March 15, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

From the front page of the Capital Journal readers learned that the British have imposed their own blockade of German ports:


An order in council was issued today by Great Britain practically declaring a blockade against the whole North sea coast of Germany, although the term “blockade” was specifically not used.

The order lays certain drastic restrictions on neutral commerce. This action was designed to prevent the exportation or importation of any commodities to Germany through Holland or the Scandinavian countries.

On the editorial page the editor addresses labor disputes in time of war (or even in peacetime) when strikes threaten the “interests of an entire country.” Some of the issues addressed would later become part of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. The 1947 Act provides:

Industrial strife which interferes with the normal flow of commerce and with the full production of articles and commodities for commerce, can be avoided or substantially minimized if employers, employees, and labor organizations each recognize under law one another’s legitimate rights in their relations with each other, and above all recognize under law that neither party has any right in its relations with any other to engage in acts or practices which jeopardize the public health, safety, or interest.

The 1914 editorial comments favorably on actions by the British government:

The End of a Strike

It is possible that some of the war expedients will develop into first class methods for the maintenance of the general good of mankind in times of peace.

Consider, for instance, the summary disposition of the Clyde shipyards strike by the British government.

While labor conferences were being held to decide what action should be taken regarding the refusal of the Clyde shipbuilders to grant an increase in wages to the shipyard engineers,some of whom had quit work , the government issued a preemptory order to both employers and employes to resume work at once.

It was represented in the government’s order that the requirements of the nation were being seriously endangered inconsequence of the delay in reaching a settlement, that necessary work was being held up, and that this work must go on, regardless of the conflict of opinion between employers and employees; that the difficulty must be settled later by arbitration, and that no time should be wasted on it now.

The precedent seems to have much virtue, and it might well be adopted by other nations,even in times of peace.

When the troubles of a comparative few begin to interfere with the interests of an entire country, it would seem entirely proper for the government to interfere.

Great and long continued strikes may be quite as damaging toa country in time of peace as in time of war.

It is a matter in which the whole people are interested, not merely the men directly involved in dispute.

A good principle is always a good principle.


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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