Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/November 27, 1898

A Transient Record Of Individual Opinion

I should be sorry to have Mr. Kipling a worse story-teller and poet than he is, but glad to have him a better grammarian. Our nearly “grammarless tongue” is so unexacting that it seems rather hard that one should not take the trouble to comply with such small demands as it makes. In his account of the British naval manoeuvres, in this paper he distresses the reader with the statement that “neither he nor I recognized each other”—as if either one alone could “each” have recognized the other. In a charming bit of verse, the title of which I do not recall, he speaks of monkeys holding each other’s tails.” He means “holding one another’s tail”—not “each other’s,” for there were more than two monkeys, and not “tails,” for one monkey has but one tail to be held. Worst of all, in his fine “Recessional” one stanza is made almost hateful by such carelessness as this:


The tumult and the shouting dies,

The captains and the kings depart—

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.


Regarding the “poet’s license” I’m not hot to define its limitations. It is all a matter of taste; even grammar must fall if it impede a thought or sentiment good enough to justify the slaughter. But this is not an instance; if Mr. Kipling had to have a rhyme to “sacrifice” he could have kept “dies” lawfully by saying:

The tumult with the shouting dies—or something else. And by a little ingenuity he could have made it clearer than it is that he did not mean two hearts: the tray and the deuce—bless me! What am I saying?—I mean an humble one and a contrite one. As to that monkey business, the end does not justify the moans, even if it could have been attained no otherwise; the interests of good English are superior to those of humor. Poetry will cover a multitude of sins, but humor will not. A “humorous poem” cannot be, for poetry is, first of all, serious; so the trifler is not entitled to the “poet’s license”. His verse must be faultless—perfect. What other merits they may have or lack is, as Aristotle would say, a matter for separate consideration.

The only “comic poet” that may do as he pleases with language is Greer Harrison: first, because he does not know what to say and, secondly, nobody knows what he says. He is now trying by silence to dispel the obscurity incurred by publication, and has got so far along back toward fame that his dog knows him again when he speaks prose.

A deal of unpleasant abuse—veritable verbal dead-cattage—is focusing itself upon Miss Jessie Schley for her efforts at Madrid to preserve the peace between her country and Spain. In my judgment her motive and purpose were entirely commendable, whatever mistakes she may have made in method. If the women of all countries would try to promote peace instead of war—would seek to hold the passionate patriotism of men within the metes of reason and righteousness, instead of blowing every cooling coal of international animosity—would frown upon the war-painted Jingoes and calculating patriots, instead of hissing them on—if women would habitually do all this without considering too curiously questions of right and wrong, which they can know nothing about, their title to the name of “the gentle sex” would be as good as it is thought to be by those observers whose hearts are in their heads. Let the soldiers of an invading army say if women are “gentle”. Ask the German that went in arms to Paris, the Yankee that marched with Sherman to the sea, the Briton that followed Havelock to Lucknow. Go ask at the Little Big Horn, at Homestead, at Sacramento.

Doubtless there is now and then a righteous war—righteous on one side—but in uniform, unquestioning deprecation of all war and all wars women would be right nine times in ten. If they would set their faces as flints against the whole horrible business; if they would cease applauding the fire-and-slaughter utterances of those who in the blood of their fellows eat bread; if they would no longer incite their husbands, brothers, sons and lovers to go forth and slay the husbands, brothers, sons and lovers of other women; if they could be taught to dress in the sober garb of the civilian a more honorable uniform than the gaudy habiliments of the soldier; in short, if those noncombatants were not as active as drummers in beating to battle, war would go out of fashion in a single generation. Paraphrasing the poets lines, we may say:


War is a game that, were the women wise,

Men would not play at.


I fancy patriotism—love of country, as distinguished from love of mankind—is a glittering virtue; the ancients so considered it, and the moderns are quite as loud in affirmation. “Our country, right or wrong” is perhaps not the frankly villainous sentiment that it seems to be. Possibly, as Bill Nye said of Wagner’s music, it is better than it sounds. Nevertheless, if I were a woman, denied military glory, I should cultivate a preference for righteousness. If, being a woman, I had girls, I should try to bring them up with a less lively admiration of mankillers. And if war fell upon my country I should say once a day until peace came: “O, Lord, behold thy servant perform the only war-work for which thou hast deigned to fit her, and which alone can be acceptable in thy sight.” Then I should cover my face and weep for the red slayer and the slain; for the lying bulletin-makers at the front and the cruel pillagers in the rear; for the thrifty patriots of the forum and the valiant non-combatants of the press; for the blood-thirsty chaplains and their blasphemous brethren of the pulpit, who figure God in the uniform of a Major-general, bebooted, bebelted and sword in hand against his own creatures; but most of all for my loud, camp-haunting, flag-waving sisters diligent in all the deviltry of the time! Patience, fair friends: you are not concerned herein. I write of the women of Mexico, the women of Spain—offending nations against the throats of whose wicked sons you and your sainted mothers incited us (under Providence) to lay the knife in wars that were glorious, humane, necessary, just and exceedingly profitable.

