July 8, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The headlines in the Capital Journal reflected that, then as new, there are no bystanders during wartime:

HOLT’S ACTS INSPIRE USE OF FIRE, POISON AND GUN BY MAD MAN

Redwood City, Cal., July 8. – Evidently inspired by the acts of Frank Holt, assailant of J.P. Morgan, Carl Arnswald, aged, 30, a discharged servant, early today fired the mansion of C.E. Cumberson, San Francisco capitalist, shot his former employer twice in the shoulder and dropped dead as he was being locked in jail after being arrested. Arnswald had taken poison. Numerous newspaper clippings regarding Holt’s days of terror were found in his pockets.

LINER RACES FOR PORT – CARGO OF MUNITIONS AFIRE
Minnehaha Carried 15,000 Tons of War Supplies To Europe
THEORY OF “DYNAMITE” TRUNK IS SCOUNTED
Officials Of Line Say Fire Is Not Threatening High Explosives

AMERICAN COTTON IS AGENT OF DEATH IS VERDICT OF SCIENCE
Downy Product Used To Stuff Death Dealing Shells of Germans

London, June 22. – (By Mail to New York.) – Cotton means gunpowder; gunpowder means shells and shells means death to our soldiers. Germany and Austria daily fire 5,000 bales of cotton through guns at ships and men of the allies. It is the duty of the British government to declare cotton absolute contraband of war.

***

The majority of this cotton, they say, is shipped from the United States through Scandinavia and eventually reaches Germany.

Plot to Destroy Ships Carrying Munitions Found

New York, July 7 – Existence of a well defined plot to destroy ships engaged in carrying munitions for the allies is said to have been discovered here today by secret service agents. They were detailed to investigate the finding of unexploded bombs aboard three ships reaching Havre during the month of May.

Details of the plot said to have been discovered were kept secret bu the bombs found on the three ships arriving at Havre are declared to have been placed aboard the vessels in American ports. that they did not explode is attributed to the failures of the acids used in making the bombs to penetrate the iron during the voyage.

When commerce and war intersect, the concept of neutrality is either a myth or hypocrisy. It becomes easy to conflate politics, nationalism, and moral values. When there do not appear to be avenues available to stop what you think to be wrong, or when it is legal to do what you believe to be wrong, violence sometimes follows. Politics wearing the mantle of morality ought always to be suspect; so too with nationalist sympathies. A nation’s response can be equally fraught with the tendency to blame groups of people and attribute to them and to hold them responsible for the actions of the few.

Today, there are those who view Muslims as somehow not being “real” Americans and who seek to supplant our values. We have a sad heritage of irrationally blaming other ethnic, religious, and racial groups. As the war progresses, being of German or Austrian descent will them targets of abuse, scrutiny, and boycott (see dispatch for May 19, 1915). During World War II, it will be the turn of Americans of Japanese descent, as it is today for Muslims.

When the costs were added up, World War I cost an estimated $52 billion (over $812 billion in 2015 dollars). One third of that amount went to those who profited from the war. The war created more than 21,000 new American millionaires and billionaires. Out of the ashes of this war the federal government would find itself mired in post-war debt – a debt paid for by taxes on wages.

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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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