Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 1913

In June 1913 President Wilson gives Congress, already busy with tariff reform, another assignment: to fix the "money trust" problem. His solution is the creation of a new entity he calls the Federal Reserve Board. A prosecution under the Mann Act draws unwelcome attention to the Department of Justice. New York's newly elected governor is in trouble with Tammany Hall. John Milton Cage designs and tests a new submarine; his 9-month old son will grow up to become an avant-garde composer. The cause of woman suffrage gains a legislative victory in Illinois and a martyr in Great Britain. One war ends in the Balkans, and another breaks out among the victors. There's another assassination, this one in Turkey. France and Germany build up their armies, while Kaiser Wilhelm II, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his reign, is hailed by Andrew Carnegie as a force for peace.

Quite a month. But if that's not enough excitement for you, wait till this time next year.


The President Sends Congress to Summer School

President Wilson called Congress into special session in April to consider tariff reform, and in a break with long-standing tradition went to Capitol Hill to address a joint session in person.  On June 23, with Congress still in special session and about to enact tariff reform, the president traveled to Capitol Hill again, the brief interval between visits suggesting that they may become regular occurrences in his administration.  Just as members were looking forward to escaping Washington's tropical climate for a few months, the president told Congress it should work through the summer if necessary to pass comprehensive legislation dealing with the "money trust" issue.  The administration's currency and banking bill, drafted under the supervision of Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, would create a central body in Washington to be known as the Federal Reserve Board, consisting of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Controller of the Currency and four other members.  The Board would control the activities of federal reserve banks to be established in banking centers throughout the country.  Those banks, the number and location of which are yet to be determined, would be capitalized by the sale of stock to national banks in their districts, which would be required to buy the stock to the extent of twenty percent of their own unimpaired capital.  State banks would be permitted to become members upon application.  The federal reserve banks would hold deposits only of member banks and the United States Treasury.  They would act as lenders to banks in their districts as necessary depending on the need to facilitate the flow of money, and would set re-discount rates subject to the oversight of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington.  Among other things, the proposed system would end the present practice of depositing federal tax receipts in ordinary banks or leaving them to lie unused in the vaults of the sub-treasuries.  The reaction on Capitol Hill has been mostly positive, though House Republican leader James R. Mann of Illinois complained that the president came before Congress like a schoolmaster addressing fourth-grade school children.

Representative Carter Glass

The main criticism of the banking and currency bill is that it would subject the banking system to the control of the federal government.  This is the feature, however, that progressives of both parties find most appealing.  Last year's Democratic Party platform, though not expressly calling for government control, advocated a monetary system that would provide "protection from control or domination by what is known as the money trust."  The Progressive Party platform was more specific, asserting that "the issue of currency is fundamentally a Government function" that "should be lodged with the Government and should be protected from domination or manipulation by Wall Street or any special interests."  Among the Congressional supporters of the administration bill are Senate Banking and Currency Committee Chairman Robert Owen (Dem., Okla.) and Owen's counterpart in the House of Representatives, Representative Carter Glass (Dem., Va.).

Anthony Caminetti

In 1910 Congress passed the White Slave Traffic Act, sponsored by Representative Mann.  Designed to put a stop to forced prostitution (sometimes referred to as "white slavery"), the law's language is much broader:  It makes it a federal crime to "transport any woman or girl" across state lines "for any immoral purpose."  A prosecution under the Mann Act has now drawn national attention:  Farley Drew Caminetti and another man are charged in federal court in San Francisco with transporting young women of their acquaintance from Sacramento to Reno, Nevada for an immoral purpose, namely for "debauchery" and for the women to become their "mistress[es] or concubine[s]."  Caminetti's father is Anthony Caminetti, the new Commissioner of Immigration in the Wilson administration.  At his request, Attorney General McReynolds instructed John L. McNab, the United States Attorney in San Francisco, to delay the trial.  McNab, a hold-over appointee of President Taft, responded by submitting his resignation and releasing correspondence that he said showed McReynolds had interfered improperly in the administration of justice.  In response to the resulting political uproar, President Wilson on June 24 reversed McReynolds and ordered that the trial proceed without delay.  Simultaneously, he sent a brief telegram to McNab accepting his resignation.  In his letter to McReynolds, the president directed him to appoint a new prosecutor and added, somewhat incongruously, "I am entirely satisfied that the course you took in both these cases was prompted by sound and impartial judgment" and "I approve your course very heartily and without reservation."

