Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 1913

In December 1913 the dispatch of a German general to Constantinople sets off alarm bells in Russia. The German chancellor loses a vote of confidence but carries on regardless. President Woodrow Wilson delivers his first State of the Union address, and the Congress adopts legislation establishing the Federal Reserve. A dinner in Washington tests Wilson's sense of humor. America's only trouble spot is Mexico, where the policy is "watchful waiting." Panama Canal tolls continue to be an irritant in U.S.-British relations. Elihu Root wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and his party tries to repair the split that cost it the last election. The First Lord of the Admiralty goes flying, and daredevil aviators continue to outdo each other in the air. The Duke of Bedford sells a big chunk of London real estate. Charlie Chaplin moves from the music hall to motion pictures. Tensions are rising in Ireland. Sir Ernest Shackleton announces an ambitious Antarctic expedition. Henry Ford starts up his new assembly line. Another eventful month, as the last year of peace comes to an end.


German General Otto Liman von Sanders

Recent years have seen a rapid weakening of the Ottoman Empire, the "sick man of Europe."  In a very short time it has lost control over vast expanses of territory in North Africa and the Balkans.  Now the focus has turned to the straits that connect the Mediterranean to the Black Sea; and this time two of the great powers of Europe, Germany and Russia, are directly involved.  Russia depends on free access through the straits for a significant amount of its trade.  Diplomatic and military relations between Germany and Turkey are close, and have become closer since the rise of the Young Turks in 1908.  German interests are behind the ongoing construction of a railroad, planned eventually to extend from Berlin through Constantinople to Baghdad.  Now German General Otto Liman von Sanders has been sent to Constantinople to assume an "advisory" role in the organization and command of the Turkish army.  Because Constantinople dominates the straits, its control by Germany is a matter of grave concern in St. Petersburg.  The Russian military has been put on alert, and speeches in the Duma have called for aggressive action to seize the straits before Germany does.

A Cartoon Attacking German Behavior in Zabern

The Zabern incident began when a German lieutenant used insulting language in addressing his troops about appropriate behavior toward the French population of Alsace, leading to clashes between the local citizens and German troops.  The incident created a political firestorm in Germany.  In the Reichstag debate, which began on December 3, Socialist members criticized the army's behavior and the government's response, while Prussian Minister of War Erich von Falkenhayn defended the army and denounced press criticism as unpatriotic.  Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, in an attempt to defuse the issue, announced that the lieutenant's regiment would be withdrawn from Alsace and the lieutenant disciplined.  In the ensuing vote, in which the Socialists were joined by the Center Party and others, the government went down to defeat 293 to 54.  It was an embarrassing loss for Bethmann-Hollweg.  He refused to resign, however, saying he was responsible only to the Kaiser, and the other parties in the Reichstag refused to join the Socialists in carrying the fight to the budget vote.

President Wilson Addressing Congress on December 2

In the United States, Congress has been in continuous session since it was called it into special session by the president in April.  In accordance with the constitutional requirement that Congress convene on the first Monday of December, the special session ended and the regular session began on December 1.  The next day, President Wilson appeared in person before Congress to comply with the additional command that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union."  This is the first time in over a hundred years that the president has performed this duty in person, but it is no surprise that President Wilson chose to do so this year, since he has addressed Congress in person several times since his inauguration in March.  This comports with his long-expressed view that the president should take a more active role in the legislative process.

Secretaries Houston and McAdoo in New York to Conduct Inquiries Regarding Federal Reserve District Boundaries

The President urged Congress, as he had done in prior messages, to enact legislation reforming the currency and banking system.  As he spoke, the House of Representatives had passed a currency bill which was pending in the Senate.  By the end of the month, in an unusual display of speed for such a fundamental reform, the legislation had been passed by both houses and signed into law by the president.  Since President Andrew Jackson vetoed legislation to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States in 1836, attempts to create a central bank of the kind that exists in many countries have met with failure, defeated by fear of undue concentration of financial power.  However, the need to have some such resource to stabilize the currency and provide reserve credit when and where needed was widely acknowledged.  The new law's solution is to have, instead of a single central bank, a number of "Federal Reserve Banks" in major cities throughout the country, financed and operating separately but under the control of a Federal Reserve Board in Washington.  The law stipulates that there are to be no less than eight nor more than twelve such banks.  It does not specify their locations, but it seems generally agreed that they will include New York, Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, and San Francisco.  An organizing committee consisting of Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo, Secretary of Agriculture Houston, and the Comptroller of the Currency (not yet named) will take testimony and survey the country to determine the bank locations and district boundaries.

The President also asked Congress to consider strengthening the laws dealing with "trusts".  The Sherman Act is imprecise, simply prohibiting combinations "in restraint of trade," and in the recent Standard Oil decision the Supreme Court applied a "rule of reason," holding that only "unreasonable" restraints violate the Act but doing little to give notice to the business community of prohibited activity.  President Wilson wants Congress to leave the Sherman Act intact but adopt new legislation to clarify it and "facilitate its administration."

