; neither the newspapers nor the
police seemed to care to make a definitive count. A reporter for
the Chicago Herald estimated that fifty or more civilians lay dead
or wounded in the streets after the "wild carnage." Many of the
wounded anarchists went to drug stores or friends for treatment.
awoke on Wednesday, May 5th to a feverish account of the night before.
The Chicago Daily Tribune's front page read:
A HELLISH BOMB
A Dynamite Bomb Thrown into a Crowd of Policemen
It Explodes and Covers the Street with Dead and Mutilated Officers
A Storm of Bullets Follows
The Police Return Fire and Wound a Number of Rioters
Harrowing Scenes at the Desplaines Street Station
A Night of Terror
The front page
was filled with further details, many as imaginary as the accusation
that the crowd fired first and the police only retaliated. (Several
impartial observers would testify at the trial-to no avail-that
there had been no firing from the crowd.) Fielden was alleged to
have said, when asked to end the meeting: "Here come the bloodhounds.
You do your duty and I'll do mine."
assumed that this was a planned insurrection by the anarchists and
most of Chicago agreed. The people were in a panic and demanded
action. Most believed that the speakers at the Haymarket and "other
labor agitators" were responsible for the dreadful event. There
were cries of "Hang them first and try them afterwards." Mother
Jones would later remark that "the city went insane and the newspapers
did everything to keep it like a madhouse."
Red Scare was not confined to Chicago. The New York Times
headlined its account of the bomb as "Anarchy's Red Hand." The Louisville
Courier-Journal wanted all of the anarchists to be "strung up"
and "the sooner, the better." The St. Louis Globe-Democrat
agreed: "There are no good anarchists except dead anarchists."
police went on a Red hunt, raiding homes and workplaces without
a warrant and arresting all whom they suspected of either throwing
the bomb or agitating for its use. The entire staff of the Arbeiter-Zeitung
(Spies' newspaper) was arrested. Albert Parsons' wife was arrested
several times and then released and followed, as Parsons had run
for safety after he heard the news of the bombing, fearing one of
those pre-trial hangings.
The bomb thrower
was never identified. Most people assumed (and probably correctly)
that he was an anarchist. However, none of the eight who finally
stood trial knew who he was. One, Albert Parsons, was convinced
that the bomber was a Pinkerton or someone with an interest in thwarting
the progress being made toward an eight-hour day. Avrich,
pp. 197-214; Green, pp. 5-14.]
of Corporations: In a preface to Santa Clara v. Southern
Pacific Railroad, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Morrison
R. Waite remarks that the Court is of the opinion that corporations
enjoy the same rights under the Fourteenth Amendment as do "natural
[Subsequent decisions invoking the "due process" clause of that
amendment have contributed to the growth and power of corporations
in America, especially in their dealings with employees, unions,
state legislatures and consumers. A 1978 decision, First National
Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, extended the First Amendment right
of free speech to corporations, allowing them to spend money to
influence elections. Hall, p. 755.
United v. Federal Election Commission: On January 31, 2010
the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision would overturn those provisions
of the McCain-Feingold Act (or Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) that
had attempted to prohibit corporations and unions from "electioneering
communications" that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of
a general election or 30 days of a primary. This opened the way
for corporations and wealthy individuals to pour money anonymously
into Super-PACs and thus influence election results.]
The Haymarket Tragedy - The Trial: Jury selection begins for
the eight defendants selected from the eleven indicted by the Grand
Jury that had examined the credentials of the several dozen people
arrested by the police or suggested by the eager-to-help newspapers.
They are: August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Michael Schwab, Oscar Neebe,
Adolf Fischer, Louis Lingg, George Engel and Albert Parsons. The
last defendant makes a surprise entry to the courtroom, voluntarily
surrenders and is added to the list of defendants. The Honorable
Joseph E. Gary of the Superior Court presides.
was one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history,
with the judge exhibiting his bias at every opportunity. Since no
evidence could be found linking any of the defendants to the bomb,
the men were prosecuted for their writings and speeches which had
so inflamed the unknown bomb-thrower that he was compelled to commit
this act of murder. The exhibits of posters, speeches and bloody
uniforms of the dead policemen went on for two months with the intent,
of course, of arousing passion in the minds of the jury.
For any wavering
juryman uncomfortable with the lack of connection between the bomber
and the men on trial, Judge Gary undertook to make an unprecedented
ruling: If the defendants "by print or speech advised, or encouraged
the commission of murder, without designating time, place or occasion
at which it should be done, and in pursuance of, and induced by
such advice and encouragement, murder was committed, then all such
conspirators are guilty of such murder, whether the person who perpetrated
such murder can be identified or not."
The jury, who
had all expressed prejudice against the defendants before empanelment,
found all eight of the defendants to be guilty. Death by hanging
was the sentence for all but Neebe, who was given fifteen years
in the penitentiary.
year period of the appeal public opinion softened against the convicted
anarchists who had been tried for their opinions rather than their
actions. The fight for a new trial or a pardon was led by William
Dean Howells, possibly the most prominent author and literary critic
of the last quarter of the century. Governor Oglesby commuted the
sentences of two of the men scheduled for the scaffold to life imprisonment;
the other five had not made that personal appeal, so by law his
hands were tied. One of the men, Lingg, managed to commit suicide.
But on November 11, 1887 Parsons, Spies, Fischer and Engel were
hung together dying, not from broken necks, but of slow strangulation.
years later a second governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, would
unconditionally pardon the three survivors Neebe, Fielden
and Schwab and deliver a harsh indictment of Judge Gary. He
had, said Altgeld, conducted the trial with "malicious ferocity,"
had compelled the eight men to be tried together, and had permitted
the state's attorney to introduce material "entirely foreign" to
the case. As for Gary's ruling that it was not necessary to have
the bomb-thrower identified or to demonstrate that his action had
been influenced by the defendants, he said: " In all the centuries
during which government has been maintained among men, and crime
has been punished, no judge in a civilized country has ever laid
down such a rule." Avrich, pp. 260-427.]
Eastman registers the trademark, Kodak. [His company began marketing
the first roll-film camera and the amateur photography craze was
born, especially after the "Brownie" box camera was introduced in
1900. The cameras were inexpensive; the Eastman Kodak Company made
its profits on the film cartridges. The company would be one of
the Dow-Jones index companies from 1930-2004.
In 1976 Eastman
Kodak sold 90% of the photographic film in the US and 85% of the
cameras. One of their engineers invented the digital camera in 1975,
but the company failed to exploit this innovation, fearing that
it would harm the sales of their main product line.
In January 2012 the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.
July 2, 1890
nations, including the United States sign the Brussels Conference
Act of 1890 which seeks to end the "Negro Slave Trade by land as
well as by sea" in Africa with special attention to the basin of
the Congo. Article 8 requires signatories to embargo firearms and
ammunition to the region from the Sahara Desert to South Africa.
[The Senate in executive session ratified the act in January, 1892.
This is the first measure for arms control undertaken by the United
States. Wiltz, p. 4.]
- Dow Jones Industrial Average: Charles Dow announces the foundation
of a new stock index: the average of the stock prices of twelve
American publicly owned and traded industrial corporations. (The
only survivor in the current thirty stocks is General Electric.)
The initial average is 40.94; it would plummet to 28.48 later in
the year in the Panic of 1896. (The earlier Dow Jones Averages (1884)
surveyed nine railroads and two industrial companies and appeared
in a daily bulletin that was the precursor of the Wall Street Journal.)
1928 the "Dow," as it became known familiarly, was enlarged to include
thirty corporations, now purely industrial. From a high of 381.17
on September 3, 1929 the average crashed to its Great Depression
low of 41.22 on July 8, 1932. The decade of the 1940s saw a 39%
in increase in Dow values from 148 to 206.
The 1950s registered
a 200% increase despite the recessions of 1953 and 1958, ending
at 616. The Dow would gain only 30% in the '60s, possibly due to
foreign concerns such as the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the
Vietnam War. It ended the decade at 800.
The Dow went
all over the map in the Seventies. There was a brief flirtation
with the 1000 mark in November, 1972, then the '73-'74 Stock Market
Crash in which the Dow briefly lost 48% of its value, ending the
decade with a value of 838, a gain of only 5%. In the Eighties the
Dow enjoyed a rise of 228%, ending at 2,753 despite several major
corrections : Black Monday (October 19, 1987) when the average fell
nearly 23%, possibly due to program trading, and the Mini-Crash
of October 13, 1989 a fall of 7% for which the collapse
of junk bonds was thought to be responsible.
saw a rapid escalation in the Dow, reaching the 5000 mark in 1995,
6000 in 1996 and in 1997 7000 in February and 8000 in July.
Despite a Mini-Crash in October and a loss of over 7%, the Dow ended
the decade at 11,497, a gain of 315%. The new century began with
a presidential election decided by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision
and a bear market reflecting public uncertainty.
The first day
of trading after the attack on the World Center towers (9-11-2001)
saw the largest one-day drop in the Dow in its history to that date:
there was a loss of 1370 points in the week following the attack,
or 14.3%. However, by the end of the year the Dow had climbed above
the 10,000 level.
After the doldrums
of 2002-2003 when the Dow vacillated in the 7000-9000 range, in
2006 the Dow experienced weekly and monthly highs and closed above
the 12,000 level on October 19th, the anniversary of Black Monday
in 1987. The highest Dow closing to date 14,164.53 was
achieved on October 9, 2007. Financial pundits were predicting further
rapid advances in the market.
But they were
proven quite wrong on September 15, 2008 when Lehman Brothers filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This and the record-high prices for oil
brought about a steady see-saw decline of the Dow which closed at
6,547.05 on March 9. 2009. The Dow lost 20% of its value in only
six weeks. The market rallied toward the end of 2009, settling in
around the 10,000 level. It closed the decade at 10,428, a loss
of a little over 9%.
of the 2010s has seen some increases. On March 22, 2010 it celebrated
the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with
a close of 10,785.89. On April 26th it closed at 11,205.03, its
highest since September 2008. On July 12, 2010 its closing value
In the eyes
of the general public the Dow has been a reliable recorder of the
growth of the American economy and an equally reliable thermometer
of its health. However, the composition of the group has hardly
been constant. There has been a considerable reshuffling of constituent
stocks even though the number has remained stabilized at thirty.
For example, in 1999 Goodyear and Chevron got their pink slips to
make room for Microsoft and Intel. Chevron was restored in 2008
along with the addition of Bank of America when Altria Group and
Honeywell got the boot.
are mergers or stock splits, the index will be recalculated with
a "Dow divisor" which seems to get more complicated with the passage
of time. (See July 31, 1914 for a misconception produced
by a recalculation.) Its description as an index of industrial
corporations has been a misnomer for many years with the addition
of banking, communication, entertainment and computer technology
Also the Dow
is a price-weighted average: higher-priced stocks have more influence
on the Dow than its lower-priced constituents, e.g. IBM and 3M vs.
Alcoa and Bank of America.
No weight is given to the relative industry size and market capitalization
of the selected stocks. Many believe that a float-adjusted-market-value
index such as Standard and Poor 500 would be a better barometer
of the stock market. Or the Wilshire 5000 which includes all US
Oil - in
Texas: Some wildcatters hit a gusher at Spindletop, near Beaumont.
Yergin, Prize, pp. 82-92.
Issues: Representative George Henry White (R-NC), the last former
slave to serve in Congress-and since 1898 the only African-American
in the House of Representatives-makes his farewell speech to the
House: "This is perhaps the Negroes' temporary farewell to the American
Congress; but let me say; Phoenix-like he will rise up some day
and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged,
heart-broken bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people, faithful,
industrious, loyal, rising people - full of potential force."
[During his three terms in Congress he campaigned against all forms
of discrimination and particularly urged the enforcement of the
provision in the Fourteenth Amendment that would reduce the representation
in the House of Representatives of states that denied African-Americans
of the right to vote. Earlier in January White had introduced a
bill that would make the lynching of an American citizen a federal
crime. Any person participating in a lynching should be convicted
of treason. This first anti-lynching bill was easily defeated.
responded to his white colleagues: "It is easy for these gentlemen
to taunt us with our inferiority, at the same time not mentioning
the cause of this inferiority. It is rather hard to be accused of
shiftlessness and idleness when the accuser closes the avenue of
labour and industrial pursuits to us. It is hardly fair to accuse
us of ignorance when it was made a crime under the former order
of things to learn enough about letters to even read the Word of
of a President: President William McKinley is leaving the Pan-American
Exposition in Buffalo, shaking hands with bystanders, when an anarchist
waves aside the proffered hand and shoots him twice point-blank.
The assassin, Leon Czolgosz, allegedly yells: "I killed President
McKinley because I done my duty. . . . I am an anarchist." Watson,
[Czolgosz was a loner who was inspired by the assassination
of Italian King Umberto I on July 29, 1900. The anarchist Gaetano
Bresci had said that he had to take matters into his own hands for
the sake of the common man. Czolgosz decided to replicate the deed,
even buying the same brand of revolver that Bresci had used. He
was rejected by an anarchist group that he attempted to join; they
were alarmed by his ravings and thought him to be an agent provocateur.
on the 14th from gangrene from an unremoved bullet and
was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. (Roosevelt,
the very popular governor of New York had been propelled into the
vice-presidential nomination by New York party bosses who wanted
him out of the political scene. The unintended consequence, of course,
was the assassination of McKinley which elevated TR to the presidency.)
Blackmon, p. 158.
The assassin was tried and found guilty on September 23rd and electrocuted
on October 29. Wikipedia.]
Servitude and Slavery, aka Peonage: President Theodore Roosevelt
speaks in Springfield in front of a monument to Abraham Lincoln.
Among the audience is
an all-black company of the Illinois National Guard. TR: "It seems
to me eminently fitting that the guard around the tomb of Lincoln
should be composed of colored soldiers. . . . A man who is good
enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given
a square deal afterwards." Blackmon, pp. 169-170.
[This speech was immediately condensed by the press into "a square
deal for the negro" which profoundly irritated those white southerners
who felt that the Negro was already getting a fair deal. Radical
racists like Senator Ben "Pitchfork" Tillman of South Carolina were
further inflamed. (Tillman had said in 1901 after Booker T. Washington
dined at the White House with Roosevelt and his family, "The action
of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate
our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they will learn
their place again." A Memphis newspaper had described the dinner
invitation as the "most damnable outrage which has ever been perpetrated
by any citizen of the United States.") Morris,
Theodore Rex, pp. 16-17.
gave hope to African-Americans who were beginning to realize that
this accidental president, Roosevelt, was a different sort of Republican
from McKinley and his predecessors. Indeed, as he was speaking,
a federal grand jury in Montgomery, Alabama was examining a number
of peonage cases in Tallapoosa and Coosa Counties. Presiding over
the grand jury was a former Democratic governor of Alabama and a
Confederate War hero, Thomas Goode Jones one of Roosevelt's
He was wholeheartedly
supported by the US Attorney Warren S. Reese, Jr. who sent scores
of investigators to examine claims. He was astonished and revolted
by their reports.
He wrote to the Attorney General that he had "lived in this state
my entire thirty-seven years and I never comprehended until now
the extent of the present method of slavery through this present
system throughout the 'New South' worked like this: A black man
would be arrested for some trivial (and possibly fabricated) offense,
such as vagrancy, leaving work without permission, boarding a train
without a ticket, etc. He would be tried and convicted by the justice
of the peace, a man who was usually in the pay of employers who
needed laborers. The Negro's fine and court cost would be more than
he could pay, so he was at risk of being shipped off with convicts
to work in the Birmingham coal mines where the work was brutal and
the mortality rate very high.
face would appear and offer to pay the black man's debt in exchange
for a contract to work for this benefactor until his wages paid
off his debt. He would then be worked from pre-dawn to post-sunset,
routinely beaten by a whipping boss, and kept incarcerated on the
plantation or sawmill or turpentine farm or mine often
If the Negro tried to run away, he would be chased by dogs and tortured
after capture. Sinclair's Aftermath of Slavery (1905) and
Daniel's The Shadow of Slavery (1972) contain many case histories
of barbaric excesses the rack, waterboarding, fatal flogging.
The Negro and
his contract might be sold to another employer; there would be no
communication with family and friends who often did not know where
the man was working. (Or woman. Black women were held in peonage
for domestic labor and were sexually abused just as in the old days.)
The Negro would usually be re-arrested for some non-existent offense
before his contract was finished, thus insuring a constant supply
of labor for the employer and perpetual enslavement for the Negro.
Pre-war slaves had received better treatment from their masters
since they were property and represented an economic investment
of the slaveholder. They got better food and more clothing than
these quasi-slaves of the 'New South' who were often semi-starved
and sometimes worked naked.
By 1901 all
the southern states had made new constitutions or enacted new laws
which prevented all but a handful of Negroes from voting. Sinclair,
pp. 215-257; Daniel, pp. 43-109; Blackmon, pp. 175-
the grand jury returned 99 indictments against 18 individuals.
The Montgomery Advertiser chortled that the grand jury had
found peonage "in but two counties and involving only eighteen persons"
in an attempt to refute the graphic attacks from the North
The New York Evening Post, the Outlook, Atlantic
Monthly, and The Nation whose readers were demanding
that the federal government ensure justice for black people in the
South. Therefore, Judge Jones wasted no time in empanelling juries
to try the three categories indicted: the peonmasters, their whipping
bosses, and the phony justices of the peace who delivered labor
on demand. (According to Freeman, peonage was reported in every
county in Alabama in this period and one-third of the farmers in
Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi used forced labor. Freeman,
The first case
to be tried was that of John W. Pace, the notorious contractor for
convict labor in Tallapoosa County. He topped the list with 36 indictments.
He outwitted Judge Jones by pleading guilty to eleven counts of
peonage but securing a writ of error which prevented the whole story
being disclosed in open court and allowing for a future trial. (His
lawyers would manage to delay the case for several years until Pace
was pardoned by President Roosevelt in April, 1906 on a plea of
old age and poor health. He spent not one day in jail and paid no
case was that of the two Cosbys, uncle and nephew, neighbors of
John Pace with a smaller farm. They traded peons back and forth
with John Pace. The two men pled guilty and were sentenced to serve
a year and a day in the Atlanta penitentiary. Sawmill operator Fletch
Turner was the third case. He pled "not guilty" and maintained that
his laborers had volunteered to work for him rather than serving
a jail sentence. Alabama's secretary of state, Thomas Heflin, served
as a character witness and challenged the jury: "Are you going to
brand Fletch Turner as a convict on such testimony from three negroes
and one sorry white man?" Judge Jones in his instructions to the
jury essentially told them to vote for conviction. The jury debated
for several days, but ended with a hung jury, 7-5 for conviction.
Judge Jones reprimanded the jury for declining to enforce the law
"for no other reason than the base one that the defendant was a
white man and the victim of the law he violated is a negro boy."
took the occasion of a Sons of the Confederacy picnic to lambaste
both the Northern press and Judge Jones, a vendetta which he continued
throughout the summer. So when Turner pled guilty in a second trial,
his lawyer explained that Turner was technically guilty of peonage,
but did not understand the law when he broke it. Judge Jones fined
Turner $1000, the lowest sentence allowed. In the many cases that
followed, the men on trial would plead guilty, Judge Jones would
instruct them about the peonage law, the men would promise to reform,
and the judge would fine them. Frequently the fines were never paid,
but Judge Jones seemed to believe that, due to his efforts, peonage
was declining in Alabama. He was also responsible for securing,
in a roundabout way, a presidential pardon for the Cosbys (in September
1903) since their three months in the penitentiary was a much harsher
punishment then the fines that were subsequently levied for comparable
offenses. Daniel, pp. 49-64.
And so ended
what Pete Daniel has described as an "experiment in leniency." Peonage
was not over in Alabama. The most egregious cases occurred in the
larger plantations in the Black Belt, south of Tallapoosa and Coosa
counties. The newly-minted history-sociology PhD from Harvard, Dr.
W.E. B. Du Bois, secured a grant from the US Bureau of Labor to
do a statistical study of peonage and sharecropping practices in
Lowndes County, the Alabama county with the highest percentage of
blacks. Scores of investigators, questionnaires in hand, went cabin
to cabin throughout the county in the summer of 1906. Some were
"shot at and run out of one corner of the county."
was devastating in its depiction of the extent of the problem and
the brutalities involved. After the September race riot in Atlanta
the Labor Department destroyed the report as it "touched on political
matters." Du Bois wrote later in life that he considered the research
the most important one he had ever done. In 1911 he wrote a novel,
The Quest of the Silver Fleece, which used as its setting
the economic, sociological and psychological insights of his destroyed
and never-published research. (The silver fleece was cotton.) Blackmon,
Motor Company is incorporated by 40-year-old Henry Ford with
$28,000 capitalization from twelve investors. At this time there
were about 8000 cars in the United States and only 144 miles of
paved roads. His Model T would sell for $400 and his workers would
make about $400 a year. Wasik, p. 88.
Servitude and Slavery: William G. Brantley, a congressman from
Georgia 1897-1913, argues on the floor of Congress that "Congress
has never passed a law providing punishment for slavery or for involuntary
servitude . . ." Daniel, pp. 12-14.
of Portsmouth, engineered by Theodore Roosevelt, ends the Russo-Japanese
War. The victorious Japanese, who had startled and somewhat frightened
the rest of the world by their definitive besting of a European
power, are awarded the southern half of Sakhalin Island and given
Korea as a protectorate.
[Japan had earlier been favored by the US and Great Britain as a
way to contain Russian expansion. (The tsarist troops sent
to quell the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 had remained in Manchuria.)
Yet the treaty denied the Japanese both reparations from Russia
and the right to annex southern Manchuria. They felt betrayed by
Roosevelt and anti-American riots broke out in several cities. Five
years later Japan annexed Korea, renamed it "Chosen," and began
a repressive colonization which continued for 40 years.
Whelan, Drawing the Line, pp. 16-17.]
OIL - in
Oklahoma: A gusher is struck at Glenn Pool, near Tulsa, blowing
out 75 barrels of oil a day. [It proved to be the richest oil field
in the world up to that time, producing oil that was light and sweet
and ready for the refinery, unlike the cruder oil of Texas' Spindletop.
Oklahoma would be the largest producer of oil of any state until
Texas resumed the #1 position in 1928. Yergin,
Prize, pp. 87, 90, 94.]
in Atlanta, Georgia: A newspaper account of an alleged assault
on four white women sparks the beginning of a four- day rampage
by a white mob throughout the black community. Between 25 and 40
African-Americans (and two white people) are killed; hundreds of
African-Americans are injured. Thousands are driven from their homes.
Many leave Atlanta and never return. Cone, p.
Adair v. United States: The Supreme Court, 7-2, invalidates
the Erdman Act of 1898 which prohibited "yellow-dog contracts"
agreements made as a condition of employment that the worker will
not join a unio and the blacklisting or discharge of employees
for union activity. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in dissent says
that the legislature is the proper arbiter of public policy and
should be allowed to limit freedom of contract. Hall,
Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States,
[In 1917 the Supreme Court went further. With Hitchman Coal and
Coke Co. v. Mitchell it became virtually illegal for a union
to attempt to organize within a company without the consent of the
employer. As a consequence, companies successfully appealed to the
courts for legal injunctions against any enterprising union. The
yellow-dog contract would remain as a major weapon against labor
until the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 outlawed the practice. [See
entry for March 23, 1932.] In 1933 the National Recovery
Administration (NRA) and its clause 7(a) plus the industry codes
agreed to by the producers further strengthened the unions. Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, pp. 26-27.
amendment to the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, passed over President
Truman's veto, would allow states to pass so-called "right-to-work"
laws which would make it illegal for a company and a union to agree
to hire only union labor; also, a union may not call a strike to
prevent non-union workers from being hired. Currently there is a
revival of the yellow-dog contract under another name, "mandatory
arbitration" also called "front door contracts," under which employees
forfeit their rights to due process in a court of law in return
for getting a job.]
Oil - in
Persia: Just as Burmah Oil is about to give up its explorations
in Persia, a 75-foot gusher is struck at Masjid-i-Suleiman in an
area called the Plain of Oil that is far removed from Tehran or
[A previous strike at Chiah Surkh, closer to Baghdad than Tehran,
had been quickly exhausted. It had taken seven years minus two days
for the struggling company to reap any real reward from the Shah's
concession. In 1909 Burmah Oil was incorporated as Anglo-Persian
Oil Company in Glasgow; all shares were snapped up in less than
an hour. Black, Banking on Baghdad, pp.
125-126; Yergin, The Prize , pp. 134-149.]
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP,
is founded in New York City by a group of 60 white and black activists
who are answering "The Call" to form an organization that would
fight for the end of discrimination and for civil and political
rights for African-Americans. 1
[The race riot that had erupted the year before in Springfield,
Illinois where Abraham Lincoln practiced law was the
impetus for "The Call." The date chosen for the initial gathering
was the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. Ida Wells-Barnett,
Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, Dr. Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald
Garrison Villard, and William English Walling were prominent among
those issuing "The Call." Dr. DuBois left his teaching post in Atlanta
to become the first editor of NAACP's magazine, The Crisis.
Some of the
organization's earliest actions: legal support for blacks unjustly
convicted of murders, protest against President Wilson's segregation
in the federal government, and protest against the film, The
Birth of a Nation. The legal arm of the NAACP successfully challenged
the legality of the all-white primary (1944), segregation in interstate
busing (1946), and segregation in public education (1954).]
group was initially called the National Negro Committee. The name
was changed to NAACP in 1910. Seven people died in the Springfield
race riot; forty homes and twenty-four businesses were destroyed.
Oil - in
Mexico: A major strike110,000 barrels a day is made
at Potrero de Llano
No. 4 near Tampico on Mexico's Gulf coast. [Other wells were successfully
drilled in the area, soon to be known as the "Golden Lane." By 1921
Mexico was the second largest oil producer in the world, producing
193 million barrels a year. Yergin, Prize,
The ninth floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory bursts into flames.
Like most factories in New York City, Triangle has no automatic
sprinklers, no fireproof door, and no firewall. The fire escape
is poorly designed and quickly collapses from the weight of so many
terrified workers. One of the two exit doors from the work space
is locked. The owners plus a few workers escape up a stairway to
the roof, others escape by elevator, but 146 workers mostly
young women, typically Jewish and Italian immigrants working for
paltry wages are trapped inside. Some die from the fire, others
jump from windows to their death. A young Frances Perkins, already
active in workers' rights as the executive secretary of the Consumers
League, is among those watching the jumpers. (She was later Franklin
Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor.)
was immediate; the city became swathed in black bunting; many people
wore black mourning clothing. The funeral four days later attracted
350,000 marchers while a quarter of a million lined the route and
watched in silence.
earlier twenty thousand shirtwaist workers had gone on strike for
higher wages, a 52-hour work week, recognition of their newly-formed
union, and a closed shop. The smaller factory owners caved into
all demands within 48 hours. The owners of the Triangle factory
organized the owners of the hundred largest factories to hang tight.
They employed thugs to waylay individual strikers and beat them
up. They employed strikebreakers; when there were confrontations
on the picket line, Tammany Hall policemen arrived and arrested
the strikers. Society women from the Women's Trade Union League
came to court to pay fines for the strikers. This practice sufficiently
enraged a few magistrates that they started sending teen-aged waist
workers to the workhouse to do hard labor.
This abuse enlisted the support of wealthy socialites such as Alva
Smith Vanderbilt Belmont and Anne Morgan, the youngest daughter
of America's foremost capitalist, J. P. Morgan, who raised money
to support the strikers. The strike was front page news, with Pulitzer's
World especially covering the strike's progress after the first
girls were sent to the workhouse. Ironically, this heavyweight support
splintered the movement: some of the socialist leaders felt they
were patronized and exploited by these wealthy women who were at
least as interested in women's suffrage. Some of the wealthy leaders
were disturbed by the "fanatical doctrines of socialism" Anne
Morgan's phrase that they heard expounded at a Carnegie Hall
meeting. They opposed the demand for a closed shop and considered
organizing a rival waist workers union. The strike ended after two
months with an increase in wages and a shorter work week, but no
closed shop. No one had thought to include worker safety as one
of the bargaining conditions in the strike.
Fire became the catalyst for incremental legislation for workers'
safety leading up to the establishment of OSHA (Occupational Safety
and Health Administration) in the Department of Labor in 1970. The
Triangle factory owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris
were charged with six counts of manslaughter, based primarily on
the exit door that was kept locked to guard against petty theft
by the workers. They hired the best trial lawyer of the time, Max
Steuer, Tammany Hall's favorite lawyer, who was able to secure their
acquittal and also demolish the civil suits from relatives of Triangle
Fire victims. Von Drehle, Triangle.]
Oil Co. of NJ v. United States: The Supreme Court upholds
the decision of the Eighth Circuit Court and orders the dissolution
of the Standard Oil Company under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The
company is given six months to complete the breakup- rather than
the 30 days of the lower court's decision- and also allowed to continue
doing business during the transition period.
[In the unanimous opinion written by Justice Edward D. White, the
anti-trust statute was interpreted to apply only to "unreasonable"
restraints of trade, unlike previous court decisions in the cases
of railroads. This amendment of the law gave "big business" lots
of wiggle room. Progressives such as Senator LaFollette were disheartened
by the new language; trust-buster Senator William Kenyon (R-Iowa)
called it a "dangerous decision." Standard Oil's business practices
were deemed to be unreasonable. Hall, pp.818-819;
New York Times, May 16, 1911.]
Election: Democrat Woodrow Wilson is elected thanks to a major
split in the Republican Party.
Teddy Roosevelt(1901-1909) had unsuccessfully contested the incumbent
(and conservative) president, William Howard Taft, in a contentious
convention in June. Declaring fraud, TR led his delegates out of
the convention and formed the Progressive Bull Moose Party. With
48 states now voting (including the newly admitted Arizona and New
Mexico) the results were: Wilson 42% Roosevelt 27% Taft 23% Debs
Party Eugene Debs was running for president for the fourth time.
The party elected about a thousand state legislators and city officials
including the mayors of Butte, Montana, Berkeley, California, Flint,
Michigan, Reading, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin as well
as a congressman from Wisconsin, Victor Berger. Guttenplan,
Fed" got born: President Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act,
creating the Federal Reserve System. The bill had passed the House
282-60 and the Senate, 43-23.
It had been sold to the public as a measure that would prevent panics,
benefit commerce, provide funding for industrial projects and lower
[The bill was a cosmetic re-working of the "Aldrich Bill" sponsored
by the wealthy senator from Rhode Island. This creation of a central
bank, essentially a cartel of the leading New York banks, was designed
to block the competition from the country's newer banks and get
control of the reserves of all the banks, thereby curbing the activities
of the more reckless ones.
The plan was
hatched at a super-secret meeting in November, 1910 at J. P. Morgan's
sumptuous retreat on Jekyll Island, Georgia.The seven men attending
arrived separately at a New Jersey railroad station where they boarded
Nelson Aldrich's private railroad car. First names only were used
so that no servants or reporters could become aware of the concentration
of wealth and power in this car and on the island. Together the
seven men represented institutions controlling one-fourth of the
Nelson Aldrich- Republican "whip," business associate of J.P. Morgan,
Abraham Piatt Andrew- Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury,
Frank A. Vanderlip- National City Bank, Kuhn, Loeb & Company,
Henry P. Davison- senior partner of J.P. Morgan Company,
Charles D. Norton- President of the Morgan First National
Bank of New York,
Benjamin Strong- head of Morgan's Bankers Trust Company,
Paul Warburg- partner in Kuhn, Loeb, representative of the
Rothschild banking empire in Europe and brother of Max Warburg,
head of the Warburg banking consortium in Germany and the Netherlands.
the intellectual author of the Aldrich Bill, using Germany's Reichsbank
as his model.
definitely a friend of Big Business, refused to support the bill
as written; he wanted the government to have more control. Therefore
the cartel advocates decided to sabotage his re-election. Some Morgan
deputies persuaded Teddy Roosevelt to run against Taft on the "Bull
Moose" ticket, thus assuring Wilson's election in the three-man
(The race was a most deceptive one. The Money Trust funneled donations
to all three candidates; TR and Wilson both denounced the Aldrich
House, the Karl Rove of Wilson's administration and a close associate
of Morgan and Warburg, guided the renamed legislation to congressional
passage and presidential signature. As Warburg would write in 1930:
"While technically and legally the Federal Reserve note is an obligation
of the United States Government, in reality it is an obligation,
the sole actual responsibility for which rests on the reserve banks.
. . . The government could only be called upon to take them up after
the reserve banks had failed." In other words, the Federal Reserve
notes are privately issued money and we, the taxpayers, are liable
for any losses incurred by the banks that issue the notes.
Griffin, Creature from Jekyll Island, pp. 3-23; 466-467.]