At the side of the coffin I bowed

My head in a passion of weeping,

For someone was saying aloud:

“Behold, he’s not dead, but sleeping!”


Alarmists are commonly wrong,

And over the river was keely.

He took not his motor along,

And we bubbled about it freely.


Said one: “I’m a stockholder—see!”

Certificates proudly unfolding,

And one: “What’s the matter with me?”

The stump of an arm upholding.


Quoth one: “All my fortune is in”

Another: “I’ll go you one better—

My mother is dying of gin,

And my wife’s broken out in a tetter!”


A fat man was moved to say

That he was a leading Director,

And a woman, backing away,

Whistled for dogs to protect her.


“ ‘Tis sad,” said the fat man—“sad

That fame will find him never,

And the secret that he had

Is lost to the world forever!”


“You’re ‘way off your base, I’ll be sworn,”

Spake one with an aspect solemn

As that by St. Simeon worn

In a storm at the head of his column.


“His secret’s took care of by us—

The life of our trade is in it.

The bunco men phrases it thus:

“There’s suckers a-bornin’ each minute.’”


McKinley—Have the goodness, sir, to remove your hand from the Philippine islands.

Sagasta—But, Senor, you have no right to those islands, and they are worth much money to me.

McK.—Very well, I mean to give you twenty million dollars for them.

Sag.—Twenty million dollars!—God o’ my soul! And they are worth a billion!

McK.—My friend, it is an axiom of political economy that property is worth what it will bring; the islands will bring you exactly twenty millions.

Sag.—From you.

McK.—From me. There are no other bidders.

Sag.—But it is not an open market. If you would stand aside—

McK.—I am not considering hypothetical cases to-day; we must look at the situation as it is: The islands are going to bring you twenty million dollars; that therefore; is their value, and that is what I offer you.

Sag.—Madre de Dios!—What logic! Senor, you should have the chair of Dialectics in our great university of—

McK.—It is not impossible; our demands are not all submitted.

Sag.—Nor—pardon me, Senor—submitted to.

McK.—I trust in God for that. This was is, on our side, for Liberty, Humanity, Progress Religion—

Sag.—Porto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. He who is in God’s pay does not starve. Will your Excellency permit me to indulge in a little logic?—not as good as that of your Excellency, but such as we can pick up in illiterate Spain.


Sag.—Either you have a right to the Philippines, or you have not. If you have why do you pay for them? If you have not why do you take them?

McK.—You make me tired.


The negroes here have held a mass meeting to protest against the treatment of their race in some of the southern States.—Press Telegram.

That is natural and right, but it will do no good. All the mass-meetings that they have the leisure to hold, all the constitutional amendments that they desire, all the state laws that can be devised for their relief, and all the power of the General Government will procure them no better treatment in the places where they suffer injustice, namely where they are most numerous and powerful. Let one-half of them in these places go elsewhere and the half that remains at home will get on very well. Better still, let one-half refrain from voting; then all will be treated very decently. But this they must make up their minds to: in the game of politics the Negro race in this country will never have fair play where it shows an ability to win. I do not say that they ought not under all circumstances to have fair play; I say only that under these they never will get it. By no power known in human government can Whites be made to tolerate the rise of Blacks from subjection to dominion, or even equality. If, lulled by the drone of sentimental platitudes, assured by the promises in constitutions and laws and unmoved by a third of a century’s experience, the Negroes of this country still cherish the dream of political equality, they need an awakening; and they may as well heed this friendly voice bawling by the bedside. In making the Caucasian character God doubtless had in purpose some beneficent result not foreshadowed in the work; but if the outcome is obscure the character itself is visible enough to one not lying with dreamful eyes under the walls of a fool’s paradise. One conspicuous feature of it is an immortal determination to “boss things.” The African is one of the things that it is determined to boss.

It might be as well for the President to apprise certain European Powers that although our friend Great Britain is working for an “open door” over in the East Pacific, the trade in islands is not exactly free.


Thanksgiving Day.


We bless Thee, Lord, that Thou hast Struck

At Asia’s unbelieving ruck

(Bubonic plague they call the steel

Thou makest their offending feel)

And o’er America displayed

Consumption’s less dramatic blade.

We bless Thee for the famine Thou

Hast sent upon Ghargoorygow,

While here we’ve had the plenty which

The life sustaineth of the rich

Who also are the good and wise.

Behold we raise adoring eyes.

For that Thou thoughtfully hast led

The Yellow River from his bed

Across the towns that underhang

The banks of that unsure kiang;

Whereas the streams by which we dwell

Are fatal but to those who smell.

Thanks that it was Thy hold will

Thy servants to permit to spill

Into the sea the blood of Spain

Till all Thy lobsters were as vain

As Rome’s red Princes, and, their worth

To prove, swore they’d been boiled from birth.

For these and other mercies, Lord,

One day to Thee we now accord;

Then to the Devil, as of yore,

Three hundred days and sixty-four.