 General Huerta's "Reelection" as Seen by Hearst Cartoonist T. E. Powers

In foreign affairs, the President noted with gratitude that the country "is at peace with all the world, and many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age of settled peace and good will."  He urged prompt ratification of the arbitration treaties pending before the Senate, and pointed with pride to Secretary Bryan's negotiation of treaties providing for a "cooling off" period when disagreements arise between nations.  He noted that "there is but one cloud upon our horizon. That has shown itself to the south of us, and hangs over Mexico."  President Wilson continues to insist that Victoriano Huerta's seizure of power, ratified by a puppet Mexican Congress, is illegitimate.  He told the Congress that "there can be no certain prospect of peace in America until General Huerta has surrendered his usurped authority."  Noting that Huerta has become "completely isolated" and that his "collapse is not far away," Wilson added that he believes there is no need for the United States to alter its policy of "watchful waiting."

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

In his first annual report as Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels has proposed a shipbuilding program for next year.  He recommends construction of two dreadnoughts, eight destroyers and three submarines, which he says will provide "an adequate and well-proportioned navy."  His program is substantially less ambitious than that of the Navy General Board, headed by Admiral Dewey, which recommends four dreadnoughts, sixteen destroyers and eight submarines.  Daniels also proposes that the government produce and refine its own oil to guarantee a supply of fuel for its ships, most of which in the future will be oil-burning.  Criticizing the prices charged by private corporations, he also recommended that the government make its own armor, guns and ammunition.  Commenting on the proposal of British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill for a "naval holiday," Daniels says "It is not a vacation we need, but a permanent policy to guard against extravagant and needless expansions."  He recommends inviting representatives of all nations to a conference to discuss "a plan for lessening the cost of preparation for war."

Secretary of War Garrison

Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison submitted his first annual report this month.  He praised the Army and Navy as the "bulwark of defense" of a "peaceful and unmilitary people, engrossed in the settlement and upbuilding of our vast territory and in the development of the wonderful resources with which it abounds."  The maximum strength of the Army is fixed by law at 100,000 men, and its total present strength is several thousand less than that.  Among its most impressive recent achievements are those of the Army Medical Service, which include the virtual eradication of typhoid fever, improvements in sanitation in tropical regions, and progress in the treatment of infection.

Taft Astride a Carabao

The Military Order of the Carabao was founded by American military officers during the Philippine Insurrection, the army's most recent military campaign.  It was intended as a lampoon of their fellow officers who had formed the Military Order of the Dragon during the Boxer Rebellion.  Named after a Philippine water buffalo, the Carabao Society sponsors annual dinners at which songs and speeches poke fun at senior figures in the government and military.  President Wilson was made an honorary member, as were Presidents Roosevelt and Taft (Taft was governor-general of the Philippines from 1901 to 1903, and was the Society's guest of honor at the 1911 dinner).  The most recent dinner was held December 11 in Washington.  Among the dignitaries present were several cabinet officers including Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels (whose speech discussing Philippine independence received polite but tepid applause), four Supreme Court Justices and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.  As at prior dinners, the members joined in their rollicking anthem, sung to the tune of "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp the Boys Are Marching": "Damn, Damn, Damn the Insurrectos" (referring to the rebels in the Insurrection).  To the general hilarity of those present, a "Peace Fleet" then sailed into the banquet room consisting of the ships "Friendship," "Fellowship" and "Piffle," designed to ridicule Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan's peace initiatives.  "Piffle's" conning tower was labeled "Lecture Platform," her guns were labeled "Grape Juice" and "Pop," and her funnel bore the legend "Hot Air."  Uncle Sam stood on the bridge shouting "Peace on Earth" through a megaphone.  When he learned of the Society's antics, President Wilson was not amused.  He promptly resigned his honorary membership and ordered Secretary of War Lindley Garrison to conduct an investigation, which by month's end had resulted in reprimands of several senior officers.

The President's Winter Vacation Home in Pass Christian

The president has been suffering this month from an attack of grippe.  He had recovered enough by December 18 to take an automobile ride and plant a tree on the White House lawn.  His physician Doctor Grayson recommended a rest, so he and Mrs. Wilson traveled with the doctor and the president's cousin Helen Bones to Pass Christian, Mississippi, a location recommended by Mississippi Senator John Sharp Williams, where they are spending the Christmas holidays in the agreeable climate of the gulf coast.

Senator Root

On December 10, it was announced that Senator Elihu Root is the recipient of the 1912 Nobel Peace Prize. Senator Root was cited for his work on the pacification of Cuba and the Philippines as well as his handling of America's dispute with Japan over California's racial laws.  More generally, Mr. Root has been a supporter of international arbitration and a strong and prominent advocate in favor of a world court.  He was appointed Secretary of War by President McKinley in 1899 and continued in that position under President Roosevelt until 1904.  He was appointed Secretary of State in 1905.  In 1909, as his tenure as Secretary of State ended, the New York legislature named him to the United States Senate to succeed the retiring Senator Thomas C. Platt.  The award of the 1912 Prize was delayed a year, and was made this month simultaneously with the award of the 1913 Prize, which went to the Belgian Henri La Fontaine, President of the International Peace Bureau, who was instrumental in organizing the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907.

