March 20, 1917: Lansing Memorandum

Monday, March 20, AD 2017

On March 17, 1917, President Wilson met with his Cabinet to consider the question of whether the US should enter the Great War.  Fortunately for historians of this period, Secretary of State Robert Lansing drafted a detailed memorandum of the meeting:

The Cabinet Meeting of today I consider the most momentous and therefore, the most historic of any of those which have been held since I became Secretary of State, since it involved, unless a miracle occurs the question of war with Germany and the abandonment of the policy of neutrality which has been pursued for two years and a half….

The corridors of the State Department and Executive Office swarmed with press correspondents seeking to get some inkling of what would be done from passing officials. It was through these eager crowds of news-gatherers that I forced my way at half-past two Tuesday afternoon under a bombardment of questions, to which I made no reply, and entered the Cabinet room where all the other members had arrived.

Three minutes later the President came in and passed to his place at the head of the table shaking hands with each member and smiling as genially and composedly as if nothing of importance was to be considered. Composure is a marked characteristic of the President. Nothing ruffles the calmness of his manner or address. It has a sobering effect on all who sit with him in council. Excitement would seem very much out of place at the Cabinet table with Woodrow Wilson presiding.

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March 8, 1917: Senate Introduces Cloture

Wednesday, March 8, AD 2017

Woodrow Wilson was no fan of Senate filibusters:

The Democrats controlled the Senate from 1913-1919 and Wilson hated the way that Republicans could bottle up his proposed legislation through the filibuster.  To mollify him, the Senate Democrats passed a rule change one hundred years ago that allowed the termination of debate on a two-thirds vote to invoke cloture.  Even after cloture each Senator could speak for an additional hour on the matter under consideration before a vote was taken.  Cloture existed more in theory than in practice.  Over the next 46 years the Senate would vote for cloture only five times.  There are several reasons why this was the case.

Filibusters added a touch of drama and comedy to otherwise dry proceedings.  The public generally enjoyed them as did more than a few Senators.  Many Senators prided themselves upon belonging to what they called the greatest deliberative body, and thought that the filibuster played an essential role in what made the Senate the Senate.  Southern Democrats, relying on the filibuster to stop civil rights legislation, were fervent supporters of the filibuster.  Many Senators realized that shifting political fortunes could turn a majority into a minority over night, and that the filibuster was the strongest tool of a minority. 

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8 Responses to March 8, 1917: Senate Introduces Cloture

  • Woodrow Wilson was a one world government advocate and a traitor to American sovereignty, with contempt for freedom and the people.

  • I loved “Mr. Smith”. It was not only so great just because of the moral example of Mr. Smith, so upstanding and so determined, but in the end of the movie the evil was revealed when the conscience of the leading bad guy began to work.
    We can still pray for consciences to prevail in our three branches and various departments.
    Somebody somewhere will start to remember that momma and daddy reared them to be good…

  • “Woodrow Wilson was a one world government advocate and a traitor to American sovereignty, with contempt for freedom and the people.”

    Wilson was a racist and a big government man, but he was not an advocate for world government nor was he a traitor to American sovereignty. His dislike of the filibuster is a fairly common belief of Presidents when their party controls the Senate.

  • Of course, Wilson was right. It’s a silly practice to have a Senator standing there reciting from the Biloxi City Directory for hours on end. Rules revisions introducing the Cadillac filibuster 40 years ago (which required saying ‘no’ at intervals and did not require marathon speaking) made the situation worse, as did the extension of ‘holds’ on nominees (initially a practice meant to delay action for a few days so that Senators would not be tied to the chamber) into a license for louts like Richard Shelby to anonymously gum up the works for months on end.

    The. U.S. Senate is an awful institution, and the sooner it’s abolished, the better.

  • It is time for faithful Catholics to coalesde as a group that clings to truths taught by orthodox teachers intheir past, and be deaf to the current Pope and his deformed henchmen,priests, bishopd and cardinals. Deliverance will come.

  • “Wilson was a racist and a big government man, but he was not an advocate for world government nor was he a traitor to American sovereignty” Wilson was the inventor of the League of Nations concept, the forerunner of the United Nations. The UN would take over the world if they could and make subjects of all American citizens, taxing us and running our government without our Constitution. Wilson had contempt for our Constitution. Doing away with our Constitution would have made Wilson happy.