To Certain Correspondents:

G.H.P—On reflection you will hardly, I think, expect me to write for your instruction a treatise on the strategy of the Santiago campaign. I could not explain Toral’s overlooked opportunity without doing so—not, at least, to one who does not already discern it.

E.G.R.—No, sir, an American is not “equal to an Englishman in every respect.” He is not equal to him by a long shot in governing and managing barbarous or inferior races. Consider the difference in the “Indian policies” north and south of the Canadian border. On our side the Indians have been governed by first plundering and then killing them. This has been going on now for more than a century, and we are nearer the end of it than at first only because we are nearer the end of the Indians. With savages of the same kidney the British have had hardly any trouble: Indian wars and Indian massacres such as have occurred in almost every county of the Union are almost unknown in Canada. Look, too, at our management of the Urban tribes—the Nipaway, Skinooks, Boshonees, Errokees, Drytues, Jawnees, Daminoles and Whatowhatomies. The subject is too solemn—let us talk of other.

  1. R.—I have written no poem on “England and America,” or America and England.” The verses that the Eastern newspapers have been swearing on to me are not mine, and I’ve not even seen them. All the same, I repel with scornishe charge that they are not as good as Alfred Austin’s.

When Mr. Gage becomes Governor Mr. W. J. Foley is to be his Private Secretary. That will be fame for Mr. Foley, and will doubtless procure him a statue erected by himself. Ages hence it will be unearthed by some learned archaeologist digging among the vestiges of San Francisco. Eying the pedestal and spelling out the name inscribed in letters of a king-dead language, he will say: “F, O, l, e y—Folly. Bless my soul, what a hideous deny these ancient idolaters adored!”


If Lucky Baldwin proudly tell

That he’s escaped the flame

He knows not well, he knows not well

My waiting game.

(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)


Strikes Basis of Revolution in Red Plot

New York Tribune

January 5, 1920

Documents Reveal Communists Planned to Control Unions and Fan Walk-Outs Into Revolt

 ‘Bore From Within’ Program of Action

“Manifesto” Calls Federation of Labor “Bulwark of Capitalism”

Plans of the Communist and Communist Labor parties, against which the great raids by government agents started Friday night, to gain control of all labor organizations as the means of fomenting revolution were revealed tonight in documents made public by the Department of Justice.

Assistant Attorney General Garvan made public the documents which were seized in several cities, with the desire, he said, that “the American people learn the real purposes of these menacing groups and the nature of the poison they were spreading.”

In their plan to “bore from within” in the labor unions, as disclosed in the “manifesto and program,” the leaders of the Communist and Communist Labor parties outlined for their adherents the program for inciting simultaneous small strikes and development of these small strikes into mass action. The plan of action was given in detail from “small strikes to minor mass strikes, from minor mass strikes to general strikes, and from general strikes to the dictatorship of the proletariat through revolution.”

“Unionism Bulwark of Capitalism”

Deploring the trend of development of trade unionism, the “manifesto” says:

“The older unionism was based on the craft divisions of small industry. The unions consisted primarily of skilled workers whose skill in itself is a form of property. The unions are not organs of the militant class struggle now. Today, the dominant unionism is actually a bulwark of capitalism, merging in imperialism and accepting state capitalism.”

The “manifesto” admonishes the followers of the parties that they “must actively engage in the struggle to revolutionize the trade unions.” It adds that as against the unionism of the American Federation of Labor, there is need for emphasis of revolutionary implications and that:

“We recognize that the American Federation of Labor is reactionary and the bulwark of capitalism.”

Pledged to Join Mass Strikes

The Communist party members pledge themselves, the manifesto shows, to participate in all mass strikes, not so much to achieve the ends of the particular strike but to further its program of revolution. Complete capitulation by capital in all strikes is given as one aim, while collective bargaining or dickering of any kind between employer and employee has no place in the radicals’ scheme of overthrowing the present political economic system.

“The manifesto of the Communist International.” Which was made public as one of the documents subscribed to by both the Communist and Communist labor groups of this country, characterizes the League of Nations as “the cover under which the world capitalists prepared for their final battle.”

The League covenant itself is described as only “a deluge of pacifist phrase-mongering, a desperate effort made to pull together the tumbling capitalistic system.”

Action of the government in obtaining an injunction against the leaders of the bituminous coal strikes was employed by the Communist party heads as ammunition in their campaign, declaring that the capitalist used the government’s power, a weapon which the workers could not muster. This evidence is contained in a pamphlet printed within a few days after Attorney General Palmer had reached an agreement with officials of the United Mine Workers.