Ford announces that the Ford Motor Company is establishing a minimum
wage of $5 an hour. Ten million dollars of the $37 million profit
of the previous year will be shared with 26,000 employees, added
to their paychecks semi-monthly. The company will now be run continuously
with three shifts of eight hours each instead of the current two
shifts of nine hours each, thus giving employment to several thousand
more men. New York Times, January
the British Empire: First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill,
gains the assent of the cabinet for an expenditure of £2.2 million
to purchase a controlling interest in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
(See May 25, 1908.)
the Royal Navy from coal-burning ships to oil-burning ships. The
company, now in better financial shape, built a refinery at Abadan
which, for fifty years, ranked as the largest refinery in the world.
This foresighted intervention made Churchill both famous and powerful.
According to Tim Weiner, Iranian oil became the "lifeblood of the
British exchequer." Legacy, p. 81.]
the Turkish Petroleum Company: With the signing of the "Foreign
Office Agreement" the British succeed in elbowing their way into
a reconstituted Turkish Petroleum Company which will apply to the
Ottoman Empire for rights to drill for oil in Mesopotamia.
[The original consortium had been organized in 1912 by Calouste
Gulbenkian, the "Talleyrand of oil diplomacy." The Deutsche Bank
and Royal Dutch/Shell each had a quarter interest. Half was owned
by the Turkish National Bank. Since Gulbenkian was a silent owner
of 30% of the bank, he became a 15% owner of the Turkish Petroleum
In the reconstituted company the Anglo-Persian Group held a 50%
interest; Shell and Deutsche Bank each retained a quarter interest.
To accommodate Gulbenkian's claim, Anglo-Persian and Shell joined
to give him a 5% "beneficiary interest" from their shares. (He would
be known as "Mr. Five Percent" thereafter.) All the principals signed
on to the "self-denying clause" to refrain from any oil production
anywhere in the Ottoman Empire except that undertaken jointly through
the Turkish Petroleum Company.
later the Grand Vizier promised in a diplomatic note that the Mesopotamian
oil concession would be granted to the Turkish Petroleum Company.
Unfortunately the note was signed on June 28, the same day as the
assassination of the Austrian archduke. Britain and Germany would
soon be at war with one another and by war's end, the Ottoman Empire
had disappeared. Also, was the note as good as a contract or was
it a non-binding agreement? To be continued: see
entries for October 15, 1927 and July 31, 1928. Yergin,
The Prize, pp. 184-192.]
Canon Law: Engineered by Eugenio Pacellilater Pope Pius
XII Serbia signs
a Concordat with the Vatican in which Serbia guarantees the Holy
See the right to impose its newly-written Canon law on the country's
Catholic clergy and communicants and guarantees freedom of worship,
education and religion to its Catholic citizens.
[The treaty was important to the Vatican as it was the first concordat
to endorse the Canon Law to be announced in 1917 which
vastly increased the papal authority, giving the Pope the sole right
to appoint bishops and prelates. It also abrogated the long-standing
protectorate rights that the Austro-Hungarian Empire held over Serbia's
Roman Catholic enclaves, including the right to name bishops, causing
an escalation in anti-Serbian feelings. John Cornwell believes that
the Serbian Concordat "undoubtedly contributed to the uncompromising
terms that the Austro-Hungarian Empire pressed upon Serbia" after
the murder of the archduke four days later, thus "making war inevitable."
As a result of Serbia's victory over Turkey in the First Balkan
War (1912) the population of Roman Catholics had increased from
about seven thousand to forty thousand. Cornwell,
Hitler's Pope, pp. 48-58.]
in Sarajevo: Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro
Hungarian throne, is assassinated by a Serb.
[This leads to declarations of war by August 12th: Germany and Austria
Hungary against Britain, France, Russia and Serbia. Later Japan,
Italy, Romania and Greece join the Entente (Britain, France et al);
Turkey and Bulgaria join the Central Powers (Germany et al). Tuchman,
The Guns of August.]
war against Serbia, following Serbia's rejection of Austria's outrageous
ultimatum of July 23. The next day Belgrade was bombarded and Russia
began mobilization of troops.
York Stock Exchange fails to open: It would not open again for
[There had been a 10% drop in the value of securities since the
beginning of the crisis in Europe. The Exchange lost 6% on July
30, so the general public assumption was that the board had voted
to close the Exchange to prevent a hemorrhage. Not so. A secret
phone call from Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo to the
chairman of the board a half hour before the scheduled opening decreed
The last week
of July had seen European investors selling off their Wall Street
assets and transferring the gold $25 million to Europe
to help finance the war. At that time Europeans held $4 billion
in American securities; US Banks held about a billion dollars' worth
of gold bullion. Continued trading could have wiped out all US gold.
to that dilemmato go off the gold standard was unacceptable
to both McAdoo and the Wall Street bankers, as they had aspirations
to see the United States as a dominant world financial center. To
refuse payment in gold could forever damage US financial credibility,
already quite tarnished by the Panic of 1907 and all the 19th century
quickly flooded the country with emergency currency, worked with
the business community to promote export of American agricultural
productscotton, wheat, corn, etc. and got the newly-authorized
Federal Reserve banks established. By November 14 the dollar was
no longer discounted on world markets and the Federal Reserve banks
opened on November 16. McAdoo allowed a gradual re-opening of the
NYSE: trading in bonds on November 28, stocks "not international
in character" on December 12, all stocks on December 15.
The Dow Jones
Industrial Average, which had stood at 71.42 when the market closed
in July, was now 54.62. This appears to be a decline of 24%. However,
in 1916 the Dow was reconstituted with a new list of 20 stocks and
previous stock closing averages were recalculated back to the 1914
reopening date. Thus the closing-reopening comparison is an apples-oranges
comparison. (For more on the Dow, see May 26, 1896.)
"Setting the Record Straight on the Dow Drop", New York Times,
October 26, 1987.
saw the first dollar bonds issued for foreign countries first
Canada, then Argentina. By the end of the Great War the United States
was firmly established as an international money-lender. However,
it was not until after the Second World War that the dollar bested
the pound as the international trading currency.
Silber, When Washington Shut Down Wall Street (2007).]
Babies Massacred: The propaganda ministry of Charles Masterson
and British newspapers disseminate atrocity stories about the behavior
of German soldiers during their invasion of neutral Belgium.
[Allegedly babies were thrown into the air and caught by the tip
of German bayonets;
their hands and arms were severed so that they might not grow up
to bear arms against Germany, etc. The Bryce Commission investigated
and "authenticated" these stories in May, 1915. In the early 1920s
Prime Minister Lloyd George apologized to the German nation in the
House of Commons for this vicious and false propaganda. The story
of the Belgian babies was taken as gospel truth and was responsible
for much of the war fervor and hatred of Germany among the Allies.
was also responsible for the initial disbelief in the rumors of
Nazi death camps and the "Final Solution" for the Jews in World
In the 1991
Gulf War the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, hired by
Kuwait and paid $12-20 million, revised the story. Allegedly Iraqi
soldiers pulled 312 premature Kuwaiti babies from their incubators
several times the number of incubators in Kuwait, confiscated
the incubators for Iraq and left the babies on the floor to die.
This canard did not have the staying power of its 1914 predecessor.
The young "Nayirah" who claimed to the House Human Rights Caucus
to have been an eyewitness to this dastardly deed, was actually
the daughter of Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait's ambassador to the
United States, and had left Kuwait weeks before the invasion. Her
story was debunked a year and a half later but not before President
Bush I had milked the story for its full propaganda value. FAIR,
December 4, 2002.]
Narcotics Act: Eighteen months after its approval by the House,
the Senate finally passes the Harrison Narcotics Act with little
or no public notice. Ostensibly designed to gather statistics on
the drug trade to comply with the United States' international obligation
to The Hague Convention, the measure requires everyone in the drug
trade to buy a license and keep records. However, a seemingly innocuous
clause that a physician may prescribe narcotics "in the course
of his professional practice only" will be used by the Treasury
Department to criminalize the use of narcotics. Gray,
[In the early
years of the century the typical American drug user was a middle-aged
Southern white woman who had become addicted to the heroin, opium,
or morphine in
the many patent medicines that could be bought without a prescription.
When these patent medicine manufacturers were required to list the
ingredients of their products under the Pure Food and Drug Act of
1906, people realized what they had been taking and many voluntarily
A 1914 survey
indicated that most addicts were women, that whites outnumbered
blacks 2-1, and about 80% of opiate users were hard-working, respectable
people. Drug use, which had peaked about 1900, was steadily declining.
The legislators who passed the Harrison Narcotics Act seemed not
to have anticipated the emergence of the drug peddler; $150,000
was the annual budget for enforcement. That amount is spent every
three minutes in the current "war on drugs." Gray,
pp. 43-44, 53, 55.]
Population: Some time during this year Census Bureau experts
estimate either January or April the population of the United
States reaches 100 million. Sam Roberts, "Come
October, Baby Will Make 300 Million or So", New York Times,
January 13, 2006.]
Alexander Graham Bell initiates the first transcontinental United
States telephone service.
of a Nation: David Griffith's film, The Clansman, premieres
in Los Angeles after a court order approves its release.
[It had been censored by the City Council because of its vicious
racial content and protests from the newly-formed National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) It was based on the
1905 novel of the same name by Thomas Dixon. It depicts the "horrors"
endured by the South during Reconstruction- barefooted black legislators
guzzling liquor from the bottle in the South Carolina Assembly,
white women raped by oversexed blacks, and so on that impels
the hero to enlist his white-sheeted cavalry to avenge these indignities
to white honor. They lynch, they burn down black homes, and they
prevent blacks from voting.
a prominent endorsement to ensure the viability of his and Griffiths'
He prevailed upon his old college classmate and fellow Southerner,
Woodrow Wilson, to show the film in the White House. 3
On the 18th Wilson, his daughters and his cabinet saw The
Clansman. Wilson congratulated Dixon: "It is like writing history
with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly
true." Dray, pp. 197-198.
The film was
truly spectacular. It was the longest made so far two and
a half hours and had innovated some techniques, such as the
close-up, the fade-out, the iris dissolve, the long vista shot and
the climactic action sequence, that clearly differentiated it from
earlier silent films and would be incorporated into the later "talkies."
When it was released in New York in May under the title, The
Birth of a Nation, there were riots and protests during its
The film became
an excellent recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan, glorified by
This new version of the KKK was the nativist reaction of white Protestants
in small-town America to Roman Catholics, Jews, foreigners, and
organized labor as well as to blacks.
By the early 1920s there were five million members and for a period
the political structure of at least two states Indiana and
Oregon would be controlled by Klan members.
When the film opened in Atlanta on Thanksgiving, 25,000 hooded Klansmen
paraded down the streets. The film, made at a cost of $500,000 with
a cast of 18,000, held the record as the most profitable Hollywood
film until the 1937 release of Disney's Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs.] Los Angeles Times, September
19, 2004, E-1.; Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, p. 15.
administration initiated segregation in several of the Departments
separate cafeterias and bathrooms where there had been no
separate facilities before. Many black officeholders from the Roosevelt
and Taft administrations were downgraded or eliminated. Dray,
the genocide of its Armenian population. About 250 of Armenian
intellectuals and leaders residing in Constantinople journalists,
doctors, teachers, lawyers, politicians, etc. are arrested
and immediately deported to destinations in Anatolia a day's journey
away. A partial list of the "Armenian notables deported from the
Ottoman capital in 1915" is available on Wikipedia, also
their ultimate destiny"survivor" or "killed", usually the
people died before this 1915 genocide was concluded. The 1894-1896
Massacres, waged by the "Red Sultan", Abdul Hamid II, had claimed
possibly 300,000 victims. According to the New York Times
50.000 children were orphaned. The sultan failed to finish the race
extermination only because he feared intervention from the western
powers (and he had already lost the territories of Bulgaria, Romania,
Serbia and Montenegro plus real authority in Cyprus, Egypt and the
In 1915 the
picture was different: England and France were busy fighting Germany
and Germany Turkey's ally didn't care. Russia had stood
as a bulwark during the first part of the war, but a Russian retreat
into the Caucasus in 1915 left the Armenians vulnerable. Usually
a victorious army will pursue the defeated army. Instead the Turks
under Enver and Talaat the real rulers of the Ottoman Empire
since the coup d'état of January, 1913 turned their attention
to finishing the job of the Red Sultan. Villages were burned, males
massacred, women raped and kidnapped to Turkish harems. The most
horrendous event of spring, 1915 was the so-called "deportation"
of the mass of Armenians a forced march from Van into the
deserts of Mesopotamia where those who didn't die of thirst, starvation,
or heat exhaustion were clubbed to death by Kurdish nomads.
The rest of
the world stood by and did nothing. The American Ambassador to Turkey,
Henry Morgenthau, Sr., 4 sent
numerous cables to Washington detailing the atrocities but was unable
to persuade Wilson to intervene. As a result, Hitler later stated
that he believed he could exterminate the Jewish population with
a similar indifference from the rest of the world. Currently the
Republic of Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, continues
to deny that a genocide of the Armenians ever took place. Beschloss,
The Conquerors p. 45; Morgenthau, pp. 236-320.
He is the father of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury
in Franklin Roosevelt's administration.
London: Neutral Italy joins Britain, France and Tsarist Russia
in the war against the Central Powers in a very secret meeting.
Italy drives a hard bargain Trentino and southern Tyrol with
their German-speaking populations plus Trieste, the Istrian peninsula,
Goritzia and Dalmatia with their Slavic populations. Additionally,
if Turkey in Asia should be partitioned, Italy should receive a
"just share" of the Mediterranean region adjacent to Adalia. Furthermore,
if France and Great Britain should assume the German colonies in
Africa, Italy should get a piece of the action. Italy received an
immediate loan from Britain of 50 million pounds.
[The Allies didn't get their money's worth. Italian ships were supposed
to patrol the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, but they seldom ventured
out of port. Italy procrastinated on an attack against Austria;
their troops then fled from the disaster at Caporetto in November,
1917. (Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver in Italy; part of
A Farewell to Arms is set in the retreat from Caporetto.) When
Woodrow Wilson learned the terms of the Treaty of London, he was
incensed and determined that Italy should not be given these non-Italian-speaking
territories. MacMillan, pp. 280-287.]
May 7, 1915
a British luxury liner bound for New York from Liverpool, is torpedoed
by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland. She sinks in 18 minutes;
nearly 1200 passengers die, including 128 Americans.
[Wilson resisted the clamor by many newspapers and prominent persons
to declare war against Germany; he insisted on maintaining "neutrality."
Millman, p. 30. Allied reports called
the sinking a "dastardly and heinous crime against civilians." George
Seldes notes that the ship was carrying munitions. Seldes,
Freedom of the Press, p. 33.
Anne Seward , the niece of Lincoln's Secretary of State, warned
President Wilson about a Captain von Rintelen who was now in the
United States and masquerading as a Swiss named Emile Gache. She
urged Wilson to break diplomatic relations with Germany.
Von Rintelen had been conspiring with chemist Walter Scheele, a
German "sleeper" spy in the United States since 1893, to manufacture
small cigar-shaped bombs which, planted on ammunition ships or in
chemical factories, caused devastating fires. A thin copper disk
the center of the lead pipe separated the potassium chloride from
the sulfuric acid. Depending on the thickness of the copper, the
acid would eat its way to the potassium and explode within hours
or days. The pipe bombs were manufactured on the Frederick the
Great, an interned German ship conveniently docked in New York
Harbor. Millman, pp. 20-24.]
330 US Marines land in Port-au-Prince to "protect American and foreign
interests." Seventeen of the 24 presidents since 1806 had been overthrown
by revolution. Eleven of them had served less than a year, only
two presidents managed to retire peacefully at the end of their
terms. The US Navy had made visits in 19 of these years eleven
of these in the new century to "protect American lives and
Marines were immediately joined by Marines from other ports, bringing
the invasion strength up to 2000 men. The precipitating event was
the very gruesome coup d'état of President Vilbrun Guillaume
Sam in which he was murdered by members of the mulatto elite in
the garden of the French legation. His body was thrown over the
wall where it was publicly dismembered by the noirs and his
various body parts were paraded through the streets.
of the Dominican Republic's legation was likewise violated in order
to seize Oscar Etienne, Sam's much-loathed chief executioner who
had ordered the slaughter of 168 political prisoners. Admiral William
Caperton and the USS Washington were conveniently anchored outside
the harbor. In fact, the original contingent of marines was landed
before Caperton received such orders from Washington.
Plans to invade
and occupy Haiti had been underway in the United States for several
years. This latest atrocity was just the excuse. The New York
Times noted (July 31) that the force being sent to Haiti "is
much larger than is necessary for mere protection of foreign interests."
Sea is the "American Mediterranean" Alfred Thayer Mahan had
so proclaimed in his influential book, The Influence of Sea Power
upon History (1890), a book that was enthusiastically reviewed in
the Atlantic Monthly by a thirty-one-year old Theodore Roosevelt.
After a survey
of the Caribbean in 1897 Captain Mahan stressed the strategic importance
of the Windward Passage which separates Cuba and Haiti by only 80
kilometers. This passage was the gateway between the Atlantic Ocean
and the Caribbean Sea, a passage that would be critical for shipping
from either of the two canals then under consideration through
Nicaragua or across Colombia's Panamanian isthmus
to ports on the Atlantic coasts.
He warned that the United States must control both Guantánamo Bay
in Cuba and Môle Saint-Nicolas in northwestern Haiti.
States received a perpetual lease of Guantánamo Bay and de facto
sovereignty in 1903, but the efforts to persuade the various
Haitian governments to cede Môle Saint Nicolas were unsuccessful.
The State Department became increasingly alarmed at the success
of Germans in taking over the commercial interests of Haiti
and their interest in Môle Saint Nicolas. Not having the American
disdain for the gens de couleur who had become the
powerful elite in Haiti since independence in 1804 German
immigrants had been marrying mulatto women and through them purchasing
land. (All of the constitutions since independence in 1804 had forbidden
land ownership by foreigners.)
of the 1904 Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine that
the US was entitled to police/occupy those countries in the western
hemisphere that were delinquent in international debts to prevent
European intervention to collect those debts definitely was
not relevant to Haiti. In 1915 Haiti was not in arrears in debt
payments despite the loss of its major coffee market to France because
of the war. Honduras was over $100 million in arrears, and Mexico
owed $15 million. But it was Haiti that was to be occupied by the
United States for the next nineteen years.
established more easily in the coastal cities and towns than in
the interior. There the cacos outlaws and bandits,
currently faithful to Dr. Rosalvo Bobo were in control. The
occupation authorities chose Philippe Dartiguanave to be their client-president
rather than Bobo, the poor people's choice. Dartiguanave was "elected"
on August 12th by the Haitian congress; Admiral Caperton was compelled
to declare martial law less than a month later due to the unrest.
Dartiguanave would serve with the protection of a nine-man marine
bodyguard and political offenders would be tried in US military
courts until the strikes and riots of 1929.
administration wanted the legitimacy of a treaty; the legislature
was coerced into signing one that:
the United States occupation of their country,
- provided for a gendarmerie trained and officered by Americans,
- gave the United States control of all public utilities,
- granted receivership of the customs to the United States,
- agreed to settlement of claims to the Banque Nationale (soon to
be an asset of the National City Bank of New York now Citibank),
- guaranteed the security of Môle Saint Nicolas.
In return the United States promised to aid the economic development
of Haiti and to send a financial advisor.
negotiations were concluded in November. Soon after that Admiral
Caperton and Captain Beach returned home. They had mingled with
the mulatto elite and were well-liked. Not so their successors
Colonel Tony Waller and Major Smedley Butler who had brought
with them racial prejudice and an inability (or unwillingness) to
differentiate between the two obvious castes in Haiti.
descendant of a long line of Virginia slaveholders, including some
slain in the Nat Turner Rebellion: "They are real nigger and no
mistake. There are some very fine-looking, well-educated polished
men here but they are real nigs beneath the surface." Jim Crow-type
segregation was introduced; the American Club the center of
social life for Americans in Port-au-Prince was closed to
all Haitians, even the client-president.
The old French
system of corvée forced labor to repair and build roads
in lieu of payment of taxes was re-established. Haitian men
were obliged to work outside their districts, "marched to and from
their work bound together." There was much brutality and many illegal
executions 400 were killed in one corvée detachment
of 3000 men. A network of roads connecting all the major towns as
well as a 170-mile highway through the mountains from Port-au-Prince
to Cap Haitien was thereby achieved as well as mounting hostility
from the proud independent landholding peasants. As Butler wrote
to the assistant secretary of the navy, Franklin Roosevelt: "It
would not do to ask too many questions as to how we accomplish this
entered the war in Europe in 1918, the leading German nationals
in Haiti were interned and all German property was sequestered.
All other members of the German colony were required to register
and report daily to the gendarmes. The prisoners were not released
until some considerable time after the end of the war and then were
kept under surveillance. In 1920 fifty leading Germans were deported
and the main steamship line to Haiti from Europe was instructed
to deny passage to Germans. So ended the German influence in Haiti
which, in 1915, had been 80% of the economy.
wrote a new constitution for Haiti a custom with each new
A major change was the elimination of the clause forbidding foreign
ownership of land.
When the National Assembly refused to adopt this new constitution,
it was dissolved by Major Butler, and would not meet again until
after the strikes and riots of 1929. A plebiscite then "authorized"
the constitution: 98,225 - 768. (Out of 96 polling places, 67 recorded
NO negative votes.)
mindful that his policy of self-determination had not been applied
to Haiti would have liked to withdraw troops in 1919, but
that would have insured a victory for the cacos, the overthrow
of the client government, and furious denunciations of American
imperialism which had been so far censored and outlawed by the military.
In the first
five years of the Occupation 3250 Haitians were killed, but only
14-16 Marines. The year 1919 was an exceptionally lethal year; a
caco leader had set up a provisional government in the north.
According to official Marine Corps statistics, 1891 Haitians were
killed that year in an effort to subdue the uprising. The first
instance of coordinated air-ground combat occurred in the pursuit
of the cacos machine guns firing from low-flying planes
in March, 1919.
1920 presidential campaign the Republicans made good use of the
reports of abuse and murders by the occupation forces to denigrate
the Wilson administration. Especially effective was the 1919 order
from the Marine Corps commandant to his subordinate in Haiti to
stop the "indiscriminate killing of the natives." Presidential candidate
Harding decried the "rape of Haiti"; newspapers ran atrocity stories
about "slaughter" and "slavery in Haiti." Once elected president,
Harding forgot about his advocacy of independence for Haiti; his
main interest in the country seemed to be the replacement of competent
treaty officials with his political appointees. A 1921 Senate inquiry
failed to do a thorough investigation of the allegations but did
result in the reorganization of the Occupation.
In 1922 the
United States through National City Bank floated a loan
to the Haitian government which repaid all previous loans and claims,
including those stemming from the massive debt to France coerced
in 1825. There was very little left over for Haitian economic development,
but bondholders were paid 6.25% at maturity. Revenues from the prosperous
years 1922-1929 were used to pay off the debt to American investors
far in advance of scheduled payments, thus depriving Haiti of funds
that could have been used for schools and public works.
The main benefits
to Haiti from the Occupation: roads and bridges, sanitation projects,
hospitals and clinics, currency reform, and the completion of many
civic buildings, including the Presidential Palace. Neglected were
efforts to teach self-government or to educate the populace which
was 97% illiterate in 1915 with little or no improvement by 1934.
An attempt was made to re-introduce the plantation system which
would have destroyed the economic and social fabric of small land-holdings
of subsistence farmers. Schmidt, Occupation,
pp. 3-188; Heinl, pp. 370-487; McCullough, Path, pp.250-255;
Boot, pp. 156-167, 171-181.
HAS WORKED IN U.S. TO SHAPE OPINION, BLOCK THE ALLIES AND GET MUNITIONS
FOR HERSELF, TOLD IN SECRET AGENTS' LETTERS scream the headlines
of the New York World.
[In July the German spy and paymaster, Heinrich Albert, had mistakenly
left his briefcase on the 6th Avenue El where it was retrieved by
the Secret Service agent who had been tailing him. Colonel House
leaked the contents of the briefcase to the World records
of payments to individuals and newspapers to influence popular opinion
plus the purchase of a munitions factory in Connecticut. Public
outrage was instantaneous: sauerkraut was renamed "liberty cabbage,"
German operas were suspended at the Metropolitan, individuals with
German last names were no longer allowed to roll bandages for the
Red Cross they might be including broken glass!, libraries
discarded German books, some schools ceased teaching the German
language, and so on. Wilson was forced to acknowledge that the country
was "infested with German spies." Millman, pp.
Verdun: The Germans launch a massive artillery bombardment against
the fortified city of Verdun in the heaviest bombardment in any
war to date, lasting nine hours. [The fight for Verdun continued
until mid-December; there were 700,000 casualties in a ten kilometer
square sector; more soldiers died per square yard than in any other
conflict before or since- nearly 300,000 Frenchmen and Germans with
another 450,000 wounded. In June the Germans used phosgene gas for
the first time. Brendon, Dark Valley, pp.
Lines in the Sand The Sykes-Picot Agreement: In this very
secret arrangement Britain, France and Russia agree on the future
division of Turkey's Arab possessions. Palestine and most of Mesopotamia
(now Iraq) will go to Britain; Syria, Lebanon and the Mosul vilayet
to France. Russia will receive the Turkish provinces adjacent to
Russia in the Caucasus and, most importantly will be given Constantinople
and the straits, thus gaining access to the Mediterranean through
the Dardanelles, a goal of the Czars since Peter the Great. (Ironically,
the Crimean War had been fought to prevent this, with Britain and
France on the side of the Ottoman Turks!) Catherwood,
pp. 41-42, MacMillan, p. 374.
"sick man of Europe," had been hemorrhaging losing territories
for a decade. In 1908 Bulgaria had declared independence of the
Ottoman Empire and Austria had annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. Italy
declared war in 1911 and seized Libya.
The Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 saw the loss of Albania, Macedonia
The British regretted Sykes-Picot almost immediately, as they did
not want the French to acquire so much new territory, especially
territory conquered and occupied by troops of the British Empire.
Catherwood, pp. 57-58. Another problem:
Britain had previously promised political independence and self-determination
to the Arabs in return for their support in the war against Germany
and the Ottoman Empire. Loftus and Aarons, Secret
War, pp. 28-29.]
Day of the Battle of the Somme:
21,000 British soldiers are killed or mortally wounded on this one
day. Geoffrey Wheatcroft compares this monstrous loss of the "cream
of British and Irish manhood" to the 4500 American deaths in eight
years of war in Iraq. "Given respective populations, the present-day
equivalent of that July 1 would be 280,000 GIs killed between dawn
Roads Movement" wins a twenty-four year battle for federal funding
of road construction when President Wilson signs the Federal Aid
Road Act of 1916. The federal government will fund state highway
departments to build specified roads on a 50-50 basis. This was
the first use of the system of federal-state matching funds which
would subsequently be employed in many other spheres.
impetus for this legislation came from the new fad of bicycling
whose enthusiasts formed the National League for Good Roads in 1892.
In the next decade they were joined by the automobile owners and
the American Automobile Association. Meanwhile agricultural groups
were lobbying for "farm-to-market" roads which were derided by the
proponents of long-distance highways as "roads from nowhere to nowhere."
The final impetus
for a compromise bill came from the lesson of the First Battle of
the Marne. In September, 1914 Paris had been saved by the mobilization
of 600 taxicabs to ferry reservists to the battlefront. These taxis
used roads considerably better than the average road in the United
States; in 1919 it took Colonel Dwight Eisenhower two months to
drive from Washington to San Francisco over dirt roads and crumbling
bridges. Later as president he pressed Congress for the funding
that established the Interstate Highway system that we know today.
The federal share increased to 90%. Janette Rainwater's
never-finished PhD dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University, 1949.]
"Extermination:" American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire,
Henry Morgenthau, cables Washington: "Deportation of and excesses
against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports
of eyewitnesses it appears that a campaign of race extermination
is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion."
[Talat Pasha, one of the architects of the Armenian genocide, approached
Morgenthau to have American life insurance companies send him lists
of all their Armenian policy holders. "They are practically all
dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money. It of course
all escheats to the State. The Government is the beneficiary now."
A livid Morgenthau refused his request. Morgenthau,
pp. 333-336; Black, Banking on Baghdad, 231-233.]
Tom Island munitions depot explodes shortly after midnight.
Officially called the Jersey City Terminal, this is the largest
munitions depot in the United States and, during the work week,
is busy shipping ammunition to England and France.
[It started first with a small fire which soon ignited the supplies
on the barge Johnson 17 which contained 200,000 pounds of TNT and
25,000 detonators. Soon there were other explosions. It "felt like
an earthquake" as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland. The force
was that of a 5.5 earthquake on the Richter scale.
There was panic
in New York City; almost all windows in lower Manhattan were shattered;
the glass roof on the aquarium in Battery Park caved in; the Statue
of Liberty sustained some shrapnel in her back side. At 3 AM the
500 immigrants on Ellis Island were evacuated by ferry to Manhattan.
Amazingly there were only five deaths (although many homeless who
were sleeping on nearby barges should have enlarged the count.)
Damage was estimated at $20 million-or $350 million in 2005 money.
Four of the seven piers were destroyed as were thirteen of the 24
warehouses. Sugar in one of the warehouses continued to burn for
It was widely
believed that German saboteurs were responsible for this destruction,
as indeed they were, although that would not be officially established
until June, 1939.
In strategic spots on steamships and barges three German spies placed
glass "pencils" containing potassium chlorate and sulfuric acid
separated by a slim copper disc. These had been supplied by Section
III-B of the German secret service in February. The "pencils" were
an improvement on the "cigar" pipe bombs made in the US that had
been responsible for fires and explosions-nearly 100 between April,
1915 and America's entry into the war-on merchant ships leaving
New York harbor and in chemical factories.
It took the
Mixed Claims Commission established in 1921 to settle wartime
damage claims against Germany over two decades to settle the
Black Tom claim, thanks to the stonewalling and outright lying by
successive German governments. Final proof of the deception by the
German officials came from the diligent legwork of John J. McCloy,
a young partner in the firm of Cravath, Henderson & de Gersdorff.
In 1940 Henry
Stimson, FDR's new secretary of war, impressed by McCloy's work
on Black Tom, hired him as his consultant. And so began the rise
to fame of "Chairman" McCloy high commissioner for Germany
after World War II, negotiator in the Cuban missile crisis, member
of the Warren Commission to investigate the Kennedy assassination,
chairman of the World Bank, chairman of Chase Bank, chairman of
the Council on Foreign Relations, and so on. Millman,
The Detonators; Bird, The Chairman.]
Election: Woodrow Wilson is re-elected president against the
Republican candidate, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (also a
former governor of New York) in a cliff-hanger election.
electoral vote was 277-254, with 266 needed to win.
The popular vote: Wilson 49%, Hughes 46%.
Hughes gained the early lead in New England and the East to the
extent that several newspapers prematurely awarded him the victory,
but Wilson refused to concede.
As the evening progressed, more states fell into Wilson's column.
California's 13 votes decided the victor- and Wilson won the state
by only 3800 votes out of around a million cast. He had campaigned
with the slogan: "He kept us out of war."]
26-December 5, 1916
the Rumanian Oilfields: Colonel John Norton-Griffiths, M.P.,
arrives in Rumania from Russia at the behest of the British government
and methodically destroys the jewel of Rumania's economy seventy
oil refineries and eight hundred thousand tons of crude oil.
[Rumania had become the sole European supplier of petroleum to the
German war effort. The Allied blockade had severely limited the
arrival of petroleum from overseas. So when neutral Rumania declared
war against the Central Powers in August, Germany and Austria immediately
sent troops to occupy Rumania and take over oil production. "We
should not have been able to exist, much less carry on the war,
without Rumania's corn and oil," General Erich Ludendorff, the army's
mastermind, said in retrospect. Troops
arrived in Ploesti only hours after the last fire had been set.
It took the Germans five months to get the oil fields back into
production. The 1917 production was only one-third of that of 1914
yet this recovery plus the Rumanian corn "made the difference between
shortage and collapse."
also experienced shortages of oil but not to the extent of Germany.
Germany began its unrestricted submarine warfare at the beginning
of 1917; in the first six months the Allies had lost twice the tonnage
of the comparable period in 1916. Standard Oil of New Jersey lost
six tankers in the summer, including the brand new John D. Archbold.
In October Britain's new official, the Petroleum Executive, completely
banned pleasure-driving. The United States was attempting to fill
the Allied war demands. Petroleum production in 1914 had been 266
million barrels, or 65% of the total world output. By 1917 these
figures had risen to 335 million barrels, or 67% of world production.
At first a
quarter of US oil had been exported to Europe. When the Russian
Revolution had cut off that source of oil for the Allies, the United
States bought more oil from Mexico and increased the proportion
of its exports. The Fuel Administration, established by Wilson in
August 1917, orchestrated the supply of oil for both domestic use
and war export.
