La Decena Trágica and the Saudi Arabia of 1913

  • The first sickness benefits were paid under Britain’s National Insurance Act 1911 as its provisions took effect.
  • First Balkan War: The Ottoman battle cruiser Medjidie attacked and sank the Greek merchant ship Macedonia, which had been armed for use as a troop transport
  • The United Kingdom House of Commons passed the Irish Home Rule Bill on its third reading, by a vote of 367 to 257. The measure moved on to the House of Lords, which was expected to veto the bill, which happened on January 30
  • The first wireless transmission between the U.S. and Germany was sent in the inauguration of a new telegraph system at Sayville, New York, with the message received in Berlin.
  • Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré was elected as the new President of France.
  • Ag-ed Alach-Sultan became the new Premier of Persia.
  • The six European powers sent a joint note advising the Ottoman Empire to surrender Adrianople and the Aegean Islands

The Times of London has come out with one of its periodic editions featuring in-depth coverage of key issues of the day, no doubt considered within an “imperial” perspective.  A selection of these articles is included here alongside the usual current affairs reports.  Of particular note are:

  • A report on the global petroleum industry, where we learn that “Despite the development of oil production in other parts of the world the United States easily maintains its pre-eminence as largest producer, its output constituting well-nigh two-thirds of the world’s total production”.  Note that a significant percentage of the increase in U.S. production was centered on California.  U.S. production is significant in that Britain imported most of its oil from that country at the time.  Note also the case of Romania, the only oil producer of substance in Europe outside of the Russian Caucasus, but also with a government holding irredentist claims to Transylvania and Galician Bukovina, both territories of the Hungarian and Austrian monarchies, respectively, thereby posing a political-economic problem for Romania’s largest customer, Germany.  Further, Romania is raising a squabble over a strip of territory held by Bulgaria in the Dobruja.
  • A report on the Mexican economy titled “Normal Outlook Despite the Revolution”,  notes that “As is well known,
    A Escobar C, digital Archive Mexico's hundred ...

    The West’s favorite dictator in 1910; president Porfirio Díaz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Mexico is considered one of the first mining countries.  She is actually at the head of all silver-producing nations”.  It concluded, “The Government has defeated revolutionary movements of a political nature, and there only remain some groups of highwaymen whose dispersal is being hindered on account of the wide area and the rough and mountainous nature of the country”.  This outlook was to prove sanguine by a long shot, as the revolutionary proces was just getting started and was about  to recieve a critical impetus from, not “highwaymen”, but from the outgoing Taft Administration in a conspiracy with a general, Victoriano Huerta from the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship overthrown in 1910-11, against the successor regime of the liberal-conservative Francisco I. Madero.  Madero, having served his designated role of absorbing and containing the first revolutionary upsurge, was thought now expendable by the Taft Administration, who wished to return to the norms of a dictatorship much beloved by the “Western democracies” in Washington, Paris and London by replacing him with Huerta.  This was to inaugurate the days of La decena trágica in early February 1913, followed by a unexpected countermove by the incoming Wilson Administration that was to blow the whole situation wide open.




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