(Source: Chronicling America,



The Task at Paris

The New Republic/March 22, 1919


by Walter Lippmann

IT looks as if a large number of Americans were thoroughly frightened at what a world war can do to the world. Curiously enough this state of fear seems to exist among those who not only were heart and soul for the war themselves, but were convinced that they were a little more heart and soul for it than anyone else. They expected better of this war, and they are really rather disappointed at the way things are working themselves out. They had anticipated that once the Hun was licked, the world would automatically return, if not to righteousness, at least to something rather like what it enjoyed in the days when the Kaiser was still flattering millionaires and professors. Instead they discover Mr. Wilson engaged in making a peace that to them passeth all understanding; instead of the comfort of having won and letting the other fellow worry, it seems to be the victors who have to perform the extremely complicated and unmistakably dangerous task of setting the earth to rights. The old idea that to the victor belong the spoils, has turned into the victor’s duty of listening to everybody’s troubles. Not only that. His duties do not end with listening, but do actually involve a mass of responsibility for the future of which it is fair to say most Americans had no notion when they entered the war. They did not suppose that so many things would be irrevocably changed. “War measures”—the vast interruptions necessary to the fight—they endured without murmuring, but now they would like to resume.

It becomes clearer every day that the war was not an interruption which will end with the end of the war. For the plain fact is that international relations as they existed in 1914 were almost completely determined by the military imperialisms of which Prussia was the chief. And until we master the fact that the empires of Hohenzollern, Hapsburg, Sultan and Czar were the foundations of law and order in Europe before 1914, we shall not understand either the meaning of their destruction, or the consequences of our own victories. They were the basis of “peace,” such as it was, and of normal conditions, as men suffered them. Only America seemed to lie outside the orbit of their influence, and this proved in the end to be a delusion. The ambitions, intrigues, necessities, and tyrannies of those empires were the point of reference for all the world. They set the pace in armaments. Those towering systems of power necessitated the building of another system of power to balance them. The character of the competition they created in the backward portions of the globe stimulated an imitative competition. It did not matter who liked their game or hated it. They made the game, and reluctantly or otherwise the game was played.

From Prussian Germany came the example of how to modernize and make a success of ideas at which this generation was inclined to jeer. She was not the first of the imperial despotisms, nor altogether unique either in manners or morals. Where her peculiar danger lay was that in all the others there had arisen controlling popular forces, or, as in Russia, the administration of tyranny was collapsing through sheer incompetence. But Prussia was competent, and because of that competence she threatened to erect a dazzling modern triumph out of ideas which lingered only fitfully in the dusty corners of stale chancelleries. She came uncomfortably close not only to making her will the law of three continents, but to making her ideas the pattern of conventional human thought. She almost demonstrated how tyranny could be made successful and on a worldwide scale.

Her downfall brought down with it the hopes of those feebler empires which existed as competitors or vassals or imitators, and made a mockery of those empires which existed in the dreams and propaganda of hopeful jingoes. ‘Europe,’ as it presented itself to the old-school diplomat, is gone. The continent is still there, most of the population is still there, to be sure, but Europe as a diplomatic system is hopelessly gone. Its organization from the Rhine to the Pacific, from the North Sea to the Moslem world is broken, and all the subsidiary organizations which leaned upon it, and against it, are suspended on nothing. Only small groups of far-seeing men have comprehended even partially that this is what the “victoire integrale” would mean; that victory would compel us to make a new framework for human society. It is no wonder, then, that many elder statesmen, educated in that ruined order, should still act for the ideas which belonged to it, that Baron Sonnino should behave like a diplomat of the Triplice, or M. Pasic should be puzzled by the younger Serbs, that M. Pichon should have forgotten nothing but a little of what democratic France has professed.

The meaning of complete victory was certainly not known to those statesmen who wrote the secret treaties and memoranda which passed between the Allies in 1915 and 1916. To be sure, the execution of what they claimed would have required clear victory over the Central Powers. But although the victory was to be decisive, it was somehow to change nothing very radically. These documents belonged in spirit to a world in which Prussia was temporarily defeated, but in which Prussianism survived as the pacemaker of Europe. Moreover, they presupposed an easy victory—a victory which did not wrack every nation to its depths, and call forth the suppressed energies of revolution. They were written under the double illusion that the Europe of Sazanov, Sonnino, the Quai d’Orsay and the Morning Post was strong enough to defeat the German Empire—and that having defeated her, Europe could carry on as before. Events proved that Prussia could not be replaced by paler reflections of herself. For in destroying her, it was necessary to awaken dormant peoples and submerged classes and the western hemisphere.

Why anyone should suppose that it was possible to tear down the authority which ruled in central and eastern Europe without producing disorder, it is difficult to understand. We have torn down authority. We have willed to tear it down. It was a vile authority, but it was the existing authority in law and in fact. We sent two million men to France with orders to tear it down, to crush it beyond hope of resurrection. And when you tear down, you have torn down. We started to destroy a supremely evil thing and it is destroyed. The result of destroying it is destruction, and what is left are fragments, and possibilities, the stirrings of new life long suppressed, old hopes released, old wrongs being avenged, and endless agitation. It is chaos by every standard of our thinking, wild and dangerous, perhaps infectious, and thoroughly uncomfortable. But we cannot, having deliberately torn a central part of the world order to pieces, leave the wreckage in a panic and whimper that it is dreadful. Nor can we spare it, or save ourselves, by calling everybody who examines it dispassionately some idiotic name like pro-German and Bolshevik.