The leading player among the oil producers and refiners was the
head of Standard Oil of New Jersey. Ironically the government was
involved in organizing cooperation with business rather than trust-busting
as it had been less than a decade earlier.
cold winter of 1917-18 caused a shortage of coal in the United States;
inmates in orphanages and asylums died of frostbite. In May 1918
Mark Requa, the newly-appointed and first energy czar, called for
voluntary "Gasolineless Sundays" in an effort to conserve petrol;
the number of automobiles in the United States had almost doubled
since 1916. With exceptions for doctors, police and emergency vehicles,
the appeal was pretty generally observed. "I suppose I must walk
to church," President Wilson said. Yergin, The
Prize, pp. 176-182.
a brilliant engineer, nicknamed "Empire Jack" and "The Sledge Hammer,"
made another significant contribution to the British war effort.
Using his invention of "clay-kicking" a silent method of tunneling
through clay he organized the construction of tunnels underneath
No Man's Land to the German trenches where mines were exploded.
The Battle of Messines in Belgium, 7 June 1917, has been considered
the most successful operation on the Western Front in the Great
War. Nineteen mines were simultaneously exploded with a roar that
was heard in Dublin and by the Prime Minister in his Downing Street
office. Twenty thousand German soldiers were killed in the explosion
plus many more as Allied soldiers advanced to take the Messines
Ridge, a vital observation post for the Germans. firstworldwar.com/battles/messines.htm.]
Telegram: German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman sends a coded
telegram to the German Ambassador in the United States for forwarding
to the German ambassador to Mexico. The message announces that Germany
will begin unrestricted submarine warfare on February 1st. If the
United States should enter the war on the side of the Allies, Germany
would like to propose that Mexico enter into the war on Germany's
side and Germany would cede "the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico
and Arizona" to Mexico. 5
was intercepted by British intelligence, deciphered, and its contents
revealed to the Americans on February 22nd. When made public on
March 1st, there was much anger in the US and a demand to go to
war, even in the super-isolationalist middle of the country. David
Kahn: "No other single cryptanalysis has had such enormous consequences.
Never before or since has so much turned upon the solution of a
secret message. . . . The codebreakers held history in the palm
of their hand." Kaiser Wilhem II would later admit that his decree
of unrestricted submarine warfare was "one of the most colossal
military and strategic blunders in the history of the world." Karp,
Politics of War, pp. 309-323; Kahn, The Codebreakers,
pp. 282-297; Conrad Black, p. 77. ]
the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Mexican government was
forced to cede 55% of its territory present-day Arizona, California,
New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Colorado, Nevada and Utah
to the United States in exchange for fifteen million dollars in
compensation for war-related damage to Mexican property.
Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Wilson's
veto. It includes a literacy test; any immigrant over 16 must demonstrate
that he can read a 40-word passage in his native language.
[Wilson decried this provision, saying that literacy was a "test
of opportunity, not of character." The restrictionists had persuaded
Congress to pass similar measures before, but they were vetoed by
Cleveland in 1896, Taft in 1913 and Wilson in 1915. They believed
that such a restriction would decrease immigration from southeastern
Europe by at least 25%. Divine, American Immigration
Policy, 1924-1952, pp. 3-5.]
The "February" Revolution 6
starts with a general strike in Petrograd 7
and riots in the streets one of the first begins with women
queuing for bread. The army, composed mainly of peasant conscripts,
refuses to march against them. The Petrograd Soviet of Workers'
Deputies is formed. The people are tired of the war and distrustful
of the Tsar, Nicholas II, and his German-born Tsarina. The landlords
and the bourgeoisie wish to continue the war, but get rid of the
royal family. Railroad workers stop the train on which the Tsar
is returning from the battlefield to Petrograd. He is forced to
abdicate and then is arrested a few days later. The Duma establishes
a Provisional Government later headed by Alexander Kerensky
which will continue support for the war against Germany.
The Tsarist regime ends with only 169 deaths and less than 1000
the police system across the empire fell apart. The gendarmes took
off their uniforms and went into hiding. Prison gates were flung
open; political dissidents and criminals alike were set free. Two
old Bolsheviks, Stalin and Kamenev, hastened to Petrograd from their
exile in Krasnoyarsk. Their younger colleagues in the Soviet put
them on the editorial board of Pravda which they soon controlled.
The US recognized
this new regime on March 22nd. At the US cabinet meeting on the
20th, at which the decision was made to ask Congress for a declaration
of war against the Central Powers, Secretary of State Robert Lansing
argued that this event in Russia could aid the thesis that the war
was a crusade for democracy. The Provisional Government formed after
the Tsar's forced abdication was, according to Edmund Wilson's description,
"recruited from a bourgeoisie whose tendencies toward liberalism
were limited to the desire to get rid of the Romanovs." Kennan,
Russia Leaves the War, pp. 14-16; Wilson, To the Finland
Station, pp. 537-538; Reed, p. 15; Medvedev, Let History
Judge, pp. 40-42, Heller and Nekrich, pp. 27-28.]
In 1917 Russia was still using the Julian calendar,
so the two revolutions occurred in their calendar months of February
and October. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar in February,
1918 was one of Lenin's first reforms. All the dates given here
are in the Gregorian calendar in use in the United States and most
of Europe at that time.
7 Saint Petersburg, the
capital of Russia, had been renamed Petrograd at the beginning of
the war in 1914, as the name sounded too German. After Lenin's death
in 1924 it was renamed Leningrad in his honor. After the dissolution
of the Soviet Union in 1991, the city reverted to its original name,
given to it by Peter the Great in 1703.
President Woodrow Wilson in a special session of Congress asks for
a formal declaration of war on Germany and the Central Powers by
the United States- to "accept the status of belligerent that has
been thrust upon it.... The world must be made safe for democracy."
[Congress quickly approved, although six senators and fifty representatives
voted against the measure. One was Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) on her
fourth day in Congress. She was the first woman elected to Congress
and served her first term before the 1920 ratification
of the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote throughout
the nation. Another was Meyer London, a socialist representing New
York City's Lower East Side:
"In matters of war I am a teetotaler; I refuse to take the first
Both, however, supported the war once it was declared and voted
the war resolution on Good Friday, April 6th, and the US was at
war after thirty-two months of neutrality. The principal events
preceding Wilson's request had been Germany's submarine warfare
on America's merchant ships and the interception of the "Zimmermann
Telegram." In 1935 George Seldes stated the belief of many of his
contemporaries that the United States had really gone to war for
"the necessity of safeguarding the war loans." Seldes,
Freedom of the Press, p. 34; Baker, Human Smoke, p.
While campaigning for re-election in 1916 (on a "He kept us out
of war" platform), Wilson privately conceded that any "little German
lieutenant can put us into war at any time by some calculated outrage."
Conrad Black, p. 75.
In January Wilson had said to Colonel House that
the US was the "only one of the great white nations that is free
from war today, and it would be a crime against civilization for
us to go in." In May, 1921 the American Ambassador to the Court
of St. James, George Harvey, created quite a stir when he said in
a public address with Prime Minister David Lloyd George and
Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon in the audience that the United
States had not sent its men to Europe in 1917 to "save the world
for democracy" but rather "we sent them solely to save the United
States of America." Offner, Origins of the Second World War
(1975), pp. 3-5.
To the Finland Station: Lenin, the exiled Bolshevik revolutionary,
arrives at Finland Station in Petrograd, having been sent by the
Germans in a sealed train from Switzerland through Germany, Sweden
and Finland accompanied by about thirty other Russian political
exiles, all of whom had been certified by Lenin as opposed to the
continuation of the war with Germany but none of them Mensheviks.
9 Welcomed by stage-managed
crowds waving red flags and a band playing the "Marseillaise"-
the sheet music for the "Internationale" being unavailable-,
Lenin proclaims that this revolution is just the vanguard of the
coming international socialist revolution, the dictatorship of the
Government had blocked the return of the internationalists, but
the Petrograd Soviet controlled by Mensheviks- who had
much of the power on the streets agreed to Lenin's return along
with exiled Mensheviks.
The programs that Lenin would institute were clear from the articles
he had been sending to Pravda in his "Letters from Afar":
--- a new "people's" militia to replace the old police,
which would distribute food to the needy and open the Tsar's palaces
to the homeless;
--- disruption of the military and an end to the war with Germany;
--- repudiation of all debts incurred to fight the war; and
--- publication of all secret treaties.
These letters had either been ignored or heavily censored by Stalin
and Kamenev, as editors of the Bolshevik party newspaper. (They
had been planning to unite with the Mensheviks and collaborate with
the Provisional Government on some measures.
Lenin, the acknowledged head of the international party, was adamant
that the Provisional Government must be overthrown. Brendon,
p. 11; Andrew, Defend the Realm, pp. 99-100; Wilson, pp.
538- 554; Heller, pp. 29-30; Medvedev, Roy, pp. 42-44.]
was a split among the communists at the Second Party Congress in
Brussels in July, 1903. Lenin wanted a ruling that no one be allowed
to join the party without a commitment to work actively for the
party. Comrade Martov felt this was too authoritarian; he wanted
a party with thousands of working-class members. When Lenin's faction
got more votes for the Central Committee and the editorial board
of Iskra, Lenin named his group the Bol'sheviki (Majority
Group) and Martov's faction the Men'sheviki (Minority Group.) Trotsky
had voted with the minority group; he and Lenin were ideological
opponents until the February Revolution. Service,
pp. pp. 75-77.
act supersedes an espionage act of 1911; it mandates greater penalties
(including death) for obtaining and/or transmitting information
that could be used to the injury of the United States and/or to
the advantage of a foreign nation. Section 3 provides a penalty
of twenty years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 for anyone who,
in time of war, should - make or convey false statements with intent
to interfere with the success of US military operations, - obstruct
the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, or -
cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or
refusal of duty in the Army or the Navy of the United States.
[After Charles Schenck, the general secretary of the Socialist Party,
was convicted on December 20th for the printing and distribution
of anti-draft leaflets, he questioned the constitutionality of the
Espionage Act on First Amendment grounds and appealed to the Supreme
Court. See March 3, 1919.]
Protest Parade: Ten thousand black adults and children march
down Fifth Avenue in New York City from 59th Street to Madison Square.
The only sound is a muffled drum beat. The march has been organized
by James Weldon Johnson of the NAACP to protest two recent particularly
horrible lynchings the immolation of Ell Persons in Memphis
in front of a crowd of five thousand and the pogrom-like massacre
of a community in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Some signs: "INDIA IS ABOLISHING CASTE- AMERICA IS ADOPTING IT"
A military contingent's sign: "WE WERE FIRST IN FRANCE ASK
Dray, pp. 231-237.
raid forty-eight IWW offices across the US in a prelude to indictments
of 166 organizers for "obstructing" the war. [Ultimately hundreds
of members of the Industrial Workers of the World were jailed for
sedition. The IWW (or "Wobblies") had been founded in 1905 and used
violence against property as well as political action to further
its aims of fair wages and safe working conditions for its members,
many of whom were immigrant textile and mine workers.]
-- Balfour Declaration: Great Britain issues the "Balfour Declaration"
which states: "His Majesty's Government views with favor the establishment
in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people... it being
clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice
the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities
[This declaration became the rallying point for the Zionist movement;
recent scholarship implies that the declaration was a propaganda
device designed to encourage the American press erroneously
believed to be controlled by Jews to campaign for the commitment
of major numbers of American troops in World War I. Loftus
and Aarons, Secret War, p. 29.
The British cabinet approved this letter which was sent by Foreign
Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leading member
of the Jewish community in Britain. 10
Since Great Britain had no sovereign rights over Palestine in 1917,
the letter had no legal force. At this time there were about 85,000
Jews living in Palestine and 600,000 Arabs. Bregman,
Israel's Wars, pp. 4-6.]
Brian Klug states that the Balfour Declaration was promoted by anti-Semites
within the civil and foreign service who believed that the Jews,
acting collectively, were manipulating world events from behind
the scenes. Its issuance was opposed and delayed by prominent Jews
who were anti-Zionist. Balfour, when Prime Minister, had introduced
the 1905 Aliens Bill which restricted immigration of Jews from Eastern
Europe into Great Britain. "The Myth of the New
Anti-Semitism," Nation, February 2, 2004.
The Bolsheviks seize power in the "October" Revolution.
[Children in the future Soviet Union would read that the revolution
had been carefully planned and executed by the Bolsheviks, principally
Stalin. Not so! Much of the impetus was provided by Minister of
War Alexander Kerensky who ordered a major offensive against the
Central Powers which began July 1st at a time when the Bolsheviks
were calling for "Peace! Bread! Land!" Although initially successful,
the operation soon became a rout with the Germans advancing 240
kilometers. Except for the troops commanded by General Lavr Kornilov,
there was widespread mutiny, sabotage and desertion by the soldiers
plus some fragging of their officers.
the "July Days" July 16-20- when there were spontaneous
demonstrations against the Provisional Government by half a million
people. Socialist Kerensky, now the prime minister, responded with
repression. Over 700 were killed or wounded. Lenin went into hiding;
Trotsky and the other Bolshevik leaders were arrested and imprisoned.
In late August
General Kornilov, a monarchist and no friend of the liberal Provisional
Government, ordered his troops to march on Petrograd. To prevent
this threatened coup d'état, Kerensky turned to the Petrograd Soviet
for help. The Bolsheviks were released from prison; Lenin returned
from Finland. Trotsky became head of the Petrograd Soviet and organized
the Red Guards (with arms and ammunition supplied by the Kerensky
government.) The railway workers stopped all trains entering Petrograd
including those carrying Kornilov's soldiers and equipment. Bolshevik
agents persuaded soldiers that to obey Kornilov's commands would
be a betrayal of the Revolution, and so the coup was aborted.
11, with the Provisional Government now substantially weakened,
Lenin made still another proposal to the Central Committee of the
Petrograd Soviet that they should overthrow the government. This
time his plan won, 10-2, with Zinoviev and Kamenev dissenting. Several
proposed dates for insurrection came and went with no action.
However, Kerensky, alarmed by the published dissent of Zinoviev
and Kamenev, decided to take pre-emptive action. He ordered the
Cadets to occupy the Pravda office, stop the presses and seal the
doors. When Trotsky heard this, his response was "Break the seals."
Copies of Pravda
were for sale on the streets the next day and at 2 AM on November
7th the Red Guards began their planned actions: seizure of banks
and railway stations and occupation of the Post Office and the principal
government buildings, culminating with the Winter Palace where most
of the ministers were meeting. (Kerensky had already fled Petrograd
with the help of a "borrowed" Renault from an American military
would later claim credit for the organization and success of the
revolution, was nowhere to be seen; he was occupied with his duties
as editor of Rabochy Put. And there is not one mention of
Stalin in John Reed's Ten Days That Shook the World. (In
the 30s that book, with a commendatory introduction by Lenin, became
a banned book in the Soviet Union.)
seven fatalities; in the space of 40 hours the Bolsheviks had taken
control of Petrograd. By 1921 they were in control of all of Russia.
On the 8th Lenin issued his
"Decree on Peace," which was addressed to "all belligerent peoples
and their governments."
In it he called for the immediate negotiations for a "just and democratic
peace" one without indemnities and without annexation of territory
or the forced movement of foreign individuals. In effect, Lenin's
words, given to the newspapers and broadcast by wireless, called
for people internationally to demand an end to the current war and
also to those in colonies maintained by the imperialist powers to
rebel. His decree was published in New York on the 10th. For
the excitement of these events and the mood of the times, read John
Ten Days That Shook the World or watch Warren Beatty's film
Reds. Service, pp. 183-191; Reed, pp. xxii- xvii, 29-163;
Kennan, Russia Leaves the War, pp.71-82; Medvedev, Let
History Judge, pp, 47-48; Heller and Nekrich, pp. 38-45.]
The Electoral Commission established by the now-defunct
Provisional Government has continued with plans for elections
to the Constituent Assembly. In the first genuine parliamentary
election ever held in Russia, votes are cast throughout the country.
[The Social-Revolutionaries won 410 of the 707 seats; the Bolsheviks
won only 175 seats even with the addition of some Left S-Rs. Kennan,
Russia Leaves the War, p. 346.]
Manchester Guardian begins publication of the secret treaties
signed by Britain, France and Tsarist Russia. [Trotsky, the People's
Commissar for Foreign Affairs, had found them in the archives and
released them to world newspapers, stating, "The abolition of secret
diplomacy is the primary condition of an honorable, popular, really
democratic foreign policy." These were treaties designed to induce
other countries to join with the Allies against the Central Powers.
Andrew and Gordievsky, pp.38-39.]
The Cheka a secret police to combat counter-revolution
and sabotage is formed by Lenin. 11
It is intended as a temporary measure, as the new government of
Russia expects that the coming world revolution will abolish capitalism
and there will no longer be a need for spies or diplomats. Feliks
Dzerzhinsky is the first head of this All-Russian Extraordinary
Commission for Combating Counter-revolution and Sabotage the
formal name for the Cheka.
[By 1921 the
Cheka had 250,000 agents (as compared to 15,000 in the Tsar's secret
police.) Executions were averaging 1000 a month (as compared to
14,000 in the fifty years before 1917.) Brendon,
pp. 12-13. During the Civil War executions by the Cheka
possibly exceeded the number of deaths on the battlefield. The Cheka
attracted some pathologically sadistic agents who performed some
horrifically brutal tortures by way of execution. Lenin and Dzerzhinsky
made some attempts to outlaw the sadism, but the formidable secret
police became necessary to support the totalitarian regime. Initially,
it was intelligence that was needed during the three-year civil
war. Then it was the Cheka's "ruthless mass terror" to counter those
who opposed the swift "construction of the Socialist order." The
State took control of everything: banks and factories were nationalized,
private property ceased to exist, housing was shared, and farms
would be collectivized. Andrew, Sword and Shield,
11 The secret service went
through a series of name changes: GPU (1922), OGPU (1923), NKVD
(1934), KGB (1954) in the USSR; FSK (1993) in Russia.
Congress passes an amendment to the Constitution which would prohibit
the sale of alcohol. Many "wet" Senators are reluctant to vote for
the bill, yet afraid to vote against it. Therefore, they insert
a provision that, to be effective, the amendment must be ratified
by three-fourth of the state legislatures within seven years.
against "demon rum" had been led by middle-class Protestant business
men who had supported and pressured candidates and lawmakers to
pass incremental pieces of legislation- initially local-option laws-
to control the liquor traffic. By 1906 40% of Americans lived in
communities that had banned saloons. The first example of a successful
single-interest group in America, the ASL (Anti-Saloon League) used
trained speakers, field workers, and collection days in churches,
tactics that would be used by groups such as the anti-abortion movement
later in the century.
shifted from the saloon to "bone-dry" prohibition with the beginning
of the war. ("Shall the many have food, or the few have drink?")
The hatred of Germans easily spread to the breweries owned by German-Americans
such as Pabst and Busch. Another subtext was the resentment of Protestant
rural America against the growing tide of immigrants, many of whom
were Catholic city-dwellers who were used to drinking wine and beer.
Pegram, Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for
a Dry America, pp. 109-148.]
Anti-Bolshevik Action: Britain and France secretly agree on
cooperative efforts against the Russian borderlands: France to attack
in Bessarabia, the Ukraine and Crimea; Britain to take on the Caucasus,
Armenia, Georgia, Kurdistan and the Cossack territory.
Points: President Woodrow Wilson enunciates his "Fourteen Points"
which include: " no secret treaties " boundary lines to be determined
by nationality " no punishment or reparations for the losers in
the war " a League of Nations. [He subsequently backed down on all
points except for the League of Nations.]
- First (and last) Meeting of the Constituent Assembly: The
meeting, originally set by the Provisional Government for December
11, finally meets in the Tauride Palace, the meeting place of the
had locked the Tauride and posted guards on December 11th to prevent
any informal meetings of the non-Bolsheviki. On the 26th Lenin had
posted an article declaring that the "interests of this revolution
stand over the formal rights of the Constituent Assembly" and warning
that if there was not a complete endorsement of all actions taken
by the Soviet regime, the crisis would be resolved by "the most
energetic, swift, firm and decisive revolutionary measures."
In the days
immediately preceding the meeting, large guns were mounted around
the Tauride. Sailors from the Baltic Fleet and Latvian sharpshooters
patrolled the area surrounding the palace. Demonstrators in favor
of the Constituent Assembly were unable to reach the palace; about
thirty died and hundreds were wounded in the attempt.
The deputies were forced to enter the palace through a cordon of
armed and highly agitated guards. Once inside, the opening was delayed
for several hours.
seized the gavel from the Social-Revolutionary who was attempting
to open the meeting; he demanded that all the deputies sing the
Internationale. There was din and disruption whenever an
S-R deputy spoke. However, they managed to get a few constitutional
measures passed. Around midnight the Bolshevik deputies walked out,
followed by their allies, the Left S-Rs. The sailors then urged
the dissidents to leave, saying they could no longer protect them.
Only Lenin's orders of "no violence" saved the remaining delegates.
The meeting broke up about 4:30; most of the dissident delegates
left Russia, never to return.
By 10 AM the
Soviets had dissolved the Assembly and barred the doors of the Tauride.
And so ended Russia's first experiment in a kind of democracy.
Heller and Nekrich, Lenin had outlawed the Cadet party and declared
its members to be "enemies of the people" a few days before the
opening of the Constituent Assembly. One of the Cadet leaders, and
a delegate to the Assembly, was murdered in the hospital. Kennan,
Russia Leaves the War, pp. 347- 348; Heller, pp. 47-49.]
Brest-Litovsk Treaty: The Bolsheviks sign a separate peace treaty
with the Germans on very unfavorable terms, giving up 1/3 of the
population and 1/3 of the productive lands of the old Russian Empire,
including Georgia, Finland, the Ukraine and the Baltic statesLithuania,
Latvia and Estonia.
with the Austro-Germans for a separate armistice had begun on December
3, 1917 and an armistice agreement was signed on the 15th. This
provided for a cessation of hostilities until January 14 whereupon
negotiations should begin for a full-fledged peace treaty. The terms
were onerous; Soviet Foreign Minister Trotsky began delaying tactics,
hoping that socialist revolutions would develop in Germany and Austro-Hungary
and workers there would denounce and modify the stipulations that
the Central Powers were demanding.
No such luck!
After five weeks of off-and-on negotiations with no agreement, the
Germans renounced the armistice and the German army resumed its
advance toward Petrograd on February 18th. The Russian army had
disintegrated by this time, so Chairman Lenin ordered Trotsky to
sign the treaty, even with the enhanced terms demanded by the Germans
on the 23rd. By the time of the signing the German Army had advanced
as far as Narva, only a hundred miles from Petrograd.
On the 24th
the staff of most of the foreign embassies left Petrograd. US Ambassador
Francis left two days later for the train to Vologda in a sleigh
led by horses with American flags pinned behind their ears. On March
6th the Bolsheviks made the decision to move the capital to Moscow;
the move was completed by mid-March. Petrograd was never again the
capital of Russia or the Soviet Union. Kennan,
Russia Leaves the War, pp. 191-440.
in his autobiography: "On 21st February, we received new terms from
Germany, framed, apparently, with the direct object of making the
signing of peace impossible . . . All of us, including Lenin, were
of the impression that the Germans had come to an agreement with
the Allies about crushing the Soviets. And that a peace on the western
front was to be built on the bones of the Russian revolution. On
3rd March our delegation signed the peace treaty without even reading
Eight months later the treaty was nullified with the victory of
the Allies on the western front. The boundaries determined at Versailles,
however, would reduce Russia's territory even further than Brest-Litovsk.
Flu Pandemic: The extremely virulent disease which in 1918-1919
would kill 50-100 million people worldwide more people than
those who succumbed to the Black Death in the 14th century
is first observed in Queens, New York.
[It was called the "Spanish Flu" as Spain was the principal country
to give press coverage
to the disease, not being under wartime censorship as was most of
the rest of the world.
In contrast to the usual epidemic, more than half the deaths were
of young healthy adults, 20-40 years old. The global mortality rate
is estimated at 2.5% of the human population with 20% of the world
suffering from the disease to some extent. Wikipedia
In the United
States 675,000 people died ten times the number of deaths
in the Great War. Half of the US soldiers who died in Europe died
from influenza, not enemy action.
In the spring the disease was mostly in the military camps; its
resurgence in the fall affected people throughout the country. The
infection rate was 28%. People were required to wear gauze masks;
stores were not allowed to hold sales; some towns would not permit
entrance to those not holding a certificate of good health. With
so many physicians abroad with the troops, in some communities medical
care was left to third and fourth year medical students. In some
places steam shovels dug mass graves.] http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/index.hmtl.
US Intervention: The first troops of the Allied Expeditionary
Force 12 leave for Murmansk and
Archangel to help the White Russians in the civil war against the
Bolsheviks and to "strangle Bolshevism in the cradle," in Winston
Churchill's phrase. [By the end of
the year they numbered 180,000 from the USA, Britain, France and
Japan as well as Italian, Greek, Serb and Czech contingents. An
additional 300,000 anti-Bolshevik Russians were armed and supplied.
From a War
Department report of 1920: "This expedition affords one of the finest
examples in history of honorable, unselfish dealings . . . under
very difficult conditions to be helpful to a people struggling to
achieve a new liberty." The Soviets viewed the expedition quite
differently; it was responsible for much of the paranoia toward
the West. An angry Khrushchev said in Los Angeles in 1959: "Never
have any of our soldiers been on American soil, but your soldiers
were on Russian soil." Los Angeles Times, September
The Japanese troops in Siberia eventually numbered eighty thousand.
Wilson sent American troops as much to monitor the Japanese as to
aid the anti-Bolsheviks.
By the time the American troops arrived August 19, 1918
the Czech troops that US troops were ostensibly sent to rescue were
mostly gone. LaFeber, The Clash, pp. 118-119.
Act: Article 3 of the June 15, 1917 Espionage Act is amended
to include penalties of imprisonment for twenty years and/or a fine
of $10,000 to anyone who shall, in time of war,
utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous
or abusive language about the form of government of the United States,
or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval
forces of the United States"
"willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy"
"urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production"
"advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of
the acts or things in this section enumerated"
"by word or act support or favor the cause of any country
with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose
the cause of the United States."
[The Espionage and Sedition Acts were repealed in 1921.]
Executions in Ekaterinburg: Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his
family are murdered by officials of the Bolshevik government.
and Germany: Lenin exults: "The international revolution has
come so close within the course of one week that we may count on
its outbreak during the next few days . . . We shall all stake our
lives to help the German workers in expediting the revolution about
to begin in Germany."
[The war was
obviously coming to an end for Germany with the mid-September collapse
of the Balkan Front and the loss of Bulgaria on September 27. On
the 29th the Supreme Command informed the Kaiser that the war was
lost; Erich Ludendorff --- the co-head with Paul von Hindenburg
of the German military--- demanded that an immediate cease-fire
be requested of the Allies. (He was the instigator
and major promoter of the "stab-in-the-back" myth that Hitler would
later use to his advantage.) Andrew and
Gordievsky, pp. 65-66.
did not come to Germany until early November when the army fired
into a group of demonstrators protesting the arrest of sailors who
had mutinied to prevent the sailing of the fleet. Kiel quickly came
under the control of 40,000 sailors, soldiers and workers. From
there the revolt spread throughout the German Empire with revolutionaries
forming "Council Republics". The first was in Bavaria where King
Ludwig III was forced to abdicate--- the first of several monarchies
to fall. Kaiser Wilhelm II fled to exile Holland.
leaders of the SPD (Socialist Democratic Party) and the more revolutionary
members of the Spartacist League were in conflict from Day One.
The "January Revolt" was caused by popular outrage at the firing
of the police chief (because he had refused to fire on demonstrators
in the "Christmas Crisis.") This latest disturbance was put down
by the armed Freikorps (volunteer soldiers supporting Ebert's new
temporary government) with over a hundred people killed in Berlin
and many thousands throughout Germany in the coming months. Two
Spartacist leaders, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, were arrested
mid-January and brutally treated in prison by the Freikorps before
And so the
revolution failed. There was no Trotsky to orchestrate a quick takeover
of government functions; Friedrich Ebert and the other cabinet members
of the future Weimar Republic not to be founded until February,
1919, were mindful of the fate of Russia's Kerensky regime
and hastened to take repressive measures. Wikipedia.]
End of the
Ottoman Empire --- Turkish Armistice at Mudros: This agreement
was signed by Rauf Bey, the Minister of the Marine of a hastily
organized caretaker Ottoman Empire government, and British Admiral
Gough-Calthorpe aboard HMS Agamemnon in the harbor of Mudros.
[By its terms the Ottoman Empire should cease hostilities and surrender
all of its remaining garrisons outside of Turkish-speaking Anatolia
most of those in Arabic-speaking possessions were already occupied
by over a million British troops plus the forts on the Dardanelles.
Safe passage of Allied ships into the Black Sea was guaranteed.
The 37-year-old naval officer who signed the armistice was satisfied
that the Turkish-speaking territories would not be occupied, but
he had overlooked the significance of the sentence: "The Allies
have the right to occupy any strategic points in the event of a
situation arising which threatens the security of the Allies."
a successful offensive by the French, had collapsed and sought an
armistice on September 26th which was unilaterally concluded by
the French commander in the field. Bulgaria was Turkey's land link
to its German and Austrian allies; Turkey was in chaos with half
a million deserters rioting and pillaging; the Constantinople government
resigned and set up a new regime. Word was sent to Admiral Calthorpe
that the Turks wanted to end hostilities. An all-night meeting of
Britain's War Cabinet, overjoyed at the opportunity, set out conditions
and determined to act without the French in hopes of minimizing
French post-war gains in Ottoman Asia. Prime Minister Lloyd George
also wanted a peace concluded before Wilson arrived in Europe with
his pesky Fourteen Points. The Secretary of the War Cabinet recorded
in his diary: "Ll G took a very intransigent attitude and wanted
to go back on the Sykes-Picot agreement, so as to get Palestine
for us and to bring Mosul into the British zone, and even to keep
the French out of Syria. . . . [he] also thought it would attract
less attention to our enormous gains in the war if we swallowed
our share of Turkey now, and the German colonies later."
government that had made the ill-fated decision to back Germany
rather than the Allies fled the country the first week in October
on a German battleship. The French were furious at their exclusion
from the armistice, but their actions in the Bulgarian armistice
had set a precedent. It was not only the French who were angry about
Mudros. Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish hero of Gallipoli, (and the only
Turkish commander not to suffer a defeat in the war) left his post
near the Syrian border and rushed to Constantinople where he attempted
to persuade all whom he could see to establish a strong nationalist
government that would stand strong against the foreigners.
He wrote: "It
is my sincere and frank opinion that if we demobilize our troops
and give in to everything the British want, without taking steps
to end misunderstandings and false interpretations of the armistice,
it will be impossible for us to put any sort of brake on Britain's
covetous designs." Some were convinced, but in November Sultan Mehmed
VI decided he wanted to placate the Allies in hopes of keeping his
throne. He dissolved the parliament and tried to govern himself
with a few close aides. Fromkin, pp. 366-376 ;
MacMillan, pp. 282-284, 366-372; Balfour, pp. 146-156.]
Lines in the Sand: The British and French governments issue
a joint declaration in Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia that their
goal is "the complete and final liberation of the peoples who have
been so long oppressed by the Turks . . . and the setting up of
national governments." Lord Robert Cecil, the principal British
architect of the League of Nations, had warned that "the Americans
will only support us if they think we are going in for something
in the nature of a native Government." MacMillan,
[With no mention
of a "national home for the Jews" this was interpreted by the Arabs
as a pledge for an independent state for Palestinian Arabs. Bregman,
Day: The Germans sue for peace on the basis of Wilson's Fourteen
Points. World War I is over.
Empire was crippled by the war; they lost three million subjects,
nearly a million in Britain itself. Another two million were wounded.
The Empire lost 15% of its assets and owed $16 billion- $5 billion
to the USA, now a global power, thanks to the war. France lost 1.3
million soldiers more than a quarter of its male population
18-27 years of age which led to a "demographic peril" that
was "as formidable as the German army." Brendon,
pp. 6-7. A total of ten million lives were lost, a statistic
that felt like a "first" to western minds who were oblivious to
the nearly thirty million who died in China's Taiping Rebellion,
1853-1864. BBC, November 2, 1998.]
Lines in the Sand: Prime Minister Clemenceau of France and Prime
Minister Lloyd George of Great Britain meet in London to discuss
Mesopotamia and Palestine before the arrival of President Woodrow
Wilson of the United States. Clemenceau agrees that Jerusalem and
Palestine should go to Britain as well as the Mosul vilayet which
had been awarded to France in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. (See
entry for May 19, 1916.) However, France should receive a
share of any future oil production in the Mosul province. France
should get Syria and Lebanon.