Senator Root is a leading figure in the Republican Party, which is struggling to overcome the split that preceded its defeat in last year's election.  Root presided at a conference of the leaders of the New York Republican Party that began December 5 at the Waldorf Astoria.  Over the opposition of the state chairman, William Barnes, the delegates adopted resolutions favoring a number of progressive reforms.  Barnes retained his position as state chairman, representing New York at a meeting of the Republican National Committee at the New Willard Hotel in Washington on December 16.

One of the reforms adopted by the National Committee was to reduce the representation of the southern states at Republican national conventions.  Delegates to previous Republican conventions have been apportioned on the basis of population, giving southern states influence within the party far out of proportion to their support for Republican candidates.  The political dominance of the Democratic Party in those states has been solidified by state laws adopted in the last twenty-five years restricting the ability of Negroes, the most likely Republican voters, to register and vote.  (For more on this subject, see the April and June 1912 and August 1913 installments of this blog).  Republican efforts to enforce Negro voting rights have failed, and it now appears there is little the party can do to overcome its permanent minority status in the states of the former Confederacy.  By allocating convention delegates on the basis of Republican votes rather than population, the party hopes at least to bring those states' influence within the party more in line with their contribution to the party's electoral prospects.  Ironically, the effect of this reform may be to diminish even further the political power of Southern Negroes.  The only Negro delegates to be found at either party's national conventions are in the "black and tan" delegations sent by Southern states to Republican conventions.  Their numbers will be lessened by the new rule.

Andrew Bonar Law

In Great Britain, the Conservative (Unionist) Party continues to walk a fine line between vigorous political advocacy and open rebellion.  The Home Rule Bill is on schedule to become law next year over the opposition of Conservatives in both houses of Parliament.  Resistance to home rule among Irish Protestants, who will become a minority in a largely Catholic Ireland, is at a fever pitch, and Conservative politicians such as Sir Edward Carson are exploiting it to the fullest.  Conservative Party leader Andrew Bonar Law has publicly appealed to the British Army not to enforce Home Rule in northern Ireland, where most of the Protestants live.

Churchill with the Royal Flying Corps

British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill is known to have a great interest in the military potential of aviation.  He has made fourteen flights, three in dirigibles and eleven in aeroplanes.  On December 1, flying in a dual-control aeroplane piloted by Captain Wildman Lushington, the First Lord took the controls at an altitude of about five hundred feet and controlled the machine for most of the hour-long flight, after which Captain Lushington took the controls for the landing.

Sir Ernest Shackleton

The polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton has announced plans to lead an expedition to the South Pole, which as envisioned will be the most ambitious polar journey ever attempted.  He plans to cross the Antarctic continent from sea to sea, beginning at the Weddell Sea near the tip of South America, crossing via the South Pole to the Ross Sea, and returning via New Zealand.  In the hope of enlisting broad support from the whole British Empire, he has named his venture the "Imperial Transantarctic Expedition."

The Duke of Bedford Leaves Covent Garden

In other news from England, it has been reported that the Duke of Bedford has sold his 19-acre Covent Garden estate to the Hon. Harry Mallaby-Deeley, a successful businessman who entered Parliament in 1910 as the Unionist member for Harrow.  The property includes the Covent Garden Opera House, Drury Lane Theatre, the Aldwych Theatre, the Strand Theatre, the Bow Street Police Court, the National Sporting Club and the Covent Garden Market.  The amount of the purchase price has not been disclosed, but estimates range as high as fifty million dollars.  Mr. Mallaby-Deeley says he has no plans to make any changes in the use of the property.

Ambassador Bryce

It appears that Germany's unwillingness to participate in the Panama Pacific Exposition, scheduled for 1915 in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, may have less to do with that nation's own interests than with a recent understanding reached with Great Britain.  Last month it appeared that the Reichstag would approve funds for a German building on the grounds of the Panama Exposition, but the proposal has been denied at the highest levels.  The Kaiser has said that he would like to participate, and sees no financial or other obstacle to doing so, but that Germany has agreed through diplomatic channels with Great Britain that neither nation would participate.  This has given rise to concern that those nations may be negotiating a "British-German Entente," including actions to block American trade and influence in Latin America.  It is generally acknowledged that Great Britain's reluctance to participate in the Exposition is related in large part to its dispute with the United States over Panama Canal tolls.  Before leaving the United States, former British Ambassador James Bryce was told by President Wilson that he did not agree with the position of Congress and the Taft administration on the toll issue, and would do what he could to have it reconsidered.

 Lincoln Beachey

French aviator Maurice Guillaux, who set a one-day distance record in August, was recently suspended from membership by the French Aero Club.  As if in defiance of the suspension, he climbed into his monoplane on December 25 and "looped the loop" above Paris four times.  He performed the feat twice over the Grand Palace, where the annual Paris Aero Salon was coming to an end, once over the Bourse, and once again over the main boulevards.  On the same day in San Francisco, American aviator Lincoln Beachey set a world record by performing five "loop the loops" over the city, including a double loop at an altitude of 300 feet.  Afterward he landed his machine on a narrow street on the grounds of the Panama Pacific Exposition.