  • The League of Nations had very little in common with the contemporary United Nations and blaming Wilson for the contemporary United Nations is rather akin to blaming Abraham Lincoln for a modern race riot. As for the Constitution, Wilson thought it needed to be updated through amendment, as it was while he was President. He never gave any indication that he hated the Constitution. I have very little liking for Wilson as a historical figure, but fair is fair, and Wilson has been recently savaged by some really poor historical scholarship, much of it promoted by the lunatic Glenn Beck. There is ample ground for criticizing Wilson without lying about him.

  • True. I did believe that Wilson was the father of what is going on in our colleges and universities, now. I will have to research more on what Wilson taught about our Constitution having to be replaced. SEE: Amendment Nine.

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March 1, 1917: The Zimmerman Telegram Story Breaks

Wednesday, March 1, AD 2017

On February 20, 1917 British intelligence revealed to the US ambassador to Great Britain the contents of the Zimmerman telegram, go here to read about the telegram.  The Brits disclosed to the Americans the code breaking that they engaged in to read the message.  When the telegram was disclosed to the public, in order to protect British code breaking, it was alleged that British agents had stolen a copy of the telegram in Mexico.  The contents of the message was so fantastic that many Americans thought it was likely a fake produced by the British, which was the line taken by the mighty Hearst empire.  President Wilson was  faced with a dilemma as to whether to disclose that the British had decoded the message, and risk the ability of the British to read German messages, or to let the erroneous charges that the telegram was a fake remain unanswered. His dilemma would be shortly resolved by an unlikely source.

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February 8, 1915: Birth of a Nation Debuts in Los Angeles

Wednesday, February 8, AD 2017

 

The film Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s masterpiece, was  controversial at its release and remains so.  At three hours the film was a pioneering effort using then cutting age technology to produce a movie that stunned viewers with its cinematic quality, something that no one had ever seen before.  At the same time the film, based on the pro-Ku Klux Klan novel the Clansman by Thomas Dixon, a friend of President Woodrow Wilson, drew outrage from Grand Army of the Republic Union veterans and black groups with its depiction of the Klan as noble heroes attempting to fight against evil Unionists and its depiction of blacks as little better than beasts who walked erect.  Race riots broke out in cities where the film was shown.  President Wilson viewed the film in the White House and was reported to have said, “It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true”.  The White House denied the remark, and in the wake of continuing protests, Wilson eventually condemned the “unfortunate production”.  The film used quotes from Wilson’s scholarly works to buttress its negative depiction of Reconstruction and its positive depiction of the Klan.  Considering the fact that Wilson imposed segregation on the Civil Service it is difficult to discern what he found to be “unfortunate” about the film.

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3 Responses to February 8, 1915: Birth of a Nation Debuts in Los Angeles

  • I have seen “Intolerance,” or at least most of it. It is a brilliant piece of film-making and the origin of the “cast of thousands.” Some of the shots still astound.

    It does a beautiful job of condemning religious prejudice, feeding into a Protestant audience’s feelings with a grim depiction of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and then throwing a brutal change-up: the next chapter features an innocent Catholic man being framed for a crime and sentenced to execution.

    If only he could have done something with respect to the hatred depicted in the also-brilliant but hellishly racist “Birth,” which is no less than grotesque in parts.
    “Intolerance” is still worth a watch, despite its predecessor.

    Oh, and Wilson turns my stomach. If only Teddy had won in 1912…

  • DW Griffiths’ movie “Birth of a Nation”: “with its depiction of the Klan as noble heroes attempting to fight against evil Unionists.”

    Then, as now, Hollywood was controlled by the Demonrats: then, the military wing of the Demonrat party was the KKK; now it is “Occupy!”, BLM, and “Black Rock.”

    How little has changed.

  • Dale
    If you can tolerate 3 hour movies here is the link
    https://youtu.be/eo66cJqEl4A

6 Responses to January 31, 1917: Germany Announces the Resumption of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

Monday, January 23, AD 2017

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt had long been a harsh critic of the neutrality policy of the Wilson administration.  On January 29, 1917 he gave a memorable response to the January 22, 1917 speech to the Senate of President Wilson in which Wilson called for Peace Without Victory:

“President Wilson has announced himself in favor of peace without victory, and now he has declared himself against universal service-that is against all efficient preparedness by the United States.

