Commentary

SPOILIN’ THE BROTH

100 years ago: Hello income tax, Federal Reserve, Ford assembly line, Mexico unrest
Bill Cooke

Neighbor Grover sez he wonders if a deaf person’s case goes to court, is it still called a hearing? H ere we are firmly implanted in

2013. So it’s time to explore a favorite reference book, Chronicles of America, and see what happened 100 short years ago, during 1913.

For one thing, we got the infernal income tax. It sez here:

• Delaware became the 38th state to ratify the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment went into effect on Feb. 25 allowing Congress “to lay and collect taxes on income from whatever source derived.” States’ ratification was necessitated by a Supreme Court decision in 1895 that declared a tax on income to be in violation of the “direct tax” clause of Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution. No such challenge was raised to the first income tax, levied during the Civil War but lifted when the war ended.

• The Erector Set, a construction kit for kids, made its debut at the U.S. Toy Fair in New York City. “Kids can now build what they can imagine, including a replica of the Eiffel Tower or the Brooklyn Bridge,” said set inventor Alfred C. Gilbert.

• Art Institute of Chicago opened an exhibition of modern art that was hailed as advanced artistic achievement but also chided as the “doodlings of lunatics,” depending on the critics’ views on modern art.

• A near-riot developed in the nation’s capital when rowdies attacked a parade of 5,000 women demanding the right to vote. The parade was a day before President-elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

• A f looding rampage by the Ohio River left 467 dead in Ohio and Indiana, with 200,000 left homeless.

• Helen Keller, who at age 19 months was left blind and deaf by a fever, had gone on to learn five languages, author a book and graduate cum laude from Radcliffe College. Speaking through sign language on May 5, she proclaimed: “I am a militant suffragette because I believe suffrage will lead to socialism and to me socialism is the real cause.”

Bringing Up Father, a new comic strip, was introduced by Hearst newspapers, starring Maggie and Jiggs. An initial episode inquired what each would do if they won the Irish Sweepstakes. Jiggs, a former mason, simply wanted to continue to see his pals at Dinty Moore’s tavern, enjoy corned beef and cabbage and a game of pinochle. His wife Maggie, however, wanted to forget her life as a washer woman and enter high society.

• A new book Pollyanna, authored by Eleanor Porter, starred an 11-year-old orphan named Pollyanna Whittier who turns up at the door of her rich, crotchety Aunt Polly. The aunt gives her a bed in the attic. Instead of moping, Pollyanna plays the “glad game,” finding reasons to be cheerful. Soon her optimism infects everyone in Beldingsville, Vermont, even Aunt Polly. The author also was playing a glad game—tallying royalties.

• In Detroit, Ford Motor Company’s new “assembly line” proved a huge timesaver as Henry Ford and his production manager, Charles Sorenson, devised a system to pull magneto coil frames past workers by rope as they added parts along the way. By summer, the entire Model T chassis was pulled by a windlass past workers along a 250-foot stretch of the factory. Per-car assembly time was reduced from 13 hours to 6.

• Georgia “ Tiny” Broadwick, 18, became the first woman to make a parachute jump.

• John D. Rockefeller, a name synonymous with Standard Oil, established a foundation for world aid. Goals were to address hunger, health care, education, resolution of international conflicts, and cultural development.

• Congress passed the Federal Reserve Bank Act, providing a major restructuring of the nation’s monetary and banking system.

• President Wilson threatened to bar aid for Mexico’s dictator, Victoriano Huerta, described as a sadist, alcoholic and drug addict. Huerto had Francisco Madero, father of the Mexican Revolution, murdered and then seized the presidency. Meanwhile in Mexico, a rising tide of rebellion was swelling, led by rebels Emiliano Zapata in the south and Francisco “Pancho” Villa in the north.

• Congress passed the Interstate Liquor Act, banning shipments of liquor into any states where its sale was forbidden.

• U.S. Department of Labor mediated its first strike settlement, between Railway Clerks and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

• The first state minimum wage law went into effect in Massachusetts.

• Panama Canal opened to shipping.

• Philadelphia Athletics won the World Series over the New York Giants.

• In a speech in Mobile, Alabama, President Wilson pledged the U.S. “will never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest.”

• A fund providing scholarships for African Americans was established by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears.

bill@rockdalereporter.com


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2013-01-03 digital edition



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