It calls for imagination to picture just what has happened to Europe and the world by the disappearance of its imperial organizations. We find ourselves in a world where four of the eight or nine centres of decisive authority have collapsed; where hundreds of millions of people have been wrenched from their ancient altars of obedience; where the necessities of bare existence are scarce, and precariously obtained. These people have lost homes, children, fathers. They are full of rumor and fear, and subject to every gust of agitation. Their leaders are untried, their lands undefined, their class interests and property in a jumble, they cannot see ahead three weeks with assurance. It was inevitable that it should be so, once the decision was taken to destroy autocracy to its foundations. For Prussian Germany was the last strong source of authority in Eastern Europe, and the only bulwark of absolutism to which the old order could turn for help.



Texas City’s Woe

The Mitchell Capital/September 21, 1900


Frightful Devastation Wrought by the Great Storm

May Be 5,000 Dead

Ghouls and Vandals Are Shot Down in the Streets by Troops.

History Affords No Parallel to the Awful Visitation and the Succeeding Condition of Affairs—Flood is Followed by Famine—Pestilence Threatens the City—Victims Are Cremated, Thrown Into the Sea, or Buried in Soggy Trenches.

Probably 5.000 lives lost, property destroyed to the value of many millions, seventy-five towns more or less damaged, and some of them virtually wiped out, Galveston nearly in ruins, its great wharf frontage destroyed, ocean-going steamers and small coasting vessels sunk and stranded in every direction, are some of the mournful details of the havoc wrought by wind and wave on the Texas coast and the interior of the state. The fury of the hurricane was spent ere many tours, but its period was long enough to cause almost unprecedented destruction.

From the best reports it is evident that the storm began between 9 and 10 o’clock on Saturday forenoon. Driven by the fury of the gale the waves of the gulf inundated the long, low. sandy island upon which Galveston is built and which at its highest point is not over five feet above the Gulf level, and before dark the whole city was under water from three to six feet. Thence the water gradually encroached farther inland and beyond the water mark the storm swept on with cyclonic fury, demolishing towns and villages along its course to a point eighty miles north of Houston. Mountain region and table land suffered alike, the gale razing houses, tearing up trees, ruining farms, and leaving behind it a wide wake of desolation. Southwest it swept along the coast as far as Corpus Christi and northeast across the Louisiana boundary. It may be possible in the future to make something like an accurate estimate of material losses, in which the damage to the cotton and fruit crops will be a large item. It is not likely that the entire number of persons killed will ever be known, but a conservative estimate places the number in the vicinity of 8,500.

Full Story Can Never Be Written

It is hardly possible that the true story of the frightful catastrophe will or can ever be written. The terror, despair and desperation of the population when at last they realized, Saturday evening, that they were face to face with death cannot be pictured by those not there. Such an experience has fallen to the lot of few since the world began, for no one was optimistic enough to harbor the hope that the entire city was not soon to be swept out of existence. No aid was near; escape was impossible; it was as though the 40,000 people of Galveston were on a vessel which was sinking at sea, the captain having informed them that the ship could survive but a few moments longer. For nearly thirty-six hours the situation was appalling and the inhabitants of the town were compelled to face conditions the like of which have rarely been known. The hurricane, before it reached the city, had lashed the waves of the bay into the utmost fury. The water steadily advanced toward the island upon which Galveston is located, and as it was thrown upon the beach by the .storm the residents there fled from their homes to the higher places. Against such a combination of the elementals no forethought could provide.

It does not lessen the horror of this disaster that Galveston seemingly invites such a fate. Practically, it is upon a level with the waters of the Gulf and hurricanes are no strangers in that region. Starting in the West Indies, sometimes they sweep northeast along the Florida and up the Atlantic coast, but they are just as likely to take the opposite direction and visit their fury upon the Texas coast. In such case, when one of these hurricanes reaches its maximum velocity, Galveston is absolutely unprotected. Even in an ordinary storm the water rises in its streets. The despair of the situation is that human skill can devise no means to protect it. Great sea walls cannot be built, as no foundations can be had for them in the shifting sand, and the whole island is a long, narrow, sand spit, so low that an extraordinarily high tide will cover it. The only protection Galveston has lies in the fact that hurricanes of this magnitude do not often occur, probably only three or four in a century, and after one has visited them its people live in the hope that they may not be exposed to another for many years to come.

It probably will be so in this instance. The dead will be buried, the damage will be repaired, the destroyed structures rebuilt, and the hurricane of 1900 will soon be only a memory. The living will go on their way as unconcerned as those who live in an earthquake region or in the vicinity of a volcano. Added to the destruction accomplished by the wind of the hurricane was that of the succeeding flood, and houses which had resisted the pressure of the gale fell when the water came. The people had the choice of being killed in their homes or drowned in the streets, and the indications are that the majority of the victims preferred death in the water. Like rats in a trap the sufferers simply waited to ascertain what was to be their doom.