[Clemenceau was accommodating in these particular spoils in expectation
of British support in the negotiations for the terms against the
Germans. The British had regretted Sykes-Picot, "that unfortunate
Agreement which has been hanging like a millstone round our necks"
Lord Curzon's phrase almost as soon as it was written. With
Tsarist Russia gone, the agreement was invalid, they argued. And
with Russia out of the picture, there was no need for France as
a buffer. Some in the cabinet were eager to exclude France from
all of the Arab lands, including Syria. Possession of Syria would
put France in a position to threaten Britain's route to India, although
there was no indication that such a move was contemplated by the
French. Lord Curzon: "I am seriously afraid that the great power
from whom we have most to fear in the future is France."
The Mosul vilayet
was inhabited mainly by Kurds, a non-Arab and mostly Sunni Moslem
population. Other Kurds lived in what is now Turkey and Syria and
also in Persia.
The Kurds were clamoring for the formation of a Kurdistan on the
basis of Wilson's Fourteen Points. (They would be unsuccessful;
after all the lands had been parceled out, according to "self-determination"
principles or not, the Kurds would be the largest ethnic group left
without a homeland.)
was aware of the possibility of oil deposits in Mosul vilayet, but
none had been proved. Most of the world's oil at this time came
from the US and Mexico; the Anglo-Persian refinery had just become
operative in 1914. Catherwood believes that oil did not figure in
Lloyd George's deliberations. He further states that Lord Curzon,
the British Foreign Secretary, was unaware of any oil potential
in the region. In light of later stubbornness regarding Mosul, these
statements are simply not credible. There had been a common presumption
that there was oil to be found in Mesopotamia and especially
in Mosul where it was seeping out of the ground ever since
1892 when Calouste Gulbenkian compiled a comprehensive report on
geological assessments of oil potential in Mesopotamia. Catherwood,
pp. 63-66; MacMillan, pp. 381-.384; Fromkin, pp. 375-379; Black,
Banking on Baghdad, p. 103.]
Conference: Woodrow Wilson arrives in France to a tumultuous
welcome. Stéphen Pinchon, The French foreign minister: "We are so
thankful that you have come over to give us the right kind of peace."
MacMillan, p. 15.
Conference: The Supreme Council holds its first meeting: Lloyd
George of Great Britain, Wilson of the United States, Clemenceau
of France and Vittorio Orlando, the prime minister of Italy.
[Each man brought
his foreign minister and a crew of advisors. The next day the Supreme
Council was enlarged to include representatives of Japan. The smaller
allies and neutrals were not invited to participate. At the end
of March the foreign ministers and the Japanese were excluded and
it became the very contentious Council of Four. In late April Orlando
and the Italians staged a ten-day walkout over Fiume and the Dalmatian
islands. MacMillan, pp. 53, 95-300.]
Nebraska becomes the 36th state to ratify the Prohibition Amendment
which will become law in 1920 as the Eighteenth Amendment to the
[It had taken only a little over a year for the requisite number
of state legislatures to act, a record speed. The law allowed a
year's delay before the beginning of enforcement.]
buying" makes its debut when General Motors forms the General
Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) to enable consumers to buy
their cars without paying full cash. [A ploy to lure customers from
Ford and to stretch a sagging market, the device soon spread to
other merchandise areas. By 1929 there were 26 million cars on the
road, or one for every five people. Kennedy, Freedom
from Fear, pp. 21-22.]
the Comintern: The Communist International (also known as the
"Third International") is formed at an "international" congress
called by Lenin in Moscow.
Its avowed purpose is to fight "by all available means, including
armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie
and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition
stage to the complete abolition of the State."
Gordievsky describe the meeting as "a mostly fraudulent piece of
Russian revolutionary theater"--- of the 52 delegates representing
32 parties, only five actually came from abroad. Some had never
been to the countries they had been designated to represent; some
of the parties were not yet in existence. European left-wing militants
were jubilant with this new organization and its promise of the
spread of socialism; however, the Comintern's insistence on strict
party discipline and separation from other socialist groups caused
much upheaval before straight Communist Parties were formed in the
different countries. The governments of Europe and the United States,
already upset by the Russian Revolution, reacted with surveillance,
arrests and persecution of CP members; in some countries the party
was outlawed. Andrew and Gordievsky, KGB,
v. United States: In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court
upholds the constitutionality of the Espionage Act and the convictions
of socialists who had written and distributed anti-war leaflets.
Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes writes that "words used
. . . to create a clear and present danger [such] that they will
bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent"
do not qualify as "protected speech" under the First Amendment.
Nor does the First Amendment protect a person who creates a panic
by falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Hall,
v. United States: The Supreme Court upholds the conviction
of Eugene Debs for ten years imprisonment under the Sedition Act
of May, 1918 for a speech he made in Canton, Ohio on June 16, 1918.
The judgment was affirmed by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
[In his speech Debs had praised Socialism, predicted its ultimate
success and "attempted to obstruct the recruiting and enlistment
service of the United States." He said that the master class has
always declared war and the subject class has always fought the
battles; that the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything
to lose, including their lives; that the working classes who furnish
the corpses have never had a voice in declaring war or declaring
peace. "You have your lives to lose; you certainly ought to have
the right to declare war if you consider a war necessary. . . .
You need to know that you are fit for something better than slavery
and cannon fodder." www.tourolaw.edu.]
Lenin makes an offer to William C. Bullitt (who is in Moscow
on a secret mission sponsored by the British and Wilson's Colonel
House): In return for a peace conference with the Allies, the removal
of all foreign troops and cessation of military aid to the insurgents,
the Soviets would accept responsibility for the repudiated Tsarist
debt and allow all de facto governments to remain in control of
the territory they occupied, thus relinquishing the Urals, Siberia,
Finland, the Baltic states and most of the Ukraine.
[This extraordinary offer was good until April 10. But thanks to
the strong anti-Bolshevik sentiments that were prevalent, Wilson
and Lloyd George never seriously considered the proposal. Also Admiral
Kolchak's troops had just made a surprising 100-mile advance in
eastern Russia which led to predictions that Kolchak's White Russians
would be in Moscow in another two weeks. The refusal of the West
to accept Lenin's offer solidified the Soviet feeling of isolation
and hostility. The history of the rest of the century might have
been quite different if the Bullitt-Lenin plan had been accepted
by the Allies, the blockade lifted, and the starving people fed.
The threat of a new blockade might have been sufficient to cause
the Russians to adopt a communist government less threatening to
the West. Farnsworth, William C. Bullitt and
the Soviet Union, pp. 32-54.] 13
Bullitt and the other two members of the mission left Moscow after
their week's visit positively impressed with the changes the Bolsheviks
had made and were planning to make. The journalist Lincoln Steffens
exclaimed, "I have been over into the future, and it works." Bullitt,
disappointed with the dismissal of Lenin's offer, resigned as a
member of the American peace delegation to the Paris Peace Conference.
Later he was
bitterly opposed to most of the provisions of the Versailles Treaty,
predicting correctly that giving Germany's economic and railway
concessions in China's Shantung peninsula to Japan and mandating
the former German colonies in the Pacific to Japan and Great Britain
would encourage German irredentism and Japanese imperialism and
ultimately war between Japan and the United States. His testimony
before Lodge's Senate Committee on Foreign Relations aided the defeat
of the treaty and the ultimate resignation of Secretary of State
Lansing. Farnsworth, pp. 47-70; LaFeber, The
Clash, pp. 121-127.
India: A crowd of 10,000 unarmed Indians men, women and
children gathers in a walled garden in the sacred Sikh capital.
Some are there to celebrate the Sikh festival of the New Year. Others
are there to protest the Rowlatt Acts which call for arbitrary imprisonment
for those agitating against continued British rule. (In 1917 Secretary
of State for India Montagu had promised the Indians autonomy similar
to that of Canada and Australia in exchange for their support of
the war against Germany.) Brigade-General Reginald Dyer orders troops
to fire on the unarmed demonstrators with no warning given. The
massacre continues for ten minutes; 379 people are killed and 1200
are wounded, according to the official count. (It is widely believed
that the true number of dead and wounded is much higher.)
was commended by the House of Lords and censured by Commons. Nobel
Laureate Tagore returned his knighthood to King George. This atrocity
marked the end of the cooperation of the Indian elites with the
British and the beginning of the decline of British rule in India.
Mahatma Gandhi launched his first satyagraha "clinging to
the truth" campaign the following year. Wikipedia;
Bombs: Of the thirty package bombs mailed to prominent Americans
in hopes of simultaneous May Day explosions, all but one are discovered
before any damage is done.
[The maid of
an ex-senator in Georgia was the only casualty she lost her
The targets were men who had been suppressing radicals: Mayor Ole
Hanson of Seattle, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, Judge Kennesaw
Mountain whose court had sentenced many Wobblies for sedition, congressmen
from both parties, and so on.
There were demands for increased suppression of "anarchists and
Mayor Hanson demanded that Washington "hang or incarcerate for life
all the anarchists
in the country." The mood in the United States was set for the capture
and eventual execution of two Italian anarchists who would be falsely
accused of a gangland robbery and murder Nicola Sacco and
Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Watson, pp. 5-7.
May 7, 1919
Conference --- Versailles Treaty: The two hundred page text
of the Versailles Treaty formally ending World War I is published
to the consternation of the Germans and to liberals in all countries
concerned. Other than a provision for a League of Nations, Wilson's
Fourteen Points have vanished. Instead Germany will be required
to make punitive reparations later negotiated down to $33
billion. The army is to be vastly shrunk in size and forbidden to
have planes or tanks or a general staff; the navy is forbidden to
build submarines or ships over 10,000 tons. Alsace-Lorraine is to
be restored to France and other territories to Belgium, Denmark
and Poland. 14 Krupp is forbidden
to manufacture armaments.
Peace Conference had gone on for many months with many acrimonious
discussions. Containment of Bolshevism was a major motivation with
most participants. Clemenceau had to contend with the many Frenchmen
who wanted an even more Carthaginian peace than the Versailles Treaty
enacted. Marshal Foch, for instance, wanted to either extend French
borders to the Rhine or to create a new "buffer state" in that space.
The Chinese delegation refused to sign after the Shantung peninsula
had been awarded to Japan. The Japanese were incensed that there
was no clause confirming racial equality inserted into the Covenant
of the League of Nations. (This clause had been most vigorously
opposed by delegates from the United States, the United Kingdom
World's End, the first novel of Upton Sinclair's Lanny Budd
series, paints a good picture of the difficulties with the conference
and the personalities involved. Brendon, pp. 14-22;
Shirer, Rise and Fall, pp. 57-62; MacMillan., 1919.]
of the "Polish Corridor" to Poland served to isolate East Prussia
from the rest of Germany. This would be one of Hitler's major rallying
points against the Versailles Treaty.
End of the
Ottoman Empire --- Greek Invasion of Turkey: The Greeks, with
the full approval of the British and French, land 20,000 men in
Anatolia and occupy Smyrna now Izmir, a Turkish city
on the Aegean Sea which has had a significant number of Greek residents
since Biblical times.
[Lloyd George and Clemenceau embraced the Greek invasion as one
way of counteracting the Italians who were making moves to claim
the portion of the southern coast of Anatolia that had been promised
to them in return for their entry into the war. But Italy had contributed
very little to the Allied victory; its ships seldom ventured out
of port despite a pledge to patrol the Mediterranean and the Adriatic,
and their long-delayed attack on Austria was a complete disaster.
For many years
the British had backed the decaying Ottoman Empire as a buffer against
Tsarist Russia and as an ally who would help protect the Eastern
Mediterranean entrance to the Suez Canal. They now needed a replacement
and the fragile government of Greece was a more palatable ally than
the Italians. The four secret agreements that the British had made
throughout the war, if honored, would have reduced Turkey to a few
provinces in central Anatolia with seaports only on the Black Sea.
became the leading planner of a group of Nationalists who were determined
to resist a partition of their country. Kemal got a lucky break.
Some Turkish brigands were attacking Greek communities around Samsun
on the Black Sea. The British demanded that the perpetrators be
apprehended and punished. Kemal's name was suggested to the sultan
as a possible commander for the military unit; the sultan, eager
to get rid of the troublemaker, was happy to send Kemal off to eastern
Anatolia and out of Constantinople. With his seal as Inspector for
all of Anatolia, Mustafa Kemal rode on beyond Samsun to accomplish
his pre-arranged plan to organize centers of Nationalist resistance
throughout the hinterland and to prevent any further demobilization
of the Turkish army.
of Independence was issued in June at Asmaya. A Congress in Sivas
in September validated the "National Pact" a document setting
Nationalist terms for a future peace treaty. All Turkish-speaking
territory was to remain intact; non-Turkish minorities would have
no privileges. Constantinople, the seat of the caliphate of Islam,
must be guaranteed security. If so, the Bosphorus may be opened
to traffic and commerce.
The future of western Thrace (in Europe) and the Ottoman Arab lands
should be determined by votes of the inhabitants. Kemal and his
three fellow conspirators had been careful to construct the document
as a preservation of the sultanate, although ultimately a republic,
and a secular one, had been their intention from the outset. Catherwood,
pp. 68-69; Fromkin, pp. 392-394; 407-408; MacMillan, pp. 282-284;
Balfour, pp. 163-219; 571-572.]
Bombs: This time the bombs are delivered in person and not by
mail. First, in Washington to Attorney General Palmer's home
across the street from young, pre-polio Franklin Roosevelt,
then to the Cleveland mayor's home. In Pittsburgh, Boston, New York
and New Jersey homes were destroyed of men who had suppressed anarchists
and other radicals. At each explosion site pamphlets were left from
"THE ANARCHIST FIGHTERS" claiming responsibility and promising continued
revenge against "capitalism and tyranny." Watson,
of Versailles is signed by reluctant German delegates on the
threat of "sign or be invaded." The setting is the same Hall of
Mirrors in the palace of Louis XIV where Bismarck had imposed a
humiliating treaty on a defeated France in 1871.
[The treaty's terms had been forced on an exhausted Wilson by the
vengeful French in collaboration with the British. At least one
of the treaty's architects had doubts about its harsh terms: Prime
Minister Lloyd George predicted that "we shall have to do the whole
thing over again in twenty-five years time at three times the cost."
Rowland, Lloyd George,
p. 495; Dimbleby and Reynolds, An Ocean Apart, pp. 73-78.
laid the groundwork for the widespread belief in Germany that they
had been tricked, not defeated Germany would not have laid
down her arms had she known that the final treaty would not embody
Wilson's Fourteen Points. For instance, Point V had guaranteed that
Germany could keep her overseas colonies, but they had quickly been
taken over by Japan, France and Britain. "Self-determination" was
the heart of the Wilsonian program, yet there were millions of Germans
in Austria, Poland and the newly-created country of Czechoslovakia
that had been excluded from Germany.
Army disobeyed the restrictions of the treaty from the first day;
those German liberals who reported violations were sentenced to
long prison terms for "treason." The treaty and the miserable economy
of the 1920s paved the way for Adolf Hitler. Shirer,
Rise and Fall, pp. 59-62. And peace terms with
the Ottoman Empire were still to be arranged!]
The poet Gabriele D'Annunzio who is indignant that Italian
Prime Minister Orlando had not bargained well for Italy at the Paris
Peace Conference and succeeded in obtaining Fiume and some islands
on the Dalmatian coast leads a group of dissatisfied veterans
to take the port of Fiume (with its mixed Italian and Slavic population)
from the Allied forces who are occupying the city.
[He planned to have Italy annex Fiume now Rijeka in Croatia
but Italy refused and instead blockaded the city and demanded that
the plotters surrender. D'Annunzio held out for eighteen months
and established a fascist government in the Independent State of
Fiume which supported itself by piracy. Brendon,
Bombing: A horse-drawn wagon loaded with TNT and cast-iron window
sashes explodes on Wall Street between the J.P. Morgan Building
and the New York Stock Exchange, killing 34 and injuring more than
two hundred people. [No arrests were ever made, for this or other
bombings but the perpetrators were widely assumed to be Bolsheviks,
anarchists, or other enemies of American capitalism. Barnet,
Rockets' Red Glare, p. 171.]
Act: Over-riding Wilson's veto, Congress passes the Volstead
Act which establishes the regulations for the enforcement of the
1. An "intoxicating beverage" is defined as one containing 0.5%
alcohol, not the 2.75% of the wartime regulations. (Many
of the states would have failed to ratify the amendment if this
regulation had been attached. Several Eastern states passed laws
in 1920 allowing the production and sale of low-alcohol beer and
wine. The Supreme Court, however, ruled them unconstitutional in
the National Prohibition Cases.)
2. Enforcement will be carried out by a Prohibition Unit within
the Internal Revenue Service which shall have the authority to seize
and sell any cars, boats, planes or other vehicles used to transport
3. Bootleggers could be fined $1000 or six months in prison for
a first offense; $10,000 and five years for a second.
4. The so-called "Padlock Law" enables the authorities to close
a place for a year where liquor is sold or manufactured. (Yet the
law prohibited searches of private homes and permitted the use and
possession of alcoholic beverages there. This gave the green light
for home brewing.)
5. The enforcement officers will not be under civil service.
v. United States: The Supreme Court upholds, 7-2, the convictions
of Jacob Abrams, a Russian immigrant and an anarchist, and five
[They had been
found guilty under the Sedition Act of writing and distributing
leaflets in English and Yiddish that condemned President Wilson
for sending American troops to fight in the Soviet Union. Justice
John Clarke in the majority opinion followed the reasoning of Chief
Justice Holmes in Schenck and Debs.
was in dissent in this case along with Justice Brandeis. He reasoned
that the "surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet by an unknown
man" hardly qualified as a "clear and imminent danger." The First
Amendment protects the expression of all opinions unless "an immediate
check is required to save the country." He added: ". . . the ultimate
good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas- that the
best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted
in the competition of the market. And that truth is the only ground
upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate
is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life
is an experiment."
had been modified over the summer. He had been disturbed by the
antiradical hysteria and repressive acts of the authorities. Several
friends challenged his decisions in Schenck, especially Harvard
Law School professor Zechariah Chafee, federal district judge Learned
Hand and political theorist Harold J. Laski. Hall,
Senate: Rejecting the League of Nations covenant, the Senate
refuses to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. This also ends the possibility
of a United States mandate for an independent Armenia, a proposal
that the other Three of the Big Four at Versailles had urged on
gone on a tour of the country in September to enlist popular support
for the League; he suffered a stroke on September 25th; isolationist
elements in the Senate were able to defeat the treaty. There was
also major opposition from the South. Senator James Reed of Missouri
couldn't bear to think of "submitting questions involving the very
life of the United States to a tribunal on which a nigger from Liberia,
a nigger from Honduras, a nigger from India . . . each have votes
equal to that of the great United States." Katznelson,
British Occupation in the Middle East: The jihad against the
British in Iraq begins. Several hundreds of tribesmen enter Dair-el-Zur,
a town west-southwest of Mosul that was later ceded to Syria. They
set fire to the Political Office, steal money from the safe, and
free the prisoners in the town jail. They attack the hospital, the
fuel depot, a church and even a mosque. The British soldiers and
police are forced to retreat to a barracks outside of town, which
is then surrounded. Two airplanes arrive from Mosul; their machine
guns rake the village, causing a panic.
later Winston Churchill, the secretary of state for war and air,
announced an expansion of the air force. He asked Parliament for
an annual $75 million to purchase new aircraft; three squadrons
were slated for Mesopotamia. Not soon enough for Dair; that outpost
was abandoned France's problem now!
revolts spread south, especially after the news of the San Remo
Conference in late April, 1920. Flags were sewn, leaflets printed
and distributed, and an imam issued a fatwa: none but Moslems have
any right to rule over Moslems. Atrocities escalated on both sides.
On June 4 in the middle of the town of Tel Afar near Mosul the captain
of the gendarmes was suddenly murdered by his Arab lieutenant. This
was the signal to set upon all the British soldiers in the town
and also the armored cars that came to rescue them and convoys on
a nearby road. Retaliation was swift and severe. The next day troops
marched out from Mosul, burning all the crops on their path to Tel
Afar. There they destroyed houses of suspected persons and chased
the entire population of the city into the desert without water,
food or shelter"innocent and guilty alike" according
to Commissioner Arnold Wilson's self-serving memoir. (He was later
knighted for his service to the crown.) Wilson,
pp. 227-247, 273-274; Black, Banking on Baghdad, 250-254.]
of Anarchists: In response to the many bombings in 1919, Attorney
General Palmer orders the roundup and deportation of all alien communists
and anarchists, invoking the wartime Sedition Act under which any
foreigner could be expelled from the country for having "dangerous
people were arrested; no explosives were found and only three pistols.
Palmer had hoped to capitalize on the rampant nativism and anti-communism
of the period and win a ticket to the White House. He miscalculated;
a resolution was introduced in Congress calling for his impeachment
after the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a damning report on
the "illegal practices" of the Department of Justice. Barnet,
Rockets' Red Glare, pp. 171-172.
J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of gathering evidence on these "revolutionary
and ultra-radical groups." One of his special triumphs was the deportation
of anarchist Emma Goldman, claiming her speeches had inspired the
assassination of President McKinley in 1901. He also started dossiers
on people who condemned the "Palmer raids" and on the lawyers hired
to represent the accused. One of these was a Harvard Law School
professor who later became a Supreme Court Justice- Felix Frankfurter.
Summers, Official, pp.36-38.]
Amendment goes into effect: Ratified the year before, the amendment
prohibits the sale of alcohol nationwide- 60% of the country is
already "dry" due to local legislation.
[As a result
of Prohibition, illegal "speakeasies" sprang up in all the major
cities with the importation, manufacture and distribution of liquor
soon controlled by the organized crime syndicates of racketeers
such as Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frankie Costello,
Al Capone, and Dutch Schultz. The drink of choice changed from beer
to hard liquor, as the economics of the bootleg industry dictated
the consumption of the higher content and more economically transported
beverage. While overall drinking declined during Prohibition, it
increased among the middle class. Working class drinkers were priced
out of the market.
By the end of the period American drinking patterns had changed
from the all-male camaraderie of the saloon to the mixed-gender
environment of night clubs and homes. Pegram,
and Murder in Massachusetts: Paymaster Frederick Parmenter and
his guard, Alessandro Berardelli, are murdered as they attempt to
deliver the payroll to the Slater and Morill shoe factory in South
Braintree. It happens so quickly that the many observers fail to
agree on any details number of robbers, their heights, clothing,
complexions, etc. Their only agreement is the direction taken by
the getaway blue Buick which some said was "shiny" and others
maintained was "dusty."
[Seven years later anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
would be electrocuted for the crime. Watson, Chapter
Lines in the Sand --- the San Remo Conference: The heads of
state of Britain, France and Italy meet in San Remo, Italy to assign
League of Nation mandates for administration of the Ottoman lands
of the Middle East.
had acted six weeks earlier. The Second General Syrian Congress,
an assemblage of Arabs from all areas, declared independence for
"Greater Syria," an area that included Lebanon in the north and
Palestine in the south. Faisal, the son of Hussein ibn Ali, the
sharif of Mecca, was elected King of Syria. His brother Abdullah
was elected King of Iraq, or Mesopotamia. The Arabs were acting
on the ambiguous promise of "independence" after the war made by
Britain in exchange for military action against the Turks.
There was no
treaty, just a series of ten horse-trading letters between Hussein
and Sir Henry McMahon, the British high commissioner in Egypt. One
concession from Hussein was unambiguous: the Arab nation would cede
Iraq to Great Britain. The "Arab Revolt" had not been militarily
significant; only token platoons of Arabs had fought behind the
The Arab raids were "a sideshow to a sideshow" according to Colonel
T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") who was also Faisal's friend
were outraged at the presumption of anyone in Damascus dictating
the future of Syria or Iraq. The conference awarded mandates for
both Syria and Lebanon to France. Britain received mandates for
Iraq and Palestine with the provision to create a Jewish homeland
there, thus writing the creation of a future Israel into international
law. Black, Banking on Baghdad, pp. 177-185,
National Convention: Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio wins
the nomination for the party's presidential candidate. For the first
time in history there are women delegates 27 out of 984.
a lack-luster candidate rated eighth in popularity the day the convention
opened. The jingoist General Leonard Wood was considered the favorite,
receiving over half of the necessary 484 votes on the first ballot.
He was approached by Jake Hamon, the "Oil King of Oklahoma," who
guaranteed that he could win the nomination for him in exchange
for his appointment as Secretary of the Interior and the naming
of the ambassador to Mexico. Wood told him to go to Hell.
The party bosses
huddled over booze and Cuban cigars. Seduced by the millions doled
out by Hamon and Harry Sinclair of Sinclair Oil, they settled on
Warren Harding. Hamon would contribute $1 million and deliver the
delegates of seven pivotal states to the victory in November; Harding
agreed to appoint him Secretary of the Interior; Hamon had arranged
to lease the Teapot Dome naval oil preserve to Harry Sinclair of
Sinclair Oil in exchange for one-third of the profits. McCartney,
Lines in the Sand --- French Forces Occupy Damascus, after a
battle of tanks and machine guns versus swords and bolt-action rifles.
France assumes its mandate for Syria. The French Prime Minister
declares that Syria is henceforth French: "The whole of it, and
had assumed administrative control of Syria after his election as
King by the Second General Syrian Congress on March 8th, was summarily
deposed and ordered out of the country. Great Britain then made
him King of Iraq, a position that had been promised to his brother,
Abdullah. But wait! No problem! The British carved a new country
out of Palestine's back yard, named it Transjordan, and gave it
to King Abdullah. Black, Banking on Baghdad,
pp. 244-245; Fromkin, p.439.]
Conference in London creates the Jewish National Fund which
will solicit cash donations from Jews worldwide to enable the legal
purchase of lands for kibbutzim and the construction of Jewish villages.
A few days earlier, Sir Herbert Samuel had been appointed high commissioner
for Palestine with instructions to oversee the orderly immigration
of Jews into Palestine.
not happy news for the Arabs. Not only were the Zionists making
fora significant portion of Palestine but they had lost Syria to
the French. And the details of the San Remo Agreement became public
when the measure was brought to the House of Commons. Altogether
not a good year. The Arabs would name it "The Year of the Catastrophe"
Am al-Nakba. Black, Banking, pp.
"Mahatma" Gandhi begins the "non-violent non cooperation movement"
against British rule in India.
End of Ottoman
Empire --- Treaty of Sèvres: Sultan Mehmed VI signs the treaty
that the British and French cobbled together in February (Treaty
of London), confirmed in April (San Remo Agreement) and presented
to the sultan for his signature in June.
It provides that Turkey should be reduced to about 1/3 of its current
territory in Anatolia with its only seaports on the Black Sea. Greece
would receive Smyrna and its hinterlands (with a mandatory plebiscite
after five years) plus most of the Aegean islands and all of Thrace
Turkey-in-Europe. Italy and France would divide southern Anatolia
and its seaports on the Mediterranean. Constantinople and the Dardanelles
would be administered by the Allies and the British Navy. In eastern
Anatolia there would be an independent Armenia and a Kurdistan of
was still-born. The politicians plotting the carve-up of the Turkish
pie in early 1920 seemed unaware of the gains of the Nationalist
movement. They didn't seem to notice in February when the newly-elected
Turkish Chamber of Deputies endorsed the Nationalist Pact [see
May 15, 1919] or when the French were decisively defeated
at Marash in Cilicia. (The French would seek an armistice from Mustafa
Kemal in May.) Kemal's army soon occupied most of the territory
allotted to Armenia, thus forcing the fragile Armenian government
to cede any claims to sovereignty of Turkish Armenia; in December
Armenia chose "the lesser of two evils" and became a republic in
the Soviet Union. Balfour, p. 235; Fromkin, pp.
427-434; MacMillan, pp. 448-449.]
Amendment to the US Constitution goes into effect. Women now have
the right to vote.
Bombing in New York City: A few seconds after Trinity Church's
noon bell, a horse-drawn wagon loaded with 500 pounds of TNT and
cut-up window sash weights explodes on Wall Street in front of the
J.P. Morgan building, killing thirty people immediately (and ten
later) besides wounding about 300. Most of the casualties are the
small-fry of Wall Street- stenographers, messengers, clerks, and
unfortunate passersby. (One of the latter was a young Joseph P.
Kennedy who was knocked to the ground.)
immediate pandemonium with people fleeing the scene, the wounded
lying in the street calling for help.. Soon people, no longer fearing
a second bomb, returned to the area, joining the throngs who had
fled adjacent buildings. The several thousand people milling in
the area managed to destroy whatever evidence that might have been
found to identify the culprits. All windows in the area were shattered.
Historic Trinity Church, a short block away, with its landmark Gothic
Revival spire, amazingly was untouched.
J. P. Morgan's
older son, Junius, was pitched forward by the explosion and a flying
glass shard nicked his backside. (The ever-obsequious New York
Times would write that he incurred a nick to his hand.) The
senior Morgan partners were either out of the building or in a conference
room with no windows facing the blast. J.P. Morgan, the firm's head,
was at his shooting lodge in Scotland.
were ever made. The perpetrators were widely assumed to be Bolsheviks,
anarchists, or other enemies of American capitalism. The FBI suspected
an Italian anarchist group, the Galleanists, whose motive would
have been anger at the indictment of Sacco and Vanzetti earlier
that week. The extensively-damaged Morgan building was repaired,
but the pockmarks to the marble façade were left untouched, possibly
in memory of the two Morgan employees who died. Brooks,
pp. 1-20; Chernow, Morgan, pp. 212-214.]
the Lithuanian city of Vilna- currently called Vilnius, the
capital of the country. This is the first defiance of the just-formed
League of Nations.
era ends with the election of Republican Senator Warren G. Harding
of Ohio as president and Calvin Coolidge as Vice President. The
electoral count is 404-127, with Harding carrying 37 of the 48 states.
The vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats is 38-year-old
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy under
The popular vote, the largest margin of victory to date in a presidential
Cox 35 %
Debs 4 % 15
The Republicans make large gains in Congress, achieving a majority
of 12 in the Senate and 113 in the House.
[Cox and Roosevelt
had campaigned vigorously and extensively. With the exception of
a whistle-stop tour to twenty states, the Harding campaign was conducted
from the front porch of his home in Marion, Ohio. Oil money was
called upon behind the scenes to pay off the many women in Harding's
life who were threatening to come forward with the juicy details.
Oil money also paid for the wide distribution of Harding's genealogy
to dispel the rumors that he had African-American blood. McCartney,
results were broadcast by Pittsburgh's pioneer 100-watt radio station,
KDKA. Four years later there were 530 stations in operation with
an audience of 20 million. Sales of radio receivers approximated
a million dollars a day. By 1928 stations were operating with ten
thousand watts; commercially sponsored programs such as the very
Amos 'n' Andy were being broadcast by national networks. Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, pp. 228-229.]
Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926) had been the candidate of the Socialist
Party for president for the elections of 1904, 1908, and 1912, as
well as 1920. In 1920 he was in jail on a ten-year sentence for
opposing US entry into World War I. In the 1912 election he had
received more than 6% of the total votes cast.
"We must exploit the contradictions and opposition between two imperialist
power groups . . . and incite them to attack each other. . . . one
must know how to group one's forces so that the two begin to fight
each other." Topitsch, p. 15.
Day: After an unusually brief speech, Harding and Coolidge make
a surprise visit to the Senate where Harding presents his slate
for the cabinet. Majority Leader Henry Cabot Lodge calls for a confirmation
vote on the entire list. Caught unprepared, not a single senator
raises an objection.
were quite unpopular: Harry Daugherty, the political fixer from
Ohio for Attorney General; Herbert Hoover for Secretary of Commerce;
and Albert Fall for Secretary of the Interior. Fall was a substitution
for Jake Hamon. Florence Harding had mandated that Hamon must leave
his mistress behind and bring his legal wife, Florence's second
cousin, to Washington. When Jake explained the bad news to his mistress
Clara after the election, she shot and killed him. (She was acquitted
in a speedy trial the week after inauguration; the judge intervened
to prevent any testimony about Hamon's relationship to President
Harding.) McCartney, pp.3-61. According
to the New Republic Fall and Daugherty were "unspeakably
bad appointments." Stratton, p.202.]
Servitude and Slavery (aka Peonage) plus Murder: A white man
in Georgia, tried for the murder of one of his black plantation
slaves, is found guilty by a jury of twelve white men seven
of them fellow farmers and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Astonishingly, his conviction was based on the testimony of a black
from the federal Bureau of Investigation forerunner of the
FBI had visited John S. Williams' 2000-acre farm in February
to investigate the claims of peonage made by a successful runaway
peon. They explained the peonage law to a spuriously innocent Williams.
(See entry for June 4, 1903.) Before departing
they told Williams that he need not be afraid of a grand jury summons
as his workers were "well dressed and well fed and all we talked
to seemed to be satisfied."
however, was fearful that the agents might return and his workers
might talk about the whippings, several killings, the evening
lockup, and the use of dogs to retrieve runaways. He told his crew
boss, black illiterate Clyde Manning, that he must "get rid of all
the stockade niggers." When Manning protested, Mr. Johnny had replied,
"It's your neck or theirs." In the next ten days ten black men were
murdered by Williams and Manning, some with the help of Charlie
Chisolm who would become the eleventh victim.
