IN HIS OWN RIGHT
By Paul McLeod
The Return of Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, felt the victory coming long before the dispatches reached him. However, the dispatches did surprise him. The idea of winning by a margin of over 2.5 million votes confirmed for him that he had been right. Only six months ago, there was no reason to presume he would even be here.
After a close call with death in February, Senator Mark Hanna had rallied the money men around him and had threatened to take the Presidency from him and give it to that conniving elitist, Charles Fairbanks. Had it not been for the Perdicaris Affair, it was completely possible that he could not even have been in the contest. It was some measure of relief that Hanna had shuffled off to meet his Maker just before the convention, the President thought.
His new deputy, Vice President Nelson W. Aldrich, was an aging Rhode Islander had been a concession to the party conservatives, but the two had struck a comfortable deal in the days following the convention. He would get a free hand on foreign and social policy, whilst Aldrich would get to experiment in his favourite field of economics. One thing was for certain. Prior to the convention, he had discussed with Edith the possibility of announcing that this would be his last term. Now, that was categorically ruled out. The Republican Party could not fall back into the hands of people like Hanna. It had to be preserved and protected, and if to achieve this, he had to hang around in the White House until they carried him out feet first, so be it. He was now President in his own right.
In his Fourth Annual Address to the Congress on 6 December, President Roosevelt today outlined the agenda of his newly-elected Administration. He outlined that the Administration would increase expenditure over the coming four years.
The President first addressed his attention to the needs of women. He stated that he would investigate the granting of pensions to victims of wife-bashers who had been imprisoned for their crime and left their wives with no form of support. The President endorsed the position that the role of the woman is in the home, tending to the family. He addressed, however, the need to grant suffrage to women, pledging to work with the States on this issue. He praised the people of Utah, Colorado and Idaho for pointing the direction in which the nation should go.
In the area of immigration, the President questioned whether it was wise to invite those from countries with lower wages, pointing out that they could drive down living standards for American workers. He called for Congress to restrict migration on these grounds. He also recognised the strong support within the Republican Party for an increased tariff, an issue that nearly cost him the nomination. He stated the willingness of his Administration to compromise on tariffs if it was "progressive protectionism", meaning that American workers shared the benefit of protection with their employees through "reasonable wages". It is believed that the President was referring to the National Civic Federation, as a committee of business and labor, as the organisation which may be responsible for ensuring the "spoils of industrialisation are shared evenly among all Americans".
The President also toned down his rhetoric on trust busting, stating that while prosecutions would continue, "America must come to realise that there are good trusts and bad trusts". He pledged that his Administration would "continue to eliminate corporate mischief" through regulation, but would not rule out monopoly powers where he believed that such organisations served a public benefit.
Mr Roosevelt stated that he will continue to endorse conservation measures and land reclamation projects as a way of ensuring the future wealth of the country.However, the first priority of the new President lay in fulfilling his frustrated ambitions from his days as Undersecretary of the Navy. Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy Paul Morton allegedly initiated the plan for the expansion of the US submarine fleet during a party at the latter's home on 18 December, 1904. The President had already pushed for the Army to be raised to its maximum legal threshold of one hundred thousand. He was now enthusiastically making the US Navy the master of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The President had always admired his "Uncle Jimmy", known to history as James Dunwody Bulloch and a leading officer in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. The potential of navy power was one of his earliest recollections and, by his own accounts, compelled his writing of the Naval War of 1812. Since 1898, he had been a strong supporter of submarine research and, only months previously, had submerged in the A-1 Plunger submarine and was suitably impressed. In addition, Roosevelt had noted the rising power of Japan. Port Arthur was, at that time, surrounded by Japanese guns on all sides and on the verge of surrender. Japanese troops were only 14 miles south of Mukden.
The President's instructions on this occasion were for the US Navy to acquire twelve submarines (pictured above) from J. P. Holland's struggling "Submarine Boat Company". This overrode Navy opinion that it would be hazardous to have boats going faster than 6 knots. Holland had demonstrated a new hull design in Washington's naval yards which had a submerged speed of up to 22 knots. And the President knew that Holland's legal and financial troubles spelled the opportunity for a bargain.
Many have also argued that Roosevelt's sense of political vulnerability in terms of party support drove a personal need for him to appear as a "strong" President, making increases to the military that, at the time, appeared barely justifiable. However, the US commitment to submarine warfare at a time when many Europeans considered it an un-gentlemanly and barbaric practice gave them an upper hand in future technological developments in this new form of warfare.
On the domestic front, President Roosevelt's first attempt at modifying the industrial relations system of the United States was only a qualified success at best. Attorney General William Moody knew that the Supreme Court would eventually overturn the legislation as unconstitutional; in fact, it was his destiny to sit on the Court that did so. The Federal Labor Court was abolished only a few years after its foundation, but would serve as an example of what might be possible when a more reasonable bench wasn't there to overrule every attempt to help workers as a violation of the 14th Amendment.
However, in the short term, it drove up the minimum wage by over $120 per annum, fulfilling the wish of the President for all parts of society to share in the benefits of economic growth. This, in turn, led to a revitalisation of America's cities. Many tenement houses found themselves unable to continue, either closing or choosing to renovate to fit what was once three apartments into one residence. Lodging hotels were renovated and began to offer almost luxurious suites to single men at $1 per night. Outlying suburbs began to really develop, making conveniences such as bathtubs, flush toilets, electric lights, telephones and heating standard.
Industrial reform was a subject that led Roosevelt to regular clashes with the Supreme Court. The first example of its controversial interference in political affairs was Lochner v New York, in which the Court held that the right of free contract was not implicit in the 14th Amendment. Lochner was a dispute over whether government could restrict the number of working hours of an employee and the Court agreed, narrowly, that it could. This began what was called the Lochner Era, which, despite the occasional interruption (such as the overturn of the Federal Labor Court), also upheld minimum wages and a limited right to join a trade union.
However, the workers did not continually win in the new environment. Unions could still be banned from workplaces by the employer. In addition, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Corporations, Herbert Knox Smith, made rulings that the Sherman Anti-trust Act did not apply in certain circumstances. One example was the decision not to enforce the Act against AT&T during its takeover of Western Union.
Roosevelt would comment on that decision during later years, stating that "provided it is not a coercive monopoly, provided it is a natural monopoly, provided the principles of the free markets are not violated, Sherman does not and never did apply." His Doctrine of Public Utility meant that his and future US Administrations would choose not to prosecute under Sherman where the formation and continued existence of monopolies served a useful purpose in the expansion of services and maintained a low cost of services to consumers.
A second key domestic reform in this year was the passage of the 1905 Immigration Act. The head tax, the fee applicable to all immigrants upon arrival in the United States, rose to $15 per person and an English language test was applied to all migrants. At the time of the Act, immigration had reached record levels, over a million migrants each year, most of these originating out of eastern and southern Europe. With the new restrictions, net migration fell by more than 90% within the next five years. Alexander Dupont, in his landmark book The Lost Influx, estimates that the United States denied entry to over twenty million people during the period between 1900 and 1920, even after wage pressure forced it to moderate the Act. These potential migrants, according to Dupont, often chose to remain in their own lands; however, a good percentage went to Canada, particularly provinces like Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. He also speculates that many of the Jewish people who migrated to Korea during the first decades of the 20th century would have ended up in the United States.
However, the fall in migration and the resultant shortage of labor had an enormous impact on the African American population of the United States. Previously unemployable, they suddenly found they were being offered opportunities for work, though admittedly at wages up to 40% less than other workers. Nonetheless, this additional capital gave the African American population economic power they had not previously possessed and led to their increase admission to trade and technical schools, albeit initially classrooms in the South were segregated. It gave rise to the race pressure that would eventually contribute to the downfall of Roosevelt’s Administration.Roosevelt did concern himself with one issue that had not been a matter of interest to any President prior to his day: environmentalism. It is widely believed that the cause of his interest was the influence of his Interior Secretary Gifford Pinchot (pictured left), who would remain in the Cabinet until 1912 and thereafter go on to serve in the Senate for Pennsylvania. Roosevelt’s speech to the National Forest Congress, believed to have been written by Pinchot, is a landmark of American political history and is reproduced below:
The Second Forest Congress was actually marked the emergence of a new environmental movement in the United States, backed by tycoons like Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie, the latter of whom told the President that anyone who managed to rid Pittsburgh of its smokestacks would have his "deepest gratitude". Pinchot, had told the President that "ecology" was a vote winner for the emergent female electorate and would prove useful when female suffrage became universal. In this opinion, he received the backing of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Among the initiatives of Pinchot were:
Among those that arose early in Roosevelt's second term was the crisis that afflicted the small island state of Santo Domingo. Unable to pay its debts to Europe, it appears as they were prepared to intervene militarily. The Senate were strong supporters of the idea of a "Manifest Destiny" of an American empire, with the greatest supporter being Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana. The vote for military occupation was a fait accompli. It was only the first of a number of interventions that marked Roosevelt's second term. By the end of 1908, US forces were occupying Santo Domingo, Haiti, Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.To provide those troops required that America withdraw itself from the deep morass that was the Philippino War. The solution to the mess was provided by former Secretary of War Elihu Root (opposite), who suggested to Roosevelt that the islands be partitioned. The northern island groups of Luzon and Visayas were incorporated into the Philippines Territory. Root wrote:
However, he completely disregarded the idea of conquering Mindanao.
Perhaps the most significant foreign policy event of the year
1905 was actually what Roosevelt considered one of his greatest failures in
later years: the Portsmouth Peace Conference. He had approached the Tsar of All
Russias, head of the house of Romanov, with a chance to resolve his war with the
Japanese Empire. Roosevelt also had close contacts with Japan: he was friendly
with Viscount Katsuro, the Japanese Prime Minister, he was a former Harvard
schoolmate of Jutaro Komura, the Japanese Foreign Minister, and he had good ties
with the Imperial Embassy in Washington. Commander Takashita, the naval attaché
to the United States, had become close to Roosevelt when they had negotiated the
admission of Japanese cadets to Annapolis Naval College. He thus knew that
Japan, whose economy was heavily burdened by the costs of the war, was
sympathetic to negotiations.