Five Thousand are Dead

It is my opinion, based on personal information, that 5,000 people have lost their lives here. Approximately one-third of the residence portion of the city has been swept away. There are several thousand people who are homeless and destitute—how many there is no way of finding out. Arrangements are now being made to have the women and children sent to Houston and other places, but the means of transportation are limited. Thousands are still to be cared for here. We appeal to you for immediate aid.


Mayor of Galveston.


Stories of the Storm

Seventy-five outside towns were wiped out.

Several negroes were shot while looting houses.

Helen Gould sent 50,000 army rations to Galveston.

Five thousand families were made utterly destitute.

Ghouls stripped dead bodies of jewelry and articles of value.

Cities in all parts of the country have volunteered to aid the storm sufferers.

Prof. De Voe, Chattanooga, Tenn., predicted the Texas cyclone in an almanac.

The governors of various states offered aid and sympathy to the Texas sufferers.

The War Department ordered a special train from St. Louis to carry supplies to Galveston.

Martial law was declared at Galveston owing to the rifling of dead bodies and robbery of stores.

Idlers were pressed into service at the point of the bayonet and made to help clean up the debris.

Chicago sent a relief train to Galveston. The Rock Island road offered to transport provisions and furnishings free.

When the water had receded so far that it was possible to dig trenches bodies were buried where found. Debris covering bodies was burned where it could be done safely.

President McKinley ordered 50,000 army rations and tents for 6,000 persons placed at Gov. Sayers’ disposal. Revenue cutters were sent to nearby ports.

Gov. Sayers of Texas has been asked to call a special session of the legislature in order to take steps to relieve the suffering. The state has approximately a surplus of $2,000,000. Not a single church, school or charitable institution, of which Galveston had so many, is left intact. Not a building escaped damage and half the whole number were entirely obliterated.


Dead in Many Cities

Great Storm Claimed 800 Victims Outside of Galveston

The extent and character of the calamity which has befallen the people of Galveston is so great and overwhelming that losses of life and property at other small towns in the track of the hurricane have been lost sight of. There are probably seventy-five villages and towns that were swept by the storm, and in most of these places loss of lives is reported. It is reliably estimated that the loss of life, exclusive of the death list of Galveston, will aggregate 800. Several towns were swept completely out of existence. Through the devastated district the scenes of desolation were terrible to witness. The storm was over 200 miles wide and extended 200 miles inland from the Gulf.

In Brazoria and other counties of that section there is hardly a plantation building left standing. All fences are also gone and the devastation is complete. Many large and expensive sugar refineries are wrecked. The negro cabins were blown down and many negroes were killed. On one plantation a short distance from the ill-fated town of Angleton three families of negroes were killed, the death list of that place alone amounting to fifteen people. All relief is being centered at Galveston for the present, but succor will reach the smaller places and the country people just as soon as the relief work can be systematized. Gov. Sayers received upward of 1,000 telegrams Tuesday from parties in the East and West offering assistance to the flood sufferers at Galveston, and from various portions of the state reporting the collection of money and supplies.


Railroads Heavy Losers

Great Property Loss Suffered by the Lines in Texas

The railroads will suffer the loss of millions of dollars in actual damage, to say nothing of the loss from stoppage of business. At Galveston their wharves, warehouses, depots and tracks are ruined. The costly bridges which connect the island are in ruins and must be entirely rebuilt. The International and Great Northern and Santa Fe have considerable track washed out.


Disaster Not Magnified

Total of Deaths in Stormswept District May Reach 10,000.

As indicated by dispatches from Galveston the magnitude of the calamity grows. The newspaper statements seem to have been too conservative in their efforts to guard against extravagance or exaggeration, and the loss of life in Galveston is greater than has been generally reported.

A boat owner of Galveston, Captain Charles Clarke, is quoted as saying that 10,000 would be reached before the mortuary list of Galveston and vicinity would be closed. He has been about on boats in the waters around Galveston day and night since the storm and bases his statement on what he has seen.

D. Dillon, commercial agent of the Santa Fe, has returned from a trip over the line of his road from Hitchcock to Virginia Point on foot and he gives a graphic account of his journey, which was made under many difficulties. “Twelve miles of track and bridges are gone south of Hitchcock,” said he. “I walked, waded and swam from Hitchcock to Virginia Point, and nothing could be seen in all of that country but death and desolation. The prairies are covered with water, and I do not think I exaggerate when I say that not less than 5,000 horses and cattle are to be seen along the line of the tracks south of Hitchcock. The little towns along the railway are all swept away. When I reached a point about two miles north of Virginia Point I saw some bodies floating on the prairie, and from that point until Virginia Point was reached many bodies could be seen from the railroad track. At Virginia Point nothing remains.”


