Monday, June 30, 2014

June 1914

Note:  This month I received the following message from the Web Archiving Team at the Library of Congress: "The Library of Congress has selected this website for inclusion in its historic collection of internet materials related to the World War One Centennial.  We consider your website to be an important part of this collection and the historical record."  I am grateful for this recognition, and will do my best to live up to the Library's expectations.


June 1914 is the month the old world is left behind, never to return.  The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife are assassinated on a state visit to Sarajevo, leading, in a little over a month, to a general European war.  Former President Theodore Roosevelt, in Europe for his son's wedding, calls on the continent's leading statesmen in the last few weeks of the old world.  He returns home before the assassination, but Woodrow Wilson's personal emissary Colonel House, who is also in Europe, will remain, at least for a while.  The United States prepares for the opening of the Panama Canal, as President Wilson, still struggling with the Mexican question, finally gets Congress to repeal the free tolls provision of the Panama Canal Act.  Former Vice-President Adlai Stevenson dies; his fourteen year-old grandson will grow up to become governor of Illinois, two-time Democratic Party candidate for president, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his Family

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew and heir of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot and killed on June 28 as they were being driven through the streets of Sarajevo, the capital of the recently annexed Austrian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  The Archduke was in Sarajevo on a state visit and to observe military maneuvers as a representative of the Emperor.

The timing of the Archduke's visit was unfortunate.  June 28 is an important date for Serbs, who make up a significant portion of the Bosnian population.  It is St. Vitus Day, honoring a saint venerated in the Serbian Orthodox Church, and is also.the date on which, in 1389, a Serbian army was defeated at the Battle of Kosovo, resulting in the absorption of the Serbs into the Ottoman Empire.  Patriotic fervor among Serbs is running particularly high this year, as the recent Balkan Wars have resulted in significant territorial gains for Serbia, including the restoration of Kosovo itself.  Much of this nationalist feeling takes the form of hostility toward Austria-Hungary, whose 1908 annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina the Serbs bitterly opposed.  Serbian nationalists were particularly incensed this year by what they saw as the deliberately provocative decision to conduct Austrian military exercises in Bosnia on this anniversary.

The Archduke and His Wife the Day Before Sarajevo

The Archduke and his wife were observing another anniversary.  It was on June 28 fourteen years ago that they finally received the Emperor's permission to marry.  Because the Duchess (then merely a Czech countess) was not of sufficiently exalted nobility, the Emperor had forbidden the marriage, finally allowing it only after the Archduke took an oath excluding Sophie from Imperial titles and honors and the children of the marriage from succession to the Hapsburg throne.  In Vienna, Sophie was subjected to repeated petty humiliations, not accorded the title of archduchess and not being allowed, for example, to sit with her husband in the royal box at the opera, to sit near him at state dinners or to ride with him in the royal carriage.  Sarajevo was different: there she was to accompany her husband and be accorded the honors normally due the consort of the heir apparent.  For the royal visit, the city was bedecked with welcoming banners and crowds lined the route of the Archduke's procession to Town Hall, a route that had been widely publicized in advance.

Several would-be assassins were lying in wait.  As the procession moved down the Appel Quay en route to the welcoming reception at Town Hall, one of the conspirators threw a bomb at the Archduke's car.  It struck the Archduke, but fell away and exploded under the car behind, injuring the military governor's adjutant and several bystanders.  The Archduke reacted coolly, stopping his car and seeing to the treatment of the injured.  He then directed that the day's program continue with the addition of a trip to the hospital to visit those hurt in the attack.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Town Hall

At Town Hall the Archduke was met by the Mayor and Town Councillors.  As the Mayor began his welcoming address, the Archduke interrupted, saying "Herr Burgermeister, it is perfectly outrageous!  We have come to Sarajevo on a visit and have had a bomb thrown at us."  After a stunned silence, he said "Now you may go on."  As the Mayor and the Archduke were speaking and word of the attempt on the Archduke's life spread, a crowd gathered at Town Hall and began chanting "Zivio!," the Slavic word for "hurrah!"  After a brief tour of the Town Hall, the Archduke and his wife returned to their automobile and retraced their route along Appel Quay toward the hospital, traveling this time at full speed to frustrate any further attacks.

The Archduke and Duchess Returning to Their Car

When the procession reached Franz Joseph Street the lead car turned to the right, following the original route rather than the new route to the hospital.  The other cars followed.  When the Archduke's driver in the third car realized his mistake, he stopped and began struggling to return the car to Appel Quay.  One of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, was standing on the corner in front of a spice emporium.  Seeing his opportunity, he ran to the Archduke's car, raised his pistol, and fired two shots.  Count Harrach, the Archduke's bodyguard, was standing on the left side running-board to protect against any attack from that direction as the car sped down Appel Quay; it was the wrong side to provide any protection against Princip's attack from the right on Franz Joseph Street.  Both of Princip's shots proved fatal, one each to the Archduke and his wife.