The Ford Assembly Line in Dearborn

On December 1, the Ford Motor Company began operation of an assembly line at its plant in Dearborn, Michigan.  By moving automobiles under construction along a constantly moving conveyor and assigning workers to specific tasks to be repeated from one automobile to the next, the assembly line process is designed to speed up production and increase the efficiency of the work force.  The Ford assembly line will manufacture the Model T automobile.

Charles Chaplin

Charles Chaplin is a popular English music hall performer.  At the end of November he completed his American tour and moved to California, where he joined Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios.  At Keystone he will appear in motion picture films, joining other popular Keystone comedians Ford Sterling, Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, and Mabel Normand.

December 1913 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading

Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, January and February 1914
New York Times, December 1913

Books and Articles:
A. Scott Berg, Wilson
Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman 1907-1914
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt
Patrick Devlin, Too Proud to Fight: Woodrow Wilson's Neutrality
Charles Emmerson, 1913: The World Before the Great War
Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume One: 1900-1933
Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
Max Hastings, Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917
Robert K. Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War
David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
Candice Millard, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt
Michael Perman, Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South 1888-1908
Richard B. Sherman, The Republican Party and Black America From McKinley to Hoover, 1896-1933
John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project, Public Papers of the President, State of the Union Addresses and Messages, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 1913

In November 1913 a German lieutenant in Alsace-Lorraine creates an international incident with some foolish words about the local population. A dictator clings to power in Mexico despite the best efforts of the Wilson Administration to get rid of him, while another dictator, this one in China, consolidates his power by eliminating the opposition party. The last shogun dies in Japan. In the United States, Tammany Hall takes a beating, but Democrats elsewhere do pretty well. Americans brace themselves for the income tax. A giant storm hits the Great Lakes. A small steamer makes the first complete transit of the Panama Canal, and former President Roosevelt prepares for a challenging journey of exploration in South America. There's a wedding in the White House. Army loses to upstart Notre Dame at West Point but beats Navy at the Polo Grounds. French aviators try to outdo each other in the air. Mohandas Gandhi is in South Africa taking the first steps on his career of protest, and Emmeline Pankhurst is in Connecticut speaking out for woman suffrage.


German Soldiers Patrolling the Streets of Zabern

The population of the former French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, lost to Germany in 1871 as a result of the Franco-Prussian War, remains predominantly French.  Early this month in the Alsatian city of Zabern (called Saverne by the French), Gunter von Forstner, a young lieutenant in a German army unit garrisoned there, lectured his troops on proper behavior toward the local population.  Using a derogatory term applied to French residents of the area, he told his men that they would not be disciplined, and might even be rewarded, if they were to react to provocations on the part of "Wackes" by killing them.  Perhaps intended only as a tasteless joke, his remarks have caused widespread anger and led to clashes between German troops and local civilians.

 The New Taxpayer

In the United States, the Underwood-Simmons Revenue Act took effect on November 1.  Named for Representative Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Furnifold M. Simmons of North Carolina, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, it makes significant reductions in tariff rates and imposes the nation's first income tax since the Civil War.  A federal tax of one percent is assessed on income in excess of $4,000 per year for married persons and $3,000 for single persons.  Higher rates are imposed on additional income, starting with an additional one percent on income in excess of $20,000 and reaching an additional six percent on income in excess of $500,000.  The tax for this year applies only to income received since March 1, the beginning of the first month after ratification of the Constitutional amendment authorizing an income tax.  There appears to be little resistance among the public to paying the tax, but as this cartoon illustrates there is some uncertainty as to how it is to be calculated and collected.  No doubt the Bureau of Internal Revenue will have more to say on the subject.

Congress Today and Tomorrow

The Sixty-third Congress, which has been in session since President Wilson summoned it in April, continued to meet through the month of November.  By Constitutional command, its regular session will begin on the first day of December.  The special session ended without a Senate vote on the currency bill, which will be at the top of that chamber's agenda in the new session.  On November 22, the Senate Finance Committee reported the House bill without recommendation, and members of the committee from each party submitted rival proposals for the Senate's consideration.  Next in line after the currency legislation are various proposals designed to strengthen the antitrust laws.

Mayor-elect Mitchel and His Wife En Route to Jamaica for a Post-election Holiday

John Purroy Mitchel was elected mayor of New York City on November 4 in a decisive victory over the Tammany-backed Democratic candidate, Edward McCall.  The nominee of the reform Fusion Committee, Mitchel led a state-wide electoral repudiation of Tammany Hall, including election of a Republican majority in the New York State Assembly.  Recently impeached Governor William Sulzer, who ran afoul of Tammany shortly after taking office, was elected to the Assembly, where he will represent the Sixth Assembly District on Manhattan's lower east side.  Elsewhere in the United States, the off-year elections represented a strong endorsement of President Woodrow Wilson and his party.  Among the Democratic victories were those of Blair Lee, elected to the United States Senate from Maryland, and David Walsh and James Fielder, elected governors of Massachusetts and New Jersey respectively.