Many Ghouls are Shot

Summary Punishment Dealt Out by Soldiers and Citizens

A reporter telegraphed from Laporte the story of the robbery and mutilation of the dead in Galveston and the death of the offenders. The ghouls were holding an orgy over the dead. The majority of these men were negroes, but there were also whites who took part in the desecration of the dead. Some of them were natives and some had been allowed to go over from the mainland under the guise of “relief” work. Not only did they rob the dead, but they mutilated bodies in order to secure their ghoulish booty.

A party of ten negroes were returning from a looting expedition. They had stripped corpses of all valuables and the pockets of some of the looters were fairly bulging out with fingers of the dead, which had been cut off because they were so swollen the rings could not be removed. Incensed at this desecration and mutilation of the dead the looters were shot down. During the robbing of the dead not only were fingers cut off, but ears were stripped from the head in order to secure jewels of value. A few government troops who survived assisted in patrolling the city. Private citizens also endeavored to prevent the robbing of the dead and on several occasions killed the offenders. It is said that at one time eight were killed and at another time four. Singly and in twos and threes the offenders were thus shot down until the total of those thus executed exceeds fully fifty.


Bodies Are Burned

It became evident Tuesdav that burying the dead would have to be abandoned. The heat was so intense that bodies decomposed before they could be taken from the debris. Torches instead of shovels became the order, and wherever bodies could be seen in ruins, the ruins were lighted and the flames licked up the dead.

Relief parties report thousands homeless in the towns and country about Galveston and in great need of immediate assistance.

(Source: Chronicling America,

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Hitler Wants to Rule Central Europe, Hitler Tells US Envoy

Gettysburg Times/March 2, 1940

Germany will fight until Britain and France recognize a “German Monroe doctrine” for central Europe and restore her war-lost colonies—this was described by sources who know Adolf Hitler’s mind as the burden of the message he delivered today to President Roosevelt’s emissary, Sumner Welles.

Another point in the message given by the fuehrer to the American undersecretary of state in their 94-minute conference in the chancellery was understood to be that England must renounce “her strangle-hold control” of the strategic lanes to the world’s raw materials.

Germany’s price of peace, according to this version of Hitler’s declaration, includes permanent German hegemony—political domination—over Bohemia-Moravia, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, making the reich proper a solid bloc of about 130,000,000 population.

Other Requirements

Hitler was said to have argued further that disarmament must begin by England’s relinquishing military control of Gibraltar, the Suez canal and other strategic points held in the midst of non-British territories.

Improvement of German-American relations also was declared to be most desirable, according to this version of Hitler’s talk, but to be impossible so long as Washington declines to name an ambassador for the now-vacant post in the Berlin embassy.

Welles, accompanied by Alexander C. Kirk, United States charge d’ affaires, both in formal morning clothes, entered Hitler’s chancellery at 10:53 AM (4:53 AM E.S.T).

A company of honor saluted Welles, which Nazis said was an unusual honor for one not a state visitor. At 11 o’clock the Americans began their meeting with the Nazi chieftain, who was supported by Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop.

Asks U. S. Attitude

Informed persons said the uncompromising, aggressive fuehrer, with American illustrations ever at hand, asked Welles what the United States would do if, say, some Asiatic or European power tried to stir up trouble in Mexico.

It was not disclosed whether Welles replied.

Hitler’s thesis was said to be that the seas never can be considered free as long as Britain has military control of all the important trade lanes of Europe and Asia, and can at any time choke off aspiring young nations such as fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

In this connection, Hitler was said to have asked Welles how the United States would like for some non-American power to have control of the Panama canal.

Hitler was reported to have lived up to a reputation for adapting himself to the psychology of the person with whom he confers while at the same time defending Germany’s position aggressively.

His argument was said to have run to this effect:

Just as the United States, largest and most powerful nation of the western hemisphere, has assumed obligations for all of America so far as interference from European or Asiatic powers is concerned, so Germany considers it her moral obligation to see that central European living space be guaranteed once and for all from the interference of Britain and France.

(Source: Google News,,5171934)



Powers Ponder Mussolini Defi

Pittsburgh Press/August 30, 1935

European Statesmen debate Italy Avowal of ‘Nation On The March’

The world sat back today to take stock of Benito Mussolini’s virtual admissions that Italy prefers the ways of war to the paths of peace.

Military activities—out in the open for all to see—overshadowed diplomatic moves in the news dispatches. More than ever the statesmen of Europe deliberated the consequences of Italy’s avowal that she is a nation on the march.

But their ponderings were behind tightly locked doors. In their chancelleries they confronted the alternatives—League of Nations pressure against Italy with every peaceful weapon available or recognition of the “purely colonial character” of Italian aims in Ethiopia.

Italy has promised that sanctions (throttling economic boycotts by her critics) will mean war.

The purport of Il Duce’s dramatizations at Balzano was:

“Let me go unchecked, unhindered for the next few months and I will eliminate the Ethiopian problem from the domain of European politics.”