Peace without victory is the natural ideal of the man too proud to fight.

When fear of the German submarine next moves President Wilson to declare for “peace without victory” between the tortured Belgians and their cruel oppressors and task masters;  when such fear next moves him to utter the shameful untruth that each side is fighting for the same things, and to declare for neutrality between wrong and right;  let him think of the prophetess Deborah who, when Sisera mightily oppressed the children of Israel with his chariots of iron, and when the people of Meroz stood neutral between the oppressed and their oppressors, sang of them:

“Curse ye Meroz, sang the angel of the  Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord against the wrongdoings of the mighty.”” 

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7 Responses to Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

  • Were not the alleged atrocities the Germans perpetuated on the Belgians in WWI part of a propaganda campaign. Were they ficticious, or at least exaggerated? And what was the object of WW I, anyway? WW II I can understand; Hitler wanted to take over the world. But WW I, I can see what happened, but not why. It seems everyone involved used it as an excuse for some strategic advantage of their own.

  • “Were they ficticious, or at least exaggerated?”

    They were real enough, as the corpses of some six thousand Belgian civilians, men, women and children, slaughtered in reprisals by the German Army at the beginning of the War could attest.

    http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/memoryofwar/the-rape-of-belgium-revisited/

  • Thanks for the clarification. What about the purpose of the war, or goal? never could figure it out.

  • Much ink and cyberspace has been spent on WWI.
    Granted that the Germans did not assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, I still blame Germany. The German nation was ruled by Lutheran Prussians and wanted an empire. Kulturkampf and their treatment of Poles were both rotten.

  • The purposes of the War varied among the belligerents:

    Great Britain-Free Belgium. Prevent Germany from dominating Europe.

    France-Get back Alsace-Lorraine. Prevent Germany from dominating Europe.

    Italy-Prevent Germany from dominating Europe. Get Tyrolia from Austria-Hungary.

    Serbia-Survival.

    Russia-Protect Serbia. Stop Germany and Austria Hungary from dominating Europe.

    Austria Hungary-Destroy Serbia. Dominate the Balkans.

    Germany-Hold onto territorial conquests. Become dominant power in Europe.

    USA-Defeat Germany. Build new international order to make another World War impossible.

  • To mr. McClary. The best way for Serbia to survive was NOT to provoke Austria-Hungary to go to war. But Serbia was a very aggressive state, with a large and active irredentist faction that wanted just that and who expected Russia too come to their aid. Their war aim was the establishment of a south slave state dominated by Serbia. In other words, they wanted to become in the Balkans what Prussia had become in the German-speaking lands.

  • “The best way for Serbia to survive was NOT to provoke Austria-Hungary to go to war. But Serbia was a very aggressive state, with a large and active irredentist faction that wanted just that and who expected Russia too come to their aid.”

    Correct, and elements in Austria had long pined for the destruction of Serbia and the domination of the Balkans by Austria. The Chief of Staff of the Austrian Army had recommended a pre-emptive war against Serbia some 13 times prior to 1914. The first lesson of history in the Balkans is that no one has clean hands.

January 22, 1917: Peace Without Victory

Sunday, January 22, AD 2017

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The United States was two months from entering the Great War when President Wilson addressed the Senate a century ago, calling for Peace Without Victory and laying out the beginnings of what would eventually be his Fourteen Points as the basis of peace:

Gentlemen of the Senate:

On the 18th of December last, I addressed an identical note to the governments of the nations now at war requesting them to state, more definitely than they had yet been stated by either group of belligerents, the terms upon which they would deem it possible to make peace.  I spoke on behalf of humanity and of the rights of all neutral nations like our own, many of whose most vital interests the war puts in constant jeopardy.

The Central Powers united in a reply which state merely that they were ready to meet their antagonists in conference to discuss terms of peace.  The Entente powers have replied much more definitely and have stated, in general terms, indeed, but with sufficient definiteness to imply details, the arrangements, guarantees, and acts of reparation which they deem to be the indispensable conditions of a satisfactory settlement.  We are that much nearer a definite discussion of the peace which shall end the present war.  We are that much nearer the definite discussion of the international concert which must thereafter hold the world at peace.