A Storm Wave Crashes Ashore in Chicago

The worst storm to strike the Great Lakes in recorded history raged from November 7 through November 10.  At least eight ore carriers were sunk and the eventual death toll is likely to be in the hundreds.

 Dredging the Culebra Cut

A small steamer made the first complete transit of the Panama Canal on November 17.  Meanwhile, dredges in the Culebra Cut are removing the debris of slides from the adjoining hillsides to enable navigation by deep-draught vessels.  As the opening of the Canal to international traffic draws near, attention focuses on the continuing tolls controversy with Great Britain and on the Pan-Pacific Exposition planned for 1915 in San Francisco.  Great Britain and Germany have so far declined to participate in the exposition, but now it appears that Germany's position may be about to change.  Meetings of the parties represented in the Reichstag voted at the end of the month to support an appropriation of $500,000 for a building at the Exposition to be known as "Deutsches Haus."  The vote ensures the passage of the appropriation when the Reichstag meets, and official government approval is expected to follow.

John Lind

Panama Canal tolls are not the only subject regarding Latin America on which Great Britain and the United States have had different views.  Britain looks to Mexico as an important source of oil, and is eager to maintain cordial relations with the government in power.  The British government has recognized the Huerta regime, and British investment in Mexico has provided the Huerta regime with important financial support.  United States Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who urged recognition of Huerta and may even have been involved in Huerta's coup d'etat in February, was recalled from Mexico last month and removed from his post.  To avoid implied recognition of the Huerta government, President Wilson has not named a replacement ambassador, but has sent former Minnesota Governor John Lind to Mexico as his personal representative.  Lind met with Huerta in Mexico City on November 7, but returned to Veracruz on November 12 after failing to persuade Huerta to relinquish power.  Meanwhile William Bayard Hale, another personal representative of the American president, met in Nogales with Venustiano Carranza, the leader of the "Constitutionalists," the most formidable revolutionary force opposing Huerta, to discuss lifting the American arms embargo to put additional military pressure on Huerta.  Even Great Britain's support of Huerta may be weakening.  On November 14, the British ambassador Sir Lionel Carden called on Huerta and reportedly urged him to accede to the United States' position.  As the month drew to a close, the military challenge to Huerta's rule continued, with rebels under Pancho Villa throwing back a federal attempt to reoccupy Juarez and Carranza's rebels advancing on the port city of Tampico.  A third rebel force under Emiliano Zapata controls large parts of southern Mexico.  Despite the increasing pressure to yield, Huerta appears to have no intention of surrendering power voluntarily.

Roosevelt in Santiago

Since arriving in Brazil last month, former President Roosevelt has toured South America, making speeches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Santiago, Chile.  Sidestepping the issue of Mexican-American relations, he spoke more broadly of the proper application in the new century of the Monroe Doctrine, a sensitive subject throughout Latin America.  When he was president, Roosevelt announced a variation on the Doctrine that became known as the "Roosevelt Corollary," holding that the United States would not only protect American republics from European interference but would take it upon itself to guarantee their good behavior.  His speeches on this tour presented another variation: the Monroe Doctrine as a cooperative effort among all nations in the Americas.

The Colonel Returns to Brazil

Roosevelt ended his speaking tour in Chile, where on November 26 he bade farewell to his wife Edith and cousin Margaret in Valparaiso as they set sail for Panama on their voyage home.  Roosevelt then turned landward, traveling across the Andes to Argentina and Brazil, where he will begin his journey of exploration in the Amazon basin.  He has decided, rather than follow in the footsteps of others, to mount an expedition descending a previously unexplored and unmapped tributary of the Amazon, the appropriately named Rio da Duvida ("River of Doubt").

Notre Dame End Knute Rockne Scoring Against Army

On November 1 at West Point, a little known school from the Midwest defeated Army in football by a score of 35-13.  Notre Dame Quarterback Gus Dorais completed 14 of 17 passes to End Knute Rockne in the upset victory.

 Army and Navy Battling at the Polo Grounds

After its surprise loss to Notre Dame, the Army football team rebounded at the end of the month with a decisive victory over its traditional rival from Annapolis.  On November 29, Army triumphed over Navy by a score of 22-9.  Most Army-Navy games in recent years have been played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, but this year the game was moved to the more spacious confines of New York City's Polo Grounds.

Perhaps the Army team was inspired by West Point's graduation song (Army's counterpart to Navy's "Anchors Aweigh"), recorded a few days earlier by the American Quartet (click to play):

"Army Blue"


 The Bride and Groom

Jessie Wilson, President Wilson's second daughter, was married on November 25 to Francis B. Sayre.  The ceremony took place in the White House.  Mr. Sayre, a 1912 graduate of the Harvard Law School, has served as Assistant United States Attorney in New York and will begin work next year as assistant to Harry Garfield, the president of Williams College.