France said she would do so when Premier Pierre Laval organized his delegation for next week’s League council session and when he conferred with Vittorio Cerruti, Italian Ambassador to Paris. The French busied themselves with finding a formula under the League covenant justifying a  Black Shirt punitive expedition against Addis Ababa and consequent Italian military occupation of Ethiopia.

Britain said she would think it over when Foreign Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare canceled plans to vacation at Aix Les Bains, France. He called Capt. R. Anthony Eden to reconsider British policies at Geneva.

Assured by Mussolini that Italy will not endanger Britain’s supremacy of empire the British decided apparently to take a chance. But finding the French still working with Rome they decided to go through with their display of armed might to make doubly certain Il Duce will confine his adventuring to “slave-ridden, uncivilized Ethiopia.”

(Source: Google News,,5090035)


An Open Letter to Benito Mussolini

Virgin Islands Daily News/June 13, 1940

By Dorothy Thompson

Duce: Before you take your nation into this war, think well and long concerning the United States of America

We are an odd people, Duce. Our democracy may seem to you sprawling and uncompact, composed of all the peoples of Europe, divided in its opinions, quarreling among ourselves as often over trivial as over important matters.

But that is only one America. The other is the America that files together in an emergency; that being slow to anger, is terrible in wrath; that detesting imposed discipline, can impose it upon itself; that, being individual, can be briefly or for long, united in gregarious self-discipline.

We are a nation of sportsmen. On Saturday afternoon millions of Americans participate in sports. We love a fair game. We are a peace-loving nation, Duce, but we have fought plenty of wars.

Although we detest aggression, particularly the aggression of the strong against the weak—we despise the vulture who strikes down, the wounded, who waits until his prey is locked in a life and death struggle and then falls upon him from behind.

We are idealistic nation, Duce. In us is still a crusading and evangelistic spirit. Not dead in us, Duce, is a sense of historic mission, a chivalric impulse, a sympathy for the under-dog—a sympathy which our strength allows us to indulge.

For we are very strong, Duce. We are stronger than you know; stronger, even, than we know. From Italy, Germany looks mighty to you. You see her great industries, her imposing furnaces, mills, factories, storehouses, turning out and boarding for these many years airplanes, and tanks, and explosives, and great guns.

These do not impress us, Duce. The potential industrial power, the backbone of modern warfare, is not in Germany. It is in the United States. That potential of power is five times that of all Europe combined. We have at this moment the capacity to produce 8,000,000 automobiles yearly in factories running only on day shift; our tractor production runs into millions; and motorized equipment and tanks are only automobiles and trucks with tin hats on. We can produce more steel than all of Europe combined; we are a land built of skyscrapers and steel construction; our workers know how to handle steel, and their numbers are legion.

We have no desire to turn the instruments of peace into death-dealing instruments, but if we choose to do so, then, beware! If fifty thousand planes a year are not enough we can double the number. We could swarm the seas with torpedo and mosquito boats. Our resources will not run out. They are within our borders. They are in our own hands.

Do not be deceived, Duce, by what is termed “public opinion.” Ours is a genuine public opinion, and moves with and responds to events. Did you observe that defense vote in the Senate, Duce? Can you recall another time when the Senate of the United States has passed a unanimous vote 78 to 0?

Duce, you have spoken of Roman pride. It is no mean or empty word. Yours are a great people, skillful, lucid, intelligent and brave. Brave, Duce, in a cause in which they believe. The world has said of them that they desert alliances, and that, no doubt, has rankled in your mind. The world also has said that they wait to choose the winning side.

Proudest is the nation that chooses what is right, in harmony with its own instinct. Your people Duce, do not want this war. Let a stranger who has been briefly in your country tell you what you yourself must know. They do not believe in this war. They believe in neither side though their spontaneous sympathy goes out to France. But not to Germany, Duce, no more than to England.

Their instinct tells them that Italy will not win this war for Italy, if she goes into it. But she may lose it for Europe—for the Europe which Italy cradled and of which she is an indissoluble part.

Your people have good instincts, Duce. A fortnight ago, in Italy, when for a moment it seemed as though a detente had occurred and Italy would stand aloof, your people were wreathed in smiles and expressed their joy even to the casual traveling stranger. A leader is great in so far as he expresses and incorporates the instincts of his people. When he runs athwart then his star is lost.

You said some days ago, “Italy cannot stand permanently aloof from the vicissitudes of Europe.”

Duce, the vicissitudes of Europe are the vicissitudes of the world. Do you think that the United States of America can stand aloof from the vicissitudes of the world? This continent lying between two oceans; these forty-eight entities looking westward, looking eastward, vast and free? Do you think that the United States will live in this world on the terms of any power or combination of powers?

We, too, Duce, shall help write those terms, or we shall oppose those terms.

And when we oppose them it will not be we who will be exhausted by wars, or short of materials. Not we. And we shall have no sympathy for the vulture, for the profiteer on the misfortunes of others.

Contempt, Duce, is more poisonous than anger. It smites casually and surely. And nations recognize it and feel it themselves. Even in moments of power, they know self-contempt.

(Source: Google News,,3636238)