In every discussion of peace that must end this war, it is taken for granted that the peace must be followed by some definite concert of power which will make it virtually impossible that any such catastrophe should ever overwhelm us again.  Every love of mankind, every sane and thoughtful man must take that for granted.

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One Response to January 22, 1917: Peace Without Victory

  • I had never been happier in my life ! I had voluntarily enlisted eight days after graduating from High School; while some had tried everything they could think of to avoid the Draft. I even knew two guys, from High School, that had fled to Canada. But here I was, on the last leg of the flights that were taking me HOME ! I had been gone for nearly four long years, and was eager to see the faces of my loved ones again. I had disembarked and walked into the Terminal, when some hoodlum, who looked like a Manson follower, ran up and spit on my uniform ! Timothy Reed

A Hard Fought Presidential Election

Monday, November 14, AD 2016

350px-electoralcollege1916_svg

One hundred years ago the United States went through a presidential election that was hard fought and narrowly decided.  Woodrow Wilson, the only Democrat elected President since the Civil War, except for the two terms of Grover Cleveland, largely owed his election in 1912 to the Republican schism that caused Theodore Roosevelt to run as the candidate  of the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, winning more votes than the Republican candidate President William Howard Taft, and ensuring victory for the Democrats.

The Republican Party standard bearer, Charles Evans Hughes, resigned from the Supreme Court to run.  A moderate, Hughes mollified and unified the Republican Party conservative and progressive factions.  This was underlined when Theodore Roosevelt declined the nomination of the Progressive Party, announcing his support for Hughes.  Wilson now faced a united Republican party.

The Democrats, ironically in light of subsequent developments centered their campaign around the slogan, “He kept us out of war.”  Hughes barnstormed the nation, as did Theodore Roosevelt who tirelessly campaigned for Hughes.  Hughes attacked increasing business regulation by the Wilson administration as an infringement on traditional American freedom.

Ultimately Wilson won on November 7, 1916, with a popular vote margin of 600,000 out of 17 and a half million votes cast, and an electoral vote count of 277-254. 266 electoral college votes were needed to win and the election was decided by California’s 13 electoral votes, which took several days to count, keeping the nation in suspense.  Less than four thousand votes, out of almost a million cast, constituted Wilson’s victory margin over Hughes.

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June 14, 1916-June 14, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, AD 2016

 

 

 

 

And he began with the simple things that everybody’s known and felt–the freshness of a fine morning when you’re young, and the taste of food when you’re hungry, and the new day that’s every day when you’re a child. He took them up and he turned them in his hands. They were good things for any man. But without freedom, they sickened. And when he talked of those enslaved, and the sorrows of slavery, his voice got like a big bell. He talked of the early days of America and the men who had made those days. It wasn’t a spread-eagle speech, but he made you see it. He admitted all the wrong that had ever been done. But he showed how, out of the wrong and the right, the suffering and the starvations, something new had come. And everybody had played a part in it, even the traitors.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

 

 

A century of Flag Days:

 

 

My Fellow Countrymen:

Many circumstances have recently conspired to turn our thoughts to a critical examination of the conditions of our national life, of the influences which have seemed to threaten to divide us in interest and sympathy, of forces within and forces without that seemed likely to draw us away from the happy traditions of united purpose and action of which we have been so proud, It has therefore seemed to me fitting that I should call your attention to the approach of the anniversary of the day upon which the flag of the United States was adopted by the Congress as the emblem of the Union, and to suggest to you that it should this year and in the years to come be given special significance as a day of renewal and reminder, a day upon which we should direct our minds with a special desire of renewal to thoughts of the ideals and principles of which we have sought to make our great Government the embodiment.

I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political programme of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance. Let us on that day rededicate ourselves to the nation, “one and inseparable” from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers’ first vows in independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded and in which we shall stand with united hearts, for an America which no man can corrupt, no influence draw away from its ideals, no force divide against itself,-a nation signally distinguished among all the nations of mankind for its clear, individual conception alike of its duties and its privileges, its obligations and its rights.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this thirtieth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and sixteen, and of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and fortieth.