Komura came as the representative for Japan; Russia was represented by Count Sergei Witte, a former Finance Minister who had a poor relationship with the Tsar for his efforts to keep the absolute monarch in check. The Tsar had done his best to disgrace Witte, time and again, but ultimately, nobody else in the Russian aristocracy was willing to risk their necks by being responsible for reaching any deal that didn't leave Russian interests intact. Of the twelve demands that Japan made to end the war, most were either acceptable to Russia or something on which they were prepared to negotiate. The contested terms of peace were as follows:
During a break in proceedings, Witte recognised peace was at hand and advised the Tsar that Sakhalin Island had to go on the table. In the end, however, it was the Japanese who blinked first. They offered to return half of Sakhalin to Russia and drop all further demands in return for an indemnity of ¥1,200 million (£105.8 million or US$515.3 million). Note: in 2005 terms, this equates to roughly US$13.2 billion. Both parties agreed to consult with their governments, and President Roosevelt sent personal letters to the leadership in both countries, begging them to compromise. Japan came as far as being willing to halve the indemnity, but the Tsar wouldn't budge an inch.
His own internal crisis was too much for the Tsar to handle. On 15 August, union leader Pavel Milyukov had been arrested. The Russian Minister of the Interior, Alexander Bulygin, had resigned in protest and called on strikes to bring down the Government. Bialystok, a city north of Brest-Litovsk and victim of recent pogrom attacks, fell into chaos, which proceeded to spread through the Russian Pale. In the Far East, units were disbanding and returning home in protest over conditions. In the end, the Tsar decided that victory, not peace, was his goal.
Historians have long since argued about why the Russians walked away from negotiations. Many have argued that a Roosevelt who had not fought a long and tiring election campaign the previous year may have had the confidence to turn the result around. Other have stated that the presence of the late Secretary of State John Hay would, had he survived to see the summit, brought an extra gravitas and experience that might have produced a different result. Regrettably for Russia, none of those events occurred.
When it became clear talks had failed, Japan resumed the war by dispatching three thousand troops to Vladivostok on 24 August. A naval flotilla, led by the Mikasa and containing twenty-three other vessels, carried three thousand Japanese troops. The battle for Russia’s eastern jewel would, in the view of Admiral Togo Heihachiro, bring the peace which his government had long sought.
The failure of Portsmouth had placed enormous stress on the Japanese government. Admittedly, it had prevented the crowds from demanding the dismissal of the Government and had poured water on the flames of ultra-nationalism which had threatened to engulf the genro administration of Viscount Katsura. Some of the major papers even praised the failure of negotiations, arguing that Foreign Minister Komura had protected the honour of Japan. However, the finances of the nation were distinctly unhealthy, and the best experts were estimating that Japan had until April to finalise the war in its favour. After that, its debt would produce an economic panic that could engulf not only Japan, but spread beyond.
In Russia, the sense of crisis was palpable. Demonstrations were growing by the day and before the end of August, the Standart, the imperial yacht, was being prepared in St Petersburg harbour for the evacuation of the Imperial family to Denmark. (It is generally believed that the Tsar was unaware of this at the time, as his sense of duty would not have allowed him to have ordered this. The family’s annual trip on the Baltic was near at hand, but the provisions being stored on board were for more than a two-week pleasure cruise.) The universities and schools were shutting down due to student strikes and raids were being made by revolutionaries on the prisons.When the Japanese fleet arrived in the port of Vladivostok (left) on 28 August, they reached a city in anarchy. The streets were littered with debris as panicked Russians had gathered their belongings and fled. A rancid stench filled the air, source unknown, and the local garrison was fighting in the streets against their own citizens. The two remaining Russian cruisers ran up the white flag as soon as the fleet was sighted. The Japanese put ashore virtually without resistance, the hill-top fortress the target of shelling on the first day and the local garrison surrendering the following. Reconnaissance had advised that there was 5,000 Russian troops rushing through the Ussuri Valley toward the city, but, with a further five thousand Japanese troops on their way, and due to arrive in six days, it appeared as though the city would be held and the Japanese strategists began to turn their attention toward a potential assault upon Khabarovsk.
When news of the fall of Vladivostok reached the heartland of the Empire on September 13-14, the long-threatened general strike broke out in Moscow. Cossacks and demonstrators fought outside the Kremlin, the latter quickly arming themselves and becoming violent mobs. The Tsar was concerned, but assured that the Okhrana had the violence in check, the Tsar and his family left for their annual Baltic cruise (the Standart, regrettably, did not have a radio). By 23 September, while the Imperial family played frivolously, the violence had spread throughout most of the major cities of the Empire. The railways came to a grinding halt. Communications ceased to operate, except where being used by strikers and revolutionaries. Hospitals were closed. Russia was paralysed.
When Witte arrived back from Portsmouth on 22 September, he was horrified. He immediately called a meeting of top rank officials. As the violence and troubles spread, talks continued at the Winter Palace with union leaders and zemstvo groups present. On 25 September, Witte called upon Grand Duke Nicholas, titular commander of the Imperial armies. He outlined to the Grand Duke how the Tsar had sabotaged reform time and again, placing Russia in this crisis. He demonstrated how the Tsar had failed the nation in cancelling peace talks, meaning the loss of Vladivostok. And he issued the demands upon which the meeting had agreed.Late in the evening of 28 September, a naval vessel bearing the two pulled aside the Standart on the Baltic Sea. The Tsar greeted his military chief and the ambassador with alarm and took them into his private study. There, among the dark leather and simple wooden furniture, they presented him with a letter for his signature. It announced his abdication and renounced any claim for all his descendants. The Emperor was clearly shaken and angry, but it soon became clear these men had not arrived to negotiate or argue – merely to enforce a fait accompli. There are rumours that the Grand Duke pulled him weapon during discussions, but this has never been confirmed. For Witte, the moment was sweet as he finally revenged himself for the numerous disgraces the Tsar had visited upon him. For the Grand Duke, he believed it the only chance of saving the Empire.
The last day of September marked a new era in Russian history. The new Tsar, Michael II (pictured right) signed a letter to Emperor Meiji, offering Sakhalin and reparations in return for peace. He also signed a new and radical constitution for Russia, establishing Witte as caretaker Prime Minister until elections could be held. On 4 October, the telegram from Tokyo confirmed that the Russo-Japanese War was over.
The Japanese victory led to a dampening of the
ultra-nationalist sentiment that had threatened to overwhelm the nation and
encouraged more reflection on the external world. Many in the senior levels of
government had been impressed by the support of the Jewish financial houses of
their war efforts and were determined to make a more thorough analysis of
Judaism and the Jewish people. To further their education, they laid their hands
on the most comprehensive source document of that time, The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion, and translated it, but also contacted rabbis within the United
States to invite them to visit Japan. While the document was later revealed to
be a hoax, the Japanese were impressed by the alleged power of the Jews, the
story of the Diaspora and the similarities between Judaism and Shinto.
Other officials were very much aware of the substantial Jewish population already in the United States. They argued that favourable treatment of Jews would win them significant support in the U.S. Administration, because, of course, they believed that Jews controlled America. In addition, their "supernatural" economic prowess meant that positive responses to the Jews would grant the Japanese the favour of the heavens and substantial real-world investment. After considerable debate, in 1914, the Japanese government issued invitations for Jewish immigrants, with an upper limit of six hundred thousand, to be settled in Korea. They would be permitted their own settlements. The numbers were slow to arrive at first, with the bulk arriving between 1920 and 1922, accounting for nearly 4% of the population of Korea at that time.
The defeat of Russia was one that changed the face of the Empire forever and, as a result, the world. The new Tsar, Michael II, and his new Constitution had been forced upon the Russian populace as the solution to the bloody crises that afflicted the country. However, it was clear from the beginning that conservatives considered the move too radical and the revolutionaries denounced it as not being radical enough. Witte’s attempt to form a council of ministers, an attempt to stretch the political divided, was doomed to failure. The day that Tsar Michael took the throne, giant demonstrations rocked most of the Russian Empire. St Petersburg was only one city that saw violence, as street fighting spread to Moscow, Odessa and Sebastopol. By the end of the day, it is estimated that over two thousand had been killed in running gun battles through the major cities (below). Civilian militias were forming and taking charge of their streets, only to confront gangs from other neighbourhoods.For three days, Witte struggled to maintain some semblance of order, calling for calm and issuing orders that would never be obeyed. During those hours, it became clear that the army would need to move in to restore order. Grand Duke Nicholas received the orders on 7 October, around noon, for the troops to move against the people. He reluctantly obeyed, but many of his troops, hardened and bitter over the war, refused. A third of the army in St Petersburg came across to the side of the rebels and the city became a war zone. The next two days saw thousands killed as armed factions across the country declared themselves loyal to the Tsar or loyal to the people. Among those killed in the violence was fascist party leader Dubrovin. On 6 October, Japanese forces evacuating Vladivostok advised the world that the people had lost control and that the city was burning. They were getting out while they still could.
That night, Finland and Poland declared their independence and sought the assistance and protection of Count Bernhard von Bulow of Germany. The Count, ever willing to harm the Russian bear, already had telegrams from his Ambassador in St Petersburg, advising that the country had gone crazy. On the other hand, he had the Treaty of Bjorko that the Kaiser had signed without consulting him. There was no doubt in von Bulow’s mind that the influence of Germany had to be extended at the expense of his crippled eastern neighbour; the question was how and whether he could do so without provoking the French. Intelligence in London soon established that the Germans were funnelling armaments and money to rebels in Poland. However, as much as the Russians and French were calling for intervention, the Germans and Austrians were insistent it not occur. And Russia could not effectively stop the rebellion in any case, with the latest news being that Russian warships were attacking each other in the Black Sea. On 16 October, Moscow fell to the rebels and Communist leader Leon Trotsky declared a provisional government. The Baltic provinces joined Finland and Poland in declaring independence. Ultimately, the task of stopping the uprising fell to the Tsar.
In the Edict of 2 November, Michael II offered to surrender the throne if the bloodshed in his country would stop and called for a Constitutional Duma, elected by universal suffrage, to resolve the will of the people. Recognition was also given to Finland and Poland-Lithuania to ensure that the conflict in those regions was no longer his concern. Once elections for the convention were held, the previously banned leftist parties emerged with a clear majority. The two parties that had previously been legal, the Octobrists and the Constitutional Democrats, failed to achieve even 30 percent of the vote between them.
The Growth of America
In 1906, the first corruption allegations regarding the Republican Administration began to emerge. At the time, the Republican Party had dominated the United States political system for a decade and there was a community view that they were becoming increasingly arrogant and out of touch with the electorate. Only the constant vitality of Roosevelt as party leader was sufficient to prevent such a view becoming entrenched. However, it did not save Vice President Nelson Aldrich. It emerged in February that a number of Senators, past and present, had taken money from lobbyists in return for voting as they wished on legislation before the Senate. Aldrich was one of the worst offenders and the Attorney General was obliged to carry out a criminal investigation. The Vice President's many political enemies saw the opportunity for a scalp and his lack of loyalty to the White House meant that he was seen as a political liability there. He resigned rather than face impeachment in April.
However, the most important factor in American political life of this year was the clear indications that segregation, the basis of the social contract following the Civil War era in the South, was beginning to collapse. The drop in immigration numbers had opened up enormous economic opportunity for African Americans and, as a result, they began to challenge institutions that were segregated and actually prompt a greater level of fear in the white populace. However, segregation was not only a tool that was used in the "Negro question".
In October, 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education decided that Chinese, Korean and Japanese students should be segregated. Kyo Sakamoto was one of the 93 affected students. His parents joined with other Japanese-American parents and found a lawyer to take their case before the court. However, before a file was lodged, President Roosevelt intervened and demanded that the segregation order be revoked. He then asked Japan to cease sending immigrants. The newly confident Japan stated that allowing Europeans who met the immigration criteria to function within American society but refusing similarly skilled Asians was "a vile discrimination". Roosevelt agreed, but could not get Japan to cease issuing passports as the Californian people demanded.With no block on Asian migration, the Board of Education said that its ruling would stand, and the case of Sakamoto v San Francisco Board of Education was lodged in the Northern District (California) of the US District Court, claiming that the decision by the board was in violation of the 14th Amendment, as a deprivation of liberty without due process. It would take nearly two years for the matter to eventually make its way before the US Supreme Court. Also making its way through the courts around the same time was Berea College v Kentucky, another attempt to break the "Jim Crow" laws that allowed African Americans to be segregated.
By the time they both arrived in the Supreme Court, the nature of the Courthad changed with the appointment of former Attorney General William H Moody to the bench. Moody's elevation gave created a four member bloc of McKenna, Holmes, Day and Moody backed by aging Justice Harlan (above). For the first time, control of the court passed to the progressives, as can be demonstrated by decisions such as Northwest National Life Insurance Company v Riggs 203 US 243. In that judgment, the Court ruled that the doctrine of corporate personhood was limited and secondary to the right of actual persons.
The two cases, on two types of racial discrimination, appeared on the Court calendar in 1908. Sakamoto was the first case of the two, having come twelve years after the infamous Plessy v Ferguson had institutionalised racial segregation. From the start, it was clear that two justices, White and Peckham, were determined to uphold the principles agreed to a decade before. They were joined by Justice Brewer and Chief Justice Fuller. On the other side, Harlan, Holmes, Day and Moody were clearly determined to overturn the precedent. The decision came down to the ever indecisive Joseph McKenna, who had always sought to back the majority view. Today there was no majority to uphold racism.
On 11 February, McKenna passed his decision on to his brethren, and Harlan delivered in favour of the plaintiff. Schools in San Francisco would be desegregated, but, more interestingly, a precedent had been established that threatened Plessy, a precedent that threatened to overturn the Jim Crow laws and throw the communities of the South into crisis. The ruling was worded as follows:
There was also growing concern over the limitations on segregation. The firm trends toward the dismantling of segregation made the Southern states all the more determined that it should not proceed. Before Roosevelt left office in 1913, he would sign the Civil Rights Act, guaranteeing suffrage to all African Americans. The general community in the South could feel the growing sentiment, but the belief that too strong an infringement on state rights would spark a second Civil War meant that the threat was initially not taken as serious as it should have been. Many believed that Roosevelt would not risk the Union.The argument over race in America was soon joined by the argument over imperialism. Roosevelt began to take more seriously the expansion of the American Empire early in 1905. Prompted by the outbreak of civil war in the neighbouring republic of Cuba, and the willingness of then President Tomas Estrada Palma to cooperate with an American annexation, the US military invaded the country early in the year. One of the driving forces behind the imperialist attitude was the Senate, where key supportive factional leaders, such as Senator Albert Beveridge (left), drove the push for expansionism. During the next few years, the United States would add Honduras, Nicaragua, part of Panama, El Salvador and Haiti to the growing list that included Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
There was an increasing argument that the United States
should not be merely continental in nature, but that it should continue beyond
the confines of "sea to shining sea". One obvious outcome of this was
the decision of the United States to commence incorporation of those nations
under its military control into its political control, as demonstrated by the
The first Prime Minister of the Philippines was Sergio Osmena (right), a 29 year old Chinese-mestizo lawyer who had served on the staff of General Emilio Aguinaldo during the war. He would remain head of government until 1922. In Central America, where the memories of the United Provinces were still strong, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador united under one government and elected Manuel Davila, a former Honduran military chief, as their first head of government. He would remain there until 1922. As to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, there remained questions as to whether they should be incorporated or remain unincorporated and thus decisions on their future were deferred.
The addition of these new raw material economies feeding the mainland industrial powerhouse did cause great concern in the South. Those producing lumber, tobacco, shellfish, fruit, coffee and cotton suddenly found themselves very much unable to compete against the territories. The South would be required to move away from raw materials toward manufacture and specialisation. For example, the cotton crop would steadily decrease in the South to be replaced by textile factories, mines would begin to close and be replaced by iron and steel mills. The Mid Atlantic and the Great Lakes began to proceed through an industrialisation boom as the country abandoned primary production in favour of secondary production.
Domestically, the United States was going under more than just an economic transformation. Nine states had now adopted female suffrage provisions, earning major kudos for the Republican Party leadership and the President in particular. Alice Lee Roosevelt Longsworth, the President's eldest daughter, had become the head of the campaign to grant all women the vote, vying with her father for the attention of the media. At the rate of progress, it was clear that, by 1912, all states and territories would allow women voters.
A New Balance in Europe
Events of greater impact also shaped the world outside the
United States. Poland-Lithuania's independence was finalised, even though its
borders were not, with the installation of the near-absolute monarch King Karol
I, formerly Archduke Karl Stefan of Austria, Duke of Teschen (left), and his
wife, Maria Therese, now Queen Marjon. They came with three daughters and a
10-year-old Crown Prince Jedrek. Finland likewise won its independence from
Russia, but had a more difficult time at it due to the influence of the
Marxist-backed Socialist Democratic Party, who won a large minority of the vote
in the first general election. There was no doubt the party was a front for
revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, who attempted a coup d'etat in July. The Prime
Minister, Leopold Mechelin, was forced to rely upon German arms and support to
fight the civil war which followed over the next five months. It was thus they
came to also rely on Germany for the supply of a suitable monarch. The Grand
Duke of Hesse, grandson of Queen Victoria, became King Viljo I. Despite
allegations of homosexuality, he would marry and produce two sons.
Von Bulow made it clear that his nation was prepared to sacrifice interests in Morocco, despite the position of the Kaiser, but expected significant concessions from France in return. He brought with him a plan to significantly redraw the balance of power in Europe. Just as nobody had thought that France and Britain could resolve their differences in 1904, many had suspected the same of France and Germany. Von Bulow refused to rule out rapprochement with France, rather focusing on advancing German goals.
It was only the insistence of Germany on the borders of 1871 that had made a French-German detente impossible. French-German cooperation in resisting British imperialism in Africa, a common stance on the Boer wars and French-German resistance to Japanese advances in China laid the colonial foundation for a larger set of commitments between the two powers. In addition, the objectives of alliances with either Turkey or Italy could both be contained by the French.
Thus, the first part of von Bulow's offer included the establishment of a demilitarised zone in Alsace-Lorraine if the French would do the same in Burgundy. The status of Alsace-Lorraine would be reviewed every fifteen years and it would not be regarded as an inviolable part of the German Empire. A second part of the agreement included a deal on Africa. France would get all German commercial interests in Morocco, as well as Togoland and German support for a claim against Spain for Tangiers and the Sahara. In return, Germany would take over Gabon and Middle Congo.
A secret part of the same terms outlined a deal for Europe, with Switzerland and Scandinavia being included in Germany's sphere of influence, while the Low Countries, the Iberian peninsula and the western half of northern Italy (Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria) was given to France. They also agreed to encourage the British fleet out of the Atlantic into the Mediterranean by attempting to sabotage relations with Italy over Libya. Germany and France also committed to Italian explusion from the Triple Alliance in 1907, with France then publicly assuming the role previously filled by Italy.Germany wasn't the only country to draw closer to France. In June, King Alfonso XIII and his wife, Queen Victoria Eugenie, were assassinated on the return from their wedding. The murder was the work of Catalan anarchist, Mateu Morral, who was detained briefly in police custody, before killing his police guard and taking his own life. The King, who had just celebrated his 20th birthday, was succeeded by his three-year-old nephew, taking the title King Alfonso XIV (pictured left, shortly before his death in 1964). His father, Prince Carlos of the Two Sicilies, the husband of the late Infanta Maria de las Mercedes, became Regent. The new Regent was a vocal opponent of the unification of Italy, which occurred forty-five years ago (the new King was also heir to the now defunct throne of the Two Sicilies).
Investigators connected the assassination to Francisco Ferrer y Guardia, head of la Escuela Moderna and a known associate of former radical Ruiz Zorilla. Ferrer and his wife were killed by French gendarmes attempting to cross the French border with false identification. The French Government issued a statement just hours after the assassination, commenting that it has been tracing monies originating from unknown sources within France, but being sent over the border to Ferrer during the last two months.
The assassination of King Alfonso and his British wife came at a bad time for Spain. The line of succession had always been tenuous and, with his death, it was once again. The insecurity of the monarchy and the continuing strength of the radical movement exposed the Spanish political system to chronic instability. In addition, Spain's economy was at a low ebb. The cost of the Spanish-American War had resulted in the loss of most of Spain's external possessions at a time when its economy was suffering its worst depression in history. A wave of pessimism had swept the country and unions were restive, to say the least. In addition, Spain's African colonies posed a continual drain on resources, with the Sahara in rebellion and the Moroccan question having posed severe dilemmas for European peace before the Franco-German peace accords only months before.
The new Regent quickly struck a close relationship with France. At the time, it was believed that France had assisted in terminating the threat of Ferrer's band of anarchists. However, it would become clear decades later, with the release of French government intelligence documents, that France had funded the assassins in order to obtain the installation of a more sympathetic and less competent head of state. It was also believed, at the time, that the would be more cooperative with the agreed secret agenda emerging among the major European powers neighbouring Italy to oversee its dismemberment, hints of which were deliberately dropped during Franco-Spanish discussions. A united Franco-Spanish position on the issue of Italy would keep the British out, it was believed.
France was keen to ensure the goodwill of the Spanish government. As part of the agreement that was agreed to by the Spanish government in early 1907, France and Spain would cooperate in suppressing Basque and Catalan nationalist movements, France would agree to greater ore purchases (which went in military development) and France would provide technical and economic assistance with railway construction. They also agreed that, from June 1908, Paris would assume responsibility for the Sahara in return for a payment of 66,000 British pounds, a profit of 32% on Spanish investments in the region to that time, excluding military expenditure.
A New Russia
Many hoped for a return of peace when Tsar Michael II opened the first Duma on 10 May, 1906, in Taurina Palace, wearing the Imperial State Crown. The first democratic elections in Russia's history had gone almost without incident, despite the fact that the fascists and the Bolsheviks had refused to stand candidates. The new Prime Minister was Catherine Breshkovsky (right), the elected leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, who had been labelled lovingly as Babushka (Grandmother) by her constituents. She had led her party to nearly 40 percent of the vote, a true political achievement, and was the first female Prime Minister in the history of the world. She had also sealed a coalition with Julius Martov, the leader of the Social Democratic Labour Party, whose party had come last in the general election following the decision of certain factions to abandon the political process. The new and vivacious Foreign Minister, Leon Trotsky, and Martov were both Jews, the most persecuted people in the Empire. It had certainly turned the country on its head.
The new Opposition Leader was the formerly imprisoned union leader, Paul Milyukov (left), now head of the Constitutional Democratic Party, who had displaced Sergei Witte to lead his party. He had attained close to 30% of the popular vote. According to the Tsar, the first Duma had an ambitious program. Noble privileges would be stripped, the death penalty would be outlawed, the judiciary would be reconstructed, a national taxation system implemented and the National Bank of Russia established. In addition, it pledged to completely reform agrarian society through the abolition of the obshchina system. Instead, large-scale individual farming would be encouraged, cooperatives would be created, a new centre of agricultural education established, new methods of land improvement would be disseminated and affordable lines of credit granted to farmers. Subsidies would be granted to allow the resettlement of ten million peasants in Siberia by 1913, increasing the population east of the Urals by 250%.
The working week would be shortened to 60 hours (58 hours for women and 33 hours for children). Public health and education systems would be established. The economy showed future promise. While debt levels were enormous at 4032 million roubles, Prime Minister Breshkovsky was certain she could return the budget to surplus by 1907 and pay back nearly half of that figure over the next two years.
However, even after the election of the first Duma, rumours persisted in St Petersburg and would continue to persist for some time about the possibility of a right wing coup d'etat led by the military. It is uncertain whether or not this was the subject of the luncheon conversation at the Menshikov Palace on 31 July, but present were the former Prime Minister, Count Sergei Witte, the Governor of St Petersburg, General Dmitry Trepov and the Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Grigory Chukhnin. In the city surrounding, three men and one woman worked in the shadows, preparing to strike. Loyal to Lenin's Bolshevik cause, they were determined to continue the revolution. The recent massacre of fifty supporters in Grodno and suggestions that Trepov was behind the deaths were sufficient to seal his fate. When the Bolsheviks had learned of this meeting, they considered other potential victims. Chukhnin had crushed the Potemkin mutiny violently and ruled the Odessa with an iron hand. Witte had blocked their rise to power. All were worthy of death in their opinion.
The person who volunteered to lead the suicidal attack was Alexei Rykov, a 25 year old party member who had been with the party for seven years. He knew that he and his team would not survive, but hoped that he would succeed in taking out the trio and bringing the fragile peace undone. Assassination was a common part of the revolutionary tool kit, but before 31 July, 1906, it had never been used so effectively. The assault on the Menshikov Palace struck the nation to the core. For a country that had appeared to be in recovery, it threatened to turn back the clock. Conservative Octobrists began to re-establish their connections with the more reactive agents of the Okhrana and police forces only months after having turned their backs on violence. A decision was made within the Black Hundreds that a retaliatory strike was vital.On 25 August, as she left the Duma, Prime Minister Catherine Breshkovsky was shot and killed. The Tsar was horrified at the murder and, consulting with Acting Prime Minister Victor Mikhailovich Chernov (right), declared a state of emergency. He vowed that all persons who were members of or connected to radical organisations, such as the Bolsheviks or the Black Hundreds, would be exempted from usual criminal procedure and would face summary tribunals. The sentence of death would be carried out immediately. Over the next two months, it is estimated that over fifty thousand Russian citizens were executed, among them members of Okhrana and the military, and representatives in the Duma. Those Bolsheviks who were not in exile were liquidated. On October 16, fascist leader Vladimir Purishkevich became one of the more famous victims of the purge. Among the royals executed for conspiracy were Prince Felix Yusupov, a wealthy Tatar, and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavolvich Romanov, who had been bethrothed to the exiled Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna and was found to be passing on messages from the former Emperor in Denmark. Those revolutionaries languishing in prisons were not spared either. Among those killed, despite protests by Warsaw, was the leader of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, Felix Dzerzhinsky.
The state of emergency was lifted by Prime Minister Chernov on 16 November, when a letter arrived from Vladimir Lenin, asking to open talks with the Russian Government. His internal base within Russia had been decimated, thanks to intelligence from the Mensheviks, and he stated that he would seek to reunify the party and would submit to Martov's leadership. It was an expression of utter defeat by the radical left. The Tsar agreed to invite Lenin to St Petersburg to negotiate early in the New Year. The surviving leadership of the Black Hundreds fled, mainly to Denmark, Switzerland and Germany.
The most notable death during the Great Purge was that of Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, commonly known by his pseudonym of Lenin. Following the 1905 Revolution, Lenin had joined the Constitutional Duma in 1906, with his supporters winning over 5% of the candidates. However, failure to abolish the monarchy or disestablish the Orthodox Church disillusioned his belief in the political process and he denounced the new Duma. He conducted assassinations of political figures from abroad and attempted a coup d'etat in Finland. However, running out of safe bases in which to operate, he returned to Russia under amnesty in September, 1906. When it became clear that Lenin was continuing to conspire, he was arrested on 19 January, 1907 and faced charges of treason. An open trial commenced in March and, eventually found guilty, he was executed on 26 June, 1907. With his death, the Bolshevik Party he had led since 1903 also died.
His death was followed by preparations for the nation's second democratic election. Nobody was certain of the outcome. Prime Minister Viktor Chernov was an able administrator and theorist, but could never have the profile or popularity of someone like his predecessor. The reunification of the Socialist Democratic Labor Party, and the growing respect for the team of Martov and Trotsky, was also a factor. The people went to the polls on 5 December, 1907, and it soon became clear that the electorate was generally pleased with the Government’s performance but wanted it to move faster on reform. The situation was not grand for the leading Socialist Revolutionary Party and its independent supporters, who slid from nearly 43% of the seats to a significantly smaller 38.7%. Despite the slump, the Prime Minister remained as head of the largest party in the new Duma. Fortunately for the Prime Minister, all of those voters moved to his junior coalition partner, the SDLP, who would now have a greater influence in the Cabinet. Martov’s control of the Duma rose from 13.3% to 20.4% of the seats. The Mensheviks would no longer make up four of the twenty Cabinet positions; they would now be entitled to seven positions. Despite this change in proportioning, support for the Government was up by about two to three percent across the entire country.
One of the most popular proposals by the Government in the lead-up to the election had been that of the expansion of Russia’s navy. The military had been severely hurt by the war and subsequent revolts, but Russia was now prepared to begin construction on its own dreadnought fleet, with a plan to build eight over the next two years. They would remain behind the other European powers, but nonetheless, the process of reconstruction of the military had definitely commenced.
In the Socialist Revolutionary Party itself, there was debate
over the leadership. Supporters of Chernov argued that he had done well
retaining such a large proportion of Catherine Breshkovsky’s electoral base.
However, new member of the Duma and long-time of Breshkovsky, Grigory Gershuni,
was also rumoured to be carrying leadership ambitions. There was a minority
belief that, with Gershuni as leader, the party may have done better. The SDLP
performance secured Martov’s leadership in an unassailable position.
In the Octobrist Party, the argument went in a different direction. There was argument from Western members for a more nationalist line to encourage a greater voter turnout from the right. One such thinker was the deputy leader Mikhail Rodzianko, who was concerned about potential for the CDP to have just the type of ideas that they were having. However, he lacked the immediate numbers in the party caucus to undertake a challenge to the leadership of Guchkov and would do so for the remainder of the 2nd Duma.
An Era of Conferences
Prince Carlos, Regent of Spain, a member of the deposed royal family of Sicily, was driven by an ambition to use the considerable power of Spain to reclaim the throne of Sicily for himself and his son, the current minority King of Spain, Alfonso XIV. The mood of the Regent was that, after a century of retreat, it was time for Spain to expand once again.The monies that had previously been expended on maintaining the discontented colonies and controlling the discontent at home caused by those expeditions had now come to an end. In fact, payments from France in return for those colonies had gone some way to rebuilding the strength of the state. In addition, the rise of parliamentary socialism in Russia had discredited the violent tactics of the Workers General Union and the anarchist National Confederation of Labour. The wealthy and conservative Prime Minister Antonio Maura y Montaner raised the flag of nationalism and found in the French government an ally to advance that cause.