The first ones
were killed with an axe and buried on the farm. The next six had
their hands and feet chained and, with sacks of rocks attached to
their necks, were pushed off bridges into the not-sufficiently-
deep local rivers. Three bodies two of them chained together
surfaced within days and were quickly identified as men from the
After he was promised federal protection, Manning told the agents
the entire story and was able to show them where all the bodies
were buried, including those of men were murdered prior to the February
thanks in part to pressure from the outgoing governor of Georgia,
Hugh Dorsey, a grand jury was convened, both Williams and Manning
were indicted, and a jury was selected for the first trial
that of Williams for the first black man who had surfaced in the
river. Both the New York Times and the New York World
sent correspondents to cover the sensational four day trial of the
"death farm killings."
The jury immediately
and unanimously voted for "guilty", but then were divided 8-4 on
a recommendation of mercy with the majority voting to see their
white peer hung. However, one of the men advocating mercy was a
notoriously stubborn and hard-headed individual, so the majority
gave in. The judge quickly sentenced Williams to life imprisonment
to the gentleman farmer's astonishment. It would be forty-five years
before another white man would be convicted in Georgia for killing
a black person.
verdict Governor Dorsey issued a controversial anti-peonage proclamation.
He acknowledged the systematic abuse of blacks by the white people
of Georgia. He called for the legislature to repeal the section
of the Georgia Code that mandated the return to his employer of
any worker who had not fulfilled his labor contract. He asked for
compulsory education of both races and financial penalties to any
county where a lynching occurred.
He would be known historically as the "anti-lynching governor."
charged that he was cleaning his image prior to opening a law practice
in New York City. His image had been severely tarnished with Northerners
in 1913 by the inflammatory way in which he had successfully prosecuted
Jewish Leo Frank, 16
the co-owner and superintendent of the pencil factory in which 13-year-old
white Mary Phagan was found murdered, with her clothing ripped,
and possibly raped.
was tried six weeks after Williams. He pled "not guilty" based on
his claim of actions under duress and intimidation. He was represented
by some of the best attorneys in Atlanta who defended him eloquently.
However, it took less than an hour for the jury to declare him guilty
but with a recommendation for mercy, or life imprisonment.
of the two men were as unequal as their lives had been. Williams
was a trusty at the state prison in Milledgeville, doing small jobs
and having more privileges than the average inmate until his accidental
death ten years later. Manning spent six years on a chain gang until
his death in a prison hospital of tuberculosis. Freeman,
Lay This Body Down: The 1921 Murders of Eleven Plantation Slaves.]
Leo Frank was the president of Atlanta's B'nai Brith and the manager
and co-owner of the National Pencil Company where 13-year-old Mary
Phagan was employed. Frank was clearly not guilty. Then-Governor
Staton was convinced of Frank's innocence and believed a black man
named Conley to be the guilty party. Therefore, he commuted Frank's
sentence to life imprisonment. A month later the "Knights of Mary
Phagan" arrived at the prison farm in a caravan of eight automobiles,
wrested Frank from the prison guards, and lynched him. After the
lynching about half of the Jewish population of Georgia left the
The mob that
yelled "Hang the Jew, hang the Jew pervert" during the trial was
animated not just by anti-Semitism but also a hatred of meddling
Yankees, especially those who operated factories that employed young
girls for ten hours a day at twelve cents an hour. The trial and
the protracted appeals process saw the birth of the Anti-Defamation
League. With new exculpatory evidence, Frank received a posthumous
pardon from the State of Georgia in 1986. Dray,
The Allies' Reparation Commission notifies Germany of the amount
of claims due the Allies: 132 billion gold marks to be paid in installments
over the next 42 years. [Adam Klug estimates that this came to $500
per head of the German population at 1913 prices, or three times
the GNP. "The Theory and Practice of Reparation
and American Loans to Germany: 1925 -29."]
Act of 1921: President Harding signs the first bill in American
history to restrict immigration from Europe. Immigration will be
limited to a quota of 3% of the number of foreign-born from each
European nation residing in the United States in 1910. The maximum
will be 355,000 a year.
[This was a
stopgap measure designed to severely limit immigration from the
poverty-stricken areas of southern and southeastern Europe. It passed
in the wake of the 1920 depression and fears of an "alien flood"
of workers to compete for jobs at a time of grave unemployment.
As a result immigration from these areas was reduced to 20% of the
immigration in 1914. The American Legion had advocated stopping
all immigration until the last wave of "new immigrants" had become
Americanized. The final law would be passed in 1924. Divine,
American Immigration Policy, , pp. 4-10.]
Scandal: At the urging of Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall
and with the agreement of the compliant Secretary of the Navy Edwin
Denby, President Harding signs Executive Order 3474 which transfers
the naval petroleum reserves from the Department of the Navy to
the Department of the Interior.
consisted of three properties: Naval Reserve No. 1 in Elk Hills,
California; Naval Reserve No. 2 in Buena Vista, California; and
Naval Reserve No. 3 in Salt Creek, Wyoming. The last was commonly
called "Teapot Dome" for the unusual geological formation that resembled
a teapot. The Taft administration had set aside these oil-rich tracts
of land for emergency use by the navy which had only recently made
the shift from coal to oil.
One of Fall's
first acts after taking office had been to clear out all the conservationists
from the department, so there was no one to yell objections when
Fall made plans to lease these tracts. The first was the Elk Hills
tract which went to Edward Doheny who promised to build storage
tanks at Pearl Harbor and fill them with oil. He must build a refinery
in California and build a pipeline from Elk Hills to the refinery.
All of Teapot Dome was leased to Harry Sinclair and his newly-incorporated
Mammoth Oil Company in exchange for a pipeline from the tract and
storage tanks on the Atlantic Coast to be filled with oil. There
was no competitive bidding.
always maintain that he had acted in the national interest. The
country was in the midst of the postwar "world oil crisis" with
experts predicting the end of US oil resources in 10-20 years and
the British and Dutch busily acquiring a monopoly on new oil fields
worldwide. He was concerned that drainage was occurring in the naval
reserve lands from pumping in adjacent fields. So wouldn't large
storage tanks make a better strategic reserve? Stratton,
pp. 229-230. These leases were quite legal, albeit extremely
generous to the lessees, each tract being worth about $100 million.
However, the bribes that Secretary Fall took from Sinclair and Doheny,
a total of around $400,000, were scandalously illegal. (Fall would
maintain until his death that they had been loans.) McCartney,
pp. 89-113. See entries of June 12, 1920,
November 2, 1920 and March 4. 1921 for background.]
Iraq: Faisal arrives in Baghdad to become King after having
been dethroned as King of Greater Syria by the French. [See
entries for April 19-26, 1920 and July 24, 1920.] You might
say that this is the beginning of Iraq or Mesopotamia until
1935 as a nation under Britain's mandate, but it's been a
the beginning of the Great War an Indian expeditionary force had
been ordered to sail from Bombay to the Persian Gulf to protect
Anglo-Persian Oil Company's recently-completed refinery on the island
of Abadan in the Shatt-al-Arab, downstream from Basra in Mesopotamia.
(And also His Majesty's Government's 51% interest in APOC which
Winston Churchill ever mindful of the Royal Navy's need for
oil had persuaded Parliament to purchase in June.)
entered the war on Germany's side, British forces joined the Indians
and they moved to take Basra on November 23rd to further secure
Abadan. It is unclear who gave the order, but in September 1915
British and Indian forces began the march to Baghdad. Many in the
military opposed such a venture temperatures of 110°, no guaranteed
supplies of water en route, and the possibility of formidable Ottoman
chief political officer, Percy Cox, disagreed. "Arab element is
already friendly and notables here volunteer that we should be received
in Baghdad with the same cordiality as we have been here [in Basra.]
. . . Baghdad in all probability will fall into our hands very easily."
Oil enthusiast Admiral Fisher pressured Prime Minister Asquith:
"I hope you are not losing any time annexing the Tigris and the
came easily and cheaply in their progress north until the troops
reached a settlement just 16 miles south of Baghdad. Battle-hardened
Turks were waiting for them in long defensive trenches. Routed,
the British retreated to Kut, 100 miles to the south where they
became encircled by 60,000 Turkish troops. After four months the
starving troops, enfeebled by enteritis, were forced to surrender
in late April, 1916. The 13,000 survivors were beaten mercilessly
by both Turks and local Arabs, then forced to walk (or fall by the
wayside) the hundred miles to Baghdad. A doctor of the International
Red Cross who examined the men for a prisoner exchange described
them: "They were wasted to wreathes of skin hanging upon a bone
and turbaned Indians marched triumphantly into Baghdad on March
11, 1917. With news of the armistice concluded with the Ottoman
Empire at Mudros the Mesopotamian commander ordered the garrison
at Mosul to surrender and evacuate the vilayet. British troops marched
into Mosul on November 7, 1918; all three provinces were now completely
occupied by the British. This would be handy in the oil concession
ownership hassles to come. Possession is nine-tenths of the law!
administration modeled on India had been instituted the week after
Basra was taken. This was extended to Baghdad. There were Indian
policemen; the currency was rupees, and the taxes were paid to Bombay.
Civil Commissioner Arnold Wilson proposed to Whitehall that Mesopotamia
"be annexed to India as a colony for India and Indians, that the
government of India would administer it, and gradually bring under
cultivation its vast unpopulated desert plains, peopling them with
martial races from the Punjab." Obviously he did not see Iraq
as its Arab inhabitants were increasingly naming the area
as an independent country-in-waiting.
When the War
Cabinet issued instructions that pre-existing laws and customs were
to remain in place, Wilson ignored them. He abolished the local
elected municipal councils that the Ottomans had permitted. London,
sensitive to the very different populations in Mosul, Baghdad and
Basra, wanted the three areas administered separately. Wilson treated
them as if they were one homogeneous area. Families were evicted
from their homes which were then taken over for military housing
or administrative purposes; men were forced from their fields or
other business to labor at peon's wages on British work projects.
He controlled the movement of food and other supplies, so he determined
who ate and who starved, as a means of compliance.
he exacted for the increasing Arab "terrorist" activities were draconian.
When the oppressive governor at Najaf was murdered in March, 1918
and the culprits couldn't be identified, Wilson had the city
one of the most sacred Shia places blockaded for months until
the starving citizens yielded up the guilty men. So the stage was
set for jihad against Britain. Secret organized groups began murdering,
kidnapping, pillaging, and committing acts of sabotage on an order
that could not be handled by the ground troops and the Indian policemen.
the Secretary for both War and Air, told the House of Commons in
March, 1920 that Britain could not afford the additional number
of ground troops it would take to contain the escalating violence.
Therefore, the Royal Air Force would be used.
Rebel villages and enemy concentrations were strafed and bombed
throughout August and September, using the new strategy of Morale
Bombing developed by Chief of Staff Hugo Trenchard. As he explained
in a memo to Wilson: ". . . when air operations are resorted to,
they should be carried out in a strength sufficient to inflict severe
punishment and in numbers adequate to sustain the attack for as
long a period as may be necessary. It will be realized then that
aircraft . . . by their mere presence will often induce the natives
to return to peaceful ways." (Arthur "Bomber" Harris was one of
the pilots who bombed civilians.
He would later orchestrate the carpet bombing of Dresden in WWII.)
By October the rebels were running out of both ammunition and ardor.
Wilson had been sacked and replaced by Percy Cox who immediately
instituted a provisional government with an elected general assembly
and a process leading to a constitution. There was never a need
for the gas bombs whose manufacture had been ordered back in May,
1919 at the urging of Winston Churchill who had said, "I am strongly
in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral
effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced
to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses:
gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread
a lively terror and yet leave no serious permanent effects on most
of those affected." Black, Banking on Baghdad,
pp. 170-177, 186-190, 200-204, 208-217, 246-260; Yergin, The
Prize, pp. 149, 160-163, 174.]
--- Muscle Shoals, Alabama: Henry Ford, responding to the War
Department's announcement that it would take bids on two nitrate
plants and the partially-built Dam No. 2 later named Wilson
Dam on the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals, sends in his
bid. He offers $5 million for the nitrate plants and will lease
the power plant for 100 years, provided that the government construct
a dam and an additional power plant fiteen miles north of Muscle
Shoals and install additional horsepower at the first dam.
He will pay 4% interest on the cost of the power plants amd agrees
to produce fertilizer that would be sold commercially at 8% profit.
The Alabama Power Company, which already owns a transmission line
from Muscle Shoals, is a second bidder.
entranced by the image of the motor mogul, was initially enthusiastic
about the Ford proposal the cheaper fertilizer that the Ford
genius would undoubtedly produce, and the magnificent manufacturing
city that Ford would construct on the 4600 acres he would be deeded.
Others, such as Gifford Pinchot, saw the offer as "seven parts waterpower
to one part fertilizer" wherein Ford would get huge quantities of
electrical power free and pay no taxes, using the fertilizer provision
On April 10,
1922 Senator George Norris of Nebraska, the chairman of the Agriculture
and Forestry Committee which had held hearings on all the proposals,
introduced his own bill for a government corporation which would
operate all the Muscle Shoals properties "for the purpose, first,
of supplying explosives in time of war, and, second, fertilizer
in time of peace. Surplus power would be sold with preference given
to states, counties and municipalities.
He wanted the property developed in the interests of the American
people, instead of some corporation making a profit venture out
had spent $106 million on Muscle Shoals; Ford was offering to buy
it all for $5 million. Ford planned to build an industrial city
at Muscle Shoals that would consume the bulk of electricity generated;
Norris' plan would extend electricity in a 300-mile radius to rural
homes at an inexpensive rate. Norris' bill was a comprehensive package
for the region, including navigation and flood concerns not covered
by Ford's plan and would do more for the development of the South,
he said, than anything Ford had proposed.
The House endorsed
the Ford proposal, but it died in the Senate. Although the Norris
bill was passed over in the House, Norris' arguments for public
power made increasing headway with the public anger over Teapot
Dome. In October 1924 Ford withdrew his offer.
Tennessee River and its tributaries make a catchment area of over
40,000 square miles in six states. The 2 million people who lived
in the Tennessee Valley in 1920 were mostly small farmers who grew
cash crops corn, cotton and tobacco and lived in terribly
squalid conditions. The series of rapids at Muscle Shoals in northern
Alabama provided a current with a fall four-fifths the height of
the Niagara Falls, making it the greatest water power site east
of the Rockies. Therefore, this was the site chosen in 1917 by President
Wilson for the nitrate plants that were designed to utilize water
power to extract nitrogen from the atmosphere for use in explosives.
After the armistice there was no more need for nitrates.
Lowitt, pp. 197-216.]
J. Edgar Hoover,
aged 26, is appointed Assistant Director of the Bureau of Investigation.
Naval Treaty of 1922: Japan accepts Secretary of State Charles
Evan Hughes' terms for ending the global battleship-building race:
a 10:10:6 ratio with the United States and Great Britain having
the greater proportions.
Italy were soon added to the Five-Power Treaty with each allowed
half the tonnage of Japan. The Washington Conference concluded with
a nine-power pact including the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal
and China which affirmed the battleship ratios, guaranteed
the "open door policy" for China (which had been sought by the United
States since its first enunciation by John Hay in 1899) and engineered
the return of the Shantung peninsula to China in exchange for the
recognition that Japan had special rights in Manchuria. This treaty
essentially ended the old Anglo-Japanese alliance.
It was in the
economic interest of all parties to halt the ferocious battleship
competition; Japan, however, was possibly the ultimate victor as
it won de facto naval superiority in the western Pacific despite
having settled for less than the 10:10:7 ratio originally sought.
In order to secure Japan's participation, the United States agreed
not to strengthen any bases that lay west of Pearl Harbor, such
as Guam and Manila. Great Britain similarly agreed not to strengthen
any of her bases east of Singapore or north of Australia.
would regret this in World War II; the Pacific island-hopping of
bases fortified by the Japanese would prove very costly in American
lives. Wall Street especially J. P. Morgan to the despair
of a succession of Secretaries of State, would undermine any advantages
that the United States had received in their half-century competition
with Japan for Chinese trade by the massive loans which were given
to Japan throughout the 1920s to develop Manchuria and northern
China. The London Naval Treaty of 1930 set similar restrictions
for cruisers. LaFeber, The Clash, pp. 135-143,
149-152; Morison, pp. 8-19.]
New Technological Marvel: President Warren G. Harding has a
radio installed in the White House. [His speech from the White House
on Washington's Birthday was carried on 42 stations from coast to
coast. Radio broadcasts would play a major role in Calvin Coolidge's
1924 election campaign.]
Scandal: The Wall Street Journal breaks the story that
Interior has leased all of Teapot Dome to Harry Sinclair's Mammoth
Oil Company for drilling. A whistle-blower within the department
had given the story to conservationist watchdog Harry Slattery who
leaked it to the newspaper.
immediate negative reaction in Congress, especially after the additional
lease of Elk Hills was revealed. Why no competitive bidding? Why
all of Teapot Dome when Wyoming was already over-producing? On the
29th the Senate unanimously passed a resolution from Senator Robert
LaFollette, Sr. (R-WI) to investigate the oil leases. Senator Tom
Walsh (D-MT) was urged by his colleagues to take the leadership
of the investigation by the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys.
He demurred until Senator Burton Wheeler told him he had been told
that it was "a crooked deal."
the criticism of the oil leases, in May Secretary Fall had President
Harding transfer the naval coal fields in Alaska from the Navy to
the Department of the Interior.
He was preparing for a huge government initiative in Alaska costing
$5 million building and operating paper mills, saw mills and
railroads until they could be sold to private investors. Fall advised
Harding that this economic boom in Alaska would enrich the entire
nation. Edward Doheny was cruising Alaska in his yacht to check
out oil prospects.
project came to a halt in July when Secretary of Agriculture Henry
Wallace the father of Henry Agard Wallace who would be Secretary
of Agriculture and later Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt
threatened Harding that if he gave the U.S. Forest Service to Interior,
he would "expose the case against Fall, his colleagues, forests,
oil and everything in the nation." By "everything in the nation"
Wallace may have meant the graft being pursued by Attorney General
Daugherty and the 'Ohio Gang' kickbacks for purchases by the
Veteran's Bureau, bribes from Germans seeking return of their frozen
alien property, licenses sold for the purchase of liquor for medicinal
purposes, sale of pardons and paroles, and so on.
Daugherty would make a half-million dollar deposit into his brother's
bank in Washington Crossing, Ohio. Fall resigned as Secretary of
the Interior in January, 1923.
The Walsh investigation began in October, 1923. The final legal
word on Teapot Dome was not spoken until1928. McCartney,
pp. 69-73, 108- 140. See entry of May 31, 1921 for background.]
Rapallo: Germany and the Soviet Union sign an agreement in which
both renounce all war claims against the other and cancel all pre-war
debts. The Soviet Union receives de jure recognition for
the first time; Germany gets a most-favored nation clause and significant
trade agreements. In a secret section the Soviet Union grants Germany
permission to use its territory for army maneuvers and exercises
and the production of weapons? all of which are forbidden under
the Treaty of Versailles. Topitsch, p. 20.
[ France, Great
Britain and Italy, fearing a rapprochement between the Soviet Union
and Germany and the other countries defeated in the Great War, attempted
to construct a cordon sanitaire separating Germany and the
USSR with a block of countries aligned with the Western defense
system. Foremost was the Little Entente Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia
and Rumania with France as its most enthusiastic backer. Walter
Rathenau, one of the German officials involved in the treaty negotiations,
was assassinated two months later by two right-wing (and anti-Semitic)
White Paper on Palestine: Following the Arab revolts in Palestine
in 1920 and 1921, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Winston
Churchill, issues a document clarifying the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
There will be a Jewish National Home in Palestine, but Palestine
is not to become "as Jewish as England is English," according to
the "exaggerated interpretations" of the Balfour Declaration that
have alarmed many Arabs.
All citizens of Palestine shall be considered to be "Palestinians,"
and His Majesty's Government intends to "foster the establishment
of a full measure of self government in Palestine . . . . by gradual
stages and not suddenly." Jewish immigration "cannot be so great
in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic capacity of
the country at the time to absorb new arrivals." The White Paper
notes that the present Jewish population is about 80,000, 25,000
of whom came as immigrants since the beginning of the British occupation
in 1917. 18
quiet Arab fears the Mandate area east of the Jordan River
76% of the territory had been detached from Palestine, renamed
Transjordan and given to the Hashemite Emir Abdullah as his kingdom,
thus drastically reducing the area available for Jewish settlement.]
The Avalon Project at Yale Law School;www.palestinefacts.org;
The most violent disturbance was in Jaffa on May Day 1921 when nearly
200 Jews and 120 Arabs died. Bregman, p. 8.
According to Bregman, the Jewish population had reached 120,000
by the beginning of 1923. p. 4.
of Nations formally mandates Palestine to Great Britain, incorporating
the pledge of a national home for the Jews made in the Balfour Declaration.
Bregman, p. 7BrBregman, egman, p. 7.
on Rome:" Italy's Premier Luigi Facta receives a demand from
the Fascist Party that he resign his post in favor of Benito Mussolini
who had declared, "Either the government will be given to us or
we shall seize it by marching on Rome."
a state of siege; the army could easily have routed the poorly-armed
Fascist squads who had placed themselves in key positions around
the city, but King Victor Emmanuel refused to sign the decree. The
country was still reeling from the Great War and he wanted no further
conflict. He invited Mussolini to come to Rome and start a government
with the understanding that the king would retain his throne. Mussolini
and his key followers arrived on the 30th----- by train and with
first-class tickets. Mussolini would later fabricate the myth of
300,000 black-shirts marching on Rome, some barefoot, led by himself
And so began
the fascist rule which would last until 1945. Hitler is said to
have remarked: "The brown shirt would not have existed without the
black shirt. The march on Rome . . . was one of the turning-points
of history." BBC News, October 29, 2002; Smith,
Modern Italy, pp. 316-322; Brendon, p. 28; Ridley, Mussolini,
Bill, introduced by Representative Leonidas Dyer (R-MO) in April,
1921, is allowed to die in the Senate after a week's filibuster
led by Democrats Underwood of Alabama and Harrison of Mississippi.
controlled the Senate and had enough members to invoke cloture,
had they so desired. They could now blame the Democrats for its
failure to pass; by sponsoring the bill they could gain favor with
the emerging bloc of black voters in the urban North.
On the 13th James Weldon Johnson of the NAACP sent an "Open Letter
to Every Senator" in which he noted that in the week since the smothering
of the Dyer Bill there had been four lynchings; one victim was tortured
and burned at the stake. "This outbreak of barbarism, anarchy and
degenerate bestiality and the blood of the victims rest upon the
heads of those Southern senators who have obstructed even discussion
of the measure designed to remedy this very condition. . . . And
the responsibility rests equally with the Republican majority who
surrendered with hardly a struggle to the lynching tactics of the
Democrats." Dray, pp. 258-272.]
Oil - in
Venezuela: Royal Dutch/Shell has a gusher in its Barroso No.
2 well on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo. [Many more strikes
were made in the La Rosa field and the oil boom was on. By 1929
Venezuela was second only to the United States in worldwide production
at 137 million barrels a year. It had displaced Mexico partly due
to the political turmoil in that country which discouraged the investors
who now flocked to Venezuela, among them: Royal Dutch/Shell, Gulf
and Pan American. Yergin, Prize, pp. 233-237.]
Union - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or CCCP in
Russian): The Soviet Socialist Republics of Russia, the Ukraine,
Belorussia and Transcaucasia unite to form what will be familiarly
known in the West as the "Soviet Union." Mikhail Kalinin signs for
the Russian component.
[The USSR was
recognized by the British Empire on February 1, 1924; many other
nations followed the British lead; the United States would withhold
recognition until November, 1933. Additional soviet socialist republics
were formed through the years and added to the USSR. In September,
1991 they numbered 15.]
Belgian forces occupy the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland,
as a response to Germany's default in coal deliveries reparation
payments that were owed under the Versailles Treaty.
by withholding all reparations and sponsoring passive resistance
and strikes. The government was forced to print money to pay the
strikers, further undermining the economy. The hyper-inflation caused
the government to cancel the passive resistance and resulted in
a European depression. The Americans and the British intervened
with loans to prevent a total collapse of the German and French
The last troops were withdrawn in November, 1924.]
v. Dempsey: Voting 6-2, the Supreme Court rules that a mob-dominated
trial is in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Justice Oliver Wendell Homes, writing for the majority,
holds that federal courts, when petitioned for a writ of habeas
corpus, must review claims of mob domination in state trials and
order the release of defendants convicted in such trials.
sharecroppers of rural Phillips County, Arkansas, despairing of
getting a fair price (or timely pay) for their cotton, formed a
sharecroppers' union in 1919. The white people, outnumbered in the
county four to one, feared this was really a black insurrection.
When the car of some white deputies "broke down" near a church where
a union meeting was in progress, gunfire broke out and one of the
white deputies was killed. Assured that the rebellion had started,
the call was put out for help from other counties and neighboring
days there was "indiscriminate hunting, shooting and killing" of
blacks, combatants and non-combatants alike. According to the NAACP
two to three hundred African-Americans were killed and dozens taken
prisoner. These prisoners were held incommunicado, denied counsel
and sentenced by a kangaroo court. Floggings and other means of
torture had produced "confessions" from some of the hundred. No
motion was made for dismissal or change of venue despite the presence
of a mob that threatened death to any juryman who voted for acquittal.
Twelve of the prisoners received death sentences; sixty-seven others
received prison sentences of up to twenty years. This in a trial
that lasted 45 minutes and jury deliberations that took five minutes.
was a major victory for the NAACP. Walter White and Ida Wells-Barnett
had worked ceaselessly to educate the public and persuade the Court
to modify its 1915 decision in Frank v. Magnum which had1
acknowledged that the mob atmosphere had contributed substantially
to the conviction of Leo Frank in the 1913 murder of Mary Phagan
in Atlanta 19 but stated that
"as long as a state court observed the form of a trial the federal
government had no right to beyond the form and inquire into the
spirit which animated the trial." Any denial of due process was
now the concern of the federal government; Moore paved the
way for Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. Dray,
19 See entry for April
Gasoline Prices: The La Follette Oil Investigating Committee
submits the results of a three-month inquiry into the sudden escalation
of gasoline prices to the Senate. The report charges that nothing
has changed since 1911, that the Standard Oil Companies still completely
control the oil industry of the United States. "They have partitioned
the territory of the United States among the member companies of
the Standard group as spoils," and fix the price the producer of
crude oil receives at the well, the price which the refiner receives
for gasoline and kerosene, and the price that the consumer pays
at the pump.
populist Robert La Follette from Wisconsin, warns that "if a few
great oil companies" are permitted to continue "to manipulate oil
prices for the next few years, as they have been doing since January,
1920, the people of this country must be prepared, before long,
to pay at least $1 a gallon for gasoline."
the president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, immediately denied
any such collusion, denounced the report as "political" and said
that "dollar gasoline was an economic impossibility." La Follette's
prediction took many decades to come true; indeed, as surpluses
mounted, gas prices fell. A gallon cost 13¢ in San Francisco and
10.5¢ in Los Angeles in April, 1927. Time Magazine,
March 10 and March 23, 1923; Yergin, Prize, p. 211.]
v. Nebraska: The Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision overturns
the conviction of Robert Meyer for teaching a class using a German
text. It thus invalidates the 1919 statute which prohibited the
teaching of modern languages other than English before the ninth
grade in school and also strikes down similar statutes in Ohio and
Iowa. The statutes are in violation of the liberty protected by
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
would be used in the1960s as a precedent for a constitutional right
of privacy. Justice McReynolds wrote that the clause "denotes not
merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual
to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life,
to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, to establish a home and bring
up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own
conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized
at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by
free men. The established doctrine is that this liberty may not
be interfered with, under the guise of protecting the common interest,
by legislative action which is arbitrary or without reasonable relation
to some purpose within the competency of the state to effect. .
The three English-only
statutes were part of the nativist backlash at the large numbers
of foreign immigrants entering the country. The Nebraska Supreme
Court in upholding the law had written: "The Legislature had seen
the baneful effects of permitting foreigners, who had taken residence
in this country, to rear and educate their children in the language
of their native land. The result of that condition was found to
be inimical to our own safety. To allow the children of foreigners,
who had emigrated here, to be taught from early childhood the language
of the country of their parents was . . . to educate them so that
they must always think in that language, and, as a consequence,
naturally inculcate in them the ideas and sentiments foreign to
the best interests of this country." Hall, pp.
End of the
Ottoman Empire --- Treaty of Lausanne: The Allies agree to the
essential provisions of the Nationalist Pact annulling the
Treaty of Sèvres and recognize the Republic of Turkey as comprising
all the Turkish-speaking part of Anatolia plus Eastern Thrace. (Mustafa
Kemal had abolished the sultanate in November, 1922.) All Turkish
claims to Cyprus (which would become a British Crown Colony), Syria
and Iraq are relinquished. British forces are required to evacuate
Constantinopl now Istanbul and the Dardanelles and the
Bosphorus will be open to commerce. (The Montreux Convention of
1936 is the most recent international agreement concerning the Straits.)
[Only the disposition
of Mosul remained unsolved and was left for the League of Nations
to decide. Turkey was claiming that the Kurds were really Turks.
Lord Curzon, more interested in Mosul for the oil than consideration
for the Kurds, mocked this: "It was reserved for the Turkish delegation
to discover for the first time in history that the Kurds were Turks.
Nobody has ever found it out before." A majority of the Mosul province
had voted for inclusion in Iraq in a plebiscite; only 1 /12 of the
population were Turks. In June, 1926 the League awarded the prize
to Iraq. Balfour, p. 407.
After the Treaty
of Sèvres and the mounting Turkish anger at the proposed partition
of their land, Kemal and the Nationalists gained more adherents
and held the first Grand National Assembly. After settling with
the Armenians in the east and the French in the south, Kemal's army
now equipped with guns and ammunition from the Soviet Union
was free to counterattack the Greeks who were coming closer to the
new capital of Angora (now Ankara.)
were escalating; the nationalists had no problems in recruiting
angry peasants for their armies. "Your goal is the Mediterranean,"
Kemal allegedly told recruits. When they reached the port of Smyrna
(now Izmir) on September 10, 1922, the pillaging began. Fires broke
out, initially by accident, then later by design. Only the Turkish
quarter of the city remained intact after the fires died out. A
million and a half Greeks fled or were driven out. The death toll
is unknown. Smyrna had been built and inhabited by Greeks for centuries.
Tacitus described it as the "greatest port in Asia." Dobkin,
of Lausanne called for a mandatory transfer of populations
Christians out of Turkey and Muslims out of Greece with the
exception of Turks in western Thrace and Greeks in Istanbul and
two Aegean islands. Lord Curzon warned against this "thoroughly
bad and vicious solution for which the world will pay a heavy penalty
for a hundred years to come." Wikipedia states that there
were about 600,000 expulsions from Greece and between 1.2 -3 million
expulsions from Turkey, making this the largest population exchange
to date in the 20th century. It included many Muslims who spoke
no Turkish and many Greek Orthodox Christians who spoke no Greek.
contained provisions for the protection of ethnic minorities in
both Greece and Turkey. However, employment restrictions enacted
against the Greek minority in the 1930s caused much voluntary emigration.
This combined with the 1955 Istanbul Riots (or Pogrom, depending
on whose side you take) caused the Greek population in Turkey to
decline from about 200,000 in 1924 to about 5000 in 2005, according
to Wikipedia. MacMillan, pp. 448-455; Fromkin,
pp. 427-434, 540-547.
Kemal was elected
president of the Turkish Republic. Over the years until his death
in 1938, he and his friends, the first signers of the Nationalist
Pact, made reforms that modernized and secularized the country.
In 1924 the caliphate was abolished along with the religious schools
and religious courts. The next year the fez was abolished and western
dress encouraged. The western calendar replaced the Islamic solar
calendar; the 24-hour clock was adopted. In 1926 a new civil code,
based on Swiss law, gave women rights that they had not enjoyed
before. They now had equal inheritance rights as a man, not the
A man could no longer arbitrarily divorce his wife as under Muslim
The Third Grand
National Assembly re-elected Kemal as president in 1927 and rubber-stamped
the introduction of the Latin alphabet, (called the "Turkish script"
to differentiate it from Arabic script and engender a feeling of
patriotism and self-worth.) Turkey was invited to join the League
of Nations in 1932. One of the last reforms was the requirement
to adopt a surname. Kemal chose the name "Atatürk" or Father of
Turkey. He dropped the name Mustafa and became Kemal Atatürk. Titles,
such as Pasha, Bey and Efendi, were abolished. Clerics were not
permitted to wear their ceremonial garments in public. And in 1935
Sunday became the day of rest rather than Friday.
