Battle of Adrianople (1913): The Turkish city of Adrianople (Edirne in Turkish, Odrin in Bulgaria), at one time the capital of the Ottoman Empire, was captured Bulgarian troops under the command of General Savov. Four months later, after the Second Balkan War broke out between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, the Turkish Ottoman troops would recapture on July 23, 1913.
The fall of Erdine (Adrianople) to the Bulgarians after a four month siege is the most significant news in the past week. Tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia-Montenegro over Skutari and Albania more generally appear to be on the wane as well.
Also note the article on Japanese naval expansion, particularly its reference to being able to face a “certain power” capable of massing 22 battleships in the Pacific. That power could only be the United States.
Also note the 40-odd page long overview of the Russian economy in the Times of London. We can only show its extent by listing its table of contents! This followed last weeks’ 3- full column length review of U.S. agriculture, noting its general stagnation. It was quite interesting, but simply too lengthy to post here. All in all, it is a measure of the habits of an imperial hegemony at the end of its historic tenure.
A sharper contrast could not be drawn with the low and vulgar quality of standard U.S. journalistic fare as evidenced in the New York Times, the legacy of the influence of Pulitzer and Hearst. Not to mention its propensity for the mindless peddling of falsehoods and other disinformation, a habit that continues to this day.
This is epitomized by the Time’s memoir to a certain Lord Wolseley, a career that typified the British Empire. It is highly recommended that the reader check out the Wikipedia on Wolseley, of Anglo-Irish gentry “settled in the time of William II” at the end of the 17th century. There was hardly a corner of the planet Earth that did not feel the jackboot of 1st Viscount Wolseley’s presence. While stationed in Canada during the U.S. Civil War, Wolseley even had himself smuggled into Virginia on a Confederate blockade runner, where he was pleased to fraternize with the military command of the Slaveowners’ Republic, and wrote an apologetic for the infamous Nathan Bedford Forrest, future founder of the Ku Klux Klan terror organization, after one of his frequent massacres of Black prisoners of war. The bloody bastard!
Exactly 50 years after his March 18, 1863 selection, King George I of Greece was assassinated in Salonika while walking the streets of the city recently captured from Turkey. The King, who had refused bodyguards and was accompanied only by his equerry, was shot in the back by Aleko Schinas, a Greek citizen.
U.S. President Wilson announced that the U.S. government was withdrawing approval of American banks in the
Quotation from Woodrow Wilson’s History of the American People as reproduced in the film The Birth of a Nation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
proposed six-nation loan to China.
Song Jiaoren (Sung Chiao-jen), the President of the Kuomingtang Party in the Republic of China, was shot and fatally wounded while waiting for a train in Shanghai; Song would die two days later. Song’s killer, Wu Shiying, had been assisted by Ying Guixing, and a search of their apartments found documents linking the murder to cabinet Minister Hong Shuzu, Interior Minister Zhao Bingjun, and even President Yuan Shikai.
Wireless communication between the United States and France began when the U.S. station at Arlington, Maryland sent a message received at the Eiffel Tower in Paris
It continues to be a slow news period. The main items of note include Woodrow Wilson’s’ withdrawal of U.S. government backing for a multinational loan to the new Chinese Republic. Back in the days before the IMF and other such international financial institutions, the leading imperialist powers would typically float loans to less developed countries in exchange for being granted key positions in the state financial institutions of the target country. From this vantage point they could then squeeze the target country without mercy. The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and the Latin American republics had been typical victims. In the case of China, the leading powers tended to gang-bang in a sort of wolf-pack, just as they did in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. In the long run the attempted subjugation of China would not succeed, marking probably the most signal failure of imperialism’s attempted conquest of the world, though the Japanese imperialists would eventually make the most determined, and the most destructive, attempt.
The other current events of note are the assassination of the Greek King, George I, and his replacement by the new (and pro-German) King Constantine. the ominous noises coming from Vienna (Austria-Hungary) concerning the continued Montenegrin-Serbian assault on Scutari, and on the Albanians generally. Meanwhile the New York Times suggests for the first time that Victoriano Huerta’s claims concerning the strength of the opposition to the coup are less than credible.
