April 5, 1906 (Thursday)
AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, SORT OF: Many high-ranking people are at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Ala., to celebrate the place's 25th anniversary. Secretary of War William Howard Taft (right) took the occasion yesterday to defend some of the laws of the South that prevent many from voting. Here's how he was quoted:
"It seems to me that a policy of the Southern people in adopting laws which exclude impartially both the black and white ignorant and irresponsible, should not be criticized. But it is said, and with what truth I do not now discuss, these laws are intended to be enforced so as to exclude the colored voters and to allow the white voters who ought also to be excluded to enjoy the franchise. Assuming this to be true, still the situation is by no means a hopeless one for the negro."
Easy for him to say, I suppose. By the way, if the "ignorant and irresponsible" aren't supposed to vote, how come so many of that ilk end up in Congress?
MIRACLE AT A MINE: Amazingly, a French miner emerged alive this morning in northern France -- a survivor of the disaster at Courrieres. He had been underground, presumed dead, since MARCH 10 (when the photo at right was probably taken). The explosion killed about 1,100 miners, many of whom were children. Here's how this lucky survivor, Auguste Berton, described it, according to a report in today's newspapers: "I was working with my cousin when an explosion occurred and we became separated. Afterward, alone, I groped about in the darkness, trying to find an outlet. If first found a dead horse, but was unable to eat any of its flesh. Later I found some lunch bags which had belonged to men who had been killed by the explosion and I lived on the food I found it them. I suffered from the cold and took clothing and shoes from the dead. I also found three watches and 25 sous. At one time I gave up hope and tried to commit suicide by opening a vein. I slept ten times and tried to count the days, estimating that eight days had passed since the explosion." Meanwhile, local residents continue to hold out hope. Dragoons are on hand for crowd control, because family members are furious at the dangers conditions that mine owners ignored. Rescuers recently found a horse that had survived the blast.
TO BE (SHAKESPEARE) OR NOT TO BE (SHAKESPEARE): A couple of papers have publish a report from the New York World that passes on story told by Indiana's Rep. Landis (probably Charles B. Landis, former editor of the Logansport Journal). Landis calls it the best example of dramatic criticism he has ever seen. It doesn't come from a publication from New York or London. Rather it was in the weekly newspaper of Rising Sun, Ind.
The review dealt with a performance of "Hamlet" that had Walker Whiteside (see photo) in the title role. It was a one-night performance. The playhouse was the Town Hall. The reviewer was not impressed. Here's how the review supposedly ended: "There has been a long discussion as to whether Bacon or Shakespeare wrote the plays commonly attributed to Shakespeare. It can be easily settled now. Let the graves of the two writers be opened. The one who turned over last night is the author."
A DECISION WORTH STICKING TO: A host of memories gathered last night in Washington, D.C., when that city's Society of the Oldest Inhabitants met in the Corcoran Building. One speaker was Fred Calvert. (The Washington Post calls him a member of Andrew Jackson's Cabinet, but I find no evidence of that.) Anyway, he told a story about how the site was picked for the Treasury Building (shown above in 1906). It turns out that a group that was supposed to choose a place for the massive building had met numerous times and made no decision. One day, the group was checking an area near the White House. President Jackson emerged from that place and walked up to the group. The dithering men told him they had not yet made a decision. He got angry. He stuck his hickory stick in the ground and said, "Damn it, build it there!" They did.