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