Cadets from West Point march in the inaugural parade for President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, 1913. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
regular “presidential press conference”.
A crowd of 120,000 demonstrators turned out at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, near Paris, to protest a recent decision by French Army officials to require three years of military service.
It has been a bit of a slow news period recently, with the First Balkans War winding down, and the various factions of the Mexican Revolution maneuvering into position and gathering their forces. The large demonstrations against the move of the French military to rob youth of one more of the best years of their lives is the most interesting item in the news currently. The “royalist” counter-demonstration reported in the New York Times is likely connected with the ultra-rightist and proto-fascistic Action Française, the transitional political form taken by 19th century French monarchists in their eventual transformation into fascists and Nazi collaborators in the Vichy regime.
Note also the sumptuous Parisian-Russian feast as also reported by the NYT, each course lovingly described with price tag estimated in U.S. dollars. Washed down with a report on a cooks’ strike in London. All in accompaniment with the usual breathless reportage of every word of wisdom that might tumble from the mouth of the random bourgeois, as with A. B. Leach, the New York banker who is said to believe that “End of Balkan War will Start Era of Prosperity”! For munitions manufacturers, certainly.
Woodrow Wilson takes the oath of office for his first term of the Presidency in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Edmond Perreyon of France set a new record for highest altitude in an airplane, reaching 19,281 feet.
The last civil suits arising from the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911. Building owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris paid $75 apiece for each dead woman or girl whose family had brought a wrongful death suit.
The new capital of Australia was christened in a ceremony that saw the unveiling of three pillars of a memorial column by Governor-General Denman, Prime Minister Fisher, and Minister for Home Affairs King O’Malley. At noon, Lady Denman opened a gold cigarette case, withdrew the paper inside, and announced “I name the Capital of Australia ‘Canberra’.” “Canberra”, which among almost 1,000 suggestions submitted to the federal government, had first been used in 1826 by J. J. Moore in an application to purchase land in what would become the Australian Capital Territory. Other suggestions had been Kangaremu, Blueducks, Eucalypta, Myola, Gonebroke, Swindleville and Cooeeoomoo, and the second most popular proposal had been Shakespeare.
Plans were announced by the British Prime Minister to reform the House of Lords, taking away its veto power and abolishing the hereditary succession
Film stuntman and daredevil Rodman Law, who billed himself as “The Human Bullet”, attempted to become the first passenger in a manned rocket flight. Law constructed a 44 foot long steel missile, set it up on a vacant lot in Jersey City, set the angle at 45 degrees and aimed the craft at Elizabeth, New Jersey, twelve miles away. Wearing a parachute, he then climbed into a seat on the rocket and told his assistant, fireworks factory manager Samuel Serpico, to light the fuse to ignite of 900 pounds of gunpowder. Law told the crowd that his plan was to bail out when he reached an altitude of 3,500 feet, but the rocket exploded on the launchpad. Law was only slightly injured in the blast, and no spectators were hurt, and he “continued to perform stunts, though never again in a rocket”.
Dr. Simon Flexner announced to an audience of physicians at Johns Hopkins University that he had discovered the germ that caused infantile paralysis (polio). The germ proved to be a virus, although Flexner’s discovery that antibodies, yet to be discovered, could successfully attack the disease would send research in the direction of finding a means of developing the immunization against the poliomyelitis virus.
The New York Time reportage on events in Mexico has become almost a parody of itself. At the top of the list is the NYT article on reportage in the British press on Mexico. Says the London Daily Mail, “That does not surprise us, because the New York Times has always expounded the doctrine that the American trusts can do no wrong”. “Trust” was the term a century ago for what we would call today a large conglomerate corporation.
