This essay by John Harvey Kellogg appeared in Association Men, the official publication for Y.M.C.A. leaders during World War I. The piece caught my eye because so many people I encounter have an almost unreasonably nostalgic view of the past that does not make sense when looking at the world through the words of people living at the time. “People are people” and that has always been true.
The Decay of American Manhood
By J.H. Kellogg, M.D.,
Battle Creek, Michigan
History records nothing so wonderful as the development and progress of this great nation in the last hundred years.
But a blight has struck us.
American manhood is decaying.
We are going morally at a terrifying rate.
We have foes at home more deadly and destructive than our European enemies.
Davenport has shown that one in every hundred men is mentally defective, insane, epileptic, habitually criminal, or feeble-minded.
Recent military examinations have brought out most appalling facts.
Major Orr, a medical officer of the regular army, tells us that two to three out of every four applicants for the army are rejected as physically unfit.
Draft examinations show more than half our young men unfit for military training.
The examinations of the Life Extension Institute show only one man in a hundred wholly free from disease and physically fit. (more…)
By Paul N. Wilson for American Magazine in 1922
The Amador-Central Railroad of California earns its own way, pays a profit, and has never asked a cent from anyone. And a woman runs it! Mrs. Meta J. Erickson, who is doing what big railroad magnates say can’t be done, has been president of the Amador-Central for a good many years. She’s the only woman railroad president in the world.
The A. C. R. R., twelve miles long, is probably the shortest commercial road in the United States which is run on its own merits and not as an adjunct to some larger enterprise. But it’s a regular railroad, just the same. It’s regulated by the Railroad Commission, collects war tax, runs on schedule, and is in everything just like its bigger brothers. (more…)
By Mrs. Marshall Darrach
“The discovery of the efficiency of the middle-aged woman has been one of the recent joys of the business world,” said Mrs. Robert Armstrong, formerly personnel director of the National City Company in Wall Street, and now personnel secretary of the Eastman Kodak Company at Rochester, New York.
Mrs. Armstrong, when questioned as to the nature of this belated recognition of the merits of the middle-aged woman in business, spoke with enthusiasm and with the voice of authority on this phase of the economic independence of women.
“When do you consider that a woman has reached middle age in the eyes of a businessman?” Mrs. Armstrong smiled. “I know that some men consider a woman elderly at twenty-eight, but the woman under discussion, and who is demonstrating her value in business life, is from forty to fifty. She made her appearance in sufficiently large numbers to permit of a collective scientific study as a war emergency; and what businessmen learned of the sterling qualities of the middle-aged woman when she was fitted into the particular place that had been awaiting her, caused her stock to rise in the employment market.”
A silly video to the music of “I am too sexy” by Right Said Fred featuring clips from various science fiction TV shows. This was made in 2005 and shared to the Internet Archive.
Director and cook – Ilana
Editing and Bitching – Di
By Alva Belmont for
Ladies Home Journal, September 1922
TWENTY-FOUR hours after the dedication of the Woman’s Parliament in Washington a representative of THE LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL asked me what I really meant when I said that henceforth women are to be dictators. She was the fortieth or fiftieth person who had put the same question to me in that very limited space of time.
I meant then, and mean now, exactly what I said.
The end of the dictatorship of the world by men alone is in sight. We women have lived long enough in the cramped confines of a misfit social structure. We have been forced to sit still too long. We have been powerless for such an endless time that we have accumulated enough stored-up energy to shape any structure to our will.
We know we can manage the house. We can reconstruct it. We can put on a left wing and a right wing. We can add a sun porch to let in the light. We could even tear the house down if we liked-and I think men know that too.
The time has come to take this world muddle that men have created and strive to turn it into an ordered, peaceful, happy abiding place for humanity. In its present condition, the world is its own worst indictment against the sole dictatorship of men. Men have always obstructed and suppressed the intellect of one-half of the human race. They have always worked for themselves. That is not sufficient. The error lies here. (more…)
The suffragettes are planning to start a college course to teach the youth of America the value and justice of votes for women.
The course as outlined will include instruction on the evolution of womankind; of the wooing with rocks in the Stone age; of the chattel days of the Middle ages; of her present condition in most states where, equipped with learning, finish, brains, integrity and conscience, she is denied a vote.
The idea is fine. It should be broadened, the course widened, with every woman an instructor.
The greatest crusaders to the real cause of woman’s rights will not be found in the school room.
