Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 1913

Wars don't start in August, do they? Well, at least it doesn't seem so this year (1913), as the second Balkan War comes to an end and the big news at month's end is the dedication of the Peace Palace at The Hague. In the United States, the main foreign policy concerns are Mexico and China, where revolutions are under way, and the Panama Canal, which is nearing completion. Domestically, the governor of New York is impeached, the New York City mayoralty race heats up, and Stanford White's killer flees to Canada. An American sets a record for round-the-world travel and a French aviator sets a distance record for a one-day flight.


Territory Surrendered by Bulgaria in the Treaty of Bucharest

The second Balkan War came to a formal end on August 10, when the warring parties signed the Treaty of Bucharest.  Bulgaria, which began hostilities at the end of June with an attack against Greek and Serbian forces in Macedonia, shortly found itself defending counterattacks in Macedonia as well as fresh attacks by Romania in the north and by Turkey in Thrace.  Under pressure on three fronts, Bulgaria sued for peace.  Now it has agreed to surrender much of the territory it conquered in the first Balkan War.  Substantial parts of Macedonia will go to Greece and Serbia, including the Aegean port city of Salonika to Greece.  The city of Adrianople, which Bulgaria captured from the Turks in March, goes back to Turkey along with adjacent portions of Thrace.  Finally, Bulgaria agrees to cede southern Dobrudja, a disputed area on the coast of the Black Sea, to Romania.  It retains some territory in Macedonia, including access to the Aegean, representing its only territorial gain from the two Balkan wars.  On August 19, the Ottoman Council of Ministers decided to offer to withdraw from all Thracian territory west of the Maritsa River if Turkey is allowed to retain Adrianople.  On August 28, President Wilson nominated lawyer and businessman Henry Morganthau to be the new United States Ambassador to Turkey.

The Peace Palace at The Hague

With the end of war in the Balkans, Europe is looking forward hopefully to an extended period of peace.  The first Hague Peace Conference was convened in 1899 at the instigation of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to explore mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of international disputes.  Among its accomplishments was the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.  The American millionaire Andrew Carnegie contributed money for a building to house the Court, construction of which was begun in 1907 during the second Hague peace conference.  Named "The Peace Palace," the building was completed this year.  Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands presided at a dedication ceremony on August 28.  Peace is in the air in Europe, though a pessimist might point to the French Senate's passage on August 7 of the "three-year bill," which will substantially increase the size of the French army by extending the period of required military service from two years to three.

The President Addressing a Joint Session of Congress on August 27

Relations between the United States and Mexico continued to deteriorate this month.  On August 4, President Wilson accepted the resignation of Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, and on the same day sent former Minnesota governor John Lind to Mexico City as an adviser to the American Embassy with the mission of attempting to implement American  policy.  The United States has refused to recognize the regime of the provisional president, General Victoriano Huerta, who overthrew President Madero in February.  Huerta refused at first to receive Governor Lind unless he brought recognition and ambassadorial credentials.  After an exchange of notes, Lind left the Mexican capital on August 26, having failed to persuade Huerta to cease hostilities and step aside pending the outcome of elections.  The next day President Wilson, in his third trip to Capitol Hill since assuming office in March, read a report on the Mexican situation to a joint session of Congress.  He announced that the United States is and will remain strictly neutral between the warring factions and will refuse to send arms to either side.  He expressed the hope that "the steady pressure of moral force" will prevail on Huerta, but said that Americans in the meantime should avoid travel to Mexico and that those who are there should leave.  With the announcement at month's end that elections will be held on October 26, there is some hope that an amicable resolution may be found.  Meanwhile, American citizens in Mexico are streaming into Veracruz, the point of embarkation for return to the United States.  An American naval force is in Veracruz under the command of Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, who on August 29 hosted an afternoon tea for Mr. and Mrs. Lind and other Americans aboard the battleship U.S.S. Louisiana (BB-19).

 Charles Brooker (on the left)

Charles F. Brooker, a long-time member of the Republican National Committee from Connecticut, sent a cablegram to the Chicago Daily News on August 1 in which he predicted that the Republican Party will change its name, perhaps to the "Conservative Party," before the next presidential election.  He says he will be sorry to see that happen because of the "glorious history" of the party during and after the Civil War; but, he says, "this very name of 'Republican' seems to antagonize a large Southern element whose interests otherwise are identical with ours."

