Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 1913

It's January 1913.  Mayor Gaynor of New York is skeptical about Carnegie's peace plan, President-elect Woodrow Wilson promises a radical administration, Jim Thorpe loses his Olympic medals, and woman suffragists go back on the warpath in Great Britain. John Paul Jones finds his final resting place, and the war in the Balkans might or might not be coming to an end.


Nicholas Murray Butler

The members of the Electoral College met in their respective state capitals on January 13 and cast their votes to elect Woodrow Wilson the nation’s twenty-eighth president.  California split its vote, giving Theodore Roosevelt eleven of its thirteen votes and Wilson the other two.  President Taft did not even appear on the ballot in California.  Through the efforts of Governor Hiram Johnson, Roosevelt won the Republican primary earlier in the year, and the California Supreme Court ruled that for that reason only Roosevelt electors could appear on the ballot as Republicans (California voters vote for electors, not for the parties' presidential nominees).  Vice President James S. Sherman, nominated for reelection with President Taft, died shortly before the election.  The Republican Party chose Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University, as its replacement nominee for vice president, and he received Sherman's eight electoral votes.

The President-Elect at His Home in Princeton, New Jersey

President-elect Woodrow Wilson has left little doubt that his administration will pursue a radical agenda.  On January 11 he addressed a meeting of business men at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago and let them know in no uncertain terms that it was up to them to change the direction of the country.  He told the Commercial Club gathering that "I am not indicting the banking methods of America.  Our banking system does not need to be indicted -- it has been convicted"; and he insisted that "the United States must be free from every feature of monopoly."  Two days later in Trenton, discussing his selection of a cabinet, he said "I shall pick out progressives, and only progressives."  Consistent with these views, in one of his last acts as governor on January 20 he presented seven bills to the New Jersey legislature outlawing price fixing and other practices deemed to be anti-competitive or conducive to monopoly.  He then traveled to Hoboken, where he spent the weekend as the guest of Mrs. Caroline Alexander, who took him on Saturday to Ellis Island to observe immigration procedures.  The next day she invited a group of "social welfare" advocates to meet with the president-elect at her home.  He responded sympathetically to their demands, but pointed out that the federal government's role was necessarily limited.  In the matter of child labor, for example, he said the federal government could collect and disseminate information; but regulation must be left to the states.  Meanwhile, back in Washington, the city is still reeling from the governor's recent pronouncement that, because of the expense involved, there will be no inaugural ball this year.

Joseph G. Cannon

The lame duck session of Congress required by Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution continued through January.  On January 18, former Speaker of the House Joseph G. Cannon delivered the first of a series of farewell speeches, this one devoted primarily to foreign affairs and defense issues.  He advised support of the Monroe Doctrine and the Panama Canal and maintenance of a strong army and navy, especially in light of America's newly acquired responsibilities in the Philippines.  He said that while he does not agree with the policies of the victorious Democratic Party, he will rejoice if it succeeds because that will mean the nation succeeds.  Other congressional action this month included Senate passage of the Culberson Bill, which if enacted would prohibit corporations from making contributions to political conventions and primaries and impose limits on individual campaign contributions (corporations are already barred from making contributions to political parties), and the appropriation of $2,000,000 for construction of a memorial in honor of President Abraham Lincoln.  The first regular session of the new Sixty-third Congress will not take place until December (Article I, Section 4 again), but it is expected that President-elect Wilson will convene a special session shortly after March 4, the date he takes office and the Sixty-second Congress expires.  

George W. Norris

State legislatures convened this month and in many states selected senators to serve in terms that will begin with the new Congress.  Among the new senators are Nebraska Republican George W. Norris, Texas Democrat Morris Sheppard and Arkansas Democrat Joseph T. Robinson.  This may be the last time state legislatures perform this function.  A proposed amendment to the Constitution providing for the direct election of senators was passed by Congress and submitted to the states in April.  Four states ratified it right away, and this month nine more states did so, bringing the total so far to thirteen.  Most observers believe it will receive the necessary thirty-six (three-fourths of the total) before the end of the year.  Another proposed amendment looks to be even closer to adoption.  On January 31, Delaware became the thirty-fifth state to ratify an amendment empowering Congress to impose a tax on incomes.