While the loyal citizens of the North were eating their turkeys, our gallant soldiers in the South were also celebrating their Thanksgiving. We illustrate the amusements indulged in at Fort Pulaski, premising, however, that in South Carolina, where our flag waved, the day was observed by special orders of Gen. Saxton.
Thanksgiving Day at Fort Pulaski, Georgia (1862)
Divine services were held in all the churches in Beaufort, and Gen. Saxton visited the camps to see that the soldiers were properly supplied. The grand attraction of the day, however, was the fête given by the officers of the 48th N. Y. V., Col. Barton, and Company G, 3d Rhode Island regiment.
As a curiosity, we give the programme:
- DIVINE SERVICE at 9. The entertainments to commence with target practice. Three competitors from each Company. Distance 200 yards.
- ROWING MATCH—Distance one mile around a stake-boat and return.
- FOOT RACE—Three times round Terreplein, and over 12 hurdles three feet high.
- HURDLE SACK RACE—100 yards and return; over three hurdles 50 yards apart and 18 inches high.
- WHEELBARROW RACE—Competitors blindfolded, trundling a wheel-barrow once across Terreplein.
- MEAL FEAT—Exclusively for Contrabands; hands tied behind the back, and to seize with the teeth a $5 gold piece dropped in a tub of meal. Six competitors, to be allowed five minutes each to accomplish the feat.
- GREASED POLE—Pole to be 15 feet high.
- GREASED PIG—To be seized and held by the tail Three competitors from each Company. Prize—pig.
- BURLESQUE DRESS PARADE—Each Company will be allowed to enter an equal number of competitors for each prize.
Thanksgiving Day at Fort Pulaski, Georgia (1862)
Women’s Reasons for Desiring to Vote
National Citizen and Ballot Box – July 1880
The work of reading these thousands of postals and letters and selecting from among them for publication, has required the labor of two persons over two weeks, and a portion of this time three persons were engaged upon it. Although but comparatively a small portion of them has been given, they form a very remarkable, unique, instructive and valuable addition to the literature and history of woman suffrage.
They not only show the growth of liberty in the hearts of women, but they point out the causes of this growth. Each letter, each postal, carries its own tale of tyrannous oppression, and each woman who reads, will find her courage and her convictions strengthened. Let every woman who receives this paper religiously preserve it for future reference. Let those who say that women do not want to vote, look at the unanimity with which women in each and every state, declare that they do wish to vote,—that they are oppressed because they cannot vote—that they deem themselves capable of making the laws by which they are governed, and of ruling themselves in every way.
These letters are warm from the heart, but they tell tales of injustice and wrong that chill the reader’s blood. They show a growing tendency among women to right their own wrongs, as women have ofttimes in ages before chosen their own ways to do. Greece with its tales of Medea and Clytemnestra; Rome and the remembrance of Tofania and her famous water; southern France of more modern times all carry warning to legal domestic tyrants.
Matilda Joslyn Gage
Some friends have taken on the task of helping me publish all of these responses that came on from Americans from coast to coast. Links to them will appear below.
State by State
Matilda Joslyn Gage
The National Citizen and Ballot Box was a monthly journal deeply involved in the roots of the American feminist movement. It was owned and edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage, American women’s rights advocate, who helped to lead and publicize the suffrage movement in the United States.
Gage included her intentions for the paper in a prospectus: “Its especial object will be to secure national protection to women citizens in the exercise of their rights to vote…it will oppose Class Legislation of whatever form…Women of every class, condition, rank and name will find this paper their friend.”
Gage became the National Citizen and Ballot Box’s primary editor for the next three years (until 1881), producing and publishing essays on a wide range of issues. Each edition bore the motto “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword”, and included regular columns about prominent women in history and female inventors. Gage wrote clearly, logically, and often with a dry wit and a well-honed sense of irony. Writing about laws which allowed a man to will his children to a guardian unrelated to their mother, Gage observed: “It is sometimes better to be a dead man than a live woman.”
If I had a time machine, the very first thing I would do is collect Elizabeth Cady Stanton and bring her to 2016 and beg her to talk about the presidential election.
Stanton spent her entire adult life fighting for the rights of women both in the home and in government. She died 18 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment prohibited any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex.