Balfour, pp. 467-474, 481-482, 501-505; Mango, pp. 433-435, 464-467;
a President and More on Teapot Dome Scandal: President Harding
dies of a stroke in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Vice President
Calvin Coolidge succeeds him in office.
just returned to the 48 states after a trip to Alaska, the first
segment of a two-month trip designed to remove him from the growing
Teapot Dome scandal. Secretary of Agriculture Wallace and his wife
were part of the party; Wallace helped Harding to showcase his new-found
enthusiasm for conservation. Laton McCartney refutes the Harding
biographers who maintain that Harding knew nothing about Teapot
Dome until after the fact and was definitely not complicit. He reminds
readers that Harding had pressured Harry Sinclair to pay off the
owners of the Denver Post who were relentless in their stories
about Albert Fall and the petroleum leases the previous summer.
The Post continued its demand that Sinclair reimburse their protégé
Leo Stack $1 million for his prior claim on a portion of Teapot
Harding had a surprise visit shortly before the departure for Alaska
from some newspaper owners who offered him $500,000 in Liberty bonds
for his Marion Star an amount three times what a comparable
small town newspaper had brought the year before. McCartney,
- Lenin dies; Stalin and Trotsky have contradictory views and
vie for power. [Stalin was the victor by 1927; Trotsky was expelled
from the USSR in 1929 and murdered in Mexico in 1940 by Stalin's
agents. Heller, Utopia, pp. 181-191.]
Scandal: Edward Doheny concedes to the Walsh committee that
he made a "loan" to Albert Fall of $100,000 in November, 1921 and
that it was delivered in cash by his son Ned.
his first "smoking gun" Senator Walsh called for a special counsel.
President Coolidge nominated two, since he chose to label Teapot
Dome as a bipartisan crime!
They were Atlee Pomerene, a Democrat, and Owen Roberts, a Republican.
They were confirmed by the Senate in mid-February, at the same time
that Secretary of the Navy Denby sent in his resignation. Piggy-backing
on Walsh's work and with investigative help from the Secret Service
(since the Justice Department was hindering rather than helping
the investigation) the special counsels were able within a month
to obtain indictments against Albert Fall, Edward Doheny and Harry
Sinclair and to begin proceedings to have the contracts for Elk
Hills and Teapot Dome nullified. McCartney, pp.
Scandal: Senator Burton Wheeler (R-MT) offers a resolution to
investigate Attorney General Daugherty for his failure "to arrest
and prosecute" Fall, Sinclair, Doheny and the rest of the oil men.
passed 66-1 and Wheeler began a tandem investigation to that of
Walsh and the special counsels. He found an outstanding witness
in Roxy Stinson, the divorced wife of Jess Smith who had been Daugherty's
right-hand man until his death in May, 1923.
(The death had been termed "suicide", but it is fairly unusual for
a right-handed man to shoot himself in his left temple.) Roxy described
how anxious Jess was in his last weeks. "They're going to get me,"
he had said. A fascinated audience listened to Roxy's revelations:
the enormous amounts that Jess deposited monthly in Ohio, the $180,000
Daugherty and Smith had made from illegal showings around the country
of the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, a crooked oil deal that netted
$33 million, the house on H Street where the Ohio Gang had business
meetings and Harding had trysts with call girls, and so on. When
Daugherty refused to turn his papers over to Wheeler and the committee,
Coolidge fired him on March 28th. Billy Burns, head of the Bureau
of Investigation and Daugherty's 'enforcer,' resigned at the same
time. Despite Roxy's testimony, the attorney general was never indicted
for any crime nor brought to justice. McCartney,
pp. 142-144, 229-255.]
Mustafa Kemal, the president of the Turkish Republic, newly-organized
from the remains of the Ottoman Empire, deposes the caliph and abolishes
the caliphate in Constantinople, thus ending an Islamic religious
tradition of 1,292 years something akin to bulldozing the
a spiritual crisis in the Muslim world outside of Turkey and was
one of the seeds for the rise of religious fundamentalism. Under
the militant leadership of Kemal Atatürk (Father of the Turks) Turkey
would be secularized and modernized: equal rights for women, only
western dress in public, Latin alphabet, western calendar and measurements,
use of family names but no titles, separation of mosque and state,
secular system of jurisprudence instead of religious law, industrialization,
etc. Hiro, War without End, pp. 53-54,
A committee of the Allied Reparations Commission, chaired by American
Charles Dawes, submits its plan to grant Germany a twelve-month
moratorium on its payments and then a graduated scale for payment.
inflation had rendered the German mark worthless and Germany, as
a result, was in complete default on its reparations payments. The
plan went into effect in September, German currency was stabilized,
and reparation payments were made for the next five years to the
relief of those Americans worried about the influence of German
inflation on world economy and the repayment of the $10 billion
loaned to Allied countries (who were relying on reparations to repay
their loans.) The plan was not popular with politicians like Adolf
Hitler and Alfred Hugenberg because the reparations total was not
decreased, but merely deferred.]
Hoover is made Acting Director of the Bureau of Investigation.
[After assuring Attorney General Harlan Stone and members of Congress
that the days of the "Red Raids" were over and that the Bureau would
never again investigate citizens because of their political opinions,
he was appointed Director on December 22, 1924, a job he would continue
to hold until his death in 1972. Summers, Official,
Act of 1924: With the sunsetting of the 1921 act, Congress passes
a new immigration law which even more strongly favors admission
of immigrants from the northern European countries Great Britain,
the Irish Free State, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. It
uses the device of "national origins" to mandate an annual immigration
of no more than 2%, not 3%, of the nationality that was resident
in the US according to the census of 1890 no longer 1910
except for the non-quota nations of Canada, the Philippines,
and the countries of Latin America.
The total immigration
allowed will be 150,000, a reduction of more than 50% from the 1921
allowance. A little-debated provision of the bill calls for a future
"national origins of the American population" quota system to be
determined from a statistical analysis of the 1790 census to be
used after 1927.
numbers of Italians, Russian Jews, Poles and other Eastern Europeans
the so-called "new immigrants" had arrived mostly in the years
after 1890. Japanese were excluded entirely, and they labeled the
new law the 1924 Exclusion Act. This ended the "Gentleman's Agreement"
of 1907 whereby Japan had denied passports to laborers bound for
the United States; this had essentially eliminated Japanese immigration
to the United States. The specific exclusion of the Japanese was
humiliating to the Japanese; mobs tore down the American flag from
the embassy in Tokyo, the American consul in Yokohama barely escaped
assassination. Brazil became a preferred destination for worker
migration. Some historians see this act as an important antecedent
of Pearl Harbor.
The act as
a whole was the culmination of a decade's vicious anti-immigrant
campaign targeting Southern Europeans and Asians, who were called
"the Yellow Peril." Madison Grant, a wealthy New York lawyer and
an amateur anthropologist, was one of the leaders. His 1916 book,
The Passing of the Great Race, posited that only superior
races, such as the Nordic one, were capable of producing great civilizations
and a democracy. Racial
interbreeding with non-Nordics would lead only to an inferior species
and a mongrelization of the original American population which had
founded the country.
In the several
hearings that were held on the legislation the main opposition came
from legislators in the urban districts of the Northeast and Chicago
where most of the "new immigrants" lived and from the National
Association of Manufacturers, who said immigrants were needed to
do the nasty jobs that native-born Americans refused. The bill passed
323-71 and 62-6 with the South and the Far West in solid support.
It was signed
by President Calvin Coolidge; he had once published an article in
which he claimed that intermarriage between Nordics and those of
the inferior ethnic groups would produce children who were "degenerate."
LaFeber, pp. 144-146; Divine, American Immigration Policy,
Lower East Side in the early 20th century had one of the highest
population densities of any place on earth; it was home to the poorest
of the poor of the "new immigrants" Jews, Italians and Irish
who lived in filthy, dilapidated tenements some dating from the
Civil War. Michael Gold's autobiographical novel, Jews without
Money, paints a good picture of the grinding and pervasive poverty
as well as the hostility between the groups.
Murder in Rome: Giacomo Matteotti, the head of the Socialist
Party, disappears shortly after a fiery speech in which he labeled
the 1924 election to be a "fraud" that had been won by Fascist thugs
who intimidated voters (and also Socialist candidates) and by a
corrupt revamped election law that had been railroaded in by Mussolini.
body was found six weeks later, public outrage was so great that
Mussolini was forced to order the arrest of the murderers, who were
professional gangsters from the "Cheka" that he had formed earlier
in the year. One of them, Amerigo Dumini, implicated Mussolini in
the murder. At this point, the king could have ousted the fascists,
but he disliked the socialists even more.
spent but a brief time in prison; the opposition that had been aroused
by Matteotti's murder was crushed. Protestors were beaten, opposition
newspapers were closed down, and Mussolini became a complete dictator.
In this he had the support of the king who disliked the republican
sentiments of the "Aventine secession" protestors.
Pope Pius XI
and the international conservative press fully supported Mussolini
in the crisis; only the international Socialist movement condemned
the murder, so Mussolini was able to move quickly to destroy socialism
in Italy. Smith, Modern Italy: A Political
History, pp. 329-330; Ridley, pp. 159-169.
The Socialist deputies left the Chamber of Deputies on June 27 in
protest against the murder of Matteotti. They only figuratively
went to the Aventine hill, the historic spot to which the plebs
had withdrawn, ca 500 BCE, to force the patricians to allow them
participation in the government of the Roman republic. Ridley,
National Convention: After 16 days and 103 ballots a deadlocked
convention settles on compromise candidate, John W. Davis of West
[The two principal
contenders, after the 15 favorite sons had had their moments of
glory, were: William McAdoo of California, who had been Wilson's
Secretary of the Treasury and was Wilson's son-in-law and Al Smith,
the governor of New York. McAdoo pulled support from the South and
the West, rural and Protestant voters, and had the "dry" vote.
Smith represented urban, Eastern, Catholic and "wet" voters.
been considered a shoo-in until Edward Doheny testified to the Walsh
committee that his oil company had employed McAdoo for matters unrelated
to Elk Hills or Teapot Dome. Whenever McAdoo's name was mentioned,
there were yells of "Oil! Oil!" from raucous delegates and spectators.
McCartney, pp. 244-248.
voters in November listened to the balloting on the radio, as the
party proceeded to self-destruct. In retrospect, it is amazing that
the Democrats allowed this debacle to happen in a year when the
Republican Party was bearing the heavy stain of Teapot Dome.]
Election: Coolidge wins over Democratic candidate John William
Davis, 382-136, with Davis prevailing in only the 12 Southern states.
Senator Robert M. LaFollette, the Progressive Party candidate, carries
his state of Wisconsin and garners an unprecedented four million
votes nationally. The popular vote:
Coolidge 53.6 %
Davis 29.4 %
LaFollette 17.0 %
--- Muscle Shoals: George Norris (R-NE), still pushing his plan
for public ownership and development of the Muscle Shoals complex
[see entry for July 8, 1921], rails on the
Senate floor against the bill introduced by Oscar Underwood (D-AL).
Ostensibly a measure to deliver cheap fertilizer to the farmer,
the bill would deliver the enormous hydroelectric potential of the
Tennessee River dams to an unknown bidder, presumably the Alabama
[If this bill
should pass, Norris said, it would be "a rape upon the Treasury
of the United States, a gold brick to the American farmer, and the
giving of a concession of untold value to some corporation, whose
identity has not yet been disclosed; a concession so great that
it will make Tea Pot Dome look like a pinhead. Doheny and Sinclair
will soon realize that they were only pikers when they spent hundreds
of thousands of dollars for the corrupting of public officials and
the hiring of ex-public officials when a greater property is going
to be conveyed to some private interest through the legislative
channel without the expenditure of a dollar and without the necessity
of any fraudulent methods."
The bill passed
the Senate, 50-30. It was sent directly to a conference committee
without ever being considered by the House. This lapse in parliamentary
procedure doomed the Underwood bill; the controversy alerted the
public to think about the nation's natural resources and to question
the rectitude of giving them away to corporate interests. Lowitt,
Protocol emerges from the Geneva Conference for the Supervision
of the International Traffic in Arms. It bans the use in war of
asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases as in the Versailles Treaty,
adding a ban on the use of bacteriological weapons.
[By World War
II the protocol had been ratified by all the great powers with the
exception of Japan and the United States. Several countries, including
France, the United Kingdom and the USSR, declared that the treaty
would no longer be binding on them if their enemies or allies of
their enemies failed to abide by the restrictions of the treaty,
thus making it effectively a first-use prohibition. The treaty did
not prohibit the manufacture, sale, or stockpiling of these weapons;
this would be left for additional treaties in the '70s and '90s.
The protocol also did not cover the use of such weapons in internal
or civil conflicts.
The protocol was generally observed in World War II. However, Italy,
an early signatory to the treaty, used poison gas in the Ethiopian
Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in contravention
of Tennessee law and is fined $100. [His attorney, Clarence Darrow,
described the trial as
"the first case of its kind since we stopped trying people for witchcraft."
Darrow's arguments humiliated the opposing attorney, William Jennings
Bryan, the hero of rural America, and demolished his reputation.
Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, p. 20.]
The German navy starts the usage of Enigma machines to encipher
messages sent to ships.
[In 1923 the
navy had learned through some bragging accounts published
by Winston Churchill and others that the British had been
reading their signals throughout the Great War. The navy then hastened
to buy the machines offered to them in 1918 by their inventor, electrical
engineer Arthur Scherbius. A less complicated Enigma was designed
for the army and went into service in 1928.
denounced the Versailles Treaty in 1935, many other branches of
the German government the railroad administration, the Abwehr
(military espionage service), Sicherheitsdienst (SD- Nazi
party spy branch) ordered their own specially designed Enigma
machines. All models were continually improved throughout the '30s.
Security was very tight, especially with the navy which utilized
three levels of Enigma machines. Only specified officers had access
to the keys and the three rotors which engendered the complicated
encryptment. Kahn, Seizing the Enigma,
President Coolidge vetoes the Agricultural Surplus Control Bill
that has been proposed in every Congress since 1924 by Senator McNary
of Oregon and Representative Haugen of Iowa.
heroic efforts to supply the world with food, the end of the Great
War found American farmers with huge surpluses. Prices collapsed
wartime highs of sixty cents a pound for wool slid to twenty cents
in 1920; cotton went from thirty-five cents a pound to sixteen cents.
Corn that had earlier sold for $1.50 a bushel now was worth fifty-two
cents. The debts that farmers had incurred to expand their holdings
and to mechanize to meet the demands of the war now resulted in
foreclosures. Many families were forced off their land and large
areas became depopulated.
bill would have authorized the government to buy up agricultural
surpluses at a fair market value and sell them abroad at a loss.
Coolidge would veto a second bill in 1928; this veto and the farm
crisis would be an issue in the 1928 campaign. Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, p. 17.]
in China: Chiang Kai-Shek purges the communists from his government;
thousands are executed. Chou En-Lai, one of Chiang's closest subordinates,
flees from Shanghai. André Malraux's prize-winning novel, La
Condition humaine (Gallimard, 1933), depicts a Communist uprising
and its annihilation in Shanghai in this period. Behr,
Hirohito, pp. 58-59.
- Lindbergh Flight: Charles A. "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh arrives
in Paris to cheering crowds after a 33-hour solo flight across the
Atlantic Ocean in his Ryan monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis.
a daredevil mail pilot, had opted to try for the renewal of the
Raymond Orteig offer of $25,000 for the first flyer (or group of
flyers) for the successful completion of a non-stop New York to
Paris (or vice versa) transatlantic flight. Lindbergh found a group
of St. Louis business men who would finance the building of a light
plane designed to his specifications.
planes had flown shorter spans of the Atlantic, his was the first
from the United States to Paris, and the world was kept appraised
of his progress. Twenty-five thousand Frenchmen were there to greet
him at his landing at Le Bourget; his first night in Paris he slept
at the home of the United States Ambassador to France. He was feted
on the continent and in England; he addressed the French Assembly
and was received by King George V.
sent the cruiser Memphis to bring Lindbergh and his plane
home from Europe, and then made him a colonel in the Officers Reserve
Corps. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Congressional
Medal of Honor, the French Legion of Honor and the British Air Force
Cross. His celebratory motorcade in New York City drew four and
a half million spectators which is possibly still the record.
Hundreds of business offers were thrust upon him, and he became
Time magazine's first Man of the Year.
memoir, We, was an instant best seller, earning him $100,000
in royalties. Ahlgren and Monier, Crime of
the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax, pp. 35-43; Behn,
Lindbergh: The Crime, pp. 26-32.]
v. California: The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the
conviction of Charlotte Anita Whitney for violation of a California
criminal syndicalism law designed to restrict the activities of
found her guilty on grounds of association and attendance at a meeting.
Justices Brandeis and Holmes, while concurring, contended that Whitney's
attorneys should have used the "clear and present danger" test to
distinguish between membership and dangerous activities. The "clear
and present danger" test would later become accepted by the Court
and Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969 would overturn Whitney.
Hall, p. 929.]
and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, "a good shoemaker and a poor fish peddler,"21
are executed in Massachusetts for the murder of a paymaster of a
shoe factory and his guard on April 15, 1920.
[In the six
and a half week trial in the summer of 1921 numerous witnesses testified
that Sacco was in Boston and Vanzetti in Plymouth selling his fish
at the time of the robbery and murder in South Braintree. But these
witnesses were Italians testifying in broken English to an all Anglo-Saxon
jury before a judge Webster Thayer who described the
defendants as "those anarchist bastards." He had confided to friends
at the University Club toward the end of the trial: "These two men
are anarchists . . . they are not getting a fair trial, but I am
working it so their counsel will think they are." Watson,
Sacco and Vanzetti, p. 297.
widespread protests internationally that these anarchists were innocent,
but being railroaded to the electric chair because of their radical
political beliefs and their immigrant status. There were demands
from an increasing number of prominent supporters John Dos
Passos, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Carl
Sandburg. Edna St. Vincent Millay, Katharine Anne Porter and a signed
petition from twenty members of Parliamentthat the two Italians
be given a second trial.
based on witness recantations delayed sentencing and execution until
1927. All were denied by Judge Thayer. Two events in 1925-6 caused
the Italians' newest (and most competent) lawyer to redouble efforts
to seek a new trial. First, a jail companion of Sacco who was awaiting
a second trial for a capital crime Celestine Medeiros
confessed that he had been a participant in the South Braintree
Detective work financed by the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Fund unearthed
convincing evidence that the job had been the work of the Joe Morelli
gang who had pulled off a previous heist at the Slater and Morill
two former agents of the Bureau of Investigation gave affidavits
to lawyer William Thompson that Sacco and Vanzetti had been on a
Bureau "watch list" before the South Braintree crime. G-Men had
infiltrated the trial and the defense committee, funneling strategic
information to District Attorney Katzman before and during the trial.
The Bureau, they said, was convinced that Sacco and Vanzetti "were
not highway robbers and had nothing to do with the South Braintree
crime." But a murder conviction "would be one way of disposing of
the two men."
two developments a new trial was denied by the vindictive Judge
Thayer. Harvard law professor Felix Frankfurter wrote an article
in the March, 1927 issue of the Atlantic Monthly which detailed
the errors of "The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti" so concisely that
passions in the United States were re-aroused. (Frankfurter enlarged
the article into a small book, The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti:
A Critical Analysis for Lawyers and Laymen. Booksellers in Boston
hid copies under the counter, selling them only upon request. Judge
Thayer called him "Professor Frankenstein.")
In April the
state's high court denied the petition for a second trial with this
most curious statement: "It is not imperative that a new trial be
granted even though the evidence is newly discovered, and, if presented
to a jury, would justify a new verdict." Governor Fuller was besieged
with requests for clemency from all over the world. He appointed
a three-man commission headed by Harvard University president, Abbot
Lawrence Lowell, to investigate the fairness of the first trial
and postponed the execution from July to August 10. Not surprisingly,
the Lowell Commission vindicated the Thayer trial and on August
3rd Governor Fuller denied clemency. 22
both congratulations and condemnations. Heywood
Broun wrote in the New York World: "It is not every prisoner
who has a president of Harvard University throw on the switch for
him" and labeled his alma mater "Hangman's House." On August 9th
and 10th there were pickets around Boston's State House and many
arrests, including John Dos Passos and Dorothy Parker. Work stopped
in Manhattan's garment district. Thousands assembled in Union Square
and marched south, threatening to burn down City Hall.
the world were shut down by workers who left their factories to
encircle American embassies with pickets. And the execution was
once more postponed to August 22. "No man . . . should be
put to death where so much doubt exists," Walter Lippman wrote in
the New York World on the 19th. The Ku Klux Klan held a rally
protesting any further delay in the execution. Watson,
Dawn on the
23rd brought news of the actual executions to Europe where the response
was violence. Tanks guarded the American embassies while mobs in
Paris, Geneva, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and London stoned American
businesses and destroyed American products.
On the 28th
tens of thousands of mourners followed the hearse through Boston
streets. They wore red carnations on their coats and red armbands
that read: "Remember, Justice Crucified, August 22, 1927." Two hundred
thousand lined the streets and doffed their hats as the hearse went
by. The streets were strewn with petals in what the Boston Globe
described as "one of the most tremendous funerals of modern
then violence: Boston police invaded the marchers with clubs and
boots, snatching off armbands. Only a few hundred were left to accompany
the coffins to the crematorium in Forest Hills Cemetery. Watson,
The case served
to create an organized intellectual Left which had not existed before.
Upton Sinclair's historically accurate novel, Boston, was
published in 1928 and promptly banned in Boston. Reprinted in 1978
with an introduction by Howard Zinn, the novel paints a good picture
of the period and the atmosphere in which Sacco and Vanzetti were
tried, convicted and executed. In 1969 Supreme Court William O.
Douglas wrote that Sacco and Vanzetti had deserved a second trial.
Those reading the transcript of the 1921 Dedham trial, he wrote,
"will have difficulty in believing that the trial . . . took place
in the United States.. . . the rules were used to perpetuate an
injustice." He said the Supreme Court of the 1960s would have accepted
the case based on Judge Thayer's exhortations, the manner of jury
selection the rounding up of "bystanders" after only seven
men in the jury pool had agreed to serve, the identification
of suspects without a police lineup, and the statement by police
chief Proctor that Sacco's gun had not fired the fatal bullet into
Barardelli. Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti.]
phrase comes from Vanzetti. In the years between sentencing and
execution, he studied English and started writing eloquently,
albeit in broken English. (He described his judge as a "black-gowned
cobra.") Supporters published his writing which added to the pressure
for clemency. Walter Lippman said of The Letters of Sacco and
Vanzetti which appeared after their execution: "By every test
that I know of for judging character, these are the letters of innocent
men." Watson, p. 353.
Lowell was a man hardly lacking in prejudice. From a line of blue
blood Boston families, as president of Harvard he had instituted
a quota for Jewish students, expelled homosexuals, and refused to
allow a black undergraduate to room in the dorms.
in Mesopotamia: Drilling in the Mosul Vilayet six miles northwest
of Kirkuk, oil men hit a gusher at fifteen hundred feet.
[The area had
been chosen because of the two dozen holes in the ground which had
been venting natural gas, always alit, for thousands of years. It
was thought to be Nebuchadnezzar's "burning fiery furnace" into
which he had cast the three Jews in the third chapter of Daniel.
The gusher reached fifty feet above the derrick and drenched the
surrounding country with oil, rocks from the bottom of the well
and poisonous gas for eight days until dikes and walls were built
to contain the oil and the well was capped. It is estimated that
the gusher, which threatened the city of Kirkuk, emitted nearly
100,000 barrels a day. Yergin, The Prize,
p. 204. ]
expelled from the Soviet Union's Communist Party.
--- Muscle Shoals: Congress passes a joint resolution offered
by George Norris, the persistent public power advocate from Nebraska.
[See entries for July 8, 1921 and December 17, 1924]
The resolution calls for the completion of (Wilson) Dam No. 2 and
the steam plant at nitrate plant No.2 for the "manufacture and distribution
of fertilizer and for other purposes." They will continue to be
operated by the government. "Farm organizations instituted for the
purpose of distributing electricity among farmers and not for profit,
as well as municipalities, shall have the right to get electricity
from Muscle Shoals" building their own transmission lines (and thus
competing with private power companies.)
[This was not
the comprehensive bill usually offered by Norris for the development
of the Tennessee River and its tributaries in which the government
would operate and manage the many dams and plants "with the object
of producing the maximum amount of power, the maximum amount of
navigation, and the maximum amount of flood control." Surplus power
would be sold to consumers, with preference given to states, counties
and municipalities. However, the resolution was a major victory
for Norris and the Progressives; the question of whether or not
to lease or sell the property to private interests had been decided.
When Congress adjourned four days later, President Coolidge had
neither signed nor vetoed the measure. So it died by pocket-veto.
Lowitt, pp. 330-347.]
v. United States: In a 5-4 decision Olmstead's conviction
for transporting and selling liquorunlawful
under the National Prohibition Acis overturned.
[This was the
Supreme Court's first opportunity to make a ruling concerning the
new technology of wire-tapping which had provided the evidence
to convict Olmstead.
Chief Justice Taft, speaking for the minority, held that conversations
are not protected by the Fourth Amendment and no invasion of the
defendant's home was involved in the wiretapping.
writing for the majority, held that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments
grant a general right to individual privacy rather than mere protection
of material possessions. Increasingly intrusive technology required
that the Constitution protect
"the right to be let alone . . . the right most valued by civilized
allowing the introduction of evidence acquired illegally, the government
was itself a lawbreaker. In the 1934 Federal Communications Act
Congress prohibited the interception of any communication and the
divulgence of any intercepted communications. Hall,
The Red Line Agreement: Meeting in a hotel room in Brussels,
representatives of the world's leading oil companies sign a contract
dividing up Mesopotamia/Iraq's recently verified oil reserves. They
---Anglo-Persian Oil (now British Petroleum),
French CFP and
---a consortium of American oil companies led by Walter Teagle,
the president of Standard Oil of New Jersey (formerly ESSO, now
was allowed to receive 23.75% of the petroleum revenues from an
area demarcated by a red line on a map of the Middle East
Turkey, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Transjordan, but excluding Kuwait
and Persia. They agreed to the self-denying clause in the 1914 agreement
of the Turkish Petroleum Company all would work together jointly
in the area and would agree on the amount to be produced and the
amount to be capped.
The last 5%
went to Armenian entrepreneur Calouste Gulbenkian for his share
of the successor company to the now-voided Turkish Petroleum Company.
He made many millions as a reward for his tenacity; at his death
in 1955 his wealth was estimated at between US$280 million and US$840
have liked, of course, for his company, the most powerful of the
surviving companies of the old Standard Oil Company, to be the sole
American oil company in the deal. But in 1921 Secretary of Commerce
Herbert Hoover and Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes explained
to a group of oilmen that the government could not negotiate a new
Mesopotamian oil concession on behalf of a single company; they
suggested that the companies combine into a consortium an
entity that a few years earlier would have been prosecuted under
the Sherman Anti-Trust Act!
and his legal team in the State Department's Division of Near Eastern
Affairs diligently researched the specifics of the 1914 "contract"
with the Ottoman Empire and by 1924 had declared it to be invalid.
Yergin, The Prize, pp. 194-206.
While it may
have been the critical shortages of oil during World War I that
sparked interest in the then-unproven oil reserves of Mesopotamia
in that period, by 1928 the oil companies were more interested in
suppressing oil production, thus creating a demand for the
supposedly short supply and the opportunity for higher prices. According
to investigative reporter Greg Palast, there has been systematic
suppression of Iraqi oil production ever since. To appease nationalist
anger the Iraq Petroleum Company would occasionally drill a few
"absurdly shallow" wells in places where there was no danger of
In the early
1960s Iraqi dissatisfaction and anger peaked; Iraq cancelled the
concession and took over the oil fields. The Brits were ready to
challenge the "expropriation," but JFK suggested that they back
off. Since the IPC had refused to honor their legal commitment to
drill, he said, the Iraqis were entitled to take over and drill
for as much of their oil as they wished.
by Saudi Arabia, came to the rescue and held Iraq's production to
the same level as that of Iran despite the fact that Iraq's proven
reserves were much greater. The Sauds, as unwilling as the oil companies
represented in IPC to have additional oil on the market that would
depress prices, eased the blow for Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist
leaders by handing out huge sums of money and financing the 1980-1988
war against Iran.
The UN oil
embargo (zero legal exports) and the Oil-for-Food Program (two million
a day) from 1991 to 2003 further diminished the flow of Iraqi oil
to the market. And, of course, the 2003 invasion was even more effective
in suppressing oil production. As of 2006, only 15 of 74 known fields
had seen any production; of the 528 known pools of oil only 125
had ever been drilled.
The real reason
for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein according
to Palast: Hussein was causing erratic "swings" in the market. One
day he would cut off all oil shipments to support the Palestinian
intifada; a few days later he would pump out the maximum. Palast
quotes Lewis Lapham: "Control is what it's all about. It's not getting
the oil, it's about controlling oil's price."
Palast, Armed Madhouse, pp. 108-119.]
over Poverty: Herbert Hoover accepts the Republican nomination
for president won on the first ballot and announces:
"We in America today are nearer to the final trimph over poverty
than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing
from among us . . . . We shall soon with the help of God be in sight
of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation." Burner,
renounced as "an instrument of national policy" by 16 nations,
including Japan and the United States, in the Kellogg Briand Agreement,
or Pact of Paris.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected governor of New York by a slim
a year in which the Republicans experience landslide victories nationwide
including Hoover's defeat of Al Smith for the presidency electorally,
444-87. This incongruity prompts speculation about FDR as a potential
presidential candidate in 1932. The popular vote for president:
Hoover 58.8 % Smith 41.2 %
first Roman Catholic candidate for president, had promised to repeal
prohibition. 23 Hoover's campaign
emphasized segregation of the races to the extent of his denial
that, as Secretary, he had integrated the Commerce Department. This
stance enabled him to carry seven southern states which since Reconstruction
had been safe Democratic territory.
Oscar DePriest of Chicago became the first African-American elected
to Congress since Reconstruction and the first ever from a
northern district. In his three terms DePriest was an outspoken
advocate of civil rights, introducing anti-lynching bills that failed
and the successful 1933 amendment to the Civilian Conservation Corps
legislation that barred discrimination.
to permit a transfer of jurisdiction if a defendant believed he
or she could not get a fair trial due to race or religion
was passed by a later session of Congress. He was unsuccessful in
his efforts to have the House restaurant de-segregated for visitors.
Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, p. 18.]
Hoover had described prohibition (in a letter to Senator Borah in
February) as "a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive
and far-reaching in purpose."
Treaty: Mussolini and the Vatican sign a pact in which Roman
Catholicism becomes the sole recognized religion in the country,
and Italy recognizes the new Code of Canon Law. The papacy's territorial
claims from 1870 are settled: it will have sovereignty over only
the 108-acre Vatican City, the summer palace at Castel Gandolpho,
and several churches and monasteries in Rome.
XI agreed to accept the authority of the fascist dictatorship; Catholic
political parties were to be abolished. Priests throughout Italy
were instructed to encourage their parishioners to support the fascists
in the upcoming election- a referendum which would abolish future
elections for deputies to the Chamber. (It passed with a 90% "yes"
vote.) Pius praised Mussolini as "a man sent by Providence."
Cornwell, Hitler's Pope, pp. 114-115; Ridley, pp. 194-200.]
Day Massacre in Chicago: Four of gangster Al Capone's men enter
a garage in a trap set to ensnare Capone's chief rival, "Bugs" Moran.
Two are dressed as policemen, so the seven men drop their guns and
put their hands against the wall only to be mowed down by machine
real target of the massacre, was late to the meeting and fled when
he saw the stolen police car. The event made headlines nationally
and Al Capone, already "Public Enemy Number One" in Chicago, became
a national symbol of the corruption and racketeering of the Prohibition
Decade. Capone controlled the speakeasies, bookie joints, brothels,
gambling houses, distilleries and breweries, horse and race tracks
in the Chicago area. His annual income was reported to be $100 million
and he had never filed an income tax return.
May 1927 the Supreme Court ruled that a bootlegger named Sullivan
must report and pay income tax on his illegal earnings that
even though this would be self-incrimination, it was not unconstitutional.
With this, a special unit of the Internal Revenue Service was established
to go after Mr. Cash-and-Carry Capone. (One of Herbert Hoover's
first actions as president was to command his first Secretary of
the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, to pursue Capone.) Bergreen,
Capone: The Man and the Era.] (See
entry for October 17, 1931.)
Hoover: In his inaugural address Herbert Hoover is enthusiastic
about the state of the country, saying that "we have reached a higher
degree of comfort and security than ever existed before in the history
of the world. Through liberation from widespread poverty we have
reached a higher degree of individual freedom than ever before.
The devotion to and concern for our institutions are deep and sincere.
We are steadily building a new racea
new civilization great in its own attainments."
The only fly
he sees in the ointment is the increase in crime and criminals.