William Rockefeller

The attention of the Pujo Committee was focused this month on William Rockefeller, co-owner with his older brother John D. Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company.  The Committee issued a subpoena requiring him to testify in its "money trust" investigation, but he left the country before the subpoena was served.  His attorney accepted service on his behalf, but argued that his client's health prevented him from testifying.  He was examined in the Bahamas by an independent physician, who confirmed his poor health, and at month's end a compromise was reached, over the objection of Chairman Pujo, allowing him to be questioned in private in Miami.  Back in Washington, the committee was told by H.P. Davison, speaking for all the partners of J.P. Morgan & Co., that there is no "money trust," and that the concentration of banks in New York is simply due to the concentration of the country's business there.

Mayor Gaynor

New York City Mayor William J. Gaynor spoke at the twenty-eighth annual dinner of the Holland Society held at the Waldorf-Astoria.on January 16.  He had some fun at the expense of Andrew Carnegie, one of the other guests, whose Peace Palace at the Hague is due to be dedicated next fall.  He said "when something vital comes up that concerns the sovereignty and the pride of two nations, I am afraid they won't be in any hurry to go to the Peace Palace."  Italy, he observed, did not "put on wooden shoes and tramp over to the Hague before she declared war against Turkey"; and "down there in the bowels of Europe where those mysterious people live who have gone to war with the Turks, they didn't make any peace pilgrimage to the Hague, either."  He supposed, however, that the land-locked Swiss "would probably make a pilgrimage to Mr. Carnegie's Peace Palace to avoid a naval war."  He ended his remarks on a more serious and hopeful note: "Although we may not be able to avoid war now, in the growth of God's time when the passions of men shall be softened, and when they will be willing to submit their disputes rather than to go like two dogs in a mad fight and wrestle, then will the Peace Palace have accomplished its great work."

Mayor Gaynor is popular and is widely expected to run for a second term this November, despite still carrying a bullet in his neck from an attempt on his life in 1910.  One of his off-hand comments at the dinner, however, created some doubt.  When one of the guests said he had not voted for him last time but would do so this time, the mayor acknowledged the man's comment but said "he won't have the chance."

Charles Murphy

The new governor of New York, William Sulzer, has wasted no time stirring up controversy.  On his first day in office he reinstated Major General John F. O'Ryan as commander of the state National Guard, ousting the commander recently installed by Governor John Dix.  The next day, in defiance of his erstwhile supporters at Tammany Hall, he appointed two members of the Graft Inquiry Commission who had been opposed by Tammany.  In an informal interview in his office he was asked whether he intended to clear appointments with Charles Murphy, Tammany's chief.  Sulzer emphatically declared his independence, stating "I am the Democratic leader of the State of New York. . . . If any Democrat wants to challenge that, let him come out in the open and the people will decide."  In the same interview, he told reporters he had asked former Republican Governor (now Supreme Court Justice) Charles Evans Hughes for advice and intended to continue doing so.

Secretary of State Philander C. Knox

As the Panama Canal nears completion, the tolls controversy with Great Britain continues.  On January 23, Secretary of State Philander Knox submitted the United States' formal reply to the British objection to the Panama Canal Act, which provides for free passage through the canal by American ships serving American ports.  Britain has demanded international arbitration of its claim that this legislation violates the 1902 Hay-Pauncefote Treaty's stipulation providing for equal access to the canal by ships of all nations.  In his reply, Secretary Knox argues that the remission of tolls is a mere domestic subsidy and not a violation of the treaty, and that in any event it is premature to arbitrate the issue until Great Britain can show that its interests have actually been harmed.

President Roosevelt Speaking at the Memorial Ceremony for John Paul Jones in 1906

In 1906 the body of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones was discovered in Paris and returned to the United States, where a memorial ceremony was conducted at the Naval Academy's Dahlgren Hall, with President Roosevelt presiding.  The body was interred in Bancroft Hall until this month, when it was moved to its permanent resting place, a newly constructed crypt under the Naval Academy Chapel.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes has denied rumors that he will resign his seat on the Supreme Court when the new administration takes office on March 4.  Justice Holmes, who is 72 years old, was appointed to the Court by President Roosevelt in 1902.  Speculation regarding a possible replacement in the event of a vacancy on the Court has included retiring President Taft (interesting, but not likely) and Democratic Senators O'Gorman of New York and Culberson of Texas, both of whom were strong supporters of Governor Wilson at the Baltimore convention last summer.