The Pennsylvania Station Shortly After It Opened in 1910

President Wilson traveled to New York City on November 28 to attend the theater that night and the Army-Navy game the next day.  He was accompanied by his daughter Jessie and her new husband, his youngest daughter Eleanor, his physician Doctor Cary Grayson, his secretary Joseph Tumulty, and others including several Secret Service agents.  His train arrived at the Pennsylvania Station at 6:18 p.m. and was met by a friendly crowd and a horde of photographers whose exploding flashlights seemed to annoy the president, resulting in their being rushed out of the station by the Secret Service agents.  The president was met by Colonel Edward M. House's automobile, which took him to the Colonel's home at 145 East 35th Street.  Colonel House recently visited England, where he conferred with Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey and other members of the British government.  He is planning a similar trip to Germany next year.  Although he holds no official position, Colonel House is a close friend and trusted adviser of the president.

Chevillard preparing for Take-off at Rue

The French aviator Maurice Chevillard put on an amazing show of acrobatics in the air at Rue, in the Somme Department of France, on November 7.  Performing in a strong 50 mile per hour wind, he did five "loop the loops," diving and swooping close to the admiring crowd each time.  Chevillard's performance was marked from beginning to end with Gallic insouciance.  After wheeling his machine from the hangar, he glanced at the overcast sky and the scudding clouds, shrugged his shoulders, tossed his cigarette away, climbed into the cockpit and sailed aloft.  After landing, he challenged his rival Adolphe Pegoud, who performed the first recorded "loop the loop" in September, to an aeronautical duel.  He observed that Pegoud performs in a specially constructed Bleriot monoplane with a shoulder harness, while he performs in an ordinary biplane with only a lap belt to keep him in his seat when the aircraft is upside down.  Also, Chevillard performs his acrobatics close to the ground while Pegoud performs his at an altitude of at least a thousand feet.  Three days after his performance at Rue, Chevillard repeated many of the same feats at Juvisy.

Yuan Shih-Kai (center) at His Inauguration in 1912

Chinese President Yuan Shih-Kai appears to have succeeded in turning back the challenge to his increasingly despotic rule that was mounted by Sun Yat-Sen and his Kuomintang Party in a "Second Revolution" in July.  Sun Yat-Sen is in exile in Japan, and on November 5 the president dissolved the Kuomintang, the largest party in the Chinese Parliament.  On November 13 the parliament, unable to muster a quorum, dissolved, leaving Yuan Shih-Kai as the virtual dictator of China.

Emmeline Pankhurst in Hartford

Emmeline Pankhurst, continuing her speaking tour of the United States, gave a rousing speech in Hartford, Connecticut on November 13.  In a rallying cry for the cause of woman suffrage everywhere, she explained the movement's growing militancy by pointing out that, without the vote, women are powerless to achieve reform in any other way.  Her campaign appears to be gaining ground in Great Britain, and a growing number of individual states in the United States have granted women the right to vote.  France, on the other hand, has shown little inclination to follow suit: on November 10 the French Chamber of Deputies rejected a proposed woman suffrage bill by a vote of 311 to 133.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Protest against another kind of perceived injustice has resulted in the arrest of an Indian resident of South Africa.  On November 6, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi was arrested while leading a march of striking Indian coal miners in a demonstration against taxes and travel restrictions imposed by the government on formerly indentured immigrants from India.

The Last Shogun in 1867

Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun of Japan, died on November 22.  He surrendered his power to the Meiji Emperor in 1867 and has lived quietly in Japan ever since.  His passing, following that of the Meiji Emperor himself last year, marks a milestone in the evolution of Japan in less than fifty years from an isolated medieval nation to a modern world power.

November 1913 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading

Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, December 1913 and January 1914
New York Times, November 1913

Books and Articles:
A. Scott Berg, Wilson
Miranda Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt
Patrick Devlin, Too Proud to Fight: Woodrow Wilson's Neutrality
Charles Emmerson, 1913: The World Before the Great War
Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume One: 1900-1933
August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
Godfrey Hodgson, Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House
Louis W. Koenig, Bryan: A Political Biography of William Jennings Bryan
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917
Robert K. Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War
David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
Candice Millard, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt
Patricia O'Toole, When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 1913

October 1913 sees the removal from office of the governor of New York and the departure of former President Theodore Roosevelt (another former New York governor) for South America. A new tariff bill becomes law in the United States, and America's biggest foreign policy headache continues to be her neighbor to the south. The Lincoln Highway is dedicated, the Panama Canal moves a step closer to reality, and the New York Giants lose their third consecutive World Series. A Jew is tried in Russia for ritual murder. The German Kaiser celebrates the hundredth anniversary of a victory over Napoleon, and Austria-Hungary forces Serbia to back down in the Balkans. Emmeline Pankhurst visits the United States, and Britain launches a new Dreadnought battleship. New achievements in aviation are offset by disasters in the air and at sea. In short, a typical month in the year before the outbreak of the Great War.