He calls upon state and local officials to prosecute violations
of the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment more vigorously and he
scolds the "large numbers of law-abiding citizens" who are disobeying
the law, supplying "rewards" to the criminals and "stimulating crime."Burner,
the Southern Textile Industry: Ella May Wiggins, the 29-year-old
ballad-writing labor activist and former spinner, is targeted and
shot as she is riding in a truck to a strike meeting in Gastonia,
[On April 1st
workers at the Loray Mill went on a strike organized by Fred Beal
of the communist-dominated National Textile Workers Union. They
demanded the elimination of piecework, a minimum wage of $20 a week,
a five-day and forty-hour work week, abolition of the loathed "stretch-out,"
improvements in toilet facilities, equal pay for equal work for
women and children, as well as union recognition. There was initial
community support for the strike, as conditions at the mill were
truly wretched- a condition that had inspired the communist union
to choose this mill as a possible wedge into the non-union textile
But the AFL
denounced the strike, and the governor sent a company of the National
Guard after there had been a minor scuffle on the picket line. A
full-page ad that appeared in the local Gazette declared that the
strike was for "the purpose of overthrowing this Government and
destroying property and to kill, kill, kill. The time is at hand
for every American to do his duty." The strike was broken by April
18th, the Communist Party having been more interested in reaping
publicity than insuring the resistance of the strikers with a few
things like groceries.
Then the mobs
took over, demolishing the union headquarters and burning the food
in the commissary. When the mill evicted sixty-two families of strikers
from their company homes, the NTWU set them up in a tent colony
with armed guards in case of another reprisal. In the next mob action,
shots were fired and the chief of police was killed.
Beal was arrested with fifteen other union leaders and charged with
conspiracy leading to murder. The August trial was followed by most
of the country and much of the world (as in the Sacco and Vanzetti
case). It ended in a mistrial, thanks to the outrageous and inflammatory
conduct of the prosecution. The jurors had been ready to acquit;
"If the State had no stronger evidence than that so far presented,
we would never have voted to convict the defendants of any crime."
evening mobs of men, incensed by the mistrial and the favorable
comments from the jurors, toured the county in automobiles seeking
out strike sympathizers, flogging them and destroying their property.
Ella May Wiggins was on her way to a strike meeting called to protest
the continuing violence when she was recognized and shot. One of
We leave our homes in the morning, We
kiss our children good-by,
While we slave for the bosses, Our children scream and cry.
It is for our little children That seem to us so dear,
But for them nor us, dear workers, The bosses do not care.
But listen to me, workers, A union they do fear;
Let's stand together, workers, And have a union here.
was more restrained in the second trial, now with only seven defendants
and the charge reduced to second-degree murder. Prosecutor Carpenter
in his summation declaimed: "The union organizers came, fiends incarnate,
stripped of their hoofs and horns, bearing guns instead of pitchforks
. . ." The New York Times editorialized: "There have been histrionic
efforts by lawyers before . . . but probably none ever rivaled in
variety and gymnastics the exhibition given by this North Carolinian."
The jury returmed a verdict of guilty in less than an hour; the
four northerners received harsher sentences than their southern
The seven were
released on bail pending their appeal to the North Carolina Supreme
Court and promptly eloped to the Soviet Union. Beal became thoroughly
disillusioned with the "worker's paradise," escaped to the United
States in 1933 where he lived underground for five years. When captured
and sent to prison in North Carolina he declared, "I would rather
be an American prisoner than a free man in Russia." He served about
five years of his twenty-year sentence before receiving a full pardon.
Bernstein, The Lean Years, pp.20-28; Beal,
on Wall Street: Stock market prices collapse and 13 million
shares are sold on the New York Stock Exchange. Prices have been
declining since the peak of a three-year bull market in September
which had encouraged millions to invest their life savings, often
"on margin" with the payment of as little as 10 percent of the current
value of the stock. Gene Smith remarks that the losses that day
were nearly as great as the entire sum the country had spent to
fight the Great War. Shattered Dream, p. 14.
Scandal: Albert Fall becomes the first cabinet member to be
convicted of a felony when the jurors in the Supreme Court of the
District of Columbia find him guilty of having accepted a bribe
from Edward Doheny of the Pan American Oil Company.
Fall was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and a $100,000
fine. A pardon having been denied by President Hoover, Fall served
nine months and nine days in the New Mexico State Penitentiary in
Santa Fé all of it in the prison hospital.
He was never able to pay the fine; Doheny took possession of his
Three Rivers Ranch when Fall was unable to repay his $100,000 "loan."
He and his wife lived frugally on his pension from the Spanish-American
trial on the charge that he had given a $100,000 bribe to Albert
Fall took place a few months after Fall's conviction. It took his
jury one hour to acquit him. His lawyer, Frank Hogan, had done a
masterful job; Doheny ended up looking like a big patriot. Hogan
had also represented Fall at Doheny's expense. (If Hogan had allowed
Fall to testify that he had been offered a position with Doheny
and was going to repay the loan from his salary, Fall might have
Ned did not face trial. On February 17, 1929 Ned and his longtime
sidekick Hugh Plunkett were found dead of bullet wounds in one of
the guest suites of Ned's 55-room mansion, Greystone, in Beverly
Hills, California. The official story was that a crazy Plunkett
had killed Ned and then himself. Laton McCartney implies that the
opposite was more likely the case that a drunk Ned had killed
Plunkett and then hinself. Their testimony about the delivery of
the satchel of Doheny money to Fall would have been crucial in the
two forthcoming trials of Fall and Doheny.
was acquitted in April, 1928 of criminal conspiracy to defraud the
government. His lawyer was the oilmen's favorite, Frank Hogan. The
previous trial in October, 1927 with Albert Fall as co-defendant
had been declared a mistrial when it was discovered that Sinclair
had men shadowing the jurors and offering bribes. So Sinclair did
do jail time: seven months working as pharmacist his occupation
before he became involved in the oil business in the District
of Columbia prison pharmacy for his two convictions, contempt of
Congress, and contempt of court for jury-tampering. He
would make several more fortunes before he died in 1956, aged 80.
counsel had started proceedings in 1924 for the return of the fraudulently
obtained oil leases. The lower court in California had no difficulty
in voiding the Elk Hills lease and its decision was upheld in 1926
by the Circuit Court of Appeals which additionally ruled that Doheny's
company was not entitled to reimbursement for the storage tanks
they had built. The lower court in Wyoming, however, decided in
favor of Harry Sinclair's company. Judge Kennedy's decision was
widely criticized and was overturned by the Eighth Circuit Court
of Appeals in 1926. The Supreme Court had the final say in January,
1927 declaring that the leases were invalid and "tainted with corruption."
25, 1928 the president returned the administration of Elk Hills
and Teapot Dome naval reserves to the Department of the Navy. McCartney,
Tuesday" on Wall Street: Over 16 million shares are sold on
the New York Stock Exchange.
[The day before
the Dow Jones Industrial Index had dropped 13% of its value, closing
at 200.64. In the next two weeks investors lost about $30 billion.
By mid-November one-third of the value of stocks in September had
disappeared. This crash is popularly considered to be the beginning
of the Great Depression in the United States, a premise which is
categorically refuted by business historian Robert Sobel.
farmers especially, had been experiencing hardship for many years.
Residential building had begun to drop off in early 1929 and growth
in the auromobile industry was declining. Profits were rising more
rapidly than wages; as a result farmers and workers did not have
the purchasing power to keep the economy growing.
three million Americans less than 2.5% of the population
owned stocks in 1928 and an even lower number in 1929. Sobel,
Great Bull Market; Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, pp.
34-41; Winkler, p. 50.]
Depression: President Hoover predicts that the worst effect
of the crash upon unemployment will have been passed during the
next sixty days.
to the Sea in India: Gandhi accompanied by 78 of his male followers
leaves his ashram to begin a well-publicized 241-mile march to the
sea in open defiance of the 1882 Salt Act.
[The tax from
this act brought in 8% of the Raj's revenue and was a most regressive
tax on the poor, both Hindu and Moslem. Following the declaration
of independence by the Indian National Congress less than two months
earlier, Gandhi seized on the idea of the Salt Satyagraha as a way
to unite the two dissident groups in a dramatic fashion. He was
accompanied by correspondents from leading Indian, European and
American newspapers; the New York Times ran daily bulletins,
sometimes on the front page. Newsreels of the march were shown in
movie theaters. At each day's stop there was a welcoming committee
and Gandhi would give a talk. Each day more and more Indians would
join him on his march.
the sea at Dandi, Gandhi scooped up a mass of salty mud, boiled
it in sea water, and exhibited his tax-free salt. He exhorted Indians
to manufacture their own salt. They did and soon 60,000 - 80,000
Indians had been jailed for breaking the law. Including Gandhi.
The government had hesitated to arrest him, but when he announced
to Viceroy Lord Irwin that he would lead a raid on the Dharasana
Salt Works in Gujarat, he was arrested while asleep on a cot in
a mango grove.
Satyagraha continued without him non-violently, the marchers
not even raising their hands to protect their heads against the
blows from lathis stout clubs bound with iron. UP correspondent
Webb Miller reported: "Not one of the marchers raised an arm to
fend off the blows. They went down like ten-pins. . . . I heard
the sickening sounds of the clubs on unprotected skulls. . . . .In
two or three minutes the ground was quilted with bodies . . . unconscious
or writhing in pain. . . . . The survivors without breaking ranks
silently and doggedly marched on until struck down. . . . the police
became enraged by the non-resistance . . . They commenced savagely
kicking the men in the abdomen and the testicles . . . . then dragging
them by the arms or feet, sometimes for a hundred yards, and throwing
them into ditches."
operators in India initially refused to send the story to Miller's
publisher. It was released only after a threat to reveal British
censorship and then ran in 1350 newspapers worldwide. Senator John
Blaine had the story read into the Congressional Record.
Time named Gandhi its Man of the Year at a time January
5, 1931 when Gandhi was still in prison.
years later Gandhi's satyagraha would be the model for Martin
Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. And in the 1980s
it would inspire Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu and the anti-apartheid
movement in South Africa. Wikipedia; Miller, I
Found No Peace; www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,930215,00.html]
May 1, 1930
Depression: President Hoover, speaking to the US Chamber of
"I am convinced we have passed the worst and with continued effort
we shall rapidly recover."
month he told a delegation that their pleas for more federal public
works programs were "sixty days too late. The depression is over."
Perhaps Hoover was overly encouraged by the stock market, which
had recovered about 20% of the losses sustained in the fall of 1929.
However, other indicators told of a steady decline in the economy
many business failures, four million unemployed, a drop of 12.6%
in the GNP, steel mill production down 38%. Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, pp. 58-59.]
May 7, 1930
of Hoover Nominee for Supreme Court: By a vote of 41-39 (or
49-47, if you count the paired absences) the nomination of Judge
John J. Parker of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be an associate
justice is rejected.
defeated by a combination of labor and the NAACP working separately.
Parker had upheld an injunction against the United Mine Workers
and essentially validated the yellow-dog contracts affirmed in Hitchman
in 1917. [See entry for January 27, 1908.]
AFL president William Green, commenting on Parker's failure to condemn
Hitchman in the 1927 UMW v. Red Jacket Coal and Coke Co.:
"The effect of the Dred Scott decision was to perpetuate
human slavery. The effect of the Hitchman decision is to
establish and perpetuate industrial servitude."
mobilized the NAACP membership to protest the nomination in those
northern and Midwestern districts where the African-American vote
was becoming significant. Parker, when running for governor in 1920,
had stated that "the participation of the negro in politics is a
source of evil and danger to both races and is not desired by the
wise men in either race.
Labor had not
acted quickly enough earlier that year to defeat the appointment
of Charles Evans Hughes as Chief Justice. He was confirmed on February
16th by a vote of 52-26 with 18 senators abstaining. The principal
opposition to Hughes came from Progressive Republicans such as George
Norris of Nebraska who said that "No man in public life so exemplifies
the influence of powerful combinations in the political and financial
world as does Mr. Hughes." Maltese, pp. 56-61;
Gould, pp. 119-120.]
Origins Act of 1924 is finally completed: The Senate votes 43-37
against President Hoover's request to repeal the new immigrations
quota standard based on the supposed national origins of the American
population as of 1790. So Hoover reluctantly declares the new quota
effective as of July 1st. The balance between "Nordics" and immigrants
from southeastern Europe will remain the same as under the 1924
law; however, immigrants from Great Britain will have significantly
increased quotas and those from Germany, the Irish Free State and
the Scandinavian countries will have their quotas reduced.
been an acrimonious debate in Congress for three years between representatives
of the newer "Nordics" and those representing adherents of the various
"patriotic" groups who wished to "keep America American" and opposed
the "alien hyphenate groups" who had been "slackers" evaded
military service during the war.
In the several postponements and the final vote the South was as
solidly in favor of the national origins plan as the Midwest was
launched by several Midwest congressmen of using a system of individual
selection of potential immigrants rather than national quotas was
dismissed as impractical. The prolonged controversy served to develop
antagonisms among the various foreign groups rather than preserve
the homogeneity of the nation which the act hoped to achieve.
The 1930 census
recorded that of the 123 million Americans one in ten was foreign-born;
an additional 20% had at least one parent born abroad.
Divine, American Immigration Policy, pp. 26-51; Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, p. 14.]
Hoover signs into law the controversial Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act
which raises tariffs on many items imported from abroad.
despite the fact that he had characterized the bill to friends as
"vicious, extortionate, and obnoxious" just before affixing his
signature. Allen, pp. 65-66. The bill
had been opposed by diplomats and more than one thousand prominent
economists as a threat to international trade and foreign relations.
Governor Roosevelt termed it "a new form of economic feudalism"
and declared the need for a "complete separation of business and
Norris (R-Nebraska) had opposed the bill as "one of the most selfish
and indefensible tariff measures that has ever been considered by
the American people . . . conceived and written in the interests
of victorious business organizations [who] will see that they have
used their own power to bring about their own destruction [as] a
tariff bill which builds up a part of our people to the damage and
injury of other parts of our people will bring its own ruin. Already
big business itself is seeing the signs of depression and destruction
which the probability of the passage of this bill brings before
the entire civilized world."
By 1932 exports
would fall to 2.8% of the gross national product as a result of
the tariff. Hardest hit would be the agricultural sector, as it
proved to be harder to sell their products overseas and the manufactured
goods they needed to buy were more costly. The Smoot-Hawley tariff
exacerbated the depression that was already in progress, even if
not acknowledged by politicians like Hoover.
had been steadily increasing since the Morrill Act of 1861; protectionism
was a hallmark of the Republican Party. Senator Justin Morrill of
Vermont had laid down the creed with his bill: "The time is long
past when nations can be enormously enriched by any excessive profits
from foreign trade . . . National wealth must now and hereafter
be maninly created by labor at home; and the home market is the
only one of value over which any nation now has absolute control."
Davis, New York Years, pp. 89-90; Lowitt,
p. 429; Schlesinger, Cycles, pp. 134-135 .]
on Drugs and the Birth of Big Pharma: Harry J. Anslinger is
appointed to head the newly-formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
Act of 1930 had, perhaps unwittingly, created the position of a
Anslinger, who has been described as a "law-and-order evangelist"
and as "a cross between William Jennings Bryan and Reverend Jerry
Falwell," was given the authority to decide which companies could
be licensed to manufacture narcotic pharmaceuticals. The eight companies
24 he permitted to be licensed
would become very rich and would lobby Congress for any legislation
and appropriations that Anslinger wanted passed. Gray,
Merck, Mallinckrodt, Hoffman LaRoche, New York Quinine, Parke-Davis,
Sharpe & Dohme, Eli Lilly, Squibb.
Policy: In a press release, the Department of State announces
that those consuls who issue visas have been instructed to interpret
more strictly the clause in the 1917 immigration act that prohibits
the admission to the United States of persons "likely to become
a public charge." From now on, only the most prosperous Europeans
may be admitted as immigrants.
device had been used in January, 1929 to limit Mexican immigration
and was Hoover's response to the growing demand during this period
of increasing unemployment figures for more restricted immigration
from Europe. Various bills had been debated cutting immigration
by 90% or forbidding it completely. Within five months of this administrative
decree European immigration had declined 90%.
By July, 1932
immigration had been reduced to the level of 1831; Samuel Dickstein
(D-NY) complained that the "Czar-like powers" of the US consuls
were leading to a policy of permanent exclusion. The net increase
in the American population in the decade of the '30s was less than
70,000. Divine, American Immigration Policy,
pp. 54-63, 77-79, 87-89.]
Elections in Germany: The National Socialist Party under Adolf
Hitler becomes the second largest party, increasing its vote share
from 2.6 % to 18.3% or from 800,000 votes to 6.4 million. The major
party, the Social Democrats, slips by 5%.
The Catholic Center Party increases its share to 14.8%.
Cornwell, pp. 108-109.
of Hitler's party was enthusiastically received in high places.
Lord Rothemere, owner of Britain's Daily Mail, saw "all sorts
of political advantages. . . . it erects a reinforced wall against
Bolshevism. It eliminates the grave danger that the Soviet campaign
against European civilization would advance to Germany and thus
achieve an impregnable position in the strategic centre of Europe.
. . . It would be the best thing for the welfare of Western civilization
if Germany were to have a government imbued with the same healthy
principles by which Mussolini in the last eight years has renewed
Italy." Heiden, pp.354-355.]
Elections: The Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives
for the first time since 1916 and increase their numbers in the
Senate to within one vote of a majority. In New York, Governor Roosevelt
is re-elected by the greatest plurality in history 750,000
votes, carrying upstate districts that had never gone Democratic
before. Winkler, p. 51.
[The next day
the very popular columnist, Will Rogers, wrote: "The Democrats nominated
their President yesterday, Franklin D. Roosevelt." Freidel,
Rendezvous, p. 65.
Norris: Amid the Democratic sweep in Nebraska George W. Norris
was elected for his fourth term in the Senate, carrying all but
three counties. With the deaths of Robert LaFollette and William
Jennings Bryan in July 1925, Norris had become the leading Progressive
of the nation. After his support of Al Smith in 1928, a contingent
of leading Republicans were determined tht this maverick Republican
should not be returned to the Senate. Among their efforts to discourage
Norris voters: a grocer in Broken Bow, Nebraska with the identical
name was paid to file for the primary in August, a ploy that did
not succeed thanks to late filing.
Norris' primary expenses were $3000, an amount which paled in comparison
to the checks signed by leading Republicans of the state and members
of the power trust. The New Republic wrote, "This conspiracy
to drive Senator Norris out of the Senate was not concocted because
he was a bad Republican, but because he is so much better than the
majority. He holds the strange and almost unique belief that the
Republican party ought to be devoted to the best interests of the
American people, not to those of a little group of greedy capitalists."
Lowitt, pp. 468-486.]
and Poverty: In response to the alarming drought in Arkansas,
President Hoover asks Congress for emergency legislation a
$25 million "loan" to the Department of Agriculture for animal feed
and seed for areas stricken with drought. No relief is included
for people, as there is "minimum actual suffering." Direct government
relief would be, he said, "a dangerous precedent . . . the beginning
of the dole in this country and [could] also be the end of the wonderful
activities of the Red Cross."
the relief provided by private charities and local governments.
He maintained that the "opening of the doors of of the Federal Treasury
is likely to stifle this giving." Federal relief would be "disastrous.
. . . We cannot squander ourselves into prosperity." His persistent
refusal to provide relief for people in genuine need prompted Senator
George Norris (R-Nebraska) to say: "Blessed be those who starve
while the asses and mules are fed, for they shall get buried at
Walsh (D-MA) observed that all relief bills in Congress were doomed
because the Hoover administration had decided that "those who pay
large income taxes and the corporation-income taxpayers of the country
must not be burdened with relief obligations." The total federal
budget was $3.3 billion; only 5% of Americans paid income tax.
Burner, pp. 263-264; Cohen, pp. 27-30.]
The Bank of United States, known around New York City as the "pants-pressers"
bank, closes its doors, leaving 450,000 depositors bereft of their
They are mostly very poor Jewish immigrants employed in the garment
industry and the average $400 on deposit represents all the money
[This was not
the first bank to collapse; the wave of failures started several
months earlier in Nashville and spread throughout the South and
Midwest. When the forty-three branch Peoples State Bank went under,
there was panic throughout the state of South Carolina. Cohen,
Legislation: After several months of heated debate the House
passes a bill to restrict immigration from Europe to 10 % of the
quotas legislated nine months earlier. The vote is 299-82 with representatives
from the Northeast voting 52-62.
refused to accept amendments that would relax restrictions for family
members of either citizens or resident immigrants. Secretary of
State Stimson had cautioned against this clause as it would upset
the Nordic-non-Nordic balance!
Fiorello LaGuardia, the leader of the New York City delegation,
reacting to some slurs against the foreign-born, launched an attack
on the restrictionists so violent that it was stricken from the
Congressional Record. Calling their opponents "heartless"
and "anti-Semitic" was the least of it.
failed to act before the Republican-controlled Congress ended, so
the restrictionists had to be content with the "LPC" (likely to
become a public charge) control.
A year and a half later President Hoover praised that administrative
"I propose to continue this policy until the end of the depression."
For the decade of the 1930s the net increase in the population of
the United States due to immigration was less than 70,000. The annual
immigration since the Civil War had never before fallen below 100,000.
Divine, American Immigration Policy, pp.
--- Muscle Shoals: President Hoover vetoes the Norris resolution,
after analyzing it "from a business point of view." He charges that
the bill "would launch the Federal Government upon a policy of ownership
and operation of public utilities upon a basis of competition instead
of by the proper government function of regulation for the protection
of all the people." Federal officials should be devoting themselves
"promotion of justice and equal opportunity" rather than "barter
in the markets."
Black (D-AL) described the veto message as "the first blast of the
1932 campaign." The bill was essentially the same one that had been
pocket-vetoed by Coolidge three years before [See
entry for May 25, 1928] with the addition of a House provision
for the leasing of the nitrate plants. Senator Norris immediately
countered that "our President has not been fair." He pointed out
that government was already in the "power business." Rather, it
was a question of whether the Government should keep its own property
or not. The President, he said, was firmly aligned with "the Power
not to re-introduce his bill in the next session of Congress, preferring
to have it passed under a Democratic president who would then appoint
appropriate members for the government corporation that would operate
Muscle Shoals. (Norris, a Republican, had supported Al Smith for
president in 1928.) Lowitt, pp. 456-467.]
Alfonso XIII gives up his throne, goes into exile in England (where
his vast fortune is) and Spain becomes a republic.
Debt Moratoriem: President Hoover proposes that all nations
observe a one-year moratorium on "all payments on intergovernmental
debts, reparations and relief debts, both principal and interest."
[He was prompted
to do this by the crisis in German banking which threatened to
de-stabilize the American economic situation even further. Criticism
came from all sides. However, Hoover co-opted the opposition by
sending long telegrams to congressional members and receiving their
return telegrams of approval before formally submitting the proposal
Norris prophesized correctly that this was "a fore-runner for the
cancellation of the balance" of the war debts due the United States
from the Allies. Why a moratorium for foreign creditors when one
had not been requested? Why not a moratorium for the suffering farmer?
Should he not "be treated as well as the European nation that is
in the condition that it is now because of its own extravagance,
because of its own useless and wicked expenditures in preparation
for another great war?"
senators joined Norris in voting against the moratorium. Norris
remarked to a friend in late 1932: ". . . if we ever get out of
our present difficulties , I do not believe anyone who has gone
through it, will ever again consent that we mix up in European affairs,
send an army over there and lend them money to help carry on a war.
If we had stayed out of that war, we should not be afflicted with
the troubles which confront us now." Lowitt, pp.
533-537; Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, pp. 73-76.]
Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York asks his legislature
for an appropriation of $20 million for his proposed Temporary Emergency
Relief Administration, saying that assistance to the unemployed
"must be extended by government not as a matter of charity, but
as a matter of social duty." At the same time he criticizes President
Hoover for the failure of the federal government to take any similar
action in view of the deepening depression nationwide. (There were
fewer than 500,000 workers unemployed in October, 1929 as compared
to four million in January, 1930; eight million in early 1931 and
twelve million in 1932. There were a million people unemployed in
New York City alone.)
In the next
eighteen months under the direction of social worker Harry Hopkins,
the agency would handle 412,882 relief cases and would spend nearly
$137 million. Davis, New York Years, p.
240; Winkler. pp. 50-52.
Incident": An explosion destroys a section of the South Manchuria
Railway at Mukden, the capital of the southernmost province of Manchuria.
Fighting breaks out between Chinese and Japanese troops.
arrived from Korea to bolster the aggressive Japanese Kwantung Army
and within days the Japanese had occupied all of Manchuria. 25
It was widely believed in all of the world capitals
including Tokyo that the explosion had been ordered by a Kwantung
of Nations sent an investigative commission that, a year later,
issued a report that condemned the invasion, but no action was taken
against the aggressor who simply withdrew from the League. Any chance
that the League could provide collective security and world peace
ended with the failure of the League members and the non-member
United States to intervene. Britain refused to get involved without
support from the United States; without British leadership, the
other League members were unwilling to confront Japan. Olson,
a leading diplomatic historian, "In a broad sense... World War II
began in 1931 on the windswept plains of Manchuria." 26
Bailey and Ryan, Hitler vs. Roosevelt, pp. 6-7; LaFeber, 160-174.
had preceded the "Mukden incident." The Emperor, wishing to ensure
continued "friendly relations with China," had instructed his prime
minister to warn the Kwantung Army against any rash actions. Colonel
Itagaki Seishiro fed the messenger sake- he was drunk with his message
undelivered as the explosion occurred. Itagaki would be one of the
seven Class A war criminals to be executed in 1948. However, his
junior officer, Ishiwara Kanji, who was the intellectual author
of the Incident, would escape punishment. 27
Brendon, pp. 211-213.]
Manchuria was composed of the three northeastern provinces of China
with an area one and a half times larger than Texas. Since 1907,
Russia in the north and Japan in the south had exerted political
control over the region through the Chinese Eastern Railway and
the South Manchuria Railway respectively. Japan had become very
dependent economically on its sphere for the raw materials of lumber,
coal and ore and as a market for exports, especially with the Depression
decline of the American market. Since Chiang Kai-Shek's forces were
trying to reclaim northern China, an influential segment of Japanese
society felt war might be necessary to protect its half-billion
dollar investment in the area.
Since the turn of the century and Japan's victory over Russia in
1905, the military regime in Japan had taken over Korea, Taiwan,
and the southern half of Sakhalin Island and had economic dominance
in North China and Manchuria. Utley, p. 4.
Ishiwara proposed an imperial-fascist state in Manchuria and Mongolia
to provide the food, mines, factories and other resources that Japan
needed to climb out of the depression and take care of its population
which had outgrown the Home Islands.
goes off the gold standard. Many Americans, fearing their government
will follow suit, begin to withdraw money from their banks.
and twenty American banks failed within a month; by year's end over
two thousand banks had closed, nearly twice as many as in 1930.
In the summer of 1932 Britain instituted the Imperial Preference
System with a series of bilateral trade agreements among its dominions
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as
its territories that created a closed trading bloc and effectively
sealed the British Empire from trade with other nations. Global
traffic that had reached $36 billion in 1929 shrank to about $12
billion in 1932. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear,
to the bank crisis was adherence to the gold standard, an attempt
to balance the buget by a substantial increase in federal taxes
passed in the Revenue Act of 1932, and an unsuccessful secret
effort to have the stronger banks voluntarily assist the weaker
banks. By reducing the low-income exemptions, a half million new
taxpayers were introduced into the system. The proposal for a regressive
national sales tax was defeated. Kennedy, Freedom
from Fear, pp. 79-82.]
Conviction: Al Capone is convicted on five counts of tax evasion
for the years 1925-1927. The jury, composed of rural white men,
finds the Chicago gangster king guilty after nine hours of deliberation.
sentenced Capone to eleven years in prison and $80,000 in fines
and court costs. Capone had expected a much lighter sentence as
a part of a plea bargain which the federal judge refused to honor.
The mob was successfully bribing members of the prospective jury,
but on the morning the trial opened Judge Wilkerson swapped his
panel of jurors with those of another judge.
his first year in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary where he ruled
the roost, thanks to a complement of prisoners indebted to him and
several thousands of dollars that had been secreted in the hollowed-out
handle of a tennis racket. In 1934 Attorney General Cummings had
him removed to Alcatraz where security was exceptionally tight and
no extra amenities could be purchased. There he developed tertiary
syphilis; he spent the last year of his sentence (reduced to six
years and five months for good behavior) in the prison hospital.
Hans-Thilo Schmidt, a discontented clerk in the German signals corps,
begins spying for the Deuxième Bureau. He sells the French two important
documents: instructions for the use of the German army Enigma machine
and the instructions for setting its keys.
shared this material with Polish cryptographers, many of whom were
mathematicians. The Poles succeeded in solving the Enigma riddle
for army communications and built some actual machines. By this
time, cryptography had become a game for mathematicians rather than
linguists. Schmidt made twenty-four trips in all to Belgium and
Switzerland to deliver additional information. After the Nazis overran
Europe, Schmidt's handler was caught, cracked under interrogation
and revealed Schmidt's identity. Schmidt was shot in 1943. Kahn,
Seizing the Enigma, pp. 56-65, 115.]
Hoover's Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson, issues the Non-Recognition
Doctrine, as it will be called, after the Japanese troops take Chinchow
in north China proper and drive deep into the province of Jehol.
The United States will not recognize any territorial changes brought
about by force.
Hattie W. Caraway
(D-Arkansas) becomes the first woman elected to the Senate.
years earlier she had been appointed by the governor to fill the
vacancy left by her husband's death. She was re-elected twice, but
was defeated in 1944 by William Fulbright. She voted consistently
against anti-lynching laws, but made no speeches from the floor.]
Finance Corporation: President Hoover signs the bill establishing
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) which will lend money
to banks, mortgage companies, railroads and agricultural credit
associations (if able to provide adequate security) in a tardy
acknowledgment that government aid will be required to combat the
economics professor Rexford Tugwell expressed surprise that the
well-known exponent of "rugged individualism" and voluntarism should
support this bill for "bank relief." A July accounting revealed
that most of the money was going to a few large corporations. Congressional
Democrats wanted some RFC funds spent on federal grants to states,
municipalities and individuals, but Hoover refused, saying that
the only appropriate role for the federal government was to offer
relief to businesses. 28
The first president
was Charles G. Dawes whose résumé was "perhaps the most impressive
of any in government." Geisst, pp. 204-205. 29
Three weeks after his June resignation, a loan if $90 million
was made to the Central Republic Bank of Chicago which was headed
by Charles Dawes. The loan represented 20% of the capital
available to the RFC at that time. Initially the loans were made
secretly so as not to cause a run by depositors. After Congress,
prodded by John Nance Garner, demanded public disclosure of loan
recipients, people joked that RFC stood for "Relief For Charlie"
and was further demonstration that the Hoover administration operated
only for the benefit of the wealthy.
continued under FDR with a much widened role. Beginning in 1940
and continuing during World War II the agency was authorized to
make loans to buy strategic war materials and to construct and operate
defense plants. In the early '50s Senator Fulbright's committee
found evidence of favoritism and influence-peddling. The agency
was closed down in 1956. Cohen, pp. 49-50; Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, pp. 84-85.]
Hoover is famous for his 1931 statement: "The sole function of government
is to bring about a condition of affairs favorable to the beneficial
development of private enterprise." Cohen, p.
11. Tugwell would later become an important member of
the New Deal's "Brain Trust."
in First World War; Director of the Budget under Harding; head of
American delegation to the Reparation Commission in 1923 which created
the "Dawes Plan"; Nobel Peace Prize, 1926---with Sir Austen Chamberlain;
Vice President 1925-1929 under Coolidge; Hoover's first Ambassador
to the Court of St. James. Dawes was also a descendant of the William
Dawes who rode with Paul Revere.
Shanghai Attacked: The Japanese Navy, not to be outdone by the
Japanese Army, attacks the Chaipei district of Shanghai just north
of the International Settlement, raping, looting, and murdering
[The next day
planes from aircraft carriers strafed the area and killed large
numbers of civilians, an act that horrified the world. This first
act of planes bombing civilians turned public opinion against Japan
in both Europe and the United States. (The British bombing and strafing
of Arab villages in the summer of 1920 had either never been widely
known or had fallen into the Black Hole of History. See
entry for June 23, 1921. )
The Navy was
losing the fight against the Communist-trained Chinese soldiers
and had to call in the Army which, despite superior equipment, was
not able to defeat the Chinese, thanks partly to the effectiveness
of their snipers. (A Japanese general complained to journalist Edgar
Snow: "The Chinese have no sense of honour or what is proper in
warfare. Sniping is outlawed by most civilized countries.") An armistice
was signed under the auspices of the League of Nations and the United
States. Brendon, pp. 219-221.]
for the League of Nations: Governor Roosevelt in an address
before the New York Grange disavows his previous support for the
League of Nations: "... the League of Nations today is not the League
conceived by Woodrow Wilson," implying that instead of a force for
world peace, it had become a trivial meeting place for political
discussions of national difficulties. "Europe owes us. We do not
before, the influential publisher, William Randolph Hearst, who
abhorred the League of Nations, had endorsed the candidacy of the
Texan Speaker of the House, Jack Garner. His newspapers mounted
a campaign against the "internationalist" Roosevelt, citing his
support for the League when he was a vice-presidential candidate
in 1920. Shogan, Hard Bargain, pp. 34-35; Freidel,
Roosevelt, p. 68.]
Kidnapping: Charles Lindbergh tells the police that his 20-month-old
son has been stolen from his crib in their Hopewell, New Jersey
home. He produces a crude ransom note that demands $50,000
which he says he found on the radiator in the second-floor nursery.
Lindbergh's celebrity and hero status, plus his story-book marriage
to the daughter of millionaire Ambassador Dwight Morrow, news of
the kidnapping brought hordes of reporters to the scene four
hundred in the first twenty-four hours. Lindbergh and his friend
and attorney, Henry Breckinridge, took control of the investigation
ftom the start and also controlled the information fed to the press
head of the State Police, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, 31
possibly in awe of Lindbergh's celebrity status, allowed
this to happen. He had not considered that either Lindbergh or his
wife could be considered as suspects something that today
is routine police procedure. Anne Lindbergh was never interviewed.
One of Lindbrgh's
first actions was to publicly call for intermediaries to negotiate
with the "kidnappers" who were presumed to be members of New York
City's criminal population. Copies of the "ransom note" from the
radiator were soon in wide circulation among the press and the criminal
underworld some copies appeared as far away as the Rocky Mountains,
some had been purchased from members of the New Jersey State Police.
At one point
Lindbergh and Breckinridge had four negotiations in progress involving
hunts for boats that didn't exist and meetings in cemeteries. The
handwriting on subsequent ransom messages did not match the handwriting
on the initial radiator note, although all contained similar misspellings
calculated to be from a German immigrant many of whom lived
in the NJ-NY area. At some point each of these "negotiations" made
the front page and raised hopes in a public that was rooting for
the American Hero's child to be found.
On April 2 intermediary Dr. John F. ('Jafsie") Condon delivered
a box containing $50,000 to "Cemetery John" in exchange for a receipt
which stated that Charles, Jr. could be found, unharmed, on a boat
Two books published
in the early 1990s detail the mistakes made in the haphazard investigation.
Both believe that Bruno Hauptmann, later executed for the crime,
was innocent and framed by the police. Behn speculates that the
kidnapping was a hoax perpetrated by Lindbergh himself to cover
up the death of the baby three days earlier by his "jealous
and mentally unstable" sister-in-law, Elisabeth Morrow. Behn,
pp. 16-24, 376-404.
criminal defense attorney, and Monier, a chief of police in New
Hampshire, postulate a more plausible scenario: Lindbergh, playing
one of his sadistic "jokes," had taken the baby from his crib and
climbed down the ladder from the nursery with the boy slung over
his shoulder. The homemade ladder broke; the baby fell to the granite
below and cracked his skull, killing him instantly.
The first thought
of both the nursemaid and the toddler's mother when Lindbergh called
out, "Anne, they have stolen our baby" was that this was another
of his "pranks."
Two months earlier he had hidden Charles, Jr. in a closet, causing
a panic in the house.
After twenty minutes he produced the child and, "roaring heartily,"
said it had been a hoax. Ahlgren and Monier, pp.
Monier detail a history of "sick and cruel jokes" that Limdbergh
had perpetrated in the first part of his life. As a young man he
put poisonous snakes in the bed of a fellow military cadet who was
afraid of snakes. He substituted kerosene for ice water in the jug
of someone who had gone out drinking against Lindbergh's advice;
the victim had to be rushed to the hospital and nearly died.
combined with his inability to make friends, lack of empathy and
need to control might well result in a diagnosis of Anti-Social
Personality Disorder from a 21st century psychiatrist. There were
no more such "practical jokes" after the death of Charles, Jr. Ahlgren,
pp. 34-36, 207-210, 251.]
Its twelve lines contained nearly a dozen misspellings and grammatical
Schwarzkopf, a West Point graduate who had fought in World War I
as a captain, quickly became the butt of press ridicule, particularly
after the incompetence displayed by the State Police in the handling
of the notorious Hall-Mills murder case a decade before and the
discovery that his first postwar employment had been that of a floorwalker
in a department store. His son would be the media-savvy General
H. Norman "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf of 1991 Gulf War fame.
Behn, pp. 62-66.
The Japanese install a puppet government in the country they re-name
Manchukuo. The ruler is Pu-Yi, the last emperor of China and the
heir of the Manchu dynasty.
with the approval of the Emperor, the Japanese Army set up Unit
731 in a remote Manchurian village. There, under the direction of
Dr. Ishii Shiro, research was carried out for a decade on anthrax,
typhoid, tetanus, plague, cholera, paratyphoid, and other diseases.
Different vectors for infecting large populations were studied.
Experiments, including vivisection, were performed on Manchurians,
Koreans and prisoners of war from the US, Britain and Australia
to study the effects and duration of various bacteria.
At the end
of the war Lt. Gen. Ishii and his co-workers were granted immunity
from prosecution by General MacArthur's administration. The unit's
records and notes were sent to Fort Detrick, Maryland. The US POWs
who survived the germ experiments in Mukden were debriefed in the
Philippines and told that if they ever talked about what happened
inside the camp, they would be court-martialed. Williams
and Wallace, Unit 731, pp. 190-219; Harris, Factories
of Death; Jeff Brazil, "Truth Emerging on Ailing POWs, Japan
Germ Unit," Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1995, A1.]
The Norris-LaGuardia Act, also known as the Anti-Injunction
Act, is passed by Congress despite the contrary wishes of Herbert
Hoover and vocal objections from the Republican minority.
was sponsored by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and shepherded
through passage by Senator Norris of Nebraska and Representative
LaGuardia of New York. Hoover's Secretary of Labor offered old Bull
Mooser Donald Richberg a federal judgeship if he would cease his
support of the measure. (The offer was summarily refused.)
The Act denied
employers injunction relief from Federal courts against workers
for striking, picketing, or joining a union and other union activities
unless the workers were breaking a law or doing property damage.
The Act also made "yellow-dog contracts" non-enforceable in Federal
court. (As a condition of employment the worker had to agree not
to belong to a union.) [See entry for January 27,
signed the bill; it had been passed by such large majorities that
any veto would be overruled. However, he made public a letter from
his Attorney General which suggested that parts of the act might
be unconstitutional. The Act, described by an opposition congressman
as "a long march in the direction of Moscow" would be the foundation
for stronger labor legislation in the New Deal. Kennedy,
Freedom from Fear, pp. 26-27; Schlesinger, Crisis,
pp. 114, 238-239; Lowitt, pp. 518-527.]
Man' Speech: Governor Roosevelt in a short national radio talk
criticizes the RFC as an aid to "the big banks, the railroads and
the corporations of the nation" while neglecting the farmer and
"the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid." Davis,
New York Years, pp. 272-3.
Hoover continues to believe and to announce that "prosperity
is just around the corner." (This was despite the fact that 20%
of children in New York City were suffering from malnutrition or
that the year before the Soviet Union had received 100,000 applications
from Americans after a call for 6000 skilled workers. Carroll
and Noble, p. 337. )
was writtem by Raymond Moley, professor of political science at
Columbia University, who was FDR's principal adviser in the months
before FDR declared his candidacy, throughout the campaign, and
for the first several years in the White House. Moley was responsible
for recruiting fellow Columbia professors to further advise candidate
Roosevelt, a group who would come to be known as the "Brain Trust."
Cohen, pp. 58-66.]
Bonus March - On to Washington: 280
unemployed veterans led by Walter Waters of Portland, Oregon climb
into empty Union Pacific boxcars for the first of their many boxcar
rides east. Between them they have $30 and a drum.
There is military
discipline: all the men have credentials of military service and
all swear to uphold the Constitution and bear allegiance to the
flag. They represent over one hundred professions: clerks, lumberjacks,
railroad men, a sign painter (whose talents would come in handy)
and a prizefighter, etc.
Compensation Act, signed in 1924, had promised veterans a thank-you
bonus for the services in the Great War, payable in 1945. None of
the other Allies, especially Germany, had offered such a generous
reward. But by 1932 most veterans were unemployed and many were
hungry. Agitation began for early payment, especially after the
International Debt Moratorium of 1931 had allowed the Europeans
to forego payment of their wartime debts.
The House Ways
and Means Committee, pressured by Rep. Wright Patman of Texas, held
hearings on the proposition of an early payment. Opposition was
vociferous from the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of
War, Charles Dawes of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (which
had been handing out huge sums to desperate financial institutions),
Representative Fiorello LaGuardia, and Senator Hiram Johnson. The
idea of a Bonus March coalesced after the committee tabled the proposition.
The march got
stalled in East St. Louis. Fifty railroad police were there to see
that no one got to ride in a Baltimore and Ohio boxcar. The veterans
responded with a lie-down on the tracks. For several days no produce
moved east, and the protest began to be covered by the newspapers.
As a result other bonus marchers emerged: Two regiments of 200 men
each from San Francisco, three hundred men from Slidell, Louisiana,
one hundred men from Sacramento. The movement was now named the
Bonus Army by the press.
in Illinois was solved when the sheriff organized a series of cars
and trucks to take the Marchers to the Indiana state line, escorted
by the Illinois State Police. In each successive state Indiana
Ohio, Pennsylvania the governors would see to it that the
veterans were quickly moved on. They arrived in Washington on March
29. Smith, The Shattered Dream, pp. 127-136.
[ See July 28, 1932.]
"Kidnapping": A truck driver, needing to tend to his bodily
pulls off the road at Mount Rose, New Jersey three miles south
of the Lindbergh estate. He walks seventy-five feet into the woods
where he discovers the decomposing body of a small child lying face
down in a shallow depression and covered with leaves and vermin.
coroner found an extensive skull fracture; a blood clot at the edge
of the fracture demonstrated that the fracture occurred while the
child was still alive. Enough of the facial muscles remained intact
that he was able to conclude that the body was that of the missing
Lindbergh toddler. Betty Gow, the nursemaid, identified the corpse
and also a scrap of clothing. The extent of decomposition indicated
that the body had been in the woods for at least two months which
led the police to declare that the baby died the night that he was
was cruising the Atlantic with Commodore John Curtis, searching
for yet another missing ship, when he got the news of the discovery,
so he was one of the last to learn of his son's death. (The radio
had been bombarding the public with the sensational news for hours.)
He rushed to the morgue, spent a minute and a half with the corpse,
counted its teeth, and told the police: "I am perfectly satisfied
that is my child." He ordered that there be no further autopsy and
that the child be cremated immediately.
cremation in what was now an unsolved murder case was an outrageous
disregard of police procedure and judicial requirements. But the
parent was Col. Charles Lindbergh and the order was carried out.
This did give rise to theories that the body was that of a different
child, even though no other child of that general description had
been reported missing.
was then turned to Curtis and Condon. Curtis confessed that he had
led Lindbergh on fruitless journeys to meet with non-existent kidnappers.
In June he was found guilty of "obstruction of justice" in a well-covered
trial. He paid a fine of $1000. Ahlgren and Monier,
Standard Oil of California, drilling in Bahrain, hits oil.
[Large quantities of oil were tapped in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
in February and March of 1938. With the beginning of World War II
the wells were sealed with concrete to prevent their seizure by
the Germans. Yergin, The Prize, pp. 283,
Delano Roosevelt (FDR) is selected as the Democratic nominee
for president on the fourth ballot.
[He had a majority
of the votes on the first ballot, but was then faced with the "Stop
Roosevelt" coalition headed by his former friend, Al Smith. FDR
gained the necessary two-thirds majority 32
after Speaker of the House Jack Garner persuaded the
California delegation to switch their votes. The Texas delegation
switched only after Garner promised to accept the vice-presidential
nomination. FDR innovatively accepted the nomination in person the
next day, and pledged himself to obtain "a new deal for the American
people." Miller, Intimate History, pp.
273-9. Davis, New York Years, pp. 326-335.]
By the fourth vote, some delegations were beginning to waver. Senator
Huey "Kingfish" Long, the political boss of Louisiana, not only
kept his state delegation in line,
but also threatened the delegations of neighboring states if they
should break the unit rule.
He then claimed credit for FDR's nomination and attempted to co-opt
him into sponsoring his proposal for immediate payment of the veterans'
bonus. As early as the summer of 1932 FDR privately described Long
as "one of the two most dangerous men in the country
the other being General Douglas MacArthur. Brinkley,
Voices, pp. 46, 57.
Joseph P. Kennedy
used his influence with newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst
to pressure Garner to release his delegates. Kennedy later felt
that he had never been given proper credit for his efforts. Beschloss,
Kennedy and Roosevelt, pp. 69-75. Isolationist
Hearst feared the convention might select Newton Baker, a longtime
advocate of the League of Nations, and was promised by FDR's managers
that FDR would steer clear of foreign entanglements and accept Garner
as his vice-president. Shogan, p. 33.
Marchers" over 10,000 unemployed WW I veterans who were
camping with their families in abandoned Treasury Department buildings
and on the Anacostia Flats in Washington are ordered by the
Washington police to evacuate the buildings. (They had been there
since June demanding an early payment of their pensions.) 33
Bricks fly, shots are fired, two veterans are killed and
three policemen injured before Hoover calls out the Army.
were then attacked by Army troops with fixed bayonets and tear gas.
The troops were led by Major George Patton on orders from Army Chief
of Staff General Douglas MacArthur who was convinced that
the march was the work of communists and "animated by the essence
of revolution" and his protesting aide, Major Dwight Eisenhower.
(These three were generals in World War II and became national heroes.)
in defending his action in calling out the army, said that many
of the marchers were "communists and persons with criminal records."
There were more than 100 casualties of the battle including an infant
who died from tear gas. At the conclusion of the raid the army,
in defiance of Hoover's order, torched the marchers' shanty town
across the river and its inhabitants joined the other 2 million
homeless Americans "on the road." Daniels,
Bonus Marchers; Ambrose, Eisenhower,
the story and seeing the pictures in the newspaper the next day,
Presidential candidate Roosevelt told his advisers that if he had
been Hoover, he would have consented to see the leaders of the protest
and had coffee and sandwiches sent out to the rest. Hoover's re-election,
already unlikely, became doubly doomed by the popular reaction to
his heartlessness. Movie theaters across the country screened newsreels
of the military action which the narrator described as "a day of
bloodshed and riot." Davis, New York Years,
pp. 344-35, Cohen, p. 31.
The average bonus due in 1945 was $1000.
unemployment and poverty in northeastern England triggered similar
marches throughout the decade of the 1930s. In October, 1932, 3000
unemployed workers from Glasgow, northern England and south Wales
marched to London to present petitions with a million signatures
to Parliament. The Jarrow Crusade of October, 1936 was better publicized
but no better received by Parliament: Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
refused to meet with any of the 200 miners and shipyard workers
who had walked the 280 miles from Jarrow to London with public meetings
held at their 22 overnight stops. BBC,
September 26, 2006; Ellen Wilkinson, The Town That Was Murdered;
In the elections to the Reichstag Adolf Hitler's NSDAP (National
Socialist German Workers' Party) wins 13 million more voters than
in 1928, bringing its representation in the Reichstag from 107 seats
to 230, and making it the largest party.
This, however, is only 37% of the total vote. Most of these votes
come from the young and unemployed.
Hitler demanded the chancellorship and an enabling act giving him
"full power" for a specified period. President von Hindenburg refused,
despite the ostentatious and menacing presence of Hitler's brown-shirted
SA (SturmAbsteilung or storm troopers) throughout Berlin.
Hitler rules out a putsch by the SA; he wants to come to power "legally."
Shirer, Rise and Fall, pp. 166-169; Black,
Transfer Agreement, p. 24.]
Rhetoric: Speaking in Baltimore, Roosevelt warns against the
Republican "Four Horsemen of Destruction, Delay, Deceit, Despair."
apocalyptically Hoover had warned that Roosevelt's program would
the timbers of the Constitution" and "destroy the very foundation
of our government."
His prediction that the "grass will grow in the streets of a hundred
cities, a thousand towns, the weeds will overrun the fields of millions
of farms" would prompt the Inauguration Day parade to include a
quartet of men pushing lawn mowers down Pennsylvania Avenue. Cohen,
pp. 34, 43.]
In new elections for the Reichstag the Nationalist Socialist party
loses two million voters. They now hold 196 seats, the Communists
100, the Socialists 121,
the German National (conservative) Party 52.
the waning popularity of his party, again made conditions on accepting
the chancellorship that were unacceptable to President von Hindenburg;
General Kurt von Schleicher became the next and last chancellor
of the Weimar Republic. Shirer, Rise, pp.72-175.]
v. Alabama: The Supreme Court reverses the convictions and
death sentences of eight African-Americans who had been charged
with raping two white girls in March 1931. The decision states that
the failure of the court to provide counsel for indigent defendants
violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
[The case of
the "Scottsboro Boys" all were teenagers except for one who
was twenty had garnered almost as much outside attention as
the Sacco-Vanzetti case a decade earlier. The complaining witnesses
whom the prosecution had presented as the flower of Southern maidenhood
were in reality mill hands and part-time prostitutes with frequent
Negro clients. The Scottsboro Boys had the misfortune to be catching
a ride on the same freight train as the women. The Communist Party
and the NAACP had competed to represent the Boys in their appeals.
Delano Roosevelt defeats Herbert Hoover for president by an
electoral vote of 472-59, representing 42 of the 48 states. In this
genuine landslide, FDR takes 282 counties that had never before
gone Democratic. Unger, LBJ: A Life, p.
38. FDR was the first Democratic candidate since Franklin
Pierce in 1852 to win a majority of the popular vote. Alter,
p. 134. The popular vote:
---- Roosevelt 57.7 %
---- Hoover 39.8 %
---- Norman Thomas (Socialist candidate) 2.2 %
---- William Foster (Communist candidate) 0.3 %
The Democrats win control of both houses of Congress, including
a whopping gain of 101 seats in the House.
two main factors behind Hoover's resounding defeat. The first was
his failure to do anything to combat the devastating effects of
the depression and the collapse of the banking industry upon most
of the people.
was his 1929 decision to enforce vigorously the increasingly unpopular
Prohibition laws. By 1930 the five federal prisons were seriously
overcrowded; more than one-third of the inmates had been convicted
under the Volstead Act. Hoover's solution was to build six new prisons.
In the election
campaign the "wets" made the argument that repeal of the Eighteenth
Amendment would create thousands of jobs and the federal treasury
would benefit from the taxes imposed on liquor sales and the savings
of funds spent in the prosecution of liquor-related criminals. Pegram,
By the end
of the election campaign Hoover was possibly the most loathed candidate
in several generations. He looked and sounded most voters
knew him only from radio speeches ill and distracted. Disgruntled
citizens threw eggs and tomatoes at his train;
in Detroit spectators chanted "Hang Hoover!" In this environment
probably any Democratic candidate could have defeated him, possibly
even the popular comedian Eddie Cantor who was making his own satirical
run for the presidency. "We want Can-tor" was also heard at Hoover's
train stops. Alter, p. 132.]
Great Britain and France ask for a review of their debts and a postponement
of the installment that is due on December 15th $95,550,000
and $19,261,432 respectively.
[Two days later
Hoover wired FDR asking for a meeting on the subject. (Hoover believed
that the one-year moratorium he had negotiated in June, 1931 had
saved the Europeans from economic disaster.) They met on November
22nd with Secretary of the Treasury Ogden Mills and Raymond Moley
in attendance. There was much sparring; Roosevelt adamantly refused
to take any responsibility for a possible deferral on Hoover's watch.
(This would not be the last time during the interregnum that Hoover
would attempt to get FDR involved in policy decisions.) On the 15th
the Brits paid up and the French defaulted.
There was profound
disagreement between the US and Europe on the question of repayment
of the loans incurred during the Great War. The Americans believed
that a debt is a debt and should be repaid. Europeans, on the other
hand, felt the Americans had gotten off easy in the war; they had
not lost a generation of young men, as the British and the French
had. Uncle Sam was pictured as Uncle Scrooge. Alter,
pp. 141-143, Bernstein, Turbulent Years, pp. 5-6.
As the result of a series of back-room deals instigated by old reactionaries
such as Franz von Papen, Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany.
This is the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the
had not been able to form a government and resigned the chancellorship.
Germany was falling apart, politically and economically. Hitler
promised economic renewal and full employment. Shirer,
Rise and Fall, pp. 175-187. Indeed, in his first
year in office industrial production would increase 30%; unemployment
would be cut nearly in half. Kilzer, Churchill's
Deception, p. 115.
Republic had been de-stabilized by a series of unsolved political
murders of at least 400 labor leaders, journalists, professors,
artists and musicians who were attempting to warn the German people
about the National Socialist party and the right-wing veterans'
groups. Ingmar Bergman's film, The Serpent's Egg, is set
in this scene. Judge, Judge for Yourself,
- "Comstock's Valentine": Michigan's Governor William Constock
declares an eight-day banking holiday, as the state's 550 banks
do not have enough cash to cover the deposits of anxious customers.
(Hoover had asked Henry Ford to freeze his very large deposits in
Detroit's Guardian bank and possibly avert a crash. Ford refused,
allegedly saying, "Let the crash come. Everything will go down the
chute. But I feel young, I can build again."
was following the lead of other states that had declared bank holidays
for state-chartered banks: first Nevada in October, 1932, then Louisiana
in early February. It was the Michigan closure that started the
nation-wide panic with depositors standing in long lines to withdraw
all of their money. New Jersey, Indiana and Maryland all closed
their banks in late February, with Arkansas, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky,
Tennessee and Nevada following close behind.
reeling emotionally from the impact of his stunning electoral defeat
and incapable of taking any action. His banking advisers urged him
to declare a nation-wide bank holiday, using his authority in the
wartime Trading with the Enemy Act. His legal advisers doubted that
the law which authorized the president to regulate transfers
of gold and currency could be stretched to cover closing all
of the nation's banks.
was to try to co-opt FDR into some sort of a joint program. On February
18th he sent a hand-delivered letter to Roosevelt asking him for
a joint declaration of Hoover's policies, not FDR's campaign
promises! A balanced budget, maintenance of the gold standard, and
so on. He insinuated that the current crisis could be attributed
to Roosevelt's election which had produced a "steadily degenerating
confidence in the future."
the "cheeky" letter for eleven days and Hoover continued to do nothing.
Cohen, pp. 47-53; Kennedy, The Banking Crisis
of 1933, pp. 54-102, 129-146; Alter, pp. 154-155.
By this time
many areas and businesses had resorted to printing scrip. By the
end of 1932 10,000 Utahans had joined the National Development Association
and traded with one another with vallars which were printed
in five denominations. One could buy a piano for
40 vallars! When Arizona declared its bank holiday, the legislature
authorized the printing of Arizona state scrip. The scrip makers
of Albion, Michigan and Evanston, Illinois positioned a portrait
of FDR on their scrip in place of Washinton and Lincoln. An estimated
million people were engaged in barter; along the Mexican border,
the peso momentarily replaced the dollar as currency. Shlaes,
Assassination in Miami, Florida: An angry, "capitalist-hating"
unemployed man, Guiseppe Zangara, attempts to assassinate Franklin
Roosevelt while the president-elect is sitting on the back of an
open car in Miami following a speech. The five shots go wild, but
several bystanders are hit including Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago.
a few days later; Zangara is executed on March 20 after a speedy
trial. Roosevelt's coolness in a crisis, his decisiveness in having
his car stopped to pick up the wounded Cermak, and his compassion
towards Cermak and the other victims endear him to the country and
engender a greater feeling of confidence in their future leader
than had been widely felt before. There was also talk of the necessity
for legislation to control the sale of handguns; three presidents
had already been assassinated by a "lone nut" with a pistol. Davis,
New York Years, pp. 427-435.]
Repeal: The lame-duck 72nd Congress, by a two-thirds vote in
each house, passes a joint resolution calling for the repeal of
the Eighteenth Amendment to the constitution by the ratification
of a new constitutional amendment by special state conventions,
not the legislatures.
device of using special conventions ensured a speedier passage of
the measure. Within 10 months 36 states had ratified and the two
Carolinas had rejected the amendment. The movement for repeal had
started soon after the beginning of Prohibition; it was led by the
Association Against the Prohibition Amendment which included some
of the same people who had originally sponsored the measure. They
were appalled by the unforeseen consequences of Prohibition
the rise of organized crime, the corruption of the police, and the
infringement of the individual's constitutional rights by over-zealous
Reichstag president Hermann Göring and banker Hjalmar Schacht 34
host a secret meeting of two dozen of Germany's industrial leaders
with Adolf Hitler. Hitler assures them that his first priority will
be the rebuilding of the German economy. He promises to eliminate
the Marxists, end the experiment in democracy and restore the German
Army, the Wehrmacht. Göring asks for large contributions for the
March 5th election campaign which he promises will be "the last
one for the next ten years, probably even for the next hundred years."
million dollars was raised among these capitalists the heads
of Krupp, I.G. Farben and the major steel companies as well as the
top bankers of the country.
The funds were used in a saturation propaganda campaign newspapers,
pamphlets, and sound trucks throughout the country.
Shirer, Rise and Fall, pp. 189-190; Black,
Transfer Agreement, p. 8.]
Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht was highly revered in Germany
as the "wizard banker" who had ended Germany's ruinous inflation
of the early '20s. He became an enthusiastic backer of Hitler in
1931 and did much to introduce him to influential people who could
be helpful. By the summer of 1938 he had come to regret these actions
and joined the conspiracy group for the aborted "September Plot."
Arrested after the failure of the July, 1944 assassination attempt,
he spent the last months of the Third Reich in a concentration camp
daily expecting execution. After the war he was one of the twenty-one
defendants on trial at Nuremberg and one of the three acquitted,
although he was later tried and convicted in a German de-nazification
court and served a few months in prison. Quite rehabilitated, he
became a banker and financial advisor and died in 1970, aged 93.
Shirer, Rise and Fall, pp. 112, 145, 373,
405, 1142; Fest, Plotting Hitler's Death, pp. 393-394.
- The Pecora Hearings: Charles E. Mitchell, the head of National
City Bank [now Citibank] appears before the Senate Banking and Currency
to probe for the causes of the 1929 Crash now in their second
year had been invigorated by the January hiring of Ferdinand
Pecora as chief counsel. This was an inspired choice, as the Sicilian
immigrant was a master prosecutor who did prodigious investigation
in advance of interviewing witnesses. His record as assistant district
attorney included the successful prosecution of over 150 fraudulent
securities salesmen and many corrupt politicians in both the city
and state of New York.
In 1911 the
National City Bank had been one of the first commercial banks to
incorporate an adjunct company, using bank funds and investment
from some bank shareholders, to deal in investment securities, thus
circumventing state and national laws that prohibited commercial
banks from such investment activity. Mitchell had been president
and chairman of the board of the National City combo for thirteen
City Company had grown from a staff of four (when Mitchell became
president in 1916) to an enterprise with nineteen hundred employees.
More importantly, he had used the adjunct company to train men and
women to go door-to-door selling securities which were often
of questionable value. He was so successful that he was made president
of National City Bank in 1921 and the chairman of its board in 1929.
By the time of the Pecora hearings, Edmund Wilson would describe
him as "the banker of bankers, the salesman of salesmen, the genius
of the New Economic Era."
by questioning Mitchell about his income from National City as well
as that of his senior associates, six of whom accompanied him to
the first meeting. Although each of them received a base salary
of only $25,000 from the Company, each received huge bonuses from
the profits of both the Company and the Bank. For each of the last
three years Mitchell's share had been over a million dollars. Newspaper
reporters busily scribbled the details for the morning headlines,
already inflamed by the growing number of bank closures.
But the best
was yet to come: In 1929 Mitchell had done a "wash sale" with his
wife18,300 shares of National City shares to establish a loss
of over two million dollars
"for tax purposes." Three days later the United States Attorney
for New York City launched a very public investigation. On February
26 Mitchell was forced to resign from all of his positions in the
National City combo. 35
of National City practices were obtained by Pecora from witnesses:
In 1927-28 the National City Company floated three Peruvian bond
issues despite knowledge of Peru's shaky economy, "hodge-podge"
of a tax system, and bond defaults. Their customers were given none
of this information. At the time of the hearing Peruvian bond purchasers
had lost nearly $75 million; the bankers had pocketed $4.5 in commissions.
had "loaned" $10,000 (never repaid) to the general manager of the
Port Authority of New York to obtain the right to sell $66 million
Port Authority bonds.
The public reaction to this investigation of National City Bank
and subsequent hearings was indignation that fueled the passage
of the Banking Act of 1933 and the Securities Act of 1933.
It was a Republican
Senate, one dominated by Progressive Republicans, which had begun
the hearings in 1932. In the period between September 1, 1929 and
July 1, 1932 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange had lost 83%
of their value, whereas bonds on the exchange lost only 37% of their
value. (The "blue chip" securities, such as General Electric and
U.S. Steel had incurred losses as great as 90 %.)
wanted to know what caused the difference, and they suspected short-selling,
pools and bear raids had depressed the market. Unfortunately the
hearings began without a good investigative base. Richard Whitney,
the president of the stock exchange, was able to tell the senators
with a straight face that "bear raids do not exist" and not be challenged.
Seligman, pp. 1-30.
Mitchell was prosecuted in federal court for tax evasion. He was
found not guilty on criminal charges but incurred a million dollar
penalty. He died penniless in New York City in 1955. Wikipedia.
Just days before the crucial election of March 5th, a fire destroys
the main chamber of the Reichstag in Berlin. The Nazis immediately
declare that this is the work of the Communists. Minister without
Portfolio Hermann Göring shouts to the new Gestapo chief: "This
is the beginning of the Communist revolution! We must not wait a
We will show no mercy. Every Communist official must be shot, where
he is found.
Every Communist deputy must this very night be strung up."
day Hitler persuaded President von Hindenburg to sign an emergency
decree that suspended seven crucial articles of the Constitution:
freedom of the person, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly,
secrecy of mail and other forms of communication, sanctity of property
and of the home as a place of refuge. Trucks of SA thugs swarmed
over Berlin and the provinces, breaking into homes, and carting
victims off to be beaten and tortured.
Over four thousand
Communist leaders and Social Democrats were arrested, including
many members of the Reichstag. The opposition press was closed down,
and ten-year prison sentences were given to any person providing
news to foreign governments that was "not in the best interests
of Germany." Opposition rallies were banned or broken up by bullies;
only the Nazis and their Nationalist Party allies were able to campaign
unmolested. It was widely believed, in Germany and abroad, that
the fire had been set by the Nazis themselves. Shirer,
Rise and Fall, 191-195; Sherwin and Markmann, pp. 81-83.]
fire was ostensibly set by Marinus van der Lubbe, a dim-witted Dutch
communist who liked to play with matches. He was picked up by the
SA after he had been heard boasting in a bar that he would set fire
to the Reichstag. They encouraged him with his plans, but first
a group of SA men later eliminated by Hitler in the Night
of the Long Knives, 6-30-34 carried quantities of gasoline
and self-igniting chemicals through an underground passage from
Göring's headquarters to the Reichstag. The SA men then set their
combustible materials in strategic places.
At van der
Lubbe's trial in Leipzig it was clear that he could not have set
such fierce fires and in so many places simultaneously with the
meager materials he had brought. He was, nevertheless, convicted
and decapitated. Shirer, Rise and Fall,
Tea at the White House: President-elect Roosevelt arrives at
the White House, accompamied by his wife Eleanor and his son James,
for the traditional visit hosted by the outgoing president and his
wife. Tipped off by the veteran White House usher, Ike Hoover, that
Secretary of the Treasury Ogden Mills and Eugene Meyer, the chairman
of the Federal Reserve Board, are on their way to join the tea party,
FDR asks Ike Hoover to summon Raymond Moley to complete the invitation
list. An hour's discussion of the crisis ensues with Roosevelt again
refusing to be Hoover's partner in any solution.
scenes Ogden Mills and his associates were trying to avert a final
devastating run on the banks on Inauguration Day by persuading all
48 governors to declare (or continue) bank holidays in their states.
That evening they were joined by Moley and the incoming Secretary
of the Treasury, William Woodin, who helped persuade the two holdout
governors Lehman of New York and Horner of Illinois
to make it a nation-wide bank holiday.
delighted when he learned of this successful (and unauthorized)
bipartisan action. He further signed on to Mills' plan for a four-day
federal bank holiday starting March 6th followed by a special session
of Congress on March 9th to consider banking reform legislation.
Alter, pp. 198-200; Cohen, pp. 53, 67-72; Kennedy,
The Banking Crisis of 1933, pp.147-151.]