The generally vulgar tone of the writing, the unthinking parroting of every wild rumor, the promulgation of disinformation and outright lies, and above all the eagerness with which the reportage strains to hope for the best for the bloody anti-constitutional military coup government of Victoriano Huerta and Felix Diaz is genuinely shocking when viewed a century on. British reportage comes across as a refreshing breath of fresh air in comparison; the difference is appalling.
However already signs appear in the reports that the new Administration of Woodrow Wilson will not support Huerta. There will be an opportunity to investigate Wilson’s motives in future posts.
Note also that J. PowerPoint Morgan, the great American banking tycoon, and the deposed President Porfirio Diaz share a cruise on the liner Adriatic in the Mediterranean. One would love to be the fly on the wall!
In the Balkans, an there is an armed incident between Bulgarian and Greek forces near Thessaloniki, a harbinger of the near future.
The First Balkan War continues to wind down, and events in Mexico continue to command center stage. There, reports appear of Federal soldiers in the northern states bordering the United States. The anti-Huerta forces, already known as the “Constitutionalists” in honor of Francisco I. Madero‘s attempt to defend the same, begin to gather strength. The historical irony will be that the constitution they sought to defend was that of the old Porfirio Diaz regime, while the Constitutionalists themselves would write a new constitution for Mexico.
The New York Times, meanwhile, continues to expend many column inches in defense of Henry Lane Wilson, still U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. This is of course against the now existing historical evidence, but it wouldn’t be the last time for the Times, as seen when it offered its front pages as a platform for a stream of lies manufactured by Judith Miller: http://www.jstudies.com/nacaf/miller/wmd.htm
Let’s see if the Times of 100 years ago feigns similar apologetic.
In contrast, attention is drawn to the penetrating Times of London article below on how the results of the Balkans War has shifted the European balance of power against Germany, provoking another round in the arms race.
Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who had been living at the Hotel Roma in El Paso, Texas under the alias “Doroteo Arango“, crossed the Rio Grande back into Mexico, along with eight companions, to rebuild his army and to overthrow Mexican President Victoriano Huerta. By year’s end, Villa would have control of the state of Chihuahua, which served as his base for anti-government raids.
Pancho Villa (3rd from right)
The tercentenary of the reign of the Romanov dynasty was celebrated across the Russian Empire, although on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia and 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the rest of the world, the date was February 21. Tsar Nicholas II, the last of the dynasty, would be deposed less than five years later.
Contrary to the tone of faux confidence of the Anglo-American press, Victoriano Huerta faced increasing armed opposition to the stabilization of his rule. Venustiano Carranza had immediately begun to organize a resistance to the Huerta-Diaz coup from his base in Coahuila state in North Mexico. Carranza was joined by the arrival of Pancho Villa in Chihuahua state from the United States, to where he had fled in 1912 to escape execution by Huerta when he was at the head of the Federal armies under the Madero presidency. Here Villa was to reorganize the famous Division del Norte, at its maximum consisting of up to 50,000 soldiers. Despite their alliance, Carranza and Villa came from completely different social origins: Carranza was the son of wealthy ranchers from Coahuila state, politically a liberal of the Francisco Madero type, and would be the key force behind the Constitution of 1917. Villa, from Durango state, was the son of peones de hacienda, essentially a post-feudal sharecropping economic institution that could also include mining and ranching operations. Many were owned by the Catholic Church, explaining the hostility to the Church in the Revolution. The hacienda system was legally abolished in 1917. Villa’s army led the expropriation of land for redistribution to peasants, going beyond the liberalism of Madero and Carranza at that time.
Soldiers of the Ninth U.S. Cavalry, stationed in Douglas, Arizona, traded gunfire with Mexican Army troops who were across the border in Agua Prieta, in a skirmish between the border patrols of both nations. Reportedly, four Mexican federal soldiers were killed, and some of the U.S. Army soldiers charged across the border into Mexico to pursue the retreating Mexican troops
Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913: A group of 8,000 supporters of granting women the right to vote in the United States, led by Alice Paul of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, was besieged by a mob as the marchers, mostly women, paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, on the eve of the presidential inauguration