Mr. Brooker was referring, of course, to white Southerners.  Because most Southern states have enacted laws that effectively exclude Negroes from the ballot, the Republican Party realizes little if any benefit in that section of the country from its traditional advocacy of Negro rights.  Indeed it is due mainly to the party's identification with that issue that the South votes overwhelmingly for Democrats.  In the recent presidential election, running against an incumbent and a popular former president, Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the Electoral College in a landslide; but the only states in which he received a majority of the popular vote were those of the old Confederacy, all eleven of which he carried by comfortable majorities.  His highest vote total was 96 percent in South Carolina, followed by 89 percent in Mississippi and 70 percent or more in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

Governor Sulzer

The move to impeach Governor William Sulzer of New York, until now a largely political struggle pitting the governor against Tammany Hall, gained strength this month with the revelation that Sulzer used campaign contributions collected during last year's campaign to invest in the stock market.  In the early morning hours of August 13 at the end of an all-night session, the New York State Assembly adopted a resolution of impeachment by a vote of 79 to 45.

 Tammany's Charles Murphy

Governor Sulzer's troubles began when he broke with Tammany Hall shortly after assuming office early this year.  Elected last year with Tammany's support, Governor Sulzer has missed no opportunity since then to demonstrate his independence.  He has consistently refused to follow Tammany's lead in making appointments to the state government, and has pushed hard for legislation creating a direct primary system, a reform strongly opposed by Tammany and its chief, Charles Murphy.  Tammany controls the legislature: Assembly Speaker Alfred E. Smith and Senate majority leader Robert F. Wagner are both loyal members of the Tammany tribe.  After the legislature voted down the direct primary proposal in its regular session, the governor called a special session to consider it again.  A major lobbying effort by the governor shifted only a few votes, and the legislature again rejected it.  The legislature then created a joint committee, under the chairmanship of Tammany stalwart Senator James Frawley, to investigate the governor's conduct with a view toward his possible impeachment.  Despite the argument of the governor's supporters that this violated the New York constitutional provision that limits special sessions to the subject matter designated by the governor, the investigation went ahead and culminated in the August 13 impeachment vote.

Chief Judge Cullen

The impeachment charges against the governor will be tried before the members of the Senate and the judges of the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court.  The trial will begin September 18, with Chief Judge Edgar M. Cullen of the Court of Appeals presiding.  Meanwhile, there is a dispute as to whether Sulzer continues to be vested with the powers of the governorship.  The New York constitution provides that the lieutenant governor assumes the office of governor in the event of the governor's impeachment, but Sulzer and his supporters argue that he remains governor until he is convicted and removed from office.  Lieutenant Governor Martin Glynn has demanded that Sulzer surrender the office, rejecting the suggestion that the issue be submitted to the courts, but he has refused to follow the advice of some of his supporters to have the state militia remove Sulzer by force.  A cartoonist summarized the current situation:

The Governor of New York


John Purroy Mitchel

Governor Sulzer is not the only New York politician who has fallen out of favor with Tammany Hall.  Although Mayor William Gaynor of New York City was elected with Tammany support four years ago, he views himself as a reformer, and has neither sought nor received Tammany's support for reelection this year.  He was disappointed, however, when a coalition of reformers called the General Fusion Committee bypassed him to nominate John Purroy Mitchel, formerly president of the Board of Aldermen and recently appointed by President Wilson as Collector of the Port of New York.  The Republican and Progressive Parties endorsed the Fusion slate on August 19.  Two days later, Tammany Hall selected Edward E. McCall, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, as the Democratic Party's candidate.  Mayor Gaynor, denied the nomination of both his own party and the Fusion Committee, may run for reelection as an independent.

Harry K. Thaw

Harry K. Thaw, the wealthy but unbalanced heir to an immense coal and railroad fortune, shot and killed the celebrated architect Stanford White in the rooftop theater of Madison Square Garden on June 25, 1906.  Thaw had recently married chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit, renowned in modeling and night club circles as "the girl on the velvet swing," and was intensely jealous of White, a former lover of Nesbit's.  After two sensational trials, Thaw was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Fishkill, New York.  On August 17 he walked out of the facility and fled across the border to Quebec, where legal proceedings are under way to secure his return.


The Pacific Ocean Flooding the Miraflores Locks

Construction on the Panama Canal neared completion as the last barrier at the Pacific end of the Canal was removed on August 31, allowing the water of the Pacific Ocean to fill the Miraflores locks.  Now all that remains to join the oceans is to complete the excavation of the Culebra Cut, upstream from the Pedro Miguel locks, to be followed by the removal of the Gamboa Dike which is holding back the water of Gatun Lake.

On August 2 the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate voted to reject the proposed treaty with Nicaragua imposing a protectorate over that country in anticipation of the canal's completion.  The vote was 8 to 4.