WOODROW WILSON

By the President:

ROBERT Lansing

 

 

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Art Imitating Life and Life Imitating Art

Sunday, September 21, AD 2014

I finished watching Ken Burns, The Roosevelts:  An Intimate History.  A fair amount of liberal hagiography for FDR and, especially, Eleanor, but on the whole I liked it, and I will review it in a future post.  However, I was struck by a vignette that occurred in the final episode last night.

By 1944 FDR was in visibly failing health.  Diagnosed with congestive  heart failure, Dr. Howard Bruenn, a Navy Lieutenant Commander and cardiologist, followed him everywhere.  He recommended extended bed rest which was an impossible diagnosis for a Commander-in-Chief during a World War.

At the Quebec Conference with Churchill, in the evening for entertainment, FDR had the film Wilson (1944) shown.  A film biopic of the life of Woodrow Wilson from his election as Governor of New Jersey in 1910, the movie is largely forgotten today.  It won several Oscars, but was a financial flop, people being too preoccupied with the current World War to want to see a movie about the first one.  Alexander Knox, relegated through most of his career in character actor roles, does a good job in the role of Wilson.  Making the dessicated, pedantic Wilson into a heroic figure was difficult, but the film, taking a fast and loose approach with much of the history of the period, and with the help of a majestic musical score, accomplishes the feat.  It is definitely worth watching.

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6 Responses to Art Imitating Life and Life Imitating Art

  • The only mensch in the bunch was TR’s son: assistant div commander through North Africa, Sicily, and D-Day.

    I only watched the last half hour last episode.

    I am truly elated I didn’t waste any more eyesight on 100% liberal propaganda/spucatum tauri.

    One thing struck me. I’m as old as the man when went to judgment. My grandfathers passed in their late 40’s and early 50’s. Only the good die young.

    Major take-away. The Roosevelts are representative of the elites that have run this country at least since 1913 – IRS/income tax and the Federal Reserve System. And, N.B. in their 24/7 work to impose their progressive pipe-dreams. They have done such a good job of progressing us.

  • “The only mensch in the bunch was TR’s son: assistant div commander through North Africa, Sicily, and D-Day.”

    All four of FDR’s sons served in combat during World War II.

  • I noticed that one historical tidbit was glossed over at the end of the series. The Eleanor Roosevelt – JFK meeting was such a love fest in the show. However, I do recall an account of JFK telling his aides how she had put him through the ringer over his reluctance to nominate Adlai Stevenson to be Secretary of State. Oops, another one just went down the memory hole.

  • Although she became supportive of him eventually, Eleanor initially had disdain for Kennedy as a conservative Democrat, which is what she perceived him to be, and which, in some ways he was from her point of view.

    http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/mep/displaydoc.cfm?docid=erpintrob

    Of course FDR and Joe Kennedy cordially despised each other, so there was probably some carryover from that.

  • I remember as a young man seating in my maternal grandfather porch lamenting about the situation in my beloved Cuba, I will never forget my grandpa’s words to me:
    SON,THE REASON WHY COMMUNISM IS SUCCESSFUL IN THIS HEMISPHERE WE OWE TO FDR HE SOLD US DOWN THE TUBES BY DEALING WITH STALIN, THUS PERMITTING THE SOVIETS TO INFILTRATE DEMOCRATIC COUNTRIES.
    I could not believe what I heard. Later on as I became an AMERICAN I studied and learned Granpa was right.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  • One more comment on the Roosevelt documentary: the account of FDR leading the nation in prayer on the evening of June 6, 1944 was refreshing and positive, without a hint of anti-religious sentiment. I was surprised and even impressed. FYI the text of the prayer can be found here: http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/fdr-prayer.htm

Wilson Speaks

Wednesday, August 28, AD 2013

An audio recording of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 taking advantage of the division in Republican ranks that would lead Theodore Roosevelt to bolt the party and run as the standard bearer of the Bull Moose party that he created.  Wilson’s matter of fact, dry delivery, so in keeping with his profession of professor, reminds me of how in so many ways he was the anti-Roosevelt in style, although the similarities in domestic policy between him and Roosevelt were closer that either of them, both of whom cordially detested the other, were comfortable with.

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One Response to Wilson Speaks

  • Mr. Wilson softly intones a kind of Fascism that we have been unable to shake off a century later. Obama sings the same song. It’s time to stop the music.