Friday, June 24, 2011

Progressive America, 1898-1920

Is your political “life” fulfilled?  If the current dialogue between Conservatives and Liberals, Progressives and Tea Party people, Democrats and Republicans, leaves you underwhelmed, I invite you to read this book that will take you to the start of the Twentieth Century. 
Perhaps you will find it is a refreshing change.

Traxel, David Crusader Nation: The United States in Peace and the Great War, 1898-1920. 2006. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 413 pp.

            This is the story of Progressive America, during the first two decades of the Twentieth Century.  It begins with the Presidency of the remarkable Theodore Roosevelt, and then the national narrative changes reels to Woodrow Wilson, and takes us through all the anguish and anxiety of that interesting but improbable leader. 
            Today we have Liberals and Conservatives, and Liberals generally identify with the Democratic Party, and Conservatives with the Republican.  In 1900, at the start of the “Progressive” era as described by Traxel, it was Republican Teddy Roosevelt who was the opponent of big business and the trusts; it was he who made great strides in setting aside huge tracts of land for national parks and forest preserves.  In many ways he was a pioneer in preserving America’s wilderness, and fencing it off from the ever-widening reach of corporations who wanted it for drilling for oil, or digging for coal and other minerals, or for huge livestock raising operations.  He looked like a “Progressive”.
            Then, along came William Howard Taft, and he rolled back some of Teddy’s land reserves.   You might have had a hard time calling him “Progressive”.

Woodrow Wilson
            In 1912 Woodrow Wilson was elected President, and he definitely fit the mold of “Progressive”, but he seems to have dramatized some weaknesses in his political stance.
Wilson was the president of Princeton University, and a rather serious, no-nonsense man. He was honest and absolutely dedicated to his Democratic principles. 
In 1914 an assassin killed the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia and all of Europe was soon embroiled in war.  The Germans sent hundreds of thousands of well-trained troops marching into Belgium, on their way to take all of France. 
            As neutrals, we sold arms and supplies to any nation that ordered them, but soon we were supplying Great Britain far more than Germany.
The Germans began a campaign to stop the resupply of arms, fuel and food to the United Kingdom and their other enemies, and began using submarines to sink shipping.
            Wilson and most of his cabinet, and much of the nation for that matter, were very much against getting involved in this European War, and Wilson was the model of the modern “Peacenik”.  He was determined to steer the United States clear of the mess in Europe; the very thought of “preparedness” was a dirty word to him and to many, because that seemed to be a code word for being tempted to jump into war.  Wilson and his associates knew that big corporations, munitions manufacturers and the lot would gladly drag the nation into war for the billions of dollars that they would earn.

Jack Reed 1887-1920
            Traxel tracked other Americans all through this era.  Jack Reed, a young Harvard graduate, was a hell-raising, womanizing, hard-living and hard-drinking adventurer who managed to find his way to the trouble spots of the world, always with a similarly-motivated, and rich, woman.  Gradually his natural liberal ways shaped him into being a champion of revolution, dictatorship of the Proletariat, and a dedicated to the triumph of Socialism.  

Henry Ford with Model “T”
            Another champion of Peace at any cost, who spent millions for what seems today like a scatter-brained effort to save the world from war, was Henry Ford.  By 1914 he was already a millionaire, and he naively thought that he knew what was what in Europe, and how to stop this war.  The story of Ford’s Peace Ship that he took to Europe in a bizarre effort to stop war today looks like a comedy.
            Still another fascinating character was William Jennings Bryan.  Bryan was Wilson’s Secretary of State.  He was a Liberal’s Liberal.  He ran three times for President, Served as a Congressman and a Senator, was a devout Presbyterian, a prohibitionist, enemy of gold and champion of silver, and believed that he could put together agreements with other nations to keep peace in the world. 
            Many of the leaders in these days seem to have had this blessed naiveté that everyone in the fight could be convinced to be good Christians and behave.   Perhaps it is an American defect, that some of us think that just because we have upright morals and want to do the “right thing” others will see the wisdom and follow along. Wilson for the longest time was sure that the warring powers—the Austro-Hungarians, the Germans, the British and the French—would soon come around and accept his offer to mediate a peace agreement. 
            At the same time the Germans had spies in Mexico, paying various groups of Banditos to revolt, or to kill Americans, or generally stir up trouble.  Still more Germans were paying American labor leaders to strike companies that made munitions that were being sold to the Allies.  And they were arranging for convenient explosions at various factories and transportation hubs.  The German navy was sinking neutral ships on the high seas, and American lives were being lost.
            Wilson and his cabinet truly bent over backwards to avoid getting on the wrong side of the Germans, and the more they protested for peace and against war, the more the Germans did to taunt America.
            All during these years, with war raging in Europe, but with America hoping it would all go away, Socialists like Eugene Debs, and Radicals like Emma Goldman, German-American Instigators, and of course Jack Reed, were riding the Peace Wagon.
            Finally, when the word leaked out that the Germans had promised Mexico that they would help them regain possession of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, Americans began to realize that we could no longer stay neutral. A few months later, we were sending hundreds of thousands, and then millions, of troops across the Atlantic to fight in France.
            I thought it was particularly interesting to compare Liberal and Conservative thought today with these first 20 years of the Twentieth Century.  The strength of our country comes, I believe, from this tension between those who want peace at any price and those who campaign for a strong defense posture, and are not opposed to using our strength when it is needed. 
            Teddy Roosevelt was the truculent warrior, and without opposition we might have been as warlike as the Germans.
            Woodrow Wilson was the quintessential man of peace, who found that there is a time when you just have to get in there and kick butt.
            The Progressive Era came to a screeching halt when Americans, fed up with Wilson, elected Warren Gamaliel Harding, perhaps the most unqualified man ever to serve as President.  It was peacetime, but the sides were building up for another war, and the restraints on corporate business growth were off, and some in America were prospering.  

Now, the Personal Navigator would like to offer some books and papers:

France, Our Ally: A Brief Account of France, Its People, and Their Part in the War, with special Information for American Soldiers [WITH an American Soldier's mementos included.] by Van Vorst, B. 1918 New York, NY: National War Work Council of YMCA. This is a rich little World War I piece that belonged to Pvt. Thomas Salzillo of Providence, RI, Co. H, 114th Infantry, 29th Division. He has listed what must be the names of his platoon, and in the book are two clippings about the 29th Division in France. One notes that the 114th fought in Haute-Alsace and Meuse-Argonne. Also two tramway tickets and a watchmaker's business card from Bordeaux. Little book explains French customs, currency, urges courtesy, explains French bargaining, and provides a map of France.   44 pp. 9.8 x 15.3 cm. Paper booklet with included clippings, card and tram tickets, fair. (8004) $35.00. World War I/American Originals

Geographical Results of the Great War, by Torrance, Stiles A.; maps by Edward Y. Farquhar 1919 New York, NY: American Book Company. Booklet provides summation of geographical changes as result of Allied victory over Germany and other Central Powers. Photos of Pershing, Haig, Foch, Joffre. Maps show Territorial Cession by Germany, details of Alsace-Lorrraine and Sarre Basin; Belgium; history of boundaries of Poland with 1919 boundaries; Proposed territorial changes in Austria-Hungary and Balkan States; establishment of Czechoslovakia; Territorial additions to Italy; changes to Turkey and Arabia; Russia; changes to German colonies in Shantung, New Guinea, Africa.  20 pp. 19 x 25 cm. Paper booklet, very good. (8050) $20.00. World War I

L'Invasion Dans Le Nord de Seine-&-Marne 1914; Trilport Montceaux Germigny; Publié sous loes auspices des Conseils municipaux de Trilport,Montceaux et Germigny. [Invasion of France North of the Seine-Marne, 1914, in French.] 1918 Meaux, France: Imprimerie-Librairie G. Lepillet, Place de la Cathédrale. This is the story of the German invasion of France in the early days of World War I, when Belgians fleeing the Germans poured into the three small towns in this history.  This history covers the events in Germigny-L’Evèque, Trilport and Montceaux-les-Meaux, with French and British forces fighting the invading Germans.  Includes photo of Railroad Bridge over the Marne at Trilport, blown up by the British, ruins of the Château de Montceaux, Bridge over the Marne at Germigny-l'Evèque, blown up by the Germans, and more. 52 pp. 17 x 25 cm. Paper booklet, very good. (7965)$26.00. World War I/History 

Pages from The Great German Campaign in Poland showing Hitler in action

Der Grosse Deutsche Feldzug Gegen Polen,[The Great German Campaign in Poland] Eine Chronik Des Krieges in Wort und Bild; Herausgegeben im Einvernehmen mit dem Reichsbildberichterstatter der NSDDAP, Prof. Heinrich Hoffman, Geleitwort Generaloberst Von Reichenau [Text in German] ca. 1940 Vienna, Austria:  Verlag Für Militär Und Fächliteratur A. Franz Göth & Sohn.  Triumphant book of pictures and German text extolling German march into Poland in 1939, with many references to the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919. Geleitwort [Preface by] Generaloberst Von Reichenau. [Many photos of Adolf Hitler and his generals, happy “liberated” Germans in Danzig and other cities in Poland greeting Hitler and his troops with enthusiastic "heils".  Many spirited exhortations from A. Hitler, General von Brauchitich, Field Marshal Hermann Göring, Admiral Raeder. Pictures of children presenting flowers to troops. Picture of truckload of Jews, text notes that a million Jews live in Poland. This is one of many propaganda pieces created by the Nazis to "explain" their attack against the “aggressive” Poles to "rescue" the beleagured Germans in the City of Danzig. Der Feldzug in Polen; Zusammenfassende Darstellung, Die polnische Wehrmacht; Der polnische Angriffsplan; Ziel und Anlage der deutschen Operationen.  Maps show how German troops stormed across Polish border, with attacks from Czechoslovakia, Germany and East Prussia; Drives on Lodz, Warsaw and Krakow. Maps show attacks as of 2, 6, 11, 14, 18 and 19 September. Last two maps show attacks from East by Soviet troops. Full-page portrait photos of Göring, Von Brauchitsch, Halder, von Rundstedt, von Bock, List, von Reichenau, von Kluge, von Küchler, Keitel, Guderian, Hoepner, Strauss, Hoth, Schmidt, von Briefen, Reinhardt, Kübler, Olbricht, Admirals Albrecht, and Schniewind. 344 pp. 22 x 32 cm.Green cloth on board, front and back hinges cracked, inside front hinge mended with black plastic tape, but front board loose; frontispiece of Hitler loose, top 6 cm of each page warped from moisture.  On front free endpaper is inscription: "Sgt. H. White, Salzburg '45". All pictures and text completely readable, clear. Poor. (7697) $95.00. World War II/Propaganda

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi
Iran: Headquarters Armish MAAG Iranian Brochure, Teheran, Iran ca. 1970 Tehran, Iran: U.S. Army Mission to the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces/ Military Advisory and Assistance Group, Iran          66 pp.  21 x 26.5 cm. Booklet provided for Americans assigned to United States Advisory Group in Iran. Contains information on Iran, its people, language, religion. History of ARMISH, based upon contract signed between Iran and U.S.  In November 1943.  Actually an American military mission existed in Iran since September 1941, when it was providing lend-lease assistance to the Middle East. Brochure provides photos of Tehran and Iran, and Army facilities in Iran.  How to prepare for your journey, what to bring, including clothing (for women, certain clothing is inappropriate for street wear). Advice on adjustment after arrival, hotels, churches, housing. Details on Tehran American School, Community School and International School (Iranzamin). Facilities available like USAFOOM and Gulf District, PKEOM (open messes and recreation sites). Currency conversion tables (US$1.00= Rls 76.25). Useful words and phrases in Farsi.  Map of Tehran showing U.S. facilities. Paper booklet, Persian numbers on front cover, which shows crossed Iranian and American flags and Shah's seal. Lightly soiled. A few lines in booklet are underlined with red pen. Fastened with two-hole metal fastener. Good. (8139)  $48.00. Printed Matter/Iran
Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, October 15, 1829 Buckingham, J.T., Editor   Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers. 4 pp. 39 x 50 cm. This issue is full of news from Europe as the story of long battle for Serbian and Greek independence plays to a climax.  The news comes by the latest ship, which brings news from London, Brussels, Vienna and elsewhere, that the Russian Fleet has been bombarding Constantinople (now Istanbul) with great damage, and also landed troops, but local opposition forced them back aboard their ships.  On one side of this struggle, which has been going on since 1804, are the British, French and Germans, in support of Greek independence from Turkey, and Russia on the other side, but also supporting the Greeks, but helping themselves to territory near Constantinople. More than one column is dedicated to discussion of new school books that are coming out, the best and most prominent being "The Improved Guide to English Spelling" by William B. Fowle.  There is a long, humorous column about "Recollections of China" that discusses Chinese desire to be buried in a good coffin.  A son will sell himself into slavery to pay for a good coffin for his father.  If you cannot pay for a good funeral to go with the fine coffin, you seal and glaze the coffin until better times arrive, even 20 years.  The first part of a funeral is like an Irish burial, with a great deal of howling.   Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good. Inscription on top of page one "G. Wilkinson". (8140) $39.00. Newspapers/Greece/Turkey/China       
Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, October 22, 1829 Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers. 4 pp. 39 x 50 cm.       Report of Merchants' Dinner at Tremont House, with record of toasts.  Lead story is long report of a trial of five men in Boston circuit Court for conspiracy, revolt and mutiny aboard the brig Apthorp.  News from the War around Constantinople: The Russian army entered Adrianople (old Ottoman capital, now Edime) on the 20th of August. the Turkish fleet is shut up in the port of Bujukdere.  English ambassador at St. Petersburg has visited with Emperor Nicholas, who says that negotiations to avert the fate of Constantinople are useless. The Sultan is doing everything to excite the population against Russia, and the British Cabinet has determined to declare war upon Russia.  There is a long, humorous column about "Recollections of China" that discusses city of Canton, harbor swarming with boats, streets are as busy as an ant hill. Chinese gentlemen must have their head shaven smoothly-- their heads look like a large collection of turnips.  Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good. Inscription on top of page one "G. Wilkinson". (8141) $39.00. Newspapers/Greece/Turkey/China      

Balkan States, Rand McNally Pocket Map ca. 1918 Rand McNally Co. Fascinating map shows Balkans with new state of Jugoslavia; Czechoslovakia, East Galicia Plebiscite, Dardanelles and Bosporus under international control. Paper map in folder, torn near top fold w/ old tape repair, tears at some corner folds, pencil route from Bukarest to Constantinople. Poor condition. (1517) $20.00. Maps.

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