Colonel Roosevelt (Without His Glasses) Departing New York

Over 2,000 members of the Progressive Party filled the roof garden of the New York Theater on October 3 to honor former President Roosevelt the night before his departure for South America.  Gifford Pinchot was the toastmaster and mayoral candidate John Purroy Mitchell dropped in to pay his respects.  In his remarks, Roosevelt denounced Democrats and Republicans alike and pledged to stand by the Progressive Party and its principles.  The next day, accompanied by his wife Edith, he departed on the SS Vandyke.  On October 18 they arrived in Bahia, Brazil, where they were met by their son Kermit, who has been working for the past year for the Anglo-Brazilian Iron Company building bridges.  Colonel Roosevelt plans to address learned societies in each of the "ABC" powers (Argentina, Brazil and Chile) and then to embark on a journey of exploration in the Amazon basin.

New York's New Governor

Following his trial before the High Court of Impeachment in Albany, Governor William Sulzer of New York was found guilty on three of the eight counts against him: filing a false campaign fund statement, swearing under oath to the truth of that statement, and suppressing evidence by means of threats to witnesses before the Frawley Committee.  He was acquitted on the other counts, including those related to the alleged misappropriation of campaign funds.  He was officially removed from office on October 17, but was not disqualified from holding future office.  Almost immediately after his removal, he was nominated by the Progressive Party for a seat in the Assembly, and on October 21 he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds on his return to New York City.  Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Martin Glynn has been sworn in as governor.

The Lincoln Highway Spans the Continent

The first transcontinental highway for automobiles, the Lincoln Highway, was dedicated on October 31.  Ceremonies were held in cities along its route, which extends from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.  It is now possible for the first time to travel by automobile from coast to coast on improved roads.

  The World Series Champions

Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics defeated John McGraw's New York Giants on October 11 by a score of 3-1 to win the 1913 World Series series four games to one.  This is the third straight year the Giants have won the National League pennant only to lose the World Series.

 Demolition of the Gamboa Dike

The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have been joined.  On October 1, valves were opened allowing water from Gatun Lake to flood the Culebra Cut, the last remaining dry portion of the Panama Canal.  On October 10, President Wilson walked from the White House across the street to the State, War and Navy Building (recently renamed the Executive Building), and at 2:01 p.m. pressed a button that triggered an explosion demolishing the Gamboa Dike.  With the removal of the dike, the Culebra Cut became in effect an extension of Gatun Lake.

The New Tariff Schedule -- A Canadian View

The special session of the Sixty-third Congress, convened by President Wilson in April, continued this month with no indication that it will end before the constitutionally mandated regular session begins on the first day of December.  The Underwood-Simmons Revenue Act was passed on October 3 and immediately signed into law by President Wilson.  It establishes tariff rates significantly lower than those of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff enacted in the Taft administration, which came under much criticism, especially from Democrats, as unduly protectionist.  To replace the revenue lost by the tariff reductions, the Act imposes a tax on incomes, exercising the authority conferred by the recently ratified Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Still before Congress, and unlikely to be acted upon in the special session, are proposals to make sweeping reforms in the nation's system of banking and currency and legislation designed to strengthen the antitrust laws.

Wilson and Bryan Pondering the Mexican Situation

Mexico looks less and less like a functioning democracy.  On October 10, Victoriano Huerta, Mexico's provisional president, arrested 110 members of the Chamber of Deputies.  The next day he issued a decree formally dissolving the Congress and declaring all acts of the Congress void.  He also scheduled an extraordinary Congressional election for October 26, the date already set for a presidential election, in which Huerta had declared himself not to be a candidate.  The crime that led to the congressmen's arrest was placing their signatures on a resolution warning that they would abandon the capitol if they were not given assurances of their safety in the wake of the disappearance of Senator Belisaro Dominguez, who attacked Huerta's policies in a speech on the Senate floor earlier in the month and has not been seen since.  On October 14, Secretary of State Bryan instructed the American Charge d'Affaires to advise the Mexican government that, "in view of President Huerta's assumption of the role of dictator," the United States would not recognize the October 26 elections as legal and constitutional.  The elections, which took place as scheduled, were a farce.  Not enough votes were cast to make the result of the presidential election legal under Mexican law.  Huerta was not on the ballot, nor was his most formidable adversary.  General Venustiano Carranza, who leads an insurgency that controls most of the northern part of the country, has declared that "under present conditions no election can legally be held in Mexico" and that whoever is elected "will be a traitor to his country, and when captured will be shot without trial."  It is expected that when the new Congress, composed largely of Huerta allies, convenes next month, it will declare the election void and leave Huerta in power.

Count Leopold von Berchtold

Serbian incursions into the territory of the new nation of Albania continued until October 18.  On that date, Austria-Hungary presented an ultimatum to Serbia demanding that its forces evacuate Albania within eight days, failing which Austria-Hungary would take action "to ensure the realization of its demands."  After the ultimatum was sent, without waiting to learn Serbia's response, Kaiser Wilhelm sent congratulatory telegrams to Emperor Franz Josef and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the emperor's nephew and heir to the throne and a personal friend of the kaiser's.  When Russia failed to support her, Serbia complied with the ultimatum.  The end result is a diplomatic triumph for Austria-Hungary and its foreign minister Count Leopold von Berchtold.  It is likely seen by that country as a convincing demonstration of the efficacy of a strong stance in the Balkans, backed up when necessary by an ultimatum. For Russia, Serbia's patron among the great powers, it is another embarrassment reminiscent of 1908, when Russia was forced to back down after objecting to Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Prince Josef Poniatowski

