Saturday, January 14, 2017

Peace at Hand

Continuing last Saturday's look back at editorial cartoons from January, 1917, it soon becomes clear that any optimism for peace left over from the the holiday season was aging about as well as the family Christmas tree.

Last week, I included a Canadian cartoon that portrayed the U.S. as a fish eyeing bait (Germany's peace proposal) dangled by Kaiser Wilhelm. Below, an Italian cartoonist depicts the U.S. and its own peace proposals as the objects being dangled.
Cartoon in Il Numero,Turin, in January, 1917
In this British cartoon, a Belgian officer (very possibly King Albert I) reacts to "peace notes" carried by Scandinavia, Switzerland and the U.S.
"Why Didn't You Speak Up" by George Whitelaw in Glasgow Evening News, January, 1917
On the west side of the Atlantic, views of Germany and the Kaiser were quickly souring. There were still cartoonists drawing cartoons against war per se, but they were outnumbered by cartoons that argued suspicions against Germany. (Both appear to have been outnumbered by cartoons about the cost of living, but I didn't see any on that topic that I found the slightest bit interesting. So, returning to the topic at hand...)
"Friendly Relations" by John H. Cassel in The New York World, January, 1917
Bernstorff in John Cassel's cartoon is the German ambassador to the U.S., Johann Heinrich Graf von Bernstorff, who was secretly funding extensive sabotage operations against the U.S. and Canada.

He wasn't just threatening to spread rumors of Woodrow Wilson and golden showers, either. His German agents set off explosions at the Roebling Wire and Cable plant in Trenton, New Jersey in January, 1915; and at a munitions depot near the Statue of Liberty in July, 1916. The latter killed seven people and caused $100,000 in damage to Lady Liberty and about $20 million elsewhere. The explosion was felt as far away as Maryland, and blew out windows in a 25-mile radius.
"Lifting the Lid" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January, 1917
As of January, 1917, culpability of the German government in these and other plots had not been exposed; that German sympathizers were involved was commonly suspected, however.

Were he the president-elect 100 years ago, I'm sure that Donald Joffrey Trump would have told the nation that plenty of other countries could have been behind the sabotage, and that “Blowing up stuff is bad, and it shouldn’t be done. But look at the things that were blown up. Look at what was learned from blowing it up.”

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