 Roald Amundsen at the Beginning of His Lecture Tour

On January 10, Captain Roald Amundsen arrived in New York to begin a lecture tour in the United States.  Captain Amundsen led the Norwegian expedition that succeeded in reaching the South Pole in March.  Robert Falcon Scott, whose British party set out for the pole at about the same time as Amundsen, has not been heard from since he began his dash for the Pole last January.  Another Antarctic exploration party, this one German, returned to Buenos Aires this month after spending the last fifteen months in the southern seas.

Jim Thorpe Receiving the Gold Medal from King Gustav V of Sweden

On January 27, Olympic champion Jim Thorpe was stripped of the medals he won last year in the Olympic Games after confessing to officials of the Amateur Athletic Union that he played professional baseball in North Carolina in the summers of 1909 and 1910.  Participation in professional sports automatically disqualifies an athlete from participating in the Olympics.  The awards he won for his first place finishes in the decathlon and pentathlon will be returned to Sweden to be awarded to the athletes who finished second in those events.  Professional or amateur, there is little doubt that Jim Thorpe remains, as King Gustav V called him in Stockholm last summer, the world's greatest athlete.

Arthur Collins and Byron G. Harlan

One of this month's most popular songs is this catchy composition by Irving Berlin, sung by Collins and Harlan (click to play):


Mahmud Shevket Pasha

January has been a month of ups and downs for hopes of peace in the Balkans.  The month began with the Turks offering to agree to all of the Balkan League's territorial demands except the surrender of Adrianople.  The Balkan allies refused, and further military reverses persuaded the Sublime Porte (seat of government of the Ottoman Empire) to submit the question to the Grand Council, which voted on January 22 to surrender Adrianople rather than continue the war.  That decision, in turn, was superseded the next day by a coup d'etat in which the Young Turks, resolved to resist the Balkan nations' demands, overthrew Grand Vizier Kiamil Pasha and installed a new ministry headed by Mahmud Shevket Pasha, who in 1909 cooperated with the Young Turks in the overthrow of Sultan Abdul Hamid.  Nazim Pasha, commander of the Ottoman army, was killed during the demonstrations that led to the coup.  The armistice that has suspended most of the fighting in the Balkans will end on February 3.

Arthur Balfour

On January 15 the British House of Commons began debate on the Irish Home Rule Bill with strong speeches by Prime Minister Asquith and former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour.  The next day the bill passed by a vote of 367 to 257.  It then went to the House of Lords where to no one's surprise it was soundly defeated, 329 votes to 69.  Under the Parliament Act of 1911, the Lords' veto can prevent the enactment of the legislation only twice: if it passes the Commons a third time it will become law even without the consent of the Lords.  Another issue stirring emotions in Britain is woman suffrage.  On January 24 debate began in the House of Commons on a woman suffrage amendment to the Franchise Reform Bill offered by Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey.  On January 27, however, the Government sought and obtained a ruling from the speaker that the proposed amendment would fundamentally alter the bill, making it necessary to withdraw it and begin the legislative process anew.  The next day suffragists, led by Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and Mrs. Flora Drummond, resumed their campaign of rioting and destruction.  Mrs. Drummond and Mrs. Pankhurst's daughter Christabel were among those arrested.

Raymond Poincare

On January 16 the French National Assembly chose Prime Minister Raymond Poincare as the country’s new president; Aristide Briand is the new prime minister.  This month also saw new foreign ministers assume office in Germany and Japan.  Gottlieb von Jagow, the German ambassador to Italy, will be the new German foreign minister, and Takaaki Kato, a former foreign minister and ambassador to Great Britain, will return to the foreign ministry of Japan.

Oskar Bider

There were advances this month in the fields of wireless communication and aviation.  On January 16, a wireless test message was sent successfully from a powerful new transmitter in Sayville, New York, on the south shore of eastern Long Island, to a receiver in Nauen, Germany, near Berlin.  On January 24, Oskar Bider, a French aviator, completed the first flight over the Pyrenees, and on January 25 a Peruvian aviator, Jean Bielovucci, flew his monoplane over the Alps from Brig, Switzerland to Domodossola, Italy.

January 1913 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading
Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, February and March 1913
New York Times, January 1913

Books and Articles:

John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Warrior and the Priest
Patrick Devlin, Too Proud to Fight: Woodrow Wilson's Neutrality
Andre Gerolymatos, The Balkan Wars 
Richard C. Hall, Balkan Wars 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War

August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography