May ~ Election Year 1916

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The world is in turmoil as the United States prepares to elect a president. Incumbent Woodrow Wilson faces challenges within his party, from Republicans and from several third parties. Most of Europe is being consumed by the Great War. Yet all is not quiet in Western Hemisphere as the United States sends troops into Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Americans express concern for peace and want to avoid involvement in the war. Britain quells rebellion in Ireland and executes Irish leaders.

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Dublin’s General Post Office after the fighting

 

May 1– Monday– Dublin, Ireland–The Easter Rising collapses as Irish fighters, out-gunned by British forces either surrender or go into hiding. Sir John Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces announces that all involved in the insurrection have surrendered. The dead include 82 Irish fighters, 126 British soldiers, 17 Irish police officers and 260 civilians.

May 1– Monday– The Hague, Netherlands– The German Counsel recruits a Dutch dancer and courtesan who uses the stage name Mata Hari, to serve as a spy for Germany. She has lived and worked in Paris since 1905 and has numerous friends and clients among French officials and officers.

May 3– Wednesday– New York City– The Socialist Labor Party of America concludes it five day national convention, having nominated Arthur Reimer, a Massachusetts lawyer, age 34 for president and issues its platform which calls upon working people to assume control of “industrial production.”

Arthur_Elmer_Reimer_(1882–1969)_circa_1916

May 3– Wednesday– Verdun, France– The Germans begin an intense artillery bombardment of the French position known as Cote 304.

May 4– Thursday– Dublin, Ireland– British authorities execute Ned Daly, Willie Pearse, Michael O’Hanrahan and Joseph Plunkett for their roles in the Easter Rising.

May 5– Friday– Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic– Two companies of U S Marines land from the U.S.S. Prairie to protect the U.S. Legation and the U.S. Consulate, and to occupy Fort San Geronimo. Within hours, the Marines are reinforced with seven additional companies.

May 5– Friday– Berlin, Germany– In response to American protests, the German government pledges not to sink any more merchant ships without warning and to allow time for crew and passengers to abandon ship.

May 5– Friday– Verdun, France– German troops begin an assault against Cote 304.

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tired French troops on Cote 304

 

May 7– Sunday– Waterbury, Connecticut– Mrs Ethel O’Neill and her sister Mrs Bedelia Griffen head to Washington, D.C., to call upon the State Department to have the British release their brother James Mark Sullivan whom the British government has charged with involvement in the Easter rising. [Sullivan, age 43, a lawyer born in Ireland, is a naturalized American citizen, was visiting family in Ireland and had a reputation for making anti-British public statements. He will be released by the British. He dies in Florida on August 15, 1935.]

May 8– Monday– Marathon, Texas– Units of United States cavalry set out to pursue Mexican raiders who attacked Texas towns.

May 8– Monday– Dublin, Ireland– British authorities execute Eamon Kent, Michael Mallin, Con Colbert and Sean Houston for their roles in the Easter Rising.

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location where Irish prisoners were executed

 

May 8– Monday– Verdun, France– After three days of fierce fighting German troops capture Cote 304.

May 9– Tuesday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– About 15,000 workers at Westinghouse Electric plants who went out on strike April 22, return to work without winning any improvements in wages and working conditions as the company threatens to fire them all. However, the union reports that about 2,000 machinists have left the region to find work elsewhere.

May 9– Tuesday– New Haven, Connecticut– Homer S Cummings, a member of the Democratic National Committee, declares that Republican critics of President Wilson place party ahead of the best interests of the country and while attacking the current administration have offered “no definite policy indicating what alternative course the Administration could have pursued which would have more completely accorded with the dignity and traditions of America.”

May 11– Thursday– London, England– During a debate in Parliament on the Irish crisis, John Dillon of the Irish Parliamentary Party calls on the British government to end the executions of the Easter Rising leaders.

May 13– Saturday– New Hartford, Connecticut– Clara Louise Kellogg, dramatic soprano who was a popular performer in both the United States and Europe from 1863 through 1881, dies from cancer at 73 years of age.

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Clara Louise Kellogg

 

May 13– Saturday– London, England– The government orders the call-up of married men between the ages of 36 and 41 for military service.

May 13– Saturday– Luxeuil-les-Bains, France– The Escadrille Americaine, a/k/a the Lafayette Escadrille, American pilots fighting for the French, fly their first patrol.

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pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille

 

May 14– Sunday– New York City– In today’s New York Times Dr Abbott Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, presents a lengthy article calling for educators to join others in building an international body of the League to Enforce Peace by utilizing arbitration, economic sanctions and an international tribunal to discourage nations from going to war. [Lowell, age 59, has been Harvard’s president since 1909. He is one of 7 children and his sisters are the poet Amy Lowell and the advocate of pre-natal care Elizabeth Lowell Putnam. He dies on January 6, 1943, ten years after leaving Harvard. On Lowell’s life and work, see Lawrence Lowell and His Revolution (1980) by Nathan M. Pusey. On the League to Enforce Peace, see Blocking New Wars (1918) by Herbert S Houston; The League to Enforce Peace (1944) by Ruhl J Bartlett; Development of the League of Nations Idea: Documents and Correspondence of Theodore Marburg (2003) edited by John H Latane.]

May 15– Monday– Waco, Texas– Jesse Washington, a teenaged black farmhand, is brutally lynched by a crowd of nearly 10,000 white people, for allegedly murdering his employer’s wife. He is mutilated, then hung and burned while photographs are taken and sold as souvenirs.

May 15– Monday– Trentino, Province, Italy– The Austrians launch a major offensive with a heavy artillery barrage which does severe damage to Italian positions.

May 16– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Speaking at the National Press Club President Wilson declares that the United States must remain out of the war in Europe so that it can, with other neutral nations, help build an impartial peace.

May 17– Wednesday– Limerick, Ireland– Thomas O’Dwyer, Roman Catholic Bishop, refuses a request to discipline two of his priests who expressed sympathies for the establishment of an Irish republic. He reminds British General Maxwell that the general has shown no mercy to those fighters who surrendered.

May 17– Wednesday– Rome, Italy– Sir Henry Howard, British Minister to the Vatican, reports that Pope Benedict XV has urged Germany to abandon submarine warfare.

May 18– Thursday– London, England– The Royal Commission established to inquire into the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, begins hearings today.

May 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Wilson and his wife, Edith Bolling Wilson, head by train to North Carolina to visit several towns and cities, including Salisbury, Greensboro and Charlotte.

May 20– Saturday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– This issue of the Saturday Evening Post uses the first cover with a painting by a young artist named Norman Rockwell, age 22. The picture is entitled “Boy with Baby Carriage.”

May 20– Saturday– Charlotte, North Carolina– In a speech here President Wilson says that as the United States has learned and continues to learn “that it is made up out of all the nations of the world”, it can teach other countries how “this great cataclysm of European war” may “be turned into a coordination and cooperation of elements” which will make for “peace . . . accommodation and righteous judgment.”

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President Wilson prepares to speak from the back of a train

 

May 23– Tuesday– New York City– The sixth annual convention of the National Council of Settlements closes. Speaking at the luncheon Lillian D Wald warns against the rising spirit of militarism which threatens peace and can derail the social work of settlement houses. [On settlement houses generally, see Settlement Houses: Improving the Social Welfare of America’s Immigrants (2006) by Michael Friedman & Brett Friedman; American Settlement Houses and Progressive Social Reform: an Encyclopedia of the American Settlement Movement (1999) by Domenica M Barbuto; Settlement Houses and the Great Depression (1975) by Judith Ann Trolander; Children of the Settlement Houses (1998) by Caroline Arnold.

May 23– Tuesday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian government is reviewing President Wilson’s speech of May 20th.

May 27– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “If it should ever be our privilege to suggest or initiate a movement for peace among the nations now at war, I am sure that the people of the United States would wish their Government to move along these lines: First, such a settlement with regard to their own immediate interests as the belligerents may agree upon. We have nothing material of any kind to ask for ourselves, and are quite aware that we are in no sense or degree parties to the present quarrel. Our interest is only in peace and its future guarantees. Second, an universal association of the nations to maintain the inviolate security of the highway of the seas for the common and unhindered use of all the nations of the world, and to prevent any war begun either contrary to treaty covenants or without warning and full submission of the causes to the opinion of the world,—a virtual guarantee of territorial integrity and political independence. But I did not come here, let me repeat, to discuss a program. I came only to avow a creed and give expression to the confidence I feel that the world is even now upon the eve of a great consummation, when some common force will be brought into existence which shall safeguard right as the first and most fundamental interest of all peoples and all governments, when coercion shall be summoned not to the service of political ambition or selfish hostility, but to the service of a common order, a common justice, and a common peace. God grant that the dawn of that day of frank dealing and of settled peace, concord, and cooperation may be near at hand!” ~ President Woodrow Wilson speaking to the First National Assembly of the League to Enforce Peace

May 30– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Giving a Memorial Day speech at G. A. R Post #1, John Wanamaker, age 78, businessman, civic and political figure, asserts that the United States, as a friend to all nations, is called to emancipate the world from the scourge of war.

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John Wanamaker

 

May 30– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political program of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance. Let us on that day rededicate ourselves to the nation, ‘one and inseparable’ from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers’ first vows in independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded and in which we shall stand with united hearts, for an America which no man can corrupt, no influence draw away from its ideals, no force divide against itself,-a nation signally distinguished among all the nations of mankind for its clear, individual conception alike of its duties and its privileges, its obligations and its rights.” ~ Proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson.

May 31– Wednesday– London, England– In a letter to the Times of London, Lord Cromer asserts that the British government has no confidence in President Wilson’s ability to broker peace. “It is more than doubtful in spite of the very friendly feelings entertained toward America and Americans generally that the people of this country would under any circumstances welcome the idea that President Wilson should assume the role of mediator.”

May 31– Wednesday– North Sea, near the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark– British naval forces of 111 warships commence the first day of a two day battle with 99 warships of the German navy.

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