Gavrilo Princip


The Regatta at Kiel

News of the assassination reached the German Kaiser on his yacht, where he was attending the annual regatta at Kiel, on Germany's Baltic Sea coast.  The Kiel Canal, built several years ago to connect the North and Baltic Seas, was recently enlarged to accommodate Dreadnought-size battleships.  When he learned of the assassination, the Kaiser, who considered the Archduke a friend, canceled the remainder of his cruise and returned to Berlin.  A British fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Sir George Warrender, which was paying a courtesy visit marked by social events and visits between German and English officers, departed Kiel on June 30.  As the British fleet got under way, the German fleet in the harbor hoisted signal flags with the message "Pleasant journey."  Admiral Warrender replied by wireless: "Friends in past and friends forever."

 Admiral Warrender


Edith Wharton

Former President Roosevelt spent most of the month in Europe, where he pursued a full schedule.  He disembarked at Cherbourg on June 4 and proceeded to Paris, where he called on President Poincare and dined with Ambassador Myron Herrick on June 6.  The next day he joined the American author Edith Wharton for breakfast, then traveled to Madrid for his son's wedding.  (The warmth of his welcome there may have been diminished somewhat by the memory of his role in the Spanish-American War.)  After the June 11 wedding, he traveled back through Paris to London, where he visited Prime Minister Asquith and other members of the Liberal government, including David Lloyd George and Sir Edward Grey.  He also called on Unionist politicians including former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, parliamentary party leader Andrew Bonar Law and former Viceroy of India Lord Curzon.  During his stay in London he addressed the Royal Geographic Society, repeating the description he gave last month in Washington of his exploration of the River of Doubt in South America.

Roosevelt In His Stateroom on the Imperator

Roosevelt boarded the Hamburg-America liner SS Imperator at Southampton on June 18 for his return voyage to the United States.  Arriving in New York on June 24, he was welcomed at Quarantine by his wife Edith aboard a steam yacht owned by businessman William H. Childs.  Also aboard the yacht were George W. Perkins, a former Morgan partner who is a major financial supporter and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Progressive Party; Roosevelt's nephew Theodore Douglas Robinson; and Dudley Field Malone, the Collector of the Port of New York, accompanied by two inspectors who passed the former president's luggage expeditiously after its removal from the liner.  The yacht then proceeded directly to Roosevelt's home on Oyster Bay, arriving around midnight.

George W. Perkins

Roosevelt's recovery from his Brazilian adventure has been less than complete.  On his  way back from Europe on the Imperator, he had a recurrence of the malarial fever that had felled him in South America.  His doctors have advised him to rest, something he has found impossible to do in an election year.  Immediately upon his arrival in New York, he handed the waiting reporters a written statement denouncing President Wilson's handling of the Mexican crisis, as well as the recently negotiated treaty with Colombia which expresses regret for Roosevelt's actions in Panama in 1903.  His statement asserts that "the handling of foreign affairs by President Wilson and Secretary Bryan has been such as to make the United States a figure of fun in the international world."  He says the Colombian treaty in particular will "render us an object of contemptuous derision to every great nation."  In interviews with the press, he has come to the defense of George Perkins, whose leadership of the Progressive Party has been questioned by some who consider it inappropriate for the party to be represented by a millionaire who sits on the boards of giant trusts such as United States Steel and International Harvester.  Asked by reporters for his reaction to the calls for Perkins to step down, he said "If they read George out of the party, they will have to read me out too."

Roosevelt had been home less than a week when he learned of the assassination of the Archduke and Duchess in Sarajevo.  On June 30 he was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, speaking to a Progressive League dinner.  Apart from a general denunciation of President Wilson's "wretched foreign policy," his speech was limited to domestic issues.

Ambassador Walter Hines Page

Another American in England this month was Colonel Edward M. House, President Wilson's close friend and confidant, who is visiting Europe at the President's request.  After negotiations between Ambassador Gerard and the German Foreign Office, he had a brief private conversation with the Kaiser at Schrippenfest on June 1.  He then traveled to Paris, where all the talk was about the forthcoming trial of Mme. Caillaux for the murder of Gaston Calmette, editor of Le Figaro (see the March 1914 installment of this blog).  From Paris he went to London, where he had lunch on June 17 with United States Ambassador Walter Hines Page, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, and Grey's private secretary Sir William Tyrell.  He reported on his meeting with the Kaiser and discussed ways that tensions between Great Britain and Germany might be eased.  He was still in England at month's end as Europe reacted to news of the Archduke's assassination.

