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.
Today’s feature at the top left is the New York Times reprint of a (London) Daily Mail article that “assails our good faith” and one that is treated to more or less outraged reactions in the U.S. press.
Also recommended is the Times of London‘s retrospective article on the legacy of the U.S. Taft Administration at the top right. Inter-imperialist rivalries reveal much more from the point of view of an antagonist or competitor. And France, Britain and Germany were anxious that the Huerta-Diaz coup not tilt the investment playing field even further to the advantage of the North Americans. In particular, “It is noted that ‘colonists’ are beginning to pour back from the country to the town, and that the exploitation of labor is ousting as a source of wealth the exploitation of natural resources. It is feared that in a community where the premise of Marx’s gloomy generalizations exist, organized capital may be able, as things are, to entrench itself in the high places of government”.
The N.Y. Times reportage continues to get it quite laughably wrong on events in Mexico.
Four days after their forced resignations, former Mexican PresidentMadero and Vice-President Pino Suarez, were shot to death after being transported from the presidential palace to a prison. The official explanation by President Huerta was that the two men were being transported in automobiles and “two-thirds of the way to the penitentiary, they were attacked by an armed group…and the prisoners tried to escape. An exchange of shots then took place in which one of the attacking party was killed, two were wounded and both prisoners killed.” Other accounts were that Major Francisco Cardenas, who was escorting the prisoners, shot both men and that President Huerta was told by U.S. AmbassadorHenry Lane Wilson to do “whatever he thought best for the country”, after which “Huerta did just that”, having the two men executed at the prison.
Official photograph of the victors of the Battle of Ciudad Juárez. Madero is seated in center, Orozco on the far right, and Villa is standing on the far left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As promised, clips for the first time from the New York Times on the Mexican Revolution, after sorting out some technical problems. Judging from the tone of its reportage, it is apparent that Madero had committed the crime of defending the constitution of Mexico with armed force. The Orozquistas (Colorados) and their leader, Pascual Orozco, whose family were Basques from Chihuahua involved in mining in the north of Mexico, adjoining Texas and New Mexico, were beginning their realignment with the forces of Victoriano Huerta. Orozco together with Pancho Villa had been instrumental in the downfall of the Diaz dictatorship in 1910, however Madero had appointed Venustiano Carranza, a wealthy landowner like Madero to be Ministerio de Guerra rather than Orozco. He also refused to move against the Zapatistas as Madero had commanded. By March 1912 Orozquistas were in armed rebellion against the Madero government. Madero sent Huerta to command a Federal force against the Orozquistas that captured Cuidad Juarez and forced Orozco to take refuge in the U.S. where he spent some months in Los Angeles with relatives. Orozco was able to return to Mexico in exchange for support for Huerta’s Presidency.
Mary Harris Jones, the 83 year old labor activist remembered as “Mother Jones“, was arrested in Charleston, West Virginia after leading a group of miners to confront Governor Transported to an area of Charleston that was under martial law because of confrontations between striking coal miners and company police, Jones would be tried by a military court in March, on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. Convicted on the charges, she would be sentenced to three years imprisonment, but released by the new Governor after 85 days.
Outgoing U.S. President Taft vetoed the Burnett-Dillingham Immigration Bill, that would have turned away immigrant heads of families who were unable to pass a literacy test. The veto would survive an attempt at an override; a historian would note later that, “Following his conscience and the advice of Charles Nagel, [Taft] defended his long-standing belief that immigration was an economic boon to the country and that Southern and Eastern Europeans could asimilate as readily as Northern and Western Europeans… Taft left the gates of America open for many immigrants as he left the White House.”
Count Gombei Yamamoto became the new Premier of Japan. The new premier, 60 years old, was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, one of the Class of ’77.
Turkey requested the Great Powers to intervene to end the Balkan War.
The events of the Decena Tragica in Mexico hold center stage for the time being despite the renewal of hostilities in the
Morelos (Photo credit: alexmontjohn)
Balkans. For this purpose, “real time” clippings from the New York Times will be introduced for the first time. As expected the NYT slant differs little from that of the Times of London, although a difference in a certain coarseness of language can be noticed between the two sides of the North Atlantic. Thus for example we are immediately introduced to the “Morelos bandit”, even “murderous bandit” (this being the aforementioned American twist), Emiliano Zapata. The general sense of is of contempt for the “vain dreamer” Francisco Madero, and irritation at the fact that Madero at least mounted a military defense of the Presidency and Constitution, as this was seen as only extending the crisis of the “inevitable” transition to the brother of the deposed dictator Porfirio Diaz, Félix Díaz together with his military allies, Bernardo Reyes and Victoriano Huerta. Said the NYT, “Mexico required ‘strong central government'”.
The NYT has the advantage in bringing a close-up of the battle in Mexico City as it unfolds. We also see more details of an extensive military mobilization of ships and troops, in preparation for a possible military intervention, undertaken by the outgoing Taft Administration.
Needless to say, the “revolutionists” described herein are actually the counterrevolutionaries seeking to restore some part of the status quo ante.