On October 19, 1813, the combined armies of Prussia, Austria, Russia and Sweden defeated Napoleon’s French army at the Battle of Leipzig, also known as the Battle of the Nations.  On the hundredth anniversary of the battle, Kaiser Wilhelm visited Leipzig to participate in a ceremony dedicating a monument in commemoration of the victory.  On the same day in Austria-Hungary, authorities allowed a procession of 30,000 Poles to march through the streets of Cracow and lay a wreath at the grave of Prince Josef Poniatowski, the Polish national hero who died in the battle.  German authorities, less tolerant of demonstrations of Polish nationalism, refused permission for Poles in Germany to do anything to honor Poniatowski’s memory.  When a group of Poles in Posen tried to place wreaths on the statue of another Polish hero, the poet Adam Mickiewicz, they were arrested and their leaders imprisoned.

Mendel Beilis After His Indictment

A bizarre murder trial took place in Russia this month.  Mendel Beilis, a Ukrainian Jew, was accused of killing a Christian boy for the purpose of using his blood in a religious ritual.  The prosecution's evidence consisted mostly of "experts" who testified to the existence of the supposed practice.  After a lengthy trial, an all-Christian jury found Beilis not guilty.  Beilis's prosecution, which revealed a shocking level of official antisemitism, has met with virtually universal derision and condemnation, even within Russia itself.

Emmeline Pankhurst at Madison Square Garden

Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of militant woman suffragists in Great Britain, arrived in New York on October 18 on the French liner Provence but was not allowed to come ashore at the pier.  Instead she was taken to Ellis Island where a board of special inquiry ordered her deported as an undesirable alien on grounds of "moral turpitude."  An appeal to Washington led to President Wilson's personal intervention.  After a meeting with Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson and Commissioner of Immigration Anthony Caminetti, the president ordered that Mrs. Pankhurst be allowed to enter the United States and remain for the duration of her speaking tour.  After her release from detention on October 20 she boarded a ferry boat that took her to the Battery, where she was met by an automobile that drove her to the home of Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont on Madison Avenue.  She began her tour that evening with a dinner speech to the Women's Political Union at the Aldine Club.  The next day she addressed a large crowd at Madison Square Garden.

The Queen Elizabeth Slides Down the Ways

The latest addition to the Royal Navy, H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, was launched at Portsmouth on October 17.  The new dreadnought will carry 15-inch guns, the largest in the world, and will be driven by steam turbines.  The day after the launch, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill renewed his proposal to Germany that the two nations agree to a one-year suspension of capital ship construction.

The steam to drive the Queen Elizabeth's turbines will be generated by boilers burning oil, a fuel that uses modern technology and is far superior to the coal that powers most of the world's steamships.  This presents a challenge for the Royal Navy.  While coal is plentiful in Great Britain, oil is not, so it is important for the Navy to find a reliable source of the new fuel.  The British government has taken a particular interest in the political turmoil in Mexico, an important oil-producing nation, and First Lord Churchill is working to make a deal with the recently formed Anglo-Persian Oil Company to provide government support for the company's exploration efforts in southern Persia in return for a long-term supply commitment.

The Volturno Burning at Sea

The Uranium Line steamship S.S. Volturno caught fire and burned in the North Atlantic on October 9.  Radio distress signals brought several ships to the rescue, and hundreds of passengers were eventually saved.  Over 100 died, however, mostly women and children who were put into lifeboats that sank or were destroyed in the stormy seas.

Zeppelin L2 As She Arrived at Johannisthal Last Month

Last month's crash of the German Zeppelin L1 in the North Sea was followed this month by another, sadly similar, tragedy for the German Navy.  On October 17 the L2, the largest Zeppelin ever built, exploded over Johannisthal and crashed during its final trial flight prior to joining the fleet.  All 28 of its passengers and crew were killed. 

 W. S. Luckey

In less tragic aviation news, five aviators competed on October 13 in a race sponsored by the New York Times in commemoration of Wilbur Wright's first successful powered flight ten years ago at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The competitors took off at two minute intervals from Staten Island and circled Manhattan Island, flying up the East and Harlem Rivers and back down the Hudson, maintaining a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet.  The winner of the first place prize of $1,000, announced after the judges had satisfied themselves that no corners had been cut, was W. S. Luckey, who completed the course in 52 minutes and 54 seconds.  Five days later back in Europe, the French aviator Roland Garros, who flew across the Mediterranean last month, flew nonstop from Marseilles to Paris, a distance of 525 miles, in six hours.

October 1913 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading
Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, November and December 1913
New York Times, October 1913

Books and Articles:
A. Scott Berg, Wilson
Miranda Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt
Patrick Devlin, Too Proud to Fight: Woodrow Wilson's Neutrality
Charles Emmerson, 1913: The World Before the Great War
Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume One: 1900-1933
August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
Louis W. Koenig, Bryan: A Political Biography of William Jennings Bryan
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917
Robert K. Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War
David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
Candice Millard, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt
Patricia O'Toole, When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House