The news that, by June the following year, Italy would be without friends or defenders, caused a degree of excitement among the Spaniards. It was well known that France envied Italy's African colonies for herself. According to the diaries of Fallieres, published after his death, the Regent raised the context of a war between France and Italy, and what France would seek from the Italians, other than their territories in Africa. Fallieres reports that he was taken aback by the question (though the sincerity of this must be doubted), but that he stated to his Spanish counterpart that, in any theoretical war with Italy, French objectives would be to seek to keep control of the Aosta Valley, Piedmont and possibly Liguria. However, he reports that he clarified that war with Italy would be costly and, even at its end, France would still be left with the Italians as a threat. In addition, the response of Great Britain and Russia could not be ascertained. Therefore, it had little likelihood.
The Regent then reportedly raised the prospect of Spain and France agreeing on a war pact against the Italians. He insisted upon his right to be restored to the throne of the Two Sicilies. That throne would be then united with Spain, and his son would be left one of the great nations of Europe. The disgrace to his family and to its throne would be removed. He was also insistent that Sardinia must be part of the Spanish possessions. The French response was that France was not going to war against Italy in the foreseeable future. However, the President did agree that the status quo needed to be maintained and that attempt by Italy to expand its holdings would not be in the interest of either nation.
The French leader then attempted to turn discussions to other matters. However the Regent continued to return to the subject of Italy. Perhaps Austria might be interested, he claimed. After all, Vienna and Rome had not had the friendliest relations, and standing against three armies would be an impossibility for the Italians. Undoubtedly, Fallieres was aware that the French had arranged this person's elevation; he was surely pleased that the French plan to expand holdings was coming to fruition and that this man would ultimately bear the blame for the conflict that occurred.
Another major conference was the Second Peace Conference at the Hague. The Conference was meant to be a showcase of American diplomacy. Personally created by the will of Theodore Roosevelt, he proposed new ideas in humanitarian law, limitation of armaments and outlawing the use of force to achieve financial objectives. Unfortunately, despite achieving many of its objectives, the Conference is best remembered for the scandal that erupted on its first day.
On 15 June, Prince Regent Carlos of Spain dropped a bombshell in his remarks to the Conference, stating that a new age was dawning for Spain with the end of Italy's membership of the Triple Alliance. While Dutch Prime Minister Theo de Meester and others watched on, the Spanish regent then used the conference of peace to argue belligerently about the illegitimacy of the Italian monarch and his government. Outside the conference hall, the Italians were the first to respond, stating that they neither needed nor wanted to be members of an alliance that did not want them.
However, the Prime Minister of Italy, Giovanni Giolitti, had little to offer any allies other than those on whom he had come to rely. The state of the Italian budget was disorganised at best; he had depleted the national pension funds; there was civil unrest in Liguria, Tuscany and Sicily; he had antagonised the Socialists with violent measures against strikes; and he was himself vocally nationalistic. The early departure of Italy made room for France to take up its obligations earlier than expected.
The youthful Russian Foreign Minister, Leon Trotsky, was keen to get a British response. He was quoted as joking to Sir Edward Grey that "allying with Italians makes as much sense as marching on Moscow, with just as much hope of reward." The British delegation remarked that it had never committed to any formal alliance with France anyway. It had merely resolved issues of outstanding conflict with the Entente Cordiale. Despite this being technically correct, Britain's position made it clear that it felt no formal obligation to France from hereon in. Instead, Sir Edward and Trotsky would sign an alliance between their two countries on 31 August and arrange for the Tsar to visit the King in the New Year.
The only country where political casualties were scored from the fallout was France itself. President Fallieres was faced with uproar in the legislature for releasing sensitive information to the Spanish and was asked to resign. He did so on 26 June and interim President Antonin Dubost called for new candidates. Raymond Poincare was offered the ceremonial poisoned chalice, but declined when faced with the additional burden of working with Prime Minister Clemenceau. Instead, Paul Doumer, former Governor General of Indochina, received the post on 1 August.When Spain revealed the French-German alliance, the furore inadvertently prevented a more damaging episode. The representatives of the Korean Empire were overshadowed and had no hope of presenting their case regarding the criminal behaviour of Japan. Even the newspapers were disinterested. Inevitably, they would return home to the Emperor Gwangmu profoundly disappointed. The Emperor (right) had not given up hope of national independence. He turned his attentions to the growing movement of Gukchae Bosang Undong, which was seeking to repay Korea's debt to Japan through a popular national appeal. The Emperor quickly assumed management of the organisation, calling on people to give up tobacco and inviting kisaeng (Korea's answer to geisha) to donate a proportion of their earnings. He even invited Japanese officials to join the organisation, arguing that their oversight was essential in ensuring the transparency and legality of the organisation's activity.
Over the next year, the funds began to pour into the allocated accounts, including a personal donation by the Emperor himself of 20,000 won. On 30 January, 1908, the Emperor presented the Japanese Resident-General, Prince Ito Hirobumi, with a payment amounting to one-sixth of Korea's debts to Japan. He also sought a new agreement: providing Korea continued to meet its debts repayments, that on 23 February, 1914, the tenth anniversary of her surrender, Korea would be permitted to resume management of its own affairs. Hirobumi agreed to give the matter his consideration and to pass on the Emperor's message to Tokyo.
Despite all these controversies, much was achieved by the Second Peace Conference. The United States, as a co-sponsor of the talks, went to the conference to promote the foundation of the World Court, a body which could interpret emergent international law and arbitrate disputes between countries. Initially, there were disputes over the neutrality of judges, but eventually three candidates were chosen:
Kaarlo Juho Stahlberg (Finland)
Johan Ramstedt (Sweden)
An interesting story has emerged since that historic conference surrounding one of the participants, Friedrich von Holstein, who had unexpectedly been appointed Imperial State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in April. The story of how he finally achieved the position through blackmail was one unknown to the time, but has since been revealed. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany had a number of close confidants who were homosexual, including General Dietrich Graf von Hulsen-Haseler, who often used to do a drag revue show for the entertainment of the Emperor and his friends. Another was Germany's leading industrialist, Friedrich Krupp, who had committed suicide when his escapades with young Italian boys had become public knowledge. Perhaps the most interesting of this circle of gay elite was Philipp zu Eulenberg-Hertefeld (pictured left), who had met the then Crown Prince when Wilhelm was 17 and Philipp was 29. The two barely left each other's side for the next six years. Bismarck records for posterity that the two were lovers, even after Wilhelm became Kaiser, but that Prince Eulenberg could often be called upon to calm the inflammatory moods of the Kaiser and to direct him in responsible action.
Yet Paragraph 175, the part of the penal code that outlawed homosexuality remained on the books and was used to prosecute Eulenberg's brother in 1900. It had only been part of the law since the mid-1870's, it wasn't enforced religiously and there were many forces aligned against it. Among the great voices calling for the abolition of the law were renowned scientist Albert Einstein, prominent authors Herman Hesse and Thomas Mann, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and a host of the leading members of the medical and legal communities. In the Kaiser's own circle, there were opponents, all homosexual. They included Eulenberg, the Kaiser's adjutant Lieutenant General von Moltke, the crown prince's equerry, the commander of the imperial bodyguard, a number of Prussian princes and probably even the Imperial Chancellor himself.
It is commonly believed that Von Holstein used his knowledge of the Kaiser's gay relationship to ensure his promotion to Imperial State Secretary. It also thought that the blackmail was the driving factor behind the decision to repeal paragraph 175 in 1918, making Germany the first country in the world to decriminalise homosexual relationships. (Poland-Lithuania and Denmark didn't follow until 1920.)
The Panic of 1907
On 16 October, 1907, an attempt to corner the U.S. national
copper market, led by Augustus Heinze, failed and the collapse of the scheme
exposed an intricate network of interlocking directorates in the major banks,
brokerage houses and trust companies in the United States. In the fall of that
year, the economy was slowing and rising interest rates were having next to no
effect due to a similar phenomenon in European markets. Thus the traditional
cyclic inflow of gold to the United States did not occur as it had for nearly
fourteen years. These two factors combined to shake confidence in the market and
began a move toward liquidity right across the financial markets.
On 24 October, Treasury Secretary George Cortelyou advised the President that the Federal Government could intervene, but he was uncertain they had sufficient reserves. At the time, the Treasury held about $79 million. As they discussed the crisis, call money on the stock exchange became unobtainable. At one point, the call money rate at the exchange reached 100 percent and still nobody was willing to lend. As share prices began to fall, the banks and clearing houses were hit from the other side, as the value of their assets began to disappear.
Roosevelt gave the order to take advantage of the economic
crisis by purchasing the assets of the banks and trusts that were going under.
The banks and trusts were asking for loans, but the President wasn't intending
to extend charity to those who had backed moves to supplant him only three years
before. He pledged to guarantee all savings held in banks owned by the
Government and, between 24 October and 31 October, the US Government spent $73.6
million to acquire assets that only days before had been worth over $800
million. By the time the crisis ended, the Treasury controlled over 22% of the
banking stock on the NYSE and nearly 60% of the trusts.
The economy took another blow when the President's industrial harmony began to come unstuck after just two and a half years. The Federal Labor Court had extensive powers to adjudicate between unions and business to prevent strikes, regulate wages and working conditions and prevent union thuggery. In the first few years, however, some employers simply refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Court. The Supreme Court had struck down past intrusions as unconstitutional under the power to regulate interstate commerce and thus, without the support of all parties, its decisions had proven unenforceable.
In January, 1908, the Administration took a stand to get the Labor Court officially recognised. William Adair, an official with Louisville and Nashville Railroad, had fired a worker for belonging to a labour union. This was in direct violation of the Erdman Act of 1898, which prohibited companies engaged in interstate commerce from requiring their employees to refrain from union membership as a condition of employment. The Administration chose to prosecute Adair through the Federal Labor Court.