The Exposition Universelle et Internationale in Ghent, Belgium

Invitations by the United States to join in the Pan-Pacific Exposition have received mixed responses.  The latest in a series of world's fairs (1889 and 1900 in Paris, 1901 in Buffalo, 1904 in St. Louis, 1910 in Brussels, this year in Ghent), it is planned to take place in 1915 in San Francisco as a worldwide celebration marking the opening of the Panama Canal.  Russia declined its invitation on August 1, and on August 16 Germany formally announced its decision not to participate due to "lack of commercial interest."  Great Britain announced its non-participation at the end of July.  On August 1 the British Board of Trade issued a statement denying that its decision was related to the tolls controversy, a denial repeated by Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons on August 5.  The reasons given for the decision were British manufacturers' participation in this year's world's fair in Ghent and Great Britain's relatively small amount of trade with San Francisco.  Many in both countries think these are poor excuses for the refusal of a major maritime power like Great Britain to join in the celebration of the opening of a great waterway that is expected to revolutionize world trade.

Suffragists Sharing Their Opinions with Prime Minister Asquith in Downing Street

The issue of votes for women continues to compete with Irish home rule at the top of the agenda in British politics.  Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, her health damaged by repeated hunger strikes, began a period of rest this month following her latest release from prison.  In an interview before her departure, she spoke of the "Cat and Mouse Act," saying "the Government is now faced with the total failure of the act" and those who passed it "do not understand women."  She said she and hundreds like her are "quite prepared to go through a hunger and thirst strike again," and that the Government is now helpless to stop them, short of making "death the punishment for window-breaking and obstructing the police."  Other suffragists seize every opportunity to remind Prime Minister Herbert Asquith of their campaign.  They frequently accost him on the street, and on August 28, two militants delivered their message on the golf course at Lossiemouth, near Elgin in Scotland, where Asquith was playing a round of golf with his daughter.  Evading police guards, they attacked the prime minister on the seventeenth green, knocking off his hat and hitting him with a book.  They fought off Miss Asquith, who tried to protect her father, and dragged the prime minister around shouting "justice for women" until the police arrested them and took them away.  An angry crowd at the Elgin police station hissed the women and threatened to throw them into the sea.  Back on the course, Mr. Asquith calmly finished his game to the cheers of spectators.


In the Steps of Phileas Fogg: Nellie Bly . . .

 . . . and John Henry Mears

In his 1873 novel Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne tells the story of Phileas Fogg, a fictional character who, starting from London, undertakes and completes the journey described by the book's title.  After the book's publication, sixteen years elapsed before anyone tried to accomplish the feat in real life.  Starting from New York in November 1889, Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World, circled the globe in 72 days and later wrote a book about her adventure.  Since then others have attempted the feat, exploiting advances in transportation technology to shorten the time.  On August 6 of this year an American, John Henry Mears, set a new record when he completed a round-the-world journey in less than half the time it took Mr. Fogg: 35 days, 21 hours and 35 minutes.


Maurice Guillaux

Aviation records continue to fall.  The French aviator Maurice Guillaux set a new record for the longest distance covered in a single day when he flew his monoplane on August 23 from Biarritz to Brussels, a distance of 600 miles.  On the same day Glen Martin, an American aviator, set a record for carrying passengers when he flew his hydro-aeroplane for a little over sixteen minutes with three women on board.  Another record attempt came up short this month when Harry Hawker failed to win the $25,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail to the first person to fly around the British Isles in a hydro-aeroplane in 72 hours or less.

 Sun Yat-Sen

The Manchu dynasty in China was overthrown in 1911 in a revolution led by Sun Yat-Sen and Yuan Shih-Kai.  Sun yielded to Yuan in the ensuing contest for the presidency, but his Kuomintang Party gained a substantial number of seats in the recent parliamentary elections.  Song Jiaoren, the parliamentary leader of the Kuomintang, appeared to be in line to become prime minister when he was shot and killed, probably by someone acting on Yuan's behalf.  A "Second Revolution" then broke out challenging Yuan's increasingly despotic rule.  To escape arrest, Sun Yat-Sen fled to the island of Formosa on August 6.  By month's end he was in Japan, where he continues to direct the revolution and is believed to be receiving covert support from the Japanese and Russian governments.  Back in China, the revolutionists flew their flag over the governor's palace in Nanking on August 13 as Canton was looted by revolutionists and government troops.  Nanking was retaken by government forces on August 31.  In the midst of the increasing turmoil in that country, Paul Reinsch was formally nominated as the new United States envoy to China on August 5.

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

Books and Articles:
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
Richard C. Hall, Balkan Wars 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War
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
David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt
Patricia O'Toole, When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House
Michael Perman, Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South 1888-1908