 James W. Gerard

President Wilson has appointed several more ambassadors.  Among the more important are Judge James W. Gerard of New York to be ambassador to Germany, career diplomat Frederic C. Penfield to be ambassador to Austria-Hungary, and author Thomas Nelson Page to be ambassador to Italy.  Myron T. Herrick, President Taft's ambassador to France, remains in Paris for the time being in the wake of the decision of William F. McCombs, the president's campaign manager last year, to decline the position for financial reasons.  It is reported that McCombs, who was disappointed not to have been offered a position in the cabinet, might be reconsidering the Paris offer.

 The Tammany Hall "Wigwam" on Fourteenth Street

Governor William Sulzer of New York continued his increasingly bitter battle with Charles Murphy's Tammany Hall this month.  Elected governor last year with Tammany's support, Sulzer has been engaged since then in a relentless campaign to wrest control of the New York Democratic Party from Tammany's grasp.  He has made it clear in public statements that he regards himself and not Murphy as the leader of the party, and he has refused to follow Tammany's lead in awarding patronage.  His most recent fight has revolved around his attempt to change New York law to provide for direct primaries, a reform Tammany regards as a direct threat to its control.  The reform is popular with the public, and prominent progressives such as President Wilson, former President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Bryan have spoken in its favor.  But the Tammany-controlled legislature, led by Assembly Speaker Al Smith and Senate leader Robert Wagner, has repeatedly rejected it, most recently in votes taken on June 24 and 25.  Having made an enemy of Tammany Hall, it appears the governor's troubles are just beginning.  Before it adjourned, the legislature authorized a joint committee to inquire into the governor's alleged misuse of campaign funds and improper use of patronage to promote his fight for the direct primary bill.  The committee will be chaired by Senator James J. Frawley, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a staunch Tammany man.


Mayor Gaynor, Seconds After He Was Shot

Despite earlier hints that he might not be a candidate, New York City Mayor William Gaynor has now indicated a willingness to run for reelection this year.  He has popular support, and appears to have recovered from a serious gunshot wound he suffered in August 1910 when he was attacked by a discharged city employee.  The assassination attempt, which took place shortly after the mayor had boarded the steamship Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse to begin a vacation, was captured by a photographer.

Also in New York City, construction is under way on two subway lines, one by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the other by the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Company, under dual contracts entered into last year.  A deadly accident occurred on June 14 when the tunnel being dug for the IRT subway under Lexington Avenue collapsed at 56th Street, killing eleven workers and injuring two.

The Cage Submarine in Long Beach Harbor

At five o'clock on the morning of June 10, a submarine designed and built by John Milton Cage descended to the bottom of Long Beach Harbor.  Cage and five other men were on board.  Thirty-six hours later, it surfaced to the cheers of thousands of onlookers and the shrill sound of whistles from the steamers and tugboats in the harbor, having set a new world record for submergence by a submarine.  The men emerged from the craft tired but otherwise none the worse for wear.  Telegraphic communication was maintained throughout, and there was never any fear for the safety of the men, who reported that they spent the time playing cards, smoking, telling stories and trying with little success to get some sleep.  After stepping ashore, Cage said "I think we have set a record that will stand for some time."


Emily Davison

On June 4, militant suffragist Emily Davison ran into the path of the king’s horse at the Derby, throwing the horse and its rider to the ground and suffering severe injuries.  She died four days later at Epsom Cottage Hospital.  A motion picture camera captured the tragic event (click to play):


Suffragists in Illinois, Mrs. George W. Trout at the Wheel

In the United States, a quiet but energetic campaign led by Mrs. George W. Trout bore fruit on June 11 when Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women the right to vote.  Meanwhile, a proposed constitutional amendment that would make woman suffrage the law in every state has been introduced in the Senate.  Senator Henry F. Ashurst (Dem., Arizona) was delegated to prepare a report, which he presented to the Senate on June 13.  The report strongly supports the proposed amendment, arguing that women constitute "a class of voters which looks to all laws and movements as to how [they] will affect her children, promote morals, human health and human progress, more especially than how this or that particular law or policy will develop or serve material or property interests.  Woman's sphere makes her the inescapable conservator of human life, and she ought to have the vote."  A two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress would result in the proposed amendment being submitted to the states for ratification. 


Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand

The Keystone Comedy “A Noise from the Deep” was released this month.  It was produced and directed by Mack Sennett and stars Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Mabel Normand, two of America's most popular motion picture stars.  It features a comic gag, previously used in vaudeville but new to motion pictures, with Arbuckle throwing a pie in the face of a fellow actor.  This is believed to be the first pie thrown in a motion picture, but it is not quite the first time an actor has come face to face with a pie.  That distinction belongs to Ben Turpin, who encountered a pie in a fitting climax to his amorous adventures in the 1909 film Mr. Flip (click to play):


Florenz Ziegfeld

The 1913 Ziegfeld Follies opened on June 16.  Inspired by the Folies Bergere in Paris, the Follies have been an annual event since their Broadway debut in 1907.  They are produced by impresario Florenz Ziegfeld and feature a popular combination of song, dance, comedy and novelty acts.  This year the Follies moved from their prior venue at the rooftop theater Jardin de Paris around the corner to the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street.  One of the popular songs from the production is "Hello Honey," sung by Elizabeth Brice (click to play):

Elizabeth Brice 


Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria

War has broken out again in the Balkans, this time among the victors in their just-concluded war against the Ottoman Empire.  The May 30 Treaty of London, brokered and largely dictated by the great powers of Europe, provided among other things for the establishment of a new independent nation of Albania.  The new nation includes territory to which Serbia and Greece had laid claim, and as a result those countries now expect compensation elsewhere.  This, along with their victories in the war against Turkey, provides the basis for claims that conflict with those of Bulgaria, their erstwhile ally.  On June 29, as if to underscore its emphatic rejection of those claims, Bulgaria attacked Greek and Serbian forces in Macedonia.


 Mahmud Sevket Pasha

The political turmoil in the wake of Turkey’s defeat has claimed a high-ranking victim.  Mahmud Sevket Pasha, a leader of the Young Turks, became Grand Vizier in January.  A former governor of Kosovo, he was instrumental in the overthrow of Sultan Abdul Hamid in 1909.  He was assassinated on June 11 by army officers who may have been seeking revenge for the assassination in January of Minister of War Nazim Pasha in the coup d'etat that brought Sevket Pasha to power.  On June 13 Foreign Minister Prince Said Halim was named the new grand vizier.


 The Kaiser and His Sons

President Poincare and King George V

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his reign as emperor on June 16.  During the anniversary celebrations in Berlin the Kaiser paraded in military dress accompanied by his six sons.  Not long thereafter, Raymond Poincare, the new president of France, paid a visit to Great Britain.  Both Germany and France, meanwhile, are adding to their military forces.  On June 30 the German Reichstag approved an increase of 136,000 officers and men in the standing army, bringing the total to some 800,000.  Total military expenditures will be approximately $321,000,000.  A military service bill pending in the French parliament will lengthen the term of military service in that country from two years to three and require additional borrowing of some $200,000,000.

Andrew Carnegie

One of the many events celebrating the Kaiser's twenty-five years on the throne was a "Court of Congratulation" held in the Royal Castle in Berlin.  Andrew Carnegie attended as leader of the American delegation.  Carnegie was the founder and principal owner of the Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480,000,000 as part of a series of transactions that gave birth to the United States Steel Corporation.  Since then, he has devoted himself to philanthropic pursuits, including the establishment in 1910 of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  As Carnegie passed through the receiving line in Berlin, the Kaiser greeted him jovially, calling out "Twenty-five years of peace, Mr. Carnegie, and I hope there will be twenty-five more!"  Carnegie responded in kind, saying "Your majesty is the most powerful ally we have in that direction."

June 1913 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading
Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, July and August 1913
New York Times, August 10, 1910 and June 1913

Edwin G. Burrows & Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
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
Andre Gerolymatos, The Balkan Wars
Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume One: 1900-1933
Richard C. Hall, Balkan Wars 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War
August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John A. Kouwenhoven, The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York City: An Essay in Graphic History
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917