Publicly, he was steadfastly uncompromising in her views of right and wrong and she was not afraid to tell powerful people that they were saying idiotic things. This year, the 201st anniversary of her birth, we have the first major party running a female candidate. I would love to hear her thoughts on the issues facing Secretary Clinton as a candidate and see what Stanton thinks of the way the two candidates are covered in the media.
In the 147-year-old editorial below, she shared her thoughts on trade and tariffs. Given the theme of protectionism and foreign trade this campaign season, I thought it was particularly interesting to see how someone like her saw the issues we face today.
The editors of The Revolution regard Free Trade as one of the greatest moral reforms of the day, and should write more on that question, if better posted on that phase of the subject generally discussed in our public journals. We have looked at it more in its moral than material bearings, hence the very arguments made against it as a principle are to us the strongest in its favor.
Without going into customs, revenues, duties, per cent., and all those wearisome statistics with which men make the pecuniary point of view ever the main one, befogging the daughters of Eve with endless arithmetical and financial problems, this question resolves itself with me into just this:
Every man has a right to make what he can for the good of his fellow-beings, and sell it in any market in the world where he can get the best price. It is the duty of every man to develop his own powers, do what he can with the greatest skill and ease, and depend on others for those things he has no special genius or capability to do for himself. In this way the peculiar talent of each one is made available to all, and mutual dependence is one of the strongest ties in cementing the brotherhood of man. It is just as unprofitable and impossible for every man to supply all his own wants as it is for countries to do the same. What is true of individuals is true of nations. Tariffs and protection, and all these artificial modes of making the few prosperous at the expense of the many, cannot be wise and profitable in the long run, even if figures do show the contrary.
Men say, let a nation raise all its own grains, vegetables and fruits, make all its own clothes, and boots, and then, in time of war, it will be independent. If mutual dependence will help to keep the peace (as it will), surely it is a blessing, and the more nations that depend upon each other, the better.
But, says another, if you do not make your own clothes and tools, what will you do with your iron, wool and cotton? If England can make them at half price, let her do it. She has no lands to cultivate, and must manufacture. We have untold acres, and have plenty to do, without manufacturing, or that branch of industry would need no protection.
But think of the expense of transportation, says another. The cost to the people would be less than bounties and protection. Besides, building and navigating ships would create another branch of industry, and give multitudes of men employment. Then, with every ship load of iron, wool and cotton, we should send our free ideas to those effect civilizations, and, with a constant interchange of commodities, soon mould despotisms, monarchies and empires into republics, and melt the nations of the earth in one. Commerce is ever the pioneer of civilization and Christianity, and every barrier in the way of exports and imports blocks the wheels of progress, and retards the moral and intellectual development of all the races of men.
Source: The Revolution, April 15, 1869
This rather sweet letter was reproduced in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday, May 14 in 1916 on the front page.
Fairies on Bullets Save Lives of Many
British Soldier, in letter to his little niece, describes how they do it.
Sing as they Ride Along
Missiles get so hot sometimes that the little guardians have to jump off,
says writer in concluding epistle from battlefield.
Special Cable to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
LONDON. May 13. – In a letter to his six-year-old niece, a British soldier describes the fairies who ride on the bullets and direct them so as to save the lives of many:
“You know ‘or’nery’ people who don’t know nuffin’, and who think reason explains everything. would just tell you the reason why most bullets don’t hit anybody is just that they miss ’em.
“But people who really understand – I mean people who have enough imagination to get up in their dreams and go out and see the fairies dancing on the dewy sward when the sunbeams twinkle on the crystal globules – these people know better. And I can tell you just how it is.
“You see. the fairies have eyes like marigolds and as keen as eagles. They see 10,000 times as quick as mortals do, and they move just as speedily as thoughts do.
“They see the bullets coming out of the rifles, and as it comes each bullet is bestridden by a fairy, who tweaks its nose and guides it harmless along, and the fairy sings sweetly all the time.
“That is why when a bullet whizzes past your head you hear it humming like a bee, or droning like a bumble bee, or maybe whistling or whining or singing.
“But sometimes yon don’t even hear that, and yet the bullet doesn’t hit you. You just hear it pass with a breathing whisper or a gusty noise. That is when no fairy has seen it in time to get astride and guide it, but all the fairies near a soldier just gather round and blow it past.
“Sometimes the bullet gets so white hot on its way that the fairy has to jump off, and then perhaps somebody sets hurt, so now all the fairies are getting asbestos pants for their spring
costumes. Don’t you think that is jolly?”
Top illustration by Arthur Rackham.