U.S. Pulls Out of China Loan Deal; Vienna Rattles Sabres

  • New York State Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt, 31, was sworn into office as the youngest Assistant Secretary of the Navy in American history, and the first federal government job for the future United States President.
  • 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...

    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.
  • Constantine I took the oath of office as the new King of Greece
  • 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.

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‘Peaches in Violet Essence’: 600 U.S. Dollars!

  • In South Africa, Justice Malcolm Searle ruled that only Christian marriages were legal under the nation’s laws, effectively invalidating the marital status of most of the British Indian residents
  • U.S. President Woodrow Wilson assembled about 100 reporters in his office and began the practice of holding a
    Cadets from West Point march in the inaugural ...

    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.

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Great Powers Manuver Among Factions in Mexico; Greco-Bulgarian Clash

  • Woodrow Wilson takes the oath of office for hi...

    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.
  • Born: William J. Casey, 13th Director of Central Intelligence for the American CIA (1981-1987), in New York City

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.

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U.S. Moves Military to the Borders of Mexico

English: c.1890 sitting portrait of Henry L Wi...

c.1890 sitting portrait of Henry L Wilson while in business in Spokane, Washington, a copy of which may also be found in the Library of Congress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The first survey stake for what would become the city of Canberra, capital of Australia, was driven into the ground by King O’Malley, the Minister for Home Affairs.
  • The State of Arkansas outlawed the practice of convict leasing.
  • Four days after their forced resignations, former Mexican President Madero 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. Ambassador Henry 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.

Note that only recently (1901) had Australia  been federated under the British Crown as the Commonwealth of Australia by the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act a.k.a. a Dominion of the British Empire.  Canada had become the first successful Dominion of that Empire in 1866, all those previous having been failures today known as the United States of America.  This included the first attempted English Dominion – before the union with Scotland – in the attempted combination of present-day New Jersey, New York and all of New England into a “Dominion of New England” in the 1690’s that quickly fell apart.

The First World War was the proving ground for the mythic blood foundation of the new Twentieth Century Dominion. But right now it is staking down its own Distrito Federal.

The “Wilson” spoken of here is of course not that of the newly elected but not yet acting President Woodrow Wilson, but Henry Lane Wilson, then Taft’s ambassador to Mexico.  Here the New York Times correspondent catches more than a whiff of ambassadorial involvement in the events of La Decena Tragica, as that correspondent discretely conveys to us.

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