However, the Court, in its first case involving the Government, went against the Administration, stating that it believed that the Erdman Act violated freedom of contract and was therefore unconstitutional. It referred the matter to the Supreme Court for adjudication. Despite the defeat, the Administration saw an opportunity to have its new body legitimised by the Supreme Court and allowed it to proceed. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte found himself arguing on two fronts: that the decision of the Labor Court was wrong, but that it was nonetheless a legitimate decision. Outside the Court, it was rumoured that Roosevelt was bringing personal financial and political pressure to bear on the judges and Democrats were stating that the President was becoming despotic. Conservative commentators who had criticised the Labor Court actually praised its decision to allow unions to be banned from the workplace.
Nonetheless, the judges denied any undue influence when they decided that, although all decisions of the Labor Court were justiciable before an appellate court, it was part of the executive as it made executive decisions. They also decided that, in the exercise of its powers, the Labor Court had exceeded the limitations of the commerce power and was thus unconstitutional. In his next term, Roosevelt would use his new majority on the Supreme Court to overturn this decision and have the Federal Labor Court reinstated.The progressives in the Republican caucus, bitter over the Supreme Court's destruction of their industrial policy, determined to gain revenge. In late January, 1908, scurrilous and unsourced pamphlets, sourced from an anonymous mailbox in Baton Rouge, began to circulate the country, drawing into question the past of Justice Edward Douglass White (right). Primary among the rumours was that White was a senior member of an underground Ku Klux Klan, that he had participated in lynching, murder and general terrorism in the years of Reconstruction following the American Civil War.
The newspapers picked up the theme, stating that they were only reporting on the pamphlets without endorsing their content. However, new pamphlets were soon circulating, pointing to the decision in United States v E. C. Knight Co. It had related directly to sugar trade, and the White family held extensive sugar holdings in the South. While the connection was tenuous at best, the journalists could smell a scandal and the "muckrackers" the President often belittled began to ask whether the Justice had a conflict of interest. Further investigation into his plantation revealed that it was on the verge of bankruptcy due to increased competition from the Caribbean and Central American territories. The ability, honesty and integrity of the judge had all been called into question.
However, the character assassination was not over. In mid-February, reports began to circulate of how the Confederate Lieutenant White had fled from the battlefield and found a hiding place under a hay stack. The less reputable papers began to call him "Yellow" White. With blood in the water, the sharks began to circle, with every interest group he had ever opposed joining the growing throng of opposition. The judge's wife, Eleanor, found them increasingly excluded from Washington society and the stress on her 63-year-old and extremely overweight husband was becoming unbearable. On 13 March, 1908, Justice Edward White announced that he was retiring from the Supreme Court immediately, citing ill health. His place was assumed by a man ten years his junior, the Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Robert La Follette.
Peace in the East
The Imperial Chinese warship stationed off Quemoy was highly suspicious of a steamship, the Tatsu Maru. It was not declared on any register and that could only mean one thing - smuggling. The rules regarding smugglers were clear - intercept and seize the vessel. And thus the Chinese Government confirmed what until now had only been a suspicion - that the Japanese were shipping arms to the Tongmenghui, the terrorist organisation founded by Sun Yat-sen and Sung Chiao-jen. (Note: The organisation’s flag (left) will be familiar to most readers as the Imperial Flag of China after 1912 .)
The Chinese Government was understandably outraged. Support for revolts in Kwangtung and Yunnan provinces was out of hand and Empress Tz'u-Hsi was already ill. However, China also knew that, without international assistance, there was little she could do. Fortunately, she had already made steps towards improving her position. As the Tatsu Maru was taken into harbour, there were already representatives in Washington and in Berlin seeking a balance to Tokyo's alliance with London. Backing these efforts was Roosevelt's close friend and the French Ambassador to Washington, Jean Jules Jusserand. For Jusserand, bringing the United States and China into closer alignment with the Triple Alliance would be a diplomatic coup of unparalleled proportions. However, these things could only be constructed one step at a time. And this step involved playing on America's growing fear of Japan.
French-American relations were already at a strong point. On
February 10, five days after the capture of the Tatsu Maru, Jusserand and
Root concluded the Treaty of Arbitration, an agreement under which the
United States and France agreed to submit to arbitration any dispute between
them, or between one of the parties and an ally of the other party. So, when
Jusserand suggested that Germany would support US attempts to contain Japan, a
country who had recently sparked a diplomatic and legal showdown over
immigration and segregation, a country who had proven to be most uncooperative
with Washington, Roosevelt considered.
He also suggested that both powers could go some way to assisting in the modernisation of China and mentioned his discussions with one Liang Qichao, the protégé of Kang Youwei. It was secretly agreed that, upon the death of the 73 year old Dowager Empress Cixi, undoubtedly not far away, the Great Powers would encourage the Guangxu Emperor to reinitiate the Hundred Days' Reform movement. If necessary, the influential opportunist Yuan Shikai would be eliminated. The aim would be to achieve for China the stability and prosperity that the Meiji Emperor had achieved for Japan. In return for their ongoing support, the Great Powers would seek a continuation of the concessions that had previously been achieved by force of arms.
Preparations for US Elections
It had became clear that the rise of a socialist government in Russia had done much to spur the hope of socialists around the world. For America's pre-eminent socialist, Eugene V Debs (right), it sparked hope that the democratic process could bring about socialism without revolution. It was on these grounds that he held a conference with Daniel de Leon, head of Socialist Labor of America, early in 1908. He hoped to convince de Leon, and his mobilised force in the Industrial Workers of the World, to join with him. He believed strongly that, working together, the two could take Congressional seats in the inner cities of most of the states of the Union. It was not without precedent. The Labour Party of the United Kingdom had claimed nearly six percent of the vote in the most recent elections and parties were on the rise in France, Italy, Germany and Austria. The fall of European socialist radicals had provided socialism with a more benign face.
For de Leon, the loss of Lenin and the rise of the Mensheviks had signalled that capitalism had not developed sufficiently for the proletariat to develop the consciousness needed for revolution. He had therefore concluded that it was vital to infiltrate the institutions of the bourgeoisie to prepare for their destruction. On 10 May, 1908, he and Debs agreed to merge the two parties under the name of the Socialist Labor Party of America and to contest the upcoming presidential elections, with Debs as the Presidential candidate and African-American activist Lucy Parsons as the Vice Presidential candidate. They would also both contest for congressional seats, de Leon in New York and Debs in Illinois. Debs suggested that high numbers could be achieved in five or six states. The party agreed that it would base its campaign in the five states that had offered females the chance for the vote (California, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon & Washington) as well as in states where support had previously been strong (Florida, Montana, Nevada & Oklahoma). They also agreed that they would centre their campaign, not on the presidency, but on the Congress.
By 24 September, when the Annual Congress of the IWW and the convention of the Socialist Labor Party were held in one almighty party in Cincinnati, the mood of those gathered was at a high. They would march into the election hopeful that the rising tides of international socialist parties would be one that would make socialism a political force in the New World.
It was in the mood of victory as well that the Republican
Party gathered in the Chicago Coliseum in mid-June. The mood of the country was
swinging the party's way and it was time to engage in a love fest of all things
Republican...as well as an occasional two-minute hate and ridicule of everything
Democrat. Numerous luminaries graced the podium.
The applause erupted as Senators Albert Beveridge and Joseph
Foraker took the lectern. Together, they addressed the crowds, speaking of the
march of the flag into Asia and Central America, the growth of new territories
and a particular cheer was stored for when Beveridge spoke of "the newest
wonder of the world, dreamed, designed and dug by Americans - the Panama
He then spoke on demographics. He predicted that, by 1910, the US population would exceed 80 million (and 95 million by 1920), but that, more importantly, the African American population would rise to one-eighth of the total and were experiencing a dramatic increase in income. It was therefore vital, he said, that the civil rights of these people be defended. He also warned that the South faced economic depression unless it stopped the growing flow of its workforce to New York, the Great Lakes and the Pacific Northwest. The President also projected major changes to the Supreme Court. With the loss of one judge and three suffering major ill health, the opportunity had arose to move power from the hands of "doddery demagogues" to "progressive and modern" justice. He would later see off attempts to charge him with contempt over those words, but the President stated that a new court would see the restoration of the rights of working people across the nation.
When the convention concluded, the strength of the Republican
Party could not be overestimated. It was likely to outvote the Democrats by a
margin of two to one in New England, the Mid Atlantic and the Great Plains and
win in every other region outside the South. If, as Roosevelt projected, the Jim
Crow laws could be turned back, it would win the loyalty and votes of the
"Negro" for generations to come. The resultant swings would likely
bring Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia into Republican
control for the first time since the Civil War and guarantee a Republican White
House for decades.
In contrast to the resplendent celebration of Chicago, the Democrat Convention of 1908, held in Denver, Colorado, had a more sombre vibe. For the twelve years, the Republican Party had steadily taken over the Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. And there was no end in sight. The only question was who would be the sacrificial lamb.
The speculation centred on William Jennings Bryan, the
perennial bridesmaid of American politics. However, he had been warned that his
third nomination would be his last, and he knew this battle to be one that could
not be won. Perhaps if the party hadn't betrayed him in 1904, this situation
would not have occurred. Perhaps, he would have served the last four years as
President. In the end, the party turned to John Albert Johnson, the Governor of
Minnesota, only the second non-Republican to hold that position in half a
century. The Vice Presidential nomination went to John Worth Kern, whose most
recent public role had been his unsuccessful candidacy for the Governorship of
Indiana in 1904.
The Balkan Resolution
The First Balkan Conference convened in Vienna, capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in January, 1908. Austria-Hungary had initiated the conference, desirous of building a railway from the terminus of the Bosnian railway through Macedonia to the Ottoman port city of Salonika, the largest hub in Macedonia. They had the agreement of the Ottomans to build, as if that had been necessary anyway.
In 1902, a great insurrection in Macedonia had seen fourteen
Ottoman battalions dispatched. Atrocities were committed, including accusations
of rape and murder of infants and the elderly. 28 villages were burnt and an
estimated 3000 refugees had fled into Bulgaria. The pressure of the Great Powers
on the Ottoman Empire were steadily increased until, in February 1903, Russia
and Austria agreed to direct intervention and imposed radical changes. Russia
viewed this new plan as a direct violation of the so-called Vienna Plan,
designed to keep regional peace, while Britain stated that it was an attempt by
Austria to turn its back on reform. Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria were also
unhappy with the move. As a result, the Austrian Government invited
representatives from various European capitals over a period of months with the
hope of establishing a replacement agreement over the Balkans.
However, the major discussion was between Austria-Hungary and
Russia. The two foreign ministers, Count Alois Aehrenthal and Leon Trotsky
(left), spent considerable time together, considering amendments and openly
confronting each other over the status of Bosnia and Serbia. The Russian
Government had already decided that its best policy was to maintain its own
borders, but not to be overly concerned with the borders of others. The best
chance for socialism was the covert support of socialist parties in other
countries, rather than overt confrontation. Nonetheless, Trotsky knew that the
Russian people expected him to produce a profitable deal for their Slavic
brothers in Serbia.
With open borders, access to the sea and an agreement on
Bosnia and Kosovo, Serbia's historic complaint against Austria was marginalised.
It would now turn its hostility toward the Ottomans in the south, rather than
interfering in Austria's affairs. It was a good time to be an enemy of the
Ottomans. The Jonturkler revolution of 1908 against Abdulhamid II produced
enormous chaos, with the "Union and Progress" movement spreading
throughout the Empire and spilling over into Persia and India. It was in this
chaos that the European holdings of the Empire saw their opportunity for
The war began on 8 July, 1908, when, after a number of hostile missives between Athens and Constantinople, Greek troops swept across the border into Macedonia and Albania to support rebel insurgents. Their first target was the city of Larissa, in southern Thessaly. The Ottoman border troops were grossly outnumbered by a margin of three to one. Within a fortnight, the Greeks were within 50 kilometres of Salonika. Turkish casualties were 1152 dead, 6114 wounded. On the Greek side, it was 380 dead, 1973 wounded. It was clear that the Turks, focused on their own internal chaos, were unable to counter the assault.Italy, judging the intentions of Belgrade, told Serbia that she would not be permitted to further expand and become a naval threat to Italy. She stepped up the readiness of her forces, warning that if Serbia should join Greece, Italy would go to war. However, on 22 July, Serbia and Montenegro issued a joint declaration to join the conflict. Over the course of only three days, with heavy artillery support, the Serbian army swept into Pristina and began an advance into northern Albania. They were assisted when on 23 July, the Bulgarians joined the conflict, defeating an Ottoman army proceeding through Thrace towards Macedonia. The lightening of the load on the Greek Army gave them the ability to divert a small part of their resources to the seizure of Epirus (above).
It soon became clear that Ottoman Europe was in collapse. On 24 July, heeding warnings from Russia not to engage Serbian forces, Italian ships crossed the Adriatic and landed troops at Dirac. While claiming that this was a move to defend the Ottoman territory, their intent was to grab and hold the Albanian northern coastline. It was, for the Italians, a necessary strategic move, but they could not suspect what was to follow. It was the move for which her enemies had been waiting.
On 25 July, France issued a de facto recognition of Serbia's right to Dirac and declared war against Italy for her invasion of "Serbia". French troops immediately invaded Eritrea and Somaliland in Africa. Troops dispatched from Marseilles began to cross the border east of San Remo, in Liguria, on the road to Genoa, as well as toward Turin. As these forces were mobilising, Austria-Hungary activated her alliance with France and moved forces towards Trieste. Spain followed on 27 July, despatching her forces to capture the island of Sardinia.
For her part, the Russian Government was supplying support to each of the Ottoman rebels. The Minister of War, Grigory Gershuni, had another trick up his sleeve, however. The Russian Black Sea fleet would sail for the Straits and would insist that the Sultan sign a treaty to open them to the Russian navy. Alternately, he could refuse and Russia could join the combatants. In London, it was decided that they should dispatch King Edward VII and Foreign Secretary Grey to meet with the Kaiser to determine Germany's intentions and decide what could be done.
The Balkan theatre of the Mediterranean War of 1908 reflects how it was in fact two separate wars, joined only by a tenuous political arrangement. Other than the Serb attack on Italian forces at Dirac, there was no common enemy between any of the combatants. The casualties in the Balkans and the Aegean were high. It is estimated that 75,000 were killed in action, the largest number being Bulgarians, who threw their troops in what many saw as unsustainable attacks against heavily fortified Ottoman positions. A further 15,000 died off the battlefield from wounds, while about 50,000 died from displacement and destruction resultant from the war. (All figures are estimates prepared from accounts of the war during the 1950's - most countries did not keep sufficient records to provide exact figures.) It also resulted in a serious oppression of the Committee of Union and Progress (the "Young Turks") who were believed by the population to be foreign agitators, or, at the very least, traitors. Their reputation was undoubtedly tarnished by the war and the return to constitutional rule was thus prevented for the time being.
25 July Greek forces in Epirus, having taken Nicopolis and Preveza, are brought to a stop outside Ioannina, with a heavily fortified Ottoman position.
27-31 July The Bulgarian armies reach drive forward towards Constantinople and reach within 30 kilometres of the capital, but are driven back by a staunch counteroffensive.
1 August Battle of Florina. The conquest of Macedonia is virtually complete. However, strong Ottoman resistance outside this town forces the Greeks to redirect their troops through Albania. The Russian Navy arrives outside Constantinople and seeks a treaty to open the Dardenelles to Russian shipping. The government reluctantly agrees.
29 July - 2 August Serbian army encounters the Ottomans outside the town of Iskodra. In a battle, the Ottomans are overwhelmed and forced to retreat.
8 August Representatives of Serbia and Greece sign a permanent alliance. It is agreed that Serbia will get all of Kosovo, the majority of Albania and that Greece will respect its sphere of influence in Montenegro. Greece will gain a small southern portion of Albania, but all of Macedonia. They also agree to seek an treaty of friendship and cooperation with Romania.
14-17 August While the countryside as far south as El Basan is in Serbian hands, the Italians continue to hold Dirac. However, they have little else, having diverted most of their forces to deal with attacks by the major powers. The Battle of Dajti Mountain provides the Serbian army with a victory and the commanding heights over Tirana.
16 August - 2 September Greek and Bulgarian forces begin a siege of Adrianople. Later, Serb reinforcements will arrive to reinforce control. The city will eventually surrender when it learns of the failure of a resupply attempt.
2 September Ottoman attempts to resupply Adrianople fail. The Greek Navy manages to keep the Dardenelles closed. Attempts to re-enter the Aegean Sea continue for the next six weeks.
19 October The Ottoman Empire seeks terms for peace with the Balkan forces after the surrender of its armies in Macedonia and Albania. An armistice is signed the following day. Britain and Germany sponsor the peace talks, to be held in London.
9 August Spanish marines land at Cagliari and establish control over the city during the next eight days. From this base, they begin to spread out across Sardinia, fighting an intense guerrilla war.
9-14 August The Battle of Turin. The home of the Shroud and Italy’s first capital is well defended. The Alps to the west and north are impassable, so the French are forced to fight over the hills of Monferrato, when Italian troops are heavily dug in. Estimates are that France sacrifices over four thousand troops to achieve the fall of the key city. Numbers would undoubtedly have been higher had Italy had sufficient troop coverage and not been organised towards a campaign to take Albania.
18 August The Battle of Gorizia. An Austrian naval flotilla off Trieste encounters an Italian fleet out of Venice. The Italians victor, however, losses on both sides are sufficient to eliminate the usefulness of both Adriatic fleets for the duration of the war.
25 August Reserves out of Milan reach the front and force the French army to retreat from Como. French troops headed toward Florence are rediverted to prevent the collapse of the front.
26 August Facing invasion, the heavily Francophone province of Aosta Valley rebels, declaring loyalty to France and overthrowing their governor. A token French regiment moves into the valley.
26-31 August The battle of Milan is a major victory for the Italians, with the French advance slowing by the day. Battle lines and trenches are drawn outside the city, with both sides sacrificing considerable blood for little ground.
29 August A military governor is established in Liguria to begin pacification of the Italian portion of the population. In later years, France will strongly encourage migration to the region in an attempt to build a French majority.
31 August – 17 September The siege of Verona. The Italians destroy bridges across the Adige River to halt Austrian advances. The city remains safe as long as the defences in the south hold.
16 September The fall of Venice spells the end for Verona as well, with supply lines to the north cut. France and Austria agree now to proceed to squeeze Lombardy from both sides to close off the last of the northern provinces. Lombardy is home of one-sixth of Italy’s population and the engine of its economy. It also contains an estimated 250,000 Italian soldiers.
10 October The last Italian forces on Sardinia surrender to the Spanish. In a costly war of attrition, both sides have recorded innumerable casualties. Later estimates will place the figure at about 140,000, most of those Sardinian civilians.
19 October Spanish marines land on the southern coast of Sicily near the Gulf of Gela. The difficulties of Sardinia have strapped the morale of the Spaniards, who are quickly realising that there is nothing simple about the restoration of the Sicilian throne.
With these massive changes in foreign affairs, the Germans and the British decided it was time to meet. King Edward VII and his Foreign Minister, Sir Edward Grey (left), arrived in Frankfurt on 12 August. Their meeting with the Kaiser Wilhelm II and Friedrich von Holstein was technically to discuss the war in the Balkans, but the primary concern of the British delegation was the size of Germany's navy.
Talk about the Balkans opened discussions. Britain was no longer concerned about Russian access to the Mediterranean, while Germany was concerned about the loss of power for one of her key friends, the Ottoman Empire. All of the victories in the Balkans had been for friends of Britain - Greece and Serbia (technical ally by way of Russia). Germany wanted some degree of compensation in any peace deal for the Ottoman Empire, primarily a concession over the Suez Canal.
Britain was not prepared to concede control over the Canal but agreed in principle that the Porte needed to walk away from the peace talks with some type of diplomatic concessions. It was agreed that Germany would co-sponsor any peace talks with Britain and that all terms of peace would be approved by both Germany and Britain before they were placed before the warring nations. Both nations also agreed not to interfere in the conflict. Thus, in the end, the meeting only produced a statement of principle, rather than any conclusive agreement, over the Balkan War.
The second part of the summit related to the issue of
Germany's naval expansion. Von Holstein, an opponent of the arms race, had been
working towards convincing other members of the German government of the need to
abandon the increasing expansion of her navy. He asked Grey pointedly, "At
what point does the size of the German Imperial Navy become a threat to British
interests?" He explained that Germany wanted complete control of sea
traffic travelling in and out of the Baltic, including sea traffic through the
Gulf of Bothnia. The reconstruction of the Russian fleet in the Baltic was well
underway, and the presence of British vessels made Germany fear for its
The National Liberals were torn by the direction to take. As the second largest party in the Reichstag, and the largest party in the Government of Chancellor von Bulow (left), they were almost evenly split on the question of military spending, the massive burden that was driving the German economy into the ground. However, the work of the Foreign Secretary von Holstein had convinced the Chancellor that something needed to change. The Kaiser could no longer be trusted; basic reform was necessary to change the old electoral laws and end the domination of the Prussian junkers, to end the militarism and to modernise the German Reich.
On 28 October, 1908, the difficulties of government unity were compounded when an article appeared in Britain's Daily Telegraph, purporting to be an interview with the Kaiser. The Kaiser alleged that there was considerable anti-British sentiment in Germany and that he was struggling to contain it. There was considerable outrage both in Germany and abroad, including France, Russia, Britain and Japan. As Chancellor, it was von Bulow's duty to defend the Kaiser. However, over the past year, his political position had slowly moved away from the Kaiser and he felt he could not do so. After days of building pressure in the Reichstag, he advised his party he would not defend the Kaiser and, in the heated debate that followed, von Bulow announced that he was leaving the party. He took with him nearly half the party's members.
The split of the National Liberal Party meant that the task
of building a majority in the Reichstag could only fall to Julius Bachem, the
leader of the Catholic Centre Party. As a non-noble and a Catholic, there would
traditionally be no possibility that he would ever be appointed Chancellor. The
Kaiser had sunk into a deep depression, believing himself to have been
abandoned. When von Bulow and Bachem visited him on 10 November to advise him of
the changes on the Reichstag and to suggest that the Chancellorship be
transferred to Bachem, he drove them away in a megalomaniacal rage, screaming
that they were "bad, bad, bad", throwing at them the imperial seal.
Wilhelm II had avoided appointing strong political leaders, not wanting anyone who could interfere with his rule. With the fall of von Bulow, it became clear that another bureaucrat could not exercise the strength necessary to keep the Empire on course. However, the mind of the Kaiser was insufficiently strong for the test as well. With that fact before them, the Reichstag appointed his son, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany and Prussia, as Regent.
The sidelined Kaiser called on the one person he hoped would help. His close friend and former lover, the 61-year-old Philipp, Prince of Eulenberg-Hertefeld, had returned from his summer residence in Konigsberg as soon as he heard of the Kaiser's "illness", arriving on 18 November, 1908. He entered the Stadtschloss and immediately ordered that a car be prepared to take he and the Kaiser to Weimar.
Eulenberg had decided to read the Kaiser some of his poems, perhaps play some of his songs for him on the piano, maybe even a picnic in the wood at Buchenwald. He believed that some relaxation was all that required for the Kaiser to return to his "normal frame of mind". In this time away from their wives, he would encourage the Emperor to commence enjoying the advantages that his life had provided rather than working himself into an early grave, allow himself to explore his "individuality". He would remind him that he was more than a King; he was just a man.
The Prince knew about human limitations. Already, he had begun to have periods of disorientation and had even had a fall. He knew that his body was beginning its slow decline to the grave. He would remind the Kaiser that he was just over a decade behind. He had been responding to duty and responsibility for so long that he knew little else. Perhaps, as he approached fifty, it was time to enjoy the perks and cease to ponder the responsibilities. He had ruled long enough; maybe it was time for him to just reign and allow those who insisted they could do better worry about things. The two men left for Weimar the following day and remained incommunicado for the next seven months. During that time, they also enjoyed a six-week cruise on the Meteor up the coast of Norway.
Thus, when the aging von Holstein made his way to London as the co-sponsor for the Balkan peace talks, he had instructions from the Chancellor to fulfil. He arrived a week ahead of schedule and was immediately taken to the Foreign Ministry at his own request. The rapport he had established with Edward Grey at his meeting in August was clear and, in addition, Holstein had cabled ahead to advise Grey that he was the bearer of good tidings.
The German Empire was prepared to grant the British request for the 3:1 ratio, that is, Germany's navy would retain tonnage equivalent only to one third that of the Royal Navy. In return, the Royal Navy would not be permitted to access the Baltic Sea without German consent. To do so would constitute an act of war against Germany. However, the German minister had two stipulations. Firstly, Germany was insistent that she be allowed to retain a 2:1 ratio in relation to the Russian Imperial Fleet. He made quite clear to the British Foreign Secretary that, if he wanted to contain Germany, he would need to ensure that his ally in the east was more strictly contained.
He would also insist that Britain guarantee the independence of Finland and Poland-Lithuania and would oppose any Russian attempts to reclaim the territory. The German minister stated that, as Britain's arrangement with Russia were defensive, joining Germany in guaranteeing the defence of the two newest European states would not violate the terms of that arrangement. In whatever case, whoever shot first would be the "bad guy" and would be opposed by Britain, who would automatically become the "good guy". Isn't that what Britain wanted - preservation of the status quo? Finally, the treaty would be reviewed every ten years to ensure that it fitted with the needs of the two empires.
It was with the signing of that treaty that Germany ceased concerning itself with its western borders. It had made peace with France and with Britain. Her eastern border was now protected by satellite states, which, if attacked, would bring Britain to her side. It made the 1921 review of Alsace-Lorraine's status much more likely to favour France, which strengthened that bond. Strangely, the only country with whom Germany now had outstanding issues was her ally - Austria-Hungary. The long dream of the unified German people began to become a matter of confidential discussions and mutterings in the halls of power in Berlin.
The warring nations of the Balkans, having sustained a ceasefire for weeks on end, finally met after the conference in London under the careful watch of the British and German foreign ministers. Present were representatives from Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey, as well as observers from Italy, Austria-Hungary, Romania and Russia.
The Greeks were the most disappointed out of the meeting. With the need for Constantinople to save face, the Greeks were ordered to surrender Adrianople, Rhodes and Smyrna back to the Ottoman Empire, but would be permitted to keep all of Macedonia and Thessaly. The Russians and Austrians were most insistent that Serbia be permitted to keep all her gains and, given that no contiguous border with the Ottoman Empire now existed, this was opposed by few. The Bulgarians got Thrace, a particular disappointment to Sofia who wanted part of Macedonia, but given the decimated state of their military, no more than they could expect.
In return for the cities under Greek control, the Ottomans would be required to give up all her Aegean islands, excepting Rhodes, and was required to agree to open the Dardenelles and the Bosporus to ships of all nations. It would be declared a neutral zone and Britain and Germany would jointly administer the straits, in return for a payment to the Turkish government of an indexed leasing payment. For 1909, that figure would be 6.4 million pounds sterling (about $860 million today).
Roosevelt Wins a Third Term
America was in the middle of election season. While there could be no doubt about a Republican victory, many wondered just how strong that victory would be. With a turnout of 62.3%, there were a number of interesting results.
Firstly, in the House of Representatives, the Republicans
would enjoy only a four seat majority. The Socialists, through a successful
campaign, had taken 24 House seats and combined with the Democrats, the
Republicans only just outnumbered them. The states where the Socialist Party
took more than 10% of eligible ballots were: California, Florida, Montana,
Nevada, Oklahoma and Washington.
The Sweets immediately took action in their local court, stating through their lawyer that Sakamoto meant that he had to be granted access. The segregation was unreasonable, they said. And there existed no alternative facility for Robert to attend school. The school stated that there would be an alternative facility and sought a writ of mandamus, continuing the case for six months, during which time it would build segregated but equal facilities. An appeal was made against the writ to the Court of Appeals, then the South Carolina Supreme Court, both of whom upheld it.
The Supreme Court chose to grant certiorari before the resignation of Justice White, but the case was heard by the full bench shortly thereafter. The school argued that they had been founded as a whites-only school and thus could be protected under Sakamoto. However, on 2 December, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that not only had the refusal to admit been unreasonable, the building of alternate facilities still did not address the criteria of reasonability. By being forced into isolation, Robert would have an education that was quantitatively and qualitatively inferior to that being provided to the white students. It then built on Sakamoto, by stating that segregation in education could not be permitted where it produced any disadvantage, tangible or intangible, for students. "Separate but equal", as prescribed by Plessy, would no longer apply.
Justice Harlan stated that "the concepts of equal protection and due process are not mutually exclusive. While equal facilities may be an explicit safeguard against discrimination, the resulting discrimination can be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process." He then stated that as segregation in state schools was prohibited by the Constitution, it would be "most unreasonable" for the Federal Government to apply segregation in the provision of its services. Within six weeks, the White American Citizens Movement (WACM) was born in Mississippi.
The Italian War
As the year 1908 drew to a close, the outstanding
international question was the future of Italy. At war with three major powers,
there seemed little chance that she would survive indefinitely. This was despite
the fact that the Spanish had endured a terrible landing in southern Sicily.
After consultation with their French allies, it was decided late in November,
1908, to attempt an assault on the north of the island, particular Messina. The
fall of the city would cut off supply to the island from the mainland of Italy
and would ensure that Spain's capture of the island was not as costly and
horrific as the Sardinian campaign.
In the early hours of 28 December, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale shifted the tectonic plates in the strait between Calabria and Messina. A massive tsunami struck the coast of Messina only eight minutes later, wiping out not only the city and nearby villages, but also nearly 10% of the Spanish army. The bulk of its navy and a sizable portion of the French fleet either ended up in part of the city ruins or disappeared forever to the floor of the Mediterranean.
To Book 2 Volume 1