President Wilson Dedicating the Confederate War Memorial

President Wilson was also observing anniversaries this month.  On June 4, the 106th anniversary of the birth of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, he traveled across the Potomac to dedicate the Confederate War Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.  On Saturday of the following week, June 13, he was at Princeton University for the thirty-fifth anniversary reunion of his Class of 1879.

On June 29, after learning of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, the President sent a message to Emperor Franz Joseph expressing himself "deeply shocked at the atrocious murder" and extending the "sincere condolences of the Government and people of the United States and an expression of my own profound sympathy."  The Emperor responded the next day with a message of "sincerest and cordial thanks."

The Sixty-third Congress, in continuous session for fifteen months, has been remarkably productive in terms of legislative output.  Among its completed accomplishments are comprehensive tariff reform, passage of federal income tax legislation, and establishment of a system of Federal Reserve Banks.  This month, over the opposition of leaders of the president's own party, it finally passed legislation repealing the free tolls provision of the Panama Canal Act, legislation President Wilson signed into law on June 15.  Still pending are bills to expand and clarify the Sherman Anti-trust Law (among other things exempting labor unions from liability for "combinations in restraint of trade"), and to establish a federal interstate trade commission.  President Wilson has taken a direct hand in all these legislative efforts, not only by addressing Congress in person multiple times, but also by attacking lobbyists and other opponents of his favored legislation, who he says represent only special interests working through newspapers and other organs of opinion to advocate positions that do not reflect the interests or opinions of the general public.

The principal foreign policy concern in the United States is the dispute with Mexico.  As efforts continue to persuade General Huerta to relinquish power, American Army forces under the command of General Funston occupy the major port city of Veracruz.  The situation has been complicated by Japanese support for Huerta, reinforced by the recent visit of a Japanese battleship to Mexico's west coast.  Observers consider it likely that, when President Wilson asked Congress in March to repeal the free tolls provision of the Panama Canal Act so that he could deal with "matters of even greater delicacy and nearer consequence," he was referring to the importance of maintaining good relations with Great Britain, which has close relations with Japan, in the hope that it will play a constructive role in Mexico.

The United States' own relations with Japan are strained, due not only to their different views of the Mexican situation, but also to lingering resentment caused by California legislation restricting Japanese land ownership.  Next spring the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, comprising some twenty battleships and numerous smaller ships, will accompany ships of foreign nations through the Panama Canal on their way to the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.  Secretary of the Navy Daniels made a statement on June 26 suggesting that the Atlantic Fleet ships, once in the Pacific, would remain there for a long time.  A clarifying statement issued later that day said that no such final determination has been made, although "with the opening of the Panama Canal it is of course obvious that there will eventually be more ships in Pacific waters than at present."

Adlai Stevenson

Former Vice-President Adlai Stevenson died on June 14.  Born in Kentucky in 1835, he moved with his family to Bloomington, Illinois in 1852.  As a young lawyer, he campaigned for Stephen A. Douglas in his 1858 Senate race against Abraham Lincoln.  He remained active in Democratic Party politics, and after two non-consecutive terms in Congress he was appointed First Assistant Postmaster General in the first administration of Grover Cleveland.  In that position, responsible for the appointment of postmasters, he earned a reputation as the "Headsman" for his zeal in eliminating Republicans and replacing them with deserving Democrats.   In 1892, as the Democratic Party nominated Cleveland for a second term (third consecutive nomination), it chose Stevenson as his running mate to please party regulars.  Cleveland won -- the only example in American history of a president elected to non-consecutive terms -- and Stevenson served as his vice-president for the next four years.  In 1900 the party nominated Stevenson again, this time as William Jennings Bryan's running mate (another precedent-breaking event: the only time a former vice-president has been nominated for the office with another candidate leading the ticket).  The Bryan-Stevenson ticket lost that election to President William McKinley, who was seeking reelection, and his running mate Theodore Roosevelt.

June 1914 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading

Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, July and August 1914
New York Times, June 1914

Books and Articles:
A. Scott Berg, Wilson
Philip Blom, The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914
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
David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914-1922
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
Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, Decisions for War, 1914-1917
Max Hastings, Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
Godfrey Hodgson, Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917
Margaret MacMillan, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
Robert K. Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War
Sean McMeekin, July 1914: Countdown to War
Candice Millard, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Kenneth Rose, King George V
Barbara W. Tuchman, The Zimmermann Telegram
United States Senate, Official Biography, Adlai Ewing Stevenson, 23rd Vice President,
Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia